Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Brahimi Plan Controversial

by Prof. Juan Cole
Univ. of Michigan

Blog editor's note: One of this country's top authorities on Iraq and Shia in particular and the region in general, Prof. Cole as usual has some insightful comments to make on events in Iraq.

Lakhdar Brahimi spoke further on Tuesday about his ideal plan for a caretaker government in the period June 30 - January 31, the run-up to national elections. It seems clear that Brahimi prefers that a handful of high offices be filled by technocrats with no further political ambitions. He thinks that politicians with parties who want to run for office should start their campaigns instead of serving as caretakers. The unspoken concern here is that incumbents might use the advantages of incumbency to position themselves to win the elections next January.

This plan is running into heavy opposition from the Interim Governing Council, most members of which would be excluded under the Brahimi rules. Salamah al-Khafaji told al-Hayat that it made no sense to have a president and two vice presidents. One vice president would be enough, she implied. And she felt it was not useful to have an expanded advisory committee that had no legislative powers, as Brahimi suggests.

To access this and related analyses, see Informed Comment

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

>Former ambassadors unite to condemn Blair's foreign policy
A letter to Blair: Your Middle East policy is doomed

By Ben Russell, Political Correspondent
Independent (London)
27 April 2004

Blog editor's note: In an unprecedented move, particularly for the ultra-reserved diplomatic service of Great Britain, Prime Minister Tony Blair's support for President Bush's Middle East policies was harshly criticized yesterday in an open letter by top former British foreign service types

Tony Blair was facing a severe crisis of confidence in his foreign policy yesterday after an unprecedented attack from dozens of the most senior figures in the British diplomatic service.

The letter from 52 former ambassadors and heads of mission who held the most senior postings in the Foreign Office, lambasted Mr Blair for abandoning his principles over the road-map to peace in the Middle East and criticised the United States-led coalition in Iraq for failing to plan for the post-Saddam era.

In a damning verdict on Mr Blair's special relationship with President George Bush, they called for a "fundamental reassessment" of British policy towards the White House and the Middle East, urging Mr Blair to exert real influence over American policy as "a matter of the highest urgency".

They added: "If that is unacceptable or unwelcome there is no case for supporting policies which are doomed to failure."

Signatories include former ambassadors to Baghdad and Tel Aviv, and senior figures who served in postings including Moscow, Brussels and the United Nations. Downing Street said that Mr Blair would reply in due course, but Labour critics seized on the diplomats' intervention as evidence that Britain was too close to the White House.

To read the rest of this article, see Independent

War in Iraq Aims a Bullet at the Heart of the Economy
-------There's no indication that Bush thought through the potential for far-reaching fiscal damage

By James K. Galbraith

Los Angeles Times
April 26, 2004

James K. Galbraith teaches at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas in Austin and is chair of Economists Allied for Arms Reduction

However badly the war is going in Iraq, on the home front it is still a good thing for George Bush — so far.

A year ago, the push to Baghdad doubled the economic growth rate and got a recovery started. Now, the literally untold billions in military payrolls and equipment purchases that keep the war going also help to propel our economy along.

This is normal. All wars bring cheerful economic news at first. They stimulate production. They raise capacity utilization, which helps business cover costs and improve earnings. This is good for the stock market. Wars create jobs and also usually draw young men and women away from the labor force, cutting unemployment. (So far, this war has been fought by a handful of overstretched professional soldiers, so the job effects have been small. That could change, especially if the draft is resurrected, as some would like.)

But the good news doesn't last.

To read the rest of this analysis, see Los Angeles Times

 Portrait: Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN's "Super Fireman"

By Corine Lesnes
Le Monde

Tuesday 27 April 2004

    It's not without surprise that UN diplomats watch Lakhdar Brahimi, "a former Algerian FLN member", become the new Providential Man in Washington. The daily newspaper, Newsday, made the same comment a few days ago. Now the American army is going to be used "to defend an agreement forged by an Arab nationalist working for the United Nations," the New York paper deplored. An upside down world!

    As President Bush said during his April 13 press conference, the United States counts on the UN special envoy to "determine the nature of the entity to which" it will "return Iraqi sovereignty" on June 30. The Americans don't bear a grudge. In January, Lakhdar Brahimi tore apart their initial idea of organizing indirect elections to designate a provisional government. This time, he dismissed one of their replacement schemes: enlargement of the present Interim Government Council. In its place, Mr. Brahimi advocates a government of "technocrats" that would handle current matters only between June 30 and elections in January 2005.

To read the rest of this profile, see TruthOut

The Wrong Debate on Terrorism

The New York Times
April 25, 2004

Richard A. Clarke, of course, is the former head of counterterrorism at the National Security Council whose testimony recently rocked the 9-11 Commission. He is the author of the recently published, "Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror."

The last month has seen a remarkable series of events that focused the public and news media on America's shortcomings in dealing with terrorism from radical Islamists. This catharsis, which is not yet over, is necessary for our national psyche. If we learn the right lessons, it may also prove to be an essential part of our future victory over those who now threaten us.

But how do we select the right lessons to learn? I tried to suggest some in my recent book, and many have attempted to do so in the 9/11 hearings, but such efforts have been largely eclipsed by partisan reaction.

One lesson is that even though we are the world's only remaining superpower — as we were before Sept. 11, 2001 — we are seriously threatened by an ideological war within Islam. It is a civil war in which a radical Islamist faction is striking out at the West and at moderate Muslims. Once we recognize that the struggle within Islam — not a "clash of civilizations" between East and West — is the phenomenon with which we must grapple, we can begin to develop a strategy and tactics for doing so. It is a battle not only of bombs and bullets, but chiefly of ideas. It is a war that we are losing, as more and more of the Islamic world develops antipathy toward the United States and some even develop a respect for the jihadist movement.

To read the rest of Clarke's analysis, see The New York Times

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Why would so many Americans cling to patently false beliefs?

Juan Cole
"Informed Comment"
April 25, 2004

Blog editor's note: Prof. Juan Cole of the Univ. of Michigan and a noted authority on the Middle East gives his take on the PIPA poll (see previous item) and American beliefs about Iraq. What follows is an excerpt, and you may read his analysis in full at Informed Comment

Why would so many Americans cling to patently false beliefs? One can only speculate of course. But I would suggest that the two-party system in the US has produced a two-party epistemology. Epistemology is the study of how we know what we know.

If it were accepted that Saddam had virtually nothing to do with al-Qaeda, that he had no weapons of mass destruction (nor any significant programs for producing them), and that no evidence for such things has been uncovered after the US and its allies have had a year to comb through Baath documents-- if all that is accepted, then President Bush's credibility would suffer.

For his partisans, it is absolutely crucial that the president retain his credibility. Therefore, rather than face reality, they re-jigger it to create a fantasy world in which Saddam and Usamah are buddies (as in the Jimmy Fallon/ Horatio Sanz skits on the American comedy show, Saturday Night Live), and in which David Kay (of whom respondents say they've never heard) never recanted his earlier belief that the WMD was there somewhere.

Of those who maintain that Iraq actually did have WMD, 72% say they are going to vote for Bush.

Friday, April 23, 2004

US Majority Still Believe in Iraq's WMD, al-Qaeda Ties

by Jim Lobe
Thursday, April 22, 2004
Inter Press Service

Blog editor's note: One of the distinctions that often gets lost on people is the difference between belief and knowledge. Never is the distinction more important to keep in mind than when one's country is waging war. Unfortunately, belief frequently trumps knowledge when confronted with nationalism, jingoism and the knownothingism that comes from being a true believer. Of course, it doesn't help that the mainstream press didn't contribute much to straight thinking before or during the war with Iraq, and only belatedly have some media tried to set the historical record straight. Unfortunately, if the PIPA survey discussed below is any indication, it appears to be too little good journalism, too late. Lobe and Interpress, incidentally, are NOT part of mainstream media and provide some of the most reliable journalism readily available.
WASHINGTON - U.S. public perceptions about former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's alleged ties to al-Qaeda and stocks of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) continues to lag far behind the testimony of experts, boosting chances that President George W Bush will be re-elected, according to a survey and analysis released Thursday.

Despite statements by such officials as the Bush administration's former chief weapons inspector, David Kay; its former anti-terrorism chief, Richard Clarke; former chief United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix, as well as admissions by senior administration officials themselves, a majority of the public still believes Iraq was closely tied to the al-Qaeda terrorist group and had WMD stocks or programs before U.S. troops invaded the country 13 months ago.

''The public is not getting a clear message about what the experts are saying about Iraqi links to al-Qaeda and its WMD program'', said Steven Kull, director of the Program'' on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland, which conducted the survey.

''The analysis suggests that if the public were to more clearly perceive what the experts themselves are saying on these issues, there is a good chance this could have a significant impact on their attitudes about the war and even on how they vote in November'', he added.

The survey and analysis found a high correlation between those perceptions and support for Bush himself in the upcoming presidential race in November.

To read the rest of this article, see InterPressService

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Powell: A good soldier or a good loser?
In book, secretary of state seems more salesman for Bush than senior adviser

By Mark Matthews
Baltimore Sun National Staff
April 21, 2004

WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State Colin L. Powell prides himself on being a good soldier, a steadfast supporter of his commander in chief. "I don't quit on long patrols," he says.

But revelations in Bob Woodward's new book flesh out what, for an old battlefield commander and bureaucratic infighter, is a less flattering image: that of a good loser, a man who lent considerable prestige to President Bush to sell a war on which Powell failed to press his own, often conflicting, views.

Powell is also portrayed as a man whose influence, in the run-up to the war, was vastly outweighed by that of Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

Most pointed, perhaps, is Woodward's assertion that Bush did not even seek the advice of his top diplomat, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, before deciding to invade Iraq.

To read the rest of this analysis, see Baltimore Sun

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Bush Adviser Regrets 'Mission Accomplished' Banner

Blog editor's note: Evidentally, Rove still can not bring himself to be completely honest about the affair--note 4th graph.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A controversial "Mission Accomplished" banner used as a backdrop to President Bush (news - web sites)'s speech aboard an aircraft carrier last May was a mistake, Bush's political adviser, Karl Rove, told a newspaper.

"I wish the banner was not up there," Rove told the Columbus, Ohio Post-Dispatch. "I'll acknowledge the fact that it has become one of those convenient symbols."

Bush's Democratic opponent, John Kerry, has made repeated fun of the banner, as well as of Bush's arrival on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln wearing a flight suit. Kerry has made much of his own Navy service in the Vietnam war against Bush's shorter, stateside term in the Air National Guard.

Rove said the phrase referred to the carrier's crew completion of a long mission, not the U.S. mission in Iraq.

The White House at first said it had nothing to do with the banner but later conceded it had helped with it.

The White House had also initially said Bush needed to fly to the carrier on a jet because the vessel would be hundreds of miles offshore. But the administration later acknowledged that Bush decided on flying by jet, even though the carrier was within easy helicopter range, because he wanted to share in the pilots' experience.

Bush's Iraq Getaway

By Nat Parry
March 16, 2004

Blog editor's note: This is quite simply one of the best summaries I've read of how and why we got involved in Iraq. Moreover, at least so far as the mainstream press concerned, it makes painfully clear that this is hardly the "Age of Information" as pundits like to assert.

A year after the invasion of Iraq, it is increasingly clear that the pre-war “debate” was a stage-managed manipulation of the American people, aided and abetted by a U.S. press corps that was too timid to ask tough questions when it mattered most. Now, with about 560 U.S. soldiers dead along with uncounted thousands of Iraqis, the Bush administration has entered what might be called its “getaway” period.

The key now for George W. Bush is to manage a political escape from his mugging of a fundamental precept of democracy – an informed electorate – and still win a second term. To achieve that, Bush has employed some tried-and-true tactics, like hand-picking a presidential commission that will report on his use of intelligence after the November elections. But most importantly, he is still trusting that the U.S. news media is incapable of sustaining much scrutiny.

In that regard, Bush has reason for optimism. Even dramatic disclosures over the past few months have failed to attract or hold the attention of the U.S. press corps.

NSC Document

For instance, toward the end of a recent story in The New Yorker magazine, writer Jane Mayer reported the discovery of a National Security Council document dated Feb. 3, 2001 – only two weeks after Bush took office. It instructed NSC officials to cooperate with Vice President Dick Cheney’s Energy Task Force, explaining that the task force was “melding” two previously unrelated areas of policy: “the review of operational policies towards rogue states” and “actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields.”

Before this disclosure, it was believed that Cheney’s secretive task force was focusing on ways to reduce environmental regulations and fend off the Kyoto protocol on global warming. But Mayer’s discovery suggests that the Bush administration in its first days recognized the linkage between ousting the likes of Saddam Hussein and securing oil reserves for future U.S. consumption. In other words, the Cheney task force appears to have had a military component to “capture” oil fields in “rogue states.” [For details on Mayer’s document, see The New Yorker, Feb. 16, 2004.]

The NSC document dovetails with statements by Bush’s first Treasury secretary, Paul O’Neill, who has described a similar early linkage between invading Iraq and controlling its vast oil reserves. In Ron Suskind’s The Price of Loyalty, O’Neill describes the first NSC meeting at the White House only a few days into Bush’s presidency. An invasion of Iraq was already on the agenda, O’Neill said. There was even a map for a post-war occupation, marking out how Iraq’s oil fields would be carved up.

O’Neill said even at that early date, the goal of invading Iraq was clear. The message from Bush was “find a way to do this,” according to O’Neill, who was forced out in December 2002. To this day, of course, the U.S. news media still joins the Bush administration in mocking as a conspiracy theory any suggestion that oil might have been a motive for the Iraq War.

Path to War

Bush’s path to war in Iraq opened after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Though there was no credible evidence connecting Saddam Hussein to Sept. 11, Bush was able to use America’s united-we-stand sentiment to turn the public toward war anywhere as long as he claimed some link to the terror attacks that killed some 3,000 people.

To read the rest of this analysis, see

Friday, April 16, 2004

Radical Theories And Reality

By E. J. Dionne Jr.
Friday, April 16, 2004

Blog editor's note: What follows is the concluding paragraph of a hard-edged look at Sec. of Defense Rumsfeld's reasoning process about Iraq

I actually agree with the president that it's good Hussein is gone, that it would be a great thing to bring democracy to Iraq, that it would be a disaster if this venture fails. But if we fail, the fault will not lie with Bush's opponents. It will lie with an administration that thought it could pursue a series of radical theories all at once and not worry about the impact of reality on its plans. If Bush wants his war to succeed, he owes the country more than he offered this week.

To read the entire column, see Washington

Bush Asked for Iraq War Plan in Nov. 2001

Fri Apr 16, 2004
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush asked his Pentagon chief in November 2001 to draw up a war plan against Iraq, the White House confirmed on Friday.

The admission from the White House about the early timing of a discussion about war strategy came after the administration was questioned about a new book by journalist Bob Woodward.

The revelation is sure to fire up some of Bush's critics who have accused him of being too eager to go to war against Iraq and of diverting resources from the hunt for Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the Sept 11 attacks.

The book, entitled "Plan of Attack," is not due to be released until next week but the Associated Press published some details from it after obtaining an early copy.

The book, according to the Associated Press, reveals that Bush took Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld aside on Nov. 21, 2001, and asked him to come up with a fresh war plan.

That request came less than two months after the United States launched a war on Afghanistan and a year and a half before the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.

To read more, see


Prof. Juan Cole, University of Michigan

I have concluded that the Bush administration is like Iran. The Iranian government has two of everything. It has a relatively liberal president, and a hardline supreme jurisprudent. The reformists control the foreign ministry, the hardliners control the military. The reformists have some parliament representatives, the hardliners control the Guardian Council, which has the power of judicial review over parliament. You never know with the Iranian government who is on top or what a policy means, since it could be coming from either competing section of the same government.

Likewise, in the Bush administration, the Pentagon has its own foreign policy, which competes with and often trumps the foreign policy of the State Department and the National Security Council. Thus, Gen. Myers is pointing fingers at Iran and Syria and making all sorts of wild accusations at them, darkly hinting they will be overthrown if they don't shape up. And Colin Powell is writing them polite letters about bilateral relations and could they please use their good offices to help the Americans in Iraq. It is bizarre, and the urbane, canny leaders in Damascus and Tehran (who have long experience of residence in the UK and Germany respectively), must be scratching their heads in wonder at this Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde American hyperpower that rages about an axis of evil and goes about preemptively invading countries on the one hand and then comes politely, hat in hand, to request selfless assistance on the other.

To read more of Cole, a professor of history at UM, see his web page, at "Informed Comment"

General assails U.S. policy on Iraq
Warnings ignored, says retired Marine

By Rick Rogers

April 16, 2004

Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni wondered aloud yesterday how Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld could be caught off guard by the chaos in Iraq that has killed nearly 100 Americans in recent weeks and led to his announcement that 20,000 U.S. troops would be staying there instead of returning home as planned.

"I'm surprised that he is surprised because there was a lot of us who were telling him that it was going to be thus," said Zinni, a Marine for 39 years and the former commander of the U.S. Central Command. "Anyone could know the problems they were going to see. How could they not?"

At a Pentagon news briefing yesterday, Rumsfeld said he could not have estimated how many troops would be killed in the past week.

To read the rest of this interview with Gen. Zinni, see San Diego Union-Tribune

Sunday, April 11, 2004

When U.S. Aided Insurgents, Did It Breed Future Terrorists?

The New York Times
April 10, 2004

n the varied explanations for the 9/11 attacks and the rise in terrorism, two themes keep recurring. One is that Islamic culture itself is to blame, leading to a clash of civilizations, or, as more nuanced versions have it, a struggle between secular-minded and fundamentalist Muslims that has resulted in extremist violence against the West. The second is that terrorism is a feature of the post-cold-war landscape, belonging to an era in which international relations are no longer defined by the titanic confrontation between two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union.

But in the eyes of Mahmood Mamdani, a Uganda-born political scientist and cultural anthropologist at Columbia University, both those assumptions are wrong. Not only does he argue that terrorism does not necessarily have anything to do with Islamic culture; he also insists that the spread of terror as a tactic is largely an outgrowth of American cold war foreign policy. After Vietnam, he argues, the American government shifted from a strategy of direct intervention in the fight against global Communism to one of supporting new forms of low-level insurgency by private armed groups.

To read the rest of the story, see New York Times

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Vietnam's Lessons Then and Now

By Colbert I. King

Washington Post
Saturday, April 10, 2004

" 'No one starts a war, or rather no one in his senses should do so,' Clausewitz wrote, 'without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by that war and how he intends to achieve it.' Mistake number one in Vietnam. Which led to Clausewitz's rule number two. Political leaders must set a war's objectives, while armies achieve them. In Vietnam, one seemed to be looking to the other for the answers that never came."
-- "My American Journey," by Colin Powell

Was the Bush administration clear in what it intended to achieve by invading Iraq? In the weeks leading up to the war, the answer seemed clear. President Bush and his advisers, in a series of public statements, repeatedly cited Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein's link with al Qaeda as threats to the United States and reasons for going to war. That's not what we're hearing today.

A different set of war goals has emerged over the past year. We are now in Iraq, according to various administration pronouncements, to: bring about self-government and create conditions for economic growth and development; build a unified Iraq that does not pose a threat to international peace; leave behind us a constitution and parliament; help build a disarmed, law-abiding Iraq that is whole, free, at peace with itself and its neighbors, and that no longer supports or harbors terror; and to help Iraqis assume responsibility for their own defense and future. These goals are worth revisiting in light of current conditions in Iraq.

To read the rest of King's column, see Washington

Friday, April 09, 2004

The Artful Dodger
In her testimony Condi Rice proved adept at avoiding the real questions about 9/11. But her act is wearing thin

By Joe Conason

Friday 09 April 2004

Blog editor's note: What follows is the key point of a commentary by Joe Conason which, in my view, finally brings into focus the crux of concern about the Bush Administration and 9-11.

The pertinent question is not whether the president would have tried to stop an attack whose details were thoughtfully placed under his nose. The real question is whether the Bush administration paid sufficient attention to the stream of warnings it received about al-Qaida, or whether, due to its preoccupation with Iraq, missile defense and other matters, those officials simply failed to act. This is the million-dollar question that Rice so expertly dodged on Thursday.

To read the rest of this piece, see Truthout

Despite Setbacks, Top Papers Back U.S. Effort in Iraq

By Charles Geraci
Editor and Publisher
April 09, 2004

NEW YORK Despite the growing upheaval and U.S. casualties in Iraq, a majority of the nation's 20 largest newspapers, in editorials during the past week, have urged the White House to stay the course.

Among this group, however, there is wide disagreement on whether to send more troops and whether sticking to the June 30 handover of power to an Iraqi government is a good idea. None of the top 20 (by circulation) urged a quick military withdrawal, although some call for the U.S. to share responsibility with the United Nations or NATO.

To read the rest of this story, see Editor & Publisher

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Winning the War on Terror

  By Bill Moyers
  t r u t h o u t | Perspective

  Thursday 08 April 2004

Blog editor's note: This commentary by Bill Moyers, one of the most thoughtful American public intellectuals writing today, is more than worth your reading time. Note that Moyers was an advisor to LBJ and knows something firsthand of Presidents and quagmires.

  President Bush spoke eloquently the other day about what the war on terror requires of us. He said, "The war on terror is not a figure of speech. It is an inescapable calling of our generation." Those words ring true. Whatever drives them, whatever grieves them, Islamic fanatics have declared war and seem willing to wage it to the death. If they prevail, our children will grow up in a world where fear governs the imagination and determines the rules of life. Mr. Bush clearly believes what he said: The war on terror is an inescapable calling of the generation now in charge.

  Like most Americans, I want to support him in that work; I want to do my part. But the president makes it hard. He confused us by going after Saddam Hussein when the villain behind the mass murders of 9/11 was Osama bin Laden. He seems not to realize how his credibility has been shredded by all the false and misleading reasons put forth to justify invading Iraq; Lyndon Johnson never recovered from using the dubious events at the Gulf of Tonkin as an excuse to go to war in Vietnam, and even if Mr. Bush wins reelection this November, he, too, will eventually be dragged down by the powerful undertow that inevitably accompanies public deception. The public will grow intolerant of partisan predators and crony capitalists indulging in a frenzy of feeding at the troughs in Baghdad and Washington. And there will come a time when the president will have no one to rely on except his most rabid allies in the right wing media; he will discover too late that you cannot win the hearts and minds of the public at large in a nation polarized and pulverized by endless propaganda at odds with reality.

To read the rest of Mr. Moyers' perspective, see Truthout

Bush, Blair talked of Iraq days after 9/11, ex-envoy says

Associated Press
April 5, 2004

LONDON - President Bush made clear at a dinner with Prime Minister Tony Blair nine days after the Sept. 11 attacks that he wanted to confront Iraq, a former British ambassador to the United States reportedly told a magazine.

The president raised the issue of Iraq at a White House meeting Sept. 20, 2001, former envoy Christopher Meyer told Vanity Fair. The magazine, published in New York, released an advance copy of its article to the Associated Press yesterday.

"Rumors were already flying that Bush would use 9/11 as a pretext to attack Iraq," Meyer, who attended the dinner, reportedly said. "On the one hand, Blair came with a very strong message: Don't get distracted. The priorities were al-Qaida, Afghanistan, the Taliban."

To read the rest of this story, see Baltimore Sun

Iraqi Mobile Biological Facilities Claims May be Wrong, Powell Says

Global Security Newswire
April 2, 2004

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Friday (April 2) that his claims to the U.N. Security Council in February 2003 of prewar Iraq’s alleged mobile biological weapons facilities might have been based on incorrect information, Associated Press reported.

To read the rest of this story, see GSN

One Year On: Nation Building in Iraq

by Anthony H. Cordesman
Center for Strategic and International Studies

Blog editor's note: Cordesman has been an astute observer of the reconstruction scene in Iraq. This status report was updated April 6, 2004, to reflect recent events including the uprisings in various parts of the country. You will need Acrobat Reader to either access or download the report.

From the Executive Summary: [A number of successes should]... not obscure the fact that Iraq is far from stable and still very much imperiled. Ethnic and religious tensions abound, and the Coalition’s first major clash with a Shi’ite faction came of the weekend of April 3-4 –virtually the anniversary of the war. An ongoing “war after the war” developed with hard-line Sunni insurgents several months after the fall of Baghdad that changes in form but has not diminished in intensity. The US and its allies are still fighting a real war in Iraq that could suddenly escalate into a major civil conflict or broader struggle between Coalition forces and elements of both Iraq’s Sunnis and Shi’ites.

To read the entire report, see

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Top Focus Before 9/11 Wasn't on Terrorism

By Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 1, 2004

On Sept. 11, 2001, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice was scheduled to outline a Bush administration policy that would address "the threats and problems of today and the day after, not the world of yesterday" -- but the focus was largely on missile defense, not terrorism from Islamic radicals.

The speech provides telling insight into the administration's thinking on the very day that the United States suffered the most devastating attack since the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor. The address was designed to promote missile defense as the cornerstone of a new national security strategy, and contained no mention of al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden or Islamic extremist groups, according to former U.S. officials who have seen the text.

To read the rest of the story, see Washington Post