This morning on MSNBC, White House Counselor Dan Bartlett used a New York Times report to falsely claim Saddam Hussein “had the capability and he had the know-how to” develop nuclear weapons. Watch it:
The Times report documents Iraq’s efforts to conduct nuclear research before the 1991 Persian Gulf war and prior to sanctions. Contrary to Bartlett’s claim, Iraq had no nuclear capability at the time of the U.S. invasion in March 2003. Here are the facts, as reported in the Key Findings of the Duelfer Report:
– “Saddam Husayn ended the nuclear program in 1991 following the Gulf war. ISG found no evidence to suggest concerted efforts to restart the program.”
– “Although Saddam clearly assigned a high value to the nuclear progress and talent that had been developed up to the 1991 war, the program ended and the intellectual capital decayed in the succeeding years.”
– “The former Regime had no formal written strategy or plan for the revival of WMD after sanctions.”
Transcript: Read more
Hm . . . looks like Mike Pence is already trying to gin up support for a leadership bid in the wake of a GOP electoral defeat. Pence is a hard-right type, and a proponent of the view that insufficient adherence to small-government orthodoxy is the source of the Republican Party’s problems. As an analysis, I think that’s pretty daft, and if the GOP really does react to defeat by moving the direction of Pence-ism, I think they’ll find it doesn’t help them much.
One of the oddities of the way congressional elections work in the USA is that when a party goes down to defeat in House elections, it tends to be the party’s most moderate members who lose, precisely because they’re likely to represent the rare swing districts. These relative moderates will be paying the price for their failure to in any meaningful way moderate the GOP’s agenda. The upshot, however, will be to leave behind a caucus that’s even more extreme and thus give the advantage to people like Pence who thinks the Republicans need to move right.
Robert Farley disagrees with me about the new counterinsurgency push inside the US Army. Or at least he thinks he does. I’m not sure we actually do disagree. I don’t think it’s a bad idea at all for the Army to start thinking about this issue more clearly. My worry is that they’re not actually getting this right. In his critique of US counterinsurgency policy of the typical American errors Jeffrey Record identifies is a proclivity for apolitical and astrategic thinking that ignores the linkages between military operations and policy objectives.
The new field manual pays lip-service to political-military linkages, but I don’t feel like it really grasps them. In particular, I worry that this is implicitly promoting the view that Vietnam and Iraq were primarily operational failures that could have “worked” had the US government adopted sounder counterinsurgency tactics. In fact, I think a clear-eyed look at counterinsurgency theory would tell you the reverse. In Iraq, we almost certainly could have produced a less FUBAR situation with better counterinsurgency tactics, but adopting such tactics would have entailed abandonning the main policy goal of the war — transformation of Iraq into an ally of America’s quest for regional hegemony.
Obviously, it’s not really the Army’s job to set overall foreign policy for the United States. At the same time, however, the top brass ill-serves the country if it promotes the idea that it’s prepared to achieve things that it is not, in fact, prepared to achieve. People need to be aware that there are real, objective limits on what military force can accomplish and that our military is composed of soldiers rather than magicians.
This morning on NBC, former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card excused the Bush administration’s role in posting nuclear weapons secrets on a public web site, and instead blamed the New York Times for having “advertised” the secrets “to the world.”
Card said “it’s important that we recognize the government is doing the right thing” and claimed the government “acted very quickly” to remove the nuclear secrets.
According to the Times, the nuclear secrets have been available for weeks despite an incident last spring when information on how to make tabun and sarin nerve agents had to be removed from the site. Moreover, U.S. officials were warned last week by the International Atomic Energy Association that the information available “could help states like Iran develop nuclear arms.” The web site wasn’t removed until last night, after the Times began its inquiry.
Full transcript: Read more
Oh, man, I was hanging out with a friend yesterday and we were talking about getting some food. She suggested local gay burger joint Dakota Cowgirl as an appealing venue, so I put my rampant homophobia aside and went. Everything seemed fine, but apparently my worst fears have come true and the burger turned me gay. Even worse, the fries were undercooked.
“We don’t have to debate about what we should think about homosexual activity, it’s written in the Bible.” Watch it (from the new documentary “Jesus Camp“):
(HT: Evangelical Right)
I find it odd how frequently NBA commentators don’t seem to pay attention to what’s actually happening, instead just relying on vague impressions and reputations. During last night’s Spurs-Mavericks matchup, for example, we kept hearing about how San Antonio wants to slow down the pace whereas Dallas likes to play fast. Similarly, the morning after Marc Stein observes that “Dallas knows its game devolved into a fruitless succession of isolations that led to missed jumpers, enabling the Spurs to finally slow things down, albeit six months too late.” But while last year’s Spurs team was, as usual, slow 23rd in the league in pace, last years’ Mavericks were also slow. Indeed, they were slower than San Antonio, 27th in the league in pace.
Insofar as the pace got slow, that was because the game featured two slow-paced teams facing off against each other, not San Antonio controlling the pace. Similarly, while it’s true that Dallas ran a lot of isolation plays last night, and it’s true that Dallas lost the game, it’s highly implausible to say they lost because they ran so much isolation. Dallas had the most efficient offensive in the league in 2005-2006 and also had the fewest assists in the league. The New Dallas, in other words, just is a slow-paced, isolation-oriented team. The strategy didn’t work last night, but that’s the strategy (and it worked well across last season), it’s not some kind of error or one-off occurence.
Being liberals, we liberals often don’t have exactly the best sense of where various rightwing Christian leaders stand vis-a-vis each other. Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, for example, while still famous and certainly of considerable historical importance, aren’t the forces within Evangelism that they once were. So, how much does Ted Haggard matter? Noam Scheiber suggests this graphic as a telling illustration of where he fits in, and I tend to agree. He also has a good joke.
Shadenfreude and hypocrisy aside, though, it’s be nice — unrealistic, perhaps, but nice — if people took this as an opportunity to learn something. Obviously, the other men in that image with Haggard — Tony Perkins, James Dobson, etc. — know him, get along with him, and have worked with him as a colleague, like him, think he’s a good man, and so forth. And Dobson and Perkins aren’t alone. Lots of people have worked with or for Haggard over the years. He’s a widely respected man in this country. Should all those people who know him, and have followed him really so sharply revise their views of Haggard, or should they revise their views of gay people? The latter, I think, though I’m not optimistic that’s how it’ll play.