When "embedded" reporters during the recent unpleasantness in Iraq (the official war, before Bush with sock in flightsuit confirmed that major fighting had ended) revealed details about troop movements, they were scolded and shoved out of the country. Geraldo too, remember? Peter Arnett was lambasted just for his attitude while speaking on Iraqi TV, not even revealing any info helpful to the enemy.

Shouldn't there be equivalent attention, if not much more serious attention, to Robert Novak giving the identity of a CIA "analyst" or operative? Notice how pundits blasted Arnett for giving his opinion that the war was going bad, giving comfort to the enemy, but pundits are fairly quiet about Novak outing a CIA agent. The bigger issue is whether a felon is "roving" through the White House (pun that Amy Goodman used two days in a row, but it's worth it). I'm wondering why that "senior administration official" would be charged with a felony without Novak being charged with the same felony. Novak learned about it and knowingly distributed the info, even after the CIA asked him not to use her name in the first place. "They [CIA] asked me not to use her name, but never indicated it would endanger her or anybody else." Did they mention that revealing her name would be a felony?


"Our armed forces are now in an untenable situation in Iraq. As in Vietnam the only solution to the conflict being discussed in Washington is to throw more troops (ours or someone else’s) into the fray and more money at the infrastructure problems. As in Vietnam, there are those who say we can’t cut and run or we’ll lose face. Well, guess what, folks: We’ve already lost face . . . with the millions of people around the world who thought this irresponsible adventure was deadly folly in the first place."
-Bruce Mulkey, The Striking Similarities Between Vietnam and Iraq: Can You Say Quagmire?
Alan Foley is the smoking gun.
From interview with former CIA analysts Ray McGovern and David MacMichael on 17 Sep 2003:

RAY MCGOVERN: Alan Foley? Alan announced just three days ago that he was leaving, and he was head of the analytic section that had purview over weapons of mass destruction. It was he who suggested that those sixteen offending words not be included in the president’s State of the Union address. He was finally arm twisted into condoning that, with the assurance that it would be blamed on the British.

AMY GOODMAN: Well explain that. He says, and he testifies before Congress…

RAY MCGOVERN: Yes, he testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee that in discussions with a Mr. Joseph of the NSC, he suggested that since the agency didn’t vouch for the business about Iraq seeking uranium from Niger, that it ought not to be used in the President’s Sate of the Union address, and indeed they had managed to get it out of previous presidential speeches. So why did they want to put it back in there? Well, finally he was persuaded that well, let’s blame it on the British. Let’s say, according to a British report. And Foley said, I suppose that would be alright to blame it on the British. Now, they didn’t even say ‘according to a British report’. What the President said was ‘the British have learned’. That’s a lot different. We are pretty careful with words in the intelligence community, but that is what the President said, ‘the British have learned that Iraq was seeking uranium from an African country....

AMY GOODMAN: So Alan Foley is leaving. How significant is that, David MacMichael?

DAVID MACMICHAEL: I think it’s significant. The man cannot continue to identified, whether he supports the policy or not, as an intelligence professional. He can’t continue to be identified with a process that had been and is being corrupted.

(emphasis added)

"Thomas L. Friedman's assertion (column, Sept. 18) that "France wants America to fail in Iraq" is akin to saying that someone who separates a drunken driver from his car keys doesn't want him to get home."
- Robert Levine, letter to NYT on Sept. 18, 2003.


Praise Bob.



I'm almost finished with footcreme so I asked for comments on The Forge (a game design website). Please feel free to sign up there and comment, or email me at


Still learning about US interference in Indochina
After I read The Culture of Terrorism (referring to our culture in the US), I wanted to learn more about the war in Vietnam, so I checked out Theodore Draper's Abuse of Power and Chomsky's At War with Asia. That earlier quote from George W. Ball posted on Sept 7 came from Draper. Here are a few interesting bits from At war with Asia.

"Anything resembling a clear-cut military victory in Vietnam appears possible only at the price of literally destroying SVN [South Viet Nam], tearing apart the social and political fabric of our own country, alienating our European friends, and gravely weakening the whole free world structure of relations of alliances."
- Under-Secretary of the Air Force Townsend Hoopes from a March 1968 memorandum. (quoted on p. 42 of At war with Asia)

How did his assessment of the situation turn out? The US didn't accomplish a "clear-cut military victory" in the end, but the closer it came to achieving that, the more it approached those other results. We really did destroy a lot of South Vietnam. We really did change the social and political fabric of the US. Not sure about those last two parts.

Now compare that statement with today's situation in Iraq, in which we have similarly attempted a military victory without trying political or economic fixes. [Twelve years of sanctions affecting the people of Iraq accomplished nothing against Saddam, so don't even bother repeating that myth.]
1. The social and political fabric of our own country has experienced barely a flutter of activity from our usual beer and football and thank-god-it's-friday experience. Newsflash: J-Lo and Ben Affleck have split up! Much bigger story than the number of Iraqis or Americans who will inevitably die today.
2. You can judge how much we've destroyed Iraq based on ever-increasing estimates of reconstruction costs, not to mention the reports of actual people killed on either side (which probably can't be accepted as accurate until five or ten years after the "fog of war" dissipates, wink nudge bump nudge).
3 and 4. I won't even bother to try proving whether we've "alienated European friends" or weakened the free world structure of relations of alliances. Bush says the UN is no longer relevant, which becomes a prophecy he fulfills when he ignores them. The strengths of international alliances are of no concern to people who continuously violate treaties and agreements.

So three out of four apply to the situation in Iraq, and I suspect the social and political fabric will be strained or torn after a few years of American soldiers dying daily.

I've noticed in a lot of Chomsky's older writings and even new articles, he refers to the "Indochina War" when talking about the conflict we usually call the "Vietnam War." At first I thought he was using the antiquated term that people used back in the Fifties, maybe because he has been trying to set the record straight since the Fifties, long before the anti-war movement really built up steam. But after reading about the Vietnamese trying to break free from the French, US manipulations behind the scenes since long before Dien Bien Phu, US support for dictators in Thailand and Cambodia as well as our string of puppets in South Vietnam, and the bombing and military actions all through Laos and Cambodia, I believe Chomsky doesn't talk about a "Vietnam War" because he wants to keep it in the context of all the wars (declared or undeclared) throughout the region of Indochina and across almost half of the Twentieth Century. To talk about the US war in Vietnam without considering the two decades of French war in the area supported by the US, and without considering the direct wars and proxy wars waged by the US throughout nearly all of Indochina, is to ignore the bigger picture. It would be like standing in front of the Statue of Liberty and calling it the "Statue of the Copper Foot."

In another section, Chomsky quotes Prof. Ithiel Pool (then Chairman of the Dept of Political Science at MIT and a Defense Dept consultant):

"...Our worst mistake in Vietnam clearly was to initiate the bombing of the north.... Before that started, it was my view that the United States as a democracy could not stand the moral protest that would arise if we rained death from the skies upon an area where there was no war. After the bombing started, I decided I had been in error. For a while there seemed to be no outcry of protest, but time brought it on. Now I would return to my original view with an important modification, namely, time. Public reactions do not come immediately. Many actions that public opinion would otherwise make impossible are possible if they are short-term. I believe we can fairly say that unless it is severely provoked or unless the war succeeds fast, a democracy cannot choose war as an instrument of policy."

I'm skipping half a page of other quotes and discussion about Pool, but Chomsky really hits the nail on the head with typical sarcasm when he writes: "It would seem to follow, then, that our failure in Vietnam is traceable to a serious inadequacy in our own political system: its inability to contain the moral outrage that resulted when we began to rain death on a country where there was no war."

"In short, a democratic community is incapable of waging aggressive war in a brutal manner, and this is a failure of democracy. What is wrong is not the policy of raining death on an area where there is no war, still less the far more intensive bombardment of South Vietnam, which goes unmentioned. What is wrong is the inability of a democratic system to contain the inevitable dissent and moral outrage."

Later Chomsky drops the sarcasm and resumes seriously: "The plain fact is that a democracy cannot fight a brutal, drawn-out war of aggression. Most people are not gangsters. Unless public concern can be deflected, unless intervention is discreet and covert, there will be protest, disaffection, and resistance. Either the war will have to go, or the democracy." (My emphasis.)

In spite of LBJ and Nixon's best efforts, democracy won out about five or six years after that was written, when US withdrew from Nam.

To make the modern parallel again, what about brutal, drawn-out occupations after a war of aggression? Iraq, anyone? Not sure if that will work the same way. Let's ask the Israelis.


On Sunday, Bush said, "Iraq is now the central front in the War on Terror." Maybe I've got my terminology wrong, but when I think of a "front," the image that comes to mind is a strip of armies butting up against each other on a map. Like WWII, the French tried to fortify the Maginot line and created a line of troops to sweep into Belgium and Luxembourg. (Can you tell I just got a 4 hour dvd of Frank Capra's "Why We Fight"?)

So anyhow, that line was France's eastern front, right? From Germany's perspective, it was their western front.

Now how the hell do you have any "front" in a War on Terror? Al-Qaeda cells are supposedly operating out of 40-60 different nations. How can you have a front against that? It's not like there's a line that can be guarded against with a bunch of bad guys on the other side of it and only good guys on our side. The bad guys are hidden all over. You could call it the "center" or "focus" of the War on Terror (and you might get laughed at for having shown no connection between Iraq and Al-Qaeda), but to call it a "front" is to demonstrate once again how military tactics from traditional wars are totally useless to describe a fight against decentralized networks of enemies. If it can't even describe the situation properly, how can we base strategy on traditional military tactics?

They present no "front" for us to push against. Al-Qaeda should have been brought to justice with police tactics or investigation, not by invading a nation where they gathered last week or last month. Conducting a "War" on Terror is like trying to stop the infestation of roaches in your apartment with a blow-torch. Works well on one cockroach, but they're too evasive for you to burn them all, even if you scorched every inch of your place. You'll have ridiculous damage to your place, maybe destroy your neighbor's apartment or the whole building, and meanwhile, the cockroach will slip back under your refrigerator as soon as your back is turned. It's not effective, and wouldn't be worth the cost even if it was effective.


"For if the Vietnam war were merely what the Communists say it is, an indigenous rebellion, then the United States has no business taking sides in the conflict and helping one side to defeat the other by force of arms." -Under Secretary of State George W. Ball, January 1966.


A few days ago, the poll shown on AOL's hideous and inescapable WELCOME window was something along the lines of "Should the US ask for troops and support from other nations to help in Iraq?" I'm paraphrasing, but it was something simple, not too wordy. Today it's phrased, "Does the US need U.N.'s help in Iraq? Yes, No, I'm not sure."

Most conservatives who kowtow to Bush would say we need help from the UN, if only because that's what Bush has been calling for. Most liberals, whether or not they agreed that the war was righteous, would say that we need help from the UN now, since that would bring us back on track for working within international law. (Even those of us who want US troops pulled out today would see UN political and military involvement as a positive thing. At least democracy would be a little more likely under UN direction than under Bush.) But why is there such disconnect between the ideas of UN sending troops and the UN having political or military control over the place?

If you didn't know what was going on (that is, if you tried to understand the situation from watching TV or reading mainstream news headlines), you'd get the impression that France and Germany and the UN are just denying troops right now because they're still sore over the Coalition's decision to invade Iraq. Sour grapes! The headlines are never "Bush demands support from other countries while refusing to share control." They're more like "France, Germany Criticize Iraq Resolution" (ABC News) or "US Call for Help Gets Chilly Reply" (AOL News). HELP! Poor us, can we please please get some help over here with our quagmire, I mean "occupation"? Can't you please subject yourself to all the risk and none of the benefits, so we can make the Middle East safe for capital again?

It's funny the way Jay Leno and the American mainstream adopted this myth of cowardly French and to a lesser extent Germans. Boycotting French products for a few months, telling jokes about how obstinate or idiotic they are. We take the heads of state to represent the people, but actually Spaniards were something like 90% opposed to the war in Iraq, in spite of their leader's endorsement of the war. UK was supposedly 60 to 70% opposed to the invasion in the days leading up to it (less opposed when their sons and neighbors and friends were suddenly in the middle of the damn thing, of course).

If they had followed the polls, Leno and other armchair testosterone dispensers should have been making jokes about the Spanish and Brits being "cowards" for failing to support the invasion of Iraq. (In as far as anyone should be called cowards for not supporting an illegal invasion. What are they afraid of? -- being held accountable for war crimes? Pah! Nuremberg trials are so Old Europe!) Meanwhile, we've been enemies of Russia and China so long, there wasn't much animosity towards those countries, even though they opposed the invasion just as much as Frogs and Krauts did. Americans were so busy pouring their French wine down storm drains and renaming their "freedom fries," nobody got very worked up about the popular Bush AWOL aviator dolls and American flags made in China, among the many things we're supposed to keep buying to bolster the economy.