Thursday, October 27, 2005


Calling for the eradication of Israel. You expect this sort of thing from your average Hamas extremist in Palestine, not from the leader of a nation. During the same speech, the Iranian President had some other fightin words for the West:

"We have a strategy drawn up for the destruction of Anglo-Saxon civilization... we must make use of everything we have at hand to strike at this front by means of our suicide operations or by means of our missiles. There are 29 sensitive sites in the U.S. and in the West. We have already spied on these sites and we know how we are going to attack them.

Is he really talking about going to war with America? Just because we're losing a war of occupation in Iraq doesn't mean our military is suddenly inept in a conventional war. This guy is insane; are we supposed to stand idly by while his government tries to acquire nuclear weapons? Any Iranian attempt to enrich uranium should be met with airstrikes - end of story. If we don't do it, Israel will; and they should.

I still am confused as to why Iran suddenly is so fiercely anti-American. We did them a favor by invading Iraq! Saddam was a sworn enemy of Iran, and a man responsible for the deaths of millions of Iranians during the war in the 1980s. Further, the Iraqi Shia now are in control of Iraq (Iran of course is a Shia Muslim theocracy), instead of Sunnis under Saddam. They should be thanking us.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Al Qaeda's Mistakes

Whenever America is faced with an enemy, it is all to easy to make a comparison with Hitler in order to convey a sense of danger. This comparison was commonplace during the runup to the war in Iraq; Saddam of course was the modern Adolf Hitler. This simplification is strategically very silly, because in every conflicting situation, an overkill response will be elicited. In other words, we do not need to deal with every potential enemy as we did with Adolf Hitler! Hitler certainly was an evil genius, but his greatest weakness was his irrationality. He was irrational in refusing to ever surrender because he believed the German soldier was far superior to any other man. He was irrational in believing that Germany alone, and its Aryan master race, could defeat the world's largest empire, the world's largest industrial power, and the world's largest army at the same time. Simply put - irrationality makes one prone to making great strategic blunders because the underlying assumptions for those decisions are not based on reality.

Saddam Hussein was different than Hitler. Saddam was rational - he has been consistently ruthless throughout his entire rule, but he has been predictable and rational in his doings. This was one of my primary arguments as to why we need not invade Iraq before we went - since Saddam was rational, he was containable. And we were containing him. He wasn't pursuing weapons of mass destruction, he wasn't cooperating with Al Qaeda (Islamic fundamentalists hated Saddam just as much as they hate America), he wasn't doing anything he didn't think he could get away with because he was first and foremost concerned with his own well-being. I need no other evidence but to point out the most telling proof - he allowed himself to be captured alive. Humiliated, yet certainly condemned either way. Saddam's only error when dealing with America might have been in assuming we had elected a president that wasn't honest mistake!

So I have been thinking lately about what kind of enemy we face in Al Qaeda. Obviously the entry level suicide bombers are crazy religious fanatics, but what about the leaders? Just because they claim to be acting in the name of religion doesn't mean they are; history is riddled with cases of people using religion to recruit followers. If the Al Qaeda leadership was irrational, like Hitler, then I would be less concerned. The assumption, that ultimate victory is assured by God no matter what, would be a foolish one, and it would only be a matter of time before bin Laden would mis-step and the game would be over. Alternatively, I would be very concerned if I had reason to believe that the higher Al Qaeda leadership was more calculating and rational.

Up until very lately, it seemed to me that the latter was the case. I almost felt as if America and our bull-headed leaders had played right into bin Laden's hands. "Come and get me, George! I'm hiding in Iraq!". Unilaterally invading and occupying a Muslim country? Am I the only one who didn't think it would go as well as Bush said it would? I mean, what did people think was going to happen? We turned the entire world against us. A failed Iraq really would be everything bin Laden could have wanted.

The US has made some great strategic blunders, but Zarqawi has also made many of his own. For one, Zarqawi has declared all-out war against the Iraqi Shia Muslims, 60% of the population. He has since targeted Shia civilians and Mosques, killing hundreds. Though Al Qaeda and most Muslims worldwide are Sunni, this is a mistake. The average Muslim doesn't want to see other Muslims blown to bits in their Mosques. The average Muslim doesn't want to see hostages brutally beheaded. These actions will alienate moderate Muslims worldwide, even the ones that hate America. Like Hitler, Al Qaeda in Iraq seems to be biting off more than it can chew; it has opened up a second front in Iraq. It already has the most powerful military in the world to fight against; to extend that war against the majority of the indigenous (Shiite) population seems like a recipe for failure.

The local Sunni insurgents are organizing a justified resistance to the occupation. The Sunni insurgents, though not pleased with the Shia, are not calling for the systematic murder of their neighbors. Rather, they focus their attacks on the interim government, and on US and Iraqi troops- arguably legitimate targets (as much as I hate to see it). In this sense, Zarqawi's terrorists are undermining the political objectives of the Sunni insurgency. If you are trying to make an important point, you don't want the support of a loud know-nothing, because his voice will discredit your idea. By killing innocents, Zarqawi is undermining the justification for the resistance.

Considering Iraqi Sunnis are likely to be secular in most cases, they've got to realize that their "friendship" with Al Qaeda is temporary at best. The moment US forces leave Iraq, the Sunni insurgency and Al Qaeda would immediately be at odds. Just before the elections, Al Qaeda threatened anyone with violence if they voted - including the Sunnis. Having foreigners tell them what to do probably didn't sit so well, and the Sunnis have outright said that Al Qaeda needs to stop meddling in their affairs; that they don't need Al Qaeda's help in their war. I wonder if defiance of Zarqawi was one cause of the large Sunni turnout at the polls?

If Al Qaeda had played their cards right, Iraq could have been a resounding victory for their cause. Our position in Iraq really was that vulnerable, thanks to our inept neoconservative leaders. Fortunately, Al Qaeda's irrational leadership has made some strategic errors of their own. Zarqawi's actions could potentially drive the Sunni insurgents to pursue more political means to combat the new government. I can only hope that the Sunnis will come to know that the only logical outcome of Zarqawi's civil war mongering is the partitioning of Iraq, the worst outcome for their people. I do think Al Qaeda is right about one thing, though - Iraq is the most important battleground for the war on terror right now. How this new nation turns out will greatly impact history for decades, for better or worse.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Iraqi referandum

The voting process has started.

I'm going to come out and say that I hope the Sunnis are able to strike down the constitution. To do this, they need a 2/3 no vote in 3 separate provinces. What is a Sunni insurgent going to think if the constitution passes? He is going to have proof that the political process doesn't work, hes going to be further convinced that Sunnis will be marginalized in the new Iraq. His *only* option to combat the situation is more violence. What if the Sunnis are able to strike down the constitution? "Wow, we went and voted, but we didn't actually think it would actually work!". Suddenly you do have an alternative to violent means to combat the new government - with a vote. Perhaps this would take the sting out of the insurgency.

If the constitution is confirmed, it may not prove to be a horrible outcome, though. Just before the election, the Iraqi Islamic Party (a Sunni party) had agreed to endorse the constitution in exchange for a promise that it would be potentially amended next April. Naturally, a lot of Sunnis were really pissed about this. If the Iraqi government follows through with this promise, and amends the constitution to be more appealing to the Sunnis, it will again show that compromise and democracy can work.

The absolute worst case scenario either way is if Sunni turnout is very low. This is what Al-Qaeda in Iraq wants, and rightfully so. A low Sunni turnout would indicate that there is going to be no way to politically bring them into the new government; nothing short of civil war would be required to stop the insurgency. This is why Al Qaeda has threatened Sunnis with violence if they vote at all. It may turn out that this move is yet another blunder by Al Qaeda; these threats have been perceived by Sunnis to be meddling by outsiders into their affairs. They already do not agree with many of Zarqawi's tactics; who knows, they may vote just to defy Al Qaeda.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Especially after reading Maddox's post on blogging, I was a bit skeptical in starting this up. What is the deal here? Is blogging some sort of a passing fad, or something that is going to be a big deal in the future?

It is extremely important for individuals to get their opinions out, to speak their minds and posit new solutions and ideas. The internet provides an excellent medium for this. Who will be heard, though? Should it only be those that are connected to major newspapers or other media outlets? I think not. It should be those with the best ideas.

If good ideas are the defining aspect of what should determine if someone is heard or not, then blogging seems to me to be a great system. Those bloggers with good ideas will make a larger impact on their readers. Those readers will both come back to said blog, as well as link those ideas and spread them to new audiences. Therefore, the bloggers with the best ideas will also be those that eventually end up with the most traffic. Is this not an utopian way to determine whose voice is heard, and whose is not?

It is in this spirit that I begin my blog.