With all their talk about forcing a regime change in Iraq, President Bush and his aides are creating the 2002 equivalent of the 1939 "phony war" in Europe -- the period following the German invasion of Poland when everyone knew war was coming but the guns remained silent. The anticipation of war stirs uncertainty and puts people on edge, which is the way the country, already shaken by Sept. 11, is feeling these days. It is time for Mr. Bush to level with the nation about his intentions and to talk candidly about why he feels military action against Iraq may soon be necessary, and what the goals, costs and potential consequences of a war would be.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee's hearings on Iraq this week usefully addressed some of these issues. But the testimony came from outside experts. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other top officials continue to dodge serious questions about Washington's plans. The by-now-familiar refrain that Mr. Bush has not yet made any decisions about Iraq may literally be correct, in the sense that he may not yet have approved a war plan, but it smacks of the semantic games that administrations often play to disguise very real preparations for war. ...
When America is attacked, as on Sept. 11, the logic of military response is straightforward and the country goes to battle united and prepared for any necessary sacrifices. A pre-emptive war against Iraq, aimed at heading off a future threat, would be different. It must be preceded by democratic deliberation and informed decision-making. There may be a compelling case to be made for war with Iraq. The administration has not yet made it.
Milton Friedman celebrated his 90th birthday this week, and people who cherish freedom in America and around the globe celebrated with him.
Mr. Friedman spent the first four decades of the second half of the 20th century on the ideological front lines as an intellectual general in the titanic, worldwide battle that pitted, literally, the morally good forces of democratic capitalism against the "evil empire" of Soviet totalitarianism. Born five years before the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, Mr. Friedman has not only outlived the nearly 75-year-old Soviet regime. In testament to the total victory his ideas achieved, Russia, the primary successor state of the vanquished empire, has adopted one of the most revolutionary elements -- a flat tax on income -- that formed the foundation of Mr. Friedman's grand manifesto, "Capitalism and Freedom," which he co-wrote with his wife, Rose, and published in 1962.
To Mr. Friedman, the policy objective throughout his life has been a constant -- "the promotion of human freedom." In their 1980 blockbuster best-seller, "Free to Choose," which Ronald Reagan described as a "must read," the Friedmans observed: "We know of no society that has ever achieved prosperity and freedom unless voluntary exchange has been its dominant principle of organization." ...
Forty years after the absolutely timeless "Capitalism and Freedom" was published, it is still breathtaking to comprehend how audacious and consequential its then-revolutionary arguments were. ...
As "the most formidable economist" of the 20th century marches into his 10th decade in the early years of the new millennium, it's worth speculating what his impact will be on the 21st century. With his wife of 63 years as his constant companion ... today's largest, freedom-destroying political dictatorship ought to consider this unpleasant thought: The truly revolutionary work of the Friedmans has been translated into Chinese.
Sen. John Kerry has outlined exactly the right policy for President Bush to pursue against Iraq: Make reasonable demands on Saddam Hussein he is bound to refuse.
Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on which Kerry sits, opened hearings on Iraq this week. At one session Kerry observed that in war, "It helps to have the American people fully supportive ... and prepared to sustain the effort."
Kerry can be forgiven the little understatement of the phrase "it helps." The senator's entire public career of bravery in Vietnam and later opposition to that war shows his meaning: Full public support is essential.
"Nothing we have done to date has prepared the American people," Kerry said, much less our allies, for an attack on Iraq. ...
When it comes time to send witnesses before Biden's committee, Bush must do so enthusiastically as part of a broad and deep campaign for public support. He should not be shy about using U.S. intelligence to show publicly what we know of the underground installations that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld spoke of on Tuesday.
Technically, the president does not need a declaration of war from Congress. Authorizations for the Persian Gulf War are still in effect and the United States has never ceased hostilities, as shown by current bombings of Iraqi anti-aircraft sites.
It would be foolish in the extreme to rely upon a technicality. The president can muster a powerful case, and it is essential he do so.
Their bold names and anti-imperialist agendas charmed an activist generation three decades ago, and not just in their native Europe. Like the Weatherman faction or the Symbionese Liberation Army in this country, Italy's Red Brigades and Germany's Baader-Meinhof Gang affected a Robin Hood flair that earned them global cachet.
But as revolutionary theory largely collapsed and a shrugging world moved on, only the most mysterious of the European groups, the elusive Greek urban guerillas collectively known as November 17, survived into the 21st century.
The Marxist-inspired November 17 took its name from the date in 1973 when the military junta that then ruled Greece (with U.S. support) crushed a student uprising. The terror group's first deadly mission: the 1975 assassination of Richard Welch, the Central Intelligence Agency's station chief in Athens.
Since then, November 17 has committed 22 other high-profile murders, including those of four more American officials. ...
No one will ever eliminate terrorism from the face of the Earth. But we are some 11 months into a changed climate, one of broad impatience with those who write their protests in other people's blood.
Like the now notorious Al Qaeda, many terror groups long thrived in relative obscurity, justifiably confident that governments lacked the will to hunt them down. For outlaw groups such as November 17, though, this has become a much smaller world.
San Francisco Chronicle
Whenever a government asks its people to go to war, it demands the gravest sacrifices of its citizens. That is why our lawmakers -- as well as the public -- must ask tough questions about the Bush administration's seemingly urgent rush to force a "regime change" in Iraq by means of military force.
At a meeting with The Chronicle Editorial Board, Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, agreed that this is "the kind of society we are; we ought to have those debates."
We especially applaud U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., for pushing for such a crucial debate. We agree that Saddam Hussein is a "brutal dictator" who has quashed all internal opposition, persecuted Iraq's Kurdish minority, used chemical weapons against his own people, invaded Kuwait and financially supported Palestinian terrorists.
But we also share her legitimate concern that the United States has never before engaged in a pre-emptive strike against another nation except in "response to an attack on our shore, our people, or our interests."
With terse clarity, Feinstein stated the conditions that must be met before the United States pursues a military invasion of Iraq: "Until and unless the administration is prepared to come forward, offer its rationale, submit its evidence to the American people and allow Congress to vote to authorize the use of force, an attack on Iraq, I believe, would be unwise and ill-timed." ...
In the end, Congress must exercise its constitutional authority to debate and vote on a declaration of war. The United States should also present its evidence to the U.N. Security Council and seek -- as U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has urged -- its authorization for the use of military force. If a war with Iraq is necessary for our self-defense and to our national security, the global community must be persuaded that it is a just war, for a just cause.
(Compiled by United Press International)
2014: The Year in Music [PHOTOS]