NEW SCHOOL MANNERS

Nobody asked us, but we have some advice for the students at New School University who recently marched angrily into the offices of president Bob Kerrey and demanded he resign because he has written and spoken about his support for ousting Saddam Hussein. Our advice is: Don’t try to shut down your president’s arguments. Try to persuade him with better ones. We think college and university presidents engaging and playing a role in the political dramas of the day provide a good example to students. We suspect that on the matter of US policy vis-à-vis Iraq we have some of the same reservations about Kerrey’s position as many of you protesters do. So give him facts and figures. For a crash course in Iraq 101, see Michael Massing on page 17.

HEY, BOYS AND GIRLS

Eric Ditzian writes: At a loss as to how to entertain the kids over the holidays after you’ve all seen the Harry Potter sequel twice? Why not check out the website run by the Central Intelligence Agency (www.cia.gov/cia/ciakids)? Offering zinging one-liners like, “Fly high on intelligence, NOT drugs,” the site targets elementary-school-age children. Bogart, a retired Secret Service dog, reminisces about the good old days: “Gosh, it seems like just yesterday when I went through basic training. I was just a young pup then, about a year old, spunky, restless…. The country was in the middle of the Persian Gulf War. Some feared that terrorists might try to attack the Agency.” Besides terrorist invasion, the CIA anticipates what kids really desire: “If you like to write papers…and have the patience to go through a mound of different types of information…then the Directorate of Intelligence (DI) is for you.” Suggestions for naptime reading: the 644-page Encyclopedia of Espionage. Not to be outdone by their intelligence-gathering brethren, the FBI and NSA have their own low-budget kid websites. NSA presents a helpful glossary of code- breaker terms, such as “columnar transposition cipher.” Darrell and Shirley, two bomb-sniffing black Labs, direct the FBI’s site. The White House runs a kiddie site too. In a brief bio of Dubya, in which we learn his favorite ice cream flavor (pralines and cream), there is a “Challenge Question: What is the meaning of working together in a bipartisan spirit?” Well, boys and girls?

ELLSBERG’S TAKE ON IRAQ

Even as Americans breathe a sigh of relief, feeling that the US agreement to allow UN inspectors to search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq will force an indefinite postponement of invasion plans, Daniel Ellsberg cautions us that Washington hawks may have a different scenario in mind. Ellsberg, who stopped by our offices the other day to talk about his recently published memoir, Secrets, warns that the Bush Administration may orchestrate–or claim–an attack on US troops that will be used as a justification for military action, as happened in Vietnam.

NEWS OF THE WEAK IN REVIEW

This Administration is so ahistorical it’s scary. And we aren’t referring to George W. Bush’s campaign goofs. There is Gen. Tommy Franks, head of the US Central Command, explaining in a speech in West Palm Beach that we must invade Iraq to stop Saddam Hussein from developing nuclear weapons. “The sight of the first mushroom cloud on one of the major population centers on this planet,” the general said, “is something that most nations on this planet are willing to go a long ways out of the way to prevent.” First? Ever hear of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Tommy? And more recently, there was Ari Fleischer elucidating why Iraq is a more pressing menace than North Korea: “Iraq, of course, does have a history that North Korea does not have of engaging in war against its neighbors.” Must have been some other North Korea that invaded South Korea.