Saturday, May 28, 2005

Day-Old Links -- Cheap 

1.) Harper's has belatedly posted the text of Jeff Sharlet's "Soldiers of Christ: Inside America's Most Powerful Megachurch," from the May issue. Pastor Ted Haggard, of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, CO, may be the most powerful evangelical leader you've never heard of: he speaks to President Bush ("or his advisers") every Monday, and is often on the White House guest list even when James Dobson isn't:
Key to the growth of evangelicalism during the last twenty years has been a social structure of “cell groups” that allows churches to grow endlessly while maintaining orthodoxy in their ranks. New Life, for instance, has 1,300 cell groups, or “small groups,” as Pastor Ted prefers to call them. Such a structure is not native to Colorado Springs; in fact, most evangelicals attribute it to Pastor Paul Cho, of South Korea, who has built a congregation of 750,000 using the cell-group structure. American megachurches that have adopted the cell model unaltered have had only partial success.

Pastor Ted’s insight was in adapting this system for the affluence of the United States. South Korea, he notes, is on the “front lines” in the war against communism, “so they needed a strong chain-of-command system.” But not so Americans. “Free-market globalization” has made us so free, he realized, that an American cell-group system could be mature enough to function just like a market. One of Pastor Ted’s favorite books is Thomas Friedman’s The Lexus and the Olive Tree, which is now required reading for the hundreds of pastors under Ted’s spiritual authority across the country. From Friedman, Pastor Ted says he learned that everything, including spirituality, can be understood as a commodity. And unregulated trade, he concluded, was the key to achieving worldly freedom.

2.) Our BARBARic colleague Generik on Friday sent us a link to AfterDowningStreet.org, the website of a new organization that describes its mission thus:
A coalition of veterans' groups, peace groups, and political activist groups announced a campaign today to urge that the U.S. Congress launch a formal investigation into whether President Bush has committed impeachable offenses in connection with the Iraq war. The campaign focuses on evidence that recently emerged in a British memo containing minutes of a secret July 2002 meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top national security officials.

John Bonifaz, a Boston attorney specializing in constitutional litigation, sent a memo to Congressman John Conyers of Michigan, the Ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, urging him to introduce a Resolution of Inquiry directing the House Judiciary Committee to launch a formal investigation into whether sufficient grounds exist for the House to impeach President Bush.

Bonifaz's memo, made available today at www.AfterDowningStreet.org, begins: "The recent release of the Downing Street Memo provides new and compelling evidence that the President of the United States has been actively engaged in a conspiracy to deceive and mislead the United States Congress and the American people about the basis for going to war against Iraq. If true, such conduct constitutes a High Crime under Article II, Section 4 of the United States Constitution" . . . .

The organizations forming the AfterDowningStreet.org coalition include: Global Exchange, Gold Star Families for Peace, Democrats.com, Veterans for Peace, Code Pink, Progressive Democrats of America, and Democracy Rising. These organizations, beginning today, will be urging their members to contact their Representatives to urge support of a Resolution of Inquiry.
3.) And finally, courtesy of our stouthearted colleagues at Cursor, a new TomDispatch entitled "A Revolution in American Nuclear Policy," by Jonathan Schell, author of The Fate of the Earth:
[T]he administration has created and placed on continuous high alert a force whereby the President can launch a pinpoint strike, including a nuclear strike, anywhere on earth with a few hours' notice. The senatorial "nuclear option" was covered extensively, but somehow this actual nuclear option -- a "full-spectrum" capability (in the words of the presidential order) with "precision kinetic (nuclear and conventional) and non-kinetic (elements of space and information operations)" -- was almost entirely ignored . . . .

Once again, the United States has assigned itself global ambitions. (Then it was containing Communism, now it is stopping "terrorism" and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.) Once again, the United States is fighting a limited war -- the war in Iraq -- and other limited wars are under discussion (against Iran, North Korea, Syria, etc.). And once again, nuclear arms appear to offer an all too tempting alternative. Arkin comments that a prime virtue of the global strike option in the eyes of the Pentagon is that it requires no "boots on the ground." And Everett Dolman, a professor at the Air Force School at Maxwell Air Force Base, recently commented to the San Francisco Chronicle that without space weaponry, "we'd face a Vietnam-style buildup if we wanted to remain a force in the world."

For just as in the 1950s, the boots on the ground are running low. The global New Rome turns out to have exhausted its conventional power holding down just one country, Iraq. But the 2000s are not the 1950s. Eisenhower's overall goal was mainly defensive. He wanted no war, nuclear or conventional, and never came close to ordering a nuclear strike. By contrast, Bush's policy of preventive war is inherently activist and aggressive: The global strike option is not only for deterrence; it is for use.
UPDATE (5/29): The heroic Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and 88 of his colleagues have written a letter to President Bush requesting answers about the Downing Street memo. Key excerpts:
Among other things, the British government document quotes a high-ranking British official as stating that by July, 2002, Bush had made up his mind to take military action. Yet, a month later, you stated you were still willing to "look at all options" and that there was "no timetable" for war. Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, flatly stated that "[t]he president has made no such determination that we should go to war with Iraq."

In addition, the origins of the false contention that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction remains a serious and lingering question about the lead up to the war. There is an ongoing debate about whether this was the result of a "massive intelligence failure," in other words a mistake, or the result of intentional and deliberate manipulation of intelligence to justify the case for war. The memo appears to resolve that debate as well, quoting the head of British intelligence as indicating that in the United States "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

As a result of these concerns, we would ask that you respond to the following questions:

1) Do you or anyone in your administration dispute the accuracy of the leaked document?

2) Were arrangements being made, including the recruitment of allies, before you sought Congressional authorization to go to war? Did you or anyone in your Administration obtain Britain's commitment to invade prior to this time?

3) Was there an effort to create an ultimatum about weapons inspectors in order to help with the justification for the war as the minutes indicate?

4) At what point in time did you and Prime Minister Blair first agree it was necessary to invade Iraq?

5) Was there a coordinated effort with the U.S. intelligence community and/or British officials to "fix" the intelligence and facts around the policy as the leaked document states?
Conyers would like to have 100,000 signatures from American citizens before he delivers the letter to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Add yours here.

These developments led our esteemed colleague j7uy5 of The Corpus Callosum to recall a document published on the website of Ron Suskind, who wrote The Price of Loyalty. The document is a memo to former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill, who was fired by Bush at the end of 2002, and the subject is "Briefing for NSC Principals Meeting on Gulf Policy":
LOCATION: White House Situation Room

PARTICIPANTS: Principals + 1

PURPOSE: To review the current state-of-play (including a CIA briefing on Iraq) and to examine policy questions on how to proceed.

Tab A: Agenda and Policy Questions from NSC -- SECRET
Tab B: Economic Background on Iraq (from Deutsche Bank)
Tab C: Executive Summary: Political-Military Plan for Post-Saddam Iraq Crisis (interagency working paper) -- SECRET
Tab D: Summary of Unied States Sanctions on Iraq
Tab E: "Iraq Sanctions Regime," State Department, for use in public statements
The memo is dated January 31, 2001. It describes the very first meeting of the National Security Council under Bush.

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