Date: May 17, 1999 [ 0: 0: 0]

Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 15 May 1999 to 16 May 1999

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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 15 May 1999 to 16 May 1999
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There are 2 messages totalling 241 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. The Daily Star: Clueless and aimless in Washington
2. Reuters: Analysis-Is Iran's Rafsanjani Losing His Grip


Date: Sun, 16 May 1999 05:04:37 -0400
From: Rahim Bajoghli <rbajoghli@JUNO.COM>
Subject: The Daily Star: Clueless and aimless in Washington

The Daily Star
Clueless and aimless in Washington

by Michael Young

One can commiserate with the American vice-president, Al Gore, though he
might not appreciate it, as it would only attract the attention he has
been vigorously avoiding since the NATO bombings of Yugoslavia turned
sour. Gore had hoped to use the bombs as so many stepping stones to the
White House, but, instead, finds himself trapped in America’s
worst blunder since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The Clinton administration is apparently clueless as to how to end the
commotion in Yugoslavia. The Republicans demand a real war, one which
will involve ground troops, and some Democrats agree. Clinton doesn’t
want to leave office looking like Lyndon Johnson, as that may upset his
plans after the presidency to become a highly-paid statesman, the
kind that can reimburse the colossal lawyers’ bills that he seems to have
run up.

The tribulations of the American president and vice-president put the
Yugoslav crisis in perspective. All politics are local politics, even if
the particular locality on the global golf green happens to be the United
States. If anyone doubted Bill Clinton’s disposition to manipulate force
for personal gain, then there is news just in confirming that the
Sudanese pharmaceutical factory leveled by cruise missiles last year
manufactured not VX gas, but, well, pharmaceuticals.

The aimlessness in Yugoslavia is symptomatic of a problem the United
States has faced since the Cold War ended: The absence of an overall
vision explaining what the world’s sole superpower should do with itself
while its enemies multiply and mutate. There have been hardy attempts to
vindicate absolute American power, but as the behavior of Clinton, and
even Gore, reveals, it is toward less commanding heights that the men in
Washington generally ascend.

By necessity, given the disappearance of a global antagonist, America has
devised a host of regional stratagems. There is something assuredly
flimsy and ad hoc in such schemes, which seem, invariably, to materialize
subsequent to the crises which they are supposed to avert.
Indeed, there have been as many makeshift policies as enemies, with
little tying the conceptual edifice together. The Middle East has been a
favored terrain for America’s aspiring Talleyrands.

When Clinton took office, affairs in the Gulf had already been more or
less set by the Bush administration.

Since new administrations like to put their stamp on policy, even when it
means aping the decisions of predecessors, several years ago Martin
Indyk, the man who is assistant secretary of state for Middle East
affairs, proposed something called “dual containment.”

The idea was to make the best of a bad situation by announcing that the
United States would, henceforth, seek to stifle both Iraq and Iran.

It did not take long to see that the proposal was a dud.
Even his inclusion of the term “containment” ­ a sacred abstraction which
was held responsible for the triumph over the USSR ­ failed to explain
how the fundamentals of the balance of power could be so want only
defied: After all, in the Gulf only Iran can contain Iraq, and vice
versa. The fact that the Clinton administration is today seeking a
dialogue with Iran appears to confirm this.

America’s continuing shenanigans in Iraq are equally disconcerting. Like
Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein is a thug whom Washington ­ to use
Cold War nomenclature ­ cultivated. His expansionary zeal was acceptable
when it propelled him into southwestern Iran, though, evidently, he
overstated his brief when he ransacked Kuwait. This example alone should
scatter the moral arguments justifying the
continuing American and British air war on Iraq.

Yet it is equally difficult to use moral reasons to condemn American and
British actions, since it is Saddam and his sons who ­ for financial and
political profit ­ are worsening the suffering of their compatriots. The
more pertinent question is: What are the air attacks meant to achieve?
That remains a genuine mystery, which Clinton would, very probably, have
trouble elucidating. If Yugoslavia is any indication, whenever the
bombers are rolled out, bewilderment is, so to speak, in the air.

In 1995, one of the more thoughtful former American policymakers, Richard
Haass, wrote an article in the journal Foreign Affairs entitled
“Paradigm Lost.” Haass posed the following question: What “sturdy
intellectual framework” should replace the strategy of “containment”
which the United States adopted, in miscellaneous forms, against the USSR
after World War II? His response was pragmatic: America should pursue its
national interests, but should freely advance its values when these
coincided with its interests.

Americans were not about to be galvanized by this incitement to
hypocrisy. Still, Haass was being honest, and seemed to recognize that
the days of the rousing moral incantation, or what was peddled as such,
were over. The problem was, and is, that once the United States strays
far into an overt promotion of its specific national interests ­ an
argument, incidentally, used to defend the bombings in Yugoslavia ­ it
will be less able to use universal rationalizations to manhandle its
allies into the conflicts it invites.

That’s the rub. The Americans are still searching for an idea that will
persuade everyone that what is good for the United States is good for the
rest of mankind. Relatively few are willing to believe something that
self-serving any more, especially when America’s interests are so
effortlessly tied in with the petty ambitions of its potentates. Most,
legitimately, prefer to see power diffused, so that America’s blunders
are its alone.

Michael Young writes a weekly commentary for The Daily Star

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Date: Sun, 16 May 1999 09:14:43 -0400
From: Rahim Bajoghli <rbajoghli@JUNO.COM>
Subject: Reuters: Analysis-Is Iran's Rafsanjani Losing His Grip

Analysis-Is Iran's Rafsanjani Losing His Grip


TEHRAN, May 16 (Reuters) - Former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, for
20 years the consummate insider of post-revolutionary Iranian politics,
appears to be losing control of the hidden levers of power in the Islamic

A string of recent political setbacks, on top of a legacy of grand
development schemes gone sour, has badly dented the popular image of a
man whose power and influence were once so awe-inspiring that ordinary
Iranians dubbed him "Akbar Shah."

"Mr Rafsanjani has been a key figure in the revolution and the Islamic
Republic for the past two decades," commentator Akbar Ganji told the
reformist Khordad newspaper.

"In the third decade of the revolution he will no longer play the same
role he played in the first two," said Ganji, in what some analysts are
pointing to as the first draft of Rafsanjani's political epitaph.

Ganji and others say the former president, in office from 1989-1997, has
lost the ability to shelter his political allies - including his own
daughter - from the wrath of the conservative clerical establishment. At
the same time, the
centrist movement he founded is slipping inexorably into the reformist
camp of President Mohammad Khatami.

The rules of the game have changed," said one Western political analyst.
"Rafsanjani's 'insider' style no longer fits the new Iran of President

In the two years since his landslide election, Khatami has overseen the
institutionalisation of two new elements in Iranian political life: the
rule of law and the power of public opinion. Neither would appear to suit
Rafsanjani, a Shi'ite Moslem cleric more at home in the corridors of
power than in the public arena.

But supporters say he is working furiously behind the scenes, hallmark of
the Rafsanjani style of compromise and back-room deal making. If the
current competition between conservatives and reformers deadlocks, they
say, the
centrist former president could yet emerge the winner.

On the surface at least the record is clear, providing his critics with
plenty of ammunition.

Gholamhossein Karbaschi, the dynamic former mayor of Tehran and a
Rafsanjani protege, was jailed earlier this month on corruption charges.
In his defence, the mayor said he was simply carrying out Rafsanjani's
orders to remake the capital after the devastation of the eight-year war
with Iraq.

"He managed only a last-minute expression of regret after his
behind-the-scenes efforts to prevent this incident came to nothing.
Still, people expected more of him," said the economic daily Jahan-e

Rafsanjani, 64, also failed to defend publicly the minister of culture,
once his vice president, from hardliners fearful of debasement of Iran's
revolutionary values.

At the same time, the Revolutionary Court closed an influential daily run
by his daughter, the MP Faezeh Hashemi, for alleged anti-Islamic
activity, leaving the publisher to point helplessly at the past
contributions of the Rafsanjani family.

Most significant of all, the centrist political movement Rafsanjani
inspired, the Servants of Construction, is moving rapidly to the left in
order to keep its popular base after poor showings at the polls.

Elected president in 1988 with 94.5 percent of the vote on promises to
reconstruct war-ravaged Iran, Rafsanjani saw his electoral strength slip
to 63 percent in his 1993 victory for a second term - in the lowest
turnout in a
presidential poll.

Analysts say failure to deliver on pledges of greater social and
political liberalisation and an easing of Iran's international isolation
in part lay behind the public's discontent.

Today, many Iranians see his legacy as one of wide-spread corruption and
heavy foreign borrowing to pay for ambitious development plans. That has
saddled President Khatami with a moribund economy and few immediate
prospects for improvement.

With the election of Khatami, Rafsanjani was widely seen as slipping into
a central role behind the scenes.

He chairs a powerful council created to resolve conflicts between the
legislative and executive branches of government and map out iran's
economic future. Supporters are trying to get his clerical rank elevated
to that of ayatollah, which would further boost his prestige.

But with the rising importance of elected office and the growing power of
public opinion, say analysts, the post has lost much of the lustre it
once enjoyed.

"The role of king-maker isn't what it used to be," said the Western

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End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 15 May 1999 to 16 May 1999