Sunday, May 20, 2007

Hard Rain Journal 5-20-07: A Note on Wolfowitz, the Secret Trade Deal and How to Use the Blogosphere

Image: Yves Tanguy, The Dark Garden, Le Jardin sombre. 1928.

Hard Rain Journal 5-20-07: A Note on Wolfowitz, the Secret Trade Deal and How to Use the Blogosphere

By Richard Power

Citizen journalism and the alternative news media is by definition decentralized. No one can cover everything, no one should cover everything. Decentralization also brings the resiliency and redunancy needed for survival.

If you want to meaningful perspectives on what is happening in the the Middle East in general and Iraq in particular, you turn to Juan Cole (Informed Comment). If you want to breaking news and in-depth analysis on the election theft story in all of its many aspects, you turn to Brad Freidman (Bradblog) and Mark Crispin Miller (Notes from the Underground). If you want sophisticated analysis on foreign affairs and geopolitics, you turn to Steve Clemons (Washington Note). If you want to understand what progressive populism means, and how to deliver on the promise of it, you turn to David Sirota (Sirotablog).

Think Progress shapes the narrative and maintains the timeline. Talking Points Memo delivers cogent analysis in real-time. Media Matters deconstructs the disinformation and exposes its purveyors. Buzzflash monitors the flow of headlines and manages the real-world news cycle. Crooks and Liars cues up the video to underscore the point that the medium is the message. Truthout, Huffington Post, Common Dreams and Raw Story provide richness and texture.

For my part, Words of Power is focused on issues related to the interdependence of security, sustainability and spirit in the 21st Century, and to the political and geopolitical forces which impact those issues.

Two very important stories have been unfolding recently, the Wolfowitz scandal and the "Secret Trade Deal." Wolfowitz's fall from his plum job at the World Bank is another finger pried away in the effort to free international affairs from the Bush-Cheney regime's suffocating grip. The secret trade deal is a painful reminder of how debilitating the influence of big money has been on the People's House, and also of the profound challenges that must be overcome to perserve he unity of the progressive movement. Words of Power has not touched either of the issues -- yet. But I have been following them closely via the relentless and insightful coverage of Steve Clemmons and David Sirota respectively. I encourage you to do the same.

(Indeed, if you had to staff a White House in 2008, and wanted to optimize its potential to gear up and come to grips with the 21st Century, appointing Clemons your foreign affair advisor and Sirota your domestic affairs advisor would be a damn good start.)

Here are the latest updates from Sirota on the dastardly trade seal and Clemons on the loathesome Wolfowitz:

On the same day PBS aired Bill Moyers hard-hitting piece on the secret free trade deal, the network also aired an interview with a frustrated Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-NY), who lashed out at the growing opposition to the deal from rank-and-file Democratic lawmakers and millions of workers, farmers and small businesses. Meanwhile, an industry newsletter breaks the news that at least one senior Democrat involved in the secret deal admits that Democrats have delegated responsibility for drafting the final legislative language of the deal entirely to the Bush White House. ... John MacArthur, author of The Selling of Free Trade, told Moyers in an interview that the motivation for the handful of Democratic leaders who cut the deal with the White House was cash. "This is like the NAFTA campaign of the '90s," MacArthur said. "[It is] an attempt by the Democratic leadership - in those days it was the Clintons - to raise money from Wall Street." ... Addressing the Democratic congressional critics of the deal, the majority of Americans polls show are opposed to lobbyist-written trade pacts, and labor, environmental, health, human rights, religious, consumer protection and agricultural groups rising questions about the deal, Rangel said the only thing he would do differently would be to "ignore a lot of people that really were just wasting my time." ... Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) "said that little additional information could be provided until the exact legal language of the deal has been worked out" and that the Bush White House "is now drafting that legal language." In other words, Democrats in on the deal delegated the responsibility of drafting the final language to the Bush White House all while rank-and-file Democrats have not been given any potential drafts of the legislative language to review. Sirotablog, 5-19-07

Paul Wolfowitz has all but conceded that he is leaving his perch as CEO of the World Bank. The only question that remains is what gets scribbled in the last paragraph of the story on whether the "blame" for his departure is shared -- and whether he resigned under his own steam or was actually, formally fired.
What is odd about this entire encounter is that "Wolfowitz the strategist" seems to be missing -- and that may have been the problem all along.
Many officials in the Bank did not like Wolfowitz because of his central role in designing, planning and launching the Iraq War. But had the former Deputy Secretary of Defense come into the Bank with a compelling plan for global economic development that built on the strengths and addressed some of the weaknesses of the Bank's relative skill sets, a relationship of mutual trust and respect, even if grudging, would have taken root.
Even one of Wolfowitz's closest friends and the not-often discussed third political appointee (the other two were the more controversial Kevin Kellems and Robin Cleveland) brought in by Wolfowitz, Karl Jackson, has reportedly told numerous World Bank and diplomatic pals of his that "Paul has no plan. Everything is ad hoc, reactive -- first we go this way, then we go that." If his friends are saying that, imagine what Wolfowitz's enemies think.
And in this sad public battle over whether Wolfowitz acted appropriately or not regarding the employment options, compensation, and performance evaluations of his girlfriend, Wolfowitz also seemed to operate in exactly the mode Jackson describes -- without a plan, reactive, ad hoc, first this way and then that. ...
Whichever way the Bank's board goes today in either allowing him honor as he exits, or just leaving things messy and not nicely packaged, Wolfowitz is done.
Washington Note, 5-17-07

Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and Words of Power. His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: For more information, go to

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