>An amateur photographer named Mike Maginnis was arrested on Tuesday in
>his home city of Denver - for simply taking pictures of buildings in an
>area where Vice President Cheney was residing. Maginnis told his story
>on Wednesday's edition of Off The Hook.
>Maginnis's morning commute took him past the Adams Mark Hotel on Court
>Place. Maginnis, who says he always carried his camera wherever he
>went, snapped about 30 pictures of the hotel and the surrounding area -
>which included Denver police, Army rangers, and rooftop snipers.
>Maginnis, who works in information technology, frequently photographs
>such subjects as corporate buildings and communications equipment.
>The following is Maginnis's account of what transpired:
>As he was putting his camera away, Maginnis found himself confronted by
>a Denver police officer who demanded that he hand over his film and
>camera. When he refused to give up his Nikon F2, the officer pushed him
>to the ground and arrested him.
>After being brought to the District 1 police station on Decatur Street,
>Maginnis was made to wait alone in an interrogation room. Two hours
>later, a Secret Service agent arrived, who identified himself as
>Special Agent "Willse."
>The agent told Maginnis that his "suspicious activities" made him a
>threat to national security, and that he would be charged as a
>terrorist under the USA-PATRIOT act. The Secret Service agent tried to
>make Maginnis admit that he was taking the photographs to analyze
>weaknesses in the Vice President's security entourage and "cause terror
>and mayhem."
>When Maginnis refused to admit to being any sort of terrorist, the
>Secret Service agent called him a "raghead collaborator" and a "dirty
>pinko faggot."
>After approximately an hour of interrogation, Maginnis was allowed to
>make a telephone call. Rather than contacting a lawyer, he called the
>Denver Post and asked for the news desk. This was immediately overheard
>by the desk sergeant, who hung up the phone and placed Maginnis in a
>holding cell.
>Three hours later, Maginnis was finally released, but with no
>explanation. He received no copy of an arrest report, and no receipt
>for his confiscated possessions. He was told that he would probably not
>get his camera back, as it was being held as evidence.
>Maginnis's lawyer contacted the Denver Police Department for an
>explanation of the day's events, but the police denied ever having
>Maginnis - or anyone matching his description - in custody. At press
>time, the Denver PD's Press Information Office did not return telephone
>messages left by 2600.
>The new police powers introduced by the USA-PATRIOT act, in the name of
>figh ting terrorism, have been frightening in their apparent potential
>for abuse. Mike Maginnis's experience on Tuesday is a poignant example
>of how this abuse is beginning to occur. It suggests that a wide range
>of activities which might be considered "suspicious" could be suddenly
>labeled a prelude to terrorism, and be grounds for arrest.
>We will continue to post updates to this story as we learn them.
>2600 Magazine
>P.O. Box 752 Middle Island, NY 11953
>Telephone: 631-751-2600
>Fax: 631-474-2677

Eric Leser | New York Correspondent
LE MONDE | 24.12.02 | 12h35

Such a mark of distrust with regard to the federal government is without precedent. Town councils of about thirty American cities among which Chicago (Illinois), Tampa (Florida), Berkeley (California), Santa Fe (New Mexico), Flagstaff (Arizona) or Fairbanks (Alaska) voted for resolutions requiring the respect of fundamental freedoms.
And an about sixty other localities should follow in the next weeks, announced the New York Times of December 23.
This step is before any symbolic system. It could at most justify the refusal by the local police forces to cooperate with the federal Office of investigation (FBI) or the immigration department (INS). But it is revealing of a faintness on the means used by the Bush administration to fight the terrorist threat on the American ground.
Traumatisés by the sudden discovery of their vulnerability, the Americans were ready, last year, to sacrifice a share of their freedom and their civic rights in exchange of more than safety. Increasingly many, they start to regret this choice. "Us avonc believed with a certain naivety that we were comfortably safe from any form of intrusion in our private life and attack to our fundamental freedoms. It was an error ", underlines Stewart Baker, former adviser for the national safety of president Bill Clinton. "There is an increasingly strong concern on the way in which the government acts to protect us from terrorism. One notes a disproportionate use of the capacity without concern of the private life of the citizens ", adds Elliot Mincberg, legal person in charge for People for the American Way, an association whose vocation is the protection of the Constitution.
During more than twenty years, the information agencies and the FBI were seen prohibiting the espionage and the monitoring of the American citizens. "That had even ended up entering the culture of the services of safety" , underlines Mr. Baker. But the Bush administration and its Minister for justice, John Ashcroft, consider these rules antiquated and being able even to facilitate the terrorist activities on the American ground. They systematically undertook to make them disappear. "They benefitted from the circumstances to obtain what they always dreamed, in particular with Patriot Act", Mike Godwin is indignant, of the Center for the democracy.
One month ago, a Court of Appeal being based on this "patriotic law" , voted in the weeks following September 11, 2001 to reinforce the means of fight against terrorism, authorized listenings of citizens in the absence of any supposed criminal activity. "From the moment when, for example, the government declares that somebody is a" enemy combatant ", it can indefinitely maintain it in prison without showing it, without him to give the possibility of seeing a lawyer and without making it pass in front of a judge ", explains Nadine Strossen, president of American Civil Liberties Union. This organization, become the black animal of John Ashcroft, does not cease gaining new members. They are today more than 330 000.
But the combat of the defenders of fundamental freedoms is difficult. The change of the police methods is done in discretion. "If it is decided that the fear of terrorism justifies the abandonment of our elementary rights to the private life, the least of the things is to discuss it. We cannot accept that that is done in our back ", is indignant Cindy Cohn, of the foundation for the electronic border.
For the specialists in the Internet and information, the part is already played and lost. In 2003, the new administration responsible for the safety of transport will start to use a data base drawing up an immediate profile of the passengers of the airline companies in order to identify the potential suspects. The identity, the routes passed, the methods of payment, the origin, the marital status of the travellers will be in a gigantic data base.
It is nothing beside the project over five years baptized "total data-processing Vigilance" (Total Awareness Information), whose direction was entrusted to the ex-admiral John Poindexter. This former adviser for the safety of president Ronald Reagan in 1985 and 1986 was one of the figures of the scandal Iran-Countered, a plot intended to help the guerrilla antisandinist financially, in Nicaragua. The Bush administration entrusted to him the responsibility for an information processing system worthy of "Big Brother" of George Orwell. It should make it possible to cross the whole of the data bases of the country, those of the Social security, the credit cards, the FBI, the local police forces, the driving licences, the bank accounts, the hospitals, the insurers, the army, the companies of telephone... The objective is to detect the unusual behavior of terrorists in power.
By provocation, defenders of freedoms decided to give to Mr. Poindexter a first impression of "total data-processing Vigilance" . They published on Internet its electronic address, that of its residence, its personal telephone numbers. They gave images by satellite of its house in the suburbs of Washington and the charts showing where it is located.
They even created a forum on line in order to collect all information on the activities from day to day of Mr. Poindexter. Blow, the biography of the former admiral suddenly disappeared from the site of the Pentagon just like the majority of information presenting on Internet the project Total Awareness Information. Even its Latin currency "scientia is potentia" (knowledge is the capacity) and its logo, a maconnic pyramid with a terrestrial sphere in its center, were unobtrusive.
This kind of guerrilla on Internet can lend to smiling, but is not likely any to block the administration. Besides this one intends to launch another project of great width: the control of the Internet. It will be necessary for that to force the suppliers of access to connect itself to a central system of monitoring. The proposal is at the end of a report/ratio baptized "national Strategy to make safe the cyberspace". It should be made public at the beginning of 2003.
Headline: A 'silver bullet's' toxic legacy

> Byline: Scott Peterson Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

> Date: 12/20/2002


> (KHARANJ, IRAQ)The rusting tanks are gathered in Iraq's southern
> desert

like an

> open-air exhibit of the 1991 Gulf War.


> But these are not just museum pieces. This still radioactive

> battlefield - and the severe health problems many Iraqis and some US

> Gulf War veterans ascribe to it - may also be an omen of an unsettled

> future.


> As American forces prepare to take on Iraq in a possible Gulf War II,

> analysts agree that the bad publicity and popular fears about depleted

> uranium (DU) use in the first Gulf War, and later in Kosovo and

> Afghanistan, have not dented Pentagon enthusiasm for its "silver

> bullet." US forces in Iraq will again deploy DU as their most
> effective

> - and most controversial - tank-busting bullet.


> War seems more imminent as the White House indicated late this week

> that the decision for war could come by late January.


> But this bleak desert just north of Iraq's border with Kuwait and
> Saudi

> Arabia offers a window on the human impact nearly 12 years after a

> toxic stew of DU, chemical agents, pesticides, and smoke from burning

> oil wells poisoned this war zone. Few suggest that a new war, if it

> involves Iraqi armored resistance, will have any less of an effect.

> "Nobody thinks about what is going to happen when the shooting stops,"

> says Robert Hewson, editor of the London-based Jane's Air-Launched

> Weapons. "The people who are firing [DU] will demand that they have

> it...they will not want to go to war without it. The primary driver

> will always be the mission and getting the job done."


> DU is made from nuclear-waste material left over from making nuclear

> weapons and fuel. American gunners used 320 tons of it in 1991 to

> destroy 4,000 Iraqi armored vehicles and swiftly conclude victory.


> But the invisible particles created when those bullets struck and

> burned are still "hot." They make Geiger counters sing, and they stick

> to the tanks, contaminating the soil and blowing in the desert wind,
> as

> they will for the 4.5 billion years it will take the DU to lose just

> half its radioactivity.


> Unaware of the risks, two shepherds earlier this week relaxed on the

> ground as their sheep picked at scrub grass near one tank. Similar

> tanks struck by DU during the Gulf War were deemed a "substantial
> risk"

> and buried by US forces in Saudi Arabia or a low-level radioactive

> waste dump in the US.


> Pentagon spokesmen said yesterday that US troops are being given no
> new

> DU protection training for any Iraq campaign. In the mid-1990s, US

> troops were required to wear full protective suits and masks within 50

> yards of a tank struck with DU bullets. Those rules, based on Nuclear

> Regulatory Commission safety guidelines, were dramatically revised in

> the late 1990s.


> In most cases, the rules now say, any face mask is sufficient.
> Pentagon

> officials note their policy has been "inconsistent," but admitted in

> 1998 that their "failure" to alert soldiers to the risks before the

> Gulf War resulted in "thousands of unnecessary exposures." The latest

> rules, a US Army spokesman said yesterday, "reflect the most current

> ... data regarding DU."


> Critics charge that the official downplaying of DU's dangers keeps the

> magic bullet in the arsenal, while thwarting DU-specific compensation

> claims by Gulf War vets.


> The Iraqi battlefield will be "very dangerous" in the aftermath of a

> new war, says Asaf Durakovic, a former chief of nuclear medicine at a

> veteran's hospital and head of the private Uranium Medical Research

> Center. In the peer-reviewed journal "Military Medicine" last August,

> he published results that 14 of 27 ill Gulf War vets had DU in their

> urine nine years after the war.


> Testifying before Congress in 1997, Dr. Durakovic predicted DU will

> ensure that "battlefields of the future will be unlike any...in

> history," and "injury and death will remain lingering threats to

> 'survivors' of the battle for ... decades into the future."


> Though DU clearly enhances the chances of victory, some say the price

> is too high. Risks are difficult to quantify, but US military and

> expert reports indicate DU can be a hazard that may cause cancer, and

> that total soil decontamination is impossible.


> British troops deploying to Kosovo in 1999 were sent out with full

> suits and masks, and told to use them "if contact with targets damaged

> by DU ammunition is unavoidable." A report commissioned by the US Army

> on the eve of the Gulf War found that "no dose [of DU particles] is so

> low that the probability of effect is zero." Another report by the

> British Atomic Energy Agency used an estimate of 40 tons of DU to

> create a hypothetical danger level, and predicted that that amount of

> DU - one-eighth of what actually was fired - could cause "500,000

> potential deaths."


> "I don't think we know if DU can be used safely, and until we know

> that, we shouldn't use it," says Chris Hellman, a senior analyst with

> Washington's Center for Defense Information. "The military's mindset
> is

> clear: 'This is war, war is hell...the guy who shoots first wins, and

> he hits them with everything he has.'"


> In the US, every aspect of DU creation, use, and disposal is strictly

> controlled. The US Army alone has 14 licenses to handle the substance.

> Disposal requires burial in low-level radioactive waste dumps;

> particles must be mixed with concrete and encased in two barrels.


> But when it comes to fighting armor, no substance can match DU
> bullets,

> denser than lead and self-sharpening. They burn through armor on
> impact

> and are cheap. US gunners love them and say DU saves lives on the
> front

> line.


> This graveyard of tanks shows why. DU burns so hotly into its target

> that a targeted tank's own ammunition ignites, causing a blast that

> often rips the turret right off the top of a tank. In the process,

> however, the DU round aerosolizes into a lethal dust that emits alpha

> particles.


> Though alpha particles have a limited range of a quarter-inch or so,

> they pack a punch 20 times more powerful than beta or gamma radiation,

> and can lodge easily in the body if inhaled or ingested. Many US vets

> believe DU may also be a key factor in Gulf War syndrome, the set of

> symptoms for which the Veteran's Administration has already provided

> compensation for nearly 1 in 4 vets.


> Iraqis say DU is a major cause of the severe health problems such as

> cancer and birth defects that they graphically show are surging in

> southern Iraq, though they do not have the clinical capability to link

> DU to health problems.


> "No one wins in war, everyone loses, and Basra will again be a great

> battlefield," says Thamer Ahmad Hamdan, an orthopedic surgeon in
> Basra.

> In 1998, when visited by the Monitor, he had one box of x-rays

> depicting grotesque abnormalities. "Now it is boxes," he says. "We
> will

> remember the Americans used this again, that it was killing miserable

> people. Hopefully, they are not going to do it."


> Iraqi doctors say poverty, malnutrition, and poor water and sanitation

> are key to current health problems, along with DU and chemical

> exposures, and trauma from the last war. Jawad Khudim al-Ali, director

> of the cancer ward at Basra's Saddam Teaching Hospital, says pre-war

> cancer rates have increased 11-fold; the mortality rate 19-fold.


> While US war planners in the Gulf War and in campaigns since have
> taken

> great care to minimize civilian casualties, the longterm impact of DU

> is tough to define. And the reviled Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein may

> limit concerns of civilian suffering, analysts say. "I don't think

> there is a consensus in this country about whether war is the right

> thing to do," says CDI's Hellman. "But there is a consensus that
> Saddam

> is right up there with Satan on the evil-people-in-the-world list. And

> therefore, whatever methods of warfare are going to bring him down,
> and

> safeguard American troops in the process, is going to be acceptable
> [to

> Americans]."


> "If [fallout on civilians] was a serious consideration," concurs

> Hewson, of Jane's, "we would not be contemplating a major land battle

> in Iraq. At the levels where this stuff is being planned, no tears are

> being shed for those people."


> Abdulkarim Hussein Subber, a gynecologist at the Basra Maternity and

> Children's Hospital, has three photo albums full of images of

> unimaginable birth defects that he claims are six times more prevalent

> today than before the Gulf War.


> "We have become very familiar with these cases," Dr. Subber says,

> adding that numbers have leveled off since expectant mothers began

> using ultrasound to detect - and terminate - severe cases. "The
> problem

> is [our patients] are afraid of being pregnant again, because of the

> fear of malformations," Subber says. "The problem is the pollution
> from

> the war."






> (c) Copyright 2002 The Christian Science Monitor. All rights
> reserved.


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for those who have asked me why, since i think the projected war in Iraq mt bring about some good, I nevertheless cannot support giving Geo.Bush a blank check...and for those who ask me why, given my reluctance to support that war, i could not join the peace demonstrations in berkeley, wherein the US is depicted as the Evil Empire... this excellent article by George Packer is as good an explanation as I could give. I'm not a "liberal hawk," but I have come to feel i can never again support any leftism which does not
contain the idea of liberallism. Some of these people (like George Packer)
I met once or twice, some (like Michael W) I've known for years & years. Their terms may not always be my terms. But their worries are my worries. Jeremy


The Liberal Quandary Over Iraq

December 8, 2002

If you're a liberal, why haven't you joined the antiwar movement? More to the point, why is there no antiwar movement that you'd want to join? Troops and equipment are pouring into the Persian Gulf region in preparation for what could be the largest, riskiest, most controversial American military venture since Vietnam. According to a poll released the first week of December, 40 percent of Democrats oppose a war that has been all but scheduled for sometime in the next two months. So where are the antiwarriors?

In fact, a small, scattered movement is beginning to stir.
On Oct. 26, tens of thousands of people turned out in San Francisco, Washington and other cities to protest against a war. Other demonstrations are planned for Jan. 18 and 19. By then an invasion could be under way, and if it gets bogged down around Baghdad with heavy American and Iraqi civilian casualties, or if it sets off a chain reaction of regional conflicts, antiwar protests could grow. But this movement has a serious liability, one that will just about guarantee its impotence: it's controlled by the furthest reaches of the American left. Speakers at the demonstrations voice unnuanced slogans like ''No Sanctions, No Bombing'' and ''No Blood for Oil.'' As for what should be done to keep this mass murderer and his weapons in check, they have nothing to say at all. This is not a constructive liberal antiwar movement.

So let me rephrase the question. Why there is no organized liberal opposition to the war?

The answer to this question involves an interesting
history, and it sheds light on the difficulties now
confronting American liberals. The history goes back 10
years, when a war broke out in the middle of Europe. This
war changed the way many American liberals, particularly liberal intellectuals, saw their country. Bosnia turned these liberals into hawks. People who from Vietnam on had never met an American military involvement they liked were now calling for U.S. air strikes to defend a multiethnic democracy against Serbian ethnic aggression. Suddenly the model was no longer Vietnam, it was World War II -- armed American power was all that stood in the way of genocide. Without the cold war to distort the debate, and with the inspiring example of the East bloc revolutions of 1989 still fresh, a number of liberal intellectuals in this country had a new idea. These writers and academics wanted to use American military power to serve goals like human rights and democracy -- especially when it was clear that nobody else would do it.

Many of them had cut their teeth in the antiwar movement of
the 1960's, but by the early 90's, when some of them made
trips to besieged Sarajevo, they had resolved their own
private Vietnam syndromes. Together -- hardly vast in their numbers, but influential -- they advocated a new role for America in the world, which came down to American power on behalf of American ideals.

Against the liberal hawks there were two opposing
tendencies. One was conservative: it loathed the idea of
the American military being used for humanitarian missions
and nation building and other forms of ''social work.''
This was the view of George W. Bush when he took office,
and of all his key advisers. The other opposing tendency
was leftist: it continued to view any U.S. military action
as imperialist. This thinking prompted Noam Chomsky to leap
to the defense of Slobodan Milosevic, and it dominates the narrow ideology of the new Iraq antiwar movement. Throughout the 90's, between the reflexively antiwar left and the coldblooded right, liberal hawks articulated the case for American engagement -- if need be, military engagement -- in the chaotic world of the post-cold war. And for 10 years of wars -- first in Bosnia, then Haiti, East Timor, Kosovo and, last year, in Afghanistan, which was a war of national security but had human rights as a side benefit -- what might be called the Bosnia consensus held.

But on the eve of what looks like the next American war,
the Bosnia consensus has fallen apart. The argument that
has broken out among these liberal hawks over Iraq is as
fierce in its way as anything since Vietnam. This time the argument is taking place not just between people but within them, where the dilemmas and conflicts are all the more tormenting. What makes the agony over Iraq particularly intense is the new role of conservatives. Members of the Bush administration who had nothing but contempt for human rights talk until the day before yesterday have grabbed the banner of democracy and are waving it on behalf of the long-suffering Iraqi people. For liberal hawks, this is painful to watch.

In this strange interlude, with everyone waiting for war,
I've had extended conversations with a number of these Bosnian-generation liberal intellectuals -- the ones who have done the most thinking and writing about how American power can be turned to good ends as well as bad, who don't see human rights and democracy as idealistic delusions, and who are struggling to figure out Iraq. I'm in their position; maybe you are, too. This Bosnian generation of liberal hawks is a minority within a minority, but they hold an important place in American public life, having worked out a new idea about America's role in the post-cold war world long before Sept. 11 woke the rest of the country up. An antiwar movement that seeks a broad appeal and an intelligent critique needs them. Oddly enough, President Bush needs them, too. The one level on which he hasn't even tried to make a case is the level of ideas. These liberal hawks could give a voice to his war aims, which he has largely kept to himself. They could make the case for war to suspicious Europeans and to wavering fellow Americans. They might even be able to explain the connection between Iraq and the war on terrorism. But first they would need to resolve their arguments with one another and themselves.

In my conversations, people who generally have little
trouble making up their minds and debating forcefully
talked themselves through every side of the question.
''This one's really difficult,'' said Michael Ignatieff,
the Canadian-born writer and thinker who has written a biography of the liberal philosopher Isaiah Berlin along with numerous books and articles on human rights. No one in recent years has supported humanitarian intervention more vocally than Ignatieff, but he says he believes that Iraq represents something different. ''I am having real trouble with this because it's not clear to me that containment has failed,'' Ignatieff told me. This kind of self-interrogation ends up with numerous arguments on either side of the ledger. Here's how I break down the liberal internal debate.

For War

1. Saddam is cruel and dangerous.

2. Saddam has used
weapons of mass destruction and has never stopped trying to develop them.

3. Iraqis are suffering under tyranny and sanctions.

Democracy would benefit Iraqis.

5. A democratic Iraq could drain influence from repressive Saudi Arabia.

6. A democratic Iraq could unlock the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate.

7. A democratic Iraq could begin to liberalize the Arab

8. Al Qaeda will be at war with us regardless of what we do
in Iraq.

Against War

1. Containment has worked for 10 years, and inspections
could still work.

2. We shouldn't start wars without immediate provocation
and international support.

3. We could inflict terrible casualties, and so could

4. A regional war could break out, and anti-Americanism
could build to a more dangerous level.

5. Democracy can't be imposed on a country like Iraq.

Bush's political aims are unknown, and his record is not reassuring.

7. America's will and capacity for nation building are too limited.

8. War in Iraq will distract from the war on terrorism and swell Al Qaeda's ranks.

At the heart of the matter is a battle between wish and
fear. Fear generally proves stronger than wish, but it
leaves a taste of disappointment on the tongue. Caution
over Iraq puts liberal hawks, who are nothing if not
moralists, in the psychologically unsettling position of defending a status quo they despise -- of sounding like the compromisers they used to denounce when it came to Bosnia. Fear means missing the chance for what Ignatieff calls ''a huge prize at the end.''

But wish makes a liberal hawk sound like a Bush hawk,
blithely unconcerned about the dangers of American power.
The liberal hawk is a liberal -- someone temperamentally
prone to see the world as a complicated place.

This dilemma is every liberal's current dilemma.


After last year's terror attacks, Michael Walzer, the
author of ''Just and Unjust Wars,'' among other books, published an article in the magazine he co-edits, Dissent, called ''Can There Be a Decent Left?'' Walzer harshly criticized leftists whose first instinct was to blame American policy for Sept. 11 and who refused to see the need for a war of self-defense against Al Qaeda. The article threw down an angry marker between the pro- and anti-interventionist left, and it drew heated attention to a 67-year-old political philosopher with a far-from-confrontational manner.

A year later, Walzer finds himself an ambivalent opponent
of war in Iraq. Al Qaeda simplified things in favor of
armed action; Iraq presents nothing but complication. ''The uncertainties right now are so great,'' he told me as we sat and talked at a cafe in Greenwich Village, ''and the prospects, the risks, so frightening, that the proportionality rule forces you the other way. And with a lot of other things going on -- suspicion of this government of ours, anger at the automatic anti-Americanism of people here and other places. It's all mixed up.''

Walzer is a strong advocate of multilateral action, and he faults the administration and its European allies for bringing out the worst in one another, American bellicosity and European complacency pushing the logic of events toward a war he says he doesn't believe is justified yet. The just-war theory requires that a threat be imminent before an attack is started. Since this is not yet the case with Iraq, an American war there wouldn't meet the criteria.

None of this means that Walzer is rallying opposition at teach-ins. In the 1960's, he was willing to join an antiwar movement that he says he knew would strengthen the hand of Vietnamese Communists ''because I thought they'd already won. I would not join an antiwar movement that strengthened the hand of Saddam.'' And yet he can't imagine one that doesn't. The nature of the enemy makes it almost impossible to be outspoken for peace, a dilemma that has created what he calls ''a kind of silent majority, a silent antiwar movement.'' Walzer's position offers cold comfort, for it ends up with Saddam still in power. ''It leaves me unhappy,'' he says.

The Romantic

These days, Christopher Hitchens sounds anything but
unhappy. His militant support, first for the war with Al
Qaeda and now for a war in Iraq, has led him to break quite publicly with former comrades. He has vacated the column he wrote in The Nation for the past 20 years and has said harsh things about the ''masochists'' of the anti-American left. Hitchens's apostasy has generated nearly as much attention on the left as the war itself, but over a three-hour lunch in Washington, his position struck me as more judicious than its print version.

Hitchens agrees with the ''decent skepticism'' of liberals
who distrust the administration's motives, but he has
decided that hawks like Deputy Defense Secretary Paul
Wolfowitz aim to use a democratic Iraq to end the regional dominance of Saudi Arabia. If this is the hidden agenda, Hitchens wants to force it into the open. He compares Saddam's Iraq with Ceausescu's Romania in 1989: it's going to implode anyway, and America should have a hand in the process.

In 1991, Hitchens was too suspicious of American motives to support the first gulf war -- a hangover, he says, from his days as a revolutionary socialist -- but on a visit to northern Iraq at the end of the war, he rode in a jeep with Kurdish fighters he admired who had taped pictures of the first George Bush to their windshield. It was a minor revelation. ''I'm not ashamed of my critique of the gulf war,'' he says, ''but I'm annoyed by how limited it was.''

Since then, Hitchens has steadily warmed to American power exercised on behalf of democracy. When I suggested that since Sept. 11 he has gone back to the 18th-century, when the struggle between the secular liberal Enlightenment and religious dark-age tyranny created the modern world, Hitchens readily agreed. ''After the dust settles, the only revolution left standing is the American one,'' he said. ''Americanization is the most revolutionary force in the world. There's almost no country where adopting the Americans wouldn't be the most radical thing they could do. I've always been a Paine-ite.''

British pamphleteer for the American revolution -- Hitchens
has updated the role for Iraq. His relish for war with
radical Islamists and tyrants (''You want to be a martyr?
I'm here to help'') sounds like the bulldog pugnacity of a British naval officer's son, which he is. It also suggests a deep desire, and a romantic one, to join a revolution -- even if it's admittedly a ''revolution from above.'' ''I feel much more like I used to in the 60's,'' he says, ''working with revolutionaries. That's what I'm doing; I'm helping a very desperate underground. That reminds me of my better days quite poignantly.'' Hitchens has plans to drink Champagne with comrades in Baghdad around Valentine's Day.

The Skeptic

''Revolution from above'' was Trotsky's
mocking phrase for Stalin's use of the Communist Party to collectivize the Soviet Union. It implies coercion toward a notion of the good. David Rieff, whose book ''Slaughterhouse'' condemned the failure of Western powers to intervene in Bosnia, compares revolution from above to Plato's idea of ruling Guardians. What they share, says Rieff, is a desire to pursue utopian ends by undemocratic means.

''I always thought there was more in common between Human Rights Watch and the Bush administration than either would be comfortable thinking, because they both are revolutionaries -- in my view, quite dangerous radicals. They believe that virtue can be imposed by force of law and force of arms. Christopher has the same view with his sense that a democratic alternative can be imposed by force of arms in the Middle East.''

Unlike Hitchens, an Englishman who ''liked the United
States enough to have concluded when I was about 16 that
I'd been born in the wrong country,'' Rieff is an American
who grew up with a European education, traveled the world
as a teenager and always looked askance at the notion of America as either savior or Satan. As an empire, America is neither better nor worse than other empires -- but to expect it to behave like Amnesty International is foolish. The difference between Bosnia and Iraq, Rieff says, is the difference between supporting democracy and imposing it. The former was a moral imperative as well as a strategic one; the latter is hubris. With Iraq, this hubris is leading to ''a hideous mistake.'' ''I accept everything that the Bush administration says about the wickedness of Saddam Hussein,'' Rieff says, ''but I do think it's a revolution too far.''

The Secularist

During the Congressional debates on the war resolution, it
was just about impossible to hear an argument in favor of
the administration without the words ''Munich'' and ''Chamberlain.'' The words ''Tonkin'' and ''Johnson'' were far rarer, which tells you something about the relative acceptability of World War II and Vietnam -- appeasement and quagmire -- as historical precedents. I wanted to ban all analogies, because they always seemed to be ways of avoiding the hardest questions. But the analogies are hard-wired, and Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor of The New Republic, is right to say that Americans of the postwar generation ''have operated with two primal scenes. One was the Second World War; one was the Vietnam War. And you can almost divide the camps on the use of American force between those whose model for its application was the Second World War and those whose model for its application was the Vietnam War.''

For Wieseltier, whose parents survived the Holocaust, the primal scene is American power helping to end evil. Shortly before I met him at his Washington home, Wieseltier had seen a TV documentary with rare footage of the gassing of Kurds by Saddam's army -- a reminder of a primal scene if ever there was one. But that was in 1988, when America failed to intervene. Today, American and British pilots in the no-fly zone are preventing the very genocide that Wieseltier feels would justify an invasion.

Wieseltier is a secular liberal in the classical sense. He
says he believes that the separation of religion and power marked a violent rupture with the past. This rupture created a new and universal idea of freedom and equality -- one that Islamic societies around the world have not yet been ready to face. Sept. 11 was a cataclysmic ''refreshment'' of this idea, after years in which only money mattered. But terrorism should not turn liberals into simple-minded missionaries; being a secular liberal means accepting that the world is a difficult place. ''Democracy in Iraq would be a blessing, but it cannot be the main objective for embarking on a major war,'' Wieseltier says. ''If there is one thing that liberalism has no time for, it's an eschatological mentality. There is no single, sudden end to injustice. There's slow, steady, fitful progress toward a more decent and democratic world.''

Wieseltier says he believes that Saddam's weapons and
fondness for using them will probably necessitate a war,
but unlike some other editors at The New Republic, he is
not eager to start one. ''We will certainly win,''
Wieseltier says, ''but it is a war in which we are truly playing with fire.''

The Idealist

Paul Berman's book ''A Tale of Two Utopias: The Political Journey of the Generation of 1968'' traced a line from the rebellions of the 1960's to the nonviolent revolutions of 1989. It is essentially a line from leftism to liberalism. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, the great ideological battles of the 20th century seemed to have ended: liberal democracy reigned supreme.

Then came Sept. 11, which, Berman argues in a coming book called ''Terror and Liberalism,'' showed that, as it turns out, the 20th century isn't quite over yet.

''The terrorism we face right now is actually a form of totalitarianism,'' Berman told me in his Brooklyn apartment. ''The only possible way to oppose totalitarianism is with an alternative system, which is that of a liberal society.'' So the war that began on Sept. 11 is primarily a war of ideas, and Berman harshly criticizes Bush for failing to pursue it. ''We're going into a very complex and long war disarmed, in which our most important assets have been stripped away from us, which are our ideals and our ideas. He's sending us into war with one arm tied behind our back.''

Berman argues for a war in Iraq on three grounds: to free
up the Middle East militarily for further actions against
Al Qaeda, to liberate the Iraqi people from their dungeon
and to establish ''a beachhead of Arab democracy'' and
shift the region's center of gravity away from autocracy
and theocracy and toward liberalization. In other words,
war in Iraq has everything to do with the war on terrorism,
and the dangers of an American military occupation that
might not be seen by everyone in the region as
''pro-Muslim,'' though they worry Berman, don't deter him.

Perhaps the boldest intellectual move he makes is to claim
a liberal descent for these ideas -- connecting the fall of
the Berlin Wall, Bosnia, Kosovo, Sept. 11 and Iraq. This lineage, Berman claims, is represented not by George W. Bush but by Tony Blair, ''leader of the free world.'' Bush has presented the wars on terrorism and Saddam as matters of U.S. security. In fact, Berman says, they are wars for liberal civilization, and the rest of the democratic world should want to join. It doesn't bother Berman to hear conservative hawks at the Pentagon like Paul Wolfowitz talking similarly. ''If their language is sincere,'' he says, ''and there is an idealism among the neo-cons that echoes and reflects in some way the language of the liberal interventionists of the 90's, well, that would be a good thing.''

But Berman, unlike Hitchens, doubts their sincerity. And in
the end, Berman can't support the administration's war
plan, ''because I don't actually know -- I believe that no
one actually knows -- what is the actual White House
policy.'' So he is left in the familiar position of intellectuals, with an arsenal of ideas and no way to deploy them.

one chilly evening in late November, a panel discussion on
Iraq was convened at New York University. The participants
were liberal intellectuals, and one by one they framed reasonable arguments against a war in Iraq: inspections need time to work; the Bush doctrine has a dangerous agenda; the history of U.S. involvement in the Middle East is not encouraging. The audience of 150 New Yorkers seemed persuaded.

Then the last panelist spoke. He was an Iraqi dissident
named Kanan Makiya, and he said, ''I'm afraid I'm going to strike a discordant note.'' He pointed out that Iraqis, who will pay the highest price in the event of an invasion, ''overwhelmingly want this war.'' He outlined a vision of postwar Iraq as a secular democracy with equal rights for all of its citizens. This vision would be new to the Arab world. ''It can be encouraged, or it can be crushed just like that. But think about what you're doing if you crush it.'' Makiya's voice rose as he came to an end. ''I rest my moral case on the following: if there's a sliver of a chance of it happening, a 5 to 10 percent chance, you have a moral obligation, I say, to do it.''

The effect was electrifying. The room, which just minutes earlier had settled into a sober and comfortable rejection of war, exploded in applause. The other panelists looked startled, and their reasonable arguments suddenly lay deflated on the table before them.

Michael Walzer, who was on the panel, smiled wanly. ''It's
very hard to respond,'' he said.

It was hard, I thought, because Makiya had spoken the
language beloved by liberal hawks. He had met their hope of avoiding a war with an even greater hope. He had given the people in the room an image of their own ideals.


December 20, 2002
Quo Vadis, Karl?
The New York Times

The day after the Republican triumph in the midterm elections, a jubilant Trent Lott held a celebratory press conference. "Let's roll!" he exulted. (Good taste is not one of Mr. Lott's strong points.)

Six weeks later, we have to ask: Roll where (aside from Baghdad)? The storm that has broken over Mr. Lott's head is justified. But it may also reflect buyers' remorse: post-election polls suggest broad public unease about where Mr. Lott's party is taking us.

It's not even clear what the Bush administration wants to accomplish now that it has full control. Until now the administration has been all politics and no policy; John J. DiIulio tells us that there is a "complete lack of a policy apparatus," that all decisions are made by the political arm. For the past two years domestic policy has consisted of little more than checking off the boxes on a wish list drawn up circa 1999.

Meanwhile, as problems that weren't anticipated in 1999 have arisen, the administration has done as little as possible, as late as possible.

This has been true even in the areas where George W. Bush gets highest marks from voters. Remember that the administration repeatedly rejected calls for a homeland security agency, changing its mind only when Coleen Rowley went public with tales of intelligence failures. And a growing chorus of critics say that hardly anything real has been done to make the country safer.

Similarly, the administration tried to prevent any independent inquiry into what went wrong on Sept. 11, and how to avoid future attacks. Then, when he could no longer avoid an inquiry, Mr. Bush did his best to undermine that inquiry's credibility by choosing Henry Kissinger, of all people, to head it.

And then there's corporate reform. At first the administration opposed doing anything. Then, after WorldCom blew up, it agreed to a modest reform bill — only to undermine the bill's credibility both by trying to renege on promises to provide the Securities and Exchange Commission with adequate funds, and by pressuring Harvey Pitt not to choose a real reformer to head a crucial new panel.

Finally, there's economic policy. Fears that the economy would suffer a "jobless recovery" similar to that of the first Bush administration are no longer hypothetical: over the past year G.D.P. has grown, but employment has continued to shrink, and the risk that the U.S. will slide into a Japanese-style pattern of slow growth and deflation no longer seems remote.

Again, the response has been to do as little as possible. As Congress failed to agree on an extension of unemployment benefits — which means that 800,000 families will be cut off on Dec. 28 — the administration simply stood on the sidelines. Last weekend, too late to help those families, Mr. Bush finally spoke up in favor of an extension, but failed to say whether he favored the merely cosmetic House plan or the more serious Senate plan; those who follow the issue know that this makes all the difference.

Will things improve now that there's a new economic team? John Snow seems to be Paul O'Neill without the charm. Stephen Friedman will probably be more vigorous than his predecessor; The Washington Post reports that one of Mr. Bush's frequent complaints about Larry Lindsey was that he didn't get enough physical exercise. But Mr. Friedman will have plenty of time to work out; it has been made clear that his duties as economic adviser don't include actually giving any economic advice.

Meanwhile, if the trial balloons floated by the administration are any guide to the forthcoming "stimulus" package, it will consist of more items from the checklist: making the tax cut permanent, reducing taxes on dividends. Nice stuff if you make more than $300,000 a year and have a net worth in the millions, but pretty much irrelevant to the actual problems of the economy — except the long-run deficit, which will get even worse. It seems that Karl Rove and his merry band of Mayberry Machiavellis are still calling the shots.

It may be that the bad few weeks the administration has just had were the result of random events. But I think the public is finally waking up to the fact that the people in the White House know a lot about gaining power, but not much about what to do with it.