Thursday Morning Update
After saying for weeks that they would not allow the UN to have a significant role in Iraq, and after saying as recently as last weekend that they would not be offering a new UN resolution at this point, Richard Armitage of the State Department yesterday floated a trial balloon saying that the US would in fact consider a new UN resolution. The new resolution would seek UN legitimacy for the American-led occupation, and allow for UN-coordinated troops to be inserted into Iraq under American commanders. What changed? Bad poll numbers and the realization that our costs are spiraling out of control, with no hope that the oil revenue Bush told us about will be able to cover our costs any time soon. In other words, an operational, financial, and political quagmire a year before an election.
The Los Angeles Times reports this morning that the Iraq Survey Group, the 1,400-member team that Bush and Rummy inserted into Iraq to find the still-nonexistent WMDs under the leadership of their handpicked guy David Kay has still not found significant traces of such weapons after several more months. So what’s the new theory they offer in their defense? The survey group members now feel they were duped by bogus Iraqi defectors and others who intentionally misled the Americans about Saddam’s WMD capabilities, when in fact Saddam had dismantled his WMD industry years ago and had reoriented his approach to a smaller, just-in-time ability to reconstitute such weapons when needed. But wasn’t one of these guys who fits the description of someone misleading us none other than our guy Ahmad Chalabi? And for this new theory to be plausible, wouldn’t it be a confirmation that any and all claims by Bush and Blair of hard data of actual WMDs and their programs be now exposed as falsehoods fed to us by unsavory characters, with no real hard data after all? And wouldn’t that call into question the integrity and factual basis for anything told to us by Bush and Blair on any other problem in the world, like Iran and North Korea?
And on the issue of lying about WMDs, Tony Blair sets a standard for himself that may cause problems for Bush. He says that if it were true that he “sexed up” the dodgy dossier last fall, he should have resigned. With that standard in place, would Bush?
You’ll be heartened to know that Richard Perle now admits that he and the other PNAC crowd made a mistake in not having a ready-made Iraqi opposition ready to assume power, and that we should turn power over to the Iraqis as soon as possible. In other words, we should have had Chalabi funded and ready to install immediately so I could begin collecting my profits.
Well at least Halliburton and Bechtel are finding life good for their bottom lines in Iraq, while the blood of our sons and daughters is spilt for that bonanza.
And Paul Bremer is ready for the next phase of the occupation: carving up Iraq for outside investment, even if it cripples the locals’ ability to set up an entrepreneurial class.
The six-way talks enter their second day in China, with the US having a brief direct chat with Pyongyang, after having said they would not do so. The Bushies are still clinging to the demand that the North do everything first before the United States will give a security guarantee, an intentional nonstarter pushed by the Neanderthals driving our policies. This is no surprise, given that one of the few real-world moderates left in the Bush North Korean foreign policy team, who had extensive experience dealing with Pyongyang, resigned over the weekend. For a good summary of the failures of Bush’s policy towards Pyongyang, read this piece in the latest American Prospect by Ivo Daalder and James Lindsay, which in essence says that while Bush has clung to his simpleton “I won’t negotiate until they crumble” approach, he has allowed the North to become the world’s ninth nuclear power.
Second quarter GDP supposedly clocked in this morning at a robust 3.1%, per the Bush Commerce Department headed by good buddy Don Evans. What made up most of the gains? You guessed it: spiraling defense spending. But such growth has still done little for job creation and in fact has led to weakening corporate profits.
And you know things are bad when the IMF has to lecture you on your budget deficits, noting that as a percent of GDP ours are likely to exceed the standard we hold others to.
The New York Times reports this morning that Clark wants to join the race, and will wait to announce until between September 15th and his foreign policy speech in Iowa on the 19th.