- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 28, 2005

Harry’s coattails

Thanking a dozen close friends who joined him for dinner Wednesday at Teatro Goldoni in Washington to celebrate his new book, “The Flying Circus,” former House Speaker Jim Wright, Texas Democrat, said he wished he had added two simple words to the title:

“If I could have just changed two words in the book’s title, I could have sold a zillion copies: Harry Potter’s Flying Circus.”

Next question?

Nobody else in the White House is talking, which leaves White House spokesman Scott McClellan ever so alone in answering the daily barrage of questions surrounding senior Bush aide Karl Rove’s exact role in the Valerie Plame affair.

Take this exchange earlier this week:

Reporter: Has Karl Rove offered to resign in view of his problems?

Mr. McClellan: Again, you keep asking these questions that are related to an ongoing investigation —

Reporter: Does he still have his security clearance?

Mr. McClellan: — and those are questions that have already been addressed.

Reporter: No, they — I’ve never heard this before. Have you?

Mr. McClellan: The question has been asked before.

Reporter: We haven’t heard an answer.

Reporter: What was your answer?

Reporter: There hasn’t been an answer.

Another Iraq?

Given our bloody U.S. military track record in Somalia, few Americans would propose ever returning to the impoverished and unruly African nation.

But that’s just the path former Rep. Bill Brewster, an Oklahoma Democrat who retired from Congress in 1997, wants Uncle Sam to take. It so happens that Mr. Brewster serves as Somalia’s official representative to the U.S., United Nations, European Union and Gulf states, we learn from the D.C. public relations/marketing Web site odwyerpr.com.

International Policy Solutions, the firm he heads, “has a $360,000 contract with the transitional government of Somalia to encourage the Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security to provide the logistical support to rebuild the Horn of Africa’s country’s infrastructure,” O’Dwyer reports, noting that Somalia has been ruled by warlords since military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991.

The 1993 U.S. “humanitarian mission” to Somalia resulted in the deaths of 30 American troops. Since then, as a report by the International Crisis Group in Brussels pointed out this month, Somalia’s capital city of Mogadishu is home to “al Qaeda operatives and jihadi extremists.”

Nevertheless, Mr. Brewster’s “pitch,” O’Dwyer reveals, is to show that Somalia’s transitional government is committed to wiping out terror cells and to “work as an ally of the Bush administration in the war on terror.”

Kyoto, of sorts

One of the most honest assessments of the U.S. dependency on Middle East oil — and bottom-line explanations as to why his administration refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas reductions — was given by President Bush during an obligatory interview late last month with Danish television.

Visiting Denmark in advance of the Group of Eight summit in Scotland, Mr. Bush rather quietly came clean: “We’re hooked on oil from the Middle East, which is a national security problem and an economic security problem.”

Insisting that the U.S. would eventually “diversify away from fossil fuels,” Mr. Bush said adhering in the meantime to the Kyoto treaty would have “wrecked” the U.S. economy.

Instead, and without much fanfare this week, the United States joined with Australia — which also has refused to ratify the climate treaty — China, India, Japan and South Korea to create an Asia-Pacific partnership on clean development, energy security and climate change.

“This new results-oriented partnership will allow our nations to develop and accelerate deployment of cleaner, more efficient energy technologies to meet national pollution reduction, energy security and climate change concerns in ways that reduce poverty and promote economic development,” Mr. Bush states.

Mr. Bush has directed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman to meet with their counterparts in the five other countries this fall.

• John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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