Saturday, November 26, 2005

Bombing Al-Jazeera

Aljazeera is pressuring the British government to release the secret memo. Quote from article:

"Journalists' fears that the report may not be so inconceivable are fuelled by previous incidents: a US missile attack on Aljazeera's Baghdad bureau in April 2003 which killed reporter Tariq Ayub, and the US bombing of Aljazeera's bureau in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2001."

If Bush was joking, this incident still looks really bad, considering we've already (accidentally) bombed Aljazeera twice. Another piece by the London Times. Interesting quote:

Frank Gaffney, head of the Center for Security Policy, a Washington-based think tank, last week described Al-Jazeera as “fair game” on the grounds that it promoted beheadings and suicide bombings.

The Times article also discusses events that took place the day before Bush met Blair. Rumsfeld was on TV, describing Aljazeera reporting as “vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable”. Is silencing criticism a great way to spread freedom? Given that Rumsfeld's words were fresh in Bush's mind, it is very plausible that he was serious (and tactless as always) regarding his comments in the memo.

Incidentally, I've found Aljazeera's reporting to be far superior to that of many US news outlets (ie Fox). Its been said that Aljazeera softens up the tone of their English site, though. Not that such matters; its not like our networks weren't extremely biased and horribly ineffective too in the runup to the war.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

You have got to be kidding me.


Bush wanted to bomb Al Jazeera's headquarters? Please let this be a sick joke. If he was serious, it would indicate just how absolutely inept and unqualified Bush really is. In a war to "spread democracy and freedom", Bush has decided to not only torture our enemies, but to also destroy media outlets that don't support his views. We shut down the Shiite cleric al-Sadr's newspaper when we invaded Iraq too; he was writing anti-American things. No wonder he launched an uprising against us.

If this bit is true, Bush should be impeached immediately. He has done quite enough.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Iraqi "Tet Offensive"?

For a long time during the Vietnam War, the question asked in this country was not *if* we would win, but rather, when would we win? Then the Vietcong launched a massive assult on South Vietnam, which became known as the Tet Offensive. During this daylong assault, the North Vietnamese were able to take control of many cities and other areas of South Vietnam. However, there was a swift American counterattack, and by the end of the day the US and the South Vietnamese had recovered all lost territory.

From a military perspective, the Tet Offensive was a resounding military defeat for the North; it was a great military success for the US and the South Vietnamese. The Tet Offensive completely changed American public opinion, though. From that day forth, people began to call for the removal of our troops from Vietnam. The Tet Offensive proved to be devistating to public morale and support for the war; it was a great political victory for the communists.

There calls in this country for the removal of troops from Iraq are becoming more intense and more frequent. Republicans in Congress are under great pressure in this regard; the Bush administration too is reeling. If the Iraqi Sunnis were to launch a massive, coordinated strike on US and Iraqi government targets, one analogous to the Tet Offensive, I am convinced that public support for the war would all but disappear. I'm surprised that Sunnis haven't done this yet.

Maybe their failure to do so is evidence of the (alleged) lack of unity of the insurgency as a whole? An encouraging thought, IMO.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Vengeful God?

According to Pat Robertson, God is going to smite a town in Pennsylvania, Gomorrah-style. The citizens in the town voted out the school board members, who were trying to get intelligent design (creationism) taught in their schools. I wonder if Pat Robertson has ever read the New Testament? Last time I checked, Jesus didn't talk about smiting people, or turning from them in their time of need.

I will never understand why people pay attention to assholes like Pat Robertson.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

"Burn in hell, Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi"

Hotel bombings in Jordan

"Death to al-Zarqawi, the villain and the traitor," shouted the angry crowd comprising Jordanians of all backgrounds, including women and children.

Al Qaeda miscalculates again. In a battle for hearts and minds, they couldn't have picked a worse tactic.

Thank You America.

I mentioned a few days ago that not all of our effort in Iraq has resulted in bad outcomes. The Kurds are better off than they ever have been, and they want to thank us for it. View some of the ads on that website, and you will feel a little better about what we've done.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Burn it down?

Rioting has been going on in Paris for almost two weeks now. Hundreds of cars and trucks have been destroyed; shops and buildings have been put to the torch as well. The French government cannot regain control; police are being attacked. Most significantly, the majority of the youths involved in the rioting are Muslims. You had to know from the moment this first started that Fox News was going to have a field day with this. Seemingly, all of the theocon predictions of a clash of cultures have proven to be true. Not even France is safe, and it was the largest opponent of the war in Iraq! We need to teach these Islamofascists a lesson! Round them up and deport them!

Please. First of all, only one person thus far has died. When Islamic fundamentalists are out to prove a point, they don't burn cars and attack cops with bats. Instead, they blow themselves up with a bomb in the middle of crowded civilian areas. Based on this, I was initially very suspect that these riots were a religious phenomenon. A quick internet research session has revealed the history of these immigrants. They have been stagnant for thirty years, and things aren't getting better for them.

Now, this isn't to say that their violence is justified, because its not. However, the impression I've been getting recently is not that this is the product of radical preachers rallying their subjects to start a religious war. Mass rioting has happened in America before, and it wasn't due to a religious conflict. This whole thing in France has been building up; the storm has been brewing for some time. Apparently, it just needed a spark to set it off (pun intended - I know, I'm horrible). The rioters mostly are teenagers, kids that are probably bored out of their minds all day, while simulatenously very annoyed that they are excluded from greater French society. Their rioting almost seems to be more of a result of their desire to prove that they have influence over something - in this case, they are proving that they can defy the French authorities and get away with it. That fact makes me pity them even more - they think they're proving something by defying the French government.

Moroccans Protest Al-Qaeda Threat

I found this to be very encouraging.

Holding banners and chanting "Muslims are brothers. A Muslim does not kill his brother" and "Yes to freedom, No to terrorism and barbarity"...

Wow, that sounds so much better than reading about chants of "Death to America". Barbarity in particular builds on a point I was making in a previous post. That is, Al Qaeda's brutal actions of beheading and attacking Shia Muslims may alienate moderate Sunni Muslims worldwide, and hurt their cause. It seems to be so.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Why gas prices need to stay high.

My father designs transmission for a branch of GM. In the 90's, he was urging his supervisors to let him begin working on a hybrid gas/electric transmission. He argued that an energy crunch was coming in the near future, and we would need such technology. With gas being as cheap as it was, my dad's short-sighted supervisors did not comply with his request. Now a decade later, the crunch is upon us; finally American hybrids are being produced. The transmission that my dad recently designed is being tested in the Seattle bus system. These hybrid buses are more fuel efficient by 50%, and reduce emissions by 90%. Imagine the amount of pollution that could have been prevented by stimulating this research a decade ago? Two decades ago?

In biological evolution, organisms do not evolve with the intent of being more prepared for a potentially adverse future environment. Rather, they evolve to maximize their interactions with their current environment (or more specifically, their parent's). There are many commonalties between evolution and capitalism (why do you think capitalism works so well?); a reactive rather than proactive nature is a big one. Like evolution, a capitalist system will not change until it is forced to do so.

Nothing in this country ever gets done unless there is a financial incentive. Without expensive gas, there will not be enough alternative energy research, enough fuel saving technology research. These high gas prices can't be a temporary thing, they have to be a permanent thing to stimulate the research we need. Given that the market itself will be incapable of being proactive on its own, the government needs to step in. The policy of our government should be to keep jacking up gas prices with taxes, regardless of what the market price is. The tax money should go directly to fund this sort of research. Further, private investment in said research will increase if people know that gas will never be cheap again.

Its not just the environment that I'm worried about. Guess what - we wouldn't have had to invade Iraq if we weren't so dependent on fossil fuels. Without oil revenue, Saddam's repressive and corrupt government would have collapsed on its own years ago. We wouldn't have had to fire a shot. Who has control over the rest of the world's oil? Iran, Venezuela, and Saudi Arabia. Do we really want to have the economic well-being of our country in the hands of the leaders of those nations?

On a final depressing note, when has our government ever been proactive? Our government isn't even reactive this days.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

A reason to stay the course.

In today's Iraq, we mistakenly assume violence is everywhere all of the time, and that every Iraqi hates Americans. Certainly the Sunni Arabs hate Americans; the Shia generally probably aren't too fond of us (but at least aren't trying to kill our soldiers). The Kurds, however, love America and what we have done. In the north, they are prospering like never before. They have stability and relative safety in their region, mainly because they have a hundred thousand armed militia men keeping order. Their economy is booming to such an extent that Arabs from the rest of Iraq travel to the Kurdish north looking for work. They are politically united, and Kurds hold many positions in the new Iraqi government.

The Kurds are the largest ethnic group in the world without a homeland. They have been oppressed virtually everywhere they have lived, including Iraq, Iran, and Turkey. A few significant instances:

1980 - The Iran-Iraq war affects Kurds in both countries. Support to either government by Kurds could cause repercussions for Kurds in the other country. Both governments send Kurds to the frontlines. More than 1 million die on both sides.

1988 - The genocidal Anfal-campaign is being carried out by the Iraqi government to "decrease" the Kurds. Some 4500 villages are completely destroyed, and 182,000 Kurds are relocated to unknown destinations, in this year alone.

1988 - The Halabja-disaster on the 16th of March, with intensive aerial chemical bombing (by Saddam's regime), such as Nerve gas, VX and Mustard gas, kills more than 5000 Kurds and wounds an estimated 12,000.

1991 - A popular uprising by the Kurds, encouraged by George Bush Sr. ignites, after the Iraqi defeat of the Persian Gulf war. The uprising is initially successful, but government forces crack down; causing more than 2 million Kurds to flee to Turkey and Iran. Thousands die of starvation, cold and hunger.

These people have been through enough. They deserve their freedom (truly, freedom, and not Bush rhetoric), but there is no way they could have it if America pulled out of Iraq. If we pulled out, the Iraqi government would collapse, and the Kurds would attempt to secede and form their own country. Alone, they would fail - if not by Iraqi Arab hands, then by those of the Iranians or Turks, who would likely invade from the north and dissolve such a nation. Turkey for example would have a lot to lose if Iraqi Kurds formed a separate state, because Turkish Kurds might try to secede from Turkey and join those in Iraq.

If America remains in Iraq, there are really only two possible outcomes, both of which are favorable to Kurds. The first would be if (ideally) the Sunnis abandon the insurgency and get involved in the political process. Iraq would become stable, and the Kurds would be well represented politically for the first time in their history. Alternatively, if the Sunnis refused to abandon their campaign of violence, the country would partition. The Kurds would form their own country, and it would be safe from guerilla and suicide attacks thanks to the Kurdish militia men providing security. The new nation would be vulnerable to invasion from an armored modern military; this is where the US should step in. We should provide a partitioned Kurdistan with conventional military protection against any potential invader. This is the type of support that America is good at; straight up fighting and none of this guerilla warfare / insurgency mess. In all likelihood we wouldn't even need to do any fighting, since no country would be stupid enough to pick a conventional fight with the United States.