The Rants, Raves, Gripes, and Prophecies of Paul R. Potts

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Wed, 17 Nov 2004 He Wasn't My Guy

More in re: "you're just mad that your guy lost." For the record: Kerry wasn't "my guy." At the last, I wasn't willing to vote for the lesser of two evils, going with the "anybody but Bush" theory. I wasn't able to vote for Kucinich, so I had to settle for Nader. Yes, Nader. To quote Doonesbury: "Flush!"

Of course, Michigan was not actually a swing state, so in practice my vote didn't matter. The electoral college saw to that. At least, my presidential vote. In the local races and ballot initiatives, I might actually have had some way. That's something lost in the debate over vote-counting; if it is possibly to conduct large-scale fraud with direct-read, e-voting machines, how much easier is it to tilt a state or city election?

Kerry lost my vote when he didn't take a fundamental stance against the war. He wanted to have it both ways. The Kerry I wanted to vote for was the young Kerry; that Kerry wasn't "nuanced" in protesting what was going on in Vietnam. Yes, we're still fighting Vietnam - believe it! We needed to get out, period.

That's pretty much what has to happen here. I admired Kerry's seriousness and calm demeanor in the debates, but he just wasn't a a true opposition candidate. His vague plan to internationalize the occupation is too little, too late. Applying "nuance" in Iraq will just drag it out and result in more death. Even a new president with, one might hope, increased international credibility, will not be able to convince other countries to sink with us in this swamp of our own creation.

No more good can grow from this poisoned seed. It is time to cut and run. We can't secure Iraq, and it is getting worse. We can't even provide sufficient security for NGOs to get in and help provide emergency food and medical care. Anyone seen as having any connections to the US will be targeted. The best we can do is fund regional Arab-state organizations to try to clean up our mess, pay reparations, and acknowledge that we never should have invaded. The whole catastrophe is prima facie evidence that we need to join the ICC ASAP. There is no room in the world for "Team America: World Police." There is no true impunity. You can't get away from the law of karma, and we've been dropping a hell of a lot of thousand-pound bombs.

Saddam is gone, and that's a good thing, but it is inarguable that the world is far more dangerous. Saddam was a defanged mad dog, a contained threat to no one but his own people, and thus no justification to violating Iraq's sovereignty. Countries just can't operate like this. We wouldn't tolerate it, and our motives are far from pure.

The entire history of Iraq is the history of ill-advised Western meddling. The solution is not more meddling, although there is truth to Powell's "you break it, you bought it" warning. We've bought it, but we can't fix it. Iraq is where those who didn't learn anything about Vietnam will have to learn those lessons this time around. Iraq is where the neocon's perverse idealism was tested against hard reality and lost. We don't need any more naked greed disguised as faith-based foreign policy. We need a short-term exit strategy and we need it to be implemented now. But we're not going to get it. Bush's cabinet purge is the triumph of rhetoric over reality.

Do you realize that we used napalm in Fallujah? Shall we talk about the purity of our arms? But it's OK; they were just dark-skinned Islamist terrorists. It isn't anything like what we did in Vietnam, right? Right?

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Mon, 13 Oct 2003 Spinning the War

You know, some days I wake up and think that maybe everything I know is wrong. I mean, our leaders must have our best interests at heart, right? Their policies must make sense. They're going to leave our country in better shape than they found it, and make the world a safer and saner place. Maybe it's just that I'm confused, or flooded with too much propaganda from the left-wing media.

Then something makes me shake it off. Today it was Andrew Sullivan, and the realization that the Bush administration doesn't even need to make sense or show any consistency. They've got plenty of people who are trying to make sense out of their policies: literally, trying to spin them into something that seems rational and reasonable, even though they aren't. Andrew is one of them. He'll defend the war in Iraq, even to the point of coming up with justifications for it that were never made, and denying that the justifications the administration did give us for the war really happened. It's this kind of spinning that makes my head spin and makes me wonder if I'm losing my memory. But I'm not.

Did you hear the one about how the war was not about Iraq posing an imminent threat to the U.S. and to the world?

Andrew is still harping on that theme. But he's making a mistake. He's claiming that "imminent threat" is a meme, but then what he points out is the literal use of the term "imminent" by the critics of the war, and that administration officials didn't use that specific term. This leads to nonsense like:

"So we get the baldfaced untruth that the war was because Iraq posed an "imminent" threat. It wasn't..."

That's news to me. It doesn't seem to jibe with Bush's State of the Union address, either, in which he made the case for the war as follows:

Today, the gravest danger in the war on terror, the gravest danger facing America and the world, is outlaw regimes that seek and possess nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. These regimes could use such weapons for blackmail, terror, and mass murder. They could also give or sell those weapons to terrorist allies, who would use them without the least hesitation.

(And then he gave us the laundry list... 500 tons of sarin, mustard, and VX... 29,984 unaccounted-for munitions capable of delivering chemical agents... mobile biological weapons labs).

Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications, and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al Qaeda. Secretly, and without fingerprints, he could provide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists, or help them develop their own.

The "money quote," to use Sullivan's term:

The world has waited 12 years for Iraq to disarm. America will not accept a serious and mounting threat to our country, and our friends and our allies. The United States will ask the U.N. Security Council to convene on February the 5th to consider the facts of Iraq's ongoing defiance of the world. Secretary of State Powell will present information and intelligence about Iraqi's legal -- Iraq's illegal weapons programs, its attempt to hide those weapons from inspectors, and its links to terrorist groups.

We will consult. But let there be no misunderstanding: If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, for the safety of our people and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him. (Applause.)

There is just no denying that the war was sold to the American public exactly on the basis of "imminent threat." Just look at the words: "gravest danger," "gravest danger facing America and the world," "blackmail, terror, and mass murder," and "for the safety of our people and for the peace of the world."

Sulivan goes on:

The casus belli was not proof of Saddam's existing weapons, but proof of his refusal to cooperate fully with U.N. inspectors or account fully for his WMD research...

Bush didn't use the term "casus belli," but that doesn't mean there wasn't one; he didn't use it because his audience wouldn't have understood it and would have perceived, rightly, that Bush was putting on a pompous pose (casus belli, An act or event that provokes or is used to justify war.)

Does anyone but me remember Colin Powell holding up that vial, used to represent the threat of Iraqui anthrax, before the U.N.? They were trying to scare us. Remember Blair's sexed-up "45-minute" claim? Is 45 minutes "imminent" if you don't use the word "imminent?" Are 29,984 unaccounted-for munitions capable of delivering chemical agents "imminent?" What about if they don't exist? (Perhaps the debate should really be over the threat that was "immanent" - that is, existing in the material universe or human consciousness).

"Imminent" to me means "we don't have time to wait around debating this." And that is exactly the case Bush himself and his administration made, as Sullivan himself quotes:

Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.

Of course, Saddam was not cooperative. One just has to read Scott Ritter's account in his book Endgame to be convinced of this. I'm not defending Saddam, and I'm not trying to convince anyone that he was cooperating with the U.N. Inspections regime as fully as he was required to. But we must ask ourselves: who do we trust more? I was very impressed with Hans Blix's work. I believe that the Iraqui regime was beginning to show cooperation. This was what truly scared the Bush administration: if Saddam was cooperating, there was no good case for invasion. There was also a lot of evidence of American involvement in Saddam's weapons programs to hide. We apparently had to censor Iraq's weapons declaration so that we could continue to declare Saddam an uncooperative madman and America blameless. See [Project Censored){, The Baltimore Chronicle, and The Sunday Herald.

According to Project Censored:

Throughout the winter of 2002, the Bush administration publicly accused Iraqi weapons declarations of being incomplete. The almost unbelievable reality of this situation is that it was the United States itself that had removed over 8,000 pages of the 11,800 page original report.

And from The Sunday Herald:

The full extent of Washington's complete control over who sees what in the crucial Iraqi dossier calls into question the allegations made by US Secretary of State Colin Powell that 'omissions' in the document constituted a 'material breach' of the latest UN resolution on Iraq.

Well, yeah.

Sullivan also writes:

The anti-war left sees a real advantage in stripping down the claims in people's receding memories to ones that were not made but which can now be debunked... It's propaganda, to which the media in particular seems alarmingly prone to parroting. We have to resist it at every stop - because this war has not yet been won, and the really crucial battle, now as before, is at home.

And I couldn't agree more. We have to resist the use of propaganda and remember how the war was sold. And we have to be aware of the sea of propaganda we swim in daily, and keep in mind that retroactive justification for some good that may come from Saddam Hussein's removal from power cannot justify one sovereign nation invading and occupying another that did not pose a credible threat. Not "imminent," credible. And no amount of nitpicking can make that that justification true.

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So the third battle in the "War on Terrorism" has begun. (The first was Afghanistan, lest we forget).

A great piece from Gary Leupp in Counterpunch here:

Colin Powell (not a neocon, but their sometimes reluctant spokesman) told Syria's President Assad in May that Syria would be "on the wrong side of history" unless he took action against Palestinian militant groups in Syria, and prevented volunteers from crossing the 400 mile-long Syria-Iraq border to assist the Iraqi resistance to occupation. Being "on the right side of history," you see, means being on the side of those whose roadmap for peace simply requires Arab governments, like the one in Damascus, to ally with the U.S., recognize Israel, collaborate in the suppression of Palestinian militancy, close down Palestinian news media, accept a noncontiguous Palestinian Bantustan state, acknowledge the demographic inconvenience to Israel of the Palestinian right to return, absorb the Palestinian refugee population at their own expense, eliminate any weapons of mass destruction which might threaten nuclear Israel, actively suppress elements of Islam objectionable to Israel and the U.S., and accept the U.S. occupation of Iraq. It would be helpful, too, if they fully open their markets, place their banks, industries and utilities under foreign control, and host U.S. military bases. That's how to board the historical bandwagon and help implement inevitability.

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Life During Wartime

Lots of fun today.

Now that Israel's following the Bush doctrine of preemptive strikes, we've apparently got no good reason not to emulate Israel and engage in "collective punishment," bulldozing orchards of date palms and citrus trees.

The Carnegie Foundation has a good analysis of the Kay report. Its most important conclusions are that the "lead" -- the most important conclusion -- is buried in the middle of the report:

In the middle of a paragraph halfway through his testimony, Kay presents what should have been his lead finding: "Information found to date suggests that Iraq's large-scale capability to develop, produce, and fill new CW munitions was reduced - if not entirely destroyed - during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Fox, 13 years of UN sanctions and UN inspections." Similarly, three paragraphs into Kay's description of Saddam's intention to develop nuclear weapons, he says: "to date we have not uncovered evidence that Iraq undertook significant post-1998 steps to actually build nuclear weapons or produce fissile material.

Joseph Cirincione also points out that UNMOVIC had a budget of only $60 million and was funded by the U.N., while Kay is requesting $600 million to continue the search for WMD in Iraq. Personally, I have a lot more confidence in Hans Blix and UNMOVIC.

Does this look like a successfully concluded war to you?

Identical letters from Iraq are being sent to hometown newspaters in soldiers' names. They've been published by 11 newspapers. The Olympian received two identical letters over different signatures. The newspaper declined to publish them because it has a policy of not publishing form letters.

Sgt. Christopher Shelton, who signed a letter that ran in the Snohomish Herald, said Friday that his platoon sergeant had distributed the letter and asked soldiers for the names of their hometown newspapers. Soldiers were asked to sign the letter if they agreed with it, said Shelton, whose shoulder was wounded during an ambush earlier this year.


Sgt. Shawn Grueser of Poca, W.Va., said he spoke to a military public affairs officer whose name he couldn't remember about his accomplishments in Iraq for what he thought was a news release to be sent to his hometown paper in Charleston, W.Va. But the 2nd Battalion soldier said he did not sign any letter.

Although Grueser said he agrees with the letter's sentiments, he was uncomfortable that a letter with his signature did not contain his own words or spell out his own accomplishments.

I'm not exactly comfortable with this either.

Bill O'Reilly threw a tantrum on "Fresh Air." I didn't hear it but I'll have to download the program from Audible. Terry Gross is not a hard-hitting interviewer; she rarely challenges or pushes back at her guests, with a few exceptions. (Her best shows, in my opinion, are interviews of musicians, where her love of all different styles of music shows through). I've heard her interview with Al Franken and read his book. She was attempting to give him equal time, but he didn't seem to want it, even facing such a softball interview. He'd rather be able to claim that he attempted to present his views but the interview was far too mired in liberal bias to give him a chance to represent his views accurately. At least, it's a lot easier than actually explaining or recanting the various blatant untruths he's being called on.

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Thu, 07 Aug 2003 Impeachment's Too Good for Them

So, to politics and the "war." It is hard to describe my level of anger these days: every day, the situation becomes more unbelievable. It is very hard to just lapse into utter cynicism. I've been giving more thought to emigration. What the hell has become of this country's leadership? More importantly, what has become of this country's "followership" that we are not rioting?

The president has now claimed "personal responsibility" for everything he said and did. That's great. So when will the trials begin? Impeachment is too good for this crew. An international war crimes tribunal along the lines of the Nuremburg trials is in order. That may seem like an outrageous statement, but let's review:

First, we are not "at war." No one has declared war on us; we have not declared war on anyone. The power to declare a state of war resides in Congress. They have not done so; instead, they gave the president authorization to use force to conduct the "war on terror." Please remember that every time an administration official uses the excuse that "this is a war," or "we are at war," this is inflated rhetoric and not literal truth. The Pearl Harbor attack had a sovereign nation behind it; the September 11th, 2001 attacks had a shadowy, stateless cabal.

Second, we were not at risk from Iraq. Every element of the administration's case that Iraq represented an imminent threat to the security of the United States has been shown to be false or grossly exaggerated. The case the administration made regarding the danger of Weapons of Mass Destruction, far from being just sixteen words in the State of the Union address, was hammered home consistently and repeatedly on many occasions. Make no mistake, this was a big, big lie, not just an exaggeration on an occasion or two. The case for links between Iraq and al-Quaeda was also a lie.

It was on these grounds that that administration led us, not "to war" exactly, but to the violent invasion, occupation, and demolition of a sovereign nation. This is a war crime on a scale virtually without precedent, known in international law as aggression.

Based on these lies, the United States did this to a nation with which we were not at war. We did not just "liberate the Iraqui people." We:

What did we achieve? What do we expect to achieve? Is this the way to do it? If our case was to end the suffering of the Iraqui people under Saddam Hussein's administration, was this the way to do it? If this was our real agenda, we've done a shockingly poor job of it. If it wasn't our real agenda, what was? Can this really be all about control of oil? If so, we've done a pretty piss-poor job of that, too. Support for Israel?

One thing should be glaringly obvious: a tissue of lies cannot justify this naked aggression. To go to war, declared or not, to invade a sovereign nation and kill its people -- this is pretty much the gravest act a nation can undertake. A decision to do what we have done should never be taken lightly. I believe it is possible for military action to be justifiable, but if ever there was a case in which it was not, this is it.

Liberia has been begging for American intervention. We ignored them for months. A humanitarian disaster zone demanding "regime change," we've said "we're going to let the U.N. handle this one." (Apparently, we've now got a few advisors on the ground). Is this the same U.N. that we declared "irrelevant" because it would not rubber-stamp our rush to invade Iraq?

This appears to me to be the most openly and blatantly corrupt and corporatist administration America has ever seen. We've got Richard Perle, the unelected antichrist, threatening to sue people for telling the truth about his profiteering. We've got Paul Wolfowitz, who has suggested that liberating the Iraqui people was "not a reason to put American kids' lives at risk, certainly not on the scale we did," but that allowing the U.S. to withdraw troops from Saudi Arabia was a "huge" factor and that WMD was chosen for "bureaucratic" reasons. But does this make any sense? Most of the 9-11 hijackers were Saudi, and the administration has been hiding intelligence regarding Saudi Arabia's role in 9-11 -- even over Saudi Arabia's strenuous objections.

We've got secret blacklists of American dissidents. We've got fiscal policy that seems to involve playing chicken with bankruptcy. Radio and television stations that run anti-Bush ads are being threatened with revocation of their FCC licensing. Free speech and civil liberties are becoming increasingly things that exist only for the right kind of people.

We've got the most blatant and openly corrupt and criminal administration in American history lying, manipulating, cheating, and profiting. If this is not a case for impeachment, then no such case can ever be made; if it is not a case of criminal wrongdoing, then no act by a government official could ever be criminal. Is this what it has come down to?

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Wed, 16 Apr 2003 U.S. Arrogance on Weapons Inspection May Cost Soldiers, Civilians Dearly

So, what's the best way to guarantee that Iraqui uranium goes missing: continue a U.N.-backed inspection regime, or bring war and anarchy to the region with un-briefed, un-trained military personnel?

It's not a trick question. On his Thursday, April 10th weblog entry, Andrew Sullivan posted this brief and provocative bit:

IS THIS IT? Fox News reports on a labyrinth of tunnels and labs in Southern Iraq, where buildings are testing positive for radiation. This may not turn out to be a nuclear research facility. But it strikes me as a sign of what we might soon find.

Sullivan linked to Fox News, where an article here with the headline "Weapons Grade Plutonium Possibly Found at Iraqui Nuke Complex" in which they state:

While officials aren't prepared to call the discovery a "smoking gun," two preliminary tests conducted on the material have indicated that it may be weapons-grade plutonium.

Is this the same kind of "preliminary test" which found sarin and other chemical agents in containers of pesticides? Note the rather provocative wording: "weapons grade plutonium" and "nuke." Wow, this is big news, right? Iraq actually had nukes? Damn, we were right! Hold that thought.

The Fox News story goes on (Good Lord, does it ever):

The discovery of the underground labyrinth of labs and warehouses was unexpected, Fox News has confirmed...

Is this credible? Did American ground troops find something new and threatening that the weapons inspectors were unaware of? Fox News quotes a Capt. John Seegar:

"I've never seen anything like it, ever," he told the Tribune-Review. "How did the world miss all of this? Why couldn't they see what was happening here?"

Then they quote "Former Iraqui Scientist" Gazi George:

"The high levels of radiation suggest it's a high-level nuclear waste that was stored underground, trying to hide it for the process of repurposing it for the future... or just to make dirty bombs out of the material that's down there," George said.

"If the material has not been disclosed by Iraqis to the United Nations... [then] definitely this material was hidden there to use it as a source for extracting plutonium chemically and using it in dirty bombs."

"Saddam always tried to hide... uranium or other nuclear fuels so we could use them in the future for weapons of mass destruction."

George said it's important the coalition find Iraqi scientists who know about these weapons so they can hunt down the harmful material and destroy it.

"I think this demonstrates the failure of the U.N. weapons inspections and demonstrates that our guys are going to find the weapons of mass destruction."

Wow, an insider who knows all about this stuff. This is hot news, right? Those moronic inspectors; that useless U.N. Right?

It took me barely ten seconds of googling to determine that, in reality, yes, this was a "nuclear research facility." But it is far from a revelation.

Gazi George has been in exile from Iraq for twenty years. He lives in the Detroit area now. See this link. Twenty years is a long time. Now, I'm not claiming he doesn't know a lot about what was going on in Iraq twenty years ago; I'm sure he does. And quite likely, the statements he gave Fox News were measured and reasonable, especially given his personal experience. But note his phrasing: "If the material has not been disclosed..." The material has been disclosed. And inspected. Many times.

In fact, this facility is the Tuwaitha nuclear complex: see this page from, and also this page, which contains the following text taken from an UNSCOM report in 1997:

Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center: Main site for Iraqi nuclear program. Activities included: several research reactors, plutonium separation and waste processing, uranium metallurgy, neutron initiator development and work on number of methods of uranium enrichment. Tuwaitha also is the location of the Osiraq reactor bombed by Israel in 1981. All nuclear fuel at this site was removed under IAEA monitoring. Equipment directly tied to the nuclear weapons program was destroyed in place.

And according to Haaretz,

...the Vienna-based IAEA [International Atomic Energy Commission] - which has inspected Tuwaitha at least two dozen times and maintains a thick dossier on the site - said Iraq was allowed to keep several tons of low-grade uranium and other nuclear material there under IAEA seal because the material could not be used directly for weapons.

Later in the same article:

Tuwaitha contains 1.8 tons of low-grade enriched uranium and several tons of natural and depleted uranium. The uranium was inspected by the UN nuclear agency twice a year.

IAEA inspectors visited Tuwaitha about a dozen times since December and most recently on Feb. 6. It was among the first sites that IAEA inspectors sought out after the resumption of inspections on Nov. 27 after a nearly four-year break.

It may have been inspected even more recently: see this report which indicates that at least a cursory inspection was performed on March 10th of this year. So what do we have here? This was a place where a lot of material from Iraq's nuclear program was found, but left in place, because it was easier and safer to leave in place and inspect it, than to attempt to remove tons of uranium from a presumably highly contaminated site. Material suitable for weapons-building was removed.

Does Fox News do any research whatsoever? Or is that just a dumb question? Geez, there are even some primary source documents (a declassified, edited CIA report) out there for the plucking. There are frickin' PowerPoint slides of a visual walkthough of the place. Ten seconds of Googling.

It gets worse: Fox News doesn't even search its own archived stories. This Fox News story here, dated December 9, 2002, describes an inspection at the site. I guess Fox News has a short memory:

Inspection teams scoured the three nuclear sites near the town of al-Tuwaitha, 15 miles southeast of Baghdad, picking up from where U.N. nuclear agency inspectors left off in 1998, when they left Iraq amid disputes between Baghdad and the United Nations.

Many buildings at the three sites -- including the giant al-Tuwaitha nuclear complex -- were destroyed in heavy U.S. bombing in the 1991 Gulf War. Through the 1990s, al-Tuwaitha was scrutinized by U.N. nuclear agency inspectors under a postwar U.N. monitoring regime to ensure Iraq did not develop weapons of mass destruction."

But their journalism of late 2002 is not inflammatory enough to use in 2003. And Fox News knows it is preferable to whip up hysteria than it is to offer information. And, apparently, so does Andrew Sullivan. He suggests this may be a "smoking gun." He links to the Fox News story that claims possible plutonium when none is likely to be present, and which implies that the world did not know what was going on at Tuwaitha, until the brave American soldiers uncovered this horror. And this "money quote," to use a term Sullivan likes to use, will be the one that people remember. Fox would love to leave us with the impression that the inspections were a farce. Certainly, Iraq was deceptive; certainly, Iraq was uncooperative. But the inspectors did know a thing or two.

Now, the thing is, this is a scary news story. But not because of plutonium, and not because of "nukes." There are parts of the story that we should consider to be the scary parts, if we think straight and don't resort to hysteria. There's some talk about a hidden underground complex that one source claimed the inspectors may have been unaware of. That's interesting and possibly frightening, but I'm waiting to form an opionion on it, as any reasonable person should do, until I see corroborative evidence. (Recall that the inspectors had ground-penetrating radar, and certainly had the detectors necessary to find radioactive materials, but if they were unaware or kept out of certain hidden parts of the complex, that's news). There are reports of recent construction at the Tuwaitha complex. That's interesting. There's also a report of a Finnish "centrifugal pump," which may be a revelation that some parts necessary for enrichment were not destroyed (but enrichment requires a large- scale operation). These don't rise to the level of "scary" yet. But there are two parts that do scare me.

The first part is that marines, apparently completely uninformed about Iraq's nuclear program, were entering the facility. Throwing open doors and examining drums of highly radioactive material, watching their radiation detectors go "off the scale." That's crazy. The Tuwaitha complex was known by the inspectors to be highly radioactive! The apparent ignorance may have put these soldiers at grave risk and just underscores our lack of planning, organization, and willful refusal to even use information provided by the inspections process. But perhaps we shouldn't be surprised at this, given our willingness to expose our own troops to depleted uranium on the battlefield.

The second part is that there is a possibility that the seals have been broken on this material and that some may have been removed. This was not the case at the time of the last inspection on February 6th, and may not have even been the case as of March 10th. But that's what the latest reports are saying.

The power is out at the site. Looters are cutting through the electrified fences and entering the buildings. One possible conclusion is that in the "fog of war," with the demolition of the ongoing inspections regime, we've created conditions for an undetected "smash and grab" of radioactive material, not highly enriched uranium, not plutonium, but still dangerous, and suitable for creation of a dirty bomb to be used within Iraq, against our own troops (as if the battlefield depleted uranium was not enough), or against America on our own soil.

In fact, this isn't the first time we've increased, rather than decreased, the risk. Take a look at this story from Gulf War I. We bombed the Tuwaitha complex. And we wonder now if it might be leaking. During the bombing, Iraq refused to report on the whereabouts of 20 kg. of "highly enriched" (suitable for making a real weapon) that had gone missing.

It is war that leads to the chaos in which this kind of thing can happen, and peace and the cooperative application of international law that prevent it. And those are the part of the story that scares me. Can I get an "amen?"

P.S.: I've written Andrew Sullivan a note informing him that citing such a distorted and inflammatory story from Fox News just makes him look uninformed, and advised him to distance himself from the story's implication that U.S. ground forces "discovered" the activities at the Tuwaitha complex, with a followup post on his site. No response yet.

P.P.S.: This piece has been edited: I removed references to nuclear power in Iraq. It isn't clear to me from the record whether Iraq's reactor(s) were ever used for power generation; although Iraq claimed to be working on reactors for civilian (power-generation) use, it appears they may have been used for "research" (that is, the weapons program) only. Scott Ritter's book "Endgame" talks about Iraq's efforts at building a nuclear weapon and their failure to achieve it.

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Tue, 01 Apr 2003 People of Iraq: Please Give Up

I just heard a commentator on the BBC speaking about how he believed the Iraqui perception that the war is going badly here in the U.S. may be giving them the impression that it will be possible to force the U.S. to abandon the war prior to fulfilling its objectives, and thus fighting with greater ferocity and dying in greater numbers.

They probably think that America lives in a democracy and that anti-war voices will sway the administration in the short run, and that if the war goes badly for us and appears to drag on, resulting in a lot of American troops dead, we'll lose our stomach for it and end this tragedy.

Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth, at least until the next American election in 2004. That is far too long and far too many Iraquis could die. Therefore, I feel compelled to make the following statement, addressed to the people of Iraq:

People of Iraq,

Please, surrender. Show no signs of resistance; welcome the coalition forces, even if they commit atrocities against your people and your families; do not attack them, even if they have destroyed your homes and brought you starvation and terror; even if they have used weapons of mass destruction against you on the field of battle; don't fight; don't throw away your lives in suicide bombings; don't attack. Our forces are strong; there are more where they came from. They will kill without mercy; more will come. They are frightened; fear will make them lash out in violence. Act calmly around our soldiers. Move slowly. In this situation of anger and fear, many of you have already died, and more could die, due to a misunderstood gesture or action. We want as many of you as possible to continue to live. DO NOT FIGHT BECAUSE YOU BELIEVE THE AMERICAN PEACE MOVEMENT MAY BRING AN END TO THE WAR. This may happen, but it will not happen soon. We were not able to stop the war from happening. We will continue to try and bring an end to this madness, but we are not confident. Why?

We are rational, sensible American people who are opposed to killing for economic reasons and opposed to our own government's terrorist atrocities, and don't believe we should be fighting this war. But we have lost all control of our government. Let me repeat that: WE HAVE LOST ALL CONTROL OF OUR OWN GOVERNMENT, AND OUR MILITARY. Our President, whom we did not elect, is not acting in accordance with our wishes, and our elected representatives are doing nothing to respond to the voices of sanity here in America. The terrorists who attacked America on September 11th, 2001, have won; they've gotten their way; they innoculated America with terror, and that terror has spread and infected and metastatized like a cancer, and burst forth, and we are now spreading that terror elsewhere. America is a rogue state and a terrorist; possibly the biggest and most dangerous that world has ever known. It did not need to happen this way, but it has happened this way.

Our own Congress, the body that the wise men who wrote our constitution invested with the exclusive power to declare war, has executed its own "preemptive strike" and handed the president the authority to do anything he pleases with our military, all in the name of "the war on terror", and all out of fear. The administration has lied to us and convinced many of us that Iraq is an immediate danger to the security of the United States: so great a threat that the regime of a sovereign nation halfway around the world, who has not attacked us, is now an issue of the utmost importance. Never mind that most of the evidence to support the war is completely false; the lies have been told, and Americans have chosen to believe them. These are not the real reasons, but the coalition will still fight just as viciously. America is promoting a whole new military strategy, the pre-emptive, "preventive" war, as if using violence could prevent violence. We are in gross breach of international law, but America has no more respect for international law. Our contempt for the world will haunt us for decades to come, and it is hard to believe, but the war-mongering rhetoric of the first President Bush about "the rule of law" and "naked aggression will not stand" and "a new world order" now seems like a distant memory of a happier and saner time in comparison to these dark and vicious days. We are the naked aggressors; we follow no laws; our new world is disordered.

Rational debate has all but evaporated now in the frenzy of television coverage for the war. American public opinion actually seems to support the war now, although I believe that much of this support is "soft" and will dry up as the war progresses and people come to the realization that a war, especially an illegal war, cannot be won without horrific bloodshed. But please make no mistake: THIS WILL NOT STOP OUR ADMINISTRATION. They are far beyond the reach of such moral appeals. They are committing war crimes, but there is no court that will ever try them. People of conscience and compassion are marching in our cities to protest this heartbreaking war, but they are called "sympathizers" with your tyrant, Saddam Hussein. Many more feel in their hearts that what America is doing is not right. Let me make that point again: WHAT AMERICA IS DOING IS NOT RIGHT, IT IS NOT MORAL, AND IT IS NOT LEGAL. But America will continue doing it for the forseeable future; for your own safety, please get out of the way. Let them do what they have come to do; they will tire of it; they have short attention spans. We can't even remember to rebuild Afghanistan after destroying it yet again; we can't remember to provide the humanitarian aid that we promised, and as our own administration has said, we have no real interest in "nation-building." We are on a mission of destruction, not reconstruction. It will not last forever.

American intellectuals are, for the most part, going unheard. We're talking, but mostly to each other. No one else will listen to us. Please listen: our president is out of control. He has been badly duped and deceived by cynical pro-war hawks who have been planning a kind of coup since the Reagan adminstration; they actually believe that America single-handedly destroyed the former Soviet Union and that after this success it is our duty to use our military might to do whatever we please, anywhere in the world. We did not elect these people. They have views that are strange to us; they bring together the worst parts of unquestioned support for the Israeli regime, support for the merchants of international arms that profit from suffering, and support for the companies that paid to bring George W. Bush, their puppet and pawn, into office. They may even believe that it is their task to help bring about the end of the world. They speak with the language of religion, but they are godless and lawless. These rogues are the power behind the throne. They answer to no one. Their delusions regarding the power of military intervention to bring about peace and justice are clearly nonsensical, but they know no bounds, as if a lie grown monstrous could someday aspire to truth. President Bush is a fool who does not understand history or politics, but yet he is in charge of nuclear weapons, depleted uranium, fuel-air explosives, cluster bombs, chemical agents, and other weapons of mass destruction. He believes that the tyrant Saddam Hussein is a kind of Hitler, but he is too stupid to understand that he himself has become an agent of all that is darkest and cynical and violent.

If this was not bad enough, he himself actually believes that God has chosen him to be his agent on earth, and that God is on the side of the aggressor. This has never been true, but he believes it is true, and that is all that counts. His language is the language of Jihad. He believes that to invade Iraq at this historical moment and express America's vengeance will be his glorious legacy. To do so he is sacrificing money for schools, for veterans, for the poor. What little is left has been promised to cut our taxes, but these cuts will mostly help the very rich. He does not know what it is that he is doing. America is not asking for this. America is exploding with impotent rage and fear and our government has bottled up that fear, and poured it back down our throats, until we have come to believe that revenge is the path of righteousness, even revenge against the wrong people. And at the same time that we lash out at the world, as we realize that we cannot dominate, terrorize, and control the entire world, our fear is turning inward. Americans are losing many of the glorious freedoms that we cherish in a free and open society. We are beginning to live in fear of what our own government is going to do next; we wake up every day in fear of our own newscasts, because we know that this is not the nation that we loved and we can no longer trust our leaders to do anything but hasten the rot and profit from the suffering.

Our only hope is that intellectuals, rational people, and peace-loving people will be able to get rid of our president and his mercenary crew of thieves at the next election, at the end of 2004. We have less than two years left. I hope that our victory will be decisive, and I hope that America will have a better leader to offer the world. I hope that God will see fit to forgive our president for what he has done and what he has allowed to happen in his name. I hope that George W. Bush will get down on his knees and beg the forgiveness of the God in whose name he has brought about this horror. I hope that we can undo the damage that this adminstration has done and continues to do to the name and reputation of the United States of America in the world. Today, I am ashamed to be a patriotic American. I hope that one day soon I will no longer be ashamed of America's actions. But until then, despite our street protests, our marches, our letters, our rage and sadness and disgust and nausea at what is being done in our name, there is not much we can achieve in the face of a country gone mad with blood lust and greed. Please save yourselves and pray with us for a better and saner time.

Lay down your weapons; help us to end this insane war as we are, by showing no support for it, and by refusing to participate in it. My heart fills with profound feelings of solidarity for all who would chose the path of peace.

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