News Notes
12/19/2002

    There are current articles discussing Iraq at the top of the Miscellaneous Section in today's Science News.
Why go to war now?
    I have the impression that the reason Britain and the U. S. are pushing preparations for war is that any ground war with Iraq must take place before April. By April, temperatures will be sufficiently elevated that chemical warfare suits will become intolerably hot. Also, it would take two months to build up forces in the area to mount a sustained offensive against Iraq (Timetable for War). Efforts are underway to reduce that to three weeks, leading to an inception of hostilities sometime after the first of the year (Officials- U.S. military buildup may start).
Overseas reactions to unilateral U. S. invasion of Iraq
    There aren't a lot of overseas enthusiasts for a U. S.-driven war with Iraq. In Britain, there is governmental, but not popular support. In most other countries, there is neither governmental nor popular support. See Algerian leader among political activists criticizing possible U.S. war on Iraq, Mandela Criticises the US for Its Arrogant' Approach to Iraq, and Activists in Egypt Say Iraq War Spells Death, Chaos.
Overseas reactions to UN-sanctioned invasion of Iraq
    A U. N. finding that Iraq is in breach of its declared moratorium on weapons development would greatly expand popular support for an invasion of Iraq.
A biography of Saddam Hussein
    Secrets of Saddam's Life and Leadership affords a good biographical sketch of Saddam Hussein. He's considered a narcissistic psychopath, which would have fit in well with his early role as a "gunsel" for the Ba'ath Party.

A Conversation with a Congressional Staff Member
    I had a very interesting conversation tonight with a Congressional staff member who works for one of our Alabama Congressmen. I wanted to learn about his experiences in the actual practice of politics. How does he see the world of realpolitik?
Campaign finance reform
    One of our topics was campaign finance reform. He mentioned the difficulty of arriving at an equitable and yet practical method of financing election campaigns with public funds. How many candidates are to be funded? Who decides which candidates are to be funded and which are not? What about quacks? What about quacks who make a career out of campaigning for various offices?
The self-stabilizing characteristics of the U. S. system of government
    He mentioned the self-righting characteristics of the U. S. system of government... a tribute to the remarkable acumen of the founding fathers of the United States. It's one thing to read about it in a book, and another to see it in action.
Current U. S. foreign policy
    We discussed the sea change in U. S. foreign policy that has occurred since the Bush administration took office. He observed that Mr. Bush hadn't been involved in foreign policy prior to his election. I won't recount our conversation beyond that point , because he wouldn't have been expecting his remarks to be spread beyond the two of us. I doubt that anything I repeated would embarrass him, but there's always that possibility, however remote.