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21 January 2004 @ 05:29 pm
 
A few things today..

First, a new pic.. it's pretty rough, but i like it.

We are not an image..





Next.. Each day i get these intel reports on my desk. They're really just general knowledge that anyone can get access to (aka news), but very consolidated. I'm going to put this one up to see if anyone would be interesting in reading them. If you or someone you know would be interested in getting these, i could have them forwarded (or posted somewhere) each morning.



SITUATION REPORTS - Jan. 21, 2004

1259 GMT -- LIBYA -- The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has
established several observation centers in Libya to oversee the liquidation
of the Libyan weapons of mass destruction program, an IAEA source told
Stratfor on Jan. 21.

1255 GMT -- IRAQ -- The United Nations is preparing to send a team -- in
response to requests from both the United States and Iraq -- to evaluate
whether Iraq can hold open elections by May for a transitional government,
diplomats serving with the world body said Jan. 21.

1252 GMT -- ISRAEL -- Israeli soldiers destroyed several houses in the Rafah
refugee camp in the Gaza Strip on Jan. 21. Israeli attempts to deprive
Palestinian militants of local mass support reportedly have left 400 people
homeless within the last several days.

1248 GMT -- UNITED STATES -- The chief of the U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Gen.
James Helmly said major changes are needed in order to prevent a crisis in
retaining Army Reserve and Army National Guard troops in the U.S. military,
underscoring concern within the Army that thousands of reservists will leave
the military as soon as they can, Reuters reported Jan. 21. Reservists have
complained about getting little notice before being called up for duty,
repeated mobilizations and equipment shortfalls.

1241 GMT -- CHINA -- Li Hongzhi, the founder of China's Falun Gong sect,
said Jan. 21 that Beijing has been persecuting the sect because the Chinese
government is "jealous" of Falun Gong's massive public support. Li was
interviewed on a U.S. satellite television channel.

1230 GMT -- IRAN -- Iranian Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi said Jan. 21
that some vice presidents and other members of Iranian government resigned
to protest the disqualification of reformist candidates from upcoming
elections. Abtahi said, "A number of Cabinet ministers and a number of vice
presidents have resigned. Naturally, they are waiting to see how things
go...The Cabinet ministers are very serious in their resignation." Abtahi
did not to say whether he resigned.

1225 GMT -- ASIA -- Many Asian leaders welcomed U.S. President George Bush's
State of the Union address, especially the hard line Bush took on the
proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by singling out North Korea and
Iran and delivering a stern warning to them, the AP reported Jan. 21, citing
South Korean, Japanese and other Asian officials.

************************************************************************
Geopolitical Diary: Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2004
U.S. President George W. Bush delivered his State of the Union message
shortly after midnight GMT. He presented precious little new on foreign
policy.

This is extraordinarily important. Bush repeated his existing positions on
foreign policy, from arguing that al Qaeda remains a danger to warning Iran
to keep its commitments to reiterating that the invasion of Iraq was
justified both from the standpoint of the threat of weapons of mass
destruction and in its own right. The speech was a simple restatement of his
administration's position.

That is what is important. Bush has pollsters and, like all presidents, he
is a political animal. If his pollsters had told him he was in trouble, this
would have been the place to make a move. He would have announced a new
initiative or, at the very least, avoided some issues. But there were no new
initiatives, no apologies, no obvious omissions.

Rather than conceding on the issue of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq,
or at least not raising it, he asserted that inspectors in fact had found
plans and equipment for the production of weapons of mass destruction. This
led to an unyielding defense of the invasion of Iraq as well as a
reassertion that it would lead to democracy there.

He also took on the issue of multilateralism, including the charge that the
United States has alienated allies. Bush said, "America's closest allies
have been unwavering," and listed the countries that had provided support to
the United States in Iraq. He further said that the United States would
"never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our country." From
weapons of mass destruction to multilateralism, there was no give.

An explanation for this could be that Bush doesn't think he has room for
maneuver, that he believes he is so beleaguered that abandoning any
position, no matter how exposed, would lead to a total unraveling. That does
not seem to us to be the explanation, simply because he does have at least
some room for maneuver. The fact is that he chose not to maneuver.

The Bush administration's read of the situation seems to be that he has the
stronger position on foreign policy. He knows he has a WMD problem, but he
doesn't think it is all that serious because the Democrats will have trouble
attacking him on WMD without also attacking his decision to go to war in
Iraq. It would appear that Bush is hoping the Democrats will do just that.

Rather than pulling back on that position, he moved forward, reasserting the
idea that certain findings validated his claims on WMD. He left himself wide
open to a counterattack and that is likely what he is hoping for. His polls
tell him that a Democratic attack on the war in Iraq will fail and he knows
that the Democrats will have trouble parsing WMD issues from the war issue.

Similarly, Bush took on the unilateralism/multilateralism issue directly. He
said in essence that the French and Germans were not among the closest U.S.
allies and he listed those who were. Bush would love to run against the
French. During the run-up to the war, anti-French feeling in the United
States persistently boosted Bush in the polls. The perception that opposing
the war meant siding with France gave him a few points when he needed it.
Bush is challenging the Democrats to come at him on the issue of the
alliance. His plan is obviously to argue that the Democrats are not so much
concerned with allies -- which he argued the United States has plenty of --
as kowtowing to the French, Germans and the United Nations.

By changing nothing, Bush tried to define the campaign, forcing the
Democrats to the offensive on foreign policy and trying to prod them into
going too far. It is extremely difficult to modulate a critical position on
Iraq. In the end, you either supported the war and would have handled it
differently, or you opposed it. If you would have handled it differently,
you will be accused of 20/20 hindsight. If you oppose it, you will be
accused of being soft on al Qaeda.

No conclusion can be drawn from Iowa, save that the major media is
absolutely clueless about what is going on in the country. What little can
be drawn is this: The winner was John Kerry, whose position is not
opposition to the war, but that, as a decorated combat veteran, he
understands the prosecution of war better than Bush. The loser was Howard
Dean, whose absolute opposition to the war was not clearly the reason for
his defeat, but certainly hurt the absolutist anti-war position.

Should Iowa presage the collapse of Dean, the major remaining Democratic
candidates would be Kerry, Wesley Clark and John Edwards, with Edwards
unlikely to sustain his drive. None of them are simply anti-war. It is not
clear what their position is at any given moment, but should any of them be
elected, we would not expect a massive shift in U.S. foreign policy. The
main thrust would remain in place, although the details might shift.
Certainly there would be no shift on the order that a Dean victory would
bring.

Thus, over the past 24 hours, the world has found out something extremely
important. Between Dean's collapse in Iowa and Bush's unyielding repetition
of his principle, it is highly unlikely that 2005 will
bring a major shift
in U.S. foreign policy. This is going to sink into the calculations of
foreign governments, which will begin pondering this question: Are they
better off negotiating with the U.S. government before the election, or
waiting until afterward?

In other words, anyone waiting for a massive change in U.S. policy is probab
ly going to be disappointed, even if Bush loses.