Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Going on vacation

I'm going to be travelling around Europe for 6 weeks or so. You can read about the journey here. I'll likely keep updating this blog while I'm there. Maybe I'll get a new perspective on things from my travels.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Before the War

After Afghanistan, the winds of war were beginning to blow through Iraq. What were my thoughts before the invasion? I just stumbled across something I'd written on October 8th, 2002.

"Bush and his cronies are exaggerating the threat that Saddam poses. The international community isnt buying it, and thats why none of them, save Canada and Britain (?) have joined our little coalition. Rumsfeld claimed that Turkey was already signed up, but thats not true. Turkey is only going with us if the UN says its cool.

Bush also has been manipulating things, when he's been saying that bin Laden and friends are working with Saddam. (There was) a senior Al Qaeda (operative) in Baghdad but there is NO evidence that he was there to meet with Saddam, only convienient speculation.

Killing more Muslims and renewing the hatred that Middle Eastern peoples feel towards America is just going to create a new generation of terrorists; ones that will have ready access to weapons of mass destruction."

To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure I would today draw those same conclusions. I was slanted towards isolationism back then, but I've since become an ardent interventionalist.

Regardless, at the end of the day the question of "yes" or "no" concerning the war was irrelevant; nothing is so black and white. True in those days I was against the war. However, I recognized that there were some legitimately good reasons to invade. To put numbers on it, I used to say that I was 55% against the war, 45% for it.

Perhaps the one thing that nobody anticipated would be the incompetence of the Bush administration in the handling of the war. Clearly Bush and the right was determined to go to war with Iraq. Its a shame, being forced to that end, that we couldn't have at least done the job right.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Goal! World Cup 1; Sharia 0.

In Somalia, the US has been (probably) financing a group of warlords that call themselves the secular anti-terrorism alliance for peace, or some bs title along those lines. These men are criminals and thugs, nothing more. In fact, we fought against some of them before (Black Hawk Down). But now we have bigger fish to fry. The reason we are backing these secular warlords is so they can fight against another group of warlords calling themselves the Islamic Courts. The Islamists want to impose Sharia (Islamic Law) on Somalia, Taliban style.

First I'd like to say that I don't support our government in the funding of these secular warlords. The people of Somalia have had it extremely bad for the last couple decades. Who are we to forment more civil unrest and more war? I don't want another Taliban government popping up again, but the West hasn't been able to offer the Somalis anything better. I think it would be best if the Somalis at least gained peace under the Islamic Courts, and the US applied pressure to the Islamists so that they wouldn't shelter terrorists. It isn't unrealistic to think they'd cooperate with us - they saw what happened to the Taliban.

Now it seems that the Islamic Courts are winning the war anyways. A week or so ago, they captured Mogadishu. Predictably, the Islamic Courts militias imposed Islamic Law on the people there. Among the many things that are banned, Western television is right at the top of the list. So when a bunch of Somalis were watching the World Cup, the militiamen cut the power to the TVs. Riots ensued. How incredible is the power of the World Cup? "Repress our freedom of speech! Force us to grow beards! Turn our women into domestic slaves! But god damnit, when you prevent us from watching the World Cup, you crossed the line!"

By now this is old news, but Zarqawi was killed. The morning that the news story broke, I remember walking to lab and thinking that the world physically felt like a better place. I can begin to understand what Americans, Brits, and Russians must have felt like when they received word of Hitler's demise. Men like Zarqawi put a permanent aura of hopelessness and evil over the world. Things simply cannot be right in the world with men like that still alive. So congratulations to the US military for doing humanity a big favor. Unfortunately, it won't do much to the insurgency from a logistics point of view. Al Qaeda was already pretty alienated in Iraq; the majority of the insurgents are secular Sunni Iraqis. It is however, a symbolic blow to insurgents and terrorists. Simultaneously it is a morale boost - one that Americans and Iraqis needed very badly. I certainly did.

Finally, the Iraqi Prime Minister named his picks for the Ministries of Interior and Defense. This is a very big deal, because a big complaint of the insurgents is that the Shiite Interior Minister is running death squads (which they are) targeting Sunnis. The new Interior minister is a Shiite again, but was in Saddams army and evidently is somewhat trusted by Sunnis. The Ministry of Defense (army) was given to a Sunni, which will hopefully make the alienated Sunni insurgents feel like they are a part of the new government. Only time will tell if these two appointees can reduce the violence, which is the #1 goal in Iraq right now.

Its a shame that the Iraqis don't have a World Cup team. I honestly believe if an Iraqi soccer team was able to win the World Cup, the entire country would unite overnight.