Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The Peacemaker

Viktor Yushchenko has apparently withdrawn from election talks and demanded an emergency session in Parliament. The press wire report from today's Washington Post suggests a link between his withdrawal and the Parliament's failure to pass a vote of no-confidence in the election results. Regional leaders from the East have backed down on their calls for autonomy though it is not clear if the Parliament's failure to pass the no confidence vote influenced their decision. The protests are continuing and Yushchenko supporters may re-new their blockade.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder that Ukraine's political crisis must be solved by the Ukrainians through the democratic process.

The Chancellor obviously believes that Putin can help resolve Ukraine's political crisis. If the Russian President tells Yanukovich's backers that he respects Ukraine's territorial integrity, he would dampen any separatist hopes in the eastern half of the country.

I believe Putin will cooperate with us. Our interests diverge on this issue but in one sense Mr. Putin won. The elections were too close for Ukraine's future president to make any foreign policy shift to one side or the other so the incoming president, whoever he is, will need to appeal to Ukrainians from east to west and develop closer ties to the Russians and Europeans. ( For the next five years anyway), the Russians have won a buffer state and we have won a slightly more Western-leaning independent state. He could back down now and save his eastern rebellion card for a future date.

An asside:

President Kwasniewski of Poland is a big winner for playing the role of middle man. Don't be surprised if Poland gets an economic aid package just in time for Polish elections.

Gerhard Schroeder is also a winner. President Bush will take his name off the axis of evil list.

Time for Yanukovich to Accept New Elections

Prime Minister Yanukovich has conditionally agreed to new elections but it's too little too late. Yanukovich said he would agree to a new election runoff in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions in eastern Ukraine IF voting irregularities are discovered. President Kuchma and Yanukovich's own campaign manager have joined the expanding list of those calling for new elections. More significantly, emboldened journalists working for state-run television refuse to regurgitate the party line from now on. For Yanukovich this is the beginning of the end. He should concede now and allow for new elections, lest his country split apart in a civil war.

Monday, November 29, 2004

The Rev's on MSNBC's Meet The Press

Tim Russert hosted an interesting exchange between Reverends Al Sharpton, Jim Wallis, Dr. Jerry Falwell and Dr. Richard Land on MSNBC's Meet The Press yesterday. (The first two come from the progressive liberal tradition and the other two from the evanglical right). The Reverend Jim Wallis argued for a broader moral values debate, and said nothing controversial by refusing to commit to the "pro-life" or "pro-choice" views on abortion.

I found the discussion with respect to abortion disappointing. I don't know how Dr. Land could push for strict constructionist justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade and return the issue to the states and then criticize Reverend Al Sharpton for making a similar "personally opposed" argument on an individual level. He says no person should have a right to kill another human being and yet he asks for judges who would let the states decide this issue. Dr. Land and Falwell must abandon the human rights talk if they are pushing for states' rights and abandon the states' rights approach if they if they are going to compare abortion to slavery.

Reverend Sharpton's position is no less inconsistent. He cannot argue against the imposition of moral values and claim his support civil rights legislation. Yes. Martin Luther King fought against the state's rights approach now adapted by the conservative movement but, in doing so he forced his moral views on the white southern Christians who opposed it. Reverend Sharpton must abandon this "personally opposed" argument if he supports civil rights.

Best soudbites from the interview (taken from the transcript on the MSNBC web site):

Reverend Al Sharpton: "We're talking about whether we have the right to impose what we believe on people that may disagree with us. Even God gives you a choice of heaven and hell."

Dr. Richard Land: "What they forgot was slaves were people, and unborn babies are people. And in this society, no human being should have an absolute right of life and death over another human being."

Really dumb comments I can think of from the interview (from the transcript on the MSNBC web site:

1. Exchange between Mr. Russert and Dr. Land. Quotes copied from http://www.msnbc.com)

"MR. RUSSERT: And we are back.

We can try to find common ground, but there are differences, and I want to see just how profound they are. The Southern Baptist Convention in 1998 passed this statement on the family: "...A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband... She...has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household..."

And, Reverend Land, you went on to explain it this way: "If a husband does not want his wife to work outside the home, then she should not work outside the home." Is that your vision of America?

DR. LAND: It's my vision for Christian families. I don't think that the law has anything to do with it. That was a statement about the theological belief of Southern Baptists. And, you know, George Will had a real great answer for that when somebody asked him, "Where'd they get this stuff?" And he pulled out the Bible and turned to Ephesians, chapter five: "He got--we got it from Ephesians, chapter five." We almost needed to footnote the Apostle Paul when he said that "Husbands should love their wives the way Christ loves the church," which means husbands will always put their wives' needs above their own. And they are to be the head of their home, which means that they're responsible. It's a servant leadership role.

And my wife, who you met, has a PhD in marriage and family therapy and has worked outside the home since our youngest child was in kindergarten. That was our mutual choice. We're not against women working outside the home unless the husband believes that it's not the right choice. Now, remember, this is a husband who loves his wife the way Christ loves the church and is going to always put his wife's needs above his own. But I would certainly not want to make that a matter of legislation when you-- that's about marriage. It's about what goes on in a marriage and about what we believe is the ideal for the family."

So, as long as the woman recognizes her role as her husband's b- ahem - pardon my French, she can work. And why do the pro-choicers have the rhetorical high ground with the word "choice?"

2. Mr. Russert and Dr. Falwell (from transcript found at same web address)

"MR. RUSSERT: I want to ask Reverend Falwell about something and broaden the conversation. We talked about Iraq and the war on terrorism. Something that you said two days after September 11, when you were with Reverend Pat Robertson: "I fear... that [September 11th] is only the beginning. ...If, in fact, God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve ... I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle ... all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say `you helped this happen.'"

DR. FALWELL: And I went on to say in a sleeping church, a lethargic church likewise is responsible. I do believe, as Ben Franklin said, that God rules in the affairs of men and of nations. I believe that when God blesses a nation, as he's blessed America for a lot of reasons, things happen that don't happen other places. I believe when we defy the Lord, I think we pay a price for it. So I do believe in the sovereignty of God.

In our house, for example, my wife of 47 years and our three children, eight grandchildren, we begin every day in prayer. We ask the Lord's blessings. This morning in the shower I prayed for all 15 of our family by name, by need, because I want the curtain of God's provision upon them and protection along the highways and decision-making, God's wisdom.

And I do believe that corporately God deals with a nation. Second Chronicles 7:14--you've just written a new book on that, Richard--"If my people who are called by my name shall humble themselves, pray, seek my face, turn from their wicked ways," he promised three things. "I will hear from heaven. I will forgive their sin. I will heal their land." And I believe that conversely works if we don't do that that I believe that God can judge us."

I'm sure those who lost their loved ones in the Pentagon, World Trade Center or out in the fields of Pennsylvania will understand.

By the Way, Check this Out

The National Review's Andrew Stuttaford posted an interesting link to the London Sunday Times on The Corner (the magazine writers' blog). Just scroll down past most of the entries on Strauss and Nietzsche (unless of course you find that interesting as well) and look for "Ukraine, Trouble Coming ..."

In the alternative you can go directly to the Times' web site at http://www.timesonline.co.uk and perform a search. Sorry I do not have the links.

Iraq: Separating Elections from Constitutional Power Grab

The upcoming Iraqi elections will mark a pivotal moment for the Iraqi people as they choose an assembly that may ultimately draft and sign a new constitution. With this in mind, Edward Wong's report on the election postponement request in the Nov. 28 edition of The New York Times is troubling. Mr. Wong's article (entitled "Shiite Leader Opposes Delay in Iraq's Vote") suggests an ethnic-religious divide on the upcoming elections, with 17 Kurdish and Sunni factions calling for an election postponement and 40 predominantly Shii'te factions rejecting it. Obviously, the Sunnis fear what a revenge-driven Shi'ite majority could do to them and the Kurds fear an end to their autonomy.

Questionable election results and boycotts led by prestigious leaders from any faction will hinder any future government's attempts to draft a new constitution. Human rights groups should closely monitor these elections and we must continue our raids on terrorist factions.

Our administration's steadfast refusal to postpone the elections was unwise but not surprising. Mr. Wong believes we have been (and still are) unwilling to stand up to the Shi'ite majority. In particular, he cites our acquiescence to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's demands for elections before Iraq's constitution was drafted.

Moreover, our government probably fears the attribution such a postponement to our failure to provide for an orderly transition.

The 3-6 month election postponement would have provided the Kurds, Sunnis and secularists an opportunity to increase their voter turnout. By rejecting their offer, we (and the Shi'ites we are backing) may reinforce any suspicions in a Shi'ite power grab and de-legitimize the future government's ability to draft a constitution that purportedly represents everyone.

This mistake is not insurmountable if we pressure the newsly-elected officials to ignore the radicals on each side and appoint a special committee (equally consisting of Kurds, Shi'ites, and Sunnis) to draft the constitution (or at least a part concerning individual and minority rights).

A combined Shi'ite-Sunni group would probably reject the more outrageous Kurdish demands for independence but could split or compromise with Kurds on local and cultural autonomy. The Kurds and Sunnis might join forces on religious rights and discrimination issues. It's no guarantee, but it allows the members of the three sides to play the role of kingmaker on important constitutional matters.

We must remind the Shi'ite majority that their prsperity, stability, and good relations with us will depend upon their respect for Iraq's minorities.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Euro-Iranian deal

Well, if the Associated Press report is accurate the Iranians will suspend all of their uranium enrichment centrifuges, including the 20 they claimed were for peaceful (and not military)use. Apparently the Europeans agreed to let the centrifuges remain unsealed if the International Atomic Energy Agency monitors them with their cameras.

I am not sure if this change is significant.I don't know how difficult it would be to unseal any sealed centrifuges. If it is extremely difficult to unseal them, then the Iranians won a significant concession from the Europeans. They could buy their time, waiting for the opportune moment to re-start their nuclear program. But it is also possible that there is no significant difference and so the Euoropeans made no significant concession.

The last-minute dispute over the 20 centrifuges might be an indication of what will follow. The Iranians will probably test the Euoropean's unity and resolve to see what they could get away with.

They will probably back down when the Europeans are firmly united, but what happens when the Europeans are not in agreement? Could the Europeans agree on the specific violations (or number of violations) they will tolerate and could they agree on how they would respond should the threshold be reached? Will they appeal the UN for the approval to use force and who will send in the military? Only time will tell.

At this time we really can't do anything. We don't want to undercut our European allies' efforts at the bargaining table if the Iranians comply, or if the Europeans and the IAEA enforce the agreement effectively. Why offend them if they expend their resources and time to solve a problem that affects all of us?

President Bush and Incoming Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice should welcome the European's initiatives and Iran's willingness to cooperate. If the Europeans cannot agree on a course of action at the later stages of the process, Bush should offer to broker an agreement that would make U.N. National Security Council the enforcement-legitimizing agency for the Europeans (or us, should we agree to involve ourselves milarily).

Expect new elections soon

C.J Chivers and Maria Newman report on the latest developmments on Ukraine's election crisis in the November 26 New York Times. Apparently both presidential candidates sat down in a meeting with Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus, outgoing Ukrainian President Leonid D. Kuchma and perhaps even Boris Gryzlov, the Russian speaker.

Kuchma is repositioning himself as an evenhanded statesman now that his favored candidate is losing the battle. He said a "compromise" is possible and insisted on a peaceful solution in a televised address before the meeting.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin has not backed down yet. He said the election results were clear and reiterated his opposition to international interference.

To all my readers: I am sorry that I could not provide a link to this or any other articles in the past. The moment I learn how to post a link without losing the content of my posts, I will do so. In the meantime I should inform you that the updated information came from the November 26 New York Times article written by Chivers and Newman called "As Protests Continue, Parties in Disputed Election Meet."

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Yanukovich is on the way out

Today's New York Times reports the growing tension in the standoff between Russian-backed Yanukovich and the western-backed Yushchenko. The challenger apparently has told his supporters they will block major roads in western Ukraine in open defiance of Yanukovich's disputed election and he also reiterated his demand for new elctions with strict monitoring from the international community. Yanukovich's troops appear ready to quash the resistance but I believe he is losing ground. The New York Times article quotes no new words of comfort (for Yanukovich)from Putin and the Ukrainian communists have now joined in Yushchenko's call for new elections.

Mr. Putin Will Back Off if We Persist on Free Elections

Ukrainian President Leonid D. Kuchma certified the election results which gave Russian-backed Yanukovich a closely contested and controversial win the New York Times reports. The outgoing president's decision is not surprising since he supported Yanukovich's bid and, like him, supports closer ties with Russia.

In a response to one reader's question, I suggested that Mr. Putin will back off should we push for a run-off election between Yanukovich and Yushchenko. Putin is ambitious but realistic. While he will push for trade agreements and treaties that bind the former Socialist republics to Russia politically and ecnoomically (which the Times news articles have indicated), he will not invade any country and risk the economic aid and goodwill of the G-7 nations.

The Russian president could achieve his goal, or at least minimize any damage to his plans, whether his favored candidate wins or loses. Ukraine is divided culturally and politically. One groups look west and another to the east. The incoming president will have a careful balancing act and probably won't risk his future re-election prospects by committing to one side or the other, even if the election result is 60% to 40% for one candidate. Yanukovich will have no choice but look to the east and Russia since Putin supported him and we are opposing the election results that would put him in office. Yushchenko will probably lean in our direction, but he could use the Ukrainian East-West divide to push for a more independent course..

And that should be fine for the United States as well since our goals are just as (if not more) limited. We don't need the Ukraine in NATO (I mean, it will be nice but it's not worth the risk of antagonizing a country we could use in the war against nuclear nonproliferation) and we don't need them to join the European Union. At this moment it would be wise for our leaders to insist on, but only on, a free and democratic Ukraine.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

The New East-West Divide Taking Shape

The post-election crisis in Ukraine proves that, while the Berlin Wall has been torn down, the divide between Western Europe and Russian-dominated Eastern Europe has only moved further east. Russian-backed president Vladimir Putin actively campaigned for Prime Minister Viktor F. Yanukovich according to several reports from the New York Times. He invited the pro-Russian incumbent to his country and visited him before every phase of the election. Clearly, the former KGB agent not only wants Russia preserved, but its glory and influence in Europe and the Near East restored. Putin suppressed an insurrection in Chechenya, and pushed for closer ties with the autocrats ruling Belorussia (Ukraine's neighbor to the north) and Kazakhstan (northwest of China). Yanukovich campagined on closer ties to its once domineering eastern neighbor. The Western-backed opponent, Viktor Yushchenko, pushed for closer business ties to Western Europe.

Yanukovich won in a very close election but the election results are in dispute. Yushchenko has not conceded and his supporters are protesting the results. Today, out-going Secretary of State Colin Powell announced our "non-recognition" of the results because the European-led monitors saw widespread voting abuses.

Ukraine's future is in doubt. A November 24 New York Times article suggests that Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine voted heavily for the Putin-backed candidate while the western-backed challenger won his support from Kiev and everything to the west. The Western-backed candidate also received strong support from younger voters.

Not suprisingly, the Western European countries are backing the challenger since he supports capitalism and closer ties to the West. The Polish, long fearful of a revived Russian power on its eastern borders, have sent a representative to Kiev as well.

Putin's imperialistic designs must be stopped immediately. A Russian-dominated Ukraine may reinforce his confidence in this vision. At the same time, we will Russia to obtain cooperation from Iran and North Korea.

Colin Powell's statement would be reassuring if we knew he spoke for the president. Our administration clearly stated our opposition to the election results without officially backing the Western-favored Yushchenko. The Secretary of State submitted his resignation so I am not sure if his successor will continue with this approach.

There is some hope. The more pro-Western candidate said he could support a run-off election if unbiased international monitors closely watch the election. New elections could bring the legitimacy that a power grab from either side cannot. Whether he was pressured into this by our government or not, this news is surely welcome.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Democrats and National Security

Partisan Republicans will have a field day with Congresswoman Lee's outrageous comments on yesterday's "Hardball" and the Democrats will deserve it if their more responsible and centrist-minded senators like Joe Lieberman, John Biden, and Evan Bayh don't speak up. I don't know how a party that is unwilling to defend the president's security could defend the nation's.

Conventional wisdom holds that President Bush and the Republicans do better on the national security issues and Democrats on the bread and butter issuse. I believe this analysis is wrong. Competing factions are struggling for the heart and soul of both parties, even with respect to national security.

Now that the Cold War is over, some Republicans and conservatives like Pat Buchanan would like to withdraw our troops from Europe and selectively (if at all) intervene in international affairs. Some conservatives believe our national interests require more involvement in the international community and the neoconservatives, led by the writers at The Weekly Standard and some members of Bush's national security team, would even push for democratic reforms abroad.

The Democrats are just as divided. One group blames us for almost every difficulty we have in the world. Sheila Jackson Lee , for instance, just blamed our foreign policy for the security gaffe in Chille. (Scroll down for my last post).

Partisan Republicans must cherish every moment Congresswoman Lee and others who share her views speaks. Afterall, one might question the Congresswoman's patriotism as well as her national security views after reading about her comments.

Some human rights activists and moderate Democrats offer a more positive vision for American foreign policy, however. Vanity Fair's Christopher Hitchens, NY Times op-ed columnist Thomas Friedman, several moderate Democrats in the senate and house, and the writers for the Washington Post, New Republic, and New York Daily News supported the president's wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. They believe this beacon of light in the world should promote democracy and human rights abroad, and they will use military force to do it.

Don't get me wrong. I don't buy into this perspective offered by the neoconservatives and liberal human rights activists. Nation-building is very difficult, particularly for when the citizens' traditions have not prepared them for democratic governance. But I don't support the neo-isolationist vision offered by some on the left and right either. We live in an interdpendent world that thrives on trade and global stability.

Still, I believe our country would benefit if leaders the voters saw leaders across the political spectrum express their patriotism.

Root for the Home Team Sheila Jackson Lee

First, a note to my readers: The quote was taken from the transcripts for the November 22 edition of MSNBC's "Hardball" with Chris Matthews. It could be found at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6566625/.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee made a cheap, partisan attack on the president yesterday on MSNBC's "Hardball." This is how the Democratic Congresswoman from Texas responded when Chris Matthews asked her if the president should determine his own security measures while in a foreign country:

LEE: "Well, Chris, what happened in Chile evidences when there is a crack in your foreign policy armor, your relationships. Obviously, we know that Chile was one of those that did not support our position on the U.N. Security Council. And so, therefore, communication breaks down.

But I think it is extremely important where you have consistent security and certainly I think it is important that our Secret Service make the determination to protect the president of the United States. And if that required the possibility or the need for metal detectors to be present, we go through them here in the United States.

But, again, it becomes a foreign policy decision and a working relationship decision. And we just have to mend the feelings and do the job we have to do. We must protect the president of the United States."

Whose side is she on? Chris Matthews asks the congresswoman what security measures Bush should have and she blames Bush for the poor security? I guess we should be gratified. Given the "crack" in our foreign relationships, the Chileans could have shot our president.

I'm surprised at Congresswoman Lee. President Bush is a powerful man. He leads one of the world's greatest superpowers and he is leading a controversial war in Iraq without the substantial help from our allies while fighting a global ideological war against Islamic fundamentalism. Some fanatic or wacko might try to kill him if he or she had the chance. I'm sure the president would like the people he trusts watching him at all times. Bush had every expectation that the Chileans would extend to him that courtesy, and he would do the same if the Childean head of state came to the United States.

One can agree or disagree with the president's foreign policy, but excusing another country's expressed show of contempt is beyond the pale.

Monday, November 22, 2004

What we should take from McGreevey's Fall

Last week James McGreevey stepped down as governor of New Jersey. For months the New Jersey newspapers focused on the former governor's questionably unethical conduct and in particular, his appointment of a non-American citizen and lover to a high state security position. The ex-governor announced his resination shortly before his former lover threatened to sue him for sexual harrassment, a charge McGreevey denied. The lawsuit was dropped.

Left unexamined; however, were the events surrounding McGreevey's personal life and the broader issue of how society's heterosexual expectations affect its gay members. One can understand why the news media chose to neglect this interesting and important subject. McGreevey claimed he was resigning because he is gay and cheated on his wife but the journalists and editorial boards didn't buy it and didn't want to give that story any credence. Last week, the New York Times did a fantastic story on what Mrs. McGreevey must be going through but for the most part the stories focused on the ex-governor's political transgressions.

The newspapers in our state have covered McGreevey's political failures well and I feel no need to comment on them, particularly since they concern state issues only and not the national and international issues I write about. A politician's character and the way society deals with homosexuality; however, do concern this blogger because those issues go far beyond New Jersey politics.

McGreevey's personal and ethical failures should remind us that character should count when we choose someone for public office. Candidates' public lives are shaped by their private experiences.

It does not surprise me that a man who would not stick up for himself - a man who would not confront his priest, his friends, his family, and possibly himself - could fight off the power brokers in Trenton and throughout the state. Now, I am not saying that a McGreevey who was more honest about himself would have enacted political reforms in New Jersey or that any poltiican in this situation would have fought off power brokers. I just think there would be a greater chance for someone with more conviction would have a better chance.

McGreevey sold himself as the kind of man the electorate wants even though he couldn't be that man, (because he was never meant to be) that kind of man. He sold himself as the all-American working, heterosexual family man everybody wants as their neighbor. He sold it to his parents who dreamed he would one day fall in love with a woman and raise a family with her, to his ex and current wife, to the church which expected him to validate its moral claims, and possibly even himself.

The ex-governor lived a lie - the heterosexist myth that every man and woman are destined for one another when in fact, for a small minority of people it is with a member of the same sex. It was his lie, it was his parent's lie, and it was his church's lie. In sum, it was our lie. Until we are aware of that fact and make accommodations for that minority, the lives of gay people like McGreevey and the lives of those in "families" that should not have been created in the first place will be left in ruins.

The Role of the International Community and Pre-emption

First, an update on Iran. Yesterday's New York Times reported on Bush's skepticism towards the Euro-Iranian deal and the administration's serious concerns regarding Iran's race to produce uranium hexaflouride. The missile adaptation Colin Powell referred to may bolster their argument that Iran is not producing this chemical for peaceable use. (Assuming, of course, that the missile adaptation cannot be used for any other non-nuclear chemical).

Anyway. My last post on Iran suggested that we let the International Atomic Energy Agency and other multi-national organizations play a major fact-finding role before launching another pre-emptive war.

I recognize that this is largely theoretical for now. Senator John McCain dismissed targeted raids on yesterday's "Meet the Press" and the Bush administration is pushing for six-nation talks with respect to North Korea.

Still, if negotiations fail in either situation, we may launch another pre-emptive war. Financially-strapped North Korea might sell its nuclear technology to the highest bidder and the Iranians, already well known for their sponsorship of terrorism in the Middle East, might project its Islamic fundamentalist revolution abroad.

So why internationalize the fact-finding process? Two reasons. First, we do not want belligerent dictators exploiting this new precedent for justified invasions. Ambitious leaders with imperialistic designs might falsely claim self-defense and invade another country knowing full well there are no expectations for proof. However, by establshing a known practice of multinational critique and analysis, we bolster our claim of legitimacy and re-affirm the international order's respect for national sovereignty.

Second, we will gain more support from our allies and others involved in the process. The smaller, less powerful U.N. members have a stake in these international organizations. Their intelligence-gathering missions are worthless if no one enforced the rules that legitimized the investigations in the first place. Japan, South Korea, Sweden, and other economically strong but militarily weak countries would have a larger incentive to fund our military and peacekeeping missions abroad.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Don't Cry Wolf Unless You Can Point to One

A word to the readers: All factual information from this post was taken from a Washington Post article titled "Powell Says Iran Is Pursuing Bomb." The article was written by Robin Wright and Keith B. Richburg and appeared in the Nov. 18 edition. When I learn how to link articles to my posts I'll do that.

While American forces battle Islamic extremists for the city of Fallujah, attention has shifted toward the other members of the "axis of evil." The Washington Post reports that outoing Secretary of State Colin Powell belives the Iranians are altering their missile technology to make it suitable for nuclear weapons. The Nov. 18 Post article also notes that the latest accusation came just three days after the would-be nuclear power agreed to indefinately suspend its uranium enrichment program in return for a promise to forego the U.S.-pushed hearings at the U.N. Security Council.

Obviously, the administration warned the Iranians that noncompliance is not an option, and that it views the suspected adaptations in missile technology as a transgression. The president's advisers might believe Iranians have a yet-unknown uranium conversion process somewhere in the country and a successful change in missile technolgoy will offer them the means to use nuclear weapons they create.

However, the administration must react cautiously. Our intelligence agencies and the administration were dealt a serious blow when our forces discovered no biological or chemical weapons in Iraq. The president's supporters believe this was an honest mistake while some of his detractors suggest he deliberately misled us.

I have no intention of rehashing this debate and picking a side. Either way, our administration and intelligence agencies look foolish. We were led down a dark hallway. There was an ominous-looking shadow along the wall but when we turned the corner we only saw an ugly, but otherwise harmless rat.

Note Powell's interesting choice of words.

"I'm not talking about uranium or fissile material or the warhead; I'm talking about what one does with a warhead."

Translation folks? Don't worry. We are not merely relying on the kinds of materials that could be used in a million different ways. Rest assured, the adaptations in missile technology serve only one purpose.

My advice? Watch the Iranians closely. When you suspect there is something wrong, send the IAEA in un-announced. Let them make the call this time, or if they fail to cooperate, show us the photos.

If you cry "wolf" and no one sees a wolf, or if you yell "fire" in a theater when there is no smoke, no one will believe you.

Saturday, November 20, 2004


I'd like to thank all of you visiting my new web blog and invite all of you to comment on my posts which wil begin shortly (by Sunday for sure). I value everyone's right to express their opinions but ask that everyone keep a respectful tone whenever possible.

I know this can be hard at times. Election winners can be more graceful because they get what they want while the losers dread what may follow. The root causes for some of our divisions are personal but we must all do our best. The politics of personal destruction, sloganeering, code words and fear have eroded the sense of trust and respect we need to fight the war on terrorism, promote human dignity and freedom here and abroad, and save our social welfare programs for future generations.

With that in mind I hope to do my part. I am not perfect. We are all shaped by our past experiences, making pure rationalist discourse close to, if not impossible. I know many of you may hate what I say and I will probably hate a lot of what you say, but I will try to understand where you are coming from and I hope you will extend the same courtesy to me.

I welcome you all to my blog and hope you will visit my site often. Your visits and comments are deeply appreciated.