The State Department wants to show the Arab world that most Americans aren't what Hollywood makes us out to be. So it's developed a new monthly Arabic-language magazine, titled "hi," targeting young Arabs in the 18-35 age range.
"This kind of initiative is exactly what we need to rebuild trust between Americans and Arabs," a reader from Morocco writes to the editors.
The lively magazine features articles on American culture, lifestyle and values. And while clearly stating State Department sponsorship, it competes with commercial magazines on newstands in 20 Middle Eastern countries. Average price: $1.50.
Says Kamil Tawil, a columnist for the pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat: "The results (of this investment) will not be felt for years to come, when the young generation that is the target of this American message assumes responsibilities in their own countries."
He's author of "Willy Nilly: Bill Clinton Speaks Out," and the Random House satire, "The Politically Correct Guide to American History." Now, this column has been provided a peek at Ed Moser's latest book, "Keeping Kerry Candid: Help John Kerry Make Up His Mind"
Just in time for the campaign season, it lists quotations on 100-plus issues where the Democratic presidential candidate humorously contradicts himself or flip-flops.
Here's a pair of Kerry quotes culled from the book (the first just before the start of the Iraqi war, the second exactly one week after the war began):
-"I remember being one of those (soldiers) and reading news reports from home. If America is at war, I won't speak a word (criticizing the president) without measuring how it'll sound to the guys doing the fighting when they're listening to their radios in the desert."
-"What we need now is not just a regime change in Saddam Hussein and Iraq, but we need a regime change in the United States."
Leave it to Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, if nobody else, to scold fellow Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts while a guest of Bill Bennett on "Morning in America," a nationally syndicated program heard over the Salem Radio Network.
"Let's talk about foreign policy and what's going on in Iraq," said the conservative host, a former education secretary and White House drug czar in past Republican administrations, specifically Kennedy's equating the escalating casualties in Iraq to another Vietnam.
"Look, as you know I supported the (Iraqi) war," Lieberman replied. "I supported the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime because he was a brutal dictator, because he threatened the Middle East; he was clearly an enemy of ours; he was developing weapons of mass destruction; he did support terrorism. ...
"Obviously, there were a lot of people in the Democratic Party who did not take that point of view," he added. "But right now we're all in this together and ... I thought the Ted Kennedy reference to Vietnam was not appropriate."
Another Democrat questioning President Bush's leadership during the ongoing war in Iraq is former President Jimmy Carter.
Carter goes so far as to say that "President Bush's war was ill-advised and unnecessary and based on erroneous statements, and has turned out to be a tragedy."
"I'm just glad President Carter wasn't in charge after Valley Forge, Bull Run or Pearl Harbor," reacts House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, a Republican. "Unfortunately, this is becoming a dangerous pattern. Democrat leaders continue to undermine our troops and our coalition's ability to win the war and bring peace and stability to the Middle East."
Washington lawyer Frank Duggan, until last year the chairman of the National Mediation Board, offers a sharp critique of former White House counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke's new book, "Against All Enemies."
"This is a crock," says Duggan, who served on the 1989 to 1990 Presidential Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism.
Clarke, who thrust himself into the spotlight with his March 24 testimony before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States by saying President Bush did not take the terrorism threat seriously, recalls in his book his role in the aftermath of the bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland.
"We met with the families. We heard their stories, and we put pictures of their fallen children on our desks," Clarke writes of the December 1988 bombing. "The town (of Lockerbie) had opened its hearts to the families of all of the victims. Lockerbie had donated stones for a cairn, a Scottish memorial rock pile, one rock for every victim. Joined by my colleague Randy Beers, we drove to the cemetery and selected a site for the cairn."
"He is a phony," Duggan says. "I know something about this, and no family member ever dealt with Clarke. We dealt with Randy Beers long after the cairn was built. The NSC staffer assigned to the Pan Am families was Richard Canas.
"Clark and Beers never 'selected the site' - I did, and attached my site drawings to the legislation the families were proposing to erect the cairn," Duggan says.
The counsel adds: "The Pan Am 103 cairn in Arlington Cemetery is not a 'rock pile' but a monument of 270 large stones, carefully cut so they fit together to memorialize each of the victims. He obviously never even saw a photo of the cairn, nor did he have photos of the victims' children on his desk."
Reached Monday, Clarke said, "Mr. Beers and Mr. Canas worked for me, as did Mr. Timothy Atkin. They all worked with the Pan Am 103 families, as did I. I met often with the families."
As for the memorial site, Clarke, now an adjunct lecturer in public policy at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, stated: "Mr. Beers and I went personally to Arlington Cemetery to review the several alternative sites for the memorial that the Army was offering and decided that the site the (Pan Am 103) family wanted was the one we would choose."
As pro bono representative for nearly 15 years of numerous families of the doomed Pan Am flight (he's busy today negotiating a settlement for the families as tied to the lifting of economic sanctions against Libya), Duggan says he considers Clarke's recollection of terrorism-related events - then and now - "self-serving, immodest and wrong."
As for Clarke's emotional televised "apology" March 24 to the families of Sept. 11 victims, Duggan labels it "grandstanding."
LETTER FROM JOC
"Chilling day today," writes an Army officer deployed to Iraq from the Pentagon. His letter to Washington, which he's given this column permission to reprint, provides a personal glimpse into last week's escalation of fighting by Iraqis that killed dozens of U.S. troops....
"I was in the JOC (joint ops center) when a large demonstration began forming in An-Najaf, a little south of here. It started to turn violent when they came closer and closer to the Spanish (military) base in that city," the officer writes. ...
"Hundreds of civilians, many of them armed, with militia among them, began attacking the base. We had an American soldier there as a liaison, and he called in to the JOC to give General (name deleted) a sitrep (situation report). As the crowd became more violent and a firefight started to break out, you could hear him getting more and more nervous. ...
"When it got completely out of hand, he requested air support in the form of Apache gunships. He was extremely stressed and told us if we didn't get ordnance on target immediately they would get overrun. He said if he broke radio contact it was because they'd been completely wiped out. ...
"We had a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) Predator feed of the area and watched the whole thing unfold as they rushed the gates and fired from the city buildings surrounding the base. It was pretty hairy. Finally, after the gunships arrived, we were able to regain the upper hand. ...
"Lots of casualties, mostly on their side. I can see the news articles already, 'Coalition forces fire on demonstration,' but take my word for it, it was no peaceful demonstration, they were actively engaged in combat. ...
"It appears to me this was a well-planned attack on the Spanish in an effort to drive a wedge further between our two countries, now that the newly elected Spanish government wants to pull their forces out of Iraq. ...
"I also believe ... they have been emboldened ... following the desecration of (four American civilian) bodies in Fallujah. Arabs respect strength and respond to violence, a well-planned, metered (U.S) response to avoid civilian casualties is lost on them - in fact, it is seen as a weakness....
"This is going to get worse before it gets better, but we will prevail, I have no doubts."