Small world: "You would think, especially after the capture of Saddam, that Rumsfeld could pack it in, go out on top and settle down in that ranch in
Even smaller world: "Firms, Which Together Include Former Heads of the NSC [National Security Council], CIA [Central Intelligence Agency], DIA [Defense Intelligence Agency] and DARPA [Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency], Combine Expertise to Offer Clients Powerful Combination of Business Building Services and Capitalâ€¦ Civitas Group llc, a homeland security consultancy, and Paladin Capital Group, a private equity investment firm, today announced a strategic alliance. Civitas (which includes former National Security Advisor Samuel R. Berger, leading Republican strategist and Co-Chair Charles R. Black, Jr., and security industry veteran Michael J. Hershman) and Paladin (which includes former CIA Director R. James Woolsey, former NSA Director Kenneth A. Minihan, and private equity veteran Michael R. Steed) will identify and seek to jointly serve emerging companies with new technologies that have a direct application to homeland securityâ€¦ 'Many members of our respective firms have worked together, in and out of government, for more than five Administrations,' noted Civitas Co-Chairman Berger. 'We're also united by our goal of helping
One tiny world: "[As spokeswoman for Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman,] Alisa Harrison has worked tirelessly the last two weeks to spread the message that bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, is not a risk to American consumersâ€¦ For her, it's a familiar message. Before joining the department, Ms. Harrison was director of public relations for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the beef industry's largest trade group, where she battled government food safety effortsâ€¦and sent out press releases with titles like 'Mad Cow Disease Not a Problem in the U.S.'
"â€¦Right now you'd have a hard time finding a federal agency more completely dominated by the industry it was created to regulate. Dale Moore, Ms. Veneman's chief of staff, was previously the chief lobbyist for the cattlemen's association. Other veterans of that group have high-ranking jobs at the department, as do former meat-packing executives and a former president of the National Pork Producers Council." (Eric Schlosser, "The Cow Jumped Over the U.S.D.A.,"
One small bite: "President Bush shot quail on a hunting trip yesterday but ate beef, and encouraged Americans to do the same despite concern over mad cow disease. 'I think I shot five,' Bush told reporters at Brooks County Airport after returning from the hunt with his father on a dusty, desolate stretch of land in southern Texas. The president said Americans should feel comfortable eating beef while Agriculture Department officials try to prevent any mad cow outbreak after an infected
One world (or how to create an imperial legion): "As Bush was ramping up the Iraq war last winter, Canadian military officials were startled to discover Pentagon recruiters roaming through their nation's native population reserves trying to persuade Inuit and others to enlist in the U.S. military. The Americans started cropping up on the
Just connect -- the kingdom of looting
It's a small world -- wasn't that Disney's theme-park dream? And it is kind of dreamy when you think about it, just how small it is. In
Meanwhile in the ever-less-frozen north, there was Uncle Sam, representative of a global-warming nation, scouring the snowdrifts for Inuit to send off to
For those of you curious about how Washington connections sort themselves out in the small world of offshore planning that passes for the occupation of Iraq, two pieces were published during my holiday break that shouldn't be missed. In the Nation magazine Naomi Klein wrote about Rebuilding Iraq 2, "a gathering of 400 businesspeople itching to get a piece of the Iraqi reconstruction action." It was held not in
Klein comments ("Risky Business,"
"As Iraqis protest layoffs at state agencies and make increasingly vocal demands for general elections, it's becoming clear that the White House's prewar conviction that Iraqis would welcome the transformation of their country into a free-market dream state may have been just as off-target as its prediction that US soldiers would be greeted with flowers and candy. I mention to one delegate [attending Rebuilding Iraq2] that fear seems to be dampening the capitalist spirit. 'The best time to invest is when there is still blood on the ground,' he assures me. 'Will you be going to
It turns out, however, that the fly -- think not housefly but monstrous mutation here -- in the ointment is insurance. Even L. Paul Bremer's former company, Marsh & McLennan, which sells "political risk, expropriation and terrorism insurance," won't go to bat for the Viceroy of Baghdad. So the Bush administration, in the form of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), has just kicked in.
"Who bails out OPIC?" Klein asks Michael Lempres, VP of insurance at OPIC. "'In theory,' he says, 'the US Treasury stands behind us.' That means the
She concludes that
To grasp just how much of a con (as well as neocon) game reconstruction is, however, you should turn to Herbert Docena's on-the-spot report for Asia Times on-line ( Iraq reconstruction's bottom-line):
"This war to liberate
"As the reconstruction process continues to disillusion Iraqis, the myth that the
Just disconnect -- the kingdom of lies
Not surprisingly, for those following events in Iraq these last months, American troops continue to die at a steady rate -- Saddam or no Saddam -- a constant, if low-level (unless they're your kids), drip, drip, drip of casualties. Friday, a helicopter was downed near Falluja with one death reported; Saturday, an American base near Balad north of
In fact, if you compare the last four months to the previous four, they've actually doubled; while the wounded have more than doubled in the same period. (
From the administration's point of view, it may be less a matter of bringing our troops home than bringing the press and TV journalists home. Juan Cole at his Informed Consent website made this point over the holidays, while discussing Shiite Ayatollah Sistani's insistence on democratic elections as part of the process of turning over of sovereignty:
"Sistani's refusal to budge poses a severe problem for the US, which wants now to move quickly to an "Afghanistan" model, hold an American-invented Iraqi 'Loya Jirga' or council of hand-picked notables, "elect" a transitional government, and turn over sovereignty to it, as they did to Karzai in Afghanistan. This plan appears to derive from despair that the
To some extent, Rove et. al. may already be succeeding. The daily casualties seem slowly to be making their way -- at least in my hometown paper -- toward the inside pages where they will be fodder for news junkies. Of course, the divergence between what others in the world know as news and the news we get has long been a phenomenon. In his eighth year writing a "media follies" round-up for the Working for Change website, Geov Parrish comments in passing that "every yearâ€¦ the gulf between what people in this country and those elsewhere in the world are told about the same events has continued to widen."
Here's a tiny test. Just consider the beginning of part of a humdrum Jan. 3
"In the raid in Baghdad on Thursday that led to the arrests of the Iraqis, many of them Muslim clerics, American troops operating behind an advance party of Iraqi civil defense and police units stormed into the Ibn Taimiya mosqueâ€¦ a stronghold of the Salafist school of Islam, a hard-line, back-to-basics sect that includes Osama bin Laden among its proselytizers.
Here, on the other hand, is how Luke Harding of the British Guardian begins his Jan. 3 report on the same raid:
"Surrounded by upturned chairs and an abandoned turban, Sabah Al-Kaisey surveyed his ransacked office yesterday. The American troops who burst into his mosque on Thursday morning had smashed down the front gate, broken the air conditioners and ripped up the carpets. They had also thrown several Korans on the floor and allegedly punched the man giving the call to prayer in the face. 'They even took our nuts,' said Mr Kaisey yesterday, opening the door of the mosque's empty fridge."
Read them both and see what you think. It certainly wouldn't surprise me if the mosque was indeed filled the weapons of insurgency, nonetheless the effect of the two stories is certainly quite different as is the impression they give of