The big American foreign policy giveaway – everything must go!

Part 2 of Raj’s blogging blitz.

A thoroughly interesting report by John J. Tkacik, Jr.

Dealing with Taiwan’s Referendum on the United Nations

I thought one of the most pertinent comments was at the end.

Taiwan is the canary in America’s Asia policy mineshaft. Clearly, a distracted Washington is allowing a laser-focused Beijing to shape the strategic agenda in the Pacific. America’s democratic friends and allies in Asia, from Japan to Singapore to India to Australia, anxiously watch America’s new willingness to accept China’s new preeminence in the region. How the United States defends democratic Taiwan’s international identity in its current crisis will tell Asia and the world much about Washington’s willingness to defend them in future challenges from China.

If the US bends over backwards to please China (sacrificing Taiwan as a result), Washington’s friends in Asia may wonder whether they’ll be next.


The worst possible choice for president

This video should drive a stake through the heart of the Giuliani campaign. Astonishing. Spread the word.



Get rid of your dollars fast

This is serious. Keep your eye on gold. This could be the tipping point.

And don’t say I didn’t warn you.


Paul Krugman: Time to take a stand on General Petraeus

I stopped posting NYT columns a long time ago, but this one is too important not to be read by everyone. You can read the whole thing here. Sometimes I think Krugman is the only big-name pundit who totally gets it. But that’s why reading this column is ultimately so depressing; it seems no one is listening, and the Dems are poised again to do precisely what most voters don’t want them to do, i.e. “compromise” with the Republicans instead of insisting that we face reality and make immediate plans for getting our troops out in a way that will minimize the misery for the Iraqis and for us. We cannot stay forever. When it comes to ending a mistake this calamitous, there’s no time like the present. But no; we now have to suffer more BS about how we’ve broken the back of the insurgency and we’re winning. Declaration of sovereignty…purple fingers…a new constitution…more purple fingers…a failed “surge”…and now the latest phony milestone, the Betray-us report. Iraq, a black hole that will haunt us for generations to come.


The General Betray-us report

Josh Marshall points to an article by Karen DeYoung buried in the WaPo that indicates just how worthless the breathlessly awaited September 11 Petraeus report will be.

We also learn from DeYoung’s article that as a basic matter of categorization, the Petraeus/White House numbers don’t include the deaths of people killed by our friends (new Sunni allies in al Anbar). They don’t include deaths of people killed by members of their own sect (Sunni-on-Sunni, Shia-on-Shia, etc.). They count or don’t count based on things like where a person has been shot in the head.

One intelligence analyst told DeYoung, “If a bullet went through the back of the head, it’s sectarian. If it went through the front, it’s criminal.”

It’s a little difficult to tell from the immediate context of the quote whether there’s a little embellishment or whether that’s literally true in every case about the methodology being used. But taken together what we can glean about the methodology — which I take it is itself classified — is that it is a classic case of presupposing the result in the methodology itself. DeYoung actually has a good quote in her piece from the Iraq Study Group that concisely explains the problem: “Good policy is difficult to make when information is systematically collected in a way that minimizes its discrepancy with policy goals.”


We’ve all read about the fraud this “report” represents – how the goalposts surrounding it were shifted, how the White House itself is writing the report, how General Petraeus, who none us ever heard of until this year, is now all of a sudden the oracle upon whose judgement everything rests, how the report will just be another exercise in cynicism, telling us if we just “turn the next corner” we can win in Iraq although no one can define any more what it means to “win.” And the media are playing their part, pretending with open-eyed wonder that there will actually be something of meaning in this report, something that can, after four torturous years, turn it all around on a dime. America, this is the Bush administration taking you for yet another ride. It’s just one more sham.

John Cole elaborates.

If there is anyone out there who honestly thought Petraeus would come to Congress on the 11th and tell us it was time for a substantial drawdown or anything other than that ‘the surge is working,’ please surrender your car keys to someone sane. I don’t want you on the road. Bush made it clear in his interview with Draper that we are here for the long haul, and that is what is going to happen. We are going to be there, in large numbers, until the military breaks. Or longer. Just get used to it. There is nothing you can do, because the Decider has decided. The dog and pony show that comes next week is just to make things easier politically for doing the course of action that has been chosen- the reports we may withdraw some troops were just something thrown out there to mollify the opposition before getting back to Operation ‘DO WHATEVER THE FUCK WE WANT.’

All of the reports of problems by independent and respected group and backed up by hard data don’t matter. Their recommendations don’t matter. All the administration needs to do is count on the Weekly Standard and Michael O’Hanlon and the rest of the crowd to go out and do what they have been doing for years, and this administration has the cover they need. And if you argue otherwise, Bush and his supporters will claim you aren’t giving our troops what they need to win. Or that it is just the liberal media reporting only bad news.

Last link, and then I’ll leave you alone: A former writer for Stars and Stripes dispassionately demolishes the latest Bush bullshit excuse for staying in Iraq forever, namely that we are there to fight al-Qaeda, which is behind most of the violence. Just one brief excerpt from a splendid article.

[N]o one has more incentive to overstate the threat of AQI than President Bush and those in the administration who argue for keeping a substantial military presence in Iraq. Insistent talk about AQI aims to place the Iraq War in the context of the broader war on terrorism. Pointing to al- Qaeda in Iraq helps the administration leverage Americans’ fears about terrorism and residual anger over the attacks of September 11. It is perhaps one of the last rhetorical crutches the president has left to lean on.

Did I mention what day General Betray-us will be unveiling his Excellent New Report – September 11? Just a coincidence. Except there are no coincidences with this administration that is so obsessed with cheap propaganda gimmicks that manipulate the public’s emotions (“Mission Accomplished,” anyone?). No coincidences, and no shame, either. To hell with them. The sooner the better.


Bill Clinton, First Man? I hope not.

A brief, drowsy pre-bedtime post….

America’s most over-the-hill pundit has written his first interesting piece in years about something that’s become something of a truism in the mass media – that Hillary is way ahead of her competition and will most likely be the Democratic choice (something I don’t believe is true but fear could become true if enough people accept it as an unassailable truth).

Anyway, the last graf left me thinking. And thinking.

But one thing is absolutely clear. Her marriage is the central fact in her life, and this partnership of Bill and Hillary Clinton is indissoluble. She cannot function without him, and he would not have been president without her. If she becomes president, he will play as central a role in her presidency as she did in his. And that is something the country will have to ponder.

People here know I admired Clinton. I admired him for doing what a president must do, i.e., persuade and communicate, to lift up the people’s morale and reinforce a sense of purpose and security. John Kenned, Franklin Roosevelt and, yes, Ronald Reagan all had this gift.

And yet, I don’t want to see a return to Clintonism because I don’t think it’s what our country needs to heal from the one-two punches the Bush mis-administration has inflicted on its skull. Along with his polished powers of persuasion, Clinton represented a further shift of the Democratic Party away from being the party of “the people” – i.e., the working people – and one that was nearly as in bed with corporate America as the Republicans on the other side of the aisle.

I think I’m resigned to the sad fact that anyone who manages to get elected president has to be in bed with Big Business to some degree. I now find myself attracted to the two I find the least deeply entrenched in the bed, Edwards and Obama. I can’t say I know what Obama stands for (can anyone?); I just know he has the power of communication and an apparent decency and honesty and forthrightness that I find a healthy antidote to the stammering, near-insane jabbering and undisguised selfishness we’ve had to endure from our current president these past 6.5 years.

I wrote John Edwards off a few months ago, believing the evil “Breck girl’ caricature created by she-devil Ann Coulter was an indelible stamp he couldn’t shake off. Now I’m not so sure, as I hear rumblings of his making a comeback. I can’t express how thrilled I am to hear it; it signals to me that maybe there are other Americans – perhaps even a majority – who yearn for a kinder, gentler government whose first allegiance is to the people they govern and not to the multinationals and hedge fund managers and lobbyists who line their and their cronies’ pockets.

Yes, I know, this post is convoluted, so I’ll end it soon. So here’s the thing: I actually felt a surprise shiver as I read the last lines of Broder’s column, where he says America will need to ponder the fact that Hillary’s election would bring Bill Clinton back into the White House. A shiver, because I honestly believe most Americans at this point would welcome this. They look back at the happier Clinton days with a strong sense of nostalgia and sentimentality, and the allure of a return to the contentedness and easiness of the late-90s after the sheer hell we’ve all been dragged through – well, it’s nearly irresistible.

I just hope we all resist it. It isn’t what America needs and it isn’t the direction in which we should be going. I’ll vote for Hillary (and thus, according to Broder, for Bill) if she’s the final nominee, but it will be with reluctance and apprehension, not hope and optimism. I hope America realizes after being pulled so violently in the wrong direction, we need someone who will stand up to the forces that drove us there, and not cooperate or even kowtow to them. Edwards and Obama are the last and best hopes we have. Edwards more so, since I have a better idea of what his vision is and agree with it with all my heart. So it’s time to say no to Bill and Hillary and to send America in a different direction altogether. And I think a lot of American agree, in spite of the media’s insistence that Hillary’s ascension is a given.

Good night.


Is there anything in China that someone won’t copy?

That’s strictly a rhetorical question; we all know the answer. The point is driven home in this story of a Chinese official who, as he faced the judge at his corruption trial, recited a lugubrious apology, his voice choked with contrition. Only problem was, he had cribbed the apology from another corrupt official. Why reinvent the wheel when you can just copy and paste?

Music, books and Hollywood films… China can now add testimonies of regret by corrupt officials to its exhaustive list of copyright violations.

Zhang Shaocang, former Communist Party chief of state-owned power company Anhui Province Energy Group Co Ltd, wept as he read a four-page “letter of apology” during his corruption trial at a court in Fuyang, Anhui, according to a Procuratorial Daily report reproduced in Wednesday’s Beijing News.

But Zhang’s sentiments were later found to be strikingly similar to those of Zhu Fuzhong, a disgraced former party chief of Tongan village in southwestern Sichuan province, whose apology letter was printed in the Procuratorial Daily less than two weeks before.

“Before working, I never gave much thought to money and regarded achievement as the starting point and end result of my work,” the paper quoted both of the letters as saying. “I gradually lost my bearings and the scope of my position,” Zhang said at his trial, an exact copy of Fu’s own wording.

Apart from using whole sentences word for word, Zhang also — more craftily — made “slight changes” in other areas.

Sounds like another cutter and paster I once knew…


Return of Chinabounder?

Remember when the “Shanghai sex blogger” scandalette last year whipped the China blogosphere into a frenzy, leading to the blog’s demise? It looks like someone’s trying to fill the gap (so to speak). Only problem is, he’s not nearly as good a writer as Chinabounder was and if you’re looking for nuggets of insight into life in China (which I thought Chinabounder did provide every now and then) you’ll have come to the wrong place. Good for a one-time laugh (or groan), but he’s not going on my blogroll anytime soon.

On a side note: it looks like Blogspot , Technorati and Wikipedia and some other banned sites are available again. One of China’s chief points of vulnerability as the Olympics approach is its Internet censorship. Are they trying to clean house to appear less authoritarian, or is it just another instance of some sadistic bureaucrat fucking with our heads?