Guess who “has re-emerged as a central figure in the latest U.S. strategy for Iraq” accord to McClatchey’s Nancy Youssef? That’s right: Ahmed Chalabi! Let the good times roll.
Those of us who have never tried to push a bill through Congress can’t appreciate what a difficult and frustrating process it is. It’s time we do — and time we take to the streets.
Some weeks ago, I posted a column about the Lieberman-Warner climate bill, which proposes that by 2020, we reduce greenhouse gas emissions 15% below their level in 2005. That’s less than half the goal set by the European Union – the equivalent of a 32% reduction in emissions by 2020 compared to 2005. The Lieberman-Warner cap is hardly a model policy for the world’s second-largest source of GHG emissions. I was not happy with a group of U.S. environmental leadership who endorsed that goal in a letter to Congress.
I spent time last week with one of those leaders — a man who carries a picture of his grandson in his shirt pocket to remind him of why working on the climate issue is worth the grief he gets from people like me – and I gained a different perspective: Inadequate action on the Hill is the result of inadequate action on the streets. The political calculus for climate caps is the same as it is for virtually every other dicey issue in Congress: Members feel they are more likely to keep their seats supporting a 15% reduction than supporting a 30% reduction.
We need to flip that calculation, making bold climate action the best way for members of Congress and presidential candidates to win the next election, and that puts the burden back on us voters. While our environmental leaders are chasing legislative aides through the halls of the Capitol, the rest of us need to take to the streets in a nonviolent show of solidarity that elected officials cannot ignore.
The movement to the streets may take legs this week.
“Ahmad Chalabi, the controversial, ubiquitous Iraqi politician and one-time Bush administration favorite, has re-emerged as a central figure in the latest U.S. strategy for Iraq.” Chalabi “is an important part of the process,” said Col. Steven Boylan, Petraeus’ spokesman. “He has a lot of energy.”
UPDATE: Salon’s Glenn Greenwald is engaged in a bizarre email exchange with Boylan. Read all about it here.
Just about everyone, according to Steve Clemons who was there over the weekend:
But unlike the clamor of candidates to speak at the annual AIPAC conference or to appear at various national security forums in Israel, this important Michigan-based conference of the great and the good among Arab Americans was given a frosty shoulder by leading candidates of both parties, and I think that is outrageous. [...]
First of all, I want to applaud the fact that Ron Paul, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, and Bill Richardson took the time to be at this important assembly of Arab Americans.
Let me clap with just one hand the fact that Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Barack Obama sent videotaped greetings and had “surrogates” represent them in exchanges with the large audience. [...]
None of the Republicans other than Paul had a serious presence there. Mitt Romney had someone put out some brochures — but neither he, nor Rudy Giuliani, nor Fred Thomspon, nor John McCain sent anyone to meet with national leaders of the premier Arab American leadership conference in the nation.
It’s a bit of a sad state of affairs. Obviously, politicians shouldn’t feel any particular compulsion to agree with the Arab-American Institute’s policy views if they think they’re wrong on the merits, but it hardly seems like too much to ask for a little engagement with this bloc of people.
David Greenberg’s rundown of Rudy Giuliani’s frightening authoritarianism reminds me of one episode from my youth that I’d forgotten: “In 1999, for example, he directed (without the City Council’s permission) the police to permanently confiscate the cars of people charged with drunken driving — even if the suspects were later acquitted.” Greenberg describes this as “Cheney-esque” but while the Bush administration has certainly been happy to act with a cavalier indifference to the guilt or innocence of the people they’re surveilling, detaining without counsel, torturing, etc. I think even they have never claimed the right to punish people who’ve been certified as innocent.
I’m happy to believe that the standard of living in Malawi is deplorable (have I plugged the ONE Campaign recently?) but Gregory Clark’s argument that living standards are actually worse than they were for stone age hunter-gatherers seems a bit hard to believe. This comes to me via Brad DeLong who seems to agree. Either way, I keep meaning to read Clark’s book and it certainly does seem interesting.
Prior to the Iraq war, International Atomic Energy Agency chairman Mohammed ElBaradei warned there was “no evidence of ongoing prohibited nuclear or nuclear-related activities in Iraq.” He was subsequently smeared by the administration, but ultimately vindicated as the recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize for getting it right.
Today on CNN, ElBaradei sounded alarms about the Bush administration’s increasingly hawkish rhetoric in regards to Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions. “We have the time” to use diplomacy, ElBaradei urged. There is “no military solution” with Iran:
I very much have concern about confrontation, building confrontation, Wolf, because that would lead absolutely to a disaster. I see no military solution. The only durable solution is through negotiations and inspections. … My fear if that we continue to escalate from both sides from both sides that we would end up into a precipice, we would end up into an abyss.
ElBaradei poured water over Vice President Cheney’s confident declaration last week that “Iran is pursuing technology that could be used to develop nuclear weapons. The world knows this.” While ElBaradei did not rule out Iran having an “intent” to obtain nuclear weapons, he explained that there is no evidence that Iran is currently pursuing such a program right now:
I have not received any information that there is a concrete, active nuclear weapon program going on right now. … We have information that there have been maybe some studies about possible weaponization. But we are looking into these alleged studies with Iran right now. … But have we seen having the nuclear material that can be readily used into a weapon? No. Have we seen an active weaponization program? No. So there is a concern, but there is also time to clarify these concerns.
ElBaradei also urged the U.S. to halt its fiery rhetoric and directly engage Iran in talks: “The earlier we go into negotiation, the earlier we follow the North Korean model, the better for everybody.”
I’m not sure Wesley Clark’s defense of Hillary Clinton’s support of the Kyl-Lieberman amendment was convincing, but it was the sort of thing that might convince. Clark is, after all, a great proxy to have doing outreach to more dovish voters for you — an Iraq War opponent, a committed multilateralist, and someone with deep ties to the blogosphere. Madeleine Albright not so much. When people worry that an HRC administration might be too hawkish, Albright is part of what we’re worrying about, she a member of the hawkish “strategic class” circle that Clinton was aligning herself with when she voted to authorize war with Iraq.
Fox Panel: Dems Are ‘Terribly Weak’ If They Don’t Threaten ‘Devastating Military Strike’ Against Iran
Earlier this week, the Bush administration ratcheted up its rhetoric towards Iran, imposing unilateral sanctions that are considered the “broadest set of punitive measures imposed on Tehran since 1979.” The White House also requested $88 million to equip B-2 “stealth” bombers with a new 30,000-pound bunker buster, which is being seen by members of Congress as a “sign of plans for an attack on Iran.”
On Fox News Sunday today, Fox’s Brit Hume and the Weekly Standard’s William Kristol enthusiasticly endorsed the new pro-war posturing, calling it “useful for Iran to believe that this administration will stop at nothing to keep it from getting a nuclear weapon.”
Hume claimed that it “make[s] sense” to threaten Iran with “a devastating military strike,” adding that Iran probably wants Democrats to be “in charge” because they look “terribly weak” in criticizing the “alleged saber rattling”:
Doesn’t it make sense that you want Iran to believe that if you keep this up, they might be the subject of a devastating military strike of the kind that only the United States of America can mount. I would think so. And it seems to me when you have Democrats running around, wringing their hands about alleged saber rattling that it makes them look terribly weak, and in the end if you’re the head of Iran, you think, “well, we want those people in charge.”
Discussing the bunker buster, Kristol said it was “ludicrous” and “ridiculous” for the administration to explain why it wants the new bomb because “there might be others that we want to bomb, not just in Iran.” Watch it:
Hume and Kristol’s bellicose rhetoric is actually counterproductive to finding a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The increasing talk of bombing Iran is thwarting U.N. efforts to forge international consensus, as other nations worry their vote could be “exploited” to support military action. The inability to find common ground then precipitates unilateral actions by the U.S. and sets the stage for military confrontation.
“Thousands of people called for a swift end to the war in Iraq as they marched through downtown [San Francisco] on Saturday, chanting and carrying signs that read: ‘Wall Street Gets Rich, Iraqis and GIs Die’ or ‘Drop Tuition Not Bombs.’”
Vince Robbins, 51, of Mount Holly, N.J., said there needed to be more rallies and more outrage. “Where’s the outcry? Where’s the horror that almost 4,000 Americans have died in a foreign country that we invaded?” Robbins said. “I’m almost as angry at the American people as I am the president. I think Americans have become apathetic and placid about the whole thing.”