>> OUR FRIENDS THE SAUDIS...PRINCELY PREROGATIVES?
Saudi Minister and Prince Pays Monthly Stipend and Debts of Surrendered Wanted Terrorist and Family
On June 23, 2004, Saudi Crown Prince Abdallah declared on behalf of King Fahd a one month ultimatum during which Al-Qa'ida members should surrender themselves to authorities. Responding to this ultimatum, number 25 on the 26 most-wanted list Othman Bin Hadi Al-Maqbul Al-Omari surrendered on June 28, 2004. Al-Omari was described by the authorities as a "weapons smuggler of the first degree."  The following is the sequence of events surrounding Al-Omari's surrender, as reported by the Saudi media:
The turning in of Al-Omari was mediated by the extremist Wahhabi cleric Sheikh Safar Al-Hawali, who currently serves as a mediator between wanted terrorists and Saudi authorities.
Al-Hawali described to the Saudi government daily Al-Watan the process of turning Al-Omari in. He said that he met Al-Omari in his home in Jeddah, where they had dinner and discussed Al-Omari's demands in return for turning himself in. Those demands were described by Al-Hawali as "simple demands" which the Ministry of Interior can not reject. During the meeting, Al-Omari confessed to Al-Hawali that he had "planned to carry out an operation that would cause bloodshed and destruction, but reneged after he was convinced it wouldn't bring any good, and that such acts are forbidden."
After the meeting, Al-Hawali accompanied Al-Omari to the home of Prince Muhammad Bin Naif Bin Abd Al-Aziz, who is the son of Interior Minister Prince Naif, for whom he also serves as assistant for security affairs, holding the title of Minister. According to Al-Hawali, the minister prepared a "great human" reception for Al-Omari, and "blessed him and praised him for his courageous stand to surrender himself shortly after the amnesty was declared."
Al-Hawali noted during the two hour meeting that "Prince Muhammad Bin Naif gave the wanted terrorist Othman Al-Omari the possibility of choosing which prison he wishes to remain in until the end of his interrogation - whether in Riyadh, Jeddah, or in the Al-Namas region [in which he lives] in order to be close to his family." Al-Hawali described this proposal as "clear proof that Prince Muhammad Bin Naif understands the feelings of the wanted, and is determined to secure their tranquility." Al-Omari chose to stay in one of Jeddah's prisons.
Al-Hawali also told the daily that "Prince Muhammad Bin Naif stressed to Al-Omari that he would be well-treated throughout his interrogation and trial, and that the state pledges to grant his family protection, and to support it financially and morally, like the families of the other wanted men, whom [the families] are not to blame for what happened." 
A few weeks after Al-Omari was turned in, the Saudi newspapers reported that the Saudi authorities had paid off Al-Omari's debts. According to Al-Watan, Othman Al-Omari's mother expressed her "gratitude and appreciation of Prince Muhammad Bin Naif for his noble initiative to pay off the debts of her son, who recently turned himself in to the Saudi authorities." The mother recounted that "Prince Muhammad Bin Naif contributed the entire sum, totaling 170,000 SR [$45,300], as well as a grant of 30,000 SR [$8,000] to Al-Omari's family. In addition, a monthly stipend of 3,000 SR [$800] will be paid to Othman Al-Omari's children, as well as a salary of 2,000 SR [$530] to Othman Al-Omari himself." 
The Saudi government daily Al-Riyadh reported that Al-Omari's four children also expressed their gratitude and appreciation to Prince Muhammad Bin Naif for "his initiative which saved their father from debts of 170,000 SR [$45,300]." 
 Al-Hayat (London), June 30, 2004, Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), July 1, 2004.
 Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), June 30, 2004.
 Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), July 20, 2004.
 Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), July 21, 2004.
Va. Couple File Lawsuit to Free Their Son Held in Saudi Arabia
By Caryle Murphy
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 29, 2004; Page A08
A Falls Church couple who contend that U.S. authorities are responsible for the year-long detention of their 23-year-old son in Saudi Arabia filed a petition yesterday in federal court in Washington seeking his release.
In papers filed in U.S. District Court, Omar and Faten Abu Ali are requesting that Ahmed Abu Ali, their U.S.-born son, who was arrested in June 2003 while studying in Saudi Arabia, be returned to this country. If he has done something wrong, they say, he should be tried in a U.S. court.
The couple's petition argues that their son's detention is an example of "extraordinary rendition," a practice in which U.S. authorities transfer individuals suspected of terrorist connections to foreign intelligence services that often use coercive interrogation techniques illegal in this country.
Although U.S. authorities "did not send . . . Abu Ali to Saudi Arabia," the court papers state, "they accomplished the same objective as the rendition for interrogation policy by requesting their agents, Saudi officials, to arrest, detain, and interrogate him in furtherance of U.S. interests."
Morton Sklar, executive director of the World Organization for Human Rights USA, a human rights group assisting Abu Ali's family with the petition, said, "We've been looking for a case to directly challenge the practice of rendition to torture . . . to stop the policy itself."
The court papers name Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and several FBI agents as the U.S. officials responsible for Abu Ali's extended detention.
Department of Justice spokesman Charles Miller said that he had not seen the petition but that "when we do respond, it would be in court." FBI spokesman William Carter said, "If there has been a habeas corpus filing, that precludes us from making any comment on it." State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez said, "We have not yet seen the lawsuit, but we do not normally comment on ongoing legal matters." Brian Roehrkasse, a Homeland Security spokesman, also declined to comment, citing "pending litigation."
Adel Al-Jubeir, foreign affairs adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, could not be reached for comment. Previously, Jubeir said that the U.S. government is aware of why Saudi Arabia is holding Abu Ali and that his government "would be willing to consider" an extradition request "when it was made."
The exact number of people "rendered" or moved to foreign countries with U.S. assistance is unknown, but two cases have received widespread publicity.
Canadian citizen Maher Arar -- who U.S. authorities alleged had links to al Qaeda -- was sent from a New York airport to Syria last year, where Arar said he was tortured for 10 months before being released. And in late 2001, two Egyptians living in Sweden were kidnapped and flown to Egypt with U.S. assistance.
Abu Ali's case is different in that he is an American citizen and was already in the country where he is now detained.
"I'm sure the U.S. government's approach to this is going to be to say he is being detained by a foreign government and we don't have anything to do with it," Sklar said. "But the evidence contradicts it. . . . There are so many indications that the U.S. government was causing this."
Abu Ali's parents, who emigrated from Jordan, say in their petition that a U.S. consular officer in Riyadh informed the State Department that a senior Saudi official had "indicated to him that Ahmed Abu Ali could be returned to the U.S. at any time if the U.S. issued a formal request."
At a May 14 meeting, State Department employee Matthew Gillen told the family "that no current investigation of Ahmed Abu Ali by either the U.S. or Saudi Arabian government was taking place" and that he would "make the formal request to Saudi Arabia necessary for [it] to release him," the petition asserts. But in a June 21 meeting, it adds, Gillen said he could not make that request "due to an investigation taking place in the Department of Justice."
The court papers disclose that prosecutors subpoenaed "numerous witnesses who were friends or acquaintances" of Abu Ali to a grand jury about seven months ago and that in May, FBI agents and federal prosecutors from Alexandria again "sought to interview" Abu Ali in Saudi Arabia. The family alleges that U.S. officials "have sought to coerce" Abu Ali, who also has Jordanian citizenship, into "abandoning his U.S. citizenship so that he could be sent to Sweden or some other country."
U.S. officials have declined to give an explanation for Abu Ali's lengthy detention. But their interest in him appears to stem from alleged ties to some of the 11 Northern Virginia men accused in federal court in Alexandria of undertaking paramilitary training to wage "violent jihad" on behalf of Muslims abroad. Two of those men were also accused of conspiring to support al Qaeda.
Three of the defendants, all U.S. citizens, were arrested in Saudi Arabia at the same time as Abu Ali and brought back to the United States. At a bond hearing for one of them in 2003, an FBI agent testified that Abu Ali had told his Saudi interrogators that he had joined an al Qaeda cell in Saudi Arabia and wanted to plan terrorist attacks.
But Abu Ali was not charged in the Alexandria case. And late last year, U.S. counterterrorism officials who spoke on the condition that they not be identified gave varying assessments of his importance as a terrorism suspect. One official called him "a player" with significant ties to al Qaeda; another said he was "very peripheral."
? 2004 The Washington Post Company
Her Virtual Prison
Carmen bin Ladin lifts the veil on the culture that produced her infamous brother-in-law.
BY DANIELLE CRITTENDEN
Thursday, July 29, 2004 12:01 a.m. EDT
Very few first-person accounts have emerged from behind the Saudi veil. For good reason: The rare Saudi woman not stifled into submission would risk severe punishment for speaking out. This is the importance of "Inside the Kingdom," by Carmen bin Ladin. Don't be put off by the author's last name. Ms. Bin Ladin is not a distant relation seeking to cash in on her family's notoriety. She is the ex-wife of Osama's older brother Yeslam, and she has her own story to tell. Her memoir is perhaps the most vivid account yet to appear in the West of the oppressive lives of Saudi women.
Carmen, who grew up in Geneva, is the daughter of a Swiss father and Iranian mother. She was raised as a Muslim of liberal outlook. When she met Yeslam in Geneva in the early 1970s, she had no reason to doubt that he was as forward-looking as she. She followed her husband to business school in California and then back to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and the bin Ladin family business.
The bin Ladens (the spelling varies: Carmen favors "Laden" for plural forms) are one of the richest and most important non-princely Saudi clans. Yeslam's father, the founder of the fortune, had died by the time Carmen joined the family. He left behind 22 wives, 25 sons and 29 daughters. Yeslam was known to his relatives as "Number Ten," referring to his position in the line of patriarchal succession.
Carmen's life in Saudi Arabia began when her car pulled up to Yeslam's mother's compound outside Jeddah. In the mid-1970s, the town was still not much more than a donkey crossroads in the middle of the desert. If winds weren't whipping up the sand in blinding funnels, the sun was scorching down with unbearable heat. Shrouded in her unfamiliar and suffocating black robes, Carmen entered what sounds like a luridly decorated marble tomb. From then on, she was no longer free.
Each day, Yeslam vanished to work. Carmen and her young daughter passed the hours in the company of his mother and sister. Rarely could she leave the house--rarely, even, did she see sunlight. Courtyards had to be cleared of male servants before she could poke her head outside; she was not even permitted to cross the street alone to visit a relative. When she did venture out, she had to wear a choking abaya and thick socks to hide her ankles. "It was like carrying a jail on your back," she writes.
Nor was she much freer inside the house. She could not listen to music, pick up an uncensored book or newspaper, or watch anything on television but a dour man reading the Quran. Nor could she absorb herself in household tasks. These were left to foreign servants, including the care of children.
Carmen was horrified by the effects of this isolation and uselessness. "The Bin Laden women were like pets kept by their husbands;. . . .Occasionally they were patted on the head and given presents; sometimes they were taken out, mostly to each other's houses;. . . .I never once saw one of my sisters-in-law pick up a book. These women never met with men other than their husbands, and never talked about larger issues even with the men they had married. They had nothing to say."
She would meet Osama only a couple of times. (She describes the young Osama as "tall and stern, his fierce piety intimidating.") She had more contact with his young wife, Najwah, in the female section of one of the segregated bin Laden houses: Najwah, like so many women raised in Saudi Arabia, "never permitted herself to want more from her life than obedience to her husband and father." She carried her obedience to such extremes that it nearly killed the couple's infant son. The child had become dehydrated in the heat. Carmen watched as Najwah pitifully tried to spoon water into the baby's mouth. Najwah would not use a bottle because Osama did not approve of this newfangled Western technology.
At first, Carmen consoled herself with hopes that the oil boom would soften the harsh bedouin culture of Saudi Arabia. "Naively I believed that economic change would be followed by social shifts, too." But after the Iranian revolution of 1979, the Saudi rulers crushed all liberalizing trends in their society. Yeslam, too, changed for the worse. He returned with Carmen to Geneva to expand his business but this time took along the rigors of Saudi Islam. The marriage deteriorated, and Carmen began to fear for the future of her three daughters. Although Yeslam had never been an attentive father, he sought custody of them in the couple's divorce proceedings. If he prevailed, the girls could have vanished into Saudi Arabia, never to be seen by their mother again.
Fortunately, the Swiss courts awarded custody to Carmen. She has emerged from her ordeal with some urgent insights into the kingdom from which she escaped: "Osama bin Laden and those like him didn't spring, fully formed, from the desert sand. They were made. They were fashioned by the workings of an opaque and intolerant medieval society that is closed to the outside world. It is a society where half the population have had their basic rights as people amputated, and obedience to the strictest rules of Islam must be absolute. Despite all the power of their oil-revenue, the Saudis are structured by a hateful, backward-looking view of religion and an education that is a school for intolerance . . . .When Osama dies, I fear there will be a thousand men to take his place."
Yet Carmen's own example is reason for optimism. The contempt for outsiders that Osama blindly swallowed repelled his sister-in-law--and drove her to seek a freer life for herself and her daughters. Let us hope that more brave dissenters--female and male--will follow her lead.
Ms. Crittenden is the author of "What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us" and "Amanda Bright @ Home," a novel. You can buy "Inside the Kingdom" by Carmen bin Ladin from the OpinionJournal bookstore.
>> DAILY HOWLER...JOD DATABASES
Group Sues Justice Department Over Access to Lobby Records
By Ted Bridis Associated Press Writer
Published: Jul 29, 2004
WASHINGTON (AP) - A watchdog group sued the Justice Department on Thursday to compel officials to turn over records from a database on foreign lobbyists, which the department said would overwhelm its computer system.
A lawyer for the Washington-based Center for Public Integrity said in the lawsuit that the information sought is "readily reproducible in electronic form." The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, also asked the judge to award the group its attorney's fees.
A Justice Department spokesman, Charles Miller, declined to comment on the lawsuit.
The group since January has sought information about lobbying activities that is available under the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act, a 1938 law passed in response to German propaganda before World War II.
Database records describe details of meetings among foreign lobbyists, the administration and Congress, and payments by foreign governments and some overseas groups for political advertisements and other campaigns.
The Justice Department previously told the center that it could not provide the records before the end of the year.
Thomas J. McIntyre, chief in the Justice Department's office for information requests, explained in a May 24 letter that the computer system - operated in the counterespionage section of the department's criminal division - "was not designed for mass export of all stored images" and said the system experiences "substantial problems."
The government said an overhaul of the system should be finished by December and copies should be available then.
On the Net:
Justice Department: www.usdoj.gov/criminal/fara
Center for Public Integrity: www.publicintegrity.org
- Three of four Al Qaida web sites have Internet roots in the United States
Most of the websites aligned or identified with Al Qaida stem from the United States. About 76 percent of the Al Qaida-aligned websites were registered or supported by Internet service providers in the United States. A study by the Washington-based Middle East Media and Research Institute reported that Islamic groups have increased their dependence on the Internet for operations and recruitment...
-Kuwait's Al Qaida problem: Recruiters targeting teens...
-Well-funded Moroccan terror network called threat to Europe...
-Korea's Pohang Iron & Steel continues China offensive...
>> GOOD NEWS?
North Korea report (4:00)
More than 200 North Korean refugees flew into South Korea today under a veil of secrecy. It's the largest single group of defectors to date from the Stalinist north. The World's Katy Clark has the story.
Follow-up interview (4:30)
The more than 200 North Korean defectors that arrived in South Korea today is the largest single group ever to cross into the south. Some say that number is part of an even bigger group, possibly signalling an exodus. But South Korean officials are keeping a tight lid on the details. Host Jennifer Glasse speaks with Ambassador Jack Pritchard, a top advisor to President Bush on North Korea, about the effect on relations between the North and South and the US reaction.
>> WELL SAID AIDAN...
N Korean refugees the beginning of a flood?
By Aidan Foster-Carter
Some 460 North Korean refugees flew into Seoul's Songnam military airport on two chartered Asiana flights on Tuesday and Wednesday. They came from the same officially unidentified Southeast Asian country. (Shall we stop the pussy-footing, please? It's Vietnam, is it not?)
This is an important moment. First of all, the numbers. At a stroke, the Vietnam 460 take the total of North Korean defectors, as they are officially called, reaching South Korea this year, which stood at 760 as of end-June, almost up to the 1,285 who arrived in the whole of 2003.
For decades after the Korean War, the number of North Koreans escaping to the South was tiny, reflecting the near-impassability of the heavily mined and fortified border, the ironically named Demilitarized Zone. A rare soldier or two has made it across the DMZ - in both directions, as we've been reminded recently with the weird tale of Charles Robert Jenkins: the 8th US Cavalry sergeant who disappeared northward across the line in January 1965, and lived in North Korea for the next 39 years until he and their two daughters were reunited with his Japanese abductee wife - you couldn't make this up, could you? - first in Indonesia and now in Japan, where the US Army may yet be stupid enough to charge him with desertion rather than treat him as an intelligence gold mine. But all that is another story.
Take me to the river
So if you want to leave North Korea - and who wouldn't? - you have to head north, across the long river border into China. Hitherto that hasn't been too hard, though some reports say fences are now being built. The west-flowing Yalu is difficult, but in the northeast the Tumen River freezes in winter, while in summer some sections are shallow and narrow enough to wade across. Border guards can be eluded, or sometimes bribed.
No one knows quite how many North Koreans have made that journey over the past decade, since the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's (DPRK) chronic malnutrition spiraled into outright famine. The often-quoted figure of 300,000 is plausible, if this means cumulative crossings. But the number actually hiding out in China at any given time is probably much lower, especially since Beijing has cracked down viciously on these fugitives in recent years.
Surveys by aid organizations, working in the border area under very difficult conditions, suggest that most such refugees come from North Korea's northeastern border province of North Hamgyong. That figures, on two counts: the border is near, and conditions are desperate. Formerly an industrial area, too mountainous to grow much food, Hamgyong-pukdo has seen its factories close and its people starve, in unknown numbers. Andrew Natsios - author of the first book on what he calls the Great North Korean Famine, and currently head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) - accuses Kim Jong-il's regime of "triage" in North Hamgyong: in effect cutting it off and letting it starve.
So those who can, vote with their feet. A majority seem to be women - and not all of them leave voluntarily. There are many reports now of North Korean women being sold into China, whether for marriage, or to work in bars or worse. As always in such trafficking, abuses are numerous because rights are non-existent. This is a nasty, sordid business.
China persecutes the starving
It's no exaggeration to accuse all governments concerned - make that unconcerned - of behaving appallingly. North Korea, naturally, starves and mistreats its people, and then has the gall to regard any who flee as traitors, and punish them accordingly. If at first you leave simply out of hunger or to find work, but then get caught in China and sent back to be beaten up and jailed, naturally you emerge with no great love for the Dear Leader (Kim Jong-il) and flee again, this time determined never to go back to such a hell-hole. "Persecuting the starving" is the all-too-apt title of an Amnesty International report on this bitter process.
This well-documented cycle gives the lie to China's despicable refusal to treat any North Koreans who are illicitly on its territory as refugees. The party line from Beijing is that they're all economic migrants. As such, under a border treaty with North Korea, China can and does round them up and send them back. Worse, it won't even let the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) - which has an office in Beijing, but itself stands accused of failing to press hard enough on this issue - visit the border areas and see for itself. All this contravenes international conventions to which China is a signatory.
So what's a poor North Korean in China to do? Staying put, you have to hide out. A few activist non-governmental organizations (NGOs) - mostly South Korean, some Japanese or American; often Christian or Buddhist - may help you, but they too must be furtive, as they risk arrest and deportation: one such, Kim Hee-tae, was released this month after two years in a Chinese jail. Because of the need to hide, your kids - many refugees are children - can't go to school. It's no life at all, by normal standards. But anything has to be better than North Korea.
Seek asylum - but where?
Other than lie low, or return to North Korea, there are two options. One is to seek asylum in a foreign mission in China. Two years ago there was a rush of embassy incursions in Beijing, aided by activists. The lucky ones who made it eventually got to Seoul; but since then security around embassies has been tightened, and a crackdown in the northeastern border area means that in a sense this tactic has made life worse for the far larger number who remain in China. (Activists hotly argue the pros and cons, as may be imagined.)
A few still succeed via this diplomatic route, such as a group in June who got into a German school in Beijing. But for most, the only option is to continue the journey: to get out of China into another country, they hope more welcoming, and thence onward to Seoul.
That means going either north or south: to Mongolia, or Southeast Asia. Either journey is both physically arduous and risky. On April 2 a 17-year-old boy, Lee Chol-hun, who had spent half his life hiding in China, was shot - in the back, by some accounts - and killed by a Chinese border guard while trying to cross into Mongolia. (Ah, the heroic People's Liberation Army, bravely defending the motherland against all comers!) Read more on http://www.northkoreanrefugees.com/boyshot.htm.
Even once over the border, the unforgiving Gobi takes its toll. Yoo Chul-min was just 10 when he perished on July 7, 2001, lost and exhausted in the desert. For his tragic tale, with pictures of a bright-eyed boy in a baseball cap, and of the wooden cross that marks his lonely grave, see http://www.familycare.org/stories/yoochul.htm.
The southerly route, which more take, has its own perils. You have to cross the length of China. Physically you blend in, but just hope no one tries to talk to you and twigs that you're a foreigner. Again this is costly and risky. An "underground railway" of activist NGOs may help with money and safe houses. But mostly you're on your own: not in the arid Gobi, but trying to cross the thick steaming jungles of Southeast Asia undetected. Thailand is the preferred destination, but beggars can't be choosers. So North Koreans turn up in Vietnam, Laos, or even - God help them - Myanmar.
Even there, they often have to continue an underground existence. No doubt we'll get the full story on - and stories of - the Vietnam 460 eventually, but probably they represent an accumulation over several years. The South Korean government that believes in quiet diplomacy on such matters - too quiet by half, say critics, considering it technically recognizes all North Koreans as Republic of Korea (ROK) citizens - had no doubt been negotiating delicately behind the scenes with Hanoi to bring them to Seoul. There are even reports that Vietnam was threatening to send them back - presumably to China, which would then deport them to North Korea, as is feared to have happened in several recent cases.
Vietnam, though nominally communist, is not especially friendly with North Korea, but it has its own sensitivities on the refugee front (remember boat people?). There's also an ongoing issue with the Montagnard minority, who've been fleeing to Cambodia to escape state persecution. In the party paper Nhan Dan last Sunday, a Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Le Dung, accused UNHCR of conducting "many wrong activities to lure ethnic-minority people in the Central Highland to illegally flee to Cambodia, and [it] even considered to give these people political refugee status".
Not to be outdone in the persecution stakes, on the same date the Cambodian government arrested two reporters (one Irish, Kevin Doyle of the Cambodia Daily) who were trying to reach 17 Montagnard asylum-seekers - and charged them with human trafficking. They were released a day later, after "confessing". Radio Free Asia, one of whose stringers was arrested, has more details.
Coming to America?
The international ramifications run wider yet. More than 1,000 Montagnards won asylum in the United States after an earlier crackdown in 2001. Some US human-rights activists would like North Koreans to be similarly welcomed in the land of the free. On July 21, the US House of Representatives unanimously passed the North Korea Human Rights Act (NKHRA) 2004. If this becomes law - which is far from certain: it has yet to go to the Senate, and time is short - this would mandate the US to foreground human-right issues in all its dealings with North Korea. One specific provision is to make it easier for North Koreans to seek asylum in the US. Last year just nine applied, of whom six were refused.
This too is controversial. Most of the NKHRA's backers are on the Republican right. (An even tougher separate North Korea Freedom Act, currently before the Senate, avowedly seeks regime change.) The bills' opponents - including South Korea's ruling Uri Party, which is getting up a petition on the subject - fear that raising all this will offend Kim Jong-il's delicate sensibilities. Pyongyang might then pull out of the six-party talks and various dialogues and projects with South Korea, thus jeopardizing what little progress has been achieved in recent years.
Engage and press
I beg to differ. Western European countries, which have recognized North Korea en masse since 2000, see no contradiction in seeking engagement with Pyongyang while actively pursuing human-rights concerns. Thus it was European Union states that this year and last submitted resolutions condemning North Korean human-rights abuses to the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR; not to be confused with UNHCR). South Korea abstained on this; last year it absented itself from the vote. But the resolutions passed, and a special rapporteur has been appointed to probe and press on these matters, to Pyongyang's fury.
How can that not be right? Read any of the websites that give you chapter and verse on the terrible sufferings of North Korean refugees - too many to list: just Google! - and if your blood doesn't boil, may I suggest you take your heart in for a service. This of all areas is one where, frankly, I find it hardest to keep the cool detachment of an "expert". In that capacity, I've written no fewer than five reports on North Korea refugee issues in recent years for UNHCR (two are still on their website). But as a human being, I find the hypocrisy and silence of all the governments concerned nauseating.
Lee Chol-hun and Yoo Chol-min, and thousands more, are dead. They deserved better. They had a right to live - and to lead a proper life, not the living hell of a subject of Kim Jong-il or a fugitive in China. So I'm glad for the Vietnam 460: May there be many more. Any decent human being or government should do everything in their power to help them gain sanctuary and a chance to live a human life: the kind you, dear reader, and I take for granted as our birthright as human beings and free people.
Moment of truth
For South Koreans, though, this is an awkward moment of truth. The ROK government is not only slow to help - it has even sometimes initially turned away its own citizens: old prisoners of war illegally held for half a century in North Korea - but also grudging in its provision for the few that do make it to Seoul. Its Hanawon facility, which trains North Koreans for what in some ways is life on another planet, has a capacity of only 400. So the Vietnam 460 have had to be housed at a commandeered training center elsewhere.
Even so, defectors find it tough to adjust to South Korean turbo-capitalism. They face prejudice, and about half are unemployed. Yet if the South can't even integrate the mere few thousands it has so far, how on earth would it cope if it faced a Germany scenario - and suddenly had to take on all 22 million of its impoverished Northern brethren?
That, of course, is the nightmare Seoul seeks to avoid at all costs. Fair enough, in my view, to try a gradualist approach with Pyongyang and hope for a soft landing. If it can be brought off, this would indeed be less risky, and much less costly, than if Kim Jong-il's regime were to collapse on a sudden. Maybe, at long last, the Dear Leader will see reason.
Prepare for the worst
Yet a preference for evolution over revolution is no excuse either for not preparing for a less desirable outcome - which sheer prudence requires, so as not to be overwhelmed if collapse comes - or for not fighting for the human rights of all North Koreans here and now, be they refugees or still enjoying the doubtful mercies of the Dear Leader's rule.
Pyongyang can bleat about being persecuted all it wants, like the late British comedian Kenneth Williams: "Infamy! Infamy! They've all got it in for me." Not so. On human rights, as on nuclear weapons and a host of other concerns, all that the world asks - and is entitled to ask, and must go on asking - of the DPRK is to behave in a civilized way, like a modern 21st-century state: to treat its people properly and live up to international norms, standards and treaties, many of which it has in fact signed, and so is legally bound by.
As for South Koreans, they had better brace themselves. Why would, or should, their Northern cousins not seek a better life than Kim Jong-il has ever vouchsafed them? South Koreans in the past fought hard for their own human rights against their own dictators, rightly scorning pleas to desist on grounds of national security or economic development. How can they now hesitate to help, let alone deny the same rights to democracy and a decent life to their Northern brethren, without arrant selfishness and rank hypocrisy?
Come to that: how will the cherished goal of Korean reunification really be achieved? By letting a few befuddled lefty activists cavort with cynical DPRK apparatchiks in Incheon to celebrate paid-for summits, as we saw last month? Or by South Koreans taking to their bosom the tired, huddled masses who are Kim Jong-il's victims, to give them the rights to a life hitherto denied to them? In a word: reunification with and for whom, exactly?
So, welcome the Vietnam 460. May many follow them. And will the last North Korean to leave please turn out the lights? No need: Kim Jong-il's power cuts have already rendered it a land of darkness, in every sense. Let there be light, and life. No more weasel excuses.
Aidan Foster-Carter is honorary senior research fellow in sociology and modern Korea, Leeds University, England.
(Copyright 2004 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact email@example.com for information on our sales and syndication policies.)
Rising tide of N. Korean defectors worries Seoul
Special to World Tribune.com
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
More than 200 North Koreans defectors move into buses after arriving at Seongnam military airport in South Korea behind a wall of secrecy as the government played down the biggest influx yet of defectors from the Stalinist state.
SEOUL -- The announcement that a total of 400 North Korean defectors now staying in a Southeast Asian country are coming to South Korea this week is raising social and political concerns.
The number of North Korean defectors to South Korea has increased from only 60 in 1999 to 297 in 2000, and to 572 in 2001 and more than 1,000 in 2003. During the first half of this year, the number reached 760 and is steadily increasing. More than 5,100 North Korean refugees have found home in the South so far. And there are no reliable estimates of how many more will arrive in the next few years.
While politicians and nongovernmental organization (NGO) groups welcome the triumph of the government's quiet diplomacy to repatriate North Korean defectors to Seoul en mass, they fear that this will lead to many problems, including the lack of facilities to house them and personnel to educate them.
Another concern, rarely voiced in the increasingly pro-North Korean South, is that there may be infiltrators among the genuine defectors or that their status as second class citizens could in the future be exploited by the North as the two sides proceed toward unification.
The South Korean government has repeatedly assured the nation that it would take in all North Korean defectors willing to come to South Korea. But the facilities have proven inadequate to accommodate ate those that have come in.
Hanawon, the housing and educational facility, had the capacity for only 400 even after an expansion this year. Consequently the original education curriculum is being reduced from six months to two months, which is said to be far from adequate to educate the North Koreans from socialism to capitalism. Moreover, the government settlement subsidy of 36 million Won will be reduced to 20 million Won, not enough to rent a house.
South Korean society is not united about assisting the defectors, and contributions from the civilian sector are still limited. The slow recovery of the South's economy is an added burden.
Then again, there is the danger of diplomatic friction with China and discontent from Pyongyang over the defector issue. More than 100,000 North Korean defectors are are believed to be scattered and in hiding in China, fearing arrest and deportation to North Korea. In recent years, as China stepped up its efforts to apprehend defectors, South Korean NGOs have been helping them find their ways to such neighboring countries as Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Burma.
According to an NGO member helping North Korean defectors, the 400 defectors are coming not from one Southeast Asian country, but two. "We have been helping them with shelter and food, but as the number increased, it put the countries into a difficult position," he said. That provided a common ground for working out a solution with South Korean government, according to the NGO volunteer worker.
Copyright ? 2004 East West Services, Inc.
N. Korea Upset at South Over Defections
By SOO-JEONG LEE
The Associated Press
Thursday, July 29, 2004; 3:28 AM
SEOUL, South Korea - North Korea called the mass defection of nearly 460 of its citizens to South Korea this week a "planned kidnapping" and lashed out Thursday at Seoul and other parties involved in the two-day airlift.
The North Koreans, believed to have fled their communist homeland via its border with China before heading to a Southeast Asian country, arrived in Seoul in two planeloads Tuesday and Wednesday in an operation shrouded in secrecy.
South Korean government officials have been reluctant to confirm the arrival and have declined to reveal the Southeast Asian country from where the defectors arrived, apparently to spare that government from diplomatic reprisals by North Korea.
North Korea's statement Thursday, by a spokesman from the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, was the North's first public response to the defector airlift.
"This is an organized and planned kidnapping as well as a terror crime that took place in broad daylight," the spokesman said, according to KCNA, the North's official news agency.
"The South Korean government will be fully responsible for the outcome of this situation, and other forces that cooperated in this affair will also pay a big price," the spokesman said.
Despite the harsh words, the latest incident was unlikely to damage relations between Pyongyang and Seoul, an analyst said.
"North Korea is using harsh words as they usually do, but if they are in need of something from the South, such as economic aid or food aid, they will come out to talks with the South," said Park Joon-young, a North Korea expert in Seoul. "The North Koreans act in accordance with their interests, so I don't think it will effect inter-Korean relations."
The first group of 230 defectors arrived Tuesday on a specially chartered flight by South Korea's Asiana Airlines, the country's Yonhap news agency reported, followed by a second batch of 227 defectors on a Korean Air flight Wednesday.
The government barred reporters from covering the events, but TV footage captured from afar showed defectors getting off planes before being whisked away in buses.
It was by far the largest arrival in what has become a steady stream in recent years of North Koreans fleeing repression and hunger in a country that has depended on outside help to feed its 22 million people since 1995.
Most of the North Koreans flee across their country's long border with China, and human rights groups say hundreds have made their way to Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and other Southeast Asian countries, hoping eventually to go to capitalist South Korea.
Over 5,000 North Koreans have defected to South Korea since the 1950-53 Korean War. Last year, the number of defectors arriving in the South reached 1,285, up from 1,140 in 2002 and 583 in 2001.
South Korea's Unification Minister Chung Dong-young said the number of North Korean defectors was expected to reach 10,000 within a few years and that the government needs to upgrade its policies on handling them.
The Koreas were divided in 1945. Their border remains sealed and heavily guarded by nearly 2 million troops on both sides following the 1950-53 Korean War that ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
? 2004 The Associated Press
>> ALAS FOR HIS VIRGINS?
Saddam Suffers From Prostate Infection
By RAWYA RAGEH
Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Seven months after being taken prisoner, former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein suffers from a chronic prostate infection but has rebuffed suggestions that a biopsy be performed to rule out cancer, Iraq's human rights minister said Thursday.
Tests show that, despite the prostate problem, the 67-year-old deposed dictator is otherwise in good health and has even shed some extra weight while in U.S. detention, Human Rights Minister Bakhtiar Amin told Al-Jazeera television.
He said X-ray and blood tests came back negative for cancer, but officials wanted to take a biopsy to be safe.
Chronic prostate infections occur in about 35 percent of all men over 50, but are not linked to cancer. Routine screening for prostate cancer, especially among older men, is becoming more common.
Saddam has been held by U.S. officials at an undisclosed location in Iraq since his capture by U.S. forces last December near Tikrit. He had been on the run since his regime collapsed in April in the face of a U.S.-led invasion.
There have been several media reports saying his health was deteriorating, something the U.S. military denied Thursday.
"Saddam did not have a stroke, and he is not dead," 1st Sgt. Steve Valley told The Associated Press. He did not provide further information.
A Jordanian-based spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, the only neutral entity with access to Saddam, said Thursday the organization had no information about a downturn in Saddam's health.
"Saddam's sickness was rumors spread by the media," Mu'in Kassis told The Associated Press. The ICRC said it has visited him at least twice to check on his condition and carry messages to his family.
According to Amin, Saddam has lost weight after following a diet. He spends his time reading the Quran, writing poetry and tending to a garden, Amin said.
Mohammed al-Rashdan, a member of Saddam's defense team, said the lawyers have received unconfirmed information that Saddam suffered a stroke. He urged the Iraqi government to allow them, his family or a neutral party to send a doctor to Iraq to examine Saddam.
Officials at the Iraqi prime minister's office said they had no information on the ousted leader's condition.
Caused by a variety of bacteria, prostate infections develop gradually and can remain undetected for a long time because symptoms are typically subtle and sometimes there are none at all.
The infections are not easy to cure because antibiotics do not accumulate in high concentrations in the prostate. Treatment usually involves several months of strong antibiotics.
? 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Insurgents target Jordan's key logistical role in Iraq
SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
AMMAN -- Insurgents in Iraq have attacked Jordan's position as a vital logistics base for members of the U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq.
Sunni insurgency groups have abducted Jordanian nationals and threatened them with execution unless the Hashemite kingdom ends assistance to the United States and other militaries in Iraq. So far, one Jordanian firm announced it would withdraw from Iraq.
"Jordan has profited handsomely by its ability to send supplies to militaries in Iraq," a Western diplomatic source said. "If that goes, it will hurt both Jordan as well as the coalition."
Over the last year, Jordan has been employed to provide logistics, training, supplies and even intelligence information to members of the military coalition in Iraq, Middle East Newsline reported. Western diplomatic sources said Jordan was preferred over Kuwait, Iraq's southern neighbor, by members of the coalition with troops in central and northern Iraq.
[On Wednesday, more than 50 Iraqis were killed in Baaquba, north of Baghdad. U.S. officials said a minibus packed with explosives blew up near a police station where hundreds of young men were waiting to apply to become officers.]
Amman's role has also committed the kingdom to train 32,000 Iraqi police officers as well as an unspecified number of Iraqi military troops until 2007. Industry sources have estimated this contract at more than $1.3 billion.
Last week, Jordan agreed to serve as a support base for South Korea, which has pledged to deploy 3,000 troops in Iraq. Seoul plans to begin sending its forces to Iraq in August.
Jordanian officials said Amman will cooperate with Seoul on a range of requirements for South Korean deployment in Iraq. They cited Jordanian intelligence, logistics and supplies for South Korean troops planned to be stationed in northern Iraq.
The two countries agreed on Jordan's role during a visit by King Abdullah to Seoul. On July 24, Abdullah met South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun in Seoul and discussed the situation in post-war Iraq.
Officials did not report the value of Amman's supply and support agreement with South Korea. Jordan has helped other members of the U.S.-led coalition, including the United States, with logistics, supplies and training. Jordan's military has also sent advisers in Iraq.
Sunni insurgency groups aligned with the former Saddam Hussein regime have warned Jordan to end the supply route to the U.S.-led military coalition. Scores of truck drivers transporting supplies to Baghdad have already been abducted or attacked in Iraq near the Jordanian border.
On Tuesday, the so-called "Group of Death" warned that it would attack vehicles coming from Jordan into Iraq. "Group of Death" announced a July 30 deadline for Jordan to stop all supplies to Iraq.
So far, at least one Jordanian supplier of the military coalition said it would withdraw from Iraq. The announcement by the Amman-based Daoud and Partners came after two of its employees were abducted and threatened with execution unless the firm paid $140,000 and left Iraq. Daoud has provided construction and catering services to the U.S. military.
"We consider all Jordanian interests, companies and businessmen and citizens as much a target as the Americans," a masked member of "Group of Death" said in a video supplied to news agencies. "We will cut the road between Jordan and Iraq so that Jordanian supplies cannot supply the U.S. Army."
Copyright ? 2004 East West Services, Inc.
>> SAY WHAT?
La red contra el lavado deja escapar a los peces gordos
Por Marcela Sanchez
Especial para washingtonpost.com
Friday, July 23, 2004; 8:09 AM
Cuando de lavado de dinero se trata lo mejor es hacerlo a alto nivel.
Hace m?s de dos a?os, la Ley Patriota de Estados Unidos estableci? como requisito para todas las instituciones financieras informar a las autoridades cualquier actividad sospechosa con el prop?sito de asegurar que no sean utilizadas para financiar terrorismo, lavar dinero u ocultar ganancias de actividades criminales.
Desde entonces, sin embargo, algunos gobiernos que Washington cataloga como patrocinadores de terrorismo, junto con funcionarios corruptos de otros pa?ses y narcotraficantes han usado muchas instituciones financieras conocidas sin que ninguna instituci?n lo informara a tiempo. Entre ellas: el principal banco de Puerto Rico, Banco Popular; la sucursal estadounidense del banco suizo UBS; el Hudson United Bank de New Jersey; y Terrabank en Miami.
La semana pasada, investigadores del Senado revelaron que el Riggs Bank, una respetada instituci?n de Washington, ayud? al ex dictador chileno Augusto Pinochet a ocultarle hasta $8 millones a fiscales internacionales. Denunciaron adem?s que representantes del banco le entregaron a Pinochet, a domicilio y en persona, su dinero antes de que las autoridades pudieran congelar sus cuentas.
El problema en el Riggs no se limit? a Pinochet sino que incluy? tratos sospechosos con funcionarios de Arabia Saudita y con Teodoro Obiang Nguema, dictador de Guinea Ecuatorial. En vez de provocar rechazos, ejecutivos del banco parecieron demasiado deseosos de atender a las necesidades de clientes de mala fama mientras que reguladores federales a duras penas tomaron cartas en el asunto. Acciones legales claves contra Riggs solo ocurrieron, seg?n los investigadores del Senado, "despu?s de que informes de prensa negativos empezaron a generar preguntas p?blicas".
Ir?nicamente los bancos podr?an aprender algo de las centenares de empresas no bancarias que env?an miles de millones de d?lares en remesas cada a?o alrededor del mundo desde peque?as y modestas oficinas en comunidades ?tnicas y de inmigrantes. Incluso antes de la Ley Patriota, los remitentes de dinero con licencia empezaron a auto regularse y hoy figuran entre las instituciones financieras que mejor conocen a sus clientes y con m?s frecuencia informan a las autoridades sobre actividades cuestionables.
Desde mediados de los 90, autoridades federales sospechaban que los remitentes de dinero eran muy propensos a actividades criminales, particularmente lavado de activos. Para sobrevivir y prosperar en un mercado r?pidamente creciente - y evitar procesos judiciales - los remitentes tomaron la delantera.
Los bancos, por otra parte, no han tenido esos mismos "incentivos" para reformarse, haciendo que la eterna lucha por detectar y castigar actividades ilegales en la forma de transacciones financieras internacionales sea hoy muy desequilibrada y de eficacia cuestionable.
"El sistema regulador en su totalidad tiene un serio problema de aplicaci?n desigual de leyes y regulaciones", dijo Charles Intriago, un exfiscal federal que ahora es presidente de lavadodinero.com. Mientras docenas de peque?os remitentes de dinero han sido sancionados, sentenciados o sufrido multas millonarias, dijo, ning?n comerciante de valores de un tama?o considerable ni banco alguno en los ?ltimos 13 a?os han sido sentenciados. Mientras sigan recibiendo siempre la carta para "Salir libre de la c?rcel" como en el juego de Monopolio, los bancos no tomar?n las leyes en serio, agreg?.
En el 2001, un padre y sus dos hijos, due?os de una compa??a de env?os de remesas en Miami, fueron atrapados en una operaci?n encubierta y sentenciados a 188 y 155 meses respectivamente por lavar $714.000 d?lares. En el 2003, en la acci?n m?s severa contra un banco en a?os, el Banco Popular de Puerto Rico fue acusado por no informar sobre el lavado de $21.6 millones de dinero de la droga y conminado con procesos judiciales. Pero despu?s de que el banco pag? una multa de $20 millones, acept? su responsabilidad y prometi? portarse bien en el futuro, el gobierno acord? no enjuiciarlo. (Para aquellos que est?n llevando cuentas, $21.6 millones es $20.9 millones m?s que $714.000 - y aun as? el presidente del banco se quej? de haber sido tratado injustamente).
Por a?os los bancos estadounidenses han estado neg?ndole cuentas o cerr?ndoselas a los remitentes por temor a que sean propensos a actividades criminales. M?s a?n, en un esfuerzo por proveer a m?s inmigrantes con necesarios servicios bancarios, l?deres a lo largo de las Am?ricas est?n llamando a una mayor participaci?n de los bancos en el multimillonario negocio de remesas. El resultado podr?a ser quitarle negocio a aquellos con protecciones ejemplares contra el lavado de dinero y d?rselo en cambio a aquellos con un manchado historial.
Claro que no todos los bancos son culpables y ese es precisamente el mensaje que quisieran enviar los remitentes sobre s? mismos. Mientras existen todav?a miles de remitentes sin licencia, hay docenas con licencia que trabajan duro para cumplir plenamente con las leyes y regulaciones estadounidenses.
Aun as? el Departamento del Tesoro estadounidense contin?a se?al?ndolos a todos como negocios arriesgados. Por lo menos en esos casos los bancos est?n escuchando cuidadosamente a los reguladores y optando por cerrarle sus puertas incluso a los remitentes con licencia. En casos m?s importantes, sin embargo, grandes instituciones bancarias mantiene el dudoso honor de lavar las cantidades m?s grandes de dinero para los clientes m?s prominentes y corruptos - con poco temor a las consecuencias.
? 2004 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive
Anti-Laundering Net Lets Big Fish Slip
By Marcela Sanchez
Special to washingtonpost.com
Friday, July 23, 2004; 7:57 AM
When it comes to money laundering, it's better to do it big time.
More than two years ago, the USA Patriot Act established reporting requirements for all financial institutions to ensure that they are not used to finance terrorism, launder money or stash funds generated by criminal activity.
Since then, however, certain governments that Washington lists as sponsors of terrorism along with corrupt foreign officials and drug traffickers have used many well-known financial institutions without those institutions reporting any suspicious activities. Among them: Puerto Rico's largest bank, Banco Popular; the U.S. branch of the Swiss bank UBS; New Jersey's Hudson United Bank; and Terrabank in Miami.
Just last week, Senate investigators revealed that Washington's own Riggs Bank helped former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet hide up to $8 million from international prosecutors and that bank representatives hand-delivered Pinochet's money to him before U.S. authorities could freeze his accounts.
The problems at Riggs didn't end with Pinochet, but included suspicious dealings with Saudi officials and with Teodoro Obiang Nguema, Equatorial Guinea's dictator. Instead of raising red flags, bank executives seemed too willing to cater to notorious customers while federal regulators were too slow, at the very least, to take action. Key enforcement actions against Riggs only occurred, according to Senate investigators, "after negative press reports began raising public questions."
Ironically, banks could learn something from those hundreds of non-bank licensed money transmitters that send billions around the world from small and inconspicuous offices in immigrant and ethnic communities. Even before the Patriot Act, licensed money transmitters began to regulate themselves and today they are second to none among financial institutions in knowing their clients and reporting questionable activities to authorities.
Ever since the mid-1990s, federal authorities suspected that transmitters were vulnerable to criminal activity, particularly money laundering. In order to survive and thrive in a rapidly expanding market -- and to avoid prosecution -- transmitters got ahead of the curve.
Banks, on the other hand, have lacked some of these "incentives" to reform, making the eternal struggle in tracking and prosecuting illegal activity in the form of international financial transactions today a very unbalanced operation of questionable efficacy.
"The whole regulatory system has a serious problem of uneven application of laws and regulations," said Charles Intriago, a former federal prosecutor who now runs moneylaundering.com. While dozens of small money transmitters have been penalized, prosecuted or suffered forfeitures, he said no securities dealer of any significant size or any U.S. bank in 13 years has been prosecuted. As long as they receive a "Get Out of Jail Free" card every time, banks won't take enforcement seriously, he added.
In 2001, a father and two sons, owners of a money transmitter company in Miami, were caught in a sting operation and later sentenced to 188 months and 155 months respectively for laundering $714,000. In 2003, in the harshest action against a bank in years, Puerto Rico's Banco Popular was accused of failing to report the laundering of $21.6 million in drug money and was threatened with criminal charges. But after the bank paid a $20 million fine, accepted responsibility and promised to behave in the future, the government agreed not to prosecute. (For those keeping score, $21.6 million is $20.9 million more than $714,000 -- and still the bank's president complained of having been unfairly singled out.)
U.S. banks for years have been denying or closing the accounts of licensed money transmitters for fear they are too prone to illegal activity. What's more, in an effort to provide more immigrants with useful banking services, leaders throughout the Americas are encouraging banks to be more involved in the multimillion-dollar remittance business. The result may be to take business away from those with exemplary safeguards against money laundering and put it instead in the hands of those with a spotty track record.
Sure, not all banks are culprits, and that's exactly the point licensed transmitters would like to make about themselves. While there are still hundreds of unlicensed money transmitters, there are dozens of licensed ones trying hard to fully comply with current U.S. laws and regulations.
Yet the Treasury Department continues to label them all as risky. At least in this instance, banks are willingly listening to regulators and opting to close their doors to licensed transmitters. In more important cases, however, large banking institutions maintain the dubious honors of laundering the largest amounts of money for the most prominent and corrupt customers -- with little fear of the consequences.
Marcela Sanchez's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
? 2004 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive
>> OH PERVEZ?
Pakistan's king-maker drops a bombshell
By Syed Saleem Shahzad
KARACHI - In a surprise development on Wednesday, Pakistan's political map was potentially redrawn with the country's leading king-maker, Pir Pagara, announcing his separation from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League to revive his own party, which he had earlier merged with the PML on the personal request of President General Pervez Musharraf.
The PML, which dominates parliament, was created as an umbrella pro-government bloc to serve as an obedient vehicle for Musharraf to push ahead with his agenda and to give him a defined role once he eventually sheds his uniform.
The move by the influential politician is likely to be followed by other defections from the PML, and comes amid a number of developments that will shape the future of Pakistan in the coming months.
These include military operations in the sensitive tribal regions to track down foreign insurgents, a new military initiative in Balochistan province against nationalist insurgent tribes, the issue of sending troops to Iraq, and the installation of a non-political technocrat (Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain) as prime minister. Further, two generals are due to retire in October and will need to be replaced, and by the end of the year Musharraf is bound by the constitution to choose between one of the two hats he currently wears - chief of army staff or president. Exiled former premier Benazir Bhutto is also tipped to return to the country soon to revitalize her opposition Pakistan People's Party against Musharraf.
At a hastily called press conference on Wednesday, Pir Pagara said he would reinstitute his Pakistan Muslim League (Functional) party as an independent entity.
Syed Shah Mardan Shah, or Pir Pagara II, is one of the most powerful spiritual personalities in the country, with about a million spiritual disciples among the tribes of Sindh. Over the years he has carved a career for himself as a king-maker, rather than a participant in direct politics. His father was a prominent freedom fighter in British India, from Sindh, although the ruling British called him a traitor and hanged him. Later, though, the British sponsored Pir Pagara to study at Oxford. He returned at the request of Pakistan's first premier, Liaquat Ali Khan, in the early 1950s, and was launched into national politics on the PML's platform.
Being the head of an armed militia called Hur (free and brave man), he supplied thousands of volunteers to the Pakistan army in the 1965 and 1970 wars against India, which helped him forge deep ties in the military. On many an occasion he has publicly stated that "I take orders in national politics from GHQ", meaning general army headquarters in Rawalpindi.
Now at this most critical juncture of national politics, which many analysts are calling a major transition period, the GHQ's man has turned.
After hearing of Pir Pagar's news, Asia Times Online tracked him down to his palatial residence in Karachi, where many of his disciples were gathered. They regularly shower him with rupees when he makes an appearance, no matter how brief.
Sitting in his office in his house, behind a door decorated with the sign of Scorpio, Pir Pagara was having a meal of fried fish and lentil. In an hour-long meeting, he relied mostly on his expressions, rather than his tongue, his typical way of communicating.
"I think it is the beginning of the end, isn't it?" this correspondent asked in reference to Pir Pagara's decision to part ways with the ruling PML.
"We merged in the ruling party after the president gave me lots of assurances, and we were united for the cause of the Pakistan Muslim League, not for the cause of the rule of Jat [a reference to the Jat tribe of premier Hussain, who has appointed Jats to key positions in the PML]. What's your news from the center?" Pir Pagara asked.
"I spoke to a few friends in the National Assembly who are associated with the ruling Pakistan Muslim League and they are really frustrated. You may agree with me that ours is a tribal society where different systems work, and perhaps many may not accept a non-political entity like the technocrat Shaukat Aziz [Finance Minister and prime minister-designate] who is not interested in the ruling party members nor their interests. What's your feedback?"
Pir Pagara took a bite of his fish and nodded his head in the affirmative.
Asia Times Online continued, "You know better than me, in Punjab, all feudal families have their men in positions in the army as well as in parliament."
Pir Pagara's eyes shone and he shook his hands, but his mouth was busy chewing fish. Finally he said, "But Saleem, the president's men are guiding him [Shaukat] the wrong way."
All this while Pir Pagara's telephone kept ringing and was answered by his men, but he refused to speak directly to any of the callers, including one from the highest office of Sindh province who wanted to ask whether Pir Pagara continued to support the provincial government there. As this was a strictly private business, this correspondent took his leave.
Pir Pagara has reportedly made it clear that until Musharraf personally speaks to him and accepts his complaints about the present and future premiers, he will not listen to or meet with anybody.
Whether or not Pir Pagara changes his mind, the first real bullet of dissent has been fired and the game is on.
(Copyright 2004 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact email@example.com for information on our sales and syndication policies.)
>> REUTERS AHEM?
Pakistan Says Captures a 'Most Wanted' Qaeda Man
29 minutes ago Add World - Reuters to My Yahoo!
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistan said Friday it had arrested a senior al Qaeda figure wanted for the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa that killed hundreds of people.
Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat identified the man as Ahmed Khalfan Ghailini and said he was a Tanzanian national wanted for the synchronized bombings that killed more than 200 people at the U.S. embassy in Kenya and 11 at the embassy in Tanzania.
"He carried head money of $25 million," Hayat told Reuters.
He said Ghailani was one of about a dozen people arrested on Tuesday when security forces raided a suspected militant hideout in the city of Gujarat, about 110 miles southeast of the capital Islamabad.
Ghailani is on the FBI (news - web sites)'s "Most Wanted Terrorists" list for his alleged role in the 1998 bombings, which also said it was "offering a reward of up to $25 million for information leading directly to the apprehension or conviction of Ahmed Ghailani."
Ghailani was among seven people about whom the United States said in May it was seeking information amid fears of a possible attack in the near future.
A Pakistani official said Tuesday that Pakistani security forces were holding three Africans, including a Tanzanian, suspected of being militants after a shootout last week.
Another said the suspects had been trying to flee Pakistan along with their families, using fake documents, after living in neighboring Afghanistan (news - web sites).
Pakistan, a key ally in the U.S.-led "war on terror," has arrested hundreds of al Qaeda members since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. Several senior al Qaeda figures have been handed over to Washington.
A different sort of oligarch
Jul 29th 2004
From The Economist print edition
Having got rich in Russia, Kakha Bendukidze now wants to be the world's most capitalistic politician
FORGET eBay. If you want to buy a dysfunctional boiler house, an international airport, a tea plantation, an oil terminal, a proctology clinic, a vineyard, a telephone company, a film studio, a lost-property office or a beekeepers' regulatory board, then call Kakha Bendukidze, Georgia's new economy minister. His privatisation drive has made him a keen seller of all the above. And for the right price he will throw in the Tbilisi State Concert Hall and the Georgian National Mint as well.
Mr Bendukidze made his name and fortune as an industrialist in neighbouring Russia, putting together the country's biggest heavy-engineering group, OMZ, before returning to his native Georgia in June of this year with a mandate to reverse more than a decade of post-Soviet decay. He insists that he was taken by surprise when Georgia's president, Mikhail Saakashvili, and prime minister, Zurab Zhvania, nobbled him for a chat in the course of a private visit he made to Tbilisi in May, and then offered him a ministerial job the same evening. But having said yes, he is cracking ahead, doing everything that businessmen must dream of making governments do. He says that Georgia should be ready to sell "everything that can be sold, except its conscience". And that is just the start.
Next year--if not sooner--he will cut the rate of income tax from 20% to 12%, payroll taxes from 33% to 20%, value-added tax from 20% to 18%, and abolish 12 kinds of tax altogether. He wants to let leading foreign banks and insurers open branches freely. He wants to abolish laws on legal tender, so that investors can use whatever currency they want. He hates foreign aid--it "destroys your ability to do things for yourself," he says--though he concedes that political realities will oblige him to accept it for at least the next three years or so.
As to where investors should put their money, "I don't know and I don't care," he says, and continues: "I have shut down the department of industrial policy. I am shutting down the national investment agency. I don't want the national innovation agency." Oh yes, and he plans to shut down the country's anti-monopoly agency too. "If somebody thinks his rights are being infringed he can go to the courts, not to the ministry." He plans, as his crowning achievement, to abolish his own ministry in 2007. "In a normal country, you don't need a ministry of the economy," he says. "And in three years we can make the backbone of a normal country."
Good luck, and he will need it. Mr Saakashvili's new government has taken over a country where half the population lives on less than $2 a day, relations with Russia are tense, and rebel regimes control two provinces. The previous president, Edward Shevardnadze, a former Soviet foreign minister, was driven out in November by huge public demonstrations against election-rigging and corruption.
Mr Bendukidze is the second minister plucked from the Georgian diaspora. The first, the French-born Salome Zourabichvili, was France's ambassador to Georgia until Mr Saakashvili made her his foreign minister. She wants to build political ties with the West, in order to help Georgia to fend off fresh attempts at domination by Russia. Yet at the same time, Georgia needs investment from Russia's booming corporate sector--and here Mr Bendukidze's experience should come in useful. Until May he was a prominent figure in the circle of top Russian tycoons known as the "oligarchs", albeit a notch below the oil barons, such as the now-imprisoned Mikhail Khodorkovsky of Yukos and the soccer-mad Roman Abramovich of Sibneft and Chelsea Football Club.
A clever and likeable man, aged 48, Mr Bendukidze was a scientist until the Soviet Union collapsed, and never did seem to be one of nature's metal-bashers even at the height of his empire-building. He says now that he was preparing to retire from business some months before the offer came from Mr Saakashvili. Early this year OMZ looked set to merge with another Russian engineering company, Power Machines, though that deal now seems to be off. Still, Mr Bendukidze has put his shares in trust, and resigned as chief executive. He is a political liberal as well as an economic one, and thus no soul-mate of Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, says a western diplomat who knows him well. Asked whether he was retreating from Russia for fear that the persecution of Mr Khodorkovsky might turn into a purge of oligarchs in general, Mr Bendukidze will not be drawn, saying only that "we have had times [in Russia] harsher than this."
He is frank about the failings of the chaotic and often rigged Russian privatisations of the 1990s which made him and other oligarchs rich. He snapped up most of OMZ's assets for peanuts-- though, by the standards of the day, he subsequently earned his fortune, restructuring the company and halving its workforce. The lesson he drew from the Russian experience, he says, is to change the method of privatisation, not the principle of it. He promises public sales to the highest bidder, and cash only: "no conditions, no promises, no beauty contests".
Georgia on my mind
He insists that Georgia is a more "individualistic" place than Russia, and thus more receptive to reform. Georgians may take some persuading. A knot of demonstrators blocks Mr Bendukidze's way to work each morning. Opinion polls show only lukewarm support for privatisation. Mr Saakashvili and Mr Zhvania claim to admire his radicalism, but they may yet feel obliged to curb it if they want to conserve political capital for sparring with Moscow or with rebel regions. To Mr Bendukidze, such problems are another argument for boldness: big improvements in business conditions are needed in order to offset big political risks and to keep investors coming. "Other governments make budgets," he says. "We are making a nation."
Copyright ? 2004 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.
>> IRAN WATCH...FULL SPEED AHEAD?
Le diff?rend entre l'Iran et l'Agence internationale de l'?nergie atomique rebondit
LE MONDE | 29.07.04 | 13h39 * MIS A JOUR LE 29.07.04 | 15h36
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T?h?ran a bris? des scell?s appos?s par l'AIEA.
L'Iran a bris? des scell?s appos?s par l'Agence internationale de l'?nergie atomique (AIEA) sur des centrifugeuses servant ? la production d'uranium enrichi, ? Natanz, une installation nucl?aire situ?e ? 250 km au sud de T?h?ran, ont indiqu? des diplomates ? Vienne mercredi 28 juillet. L'uranium enrichi est un composant n?cessaire ? la mise au point de l'arme nucl?aire.
"Cette d?cision indique que l'Iran a repris la fabrication et l'assemblage de centrifugeuses", en infraction d'un engagement pris en 2003 de suspendre toutes ses activit?s d'enrichissement d'uranium, a indiqu? un diplomate. "T?h?ran n'a toutefois pas repris les op?rations d'enrichissement ? proprement parler", a pr?cis? un autre diplomate, soulignant que la R?publique islamique n'a "pas l'obligation l?gale" de suspendre l'enrichissement.
L'Iran, que les Occidentaux soup?onnent de vouloir mettre au point la bombe atomique sous couvert d'un programme nucl?aire civil, avait accept? en octobre 2003, ? l'occasion d'une visite des ministres des affaires ?trang?res fran?ais, allemand et britannique, de suspendre unilat?ralement et temporairement ses activit?s d'enrichissement. Il s'?tait en outre engag? ? appliquer le protocole additionnel au Trait? de non-prolif?ration nucl?aire (TNP) avant m?me de l'avoir ratifi?.
MANQUE DE COOP?RATION
Mais l'arrangement avait ?t? remis en question fin juin, quand l'Iran avait annonc? qu'il reviendrait sur son engagement de suspendre la production et l'assemblage de centrifugeuses de type P2, apr?s que le Conseil des gouverneurs, l'organe ex?cutif de l'AIEA, eut reproch? ? T?h?ran un manque de coop?ration et l'eut mis en demeure de fournir tous les renseignements demand?s pour prouver qu'il ne cherchait pas ? acqu?rir l'arme nucl?aire.
L'Iran accuse Paris, Berlin et Londres de ne pas avoir rempli leur part du contrat qui consistait, selon T?h?ran, ? faire en sorte que le dossier nucl?aire iranien soit referm? par l'AIEA ? la fin juin. Mercredi ? T?h?ran, le vice-pr?sident de la commission parlementaire des affaires ?trang?res et de la s?curit? nationale, Mohamoud Mohammadi, a averti que le nouveau Parlement conservateur iranien ne ratifierait pas le protocole additionnel au TNP, aussi longtemps que l'AIEA n'aurait pas class? le dossier nucl?aire de la r?publique islamique.
La ratification est li?e ? "une condition : l'AIEA doit d'abord reconna?tre notre droit ? utiliser la technique nucl?aire ? des fins pacifiques", a-t-il ajout?. "Notre crainte, c'est que le protocole additionnel soit utilis? contre nous comme une arme de pression politique. S'ils -l'AIEA- traitent notre dossier d'un point de vue strictement technique, alors nous coop?rerons", a-t-il dit.
Le dossier nucl?aire iranien devrait une nouvelle fois ?tre examin? lors de la prochaine r?union du Conseil des gouverneurs, ? partir du 13 septembre, ? Vienne. Les Etats-Unis font pression ? l'AIEA pour que ce dossier soit transmis au Conseil de s?curit? de l'ONU, seul habilit? ? d?cr?ter d'?ventuelles sanctions internationales.
L'Iran a d?cid? de reprendre la fabrication de centrifugeuses parce qu'il juge les Etats-Unis obnubil?s par l'?lection pr?sidentielle du 2 novembre et les Europ?ens trop divis?s pour exercer de r?elles pressions, estiment des sources diplomatiques ? Vienne. Des discussions doivent avoir lieu cette semaine entre T?h?ran et les Europ?ens, ? Londres ou ? Paris. - (AFP.)
* ARTICLE PARU DANS L'EDITION DU 30.07.04
Iran Defies Pressure, Resumes Tests of Nuke Plant
Thursday, July 29, 2004; 8:23 AM
By Francois Murphy
VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran has defied international pressure and resumed testing a facility for converting uranium, a key part of the process of enriching the element for use as fuel or in a nuclear bomb, diplomats said Thursday.
The European Union's "big three" -- France, Britain and Germany -- strongly criticized Iran when it tested the site in March, saying it sent the wrong signal and would make it harder for Tehran to regain international confidence.
The EU three were due to meet Iranian officials in Paris on Thursday to discuss Tehran's nuclear program.
The United States says Iran is stringing the international community along with talks over its nuclear program while buying time to make an atomic bomb. Iran denies the charge, saying it is only interested in generating electricity.
While Iran said in April it intended to run the tests at its uranium conversion facility near the central city of Isfahan, the move snubs a request by the U.N. nuclear watchdog for it not to test the site.
The testing would produce a small amount of uranium hexafluoride, the gas which is pumped into centrifuges to obtain enriched uranium, one western diplomat said.
"They are testing the equipment. As a by-product, some UF6 (uranium hexafluoride) is produced," he said.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear watchdog declined to comment.
Iran promised the EU three in October it would suspend all activities related to uranium enrichment. But Iran says it still has the right to produce uranium hexafluoride and build centrifuges. The IAEA says the suspension was meant to apply to both.
After Iran told the IAEA in April it intended to conduct the tests, the IAEA governing board passed a resolution in June that "calls on Iran ... voluntarily to reconsider its decision."
Full Legal Notice
? 2004 Reuters
Tehran breaks U.N. seals on nukes
By David R. Sands
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Iran has broken seals placed on nuclear centrifuges by U.N. inspectors and resumed work on the equipment, raising fresh fears that a deal to keep Tehran from joining the world's nuclear-armed powers has collapsed.
Diplomats at the Vienna, Austria-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations' lead agency on nuclear proliferation, confirmed yesterday that Iran had resumed construction of centrifuges, a key part of the nation's nuclear program.
The equipment can be used to produce the material needed for atomic bombs. Iranian officials reportedly broke the IAEA seals on the centrifuge equipment late last month.
Diplomats told reporters that Iran has stopped short of using the centrifuges to begin production of enriched uranium for the bombs, a step that clearly would violate Iran's obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said U.S. officials had not confirmed the Iranian move independently but that it fit with what the Bush administration considers a clear pattern of cheating by Iran's Islamic government on its nuclear pledges.
"Iran's commitment to cooperating with the IAEA, to put it kindly, remains an open question," Mr. Ereli said, "given its past failures to follow through on promises made to the [IAEA] board of governors."
Paul Leventhal, president of the Washington-based Nuclear Control Institute, said the Iranian decision was "clearly provocative" and a direct challenge to diplomatic efforts to rein in its nuclear programs.
"The Iranians only confess to what they are caught doing, so we don't know how much more there is to learn," he said. "Iran has been playing a very dangerous cat-and-mouse game, constantly testing how much they can get away with."
The resumption of centrifuge construction also is a direct challenge to the efforts of Britain, France and Germany, which struck a deal with Tehran in October to halt efforts to build the centrifuges or seek to enrich uranium.
The three European powers have resisted a U.S. effort to refer Iranian violations to the U.N. Security Council for sanctions and other punitive measures, arguing that diplomacy is a better path for gaining Iran's cooperation.
Iranian leaders insist that their nuclear programs are intended only for civilian energy purposes, and only grudgingly have conceded to violations uncovered in recent months by IAEA inspectors.
Tehran also has argued that the accord with the three European powers was voided when the IAEA Board of Governors issued another critical report on Iran's nuclear cooperation at the board meeting in June. The construction resumed after the October moratorium expired, Iranian officials said.
Iranian President Mohammed Khatami said earlier this month, "Nothing stands in the way" of renewed centrifuge activity. Iranian officials reportedly informed IAEA officials of their decision to break the seals and said a separate pledge not to produce weapons-grade uranium remained in force.
Despite the disclosures, British diplomats said Iran and the three European powers will hold a previously scheduled meeting later this week at an undisclosed European location.
"We still firmly believe that this is the right way to achieve our goal," a British Foreign Office official told Reuters news agency yesterday.
The prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran could be destabilizing in the region, in particular for Israel, which launched a pre-emptive strike against Iraq's nuclear facilities when Saddam Hussein began efforts to build a nuclear program.
Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon said on Israeli television yesterday that Iran had "broken the rules of the game."
"This should not only concern Israel, but all the countries of the free world," Gen. Yaalon said.
But Seyed Masood Jazayeri, spokesman for Iran's hard-line Revolutionary Guards, accused Washington of using its "wild dog" -- Israel -- to go after Iran's nuclear programs.
If Israel tried to disrupt the Iranian program, it "would be wiped off the face of the Earth and U.S. interests would be easily damaged," Mr. Jazayeri warned yesterday, according to the Iranian news reports.
*This article is based in part on wire service reports.
Iran Seeks Nuke Bomb 'Booster' from Russia-Report
Wednesday, July 28, 2004; 1:22 PM
By Louis Charbonneau
VIENNA (Reuters) - Iranian agents are negotiating with a Russian company to buy a substance that can boost nuclear explosions in atomic weapons, according to an intelligence agency report being circulated by diplomats.
But the Russian government, which monitors nuclear-related exports closely, denied any Russian companies were planning to supply Iran with the substance, known as deuterium gas.
The two-page report cited "knowledgeable Russian sources" for the information, which Washington will likely point to as more proof that Tehran wants to acquire nuclear weaponry.
"Iranian middlemen ... are in the advanced stages of negotiations in Russia to buy deuterium gas," the report said.
Iran denies wanting atomic arms and says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. Deuterium is used as a tracer molecule in medicine and biochemistry and is used in heavy water reactors of the type Iran is building.
But it can also be combined with tritium and used as a "booster" in nuclear fusion bombs of the implosion type.
It is not illegal for Iran to purchase deuterium but it should be reported to the IAEA.
Diplomats say the suspicions surrounding Iran's nuclear program are so great that it would be wise for Tehran to exercise maximum transparency on all such "dual-use" purchases and declare them ahead of time to the U.N. nuclear watchdog.
"Iran has not declared this to the IAEA. Their cover story is that they want it for civilian purposes," said the diplomat who gave Reuters the report.
The report, which did not name the Russian firm, said purchase talks were in the final stages. It added that Iran had tried to produce deuterium-tritium gas -- with the help of Russian scientists -- but had so far failed.
MOSCOW DEFENDS COOPERATION WITH IRAN
Moscow has been criticized by Washington for building the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran, despite U.S. concerns that it is a cover for Iran to acquire know-how and import items that can be used for bombs.
Reacting to the report, the Russian Foreign ministry issued a statement saying that in its nuclear cooperation with Iran, Moscow strictly sticks to intergovernmental agreements which do not provide for supplies of the deuterium gas.
"The Russian side is not planning to carry out any such supplies," the statement said.
Anything concerning nuclear exports is under tight government control, including details of separate deals. The government has said it keeps the situation in the sector under control and rejected any idea of major nuclear smuggling.
Envoys linked to the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, said buying deuterium alone was not evidence of intent to acquire a weapons capability.
They cautioned that the report appeared designed to win over nations who are not convinced Iran wants the atomic bomb.
The United States and others are pushing the IAEA to report Iran to the Security Council for possible punishment with economic sanctions for allegedly seeking nuclear weapons in defiance of its treaty obligations.
"Iran needs to know that they will suffer deeply if they get nuclear weapons," said the diplomat who provided the report. France, Germany and Britain have been negotiating with Iran to persuade it to cooperate fully with IAEA inspections to allay Western doubts and are resisting referring Tehran to the U.N.. A high-level meeting is expected in Paris on Thursday.
The U.N. has been investigating Iran's nuclear program for nearly two years to determine whether allegations that it has a secret atomic weapons program are false, as Tehran insists.
While it has found many instances where Iran concealed potentially weapons-related activities, the IAEA says it has no clear evidence that Tehran is trying to build the bomb. The United States and its allies say there is sufficient evidence and the agency is being too cautious. (Additional reporting by Oleg Shchedrov in Moscow)
? 2004 Reuters
Statoil: U.S. Is Probing Iranian Deal
The Associated Press
Thursday, July 29, 2004; 9:51 AM
OSLO, Norway - Statoil ASA said Thursday that the U.S. Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation of a consulting deal in Iran that led to the resignation of the Norwegian company's two top executives and nearly $3 million in fines.
The investigation by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan is in addition to a separate inquiry by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission of the same deal.
Both agencies are investigating the state-owned Norwegian company because its shares trade on the New York Stock Exchange.
Statoil drew heavy criticism last year after allegations surfaced that a $15.2 million consulting deal it made with Iran's Horton Investment Ltd. in June 2002 was part of an attempt to improperly influence Iranian oil officials.
An investigation by Norway's economic crime police, Oekokrim, resulted in a fine of 20 million kroner ($2.9 million).
Former chief executive Olav Fjell, who resigned in September 2003 because of the deal, was cleared of any wrongdoing, police said. Then-board chairman Leif Terje Loeddesoel also resigned in September during the scandal and was cleared of wrongdoing.
Statoil made the consulting agreement with Mehdi Hashemi Rafsanjani, the son of former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani, though his name did not appear in the paperwork, investigators said. That raised suspicions that the money might have been intended to influence Iranian public officials.
The Norwegian company canceled the contract on Sept. 10, 2003, and the next day police raided the company's offices in the southwest city of Stavanger.
A police report said Oekokrim concluded that the contract "involved an offer of improper advantages in return for Mehdi Hashemi and/or others influencing persons who were or would be involved in the decision-making processes relevant to Statoil's commercial activity in Iran."
The report said, however, that no evidence of Statoil money actually being used to influence Iraqi officials was discovered.
Statoil was founded in 1972 to oversee Norway's oil interests. It was partly privatized in 2001 when the state sold 17.5 percent of its shares to investors.
On the Net:
? 2004 The Associated Press
>> IRANIAN JUSTICE...ALLAH KNOWS THE TRUTH - RIGHT?
Iran offers new explanation for Kazemi's death
Associated Press and Canadian Press
POSTED AT 8:23 AM EDT Wednesday, Jul 28, 2004
Tehran -- Iran's judiciary said Wednesday Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi died in custody from a fall after her blood pressure dropped during a hunger strike, a sharp shift in position on a case that has strained relations between Tehran and Ottawa since her death a year ago.
The judiciary also denounced President Mohammed Khatami's reformist administration, which offered Monday to help identify the murderer of Zahra Kazemi, accusing it of providing fuel for a "spiteful" foreign media.
"The death of Mrs. Zahra Kazemi was an accident," a judiciary statement said. A copy was obtained by Associated Press.
"With the acquittal of the sole defendant," the statement said, "only one option is left: The death of the late Kazemi was an accident due to fall in blood pressure resulting from a hunger strike and her fall on the ground while standing."
A Tehran court cleared secret agent Mohammad Reza Aghdam Ahmadi, the sole defendant in the case, on Saturday of killing Ms. Kazemi, who died of a fractured skull and brain hemorrhage in detention last July.
Ms. Kazemi, a Montreal freelance journalist born in Iran, died on July 10, 2003, while in detention for taking photographs outside a Tehran prison during student-led protests against the ruling theocracy.
Iranian authorities initially said Ms. Kazemi died of a stroke, but a presidential committee later found that she died of a fractured skull and brain hemorrhage. Mr. Ahmadi was charged with "semi-premeditated murder." He denied it, and a team of lawyers representing the victim's mother contended that the real killer was Mohammed Bakhshi, a prison official who was being protected by the hardline judiciary.
Mr. Bakhshi was cleared of wrongdoing before Mr. Ahmadi's trial.
On Tuesday, Ms. Kazemi's son said Ottawa should kick Iran's ambassador out of the country.
Mr. Hachemi made the appeal just before he met Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew, who has yet to decide on concrete action to show Ottawa's displeasure with the Iranian government.
Mr. Hachemi, who has been harshly critical of Ottawa's handling of the affair, saw no reason to change his tone after his meeting with Mr. Pettigrew.
The minister refused to make any firm commitments to any of his proposals, he said.
"Until I hear him commit, he has failed me, he has failed my mother and he has failed human rights. ... The minister has not respected the memory of my mother.
Canadian officials have said they are considering a range of diplomatic pressure tactics, but have not indicated that expelling ambassador Mohammed Ali Mousavi is among them.
They are, however, studying the possibility of taking the Kazemi case to the International Court of Justice at The Hague -- another demand made by Mr. Hachemi.
Iran-Canada relations, soured by the slaying and subsequent quick burial of Ms. Kazemi in Iran against her son's wishes, further deteriorated after Iran rejected the idea of Canadian observers at the trial. The Canadian ambassador was barred from attending the last session of the otherwise open trial.
The Iranian judiciary's statement also accused Iranian government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh of making "irresponsible" comments when he directly challenged the judiciary Monday by saying Iran's Intelligence Ministry was prepared to identify the person behind Ms. Kazemi's murder if the judiciary allowed it to do so.
Mr. Ramezanzadeh, it said, was inciting public opinion, an accusation that could put the judiciary and government in a direct confrontation if formally pursued as a criminal charge. Judiciary spokesman Zahed Bashirirad said Wednesday there was no intention to indict Mr. Ramezanzadeh at the moment.
The judiciary statement said Mr. Ramezanzadeh had ignored the fact that the court gets the final say in any legal case.
Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi, who represents the victim's mother, has rejected the court proceedings as flawed, and has vowed to "work until my last breath" to find the murderer.
Iranian Prosecutor Shuts 2 Newspapers
Outlets Reported on Trial That Implicated Official in Death of Detained Photographer
By Karl Vick
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, July 27, 2004; Page A18
ISTANBUL, July 26 -- An Iranian prosecutor has ordered the closures of two newspapers that reported last week on a trial involving a case in which he is alleged to have been involved.
The prosecutor, Said Mortazavi, shut down Jomhouriat, which had published for only 12 days, and Vaghayeh Ettefaghieh over their coverage of the trial of an intelligence agent accused of beating and killing an Iranian Canadian photographer at a prison in the Iranian capital, Tehran, last year. Mortazavi, who supervised interrogations at the prison, has been accused by Canadian authorities of having a role in the killing. The only person charged, however, was the agent, Mohammad Reza Aghdam Ahmadi.
On Saturday, a Tehran court acquitted Ahmadi, and Iran's hard-line judicial branch subsequently declared that the case would never be solved.
The shuttering of the newspapers served as an example to other Iranian news media, sources in Tehran said. According to the sources, who said they were warned by Mortazavi's office not to give interviews to the foreign press but who passed information through intermediaries, the papers may be able to reopen in August.
"It shows how Mortazavi has done everything he could to hide and cover up the evidence," said Stephan Hachemi, son of the slain photojournalist, Zahra Kazemi. "There is no hope. They have proved that Iran has no intention whatsoever of bringing justice to the case of Zahra Kazemi."
When Kazemi died in detention after a blow to the head, Mortazavi ordered Iranian officials to announce that she died of natural causes, according to two outside investigations. She was later found to have died of a brain hemorrhage caused by a fractured skull.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, an attorney who represents Kazemi's family, threatened to take the case to international courts.
Iranian reformers embraced the case of Kazemi, an Iranian-born Canadian citizen who was widely seen as a surrogate for Iranian nationals who disappear into a judicial system that answers only to the theocracy's most senior cleric. But outcry over this case spread beyond the country's borders.
Canada recalled its ambassador after he was denied a promised seat at the trial. The envoy had also been recalled last summer after Kazemi's body was buried in Iran without an opportunity for an independent autopsy abroad.
"This trial has done nothing to answer the real questions about how Zahra Kazemi died or to bring the perpetrators of her murder to justice," Canadian Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew declared in a statement.
Reporters Without Borders, an advocacy group based in Paris, denounced the trial as "a masquerade of justice orchestrated by the Iranian authorities" and called for the European Union to impose sanctions. The group also protested the shuttering of the two newspapers.
In a symbolic gesture, about 300 journalists bound their hands Monday to protest mounting restrictions on free expression. Ebadi attended the meeting of the Journalists' Professional Association.
For hard-liners in Iran, the judiciary has long served as both a stronghold and a sanctuary, where appointed conservatives have been able to thwart the efforts of elected reformers. Mortazavi has been its most notorious operative, closing more than 100 newspapers that questioned Iran's authoritarian rule.
But after 25 years as one of the world's most isolated states, Iran has also made clear an appetite to cultivate economic and diplomatic ties abroad. The decision to open its shadowy nuclear program to international inspectors was linked to promises of trade with Europe.
External pressure forced Iran's judiciary to proceed with the trial, which could only embarrass hard-liners, according to foreign diplomats based in Iran. After Ahmadi was acquitted, the state offered to pay "blood money" to Kazemi's family, "as Islamic law stipulates . . . for a Muslim within state responsibility when perpetrators of a crime are not identified," the judiciary said in a statement published by Iran's official news agency.
Hachemi, the victim's son, scoffed at the offer and called for Canada to break diplomatic relations with Tehran, as Washington did in 1979 after the takeover of the U.S. Embassy there. "Since we don't have a dialogue with Iran, what's the use of having an ambassador?" he said.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the reformist faction of the government on Monday repeated an offer to the judiciary for "a full and transparent investigation."
A diplomat based in Tehran said that such a probe would be highly unlikely after Mortazavi and other hard-liners thwarted two earlier investigations but added that the case "is not going to die an easy death."
? 2004 The Washington Post Company
>> DARFUR ETC MALAYSIAN CONNECTION...
The Pain That Will Never Go Away
Cruelty and death reign in Sudan, and war brews.
The world rushes to help, while we, we Malaysians celebrate another deal in our pockets:
A three-member consortium led by Malaysia's MMC Corp (MMCB.KL) has won a US$65.6 million contract to build an oil pipeline in Sudan's Melut Basin, MMC said on Monday [July 26].
The consortium, which include China's Sinopec (SNP.N) (0386.HK) and Oman Construction Co., won the deal from Petrodar Operating Company which is developing two oil reserves - Block 3 and 7 - in Sudan's southeast, MMC said in a statement.
The project, due to be completed in May 2005, involves laying a 490-km export pipeline for segment B1 of the Melut Basin Development Project.
Petrodar is a venture between China National Petroleum Company International (Nile) Ltd, Petronas Carigali Overseas Sdn Bhd, Sudapet Ltd, Gulf Oil Petroleum Ltd and Al Thani Corp.
Sinopec, Asia's largest refiner and China's leading importer of gas oil, holds the majority 41 percent stake in Petrodar.
Petronas Carigali, the overseas exploration arm of Malaysian energy firm Petronas, holds 40 percent, while Sudapet, Gulf oil and Al Thani jointly hold the remaining 19 percent. [Reuters via Sudan Tribune: Malaysia's MMC, Sinopec in Sudan oil pipeline deal]
The last three companies that have annouced plum deals in Sudan -- Ranhill, Lankhorst and MMC -- are all led by Muslim Malaysians. Well done.
Ladies and gentlemen of the Foreign Ministry and Petronas: if you're reading this [and I know some of you are], and you feel you can outlast me on this one, you thought wrong.
The shit in Sudan is going to last longer than you think, and I will try my level best to be the pain in your orifice until you show some balls and some spine.
Posted at 01:37 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
>> UN BAH...
U.S. Drops Sanctions From U.N. Resolution
By KIM GAMEL
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -
The United States dropped the word "sanctions" from a draft U.N. resolution on Sudan on Thursday due to opposition on the Security Council, but it retained a threat of economic action against Khartoum if it fails to disarm Arab militias in Darfur.
The Security Council announced it was ready to vote Friday on the resolution, which has been revised four times in the past week as the United States sought to overcome objections.
Pakistan, China and Russia argued that the 15-nation Security Council argued that Sudan should be given more time to end the violence that some have called ethnic cleansing and even genocide.
In Kuwait, Secretary of State Colin Powell told reporters the United States acquiesced in the change from "sanctions" to "measures" because the latter word was more acceptable to a broader number of Security Council members.
He acknowledged that there is concern in Egypt and some other countries that too much pressure on the Sudanese government could cause internal problems that would make the situation worse.
"At the same time, everybody recognizes that pressure is needed or else we wouldn't get any action at all," Powell said.
Algerian Ambassador Abdallah Baali, whose country also opposed the previous text, welcomed the new version and said he hoped for a unanimous vote. "At first glance, we feel that we are more comfortable with this text than we were with the other versions," he said.
U.S. and British officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Pakistan, Russia and China still had reservations but they were confident the minimum nine "yes" votes could be obtained.
The new draft would still call on Sudan to disarm Arab militias blamed for rampant violence in the western region of Darfur.
It requires U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to report every 30 days "and expresses its intention to consider further actions, including measures as provided for in Article 41 of the (U.N. Charter) on the Government of Sudan in the event of noncompliance."
The previous text had specifically threatened "the imposition of sanctions."
The draft also would impose an arms embargo that would apply to individuals, groups or governments that supply the pro-government Arab militias known as Janjaweed or rebel groups.
The Janjaweed have staged a brutal campaign to drive out black African farmers over the last 17 months. At least 30,000 civilians, most of them black villagers, have been killed, more than 1 million displaced and some 2.2 million left in urgent need of food or medical attention.
U.S. Ambassador John Danforth insisted the changes did not weaken the text and said he hoped for a unanimous vote to send a strong message to the Sudanese government to stop the violence.
"It's the potential of sanctions in 30 days," he said, reading the article from a copy of the U.N. charter. "The government of Sudan must fulfill that responsibility to the people of Darfur. If it does not then there will be consequences."
Measures included in the 68-word Article 41 exclude the use of armed force but say "complete or partial interruption of economic relations ... and the severance of diplomatic relations" could be considered.
Danforth stressed the importance of "starting the clock ticking," with the 30-day clause, saying it was crucial to increase pressure on Sudan to rein in pro-government Arab militias who have killed thousands in a brutal campaign against black farmers in Darfur.
Sudan's U.N. Ambassador Elfatih Mohamed Erwa criticized the resolution Wednesday, saying it was politically motivated. He said his government would work with the African Union to stop the violence.
"We are going to work with the African Union, not because there is a set of sanctions, but because we believe that this is the right path," he said.
Egypt, which is not on the Security Council but wields great influence in the Arab world, also said it would try to prevent a resolution threatening sanctions from being adopted.
The Sudanese government, which has accused the international community of meddling, has promised to disarm the militias and says sanctions will only hurt those efforts.
The new draft also retains a clause calling on Sudan to "fulfill its commitments to disarm the Janjaweed militias," as it told Annan it would do on July 3.
The Darfur conflict stems from long-standing tensions between nomadic Arab tribes and their African neighbors over dwindling water and farmland. Those tensions exploded into violence in February 2003 when two African rebel groups took up arms over what they regard as unjust treatment by the government.
U.S. and humanitarian officials have accused the Sudanese government of backing the Janjaweed, a claim the government denies.
The price of unexpected success
Jul 29th 2004 | PARIS
From The Economist print edition
The prime minister may have saved his skin by doing better than expected at promoting change-but voters are still not impressed
WHEN President Jacques Chirac unexpectedly retained Jean-Pierre Raffarin as his prime minister, despite this year's dismal round of election results, savvy voters felt a game was being played: Mr Raffarin's role was to take the rap for some tough measures that lay ahead. Widespread unrest over a reform of public-health insurance and a move to privatise the electricity utility was widely expected. The unions would take to the streets. Public services would be paralysed. All this confirmed the view that Mr Raffarin was being used as a fall-guy.
Yet as France's parliamentary year ended this week, Mr Raffarin has several grounds for satisfaction. He has survived a vote of confidence. He has also just passed one clutch of reforms, and unveiled a fresh round for the autumn. Has his last-ditch effort to keep his job paid off?
Against the odds, the government has pulled off three important initiatives. The first is a law to turn Electricit? de France, a nest of Communist-backed unionism, into a public company. Although workers will retain their civil-service perks, this opens the way for partial privatisation. The government insists that it will keep a 70% stake, but similar promises have been disregarded in the past. Given the symbolism of EDF, whose powerful unions have petrified previous governments, this change in itself is no small achievement.
Second, the government has passed a law to prop up France's public health-insurance system. Though health care is first-class, costs are out of control. The French are second only to the Americans in popping pills, and spend 9% of GDP on health, second in Europe only to Germany. This year, France's public-health fund deficit is expected to top ?13 billion ($15.7 billion).
The reform stops short of a radical overhaul. Fran?ois Bayrou, a centrist politician, dismisses it as a r?formette. Yet it nevertheless introduces important principles that have long been resisted by politicians and doctors. These include an up-front, non-reimbursable charge (initially one euro) for consulting a doctor; the introduction of computerised and shared medical records, to cut down on duplicated testing and to help diagnoses; and the requirement to be registered with a single family doctor, who will act as a gatekeeper for specialist consultations. Such changes may appear simple common sense, but in France's liberal medical world they are regarded as big infringements on individual freedom. Hoped-for efficiency gains, if achieved, will be accompanied by an increase in social charges to help to control the deficit.
The third reform, guillotined through parliament this week to howls of protest from the opposition Socialist Party--a move which in itself triggered the vote of confidence--decentralises a bit of the civil service. The law devolves certain responsibilities, including national roads, most ports and airports, certain social-housing funds and training schemes, and technical secondary-school employees and caretakers. Some 130,000 civil servants will be transferred to local authorities. The government says it wants to rationalise a labyrinthine public service. It also calculates that it will be less difficult to shed bureaucratic jobs in future if they are not all centrally based.
All of which led Mr Raffarin, flush with his successes, to claim this week that it had been "a great year of reform for France". The health reform in particular, he added, showed that it was possible to modernise France without provoking a choc social. In a bid to reassert authority, he unveiled a fresh burst of reforms for the autumn.
On the labour market, the unemployed will be given incentives and help to find work, including the possibility of benefit cut-offs; discussions will re-open on ways to make the 35-hour week more flexible. On the public service, there will be a reform to ensure that basic trains and other public services operate during strikes, to avoid the habitual paralysis; some 10,000 civil-service jobs will be cut. On education, research will get a big cash injection, while secondary schooling will be reformed. In short, Mr Raffarin seemed to say, he has life left in him yet. Indeed, the man whom many consider a caretaker, has now lasted longer as prime minister than both Alain Jupp?, in 1995-1997, and Mr Chirac's most recent term, in 1986-1988.
All the same, Mr Raffarin can scarcely be complacent. His confidence rating has sunk from a high of 64% in 2002 to just 26% today. Worse, according to the latest monthly popularity ranking from IFOP, a pollster, he ranks a miserable number 32--below both the Communist and the Trotskyite leaders. A majority of deputies in the ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) have now swung behind Nicolas Sarkozy, the ambitious finance minister, for the vacant job as its new boss.
This weakness is partly explained by Mr Raffarin's unpopular reforms. But it also undermines their impact: the prime minister pushes through important reforms with one hand, while handing out concessions to special-interest groups--tobacco sellers, research scientists, part-time theatre technicians--with the other.
Mr Raffarin may have secured his job for the autumn. He certainly reckons on keeping it longer: he has started to plan a campaign for a yes vote in the French referendum on the European constitution, due to be held in late 2005. But the more restless that UMP deputies become, the more his lack of popularity, and authority, will be a problem. If the president keeps him on, it will probably be because--for now--he has no acceptable alternative.
Copyright ? 2004 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.
Kerrys raced to dump foreign stocks
By David R. Guarino
Read Guarino's Road to Boston Blog
Thursday, July 29, 2004
John Kerry's family dumped millions of dollars of foreign holdings as he launched his White House bid, gobbling up Made in the USA stocks in a huge politically savvy international-to-domestic shift.
The investments, mostly in the name of Kerry's multimillionaire wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, sold stock in massive overseas players like Heineken, Sony, British Petroleum and Italian Telecom for red, white and blue companies like McDonald's, Dell and Kohls.
In all, the Kerrys dumped as much as $16 million worth of international stock and bought between $18 million and $32 million in domestic holdings between 2002 and 2003, records show.
The swaps, detailed in Kerry's financial disclosures for the presidential race, come to light as the Bay State senator tonight wraps himself in Americana to accept the Democratic Party nomination.
The senator's campaign said the investments are managed not by the Kerrys but by professional investment managers for the family trustees - of which Heinz Kerry is only one.
Marla Romash, a senior adviser to Kerry, said the financial decisions aren't political.
``The trustees and Mrs. Heinz Kerry have asked these investment managers, who make their own investment decisions, only to take appropriate steps to ensure that investments are responsible and financially prudent,'' Romash said. ``The trustees review these investments periodically with the managers to ensure that these investments are responsible as well as financially prudent.''
But the timing of the sales appears to be an anomaly among a relatively consistent investment pattern.
Through most of Kerry's federal disclosure forms, the Heinz Kerry trusts - which invest some of the massive inheritance after the death of her first husband, Sen. H. John Heinz III, more than a decade ago - show steady investments and sales of overseas assets.
In the spring of 2002, as Kerry seriously began weighing a presidential run, there appeared to be a marked increase in sales of overseas holdings.
The forms, which only list a range of figures, show the trusts sold between $7.2 million and $16.1 million in assets that year. The trust reported dividends of as much as $68,000 on the sales.
Among the assets dropped were: Cadbury Schweppes, the British candy and soda maker - with between $50,001 and $100,000 in stock sold in March 2002; Japan's Canon, Sony and Toyota - with more than $100,000 in each sold in March 2002; and France's Vivendi, Total Fina, Suez and Compagnie De Saint-Gobain.
The records also show the trust sold between $250,001 and $500,000 of BNP Paribas stock in April 2002, before the French bank was ensnared in the Iraqi oil-for-food scandal at the United Nations.
Later that year and in 2003, the trusts began bolstering its domestic holdings - buying more than $50,000 in Harley Davidson stock, more than $100,000 in Costco, more than $250,000 in Kohls, Raytheon, and Kraft Foods, and as much as $1 million in Dell and McDonald's.
John Kerry, aristocrate de gauche
LE MONDE | 26.07.04 | 13h30 * MIS A JOUR LE 27.07.04 | 15h21
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Fils de diplomate, remari? ? une riche h?riti?re, le candidat d?mocrate ? la Maison BLanche a tout du privil?gi?. Ses convictions, pourtant, sont plus profondes qu'il n'y para?t.
Le probl?me de John Kerry, ce n'est pas qu'on ne le conna?t pas, c'est qu'on le conna?t trop." "Encore un de ces riches ?litistes de gauche du Massachusetts qui pr?tend ?tre un homme du peuple ! Impayable !" "Il se pr?sente comme un candidat populiste. Sa premi?re femme venait d'une grande famille de Philadelphie, qui p?se 300 millions de dollars. Sa seconde femme est une h?riti?re des cornichons et du ketchup." "Pour se d?fendre de l'accusation d'?tre distant, Kerry cite l'?crivain fran?ais Andr? Gide : "N'essayez pas de me comprendre trop vite !" Pas de probl?me ! Nous n'avons jamais entendu parler d'Andr? Gide."
Dans la campagne pour l'?lection pr?sidentielle du 2 novembre, les caricatures volent bas. Les pol?mistes de droite n'ont pas ? envier l'ardeur des "Bush-haters" ("ha?sseurs de Bush") de gauche. Pour les r?dacteurs de publicit?s t?l?vis?es, les chroniqueurs radio ou les sites Internet r?publicains, John Kerry repr?sente tout ce qu'un conservateur am?ricain d?teste. Il appartient ? la haute soci?t? de Nouvelle-Angleterre, il a v?cu en Europe, il est cultiv?, de gauche, catholique de la tendance tol?rante. Qui plus est, il si?ge au S?nat depuis presque vingt ans, et les "politiciens de Washington" ont, par d?finition, mauvaise r?putation. Il a m?me fini par devenir ami avec l'autre s?nateur du Massachusetts, Edward Kennedy, parangon de la gauche d?mocrate la plus traditionnelle, certains diraient sectaire.
Naturellement, les caricatures ont raison. Elles sont m?me au-dessous de la v?rit?. Il est difficile d'imaginer un homme politique plus compliqu? que John Forbes Kerry. Sa naissance, d?j?, est un d?fi aux id?es re?ues. Son p?re ?tait un diplomate au patronyme irlandais, de confession catholique, form? aux universit?s Yale et Harvard.
Richard Kerry n'a jamais dit ? son fils ce que celui-ci a appris par un article du Boston Globe en 2003 : ses grands-parents ?taient des juifs d'Europe centrale, convertis au catholicisme en 1902 et arriv?s aux Etats-Unis en 1905. Fritz Kohn a emprunt? le nom d'un comt? d'Irlande pour devenir Frederick Kerry. Avec sa femme, Ida, il s'est install? ? Chicago, puis ? Brookline, dans le Massachusetts. Apr?s deux faillites, Frederick Kerry n'en a pas support? une troisi?me et s'est tir? une balle dans la t?te, dans les toilettes d'un h?tel de Boston, en 1921.
La m?re de John Kerry, Rosemary Forbes, appartient ? l'une des familles les plus anciennes de cette grande bourgeoisie de Boston surnomm?e "les brahmanes", tant elle forme une caste s?re de sa valeur et de sa place dans la soci?t?. Les Forbes se sont enrichis dans le commerce avec la Chine - celui de l'opium, entre autres - et poss?dent des terrains ? Cape Cod, lieu de vill?giature des fortunes de Nouvelle-Angleterre.
Le p?re de Rosemary avait ?pous? une descendante de John Winthrop, qui fut, au d?but du XVIIe si?cle, le premier gouverneur du Massachusetts. Ces Forbes-l? vivaient en Bretagne, ? Saint-Briac-sur-Mer. John et Margaret Forbes avaient onze enfants, et c'est ? Saint-Brieuc, o? il ?tudiait la sculpture, pendant l'?t? 1938, que Richard Kerry a rencontr? celle qui est devenue sa femme, trois ans plus tard. Pilote d'essai de l'arm?e de l'air, Richard Kerry a ?t? hospitalis?, pour une tuberculose, dans le Colorado. John est n?, ? Denver, le 11 d?cembre 1943.
Pourtant, bien qu'apparent?s ? la plus ancienne aristocratie de ce pays qui ne conna?t pas les titres de noblesse, le futur s?nateur, ses deux s?urs et son fr?re n'ont pas ?t? ?lev?s dans le luxe. Leur famille maternelle ?tait une branche modeste de la tribu Forbes, et leur p?re ?tait un diplomate de niveau moyen, qui n'a jamais atteint le rang d'ambassadeur.
Quand John, apr?s un s?jour dans une pension suisse, est entr? au coll?ge Saint Paul, dans le New Hampshire, sa scolarit? a ?t? pay?e gr?ce ? la g?n?rosit? d'une grand-tante. A Saint Paul, il ?tait doublement isol?, catholique dans un milieu anglican - la religion des grands bourgeois anglophiles du Nord-Est - et imp?cunieux parmi des jeunes gens aux poches pleines, assur?s de leur avenir et qui trouvaient un peu ?trange de travailler autant qu'il le faisait. "Il ?tait tr?s pugnace", a racont? un de ses condisciples, Danny Barbiero, lui aussi atypique dans cet ?tablissement. Et d'ajouter : "Ce n'?tait pas cool de l'?tre, ? Saint Paul. Vous n'aviez pas ? l'?tre. Vous aviez un droit de naissance."
Le jeune Kerry s'impose par l'effort. Il est bon ?l?ve. Il brille au hockey sur glace, dans une ?quipe dirig?e par Robert Mueller, aujourd'hui directeur du FBI. Il fait du th??tre et joue - ou pr?tend jouer, il y a d?bat sur ce point... - de la guitare basse dans un groupe de rock. Il ?crit dans le journal de l'?cole, o?, en mai 1962, deux mois apr?s les accords d'Evian, qui ont mis fin ? la guerre d'Alg?rie, il publie un curieux po?me sur de Gaulle et le d?clin de l'empire fran?ais.
Il drague les filles, parmi lesquelles une demi-s?ur de Jackie Kennedy, ce qui lui vaut d'assister ? la r?gate de l'America Cup, au large de Rhode Island, sur le m?me voilier que le pr?sident des Etats-Unis. Il commence peut-?tre, alors, ? se croire un destin. En tout cas, quand il entre, la m?me ann?e, ? Yale, il se sent chez lui, dans cette universit? prestigieuse, et tient des discours de plus en plus cat?goriques sur la politique nationale et internationale.
Partisan enthousiaste de John Kennedy, il devient pr?sident de la Yale Political Union, association d'?tudiants qui organise des d?bats politiques. Il est initi?, aussi, ? la myst?rieuse Skull and Bones Society ("Soci?t? des cr?nes et des os"), cette confr?rie de Yale ? laquelle ont appartenu les deux George Bush et qui, comme toutes les soci?t?s secr?tes, excite les imaginations. En fait, on y est coopt? pour ses m?rites, qu'ils soient scolaires, sportifs ou de camaraderie. Y ?tre admis est, ? la fois, un rite de passage - le nouvel arrivant doit, notamment, raconter en d?tail sa vie sexuelle depuis l'enfance - et une voie de socialisation. Sur les quinze membres de Skull and Bones qui ont obtenu leur dipl?me de sortie en 1966, quatre se sont engag?s dans les forces arm?es. Bien qu'il ait pass? une grande partie de son temps, pendant sa derni?re ann?e ? Yale, ? s'initier ? l'aviation, avec son camarade Frederick Smith, futur fondateur de Federal Express, John Kerry a choisi la marine plut?t que l'arm?e de l'air.
L'influence de son p?re, qui s'?tait engag? lui-m?me ? la fin de ses ?tudes, semble avoir ?t? grande, mais ambigu?. Richard Kerry a quitt? le Foreign Service en 1962, las de ses lourdeurs bureaucratiques et amer de ne pas avoir vu ses qualit?s reconnues. Dans un entretien au Boston Globe, en 1996, il a expliqu? qu'il consid?rait la guerre du Vietnam comme "une grave faute politique", mais que son fils voulait "brandir le drapeau"et qu'il ?tait "tr?s immature ? cet ?gard".
En octobre 1965, John Kerry a remis au vice-pr?sident Hubert Humphrey, de passage ? New Haven, dans le Connecticut, o? se trouve l'universit? Yale, une p?tition condamnant les manifestations contre la guerre. Pourtant, sept mois plus tard, choisi pour prononcer le discours de fin d'ann?e universitaire, le jeune engag? critique la politique du pr?sident Lyndon Johnson. "Nous n'avons pas r?ellement perdu le d?sir de servir. Nous nous interrogeons sur les racines de ce que nous servons", dit-il.
L'h?sitation de John Kerry face ? la guerre du Vietnam semble annoncer celle dont il a fait preuve, pr?s de quarante ans plus tard, au sujet de l'Irak. Lui qui s'?tait prononc?, au S?nat, en 1991, contre la premi?re guerre du Golfe, a longtemps tergivers? avant de voter, en octobre 2002, la r?solution autorisant George Bush ? employer la force contre Saddam Hussein.
Un an plus tard, il a refus? le collectif budg?taire de 87 milliards de dollars destin? ? couvrir les d?penses militaires et l'occupation du pays. Dans une d?claration dont les r?publicains n'ont pas fini de se d?lecter, il a expliqu? qu'il avait "vot? pour avant de voter contre". "En effet, c'est beaucoup plus clair comme ?a", ironise le vice-pr?sident, Richard Cheney, de r?union publique en d?ner de collecte de fonds. Le s?nateur a voulu dire qu'il soutenait le projet, avec un amendement d?mocrate pr?voyant de r?duire les baisses d'imp?ts sur les hauts revenus, et qu'il a vot? contre apr?s que cet amendement eut ?t? rejet? par les r?publicains.
La question n'est pas l?, ?videmment. Elle est de savoir si, trois ans apr?s les attentats du 11 septembre, alors que leurs forces sont engag?es en Afghanistan et en Irak, et face ? une menace terroriste qui n'a pas diminu?, les Am?ricains peuvent s'en remettre ? un homme qui para?t craindre de faire la guerre.
A ce doute sur sa d?termination, John Kerry r?pond en invoquant, inlassablement, ses ?tats de service au Vietnam. Il y a ?t? bless? plusieurs fois, il y a abattu au moins un ennemi, il y a sauv? des camarades, il en est revenu d?cor?. "Cela fait trente-cinq ans que je d?montre ce qu'est ma politique", d?clare-t-il dans l'hebdomadaire The New Yorker(dat? 26 juillet). Il a approuv? les interventions dans les Balkans, d?cri?es, ? l'?poque, par les r?publicains. Il a soutenu les actions men?es en Ha?ti et ? Panama. "Je suis clair, dit-il, sur ma volont? d'employer la force, si n?cessaire, pour prot?ger nos int?r?ts dans le monde et, ?videmment, la s?curit? de notre pays." A ses yeux, l'Irak n'est pas un bourbier dont il faudrait sortir au plus vite et ? tout prix, mais une erreur ? r?parer.
A la fin des ann?es 1960 et au d?but des ann?es 1970, John Kerry dirigeait les Vietnam Veterans Against War, les anciens combattants oppos?s ? la guerre. "C'est un fumiste, non ?", demandait Richard Nixon, ?lu pr?sident, en 1968, en promettant de mettre fin ? la guerre et qui l'a prolong?e pendant sept ans. T?moignant au S?nat, avec l'aide d'Edward Kennedy, et ? la t?l?vision, le lieutenant Kerry a d?nonc?, en 1971, les "atrocit?s" que cette guerre faisait commettre aux soldats am?ricains.
Une des cl?s de sa pens?e se trouve peut-?tre dans le livre que son p?re a publi? en 1990, The Star Spangled Mirror ( Le Miroir ?toil?). Richard Kerry y d?non?ait les fautes que peut commettre l'Am?rique quand elle se persuade de sa sup?riorit? et de sa mission civilisatrice. John Kerry ne partage pas le radicalisme de son p?re, mort en 2000, mais il ne cesse de reprocher ? George Bush d'avoir men? "la politique ?trang?re la plus arrogante, la plus inepte, la plus brutale et la plus id?ologique de l'histoire moderne". Il croit ? la n?cessit? des interventions humanitaires, mais, dans le grand d?bat am?ricain sur ce que doit ?tre la politique des Etats-Unis vis-?-vis du reste du monde, il se situe du c?t? des "r?alistes", qui donnent la priorit? aux alliances et ? l'?quilibre des puissances, contre les "id?alistes", qui pr?chent la diffusion de la d?mocratie.
Son mariage, en 1970, avec Julia Thorne, s?ur d'un de ses camarades de Yale, s'est achev?, en 1988, par un divorce. Sept ans plus tard, le s?nateur du Massachusetts a ?pous? Teresa Heinz, veuve d'un de ses anciens coll?gues, le r?publicain John Heinz, mort dans un accident d'avion. H?riti?re des conserves Heinz, Teresa Kerry g?re une immense fortune, et le s?nateur m?ne grande vie, avec elle et leur famille recompos?e, de leur maison de Boston ? celle de Georgetown, quartier chic de Washington, de l'?le de Nantucket aux pistes de ski de l'Idaho, d'une propri?t? ? Pittsburgh, en Pennsylvanie, berceau de la famille Heinz, ? un chalet ? Aspen, dans le Colorado.
Cela n'emp?che pas le candidat d?mocrate de faire partie de ces privil?gi?s qui pensent que l'Am?rique a du chemin ? faire pour tenir ses promesses en mati?re de justice, d'?quit? et de solidarit?. Pour George Bush, c'est "toujours le m?me vieux pessimisme". Pour John Kerry, c'est "la confiance dans ce dont ce pays est capable".
* ARTICLE PARU DANS L'EDITION DU 27.07.04
Kerry Spot [ jim geraghty reporting ]
[ kerry spot home | archives | email ]
TALE OF A TAPE [07/28 11:11 AM]
John Kerry at Kennedy Space Center. Remind you of another Mass. liberal in a tank?
Wednesday morning, the GOP fired one of the biggest guns in its counter-spin arsenal: a twelve-minute video of John Kerry's statements on Iraq and how to handle Saddam Hussein, contrasting his pro-war views of 1998 and 2003 with his antiwar views of 1991 and 2004.
While the charge that John Kerry is a flip-flopper is nothing new, rarely has the case been made so comprehensively, in such detail, relying almost entirely on the Democratic senator's own words.
There are quite a few Kerry quotes that have disappeared down the memory hole that are worth recollecting. Like his statement on Dec. 11, 2001, on The O'Reilly Factor (does it seem shocking now that Kerry once appeared on O'Reilly's show?): "I think we ought to put the heat on Saddam Hussein. I've said that for a number of years, Bill. I criticized the Clinton administration for backing off of the inspections when Ambassador Butler was giving us strong evidence that we needed to continue. I think we need to put the pressure on no matter what the evidence is about September 11."
Got that? Tougher stance than Clinton. Evidence about 9/11 is irrelevant.
Kerry on Larry King Live, several days later: "I think we clearly have to keep the pressure on terrorism globally. This doesn't end with Afghanistan by any imagination. And I think the president has made that clear. I think we have made that clear. Terrorism is a global menace. It's a scourge. And it is absolutely vital that we continue, for instance, Saddam Hussein."
Afghanistan's not enough. Continue the fight. Take Saddam Hussein.
Then this exchange with Chris Matthews on Feb. 5, 2002: Matthews asked, "Do you think that the problem we have with Iraq is real and it can be reduced to a diplomatic problem? Can we get this guy to accept inspections of those weapons of mass destruction potentially and get past a possible war with him?"
"Outside chance, Chris," Kerry responded. "Could it be done? The answer is yes. But he would view himself only as buying time and playing a game, in my judgment. Do we have to go through that process? The answer is yes. We're precisely doing that. And I think that's what Colin Powell did today."
There was no complaining then about a "rush to war." No warnings that Saddam Hussein's WMD programs might not be as advanced as the administration feared. No skepticism about the intelligence, no blood-for-oil, no conspiracy theories about Chalabi and Halliburton and neocons.
Finally, his speech to the Democratic Leadership Council's national convention on July 29, 2002: "I agree completely with this administration's goal of a regime change in Iraq."
What makes the video more than a collection of Kerry's rhetorical hits is its documentation of how outside events were influencing the Democratic senator's political positions. Specifically, as 2003 wore on, Howard Dean rocketed to the top of the Democratic-primary polls and garnered laudatory press coverage. And Kerry obviously, blatantly, started borrowing Dean's anti-war rhetoric.
By August 2003, Kerry was declaring on Meet the Press, "The fact is, in the resolution that we passed, we did not empower the president to do regime change."
By October, the struggling Kerry was insisting that the war he had said he "agreed completely with" was unnecessary. "But the president and his advisors did not do almost anything correctly in the walk-up to the war. They rushed to war. They were intent on going to war. They did not give legitimacy to the inspections. We could have still been doing inspections even today, George."
Remember, the previous February, Kerry had dismissed diplomatic negotiations for more inspections as Saddam's "buying time and playing a game."
Judging by the 100-percent certainty with which Kerry made both sets of comments, he doesn't seem to even acknowledge that they contradict each other. Both appear to accurately express his views at the moment he speaks them.
The point is that there isn't truth or untruth to Kerry's views. There is simply what is needed and what is not needed, and the True North of Kerry's rhetorical and policy compass is whatever he needs politically at that time.
George Clooney's character in Three Kings, a film about the first Gulf War, explains to three soldiers under his command that "the most important thing in life is necessity... As in people do what is most necessary to them at any given moment."
What does Kerry stand for? Whatever is most necessary to him at that particular moment.
One could say that's not unique to Kerry, and may be a common trait among politicians. But what would this mean in a president? Periodically, Sen. Edward Kennedy or some other Democrat will make the stupendously illogical charge that George W. Bush made the call to go to war in Iraq in order to boost his poll numbers. But the political boost from a war, the rally-around-the-flag effect, is notoriously short lived. Winston Churchill won World War II and got tossed out on his tush by British voters almost the moment the war ended.
President Bush didn't decide to got to war to boost his poll numbers. In spite of the near-certainty that it would erode his high poll numbers after toppling the Taliban, Bush made the decision to go ahead.
What would John Kerry do in a similar situation? How dire would a threat have to be for him to risk his popularity on an unpopular war? Or would he put his faith in diplomacy with dictators and agreements with rogue states -- "buying time and playing a game," as he once described it?
Before the voters can consider that question, Kerry's long and meandering views on Iraq have to be brought front and center before the millions of Americans who are not paying close attention to this race. Unfortunately, this video format doesn't lend itself well to the traditional methods.
It's way too long to condense into a 30- or 60-second ad. If it were shown during the GOP convention, it would be putting the spotlight on the challenger instead of the president, and much of the media would explode with fury at the "negative campaigning." Some political shows might spotlight it, but few would be willing to let it run for the entire eleven minutes. Maybe C-SPAN will show it. Perhaps it could serve as the entertainment for the Bush "House Parties."
Maybe talk radio could run the audio of the tape uninterrupted.
A GOP source says the idea of buying airtime on the networks, like H. Ross Perot did in 1992, has been tossed around. One way or another, this 11-minute tape will be coming to a place near you in the not-too-distant future.
>> WHAT REALLY HAPPENED IN BOSTON...
The Party's Parties
Lavish Parties Lead to Access at Nominating Convention
By Meredith O'Brien
WASHINGTON, July 8, 2004 -- At this year's Democratic national convention in Boston, special interests are planning and paying for a reported 200 private parties and receptions for lawmakers and party officials. Corporations, unions, lobbying firms and interest groups will host the Democratic elite at nightclubs, fine dining establishments, museums--even Fenway Park.
Though party officials will not comment on or release a list of the parties, the Center for Public Integrity has identified 70 events, 33 of which are hosted by Boston 2004, the private host committee designated to raise funds and organize welcoming events for the convention. The remaining parties have as sponsors the likes of insurance giant American International Group, biotech firm Genzyme, telecommunications firms Time Warner and Comcast, lobbying firms Patton Boggs LLP and Foley Hoag LLP, unions including the AFL-CIO and the International Brotherhood of Carpenters, and trade groups like the American Gas Association and the National Association of Broadcasters.
Corporations and unions used to be able to curry favor with lawmakers by pouring unlimited amounts of cash into the soft money coffers of one or both major political parties. Organizations and issue oriented groups used to show their affection and keen interest in parties' actions the same way, making sure that their money kept them in the game.
But now that once healthy spigot of unlimited campaign cash has been shut off by campaign finance laws prohibiting soft money donations, companies and interest groups have sought out other ways to show the political parties that they're players too, and to make sure that the next time a bill or policy they're interested in crops up, that they are consulted.
One solution: Lavish parties at the presidential nominating conventions.
In the words of one campaign finance expert, they are raising party planning "to an art form." While exclusive parties are not new to the convention scene, watchdog groups say this year's receptions will be more extravagant to make up for the absence of soft money donations. "This year, the number of private affairs is expected to far exceed previous conventions," wrote Bill McConnell in the trade publication, Broadcasting and Cable. "Independent party planners will throw nearly 50 blowouts costing $100,000 or more each, according to estimates."
However, the precise number of parties and where they're being held is a quasi-secret, reserved for only those in the know. When asked by the Center for Public Integrity for a list of private parties and receptions to be held in Boston during the late-July convention, the spokeswoman of the city's host committee, Boston 2004, played it close to the vest. "We have nothing to do with that," said Spokeswoman Karen Grant. "There's nothing coordinated." But the Boston Globe reported in June 2004 that it had obtained a "confidential calendar of private events, produced by the Boston 2004 convention host committee . . . [showing] nearly 200 receptions, luncheons and after-hours parties."
The official parties
There are official parties of course, hosted by Boston 2004, some 33 of them--at a total $1.8 million price-tag--at locations around the Hub, from museums, historic sites and parks, to a brewery, a cookie factory and university campuses. The biggest one is the reception for 15,000 members of the media at the just opened Boston Convention and Exhibition Center facing Boston Harbor. The Boston Globe is one of the sponsors for the $800,000 shindig, geared toward putting the best face on the city for the media who will project its image to the world for a week. The paper is contributing $500,000.
The other official gatherings are welcoming parties for the 56 state and territorial delegations attending the convention. Some delegates will be feted in historic style--the Pennsylvania delegation in the gold-domed State House on Beacon Hill and the hometown favorites, the Massachusetts delegation, in the grand Boston Public Library.
Others will be treated to unique receptions. Ohio delegates, for example, will be meeting at the Samuel Adams Brewery. Minnesota and North Dakota delegates will be welcomed at the Dancing Deer Baking Company, home to the "Break the Curse" molasses clove cookie, in honor of the Boston Red Sox's long World Series championship drought which coincided with the team trading Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees.
On a less culinary note, the New Jersey delegates will gather in the Charlestown Navy Yard at the U.S.S. Constitution Museum, home of the over 200-year-old ship, while the California delegates will be consorting with wild life at the Franklin Park Zoo.
The unofficial parties
While the official parties are sure to be interesting, look for the real political action elsewhere, like at the Bay Tower Room with panoramic views of the city, or at Felt, the uber hip nightclub, or even at Locke-Ober, the high-end French restaurant favored by Boston's political establishment.
These are among the sites of some of the private gatherings slated for select Democrats during convention week. Companies ranging from telecommunications giants to insurance, fuel, bio-tech and financial institutions are ponying up hundreds of thousands of dollars to honor and fete those with power.
"It's not an opportunity that we want to let slide by," Daphne Magnuson, spokeswoman for the American Gas Association (AGA) told the Boston Globe, adding that the group has budgeted $700,000 to stage parties at the Boston and New York national conventions this summer.
The AGA has at least four events slated for the convention week, according to press reports. The trade group will host a dinner honoring Sen. Max Baucus, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, a late-night reception for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus at a hopping nightclub, luncheons in the honor of Sen. Byron Dorgan and Sen. Jeff Bingaman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and a reception for governors, according to the Boston Globe.
Two events are rivaling one another for the honor of being the hottest event in town: The Creative Coalition's benefit gala at Louis Boston, home of the Asian/French fusion Restaurant L in the city's high-end shopping area (Newbury Street), and the gala for Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy at Boston Symphony Hall.
The Creative Coalition--a group comprised of members of the arts and entertainment community--has the upper hand when it comes to Hollywood wattage. It's lined up celebrities like Boston's home boy Ben Affleck, Oscar winner Chris Cooper, actor William Baldwin and actress/Air America talk show host Janeane Garofalo to attend a fundraiser for the non-profit group, hosted with the Recording Industry Association of America, Esquire, Allied Domecq and Volkswagen. Alternative rockers the Red Hot Chili Peppers are scheduled to perform at the fundraiser. Tickets to the event range from a low of $1,000 for one ticket, to $50,000, which would buy you 40 tickets, gift bags, 20 VIP tickets and Green Room Access, according to the Creative Coalition's site, which lists issues such as arts and music education, First Amendment rights, gun control and campaign finance reform as topics of importance to the group.
But when it comes to old fashioned political clout, the party for Kennedy, featuring Yo-Yo Ma and the Boston Pops, with conductor John Williams, is a strong competitor. The event, which is estimated to cost $400,000-$600,000, is being sponsored by a handful of corporations and unions, including, Raytheon, Bristol-Myers Squibb, the AFL-CIO and the International Brotherhood of Carpenters, which all gave $100,000 each, according to the Boston Globe.
Kennedy will receive more accolades at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel when the Irish American Democrats and the Italian American Democratic Leadership Council team up for a reception. U2 lead singer Bono and Stephen Stills are among the celebrity guests. Kennedy, along with Rep. Mike Capuano, also of Massachusetts, is scheduled to make an appearance at the Biotechnology Industry Organization's reception at the Museum of Science that week.
For Democratic governors making the sojourn to Boston, many groups are awaiting them. The AGA is planning a reception for them at Ned Devine's Irish Pub in Faneuil Hall. There's going to be a Boston Harbor waterfront "All-Star Salute to Democratic Governors" on Rowe's Wharf, according to the Democratic Governors' Association's web site. And, in honor of those All-Stars, the governors will head to Fenway Park for what's being billed as "an afternoon at one of America's most storied ballparks," brought to them by UBS Financial Services.
Meanwhile members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus will be honored by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute with a reception at the swank nightspot, Felt, sponsored by the AGA. Listening to the tunes of Los Lobos, members of the caucus may be able to mingle with special invited guests New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Sponsorship ranges from $25,000 to $50,000, according to the group's web site.
Clinton will be featured at a number of events during the convention, including a lunch at Locke-Ober, a restaurant famed for its JFK room and JFK lobster stew, sponsored by American International Group, reports the Boston Globe. The senator and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, will be honored at the State Room restaurant with views of the city; the 500-person event is being held by Democratic fundraiser and contributor Elaine Schuster and other donors, according to press reports. Another Boston night club, Avalon, will be the site of a gathering for New York lawmakers, including Clinton, that's expected to be attended by 2,000 people.
Massachusetts Congressman Bill Delahunt, looking to capitalize on the party going, is hosting a campaign fundraiser at a championship golf club, Granite Links in nearby Quincy. For $2,000 per ticket, one can participate in the golf tournament and enjoy the clambake afterwards, according to the Hill. For non-golfers, they can chip in $1,000 and just go for the food.
One of the most talked about parties is Louisiana Sen. John Breaux's Caribbean bash, sponsored by more than a dozen media lobbyists, according to Broadcasting & Cable. Featuring jerk chicken, Red Stripe beer and the tunes of Ziggy Marley and Buckwheat Zydeco, the $300,000 party for more than 1,000 will be held at the New England Aquarium.
Below is a list of parties compiled by the Center for Public Integrity from news reports and Internet searches. (It is not a comprehensive list of all, unofficial events.)
Official parties (Sponsored by Boston 2004 and others as noted)
Party thrown for Given by Location Type of location Date
Media Boston Globe and Boston 2004 Boston Convention & Exhibition Center Reception 24-Jul
New Jersey delegation Boston 2004 Navy Yard Constitution Museum Historic naval yard, Charlestown 25-Jul
South Dakota delegation Boston 2004 Navy Yard Commandant's House Historic naval yard, Charlestown 25-Jul
Nevada delegation Boston 2004 Navy Yard Pier 1 Historic naval yard, Charlestown 25-Jul
Iowa and Missouri delegations Boston 2004 New England Aquarium, downtown Aquarium 25-Jul
Texas delegation Boston 2004 Hyatt Harborside East Boston 25-Jul
Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming delegations Boston 2004 Museum of Science, downtown Museum 25-Jul
Michigan delegation Boston 2004 State Street Financial Center, Chinatown 36-story, high-rise building in Financial District 25-Jul
New York Delegation Boston 2004 L Street Bathhouse, South Boston Recreation Center 25-Jul
Louisiana, Kansas, Nebraska delegations Boston 2004 Wang Center, downtown Performance Hall 25-Jul
DC, Maryland, Delaware delegations Boston 2004 Children's Museum, downtown Interactive museum 25-Jul
Arizona, New Mexico, Utah delegations Boston 2004 Jorge Hernandez Cultural Center, South End Municipal center 25-Jul
North Carolina delegation Boston 2004 Student Center at the University of Mass.-Boston University campus 25-Jul
Wisconsin delegation Boston 2004 Boston Nature Center Nature center 25-Jul
Virginia, West Virginia delegations Boston 2004 Hyde Park Library, Menino Wing Library 25-Jul
Puerto Rico, US Virgin Island delegations Boston 2004 Adams Park, Roslindale Park 25-Jul
Ohio delegation Boston 2004 Samuel Adams Brewery Brewery 25-Jul
Tennessee delegation Boston 2004 James Michael Curley House, Jamaica Plain Historical building 25-Jul
Guam, American Samoa, Alaska, Hawaii delegations Boston 2004 Millennium Park, West Roxbury Park 25-Jul
Indiana delegation Boston 2004 Strand Theater Performance Hall 25-Jul
Minnesota and North Dakota delegations Boston 2004 Dancing Deer Baking Company, Roxbury Cookie makers 25-Jul
Florida delegation Boston 2004 Northeastern University University campus 25-Jul
Connecticut, Maine, NH, VT, RI delegation Boston 2004 Museum of Fine Arts, Fenway area Museum 25-Jul
Georgia delegation Boston 2004 Shirley-Eustis House Historical building 25-Jul
South Carolina, Alabama delegations Boston 2004 Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists, Roxbury Museum 25-Jul
California delegation Boston 2004 Franklin Park Zoo Zoo 25-Jul
Oklahoma delegation Boston 2004 Parkman House, Beacon Hill Historical building 25-Jul
Illinois delegation Boston 2004 Institute of Contemporary Art, Back Bay Art gallery 25-Jul
Pennsylvania delegation Boston 2004 State House, Beacon Hill State House 25-Jul
Massachusetts delegation Boston 2004 Boston Public Library, Back Bay Library 25-Jul
Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi delegation Boston 2004 Spangler Center at Harvard Business School, Allston University campus 25-Jul
Oregon delegation Boston 2004 Boston Latin School, Mission Hill School campus 25-Jul
Colorado delegation Boston 2004 Home of ambassador Swanee Hunt, Cambridge Private home 25-Jul
Source: Boston 2004 web site, web sites, news reports
Unofficial parties (Sponsored by private groups, businesses and organizations)
Party thrown for Given by Location Type of location Date
The Creative Coalition and the Recording Industry Association of America Benefit gala hosted in association with Esquire, Allied Domecq & Volkswagen Restaurant L, described by Zagat Survey as Asian and French fusion food. Restaurant 28-Jul
Democratic Governors' Assn Democratic Governors' Assn Boston Harbor Waterfront "All-Star Salute to Democratic Governors," "Rock the Harbor" opening reception, Rowe's Wharf Overlooking the Harbor 25-Jul
New York Delegation Unclear Avalon, Landsdowne Street, Boston Nightclub 28-Jul
Former President Bill and Sen. Hillary Clinton Elaine Schuster and other donors State Room, Boston Restaurant in Bay Tower overlooking the city 25-Jul
Sen. Ted Kennedy A half dozen corporations and unions, including Raytheon, Bristol Myers Squibb, AFL-CIO, and International Brotherhood of Carpenters Boston Symphony Hall, home of the Boston Symphony & Pops Performance hall 27-Jul
Sen. Hillary Clinton and NY lawmakers AIG (insurance) Locke-Ober, Boston Restaurant 28-Jul
Fundraiser for Rep. Bill Delahunt (Mass.) Rep. Bill Delahunt Granite Links championship Golf Club overlooking Boston Harbor Country club Unknown
Sen. Hillary Clinton and Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm Emily's List Boston Convention & Exhibition Center Convention center 27-Jul
Sen. John Breaux, Louisiana Media lobbyists New England Aquarium Aquarium 27-Jul
Sen. Ted Kennedy and other lawmakers Irish American Democrats and Italian American Democratic Leadership Councils Park Plaza Hotel 25-Jul
New England delegation Genzyme Genzyme headquarters, Cambridge Biotech firm headquarters 26-Jul
Sen. Ted Kennedy and Rep. Michael Capuano (Mass.) Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) Museum of Science Museum 28-Jul
Congressmen and staff Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) Genzyme HQ, Cambridge Luncheon at biotech firm Unknown
Delegates Time Warner Tia's, Boston Restaurant on Long Wharf with waterfront view 25-Jul
Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and Senate Democratic Whip Harry Reid Comcast, Citigroup and other sponsors Dinner Restaurant Unknown
Lawmakers Fox News Concert at Fenway Park Baseball park Unknown
Senate Democrats Consumer Electronics Association and other sponsors Unknown Unknown Unknown
Sen. Max Baucus, (Mont.), ranking member of the Finance Committee American Gas Association Unknown Unknown 26-Jul
Congressional Hispanic Caucus American Gas Association Late night reception at Felt Nightclub 26-Jul
Sen. Jeff Bingaman (N.M.) and Sen. Byron Dorgan, (N.D.), members of Energy & Natural Resources Committee American Gas Association Unknown Unknown Unknown
Democratic Governors' Assn American Gas Association Ned Devine's Irish Pub, Faneuil Hall Restaurant 28-Jul
Rep. Barney Frank (Mass.), ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee Financial Services Roundtable Bay Tower, Boston Restaurant in a high rise with views of city July 27-28
Rep. Ed Markey (Mass.), ranking member on the House Telecom and Internet Subcommittee Massachusetts Broadcasters Association and National Association of Broadcasters Boston College Club, Boston Private club 26-Jul
Massachusetts Congressional delegation Patton Boggs LLP and Mass Mutual Financial Group Dinner Unknown 26-Jul
Congressmen from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Pennsylvania Sovereign Bank New England Reception, Fenway Park, .406 Club Baseball park skybox 26-Jul
Democratic Women Bingham McCutchen, The Alliance of Women's Business & Professional Organizations, The Boston Club, the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus and Women's Bar Assn of Massachusetts Bingham McCutchen law firm Law firm offices Unknown
Democratic National Convention Chairwoman Alice Huffman Foley Hoag LLP and the United Way of Massachusetts Bay (Luncheon) Unknown Unknown Unknown
Planned Parenthood Foley Hoag LLP Unknown Unknown Unknown
Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Foley Hoag LLP (Fundraising reception) Unknown Unknown Unknown
LGBT delegates, Massachusetts AFL-CIO and Massachusetts legislators Bay State Stonewall Democrats Goulston & Storrs, Boston Law firm offices 25-Jul
Sen. Tim Johnson, (S.D.), member, Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee Securities and bond market groups Unknown Unknown Unknown
Blue Dog Coalition A dozen trade groups and companies Roxy, Boston Nightclub Unknown
Sen. John Breaux (La.) The Creative Coalition and Congressional Quarterly blu, restaurant at Sports/LA, Boston Restaurant at a health club 27-Jul
The Creative Coalition, Music for All Foundation, National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) The Creative Coalition, Music for All Foundation, National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Sports Club/LA, Boston Health club 27-Jul
Emily's List and Revolutionary Women Emily's List and Revolutionary Women Boston Convention & Exhibition Center Convention center 27-Jul
Bay State Stonewall Democrats Bay State Stonewall Democrats John Hancock Hall, Boston Concert hall 27-Jul
Rep. Barney Frank (Mass.) Bay State Stonewall Democrats Marriott Copley, Boston Hotel 29-Jul
Democratic Governors' Association UBS Financial Services Fenway Park Baseball park 28-Jul
Sources: Boston Business Journal, The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, Broadcasting & Cable, The Hill, National Journal, Roll Call, Times-Picayune, various organizations' web sites
>> LEFT WATCH...BANG THE DRUM SLOWLY?
The Condition of the Working Class in China
On March 16 the AFL-CIO filed a remarkable petition with the U.S. government asking that the U.S. trade representative take action to promote the human rights of China's factory workers. The petition charged that China's brutal repression of internationally recognized workers' rights constitutes an unfair trade practice under section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. It was the first time in the history of section 301 that a petition has invoked the violation of workers' rights as an unfair trade practice, although it is quite common for corporations to use section 301 to challenge other unfair trade practices, such as violation of intellectual property rights.
The petition thoroughly documents the Chinese government's systematic violation of workers' rights and demonstrates how such exploitation costs hundreds of thousands of U.S. manufacturing jobs and puts downward pressure on wages around the world.
The petition attracted enormous attention around the world. BusinessWeek claimed it was a "milestone" that "articulated a coherent intellectual position that makes a logical link between trade and labor rights." Even the Washington Post editorial page, which has always been fierce in its opposition to linking trade and labor rights, stated that the petition deserved "qualified sympathy."
On April 29 the Bush administration rejected the petition. While refuting none of the charges made in the petition, the administration referred to it as an example of "economic isolationism." Tom Donahue, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, was perhaps more honest about why the petition was rejected: "Had the administration accepted the petition . . . we would have married forever human rights and trade, and that would have been a huge mistake."
One wishes Mr. Donahue had explained himself a bit more: a mistake for whom? For ruthlessly exploited workers in China? For laid off manufacturing workers in the United States? Or for American business, which is complicit in and profits from, the exploitation described below?
We are glad to reprint an edited excerpt (minus the footnotes) of the AFL-CIO's petition. The principal author of the petition is Mark Barenberg, a professor of international law at Columbia University. The entire petition, over 100 pages long with 346 footnotes, can be downloaded from the AFL-CIO's Web site at http://www.aflcio.org/issuespolitics/globaleconomy/upload/china_petition.pdf . Eds
Each year, millions of Chinese citizens travel from impoverished inland villages to take their first industrial jobs in China's export factories. Young and mostly female, they are sent by their parents in search of wages to supplement their families' income. They join an enormous submerged caste of temporary factory workers who are stripped of civil and political rights by China's system of internal passport controls.
They enter the factory system and often step into a nightmare of twelve-hour to eighteen-hour work days with no day of rest, earning meager wages that may be withheld or unpaid altogether. The factories are sweltering, dusty, and damp. Workers are fully exposed to chemical toxins and hazardous machines, and suffer sickness, disfiguration, and death at the highest rates in world history. They live in cramped cement-block dormitories, up to twenty to a room, without privacy. They face militaristic regimentation, surveillance, and physical abuse by supervisors during their long day of work and by private police forces during their short night of recuperation in the dormitories.
They can do little to relieve their misery. Their movements are controlled by the Public Security forces, who ruthlessly enforce the pass system. They are not permitted to seek better-paying jobs reserved for privileged urban residents. If they assert their rights, they are sent back to the countryside, or worse. Attempts to organize unions or to strike are met with summary detention, long-term imprisonment, and torture.
Enmeshed in bonded labor, they frequently cannot even leave their factory jobs, no matter how abusive. They have minimal access to China's legal system, which, in any event, is corrupted by the local Party officials, who extract personal wealth from factory revenue. Their impotence is reflected in their desperate acts of violence and their shocking rate of suicides intended to draw attention to their plight.
Unremitting repression of labor rights robs China's workers of wages, health, and dignity. By lowering wages by between 47 percent and 85 percent, the repression also diverts millions of manufacturing jobs from countries where labor rights are not so comprehensively denied, increasing unemployment and poverty among workers in developed and developing countries. Highly conservative methodologies show that China's labor repression displaces approximately 727,000 manufacturing jobs in the United States alone, and perhaps many more.
China's current level of investment in new factories is unprecedented and will deliver an even greater supply shock to global industry in the next five years, producing even greater losses in U.S. manufacturing jobs-unless the president takes decisive action. Developing countries such as Bangladesh and Indonesia will each lose up to one million manufacturing jobs to China, and Central America and the Caribbean will lose up to one half million jobs in the textile and apparel sector alone. Workers in all countries have a common interest in safeguarding the human rights of China's factory workers.
This petition is not targeted against "free trade" or against China's "comparative advantage" in global markets. Rather, this petition challenges the artificial and severe reduction of China's labor costs below the baseline of comparative advantage defined by standard trade theory. China reduces labor costs by a system of government-engineered labor exploitation on a scale that is unmatched in the present global economy.
The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)-whose constituent unions represent more than thirteen million workers in the United States, including more than two million manufacturing workers-files this petition under sections 301 and 302 of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended, seeking action by the president to end the Chinese government's unremitting repression of the rights of its manufacturing workers.
Section 301(d) of the Trade Act provides that a trading partner's persistent denial of workers' internationally recognized rights constitutes an unreasonable trade practice. These basic workers' rights include freedom of association; the right to bargain collectively; freedom from compulsory labor; and standards for minimum wages, hours of work, and occupational safety and health. This petition shows that the People's Republic of China (PRC) persistently denies these rights.
China has signed many toothless international agreements requiring it to enforce workers' rights and broken them all. It is therefore appropriate that the U.S. trade representative impose trade remedies against China commensurate with the cost advantage caused by China's repression of workers' rights.
The purpose of the trade remedies is not protectionist. They are, rather, intended to bring about positive change for China's workers and to ensure fair global competition for workers everywhere. In this spirit, the USTR should also negotiate a binding agreement with China, specifying incremental decreases in the trade remedies if China increasingly complies with workers' rights, measured by specific and verifiable indicators. When China fully protects the basic rights of its workers, it can enjoy normal access to U.S. markets and create jobs that are not an affront to human dignity.
Congress first mandated that our trading partners enforce workers' internationally recognized rights in the mid-1980s. One explicit goal of Congress was to implement the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, which declares that unionization, employment, and adequate wages are fundamental human rights.
Even before the dramatic acceleration in the flow of manufacturing jobs to China in the last few years, Congress had concluded that "[t]he lack of basic rights for workers" in developing countries is "a very important inducement for capital flight and overseas production by U.S. industries."
Congress also recognized that the denial of workers' fundamental rights distributes the benefits of economic growth to "narrow privileged elites," thereby "retarding economic development." Congress was right. Econometric analysis of cross-country data for a large sample of economies in the 1980s and 1990s confirms that the denial of labor rights reduces wages and economic growth, increases inequality, and hampers democratic development.
China's denial of workers' rights is encouraged by a system of world trade and finance that fails to enforce minimum standards of decency at work. Low-wage countries compete for mobile capital. Even if political elites wish to raise the labor standards of their people, they face extreme pressure not to do so, in the absence of global standards that ensure that their competitors will do the same.
Like the discredited laissez-faire regimes of the nineteenth century, today's global rules protect rights of property, contract, and capital but not fundamental rights of personhood, community, and labor. Section 301(d) embodies an alternative model, in which human and social rights are the necessary precondition to democratic and equitable development. Consistent with that model, section 301(b) authorizes the president not only to take trade action to improve China's immediate labor-rights practices but to take any action within his foreign-affairs power to change the rules of trade and finance that encourage China's violations.
The president should therefore refuse to enter into any new trade agreements under the auspices of the World Trade Organization, until that organization gives protection to workers' fundamental rights that is equivalent to the protection given to commercial interests.
The Model of Economic Development
Embodied in Section 301(d)
Petitions under sections 301 and 302 are typically filed by U.S. corporations seeking to protect their commercial interests against unfair trade practices by foreign governments. Those unfair trade practices include barriers to imports from the United States, subsidies of exports to the United States, failure to enforce the intellectual property rights of U.S. companies, and many others.
The workers' rights provisions of section 301 are distinctive in several ways. First, unlike other unfair trade practices enumerated in section 301, the workers' rights provisions are aimed at safeguarding fundamental human rights. That aim cannot be dismissed as "protectionist." The goal of those provisions, and of this petition, is not to deny jobs and economic advancement to China's workers. To the contrary. The goal is to use the enormous economic leverage of the United States to induce positive change in China-to achieve respect for the basic rights of China's factory workers.
In 1984, when Congress first authorized the president to use this type of leverage, it made this purpose plain:
The United States has embraced labor rights, in principle, as well as political rights for all of the people of the world upon adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The Declaration specifically affirms for each person the right to a job, the right to form and join unions, and the right to an adequate standard of living.
Second, section 301 presupposes that securing the fundamental rights of China's workers is concordant with, and indeed a precondition to, protecting the fundamental rights of U.S. workers. Section 301 protects the rights of U.S. workers against erosion by unfair competition with overseas workers who are denied those rights. Congress knew that
the lack of basic rights for workers in many [less developed countries] is a powerful inducement for capital flight and overseas production by U.S. industries.
In evaluating the burden on U.S. commerce caused by China's violations of workers' rights, the USTR should therefore focus on the impact on employment, wages, and associational rights of U.S. workers-not on the revenue and profit of U.S. multinational corporations, which may indeed benefit from the exploitation of overseas labor. Under section 301, those profits are ill-gotten and cannot constitute a "benefit" that offsets the burden on U.S. workers. For the same reason, Congress could not have intended that the USTR count the cheaper price of U.S. imports produced by China's exploited workers as a "benefit" to U.S. commerce that offsets the burden on U.S. workers. In any event, U.S. consumers themselves do not wish to buy goods that are cheapened by shattered workers' rights in China and tainted by shattered working lives in the United States.
Third, the workers' rights provisions of section 301 are a sharp alternative to the model of globalization now embodied in the WTO. In the latter-the model of a laissez-faire constitution-it is enough to protect global rights of property, contract, and investment. Congress, to the contrary, recognized that an economic constitution lacking social rights will not produce equitable and sustained economic development, whether for developing or developed countries:
[P]romoting respect for internationally recognized rights of workers is an important means of ensuring that the broadest sectors of the population within [developing countries] benefit from [access to U.S. markets]. The capacity to form unions and to bargain collectively to achieve higher wages and better working conditions is essential for workers in developing countries to attain decent living standards and to overcome hunger and poverty. The denial of internationally recognized worker rights in developing countries tends to perpetuate poverty, to limit the benefits of economic development and growth to narrow privileged elites, and to sow the seeds of social instability and political rebellion.
In the model of development embodied in section 301(d), the global integration of labor markets, capital markets, and markets in goods and services is not intrinsically a bad thing. If workers' rights are vigorously enforced, then the impoverished and underemployed-whether in China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, or the United States-may improve their standard of living and generate new domestic demand in a virtuous cycle of equitable development, while providing new markets for overseas investors and workers, including those in the United States.
If, however, the workers' rights of one-quarter of the world's workforce are radically suppressed-as they, in fact, are in China-then labor conditions for the world's unskilled and semiskilled workers are worsened; domestic and global demand is depressed; excess productive capacity is created; and a path of inequitable, unsustainable development is promoted.
And when the fundamental right of association is denied, a crucial pillar of democratic governance is lost. The right to form autonomous associations in civil society is a precondition to resisting state tyranny and to mobilizing citizens for participation in pluralist political institutions. In recent years, autonomous worker organizations helped democratize such countries as South Africa, Brazil, Poland, and South Korea-a fact that is not lost on leaders of the Chinese autocracy.
Repudiation of Free Labor Markets
China is now moving up the technology ladder at a rapid pace, becoming an export powerhouse in such sectors as high-technology electronics and precision machinery. Yet, in the post-Mao era of economic reforms, there is still nothing resembling a free labor market in the manufacturing sector. Quite the contrary. Through an extraordinary feat of state engineering, China created and perpetuates an enormous sub-caste of factory workers. The existence of the sub-caste is one of the preconditions of China's superheated investment in manufacturing. The real earnings of this sub-caste have remained static or fallen throughout the unprecedented boom in capital investment. China will continue to serve as the world's sweatshop, producing low-technology goods alongside high-technology goods for decades to come-unless the Chinese government radically reverses course and dismantles its controls over factory workers.
There are more than 750 million workers in China-more than the workforce of all OECD countries combined. China's 2002 census showed approximately 160 million in manufacturing and mining, nearly twelve times the manufacturing workforce in the United States. China's manufacturing workers are employed in several different types of enterprises-privately invested enterprises (PIEs), joint-ventures, foreign-invested enterprises (FIEs), urban collectives and cooperatives, township and village enterprises (TVEs), and state-owned enterprises (SOEs).
To the extent that the Western media and public have any knowledge of these enterprises, they may be most familiar with images of large showcase factories owned by Western multinational corporations that have come under pressure from consumer and labor activists. But the vast majority of export workers labor in other facilities, out of public view, producing either directly for export or as subcontractors for larger export enterprises.
Large concentrations of manufacturing enterprises are located in the well-known coastal export regions of the Pearl River Delta (Guangdong) and Yangtze River Delta (Shanghai and Jiangsu). But literally hundreds of towns and cities throughout China have declared themselves export zones. Local officials compete for investment. They benefit personally by extracting revenue from enterprises and workers.
China has approximately 780 million peasants. Between 180 and 350 million are estimated to be "excessive" or in "dire poverty" and available for urban employment. Ten to twenty million will enter the nonagricultural workforce each year during the next two decades. That is, every year, China will add more nonagricultural workers than the total manufacturing workforce of the United States. In the next three to five years, China will add more workers to its urban workforce than the total manufacturing workforce of the United States, the European Union, and Japan combined.
Classical trade theory maintains that developing countries like China have a "natural" comparative advantage in labor-intensive, unskilled production owing to their large pool of impoverished workers in the countryside. Some cheerleaders of globalization postulate that the pitifully low wage earned by China's export workers-as little as 15 cents to 30 cents per hour-and the brutal treatment they receive are "legitimate," owing to the workers' lack of skill, their abundance, and their low level of productivity. In free labor markets, according to neoclassical economic theory, all workers earn (and deserve) their marginal productivity-that is, they earn what their output is worth.
But the assumptions underlying this simple theory crumble against the hard realities of China's political economy. China's inflation-adjusted manufacturing wages have fallen in the last decade, while labor productivity has rapidly increased from year to year-creating an enormous "wedge" between wage and productivity growth that flatly contradicts na?ve economic theory.
It may be true-under assumptions of full employment and perfectly competitive labor markets-that wages grow at the same rate as productivity. But in China, neither assumption holds. Hundreds of millions of destitute peasants are unemployed or underemployed.
Equally important, workers are not allocated to China's factories by a competitive market. China enforces internal passport controls that create an enormous, submerged caste of exploitable factory workers who are temporary migrants from the countryside. The Chinese system is not formally based on racial differences, but in practice migrant workers are distinguished by dialect and ethnicity; and the privileged class of permanent urban residents in fact treats migrant workers from the countryside as an ethnically inferior sub-caste.
Under the hukou ("household registration") system enforced by the much-feared Public Security Bureau (PSB), all Chinese citizens must live and work only in the place where they are permanently registered, generally the village, town, or city where their mother or father was registered. A Chinese citizen's place of permanent residence is therefore an inherited status. It is recorded in the "hukou bu," or registration booklet that all Chinese households must hold. The hukou bu also designates each household as either rural or urban. In practice, the inherited distinction between rural and urban residents produces a deeply entrenched caste system.
The permanent residence of the vast majority of Chinese citizens, of course, is in rural villages. Since the 1980s, peasants holding rural hukou have filled the need for labor in China's manufacturing sector, through a governmentally controlled system of labor allocation. If peasants obtain certifications from both sending and receiving provinces, they may migrate to manufacturing towns and cities-but only temporarily and only to fill designated jobs as laborers in factories, construction sites, domestic work for urban families, and assorted menial labor. They are prohibited by law and social prejudice from competing with people holding urban hukou for higher-paying jobs in technical, administrative, professional, or managerial jobs. Those holding urban hukou, in turn, generally do not seek employment in the low-paying, abusive, and dangerous factory jobs filled by desperately poor migrants from the countryside. Permanent urban residents view the new class of temporary migrant factory workers with extreme prejudice, hostility, and disdain.
The language of neoclassical economics is not entirely apposite in this context of government labor allocation. Nonetheless, for purposes of explication, we can say that factory workers' supply curve is artificially shifted downward-that is, workers offer their labor for lower wages-by at least four sets of government policies that sharply curtail their bargaining power.
First, China's manufacturing workers are not permitted to organize independent unions to defend their basic rights and raise their wages. They are not permitted to strike. The full force of state terror-beatings, imprisonment, psychiatric internment, and torture-is deployed against workers' attempts to exercise their right of association.
Second, the internal passport system denies migrant workers other basic civil and social rights in their temporary urban life, further suppressing their bargaining power and wages. Managers and local officials extract fees and deposits from newly arriving migrant workers and threaten them with even more severe penalties if they quit, enmeshing workers in a system of bonded labor. They are expelled and relocated to the countryside when they are no longer needed in the factory, when they are injured or sickened, or when they seek to assert their labor rights. Local officials in exporting areas compete for investment and, legally or corruptly, extract personal wealth from both state and private enterprises. Migrant workers therefore expect and get little legal protection or recourse from government officials.
Third, as already mentioned, migrant factory workers are denied access to better-paying skilled, technical, administrative, and managerial employment options in the permanent urban sector. They are frozen out of the better-paying urban labor market and overcrowded into the lower-paying rural and factory labor markets. If rural citizens were permitted to work in any urban job, not just in factories or construction sites, factory wages would rise-even if the relative wages of permanent urban citizens who now have privileged access to higher-paying jobs outside the factory system might fall.
Fourth, the "reservation wage" of migrant factory workers is set, in part, by the level of subsistence in the countryside. That is, in order to attract the rural unemployed to migrate into unskilled factory production, employers need only offer a wage that marginally exceeds rural subsistence levels plus transportation costs, not a wage that adequately compensates the workers' productivity. The degree of destitution in the Chinese countryside-and, therefore, the level of wages that must be offered by factories in order to lure migrant workers from the countryside-is anything but "natural" or "pre-political."
In both the pre- and post-reform eras, economic development strategies systematically transferred resources from those holding rural hukou to those holding urban hukou. A recent OECD study concluded that, in the mid-1990s, the Chinese government transferred more than $24 billion each year from the rural to the urban economy. Political scientists and economists have comprehensively mapped this fundamental fact of Chinese political economy. An urban hukou entitles one to public housing, health care, and pensions-all denied to holders of rural hukou. In the pre-reform era, "[t]he main enforcement mechanisms included the state control of agricultural production and procurement, the suppression of food-staple prices, and restrictions on rural-to-urban migration via a household registration system." In the post-reform era, the government continue to undertake "massive transfer[s]," by means of large-scale government investments in city infrastructure and social services to urban elites, paid for in part by an inflationary tax borne principally by the peasantry and in part by urban subsidies channeled through the state-owned banking system, in which rural residents must deposit their savings.
On top of these nationwide policies, local officials support themselves by imposing crushing taxes on rural citizens, driving peasants into factory work:
The economics are simple, residents said. People in Xiaoeshan eat most of what they grow, and by selling the rest they earn an average annual income of about $25 each. But local officials demand about $37 per person in taxes and fees. Several peasants who refused to pay last year were arrested.
Migrant factory workers "remain confined within . . . the state's persisting imperative: to ally urban growth and productivity with cost-saving, and, as a 'socialist' state, to provide for the city dweller while preserving the ruralite as docile, disposable trespasser, and drudge."
In light of these various mechanisms for artificially suppressing workers' bargaining power, it is not surprising that Chinese factory workers live under conditions that neutral researchers (and Chinese officials themselves) describe as "bestial," "horrific," and "abominable." They are often beaten and physically humiliated by supervisors and private security guards. They are paid far less than the legal minimum wage, which is itself set far below the minimum wages of countries at a comparable level of development. Their wages are often arbitrarily withheld or unpaid. Many work twelve- to eighteen-hour days, seven days a week, without a day of rest for months at a stretch. "Death by over-working"-or guolaosi-has become a commonly used term in contemporary China, and it is not used metaphorically. Most firms implement few health and safety measures, exposing workers to death not only by exhaustion but by toxins and machinery as well. China's rates of industrial death and lost limbs exceed any in history.
As a result, a startling number of workers take desperate, violent measures simply to draw attention to their plight-from blocking roads and railways to self-immolation. In contrast with other developing countries, most Chinese migrant workers wish to return to the countryside rather than settle in the city.
The Sub-caste of Migrant Factory Workers
The vast bulk of China's factory workers are temporary migrants holding rural hukou. The hukou system enmeshes factory workers in a system of bonded labor, a form of forced labor that violates Conventions 29 and 105 of the International Labor Organization and constitutes an unreasonable trade practice under section 301(d) of the Trade Act. Chinese citizens holding rural hukou who seek work in towns and cities without government permission are outlaws.
In 1958, the National People's Congress enacted Regulations on Household Registration in the People's Republic of China. These Regulations are still in force. Sections 15 and 16 require that migrants register with the PSB within three days of arrival to the city and re-register after three months. In 1994, the Ministry of Labor issued regulations requiring migrants to obtain from their home government a "registration card for leaving the area for work" and from the urban government a "work permit for personnel coming from outside." The registration card and the work permit together constitute a "migrant employment permit." Migrants may be recruited only into designated occupations in a receiving area.
The 1995 Measures on Application for and Issuance of Temporary Residence Permits require migrants to obtain temporary residence permits from the urban PSB. These measures therefore enable the PSB to maintain surveillance of migrant workers in their urban domiciles as well their workplaces. The PSB is required to record the migrant's temporary address and ensure that the migrant's landlord has permanent urban hukou. The measures further authorize local governments to impose fees for the residence permits, require migrants to obtain such permits as a precondition to obtaining work permits, and impose fines on migrants who fail to register with the PSB and on employers who hire unregistered migrants. Migrants are required to carry the residence permits at all times and show them to PSB officers upon request.
In order to change her job, a migrant must retrace these steps-that is, the migrant must again obtain a permit to leave her place of permanent registration and then obtain a temporary residence permit and temporary work permit from the receiving urban government.
In addition to the central government's regulations, each provincial, city, and local government has issued its own regulations concerning the fees and certificates that migrants must obtain in order to temporarily reside and work there. Local regulations on temporary residence and work are often complex, ambiguous, or simply unavailable to the public. They are widely impenetrable to migrants, especially the many who are illiterate.
Regardless of the clarity or transparency of the substantive regulations, they are administered arbitrarily and corruptly. Police extort payments from migrants or summarily expel them on the pretext that they fail to meet local regulations. Urban officials sporadically and violently "sweep" migrants out of cities and towns in large numbers-often in response to the demands of permanent residents, who view the migrants as a criminal underclass. For example, Beijing reported that it had taken 98,000 migrants into custody for lack of proper documentation and that 300,000 were "mobilized to leave the city" in 1997 alone. Since the late 1990s, greater unemployment among workers holding permanent urban hukou has led to greater antipathy to migrant workers by urban authorities.
Local governments-relying on a 1982 law of the State Council, which authorized local governments to designate jobless migrants as "vagrants and beggars"-have placed jobless migrants in detention and forceably "repatriated" them to their place of permanent residence. Local governments each year have held tens of thousands of migrant workers in "Custody and Repatriation Centers," on the ostensible ground that they cannot show temporary residence and work certificates required in that jurisdiction. Local authorities force detainees in these centers to work on public projects. Detainees are raped, beaten, and otherwise abused. Local officials require detainees to pay "ransoms" to gain release from custody. Once released, migrants are forceably repatriated to their place of permanent registration.
Migrants who fail to find jobs, who lose jobs, or who assert their labor rights remain subject to arrest, detention, fines, and (after processing in the aid stations) expulsion. Cities facing shortages of "drudge" labor may temporarily lighten registration fees and certification requirements or may reduce the level of police violence against migrants. Some local governments in China are currently experimenting with systems of temporary registration that do not impose de jure fees and that require migrants to carry and show their national identification cards rather than household registration booklets and other temporary permits. But, again, the hukou system, regulatory controls over temporary residence and temporary work, and the strong opportunities and incentives for abuse by police and employers remain in place throughout China.
Alliances between locally entrenched interests and the PSB strongly support the continuance of controls over migrants. As explained above, Party cadres have financial interests in the revenue produced by export enterprises, either as direct "partners" or as beneficiaries of exactions and extortion, and therefore have a strong interest in maintaining a cheap factory labor force. Local officials also benefit directly from the official or unofficial revenues produced by work and residence permits. These primary sources of local revenue have become even more vital since 2002, when the central government curtailed the financing of local governments by revenues from state-owned enterprises. And the powerful PSB sees the hukou controls as a necessary tool of social control.
Bonded labor is a form of forced or compulsory labor that is well recognized in international and domestic law. Bonded labor exists when a worker can exit or quit employment only after payment of severe monetary penalties, repayment of a debt, or loss of a "bond" posted by the worker upon initial hire. Because exit from the workplace is so costly, the worker is subject to highly abusive working conditions.
Academic and human-rights researchers have detailed the mechanisms through which China's hukou system produces bonded labor. Workers arriving from the countryside must pay substantial fees to local government officials and to employers in order to obtain residence and work permits required by the hukou system. Some of these payments are mandated by central and local law; some are "extra-legal" exactions by corrupt local officials and managers. As described above, the required fees and certificates vary widely from locality to locality, and are administered by local officials with almost complete discretion. Workers routinely go into debt in order to make these various up-front payments.
For example, a migrant to Shenzhen in 2001 needed the following documents, each of which required payment of a substantial fee: a border region pass, a personal identity card, an unmarried status certificate, a certificate to prove birth within China's one-child policy, a work permit, and a temporary residence permit.
On top of these, the migrant was required to pay a bond or "deposit" to the employer. These deposits are as much as four thousand yuan, exceeding one year's wages. Some local governments require enterprises to pay "new-hire" fees, but managers pass those fees on to new workers as well. These investments often exceed the migrant's life savings. To pay for them, migrants incur substantial debt, often payable to their own employer. As in classic bonded labor, a workers' up-front deposit will be lost and her debts will be in default, if the worker attempts to exit the employment relationship.
In addition to the deposit and the debt to cover the deposit, employers frequently withhold several months pay, which workers will also forgo if they quit or assert their rights. Some enterprises respond to a worker's threat to leave the job by imposing severe monetary penalties on co-workers-especially on the friends who initially referred the worker. Enterprise managers also seize workers' ID cards, residence permits, and work permits, making migrants more vulnerable still to arrest, fines, imprisonment, and repatriation if they leave the factory compound.
The deposits paid to employers, the wages withheld by managers, the new-hire fees passed on to workers, the withholding of ID certificates and residence permits, the threatened penalties against co-workers, and the debt accrued by workers to pay both government officials and managers together constitute an effective system of up-front bonds posted by migrant workers at the start of their employment. Chinese workers are acutely aware of the cumulative penalties they face if they quit or are fired for protesting.
New migrants' feverish effort to find jobs in order to avoid expulsion from urban areas, and their submission to employers' terms no matter how unfair, is a common sight in contemporary China.
Professor Anita Chan has identified yet another way in which the hukou system suppresses the labor standards of China's manufacturing workers:
[T]he Chinese hukou system and the pass system under apartheid in South Africa generated quite similar outcomes. They produced a large, vulnerable underclass living in constant insecurity, accompanied by daily discrimination, repression, hardship, and denial of their human dignity.
In light of these circumstances, it becomes possible to perceive how the Chinese hukou system can keep wages down more easily than in Mexico. . . .[I]n Mexico the workers who produce for export are, as in China, largely migrants from the countryside, and the majority similarly are female. But there is a major difference. Almost all of the Chinese female migrant workers are single women in their late teens or early twenties who, because of the household registration system, cannot bring their families with them. Many factories make sure that only single women are recruited by asking to see their officially issued identity certificates, which in keeping with the Chinese state's strict family-planning policy require that the marital and family planning status of each woman is listed. Since the workers are poor single women living in dormitories, management only needs to pay them enough for their individual survival.
In Mexico, the context is quite different. While most of the women workers in the maquiladoras are migrants from poorer regions, many of them have come with their families, since there is no pass system, and quite a number are single mothers. Very often these women workers are the sole breadwinners. Since they live with their families, a part of their waking hours has to be spent on "unproductive" chores (from management's vantage point): in commuting, in household tasks such as cooking, taking care of the old and the young. No matter how ruthless, there is a limit to the amount of overtime that management can squeeze out of these Mexican workers-fewer hours than with the young single women in dormitories in China.
The hukou system accounts in part for the fact that factory wages fell by 15 percent to 46 percent when temporary migrant workers-young, single, and bonded-replaced permanent urban residents in factory jobs. It also helps explain why migrants' wages fail to conform with the neoclassical economic assumption that wage growth tracks productivity growth-why, that is, their real wages have fallen in the last decade, while productivity has steadily risen.
Minimum Wages, Maximum Hours
In its 2003 Annual Report, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China concluded that China's factory workers "continue to work hours well in excess of legal limits, and for wages that are frequently not calculated according to law." China's failure to enforce minimum wage and maximum hours standards violates International Labor Organization Conventions and constitutes an unreasonable trade practice. According to Professor Chang Kai of the People's University School of Labor and Human Resources in Beijing, China "has ignored the protection of laborers' rights, especially migrant laborers' rights. We have no clear system that says who must bear responsibility when wages aren't paid, and how those responsible are to be punished."
The wages and hours of China's factory workers are effectively unprotected by legal regulation or by contract. Migrant workers are paid extremely low monthly sums-from 200 to 600 Rmb (approximately $24 to $72)-in return for working as many hours as employers can extract from them.
Nonpayment of wages is pervasive. According to a government survey, three out of four workers are unable to collect their pay as promised. An independent researcher found that "the illegal retention of workers' wages for between one and three months exists in 80 percent of foreign-financed firms" in Dongguan. A majority of workers must resort to begging or intimidating their employers simply to get paid. As a consequence, the wages actually collected by workers are well below the amount negotiated at the start of their employment. This results not from enterprises' financial difficulty but rather from employers' "deliberate malpractice," permitted by the negligible bargaining power of China's bonded workers. Factory workers fear that they will be discharged and lose their deposit "if they pursue their wages."
Hourly wages and unit labor costs are therefore greatly suppressed. Manufacturing wages for female workers range as low as 12 cents to 30 cents per hour. Male workers earn approximately 10 percent or 15 percent more.
The only real limits on wages and hours in China's factories are the physiological and psychological limits of the young women and men who work in that sector. Enterprises frequently push beyond those limits, and workers spontaneously protest by blocking roads or railways. Many threaten or commit suicide. Even these sad protests are met with government repression. Public Security forces in many cities have implemented policies of detaining any worker who threatens to commit suicide as a means of collecting wages.
It is true that the central Chinese government has formally promulgated guidelines for minimum wages and maximum hours. In practice, however, wage-and-hour rules are simply not enforced. To the contrary, local governments act as enforcers for enterprises' all-out suppression of labor costs. As detailed above, local officials and enterprise managers are allies in the unrestrained drive to export at lowest costs; and destitute migrants are in no position to demand that wage-and-hour standards be honored. Reebok's director of labor monitoring throughout Asia states,
Who enforces Chinese labor law? Nobody. If it were enforced, China would be a much better place for millions of people to work in. But it is ignored more than in any other country I work in.
Summary and Conclusions
This petition has shown that China's unremitting repression of workers' rights takes wages, health, and dignity not only from China's workers. It also displaces and impoverishes workers-and their families and communities-in the United States and throughout the world. All countries, including China and the United States, face strong incentives to compete for mobile capital and jobs by cheapening the labor and debasing the lives of their working citizens. These incentives are created by global rules that protect rights of property and contract but not rights of personhood and labor.
Nearly seventy years ago, the United States rejected rules like these, in our domestic multi-state system. Congress concluded that trade across borders "was the means of spreading and perpetuating . . . substandard labor conditions among the workers of the several states." In order to eliminate each state's incentive to perpetuate substandard labor conditions, it was necessary to enforce labor rights at the federal level. All states must be concurrently bound by labor rights, or each state would seek competitive advantage by suppressing those rights.
Fifteen years ago, in section 301(d), Congress elevated the same policy from the interstate to the international level. Congress authorized the USTR and the president to enforce workers' rights among our trading partners, for the sake of their workers and ours.
It is time for the USTR and the president to implement this policy. So long as China is not bound to honor workers' rights, China's rivals will resist complying with those rights. But so long as they resist, China too will complain of competitive disadvantage. Therefore, all countries should be concurrently bound by fundamental workers' rights, or each country will seek competitive advantage by suppressing those rights. For the same reason, all countries must be assured that those rights will be enforced evenhandedly from country to country.
These goals can be met if all countries are obligated, as a precondition to gaining the rights and benefits of membership in the WTO, to comply with the covenants of the International Labor Organization, the UN agency authorized to promulgate and supervise compliance with internationally recognized workers' rights. It is time that the United States used its extraordinary bargaining power to ensure that no country enjoys the rights and benefits of WTO membership unless it complies with ILO covenants. For this reason, the president should direct the USTR to enter into no new WTO-related trade agreement until such time as all WTO members are required to comply with the core covenants of the ILO. Fundamental workers' rights must be given the same protection that is now given to rights of commerce.
Nearly a century ago, Congress declared that "the labor of a human being is not a commodity or article of commerce." Perversely, global rules today give greater protection to articles of commerce than to the work of human beings. We can and must change these rules.
? 2003 Foundation for Study of Independent Ideas, Inc
>> LEFT WATCH...TRYING TO FORGET REAGAN?
A Thought Experiment for the Left
by Mitchell Cohen
Here is a thought experiment for the left. It requires a bit of historical imagination, something for which the left is known. Its political implications are weighty. So weighty, I think, that the answer-your answer, Comrade Reader-to the question I pose at its end might well reveal if you can say to fellow citizens that you have the wherewithal to hold political power on their behalf (yes, I assume representative democracy, for all its flaws).
Imagine that you have become president of the United States in a particular set of circumstances. Let's call these circumstances the Historical Original Position, or HOP for short. HOP situates you in the Year of Our Relativity, 1981. As I construct it, you will perceive readily that HOP entails fantasy as well as events that occurred that year and before. In fact, the more you know about those pre-1981 events, the better. Later, when you step into the HOP, I will ask you to drop a veil over your memory for the sake of my argument. I will ask you to pretend that you are ignorant of all post-1981 history. Forgive me if I do not entirely do so. For the sake of our purposes here, I must integrate into my design some hints, just a few, about later decades.1 I think-hope-it will make sense since we are all reasonable historical creatures.
So here's the HOP. Due to an unexpected constellation of events, an insurgent movement called Democratic Equality wrests the Democratic presidential nomination from Jimmy Carter in 1980. You replace him. Let's give "you" a persona: you are Eugenia Norma Harrington, a distinguished civil rights attorney, long an eloquent advocate of social and economic fairness in America. You assemble a broad center-left political coalition against the Republican nominee, Ronald Reagan. Remarkably, you win the election and become the country's first woman-and first truly left-wing-president. The Democrats sweep both houses.
Reagan heads back west in a wagon train (he aims to live out his days encouraging Republican movie stars to act as if they are suitable for public office). Jimmy Carter seeks to be an effective ex-president, leading observers to suggest that he should have sought this job in the first place. Walter Mondale joins the new cabinet as secretary of the treasury. You have appointed him-the "centrist" on your team-to reinforce the coalition that enabled you to defeat Reagan. You ignore sniping that his appointment turns your administration into "a grotesque sellout to the priorities of the ruling class." (See Alexander Cockburn, "Stooges Yet Again: You can always tell an objective social democrat," in the Nation, November 32, 1980.)
In fact, you assemble a first-rate cabinet. Almost all its members read-and some even write for -Dissent. As might be expected, you place great emphasis on social and economic policy. "By the end of my presidency," you declared in the campaign, "markets will serve human needs, not vice versa. By the end of my presidency, we will have health insurance that is friendly to the sick, instead of to insurance companies. We will have an energy program that is friendly to the environment and not to the priorities of oil companies and Mideast potentates. By the end of my presidency, labor law will be reformed in order to bolster trade union organizing." (The AFL-CIO's leader protests this last point: "Why get distracted from anticommunism?"). You initiate a domestic agenda that combines investments in education and job training with affirmative action to address poverty and racism in the country.
Fortunately, those Iranian students freed the American hostages in Tehran on the day of your inauguration. That makes things a little easier as you order a general review of foreign policy. "Let's put real heat on South Africa and also on that SOB Pinochet," you say to your secretary of state. "And let's bolster the Solidarity movement in Poland. It's had a rough time, fighting the Communist Party's 'revolutionary consciousness' with 'trade union consciousness.'"
An Economic Security Council and More
Even though you are known for your domestic concerns, you have thought a lot about international affairs, especially the gap between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. You ask the secretary of state to draw up plans for a new Economic Security Council (ESC) at the UN, an idea you've liked ever since you read Michael Harrington's The Vast Majority. The ESC will war against global poverty and illiteracy. One of its chief tasks will be to find ways to counter-balance the power of multinational corporations and financial institutions. "No global five year plans," you advise the secretary, "but real programs that will subordinate global markets to global social decency."
"Thatcher will howl."
"Then we'll be doing the right thing," you reply, "Why don't we see if we can get Willy Brandt's input? Speak to our friends in the Swedish Social Democratic Party. Most important, have some long conversations and then ongoing consultations with democratic socialists and trade unionists in Latin America, Africa, the Mideast, and Asia."
You and your secretary of state agree on the importance of designing the ESC so as to avoid past UN failures. The ESC must be structured so that it cannot be turned into an arena for cold war rivalries or a means to sustain third world dictators or promote the third worldist fantasies of intellectuals who sup with those dictators or serve as yet another forum for yet another resolution about "the Question of Palestine."
Why do some people think third world tyrants are liberators?, you wonder. Just because they spout left-wing words and denounce imperialism? Saddam Hussein, Iraq's ruling thug, who invaded Iran a few months back, gave a speech recently in which he declared, "Socialism does not mean the equal distribution of wealth between the deprived poor and the exploiting rich; this would be too inflexible. Socialism is a means to raise and improve productivity."2 Socialism? Sounds like National Socialism.
Over the years you have come to suspect that ideological "third worldism," which once moved you deeply-for all the right reasons, because you despise imperialism-is often quite bad for people living in the third world. It does seem to get people jobs, indeed even tenured jobs, but mostly in the first world. And you want the ESC to help the poor, to feed them, to empower them.
You are especially concerned about the long-term impact of American power in the world. Even though the country is still reeling from its disastrous war in Vietnam and seems weakened also by your predecessor's botched policies in Iran and Nicaragua, you know that only wishful thinking-sometimes Soviet, sometimes French, sometimes just na?ve leftist-will make America's global role dissipate. Actually, you think that Soviet power may decline. Some of your friends are amazed when you say this, but you reason that a gerontocracy can fashion the future for just so long. Moreover, you have been talking to people who study Russia through its complex history rather than by a mechanical application of the theory of totalitarianism. So you doubt if America's rival is shaped solely by-or frozen in-an idea.
Perhaps the United States should be prepared for big changes in Moscow a few years hence. You recently read an article in which a neoconservative academic, who was thought to have had a future in a Reagan administration, distinguished totalitarian regimes from authoritarian ones. The former are fixed forever because ideology remakes every nook and cranny and brain cell in them while that doesn't happen in the latter. (See Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, "Why Totalitarianism is Objectively Undemocratic but Authoritarianism is Subjectively Liberal," Commentary, Thermidor, 1979.) You wonder how this professor would explain post-Mao China. There is movement there-is it movement from totalitarianism to authoritarianism? Perhaps "totalitarianism" shouldn't provide a totalizing explanation of the country in the first place. Best not to mistake a design, however grand, for reality, and then divide the world according to who fits it.
Then there is the Mideast. It is also in the HOP. Nineteen seventy-nine created a dramatically new era there because of the Egypt-Israel treaty and the Iranian revolution. The impact of these events is not yet fully clear. Then there is civil war in Lebanon and, moving east, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. As it happens, you were looking through a file on the Arab-Israeli conflict that morning. "Well, at least something went right in the region, the Israel-Egypt peace. At least, we can give Carter some credit," you remark.
"That's true," responds the secretary of state, "but only some. Remember that he initially had a completely mistaken strategic concept for the region-one that many of our European friends applauded. He wanted an international conference under joint U.S.-Soviet auspices to push a 'Comprehensive Settlement' of all Arab-Israeli problems in one quick swoop.
"Sadat understood that this had to fail, and that is why he is the real strategic hero. He understood how that sort of conference would have rendered Egyptian flexibility hostage to Syria's extremist posturing, to its macho nationalism. It would have also been hostage to the ambitions of Syria's patron. Moscow wanted to reassert itself after its military advisers were thrown out of Egypt in '72 and it was sidelined by Kissinger's 'step by step' diplomacy following the '73 war. Sadat thought that if he could cut a deal with the Israelis, it might be a real step toward solving other issues and encourage other Israeli compromises.
"That's why he accepted the idea of Palestinian 'autonomy,' rather than demanding immediate Palestinian statehood," continues the secretary, "It was not just because he wanted a separate peace, like half the Arab world charged, but because it opened a way to a next step. It's worth noting that Rabin, who was Israeli prime minister when Carter came into office and who said back then that he didn't care if he had to visit the West Bank with a passport, also resisted Carter's international conference idea. Like Sadat, he thought that it would create negotiating conditions in which nobody could bend. The first thing Sadat's trip to Jerusalem did was to subvert Carter's approach. It was direct negotiations that finally produced something-an end to three decades of war between two countries. Carter's role at Camp David was then truly impressive, even heroic, yet only after he yielded to political reality."
"It is amazing," you observe to the secretary, "that an old fanatic like Menachem Begin agreed to a total Israeli pull-back from Sinai. Who would have believed that when he defeated the Labor Party in the 1977 elections? Still, the peace treaty would never have passed the Israeli Parliament without Labor's support-too much of Likud opposed it. And we are still left with the West Bank settlements and the Palestinian issue."
"True," says the secretary, "but the Israelis are pulling out of Sinai, and that is a valuable precedent. Even belligerent Ariel Sharon, champion of the Sinai settlements, called Begin during the negotiations at Camp David to say he'd yield them for a peace treaty.3 It will be interesting to see if Sharon actually takes charge of tearing them down. I've always sensed that this fellow is unusually brutal and mendacious, but that cuts two ways; he can also betray his own constituents, the folks who rallied to him for saying he'd make no concessions."
"Hard to tell," you say, "In the meantime, Begin is running for reelection and Sharon could be defense minister. What if we linked U.S. aid to both West Bank settlements and terrorism? For every Israeli settler who crosses the '67 borders, we deduct some aid money to Israel, and for every Palestinian terror bombing, we restore it. That would squeeze 'em both."
"Won't American Jewish leaders yell?"
"Perhaps, if they are not too busy having their pictures taken with Begin. In the meantime, we need to start worrying about the situation in Lebanon. It is unsettling, and one just never knows what sort of stunt Arafat could pull next. Whenever he is unhappy with developments, he throws everything into the air and hopes the Europeans will save him. What could be worse than a brawl in Lebanon with Arafat leading the Palestinians and Sharon as Israeli defense minister?"
"Arafat versus Sharon as prime minister."
"There's a nightmare for you. What do you think we should do about Arafat?," you wonder out loud. "He rejected Camp David, embraced Khomeini, presents no proposals except 'Give me what I demand.' Many of our European friends say, 'Give him a chance.' I wonder if they haven't made a myth of him. Did you ever read the interview of Arafat by Oriana Fallaci back in '72? She went in as a left-winger ready to be sympathetic to a third world hero. She left disillusioned. I have it over here. Arafat says to her, 'The end of Israel is the goal of our struggle and it allows for neither compromise nor mediation . . . revolutionary violence is the only system for liberating the land of our fathers . . . The purpose of this violence is to liquidate Zionism. . . .We don't want peace. We want war, victory. Peace for us means the destruction of Israel and nothing else.'"
"And read this," you add, "Arafat is supposed to be a Palestinian nationalist leader, but he insists here that 'From an Arab point of view, one doesn't speak of borders; Palestine is a small drop in the great Arabic ocean. And our nation is the Arab one; it is a nation extending from the Atlantic to the Red Sea and beyond.' He is being interviewed in Jordan and he insists they are in Palestine, that Jordan is Palestine. Doesn't Sharon say that? Arafat says that 'there is no difference between Palestinians and Egyptians. Both are part of the Arab nation.' So he agrees with Golda Meir that there are no Palestinians? Look at how he speaks about terrorism. Fallaci says to him that PLO bombings kill civilians, and Arafat replies, 'civilians or military, they're all equally guilty of wanting to destroy my people . . . civilians are the first accomplices of the gang that rules Israel.' Imagine, he says this just months before the massacre at the Munich Olympics. Fallaci asks him if he respects his foes, and he says 'As fighters, and even as strategists . . . sometimes yes. . . . But as persons no.' You must concede that Israelis are brave soldiers, says the interviewer. 'No! No! No!,' replies Arafat, 'No they're not! . . . They're too afraid of dying.' He declares, 'Losses to us don't count, we don't care if we die.'4 This guy will drive his people off a cliff while insisting he knows the one route to freedom. Shouldn't this guy have to take a driver's test before they give him diplomatic license? And then be given constant retesting?"
"Our European friends say he changed with his UN speech in '74," comments the secretary, "Nixon went to China. Sadat went to Jerusalem."
"But Voice of Palestine reported on July 7, 1979, that after meeting with Austrian chancellor Bruno Kreisky, 'Brother Abu Ammar [Arafat's nom de guerre-Eds.] reiterated the PLO's refusal to hold any dialogue with the leaders of the Zionist entity.' According to Tehran television on August 1, 1979, Arafat sent a telegram to Khomeini declaring, 'We will continue on the path of jihad and sacrifice until God almighty bestows final victory on us.' And PARS, Tehran's domestic news service, reported on August 6, 1979, that Arafat sent a telegram to Iran's foreign minister declaring, 'The nation of Palestine and the Arabs support the holy Islamic revolution in Iran and are determined to continue their fight and armed confrontation to recapture Palestine and free the Holy-land from the claws of the Zionists.' Our European friends seem to take Arafat at his word to them while ignoring the rest of his sentences.
"A lot of Israeli policy is bad," you continue. "Still, Israelis would be idiots to disregard this relentless rhetoric. On the other hand, the Israelis can defend themselves with their army and that doesn't require Jewish Khomeinis in West Bank settlements and Gaza. We need to distinguish support of Israel from backing deluded right-wing policies, just as we must distinguish Palestinian suffering from Arafat's appalling leadership. It seems to me that our Mideast policies should seek to consolidate the Israeli-Egyptian peace process, find ways to temper the Israeli-Palestinian struggle, and we must keep a sharp eye on Lebanon."
Then the secretary of state says, "There is another matter-the Persian Gulf and the Iran-Iraq War. Ever since Saddam attacked Khomeini's regime last September the area has suffered enormous carnage, massive misery, and high death tolls. Tehran has declared that it will fight back until there is a regime change in Baghdad. 'God wants us to share, together with the nation of Iraq, in the honor of toppling Saddam and his executioner regime,' declared Iran's prime minister, Ali Raja'i. 'The war against Iran is a war against Islam,' declared Ayatollah Khomeini himself. Khomeini, who was expelled in October 1978 from Najaf, Iraq, where he was a refugee from the shah [He then went to France.-Eds.], also denounced Saddam as a 'Zionist.' Why else would Saddam attack Iran? No, it is Khomeini who is really the 'Zionist,' Saddam riposted. Also, Syria's dictator, Hafez al-Assad, who backed Iran against Iraq, he, too, is a closet 'Zionist,' says Saddam. At least these two Supreme Leaders, Saddam and Khomeini, agree on something, the vast influence of Zionists.
"In fact, Saddam completely misread his enemy. He believed internal struggles had so weakened Khomeini's regime that it would simply fall apart as Iraq's army advanced. Saddam's illusion may have been encouraged by evaluations he received from Iranian exiles who fled to Baghdad after Khomeini's revolution. But the Iraqi invasion helped the new Iranian regime to consolidate instead. Saddam, already Iraq's strongman for some years, consolidated his own power in July 1979, a month after he officially became Iraqi president, by executing a third of the Baath Party's leadership.
"Saddam thought he could outsmart everyone," the secretary of state continues, as he hands you more papers, "and he outsmarted himself. Despite his initial battlefield success, he found himself in a military deadlock by late November 1980, not long after you defeated Reagan. Iran has now launched a massive counterattack. The situation is even trickier because the French have been helping Saddam to build a nuclear reactor. What is with that fellow Chirac? He seems to have been infatuated by Saddam, fantasizing that this dictator is a Napoleon-Nasser-de Gaulle. Because French Socialists gave the Israelis nuclear technology in the fifties, Chirac the right-winger wanted to correct this 'strategic error' in the 1970s by giving nuclear technology to Saddam.5 I heard that some wit renamed Iraq's Osirak nuclear site 'Ochirac.' "
"Fortunately, Chirac is no longer prime minister," you respond to the secretary, "now that our friend Mitterrand won the presidential election and there is a socialist government in Paris. I hope its grasp of the consequences of these sorts of policies is more astute. And let's make sure ours is astute too and pay special attention to developments in this region."
So that provides part of the HOP into which you, Comrade Reader, will have to step when you make your decision as president of the United States. Imagine that these preceding conversations occurred in late May 1981, a few months after you moved into the White House. Let's now go forward to December of the same year. And please remember that the veil has dropped over you and you know nothing of what happens in the world after that month's end.
There have been Iranian offensives and victories. Saddam's army is in deep trouble. Soon his regime may be too. In late September, after a rout of the Iraqis, there were fevered, celebratory speeches in the Iranian parliament, the Majlis. Allah's hand has been revealed though Iran's triumphs. The Iranians dealt the Iraqis more blows by early December and severed crucial communications and logistical ties among Iraqi forces.6 In the meantime, the war has made it impossible for Iraq to use the Gulf for oil exports, and Baghdad is dangerously dependent on a pipeline through Syria-Iran's ally and Iraq's rival. Foreign exchange reserves have plummeted, and Baghdad will have to impose economic austerity soon.
According to intelligence reports, one of Iran's next campaigns will be called "Operation al-Quds," that is, "the Holy"-the Arabic word for Jerusalem. Khomeini is proclaiming that the march to Baghdad will lead eventually to Jerusalem. Even if this is just propaganda, it makes the Jordanians nervous, because their kingdom, which backs Iraq, is the most plausible path there. And Khomeini could well send holy warriors on a detour through Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
It is very worrisome. You call up the national security adviser, and secretaries of state and defense and tell them you want to meet by the week's end to consider policy options. Then you riffle through a background file assembled by your national security adviser, who also provided a "General Assessment." It reads:
These two lands have a long, difficult history between them. The immediate source of conflict is a return to old quarrels, partly over the Shatt al-Arab, a waterway into the Gulf. It is the border between the two countries for some of its route. The Algiers Accord of 1975 supposedly settled this matter, but Saddam agreed to it under pressure because of the shah's support of Kurdish rebels. Once the agreement was signed and the shah withdrew support, the Kurdish struggle for national liberation collapsed. In the aftermath tens of thousands of Kurds were "transferred" by Saddam out of their homelands. Then Saddam got busy repressing Iraqi communists, throwing away the "National Action Charter" signed by the Baath with them in 1973. Hard to tell the greater danger: reaching an agreement with Saddam or not reaching an agreement with him.
The United States is on the outs with both Tehran and Baghdad. The Soviets have been Iraq's main arms supplier since 1958, but Baghdad sought to diversify its sources in the 1970s. It bought more and more from France, which became its second major weapons supplier-about 40 percent of Iraq's arms-by the time of the attack on Iran. In the 1970s France emerged as the third biggest exporter of arms to the Third World. Obviously, this is tied to sustaining huge investments in its domestic arms industry. All this is part of Paris's assertion of military independence after quitting NATO's joint command. France has been selling Iraq very advanced weapons and Mitterrand has made it clear that this will continue. Still, he, like everyone else must have been secretly relieved when Israel bombed Iraq's nuclear site last summer.
Baghdad's turn to Paris seems to have been prescient. Moscow is angry at Saddam for attacking Iran without the consultations Baghdad promised in the Iraqi-Soviet Friendship Treaty of 1972. The Soviets held back military supplies at the beginning of the war, but are preparing to deliver again. The Soviets and the French are attempting balancing acts between Iran and Iraq, seeking to extend sway in countries at war with each other. France's investment in Iraq grows by leaps and bounds, much to Iran's chagrin. Reliable sources report that Iraq is buying British medical kits-10,000 of them-that are apparently for workers in chemical weapons factories. Iraq is importing howitzers from South Africa, cluster bombs from Chile, and weapons from Argentina's junta.
The regional context makes matters more jittery. Islamic extremists assassinated Sadat just two months ago. The TV news shows the assassins and their collaborators behind bars screaming fundamentalist slogans. One of them, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the founder of Egyptian Islamic Jihad who studied at the American University of Cairo, seems especially fanatical, railing and ranting against infidels and traitors, Americans, and Zionists, hailing Sadat's murder. Wouldn't want him out of jail. Islamic fundamentalists seem to be on a roll- Sunnis as well as Shiites, for all the antagonisms between them. The momentum and self-confidence of each reinforces the other.
Sadat made a big mistake when he relaxed restraints on the Muslim Brothers and their ilk after Nasser died. He wanted them to counter-balance pro-Soviet factions in Egypt, but he did this just as the Saudis, flush with petrodollars, were investing in Wahhabi fundamentalism everywhere. Can you ever re-control decontrolled fundamentalists who believe the future is theirs? The United States is fiddling with jihadists too, thinking they may be useful against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Last year, Brzezinski gave a speech on the Afghan border to anti-Soviet Mujahideen in which he urged, "This is your God-given country. Go and liberate it in a Holy War against the godless Communists."7 Better think twice about this. There are also a number of reports of fundamentalist stirrings in Syria, especially in the town of Hama. If there is a regime able to handle the Muslim Brothers, it is Syria. It will simply dispatch them, no questions asked, and there will be no condemnatory resolutions passed by the UN or the Arab League. (They are usually too busy condemning Israel for something real or something imaginary.)
Then there is Lebanon, where a transformation is also underway. The Shiites, who make up some 40 percent of the population, its most deprived sector, have mobilized. They are clashing constantly with the PLO mini-state that was established in southern Lebanon after Arafat was expelled from Jordan. The Lebanese confessional system was stacked against the Shiites, but now, in the midst of civil war, they are demanding their due as never before thanks partly to the leadership of a charismatic religious leader, Iranian born Musa al-Sadr. He died under bizarre circumstances after a trip to Libya in 1978. (Qadaffi claims al-Sadr boarded a return flight, but he wasn't on it when the plane arrived in Lebanon; nobody ever found him.) So he became a galvanizing myth, and then just after his disappearance, the Iranian revolution energized Lebanese Shiites even more.
In short, the Mideast presents its usual tumultuous picture, you think. Lebanon is fractured, but everywhere else there seem to be authoritarian nationalist regimes on one hand and civil societies in which religious fundamentalists are emerging as the most vigorous component on the other. And things are becoming more and more precarious because of the Iran-Iraq War. A miserable regime may defeat a wretched one. Now you, as president, must make a choice. You meet your national security adviser and your secretaries of state and defense in the Oval Office.
What to Do?
The national security adviser begins: "The United States has pursued some ill-conceived policies and has had some bad luck in this area. There are a few key issues, all linked: What are the consequences if we do nothing? What influence do we have? Can we achieve anything positive? Do we have some overriding interest in sticking our nose in just now? We already have a recession at home that has been helped along significantly by the oil crisis following Khomeini's rise. But the immediate, very big question is this: If Khomeini, who is devoted to spreading his Islamic revolution, marches to Baghdad and a swell of triumphalist fanaticism rises mightily throughout the region, what then?"
"What is our latest evaluation of Khomeini?," you ask. "And what of left opinion? After all, the hostages were released after we won the election. As I recall, some prominent American intellectuals, not just Foucault in France, thought highly of him."
"That's right," says the national security adviser, "did you read in the file I prepared that New York Times op-ed piece from February 1979 by Richard Falk, the professor of international law at Princeton? He visited Khomeini in France. His article complained that the ayatollah was maligned when Carter and Brzezinski 'until recently associated him with religious fanaticism.' Falk protests that 'The news media have defamed him in many ways, associating him with efforts to turn the clock back 1,300 years, with virulent anti-Semitism, and with a new political disorder, "theocratic fascism" about to be set loose on the world.' He explains to readers that Khomeini 'indicated' that non-religious leftists would be able to participate fully in an Islamic republic and that 'to suppose that Ayatollah Khomeini is dissembling seems almost beyond belief.' He adds that 'the depiction of him as fanatical, reactionary, and the bearer of crude prejudices seems certainly and happily false.'8
"The article is entitled 'Trusting Khomeini,'" you note. "I hope he doesn't write on 'Trusting Arafat' to convince Israelis to make concessions to the Palestinians. People will run into Sharon's arms after reading it."
"There's more," says the national security adviser. "Anthony Lewis then wrote a Times column chastising Falk for 'trusting in illusions'-things were getting increasingly repressive in Khomeini's Iran-and Falk insists that 'to single out Iran for criticism at this point is to lend support to that fashionable falsehood, embraced by Mr. Lewis, that what has happened in Iran is the replacement of one tyranny by another.'"9
"Well, I don't think we'll consult him," you comment. "For starters, I don't intend to wear a veil myself. The reasoning reminds me a little too much of intellectuals who 'understood' Stalin-in contrast to the bourgeois idiots. We need a left foreign policy that is free, really free, of cognitive dissonance." You turn to the secretary of defense and ask him to assess the impact of the Iranian revolution on the Iraqi military.
"It's hard to say," the secretary, responds. "Intelligence here is always difficult. Sixty percent of Iraq is Shiite. While they are not all of a stripe, and while they tend to be Iraqi nationalists-Iraq's ground troops in the war are heavily Shiite-they are also not so pleased by Saddam, whose Baath power base is mainly Sunni and tribal. Still, imagine Shiite fundamentalist regimes in Tehran and Baghdad concurrent with a fascist regime in Damascus, energized Shiism in Lebanon, and invigorated Sunni fundamentalism in an uncertain, post-Sadat Egypt.
"No intelligent person, no matter how anti-imperialist, however much he despises Western oil companies, can imagine that it would be good for religious fanatics and their allies to control this region of the world, not to mention the West's oil supply-just as no intelligent person could be happy about Saddam marching into Tehran, with his fascist regime asserting control over oil and the Gulf on behalf of a pan-Arab chauvinism. Even if one argued-it is a legitimate claim-that we are imperious outsiders, especially given our past support for the shah, that brutal megalomaniac, the consequences would be dreadful. But right now, it looks more likely that Khomeini could win."
"Problem is," says the secretary of state, "our influence is at a nadir. U.S. policy in the seventies was based on 'two pillars,' both of them conservative, dominating the Gulf-Tehran and Riyadh. Now those reactionary Saudis are petrified and Tehran is utterly hostile to us. Relations between the United States and Iraq were broken in 1967, in the aftermath of the Arab-Israeli war. We began some trade again in the mid-1970s, and it increased in late '79. We have some presence in Baghdad through our interests section in the Belgian embassy. We are getting conciliatory signals from Saddam. He is running scared, very scared. And we have received a quiet message from Mitterrand: 'Saddam must not fall.' He isn't saying that merely because of French investments in Iraq. He sees the dire consequences, long and short term, of a Khomeini sweep. So the crucial question is, should we tilt to Iraq? Or rather, what if we don't?"
The national security adviser asks, "What are the alternatives? A UN resolution? A UN-coordinated oil embargo against both sides? It'll never work. Moscow and Paris are too invested. Besides, there isn't much reason to have faith in the UN when it comes to this part of the world. Look at what it did during the crisis before the '67 Arab-Israeli War. Nasser mobilized his army, demanded removal of UN Emergency Forces that served as the buffer between Egypt and Israel for a decade, and next thing you know, the UNEF is on the way out. UN Secretary General U Thant stuck to international legalisms and the result was war. Anyway, nobody who has paid attention to Khomeini or Saddam can believe that either will knuckle under an embargo, not to mention the demands of international law or the UN. We need a policy that won't help the UN shoot its own foot.
"Still, we'd better deliberate hard about a 'tilt' to someone like Saddam. If we help him too much, he'll become the danger, almost certainly. And we don't want to give him the wrong help. Think of his pursuit of nuclear power and those British medical kits he imported. One easily imagines him deploying the worst weapons against his neighbors and his own population. He is atrocity incarnate. Remember, he launched this war."
"Moreover," you interject, "ours is supposed to be a foreign policy of the left. That is a matter of our values, but also of politics. If we botch this, if we show the American people that the left cannot conduct foreign policy, then we can expect Reagan's wagon train to turn around.
"Can a foreign policy of the left tilt to a regime like Saddam's? Hard to justify, even if it only means that we will give him satellite intelligence and carefully gauged arms assistance. I must say that the very need to make this decision irks me. Were we out of government, we would probably be writing articles for Dissent saying that the problem is the overall direction of American foreign policy. Except we won the election, and we already reoriented policy with the long term in mind.
"We cannot make decisions in government as if we were out of government. We cannot invent choices that are comfortable to us and then choose between them. How can we find some practical equilibrium between our left-wing values and the intransigent realities of the world out there-like the consequence of the aggressive ambitions of either a fascist dictator or a 'fanatical, reactionary, and the bearer of crude prejudices,' to quote Falk. Regardless of what we do, neither Saddam nor Khomeini is likely to function in ways that are wholly rational and predictable. Can we minimize the maximum damage each might do? If we do nothing, if we don't 'tilt' to Saddam, the regional and then global consequences are likely to be catastrophic. Military intelligence makes it clear that the hour is very late. If we do tilt to him, our hands become very dirty, and a lot of the consequences are unpredictable."
You light a cigarette. You quit smoking years back, but you've been cheating in recent days as you contemplate the decision you might have to make. You inhale deeply and say, "Here is what I think we must do. . ."
And here is where I will ask you, Dissent reader, to recall that you are supposed to imagine yourself to be Eugenia Norma Harrington, the fortieth president of the United States, in this Historical Original Position. The veil you wear is not one of Khomeini's choosing, but a historical one: you don't know any post-1981 history. You may ask what I would do were I the president. I do have a view about this-one that I don't like. But because I am the architect of this thought experiment, I won't say. I will step back (I hear that I am not the first grand designer to do this), and ask you, Madame President: will you tilt to Iraq?
Mitchell Cohen is co-editor of Dissent.
L'?ditorial du Monde
Hors de Guantanamo
LE MONDE | 27.07.04 | 12h23
Pour ?tre inform? avant tout le monde, recevez nos alertes par e-mail. Abonnez-vous au Monde.fr, 5? par mois
QUATRE des sept Fran?ais d?tenus sur la base am?ricaine de Guantanamo, ? Cuba, ont, enfin, quitt? cette zone de non-droit pour rentrer ? Paris. Cela faisait des mois que le gouvernement fran?ais n?gociait leur retour, afin que leur situation soit examin?e dans un cadre juridique normal.
La France n'?tant pas en odeur de saintet? ? Washington, la lib?ration de ses ressortissants n'avait pas ?t? jug?e prioritaire ; elle suit celle de 135 d?tenus d?j? remis ? leurs pays.
Pendant que diplomates et organisations de d?fense des droits de l'homme vont continuer ? s'activer pour obtenir le transfert des autres d?tenus, le sort des quatre hommes attendus mardi 27 juillet va - enfin - d?pendre de la justice. Une justice antiterroriste certes, mais ob?issant aux r?gles du droit et fondant ses d?cisions sur des preuves tangibles. Il lui reviendra de d?cider, dans les r?gles, s'il existe des charges contre eux, ou bien s'il convient de les lib?rer, comme cela a d?j? ?t? le cas ? Londres ou au Danemark.
S'ils sont blanchis, ce sera un nouveau coup dur pour la cr?dibilit? de la "guerre contre le terrorisme" conduite par le pr?sident Bush, au m?pris du droit - national ou international - ni de la morale. Du non-droit ? Guantanamo aux prisons de Bagdad, l'exemple donn? par les Etats-Unis n'est pas ? l'honneur de la plus grande d?mocratie du monde et l'image de ce pays en a s?rieusement p?ti ? travers le monde.
Au m?me moment, ? la suite du d?saveu historique inflig? le 28 juin ? l'administration Bush par la Cour supr?me, qui a donn? le droit aux "combattants ennemis" d?tenus ? Guantanamo de se pourvoir devant la justice civile am?ricaine, le Pentagone a mis en place une instance militaire devant laquelle les d?tenus vont pouvoir contester leur statut. Il aura fallu ? certains d'entre eux jusqu'? deux ans et demi avant de pouvoir ainsi se d?fendre.
Nul ne nie qu'il y a sans doute, parmi les quelque 600 d?tenus de Guantanamo, de vrais terroristes li?s ? Al-Qaida. Mais ces soup?ons ne justifient pas pour autant le traitement juridique et physique qui leur a ?t? r?serv? depuis leur arrestation.
L'histoire montre que les Etats qui ont choisi de lutter contre le terrorisme ou l'oppression par des moyens non-d?mocratiques n'ont jamais r?ussi. Ces m?thodes n'aboutissent g?n?ralement qu'? jeter le discr?dit sur ceux qui s'y livrent - et sur ceux qui les y autorisent. La sup?riorit? de la d?mocratie tient dans son refus de se livrer ? des actions d?gradantes et ill?gales. M?me si, dans des circonstances exceptionnelles, comme le 11 Septembre, elle peut - et doit - se doter de moyens exceptionnels pour se d?fendre. Mais toujours sous le contr?le de la justice.
Alors que s'ouvre, avec la convention d?mocrate, la phase finale de la campagne pr?sidentielle, il faut esp?rer que, sans baisser la garde, les Etats-Unis reviennent ? la l?galit?. Et que le respect du droit, un temps oubli? ? Washington pour des raisons discutables, redevienne le fondement de la d?mocratie am?ricaine.
* ARTICLE PARU DANS L'EDITION DU 28.07.04
WORLDWIDE ADDICTION TO PETROLEUM
Is there really a rise in oil prices?
Which energy source will we use in future? Despite forecasts of a change to nuclear power, oil will continue to play a key role. According to the International Energy Agency demand will increase by 1.9% a year, from 80m barrels a day in 2003 to 120m in 2020. By then Arab countries will produce 41% of global supplies rather than the present 25%.
by Nicolas Sarkis
WHAT is behind the current steep rise in oil prices? Is it temporary and linked to the economic and political climate, or the start of a cycle that will bring a long-term increase in energy prices? Is it, as some fear, the prologue to another oil crisis caused by the inability of supply to keep pace with demand?
These questions are legitimate. Some observers thought that the invasion of Iraq by the United States in March 2003 would lead to a quick rise in Iraqi output and a drop in oil prices to about $20 a barrel. But two months later the oil market came to the boil and has been bubbling ever since. This spring the unexpected rise in prices speeded up despite a seasonal drop in world demand of about 2m barrels a day.
The drop in prices after the last meeting of Opec (1) on 3 June and the announcement of an increase in US reserves did not dispel concern. World demand is expected to rise again in the immediate future and the underlying factors that boosted prices to more than $40 a barrel have not gone away. The key factors are the global political situation and market forces.
The price hike would not have been as sudden if conditions in Iraq were different and Saudi Arabia not vulnerable to terror attacks. Widespread insecurity and recurrent sabotage of oil facilities in Iraq dragged production there down to 1.33m barrels a day (bpd) in 2003, compared with 2.12m in 2002. Production rose to 2.3 bpd in May 2004, but that is still well below the levels in 1999-2001.The new authorities have frozen contracts negotiated or signed by the Ba'athist regime with international companies to exploit new oilfields, which were expected to double output within six to eight years. Recent terror attacks in Saudi Arabia, which is the world's largest exporter, especially an attack that targeted a petrochemical facility and wells, were a serious shock.
The current frequency of attacks makes people fear that they will be a recurring feature in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and other Gulf states, with the possibility of lasting disruption of exports. The big difference from the crises of 1973 or 1979 is that the basic problem then was an embargo instituted by the governments of Opec countries or a change in political regime (as in Iran after the Islamic revolution). Now unpredictable attacks by unknown groups are the problem, plus the threat of the destabilisation of the Saudi regime that undermines that country's ability to continue its central role in supplying world demand.
Tensions caused by the deterioration of the situation in Iraq and Saudi Arabia are mostly responsible for the latest price rise, called the risk premium. This runs at $6-10 a barrel, depending on circumstances, and covers both higher insurance charges and the impact of speculation on futures markets (major investment banks have allocated tens of billions of dollars to these).
Geopolitical tension and speculative buying have amplified a bullish trend rooted in a change in the balance between supply and demand. Three main factors demand our attention. The first, often overlooked, is the impact of ethnic conflicts and strikes on Nigerian oil production. (The strike that paralysed the oil industry in Venezuela in 2003 also led to a substantial drop in output.)
The second problem is that refining bottlenecks are common in countries with the largest consumption. After inadequate investment in recent years, global capacity currently totals 83.6m bpd, slightly more than the 82.5m bpd peak in demand in February. The structure of refining capacity is unsuited to the current demand for refined products, particularly in the US, which uses 9.6m barrels daily; a petrol shortage in May caused prices to rise steeply. When the price of refined products rose, crude oil prices followed.
The third problem is that on 10 April Opec decided to reduce its production ceiling to 23.5m bpd; this led to a sharp protest in industrialised countries, adding to tension and exacerbating the rise in prices. In practice Opec members have not reduced real output, and overall supply is still sufficient to cover demand.
Oil market statistics are fuzzy. Surprisingly, Opec members publish production figures three months late, maintaining the confusion between their theoretical production quotas and actual output, which generally exceeds quotas. Operators and observers play hide-and-seek, attempting to track tankers as they leave loading ports and consulting secondary sources to assess, as far as possible, the daily production of oil. A lack of transparency does not only apply to real output figures but affects data on production capacity and variations in unused capacity in exporting countries. This is very important at times of low unused capacity, as at present.
The most reliable estimates are that unused capacity is now about 2.5-3m bpd worldwide. Most of this is in Saudi Arabia; production is at full capacity in non-Opec and most member countries. A major disruption in Saudi or Iraqi exports, or a strike or serious accident in another main exporting country, could cause a shortfall in supply, driving market prices up again. This risk contributed to the latest price hike; the expected increase in world demand in the second half of 2004 will stretch the meagre resources available.
Another void in oil statistics centres on the doubts about official data on proven reserves and the reliability of medium- and long-term forecasts of global supply and demand. When an international company such as Shell, with shares quoted on stock exchanges, cuts its reserves forecast by about 25% in a few months, it is hardly surprising that figures published by other large corporations should be queried.
Official statistics on proven reserves in Russia and the main Opec members, which are not checked by independent bodies, have prompted serious doubts for many years. There is a major problem here. The reserves of the eight largest national companies in Opec countries theoretically amount to 662bn barrels, compared with only 57bn barrels held by the top eight international companies. The recent controversy after the Simmons report (2) on the state of the Saudi oil fields and the scope for developing the reserves of Saudi Aramco (the national oil company), which amount to almost a quarter of the world total, exacerbated concern.
World demand, currently at 80.3m bpd, is expected to rise to almost 120m bpd by 2025, roughly twice the level of the 1970s. Can supply follow? Only the Middle East can provide the bulk of it, which means output must more than double to avoid shortages. In the medium term obstacles to this are mostly political. To increase output will require huge investments in the region, estimated at $27bn a year. But for that to be possible there must be a favourable political climate, which is far from the case. Beyond that lies the big unknown, in the Middle East and elsewhere: when production will peak, in one country after another, before irreversible decline.
The Association for the Study of Peak Oil international conference in Berlin in May 2003 was not reassuring. Disregarding claims of both optimists and pessimists, the number of new finds is falling, as is their volume. Only one giant oil field, Kashagan in Kazakhstan, has been discovered in the past 30 years and new finds do not compensate for the oil extracted every year. A geologist says that oil exploration is now like a hunting expedition on which hunters have improved the perform ance of their guns through better technology but game is small and scarce.
We should not ignore another grim reality: by 2025 the steep increase in world demand and decline in reserves and output in industrialised countries will increase their dependence on imported oil. US imports will rise from 55.7% to 71%, western European imports from 50.1% to 68.6%, and Chinese from 31.5% to 73.2%. This growing dependence, in a sector as vital as energy, explains the oil wars that the big powers and their com panies are waging to gain control of reserves in the Middle East, Africa (3), Central Asia and Iraq (4). There has been serious reason to question the interpretation of the current rises - are they the first sign of a crisis caused by the imbalance between steadily rising demand and inadequate production capacity?
The expansion of production capacity over the next few years depends just as much on political stability, particularly in the Middle East, as on the volume of reserves available. Longer term the slow but inexorable exhaustion of reserves means that a gradual switch to other energy sources is inevitable. Besides political stability this transition requires sufficiently attractive energy prices to allow global investment in energy production, a sum estimated by the International Energy Agency at $16,480bn (at 2000 prices) between 2001 and 2003.
Oil and gas industries will need money, and more will be needed to develop other energy sources. The fears caused by the rise in oil prices may help end the torpor made possible by adequate supplies and oil prices which, even at their current level (adjusted for inflation), are no higher than the record set 25 years ago.
* Nicolas Sarkis is director of the Arab Petroleum Research Centre and editor of 'Le p?trole et le gaz arabes'
(1) Opec's 11 members are Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Libya, Nigeria, Venezuela and Indonesia.
(2) Matthew Simmons, president of the Simmons & Company international investment bank, advises the US vice-president Dick Cheney and was the brains behind the new US energy policy.
(3) See Jean-Christophe Servant, "The new Gulf oil states", Le Monde diplomatique, English language edition, January 2003.
(4) See Yahya Sadowski, "No war for whose oil", Le Monde diplomatique, English language edition, April 2003.
Translated by Harry Forster
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED ? 1997-2004 Le Monde diplomatique
Ricin found in baby-food jar
POSTED AT 5:05 PM EDT Wednesday, Jul 28, 2004
Irvine, Calif. -- Trace amounts of the deadly poison ricin have been found in at least one jar of baby food that had been tampered with, the FBI said Wednesday.
The FBI and prosecutors are investigating two suspected cases of food tampering. No injuries or arrests have been reported, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
Authorities have not disclosed the amount of ricin discovered, the number of baby food jars that contained the poison or a possible motive.
On June 16, a man told Irvine police that as he was about to feed his son, he found a note inside a jar of baby food warning that it had been contaminated. A similar case was reported by an Irvine couple on May 31 involving the same baby food, Gerber Banana Yogurt, police said. A note was also found inside that jar. Investigators were testing Gerber Banana Yogurt removed from the store where both jars were purchased. They did not specify whether the ricin was found in both jars. Authorities did not disclose the contents of the notes but said they referred to an Irvine police officer. Ricin is made from castor beans and can be fatal if swallowed, inhaled or injected. A dose about the size of the head of a pin could be enough to kill an adult, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
>> NEXT DAY...
Ricin in baby food appears isolated
By Ben Fox, Associated Press | July 29, 2004
IRVINE, Calif. -- Police said yesterday they are looking for a man who may have witnessed the tampering of two jars of baby food that were contaminated with ground castor beans containing tiny amounts of the poison ricin.
The contamination of the jars also included notes that referred to an Irvine police officer.
US Food and Drug Administration officials who tested the baby food said the ricin was not in the purified form that can be deadly. Rather, it was a less toxic, natural component of the castor beans, which can be obtained from ornamental plants.
''It's unlikely there would be serious injury with the level of castor bean found in those two jars we tested," said Dr. David Acheson, chief medical officer with the FDA's Center for Food, Safety and Applied Nutrition.
Small amounts of the food were eaten, but the babies had no symptoms, he said.
Authorities have not disclosed a motive but want to question Charles Dewey Cage, 47, of Irvine, a possible witness who was ''in the area at a relevant time," said Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.
Authorities called it an isolated case and said no more contamination was found at the store where the two jars were bought.
''There's no reason to believe there is any more out there," said Dan Henson, a special agent with the FDA.
The jars of Gerber Banana Yogurt also contained notes that referred to an Irvine police officer whose name was not released, but their exact contents were not disclosed. The officer is not a suspect, authorities said.
On June 16, a man told Irvine police that as he prepared to feed his son, he found a note inside a jar of baby food warning that it had been contaminated. A similar case was reported by an Irvine couple on May 31 involving the same baby food, police said. A note was also found inside that jar.
The Gerber Products Co., based in Parsippany, N.J., is working with investigators. Authorities told the company the contamination ''absolutely" occurred after the food was manufactured, said Gerber spokeswoman Terry Boylan. Gerber baby food jars are vacuum sealed and should pop when opened. If they don't, it could indicate they have been tampered with, Boylan said.
Ricin can be fatal if swallowed, inhaled, or injected. A dose about the size of the head of a pin could be enough to kill an adult, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
? Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.
Posted by maximpost
at 4:59 PM EDT