2005/02/27

Purpose of the press corps

A writer from Michnews.com does a long, long post (90 kilobytes!) on liberals and newspeople and the press corps and lots of other things. The writer is very, very angry at how liberals are so mean and write such terrible things about the president and conservatives in general and all sorts of other things. Facts? Arguments? Good points? As Jon Stewart says “Not so much”.


One of the major points he makes in his concluding round-up of terrible liberals is that “Ian Williams of the Far Left rag, The Nation” has been working with (Gast! Shudder!) the United Nations!!


Um..okay. What else has he got on Ian?


Seems the organization that he's part of, the United Nations Correspondents Association, has been employing someone who wasn't cleared through US Immigration.


Tim Russert, who has come under frequent scathing criticism from the Daily Howler for shamelessly supporting Republicans, whether they were in the opposition during Clinton's term or whether they've been in power since Bush took office, is also listed as a liberal-loving lefty.


Another indication as to how professional and accurate and trustworthy the article is:


Cameron, who’s one of the best White House correspondents in Washington, referred to John Kerry as a “metrosexual” in a private e-mail about Kerry’s over-the-top grooming habits. But it was inadvertently posted on Foxnews.com and, subsequently, the pro-Kerry media pounced.


FOXNews.com, a corporate news website, inadvertently posted a piece that just happened to smear a presidential candidate? The idea that a corporate news website that has all sorts of writers, editors and technicians, would allow a piece that just happened to support their political point of view to be accidentally posted calls for a serious suspension of disbelief. No evidence has been produced to back up this flimsy excuse. .


Much of the column is devoted to a biased and inaccurate re-telling of the Guckert/Gannon story, the guy who somehow obtained clearance to pose as a reporter, allegedly for a legitimate news organization, and was outed after two years of being able to ask President Bush along with Press Secretaries Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan questions during press conferences. How he got this access is a mystery as he also had a few websites where he posted naked pictures of himself and offered his sexual services to men.


The most interesting part of the piece is when the author complains that:


The bottom line is these disingenuous media leftists don’t really care that Gannon’s not from one of their precious Ivy League J-Schools: Their main gripe is that Gannon’s a pro-Bush conservative who they think shouldn’t have been allowed exclusive membership in their restricted clubhouse.


What exactly is the value of having a “pro-Bush conservative” in the press corps? If the guy is just going to ask softball questions designed to make the President look good, can't that be done in another context? This president holds fewer press conferences than did anyone in the 20th Century. Do we really need to use up valuable air-time by letting a “pro-Bush conservative” speak?


Can't the president just appear on a FOX News talk show/interview and put out his words of the day that way? Why exactly do press secretaries need friendly faces in the press corps?


Is it really the job of the press corps to be gentle with administration personnel? The advice columnist Judith Martin, who goes by the name “Miss Manner” said that she was once speaking to a journalist who opined that it was their job to make the president (Nixon at the time) look good. Martin replied quite correctly that “It's the president's job to make the president look good.”


I read a piece that suggested that there are, quite properly, different standards for journalists who support the president (Whoever he happens to be at the time) and for those who are in the opposition. That's okay and preference should be given to opponents.


I agree completely. Opposition journalists should be given the ability to do their job. If a pro-administration person and an opponent of the administration both want to ask a question, preference should be given to the opponent. The author of the MichNews piece feels (Jumping up and down, banging on the table, hollering and screaming-feels) that journalists should be loyal to the President. The President has all the time he needs to deal with friendly journalists who gently toss him softball questions. The American People don't need a “journalist” like Guckert/Gannon who's there to be a friendly face in the crowd.

2005/02/23

Interesting statement on possible war with Iran

"This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous," Bush said. "And having said that, all options are on the table."

He said he was "getting good advice from European partners," who agreed with the United States that "it's in our interests for them not to have a nuclear weapon."

Um...er...okay. Let me get this straight now. The US is not getting ready to attack Iran. The US maintains the right to attack. If Iran obtains nuclear weapons, the US will consider that not to be in our interest. Gee, I don't remember what the US would do if something that wasn't in our interest came to pass.
Can we say "smokescreen"?
The run-up to the invasion of Iraq was preceded by all sorts of dishonest, misleading rhetoric. There's no reason to think the Bush Administration has gotten any more honest or honorable in the meanime.

2005/02/20

Bush Administration's tenuous grasp on reality

See, this is the sort of quote from our president that just makes me shake my head and wonder at the guy's grasp on reality:

“We do not accept a false caricature that divides the Western world between an idealistic United States and a cynical Europe.”


I'm like - Huh?!?! Who in the heck is presenting such a caricature? Where does this caricature come from? What's it based upon? It's said next to comments upon Iraq. How can anyone possibly describe America's Iraq policy under Bush as idealistic? I suppose if you're insane, you'll ignore the fact that the US invaded in a war that religious authorities refused to describe as a "just war", that over 100,000 Iraqis are estimated to have perished in, that our latest “ambassador” (Read: pro-consul) is said to have been heavily involved with death squads in Honduras and seems to be running new death squads in Iraq. and ran an election that now threatens to result in an Iranian-style theocratic state. I suppose if one ignores alll that, one could concentrate on the fact that elections were held in the first place and just say that American objectives have been achieved.

This was also a rather amazing claim:

"America's Operation Iraqi Freedom is still producing shock and awe, this time among the blame-America-first crowd," he crowed. Then he said, "We continue to discover biological and chemical weapons and facilities to make them inside Iraq." Apparently, most of the hundreds of people in attendance already knew about these remarkable, hitherto-unreported discoveries, because no one gasped at this startling revelation.


Keep in mind, this is a statement made by a sitting Congressman of the US. It's like "What are these people on?" How in the heck could American troops (The inspection team tha scoured the country for WMD broke up a few months ago and joined the rest of the US occupation force in combatting the Iraqi resistance.) possibly find time to uncover more WMD when they never found any in the first place?

How can we possibly have any sort of conversation with these people when they appear to be living on a different planet?


UPDATE: Just heard a statement on TV whre Bush described the American and European disagreement over Iraq as a “past disagreement”. With the US asking Germany and France to contribute troops to the inferno over there, how can it possibly be described as “past”? From their perspective, the US has offered them absolutely no reason to want to contribute anything.


2005/02/19

Business Privilege Tax from Stan via Marlene

Yesterday's public hearing at City Council on elimination of the Business Privilege Tax was the public coming out party for One Philadelphia. No one on City Council can ever pretend anymore that there is only one opinion out there on radical tax-cutting. I think Marc McDonald in the Daily News got it right: the tide is running our way (although he didn't give us enough credit.) Here's a link to his article, if you didn't see it, along with the Inquirer's take, which I think also captured pretty well what occurred and where we are. You'll note that while the Daily News gave One Philadelphia an organizational mention, the Inquirer didn't, but did note the range of opinions expressed. It also quoted our sign, if not our testimony.

Although I think the day was overall a big plus for us and our credibility -- our testifiers were outstanding -- some of us were disturbed that we weren't allowed at the witness table until near the end of the day. Councilman Cohen was vocally offended at that placement on our behalf, and I don't think it will happen next time.

Next time, btw, is Tuesday April 13 when the subject will be the entire budget, not just the tax bills. I've already signed up for One Philadelphia. Public testimony starts at 2:30 PM. I was told I was the third person to sign up. Please hold the date and think of signing up to testify individually or on behalf of your organization. To get on the list, call Anita Massara-Levin at 215-686-7740.

Next week we'll get back to building our broader program for the city when our policy committee meets. The committee will meet Wednesday at 1:00 at 1319 Locust St. (Jobs with Justice). Anyone who wants to talk about what our city should look like should come. Then Thursday we'll all meet to strategize our next steps both in the near and long term. That meeting will be at DC 47, 1606 Walnut St., 3rd Floor, from 12-2.

I look forward to seeing you all next week.

Stan


2005/02/17

Reading too much into things

New York Magazine looks at a statement by Markos Moulitsas in DailyKos, that “January was the third bloodiest month for U.S. and allied troops. Will that cease now that Iraqis have voted? Nope . . . The war will continue unabated.” The author reads into this statement that Moulitsas is hoping for a US defeat. Personally, I read it as a simple statement of fact. By the time this issue of the magazine was published, the war has resumed its prior ferocity and the level of attacks are unchanged from a week before the elections.
The author also feels that the elections are a great and significant victory for the Bush Administration that should cause lefties everywhere to rethink their opposition to the war. I noticed that he also feels that:

....our heroic and tragic liberal-intellectual capaciousness is facing its sharpest test since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Back then, most of us were forced, against our wills, to give Ronald Reagan a large share of credit for winning the Cold War. Now the people of this Bush-hating city are being forced to grant the merest possibility that Bush, despite his annoying manner and his administration’s awful hubris and dissembling and incompetence concerning Iraq, just might—might, possibly—have been correct to invade, to occupy, and to try to enable a democratically elected government in Iraq.

I have no idea what this guy is talking about. When I was a freshman in college in 1978, I was aware that the Soviet Union was a declining power and that they had become a stodgy, flabby country without any real fire or imagination. Their misadventures in Afghanistan, their inability to secure the place, made their weakness all the more obvious. When they finally collapsed in 1989, Reagan was far more the guy who had been sitting in the Presidential Chair than he was any sort of conquering hero. If any of Reagan's actions were responsible for decisively weakening the Soviet Union, I'm not aware of them. The claim has been made that it was Reagan's arms buildup that did the trick. Leaving aside the fact that President Carter began that buildup after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, there was little evidence then and there has been none since to indicate that it made any serious difference to the Soviet economy. Mikhail Gorbachev has written that the Soviet Union had deep and serious economic problems that had become quite serious long before he or Reagan ever took office.

My feeling on the election is that it would have been nice had they really meant anything and yes, it's possible they still might, but nothing can be considered as really accomplished yet.

Administration figure is correct

The temporary CIA director, Porter Goss says:

Islamic extremists are exploiting the Iraqi conflict to recruit new anti-U.S. jihadists, These jihadists who survive will leave Iraq experienced and focused on acts of urban terrorism. They represent a potential pool of contacts to build transnational terrorist cells, groups and networks in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other countries.

The Washington Post words it very gently, saying this is one of the "unintended consequences of the war in Iraq." An article from Inter-Press Service emphasizes something liberals have been saying since well before the Iraq War (This particular piece is about the accusation that Saddam Hussein tried to have the elder George Bush killed):

Saddam, according to the report, was convinced that the CIA had thoroughly penetrated his regime and thus would know not only that he had dismantled his WMD (which the CIA apparently did not), but also would know about his plans for important intelligence operations.

-snip-

The report even concluded that Iraq was willing to be Washington's ''best friend in the region bar none''.

The fact that the U.S., under Bush Sr. and Clinton, did not show interest was apparently a source of bewilderment to the Iraqi leader, according to the Duelfer report.

In other words, the Hussein regime had nothing to do with terrorism. Porter Goss is entirely correct in saying that terrorism from Iraq is now, currently, at this moment, a serious problem. What's clear is that this became a problem only upon the US invasion of that country.

2005/02/14

Jonah Goldberg responds to critics

CHICKENHAWK REDUX [Jonah Goldberg ]

Sorry for reopening what may be for most folks an old and tedious argument.

It's an argument that Jonah lost. See Steve Gilliard's blog for details.

That’s not my intention. Unfortunately, my recent spat with Juan Cole has launched a second front of hate mail, spam and blog flames. And since I don’t have the time or energy to respond to every email or ever blog post, I figured I could respond here and then I’d at least have a link I can send back to folks.

As you may recall, Cole advocated the position that every able bodied male in America who supported the Iraq war should have enlisted.

True. Notice especially the “supported the Iraq war” provision. If you don't support it, you're under no moral obligation to go. You may be under a legal obligation later, but that's another issue.

In response to these and similar “chicken-hawk” arguments I mentioned in passing that “a few” of the reasons I never signed up before the war were my age, my financial situation, my brand new baby daughter and my physical condition.

The point is that these were the few reasons that he saw fit to mention. The following quote was pretty much it. If there were other reasons, he forgot to mention them.

As for why my sorry a** isn't in the kill zone, lots of people think this is a searingly pertinent question. No answer I could give -- I'm 35 years old, my family couldn't afford the lost income, I have a baby daughter, my a** is, er, sorry, are a few -- ever seem to suffice.



The blogger Atrios considered this an “incredible” admission as have several other leftwing bloggers. The moral outrage seems to be based on what I can only figure to be several misunderstandings and one fair point. The misunderstandings include the fact that I never said these were the “only” reasons I didn’t sign up. Merely that these were among them. I never expected Atrios to be a fair reader (he’s too concerned with my looks). But apparently this misreading has now become the official one among many on the web. I’ve received lots of email from folks who sincerely believe – for one reason or another – that I was saying my family or my financial situation was more important than those of the soldiers, marines and airmen in Iraq who also have families and, often, even greater financial challenges. So let me just say here that this was never my intention nor my meaning. If I gave that impression, I’m sorry.

Jonah did indeed give that impression by only listing those reasons. Apology accepted.

While obviously my family is everything to me, I have never thought in those terms. And I have never done anything but marvel at the contributions of America’s warriors. And, having gone to Walter Reed this weekend to meet with wounded vets, my gratitude and admiration for their sacrifices is even greater.

Visitng vets in the hospital is to be commended.

What I was trying to say was that it doesn’t matter what my reasons for not enlisting were, it wouldn’t matter to people who think it’s more satisfying or effective to hurl insults than engage in arguments.

It's not Jonah's business to psychoanalyse his critics. If he doesn't want to engage his critics, he can ignore them, but nothing gives him the right to sit there and try to read our minds and guess what our motives are.

Indeed, the fact that I am too old to enlist seems to bounce off of most of these people (to serve at my age I would need to have already served before or be in the reserve).

At age 35, he j-u-u-u-st barely made it over the line. He could have signed up when it became obvious that the war wasn't over back in July or August 2003. He would have had plenty of time then. There's nothing stopping him from doing other things there. Iraq has long needed civilian help doing paperwork-type jobs, running government services, setting up communications between the American occupation forces and the Iraqi people.

But as for the larger argument, I still think it is absurd. Every morning I get these emailed images of white feathers sent to me by folks who think I should sign up. The reference is to WWI when women would give young men not in uniform feathers to shame them into enlisting. It’s a clever bit of web-bullying I suppose. But the analogy is stupid. Those women supported the war.

Irrelevant. The point that the ladies of World War I were making was that the men who received white feathers were cowards who couldn't put their own butts on the line when their buddies were doing so.

The people reprising the role of WWI prim ladies on the homefront do not. Daily Kos’ reaction to the mutilation of American contractors in Iraq was "I feel nothing over the death of the mercenaries [sic]. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them."

That’s not the sort of thing one says when in support of the war effort.

The lefty blogs love pointing out conservative hypocrisy. Fair enough. But this chickenhawk nonsense itself is grotesquely hypocritical. Recently many on the left took great umbrage at Peter Beinart’s suggestion that much of the left opposed the Afghanistan war. No we didn’t! They declared. Well, okay. But if they didn’t oppose it, why didn’t they sign up? What about for the first Gulf War? Or Bosnia?

These were all extremely short wars where the fighting was over long before anyone could have finished boot camp. Heck, Bosnia was an air war where American forces did no serious ground fighting at all. Again, the point where it would have been appropriate to sign up would have been when it became obvious that the war was far from over and that the Army/Marines were short of troops. As I said, July or August of 2003 would have been an appropriate time.

Look, in the age of the all-volunteer military, and in a country which prides itself on civilian control of that military, there is no shame in not signing up.

There's no shame IF you're not loudly supporting the war.

Or even if there is shame, it’s personal not political. We have, by my rough estimate, some 70 million men of military age. Should they all join-up the moment they agree the military should do something dangerous?

No, but when the military is obviouusly overstretched (July 2003, the US agreed to pay $200 million plus $40 million in transportation costs to get a Polish 9,000 troop contingent over to Iraq.) and we have young men back home who are fully able to contribute, young men who are loudly supporting the war should get themselves into uniform.

I favor aggressive law enforcement at home, does this mean I should become a cop? Of course not.

I supported the war and I support the work the military is doing there now. I make no apologies for that. I do not believe they’re there on a fool’s errand nor do I consider them to be hapless dupes and slaves to a cause not worth fighting. About the folks sending me these feathers, I know no such thing.

Ah, there we go “Lefties are all dupes!” Of who, exactly? Perhaps Michael Moore is secretly beaming orders into our heads? What are these mysterious people trying to accomplish? Auugh! “They're all trying to (gasp) make peace!!”

Note: I fixed a couple typos from the version I originally posted.


Posted at 06:39 AM

2005/02/10

Amazingly callous statement from Wolfowitz

Wow! Just...wow. How do I even begin to describe the sheer carelessness, evil and heartlessness behind a comment like this?

- The number two Pentagon official said reducing American casualties in Iraq was more important than bringing US troops back home -- and pointed to the rising Iraqi death toll as evidence this strategy was working.

"I'm more concerned about bringing down our casualties than bringing down our numbers," Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said in an interview with PBS television's "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" program. "And it is worth saying that since June 1, there have been more Iraqi police and military killed in action than Americans." (emphasis mine)

Hey, these guys are doing great work for us! Oh yeah, a lot of them are dying as well. Oh well! No biggie!

This is hopeful however. American officials are definitely not onboard with this idea, but it's a very good sign that British officials are openly talking about withdrawal.

British officials believe that the time has come to give an "indicative timetable" for departure over the next 18 months or so, the Daily Telegraph said Thursday, citing unnamed sources.

There would be no firm deadline for the withdrawal, and it would depend on Iraqi armed forces becoming able to deal with security in the country, meaning foreign troops would not leave until around mid-2006, the report said.

British officials argue that however tentative a timetable, it would boost Iraq's transitional government and undermine claims from insurgents that Washington intends to occupy the nation indefinitely, the paper said.

"Giving a timetable would be an important political signal that we intend to leave Iraq," what was named as a "well-placed Whitehall source" -- meaning an official rather than a member of the government -- told the newspaper.

"The main Iraqi parties are already talking about when coalition forces should be drawn down. American knows it will have to deal with the issue soon."

It was pointed out the other day that the ones who want to see withdrawal from Iraq are largely Democrats amd those who want to "stay the course" are largely Republican.

Talk of withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq is simmering on Capitol Hill.
It's mostly from Democrats - Edward Kennedy on Thursday became the first senator to say "we must begin" withdrawal.

-------------

President Bush won't set a timetable and Iraq's interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, says it's too soon to talk about American forces leaving.

Looks like the British agree more with the Democrats than the Republicans.


2005/02/09

My view on the Iranian people vs their government

Essentially, I see the Iranian people's atitudes towards their own government through the "lens" or "filter" of my early readings on the Ukrainians of the Eastern Front in World War II. Naturally, the Iranian people have not suffered brutality from their government on anywhere near the scale that the Ukrainians suffered under "collectivization" under Joseph Stalin in the 1930s and Iranian suffering under American occupation will most likely not be as bad as the Ukrainians underwent when they were under the German occupation of 1941-1944.

Nevertheless, when people speak of the Iranian desire for liberation or the Iranian patriotism vs possible American attack, I think of the Ukrainians. My understanding based on the few sources I've looked at is that the Ukrainians were pleased when the Soviets were kicked off of their land and felt at first that they had been liberated. Very quickly, the Nazis made it clear that they had no interest in pursuing a military/political alliance with the Ukraine and, what was even more distressing, the Nazis had no interest in disbanding the hated communes and allowing free enterprise to flourish on the farms.

Very quickly, the Ukrainians became "partisans" and undertook a guerrilla war against the occupiers. I seriously doubt that the Soviets had much control over this "underground". My guess is that the partisans operated independently, perhaps accepting directions from other Ukrainians or perhaps listening to Soviets when the Soviets presented themselves, not as communists or even as Russians, but as lovers of the land and of Eastern traditions and haters of the Nazi occupiers.

When the tide of the war turned, Ukrainians were largely fighting on the side of the Soviets on a "The devil you know versus the devil you don't" basis.

My understanding is that if the Americans invade Iran, Iranians are not all that wild about their government, but their lack of enthusiasm about their goverment will NOT translate into enthusiasm for American occupation. Iranians are of course fully aware of the complete mess that Americans have made of Iraq, the lack of power, water, personal safety, etc.

Is it all possible that the US might foment revolution there against the will of the government? No. America, back during the struggle against the Sandinistas of Nicaragua were completely unable to spark disturbances in the heavily-populated Pacific Coast region of that country, despite the Nicaraguan Contras being perhaps the most well-funded, lavishly supplied guerrillas in world history up to that time. The Contras were able to make incursions into the sparsely-populated North-Eastern part of the country, but by the mid-1980s they couldn't even do that.

UPDATE: Seems Condi Rice is champing at the bit to invade Iran.

Iran The EU asked Condi to join them in seeking a diplomatic solution to the Iran nuclear crisis. Condi declined, saying that the US is is actively seeking “régime change” but did not mention how the US would go about achieving this.


Gee, I wonder how they'd do that? Amazingly enough, France and Germany resisted Dr Rice's attempts to persuade them to contribute troops to the American disaster in Iraq.




2005/02/07

Triumphalism over Iraq vote smacks into reality

Oops!

Leading Shiite cleric says new Iraq must embrace Islamic law
BAGHDAD — A high-ranking Shiite cleric who helped a coalition of religious parties to apparent victory in Iraq's elections eight days ago said Sunday that the new constitution must embody Islamic law.

"We will accept no compromise," said a statement by Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Ishaq al-Fayad, one of the three top Shiite clerics who serve beneath the most senior religious leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Al-Fayad said separation of religion and state must be "completely rejected."

Vice President Cheney, on Fox News Sunday, cautioned against jumping to conclusions about what kind of document Iraq's Transitional National Assembly will write. He indicated the United States plans a hands-off approach. "We need to step back a bit now," Cheney said. "The bottom line for everybody to remember here is, this is not going to be, you know, an Iraqi version of America. This is going to be Iraqi."

Cheney predicted Iraqis would try to avoid recreating what they've seen next door in Iran: "a religious theocracy that has been a dismal failure."

Hmm, Cheney and predictions..lemme see...yeah, here it is:

Now, I think things have gotten so bad inside Iraq, from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.

So much for Cheney's predictive capabilities. Poor Allawi has gotten such a small percentage of the vote and Sistani has gotten so much of it that it's starting to look like he might short-circuit US plans and demand a speedy withdrawal.

2005/02/03

Alberto Gonzales – further reasons why Senate should not vote in

Rewriting the Laws of War for a New Enemy

claims that liberals have “resorted to hyperbole” in describing the atrocities of Abu Ghraib, that the tortures performed by US troops caused a liberal to “go so far as to compare [the utterly inexcusablw atrocities of Abu Ghraib] to Nazi atrocites”. The author starts off well by saying “The Geneva Convention is not obsolete “. (Note that the author does not recognize that "Geneva Conventions" should be stated in the plural as there were several related documents.) But so far, so good. By the fourth paragraph, the author starts getting slippery on us by saying “The Geneva Convention provisions make sense when war involves nation-states” as though the Trung Sisters of Vietnam did not engage in the first guerrilla war back in 40 AD or as though the Irish Republican Army had not arisen in 1919 and fought a guerrilla war until 1921 or as though Ukrainianshad not greeted invading Nazis as liberators only to turn against their new occupiers and fought what was called "partisan" warfare until 1944, when the Soviets (who had killed millions of Ukrainians through forced collectivization. Note that that means the guerrilla warfare in the Ukraine against the Nazis was independent of the Soviet state.) took back over. Quite obviously, the signers of the Geneva Conventions were fully aware that not all armed conflicts took place exclusively between nation-states. The article goes on to claim that the main threats of today come from “terrorist organizations and rogue nations.“ and that "Al Qaeda, a non-state actor" does not warrant Geneva Conventions protections.

As to "rogue nations" -

Pseudo-states control areas and populations subject to personal, clan or tribal rule. A leader supported by a small clique (like Hussein and his associates from Tikrit) or a tribal faction (like the Pashtuns in Afghanistan) rule. Political institutions are weak or nonexistent. Loyalties depend on personal relationships with tribal chiefs, sheiks or warlords, rather than allegiance to the nation.

Quasi-political bodies such as the Iraqi Baathist Party, the Taliban or even the Saudi royal family exercise government power. Defeat of the "national" leader or clique typically results in the complete disintegration of the regime.

This is an interesting definition that draws in all manner of states and regimes and political parties and other groups. The problem with distinguishing between a group engaged in a nationalist rebellion such as the IRA of 1919 and between a terrorist, non-state actor such as jihadists who have traveled to Iraq from other Arab states specifically to fight American troopsversus the home-grown Iraqi resistance that fights for nationalist or religious reasons is a difficult call to make, especially when one is dealing with captives and must decide when the Geneva Conventions do and do not apply.

Do the authors suggest the setting up of any sort of international tribunal to decide these questions? No. They suggest that such questions should be left entirely up to the "good" states. In other words, the Geneva Conventions should be tossed overboard due, not to any serious changes in warfare or the international situation, but just because they feel like it and that individual states should feel free to reinterpret or reject the Geneva Conventions at their convenience.

Alberto Gonzales should be rejected as someone who does not respect the Geneva Conventions in any way, shape or form and who shows no respect for law in general. If the above article is the best his defenders can do to argue that the Conventions can be disregarded, then all American citizens must speak with one voice and reject the appointment of Gonzales to the office of Attorney General.