New York Times
It's a mystery what the Bush administration thought it was protecting us from when it denied a timely visa to Iran's leading film director, Abbas Kiarostami. Surely not international embarrassment. The idea that the United States government is incapable of distinguishing between a potential terrorist and a renowned 62-year-old filmmaker who has been here seven times before without incident is not flattering to America's intelligence capacities or its reputation for cultural literacy.
Early last month Mr. Kiarostami applied at the American Embassy in Paris for permission to attend the opening of his latest film, "Ten," at the New York Film Festival last weekend. He was told that no visa could be issued before December because of a new requirement for a lengthy background check on applicants from certain countries, including Iran. Despite appeals from many in the artistic world, including a former French culture minister, Jack Lang, Washington declined to shorten the three-month delay.
Careful visa screening procedures are certainly warranted these days. But it should not take three months to uncover the background of Mr. Kiarostami, the director of thoughtful, introspective films like "A Taste of Cherry," "The Wind Will Carry Us" and "Close Up." Mr. Kiarostami has generally steered clear of controversial political issues, preferring to express himself through his movies.
Visits by other foreign artists have also had to be canceled because of new visa rules, which have now been applied to 26 countries, most of them Muslim. Such blanket restrictions based on nationality alone are counterproductive, reinforcing the notion that America is hostile to Islam in general, not just protecting itself against terrorism.
Not all Pentagon reforms have fallen by the wayside since September 11. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is poised to make a bold move by trying to rationalize the management of the Pentagon's independent intelligence agencies. To accomplish the objective, he is likely to name Richard Haver as the first-ever undersecretary for military intelligence. Mr. Haver will have to do battle to assert control over the independent intelligence fiefdoms of the service chiefs.
The organization of military intelligence reflects that of the Defense Department. There are four branches in our military, each with unique missions but also overlapping capabilities and duplication. Military intelligence is designed to serve the needs of its own branch of the armed services. To an efficiency expert, this looks wasteful. To the military mind, dedicated assets -- whether in the form of aircraft, weapons, or battlefield intelligence -- enhance the success of any mission. ...
Each service maintains its own intelligence shop complete with analysts and collectors of information. Each produces volumes of reporting. This massive effort needs to be closely related to strategic as well as tactical requirements. Mr. Haver also has to rectify failures in acquisition, notably at the National Reconnaissance Office, the ill-starred builder of America's military spy satellites. ...
Mr. Haver is a Navy and CIA veteran who has been Mr. Rumsfeld's point man on intelligence for the past two years. He is a protégé of Vice President Richard Cheney, with a no-nonsense reputation for ruffling bureaucratic feathers while still getting the job done. He has his work cut out for him.
One striking feature of the criticism of President Bush's Iraq policy is the absence of suggested alternatives. In their recent speeches on the subject, former vice president Al Gore and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) began by stipulating that "Iraq does, indeed, pose a serious threat," as Mr. Gore put it, and that Saddam Hussein, to use Mr. Kennedy's words, "must be disarmed." They both further said that "we may reach the point where our only choice is conflict" (Mr. Kennedy), and that authorization from the United Nations is not absolutely necessary, because "there's no international law that can prevent the United States from taking action to protect our vital interests" (Mr. Gore). Both suggested they had an alternative strategy, yet they wound up proposing that the United States seek a new U.N. Security Council resolution requiring "prompt, unconditional compliance by Iraq within a definite period of time" (Mr. Gore) and added that the "resolution should authorize the use of force if the inspection process is unsatisfactory" (Mr. Kennedy). In other words, these leading Democrats argued that the president should do exactly what he is doing . . . only not now, or not so fast. ...
These are all important concerns, yet the best way to act on them is not to demand that the challenge of Iraq again be postponed. Instead, critical Democrats, in and outside Congress, should be pressuring the administration to work harder on postwar planning, to take steps to head off trouble in Afghanistan and to ground its campaign more consistently on the enforcement of U.N. resolutions. Sens. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) and Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), the senior members of the Foreign Relations Committee, have constructively offered an alternative to the pending congressional resolution on Iraq that would require the White House to report regularly on its efforts to recruit allies and prepare for postwar reconstruction. Rather than resisting such language, as he did yesterday, Mr. Bush ought to accept it: It would unite Congress behind him and offer a responsible way forward for those critics who worry about his course but have no other to offer.
Dallas Morning News
The British and Americans have formally presented their proposed resolution on Iraq to the other veto-wielding members of the Security Council -- China, Russia and France. France in particular has been reticent about authorizing any "automatic" use of force if the Iraqis fail to comply with United Nations resolutions. What the French and some other Security Council members neglect to notice is that the Iraqis generally do not comply unless threatened by force. They must discount Iraq's dubious assurances of full access for weapons inspectors. ...
A United Nations resolution now that does not allude to the use of force would be useless against Saddam Hussein. As British Prime Minister Tony Blair said to his Labor Party conference Tuesday, "Sometimes, and in particular when dealing with a dictator, the only chance of peace is a readiness for war."
Strong U.N. resolve does not mean that force would have to be used. But it would mean that the use of force could be justified. And then, that stark choice becomes Mr. Hussein's.
Hostility has intensified between dockworkers and West Coast port employers in recent weeks and threatens to strike a dangerous blow to America's economy, causing particularly severe damage to Hawaii. Management has accepted an offer by federal mediators to try to broker a deal, but the International Longshore and Warehouse Union has refused. The union's continued rejection of mediation should cause the White House to consider intervening.
The lockout declared by the shipping lines on Sunday has the potential of wreaking the level of havoc requiring a White House declaration of a national emergency. The Taft-Hartley Act's provision allowing the president to declare an 80-day cooling-off period was last used by President Carter in 1978. Because of that failure to end a national coal strike, President Bush may be reluctant to take similar action to keep the ports open, but such a measure should not be ruled out.
The effects of a prolonged work stoppage would devastate the already troubled American economy and be felt most heavily in Hawaii, which relies on West Coast ports for 90 percent of its goods. ...
The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service has called for both sides to "stand down their economic pressures" and resume normal schedules. However, the agency cannot impose its services on the two sides, and the ILWU has said it prefers to deal directly with the shipping lines. Its refusal raises the question of whether the union has decided its strategies can be more effective against management without the government's presence.
Los Angeles Times
More good news from the Middle East: Germany's public television network ZDF reports there's not just one evil Saddam Hussein. There may be at least three evil look-alikes, plus, of course, the evil original. The look-alikes appear for security reasons or perhaps because Saddam hates missing Angels games. ZDF experts studied 450 recent photos of Saddam, identifying doubles or triples only by tiny details.
In fact, ZDF said, the real Saddam hasn't been filmed since 1998. The other guys are genuine phonies -- the Saddam shooting his gun straight up, the Saddam waving a bent arm at unseen crowds, the Saddam standing stiffly in windowless rooms giving pathetic handshakes to lackeys. No wonder he looks insincere; it's the 12th take and he isn't paid that much. Some Saddams were surgically adjusted, ZDF suggested, to more closely resemble the bad guy with the bushy Hitler-like mustache and several mistresses but no gray hair at age 65.
Duplicate Saddams could complicate Bush's Iraq plans. Will we need four regime changes with matching assassination teams? If one Saddam gets nailed, will the others quickly shave and retire? Wouldn't it be easier if the CIA hired its own Saddam? ...
Few recall that the mother of all celebrity look-alike businesses is Elvis Presley. He tired of fame, trained countless clones in Las Vegas and returned to Mississippi to drive trucks and sing in karaoke bars. We all knew there were two President George Bushes. But there's only one likely explanation for how George W. Bush could appear at so many fall fund-raisers in two states on the very same day.
Perhaps the motto of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union says it best: An injury to one is an injury to all.
A prolonged labor dispute and shutdown of the West Coast's 29 ports, including Portland, will do more than injure the U.S. economy. It will sink more Americans' jobs and cripple communities already suffering from recession.
Resuming work, either by contract extension or by President Bush's swift invocation of the Taft-Hartley Act, is vital to prevent more damage. ...
We'd rather see both sides find resolution through mediation. But if they cannot, Bush should waste little time invoking the Taft-Hartley Act and forcing the docks to reopen. We can think of no better case for federal intervention than this blow to West Coast ports.
(Compiled by United Press International.)