Wednesday, October 31, 2007
What would that mean for the dollar? For over 70 years oil has been priced in dollars, so even though the dollar is supposed to be floating it is in fact closely linked to the world's most critical commodity. If not gold, then oil: which makes it truly a "hard" currency. If it turns out that oil begins to be priced in other currencies, might that weaken the dollar? Without being an expert, I would suppose so. In fact, I wonder if a case might be made that such a change would represent a fundamental "attack" on the dollar.
So, is that the reason the Bush administration wants to attack Iran? Could there be another message in the attack? -- Like, don't mess with the dollar. Could this be a warning to other oil producing countries tempted to make such a change?
Is this a reach? I don't know, but I know that there have to be better reasons for attacking Iran now than the ones being given us.
Iran Is Cutting Dollar Reserves, Central Bank Says
By Stephanie Phang and Soraya Permatasari
"Iran is cutting its U.S. dollar reserves to lessthan 20 percent of total foreign currency holdings, and will buy moreeuros and yen as tensions with the U.S. increase, Central Bank GovernorEbrahim Sheibany said."
"The UN asked nations and international lenders such as the World Bank to stop giving grants, loans and other financial aid to Iran, except for humanitarian or development purposes. The U.S. on Jan. 9 blocked Bank Sepah, the state-owned Iranian bank, from accessing the American financial system, accusing it of aiding Iran's weapons programs."
"Iran exports 60 percent of its crude to Asia, 32 percent to Europe and 8percent to Africa. It is the world's fourth-largest oil exporter and the second-largest producer among the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries."
By Megumi Yamanaka
"Iran asked Japanese refiners to switch to the yen to pay for all crude oil purchases, after Iran's central bank said it is reducing holdings of the U.S. dollar. Iran wants yen-based transactions 'for any/all of your forthcoming Iranian crude oil liftings,'' according to a letter sent to Japanese refiners that was signed by Ali A. Arshi, general manager of crude oil marketing and exports in Tehran at the National Iranian Oil Co."
"The request is for all shipments 'effective immediately,' according to the letter, dated July 10 and obtained by Bloomberg News."
"The yen rose on speculation for an increase in demand for the currency,the result of Japan's annual 1.24 trillion yen ($10.1 billion) of oil imports from Iran. Central bankers in Venezuela, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates have said they will invest less of their reserves in dollar assets because of the weakening currency."
"Iran asked the refiners to use the yen exchange rate quoted at the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ on the date oil cargoes are loaded. The use of yen-based letters of credit for oil 'has finally been approved' by the Iranian central bank and the NIOC, according to the letter, titled 'New payment mechanism for Iranian Crude Oil Cargoes.'Japan imported 1.59 million kiloliters of Iranian crude oil in May, the least since June 2006, according to government data.Only Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are larger oil suppliers to Japan than Iran."
"That has irked authorities, but Sirajuddin said tensions in Swat had risen in the wake of the Pakistani army raid on the pro-Taliban Red Mosque in Islamabad - which had launched a freelance, Islamic anti-vice campaign similar to Fazlullah's own efforts to dispense Islamic justice. More than100 people died in the July assault on the mosque and neighboring girls' seminary.'The situation in the whole country, particularly here, has changed because of Lal Masjid,' Sirajuddin said, referring to the Red Mosque. 'This situation is the reaction to Lal Masjid.'"
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Norman Podhoretz of Commentary Magazine has given us one more reason to bomb
The reason deterrence can't work with Iran is that there's a different element involved here than was involved with either Mao or even Kim Jong Il or Stalin, and that is the element of religious fanaticism.
The fact of the matter is that, with a religious fanatic like Ahmadinejad and the "mullahcracy" ruling
I wonder if the real reason is to do it before a new administration decides to do something else. The rush to war, to attack -- we have seen this before. But we ask why? Why now?
[Click on the title to link to the whole transcript.]
Here is a recent note I received from my friend, Habib-uz-Zaman Khan. It is one more evidence of the growing anxiety among Pakistanis about what is happening to their country.
The suicide blasts at Benazir's arrival have left me shocked and extremely worried. I never thought I could literally lose sleep thinking about where
National Security Archive
"A District Court in the District of Columbia has ruled that an Executive Order issued by President George W.Bush in 2001, which severely slowed or prevented the release of historic presidential papers is, in part, invalid. In a carefully constructed decision, the court held that the Archivist of the United States acts arbitrarily, capriciously, and contrary to law by relying on the Executive Order to delay release of the records of former presidents."
"The underlying lawsuit, which was filed in November 2001 by the National Security Archive and other plaintiffs, challenges President Bush's Executive Order 13,233 that gave former Presidents and their heirs (as well as former Vice-Presidents for the first time) indefinite authority to hold up release of White House records."
"Archive General Counsel Meredith Fuchs commented, 'The court is enforcing procedural standards, but has avoided the hard questions about the role former presidents, former vice presidents, and their heirs can play when it comes to disclosure of presidential records.' "
"The decision comes at a time when a bill that would overturn Executive Order13,233 is stalled in the U.S. Senate, reportedly due to a hold placed on the measure by Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY). The bill, H.R. 1255, was approved in the U.S. House of Representatives on March 14, 2007 by a vote of 333-93. The White House has threatened to veto the bill if it is passed in the Senate."
Monday, October 29, 2007
Many of us have struggled to grasp what lay behind the behavior of this administration in the
Such is the claim, and for many of us it seems as contrived as the run up to war before. Indeed, none of the arguments given seem sufficient to explain the investment of lives and American wealth in
Could there be yet another reason?
Could it be the prospect that oil will become in short supply soon? Here is a statement by Dick Cheney in a speech in 1999:
By some estimates, there will be an average of two-percent annual growth in global oil demand over the years ahead, along with, conservatively, a three-percent natural decline in production from existing reserves. That means by 2010 we will need an additional 50 million barrels per day.
The Peak Oil argument is that the world’s oil reserves will at some point reach a peak and thereafter decline -- producing, perhaps, a dramatic rise in prices and a rush among the world's powers to control what remains of the oil reserves. As the world’s known oil and gas reserves are concentrated in a narrow space in West and
Can this explain the rush to war in the
But to consider this issue in the context of the Himalaya mountains suddenly stuns me. Almost all the great rivers of Asia are fed by waters from the Himalayas: the Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Irrawaddi, Menam, Mekong, Yangtze, Huang Ho, Oxus, Helmand. Hari Rud -- rivers that nourish billions of people from Afghanistan to the Pacific Ocean. These populations could be at risk when the glacial ice on the Himalayas declines, as it will if the process now foreseen elsewhere takes place globally.
When might such a development take place? Of course the time frame is now under discussion, but some recent formulations of the process suggest that awareness of such this development would take form intermittently, as catastrophic changes take place in the glacial ice cover. As water for crops declines the result will be huge shortfalls in production even as the populations of the world continue to increase.
The notion of limits to growth that was once scorned may be gaining new relevance.
We are living in a time when the impact of global warming and the size of the earth's populations may be pushing the system beyond recovery. Nothing new, since many other folks are saying this, but somehow the realization of how it might work in the greater part of Asia where the greater population of the world is situated generates new reasons for concern -- not least the awareness that historically we humans tend to avoid confronting issues that can be deferred. And in this case, what is there to do?
Friday, October 26, 2007
I received a note from a friend whom I correspond with that is worth putting up here. He refers to The New York Times's October 9 editorial on the Musharraf elections in Pakistan, which called his win "cynical". Here is his comment, followed by a few select statements in the article [click on the title for the whole article]:
"I am glad to see the New York Times take a stand against Musharraf's attempts to cling to power despite his unpopularity. Even though the NYT is probably motivated more by the mistreatment of one of its reporters earlier this year than by any real concern for Pakistanis in general, it is still heartening to see at least one major U.S. newspaper take him to task for his anti-democratic actions." [Habib-uz-Zaman Khan][The New York Times editorial]
Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s “election” last weekend as
The vote was not really a vote since, knowing how badly the deck was stacked, the opposition parties refused to participate. The results must now be certified by the Supreme Court, which must decide whether General Musharraf was even eligible to run while still in uniform. We hope the court will rule fairly and independently — and that General Musharraf’s enablers in
. . .. Time and again [Musharraf] has promised that he would resign his post as chief of army staff and take off the uniform, but even now he is playing cute about when — and whether — that might happen.
He has … squandered his popular support by forcing rivals into exile and by harassing and intimidating journalists, judges and anyone who has tried to stand up to him. . . .
Almost all of the time, President Bush has acquiesced in General Musharraf’s many misdeeds — and provided billions in American aid — as payment for the general’s service in the war on terrorism. There, too, the general has delivered a lot less than promised . . . . .
General Musharraf’s back-room deal with Benazir Bhutto . . . was his latest attempt to buy time and stay in office. . . . Rather than encourage such cynical deal-making, Mr. Bush should have encouraged a more-inclusive election process true to his democratic principles and true to what so many Pakistanis — professionals, ordinary people, even some in the military — want. . . .
Thursday, October 25, 2007
[Click on the title to get the whole article from the International Herald Tribune]
Monday, October 22, 2007
Free Introductory Edition, Oct 07
MONTHLY KABUL DIRECT Living Afghanistan
A Welcome Letter from the Editor
Why this new magazine Kabul Direct?
Welcome to the first issue of Kabul Direct. This is Afghanistan’s first English‐language publication produced and directed by Afghans and targeted to the specialist following events in Afghanistan closely.
We are publishing this new journal because we want to show you, the reader, military and security personnel, policy makers, journalists, and scholars our perspective from here on the ground in Afghanistan as we build our nation out of the ruins of decades of war.
Who are we?
Some of us already write for foreign publications and you may recognize our names. But this is the first time you will be able to hear from us unfiltered by outside editors or publishers.
Here at Kabul Direct we will bring you the news we Afghans see fit to print, introduce you to the players we think you have to meet, and help you understand the problems of Afghanistan as we Afghans see them.
A word about our values
We at Kabul Direct are dedicated to the establishment of political rights and civil liberties in Afghanistan, the country that we, the sons and daughters of this nation, love.
We want accountable government, to be treated equally and fairly under the law, to be able to speak our minds, believe what we believe, and organize ourselves in ways we think will move us forward as a nation in which we can take pride.
We also want to participate as full equals in the modern world. But at the same time we don’t want to lose the traditions and values that we as Afghans hold dear.
Why we are focused on terrorism, extremism and other problems
Unfortunately, at this point in time, we have to cover these topics because these are the problems that plague our nation. But God willing, over time, we will be able shift our
focus to cover more positive news. We at Kabul Direct live for the day when we can instead talk about the myriad investment opportunities here in Afghanistan, share the pride we take in our rich cultural and religious heritage, and give you an idea of the contributions we Afghans should be making to the world’s progress.
We started Kabul Direct during the holiest time of year, the month of Ramadan, when we Muslims fast, hoping that this will help us win our struggle against sin. We started Kabul Direct at this time because we see this endeavor as an extension of
this good struggle. And we also hope that by beginning this venture at this auspicious time of
year, that our efforts will be especially blessed.
And so welcome to Kabul Direct, your window into the heart and soul of Afghanistan.
In the name of God, the Compassionate and Merciful,
Editor‐in‐chief and Publisher
IN THIS ISSUE
Northern Afghanistan: Now in the crosshairs of Afghanistan insurgency
Taliban Resurgence: An interview with Taliban former foreign minister
Assessing Hizbe Islami threats: Questions to Qazi Amin Waqad
Al Qaida in Afghanistan: Waheed Mujda Explains
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Phone: +93 (0) 700 260094
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Again, as Benazir arrives in
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Some selections from the article follow:
[Click on the title for the original and complete source]
One of the most troubling features of our times is the deliberate manipulation of information, which places the media in compromising positions. The media is blamed when in fact various interested parties are deliberately using the huge power of the modern media to forward their own interests. In virtually every case the issue is not the truth but the control of “truth” so as to control vested interests.
It is sickening to see a Democratic Congress, for no reason in particular, decide to condemn the Armenian genocide just now (why now?) and then, since the Turks are rattling their saber over the matter, backing down. It is not truth or uprightness or virtue that drives this behavior, merely the search for more reasons to justify their existence. Cheap virtue is the coin of politics.
The same seems to be operative among the Republicans, some of whom have now gotten the global warming religion, creating a problem for the rest: If enough of the party would just get together on this issue, perhaps they could stop global warming from taking place after all [!]. Mind over matter.
The crisis in Darfur, information on which is likewise controlled by interested parties, remains deadly; real people are being really killed while, in the mean time, some officials publicly wonder if Sudan even cares about the crisis. A member of the African Union says that “people are now becoming very skeptical” about whether the government is “interested in peace.” Really? After so much brutality against Sudanese civilians, he thinks maybe the Sudanese government is not serious about protecting their own people. In fact, for the governments of the world to acknowledge what is taking place, that will constitute an obligation, a responsibility that hardly anyone out there, out here, wants to face. It can cost real money, perhaps the lives of their own folks as well as those of the locals. Again we note the ancient wisdom: "Men loved darkness because their deeds were evil; they would not come into the light lest their deeds be exposed."
It is not truth that the world lives by, but myth, and whoever controls the mechanisms of mythical promotion has all the advantages. So what we get from our leaders is cheap virtue and political fantasy.
Monday, October 15, 2007
So says General Ricardo Sanchez. More and more people are asking that question. But it is old news now: virtually everyone in sight has pointed to the blunders of the current administration. Why didn’t those like Sanchez who were well positioned at the time, raise these kinds of questions before the disastrous actions were taken? The only surmise that makes sense to me is the fear of being summarily fired as General Shenseki was for raising such questions. Could the military leadership not have joined in common cause to resist – no, condemn – disastrous policy? At some point the military leadership must accept responsibility for their failure to expose the folly of the Bush administration’s agendas. There really was scarce evidence for a preemptive war and yet a small cabal within the administration made it happen. Scary. And not only that, a small cabal has encouraged a whole series of faulty decisions that the American public and the world are now burdened with: warrentless wiretaps on American citizens, torture of prisoners, or remanding of prisoners to countries already used to torturing its own citizens, renunciation of the Kyoto treaty, tax cuts for the super-rich – not to mention the assignment of incompetent cronies to important positions of responsibility. Etc.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
It is interesting how many people have written me notes about the news that anthropologists are working with the military in their wars in
Because I care about the Afghans I am pleased to think that perhaps there is some interest in trying to relate to the Afghan people as people – at least that's better than beating a house door down first and asking questions later. Of course none of us wants anthropology to be tainted by its connection with government activities. We anthropologists see ourselves as serious scholars wanting to know the truth as we can best discover it, whereas governments always have an interest in what is to be “known” by the public. Not only governments, of course; everyone involved in a situation has an interest, of course. The anthropologist’s task is to discover not only what falks are saying – what their rhetoric is -- but also what their respective interests are and their interests relate to their public pretensions. That means we have to be good listeners and good interpreters of what we hear and see, not just stenographers.
American anthropologists are more sensitive about how they relate to government than anthropologists in some countries [like France, it seems to me, for instance], and that goes back to Boas's quarrel with anthropologists during WWI over the use of anthropologists as spies, and in the Vietnam war, in which anthropologists seemed to have been used to collect information about the “enemy” [again, as intelligence agents]. I am hoping that in the
Of course, the truth eludes us – all of us, including anthropologists. We get lied to, told stories for reasons of effect, given claims that are entirely self interested, etc., etc. – so anthropologists, for all their claims, have problems of their own. So their utility is only as good as their ability to discern information. Lets hope these guys are good.
I do think the "anthropologists" involved [whatever their background is matters a lot: how good their grasp is of the language, how well informed they are on local customs, etc.] may be taking a risk, because it is easy for all of us to take self-righteous stands that provide no real help to anyone. The AAA has done so many times, sometimes foolishly, in my opinion.
For now, I think we should withhold judgment; at least give this policy a chance. It would be great if in fact anthropologists could help the military resolve some of the problems on the ground. If there is to be a winning of “hearts and minds” this could help. Anyway, it is a better approach than bombing households about which we know almost nothing and taking offensive action whenever in doubt. RLC
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
White House leaked classified info to FOX News, tipped off al Qaeda to secret surveillance, destroyed year-long spy effort
Monday, October 08, 2007
In our own society, how many doubts do folks have about practices that seem to becoming conventional here, the practice of "remanding" prisoners to countries that torture, indeed the practice of torturing our prisoners even within our borders? American culture is changing before our eyes and scarcely anyone notices.
Click on the title for a link to the whole article.
By Suzanna Koster
Saturday, October 06, 2007
But the situation seems to be changing. If, as they say, the warming of the earth will dissipate the Arctic ice-cap, then Russia will at last have its year-round port on the open sea, maybe several -- through the Arctic Sea, of course, where many ports could be developed if the Sea warms up. (However, it can be argued that, even then, the Arctic Sea is itself enclosed, with few outlets.)
This emerging opportunity comes along with Russia’s strategic position, for it lies between the great population centers of the east (China) and west (Europe), both starving for fossil fuels, of which Russia and its Central Asian neighbors are abundantly supplied. Strategic location in Eurasia, better access to the sea -- Russia seems likely to have an even more dominant position in the world later in this century. The world’s geostrategic configuration may look very different a few decades from now.
The main elements of Dareini’s article are summarized by Tom below, followed by Weiss’s comments. [Click on the title for a link to Dareini's whole article ]
Email from Mark Weiss:
Click on the title to link to the whole article.
2. Bush's choice of Gates to replace Rumsfeld, one of the main architects of the war. Gates was a member of the independent bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which called for the United States to reach out to Syria and Iran and 'strongly urged' a drawdown in Iraq.
3. A shift, completed this week, in the military's top uniformed leadership from administration loyalists to officers who are more concerned about the growing strains on the military.
4. Mounting evidence, in a variety of official reports in recent weeks, that Iraqi forces won't be prepared to take over from American troops in significant numbers until late next year at the earliest, and that Iraqis have made little progress toward political reconciliation.
5. Mounting evidence, most recently in a United Nations report, that the war against al Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan is faltering, in part because Iraq is tying down so many U.S. troops.
6. Bush's low approval ratings and popular discontent with the Iraq war, which have prompted some legislators to reconsider their support for the president's policy as next year's elections approach."
[Click on the title above for the whole article.]
"TEHRAN, Iran - The shops are full of Western pop music and movies — the latest Harry Potter film, even "The Simpsons." Young women stroll the streets in skinny jeans and short coats, their heads barely covered, arm-in-arm with boys in muscle shirts and spiky hair."
"This is affluent north Tehran, where clerics are rare, lifestyles are relatively liberal and Iran's growing isolation from the world is a source of deep anxiety."
"Not far to the south, though, in a dilapidated bureaucratic building near the city's government center, and farther to the south in Tehran's sprawling poorer neighborhoods, things are different."
"It is the paradox of Tehran today — a city and people surprisingly cosmopolitan and far different from Western stereotypes, paired with an ultraconservative government working to consolidate its power and at sharp odds with the West."
"Yet, whether modern or strictly traditional, many Iranians share one thing: A strong national pride and desire for respect from the outside world, sharpened by their sense of being under siege"
"The bulk of protests and street fighting surrounding the revolution occurred in the city's center, especially around Tehran University and the long boulevard now called Vali Asr, but supporters of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini recruited many of their 'foot soldiers' from Tehran's southern neighborhoods. And Khomeini, on his return to the country from exile, based his headquarters there."
"the northern neighborhoods have remained something of a haven for the more liberal and well-off _ with modern freeways, new and often graceful high-rise apartment buildings and green parks."
"Only miles to the south, however, many women still wear the long, enveloping black chador as they go out to shop or take children to school"
"And hard-line figures like Hossein Shariatmadari, close to Khamenei, cast Iran's differences with the United States as an unending ideological struggle between their Islamic theocracy and a plundering, arrogant America."
" 'We simply want to control our own resources, run our own affairs,' he said. 'The mistake that the U.S. administration makes is to threaten Iran ... They don't understand the Iranian nation'."
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Shifting Targets: The Administration's Plan for Iran
by Seymour M. Hersh
"In a series of public statements in recent months, President Bush and members of his Administration have redefined the war in Iraq, to an increasing degree, as a strategic battle between the United States and Iran."
"the White House ... requested that the Joint Chiefs of Staff redraw long-standing plans for a possible attack on Iran ... The focus of the plans had been a broad bombing attack ... Now the emphasis is on 'surgical' strikes on Revolutionary Guard Corps"
"The shift in targeting reflects three developments. First, the President and his senior advisers have concluded that their campaign to convince the American public that Iran poses an imminent nuclear threat has failed (unlike a similar campaign before the Iraq war), and that as a result there is not enough popular support for a major bombing campaign. The second development is that the White House has come to terms, in private, with the general consensus of the American intelligence community that Iran is at least five years away from obtaining a bomb. And, finally, there has been a growing recognition in Washington and throughout the Middle East that Iran is emerging as the geopolitical winner of the war in Iraq." "The difficulty of determining who is responsible for the chaos in Iraq can be seen in Basra ... Over the course of this year ... the region became increasingly ungovernable, and by fall the British had retreated to fixed bases. A European official who has access to current intelligence told me that 'there is a firm belief inside the ... intelligence community that Iran is supporting many of the groups in southern Iraq that are responsible for the deaths of British and American soldiers.' "
"A June, 2007, report by the International Crisis Group found, however, that Basra’s renewed instability was mainly the result of 'the systematic abuse of official institutions, political assassinations, tribal vendettas, neighborhood vigilantism...' ”
[regarding the possibility of an attack on Iran, a former intelligence official said] “Do you think those crazies in Tehran are going to say, ‘Uncle Sam is here! We’d better stand down’? ... The reality is an attack will make things ten times warmer.”
Monday, October 01, 2007
What worries me about the way wealth is being deployed in the United States lately is that large amounts of money have been deployed to finance misrepresentations of truth: the "Swift Boat Boys" are now infamous for their unverified claims that were plausible enough to sway an election. The news (article below) that one more well-funded political "Swift Boat"-supporting organization has been founded gives reason worry.
The Pakistanis call what they are about to do a "democratic process" and we in the US call what we do a democratic process, even if in these instances it turns out that lies are being promoted in order to subvert the spirit of the democratic process. When lies are promoted to shape the course of affairs by misleading the public true democracy is compromised.
I pray that the truth will not be compromised in the forthcoming elections. The American people and the world have already been exploited and misled enough by big money interests. Could our system be as fully subverted as that in Russia? Some of us have felt helpless for years as our country has been run into cataclysm. Is that how those in Russia feel who long for a just society?
Big Coffers and a Rising Voice Lift a New Conservative Group
By Don Van Natta Jr.
The New York Times
"Freedom’s Watch, a deep-pocketed conservative group led by two former senior White House officials, made an audacious debut in late August when it began a $15 million advertising campaign designed to maintain Congressional support for President Bush’s troop increase in Iraq."
"Founded this summer by a dozen wealthy conservatives, the nonprofit group is set apart from most advocacy groups by the immense wealth of its core group of benefactors, its intention to far outspend its rivals and its ambition to pursue a wide-ranging agenda. Its next target: Iran policy."
"Next month, Freedom’s Watch will sponsor a private forum of 20 experts on radical Islam that is expected to make the case that Iran poses a direct threat to the security of the United States, according to several benefactors of the group."
"One benefactor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the group was hoping to raise as much as $200 million by November 2008. Raising big money 'will be easy,' the benefactor said, adding that several of the founders each wrote a check for $1 million."
"Mr. Blakeman and Mr. Fleischer said they intended to turn Freedom’s Watch into a permanent fixture among Washington advocacy groups, waging a 'never-ending campaign' on an array of foreign policy and domestic issues."
"Several of the group’s spots suggested that Iraq, rather than Al Qaeda, was behind the Sept. 11 attacks, even though the independent Sept. 11 commission investigation and other inquiries found no evidence of Iraq’s involvement. But in August, when the organization rolled out the advertisement with Sergeant Kriesel to two focus groups in Pennsylvania, its upbeat, patriotic message was well received, even causing a few viewers to weep, Mr. Blakeman said."
"The campaign was seen as a way to head off any momentum in Congress toward halting the financing for the Iraq war. The group’s advertisements, placed in nearly 60 Congressional districts in 23 states, targeted wavering moderate Republicans and conservative Democrats."
A friend has asked me to comment on a statement by Seymour Hersh who has said “We've basically Balkanized”
My response: I am deeply troubled over what the Bush administration has done, but as you say, we are now at a point where enough has been said about the blunders of the past. And of course none of us has clever solutions. The one thing I do think is that the American supposition that ethnic distinctions should be the basis of political recognition in the new government has made the extant distinctions in