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The Washington Post

The North American Free Trade Agreement is once again a prime scapegoat for the nation’s growing economic troubles, drawing blame for sending jobs overseas and flattening wages for U.S. workers. That sentiment has intensified as the economy has deteriorated, a fall punctuated last week by the steepest job decline in five years.

Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama (Ill.) have fed the anti-free-trade view in campaigning ahead of the Pennsylvania Democratic primary April 22. Facing voters in a state that has lost more than 200,000 manufacturing jobs since 2001, Obama has promised to stand against trade deals that cost U.S. jobs, while saying Clinton supported NAFTA in the past. Clinton counters that she has always opposed the deal, even as her husband signed it as president, and she has promised to call a “timeout” on future trade deals if elected president. “I don’t think NAFTA has been good for America,” she said.

But is that judgment fair?

Many economists do not think so. It is true that the United States has lost about 4 million manufacturing jobs since 1994, the year NAFTA went into effect and eliminated most hurdles to trade and investment between the United States, Mexico and Canada. Not only are items such as clothing, toys and televisions increasingly made abroad, but so are more complex goods including sophisticated magnets that help steer military smart bombs and radio frequency identification chips embedded in new U.S. passports.

But many economists blame the march of technology and the increasingly dominant manufacturing role of China, not NAFTA, for that shift.

Overall, they said, NAFTA has been a net plus, if a modest one, for the U.S. economy. Even as the number of factory jobs dropped, manufacturing output in the United States was up 58 percent between 1993 and 2006, as U.S. plants produced more goods with fewer workers. Exports are at a record high, and trade among the three NAFTA partners has tripled since 1994. Meanwhile, overall employment in the United States has grown 24 percent and average unemployment is down since NAFTA went into effect. Some cities along the border with Mexico have grown, and farm exports have gone up.

“On balance, researchers have found NAFTA a slight positive for the U.S. as a whole,” wrote Anil Kumar, a Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas economist who studied the impact of the agreement.

A Campaign Fault Line

The escalating debate over the future of free-trade agreements promises to be a stark fault line in the campaign. Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the presumptive Republican nominee for president, is an unabashed supporter of free trade, and the Bush administration is pushing for a free-trade agreement with Colombia.

Even with all their objections to these trade deals, Obama and Clinton have been careful about where and when they have attacked NAFTA. Campaigning in Pennsylvania and earlier in Ohio, both places where trade is blamed by many for job losses, they have pledged to withdraw from the treaty if it is not renegotiated to toughen labor and environmental standards.

But the candidates were mostly silent on the deal in Texas, where economists said it has increased exports not only to Mexico, but also to Canada, Europe, Latin American and Asia.

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The Washington Post

Federal immigration officials said they arrested 59 foreign-born workers in a raid yesterday at the Lansdowne Resort in Loudoun County. The officials said the detainees, all from Latin America, were suspected of having used fraudulent or stolen documents to obtain jobs at the hotel and golf resort.

Mark McGraw, a senior regional official with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in a statement that the raid was part of a “nationwide aggressive pursuit of unauthorized workers and employers who violate the law.” Companies that use “cheap, illegal alien labor as a business model should be on notice that ICE is dramatically enhancing its enforcement efforts,” he said.

Immigration officials could not be reached to confirm details of the raid, but a spokesman for the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said last night that its officers had assisted in an ICE operation at Lansdowne. The spokesman, Kraig Troxell, also said there had been reports of buses taking groups of people away from the site.

The raid occurred less than three weeks after ICE officials raided a construction company office in Prince William County, arresting 34 Latin American nationals on suspicion of being in the United States illegally. The two operations appear to have been the largest workplace raids conducted by immigration authorities in the Washington region in the past two years.

Employees at Lansdowne, reached by phone last night, said they had no comment and would not confirm whether the raid had taken place. The resort on Woodridge Parkway offers convention facilities, golf tournaments and tours of nearby wineries.

In a written statement, ICE officials said the agency’s officers questioned more than 100 workers at the resort yesterday after a lengthy investigation of employment documents and practices there.

The statement said 59 men and women from El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, Bolivia, Peru and Argentina were taken into custody for immigration violations and would probably be processed for deportation. It said two other women had been released for humanitarian reasons and that family members could call 866-341-3858 for information about those detained.

Immigrant advocacy groups and lawyers in the Washington area said they had not been contacted by any detainees or their relatives, but several groups said they were concerned that the raids would increase a climate of fear among legal and illegal immigrants.

ICE officials did not say whether action would be taken against the managers or owners of the resort, which is operated by Benchmark Hospitality International.

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The Washington Times

The suspected leader of a firearms smuggling ring in Arizona and New Mexico has been arrested by federal agents in a law-enforcement effort to shut down a flood of high-powered weapons to Mexican drug smugglers from sellers in the United States.

Victor Varela was taken into custody Thursday by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents who also recovered .50-caliber semiautomatic rifles and several handguns intended for drug smugglers in Palomas, Mexico, just south of Columbus, N.M.

A charging document in the case said Mr. Varela and several co-defendants acted as ?straw purchasers? in buying firearms in Arizona to be turned over to drug smugglers in Mexico.

?The quick action by ATF in this investigation exemplifies our commitment to cut off the illegal flow of firearms to violent criminals in the United States and Mexico,? said ATF Special Agent in Charge William Newell, who heads the agency’s Phoenix Field Division.

Authorities said that along with the seized firearms, Mr. Varela was trying to buy a fully automatic, M-60 machine gun and that a number of firearms recovered by Mexican law enforcement and military personnel in Palomas and Juarez were trafficked by his gun smuggling network.

A task force of federal, state and local law-enforcement agencies in Arizona also recently seized 200 assault-style weapons, 60,000 rounds of ammunition and $3.5 million in cash, authorities said. Those seizures included a Serbu .50 caliber sniper rifle, a Norinco SKS assault rifle, eight semiautomatic handguns, one silencer, 3,500 rounds of ammunition and weapons components.

The arrests were part of a Border Enforcement Security Task Force initiative aimed at prosecuting gang members, weapon smugglers and others.

?Many of these seized weapons would have been used by organized criminal gangs against our law-enforcement partners in Mexico. By stopping them here, we are preventing these tragedies from occurring there,? said Richard Crocker, deputy special agent in charge of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office in Tucson, Ariz.

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The Washington Post

MEXICO CITY — The Absolut vodka company apologized Saturday for an ad campaign depicting the southwestern U.S. as part of Mexico amid angry calls for a boycott by U.S. consumers.

The campaign, which promotes ideal scenarios under the slogan “In an Absolut World,” showed a 1830s-era map when Mexico included California, Texas and other southwestern states. Mexico still resents losing that territory in the 1848 Mexican-American War and the fight for Texas independence.

But the ads, which ran only in Mexico and have since ended, were less than ideal for Americans undergoing a border buildup and embroiled in an emotional debate over illegal immigration from their southern neighbor.

More than a dozen calls to boycott Absolut were posted on, a Web site operated by conservative columnist Michelle Malkin. The ads sparked heated comment on a half-dozen other Internet sites and blogs.

“In no way was it meant to offend or disparage, nor does it advocate an altering of borders, nor does it lend support to any anti-American sentiment, nor does it reflect immigration issues,” Absolut said in a statement left on its consumer inquiry phone line.

Some fringe U.S. groups also claim the land is rightfully part of Mexico, while extreme immigration foes argue parts of the U.S. already are being overtaken by Mexico.

“In an Absolut world, a company that produces vodka fires its entire marketing department in a desperate attempt to win back enraged North American customers after a disastrous ad campaign backfires,” a person using the moniker “SalsaNChips” wrote on Malkin’s Web site.

A plan for comprehensive immigration reform designed to deal with an estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States _ the vast majority from Mexico _ collapsed last summer under the emotional weight of the debate.

Absolut said the ad was designed for a Mexican audience and intended to recall “a time which the population of Mexico might feel was more ideal.”

“As a global company, we recognize that people in different parts of the world may lend different perspectives or interpret our ads in a different way than was intended in that market, and for that we apologize.”

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The Washington Post

A highly touted partnership between the Prince William County jail and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is showing signs of strain, as crowding at the facility has hit an all-time high and federal agents are taking weeks — not the agreed-upon 72 hours — to pick up illegal immigrant suspects, jail officials said.

Letters sent recently by Prince William jail board Chairman Patrick J. Hurd to Julie L. Myers, head of ICE, and top officials in Prince William and Manassas said that jail workers are “at or close to their limit” as a result of new local policies that require residency checks of inmates suspected of being in the country illegally. Jail employees with immigration training are working 60 hours a week, Hurd said, and the facility is spending $220,000 a month to house a growing number of inmates elsewhere in the state.

“Something’s got to change,” Hurd said. “We’re worried about the impact on our staff.”

The unanticipated expense comes as county officials wrangle over budget shortfalls, tax increases and the additional costs of tighter immigration enforcement by its police department, which, like the jail, has a partnership with ICE through a program known as 287(g).

Under the federal program, participating jurisdictions can deputize local law enforcement officials to receive training and assist ICE in processing illegal immigrants. The local officers investigate suspects who they think are illegal immigrants, working with the federal agency to increase arrests and expedite the deportation process.

The program has become popular with elected officials whose constituents have been demanding tougher action on illegal immigration. Since 2005, the number of state and local agencies participating in 287(g) nationwide has increased from four to 47, including the Prince William jail and the police departments in Prince William, Manassas and Herndon.

But cracks in the agency’s partnership with the jail suggest that federal authorities are struggling to fulfill their commitments. In Prince William, ICE agents are supposed to retrieve suspected illegal immigrants from the jail within 72 hours of their scheduled release from county custody, under the agreement that went into effect in July. Instead, Hurd says, inmates are waiting as long as four weeks, and the already-crowded jail is spending $3 million a year in additional transportation and processing costs.

Hurd’s calculations do not include the potential impact of the Prince William police policy implemented March 1, which directs patrol officers to investigate a crime suspect’s residency status if they think the person is an illegal immigrant. People detained for traffic violations or other minor offenses might wait weeks for federal removal.

In an e-mail, ICE spokeswoman Ernestine Fobbs said the agency met with jail officials Thursday and pledged to beef up its commitment.

“Both parties recognized that due to the dramatic increase in the number of aliens being sent to ICE beyond the originally projected caseload, that closer coordination would be required,” Fobbs said. “Both agencies will continue to work together to facilitate a more expedient way to transition aliens.” The agencies will begin meeting monthly “to assess any adjustments that need to be made,” she said.

Since the partnership started, the jail has processed about 13,000 suspects, superintendent Col. Peter A. Meletis said. Officers have conducted checks on 1,199 inmates, 632 of whom were wanted by ICE.

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The Handbook of Texas

PLAN OF SAN DIEGO. With the outbreak of revolution in northern Mexico in 1910, federal authorities and officials of the state of Texas feared that the violence and disorder might spill over into the Rio Grande valley. The Mexican and Mexican-American populations residing in the Valley far outnumbered the Anglo population. Many Valley residents either had relatives living in areas of Mexico affected by revolutionary activity or aided the various revolutionary factions in Mexico. The revolution caused an influx of political refugees and illegal immigrants into the border region, politicizing the Valley population and disturbing the traditional politics of the region. Some radical elements saw the Mexican Revolutionqv as an opportunity to bring about drastic political and economic changes in South Texas. The most extreme example of this was a movement supporting the “Plan of San Diego,” a revolutionary manifesto supposedly written and signed at the South Texas town of San Diego on January 6, 1915. The plan, actually drafted in a jail in Monterrey, Nuevo León, provided for the formation of a “Liberating Army of Races and Peoples,” to be made up of Mexican Americans, African Americans, and Japanese,qv to “free” the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, and Colorado from United States control. The liberated states would be organized into an independent republic, which might later seek annexation to Mexico. There would be a no-quarter race war, with summary execution of all white males over the age of sixteen. The revolution was to begin on February 20, 1915. Federal and state officials found a copy of the plan when local authorities in McAllen, Texas, arrested Basilio Ramos, Jr., one of the leaders of the plot, on January 24, 1915.

The arrival of February 20 produced only another revolutionary manifesto, rather than the promised insurrection. Similar to the original plan, this second Plan of San Diego emphasized the “liberation” of the proletariat and focused on Texas, where a “social republic” would be established to serve as a base for spreading the revolution throughout the southwestern United States. Indians were also to be enlisted in the cause. But with no signs of revolutionary activity, state and federal authorities dismissed the plan as one more example of the revolutionary rhetoric that flourished along the border. This feeling of complacency was shattered in July 1915 with a series of raids in the lower Rio Grande valley connected with the Plan of San Diego. These raids were led by two adherents of Venustiano Carranza, revolutionary general, and Aniceto Pizaña and Luis De la Rosa,qv residents of South Texas. The bands used the guerilla tactics of disrupting transportation and communication in the border area and killing Anglos. In response, the United States Army moved reinforcements into the area.

A third version of the plan called for the foundation of a “Republic of Texas” to be made up of Texas, New Mexico, California, Arizona, and parts of Mississippi and Oklahoma. San Antonio, Texas, was to serve as revolutionary headquarters, and the movement’s leadership continued to come from South Texas. Raids originated on both sides of the Rio Grande, eventually assuming a pattern of guerilla warfare. Raids from the Mexican side came from territory under the control of Carranza, whose officers were accused of supporting the raiders. When the United States recognized Carranza as president of Mexico in October 1915, the raids came to an abrupt halt. Relations between the United States and Carranza quickly turned sour, however, amid growing violence along the border. When forces under another revolutionary general, Francisco (Pancho) Villa,qv attacked Columbus, New Mexico, in March 1916, the United States responded by sending a large military force under Gen. John J. Pershingqv into northern Mexico in pursuit of Villa. When the United States rejected Carranza’s demands to withdraw Pershing’s troops, fear of a military conflict between the United States and Mexico grew. In this volatile context, there was a renewal of raiding under the Plan of San Diego in May 1916. Mexican officials were even considering the possibility of combining the San Diego raiders with regular Mexican forces in an attack on Laredo. In late June, Mexican and United States officials agreed to a peaceful settlement of differences, and raids under the Plan of San Diego came to a halt.

The Plan of San Diego and the raids that accompanied it were originally attributed to the supporters of the ousted Mexican dictator Gen. Victoriano Huerta,qv who had been overthrown by Carranza in 1914. The evidence indicates, however, that the raids were carried out by followers of Carranza, who manipulated the movement in an effort to influence relations with the United States. Fatalities directly linked to the raids were surprisingly small; between July 1915 and July 1916 some thirty raids into Texas produced only twenty-one American deaths, both civilian and military. More destructive and disruptive was the near race war that ensued in the wake of the plan as relations between the whites and the Mexicans and Mexican Americans deteriorated in 1915-16. Federal reports indicated that more than 300 Mexicans or Mexican Americans were summarily executed in South Texas in the atmosphere generated by the plan. Economic losses ran into the millions of dollars, and virtually all residents of the lower Rio Grande valley suffered some disruption in their lives from the raids. Moreover, the plan’s legacy of racial antagonism endured long after the plan itself had been forgotten.

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The Washington Times

Stafford mulls home occupancy limit
STAFFORD, Va. (AP) ? Stafford County supervisors said a proposal to limit the number of unrelated people who can live in a single-family home is not directly aimed at day laborers or illegal immigrants.

The Board of Supervisors considered amending the zoning ordinance yesterday to limit to a residential dwelling to three people not related by blood, marriage, adoption or guardianship.

The Planning Commission will consider the proposal.

The proposed “family” definition to the housing code follows complaints by some residents of crowded homes and driveways. Some suspect the crowding is related to day laborers or illegal immigrants, many of whom must pool resources to find housing.

The complaints were made at public hearings conducted this year by the Illegal Immigration Task Force.

But supervisors said the proposed ordinance is intended to muffle noise pollution and address public safety issues related to crowding, not necessarily illegal immigrants.

“Nobody’s specifically linked that,” Supervisor Cord Sterling said.

“When you have that many people in a house you do have health and safety concerns,” he said.

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The Washington Post

Prince William County Police Chief Charlie T. Deane said most of the people arrested during the first month of the county’s illegal immigration crackdown would have gone to jail anyway.

Of the 89 people questioned about their citizenship status, 41 were taken to the county’s adult detention center. Although officers have reason to think the 41 people arrested are in the country illegally, all but two were charged with a series of misdemeanors and felonies unrelated to their immigration status.

“Most of [the arrests] would have been made anyway,” Deane said during a news conference last week to provide details about the county’s first month of increased illegal immigration enforcement.

Seven people were charged with felonies, including attempted murder, cocaine possession and shoplifting. Thirty-two people were charged with misdemeanors, which included public drunkenness, domestic assault and lack of a driver’s license. Two others were detained on immigration-related charges.

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The Washington Post

The argument for granting Haitian immigrants temporary protected status, or TPS, outlined in an April 2 editorial is fair and correct. However, the United States should also be concerned with such status for Iraqi immigrants.

As an immigration attorney, I have witnessed the government’s ongoing efforts to deport Iraqi citizens. Last year, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees requested a halt to all forcible repatriations of Iraqi asylum seekers; last month, Amnesty International issued a similar request.

In January, the U.S. government enacted a measure allowing Iraqis whose asylum applications were denied on or after March 1, 2003, to file motions to reopen their cases; they must be filed by June. This move aims to provide relief to people who were denied asylum after the war began, based at least in part on the notion that, with Saddam Hussein no longer in power, Iraq should be safe for them.

While this measure provides an avenue of relief for some Iraqis, it does not go far enough. The United States should heed the requests of the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner and Amnesty International. No Iraqis should be returned to their country at this time. Iraqis in the United States should be granted temporary protected status until conditions in their country have stabilized.

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The Washington Post

Prince William County Police Chief Charlie T. Deane said most of the people arrested during the first month of the county’s illegal-immigration crackdown would have gone to jail anyway.

Of the 89 people questioned about their citizenship status, 41 were taken to the county’s adult detention center. Although officers have reason to think the 41 people arrested are in the country illegally, all but two were charged with a series of misdemeanors and felonies unrelated to their immigration status.

“Most of them would have been made anyway,” Deane said during a news conference to provide details about the county’s first month of increased illegal immigration enforcement.

Seven people were charged with felonies, including attempted murder, cocaine possession and shoplifting. Thirty-two people were charged with misdemeanors, which included public drunkenness, domestic assault and lack of a driver’s license. Two others were detained on immigration-related charges.

The Board of County Supervisors voted last fall to direct officers to check the citizenship or immigration status of suspects they think might be in the country illegally. The measure took effect March 3.

Of the 89 people questioned about their residency status, two were found to be in the country legally, Deane said.

Among those thought to be in the country illegally, 21 were released without charges and 25 were given citations for minor offenses. Police are referring the 87 cases to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“Our job is to communicate that” to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Deane said. “What happens after that is out of our hands.”

To put the numbers into perspective, Prince William police officers generally make 1,100 arrests a month, Deane said.

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NEW YORK - TV seems to be everywhere these days. At the supermarket, the mall and now, thanks to a Michigan-based startup company, the gas pump.

Gas Station TV, based in the Detroit suburb of Oak Park, has been testing its service for several months in Dallas with TV monitors installed above gas pumps that show short clips of news, weather and traffic and, of course, advertising.

This fall, the company plans to expand the program to 100 gas stations in Dallas, Houston and Atlanta, all owned by Murphy Oil USA, which operates filling stations at Wal-Mart stores.

Walt Disney Co.’s ABC will sell ads for the screens and also provide local news, weather and other programming for the screens, mainly from ABC’s locally owned or affiliated television stations.

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The Washington Post

By Philippe Legrain

1 NAFTA has transformed the U.S. economy.

Hardly. Critics rightly point out that NAFTA’s economic benefits were oversold, but they’re wrong to heap the blame for all America’s woes on it. NAFTA, which expanded the existing Canadian-U.S. free-trade area to Mexico, has had only a marginal impact on the U.S. economy. Yes, exports to Mexico have more than tripled since 1993 — but at $161 billion last year, they still account for only 1.1 percent of the economy. Considering that total U.S. exports have more than doubled over the same period, to more than $1.6 trillion a year, the boost from NAFTA is just a trifle.

Though imports from Mexico have risen nearly five-fold since 1993 — potentially threatening some U.S. businesses — they only amounted to $230 billion in 2007, or less than 1.7 percent of the $14 trillion U.S. economy. That’s peanuts. And for all the fears of factories being shipped south on the back of an 18-wheeler, the total U.S. investment in Mexican factories and offices adds up to a mere $75 billion. Mexico received just $19 billion in foreign direct investment in 2006, while the United States attracted $175 billion. Thus, the “giant sucking sound” that Texas businessman and independent presidential candidate H. Ross Perot heard back in the 1990s doesn’t sound so giant after all. But the benefits of NAFTA don’t seem so remarkable, either.

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The Washington Post

Bill and Hillary Clinton earned a combined $109 million between 2000 and 2007, with the former president and first lady parlaying their White House years into hefty publishing paydays, and with his oratorical gifts bringing in more than $51 million from paid speaking engagements.

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Error Theory Blog

Tom Burnett Sr. called me yesterday and told me that he approved of my efforts to expose the many Islamic and terrorist memorializing features in what was originally called the Crescent of Embrace design. ?I am so happy you are doing this,? he said.

He described his own efforts to stop the crescent design, including letters to the press that were never published. [Update: In a subsequent discussion with Mrs. Burnett, she thought that at least one of the letters was published by the Somerset Daily American. Will update later with what I can verify about who did and did not publish the letters.] With the crescent design still going forward, he has decided that it is necessary to up the ante, and has authorized me to publicize his decision to protest the crescent design by insisting that Tom Jr.?s name not be inscribed on one of the 44 glass blocks emplaced along the flight path, or used anywhere else in the memorial.

?I think we HAVE to,? says Mr. Burnett. ?It?s not that I pull a lot of weight around. I know that. I?m one of forty.?

There were forty heroes on Flight 93, along with four terrorists.

Mr. Burnett was adamantly against architect Paul Murdoch?s design long before he knew about the suspicious glass block count, or the Mecca orientation of the giant crescent, or any of the other Islamic and terrorist memorializing specifics that I have discovered.

He read two letters that he sent to the press back in September 2005, when the unveiling of the crescent design first ignited a national controversy.

Both of Tom Burnett’s September 2005 letters condemn the chosen design in the strongest possible terms. ?It is unmistakably an Islamic symbol,? charged Mr. Burnett: ?The red Crescent of Embrace? bastardizes what my son and others did on Flight 93.?

Incredibly, the newspapers declined to publish these explosive letters from the father of one of the heroes of Flight 93, a man who is also one of only fifteen Stage Two jurors, making him one of the few people who witnessed the design competition from the inside. ?This all went on deaf ears, apparently,? Mr. Burnett told me on the phone. [Before posting, I Google searched several phrases from both letters and turned up nothing, but letters to the editor might not be posted online. Full verification of whether the letters were published is in process. In any case, published or not, they “fell on deaf ears,” according to Mr. Burnett.]

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The Washington Post

Max Boot is a senior fellow in national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of “War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History, 1500 to Today.” He is a foreign policy adviser to the McCain campaign.

Why am I not reassured by Zbigniew Brzezinski’s breezy assurance in Sunday’s Outlook section that “forecasts of regional catastrophe” after an American pullout from Iraq are as overblown as similar predictions made prior to our pullout from South Vietnam? Perhaps because the fall of Saigon in 1975 really was a catastrophe. Another domino fell at virtually the same time — Cambodia.

Estimates vary, but a safe bet is that some two million people died in the killing fields of Cambodia. In South Vietnam, the death toll was lower, but hundreds of thousands were consigned to harsh “reeducation” camps where many perished, and hundreds of thousands more risked their lives to flee as “boat people.”

The consequences of the U.S. defeat rippled outward, emboldening communist aggression from Angola to Afghanistan. Iran’s willingness to hold our embassy personnel hostage — something that Brzezinski should recall — was probably at least in part a reaction to America’s post-Vietnam malaise. Certainly the inability of the U.S. armed services to rescue those hostages was emblematic of the “hollow,” post-Vietnam military. It took us more than a decade to recover from the worst military defeat in our history.

In a sense, however, we have never been able to shed its baleful legacy. Thirty years later, Ayman al Zawahiri acknowledged that he was still inspired by “the aftermath of the collapse of the American power in Vietnam and how they ran and left their agents.”

The consequences of withdrawal and defeat in Iraq are likely to be even more serious, because it is located in a more volatile and strategically important region. Brzezinski thinks that Shiite-Sunni enmity is “in large part the sour byproduct of the destructive U.S. occupation” and would evaporate after our departure. Few serious analysts share his optimism.

Most of those who have spent any time in Iraq agree with the National Intelligence Estimate issued last year. It warned: “If Coalition forces were withdrawn rapidly … we judge that the ISF [Iraqi Security Forces] would be unlikely to survive as a non-sectarian national institution; neighboring countries — invited by Iraqi factions or unilaterally — might intervene openly in the conflict; massive civilian casualties and forced population displacement would be probable; AQI [al-Qaeda in Iraq] would attempt to use parts of the country — particularly al-Anbar province — to plan increased attacks in and outside of Iraq; and spiraling violence and political disarray in Iraq… could prompt Turkey to launch a military incursion.”

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