Thursday, August 24, 2006

Only two more years!

If anyone wants a strong dose of optimism for the day, here it is.

I am not going to come out and say that I believe anything this guy says. However, I havent come to the realization that it is time to throw in the towel yet, either. The violence in Iraq is horrid, to be sure. But it isnt capable of bringing down the government, or even coming close. Granted, thats because the US military is still there (notice you dont hear anyone asking us to leave anymore?). But in a couple more years, I would imagine that the government could stand on its own two feet. There would still be violence for a while; but as long as no strongman attempts a coup d'etat, who knows...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Just a link

Nasrallah lives within me.

And the offical news from the Iranians: they're ready for serious talks. Oh well. I've had a night to sleep on it, and I'm not so pissed off anymore. Now I'll just psychologically prepare myself for the next big war that will be coming.


Monday, August 21, 2006

Taking matters into our own hands

The word on the street is that the Iranians will pursue their nuclear ambitions, according to their supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. This really comes as no surprise. Iran is confident that the Bush administration will be powerless to stop their program, either by military or diplomatic means. They are pretty much correct. Bush can do nothing right now.

The military option should be out of the question. The fact that the Bush administration would even consider it shows how weak our hand really is. Given that the Iranian facilities are so spread out and hidden, its doubtful that airstrikes would work well. Even *if* they were successful, it would only be a temporary solution to a long term problem. Not only that, but there are plenty of places the Iranians could retaliate; Iraq being the most obvious.

There will be no strong UN Security Council resolution. At best, there will be a slap on Iran's wrists, but even that would surprise me. The UN will be again paralyzed into inaction due to Russian and Chinese vetos. They have their own economic and energy interests at stake, and have no desire to anger a large oil supplier in the form of Iran. Besides, Iran and its proxies aren't threatening Russia or China, so they aren't worried.

The Bush administration won't be able to convince the Russians or the Chinese to do the right thing, but I bet the American people could. We Americans could wield our most powerful weapon against Russia and China - our power as consumers. If the Russians and Chinese refuse to back strict sanctions against Iran, then the American people should boycott as many of their goods as possible. They would quickly learn where their economic interests lie.

A strong Security Council resolution and sanctions is the only way that we can effectively deal with the Iranian government. The world - not just America, must diplomatically and economically squeeze Iran until it collapses. We must force the Iranian government to waste its resources on military equipment while denying it a strong economy that would also allow it to keep its population happy. We must continue to confront and isolate its allies, for instance ensuring that the UN follow through on its commitments and completely disarm Hezbollah. Finally we should increase support for Iran's enemies, both internal and external. Eventually, change will come from within; perhaps even before Iran is able to acquire nukes. This is the same strategy that defeated the Soviet Union in the Cold War, without a shot fired. It can defeat Iran as well.

This is the only option that I can see. If we stand and do nothing, and allow the Bush administration to try to resolve the problem, we might end up in another war:

Mark Fitzpatrick, senior fellow in non-proliferation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, said: "This won't drag on for years. There are two deadlines of sorts at the end of 2008. That is the earliest date by which some people think Iran could acquire a nuclear weapon. I think the date is more like 2010.

"And on November 2008, there is the US presidential election. President Bush will be inclined not to let this problem be passed on. There will be a growing mood in the US administration to take other action."

Asked if Israel's problems in disarming Hezbollah showed the limitations of air power and might therefore make an attack on Iran less likely, he replied: "Israel's actions make an attack on Iran more likely as it removes one of Iran's retaliatory tools, an attack on Israel by Hezbollah. This has now been pre-empted."

Hmph. If we were going to bomb Iran, we shouldn't even consider bombing their nuclear facilities. We should bomb all of their oil pipelines, and blockade the Persian Gulf. Sink every Iranian oil tanker that we see. They can't make nuclear weapons if they don't have any oil revenue. And that way, nobody could accuse us of going to war for oil.

...not that I'm confident that Americans would prefer 5$/gallon gas at the pumps to World War 3. But hey, I can dream.

*** Update ***

I've decided that I'm searching desperately for a good solution to this problem, when one probably doesn't exist. Nobody is going to boycott anyone, Iran isn't going to stop their program, and Bush isn't going to leave office with this problem unaddressed. Sigh.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A 'hero and victor'

As would be expected, Palestinians are celebrating Nasrallah (the leader of Hezbollah) as a new hero. Its a shame that the Israelis didn't manage to kill him. I highly doubt that the international community will force Hezbollah to disarm; this new ceasefire probably wont last.

The following is a summary of Arab military efforts by a reporter in northern Israel. Its completely true, and pathetically so. The rest can be read here.

“Hassan Nasrallah declared victory today,” I said. “What do you think about that?”

He laughed. And of course he would laugh. Everyone in the world knew Nasrallah would declare victory no matter what if he was not in a cage and if he still had a pulse. The Arab bar for military victory is set pathetically low. All you have to do is survive. You “win” even if your country is torn to pieces. The very idea of a Pyrrhic victory doesn’t occur to people who start unwinnable wars with the state of Israel.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Lieberman falls to a bum

Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut was beat in the primaries by millionaire Ned Lamont. There was a grassrootes left-wing movement to oust Joe, mainly because of his support of the war in Iraq. Lamont, of course, calls for an immediate pull-out of our troops from Iraq.

Daily Kos summarizes by saying "Democrats are united on the war. Lieberman is no longer a democrat..."

The funny thing, is that Dems are in fact not united on the war. Bill Clinton, the most popular Democrat in the country, gave a speech in which he stated that it was important for us to remain in Iraq for some time longer. Reasonable democrats will rise above partisanship and realize what is in the best interest of the country, and the world.

Austin Bay blog elaborates on my dream ticket: McCain/Lieberman 08.

More good news; Cynthia McKinney, a congresswoman from Georgia, was beaten in the primaries. Do we all remember her? She was the one who punched a police officer in Washington. Here is another 'great' quote by her:

We know there were numerous warnings of the events to come on September 11... Those engaged in unusual stock trades immediately before September 11 knew enough to make millions of dollars from United and American airlines, certain insurance and brokerage firms' stocks. What did the Administration know, and when did it know it about the events of September 11? Who else knew and why did they not warn the innocent people of New York who were needlessly murdered?

She will not be missed.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Morally suspect, strategically stupid.

Charles Krauthammer blogs on the current situation between Israel and Lebanon. Here is a historical analogy he makes, attempting to argue that Israel's attacks on Lebanon are morally justified.

When the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor, it did not respond with a parallel "proportionate" attack on a Japanese naval base. It launched a four-year campaign that killed millions of Japanese, reduced Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki to cinders, and turned the Japanese home islands into rubble and ruin.

Disproportionate? No. When one is wantonly attacked by an aggressor, one has every right -- legal and moral -- to carry the fight until the aggressor is disarmed and so disabled that it cannot threaten one's security again. That's what it took with Japan.

Is the state of Israel morally justified in this crisis? Even though they were clearly attacked first (kidnapping of two soldiers), I would say no; they do not have the moral high ground. Charles' analogy above is flawed, because the state of Lebanon did not launch an unprovoked act of war against Israel like the Japanese had against the US. It was a rogue element within Lebanon that started this crisis.

Hezbollah is not Lebanon. In fact, I'd say that Hezbollah is more Syria and Iran than it is Lebanon. Hezbollah should have been disarmed, according to UN resolution 1559, but was not. The international community lacked the foresight and the resolve to enforce this UN resolution (strange). Additionally, the Lebanese government didnt have the power to disarm Hezbollah itself. That is because Hezbollah is more powerful than the Lebanese Army, thanks to generous Iranian arms support.

So yes, Israel was attacked first. But by the Lebanese state? No. The Lebanese aren't responsible for Hezbollah's actions. If we want someone to blame, we can look to the UN, Iran, or Syria. Meanwhile hundreds of Lebanese civilians are dead, hundreds of thousands are displaced, and billions of dollars of damage has been done to Lebanese infrastructure. All of this has happened to these people, and they really had no control over it.

The only moral argument Israel has going for it is that perhaps 40% of Lebanese are Shiite Muslim and so they "support Hezbollah", therefore their action is justified. Well, Hezbollah may be popular, but if I had to put money on it, I'd wager that the vast majority of those Shiite Muslims want peace. I'm sorry, wanted peace.

Morality aside, in my last post I pointed out that Israel's actions were strategically stupid. I stand by that. It should be well known to Israelis of all people that their policy in the middle east is inexorably tied to our own. Right now, we the USA are tied up in Iraq, and are still in Afghanistan. The Israelis themselves were/are fighting Hamas in the West Bank and Gaza. We're also trying to contain Iran. We were fighting on four fronts between the two of us. Why would Israel go and open up a 5th front in Lebanon? Do we really need to galvanize worldwide opinion against us at such a crucial time? Did our troops in Iraq really need the majority Shiites all riled up because of what was happening in Lebanon? And what have we learned about unilateral over-reactions in response to terrorists? Apparently, nothing.

And so here we are. Israel certainly doesnt have the moral high ground; its neutral if anything. Strategically, this was the biggest mistake since Iraq. And these are things I would think while assuming Israel would still accomplish its main goal of severely crippling Hezbollah. It is not clear at all right now whether that will even happen. A stalemate here would be a victory for Hezbollah and a defeat for Israel. That would be the worst foreign policy disaster...possibly in Israeli history. Certainly, the peace least what was left of it, was set back 1-2 decades.

Perhaps the Americans and Israelis should stop electing leaders that lack military experience yet are overly enthusiastic about using their nation's military to solve problems. General Powell was the only man in the Bush administration that knew anything about war, and he was against the invasion of Iraq. If only Ariel Sharon wasn't in a coma, Israel wouldn't be in their predicament, either.