2005/05/29

John Bolton's difficulties

First off, as a military veteran, I'm absolutely infuriated by the news of Bolton being insubordinate. He blew off both his boss Colin Powell and his later boss Condoleezza Rice.

Two officials described a memo that had been prepared for Powell at the end of October 2003, before a critical international meeting on Iran, informing him that the United States was losing support for efforts to have the U.N. Security Council investigate Iran's nuclear program.

Bolton allegedly argued it would be premature to throw in the towel. "When Armitage's staff asked for information about what other countries were thinking, Bolton said that information couldn't be collected," according to one official with firsthand knowledge of the exchange.
----------------------
Bolton's time at the State Department under Rice has been brief. But authoritative officials said Bolton let her go on her first European trip without knowing about growing opposition there to Bolton's campaign to oust the head of the U.N. nuclear agency.

Bolton has been trying to replace Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who is perceived by some within the Bush administration as too soft on Iran.

"[Rice] went off without knowing the details of what everybody else was saying about how they were not going to join the campaign," a senior official said.

As I said, for me, this is called insubordination and it's quite enough to tell me that this guy has no business being anywhere in the government. Further problems from The Japan Times:

During this internationally televised event, Bush expressed his commitment to a diplomatic solution to the North Korea nuclear crisis, citing in particular the need for consensus among the other five participants in order to bring Pyongyang to the table. But he could not resist throwing in a gratuitous personal attack against North Korea's leader, calling him "a dangerous person . . . who starves his people" and "a tyrant."

All told, he mentioned the reclusive North Korean leader by name 12 times. While this falls far short of Bolton's record -- he once castigated the "Dear Leader" by name more than 40 times in a speech that many South Koreans still cite as a principle cause for the breakdown in the dialogue process -- it was sufficient for North Korea to call Bush a "hooligan bereft of any personality . . . and a Philistine whom we can never deal with."

Bush no doubt believes all the nasty things he says about Kim Jong Il (and they have the added benefit of being true). But to repeatedly say them publicly does not help the diplomatic process, especially at a time when his chief negotiator, newly appointed Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, was visiting China, Japan and the Republic of Korea to build the consensus that the president himself acknowledged was critical for his diplomatic approach to succeed.

The primary concern here is not what North Korea thinks. At the end of the day, it has more to gain from cooperating than from not cooperating and will likely allow itself to be bribed back to the negotiating table. The real concern is the impact that Bush's statements are having on other six-party participants: China, Japan, Russia and, most importantly, South Korea.

As the president has repeatedly stressed, the other members need to stick together and speak with one voice in pressuring Pyongyang to come back to the table. For this to happen, they have to believe that Washington is seriously committed to achieving a negotiated solution.

I have spent the last week traveling through five South Korean cities, speaking to college students and professors, security specialists, and nongovernmental organization representatives. I have met few people who believe that the Bush administration is serious when it says it is prepared to cut a deal with the current leadership in Pyongyang. I was not surprised.

The Bush Adminisration is taking the tack of saying something to the effect of: "You need a tough guy like Bolton to accomplish anything." But clearly, Bolton has not bothered to inform Bush that diplomacy requires some sort of tact, some degree of discretion, it's NOT just a matter of being honest and straightforward and saying whatever comes to mind. Obviously, Bolton can't brief Bush properly on these subjects if he himself is convinced that tact and discretion are not needed.
To illustrate further, please keep in mind that the following passage from NRO comes from a conservative, Republican-friendly website:

Bolton's crime was pointing out the obvious. Two weeks ago in a speech entitled "A Dictatorship at the Crossroads," he offended Supreme Leader Kim Jong Il by stating that the dictator "has not had to endure the consequences of his failed policies. While he lives like royalty in Pyongyang, he keeps hundreds of thousands of his people locked in prison camps with millions more mired in abject poverty, scrounging the ground for food. For many in North Korea, life is a hellish nightmare. As reported by the State Department Report on Human Rights, we believe that some 400,000 persons died in prison since 1972 and that starvation and executions were common. Entire families, including children, were imprisoned when only one member of the family was accused of a crime."

The writer reports that North Koreans were quite upset by these remarks, calling Bolton:

"human scum," "devoid of reason," "an ugly fellow who cannot be regarded as a human being," and a "bloodthirsty fiendish bloodsucker"

The fact that Bolton's observations were all entirely accurate is beside the point. How anyone can represent Bolton as a diplomat and a problem-solver is beyond me. The writer reports that negotiations did not completely collapse because North Korea saw the talks as too valuable to toss away merely because the diplomat in charge was an idiot. That hardly justifies such self-indulgent, degrading, immature name-calling. What have been the consequences of such juvenile antics? Japan Times again:

At a recent Pacific Forum conference on U.S.-ROK relations, I asked how many, in a group of about 40 American, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese regional specialists, believed that the Bush administration was actually pursuing regime change and would not negotiate with Kim under any circumstances. More than 90 percent raised their hands, despite the fact it is the stated position of the Bush administration, as reiterated by Bush, Rice and even Bolton, that it does not seek regime change in North Korea.

There is no possible way on Earth that talks with North Korea can succeed if 90% of the participants think the US has a hidden agenda to conquer North Korea and is simply being dishonest when it says otherwise. For this next passage, keep in mind that Bolton was the Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security for four years previous to this.

NEW YORK/UNITED NATIONS - A United Nations review of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty is ending in failure today, according to a Japanese delegate who said there is no agreement on new steps toward disarmament or measures to block nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea.
``We lost an opportunity to send out important messages on issues such as North Korea, Iran and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty,'' Japanese envoy Mine Yoshiki told reporters at the UN. ``Some countries put the emphasis on nonproliferation, some on disarmament, and we could not get any agreement.''

None of the three committees created to deal with the issues of disarmament, proliferation, peaceful uses of nuclear energy and terms of withdrawal from the treaty presented a substantive report.
----------------
The U.S. called for amendments to the treaty to block the development of nuclear weapons by Iran and North Korea, or a determination to refer those issues to the UN Security Council. Delegations led by Egypt and Iran demanded assurances of the nuclear powers that they wouldn't attack non-nuclear nations, and that they would ratify the proposed test ban treaty.

Neither side compromised and the delegates didn't adopt an agenda until May 11 or refer key issues to committees until May 19, leaving too little time for agreements.
-----------
Diplomats put much of the blame on the U.S., saying the Republican Bush administration wasn't willing to reaffirm disarmament commitments made at previous conferences...

Bolton isn't mentioned in this article by name, but it's clear that Bolton deserves a hefty portion of the blame.for the project being a complete failure.
For anyone to vote for this guy to have any position even remotely connected with diplomacy would demonstrate that the person has no interest in the US achieving anything in that field.

UPDATE 1Jun05: Salon.com (Free Day-Pass or subscription required) confirms that Bolton had everything to do with the failed nuclear treaty talks.

2005/05/28

Friedman sees the light

Shut it down. Just shut it down.

I am talking about the war-on-terrorism P.O.W. camp at Guantánamo Bay. Just shut it down and then plow it under. It has become worse than an embarrassment. I am convinced that more Americans are dying and will die if we keep the Gitmo prison open than if we shut it down. So, please, Mr. President, just shut it down.
-------------------------
Why care? It's not because I am queasy about the war on terrorism. It is because I want to win the war on terrorism. And it is now obvious from reports in my own paper and others that the abuse at Guantánamo and within the whole U.S. military prison system dealing with terrorism is out of control. Tell me, how is it that over 100 detainees have died in U.S. custody so far? Heart attacks? This is not just deeply immoral, it is strategically dangerous.
------------------------
"This is not about being for or against the war," said Michael Posner, the executive director of Human Rights First, which is closely following this issue. "It is about doing it right. If we are going to transform the Middle East, we have to be law-abiding and uphold the values we want them to embrace - otherwise it is not going to work."


Well Tommy my boy, congrat-u-fricking-lations. You've finally acknowledged what was screamingly obvious to us anti-war liberals/progreessives/leftists from the very beginning. It's not that many of us opposed the War on Terror, most of us agreed that al Qaeda had to be punished for 9-11 and that taking down the Taliban government of Afghanistan seemed like an appropriate response (It's become obvious since then that the whole 9-11 story is a lot more complicated than “Bad guys attacked the US.”). But when Bush started talking about starting a war with Iraq, we noticed that he hadn't exactly done a bang-up job of restoring peace to Afghanistan. In fact, Afghanistan was in pretty lousy shape with very little reconstruction going on. By the time the Iraq War began, it was obvious that many of the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay were probably not guilty of anything and should have been held as POWs under Geneva Conventions rules or released. Instead, the Bush Administration made up a whole new category of prisoners (“Enemy Combatants”) that had no defined rights under any recognized international agreement. Since the Iraq War began, it's become more and more obvious that Iraq has become an absolute hellhole for both Iraqis and the American troops sent to occupy the place. As Riverbend comments:


We've been watching the protests about the Newsweek article with interest. I'm not surprised at the turnout at these protests- the thousands of Muslims angry at the desecration of the Quran. What did surprise me was the collective shock that seems to have struck the Islamic world like a slap in the face. How is this shocking? It's terrible and disturbing in the extreme- but how is it shocking? After what happened in Abu Ghraib and other Iraqi prisons how is this astonishing? American jailers in Afghanistan and Iraq have shown little respect for human life and dignity- why should they be expected to respect a holy book?

Juan Cole has some good links about the topic.

Now Newsweek have retracted the story- obviously under pressure from the White House. Is it true? Probably. We've seen enough blatant disregard and disrespect for Islam in Iraq the last two years to make this story sound very plausible. On a daily basis, mosques are raided, clerics are dragged away with bags over their heads Several months ago the world witnessed the execution of an unarmed Iraqi prisoner inside a mosque. Is this latest so very surprising?

Detainees coming back after weeks or months in prison talk of being forced to eat pork, not being allowed to pray, being exposed to dogs, having Islam insulted and generally being treated like animals trapped in a small cage. At the end of the day, it's not about words or holy books or pork or dogs or any of that. It's about what these things symbolize on a personal level. It is infuriating to see objects that we hold sacred degraded and debased by foreigners who felt the need to travel thousands of kilometers to do this. That's not to say that all troops disrespect Islam- some of them seem to genuinely want to understand our beliefs. It does seem like the people in charge have decided to make degradation and humiliation a policy.

By doing such things, this war is taken to another level- it is no longer a war against terror or terrorists- it is, quite simply, a war against Islam and even secular Muslims are being forced to take sides.


Friedman is absolutely correct and as Riverbend points out, the damage goes far beyond some manageable PR problems. It goes to the very heart of the War on Terror. Abusing prisoners does the US a great more harm than good. At no time has this been an acceptable policy. At no time has it been justified. I just wish he had noticed this three-plus years ago as opposed to waiting until now.

2005/05/23

How concerned are conservatives?

DailyKos maintains that

We know that recruitment is at crisis levels. We know that deaths and injuries are depleting our ranks. We know that at least 5,000 soldiers have deserted.

And the bad news keeps on coming.

Last year, Army lieutenants and captains left the service at an annual rate of 8.7% -- the highest since 2001. Pentagon officials say they expect the attrition rate to improve slightly this year. Yet interviews with several dozen military officers revealed an undercurrent of discontent within the Army's young officer corps that the Pentagon's statistics do not yet capture.

Young captains in the Army are looking ahead to repeated combat tours, years away from their families and a global war that their commanders tell them could last for decades. Like other college grads in their mid-20s, they are making decisions about what to do with their lives.

And many officers, who until recently had planned to pursue careers in the military, are deciding that it's a future they can't sign up for.

There's a word for what's happening to our military: "hollow army". We experienced it after Vietnam, and Bush is busy recreating that experience.

But despite the personnel crisis faced by our armed forces, the War Preachers, War Politicians, War Pundits, and the 101st Fighting Keyboardists still refuse to call for sacrifice. They refuse to urge their followers and readers to enlist in their cause. They, themselves, refuse to serve. They'd rather others suffer the consequences of their neocon fantasies.

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

We no longer have a volunteer army capable of meeting the requirements of their military adventures. Yet they refuse a call to arms.

How do pro-war conservatives respond to the shortfall the Army is experiencing? Well, we have a start by the Commander-in-Chief, who spoke to young people graduating college:

"As your generation takes its place in the world, all of you must make this decision: Will you be a spectator or a citizen?" Bush asked about 900 seniors graduating from this liberal arts college.

------

In his commencement speech, Bush mentioned advancing freedom around the world and voiced his support for faith-based, or religious, groups getting involved in social service.


"To make a difference in this world, you must be involved by serving a higher calling here and abroad," Bush said. "You will make your lives richer and build a more hopeful future for our world.”

Bush's actual call for young people to devote themselves to community service is not reproduced, but it's clear that he was not asking people to sign up for military service. The piece is mainly concerned about the protesters who marred the ceremony and only minimally about what Bush said. The site I reproduced a section from below, Newsmax, doesn't seem terribly concerned about the Army's manpower shortage either. Here are their top stories of the day for 23May05:

Media Want More Photos of Dead GIs
Evangelicals Targeting Ivy League
Pirro Moves to Challenge Hillary Clinton
Mass. Justice: I 'Cherish' Judicial Activism
Charge Your Credit Card for Israel
Steve Roberts: DeLay Deserves Jail
Tillmans: Army Disgraced Memory of Pat
Sex Offenders Get Medicaid Viagra
Tim Russert Rips Howard Dean Apart
Clinton Criticized for Charging Charity
Poll: Byrd Vulnerable in 2006
Frist Said to Have 'Nuclear Option' Votes
Ethics Committee to Probe Harry Reid
DA Pressured to Quit Over DeLay Remark
Al-Jazeera Nixes Saddam Pics
Schwarzenegger on Fund Drive


And just for the fun of it, here are what their individual writers had to say

Limbaugh: Old Media Liberal Bias
LeBoutillier: Major Political Issues
Farber: Civilized vs. Uncivilized
Metcalf: Don't Expand Patriot Act
Weyrich: Bush Apologizes for Yalta
de Borchgrave: On a Terrorist List
Horowitz: The End of Time
Williams: Muslim Women Enslaved
Putnam: Supporting Tom Tancredo
Estrich: Frist, DeLay Move GOP
Navrozov: Thoughts on Hitler


Not much about the manpower shortage there. Let's see what Free Republic has to say:

Latest News on the Filibuster Showdown
Latest on Newsweek's Treasonous Koran Scandal
Latest News on Hillary Scandals
Latest News on Tom DeLay
Latest News on Bolton Confirmation


Well, how about their News / Activism, Front Page News section?

High court turns aside Mexican's appeal of death sentence in dispute involving foreigners' rights
Anti-Hijab Party Wins Elections, Schroeder Calls Snap Polls (Germany May Be Waking)
Chavez considers breaking US ties (There's One Born Every Day)
Nelson Mandela’s son-in-law wanted for rape in Connecticut (judge let him leave the country)
CRYING FOR STANDARDS - Kosovo
Rather Praises Mapes, CBS News: "Kingdom of Journalistic Knights"
U.N. Forces Using Tougher Tactics to Secure Peace
Sticky wicket in Koran story
Court Dismisses Death Row Rights Appeal
India's BJP sees ISI hand in theatre blasts-'Blasts are a conspiracy': Sikh group
The price of Asian conflict


What are TownHall's most emailed articles of the day?

John Stossel: The H2O challenge
Ann Coulter: Newsweek dissembled, Muslims dismembered!
Michelle Malkin: It's not just Newsweek
Thomas Sowell: Big-time bigotry
Jeff Jacoby: Why Islam is disrespected
Dennis Prager: Newsweek and the rioters
Thomas Sowell: The Senate's 'Dirty Harry'
Thomas Sowell: Newsweak?
Mike S. Adams: The University of Nude Caucasians at Wilmington
Mike S. Adams: Silence that kills
Phyllis Schlafly: Bush buries the shame of Yalta
Jonah Goldberg: Invasion of the America Snatchers
Brent Bozell: No riots for Hollywood
Mona Charen: Caution: Muslims easily inflamed
Charles Krauthammer: Nuclear? No, Restoration
Walter E. Williams: Ripping off the system
Caroline B. Glick: Israel's immigration idiocy
Rebecca Hagelin: The power of parenting
Doug Giles: Developing the Disaster Master Mind
Marvin Olasky: Unanswered questions about Newsweek's false story


Seems their main concern is that Newsweek isn't toeing the line, that Newsweek is proving to be an insufficiently patriotic citizen and failing to do it's part to convince everybody that things are going swell in Iraq. In short, it's only the progressives/liberals/leftists who appear to be concerned about the manpower shortage that's now breaking the Army and that's leaving it a hollowed-out force. The problem here is that officers, both commissioned and non-commissioned, are not produced overnight. The Navy has requirements for making rank that can get a person advanced rapidly, but "Time in Rate" is also an important consideration. An officer or petty officer needs to spend time in the job, grasping the subtleties of leadership and the technical aspects of his or her job before they become good at it. If people drop out of the service and go off to pursue other careers because the Army is looking like a lousy place to raise a family from, where casualties return to the USA in the dead of the night, without the traditional recognitions they deserve, where the wealthy don't sign up to join their less-fortunate brothers and sisters, where the war just appears to be grinding down people with no end in sight, it's not terribly surprising that the Army will start showing signs of severe strain over the next decade or two as a thinned-out officer corps takes command after the next several years.
For those of us who advocate for a stronger military, part of the problem is the actual physical shape of the Army, the hollowed-out force that we're now defending our country with. The other part is that if the Army feels that it's being carelessly used with no consideration for it's people (See complaints about lack of armor for Humvees) then morale will go down and effectiveness will go down with it.

2005/05/14

President not informed of possible attack for 36 minutes after “All Clear” sounded

When a Navy ship goes into an alert, the proper words to be passed from either the bridge or Damage Control Central are: “General Quarters, General Quarters, All hands man your General Quarters Stations!!!” That means the ship is facing a situation dire enough that everybody on board needs to be on the alert and at their pre-arranged places. It also means that several crew-members have to change into special outfits for fighting fires and that all kinds of equipment has to be made available and ready for use. Ammo lockers should be opened up, flak jackets and helmets should be put on and the crew made generally ready for anything. If the ship suddenly loses power and the lights go out, the crewmembers don't wait for an alarm to be sounded, going to General Quarters is automatic.

Now, when the country is facing an unexpected problem that may or may not call for a military solution, what should the President do? Seems to me that going to General Quarters is the obvious answer. Where does that mean the President should go? A command post. On board Air Force One will do as that plane is specifically designed to act as a flying command post. Any Navy ship will do as each and every one has a bridge and the great majority have a separate DCC. If there's more than one ship available, the President would go to the largest one. Just about any military base will do nicely, as these normally have a headquarters that can serve as a command post.

There are two reasons for the President to get to a command post:

  1. Safety. A ship or a plane can get underway or take off and can promptly be surrounded by escorts, i.e. other ships and planes. Military bases are normally placed in safe, defensible areas and the base command post is usually well inside the base, able to be surrounded by troops. Of course, there's a reason to want the President to be safe. Being safe is not an end in itself. The President is only one person and there are 250 million other people in the United States for us to worry about. Accordingly, we're concerned about:

  2. Communications. The other primary reason is so that the President can communicate with the Armed Services. Not just one-way communications. Both directions are needed. The President must be informed in real time as to what's going on and he should respond in real time so that the proper orders can be issued. An example would be during the September 11th attacks in 2001.

(8:46 a.m.)

Two F-15 fighters are ordered to scramble from Otis Air National Guard Base in Massachusetts to find Flight 11, approximately 190 miles from the known location of the plane and 188 miles from New York City. [8:39, Channel 4 News, 9/13/01, 8:44, CNN, 9/17/01, 8:44, Washington Post, 9/15/01, 8:44, Los Angeles Times, 9/17/01, 8:46, NORAD, 9/18/01, 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Supposedly, NORAD makes the decision to scramble after only one phone call, as the decision is made to act first and get clearances later. Yet there is a nine minute gap between when the 9/11 Commission says NORAD is notified about the hijacking, and when the fighters are ordered scrambled (see (8:37 a.m.)). Stranger, the pilots received several unofficial warnings before the official one (see (8:40 a.m.)) and were possibly warned as early as twelve minutes before this (see8:34 a.m.). One of the pilots recalls sitting in the cockpit, ready and waiting for the scramble order to come. [BBC, 9/1/02] Yet it's supposedly another six minutes before they take off (see 8:52 a.m.)

(After 8:46 a.m.)

Bush will say in a speech later that evening: “Immediately following the first attack, I implemented our government's emergency response plans.” [White House, 9/11/01] But in fact, seeing the images on television, lower-level officials activate the Conplan—the Interagency Domestic Terrorism Concept of Operations Plan. The plan, created in response to an executive order by President Clinton, details the responsibility of seven federal agencies if a terrorist attack occurs. It gives the FBI the responsibility for activating the plan and alerting other agencies. [Wall Street Journal 3/22/04]

(After 9:03 a.m.)

Shortly after the second WTC crash, calls from fighter units start “pouring into NORAD and sector operations centers, asking, ‘What can we do to help?’ ” At Syracuse, New York, an [Air National Guard] commander [tells NEADS commander Robert] Marr, “Give me 10 min. and I can give you hot guns. Give me 30 min. and I'll have heat-seeker [missiles]. Give me an hour and I can give you slammers [Amraams].” Marr replies, “I want it all.” [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] Supposedly, Marr says, “Get to the phones. Call every Air National Guard unit in the land. Prepare to put jets in the air. The nation is under attack.” [Newhouse News, 1/25/02] Canadian Major General Eric Findley, based in Colorado and in charge of NORAD that day, supposedly has his staff immediately order as many fighters in the air as possible. [Ottawa Citizen, 9/11/02] Yet another account says those calls don't take place until about an hour later: “By 10:01 a.m., the command center began calling several bases across the country for help.” [Toledo Blade, 12/9/01] The 9/11 Commission later concludes that a command for other bases to prepare fighters to scramble isn't given until 9:49 (see 9:49 a.m.). In fact, it appears the first fighters from other bases to take off are those from Syracuse at 10:44. This is over an hour and a half after Syracuse's initial offer to help, and not long after a general ban on all flights, including military ones, is lifted (see (9:26 a.m.) and (10:31 a.m.)). These are apparently the first fighters scrambled from the ground aside from three at Langley, two at Otis, and two Toledo, Ohio fighters ordered scrambled at 10:01 that launch fifteen minutes later (see 10:01 a.m.). [Toledo Blade 12/9/01]

(9:03-9:06 a.m.)

Bush enters Sandra Kay Daniels' second-grade class for a photo-op to promote Bush's education policies. [Daily Mail, 9/8/02] Numerous reporters who travel with the president, as well as members of the local media, watch from the back of the room. [AP, 8/19/02 (D)] Altogether there about 150 people in the room, 16 of them the children in the class. He is introduced to the children and poses for a number of staged pictures. The teacher then leads the students through some reading exercises (video footage shows this lasts about three minutes). [Salon, 9/12/01 (B)] Bush later claims that while he is doing this lesson, he is thinking what he will say about the WTC crash. “I was concentrating on the program at this point, thinking about what I was going to say. Obviously, I felt it was an accident. I was concerned about it, but there were no alarm bells.” [Washington Times, 10/7/02] The children are just getting their books from under their seats to read a story together when Chief of Staff Andrew Card comes in to tell Bush of the second WTC crash (see (9:06 a.m.)). [Daily Mail, 9/8/02] [9:02, Washington Times, 10/8/02, 9:03, Telegraph, 12/16/01, 9:04, Daily Mail, 9/8/02, according to photographer Eric Draper, who is in the room] Note that Card comes in at the conclusion of the first half of the planned lesson, and “[seizes] a pause in the reading drill to walk up to Mr. Bush's seat.” [Washington Times, 10/7/02, Washington Times, 10/8/02] Why doesn't Bush take this opportune moment to leave the room?

Clearly, had the President responded in the way that he said he did, the scrambling of jets after the attack on the first World Trade Center tower could have been accomplished in a smooth and coordinated manner without all of the confusions and hold-ups that did, in fact, occur. That is not to say that it would have been accomplished in that manner, but the chances of a proper response would have been enormously increased.

9:29 a.m.

Still inside Booker Elementary School, Bush gives a brief speech in front of about 200 students, plus many teachers and reporters. [Daily Mail, 9/8/02] He says, “Today we've had a national tragedy. Two airplanes have crashed into the World Trade Center in an apparent terrorist attack on our country” (see the text of the speech here [Federal News Service, 9/11/01]). The talk occurs at exactly the time and place stated in his publicly announced advance schedule—making Bush a possible terrorist target. [MSNBC 9/22/01; Washington Post 9/12/01; CNN 9/12/01; New York Times 9/12/01; Federal News Service 9/10/01]

(Between 9:45-9:55 a.m.)

At some point after the White House is evacuated (see (9:45 a.m.)), Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke institutes Continuity of Government plans. Important government personnel, especially those in line to succeed the President if he dies, are evacuated to alternate command centers. Additionally, Clarke gets a phone call from the PEOC command center containing Vice President Cheney and National Security Advisor Rice. An aide tells him, “Air Force One is getting ready to take off, with some press still on board. [Bush will] divert to an air base. Fighter escort is authorized. And … Tell the Pentagon they have authority from the President to shoot down hostile aircraft, repeat, they have authority to shoot down hostile aircraft.” However, acting Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers wants the rules of engagement clarified before the shoot down order is passed on, so Clarke orders guidelines given to pilots.



Had the President been doing his job and not stopping to listen to schoolchildren read and making speeches, perhaps the order to shoot down planes might have been given in time to get the plane that was headed for the Pentagon.

So having gone through all this and having supposedly learned lessons from it, what was the response on Wednesday, 11 May 2005?

NEW YORK On the day after more than 30,000 people -- including the vice president, the first lady, and a former first lady -- were evacuated from their offices or homes in Washington, D.C., but the president, who was biking in Maryland was not notified until the threat passed, reporters grilled Press Secretary Scott McClellan at his daily briefing.

**

Q: Scott, yesterday the White House was on red alert, was evacuated. The first lady and Nancy Reagan were taken to a secure location. The Vice President was evacuated from the grounds. The Capitol building was evacuated. The continuity of government plan was initiated. And yet the president wasn't told of yesterday's events until after he finished his bike ride, about 36 minutes after the all-clear had been sent. Is he satisfied with the fact that he wasn't notified about this?

McCLELLAN: Yes. I think you just brought up a very good point -- the protocols that were in place after Sept. 11 were followed. The president was never considered to be in danger because he was at an off-site location. The president has a tremendous amount of trust in his Secret Service detail. ...

Which is very nice to hear, it's very nice that the President was safe, but this completely misses the point that I brought up earlier, the fact that the President is responsible for the lives and well-being of 250 million fellow citizens. Our press corps demonstrates it's not completely out to lunch:

Q: The fact that the president wasn't in danger is one aspect of this. But he's also the commander in chief. There was a military operation underway. Other people were in contact with the White House. Shouldn't the commander in chief have been notified of what was going on?

McCLELLAN: John, the protocols that we put in place after Sept. 11 were being followed. They did not require presidential authority for this situation. I think you have to look at each situation and the circumstances surrounding the situation. And that's what officials here at the White House were doing. ...

Q: Even on a personal level, did nobody here at the White House think that calling the president to say, by the way, your wife has been evacuated from the White House, we just want to let you know everything is OK?

McCLELLAN: Actually, all the protocols were followed and people were -- officials that you point out were taken to secure locations or evacuated, in some cases. I think, again, you have to look at the circumstances surrounding the situation, and it depends on the situation and the circumstance. ...

Q: Nobody thought to say, by the way, this is going on, but it's all under control?

McCLELLAN: And I think it depends on each situation and the circumstances surrounding the situation when you're making those decisions.

With all due respect to Mr. McClellan and the rest of the Bush Administration, NO, this decision did NOT depend on “the circumstances”! The circumstances were UNKNOWN! No one knew exactly what the circumstances were! How was anybody have supposed to have made an intelligent decision on the circumstances when the person who was responsible for making that decision was out bicycling around, miles from the scene?

Q: I think there's a disconnect here because, I mean, yesterday you had more than 30,000 people who were evacuated, you had millions of people who were watching this on television, and there was a sense at some point -- it was a short window, a 15-minute window, but there was a sense of confusion among some on the streets. There was a sense of fear. And people are wondering was this not a moment for the president to exercise some leadership, some guidance during that period of time?

MR. McCLELLAN: The president did lead, and the president did that after September the 11th when we put the protocols in place to make sure that situations like this were addressed before it was too late. And that was the case -- that was the case in this situation. ...


I'm absolutely stunned at the assertion that the President showed leadership in this case, though fortunately McClellan does not go so far as to insult our intelligence by suggesting that Bush's actions on the day of 9/11 were anything to celebrate. “Protocols” are not really necessary. Protocols aren't really the point. The point is that America needs a President who understands what his job is and who does it, not a President who is simply oblivious to what's happening.

2005/05/07

Simplicity vs Nuance

This is the concluding paragraph for a blog post:

This is the logic of the left, aided and abetted by large parts of the MSM, Academia, and the Democratic Party. While they will accuse the Republicans and Bush of doing exactly what I just described, their logic fails when it can not encompass 9/11, Afghanistan and Iraq elections, 3/11, the Cedar revolution, and so much more.


Well, I guess if one takes a mindlessly simplistic, "You're either with us or against us in the fight against terror." sort of view then this might make some sense. As it is, it reveals the writer's complete ignorance of what the Left has been saying. Just the other day, I corresponded with a right-winger and referred him to an article by John Nichols of The Nation reprinted in Common Dreams (This website reprints articles as more-or-less straight text without any logging-in needed or any advertisements to distract readers, so it makes a very good source to refer people to.) and his answer made it very clear that he hadn't read the article. The second paragraph of the article reads:


Blair's Labour party is unlikely to be voted out of office in Thursday's voting, in part because the main opposition party – the Conservatives – also supported the war, and in part because a third of the Labour Party's members of parliament opposed Blair's efforts to sign Britain on for Bush's war.


So what does my correspondent say in response to my assertion that Bush lied to get America into the Iraq War?


I'm sure you realize that your's is a minority view.

Bush won reelection rather handily & in spite of all the lib press constantly telling us of how Blair is unpopular cause of his Bush support; now he is favored to also win reelection. Therefore your conclusion that the British believe Bush & Blair lied is just so much more lib unsubstantiated rhetoric.

So when I present an article that substantiates my rhetoric, that article goes unread and uncommented on and I and all liberals are accused of making charges without backing them up!

The idea that somehow lefties, liberals and progressives have somehow failed to explain how evil people carried out 9-11 AND to have explained how the Bush Administration has lied to the American people time and time again reveals a Manichean, black-and-white, with-us-or-against-us type of thinking. According to the Left, it's entirely possible for America to be attacked by evil terrorists AND for our president to be dissembling and fudging the facts and spinning and lying and covering up.

The World War II analogy that I came up with before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 for how the Iraqi people were likely to view an invasion was that of Ukraine 1941-1944. Stalin treated the citizens of the Ukraine horribly during the 1930s, with “collectivization” policies killing off millions of Ukrainians. When the Nazis invaded in 1941, many Ukrainians welcomed them and fought alongside them to help free their country. But Ukrainians soon realized that the Nazis were intent upon forcing the entire Slavic population into slavery and forcing them all to be cheap labor from them. Accordingly, by 1944 when the Soviet Red Army was sweeping across the steppes on their way to Berlin, many Ukrainians had by then concluded that the invaders were no better than “The devil you know...” so they went ahead and enlisted with the Red Army to drive out the foreigners. As we've seen, this analogy is quite relevant to the American invasion and occupation of Iraq. Americans are by no means as bad as the Nazis were and there don't seem to be any plans to enslave Iraqis, but Iraqis have made the nationalistic choice to support their own countrymen against the invaders. That doesn't mean Iraqis look back on Saddam Hussein as a great leader, but neither do they see Americans as honored liberators. The Iraqi resistance has been getting stronger and stronger with no American victory in sight.

The black-and-white, good-guys-vs-bad-guys view was simply not relevant to the Ukraine during World War II and, as we've seen during the last two-plus years, is not relevant to the Iraq War either. Viewing the situation requires, as John Kerry was accused of doing, the use of “nuance”.

As to the merits of the blog post that I originally referred to, Juan Cole writes a piece that explains:


President Bush and his supporters are taking credit for spreading freedom across the Middle East. But where changes are genuinely occurring they have nothing to do with the U.S. invasion of Iraq.


Cole credits democratic changes with actually happening and says those are a good thing. But Cole describes these as phenomenon that are independent of, and have no relevance to the Iraq War. Of course, Cole is a “nuanced” commentator who today examines the possibilities of Iran getting a nuclear device. He concludes that it's quite likely that will happen while very clearly not suggesting that that would be a good thing.

I would suggest that it's simply not possible to take a back-and-white view AND to interpret reality correctly. Interpreting reality requires nuance. Repeating Republican talking points requires merely the ability to speak.