“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Saturday, May 25, 2002

Remora

Enron's stunt fall, during that portion of the Bush administration that we will certainly know more about if Cheney's office has to release its docs, was preceded by a rise duing a portion of Clinton's administration that hasn't received a lot of scrutiny, yet. Corporate Watch has published an article by Jimmy Langman on Enron's operations in Bolivia. The interlocking interests of capital and the state are put into special relief in this instance of what Cobbett would have called 'ruffian' capitalism.

Let's put this in terms of the mission statement, or the vision committment, or whatever seedy term you want to use.

Q: How can Enron, the free enterpriser's free enterprise, suck off the government tit by running a pipeline through an environmentally threatened forest? And how can it parlay false promises to a bunch of indigineous know nothings into an incredible amount of profit, without paying for an incredible amount of environmental damage, and still cheat its partners on the deal?

First, the setting:

"The 390-mile long Cuiaba natural gas pipeline, partly owned by Royal Dutch/Shell Group, stretches from near the city of Santa Cruz in eastern Bolivia to Cuiaba, Matto Grosso, Brazil. There, it fuels Enron's new 480-megawatt thermal power plant. The pipeline cuts through the 15 million-acre Chiquitano, the last, large, relatively intact tall dry forest in the world. The Chiquitano forest is "one of the world's richest, rarest and most biologically outstanding habitats on Earth" and one of the planet's 200 most sensitive eco-regions, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Approximately 90 species of mammals, birds and reptiles in the Chiquitano are listed as endangered. The adjacent Pantanal is the world's largest wetlands region, spanning 89,000 square miles and straddling the borders of Brazil, Paraguay, and Bolivia. It is one of the world's richest wildlife habitats."

Now, remember, this forest is inhabited. The inconvenient indigenes must be placated with some initial promise that will pay off the NGOs that virtuously claim to represent them. Don't worry about really representing them -- once the NGOs have satisfied themselves, and their mailing list of contributors, that they've operated with maximum virtue, they will forget about their "clients" -- or better, having bought into the enterprise, they'll defend it against any subversive dissent that might emanate from some village headman somewhere, like that guy knows anything. Enron, however, isn't Shell Oil, which would be satisfied with some such arrangement. Enron wants to hit the ball out of the park, because that is the innovative, asset light, creative destruction type of corporate culture that made the 90s so special. To really hit the ball out of the ball park, you have to simultaneously juggle your accounting in a fraudulent way, contribute as much as possible to the degredation of the wilderness described above, seduce monetary support from the taxpayer, and cheat your business partner. Enron, with the mastery that accompanied its spiking stock prices, was able to do it all, as Langman reports. What fascinated LI is the part played by another one of those obscure Federal agencies that exist to pump money, as in an artesian well, from a lower level to a higher one -- that is, lining the pockets of the porcine set with money that, as LI writes this, is going to be denied the unworthy poor in pending legislation to "reform" welfare even more.

This is the US aspect of the deal:

"The "Cuiaba Energy Integrated Project" cost an estimated $600 million to build, $200 million of which was originally to be financed by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), a US government agency that helps US companies with business projects in less-developed countries."

Never let it be said that America is indifferent to less developed countries, not with OPIC around to spread our bounty from jungle to glorious jungle. Enron was OPIC's number one cause, accruing 1.7 billion dollars in much needed aid since 1992. However, in Bolivia, OPIC was hampered by constraints on lending to environmentally destructive projects. But hey presto! that's where a little teamwork from OPIC's pliant chief environmental officer, Harvey Himberg, came in. By selectively describing the project, and by picturing the Chiquitano in wholly false terms, they were able to get around the restraints written into OPIC regulations. Himberg is what you call a visionary in the Forturne-'n-Forbes speak. Here's an example:

"After fires swept parts of the Chiquitano forest in the summer of 1999, OPIC even created a video highlighting the burnt out areas in an effort to convince individuals from other government agencies that the forest was not primary. The video led one US Agency for International Development staffer to tell an environmental group that he came away with the impression that there was no forest left.

"At every step OPIC sided with Enron, finding every way possible to circumvent its primary forest policy," says Atossa Soltani, executive director of Amazon Watch: "OPIC management put on an all out effort to defend its largest business client."

This sounds much like tactics used by the Bush administration to get its true clients, petro companies, oil leases in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge.

OPIC has a little convenient site for children set up to explain itself, with cute pictures of jungle plants and beasts (in keeping with the curious American custom of portraying, in cartoons, the happy frolicking creatures we stun, butcher, slice n dice, broil, bake, and fry -- the grinning pig at the Barbecue place, the dancing chicken who can't wait to immerse itself, breast and thigh, in boiling oil. MMM MMM Good, Kids!) and a whole buncha fun facts to know and tell. Did you know sometimes private insurance companies just are so poopy? Yeah, they simply won't underwrite those necessary ventures of American capital into the big scary world of lions and tigers and bears. Now, Uncle Sam don't want to coddle any of you or your welfare queen mamas, you hear? But if you are, say, a multi-billion dollar energy company, the bowels of our national compassion are moved:

Why Is OPIC Needed?


Private loans, loan guaranties, and political risk insurance are hard to get for companies who want to operate in less developed countries. The best way for a country to become more developed is to encourage businesses to build and operate there. Some banks refuse to do business in these countries because they think it is too risky. OPIC helps these growing nations by supporting those businesses that want to operate in these countries.


Kids will do the darndest things, and some of them might question whether Uncle Sam should leap in where angels and venture capitalists don't dare to venture. But have no fear. OPIC, you see, is good for America!

"How Does OPIC Help America?

OPIC helps American companies make investments in developing countries. When US companies make these investments they are likely to create US jobs and exports. For example, if OPIC is helping to build a power plant in a foreign country then the parts and equipment needed to build the power plant will often be supplied by other American companies. American companies may build the generator for the plant, as well as selling the cranes, bulldozers, and trucks needed to build it. Since 1971, OPIC has supported $138 billion worth of investments that will generate $63.6 billion in U.S. exports and create nearly 250,000 American jobs. OPIC does not support projects that may result in any loss of American jobs or exports.

OPIC also helps U.S. foreign policy by only doing business in countries that obey certain rules about workers� rights and human rights. OPIC will not help any country that abuses its people.

OPIC is self-sustaining , and has made money every year since it was created in 1971. Because OPIC is so successful, it contributes money to the U.S. foreign assistance account every year."

LI was a smart ass boy. And LI has grown up to be a smart ass man. And this man, reading about all those trucks and cranes and things, wonders how scared the lions and tigers and bears should be. But they are SCARY! We have zoos to put creatures like that where they belong: behind bars!

In the meantime, although OPIC is very open and touchy feely with the kiddies, it seems simply touchy when it comes to its accounting. Or at least according to the Friends of the Earth. Kids, you might want to add to OPICs fun facts page the question, how are we accounting for those projects that (zoom! zoom!) use all those like neat cranes and trucks to set up like coal burning fuel plants in Thailand and stuff.

"OPIC's Annual Reports provide Congress and taxpayers with an ambiguous and distorted picture. OPIC reports "commitments" to the public but not final signed contracts. Therefore, the public has no way of knowing whether or not a contract was actually signed, which would result in official U.S. financial exposure and could create debt for developing countries."

But lets not badmouth our friendly neighbor policy while our POTUS is with Putin. Children, after all, should be seen, and not heard -- and the same is true for citizens.






has a site for kids





















Thursday, May 23, 2002

Remora

Murder

Murder is definitely not one of the fine arts for scolds in the press. We expected, as soon as poor old Chandra Levy's body showed up in the front yard of some D.C. police station... oops, we mean as soon as it was uncovered in the veritable jungle, the impenetrable wilds, near a jogging path only accessible by way of Sherpa guides, of a D.C. park --- that the scolds would be down the throat of the press for trivializing, sensationalizing, and generally not realizing that, after 9/11, everything had changed -- yes, we were no longer gawkers at traffic accidents, mongerers of bootleg execution video tapes, spectators of Jerry Springer managed slap fights between hefty adult star queens, eaters of nitrate rich bacon and wankers to home video porn, but had been transformed into discerning consumers Brookings Institute White Papers. Howard Kurz, the barometer of conventional wisdom, didn't disappoint us:


"Terrorism, threats against the Brooklyn Bridge, Middle East violence, the president's trip to Europe � all were blown off the television screen at noon yesterday by the story that became the media's leading soap opera last summer.

"The Levy tragedy burst back into the news with the discovery of skeletal remains in Rock Creek Park. No matter that it wasn't clear for hours whether this was the Washington intern who has been missing for more than a year, or that Condit, the man romantically linked to her, has long since been defeated. The media were in full-blown, this-just-in, team-coverage mode."

Just to make sure we get it, the headline writer entitled Kurz' s column: Wall-to-Wall Levy Coverage
Pre-Sept. 11 Excess Returns to TV News After Discovery of Remains.

And so, though we feel sad, experience the pang of vicarious melancholy, feel even funky, for Chandra, we do want to hear everything. In the meantime, we've been pondering the varieties of murder, on the lines of De Quincey's essay on Murder as one of the fine arts. This essay, which really transformed the Newgate narrative into the Real Crime narrative (yes, Ann Rule owes her whole career to the opium addict), is often mentioned as notorious, or infamous, or the like.

Frank Tallis, a crime fiction writer, makes the by now standard reference in his essay in Crime Times,
Original Sin: On the Importance of Creative Killing. Tallis doesn't follow De Quincey's radical path, however. Where De Quincey looked at the murder itself in terms of art, Tallis looks for creativity in the murderer's hobbies -- poetry, crafts of various sorts.

"Yet, even serial killers are guilty of not exploiting their creative powers to the full. Although they are generally very inventive with dead bodies (using them as sex aids or as a source of spare parts from which they can fashion objets d'art), they too show an unexpected conservatism when it comes to the dastardly deed itself. Nilson [see this link for an elaborate description of Nilson's career ], whose quite tolerable poetry elevates him to something of a laureate among villains (and who often spoke unambiguously about the 'art' of murder) was a boring old strangler at heart.

"Looking through one of the many millennial lists that appeared last year I came across a register of twenty titles voted the 'best ever' crime fiction. I couldn't help noticing that the authors of almost all of the genre classics opted for tried and tested methods of murder. They spurned originality. Why? Above, I mentioned that in my quest for an original methodology I was looking for something bold without being silly. And in these matters, the issue of 'silliness' is (as John Major might have said) not inconsiderable. Indeed, it seems to me that there is some kind of mathematical law in operation that enforces the co-variation of originality and silliness. That is to say, the more original the method of despatch, the more silly or ridiculous it will appear - the opposite also being true. Thus, like Icarus, the aspiring crime writer must be wary of hubris. The higher you fly the more likely it is that you will fall from the literary stratosphere."

There's a mistake here that is obvious to any literary critic -- the confounding of technological novelty with creativity. There are poems and novels that combine the two, granted. But the true poetaster of murder is as much in search of the adventure of content as the fashion of form. David Lehman, in an essay on the detective novel, quotes Gertrude Stein, of all people, on the genre. Stein delivers, as she always does, after transcending a few commas:


"Gertrude Stein, who called the detective story "the only really modern novel form," has an analysis that has always fascinated me. (You can piece it together from passages in Everybody�s Autobiography and in her lecture "What Are Masterpieces.") Stein explained that the detective story "gets rid of human nature by having the man dead to begin with the hero is dead to begin with and so you have so to speak got rid of the event before the book begins." In a detective story, she also observed, "the only person of any importance is dead" and so "there can be no beginning middle and end" in the conventional sense. Stein helps to account for why time in a detective novel flows not in a straight lines but in two directions concurrently: there is the time of the action culminating in the violent event that occurs just before the book begins, and there is the narrative time of the detective�s reconstruction of the events leading to that moment. Stein�s more important insight is that the discovery of the corpse represents the termination of an action at the same time as it initiates a new action, and since this is so, it makes sense to regard the detective as a new hero who emerges at the precise moment that his predecessor, the traditional hero of fiction, meets his violent end. The scene of the crime is the locus of the transition from a flawed hero (the victim) to one who is better equipped for survival (the detective).
"

Chandra, of course, is a heroine without a detective to vindicate her status. D.C. detectives are, indeed, better equipped for survival, as in Lehman's interpretation of Stein, but only in the way of all bureaucrats -- by assiduously avoiding real work, arresting the obvious and framing them when necessary, and generating excuses at will. Of course, Stein was thinking of real detectives, ones that quit the force and work on their own, for paying clients.

It's Chinatown, Jake. Somebody in D.C. is bound to say that at some point in this case.

Finally, LI would recommend the NYPost for leaping, a little late, into the story. The day before, the Post had been proclaiming stentorianly that all we had to fear was fear itself -- which of course was a bunch of bull, since we have to fear, really, being blown up by Al Quaeda folks. That this is what we have to fear should be obvious to even Murdoch's privileged minions. Were they out all last year or what? But today, the Post did itself proud. First the headline: It's Her. Simple, but thrusting. Then the pic of Chandra.Not the usual pic, not the way AOL clumsily promoted the story, like plastering up one of those tiresome have you seen this child posters for its forty million customers to see. The Post ain't no milk company. No, this one is of a dewier, a happier Chandra. Well, of course it is hard not to be happier than at the moment of your murder, but still. This Chandra reminded us that we didn't like it, not a bit, that she'd disappeared like that. Then, then, the Condit angle. Its a matter of tracking the camera, its the sweep, the pan that counts. The WP, of course, scratching at its girdle, provides a map for the reader to locate the skeletal remains, but how about the really important landmark in the case -- the location of Condit's apartment vis a vis the body?

"The location where the remains were found is about three miles from Levy's apartment in Dupont Circle, a little less than two miles from Condit's home, and a mile north of Pierce/Klingle Mansion Nature Center. "


If the Post doesn't get its man to traverse those two miles, timing it, and looking for broken twigs and broken bottles of Condit's favorite brandy, we will definitely lament the decline of tabloid ingenuity in this great land of ours.


Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Remora

Gould's is a demise foretold -- why else would he have written in his last book of essays that they were, indeed, the last book of essays -- but LI is sad about it anyway. On first reading, we found the NYT obituary ill-tempered. On second reading, the quote from John Maynard Smith about the "uselessness" of Gould's contribution to evolutionary theory was not the poke in the eye (some emergence of the mole from the ever vigilant network around Robert Wright?) than a on the one hand, on the other hand kind of thing. Although we doubt that Richard Dawkins obituary will suffer from this rather cheap shot:

"Some charged that his theories, like punctuated equilibrium, were so malleable and difficult to pin down, that they were essentially untestable."

We don't imagine the Times repeating the complaint that Dawkins use of the term gene has stretched it way beyond any correspondence to the physical thing, the gene. In Dawkins hands, the gene becomes something like one of Quine's event zones.

Thinking of Gould leads us to recommend this review, in Ha'aretz, of a terminally silly book entitled: "The Science of God: The Convergence of Scientific and Biblical Wisdom," by one Gerald Schroeder:

"...there is the Mishna in Tractate Sanhedrin that states: "The following will have no share of the Next World: Those who say that the resurrection of the dead is not mentioned in the Bible." Rashi's commentary on this passage is: "Those persons who admit and believe that the dead will be resurrected, but who claim that there is no allusion to this resurrection in the Bible are heretics because they are denying that the Bible mentions the resurrection of the dead."

Gerald Schroeder, author of "The Science of God: The Convergence of Scientific and Biblical Wisdom" [the title of the original book in English, published by the Free Press, 1997] takes an even more extreme position than that of the tana (scholar) in the above-mentioned passage in the Mishna. The Mishna demands that Jews look for an allusion in the Bible to something very specific: the resurrection of the dead, an event that belongs more to the next world than to this one. Schroeder, on the other hand, appears to be determined to find - at least, for himself - allusions in the Bible to many basic theories and many scientific disciplines that are related to this world, not to the next: astronomy, paleontology, geology and cosmic and biological evolution. "

The reviewer, Elia Leibowitz, finds Schroeder to be appalling, which of course he is. The Mishna, in fact, would certainly have mentioned his appallingness if God hadn't been distracted by other matters. The Free Press, which published Schroeder's book, is an establishment, conservative press, famously edited by one of Saul Bellow's children. From Leibowitz' description of Schroeder's book, however, it seems pander without any redeeming value to the dumbest hick prejudices out there in the hinterlands. Here's an ace example, set up by Leibowitz's common sense question:

"If the Bible is a human creation, what scientific sources were at the disposal of the authors of this book, which undoubtedly was written many centuries ago? For example, Schroeder does not explain how the author who wrote the marvelous passage on God's revelation to Moses (Exodus 3) knew that there are 26 dimensions in the world. Schroeder suggests - apparently, with total seriousness - that the numerology of God's explicit name (which is not mentioned by Orthodox Jews), which is 26, alludes to the fact that the world has 26 dimensions. Four of these dimensions - the three spatial dimensions and the dimension of time - are known, while the other 22 are invisible. The hidden dimensions - the word for "hidden" in Hebrew is "alum" - give the world its name, which in Hebrew is "olam," a term that can be interpreted as semantically linked to "alum."

Schroeder gets very excited by the numerology here and from the context in which it appears because 26 is the number of dimensions with whose help the world can be described, according to the early versions of the String Theory, which presents an ultra-modern picture of the world and which occupies a position midway between hypothesis and theory in recent thinking in the world of physics. Does Schroeder think that the author of Exodus was familiar with the String Theory? Did the author know, have familiarity with, and use the mathematical concept of dimension? "

There is a certain level of pap that should properly revulse even the editors of the Free Press. Alas, nobody has ever gone broke marketing New Age books or Conservative screeds. Schroeder's low genius was simply to combine the two. It isn't enough appreciated how much the contemporary right owes to Reagan --Nancy Reagan, that is.






















Monday, May 20, 2002

Remora

Pigs

Limited Inc recently went to see Yo Mama Tambien with a friend. National origin of said friend:Turkish. Why mention the Turkish? Because this happened: on screen, after seeing a suitable amount of sex (the reason, after all, we were going to see Yo Mama etc.), a scene unrolls on a beach upon which the three main characters had pitched tents. A bunch of semi-wild, brownish looking pigs were shown rooting through these tents. To LI, a pig is a rather cute little animal making a snuffly noise, equipped with a snout. To our friend, however, as it turned out, a pig is a supremely revolting object stimulating the kind of response more usually provoked by some grotesque plumbing mishap that requires a plumber's helper, major amounts of Ajax, and a lot of Lysol.

Today's NYT has definitely put LI in the swinophobic camp. The swine in question have names: "Eugene M. Isenberg, of Nabors Industries; John M. Trani, of Stanley Works, H. John Riley Jr., of Cooper Industries; Herbert L. Henkel, of Ingersoll-Rand, and Bernard J. Duroc-Danner of Weatherford International ." These are the CEOs of companies moving their HQ, by legal legerdemain, to Bermuda, in order to pressure an always servile Congress to lower an already criminally low business tax rate. The fictitious Bermuda address will save on US taxes -- although why that should be the case is anybody's guess. David Kay Johnstone's article, if it were a movie, would show the following scene: Isenberg, an obscenely fat pig who has managed to swill 126 million dollars in the past two years, swilling "tens of millions of dollars" more by moving Nabors Industries, a maker of off shore oil drilling equipment, to Bermuda; John Trani, a gut busting porker famous already for his rudeness, his greed, and his general non-necessity to the Lebenswelt of any civilized culture, pocketing in his little pig pockets "an amount equal to 58 cents of each dollar the company would save in corporate income taxes in the first year after its proposed move to Bermuda." Etc.

The pigs in Yo M. T. "bedunged' the area, as Rabelais would say. However, face it, a little herd of swine like that is nowhere near as messy or toxic as the pigs listed in Johnstone's little piece. Those swine and their like have been trampling down a whole country, or at least doing as much damage as they could, and are even now feasting with their porky cousins on some rare, odious subcommittee up there in D.C., one of those numerous venues where the open conspiracy between the superrich and the superreactionary is cemented in handshakes and shaving cologne. The pigs in Y.M.T, we are told by the rather smug voiceover, were infected. When they were slaughtered and eaten, they gave their consumers trichonosis. Alas, chances are nobody is going to eat the pigs listed in the graf above; however, we would advise 400 degrees F. for at least three hours if, by some chance, one of them is caught and butchered, a la our previous post on Oswald de Andrade's Cannibal Manifesto.







Sunday, May 19, 2002

Remora

Kanan Makiya
The Times (London) reviews Kanan Makiya's new book, The Rock -- a history of Temple Mount in Jerusalem. You'll remember Israel's Charles De Gaulle and man of peace, Ariel Sharon, cemented his reputation for peace by going there to taunt Palestinians two years ago.

Long ago and far away -- in the seventh century -- Jerusalem was conquered by Caliph Umar. Ah, the civilized days of yore! The city was taken from its Christian potentate, one of those provincial ecclesiastics memorable only for scornful eloquence Gibbon devoted to them ten centuries later. For a sense of the ramified cross purposes that have marked this ground forever -- like some cross roads cursed by the devil in backwoods Mississippi -- here's a summary Caliph Umar's investment of Jerusalem:

"Once he realises Jerusalem is lost, the Patriarch Sophronius � keen to gain the best possible terms � arranges a meeting with the caliph. He ensures that this takes place on the day before Palm Sunday, so that �the Arab takeover of Jerusalem would be lost in a show of Christian pomp and pageantry headed by himself�.

"He arrives �in full ecclesiastical dress, gold chains draped over his neck and shoulders, and long silk robes trailing behind in the dust�, although his conqueror greets him in a worn-out battle tunic. And he hands over a covenant of surrender to which has been added a single clause: �No Jew will be authorised to live in Jerusalem.� The caliph asks for a pen and crosses out the offending words."


Well, we do wonder who thrust his arm into the twentieth century and came up with a "pen" for the Caliph. But we like the tenor of this graf.

Makiya is an interesting man. He's an Iraqi architect, got out of Iraq with Hussein's dogs on his tail, wrote a book, Republic of Fear, about the police state ruled over by the aforementioned Hussein, and has recently been a big delver into the theory that Islam began as a alliance between Jews and Arabs to oppose Byzantine Christianity. Nick Cohen has written a nice profile of the guy in the Observer, from which we extract these grafs:


"A consequence of the Gulf War was that Republic of Fear became a bestseller and turned Makiya from an obscure exile working for his father's architecture practice into something of a star. Makiya, who had once called himself a socialist, found new friends but was hated by many of his former comrades for insisting that America forces shouldn't leave Iraq with the worst of both worlds - bombed but with Saddam still in power - but carry on to Baghdad.

"He dates the schism between supporters of universal human rights and those on the Left and Right who regard any Western intervention as imperialism to the moment when the opponents of Saddam were denounced. Israel was built on the destruction of 400 Palestinian villages, Makiya says; Saddam destroyed at least 3,000 Kurdish villages. Makiya, like every other Iraqi democrat you meet in London, has lost patience with those who will oppose the former but not the latter and is desperate for America to support a democratic revolution. All in all, we have a man whose been on Saddam's death-list for years and has more than enough enemies. He has still found the time and courage to pierce the thin skins of religious fundamentalists."

Makiya is a nuanced supporter of the American invasion to be of Iraq. Although maybe that is unfair. Some of what he has written seems to be more in the line of, increase American support for an internal Iraqi revolution. He wrote an op ed piece last November that includes this interpretation of contemporary history:

"The cracks in this American policy toward Iraq were beginning to show in 1996, when for the first time since the gulf war, the United States let Mr. Hussein get away with invading a city � Arbil � in what used to be the safe haven of northern Iraq. That was the year when the American-backed Iraqi opposition to Mr. Hussein was rooted out of the north of the country. More than 100 members of the Iraqi opposition died in Arbil waiting for American air support that never came.

"That was a pivotal moment because the United States shrank from supporting an opposition that would have brought about deep structural change in Iraq � a change that would have included the Kurds and the Shiites in a pro-Western, non-nationalist, federally structured regime. Instead, America held back in favor of what it thought to be much safer � an officer-led coup that would replace one set of Baath Party leaders with another. But that judgment proved to be wrong."

There is a deep structural problem in that interpretation of the Iraqi opposition: what basis is there for believing that a party that, for whatever reason, commits itself to a "pro-Western, non-nationalist, federally structured regime," is a party with a hope in hell of succeeding in bringing this program to fruition?

What happened at Arbil is significant, but LI reads this incident in a somewhat different way than Makiya. A succinct rundown of the sad and dirty history of US policy towards Iraq, an epitome of redneck machiavellism, is provided by by Nicholas Arons, of the Institute for Policy Studies:


"Over the past several decades, U.S. support for the Iraqi opposition has blown hot and cold. Four months before the 1990 Gulf War, two Republican senators visited Baghdad and reassured Saddam Hussein that Voice of America broadcasts criticizing the regime�s human rights record did not necessarily reflect U.S. government policy. When the Gulf War ended, President Bush called on Iraqi dissidents to rebel, implying that the U.S. would provide air cover. The uprisings materialized, but U.S. air cover never did. When the Iraqi military retaliated, butchering thousands of rebelling Kurds in the north and Shiites in the south, U.S. officials claimed that Bush favored a military coup within the regime, not a popular insurrection, which Washington feared would lead to a possible breakup of Iraq and a destabilization of the regional power balance. Internal Iraqi coups were reportedly attempted in July 1992, July 1993, and May 1995. Each ended with mass arrests, executions, and the restructuring of the ruling Ba�ath Party�s security apparatus and tribal alliances, but with Saddam Hussein�s regime intact. Most disastrous was a 1996 covert U.S. military training operation in Arbil in northern Iraq that degenerated into internecine feuds. Saddam Hussein�s forces crushed the INC, forcing its operations to come to a standstill.During the early 1990s, the U.S. spent over $100 million to aid the Iraqi opposition. Most of this money was for public relations and propaganda, not military hardware. In 1998, Congress passed the Iraq Liberation Act, which allocated $97 million for Pentagon training and used military equipment. But the INC has been slow to take advantage of Pentagon training, to submit proposals, or to complete audits, so most funds remain unspent.There are over seventy opposition groups within and outside Iraq, representing a diverse network of religious minorities, Iraqi monarchists, and military exiles. The U.S. has long played favorites, pitting these groups against each other. The Clinton administration selected seven for assistance, foreseeing the INC as the umbrella organization. "

So -- what are we to do? as Lenin liked to ask. LI, omniscient as ever, will supply the answer to that question after breakfast, or in some upcoming post. Stay tuned, kids.