Debate, Fascism and Patriots

My, my. So it seems that anyone who questions the war in Iraq is really a Nazi sympathizer. Or is it collaborator and appeaser? Econo-Girl can't always keep these things straight.

Having read "Saddam's Bombmaker" years ago, Saddam Hussein certainly reminded Econo-Girl of Hitler in many ways. The key difference would be an ability to go to war with the entire world. Wasn't that what the first Gulf War was about? Stopping Saddam Hussein? And didn't we succeed?

So here we are, fulfilling the President's Oedipal drive, and people have the nerve to complain! Debate isn't patriotic, you know. That's why I was fired. Like a fascist, I try to discuss an issue of relevance to the entire Intelligence community: torture.

At the risk of being arrested, I will raise another: torture and our failures in Iraq. As a French soldier during the Battle of Algiers remarked: "And what to do with these poor devils after their use? There isn't enough place in the prisons and one can't kill everyone..., so one releases them and they're going to tell others, and from mouth to mouth, the whole world knows. Then their relatives and friends join the resistance." See "Does Torture Work" by Darius Rejali at Salon.com.

Don't you think our harsh treatment and downright abuse of detainees and prisoners has at least some bearing on how the war in Iraq is coming along?

Hugo Chavez

Look at him go! Hugging every world leader hostile to the U.S. - like he was running for Secretary General of the UN!

What is going on here? First of all, wasn't President Bush explicit in his preference for Chavez's foe to win instead of Chavez? Yes. So Econo-Girl's theory that a sitting U.S. President should never, ever endorse a candidate openly is once again vindicated. People are less likely to vote 'the American way' just to prove their independence. Take that, you bossy Americans.

On another level, Chavez is loosening the power grip the U.S. has over his country. He is shaking hands with countries who can be customers for his oil. Chavez is raising the profile of his nation and creating a power base in opposite to that of the U.S. He wears matching shirts with Castro, for God's sake.

What can we make of all this? In the intermediate term, oil is going to be used as a national security weapon by the larger oil-producing states (Russia, Venezuela) to the detriment of the United States. After all, there are only so many countries we can blow up.

The one clear answer is to reduce our dependence on oil. Go green. It's how we will reclaim our power and reduce these freaks to the footnotes in history that they deserve to be.



Should Armitage be indicted, or no? Econo-Girl says YES!

This is why: I know the certain types of gossip make people feel like big shots, especially the classified kind. Just because he is a big mouth doesn't let him off the hook for sharing classified information with a reporter. Especially the identity of a covert agent. I mean, people die over stuff like that.

There are doubtless those among you who feel that the little Econo-Girl saying something like this could be hypocritical. The difference is, of course, that I never told a reporter any classified information. I was terminated for expressing my views on the use of torture and abuse on our prisoners.

I certainly never outed a covert agent, and only spoke publicly after an investigation was started and I was fired.



Econo-Girl doesn't do this often, but she is going to post someone else's writing.

"Nobel Laureate Hyman Minsky points out that stability leads to instability. The more comfortable we get with a given condition or trend, the longer it will persist; and then when the trend fails, the more dramatic is the correction. The problem with long-term macroeconomic stability is that it tends to produce unstable financial arrangements. If we believe that tomorrow and next year will be the same as last week and last year, we are more willing to add debt or postpone savings for current consumption. Thus, says Minsky, the longer the period of stability, the higher the potential risk for even greater instability when market participants must change their behavior. Relating this to our sandpile, the longer that a critical state builds up in an economy, or in other words, the more "fingers of instability" that are allowed to develop a connection to other fingers of instability, the greater the potential for a serious "avalanche." "
John MauldinJohn@FrontLineThoughts.com Copyright 2006 John Mauldin. All Rights Reserved

The whole article dealt with the housing market, which seems to be losing its strength, to say the least. Econo-Girl likes to judge a localized housing market by the For Sale signs. Not very high tech, but sometimes there is no replacement for shoe leather. And For Sale By Owner reveals the desperation of the overextended. I actually never saw For Sale By Owner signs until the housing market started to slow down.

So according to this analysis, the housing prices continued upward and upward annually, so people expected that they would continue to do so forever. And it was convenient to do so because that belief gave a feeling of financial prosperity. Prices in illustrious Columbia Heights in Washington, DC are being reduced, and have been for over a year now. Of course, the more people wait for lower prices, the more prices will fall. Another avalanche.


McCain and Iraq

Senator McCain had interesting things to say this weekend on the subject of Iraq, namely that we are not using enough forces there. He said that when we get an area under control we don't stay there, then we move troops to another area to do the same thing. What we need to do is increase the number of troops overall. He also said that we cannot just up and leave Iraq.

Econo-Girl agrees. It was stupid to go there, Iraq had nothing to do with the war on terror. But now that we upset the applecart, so to speak, we have some responsibility to see Iraq achieve stability.

The question is, are we really helping ourselves by capturing people and blasting Britney Spears at them all night long? As long as people know that that is our type of tactic in the war, how likely are we to succeed in the long run? Not at all.


Econo-Girl Stands Corrected

OK, my little dumplings. It seems that Hezbollah has 'won' the PR of this conflict. All of my intrepid readers were correct. Econo-Girl was in error, especially since Iran is kicking in more to rebuild Lebanon than the U.S. is. On a side note, couldn't we contribute engineers and other technical folk? That would be valuable, cheaper and good at mending relations.

So what happens now? Lebanon is not being strengthened to be self-governing. There will be a safe patch between Israel and Lebanon, at least temporarily. International troops will be there to guard the borders.

Readers may have lost faith in Econo-Girl's predictions on this score, but she will hold forth once again. There will be arab-based resistance to Iran/Hezbollah influence in the region.

Underneath this conflict is a series of civil wars that the entire region is distracting itself from. If peace would break out between groups, war would break out within them.



So what is it? A victory for Israel or Hezbollah? From the beginning the talking heads have been saying that if Hezbollah does nothing but survive, it will be a victory for them. They clucked on about how Hezbollah framed the conflict in those terms.

Econo-Girl has only this to ask:

Doesn't the media have complicity in framing the conflict that way? Isn't it disingenuous to say, over and over, that Hezbollah has only to survive to win when you are part of what is making that true?

And what is the lifespan of spin, anyway? How long are people going to think within the narrow confines of what is outlined for them? Two years? How long did that crap about Saddam Hussein being involved in Sept. 11 last? You can't hide behind the green curtain forever.

Econo-Girl posits that it was a defeat for both sides. After all, they had to compromise. Israel is very disappointed in its own performance and failed to wipe out Hezbollah completely. Hezbollah wasn't going to win in the end and they knew it, so they cut their losses and cease-fired now. What Hezbollah got was their own existence, the purpose of which was negated when Israel withdrew from Lebanon. But this entire conflict has highlighted to everyone the problems of a government not in control of its own territory. So the powerful role of Hezbollah will not be permitted in the future because of the MidEast war it almost sparked.

It probably was more of a defeat for Israel, but the conflict isn't really over yet. The bullets have just stopped flying, that's all. Let's wait and see.


Why I Lost Faith in Hillary Clinton

Econo-Girl has never spoken these words aloud:

I don't trust Hillary Clinton.

But now the truth is out. Her support of the war in Iraq lacked political courage. In fact, Econo-Girl would like to know where HC has ever displayed political courage. Where? Where has she spit in the pollsters' eyes and said "Damn it, it's the right thing to do!"

Even in 2001, after the attacks, it was clear that Iraq was not connected to the 9-11 attacks. But none of them had the courage to say so. And so now our nation is mired in Iraq and have a good chance of leaving the place in worse shape than how we found it.

Now that Lieberman lost the primary, it is easy to jump on the bandwagon against the war. Where was HC when it was a difficult and risky thing to do?


The Death of "Shock and Awe"

Econo-Girl has decided to use this forum to continue the same kind of commentary she indulged in while on Intelink.

"Shock and Awe" is dead. The current Israeli military campaign has demonstrated that the fantasy of air power to control territory is not effective, just as the U.S. military operations in Iraq did. There is no long-distance war without casualties. The armchair ruminations of our Secretary of Defense have been disproved a second time, with a loss of momentum on the side of the Israelis.

Econo-Girl has great faith in Israeli military power and strategy. With the start of a ground campaign, Hezbollah will have a new war to fight and win. It won't be easy.

Now, before all that hate mail from military types rolls in, I have no classified knowledge of any of this. My sources are the PBS Newshour and CNN.


Merely Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading

From Amnesty International's web page:

Memorandum to the US Government on the report of the UN Committee Against Torture and the question of closing Guantánamo

'On 2 December 2002, Secretary Rumsfeld approved, "as a matter of policy", a number of techniques for use in interrogating detainees at Guantánamo, at the discretion of the Commander of US Southern Command. The techniques included stress positions, sensory deprivation, isolation, the use of 20-hour interrogations, hooding during transportation and interrogation, stripping, forcible shaving, and "using detainees individual phobias (such as fear of dogs) to induce stress". '

We are discussing the definition of torture on this blog, but please remember that when referring to torture, this Administration is not including the tactics described above. That is why definitions are so important.


Towards a Working Definition of Torture

FFG, a regular commenter, has suggested as a working definition of torture:

Anything that causes permanent physical or psychological damage.

It strikes Econo-Girl that that definition is a bit loose. After all, it applies to junior high gym class as well as waterboarding. To be honest, Econo-Girl has stayed away from defining torture because it's gross to think about. And I don't want a discussion here about pulling fingernails.

How about adding: Or leading a subject to believe that serious bodily injury will take place if they don't cooperate.

Of course, that would fall under the category of permanent psychological damage.

Or threatening the physical safety of family members or loved ones.

Same comment as above. Let's hear what you guys think. Econo-Girl seeks to host a dialog.


Message to All Army Interrogators

Hey guys, I read the latest Esquire magazine where an Army interrogator talked about interrogation techniques they used. It was shocking, but not entirely surprising. What Econo-Girl found surprising was that the interrogators were being lied to by military attorneys.

The Army interrogators were told that the Geneva Conventions didn't apply to the people they were questioning. Why? Because the Attorney General said so. Now of course, no other U.S. Attorney General has ever held that opinion and no court has ever agreed with him, but never mind. The non-attorney interrogators were told that if anyone went to prison for what they were doing, it would be the lawyers telling them it was OK.

Come, now. You're sober, right? How could you possibly believe that? When has a pencil-necked attorney ever stuck his head out?

Believe Econo-Girl when she tells you that if you did it, you will be nailed for it. Wasn't Ollie North? Except you won't be getting a radio show out of the deal. After all, you'll be a torturer. Who would want to get behind that?

A little escape to the beach has done a lot to clarify things for Econo-Girl. Most of the post that started this whole mess was about outlining the law to non-attorneys who might be put in compromising legal positions. I saw it as a way of empowering them to say 'no' to prison for themselves. In retrospect, that's what got me fired. Not the sentence fragment that everyone is so hysterical about. I was going to expose the legal lie.