Weekly Review — February 11, 2003, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Colin Powell presented the United Nations Security Council with America’s latest case against Iraq. He played recordings of what he said were intercepted conversations of Iraqis discussing the removal of “forbidden ammo” from weapons sites, and he showed satellite photos in which trucks appeared to be parked next to warehouses. Powell referred to a “potentially sinister nexus between Iraq and the Al Qaeda terrorist network” but provided no conclusive evidence of collaboration. French, Russian, and German diplomats said that Powell had made a good case for continuing the inspection process. President Bush missed the first half of Powell’s performance but watched the second half at the White House over cheese and crackers and a Diet Coke. “This is a defining moment for the U.N. Security Council,” President Bush said. “If the Security Council were to allow a dictator to lie and deceive, the Security Council will be weakened.” The British government admitted that its new “intelligence” dossier on Iraq, which purported to provide “up-to-date details of Iraq’s network of intelligence and security” and which Colin Powell cited approvingly in his presentation to the United Nations, was largely plagiarized from various published articles, including one by a student that described Iraqi intelligence activities in 1990 and 1991. One of the articles was published in 1997, and some of the plagiarized material even reproduced spelling and punctuation errors, though in several instances the language was tweaked to make it sound more sinister. France, Germany, and Belgium vetoed a NATO plan to reinforce Turkey’s defenses in anticipation of an attack from Iraq; American officials were said to be “livid,” and Colin Powell said the action was “inexcusable.” There was talk of a “crisis of credibility.” Ansar al Islam, the militant group that supposedly has links both to Saddam Hussein and to Al Qaeda, gave reporters a tour of the camp that Colin Powell identified as a poison factory. They found a primitive collection of buildings powered only by a small generator. The buildings had no plumbing. A State Department functionary insisted, however, that Powell’s description of the camp was accurate: “A poison factory,” he said, “is a term of art.” Scientists discovered that women are better at baby talk than men.

A copy of the Justice Department’s proposed expansion of the USA Patriot Act was leaked to the Center for Public Integrity. The draft bill, entitled the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003, contains proposals to radically expand the authority of law-enforcement agencies, to increase the surveillance of American citizens, and to reduce or eliminate judicial oversight over that surveillance; it would also authorize secret arrests, create a DNA database of “suspected terrorists,” create new death penalties, and empower the government to strip American citizenship from anyone who “provides material support” to a terrorist organization. Suicide attempts were up among the detainees at Camp X-Ray. Howard Coble, a Republican congressman from North Carolina who chairs a House subcommittee on domestic security, declared that the interning of Japanese Americans during World War II “was appropriate at the time.” He also said that he thought President Roosevelt took the action “for their own protection.” Federal officials announced that the Army Corps of Engineers had removed 10,000 tons of soil contaminated with arsenic from a Washington, D.C., neighborhood about four miles from the White House. More than 425 munitions were removed from the area, which was used to test chemical weapons during World War I, and rounds containing arsine gas were taken from the Korean ambassador’s residence. South Korea was wondering what to do with a gigantic rice surplus. North Korea resumed “normal operations” at the Yongbyon nuclear reactor, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld put two dozen B-52 and B-1 bombers on alert. Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman, said by way of explanation that “the president continues to believe that the matter with North Korea can be resolved through diplomatic means, but that does not mean that the United States will always have contingencies and make certain our contingencies are viable.”

President Bush sent a $2.2 trillion budget to Congress that includes a large increase in defense spending, large tax cuts, and record deficits â?? $304 billion for the current fiscal year and $307 billion for next year. The total deficit over the next five years was projected to be more than $1 trillion. Two years ago, reporters were quick to recall, the president forecast a $5.6 trillion surplus over the next 10 years and justified his first round of tax cuts for the wealthy on that basis. The budget does not include funds for the invasion of Iraq but does propose to make it more difficult for poor families to obtain government handouts. The Labor Department said that job creation was at a twenty-year low, and Governor Tim Pawlenty proposed cutting $300 from the budget of the Minnesota state band. NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe denied that cost cutting had led to the Columbia disaster, though last April the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel warned Congress that the shuttle fleet was being endangered by reductions in NASA’s budget, which is down 40 percent since 1990. The chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hired a mining lobbyist to oversee clean-air legislation. Doctors in New Jersey walked off the job to protest high medical malpractice insurance rates; one doctor carried a sign outside Christ Hospital in Jersey City that read: “When your water breaks, call your lawyer.” Doctors in Illinois were planning a similar walkout. A performance of John Cage’s “As Slow As Possible” began in Halberstadt, Germany. The piece was originally conceived to last 20 minutes; the current performance will last 639 years, and it will take more than a year to play the first three notes. Protesters in Shannon, Ireland, attacked a U.S. Navy plane with hammers, spray paint, and human blood. People in Congo were dying of Ebola fever. American soldiers were busy “banking genetic material before deployment,” and the Pentagon was stocking up on body bags. Brazil was suffering from a shortage of silicone breast and buttock implants. Russia outlawed profanity.

Share
Single Page

More from Roger D. Hodge:

From the October 2010 issue

Speak, Money

Get access to 167 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

December 2017

Document of Barbarism

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Destroyer of Worlds

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Crossing Guards

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“I am Here Only for Working”

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Dear Rose

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Year of The Frog

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Destroyer of Worlds·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In February 1947, Harper’s Magazine published Henry L. Stimson’s “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb.” As secretary of war, Stimson had served as the chief military adviser to President Truman, and recommended the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The terms of his unrepentant apologia, an excerpt of which appears on page 35, are now familiar to us: the risk of a dud made a demonstration too risky; the human cost of a land invasion would be too high; nothing short of the bomb’s awesome lethality would compel Japan to surrender. The bomb was the only option. Seventy years later, we find his reasoning unconvincing. Entirely aside from the destruction of the blasts themselves, the decision thrust the world irrevocably into a high-stakes arms race — in which, as Stimson took care to warn, the technology would proliferate, evolve, and quite possibly lead to the end of modern civilization. The first half of that forecast has long since come to pass, and the second feels as plausible as ever. Increasingly, the atmosphere seems to reflect the anxious days of the Cold War, albeit with more juvenile insults and more colorful threats. Terms once consigned to the history books — “madman theory,” “brinkmanship” — have returned to the news cycle with frightening regularity. In the pages that follow, seven writers and experts survey the current nuclear landscape. Our hope is to call attention to the bomb’s ever-present menace and point our way toward a world in which it finally ceases to exist.

Illustration by Darrel Rees. Source photographs: Kim Jong-un © ITAR-TASS Photo Agency/Alamy Stock Photo; Donald Trump © Yuri Gripas/Reuters/Newscom
Article
Crossing Guards·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Ambassador Bridge arcs over the Detroit River, connecting Detroit to Windsor, Ontario, the southernmost city in Canada. Driving in from the Canadian side, where I grew up, is like viewing a panorama of the Motor City’s rise and fall, visible on either side of the bridge’s turquoise steel stanchions. On the right are the tubular glass towers of the Renaissance Center, headquarters of General Motors, and Michigan Central Station, the rail terminal that closed in 1988. On the left is a rusted industrial corridor — fuel tanks, docks, abandoned warehouses. I have taken this route all my life, but one morning this spring, I crossed for the first time in a truck.

Illustration by Richard Mia
Article
“I am Here Only for Working”·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

But the exercise of labor is the worker’s own life-activity, the manifestation of his own life. . . . He works in order to live. He does not even reckon labor as part of his life, it is rather a sacrifice of his life.

— Karl Marx

Photograph from the United Arab Emirates by the author. This page: Ruwais Mall
Article
The Year of The Frog·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

To look at him, Sweet Macho was a beautiful horse, lean and strong with muscles that twitched beneath his shining black coat. A former racehorse, he carried himself with ceremony, prancing the field behind our house as though it were the winner’s circle. When he approached us that day at the edge of the yard, his eyes shone with what might’ve looked like intelligence but was actually a form of insanity. Not that there was any telling our mother’s boyfriend this — he fancied himself a cowboy.

“Horse 1,” by Nine Francois. Courtesy the artist and AgavePrint, Austin, Texas
Article
Dead Ball Situation·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

What We Think About When We Think About Soccer, by Simon Critchley. Penguin Books. 224 pages. $20.

Begin, as Wallace Stevens didn’t quite say, with the idea of it. I so like the idea of Simon Critchley, whose books offer philosophical takes on a variety of subjects: Stevens, David Bowie, suicide, humor, and now football — or soccer, as the US edition has it. (As a matter of principle I shall refer to this sport throughout as football.) “All of us are mysteriously affected by our names,” decides one of Milan Kundera’s characters in Immortality, and I like Critchley because his name would seem to have put him at a vocational disadvantage compared with Martin Heidegger, Søren Kierkegaard, or even, in the Anglophone world, A. J. Ayer or Richard Rorty. (How different philosophy might look today if someone called Nobby Stiles had been appointed as the Wykeham Professor of Logic.)

Tostão, No. 9, and Pelé, No. 10, celebrate Carlos Alberto’s final goal for Brazil in the World Cup final against Italy on June 21, 1970, Mexico City © Heidtmann/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Factor by which single Americans who use emoji are more likely than other single Americans to be sexually active:

1.85

Brontosaurus was restored as a genus, and cannibalism was reported in tyrannosaurine dinosaurs.

Moore said he did not “generally” date teenage girls, and it was reported that in the 1970s Moore had been banned from his local mall and YMCA for bothering teenage girls.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Report — From the June 2013 issue

How to Make Your Own AR-15

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

"Gun owners have long been the hypochondriacs of American politics. Over the past twenty years, the gun-rights movement has won just about every battle it has fought; states have passed at least a hundred laws loosening gun restrictions since President Obama took office. Yet the National Rifle Association has continued to insist that government confiscation of privately owned firearms is nigh. The NRA’s alarmism helped maintain an active membership, but the strategy was risky: sooner or later, gun guys might have realized that they’d been had. Then came the shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, followed swiftly by the nightmare the NRA had been promising for decades: a dedicated push at every level of government for new gun laws. The gun-rights movement was now that most insufferable of species: a hypochondriac taken suddenly, seriously ill."

Subscribe Today