Mission Accomplished

At a "press availability" with Canadian Prime Minister Martin of Canada on April 30, Bush was asked if, one year after he had declared an end to major combat, things were getting better or worse in Iraq. "A year ago, I did give the speech from the carrier, saying that we had achieved an important objective, that we'd accomplished a mission, which was the removal of Saddam Hussein.," he said. "And as a result, there are no longer torture chambers or rape rooms or mass graves in Iraq." The remark contrasted starkly with headlines around the world decrying reports that Iraqi prisoners had been abused by US troops.

"We're making progress, you bet," he added. "There's a strategy toward freedom." But Congress and other observers questioned the nature of that progress, as funds allocated for Iraqi reconstruction were being diverted for security and administrative costs, or, as reported by the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) being paid as bribes to contractors and members of the US-appointed Iraqi governing council.

"A free Iraq is in the interests of world peace," he continued. "Because free societies do not harbor terrorists; free societies do not threaten people or use weapons of mass destruction," Yet analysts have suggested that the US invasion has actually heightened the global terrorist threat, as poorly secured weapons sites were looted, the concentration of US forces presented ready targets, and the presence of an occupying force may have boosted recruitment efforts by al-Qaeda and related groups. This observation has implications for the 2004 presidential campaign, as a recent New York Times/CBS poll showed the public disapproves of Bush's handling of the war in Iraq, but approves of his handling of the war on terrorism.

Report from Falluja

by Jo Wilding
Reprinted with permission from UN Observer.

US snipers in Falluja shoot unarmed man in the back, old woman with white flag, children fleeing their homes and the ambulance that we were going in to fetch a woman in premature labour.

Trucks, oil tankers, tanks are burning on the highway east to Falluja. A stream of boys and men goes to and from a lorry that’s not burnt, stripping it bare. We turn onto the back roads through Abu Ghraib, Nuha and Ahrar singing in Arabic, past the vehicles full of people and a few possessions, heading the other way, past the improvised refreshment posts along the way where boys throw food through the windows into the bus for us and for the people inside still inside Falluja.

Frames for the Swings

Recent polls confirm that the country is as divided as ever -- along party lines, along ideological lines. The country is also divided on the question of whether the economy and jobs are more important that homeland security and terrorism. A Pew Center survey of registered voters conducted in late March found Bush and Kerry statistically tied (Kerry 47%, Bush 46%) but only 38% of those preferring Kerry and 36% of those preferring Bush claimed there was no chance that they would vote for the other candidate. The remaining 26% either indicated that they could change their minds, or were truly undecided. With the nation so polarized, the undecided voters may hold the key to the election.

Condoleezza's Nonsense About Democracy

by John Chuckman
Reprinted with permission of the author.

Condoleezza Rice wants to bring democracy to the Middle East. Ms. Rice, an expert on what is now an obsolete subject, the Soviet Union, believes this can be done the way the United States brought democracy to Chile or Iran or Afghanistan - that is, by violently overthrowing governments.

Does democracy come from the full belly of a B-52 and the murderous aftermath of coups?

Bush's Media Pass

by Ted S. McGregor, Jr.
Reprinted with permission from The Inlander, Spokane's alternative weekly newspaper.

When George Bush is having a tough week, what does he do? Call Mom and Dad? Have a beer (hold the pretzels) with Karl Rove? Drop into the bunker for a one-on-one with Cheney? Nope, he calls the media. So, apparently, was the thought process behind the president's surprising appearance on Meet the Press on Sunday.

State of the Campaign

Article II Section 3 of the Constitution declares "[The President] shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient...." Particularly in election years the speech has become more an occasion to give to the audience of television viewers information on the state of the domestic political situation. In its lead editorial January 21, titled "State of the Platform," the Washington Post declared, " President Bush offered less a description of the state of the union last night than an opening pitch for reelection." Bush spent more time discussing athletes' use of steroids than he did Social Security, prompting renewed speculation in some quarters that he still has his eye on the Major League Baseball commissioner's job.


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