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May 6, 2005

Transcript

BRIEFING & OPINION

PAUL GIGOT: Time to check in on a few of the other big stories of the week. Tony Blair won re-election as Prime Minister of Great Britain, but his margin in Parliament will be much smaller. Some people are saying that's because he supported the war in Iraq, and may not last very long. Melanie, what do you think of this?

MELANIE KIRKPATRICK: Oh, he's weaker, but he's still a winner. A 60 vote majority sounds pretty good to me. But as for his future as leader, well, it depends on how he performs in the next year on a bunch of domestic issues: welfare, education, health care, crime. Those are the issues he ran on, and those are the issues that will determine whether or not he stays prime minister.

PAUL GIGOT: Looks like Gordon Brown might, his chancellor of the exchequer, might end up succeeding him. And I would say that this is a victory for Robert Shrum, his first national victory in a national election by Robert Shrum, the John Kerry adviser who lost a lot of Democratic races here, but he finally won one in the U.K. And I've always thought he had a better sense of the British electorate than he did of the American electorate.

IBM announced this week it's going to cut 10 to 13 thousand jobs -- and the significance seems to be that the jobs are mostly in Western Europe. Dan, what is IBM telling us?

DAN HENNINGER: Well, I think they're telling us what I thought was one of the most interesting messages of the past week in the news. They're pulling out of Western Europe, or in part. They're going to make these cuts, because the growth rates there are so low they can't get any business. Growth in Germany and Italy is below one percent. So they're pulling their staff out of Germany, Italy and France, and they have said they're probably going to invest more heavily now in Eastern Europe, where growth rates are considerably stronger and their prospects are better.

And you know, this brings to mind Donald Rumsfeld's old famous formulation, the difference between Old Europe and New Europe, for which he took so much flack. Well now where the rubber hits the road, IBM is doing the same thing. And you know, you could say it's a wake-up call to Western Europe, but it looks like they're on snooze alarm.

PAUL GIGOT: 12.5 percent unemployment rate in Germany, 10.2 percent in France, compared with our 5.2 percent. They've really got a big problem over there.

DAVID RIVKIN: Huge.

PAUL GIGOT: Private First Class Lyndie England tried to enter a guilty plea in return for a short sentence for her role in the Abu Ghraib prison abuses, but it all fell apart when her Army ex-lover testified she was following his lead. David, can you make any sense of all this?

DAVID RIVKIN: Yes, let's look beyond it. This was a good week for the administration. Her testimony delivered a mortal blow to the whole torture narrative, which of course posits that the reason those abuses were done was because at least, because of negligence or connivance or direct orders of spirit. She, in response to that question from a judge, said very clearly, "We did it to gratify ourselves, not to assist in an interrogation."

Very importantly, there is also evidence that has come out that before they engaged in abuse of detainees, they engaged in a number of lewd and pornographic acts involving themselves, her lover, Sergeant Grainer, and other personnel. So to put it very crisply, they debased themselves and degraded themselves long before they started degrading and debasing the Iraqi prisoners. This really delivers a mortal blow as far as any objective person would look at it, to the whole concept of a senior leadership culpability in this whole unfortunate episode.

PAUL GIGOT: David, is the plea bargain likely to be reinstated somehow? Some kind of ...

DAVID RIVKIN: Yes, I believe so.

PAUL GIGOT: Okay, thank you.

DAVID RIVKIN: But she may get a stiffer sentence.

PAUL GIGOT: All right. Next subject.