Sunday, April 30, 2006


Blog editor's note: The scholars associated with the Gulf 2000 project web site at Columbia University have just completed a complete update of the G2K public web site. Unlike the rest of G2K, which is a moderated discussion list for scholars and specialists only, it is open to the public.

G2K has removed broken links and added several new categories.

The site, in the phrase of the moment, is "awsome." If you are looking for an elusive fact on almost any aspect of the Persian Gulf -- from detailed historical time lines, to reports on terrorism, to water resources, to government and population statistics, and on and on -- you are very likely to find it there at the click of a mouse.

Sponsors of the site want it to be nothing less than the premier site for information on the Gulf -- the place to start any research project on the region. It can be accessed at Gulf 2000

Friday, April 28, 2006

Iraq war set to be more expensive than Vietnam

By Rupert Cornwell
The Independent
28 April 2006

The Iraq war has already cost the United States $320bn (£180bn), according to an authoritative new report, and even if a troop withdrawal begins this year, the conflict is set to be more expensive in real terms than the Vietnam War, a generation ago.

The estimate, circulated this week by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service (CRS), can only increase unease over the US presence in Iraq, whose direct costs now run at some $6bn a month, or $200m a day, with no end in sight.

The Bush administration has refused to provide any specific overall figure for the war's cost. But the Senate is set to approve another emergency spending bill in May, meaning that Iraq will have consumed $101bn in fiscal 2006 alone, almost double the $51bn of 2003, the year of the invasion itself - and all at a time when the federal budget deficit is running at near record levels.

To read the full text, see

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Ex - CIA Agent Says WMD Intelligence Ignored

April 21, 2006

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The CIA had evidence Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction six months before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion but was ignored by a White House intent on ousting Saddam Hussein, a former senior CIA official said according to CBS.

Tyler Drumheller, who headed CIA covert operations in Europe during the run-up to the Iraq war, said intelligence opposing administration claims of a WMD threat came from a top Iraqi official who provided the U.S. spy agency with other credible information.

The source ``told us that there were no active weapons of mass destruction programs,'' Drumheller said in a CBS interview to be aired on Sunday on the network's news magazine, ``60 Minutes.''

``The (White House) group that was dealing with preparation for the Iraq war came back and said they were no longer interested,'' he was quoted as saying in interview excerpts released by CBS on Friday.

``We said: 'Well, what about the intel?' And they said: 'Well, this isn't about intel anymore. This is about regime change','' added Drumheller, whose CIA operation was assigned the task of debriefing the Iraqi official.

To read the full text, see New York Times

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Unforeseen Spending on Materiel Pumps Up Iraq War Bill
Senate to Take Up Measure as Military Fights to Keep Guns, Tanks Working

By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 20, 2006; A01

With the expected passage this spring of the largest emergency spending bill in history, annual war expenditures in Iraq will have nearly doubled since the U.S. invasion, as the military confronts the rapidly escalating cost of repairing, rebuilding and replacing equipment chewed up by three years of combat.

The cost of the war in U.S. fatalities has declined this year, but the cost in treasure continues to rise, from $48 billion in 2003 to $59 billion in 2004 to $81 billion in 2005 to an anticipated $94 billion in 2006, according to the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. The U.S. government is now spending nearly $10 billion a month in Iraq and Afghanistan, up from $8.2 billion a year ago, a new Congressional Research Service report found.

Annual war costs in Iraq are easily outpacing the $61 billion a year that the United States spent in Vietnam between 1964 and 1972, in today's dollars. The invasion's "shock and awe" of high-tech laser-guided bombs, cruise missiles and stealth aircraft has long faded, but the costs of even those early months are just coming into view as the military confronts equipment repair and rebuilding costs it has avoided and procurement costs it never expected.

To read the full text, see Washington Post

Intelligence Director's Budget May Near $1 Billion, Report Finds

By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 20, 2006; A11

The budget next year for National Intelligence Director John D. Negroponte's office and the several agencies attached to it may be near $1 billion or more, according to language buried in the report of the House intelligence committee on the fiscal 2007 intelligence authorization bill.

The exact budget total for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) is classified, but the report by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence contains a figure by the Congressional Budget Office of $990 million for the intelligence community management account that provides the principal funding for the ODNI.

To read the full text, see Washington Post

A Crisis Almost Without Equal
Republicans and Democrats alike are starting to face the prospect of what it means to have George W. Bush as their commander in chief for another 33 months -- in a time of war, terrorism, and nuclear intrigue. How can the press contribute to confronting the crisis? First: recognize it exists.

By Greg Mitchell
Editor & PUblisher

Blog editor's note: Mitchell is managing editor of E & P, the "bible" of the American newspaper industry. There are beginning to appear a number of pieces in the nooks and crannies of journalism that sound a similar theme. It will be interesting to see whether a mainstream press that has largely given President Bush the benefit of the doubt since 9-11 has now turned a corner.

(April 19, 2006) -- No matter which party they generally favor or political stripes they wear, newspapers and other media outlets need to confront the fact that America faces a crisis almost without equal in recent decades.

Our president, in a time of war, terrorism and nuclear intrigue, will likely remain in office for another 33 months, with crushingly low approval ratings that are still inching lower. Facing a similar problem, voters had a chance to quickly toss Jimmy Carter out of office, and did so. With a similar lengthy period left on his White House lease, Richard Nixon quit, facing impeachment. Neither outcome is at hand this time.

To read the full text, see Editor & Publisher

Friday, April 14, 2006

How to Get Out of the Iran Trap

By Anatol Lieven
Special to
April 12, 2006

Blog editor's note: For students in my American foreign policy class, and who are reading "America--Right or Wrong," this piece by its author will be of particular interest.

The Bush administration's strategy regarding Iran's nuclear program is going nowhere. The U.S. demand that Iran permanently terminate even a limited capacity to enrich uranium has been categorically rejected by every Iranian political figure and group, including all the leading reformists. Given the views on the subject held by both the establishment and the mass of the population, it would be political suicide for them to do otherwise.

Because of the radical difference between the way in which the U.S. and the West treat Iran on the one hand and India, Pakistan and Israel on the other, Western demands have been successfully portrayed in Iran as pressure for yet another "treaty of surrender" of the kind which Western powers forced on Iran in the past. Modern Iranian nationalism originated in fury at such treaties.

To read the full text, see Washington Post

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Iraq Findings Leaked by Cheney's Aide Were Disputed

New York Times

WASHINGTON, April 8 — President Bush's apparent order authorizing a senior White House official to reveal to a reporter previously classified intelligence about Saddam Hussein's efforts to obtain uranium came as the information was already being discredited by several other officials in the administration, interviews and documents from the time show.

A review of the records and interviews conducted during and after the crucial period in June and July of 2003 also show that what the aide, I. Lewis Libby Jr., said he was authorized to portray as a "key judgment" by intelligence officers had in fact been given much less prominence in the most important assessment of Iraq's weapons capability.

Mr. Libby said he drew on that report, the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, when he spoke with the reporter. However, the conclusions about Mr. Hussein's search for uranium appear to have been buried deeper in the report in part because of doubts about their reliability.

To read the full text, see New York Times

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Would President Bush go to war to stop Tehran from getting the bomb?


The New Yorker
Issue of 2006-04-17

Blog editor's note: Seymour M. Hersh, of course, is one of the top investigative reporters working on national security issues in the U.S. and is a Pulitizer Prize winner.

The Bush Administration, while publicly advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon, ha increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack. Current and forme American military and intelligence officials said that Air Force planning groups are drawing up lists of targets, and teams o American combat troops have been ordered into Iran, under cover, to collect targeting data and to establish contact with anti-government ethnic-minority groups. The officials say that President Bush is determined to deny the Iranian regime th opportunity to begin a pilot program, planned for this spring, to enrich uranium.

American and European intelligence agencies, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.), agree that Iran is intent on developing the capability to produce nuclear weapons. But there are widely differing estimates of how long that will take, and whether diplomacy, sanctions, or military action is the best way to prevent it. Iran insists that its research is for peaceful use only, in keeping with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and that it will not be delayed or deterred.

There is a growing conviction among members of the United States military, and in the international community, that President Bush’s ultimate goal in the nuclear confrontation with Iran is regime change. Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has challenged the reality of the Holocaust and said that Israel must be “wiped off the map.” Bush and others in the White House view him as a potential Adolf Hitler, a former senior intelligence official said. “That’s the name they’re using. They say, ‘Will Iran get a strategic weapon and threaten another world war?’ ”

A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was “absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb” if it is not stopped. He said that the President believes that he must do “what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,” and “that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.”

To read the full text, see The New Yorker

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Fiery Coulter lambasts liberals, shows support for war
Apr 6, 2006

Blog editor's note: A less charitable soul than I might argue that Ms. Coulter's being paid $32,000 to speak on a university campus is like hiring David Hasselhoff to teach life guarding.

Liberals are "traitors," "cowards" and "idiots," the fiery conservative commentator Ann Coulter told a nearly full house at the University of Florida's Phillips Center for the Performing Arts Wednesday.

And that's just as she was warming up.
In a 30-minute speech, Coulter shifted rapidly between topics as she tossed out barbed one-liners about prominent liberals for an audience of more than 1,000 people, skewering politicians, media personalities and academics.

"A college campus is the last place you should send someone to teach them American values," said the syndicated columnist and author.

While the hour-long question-and-answer session following the speech showed that there were both conservatives and liberals in the audience, the amount of applause seemed to suggest a majority embraced Coulter's views.

Accent, UF's student-run speaker's bureau, paid about $32,000 of its $370,000 annual budget for Coulter's speaking fees, travel and lodging.

U.S. Rolls Out Nuclear Plan--
The administration's proposal would modernize the nation's complex of laboratories and factories as well as produce new bombs.

By Ralph Vartabedian
Los Angeles Times

April 6, 2006

The Bush administration Wednesday unveiled a blueprint for rebuilding the nation's decrepit nuclear weapons complex, including restoration of a large-scale bomb manufacturing capacity.

The plan calls for the most sweeping realignment and modernization of the nation's massive system of laboratories and factories for nuclear bombs since the end of the Cold War.

Until now, the nation has depended on carefully maintaining aging bombs produced during the Cold War arms race, some several decades old. The administration, however, wants the capability to turn out 125 new nuclear bombs per year by 2022, as the Pentagon retires older bombs that it says will no longer be reliable or safe.

To read the full text, see Los Angeles Times

Monday, April 03, 2006

Gen. Zinni: Rumsfeld Should Resign--Retired Marine Gen. Tony Zinni says Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld should resign for his performance during the ongoing conflict in Iraq

April 3, 2006

Blog editor's note: Gen. Zinni was equally adamant in his concerns about invading Iraq BEFORE the war began in 2003. Unfortunately, he was a prophet without much honor in his own country. The American mass media gave little sustained attention to his objections. Gen. Zini is the second prominent former officer to call for Rumsfeld's resignation in as many weeks. A similar call was made by Army Maj. Gen. Paul D. Eaton (ret.) recently in The New York Times.

Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press" this weekend, Zinni - the former head of CENTCOM - said others should follow Rumsfeld's lead, including "those who have been responsible for the planning, for overriding all the efforts that were made in planning before that, [and] those who stood by and allowed this to happen, that didn't speak out."

Zinni added, "There are appropriate ways within the system you can speak out, at congressional hearings and otherwise. I think they have to be held accountable."

Zinni appeared on the Sunday news program to promote his new book, "Battle For Peace," which lays out his case for believing that the Bush administration gravely erred in going to war in Iraq. The general said he had warned as early as 1998 - during the Clinton administration - that an attack on Iraq was not needed and would have serious consequences.

To read the full text, see

Bush Iran Policy Hits a Wall

Global Beat
April 2006

Blog editor's note: Global Beat, which is produced by the Center for War, Peace and the News Media at Boston University, has an excellent summary, including links to a very useful interview, of where the Bush Administration stands just now in relation to its newest threat de jour, Iran. I recommend regular visits to the Global Beat web site for superb links to current analyses, stories and commentaries on world affairs in general and U.S. foreign policy in particular.

The United Nations Security Council last week finally adopted a Presidential Statement on Iran, but one that fell far short of what Washington had wanted. Resistance from China and Russia proved intractable, and rather than threaten action or frame the issue as a threat to global security, it simply urged Iran to comply with IAEA demands within 30 days or else the Council would discuss the matter further. Then, on Wednesday in Berlin, Secretary of State Condi Rice talked of sanctions as a consequence, and again her Russian counterpart rebuked her and insisted that Moscow was opposed to sanctions. More importantly, European diplomats at the talks revealed that their own strategy involved escalating both the pressure and the incentives for Iran to comply. Innocuous as that may sound, it's a direct challenge to a U.S. administration that has pursued non-proliferation diplomacy at the same time as maintaining a "regime-change" agenda in relation to Tehran...

To read the full text, see Global Beat