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The Daily Briefing 27/10/05

THURSDAY 27TH OCTOBER 2005          
Your round-up from today's newspapers plus the best writing, analysis, critical thinking and humour from around the world.

In today's email:
1    Message and feedback - no link
2    Laura Rozen on the neo-con Niger yellowcake forgeries/Prospect (5 links below)
3    Kristof and Tierney on the Plame affair/NYTimes (3 links below)
4    Stephen Roach on the challenges awaiting Bernanke/LATimes
5    John Bercow says it is time to act against Burma/Daily Telegraph
6    Eugene Robinson on Condoleezza Rice's race denial/Washington Post (link below)
7    Report on Australia's anti-terrorism laws/Aljazeera (2 links below)
8    Alexander Zaitchik on why small is beautiful again/Freezebox
9    Christopher Hitchens on the latest Galloway allegations/Slate (4 links below)
10    Scientist discovers how to stop tables wobbling/Nature
11    IN THE PAPERS: National, Opinion, Business round-up

1 Message and feedback
TDB is not yet back to best form after yesterday's technical glitches and late edition. And a lot of time was expended this morning on the Niger yellowcake affair, which looks like becoming significant. Readers whose interests lie outside US politics and the unfolding revelations about the lead-up to the war in Iraq have been somewhat neglected of late, and that balance will be redressed in the days ahead.

And do have a look at some of the recent feedback that has come in, particularly the response to an article that mentioned Tycho Brahe. TDB does not want to leave readers with wrong impressions or information.

2 The Yellowcake forgery
Even before the Valerie Plame affair comes to anything resembling a conclusion, prepare for another, linked scandal, about how the report that Iraq was trying to buy uranium yellowcake from Niger gained credence in the first place. The report was based on documents now proven to have been forgeries, and an investigative report in Italy's La Repubblica says they were channelled directly into the Bush administration "cabal" (according to Lawrence Wilkerson) that was pushing for the invasion of Iraq by Nicolo Pollari, the head of Berlusconi's military intelligence. Laura Rozen (link below) has a concise version of the story for American Prospect.

One of the intriguing aspects of the whole saga are reports of meeting between Pollari and one of the leading proponents of the Iraq invasion, neo-conservative mouthpiece Michael Ledeen from the American Enterprise Institute. Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has had a long-term interest in the story, and if you follow the previous link and scroll down, you come across this: "Remember, Pollari had good contacts with folks at Doug Feith's Office of Special Plans. At the end of 2001 one he had attended a secret meeting in Rome with OSP stalwart Harold Rhode, the now-indicted Larry Franklin and neo-con regime-change-everywhere-at-once guru Michael Ledeen."

Associated Press is reporting that Pollari is to be questioned by an Italian Parliamentary commission next week.

At the bottom of all of this lies what would normally appear to be one of the most outrageously unbelievable conspiracy stories ever - that is the forged documents may have been purposely created (by the Italians? by the neo-cons?), then pipelined (bypassing the sceptical CIA) into a White House  desperate for anything to help make its case for war. Normally outrageous, but in these strange times, of 'sexed-up' dossiers and official (Blair) government briefings based on a student's PhD thesis, most anything is worthy of consideration.

Laura Rozen has more on the story at her website and there was this earlier mention at TPM.

3The Plame affair - so what?
As Washington waits for the final report and perhaps indictments out of the Fitzgerald investigation in the Plame affair (not expect for another 24 hours, NYTimes), two contrarian views about the whole affair have been expressed on the Times' opinion page. Nicholas Kristof (normally seen as a liberal, although he is too intellectually independent for any tag) and John Tierney, the other conservative-in-residence (after David Brooks) have both questioned whether the affair warrants a criminal investigation. Both concede that the affair involves politics at its ugliest and most brutal and that sackings should perhaps follow, but not  criminal sanctions. (And because Times' columns are pay-to-view, substantial excerpts only appear at the link below.)

American Prospect editor Michael Tomasky has this response to Tierney and Kristof, arguing that in fact it was George Bush who took the case out of the political realm and into the criminal.

In The Washington Post, respected conservative commentator Robert Kagan comes to the defence of Judith Miller, the NYTimes reporter jailed during the Plame investigation.

4 The challenge facing Bernanke
Just because previous US Federal Reserve chairs have been faced with a major challenge they were ill-equiped to handle early in their tenure, does not mean the same will happen to Ben Bernanke. (It's like those sporting "hoodoos" so beloved by lazy sports journos - you know, "such and such a team have not won at Frog's Hollow for 10 games and must overcome the hoodoo to beat ...") Anyway, Stephen Roach, chief economist for Morgan Stanley, thinks he will, and it is the obvious one - the massive US current account deficit, the source of the world's global fiscal imbalance. "In short, the U.S. is going to be asking a lot more of the foreign investor at precisely the moment the Fed is transitioning from Greenspan to Bernanke. As the maestro leaves the building, the hard-won aura of foreign confidence that surrounds him could be quick to follow. Bernanke could be faced with a dollar crisis and the related need on the part of foreign investors to seek compensation for taking currency risk. That compensation invariably spells higher interest rates - the last thing the nation's housing bubble and overly indebted consumers need."

And The Times reports that the Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, has advised Bernanke to be dull and not attract the cult of personality that grew around Alan Greenspan.

5 Time for action against Burma
Conservative MP John Bercow makes the case for action against Burma. "At the Millennium Summit in September, the UN accepted collective responsibility to protect populations from genocide and war crimes, promising timely and decisive action through the Security Council. If this is to prove anything but the most sanctimonious twaddle, let it start with Burma, whose long-suffering people have been shamefully abandoned by the international community."
6 Rice and racism in the US
In the week that Rosa Parks died, a couple of pieces on race in American. Post columnist Eugene Robinson (link below) recently went back with Condoleezza Rice to her home town, Birmingham, Alabama and tries to answer the question "How does she work so loyally for George W. Bush, whose approval rating among blacks was measured in a recent poll at a negligible 2 percent?" "When Rice was growing up, her father stood guard at the entrance of her neighborhood with a rifle to keep the Klan's nightriders away. But that was outside the bubble. Inside the bubble, Rice was sitting at the piano in pretty dresses to play Bach fugues. It sounds like a wonderful childhood, but one that left her able to see the impact that race has in America -- able to examine it and analyze it -- but not to feel it."

And Laura Wexler in the same paper reviews "Sundown Towns" by James Loewen, about towns that set out to become "whites only". "Loewen reports that -- beginning in roughly 1890 with the end of Reconstruction and continuing until the fair-housing legislation of the late 1960s -- whites in America created thousands of whites-only towns, commonly known as "sundown towns" owing to the signs often posted at their city limits that warned, as one did in Hawthorne, Calif., in the 1930s: "Nigger, Don't Let The Sun Set On YOU In Hawthorne.""

7 Aljazeera and Australia's anti-terror laws
In truth, the Aljazeera report linked to below is nothing more than a curio, a straight report on the debate about the proposed anti-terrorism laws that does nothing more than note Muslim concerns.

And Cilina Nasser reports from Damascus on Syria-Lebanese relations following the UN report on the assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri. (Again, nothing startling, other than it is a look at how these events are being reported by local voices for the local media.)

A much more interesting read is this long feature on the power and impact of Aljazeera by The Independent. Sir David Frost has announced he is to join the Qatar-based broadcaster, and the BBC will axe 10 of its World Service radio services to find the money to launch an Arabic-language television station. "The decision is powerful testimony to the extraordinary growth of al-Jazeera, the Arab satellite station which in less than a decade has developed from the personal indulgence of the Emir of Qatar into a global player on the international broadcasting stage."

8 Small is beautiful again
At last, someone has remembered E. F. Schumacher and his 1973 best-seller, "Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered". TDB linked to the NYTimes article (unfortunately now in that paper's pay to view archives) referred to in this one, about a conference held in Nova Scotia looking at how governments might quantify and increase contentment. Bhutan's Gross National Happiness index was the subject of much discussion. Alexander Zaitchik traces the ideas back to Schumacher's book. "If Bhutan's Gross National Happiness index is right out of Small is Beautiful, conferences like the one in Nova Scotia are themselves right out of the era of Schumacher's peak influence, namely the mid to late 1970s. It's perhaps no coincidence that interest in Schumacherian ideas seems to be emerging from the margins just as talk of looming permanent oil shock gets louder. For while E. F. Schumacher's assault on traditional economics is at heart a humanist-spiritual one, its urgency and appeal have always shared their roots with harder stuff. Small is Beautiful proposes a scaled-down, resource-thrifty version of modernity not just because the author thought we'd all be happier (much), but because he felt it would eventually be forced upon us anyway, the result of a forceful revelation Schumacher had in the 1950s."
9 Gotcha! The mud-wrestling continues
The intellectual mud-wrestling between Respect MP George Galloway and one-time contrarian Christopher Hitchens continues. Hitchens has pounced on the latest allegations out of the US Senate against Galloway over the oil-for-food scandal, and rushes to 'convict' him (link below). "For George Galloway, however, the war would seem to be over. The evidence presented suggests that he lied in court when he sued the Daily Telegraph in London over similar allegations (and collected money for that, too). It suggests that he lied to the Senate under oath. And it suggests that he made a deceptive statement in the register of interests held by members of the British House of Commons. All in all, a bad week for him, especially coming as it does on the heels of the U.N. report on the murder of Rafik Hariri, which appears to pin the convict's badge on senior members of the Assad despotism in Damascus, Galloway's default patron after he lost his main ally in Baghdad."

The full report of the US Senate's findings are available here; and transcripts of the famous New York debate between the Hitchens and Galloway can be found on Hitchens' website. Hitchens is a great cultural critic, and his pursuit of Henry Kissinger was superb. But he seems to have lost all of his contrarian faculties when it comes to analysing the botched invasion and occupation of Iraq, something that Tim Piatak indirectly highlights for that bastion of traditional US conservatism, The American Conservative in this article, "The Purest Neo-Con".

As for Galloway, he is fighting back in typically pugnacious fashion, challenging Senator Norm Coleman to repeat his allegations outside the Senate. He also says the UN's Volcker inquiry will today report that he in fact received no money. Yet again, it may be too early to count Galloway out - he has a way of confounding his many critics.

10 Formula for a wobbly table
A minor matter perhaps, until your coffee gets slopped all over the "must read" article in your favourite, and perhaps expensive, foreign magazine - how do you stop cafe tables from wobbling? Wrong, you do not fold a coaster and put under one leg. Physicist André Martin says you simply rotate the table because a "stable state" always exists, and being a rigorous scientist, he has developed a formula to prove it.
11 IN THE PAPERS: National, Opinion, Business round-up

The SMH leads on the debate over the anti-terrorism laws, reporting that Peter Costello has raised questions over whether the Prime Minister's proposals are constitutional. The Australian reports Costello as playing down those remarks at the bottom of this story which says that John Howard has offered the premiers a deal over shoot-to-kill powers as fresh demands emerged last night for greater judicial review of the detention without charge of terrorism suspects.

The Herald also reports that Barry Jones has put forward his "10 commandments" for a Beazley victory in the 2007 election; that Navy ships offshore from a Tasmanian beach during a mass stranding of pilot whales were using active sonar, a controversial military technology implicated in whale deaths; that NSW taxpayers may have lost billions of dollars in recent years because the Government uses a flawed method to calculate the cost of the public sector delivering new infrastructure such as the Cross City Tunnel; and that Sydney's Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, has floated a radical idea to reduce traffic: put electronic tolls on more roads and use the cash to improve public transport.

The Australian reports that former Qantas baggage handler Bilal Khazal faces 25 years in a Lebanese prison as the Howard Government considers a request to extradite him; that Federal Government spending on income tax breaks and other tax-related concessions has risen over the past decade to a greater share of the economy than the nation's farmers produce every year; and that women may be prescribed long-term methods of contraception, including hormone injections and implants, rather than the pill, if doctors follow the advice of British regulators who yesterday announced significant changes to contraception guidelines.

The Age lead says the man who led the July 7 attack on London trained with Indonesian terror group Jemaah Islamiah and has been directly linked with the mastermind of the first Bali bombing. The paper also reports on the courage that friends say Nguyen Tuong Van is showing on death row. The Australian reports that the extradition of an accused killer to Singapore last month will be used in a last-ditch bid to save Nguyen from execution and there are the beginnings of a public outcry over the case in Singapore.

Back to The Age, and it reports that Victoria faces a dramatically higher risk of power cuts this summer as massive growth in the use of air-conditioners whittles away the state's power reserve; that Australia's worst-paid workers may miss out on one last pay rise before the new industrial relations system comes into effect, after the Howard Government signalled it would try to quash an extra minimum wage case; and that the number of people complaining about mobile phones increased by almost 18,800 to more than 40,000 last financial year, according to the industry watchdog.

Cartoonist Sean Leahy remembers the 2,000 US soldiers killed in Iraq.

Veteran Australian TV star Bert Newton will leave the Ten Network when his show Good Morning Australia ends in December after a 14-year run; most older Australians would rather live in a tent than move in with their grown-up children (and researchers report they were most adamant about it); and the UK Home Office is considering an overhaul of British immigration rules that could mean more than 4000 Australians a year will miss out on the chance to apply for an ancestral visa to the United Kingdom..


The Age: George Williams argues that Britain, which provided the model for Australia's anti-terrorism laws, is allowing greater scrutiny of its version of them despite a greater threat of terrorism, and has the Human Rights Act to help protect civil liberties; Kenneth Davidson says the recent High Court decision not to stop the Government's IR campaign undermines the constitutional tradition that Parliament has the final say about the expenditure of public money; Bob Brown says Australia is poorly prepared to respond to natural disasters in our region; and Sushi Das outlines the problems with Melbourne's public transport system.

The Australian: Mike Steketee analyses Peter Beattie's health mini-budget, along with recent Federal initiatives, and does not think they are enough to stop "taxpayers and patients being buried in an avalanche of health costs"; Steve Clemons (New America Foundation - linked to in TDB two days ago) says the comments by Brett Scowcroft and Lawrence Wilkerson (see item above) have buried the idealistic naivety of the Bush administration's neo-conservative foreign policy agenda; Greg Sheridan finds a terrorism expert he agrees with - Bruce Hoffman of the US RAND Corporation - and regurgitates his view that things are bad in Iraq and the war on terror, but that there is light at the end of a very long (12 years in Iraq) tunnel; Labor hack Ross Fitzgerald reckons the Howard Government is overcome with Keating-like hubris on issues such as IR and Telstra; and Tony Abbott (speech extract) on avian bird flu.

The SMH: Julia Baird picks up on Gordan Ramsay's comments to enter the "testosterone-sodden, hierarchical environment" of the professional kitchen - one which "women who teach their gastronomically inclined young sons to cook are locked out of ... (because) ... they are mothers"; Miranda Devine reports Noel Pearson's Tuesday night speech a day after everyone else, and uses it to belt up on "progressive values"; Lawrence Wilkerson, see item above; and George Williams, see The Age above.


No agreement on the top story this morning. The Herald goes with the CPI figures, reporting that petrol prices have pushed inflation to the very limit of the Reserve Bank's comfort zone. It also reports that Australasian timber producer Carter Holt Harvey slashed its annual profit forecast again yesterday to $NZ200 million ($187 million), citing weakening market conditions in most of its businesses; and that a slide in 2011 oil futures suggests the three-year rally that has roiled global markets may be over, Credit Suisse First Boston said.

The lead in The Australian reports that Burns Philp has predicted double-digit earnings growth for its $2.8 billion Goodman Fielder spin-off as it prepares to brave a choppy Australian share market for what should be the year's biggest float. It reports that Santos is set to post its first $2 billion plus revenue year as the company continues to benefit from lessening its reliance on the Cooper Basin; and that a weaker Wall Street was not enough to disrupt the buoyant mood of traders yesterday who revelled in the release of soft inflation figures for the September quarter.

The Age goes with the digital revolution, reporting that television and entertainment companies will have to adapt their business model over the next five years to counter the growing potential of mobile television technology. It reports that Australia's largest food and liquor retailer Woolworths has cemented its position as the No. 1 player in the $11 billion retail liquor market by buying the Taverner Hotel Group for $380 million; and that skyrocketing demand for power in hot weather is creating an ongoing crisis in electricity generation, leaving power companies unable to keep up with demand for new infrastructure.

Stephen Bartholomeusz thinks it odd that the independent directors of Carter Holt Harvey still maintain that shareholders shouldn't accept the Rank bid despite its third profit downgrade in six months; Elizabeth Knight says Woolworths' Roger Corbett is really applying the blowtorch to John Fletcher over at Coles Myer, particularly in the liquor division; and Bryan Frith says new information casts a disturbing light on how the board of Coopers Brewing administers the sale of shares in the company.


The Daily Telegraph: The city of Sydney would become a fortress of toll roads designed to discourage cars in favour of light rail and bicycles under radical plans being formulated by Lord Mayor Clover Moore; Dud teachers will be removed from classrooms and face dismissal under a new deal with the Iemma Government.

The Herald-Sun: A heartbroken mother desperately wants someone to tell her why her husband was beaten to within an inch of his life; The shoot-to-kill clause could be dropped from new anti-terror laws.

The Courier-Mail: Victims of rogue surgeon Jayant Patel have accused the State Government of penny-pinching and a lack of compassion only a day after a $6.36 billion plan was unveiled to revive Queensland's health system; A leading Queensland property developer known for his lavish parties has been accused of misappropriation and attempting to "curry political favour" with donations to the ALP, the Liberal Party and local government councillors.

The Advertiser: The Federal Government was confident yesterday the state premiers would agree to its anti-terrorism laws, enabling them to be pushed through Parliament and operational by Christmas; An Adelaide man is revolutionising the way maths is taught - and his new style of teaching has gone international.

The West Australian: Central Perth is on the cusp of a billion-dollar apartment boom as West Australians flock to high-rise, high-density living in the heart of the city; The union representing Western Power blue collar workers has again threatened industrial war after a leaked letter revealed the utility was planning to give some core jobs to contractors to help deal with a work overload.

The Mercury: Tests are under way to determine whether two naval vessels off Tasmania's southeast coast are responsible for a series of tragic whale strandings this week; Tasmanian students will from this year receive two report cards marking the new Essential Learnings curriculum.


Two-time Melbourne Cup-winning Irish trainer Dermot Weld believes Makybe Diva should run in next Tuesday's big race; Peter Roebuck looks at the changes in the reading material preferred by fast bowlers; Gaelic football star Sean Cavanagh believes the firm bond the Swans' Tadhg Kennelly has formed with his AFL premiership-winning teammates will make it tough for him to return to the Irish game.

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re: The Daily Briefing 27/10/05

Actually, your statement, "outrageously unbelievable conspiracy stories ever - that is the forged documents may have been purposely created (by the Italians? by the neo-cons?), then pipelined (bypassing the sceptical CIA) into a White House desperate for anything to help make its case for war" is completely incorrect. Read here for the true story.

So the real source of the forgeries were the French, in an attempt to upstage the USA and the UK.

re: The Daily Briefing 27/10/05

James, I made no "statement" about the matter - I was merely wondering aloud at the extraordinary nature of these latest developments. In the middle of that piece of conjecture I asked two hypothetical questions as to the possible source of the forgeries. Neither that piece of conjecture, nor those questions can, by their very nature, be "completely inaccurate". Which, I'm afraid to say, makes your assertion that I made an inaccurate statement, ah, well, completely inaccurate.

The story you linked to is interesting, but is no more definitive than any of the other stories, theories and possibilities running around. The fact that this fellow says he was paid by the French (exactly when, to do what exactly?) does not mean that the French were behind the forged documents. You describe it as "the true story" which is a big claim to make about any piece of journalism, especially one that is careful to use phrases like "apparently confirms" and does not have a definitive tone.

It strike me as counter-intuitive that the French, who publicly at great diplomatic and economic cost opposed the war, would have had a hand in producing a document that helped make the case for war. But of course, the French may very well be behind it, which would only make the story an even more "outrageously unbelievable conspiracy". I care not, one way or the other, but I am interested to watch for further revelations.

And either way, the fact still remains that the White House was apparently taken in by a document that many people who had previously seen it had suspicions about. That is what matters in the end. In its haste to make war, the Bush administration seized upon this document. I'm sure James, that as one so vitally interested in these matters, you can barely sleep at night knowing that the case for a war that has cost many tens of thousands of innocent lives was apparently concocted on the basis of dodgy documents and dubious intelligence.

re: The Daily Briefing 27/10/05

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen echoes Kristof's and Tierney's points in his 13 October column "Let This Leak Go".

re: The Daily Briefing 27/10/05

Actually Wayne, the story I linked to has crucial evidence in it, namely the man who first brought out the documents saying they were forged by the French intelligence community. I see you still use the phrase “sexed-up” , even though this case has long since been discredited.

As for why the French would do it, well it is quite obvious. To use when the matter gets closer to a head to try and ruin any case put forward. In fact, from the man you draw such information from, Lawrence Wilkerson, who said, in the heavily edited speech you referenced (full text here), “In fact, I’ll just cite one more thing. The French came in in the middle of my deliberations at the CIA and said, we have just spun aluminum tubes, and by god, we did it to this RPM, et cetera, et cetera, and it was all, you know, proof positive that the aluminum tubes were not for mortar casings or artillery casings, they were for centrifuges”.

The French were planting false positives to use at a later date so they could continue on with their very lucrative trading partner.

Yes I sleep very well at night knowing that a war I supported has resulted in less deaths in Iraq than would have happened under a tyrannical regime in the same time, whilst the country is slowly moving towards a democratically elected government, with a democratically agreed to constitution. And what about yourself?

re: The Daily Briefing 27/10/05

James, I really don't have time to argue with someone who seems only to see what they want to see, and disregards the rest. But you again make a false assertion about my work - I did not link to a "heavily edited" version of Wilkerson's speech - in Friday's second email, I provided a link to his event at the New America Foundation, which has a link to the full transcript. (After you have checked it out, you might like to correct and apologise - make that twice now.)

As for your theory that the French forged the document "to use when the matter gets closer to a head to try and ruin any case put forward" - then why did they not do that? Perhaps after Colin Powell's speech to the Security Council they could have said, in effect, "ha, ha, fooled you - we made that up!" As I say, I don't care two hoots who forged the documents, but I'm curious that you are so eager to take as gospel one newspaper report about the apparent confessions of a man whom La Repubblica portrays as an out and out shonk and scam artist. One example: "Rocco Martino is a dishonest cop and a crooked spy. He’s got the aura of a rogue about him even if you don’t know his background". You can read the full article here: http://nuralcubicle.blogspot.com/

As for the invasion of Iraq, you assert that you know the unknowable, which is that the war "has resulted in less deaths in Iraq than would have happened under a tyrannical regime in the same time". (I had no idea you were omnipresent.) I also note that reducing the number of deaths in the three years after the invasion was never given as a reason for the invasion - I thought that was about those non-existent WMDs? And given that some of the most experienced foreign policy minds on the planet think the war a mistake (in fact James, you are part of an ever-diminishing band of war supporters) that could cause trouble in the region for generations, I am inclined to follow their assessments over yours.

By the way James, I did not support the war because I did not believe the WMD line, and because I did not believe that it was just, nor that it would turn out well. But right now, I hope you are right and that things go well from here. Although, I was somewhat alarmed to read Greg Sheridan this morning quoting from an expert he admires who says the insurgency could well last another decade.

Now you can respond in any way you like from here James, but unless and until you correct the record and acknowledge your false assertions about my work, I will take the attitude that you are not an honourable person who is interested in an honest discussion - and ignore them.

re: The Daily Briefing 27/10/05

Lord Haw Haw of our times is crazy! Why would you not now be making deals?

He can be given over to the Senate for perjury later on though he can face capital punishment. The linking of taking money to any one death is a capital crime.

The man should be making deals as we speak. I think that he is cunning enough to be doing exactly that. The names dropped will be interesting to hear. For him it is game set and match.

re: The Daily Briefing 27/10/05

Wayne, a couple of points to make. First of all, I will take your word you posted the full speech and apologise for saying it was the heavily edited version you supplied. When you made reference to it in this posting, you supplied no link, and I assumed you were referring to the LA Times article which on the same day was receiving much exposure. As for the second apology, I will make no such thing, as you clearly stated that in your belief the two likely sources of the forged documents were “by the Italians? by the neo-cons?”, whilst there was already available considerable speculation as to the real source of the documents. You ignored this (or didn’t see it), and when presented with it, you try to play the man, by linking to a blog that questions the man's integrity (and what a surprise, a guy who is involved in international espionage isn’t as honorable as James Bond!)

And no, not omnipresent (would rather be omnipotent myself), but used some pretty basic maths. By comparing the following: Number of people killed by the lovely Ba’ath Party divided by the number years they were in power = average per year. Then I compare this to the number of people killed since the war has taken place (and including) / number of years the Coalition has been there = average per year. So in Iraq before Saddam was removed, the death rate was an average between 70- 125 per day (see here).

Now, we need to get some accurate figures for the death rate during and since the war, so in this case I will use IraqBody count, and for fairness' sake, will use the highest figure. And (again, this is on the low side, as I don’t want to go through a calendar) there has been roughly 940 days since the invasion began. This gives us a death rate of 32 people a day. Or more importantly, more than half the lowest figure for Saddam and his gang. And I suggest you read Bush’s speech to the UN, and his State of the Union speech in which he specifically says regime change is one of the reasons for going to war, and highlights the inhumanity and suffering of the people of Iraq.

Personally, I didn’t really care about Iraq’s WMD’s, I supported the war because it was unfinished business from the first Gulf war, and if it wasn’t for the politics involved in that one, it would have been resolved when it should have (and saved a lot of people’s lives).

“And given that some of the most experienced foreign policy minds on the planet think the war a mistake” So basically you are saying you go with popular opinion. I would have thought it best to form your own? And that also means you have changed your stance. You state you disagreed with war the as you didn’t believe Iraq had WMD, but as is stated by Lawrence Wilkerson in that speech, all intelligence agencies did think they were there (including those nations against the war). So “the most experienced” intelligence officials on the planet were of that belief, yet you weren’t.

Quick question, as a published author, I would assume there would be some work of yours available online from this time, espousing this opinion. Can you point me in the direction where I might find this?

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