Thursday, August 31

Chad's president throws a tantrum at the World Bank: If you don't love me I'll go to Grandma's House!

Chad plays China against the US. Memorize this story -- the basic plot known to all cunning children with a doting grandparent living nearby -- because it's the shape of US efforts in the developing world for years to come.
The production and export of petroleum in Chad are overseen by the Exxon Mobil-led consortium. Under the mechanism, Exxon Mobil ... is responsible for 40 percent of the country's production, while Chevron has 25 percent and [Malaysia's] Petronas has 30 percent.

The three companies agreed to finance a $4.2 billion, 650-mile pipeline to deliver oil from landlocked Chad to a port in Cameroon.

The companies agreed to invest the money after the World Bank gave the project its support and after Chad passed a World Bank-backed oil revenue law that required most of the money to go to health, education and infrastructure projects. ...

But the venture has proved troubling for Chad, one of the poorest countries in the world. In January, the World Bank froze $125 million in oil revenue and cut $124 million in financial aid, accusing Chad of reneging on a promise to set aside part of its oil revenue to help citizens.

Last month, the government reached a deal with the bank and signed an accord to commit 70 percent of its budget to poverty and development programs. ..."

August 26, 2006
N'Djamena, Chad - Chad's president on Saturday ordered two oil companies, Chevron Corp. and Petronas, to leave the country, saying that neither had paid taxes and that his country would take responsibility for the oil fields they have overseen. [...]

If the two companies are evicted, Chad could seek help from China, which has taken an active interest in Africa in its search for raw materials, including oil and metals. Earlier this month, Chad broke off diplomatic relations with Taiwan and turned instead to China, a move that could help it sell its oil to the energy-hungry power. ...

California-based Chevron said in a statement Saturday that it had not been behind on any tax payments and had not been told it must leave Chad. ...

Mark D. Boudreaux, a spokesman for Exxon Mobil, told The Associated Press by e-mail that neither his company, nor affiliate Esso Chad has been asked to leave the country.

Chad's largest labor organization backed Deby's move, saying the country was being exploited by foreign oil companies, state-owned radio reported. However, opposition groups said on another radio station that only members of Deby's tribe - whose heartland is in the oil-rich north of the country - benefit from oil production.

Political scientist Roland Marchal, an expert in Chadian affairs, said Deby is unlikely to go through with the expulsion.

"Deby is playing both the nationalist card because he is saying that foreign companies are taking Chad's money, which is popular, and also that if these two companies are not flexible enough to come to a new agreement where Chad receives more money, then Deby can always talk to the Chinese ..."
Quotes compiled from two Associated Press reports filed by Madjiasra Nako: Chad Plans to Evict 2 Oil Firms Over Unpaid Taxes and Chad Suspends 3 Ministers Over Oil Deals

Of course Mom and Pop made a concession:
But the World Bank also agreed to allow 30 percent of oil revenue to go toward Chad's general treasury, instead of just 15 percent. Chad can use that money on whatever it wants -- including weapons.
And of course China's Grandma has very big teeth. But where there's life there's hope and negotiation:
August 30
Chad Panel to Renegotiate Oil agreements

N'Djamena, Chad (Associated Press)- Chad President Idriss Deby has formed a commission to renegotiate agreements with oil companies, after he ordered Chevron Corp. of the United States and Malaysia's Petronas out of the country for allegedly failing to pay taxes, his spokesman said Wednesday.

Deby signed a decree late Tuesday establishing the commission, presidential spokesman Dieudonne Djonabaye said. ...

Wednesday, August 30

Eeek! My blog has been taken over by Batchelorites!

Every Pundita post I ever wrote on John Batchelor's radio show has come back to haunt me, as Batchelorites descend looking to glean information on Our Hero's leave-taking. My poor little 100-limit site meter log is overwhelmed.

I will not sugar coat this; for now the terrorist-sponsoring states and their goons won a skirmish with John's ejection from his nationally syndicated radio show at ABC Radio.

And while John is off the air we're really going to appreciate how much work his research and his regular reporting sources saved us. There's nothing for it but to roll up our sleeves and descend on the milblogs and Google's search engine.

So this is a good time to thank John Batchelor, his staff, and the guest regulars on his show at ABC for all their years of service since September 12, 2001. I wish them smooth sailing in Batchelor's next broadcast venture.

Remember to check periodically at Batchelor's website for news on the show's next broadcast site. (The website and the John Batchelor Show belong to John, not Commodus - er, ABC.) and you can email John at the address shown at the website under "Contact us" in the menu column.

In the meantime we can keep up with important global news by making daily visits to The Intelligence Summit news page and following the links.

For readers who have never listened to the John Batchelor show and wonder what the fuss is all about, you can read the Wikipedia article, which features quotes from one of Pundita's posts.

For a less objective but more personal look at Batchelor you can read The New York Times February 2006 article.

For readers in a hurry, here are the Pundita passages on the show that Wiki quotes:
Batchelor's show represents post-partisan, intelligence-based news analysis and reporting. He and his sources unpack background to major news events over days, months, and even years so that the listener develops an in-depth, coherent view of a particular region or issue.

First American news program to treat the United States as a superpower nation. First American news program to look at international news from a uniquely American perspective. First news program to integrate daily news coverage with 21st century issues--energy, space exploration, etc.

. . . Analysis of US politics and European/other world region politics--Middle East, China, India, Former Soviet Union, African countries, etc. Reports regularly on State Department, White House, Congress, US intelligence agencies. Nightly in-depth reporting on war on terror. US history discussions, strong on US war history. Cultural trends. Discussions about new books on literary/historical figures.
Of course all Batchelorites know that the above doesn't do full justice to the show. We who consume news 24/7 depend on Batchelor's discussions with authors of books on the arts; science; and higher mathematics, which save us from grunting in monosyllables at dinner parties.

Tuesday, August 29

Tick tock tick tock it's almost 10 o'clock

11:45 PM ET Update
Batchelor let drop a little more news about his plans during the John Loftus Report. He said that the network he's going to after ABC will be connected with the Hoover Institution.

And crank up the theme music from "Gladiator!" Batchelor is retiring undefeated from ABC; he has been #1 in ratings since -- well, for years, and he's still #1. So, conspiracy theorists can have a field day speculating as to the real reason ABC Radio decided to ax John's show.

More news: John Loftus is in discussion with Discovery Channel to have his own weekly "spy" show. Now won't that be a show! The contract is not signed yet but obviously negotiations are promising for Loftus to mention it.
* * * * * * * * * *
10:37 PM ET Update
"The princes of serendipity have arrived and we are making the best of it."

Bah. That's not information, that's poetry. But then I assume ABC Radio wouldn't be overjoyed if John announced his plans on their airwaves.

Batchelor also said that he was leaving "not by my instigation." That we already know. Loftus wrote this morning that the network is being sold.

John also said something I didn't catch on account of munching on popcorn (I thought this was to be a major announcement) but it was to the effect that he'd continue with something or other and with his weekly column for The New York Sun.

Malcolm Hoenlein chimed in to say that this is not the end "but will be a new beginning" for Batchelor's show and that he'll be with John on the new Batchelor show.

A little more information can be gleaned from the John Batchelor Show website:
Starting Monday, September 4, 2006, The John Batchelor Show will be on hiatus until further notice, to return probably in late fall of 2006. We extend our warm thanks and appreciation to all the listeners of The John Batchelor Show, without whom we would not have had the luxury of producing the program. If you'd like more information on the future of The John Batchelor Show, please check this website for further announcements. We look forward with pleasure to resuming again and intend to do so soon enough.
I suspect that "late fall" will be in December, if I correctly read Loftus' email.

As to where the new show will be airing -- I guess we'll have to watch the sky for smoke signals.

By the way, Ambassador John Bolton will be guesting on Batchelor's Wednesday show. He usually visits during the opening segment.
* * * * * * * * * *
9:28 PM ET:
Not that Pundita is pacing the floor in impatience or anything. Tune to John Batchelor's show tonight at 10:00 PM ET to get the scoop on why he's leaving ABC Radio. See my earlier post today if you're just learning the news.

This is how the blogosphere gets things done right

I'm glad I stopped by Riehl World View a second time today or I might have missed Dan's latest post. If you are new to the Ambulance story you might have trouble keeping up with the discussion in the linked essay. But following the twists and turns is worth the effort if you rely on the blogosphere to turn up news that the MSM (mainstream media)overlook or get wrong.

The blogosphere as a self-correcting medium, and the microscopic analysis that the blogosphere excels at (note the discussion of rust in the linked post), are both on display in Dan Riehl's I'd Advise The Blogosphere To Slow Down:
As the originator of the Red Cross Ambulance story, I would urge the elements of the blogosphere still running with the story to at least slow down, if not back up. They are increasingly looking like the very drive by media against which we so often rant, running the risk of being exploited by propagandists on another side of an issue. And no matter how much many of us may support that side, propagandists on both sides do exist. For the record, I'm guilty, too. [...]
Other bloggers can always learn something when Riehl decides to search his blogger's soul, as he did today on his second anniversary as a blogger, and when he takes fellow bloggers to task.

John Batchelor will have the last word. Tune in tonight.

Friday is John Batchelor's last date of broadcasting for ABC Radio. John Mainelli's column at the New York Post published the news on Monday morning but I didn't learn of it until John announced the news during his opening Monday night segment.

Long time regular Pundita readers can imagine my reaction. It was somewhat like hearing the sun had fallen from the sky. I couldn't imagine what this country would do without Batchelor's reports on the war on terror and on other major issues shaping this century and America's place in it.

Pundita dashed off an email to Batchelor regular John Loftus of Intelligence Summit; it said simply, "This hit me hard."

Loftus replied that I should be sure to listen to Batchelor's show tonight for news on why the show is leaving ABC.

And a cryptic response from Batchelor in the wee hours, in response to a whiny email, gives me hope that the John Batchelor Show will soon have another roost on the airwaves.

Dan Riehl, take a bow

Today is Dan Riehl's second anniversary as a blogger. Here he republishes his first effort for the blogosphere. The writing conveys the signature elements of his blog: direct, from the heart, and very shrewd. Riehl World View is a great addition to the blogosphere and it's been a staunch friend to Pundita blog.

Dan, if you can keep finding the time to inform and educate us, I wish you many more years of success on the blogosphere.

Monday, August 28

Forget Podhoretz's four pillars; the Bush Doctrine needs flying buttresses

The Bush Doctrine is a towering edifice of ideas; it's a veritable manifesto of US international relations for the post 9/11 era. As such the doctrine does not, and cannot, serve as a US National Security Strategy and yet that is the doctrine's formal name and stated purpose.

So it's no wonder that many have pronounced the doctrine dead and charged that President Bush has abandoned it. However, one can't abandon something so weighted with diverse assertions that it can't get off the ground. That means Norman Podhoretz is technically correct in both defending Bush's actions (for a commander-in-chief can't actually deviate from a body of ideas that is not specific to national defense) and claiming the doctrine has not died.

Policy analysts noted of the first incarnation of the doctrine (published in September 2002) that in key aspects it was based on Paul Wolfowitz's 1992 Defense Planning Guidance draft co-authored with Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

The 2006 incarnation of the US National Security Strategy -- hilariously claiming to be supported by just two pillars -- piles on more points about human dignity, what it takes to make governments work, and a recipe for Salad Nicoise.

So what we need to do here, before trying to decide whether we should simply frame the Bush Doctrine for posterity and rely on Wolfowitz's manifesto for our national security, is plow through both incarnations of the security strategy and study the Wolfowitz document.

That will be the summer project for Pundita readers. Yes I know it won't be as fun as last summer's project (China's Mystery Pig Disease Epidemic) but I trust it will be greatly less confounding.

Saturday, August 26

What is this, National Balkans Month?

Pundita's cogitations on Norm Podhoretz's Four Pillars of the Bush Doctrine were rudely interrupted by Senator Joseph Biden's Thursday editorial for The Washington Post, in which he argues that in order to save Iraq from sectarian violence we must destroy it:
The five-point plan Les Gelb and I laid out [...] calls for maintaining a unified Iraq by decentralizing it and giving Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis their own regions. The central government would be left in charge of common interests, such as border security and the distribution of oil revenue. [...]
Biden hauls in Bosnia to explain what he's talking about:
The example of Bosnia is illustrative, if not totally analogous. Ten years ago, Bosnia was being torn apart by ethnic cleansing. The United States stepped in decisively with the Dayton Accords to keep the country whole by, paradoxically, dividing it into ethnic federations. We even allowed Muslims, Croats and Serbs to retain separate armies. With the help of U.S. troops and others, Bosnians have lived a decade in peace.
There is no meaningful comparison between Bosnia and Iraq in this argument because Bosnia is not swimming in oil; nor is it sitting next to Iran.

Yet Biden's editorial is not the first time in recent weeks I've come across similarly flawed reasoning. So let me see if I understand the argument for the balkanization of Iraq:

A great failure of the American experiment in nationhood is that wars between Italian and Irish gangs for control of the bootleg liquor trade did not produce Bostonia and Chicagoia.

This failure built on Lincoln's catastrophic mistake in not allowing the southern states to become The Americas Republic of England and Teddy's wrongheaded decision not to cede Texas to Mexico.

My pen drips with sarcasm when I observe that the only condition under which the Iraqis should consider balkanization is if Iran would also agree to undergo the balkanization process so that the border of Shiastan is finally and fairly drawn.

But of course Iran would not tolerate a molecule of their nation ceded to a "tribal area," nor does Iran lust solely for Iraq's south. They want the whole enchilada, and in particular the oil-rich Kurdish region.

If Iraq is balkanized into three regions it will be impossible for each to muster an army capable of standing up to Iran's military. So Iran would not need to invade to gain control of the Kurdish region; they would only need to cut a deal with Turkey to harry the Kurds from two sides until so much oil tribute is paid to both that the Kurds can barely afford the price of Iran's tea.

To say that US muscle would prevent such an outcome is to argue for a large permanent US troop deployment -- across a region fragmented into competing tribal areas!

A balkanized Iraq simply means that the Arab gulf states and Iran's gulf state have more pawns to play against each other in their cold war for control of the Strait of Hormuz.

The Western powers that carved up the Iraq-Iran region did a typical botched job of drawing borders. But they got one thing right. They imposed the idea of nationhood on tribal peoples. That is a very good thing in an age when fabulous natural resources in a region invariably install the cruelest of pashas in place of the fatherly chieftain.

To support the argument for balkanization Senator Biden observes:
In December's [Iraq] elections, 90 percent of the votes went to sectarian lists. Ethnic militias increasingly are the law in Iraq. They have infiltrated the official security forces.
Have Biden and Gelb no sense of the history of American politics in cities that saw ethnic strife and non-government militias during America's peak immigrant decades?

Recall the time when New York was run by the Five Points gang, which controlled Tammany Hall and terrorized the fledgling police force. This was not reason to turn New York out of the Union, or to see in the power of gangster militias cause to balkanize the American Union. Why, then, not accord the same tolerance to the Iraqis' struggles to make their nation work as a democracy?

Or does Biden fear that tolerance equates to Congress writing out more checks to send more US troops to Iraq, so the Bush Administration can finally get the job of post-conflict stabilization done right?

In the end, those who argue for balkanization of Iraq are making a contradictory argument. On the one hand they recognize that Iran foments much trouble and supports the most powerful militias in Iraq. On the other hand, they want to exclude Iran from the discussion while observing that 'sectarian violence' is tearing the country apart anyhow!

The only ones who profit from the contradiction are al Qaeda and Iran's IRCG.

Thursday, August 24

"The 'New Middle East' Bush Is Resisting"

As promised, here is the text to the opinion article I mentioned in today's earlier post:

The 'New Middle East' Bush Is Resisting
By Saad Eddin Ibrahim
The Washington Post
Wednesday, August 23, 2006; Page A15

"President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice may be quite right about a new Middle East being born. In fact, their policies in support of the actions of their closest regional ally, Israel, have helped midwife the newborn. But it will not be exactly the baby they have longed for. For one thing, it will be neither secular nor friendly to the United States. For another, it is going to be a rough birth.

What is happening in the broader Middle East and North Africa can be seen as a boomerang effect that has been playing out slowly since the horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001. In the immediate aftermath of those attacks, there was worldwide sympathy for the United States and support for its declared "war on terrorism," including the invasion of Afghanistan. Then the cynical exploitation of this universal goodwill by so-called neoconservatives to advance hegemonic designs was confirmed by the war in Iraq. The Bush administration's dishonest statements about "weapons of mass destruction" diminished whatever credibility the United States might have had as liberator, while disastrous mismanagement of Iraqi affairs after the invasion led to the squandering of a conventional military victory. The country slid into bloody sectarian violence, while official Washington stonewalled and refused to admit mistakes. No wonder the world has progressively turned against America.

Against this declining moral standing, President Bush made something of a comeback in the first year of his second term. He shifted his foreign policy rhetoric from a "war on terrorism" to a war of ideas and a struggle for liberty and democracy. Through much of 2005 it looked as if the Middle East might finally have its long-overdue spring of freedom. Lebanon forged a Cedar Revolution, triggered by the assassination of its popular former prime minister, Rafiq Hariri. Egypt held its first multi-candidate presidential election in 50 years. So did Palestine and Iraq, despite harsh conditions of occupation. Qatar and Bahrain in the Arabian Gulf continued their steady evolution into constitutional monarchies. Even Saudi Arabia held its first municipal elections.

But there was more. Hamas mobilized candidates and popular campaigns to win a plurality in Palestinian legislative elections and form a new government. Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt achieved similar electoral successes. And with these developments, a sudden chill fell over Washington and other Western capitals.

Instead of welcoming these particular elected officials into the newly emerging democratic fold, Washington began a cold war on Muslim democrats. Even the tepid pressure on autocratic allies of the United States to democratize in 2005 had all but disappeared by 2006. In fact, tottering Arab autocrats felt they had a new lease on life with the West conveniently cowed by an emerging Islamist political force.
Now the cold war on Islamists has escalated into a shooting war, first against Hamas in Gaza and then against Hezbollah in Lebanon. Israel is perceived in the region, rightly or wrongly, to be an agent acting on behalf of U.S. interests. Some will admit that there was provocation for Israel to strike at Hamas and Hezbollah following the abduction of three soldiers and attacks on military and civilian targets. But destroying Lebanon with an overkill approach born of a desire for vengeance cannot be morally tolerated or politically justified -- and it will not work.

On July 30 Arab, Muslim and world outrage reached an unprecedented level with the Israeli bombing of a residential building in the Lebanese village of Qana, which killed dozens and wounded hundreds of civilians, most of them children. A similar massacre in Qana in 1996, which Arabs remember painfully well, proved to be the political undoing of then-Prime Minister Shimon Peres. It is too early to predict whether Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will survive Qana II and the recent war. But Hezbollah will survive, just as it has already outlasted five Israeli prime ministers and three American presidents.

Born in the thick of an earlier Israeli invasion, in 1982, Hezbollah is at once a resistance movement against foreign occupation, a social service provider for the needy of the rural south and the slum-dwellers of Beirut, and a model actor in Lebanese and Middle Eastern politics. Despite access to millions of dollars in resources from within and from regional allies Syria and Iran, its three successive leaders have projected an image of clean governance and a pious personal lifestyle.
In more than four weeks of fighting against the strongest military machine in the region, Hezbollah held its own and won the admiration of millions of Arabs and Muslims. People in the region have compared its steadfastness with the swift defeat of three large Arab armies in the Six-Day War of 1967. Hasan Nasrallah, its current leader, spoke several times to a wide regional audience through his own al-Manar network as well as the more popular al-Jazeera. Nasrallah has become a household name in my own country, Egypt.

According to the preliminary results of a recent public opinion survey of 1,700 Egyptians by the Cairo-based Ibn Khaldun Center, Hezbollah's action garnered 75 percent approval, and Nasrallah led a list of 30 regional public figures ranked by perceived importance. He appears on 82 percent of responses, followed by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (73 percent), Khaled Meshal of Hamas (60 percent), Osama bin Laden (52 percent) and Mohammed Mahdi Akef of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood (45 percent).

The pattern here is clear, and it is Islamic. And among the few secular public figures who made it into the top 10 are Palestinian Marwan Barghouti (31 percent) and Egypt's Ayman Nour (29 percent), both of whom are prisoners of conscience in Israeli and Egyptian jails, respectively.

None of the current heads of Arab states made the list of the 10 most popular public figures. While subject to future fluctuations, these Egyptian findings suggest the direction in which the region is moving. The Arab people do not respect the ruling regimes, perceiving them to be autocratic, corrupt and inept. They are, at best, ambivalent about the fanatical Islamists of the bin Laden variety. More mainstream Islamists with broad support, developed civic dispositions and services to provide are the most likely actors in building a new Middle East. In fact, they are already doing so through the Justice and Development Party in Turkey, the similarly named PJD in Morocco, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hamas in Palestine and, yes, Hezbollah in Lebanon.

These groups, parties and movements are not inimical to democracy. They have accepted electoral systems and practiced electoral politics, probably too well for Washington's taste. Whether we like it or not, these are the facts. The rest of the Western world must come to grips with the new reality, even if the U.S. president and his secretary of state continue to reject the new offspring of their own policies.

The writer is an Egyptian democracy activist, professor of political sociology at the American University in Cairo, and chairman of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies.

Correction to This Article
An earlier version of this op-ed that appeared in the print edition incorrectly identified the writer's credentials. Saad Eddin Ibrahim is no longer at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars."

Pundita has been thinking, thinking, thinking

If you have not yet read Norman Podhoretz's Is the Bush Doctrine Dead? all you need do is Google the essay to get an idea of how much discussion it's touched off in US foreign policy circles and the blogosphere. As Powerline's Paul Mirengoff observes:
Mr. Podhoretz does a great job of exposing a number of myths -- from nearly all positions on the political spectrum -- about the Bush Doctrine and the extent of its author's adherence thereto.
To expose the myths Podhoretz makes short work of the embalmed thinking represented by William F. Buckley Jr. and George Will, the gargoyles still guarding the Council on Foreign Relations, and a host of chipmunks posing as learned commentators.

But the essay does more than dispute; it also proposes. In particular it reviews the "four pillars" that Norman Podhoretz has proposed as the foundation for the Bush Democracy Doctrine. It is the four pillars that plunged Pundita into deep thought. I note that Paul Mirengoff's brow is also furrowed in thought:
In the end, I agree that the Bush Doctrine is not dead. However, I fear that the Doctrine may have a fever due to a serious tension between two of its primary elements.
It is important not to get lost in the thicket: there are Bush's statements, and there are Mr. Podhoretz's pillars, which are not necessarily a seamlessly correct interpretation of the doctrine. But let us not beat around the bush; Mirengoff targets a conflict between incidents on the ground and the belief that democracy is the best antidote to terrorism. Then he takes a side in the conflict that might be called irrational but only if you're not in the crosshairs of a terrorist attack.

So now you have some idea of why Pundita has been lost in thought for days. If you've not yet had the fun of reading Podhoretz's long but beautifully written essay I suggest you settle down with it before turning to Mirengoff's pithy commentary.

I also point you to Saad Eddin Ibrahim's very important editorial for Wednesday's Washington Post titled The 'New Middle East' Bush is Resisting. His comments zero in on the very question Mirengoff raises and are a wonderful summary of the US compromises between short-term strategic interests in the Middle East and the aim of the Democracy Doctrine.*

Norman Podhoretz musters a defense of the compromises: the US had to make many compromises while fighting the Cold War and one should be grown up about the compromises needed to fell this century's global enemy. Although the defense is comforting I am not sure it stands up to brute logic.

If you complain I haven't given you enough reading for the week, you might wish to read or review We had to destroy this democracy to save it, which I published in November 2005. Note that no one in Washington has gotten around to tackling the sly question Pundita posed: "What is the difference between a market economy and a democracy?"

That is enough musing out loud. I return now to pondering those four pillars. Ready or not I will post on the status of my cogitations by noon Saturday. Until then, I hope you will join me in thinking on Podhoretz's many challenging points.

* As of this writing, the editorial is not yet available online without registering at the Post; if it's not available Thursday by 4:00 PM Eastern time I will post the entire writing at that time for readers who hate registering at websites.

Monday, August 21

Whack-a-mole: How US fights when funding dries up

Sunday's Meet the Press program focused on the current situation in Iraq. Kudos to moderator David Gregory for sticking with the Iraqi troop deployment issue long enough to elicit pinpoint replies from Senator John McCain and General Barry McCaffrey.

I've moved around parts of the exchanges and considerably shortened the transcript, so I suggest it is time well spent if you read the entire discussion (both half hours), which is a good snapshot of where things stand now in Iraq for the US effort. Here I concentrate on what I consider the most illuminating and alarming observations; namely:

> We've been told for years that if commanders on the ground in Iraq need more troops they just need ask. Yet according to Senator McCain the decision is supposed to come from the Pentagon, not the commanders on the ground. He describes the issue as one of leadership from Washington.

> McCain asserts that more US troops are needed in Iraq. But the discussion is beside the point because the Army doesn't have enough funds to support more troops and even if they had more troops their equipment is falling apart.

The big question is the same one that's been debated for years: whether more troops in Iraq would be a solution. I have always left this question to the military bloggers. But the simple truth is that while the type of violence in Iraq has changed over the years the violence has not abated. So I think it's time to follow the counsel of Senator McCain, on the theory that we've tried everything else.

However, General McCaffrey's comments call into question whether the US is capable of getting additional troops to Iraq in enough time to halt the slide toward civil war. McCain seems to think there is enough time if the decision makers act quickly.
DAVID GREGORY: Do you think [US] military commanders on the ground [in Iraq] are asking for more troops?

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: I know that military commanders on the ground need more troops, whether they’re asking for them or not. But see, this is kind of a false argument. It’s not up to the commanders on the ground, it’s up to the leaders who assess the entire battlefield situation to decide whether they need. I’ve known very few commanders in the field who say, “I need help.”

So it’s up to the assessment made at the Pentagon level. And from the beginning, we didn’t have enough in the [Iraq] invasion, the initial invasion itself.

MR. GREGORY: But this is an important point because if there’s no clear commitment for more troops and a firm belief by you and others that more troops are needed, what’s standing in the way? Why aren’t military leaders asking, and is there politics involved that’s keeping troops from being deployed?

SEN. McCAIN: I think it’s got to do with the decisions that are made in the Pentagon. And I think that’s the sum total of it, and the advice that the president gets from the people that are on his team. And I don’t think it’s good advice. But I know that the president’s committed to win. I know that he will do what’s necessary. Many times he has said we will do whatever is necessary and I believe him. [...]

MR. GREGORY: General Barry McCaffrey [...] Our troops are not trained to referee a civil war. From a military point of view, as you come up with strategies, how do you navigate this current reality in Iraq?

GEN. BARRY McCAFFREY: [...] the battle of Baghdad won’t be solved by the United States Army. We’ve had 22,000 killed and wounded; two-thirds of our brigades, the ones that aren’t deployed, in the United States Army National Guard now, are not ready to fight. So the surge capability to deal with this from a military perspective is not there.

MR. GREGORY: Do you think more troops are needed at this point?

GEN. McCAFFREY: I’m not sure it’s the right question. First of all, they’re not available. The National Guard brigades—you know, we just had Lieutenant General Blum testifying, we had the chief staff of the Army testifying. The Army is $23 billion short, our equipment’s coming apart, we’re drafting 42-year-old grandmothers to be privates in the Army. I shouldn’t have said draft; asking for volunteers. So I don’t think the combat power is there in the Army and the Marine Corps to solve this problem militarily. We are a safety valve, we’re a peacekeeping mechanism, but the Iraqi security forces are going to have to pull this one together [...]

MR GREGORY: [President Bush] has said repeatedly that he has a strategy to win, that if his commanders want more forces [in Iraq], they will get them. Should more troops be sent?

SEN. McCAIN: Well, I think it’s been well documented now that we didn’t have enough there from the beginning, that we allowed the looting, that we did not have control, particularly, of areas, such [as] in the Sunni Triangle, which led to us paying a very heavy price. We make mistakes in every war, and serious mistakes were made here. The question is, are we going to be able to bring the situation under control now? I still believe we can. I think part of it has to do with the Mahdi Army and Sadr. Sadr has got to be taken out of this equation and his militia has got to be addressed forcefully.

MR. GREGORY: But to do that, do you need more U.S. soldiers on the ground now?

SEN. McCAIN: I think so. We took troops from places like Ramadi, which are still not under control, to put them into Baghdad. We’ve had to send in additional troops as they are. All along, we have not had enough troops on the ground to control the situation. Many, many people knew that and we’re paying a very heavy price for it. But I want to emphasize that we cannot lose this. It will cause chaos in Iraq and in the region, and it’s -- I still believe that we must prevail. [...]

MR. GREGORY: Well, let’s talk about the movement of troops throughout the country. Earlier this month, you said the following about U.S. forces going back into Iraq, some 7,000 troops. Let’s watch.

(Videotape, August 3, 2006):

SEN. McCAIN: And what I worry about is we’re playing a game of Whack A Mole here. We move troops -- it flares up, we move troops there. (End videotape)

MR. GREGORY: Whack A Mole. What are you talking about? What’s the concern?

SEN. McCAIN: Well, there’s the old arcade game where the head [appears], and you bang it down, and another head pops up someplace else, and that’s basically what I was talking about, is that we have never had sufficient number of troops to clear and hold.

The, what we call the oil spot strategy, which everybody knows is the successful way to combat an insurgency. So we’ve had to move our troops around from one place to another.

Fallujah was allowed for a period of a couple of years to become the center for terrorist operations through an insurgency throughout Iraq. We had to go in there, and these brave Marines and Army people, I mean, that was one of the historic battles in Marine and Army history. Eighty-six killed, 1,000 wounded because we didn’t have enough troops to control Fallujah to start with. That’s the object lesson. So then we had to move to Ramadi. Now, of course, Baghdad is the center of our attention now.

But I want to emphasize again, there are good things happening. We did have a free election, we do have a functioning government. Where—there are some parts of the country, particularly in the north, that things are good. It’s not all bad news. But it is a serious situation.

MR. GREGORY: But in the most dangerous parts of the country, you see this Whack-A-Mole approach. So what’s the consequence of that?

SEN. McCAIN: The consequences are is that we go in and we control an area for a short period of time and then we leave and then the insurgents filter back in.

MR. GREGORY: It’s not the right strategy, as far as you’re concerned?

SEN. McCAIN: It’s never been the right strategy as far as I’m concerned, since the beginning when I came back from my first trip to Iraq after every military person, including the British, told me that we didn’t have sufficient troops to control the situation. [...]

Saturday, August 19

Fighting with empty hands

I think the frustration is that many feel if we would only make up our minds to use force against elements like Hezbollah, we would experience no more anti-US feeling than we do now and, once defeated, there may actually be an ability to move forward with the populations.

We have decided the new warfare is not to defeat opponents, but to play games and wait until we "convert" them. That may be fine fifty years from now. In the meantime, we have to live with the terror threat every day.

What do you make of Iran's Aug. 22nd timing to respond to the UN?
Dan Riehl
Riehl World View "

Dear Dan:
The frustration you speak about tends to ignore the objective of war, so it overlooks much that the US has accomplished since 9/11. The question I always put to myself when I get frustrated is, "Do you want to win with blood or do you want to win?"

If you want to win with blood then we shouldn't have accepted Muammar al-Gaddafi's capitulation, which happened without a US shot fired at Libya.

If you want to win with blood then we should have upbraided whichever of the two zillion Arab factions who put out a contract on Yasser Arafat when they saw that Palestinian elections and Israeli disengagement from Gaza were going forward.

If you want to win with blood then we shouldn't have given Fouad Siniora's government an opportunity to use a lull in the Hezbollah-Israel conflict to cast Syria as the real villain of the piece.

If you want to win with blood then we should have refused to assassinate Abu Musab al-Zarqawi when Iran's military ratted out his location to their US counterpart.

All you need is to look at the devolution of the type of violence in Iraq to realize that the Iraqis are winning the peace with help from US muscle. At the end of the first year, Iraq was in the throes of a Baathist-led insurgency. At the end of the second year, Iraq was under attack from foreign-led forces. As we near the end of the third year, Baghdad is drowning in bloodshed from sectarian rivalries and warring gangs. Not pretty but it is huge progress and in less than three years.

President Bush said at the outset of this war that it would be fought on many fronts in many ways -- ways that the public couldn't always see. The war has so many fronts simply because it is a globally fought war that is generating the multiple fronts at the same time. And most of the battles are fought according to 4GW principles.

Yet I venture the people who are frustrated with the course of this war are looking at the Battle of Fallujah as the standard for how the US should fight. The catch is that the US military had to level the blinkin' town, and was saddled with the post-conflict stabilization phase.

So, much as I generally can't miss by blaming the State Department for everything that goes wrong, State is not playing fast and loose with America's life in the war on terror; neither is the Pentagon. There is a saying that you fight at the level you see. State and Pentagon see a great deal more than the public. This allows them to scramble to keep up with events that unfold with dizzying speed. Here's an example:

Because Iran's military uses a clunky Soviet era playbook for their meddling guidelines, they were blind to how Lebanon's government would react to the war they engineered with Israel on Lebanese soil.

Lebanon was angry at Israel but beside themselves with fury that Iran would use their country as a battering ram. They got back at Iran in a very telling way -- by turning blame on Syria!

Maybe State was blind at first but as soon as they realized what was going on, they scrambled to throw together any kind of cease fire. They saw that it didn't matter for US and Israel interests whether Israel thrashed around in Lebanon or had a clear victory; either way Lebanon's government had been landed a big pile of lemons and proceeded to make lemonade with them.

All that put Hassan Nasrallah, who is famously an Iranian puppet, in a terrible position. He really had no choice but to accept the cease fire if he didn't want to appear as trampling on Lebanon's sovereignty -- which Hezbollah is supposed to defend!

But for the large part the American public has been blind to what's really going on because they are focused on keeping score between Israel and Hezbollah and totting up Israel's mistakes in the conflict! They are not looking at things from the viewpoint of Lebanon's government.

I am afraid that such blindness is very typical in this fast-moving war if one isn't privy to classified intel reports! So the frustration you describe is understandable. Yet it's based on the view that either we act quickly to destroy the governments that sponsor terror, or terrorist acts of catastrophic scale will force the US to such destruction.

To intuit the flaw with such reasoning one only has to study the US post-conflict stabilization phase in just one town in Iraq -- Fallujah. The phase includes rebuilding and insuring that the enemy doesn't retake the town.

Governments the US can topple, and there's probably not a country in this world that the US military couldn't conquer. But it wouldn't be long into the conquests before the US would face the same problems that Genghis Khan and the Romans faced. It's those pesky post-conflict stabilization phases that are the bane of conquerors.

The only real solution is one the Romans used on Carthage. In other words, the way to quickly stop the terrorist threat is to practice genocide then render entire lands to dust. That's what the frustrated sentiment inadvertently asks for. Yet the Carthage solution is out of the question unless one wants to lose all the gains civilization made since the Enlightenment.

And we don't have enough Americans, let alone US troops, to manage the post-conflict stabilization phases if we toppled the 60 or so governments in the Middle East, Africa, and parts of Asia that we'd need to dispense with if we wanted to take the terrorist threat off the table. If we relied on the UN or coalitions of the willing to make up the shortfall, we'd be back in the same soup we've found in post-invasion Iraq.

However, the choice is not the Carthage Solution or nothing. The choice is to bog ourselves down in Cold War strategies or fight with 'empty hands' -- adjust on a dime to fast-moving situations so we can make the best use of them. This means making use of deadly force sometimes, and other times racing to the negotiation table to take advantage of a mistake by the enemy.

With regard to the significance of the timing of Tehran's announcement, I make the same of it that Beijing makes of it. I don't give a rat's hindquarters what Tehran says; I'm watching their actions.

We have to factor in China's relationship with Iran. Iran's ruling class got spoiled by the way Western diplomats and intellectuals pandered to their behavior since Iran's revolution. But the Chinese don't believe in pandering to grown people who act like homicidal juvenile delinquents on LSD.

According to what John Loftus told John Batchelor's audience on Friday, the Chinese want Tehran to knock off the mystic jibber jabber and start acting like businesspeople.

If Iran doesn't listen to China's money? Beijing will scotch trade deals with Tehran and get behind economic sanctions against Iran.

The price: China's military does want to be assured that the US won't cut and run from the Middle East anytime soon.

"Pundita, you forget Reagan's passing interest in Gaddafi, as when missiles passed over his head. And ultimately, I doubt he would have caved if he didn't see what was happening in Iraq.

I'm not suggesting going to war with everyone, but not shying away from it in some cases where it can expedite the process.
Dan Riehl"

Dan --
I have not forgotten, and I couldn't agree with you more about Gaddafi. And I think it's reasonable for Americans to worry that pressure from NATO allies and congressionals on both sides of the aisle could cause the US to draw back from a necessary military confrontation.

Yet up to this point I can't see where the US has backed away from lethal force where necessary in the war. What I have seen is the tendency by the public, journalists, pundits, and congressionals to react to very fluid events as if they were witnessing a final result, and from there assume that the US is losing the war. Americans need to sit hard on the tendency because the enemy can profit from it as much as from overconfidence.

Thursday, August 17

War Boogie

At my age it's unseemly to hop onto an armchair and bounce up and down while yowling "Boogie oogie oogie!" But war events can sometimes bring out the seven year old in the most sedate people.

This happened last night while I listened to John Loftus report to John Batchelor that contrary to fast-gathering opinion, the Israelis had scored a rather stunning victory: just that night Hezbollah had quietly agreed to turn over their arms to the Lebanese army in a face-saving, under the table way.

Loftus also reported that the French government had read the riot act to Lebanon's government about their cowardly approach to dealing with Hezbollah, which prodded Beirut to action.

Readers who heard the ensuing exchange know that Batchelor was incredulous about Loftus' intel, which contradicted the intel from Batchelor's sources. In Batchelor's view, Israel had been soundly thrashed, Hezbollah was going to hold onto their arms, and Beirut was still hiding under the bed.

Loftus owlishly observed that maybe the truth was somewhere between the differing views, but he stood firmly behind his own sources (probably CENTCOM).

The good news that Loftus brought was so at odds with the conventional view of the status of the Israel-Hezbollah conflict that it's a reminder that events, not punditry, are in the saddle. It's also a reminder not to be swayed by early reports on how events are shaking out.

I'll allow myself one comment on Loftus' intel: if it's correct, Hezbollah's agreement to disarm is far worse than a fart in Iran's direction. It suggests that Hezbollah is thinking in nationalist terms; i.e., as an organization dedicated to Lebanon's best interests.

That can happen when a government throws off control by a foreign power (Syria, in this instance) and establishes political avenues for protest. Once the avenues open, why should Lebanon be Iran's poodle?

If Hassan Nasrallah is thinking in this way it's another sign that Iran's meddling has backfired, as it's backfiring in Iraq.

Okay, that's enough pondering. I just want to enjoy good news while I can, which I've learned to do during war. Boogie, anyone?
If you're thinkin' you're too cool to boogie
Boy oh boy have I got news for you!
Everybody here tonight must boogie
Let me tell ya' you are no exception to the rule!

Get on up on the floor!
Cuz we're gonna boogie oogie oogie
Till you just can't boogie no more . . . *
Taste of Honey's Boogie Oogie Oogie

Wednesday, August 16

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad launches MassMurdererMediaBlogs

Iran's president has started his own blog at

The English translation needs a little work, but Maddy manages to convey his plan to compete with Pajamas Media:

"First we start Big Bosses Blog Carnival with Kim Jong-il, Robert Mugabe, Hu Jintao, Omar el-Bashir, Bashir Assad. First theme of the blog submissions is, "Time I most personally enjoyed ordering murderers of my political enemies."

GRAND PRIZE: Framed Portrait of Joseph Stalin shaking hands with Harry Truman and Winston Churchill.

Tuesday, August 15

Uh oh. Uppity puppet farts at puppeteer.

"Dear Pundita,
I hope you listened to Yossef Bodansky's report last night [on the John Batchelor show]. He said that Tehran is upset that [Hassan] Nasrallah has become a superstar in the region and throughout the Muslim world because of his stand against Israel's military! I thought of your Uppity Puppet essay and I started laughing.

If Iran indeed pushed Nasrallah to war in order to take him down a peg then it seems their plan backfired, although Bodansky doesn't think that was their reason for telling Nasrallah to instigate war with Israel.

However, it seems you were right in that Tehran fears the power that Nasrallah and Hezbollah have gained since the Syrians were thrown out of Lebanon.

I won't ask how you came up with that idea but can you tell what you see happening next? Do you think the truce will hold?
Jan in Reston"

Dear Jan:
Remember that Seffy is an intelligence gatherer; he reports not on what he thinks but on what he has learned about what the enemy is saying and doing, which makes him a very valuable source.

Feel free to ask how I came up with the idea. I didn't know why Tehran told Hezbollah to start a war but I asked, "Why now?" When I looked at the landscape I saw Hasan Nasrallah towering over his traditional competition in Lebanon, which was the Syrian government. So then I asked myself, "If I were an Iranian general, how would I perceive that situation?"

I've noted before that American analysts need to find ways to think outside the American viewpoint when asking why the enemy does things. I seem to recall dedicating a post to a discussion of what I call Common Sense Reasoning, which is trying to place yourself in another's shoes and thinking things through from that vantage point.

CSR isn't always right, of course; if you've never been in someone else's position it's unlikely you'll hit a bull's eye. But there are always shared elements of experience in any situation because we're all the same species. By following the thread of something about the situation you can emotionally connect with, you can sometimes get into the ballpark about why another does things.

CSR is no substitute for informed analysis but engaging in the exercise can break up ossified ways of looking at a situation and reveal angles that one was blind to before.

I can't think like an Iranian general but I do know how I react when I'm facing uncertainty everywhere I look. Under such circumstances I do what most humans do, which is attempt to assert control over any kind of situation.

That's why in the midst of grief over loss of a spouse the surviving member of the couple can do things that seem out of context to the situation, such as deciding to repaint the entire house. That's why a sales manager can develop an obsession for golf in the face of tanking sales numbers.

The US push for democracy in the Middle East, when met with the repressed aspirations for democracy in the region and the US toppling of Saddam's regime, created a high level of uncertainty for the Iranian regime and its military.

Before then Iran's military could predict and control to a great degree the actions of the key players in Lebanon; the Palestinian Authority; Syria; and the militant organizations they controlled, such as Hezbollah.

Then came the assassination of Rafik Hariri, which led to the Lebanese demand that Syria quit Lebanon, and Israel's disengagement from Gaza, which unleashed the full power of the Uncertainty Principle.

The militant organizations controlled by Iran saw avenues to power open that had been closed to them. Being human and all, they could allow themselves to wonder for the first time what they needed Tehran for.

So put yourself in the place of an Iranian general. In all that uncertainty was there some avenue of action over which they could exert great control, and which could produce predictable results?

They could still exert great control over Nasrallah so he didn't go getting the uppity idea that the power vacuum left by Syria meant he could run Lebanon if he cut enough deals with France.

If you observe that there was no way the Iranians could predict the outcome if they instigated an all-out military confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah -- well, you can't improve your sales figures by improving your golf swing, nor can you bring back the dead by refurbishing the house. But there is no reasoning with human nature when it seizes on a way to bash uncertainty back over the line.

As to whether the truce will hold -- according to what Seffy said last night, it seems Tehran wants to see it broken. But the question now is what Nasrallah wants. Seffy also said Tehran is angry that Nasrallah accepted the cease fire proposal, so another question is how far they'll push Hezbollah to break the truce.

Monday, August 14

Kleptocrats beware! But where will the United Nations go?

Last week President Bush presented the National Strategy To Internationalize Efforts Against Kleptocracy. All well and good, but I see from the accompanying fact sheet that the strategy is based on the January 2004 presidential proclamation to "To Generally Deny Entry Into The United States Of Persons Engaged In Or Benefiting From Corruption. "

So now that the strategy has become official, just how does the US execute the proclamation without shutting down more than half the embassies in the US and barring the United Nations from US shores?
President's Statement on Kleptocracy
For too long, the culture of corruption has undercut development and good governance and bred criminality and mistrust around the world. High-level corruption by senior government officials, or kleptocracy, is a grave and corrosive abuse of power and represents the most invidious type of public corruption. It threatens our national interest and violates our values. It impedes our efforts to promote freedom and democracy, end poverty, and combat international crime and terrorism. Kleptocracy is an obstacle to democratic progress, undermines faith in government institutions, and steals prosperity from the people. Promoting transparent, accountable governance is a critical component of our freedom agenda.

At this year's G-8 meeting in St Petersburg, my colleagues joined me in calling for strengthened international efforts to deny kleptocrats access to our financial systems and safe haven in our countries; stronger efforts to combat fraud, corruption, and misuse of public resources; and increased capacity internationally to prevent opportunities for high-level public corruption. Today, I am announcing a new element in my Administration's plan to fight kleptocracy, The National Strategy to Internationalize Efforts against Kleptocracy, which sets forth a framework to deter, prevent, and address high-level, public corruption. It identifies critical tools to detect and prosecute corrupt officials around the world, so that the promise of economic assistance and growth reaches the people.

Our objective is to defeat high-level public corruption in all its forms and to deny corrupt officials access to the international financial system as a means of defrauding their people and hiding their ill-gotten gains. Given the nature of our open, accessible international financial system, our success in fighting kleptocracy will depend upon the participation and accountability of our partner nations, the international financial community, and regional and multilateral development institutions. Together, we can confront kleptocracy and help create the conditions necessary for people everywhere to enjoy the full benefits of honest, just, and accountable governance.
From the fact sheet, here are the key anti-kleptocrat initiatives embraced by the strategy:
> Launch A Coalition Of International Financial Centers Committed To Denying Access And Financial Safe Haven To Kleptocrats.
The United States Government will enhance its work with international financial partners, in the public and private sectors, to pinpoint best practices for identifying, tracing, freezing, and recovering assets illicitly acquired through kleptocracy. The U.S. will also work bilaterally and multilaterally to immobilize kleptocratic foreign public officials using financial and economic sanctions against them and their network of cronies.

> Vigorously Prosecute Foreign Corruption Offenses and Seize Illicitly Acquired Assets. In its continuing efforts against bribery of foreign officials, the United States Government will expand its capacity to investigate and prosecute criminal violations associated with high-level foreign official corruption and related money laundering, as well as to seize the proceeds of such crimes.

> Deny Physical Safe Haven. We will work closely with international partners to identify kleptocrats and those who corrupt them, and deny such persons entry and safe haven.

> Strengthen Multilateral Action Against Bribery. The United States will work with international partners to more vigorously investigate and prosecute those who pay or promise to pay bribes to public officials; to strengthen multilateral and national disciplines to stop bribery of foreign public officials; and to halt bribery of foreign political parties, party officials, and candidates for office.

> Facilitate And Reinforce Responsible Repatriation And Use. We will also work with our partners to develop and promote mechanisms that capture and dispose of recovered assets for the benefit of the citizens of countries victimized by high-level public corruption.

> Target And Internationalize Enhanced Capacity.The United States will target technical assistance and focus international attention on building capacity to detect, prosecute, and recover the proceeds of high-level public corruption, while helping build strong systems to promote responsible, accountable, and honest governance.
If it all sounds like a bunch of words on paper -- no, it's gone beyond that stage but getting it down on paper with international backing for the initiatives was the hardest part.

If this is to be Liberty's Century, all freedom loving nations must fight high-level corruption as if the fate of civilization hangs in the balance.

Friday, August 11

Fighting a war the Time Magazine way: first we get a really big sieve, then we empty the ocean with it

Ordinarily Pundita has more interesting things to do than critique monumentally stupid advice. Yesterday, for example, we spent a suspenseful 15 minutes watching to see if a squirrel would break his neck harvesting tomatoes in our garden. The squirrel didn't want just any old tomato; they had to be not too red and not too green and these delectables hung at the end of tall spindly vines twisted around flimsy metal supports.

But yesterday also found Pundita in the dentist's waiting room, which is the only place I can muster the focus to read Time Magazine editorials. Thus, I came across Lisa Beyer's August 7 effort titled, Why the Middle East Crisis Isn't Really About Terrorism. Beyer is an assistant managing editor at Time and before that she was Time's bureau chief in Jerusalem. Clearly Ms. Beyer thinks the President of the United States micromanages CENTCOM and that President Bush should cherry pick which terrorists the US fights based on her idea of a threat to the US.
Enunciating a new security doctrine nine days after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush declared that the war on terrorism would be fought not just against al-Qaeda but also against "every terrorist group of global reach." Hizballah can certainly be said to fit in that category. However grand it may be to fight all global terrorists, though, the simple fact is that we can't: we don't have the troops, the money or the political will. That means it may make sense to limit our hit list to the groups that actually threaten us. Hizballah does not now do that. Nor does the other group currently in the spotlight, the Palestinian Islamist organization Hamas.
I think it's a military advantage if one can do serious damage to militant organizations created and overseen by the enemy, especially if the organizations are directed at attacking one's allies. This rule takes on even greater importance when the enemy relies on 'asymmetrical' (e.g., terrorist) battle tactics.

Perhaps the stumbling block to comprehension is the idea that "global" terrorists are operating as individuals. This is a popular notion among journalists and policy advisors who slept through President Bush's Axis of Evil speech.

The term "global (or transnational) terrorism" is not descriptive when interpreted to mean militant organizations independent of state assistance. Virtually all globally-acting militant organizations that deploy terror tactics are state sponsored, which was the point of Bush's speech.

Of course the sponsorship may not be total (i.e., the organization can raise funds and receive training from private sources) but the militants who today operate globally owe their existence to government support, even if they have some autonomy in their battle planning.

Would it be a help if Bush renamed the War on Terror so that it more clearly reflects the nature of the enemy? Yes, on the day that Iran and every other country covertly making war on the US openly declares war. Until then, we must stick with naming nonsense, which makes the war we're in no less real.

Wednesday, August 9

Trade Pacts: bilateral is In, multilateral is Out

After the obligatory wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth about the collapsed Doha Round and dire warnings about what this means for the world's poorest countries, the Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations gets down to brass tacks. Writing in yesterday's Washington Post, Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) notes that so many bilateral trade negotiations are now in the works that Congress needs to give the U.S. trade representative more staff.

Kolbe also advises that the Senate should sign off on the House-passed Trade Capacity Enhancement Fund, "a $522 million initiative to help developing countries prepare and implement free-trade agreements with the United States."

So, it's more or less official: even if Doha isn't deader than a doornail, nobody should waste time trying to breathe more life into the WTO's multilateral approach to trade negotiations and the Trade Aid idea promoted by Doha.

Bilateral talks are sprouting everywhere you look:
With Doha negotiations in the deep freeze, the United States needs to embrace an ambitious bilateral trade agenda. Of course, bilateral agreements are no substitute for multilateral ones; multilateral agreements propel the world toward economic openness faster. But without a multilateral round on the horizon, the United States cannot afford to remain idle.

Negotiations with South Korea are a good starting point. No other country the United States is negotiating with has an economy the size of South Korea's. Sealing a deal with that country could revive prospects for broader trade talks encompassing a number of developing nations. We would further increase the momentum for a new round by targeting even larger economies, Japan's foremost among them. A U.S.-Japan agreement would have the added virtue of deepening our most important Asian alliance in the face of threats by North Korea.

America's own neighborhood offers more reason for optimism. Along the Pacific coast, from Mexico into Central America and all the way down to Chile, every country except Ecuador is either negotiating a free-trade agreement with the United States or already has one. On the Atlantic, Doha's failure gives us the green light to initiate talks with Brazil, the largest economy in South America.

The future of free trade hinges on writing these agreements one by one. [...]
Click here for the rest of Kolbe's advice. As to how the World Trade Organization will be impacted by nobody pretending anymore to support multilateral trade pacts -- maybe in the way that the United Nations has been impacted by the Bush Preemption Doctrine. A tremendous amount of ink and energy will be funneled into declaring the emperor is not naked.

Monday, August 7

Nation Building in America's Age of Instant Gratification

...despite [California Disneyland] park's success, Disney remained unsettled about the one element he could not control. Drawn by the millions of Disney customers, non-Disney hotels, hamburger stands and -- worst of all -- tawdry nightclubs and strip-joints sprang up on the park's border. The outside development, Disney thought, choked the magic illusion and threatened the artistic and commercial essence of the park. He would not make the same mistake again. From the start, the project in central Florida dwarfed its predecessor in scale.

...What makes the Walt Disney World theme park so interesting is not so much the park itself ... but all the amazing aspects of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, the government set up by Disney (which continues to this day) that was originally intended to govern EPCOT (the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) and give it the ability to live out Disney's dream of a perfect society. ...

Of course, Disney's charm ... is the feel of the place, its cleanliness, efficiency, and safety. Undesirables are kept outside the gates and, if they slip through, are monitored by security guards camouflaged as ordinary cast members or as tourists. For many visitors, this controlled community offers a freedom from the fear and distrust they feel outside. ...*
Hello? Am I speaking with a Disney World Customer Care Consultant? It's nice to make your acquaintance, too, Muffy. My name is General John Abizaid -- no, I'm active duty. Thank you, I appreciate the prayers.

No, I am not interested in renting conference facilities. I am the commander of the US Central Command, which includes Iraq. I am calling on behalf of Iraq's Prime Minister, who is acting on the instruction -- advice -- of a group of US senators. I am trying to contact Disney's Office of Imagineers.

Basically, the senators are requesting that Disney's Imagineers do the same for Iraq that they did for 27,000 acres in Orlando only in less time. Yes, basically, we're offering to cut a deal with Disney to turn Iraq into a theme park in exchange for Disney getting the country on its feet before October 2007.

I can't speak that, Muffy; I think they'd have to work out film rights with Iraq's government.

* Walt Disney World as a government

Friday, August 4

Paul Wolfowitz talks about good governance and the World Bank's anti-corruption efforts

Below are excerpts from an important speech that World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz delivered in April of this year in Indonesia. If his talk sounds as if the Bank is finally putting teeth in their anti-corruption efforts -- they are, and they're enjoining other multilateral development banks to do the same.

The emphasis throughout is mine. I have omitted several passages that relate specifically to Indonesia; readers interested in that region should read the entire speech. Of course the general comments I've included about Indonesia's development problems are mirrored throughout countries in the developing world.

I love Wolfy's use of the word "steal" instead of a sanitized abstract term to refer to stealing. He is somewhat more circumspect in his language when he speaks about his upcoming meeting with representatives of the world's leading Muslim organizations. But I think he manages to convey that while he is at the helm the World Bank will no longer tolerate siphoning of Bank funds to Muslim terrorist organizations.

Before you jump for joy, be advised that with every successful anti-corruption move at the Bank the bad guys turn more to other development banks and cook up ever more creative schemes for fleecing private donors and lifting development funds from commercial banks.

Yet the tide is turning against corruption in every developing country where the middle class is emerging as a political force. And that is cause for hope when combined with the tough anti-corruption measures deployed by the World Bank. Before, people railed at corruption but the action paths were not established to fight corruption and win. Now the paths are laid down.

"Good Governance and Development: A Time for Action
[. . . ] In the 10 months since I joined the World Bank, I have traveled to developing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, in South Asia, in East Asia, and in Latin America. I have met with people from all walks of life. Across remarkably different continents I have heard the same thing: people want opportunities, they want a better future for their children. But without a government that can deliver on its promises, without a government that listens and treats its citizens fairly, those hopes and dreams cannot be realized. To put it more plainly: people need government that works.

In the last half-century we have developed a better understanding of what helps governments function effectively and achieve economic progress. In the development community, we have a phrase for it. We call it good governance. It is essentially the combination of transparent and accountable institutions, strong skills and competence, and a fundamental willingness to do the right thing. Those are the things that enable a government to deliver services to its people efficiently.

An independent judiciary, a free press, and a vibrant civil society and important components of good governance. They balance the power of governments, and they hold them accountable for delivering better services, creating jobs, and improving living standards. Some countries can achieve growth for many years without all of those factors. Indeed, Indonesia's history in the 1970s and 1980s is an illustration of that. But the devastating economic crisis that followed here shows how fragile growth can be when institutions that keep governments accountable, transparent, and responsible, are systematically weakened.

What the Asian crisis of some 8 years ago shows, and nowhere more clearly than here in Indonesia, is that corruption is often at the very root of why governments do not work. Today one of the biggest threats to development in many countries, including I think here, is corruption. It weakens fundamental systems, it distorts markets, and it encourages people to apply their skills and energies in nonproductive ways. In the end, governments and citizens will pay a price, a price in lower incomes, in lower investment, and in more volatile economic fluctuations. That is a lesson Indonesia learned the hard way. Corruption contributed significantly to the economic collapse of 1997-1998. It now looms as a major obstacle to achieving the development successes that I believe this country is capable of, and which the Indonesian people deserve.

Corruption not only undermines the ability of governments to function properly, it also stifles the growth of the private sector. We hear it from investors, domestic and foreign, investors who worry that where corruption is rampant, contracts are unenforceable, competition is skewed, and the costs of doing business becomes stifling. When investors see that, they take their money somewhere else.

To give you an idea, in Indonesia, a survey of firms said that 56 percent of them, a majority, were willing to pay more taxes, in fact, half were willing to pay up to 5 percent of their revenues, if corruption could be eliminated. When businessmen offer to pay more taxes to solve a problem, you know it is a real problem.

Corruption thrives in countries where private investors face cumbersome procedures and excessive regulations. When extra licenses are needed to start a business, when extra signatures are required to import goods, that creates opportunities for abuse of authority and for corruption.

One of the most interesting and useful products of the World Bank Group is something we started a few years ago called the Doing Business report which looks at the investment climate in 155 different countries around the world and ranks them in various categories according to ease of doing business. That kind of analysis is already, I think, having a useful impact here in Indonesia. When the new government learned in 2004 that it took 151 days to launch a business here, three times the average for the world, your President announced that this would be reduced to 30 days. Our estimates show that the time to start a business has already fallen to below 80 days, and we are hopeful the government will reach its target. That would be a wonderful success story.

But the government faces many challenges ahead. It costs Indonesian entrepreneurs the equivalent of one year's income to register a business, and more than three-and-a-half times their annual income to obtain all the necessary licenses and permits.

But perhaps the most important challenge lies in the enforcement of contracts. On this front, Indonesia ranks amongst the lowest in the world, 145 out of 155. In fact, investors' lack of trust in the legal system is one of the problems that have brought investment levels down to half of those of your fast-growing neighbors.

Indonesia has already begun to confront some of these difficult challenges. President Yudhoyono has launched a tough anti-corruption drive that is holding public officials accountable across all levels of government.

New institutions like the Anti-Corruption Commission, the Anti-Corruption Court, the Judicial Commission and Timtastipikor are up and running and producing results. And institutions like the Supreme Audit Commission and the Attorney General's Office are showing newfound strength.

Even more important are the measures taken to reduce opportunities and incentives for corruption, led by an impressive economic team. [. . .]

I am pleased that the World Bank Group has been providing help in this area, and I am meeting with the government on this visit to see how we can do more.

We know that when governments don't work, the development assistance we provide to governments doesn't work either.

It means that children are denied the education they need - mothers are denied the health care they deserve - and countries are denied the institutions needed to deliver real results.

But when governments do work-when they confront corruption and improve their rule of law-they can raise their national incomes by as much as four times in the long run.

The World Bank first acknowledged corruption as a major impediment to development only ten years ago. But since then, it has been leading the development community in coming to grips with this very serious, but long-ignored problem.

We have pioneered research to better understand the root causes of corruption. We are learning from the experiences of countries worldwide and integrating anticorruption measures into our operations, our research, and our dialogue with partner countries, but we, too, need to do more. Fighting corruption is a long-term commitment, and results will not come overnight.

What we can work for is steady progress toward building transparent and accountable institutions. That is why fighting corruption requires a long-term strategy that systematically and progressively attacks the problem, and that is why any strategy for solving the problem requires the commitment and participation of governments, private citizens, and private businesses alike.

There has been some attention in the newspapers recently to a number of actions that we have taken to suspend lending in existing projects where corruption concerns have emerged. That has to be an important part of any World Bank strategy for dealing with the problem, but it is only a part, and not even the most important part. Suspending loans on problem projects by itself does not deliver results for the poor. Much more is needed.

Today we are stepping up our governance and anticorruption efforts along three different fronts, and let me describe them. First is the country approach. We are working to significantly expand our anticorruption work at the country level so that our partner countries receive the support they need in carrying out reforms. This will include in investing in professional expertise to address corruption, and backing our teams in the field with governance specialists. I will be asking my staff in high-risk countries to develop a strategy to mobilize all World Bank instruments, loans, grants, research, technical assistance, and private-sector investment, to strengthen and fight corruption. We will increase our investments in such key areas as judicial reform, civil service reform, the media, and freedom of information and decentralization of public service delivery. [. . .]

Second, we are implementing a new system for minimizing the risk of corruption in World Bank funded projects. Many of the elements of this new system were developed right here in Indonesia, and we are eager to bring them to other countries.

We will deploy anticorruption teams in many Country Offices to work with local institutions like government audit units, and anticorruption commissions, to protect our projects and strengthen public procurement.

We also are changing the way we design our projects so that they address the incentives and opportunities to fight corruption right from the start.

During this short visit, I have seen tsunami survivors in Aceh managing their own reconstruction projects, I have seen widows using microfinance to improve their families' lives, and I have talked to local villagers in Sulawesi who have been deciding which development projects to pursue. In all of these projects, the communities determine where the investments are made. They control the funds and monitor the results of the projects. The result has been more value for each rupiah spent, and demonstrable reductions in the levels of corruption.

We are developing anticorruption strategies for World Bank projects and we are publishing them on the Web so that our stakeholders can see what steps are being taken to ensure that resources are not diverted. [. . .]

And third, we are committed to expanding our partnerships with a wide range of groups that have a stake in improving governance. One of the most important partners is the private sector worldwide. While there are individual firms that may take advantage of weak governance to alter the competitive playing field, the private sector as a whole stands to lose when corruption is pervasive and the rule of law is undermined. That loss in turn hurts society in lost growth and in lost job creation. We will work more closely with firms and individuals to identify misuse of funds in World Bank financed private-sector projects.

The multilateral development banks are another important partner, and the heads of those banks met several weeks ago and we agreed to develop a common approach to the problem. For the first time, I think, it was identified by all of us as a major obstacle to poverty reduction, and we are working on a common strategy to blacklist firms that engage in corruption on our projects, and to share information on these firms so that if you [steal] from one of us, you cannot go on to steal from the next. I believe it would be good if all development institutions would publicly blacklist firms and individuals that engage in bribery in projects, as the World Bank already does.

Corruption is not just a problem for developing countries to deal with. The developed countries have an enormous responsibility. Indeed, every corrupt transaction has, unfortunately, at least two parties, and often more, and very often the bribe givers are from developed countries. They need to do more to police that.

And they also need to do more to prevent stolen cash from being moved to foreign bank accounts, and to hold private firms accountable if they export corruption to emerging economies.

Civil society everywhere is one of our most important partners. We will work with civil society groups because they are a key to holding governments accountable. Tomorrow I will be meeting with the heads of what I guess are the largest Muslim organizations in the world that represent millions of members across Indonesia. One of the subjects will be to explore how the World Bank can engage with these large and important civil society organizations to help ensure that aid dollars flow to the communities that they are intended to go to.

To conclude, enforcement alone will not cure corruption. How much we do and how much progress we make depends on the desire of both governments and civil society to create the right setting for sound, strong, sustainable development.

The greatest changes come when people's ideas change, and in many countries, people are no longer as tolerant of corruption as they were in the past. A growing middle-class that is independent of government increasingly demands better performance from government. Expanding social safety nets can make even poor citizens less dependent on traditional powerful patrons. [. . .]"

Thursday, August 3

Doha Round collapse crystal ball gazing: Ian Fraser sees spaghetti, Walden Bello sees death of a myth

The dust of the collapsed Geneva talks has settled enough to allow a fix on the opposing views, so it's time to examine the major pro and con arguments. Pundita admits it's unfair to pit Fraser against Bello because the former is a reporter whereas Bellow is an economist who has been fighting the WTO Doha Round since its launch.

But Fraser's report fairly summarizes the thinking of major trading governments and big transnational business. Their fears that the collapse of Doha can set back globalization are not unjustfied, although I think it's a stretch to worry that WTO is in danger of extinction.

Bello, on the other hand, argues in narrower terms: he is focused on the rationale for the Doha Round, which was a stated attempt to transform the WTO mechanism into a massive aid scheme for the world's poorest countries.

Bello's jargon-free arguments are also important to follow because they are a window on the saner elements of the antiglobalization movement.

The legacy of Doha: spaghetti bowl trade
by Ian Fraser
Sunday Herald (Scotland)
July 30

"[...] With little prospect of a final Doha agreement – or even of the so-called “Doha-lite” agreement that would fail to give US farmers the significant new access to export markets they are demanding – being reached before the end of this year, there is a real danger that countries will turn their backs on the WTO and enter a confused mass of bilateral and regional trade agreements.

Such a “spaghetti bowl” of one-on-one bilateral trade agreements is likely to harm future global prosperity and give rise to protectionism and “beggar thy neighbour” trade policies.

Furthermore, such deals tend to benefit the stronger trading nations, which have greater resources to negotiate more favourable terms for themselves.

The risk is that poorer nations will find themselves being bullied into signing deals that they cannot afford to deliver. And of course a spaghetti bowl – with a chaotic web of alliances – also makes life a whole lot more complicated for exporters and multinational corporations.

[Iain McMillan, director of CBI Scotland] says: “A confusion of overlapping trade regimes, of varying scope and with differing rules and standards, would undermine the whole world trade system."

But that may well be where we are headed. Several emerging economies have already stated they will seek to capitalise on Doha’s collapse by pursuing bilateralism. India’s trade and commerce minister Kamal Nath last week said his country is already pursuing bilateral deals with the EU and Japan.

And Taiwan detects a “window of opportunity” to establish a free trade agreement with the US. With Doha in abeyance, it believes many of the US’s army of trade negotiators will have time on their hands. Taiwan’s deputy economic affairs minister Steve Chen last week said: “We feel both countries can take this opportunity to carefully examine the benefits of a Free Trade Agreement and seek to take advantage of this golden opportunity to initiate this process”.

However, Bernard K Gordon, professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire, warns that such arrangements are fraught with danger for weaker nations.

“[Such deals] prove a Faustian bargain for the developing nations, because they cannot negotiate effectively with the larger richer and thoroughly staffed global giants. Even savvy economies such as Australia and Singapore, in FTA dealings with the US, provide ample warning. They accepted distasteful conditions as the price of an agreement,” says Gordon.

An additional risk is that otherwise innocent product categories get “caught in the cross-fire” of future trade spats in such an environment. The SCDI’s McTaggart warns there could be a repeat of the way in which the US imposed quotas on imports of Scottish cashmere during the “banana wars” of 1999.

“When states fall out, they sometimes arbitrarily target particular industries,” he says.

A more serious danger is that the Doha collapse could jeopardise the very future of the World Trade Organisation. In its 11-year life the Geneva-based organisation is seen as having done a creditable job of settling global trade disputes and creating a framework for free trade and globalisation.

British-born Philippe Legrain, a former Economist journalist and author of Open World: The Truth About Globalisation, says: “The WTO now risks going the way of the League of Nations in the 1930s and becoming an ineffective sideshow.”

And we all know what that led to.

So, let us hope that Mandelson is right when he says: “Doha will remain a central priority of European trade policy. We will work to bring it back to life.”

Why Today’s Collapse of the Doha Round Negotiations is the Best Outcome for Developing Countries
by Walden Bello
Bangkok, July 24

"[...] In the past two weeks, in anticipation of the July 27-28 meeting of the World Trade Organization’s General Council, a major rescue effort was mounted to save the “Doha Round” of global trade negotiations from collapse. The most prominent of these efforts took place at the Group of Eight Summit in St. Petersburg, where the leaders of the world’s most powerful economies called for a successful conclusion to the round, painting it as a “historic opportunity to generate economic growth, create potential for development, and raise living standards across the world.”

This was pure myth. The idea that the Doha Round is a “development round” could not be farther from the truth.

At the very outset of the Doha negotiations in November 2001, the developed country governments rejected the demand of the majority of countries that the talks focus on the hard task of implementing past commitments and avoid initiating a new round of trade liberalization. From the very start, the aim of the developed countries was to push for greater market openings from the developing countries while making minimal concessions on their part. Invoking development was simply a cynical ploy to make the process less unpalatable.

Lopsided Negotiations in Agriculture
The state of the agricultural negotiations before today’s unraveling was reflective of this. Even if the United States had conceded to the terms of WTO Director General’s compromise on cutting its domestic support, this would still have left it with a massive $20 billion worth of allowable subsidies. Even with the European Union agreeing to phase out its export subsidies, this would still have left it with 55 billion euros in other forms of export support. In return for such minimal concessions, the US, EU, and other developed countries wanted radically reduced tariffs for their agricultural exports in developing country markets.

Indeed, even at a very late stage in the negotiations, the US appeared determined to eliminate any protection for developing country farmers. US Trade Representative Susan Schwab attacked the provisions for “special products” and “special safeguard mechanisms” already institutionalized in the December 2005 Hong Kong Ministerial declaration. Admittedly imperfect, these mechanisms would nevertheless allow governments to slow down the erosion of local agriculture by exempting some products from tariff cuts and raising tariffs on subsidized imports.

The WTO negotiations, if brought to a conclusion on such lopsided terms, would result in the slashing of poor countries’ farm tariffs while preventing them from maintaining food security. This is a recipe for massively expanded hunger and threatens to further impoverish hundreds of millions of the poor worldwide. The consequences for the South were perhaps best summed up by a Philippine government negotiator before the WTO Agriculture Committee:

“Our agricultural sectors that are strategic to food security and rural employment have already been destabilized as our small producers are being slaughtered by the gross unfairness of the international trading environment. Even as I speak, our small producers are being slaughtered in our own markets, [and] even the more resilient and efficient are in distress.”

The Specter of Deindustrialization
But the developed countries not only want radically reduced agricultural tariffs from developing countries. They also want maximum entry to southern markets for their industrial and other non-agricultural goods. In the NAMA (Non-Agricultural Market Access) negotiations, they have demanded that the industrializing economies of the South cut their non-agricultural tariffs by 60-70 per cent while offering to cut theirs by only 20-30 per cent. This not only violates the GATT-WTO principle of less-than-full-reciprocity. It is absurdly inequitable. The South African government reflected the frustrations of most of the global South about the Doha process when it stated that "developing countries will not agree to destroy their domestic industry on the basis of unreasonable and irrational demands placed on them by the developed countries."

The extinction of agriculture and deindustrialization is not the only price that developing countries are being asked to pay for a successful conclusion to the Doha Round. In addition, under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) negotiations in the WTO, they are being asked to allow foreign corporations more rights to buy and control public services in developing countries, at the expense of guaranteeing essential public services for the poor.

The Cost-Benefit Equation
It is no longer just the developing countries or global civil society that is warning that WTO-managed liberalization will be detrimental to the interests of the developing world. Even the most pro-liberalization agencies are now admitting that the benefits of the Doha Round to the poor have been greatly inflated. According to a fall 2005 study by the World Bank, in a “likely Doha scenario” of reforms, developing countries would gain a mere $16 billion in ten years. That’s a miniscule 0.16 percent of developing-country gross domestic product, or less than a penny a day per capita. The poorest billion people are projected to increase incomes by a mere $2 per year. That’s why it is so heartbreaking to see “the poor” being invoked to sell the project of massive corporate expansion of the Doha agenda.

Yet the 2005 World Bank study, though less unrealistic than that agency’s previous studies, is extremely inadequate, for it does not factor in many costs that the WTO regime imposes on developing countries. It fails to account, for instance, for the negative impact of corporate patent monopolies under the WTO’s “Trade-Related Intellectual Property” agreement, which force the poor to pay vastly increased prices for access to life-saving medicines.

Some estimate that these costs to developing countries are far greater than any alleged gains from liberalization. For example, a recent United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) study predicts that the losses in tariff income for developing countries under Doha could range between $32 billion and $63 billion annually. This loss in government revenues – the source of developing-country health care, education, water provision, and sanitation budgets – is two to four times the mere $16 billion in benefits projected by the World Bank.

Africa, the least developed region, will be one of the most prominent victims should the round be concluded successfully. Summing up the findings of other recent research from the Carnegie Endowment, the European Commission, and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Aileen Kwa of Focus on the Global South points out that “the majority in Africa will be faced with losses in both agriculture and industrial goods liberalization. Even if agricultural export markets were open to Africa, the majority of African farmers – subsistence farmers – will not be in a position to compete. In addition, they will lose through having to open their domestic markets in the negotiations. The poorest countries in Africa will be worst hit – many are LDC countries in Sub-Saharan or East Africa.”

Breaking out of the WTO Paradigm
In sum, not only do the economic costs of a potential Doha conclusion clearly outweigh any projected benefits to the poor; the loss of policy space for developing countries – to create jobs through industrialization, guarantee public services, and protect farmers and food security – would be tantamount to kicking away the ladder of development, to use the image of Cambridge University economist Ha Joon Chang, and prevent developing nations from using the very tools used by developed nations to pull themselves out of poverty.

So clearly detrimental to development is free trade that a recent study of the United Nations Developing Program (UNDP) advised poor Asian countries to do what Japan and South Korea did successfully: protect key industries with tariffs before exposing them to foreign competition. To promote development and reduce poverty, governments should be encouraged to increase spending on health care, education, access to water, and other essential services, not pressured to sell them off to foreign corporations for private profit.

Trade can be a medium of development. Unfortunately, the WTO framework subordinates development to corporate-driven free trade and marginalizes developing countries even further. It is time to cease entertaining illusions about the alleged beneficial effects on development of the Doha Round. The collapse of the Doha Round will be good for the poor. [...] "