March 22, 2004

Who's really running the "War on Terrorism"?

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and what are the real reasons the US went to war with Iraq?

Now more than ever, agnosticism is surrounding the Bush administration's policies on the War on Terror and the War in Iraq. Former antiterror adviser to the Bush administration, Richard Clark, recently said in a television interview, Bush ignored signs pointing to the attacks of September 11 and has done a terrible job battling terrorism (CNN article). On January of this year, former Treasury Secretary, Paul O'Neill, spoke on his experience in the White House. He voiced criticism on president Bush's decision making process. He characterized president Bush's cabinet meetings as: "like a blind man in a room full of deaf people". He also said, that "from the very beginning there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad man and that going after Saddam was a topic of discussion only days after the inauguration" (CBS article).

What does this small picture inside the Bush White House tells us? The question is certainly lingering in the minds of people as the casualties mount in Iraq. Was the Bush team already bent on going after Saddam, even before getting to the White House? If the decision to bring Saddam's government out of power was directly related to 9/11, what were the real reasons to launch the attack on Iraq? Some journalistic investigative research, reveals, at the very least, interesting links between the Reagan, the Bush senior and the Current administrations. The thread starts in the 80s. To be more precise, December 1983.


It was then that president Reagan appointed Donald Rumsfeld, a former Defense Secretary in the Ford administration and at the time chairman of G. D. Searle -a worldwide pharmaceutical company- as special envoy to the Middle East. He was in an official mission to, among other things, visit with the Iraqi dictator and improve diplomatic relations, which had been damaged as a result of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. The reason that the US government wanted to improve relations with Iraq was the possibility Iran would be gaining an edge on the war and perhaps winning it. But improved diplomatic relations was not all Rumsfeld sought. It turns out that at the time, in San Francisco, a multinational corporation by the name of Bechtel, with extensive ties to the republican foreign policy apparatus, was drawing plans to implement a project to build an alternative oil pipe-line from Iraq through to Aqaba (port city, located in the Red Sea at the most south-western corner of Jordan). Mr. Rumsfeld, in this meeting, talked a great deal about this project and its importance. (see here a transcript of that meeting)

The Reagan administration, to say the least, had close ties with Bechtel corporation. George Schulz, Reagan's Secretary of State came directly from the board of directors of Bechtel corporation as well as Caspar Weinberger, the then Secretary of Defense. The success of the project was a major goal for the Reagan administration. It met at least two objectives. One was to fulfill the long standing US policy to keep the flow of oil to the west free of interruptions. The other one, was to secure the contract to build an alternative pipeline through Aqaba. However, Saddam had his own reservations. He thought that such a project was a risk of being attacked by the Israelis. So, in the end he decided against the project.

By mid 1984, the newly improved relations with Iraq, had somewhat deteriorated (see here). Days before Rumsfeld's second visit to Baghdad in March 1984, the US government had publicly condemned Iraq's chemical weapons use, which had been going on since 1982 with the full knowledge of the US government. Rumsfeld went back empty handed, except for an increased mutual animosity.

Despite hardships in the US-Iraq relationship, the US government kept supporting and selling weapons to the Iraqi dictator. Among the aid, Saddam received, government secured loans, military ammunition, a contract with Bechtel to construct chemical plants and chemical weapons like Anthrax and bubonic pest.

So what do we make of these interesting facts? Most probably, they will stay as speculation, at least until more secret documents are released and made available to the public. However, it would be fair to ask, who are the real bosses directing the War on Terror and the War in Iraq from Washington, DC? What is the real role of people like Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Cheney and the board members of Halliburton and Bechtel corporations?

It is also interesting to point out that the people who argued for the Iraq war saying that Saddam possessed chemical weapons of mass destruction and thus he should be disarmed at all costs, are the same people that in the 80s were, first supplying Saddam with those weapons and second, when reports came that Saddam was using those weapons in violation of international law, did nothing to stop him.

GWU- National Security Archives
Online magazines: Counterpunch, Poe-News, tompaine, CNN, CBS.

March 19, 2004

Topic: Bolivia

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The "El Diario", one of most important newspapers in Bolivia, in its March 19th online edition, reports that the Mesa administration has placed his economic recovery plan (this is the latest version) in action. One aspect of it is to implement the plan "compro Boliviano", which literally means: buy Bolivian. According to this plan, the state, through its agencies and municipal governments, will promote domestic production, employment and economic activity by buying products it needs from small to medium Bolivian enterprises.

While it might be a good meaning plan, and perhaps, if things go as expected, it will meet some success, it is more likely, though, to add one more layer of bureaucratic bloat; more opportunity for corruption and cronyism; hinder efficient production and hinder economic activity.

The first thing that comes to mind is corruption. This malice has haunted Bolivia for most of its republican life. I mean, let's face it, not in vain Bolivia is ranked 106th, with a 2.3 score (10 being highly clean and 0 being highly corrupt) in the Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index. This new plan is bound to be smeared with corruption and cronyism in the form of "special favors" to the family members of the government officials in charge of the process. And even worst, this new plan will provide with the perfect environment to engage in bribery. After all, if you want to have something done in the Bolivian bureaucracy, it's gonna cost ya!

The second thing to think about is how much this scheme will hinder real economic activity. The government of Bolivia does not have a big budget to spend and make an significant difference. In fact, the El Diario report cites that the government plans to spend around 8 million bolivianos (around US$1 million) in its scheme. Moreover, it is already hard for the government to collect taxes and thus one has to think about how much of an impact will this plan have on economic activity. Surely, the government alone cannot account for an increase in production, specially if it is going to spend the astronomical sum of $1 million. On the contrary, Mr. Mesa's plan will only distort real economic activity by subsidizing, in some cases, inefficient producing enterprises, skewing prices and preventing the efficient redistribution of resources.

Bolivia should embark on a path of trade and become more attractive for investors. That is how much needed currency enters a country and promotes economic activity. Of course, following this path would be political suicide, in these dire moments when the hardly won Bolivian democracy is so fragile.

The new Democratic Party

MABB is a registered TM.

For those who follow US politics. I found out that the Democratic Party, after the 2000 elections, changed their official seal. I found the useful information in this web site.

Here is the new seal.


March 12, 2004

Change of Name

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For those of you who followed me from the beginning, there is a small change to take into account. The name of the blog has changed to MABB. This is my trademark logo and abbreviation of my name. From now on, this blog will be known as MABB. This will reflect the what the blog was created for, in the first place. This is my blog and I write about what concerns me. And what concerns me is, actually, lot of things, from economics to politics to sociology and even a little bit of philosophy and history.

So, as it stands. Any comment is acceptable and will be treated in all seriousness. So, comment away.............................................

Thanks to my brother Walter for this image.

The age of graphics enter LatAmCentral

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Today I have been doing a lot of learning on how to post images on my blog. I found a place where they'll host my images and hopefully I can use it from now on. The following image is a test photo and is my kind of paradise! The place we go to relax and only enjoy aqua marine waters and sun.........Oh San much do I miss you.

Mallorca-Sant Elm-for web 3

I guess we'll see.
(if it shows up or not)
Lat-Am Central is a registered TM.

March 10, 2004


Lat-Am Central is a registered TM.

Last time I blogged, I wrote about Hamburger politics. Now, I want to tackle another completely different subject. This blog is to advise to all my readers that a new website has joined the new age. This site is called WBuitrago and is my brother's website.

In his site you'll find, aside from his vacation's photos, his music available to hear for all. Now, he has an extensive collection of music, however, since he just put up his site, he'll take some time to get his entire collection online.

I just want to say....
Goooodly done!

March 01, 2004

A quick update on Hamburger politics

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The topic is fairly new to me, since I just moved to live in Hamburg about a year ago. But here is a rough sketch of what is going on in the city at the Elbe.

Yesterday, February 29, 2004, the hamburgers re-elected their mayor, Ole von Beust. Ole, as he is known, led his party, the christian democrats (CDU), to the best result in about 50 years. The social democrat party (SPD), which ruled Hamburg for a long, long time, got its worst showing ever. These results come on the back of a call to early elections by the then Mayor, von Beust. This could not have been easier for Ole. He is a well liked personality in Hamburg. One of the latest incidents which won him a lot of sympathy, was his firing of the controversial and former leader of Law and Order party, Ronald Schill. This political figure was not well liked in the city.....

Ole, has now absolut majority and complete mandate to rule Hamburg. He won about 48% of the vote. This result has Mr. Schroeder, the german chancellor, and his party, thinking twice every move he is thinking of making. The social democrats and the greens in Hamburg are scratching their heads over the fact that they could not together surpass the numbers of the CDU.

Does this mean that Hamburg will become a more business friendly city? Does it mean that Hamburg will be better equiped for international competition? Will it become the international city, it wants to become? will this be better for hamburgers? ...................................................

This is just a matter of commentary, since now I am following German politics closely.