Daily War Watch
"Now Wolfowitz Lead. Bombs for Everyone!"
September 21, 2001
The above quote is a tongue-in-cheek rendition of a line
from a computer role-playing game character with a great deal
of brawn, and the unfortunate sufferer of a blow to the head
that left him not the sharpest blade in the armory. The full
quote, from BioWare's "Baldur's Gate", an Advanced Dungeons
& Dragons licensed game, is when the character is selected
as the party leader. It goes something like, "Magic is impressive.
But now, Minsc leads. Swords for EVERYONE!" This includes
characters who aren't really cut out for it. The character,
Minsc, simply is not bright enough to understand that swords,
while handy, cannot solve everything.
Apparently the view that bombs cannot solve everything is
not sinking in to "defense establishment" rejects who occupy
positions of prominence in the Bush Administration. By this
I mean people who make their careers by being extremist hawks
and making hawks in Congress happy by providing them the intellectual
(if it can be called that) cover to take up silly, extreme
positions on national defense. Whatever their logic, it is
usually used to cover other, more basic motivations.
Already, the Bush Administration is split among two main
battle lines, which was, and is, and will be, quite predictable
until someone, especially someone named Colin Powell, is forced
out of the administration. While the forces to send him packing
have been at work for some time, with Andrew Sullivan even
calling him, for lack of a nicer way to put it, a naive black
front man with delusions of self-importance who doesn't know
his rightful place, Powell is, at least, a useful front man
for a while longer. The Good Cop, so to speak. However, in
this case, he is no cop at all: he is an enemy in the establishment
of the desired hawkish policy.
The bottom line of their plan is this: It's time to get rid
of Saddam. It matters not one tiny bit if he had absolutely
nothing to do with the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks
and is completely innocent of this terrible crime. We need
to finish what "41" started and get him out.
While seemingly proposed by Richard Perle, for reasons of
appearance, the NY Times is pretending that he has nothing
to do with the policy formulation; its article which is cited
in references at the bottom of this article states only that
Paul D. Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of defense, and hand-picked
hawk by Rumsfeld to fight any influence Powell might have
over defense, and I. Lewis Libby, chief of staff to VP Dick
Cheney, hand-picked hawk by Cheney to fight any influence
Powell might have over defense, are the ones driving this
The policy itself is called the "earliest and broadest" military
campaign, including not only going after Saddam, but hitting
the Bekka Valley region hard. (You know, the one Reagan had
hit after the Marines in Lebanon got car-bombed. The ones
where E-6 Prowlers launched with as few as two to four laser
guided bombs out of a maximum payload of 24 because the attack
was rushed, a fact I read years ago in a paperback book of
a journalist's time on an aircraft carrier.) Of course, Afghanistan
is to also be hit, but it seems to be something of an afterthought.
Saddam Hussein is obviously, by far, the main target. Unfinished
business, it would seem.
Secretary Powell, one of the few men in the administration
actually taken seriously abroad, is doing the dirty work of
getting friends, or at least, aquaintances of the US involved
in the "coalition against terror". Even if he was not personally
involved, he could easily say that even back in the Gulf War,
invading Iraq was a no-no, and so was "Ending states that
support terror". Replacing governments, the US has been known
to do. Actually breaking and shattering states so that they
no longer exist would be unprecedented by the US in the era
of nation states; the US has never actually killed a state
before, as if it was a person.
With other distractions such as Pakistan's support for the
US in this war against terrorism possibly being the death
warrant of that nation's non-fanatical ruler and the regime
he daily defends against extremism, and Russia's concern that
Central Asia's rug will be pulled out from under it, the Bush
administration seems consumed with issues like, if there is
no evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the attacks, such a
petty detail should be ignored in a campaign of hail and brimstone.
Powell obviously thinks that his carefully sewn and still-fragile
coalition would be ripped apart quickly if action is taken
against Iraq, let alone "ending the state". He made a public
comment, rather impatiently, about the goal being "ending
terrorism", not states, and that Wolfowitz can speak for himself.
Well, the problem here is twofold.
One, there is a split.
Two, since obviously I am reading about it in the New York
Times, the world knows that there is a split.
So much for no leaks. So much for secrecy.
And what's CNN thinking? Loose lips sink ships, but one carrier's
general movements has been noted by CNN. Also, numbers of
aircraft deployment have hit the media. Guys, if we're going
to have paranoid censorship, shouldn't we be taking this a
little more seriously?
I don't take a position on either administration plan, by
the way. The fact of the matter is, taking out Saddam would
be a good idea. (On the other hand it might take down Saudi
Arabia, Yemen, Pakistan and secular Iran in the process. We
just don't know. Heck, Jordan's king may not live to complain
about our actions; remember, his father was assassinated before
his eyes, and 50% of his subjects are disgruntled Palestinians.)
If the US could get away with it, yes, taking Saddam is nice.
But what's to be left in his place? Iraq is 20% Kurd, 40%
Shiite (mostly in the south, meaning bordering Saudi Arabia,
the heart of Sunni religion), and 40% Sunni Moslem. This is
not a good formula for survival without some kind of secular,
pound-them-into-square-holes leader. If Iraq is no more, then
what? Will Iran just waltz in? No one knows.
I'll wait and see, but at least now you're aware of the public
airing of the split (which is more important than the split
itself in some ways). This bad blood goes back to the early
days of the Bush Administration, and perhaps before, when
Cheney made a sincere commitment to pack staffers and deputies
with hawks and hard-line conservatives, with Powell being
recruited by Bush to operate as a respectable face abroad.
That respectability is being firmly tested by his short leash.
In other news, Andrew Sullivan is imploring the Left to give
Bush a chance. Yeah yeah. Hey Andrew, you said the Left might
yet pull a fifth column on the US. In this climate, that's
calling them traitors and allies of terror. Before asking
us to give Bush a chance, why not give the Left a chance?
We have enough people referring to "Diaper heads" without
Apparently Congressional and Senate immunity to being prosecuted
for speech only applies to what they say on the floor of the
House or Senate, so Orin Hatch really is still in deep trouble,
if not under existing laws, then under laws believed to be
ready to be passed and signed soon.
ANWR drilling has been tacked on top of the Defense Authorization
Bill. Gee. Thanks.
The chairman of Delta Air Lines has seriously proposed that
Congress declare the terrorist actions as Acts of War, thus
making them immune from lawsuits against airline companies.
This would trigger Acts of War escape clauses by insurance
companies and reinsurers in Switzerland, Bahrain, and other
financial powerhouses, which could, if they acted to protect
their shareholders as is expected of them, save them from
paying out some $30 billion which would go, likely indirectly,
to victims of the WTC bombings, possibly including the new
owner of the World Trade Center, definitely including much
of the loss borne from corporations who had headquarters in
the WTC (who must pay death benefits to their employees among
other things), which would lead directly to the financial
crippling or outright ruin of many companies. I don't know
how bad, but we could be talking banks, insurance companies,
Dean Witter, J.P. Morgan, Merryll Lynch... it all depends
on the contracts.
But let's be serious. I haven't even tried very hard, yet
in the last couple of days, I have noticed talk in the media
of these Act of War bailout clauses. Since Congress has NOT
declared these to be Acts of War, but rather, they have been
considered acts of terrorism until now, there was little question
of foreign insurers claiming these clauses to save on payouts.
(i.e. they insured against terror and not war.) There seems
to be little way that the chairman of Delta Air Lines, a Mr.
Leo Mullin, was not aware of the issue. Despite this, Mr.
Mullin seems determined to have Congress protect his airline
while cutting off at the neck dozens, perhaps hundreds, of
companies, and thousands of bereaved families, from insurance
because of the triggering of Act of War bailout clauses.
I find this to be beyond outrage and beyond shameful. Other
things are going on, but none would have the dramatic and
downright disastrous effects of giving foreign insurers a
way out of paying for World Trade Center bombing damage. They
would be neglectful to their duties to their shareholders
(and employees, and nations) to pay if they didn't have to,
regardless of their feelings for the people who died; waving
such a huge red flag in front of a not yet active bull is
the height of irresponsibility, and I pray Congress wakes
up to the danger before it's too late.
Oh, and one last thing: Seems that Phil Gramm is working
to obstruct anti-money laundering measures again. They just
cost too much.
I presume the WTC bombing is an acceptable financial loss,
I wonder if it's really the Left that doesn't "get it" here.
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