Tuesday, July 08, 2003

EJ Dionne at The Washington Post has a column today about the Dean campaign's success in raising money on the internet:
Howard Dean has issued a virtual rebuke to Democrats who can't stop complaining about how difficult it will be to raise money under the reformed campaign finance system.

The message: Don't whine. Organize.

Dean's astonishing success at pulling in such a large haul of online contributions so early in the campaign is revolutionary. It gives Democrats an alternative to their addiction to raising big money from rich people and rich interests. Most of that fundraising will be against the law if the Supreme Court upholds the Campaign Reform Act passed last year. So the Dems had better figure out something.

In the old soft money system, the most efficient way to raise $100 million was through a small number of very rich people. One hundred people giving $100,000 each quickly gets you to $10 million.

But Joe Trippi, Dean's campaign manager and an evangelist for the gospel of online politics, describes the alternative: You can raise $100 million if a million people contribute an average of $100 each. If Democrats can't find a few million people willing to part with a couple of bucks a week, they're in trouble.

Get your Howard Dean wallpaper here!

Are the best and the brightest being called upon to help re-build Iraq? From this article, it doesn't sound like it:
In March, as war against Iraq loomed, Frederick "Skip" M. Burkle Jr., a senior official at the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID), traveled to Kuwait with a disaster relief team to prepare for the aftereffects of the fighting. It was a natural assignment for Burkle. A physician with a master's degree in public health, he ran a trauma center near the Kuwaiti border during the first Gulf War and then went to northern Iraq to help with the Kurdish crisis. He traveled to Somalia and Kosovo to deal with the humanitarian emergencies there. A Naval reserve officer who earned several combat medals in Vietnam, Burkle set up a center at the University of Hawaii in the mid-1990s to promote cooperation between the military and relief organizations. In 2002, he joined AID as deputy assistant administrator for global health.

On April 10, as fighting continued in Baghdad, the 63-year-old Burkle arrived in the city to visit local hospitals and assess their needs. His convoy came under fire, however, and he was forced to leave. Two weeks later, he returned at the request of retired Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, then head of the U.S. Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance. The two men visited Yarmouk Hospital, where they heard pleas for security, electricity, supplies. Told that he was to serve as the senior U.S. adviser to the Iraqi ministry of health, Burkle returned to Kuwait to collect his belongings.

There, however, he was abruptly informed that he had been relieved of his duties and replaced by James K. Haveman Jr. Unlike Burkle, Haveman, 60, was largely unknown among international public health professionals. A social worker by training, he has no medical degree or any formal instruction in public health, and he hasn't been in the military. From 1991 to 2002, he served in the cabinet of John Engler, the Republican governor of Michigan, directing state health programs. Most of Haveman's recent overseas experience had come through International Aid, a Christian relief organization that provides health care and spreads the Gospel in the Third World.

To manage postwar Iraq, the Bush administration has assigned senior advisers to the major Iraqi ministries. These choices have received little scrutiny. In some cases, political connections seem to have played as large a part as professional credentials in determining who has been chosen.

Speaking of Iraq, if you have the desire to get into the "booming" business in Iraq you might want to go thru a company like this one for all your needs:
The reconstruction of Iraq is the biggest reconstruction effort since the end of the second world war. Estimates for the costs involved have ranged from US$70 billion to US$1 trillion.

Direction Iraq publishes a directory of registered companies which is freely available on the Internet.

Additionally, we are pro-active in marketing registered companies with direct approaches to the key decision makers involved in the reconstruction of Iraq.

However, it might be a tad early to pack up the kids and head over to Iraq right now. In fact, things are looking kinda grim today and our troops morale seems to be sinking:
WASHINGTON – US troops facing extended deployments amid the danger, heat, and uncertainty of an Iraq occupation are suffering from low morale that has in some cases hit "rock bottom."

Even as President Bush speaks of a "massive and long-term" undertaking in rebuilding Iraq, that effort, as well as the high tempo of US military operations around the globe, is taking its toll on individual troops.

Some frustrated troops stationed in Iraq are writing letters to representatives in Congress to request their units be repatriated. "Most soldiers would empty their bank accounts just for a plane ticket home," said one recent Congressional letter written by an Army soldier now based in Iraq. The soldier requested anonymity.

In some units, there has been an increase in letters from the Red Cross stating soldiers are needed at home, as well as daily instances of female troops being sent home due to pregnancy.

"Make no mistake, the level of morale for most soldiers that I've seen has hit rock bottom," said another soldier, an officer from the Army's 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq.

Such open grumbling among troops comes as US commanders reevaluate the size and composition of the US-led coalition force needed to occupy Iraq. US Central Command, which is leading the occupation, is expected by mid-July to send a proposal to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on how many and what kind of troops are required, as well as on the rotation of forces there.

Is the White House and DoD listening? Doesn't sound like it:
The tumult has led the U.S. reconstruction chief in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, to request more troops and civilian personnel.

That recommendation slammed headlong into a familiar problem: the unwillingness of top administration officials to let reality intrude on their hubris. In fact, the President's quip came as he ridiculed those who suggest more troops are needed to stabilize Iraq.

Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz assured America before the war that Iraqis would gladly welcome U.S. troops. They assumed Iraqis would gratefully accept the Iraqi exiles the Bush team had handpicked as Saddam's replacements. They predicted a smooth transition to democracy requiring no help from individual nations or the United Nations, and little investment of American dollars, thanks to Iraqi oil riches.

The reality evolving on the ground is vastly different from that gauzy picture. Yet those officials still seem loathe to admit any mistakes.

So to take our minds off the qWagmire developing in Iraq, the Chimp-in-Chief is flying off to Africa this week. He'll be welcomed by cheering crowds, right?
NAIROBI - At 2 a.m., baton-wielding police kick open the doors of a home in Kenya's Mombasa port, bludgeon its Muslim inhabitants and seize a terror suspect. Furious Muslim leaders complain of anti-Islamic prejudice.

In Malawi, U.S. agents and police grab five foreign Muslims suspected of plotting terror and whisk them overseas without a court appearance, triggering days of protests by local Muslims.

If President Bush expects sympathy from ordinary Africans for his global war against Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda group when he visits the continent this week, he will be disappointed.

Instead, anti-U.S. sentiment is deepening as governments hunt militants at the behest of Washington and Britain, raising fears for civil liberties, straining ties between Christians and Muslims and hurting old friendships with the West.

"Must we sing to their tune, as if we are still a colony?" wrote Kenyan Joseph Mutua in Nairobi's The People newspaper, referring to former colonial power Britain.

"The overt coercion used by the Kenyan government and other governments such as Malawi's is highly objectionable. They should use more subtle means," said community leader Mohammed Hydar of Mombasa's Muslim Civic and Education Trust.

"We don't want people taken to interrogation in unknown places where laws are abrogated. The police are shooting themselves in the foot, because we'll help (investigators) if the law is being followed and people are treated with dignity."

In Nigeria, analysts say a tough campaign against al Qaeda suspects could trigger a backlash in the already volatile Islamic North, where hundreds died in sectarian riots in Kano ignited by the start of the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan.

Matters have been made worse in East Africa by Western terror alerts and travel warnings that have hurt vital tourism. The move has encouraged many across the continent to blame the West more than Muslim militant bombers for exposing Africa to political violence stemming from disputes outside the continent.

"We are a target of terrorists mainly because of the global activities of Uncle Sam," said Kenyan columnist Mwenda Njoka, referring to Washington's perceived pro-Israel foreign policy.

Hmmmmmm well what do the local African papers have to say about this?:
Were he the type to notice things, Bush would sense a sea change in the continent's mood towards America since the last time Bill Clinton visited. President Clinton's behaviour with young White House interns may have caused him trouble in America, but the guy was genuinely liked in Africa, even when he came with nothing concrete to offer. It is true Bush is going to spend a sum of money ($15 billion, to combat HIV/AIDS) surpassing any his predecessors committed to Africa, and yet he will never be liked on this continent.

Bush's singular achievement has been to make America resented in Africa -- and elsewhere -- to an unprecedented degree. America's unilateralist behaviour under Bush has messed up much of the goodwill America used to enjoy here. Nelson Mandela's declaration that he does not expect to meet Bush during the tour should be taken as an important signal.

In Kenya especially, America has become a dirty word. It may be just as well that Bush will not be visiting our country, never mind that this view could be taken by Americans as a case of sour grapes. The term "American arrogance" has become a by-word everywhere you go in this country. I am inclined to believe Americans get rather flattered when they hear that ... They rationalise everything with the argument that being disliked by lesser mortals goes with the territory for a superpower. As usual the Americans, an otherwise straightforward people whose only weakness is their naivete and self-centredness, are missing the point. Nobody has any problem with power, as long as it is used responsibly. Power vested in a country that has no idea of the harm it does everybody when it behaves recklessly is not something to be admired.

Sure, we are poor. Yet all we demand is a little respect...

Oh dear. Well, he's sure to visit Nelson Mandela while he's bringing all this good will to Africa:
But, unlike many world leaders and celebrities who visit South Africa, he will not pay a courtesy call on revered statesman Nelson Mandela, an outspoken critic of his war on Iraq...

Former South African president Mandela has apparently contrived to be out of the country while Bush is in Pretoria this week, observers say, because he wants to temper controversy over his desire to avoid Bush.

Mandela once called Bush, who prizes personal connections he has made with other world statesmen, a leader who "cannot think properly" and last month praised a Bush bête-noire, French President Jacques Chirac, for opposing the Iraq war...

Africa activists have pounced on the lack of a meeting with Mandela, accusing Bush of insincerity before he embarks on his Africa trip on Monday.

"It should have been an honour for George Bush to have an audience with Nelson Mandela," said Salih Booker of the Africa Action pressure group.

"He didn't even request an appointment and, after 28 years in prison, Nelson Mandela is a free man and he speaks his mind freely and that in fact is why the White House did not want to meet him."

White House officials deny that Bush decided not to meet Mandela because of his personal criticisms.

"There was no discussion about a meeting with President Mandela either from them or from us or from him," said a senior Bush aide on condition of anonymity.

Bush will similarly avoid the summit of the African Union, taking place this week in Mozambique.

"Isn't it ironic that of all the places on the Bush agenda, Bush is not going to the one meeting that is bringing together all of Africa's heads of state," said Emira Woods of the Foreign Policy in Focus think-tank.

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