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Thursday, April 12, 2007



But Wolfowitz works for the king, and therefore can do no wrong...
Torture... not a problem
Illegal wire-tapping... no issue there
Unlimited time before trial... hey we're pretty sure this guy is a terrorist.

Why anyone is surprised to discover this neocon guy thinks he is above the law (and all the rest of us) is completely beyond me.


Wolfowitz is a complex character. The case in question is an example: Wolfowitz, a Jew, is/was dating a Muslim woman, the focus of this scandal. Wolfowitz also has shown genuine concern for the plight of Palestinians, one of the very few American functionaries to do so.

He is a very intelligent guy who started out his adult life as a left-leaning American liberal. It seems that an influential professor during his economics studies in Chicago (of all places!) recruited him into the Republican sphere where he continued to make his career in Washington-based institutions.

He is a highly political animal. Which, of course, does not exculpate him from this latest mess for which he has apologized publicly.

Arthur Eckart

Iraq is somewhat similar to Vietnam, i.e. both battles in larger wars. It may take decades to win the war on terror similar to the Cold War. The U.S. has fewer casualties in Iraq compared to Vietnam. However, the U.S. media plays into Arab and terrorist propaganda, i.e. it makes U.S. casualties most important. So, terrorists kill more U.S. troops. Consequently, a vicious cycle of killing-reporting-propaganda-public opinion is fueled. The Western and Arab media should be less biased.


Lafayette, you've overlooked the similarities between Wolfowitz and Riza. They both are neo-cons who liked to hang out with Iraqi dissidents in the late 1990s.


Arthur Eckart

Also, I may add, the Western and Arab media seem to dislike American successes, e.g. downplaying the relative success in Afghanistan. Has anyone in the media said the U.S. should pullout of Afghanistan? I wonder if Iraq is really that bad (I suspect it's much worse for the enemy).


Wolfowitz has surprised many, when he started his post at the WorldBank with contempt for the Palestinian cause and conviction for the fight against poverty in Africa. But as it is with many neocons, he is a faulty character with double standards and many skulls in his closet.


Bupa: "They both are neo-cons who liked to hang out with Iraqi dissidents in the late 1990s."

Let's stop labeling people as if that explained everything, including guilt. America did that in the 50s with the "pinko commies" and now the same silliness is being uttered by the delirious left.

Read Cassidy's profile of the man mentioned in above. It is interesting. Bush is a born and bred conservative, Wolfowitz is a convert to conservatism, but is far more astute and articulate than either Dubya, Rumsfeld or Cheney (combined) - the core of hardcore conservative politics in America. (They were proclaiming American invincibility against the forces of evil when they worked for Bush the Father.)

Wolfowitz gave Dubya an intellectual veneer for the Iraq war, and quite possibly in a myopic concern for Iraq's threat to Israel. That threat has now shifted eastward, to Tehran. Did Wolfowitz not think this could happen ... he should have.

Few condone Wolfowitz's role in this administration and the stain will remain with him for a very long, long time. Washington never forgets.

His problems at the World Bank are his own doing and he will pay dearly for his misjudgment. To a policy wonk, that is sufficient justice.

Think of it ... Mr. Clean who was to "reform the World Bank" is found finagling with cronyism. Incredible.

Arthur Eckart

It's amazing how some critics have no sense of proportion. If this is the only instance of favoritism, Wolfowitz deserves a medal. However, it's unclear if it was favoritism. The accused woman, who has degrees from the London School of Economics and Oxford, speaks Arabic, French, Italian, Turkish and English, and worked at the World Bank for seven years in 2005, states: “I have now been victimized for agreeing to an arrangement that I have objected to and that I did not believe from the outset was in my best interest,” "Her friends say that she has complained in recent days that she is being portrayed in the news media in a one-dimensional way, as Mr. Wolfowitz’s partner or close friend, not for her accomplishments."


You overlook the fact, Eckart, that Wolfowitz was trying to correct a problem that was fundamental bank policy. For as long as Ms Riza was working at her World Bank post, she was under his supervision, which is contrary to bank rules.

From The Independent (London): Their relationship became public when Wolfowitz succeeded James Wolfensohn at the helm of the Bank in mid-2005. At first he attempted to keep her in her job as communications adviser at the Bank's Middle East department, even though that was flatly against the ethics rules of the organisation. In the end she was sent to the State Department, but stayed on the World Bank's payroll. She was promoted and given two rises well above staff norms, bringing her salary to $193,000 (£98,000) - more than Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State.

No one transferring from the World Bank to another job in a government institution in DC can normally expect to have the benefit of their boyfriend negotiating an equal-level salary transfer. She did not know what Wolfowitz was up to?

This affair wreaks of nepotism in a Washington the wreaks of plutocracy.

Two more years ...

Arthur Eckart

Lafayette, that doesn't disprove my point that it may or may not be one instance of favoritism. Also, it's ridiculous to conclude one instance "wreaks of nepotism in a Washington the wreaks of plutocracy." You seem to believe something will change in "two more years..." I've explained before how the U.S. uses mechanisms in labor and capital to create opportunities (along with globalization, monetary, and fiscal policies), to larger extents than Western Europe, although there are also public welfare opportunities. The U.S. Democrat and Republican parties are capitalist parties. There's no labor party in the U.S. with any power. Most U.S. presidents (Democrat and Republican), in recent times, did not come from affluent families. Most Americans, including in government, succeed through ability. Of course, people with similar values or political views tend to work together, although competence is also important.

Arthur Eckart

Also, I may add, Riza worked at the World Bank for seven years before Wolfowitz was appointed president in 2005 (it seems, they began a romantic relationship in 2003). So, it may have been an awkward situation for both of them. Moreover, it seems ironic that a capitalist government has a low unemployment rate, while labor governments have high unemployment rates.


"It seems that an influential professor during his economics studies in Chicago (of all places!) recruited him into the Republican sphere where he continued to make his career in Washington-based institutions."

yeah, his name was Leo Strauss, but he was an hellenist and an advocate of Liberal Education.
more on him here:

he is often demonised as the influence behind the neo-cons, but that does not do him justice.


"Most U.S. presidents (Democrat and Republican), in recent times, did not come from affluent families."

OK. After having read this kind of sentence for the umpteenth time, I finally decided to start my old project: to look up the origins of the presidents of a few European countries, let's say, France, Germany, Italy (I stick to Republics, of course). Of course, one thing does not disprove the other, but I had the sneaky feeling that, in spite of the fact that American kids grow up hearing "You too can become president", a European kid (again, from a Republic) has in fact more chances to see it happening. So, I've just did France, from 1900 on, all 16 presidents. Not one of them seems to be from a really rich family, and only one, Paul Deschanel (that served for 7 months in 1920), had a father senator. I found lots of sons of civil servants (yes, no daughters so far), quite a few of school teachers, farmers, a son of a butcher, a son of a railroad worker. I'll try to do Germany next.


For France, Isabel, I suggest you add as criteria:
- Parent was free-mason, and
- Diploma from the ENA.


Not necessarily ENA, Lafayette. If you say Grandes Ecoles I might agree, although even this might be a recent trend. The 16 I checked were more varied than that. Quite a lot came from Catholic families (Mitterrand included) and at least one protestant.

Oh, and I've done the Germans (chancellors, it seemed more appropriate): up to the Weimar Republic, there was quite a lot of nobility. After WWII, it was the usual mix of middle class background (civil servants, teachers), with one son of a cashier single mother and an almost postumous child raised by a farm worker mother. I'll do the Italians next!

Arthur Eckart

Isabel, that seems to suggest kids born into affluent families have very low chances of becoming President of France.

Arthur Eckart

The following article supports Lafayette's statement (link below): "Seven of the past 10 prime ministers and two of the past three presidents, including Chirac, studied at ENA. From a quarter to a half of ministerial posts tend to go to ENA alumni..." and "The mythology in France is that we live in a meritocracy, when in fact we are in a plutocracy."



Well, it's a question of numbers, isn't it? Affluent families being waaaay rarer than non affluent ones...
About ENA, it seemed a recent trend. Not surprising, because I've just read in the article you've linked to that it was created in 1945 ;-). But at least you have to go there yourself and I'm not sure someone like G.W.Bush would manage, even if his father did. The access to the Hautes Ecoles is indeed quite difficult (although I've always heard that after having survived the 2 years of preparation, one can walk on a soft red carpet for the rest of one's life).
Anyway, my point was that the likelihood of a middle class kid becoming president is, at this point in time, most probably higher in Europe than in the States. And I'm still convinced that the word plutocracy applies better to the States (again, in this point in time).

Isabel: Anyway, my point was that the likelihood of a middle class kid becoming president is, at this point in time, most probably higher in Europe than in the States.

If this happens in France, and a middle-class half-Jewish "kid" and non-ENArque can become President, I'm buying champagne.

One hundred percent of ENA students come for only sixty schools throughout France, but principally in Paris. They form an elitist corporation within the state, and nepotism is rampant amongst them.

Mitterand moved the campus from Paris to Strasbourg, which wasn't far enough. The school should be dislocated to Outer Mongolia.

Arthur Eckart

Isabel, it seems, one difference between American and European plutocracies is more Americans have business/capitalist backgrounds, while more Europeans are anti-business/capitalist (or pro-government). Also, I may add, any people underestimated Bush Jr (or as Bush would say "misunderestimated"), which Bush's opponents have found out. It may be true "a middle class kid" has a higher chance of becoming president of a country in Western Europe, only because of higher anti-rich attitudes. However, it seems, the U.S. has a plutocracy with more diverse backgrounds.

Arthur Eckart

I stated above there's "a vicious cycle of killing-reporting-propaganda-public opinion" regarding the Iraq war. Over the past few months, there has been a positive correlation between Iraq killings/suicide bombings and Iraq policy disagreements, i.e. there have been spikes in killings when Iraq policy disagreements intensify (e.g. between Congress and the President most recently). Obviously, there have been attempts to influence public opinion and policy.


Got the champagne in the fridge already, Lafayette, or are you waiting for the second round?


have to wait for the second round.
Segolene Royal will gain from voters' dislike for Sarkozy, and the outcome may be a very tight win for either of candidates.
that is, if she keeps her mouth shut.


isabel: Segolene Royal will gain from voters' dislike for Sarkozy

Wanna bet a bottle on it? ; ^ )

Sarkozy isn't disliked as much as he is feared. Especially by the lower class workers and unemployed who refuse to understand that thirty-years of state welfare has not been the way out of poverty.

Work is.


You will have to bet your bottle of champagne with Zilch, Lafayette. I haven't done no prognostication about the race.


We shall see, we shall see ....


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