Matt Drudge has posted this headline on his site: “Editor For SC Largest Paper: Edwards Is ‘A Big Phony.’” That claim may qualify as the understatement of the political year. John Edwards has gone from what U.S. News & World Report describes as “the happy-face centrist” to the Candidate from the World of Kos. Has any ’08 candidate traveled so far (to the left), so fast, and in such a transparently false manner?
There are the predictable flip-flops. Today Edwards says the Iraq war was a mistake; in 2002, he insisted that “Saddam Hussein’s regime represents a grave threat to America and our allies. . . . [W]e must be prepared to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, and eliminate Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction once and for all.”
I visited Forward Operating Base Justice, located in the northwest Baghdad neighborhood of Khadamiyah, in April. Its commander is Lieutenant Colonel Steven Miska. I recently asked him for an update on developments in his AOR (Area of Responsibility) that I could share with contentions readers. Here is his response:
Fred Barnes, in the upcoming Weekly Standard, writes in “The Day the Emails Died” that Peter Wehner, through his many White House years,
emailed ideas and information to several hundred journalists and writers and intellectuals and policy entrepreneurs. His missives became known as ‘Wehnergrams,’ but there will be no more of them. Friday, August 3, was his last day at the White House. . . . The president will miss Wehner enormously. I suspect he will be missed at least as much by the readers of his emails. Even if they didn’t agree with him or Bush, they knew they were hearing from a remarkable and intellectually honest man.
I agree, of course, with Barnes, but would like to point out that Wehner’s communications need not be missed at all: as of Monday he is a contributor to this blog.
Next year, at eight seconds after 8:08 on the evening of August 8, the most important event in the most populous country in the world will begin. At that moment, the Olympics in Beijing will start—and the People’s Republic of China will announce its arrival in the century it believes it will own.
Today, to mark the one-year countdown to the XXIX Olympiad, Beijing staged a grandiose nighttime ceremony in Tiananmen Square, the symbolic heart of the Chinese nation and the scene of mass murder in 1989. China’s Leninists are good at organizing gargantuan rallies glorifying themselves, and this extravaganza, which included International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge, was no exception. The anthem for the event was “We’re Ready.”
Will Beijing’s leaders be ready a year from now? Amnesty International, in a report issued yesterday, urged Communist Party officials to stop repressing the Chinese people. In an accompanying statement, Amnesty said “time is running out for the Chinese government to fulfill its promise of improving human rights in the run-up to the Games.” The report came out on the same day as one from Human Rights Watch and another from the Committee to Protect Journalists. On Monday in the Chinese capital, Reporters Without Borders unfurled a banner showing the Olympic rings as handcuffs. Beijing authorities detained and roughed up journalists who had staged the protest. Yesterday, activists at the Great Wall displayed a large banner reading “One World, One Dream, Free Tibet 2008.” They were detained as well.
Ever since the CIA was established in 1947, the annual amount of money spent on intelligence has been treated as a closely guarded secret. In recent years, a small army of liberal advocacy groups has been calling for disclosure. Their cause gained momentum when the 9/11 Commission threw its weight behind it. Just this past week, Congress passed a law, which President Bush has already signed, that would compel such disclosure.
But the House of Representatives is now busy undoing its own work, and the final outcome is far from clear. Bush, for his part, signed the bill under duress. His administration, remaining faithful to its reputation (ill-deserved, as I have argued here) as the “most secretive” in American history, has consistently argued against disclosure.
Noah Pollak of Azure has an informative summary of the problems with UNIFIL, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, whose ostensible mission is the disarmament of Hizballah and the pacification of southern Lebanon. UNIFIL was expanded to 14,000 troops last summer, but, as Pollak writes:
The new UNIFIL has of course done nothing. Actually, worse than nothing: In the year since the end of the war, Iran and Syria have been rearming Hizballah at a torrid pace, this time with better weaponry than before, and UNIFIL has barely even pretended to be interested in disrupting the arms flow. UNIFIL’s rules of engagement prevent the border with Syria from being patrolled, and UNIFIL blue-helmets have neither the desire nor the means to confront Hizballah.
UNIFIL is but one of many of the United Nations’ failed efforts around the world—which do not need to be elaborated upon for readers of COMMENTARY. But the gravest failure among the U.N.’s initiatives in the Middle East has to be UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, which for over five decades has kept the Palestinians in perpetual refugeehood when the vast majority of those Palestinians deemed “refugees” (the children and grandchildren of those who were displaced by the 1948 war) would not actually classify as such by the United Nations’ very own definition. I explored the problem of UNRWA—and suggested another source for its hundreds of millions of dollars in international aid money—several months ago here.