FRONTBENCHER

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 Saturday, May 24, 2003

 

The whole world is eavesdropping on malevolent chit-chat and the garrulous donít seem to know weíre listening. Overdressed and underfunded, Tom Ridge ups the ante and prays nightly that gossip is non-fatal.

 

Hundreds of porous wharves cry out for effective x-ray equipment to scan millions of containers. At airports, passports ache to be stamped on every entry and exit and foreign governments should be encouraged to do likewise. Cargo in the hold of passenger aircraft should receive the same screening as carry-on luggage. (If we still need to screen the company that screens the screeners, someone needs to scream enough is enough.)

 

To tackle the multi-billion dollar money-washing racket, a dedicated unit should be established from within the ranks of the FBI and CIA, answerable directly to Homeland Security. All obvious, doable and undone. 

 

The Library of Crawford needs to be restocked, but not in a rickety outhouse. The Great Delegator stands tentatively on the threshold of self-delegation.

 

In an attempt to emulate Blairís Good Friday Agreement stoicism, the President is pondering belated commitment to hands-on supervision of the Israelis and Palestinians. With his own man as PM in Ramallah, and being the first President to speak in favor of a Palestinian state, Bush may well be feeling confident as only he can. Incuriousness has an upside.

 

As scabrous as the issues are, some things are self-evident. The Palestinians need a viable state of their own, sooner rather than later. Jews have nowhere else to call their own except a tiny strip of land on the shores of the Mediterranean and Arabs should not begrudge them this. No more erasing Israel from classroom maps and minds.

 

Apostates over evangelicals, deeds will persuade the Street. 

UN ambiguity and French hauteur evaporated this week, not a hubbly-bubbly in sight. Bush and Blair, rulers de jure, with a little help from Bremer the Debaathifier. Exultant oil executives will now be able to sign gazillion dollar contracts, while fair-haired Bechtel is already on a hiring spree in Washington, London and Kuwait.

Pity about the insecurity, lack of electricity and clean water. To say nothing of Iraqi pride and ambivalence. And nobody will talk about the cost to the US taxpayer while the feuding between State Department diplomats and Defense Department realists continues unabated.     


10:57:48 AM