Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Quote of the week

A certain politician had this to say:

"We ought to declare that we will be free of energy consumption in this country within a decade, bold as that is."

Presumably, this statement was in response to a question about global warming, or how the high price of oil is funding terrorists while bankrupting the USA. It reeks of a lack of understanding of any of these major issues. This person clearly has no idea why we are having an energy crisis worldwide.

So who said it? At first glance, it certainly looks like a Bushism. There is the traditional use of "ought", the lack of any complex structure, poor grammar, and of course, it doesn't even make sense.

But alas, it wasn't Bush - it was Mike Huckabee. And he keeps rising in the polls. I think I need to go vomit.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Too funny

The heads of the Democratic Party have sent orders from the top - DO NOT ATTACK HUCKABEE. Why not? Because they want him to win the Republican nomination so they can absolutely cream him in the general election.

Huckabee is George W. Bush part II, only with less political ability and probably less intelligence. Check out part of this advertisement by Southern Baptists he signed in 1998:

"A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ."


Sunday, December 09, 2007

Huckabee under scrutiny

Great post by Andrew Sullivan. Mike Huckabee has absolutely nothing to offer, except more of the same.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Why Mike Huckabee is a complete tool; also, long winded rant on the 2008 Presidential Election.

I visit a website called Intrade on a regular basis. It is a prediction market for events of all sorts, including political ones. For each situation there is a "contract" (similar to a stock) which represents a binary event (ie there are only two possible outcomes). The contract value fluctuates somewhere between 0 and 100 depending on its perceived likelihood to occur. A more probable event will have a higher contract value; the contract value is essentially the probability of this event taking place, according to this community.

For example, right now the Hillary Clinton Democrat Nomination contract is trading at approximately 65.4, which means this community gives her roughly a 65% chance of winning the Democrat Primary. As she becomes more or less likely to win, the value will fluctuate. I am of the belief that the Intrade contract value is a very accurate predictor. What you hear on TV might be the opinion of one (perhaps biased) pundit, but the Intrade contract value is the aggregate opinion of literally tens of thousands of people.


I've been following the primary races between both parties very closely. The Republican Primary is a bit more interesting than the Democrat primary because it is a closer race. The highest valued GOP Nomination contracts are Guliani (about 40%), Romney (approx 20%) and then a bunch of other candidates at close to 10%. One particular GOP candidate's contract value has been skyrocketing lately, and that is Mike Huckabee. This graph shows the value of the Huckabee GOP Nomination contract over the last few months:

Only a few months ago, Huckabee was a long shot. Recent fortunes have made him into a front runner; his Intrade value at ~18% shows him to be a serious contender.

Here is my analysis. Huckabee's recent surge isn't about his strength, its about the weaknesses of the other major GOP candidates. The religious base of the Republican Party is realizing that Guliani, with his three marriages, pro-choice views, and cross dressing tendencies, isn't the moral leader that they'd like. They are also uncomfortable with the up-till-now 2nd place Romney, who is a Mormon and also previously a pro-choicer.

Heres another reason why I don't think Huckabee's recent surge is about his strengths: he has none. He has no business even thinking about trying to become president. He has no foreign policy experience or insights. He has no economic plans or even a basic understand for what I can tell. He has no real health care plans. He has absolutely nothing except his credentials as a Baptist Preacher (eww), a "moral leader" (whatever that means), and apparently he is a pretty nice guy (who cares).

It actually angers me to see Huckabee's recent rise in the polls. I want a President, not a preacher. I don't want another big-government know-nothing fanatically religious retard running this country into the ground. The Religious Right had their way for 8 long years. Their way was clearly the wrong way. Its time for a new direction. The Republican Party needs a new direction, and so does the country as a whole.

Now, let us reiterate the position the GOP is in, namely that all of their candidates except for two are god-aweful. Guliani and Romney both have glaring flaws with the base of the GOP, not to mention lots of other issues too. I can hear the "swift hosing" advertisements from NY Firefighters directed at Guliani, or the "flip-flopping" accusations directed at another politician from Massachusetts (Romney). Huckabee seems to remedy some of the flaws of the former two men, but alas he turns out to be a moron. Fred Thompson's much anticipated campaign belly-flopped in a big way.

Here is a great example of why I absolutely despise most GOP candidates. This You tube video shows most of the major GOP prospects claiming they would consider using nukes against Iran preemptively. Are you kidding me??? The reason Iran would want nukes in the first place is because they need a deterrent against US attack. How is threatening to use tactical nukes going to alleviate their concerns? Clearly, such careless statements come from men who know nothing of foreign policy or of war, and instead are trying to look 'strong and tough' to a home audience against the foreign 'threat' (laugh). Hmmmmmm. Kinda sounds like our current president, doesn't it? How did his foreign policy turn out?

So I mentioned there are two GOP candidates that I don't hate. One is Ron Paul, a principled libertarian who is a strict constitutionalist. He has a cult-like following especially amongst internet-savvy young people, and as much as I love the things he says, I know he is completely unelectable. The second candidate I don't hate is John McCain. Polls show that he is the only GOP candidate that can beat Hillary in a national election. Other polls asked Democrats who their favorite (or, hate the least) GOP candidate was, and McCain was a clear winner there too. His foreign policy experience is very sound. He has a great record on other issues, including fighting wasteful earmarks. He has a long bipartisan history; hopefully he could unite this nation. John McCain is the only GOP candidate to seriously address global warming and other environmental issues. Aside from Ron Paul, McCain is the only GOP candidate I trust. In fact, John McCain is the only GOP candidate I will vote for. If the GOP doesn't nominate McCain I am voting against the Republicans no matter what, even if that means I am casting a vote for Hillary Clinton.

With such obvious strengths, and few other good choices, you'd think the GOP would be all over John McCain. And yet, he is doing poorly right now. His Intrade contract value (for the nomination) has been hovering at about 7% for months. One reason for his weakness in polls is that the religious base of the Republican Party doesn't care for him much. They seem to prefer Huckabee. Well, too bad. Here is what I have to say to the Republican Party, and every other Independent voter should say as well:

Its McCain or nothing.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The prelude to a thawing of relations

between Iran and the USA:

New Intelligence Report

I almost wonder if these intelligence folks haven't been urged to come up with things to fit preconceived political objectives? In this case, that wouldn't be a bad thing. Any mainstream US politician is going to need some excuse to talk to Iran; this might be it.

I strongly support the prospect of a rapprochement with Iran. There is absolutely no reason to head down the path of another war, as some would certainly prefer (including our VP). This conflict, like the one against communism, does not need to be fought with guns. Time is on our side. Eventually the Iranian people will tire of theocratic rule and overthrow their oppressive government themselves.

Not to mention, a US understanding with Iran will make a favorable Iraq outcome far more probable.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Speaking of hyperbole and fearmongering...

"If we cannot stop the building of more coal-fired power plants, those coal trains will be death trains -- no less gruesome than if they were boxcars headed to crematoria, loaded with uncountable irreplaceable species."
- James Hansen, Climate Scientist / Political Propagandist

Really though, humanity doesn't even need global warming to precipitate the next great mass extinction. Soon there will be 9 billion humans who are all hunting, farming, and ever encroaching on the few natural regions left on the planet. Climate change is the very least of other species' worries.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Holy Embarrassment

Pun intended. Historically, artists have been instrumental in bringing about social change. Authors, poets, and playwrights were the ones that weren't afraid to challenge the status quo, to oppose social norms, and question authority. They did these things under the threat of arrest, torture, or possibly execution. I could cite examples from hundreds of years ago, when artists lifted civilization from smothering religious rule via the Renaissance. Even in modern times, artists were central to ending Communist oppression in some European nations (see Plastic People of the Universe). Back in those days, being an artist took considerable intelligence, and even more courage.

Not in modern times, it turns out. In Europe, this bunch is a complete embarrassment. At least they are honest about why they do not mock Islam. No excuses about cultural sensitivity or anything like that. They just say straight up that they auto-censor topics on Islam because they are scared shitless about reprisals if they don't.

Mocking Christianity is easy: there is no danger involved, and most importantly, nobody cares. Its old. Thus, when these artists go on a Christian-bashing spree in a triumphant declaration of their bravery and fearlessness, but won't even touch Islam with a 6-foot pole, I can only think of one word with which to describe them: cowards. Christianity and Islam are both ideas, and as such, should be subjected to critiques, criticism, and even mockery. So people should either feel free to insult them both, or neither. Just don't presume to make a dramatic statement about religion in general by mocking just one and chickening out when it comes time to criticize the other.

I think ultimately my disgust here has nothing to do with religion at all. It is about the pathetic shape of the collective mental state of our civilization. The most obvious manifestation of this is the fear that we have of terrorism. There have been barely a handful of terrorist attacks on the entire West, and yet it is almost as if we live daily in fear of attack. It manifests itself in other ways too, the fear does. Fear of real political compromises to fix problems like social security. We are terrified of global warming, but at the same time don't have the courage to implement any of the reforms required to even begin to address it. Politicians cannot get anything done in this country without using fear as a motivator for the masses.

Reading about the things that people did in Eastern Europe to fight communism, it is so inspiring. Those people went through so much, and there was so much physical fear - fear of having your door kicked down in the middle of the night and being dragged away by the Stasi and never being seen again. They were not emotionally fearful, however. Through it all, they still maintained the collective emotional courage to continue to struggle and fight. They fought for almost half of a century. I wonder if people in the USA would respond in a similar manner in an authoritarian police-state? Most likely, this generation would just roll over and submit.

If anyone in Western civilization today was still unafraid to say anything or challenge anyone, I would think it would be the artists. What a disappointment.

This Day in History

I receive via email a daily newsletter from the History Channel, which illustrates historical events that occurred on the same day. Today's story is particularly interesting - and extremely relevant. Funny what they say about history repeating itself. Almost everything then is the same as it is now, only the two religions are flipped. We're even still fighting over the same city!


On November 27, 1095, Pope Urban II makes perhaps the most influential speech of the Middle Ages, giving rise to the Crusades by calling all Christians in Europe to war against Muslims in order to reclaim the Holy Land, with a cry of "Deus volt!" or "God wills it!"

Born Odo of Lagery in 1042, Urban was a protege of the great reformer Pope Gregory VII. Like Gregory, he made internal reform his main focus, railing against simony (the selling of church offices) and other clerical abuses prevalent during the Middle Ages. Urban showed himself to be an adept and powerful cleric, and when he was elected pope in 1088, he applied his statecraft to weakening support for his rivals, notably Clement III.

By the end of the 11th century, the Holy Land--the area now commonly referred to as the Middle East--had become a point of conflict for European Christians. Since the 6th century, Christians frequently made pilgrimages to the birthplace of their religion, but when the Seljuk Turks took control of Jerusalem, Christians were barred from the Holy City. When the Turks then threatened to invade the Byzantine Empire and take Constantinople, Byzantine Emperor Alexius I made a special appeal to Urban for help. This was not the first appeal of its kind, but it came at an important time for Urban. Wanting to reinforce the power of the papacy, Urban seized the opportunity to unite Christian Europe under him as he fought to take back the Holy Land from the

At the Council of Clermont, in France, at which several hundred clerics and noblemen gathered, Urban delivered a rousing speech summoning rich and poor alike to stop their in-fighting and embark on a righteous war to help their fellow Christians in the East and take back Jerusalem. Urban denigrated the Muslims, exaggerating stories of their anti-Christian acts, and promised absolution and remission of sins for all who died in the service of Christ.

Urban's war cry caught fire, mobilizing clerics to drum up support throughout Europe for the crusade against the Muslims. All told, between 60,000 and 100,000 people responded to Urban's call to march on Jerusalem. Not all who responded did so out of piety: European nobles were tempted by the prospect of increased land holdings and riches to be gained from the conquest. These nobles were responsible for the death of a great many innocents both on the way to and in the Holy Land, absorbing the riches and estates of those they conveniently deemed opponents to their cause. Adding to the death toll was the inexperience and lack of discipline of the Christian peasants against the trained, professional armies of the Muslims. As a result, the Christians were initially beaten back, and only through sheer force of numbers were they eventually able to triumph.

Urban died in 1099, two weeks after the fall of Jerusalem but before news of the Christian victory made it back to Europe. His was the first of seven major military campaigns fought over the next two centuries known as the Crusades, the bloody repercussions of which are still felt today. Urban was beatified by the Roman Catholic Church in 1881.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Farm Subsidies

I saw this graphic and I had to blog about it. Link here is the blogger's post from whence it came.

Farm subsidies don't make sense economically. They make even less sense ethically (impoverished African farmers are put out of business by rich subsidized American farmers). For these two reasons, I've always been strongly opposed to these ridiculous price supports. Now, as if I needed it, I have another good reason to be strongly opposed to subsidies - they are a major reason why we have such serious health problems in the USA.

The pyramid reveals that subsidies for meat and dairy are roughly 200 times larger than our subsidies for fruits and veggies. In other words, we are making meat and dairy products cheaper relative to fruits and vegetables.

And we can't figure out why we have an obesity epidemic.

The original author had a great quote: "For all the talk of the health costs, the most economically rational purchase on earth is a Big Mac." That should not be the case. If we are going to subsidize anything, it should be the fruits and the veggies, not the meat and cheese. It's hard for me to say that, considering how much I love meat. But if meat was more expensive, I'd eat less - and so would everyone else. And we'd all be much, much better off for it.

Here is something to think about next time you are pondering your position regarding the health care debate. Increasing the cost of meat and cheese while decreasing the cost of fruit and veggies would have a bigger impact on national health outcomes than any changes we could make to our system. It wouldn't even be close. Here in the USA, however, we don't like the obvious, simple solutions. If it doesn't involve a brand new bureaucracy, we're not interested. Thats why we're going to go with (maybe) a complex cap-and-trade system for reducing CO2 levels instead of just levying a simple carbon tax.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Clinton isn't going to win.

No way.

Then again, I don't really understand the electoral process, so what the heck do I know?

Just seems to me that people are hearing a lot of things about HRC and most of them are less than flattering. This isn't new, but what is new is that now a lot of it comes from the left. Hatred of Bush united the Democratic Party for the last few years, but now there is a primary on and someone has to win. It has a bigger impact when people on the left expose Hillary's negative personality traits.

I don't have a personal problem with Clinton. I don't think she is evil; she is simply a business-as-usual politician. I don't think that is what this country needs right now. Aside from that, she probably can't win the national election. Sure a lot of Democrats love Hillary. But which are there more of: Dems who love Hillary, or Republicans who hate her?

Why would Dems pick HRC when they could have a Washington outsider with real idealism in Obama, or at least a sure-thing in the general election in John Edwards?

I am on a social networking site called "facebook", which is extremely popular among the college crowd. One might imagine that the overall political leanings of such a network would be to the left. Months ago I joined a subgroup in the network titled "One Million Strong for Barack". There are currently 400,000 members. Why do I bring this up? Months later, someone took this idea and created a group called "One Million Strong Against Hillary". It already has almost 600,000 members.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Can I backtrack, please?

My original prediction was that John McCain would win the GOP primary. Then, as McCain's numbers fell and Fred Thompson looked likely to enter the race, I thought Thompson would get it. I want to change back to McCain:

1. Thompson's Presidential debut did not meet the hype. He was unprepared and unimpressive.

2. Developments in the Iraq War help McCain. In particular, the Anbar Awakening, the drop in US military deaths, and the drop in civilian deaths. This gives McCain a bit more breathing room.

3. A recent poll compared GOP candidates against Hillary Clinton. The poll shows Hillary trouncing Romney or Thompson by ~12 points; she beats Guliani by 4-5. Only McCain keeps it close.

The GOP will become increasingly terrified of the seemingly unstoppable Clinton juggernaut. They're going to start looking for someone, anyone that can give her a run for her money. McCain is the only one that will be able to do so.

Which is fine by me, because I've always been a big fan of McCain.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dilemma of the Day

What of the Armenian Genocide?

President Bush is urging congress to vote against a resolution that would recognize the genocide of approximately 1.5 million Armenians after the First World War. The Turks adamantly deny this genocide took place.

Ethically, we should support the resolution. But can we afford to alienate Turkey at a time when its support is so crucial? Even Israel hasn't recognized the Armenian genocide; its bilateral relations with Turkey are far too important.

If it was up to me, I'd put the resolution off for about 5 years and then pass it.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Radiohead to pwn the Record Companies!

Imagine you live in 1890 and you drive a horse and buggy. Because your horse needs water and food, there are stables set up along roads where one can stop and give the animals a rest. Since everyone rides horses in 1880, everyone pays these stables a set price for this service; a "horse tax" of sorts.

Now imagine you buy your first car ten years later. Your car runs on gasoline, not hay. Do you want to pay the horse tax anymore? Of course not! What if you were legally bound to do so? You would probably consider the law to be unjust.

That is, essentially, what the recording industry has done. If the internet had always existed, record companies would never have come into being in the first place. In 1980, consumers needed a way to transfer music from the studio to their homes - a record company was the much needed middleman. Now, a band could upload their music to the internet. Most people have a CD burners or MP3 players. Essentially, technology has made it so the record companies no longer need to exist.

Of course, the record companies weren't happy about that. So they use the legal system and copyright laws to force their continued unnecessary existence. They continue to charge insane amounts of money for a CD; sometimes $20.00 (several years ago, the major American companies were busted for trying to artificially jack up CD prices). Only a tiny fraction even goes to the artist. Consumers were left with a dilemma: be extorted by shady media operations, or short their favorite artists.

I chose the latter. Artists can still make money from live event proceeds, and some have websites where one can donate directly. Still, I have been waiting for the day that a big name artist stepped up to the plate and told the record companies where they can shove a contract. I've been waiting for a big name artist to sell their next album directly on the internet. That day has arrived.

Read here. Radiohead (incidentally, one of my favorite bands) is selling their newest CD online. Not only that, but they are going to let us pay any amount we wish. Seriously, one could pay two cents for their album. Essentially it will be like tipping the band, and the money will go straight to them. Personally, I'll be tipping the band five dollars, because I think that is a fair price for an album. That five dollars will go directly to the band. Going through a big record company would have left the artist with maybe a 50 cent royalty on a $15.00 album.

I hope this is immensely successful for Radiohead, financially speaking. It will encourage other artists to follow suit. At that point, record companies will have to choose between going out of business or lowing their prices to fair levels (which, IMO is about five dollars). As an unnecessary middleman, their days of extorting consumers are over.

Pass this bill.

It is co-sponsored by Hillary Clinton. The bill prohibits the use of funds for military operations against Iran; it would ensure that President Bush gets congressional authorization before attacking Iran.

A recent poll showed that only some 30% of Americans would support the use of force against Iran. This is a no-brainer. Dick Cheney should not have the power to drag this nation into another war.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Missed opportunity

The President of the University of Columbia is an embarrassment, and not because he invited Iranian President Ahmadinejad to speak to students. His introduction (of Ahmadinejad) was crude and cheap. Instead of attacking the Iranian President's ideas, he started by launching ad hominem (personal) attacks. It is intellectually dishonest, and a sign of great weakness.

The Iranian President has a host of absurd positions. He apparently believes there are no homosexuals in the entire country of Iran. He pursues nuclear weapons, restricts the freedoms of his own people, and warmongers. How easy would it have been to simply ask him straightforward questions and allow Ahmadinejad to humiliate himself with his insane answers? Instead, the Iranian President was made to be the dignified and well-behaved one. What a missed opportunity.

It almost makes one envious, though. To see the President of Iran take unscripted questions from a hostile audience in an enemy country. The President of the United States won't even take unscripted questions from his own citizens.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Nuclear proliferation


The Israelis recently bombed a target of some sort in Syria. It was a unique situation, because the Syrians didn't complain about it other than mentioning a violation of their airspace. Now we know why. They didn't say anything because the Israelis caught them with North Korean nuclear materials.

There are many things I can tolerate rogue states doing. Proliferating nuclear materials isn't one of them. A really big red line was just crossed.

In a related subject, what of the prospect of a dirty bomb attack on an American city? Imagine: a small explosion in New York or Chicago. Suddenly some Joe with a Geiger counter calls up the media and tells them that the readings are off the charts in the proximity of the explosion. Word spreads that the bomb was nuclear, and that a radiation cloud is engulfing the city. Citizens panic and rush to evacuate. There are mass casualties in the chaos, with destruction and violence on a large scale. Imagine Katrina, only worse, and in a bigger city.

This is why our government should have a strong public awareness project concerning dirty bombs. Humans can take a lot more radiation than we do now without having any huge problems. If there was a dirty bomb attack, unless someone purposefully went to the explosion site and started rolling in the bomb's remains, I can't imagine it would be a big deal. The government needs to have a containment plan, a cleanup plan, and a very clear and honest assessment of the danger. People need to understand before the fact that a dirty bomb does not merit the evacuation of an entire city - only a few blocks or so.

Terrorists don't need a nuclear bomb to do massive amounts of damage. All they need is a regular bomb with a tiny bit of radioactive material. The real power behind that weapon would not be the explosion, or the radiation - it would be the ignorance driving the chaos after the fact. People need to understand the dangers, so they won't panic when it happens.

...and given recent developments in Syria, we can assume "when" will be sooner rather than later.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Prospect of war

Over the last few days I've suddenly become convinced that a war with Iran is likely, and is only a matter of time. News that Israel bombed Syrian nuclear supplies is part of the equation. And when the French of all people begin to speak of war, one starts to wonder when rather than if.

It will be a moral and strategic mistake to initiate a war on Iran. That being said, I don't think it will prove to be as big of a challenge for our military as people think. Iran only has the capability for asymmetric war.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

GOP shoe-in

Fred Thompson.

I've said from day one that Guliani is overrated, and who would vote for Romney? Before being destroyed by his position on the war, McCain was the only candidate that seemed reasonably well-rounded - until Thompson entered.

If Iraq was to suddenly turn around, McCain might pull a comeback, but if I was betting it would be on Thompson. Hasn't the right been looking for another Reagan, anyway?

The entry of a well-rounded, seemingly moderate Thompson puts the pressure back on the Democrats. Will they risk fielding a woman or an African American? I'd vote for Obama over just about anyone, but would the nation?

Check out Fred Thompson's blog.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

I'm a feminist. Who knew?

I scored 81% feminist on this quiz:

"You are a total feminist. This doesn't mean you're a man hater (in fact, you may be a man). You just think that men and women should be treated equally. It's a simple idea but somehow complicated for the world to put into action."

I 'strongly agreed' with most of the questions. One disagreement I did have was that there is no such thing as "a mans job". Certain types of construction are man's jobs, along with professional football and military combat. In fact, I've had extensive debates about a hypothetical situation regarding a draft. Some of my opponents held that if there was a draft, capable women should be forced into combat along with men. My position, for too many reasons to detail here, is that women should be allowed to serve in combat if they so choose - but should not be forced into combat. I am glad to see, however, that this minor quibble doesn't make me into a bona fide sexist (according to the quiz) as some might have claimed.

Regarding the question, "women should accept their bodies as they are", I was undecided. In case one hasn't noticed, we are having a bit of an obesity epidemic in this country. Nobody should accept their body 'how it is' if they aren't healthy. I'm fairly fit, but I know I'm at least 20 pounds overweight. Weight loss should be pursued primarily in the name of health, with cosmetic reasons being only secondary. That being said, most of the women we see on TV aren't in fact healthy. They're unnaturally skinny. So I wouldn't encourage any woman to pursue that ideal.

It isn't fair to characterize the entire feminist movement based on the positions of certain yahoos, so I will not do that. I will say, however, that I am hostile to radical elements of today's feminist movement. I certainly wouldn't want the results of this quiz to obfuscate that fact - if for no other reason than to ensure my man-credentials do not come into question.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Juan Cole - Rewriting History

Juan Cole @ YearlyKos 2007:

Referring to his new book, and sounding quite pretentious: "Western invasions and occupations of Middle Eastern countries often haven't gone very well...this is not a new thing."

Later in the interview: "This (YearlyKos) group has been a major force for rethinking the early tone of the coverage of the Iraq situation. If you wanted to go back to 2003, and check who was saying what, you know, 95% of press commentary was of the cheer-leading sort. And it was the left bloggers who raised questions that began to see problems and who opposed the war in the first place."

Indeed, Juan - let us go back to 2003 and check who in fact was saying what.

"My mind and heart are, like those of so many Americans, focused on the Gulf and Iraq tonight. I am thinking about all those brave young men and women in the US and British armed forces whose lives are on the line, and send them my warm support. And I am thinking about all the innocent Iraqis in the line of fire, who fear what awaits them. I remain convinced that, for all the concerns one might have about the aftermath, the removal of Saddam Hussein and the murderous Baath regime from power will be worth the sacrifices that are about to be made on all sides."

Juan Cole, 3/19/03

I once emailed Professor Cole, asking him about this quote. He said he had taken the position in question 'before he knew that Bush was incompetent'. His explanation doesn't satisfy me for two reasons.

1. Nothing in war is a certainty; a historian like Cole should know this better than anyone. It is reprehensible to cheer-lead the march to war and jump ship at the first time of trouble, as Cole did. After failing to stop Saddam's slaughter of the Shia and Kurdish rebels after the '91 war, did America not owe it to the Iraqi people to at least give their elected government a chance to succeed? Our invasion of Iraq opened the gates of hell; did we not have a moral obligation (not to mention strategic imperative) to help close them?

2. Cole constantly speaks retrospectively of reasons why we shouldn't have invaded Iraq. Al Qaeda wasn't linked to Saddam, civil war was inevitable, "Western invasions of the Middle East don't go well". But even if Cole was wrong about Bush, he still should have known all of these things before the fact. He certainly pretends that he did.

I read Cole's blog regularly. He is almost as biased as Fox News, but to the opposite side. That being said, he still does know a lot, and so I will continue to read his blog (as much as I despise his incessant pessimism). Still, to see him pretend to have known all along what would happen in Iraq is too much for me to handle.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The least surprised I've been all day...

Regarding the next YouTube Debate, only two GOP candidates have agreed to do it: Ron Paul and John McCain. This isn't shocking to me. Paul and McCain will do fine in a debate with unscripted and tough questions, because neither gives politically correct answers - they give honest ones. Speaking truthfully and frankly requires no preparation, just conviction. McCain, for example, has been on the Daily Show many times; he has parried the best that Jon Stewart can throw at him.

McCain and Paul are the only two republican candidates I'd consider voting for, though it is likely that I'll have no such chance for either. The rest of the GOP candidates are garbage. I'm not even sure why Romney was ever considered a "front runner", and it has been especially entertaining as of late to watch everyone come to realize how overrated Guliani is. It doesn't surprise me that they don't want to be asked the difficult questions - they don't have good answers. Still, I predict that the risk of looking completely disconnected from the mainstream will force them to show up to the debate, even if they are loath to.

A last comment. I think, perhaps wishfully, that McCain is going to make a turnaround. He really is the only solid player that the GOP has at this point (enter Thompson?). If McCain changes his Iraq policy to something more reasonable to the general public, I think he will have a 'surge' of support. And why wouldn't he (change his Iraq policy)? The situation in that country a year from now is going to be vastly different than it is now.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Why should we bomb Iran? The internal movement to bring down their government is intensifying (as it is here in the USA, incidentally). The Iranian government just beat up and arrested a bunch of students. We'll see that more and more. But not if we do the Ayatollahs a favor by uniting the people around the government after an air strike!

The Soviets supported the Vietcong, just as Iran supports Iraqi insurgents. We didn't bomb the USSR in response; furthermore, it didn't take an act of war to bring down the Soviet Union, a far greater oppressor and rival than tiny Iran. Lets keep up the containment, keep up the isolation, and their theocratic government will fall on its own. It took only 40 years to bring down the mighty Soviet Union, without a shot fired from our end. Its already been 30 years since the Iranian revolution. Their government doesn't have long.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Around the world in 500 words

Update on a whole bunch of things:

1. I really hope things settle down in Pakistan. Right now theres a standoff with some students in an important mosque. Depending on how Musharraf handles it, this thing could spiral out of control. Political instability in a nuclear-armed nation makes me somewhat uneasy. Not only that, but if an anti-American government was to come to power, we might as well pack up and quit Afghanistan.

2. Only a short time ago, I had outright dismissed the proposition that Bush would attack Iran. The idea is such that no rational individual would seriously be advocating it. For one, why would we? The Iranian government is on the ropes as it is. In fact, it is my belief that the Iranian government actually wants us to bomb them. They are in a huge mess, with the state of the economy, gasoline rationing (in IRAN!), and international isolation. The people are tired of it all. A bombing campaign would unite all of the people around that government, without accomplishing anything of note.

And yet, Bush suddenly scares me. Do we remember in 1998 when Bill Clinton randomly bombed Iraq as the news of his affair with Lewinsky was breaking? Well, Bush is in a similar position. His aides are going to court. Republicans are bailing on Iraq. 48% of Americans want him impeached, and above half want Cheney impeached. Hes like a wounded animal, looking for a way out. Desperation can lead to irrationality.

Congress should revoke his power to attack Iran unilaterally.

3. I can't believe that France elected a pro-American, right wing president. They certainly needed one. Hopefully he'll implement some much needed economic reform, but I disagree with his Turkey policy. He has stated that Turkey should never belong to the EU.

4. Speaking of whom. The Turkish military has massed 150,000 troops on the border of Iraq. They seem poised to invade Kurdistan (Northern Iraq) to chase PKK terrorists that have been hiding in Iraq. Not unlike the way Al Qaeda hid out in Afghanistan.

Kurdistan is the one success story we have in Iraq, and its about ready to be destroyed. There is absolutely no reason that we shouldn't be able to bring about a diplomatic solution to the crisis between the Turks and Kurds. It boggles my mind that its even an issue at this point. The Turks and the Kurds have both been important US allies for years now, and they rely on us as well (especially the Kurds). This one is a no-brainer, but is in my estimation the most serious crisis facing the region at this time. These groups are the only two examples of Muslim democracy in the entire world. Obviously, its extremely important that we ensure that they are both peaceful and prosperous.

5. The war in Iraq is over. My post-occupation plan would involve withdrawing some of the troops to Kurdistan (40k or so) and sending the rest home. This entire plan breaks down if point 4 isn't resolved soon. But from bases in Kurdistan, we can help contain the civil war in the south and can help fight Al Qaeda. And, when they are ready, we'll be there to help negotiate a peace between the warring Sunni and Shiite factions.

6. My presidential predictions were based on wishful thinking. McCain is getting creamed. Word on the street is Fred Thompson gets the GOP nod. I personally don't think the Dems are dumb enough to nominate Hillary (they do want to win the election, don't they?). I could be wrong, though. Edwards seems like the best pick, as much as I'd love to see Obama instead. The race factor might be too powerful. Still, those campaign finance results of Obama's were very impressive.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Total Scumbags

This is one of the most disgusting things I think I've ever seen. That a news outlet would presume to decide for us who won the debate is beyond arrogant. What is worse, even after winning the poll, those snakes suggested that Paul should not be allowed to debate again. Its been obvious to me for years that Fox News has been biased. I noticed it first in 2002; the debate on Fox News was when, not if, we should invade Iraq. But this latest thing goes beyond the relm of mere propaganda. It was a blatent attempt to subvert democracy. It was an attempt to forcibly alter the course of the electoral process by going above the heads of the American people. Luckily Paul made enough of an impact that they failed, but it still makes me extremely angry to have seen Republican party bosses try this stunt.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Ron Paul is getting serious support?

*** Update. Ron Paul discusses the recent debate, where he was in a tiff with Guliani. Everything Dr. Paul says is spot on. Guliani was made to look like a complete fool. This clip is a must see.

I am best described as a libertarian, so I enjoyed watching Ron Paul in the first Republican debate. But I haven't cited him as a favorite candidate because I assumed that he was the Ralph Nader of the Republican Party - loved by a small group of people but nationally unelectable. However, a Fox News poll showed him having significant support. Maybe we should take him more seriously? Andrew Sullivan seems to think so.

Well, I'd still say hes unelectable. But one can dream, right? Maybe he would be a good running mate? I'm looking at you, Senator McCain.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Attacking Kurdistan

There have been two truck bombs in Kurdistan in the last month. Kurdistan is the northern region of Iraq that has been largely autonomous since the first Gulf War. It is peaceful, politically unified, and its economy is booming. In other words, its the only success story of the entire campaign. What is the significance of these recent bombing attacks by insurgents? I can think of three possibilities.

1. These particular insurgents have no greater strategic objectives, and are just attacking targets of opportunity - there is no real significance to the attacks. This is a possibility. We can't assume that all of our enemies have ulterior motives to every attack. It would, however, definitely be a mistake to assume they don't. Hence the following two possibilities.

2. This is part of the Kurd-Arab dispute over Kirkuk. Kirkuk is a city sitting on top of a massive oil field. In the 1980s, Saddam kicked out all of the Kurds and settled Arabs in the area. Now the Kurds want their homes back. The city is ethnically diverse, like Baghdad, and is probably going to be fought over at some point or another. Yet, these bombings didn't happen in Kirkuk. Maybe the insurgents (probably Sunni Arabs) are sending the Kurds a message of what to expect in the future if they don't cede Kirkuk?

3. The insurgents are trying to influence the American government. This is what first came to my mind when I saw the news headline. Not many people are talking about "staying the course" anymore. The 'surge' appears to be failing. What is plan B? Some people are saying we could keep forces in Kurdistan, other people are saying we should get all US troops out of Iraq completely, including out of Kurdistan. Perhaps the insurgents are trying to strengthen the hand of the latter group of politicians. If Kurdistan can be portrayed as being instable like the rest of Iraq, then redeployment of US forces to the north looks like a less viable option.

We should redeploy to Kurdistan. Complete withdrawal would be a huge mistake.

It has become clear that we can't referee the civil war in Baghdad and the other Arab regions of Iraq. But there is no reason to not station a sizeable US force in Kurdistan, not unlike what we have in Afghanistan to chase the Taleban. From our position up north, we can do three major things. One, we can have a local base from which to chase Al Qaeda. Two, we can prevent invasion by Iraq's neighbors (Saudi Arabia and Iran in particular), helping to prevent a wider regional war. Three, and perhaps most importantly, we can negotiate a cease fire between the factions after the civil war has run its course a bit.

The last time you heard any politician talk about Iraq, what word was repeated more often than any other? Diplomacy. Diplomacy. Diplomacy. But to have any diplomatic leverage, you need to have force backing it up. Thats why nobody cares what Europe says anymore. The European Union has greater economic power than the US, but without anything hard to back it up, they are ignored. Having a force in Kurdistan gives the U.S. a huge amount of diplomatic leverage. We'll regret not having it, once the ethnic cleansing starts.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Making predictions 1.5 years out:

The straight-talk express, John McCain, gets the republican ticket. McCain beats Hillary if she gets the dem ticket. McCain loses to Obama if he gets the dem ticket. If the race came down to McCain vs Obama, I wouldn't need to vote. Well lets face it, I'm from Indiana so I dont *need* to vote anyway.

More elaboration when I'm done with finals. Just wanted it on the record!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Sunday, April 15, 2007

My diatribe against the global warming fuss: 10 reasons why I dont care.

1. The only thing capable of pulling the poorest 3,000,000,000 people out of poverty is global economic growth. While there is definitely some room to cut excesses, a lot of anti-warming propositions would neuter the global economy. We already have a high standard of living in the West, so apparently economic stagnation doesn't concern us.

2. Many are suggesting we begin to make the transition to biofuels. Biofuels are derived from crops. What happens when demand for farm products goes through the roof? The price of food goes up. That might be a good thing for Americans. It would be a bad thing for Africans.

3. Al Gore has shown us that one can lead a carbon-neutral lifestyle with the technology we have today. Irrelevant! Humans derive no satisfaction from emitting carbon dioxide (aside from respiration). We get satisfaction from using energy, which happens to be coupled to CO2 release in most cases. Al Gore with his millions has proven that he can be carbon neutral, but he has unfortunately revealed that he cannot cut his energy consumption. In fact, he requires 20 times the energy than the average American.

What does this mean? Al Gore is proof that you can't ask people to reduce their energy consumption. The challenge is to get them energy that doesn't come from buring fossil fuels. The only real option we have here is nuclear power on a much grander scale. Unfortunately, the environmental movement has opposed any expansion of our nuclear power sector. So what, do anti-warming crusaders expect the average American to cut their energy usage while Al Gore uses twenty times the norm? Not going to happen. People need to get serious about nuclear power, or there isn't even a chance!

4. No doubt, there is a lot of things we could do to streamline our energy consumption. More public transit, hybrid cars (nevermind the enormous energy costs in making them, or the environmentally destructive mining process to harvest the minerals for batteries), solar power. These things are at best delaying the inevitable, unless we come up with a miracle source of energy. Don't forget - regardless of what we do in the 1st world, the poor farmer in the Amazon is going to still need to choose whether to feed his family or burn down a forest. It would be awefully pompous for us here in the West to blame him for doing the latter.

5. Speaking of the third world. What if we in the West stopped using fossil fuels tomorrow? The price of oil, gas, etc would plummet, which means that people in the third world could afford to use more of it. The fossil fuels are going to get used, unless we start building nuclear power plants all over the world. Not that we have enough uranium for that sort of thing.

6. Disregarding the fact that we've all been wrong before, there are just too many unknowns with the warming hypothesis. How severe will the warming be? A few degrees might even be pleasant. How long do we have? If the answer is a few hundred or thousand years, who cares? Is it too late to stop it? Nancy Pelosi suggests that "the next ten years are crucial". That is total speculation on her part. Nobody could possibly know the consequences of inaction over a ten year period. In fact, its far more likely that we either have many years yet to turn the process around, or that its already too late to reverse what we've started. In either case, the panic is unwarranted.

7. Have people forgotten how policy in this country works? We are a reactive society, and we always have been. You would think that something as obvious as putting enough lifeboats on a cruise liner would be obvious, but it took the Titantic and 2000 dead to get it in our heads. You'd think that some airport security would be a no-brainer, but it took 9/11 to get that one going. You'd think that if levees are the only thing protecting your city from the ocean, maybe make sure they work? But Katrina came and went, and now we know better. I'm not usually a pessimist, but lets face it, we will never do anything serious about climate change until an iceberg slaps us in the face. Its fad, and it will pass. When's the last time you heard about bird flu? That threat is still lurking, and is definitely a bigger threat than global warming. The last serious flu pandemic killed 100 million people in 1920. Think about how many more people there are today, and how much faster everyone travels. Another pandemic could kill hundreds of millions, and it could happen next year.

8. Here is another reason to be pessimistic about countering global warming. The two biggest CO2 emitters, the USA and China, will be affected the least by warming, according to climate models. Actually, due to warming China may have increased productivity. Hmmm. Two hugely bloated bureaucracies face an enormous challenge with little incentive. Yes, lets be optimistic!

9. What species are we talking about here? We are talking about homo sapiens! Name a climate that we cant survive in. Name a situation we cant adapt to. Some of us, thousands of years ago, decided it would be a great idea to live on the ice caps in igloos, and others thought that the desert looked like fun. We are the most adaptable single species that this planet has ever produced. Sure a little climate change might shake things up, wash away a city here or there, cause a bunch of people to move inland a few miles. It'll likely happen over decades. We'll survive. Civilization will survive. Our cities are dirty anyway.

10. Humanity faces plenty of problems for which we can develop strategies that will actually produce tangible results. The third world continues to be ravaged by diseases like malaria, and yet we continue to outlaw DDT. Environmentalists will throw a fit when one discusses usage of DDT, but unfortunately I have moral qualms about valuing the lives of animals above humans. If it were their children dying of malaria, they might think differently. Hunger is still a major problem. The population explosion is an issue, and its a problem with only one cure - economic growth. Finally, a Middle Eastern nuclear arms-race is right up there at the top of my list of things we should be avoiding.

In short, why spend so much time and money, on solutions that may not work - for a problem that might not even be one?

After all of that, one might be surprised to learn that publicly, I'm to some extent supportive of the anti-warming campaign. I would like to see a great reduction in our use of petroleum in particular. There wouldn't *be* a war on terror if we weren't reliant on gasoline. I'm sick of American dollars going to Saudi Arabia, funding the most intolerant (Wahhabi) branch of Islam there is. I'm sick of American dollars funding Hugo Chavez' Boliviarian Socialism. Thus I would support some 'anti global warming' measures for purely geopolitical reasons.

We have the solutions right in front of us. The most obvious as I mentioned is nuclear power. Another fantastic solution has been put forth by economist Greg Mankiw: The Pigou Club. Alas, not a single politician will sign up. I really am an optimist - just read my Iraq posts if you don't believe me. But not about all of this.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A quick thought

Iran's actions don't strike me as those of a nation avoiding war. I wonder if their leaders are actually trying to provoke American airstrikes? Unless the US Air Force launched an all-out campaign, airstrikes wouldn't do much damage to the Iranian nuclear program. It would also strengthen the Iranian government, rallying the support of the people behind it in a nationalistic fervor. It also would galvanize world opinion in support of Iran. Therefore, the US should under almost no circumstances strike first blow in this potential conflict. We lose the moral high ground if we do.

There might be an interesting dynamic to consider if Britain decided to strike Iran alone pending a failure to return (or worse) the British prisoners. Iran would be in a pickle at that point, because it lacks serious capability to further retaliate against Britain. That is, British troops aren't in vulnerable spots like American troops, and London is out of range of Iranian missiles. Iran would not want to escalate a conflict with a secondary opponent, exposing itself and playing its few good cards, when its primary opponent (USA) is right around the corner waiting for it to slip up. Not saying I advocate Britain starting a war, but if it came down to it, I'd rather the British launch the strike unilaterally without the US getting directly involved. It would give the West the strategic initiative.

It will most likely be a non-issue, though. Iran abducted British sailors once a few years ago and returned them after some grandstanding. I'm sure it will do the same this time around.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"We don't need resistance if there is no occupation."

This quote from an official of the new Palestinian unity government. Arab states have all promised peace and normalised relations with Israel, if it only would withdraw to 1967 borders. The occupation would end, Palestinians would have a state, everyone is happy, problem solved. Unfortunately, reality isn't so simple. The problem is not that Israel refuses to withdraw to 1967 borders. That is a distraction. The problem is that Hamas, which leads the current government, would still not agree to a peace (by its own assertion) even if Israel withdrew to 1967 borders. Nor would Iran.

One needs to only look no farther than the Gaza Strip to realize that withdrawing to 1967 borders would not bring peace. Some time ago Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza. Since then, there has been a constant barrage of rocket fire from there into Israel. Even now, Hamas is fortifying the Gaza Strip with bunkers, rockets, and other equipment in the very same way that Hezbollah set up shop in southern Lebanon. The world is standing idly by while fanatics and terrorists in Gaza build a fortress right next to Israel.

There will be another war, and probably soon. Militants from Gaza will finally provoke Israel, which will invade and possibly reoccupy Gaza, just like what happened in southern Lebanon last summer. This will happen because Hamas (recently recognized by Norway, soon to be recognized by Russia and France) remains committed to the destruction of Israel through violent means. The difference is that this time, there will be many more casualties than there were in last summer's contest, because Gaza is far more densely populated than southern Lebanon.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Second post of the night!?

The Iraqis are expressing support of the "surge" plan to restore security to Iraq. The surge, thus far, has succeeded beyond what I expected. And we've only got 2 of 5 planned divisions deployed at this time. General Petraeus has claimed that he will need until the summer to be able to determine whether the plan will work or ultimately fail. Stop the political pandering in Washington and let this guy do his job! As many have pointed out, why did Congress unanimously confirm him as the new commander in Iraq if they weren't going to give him a chance to make progress?

As always, the key for success is political. There have already been some important steps in that direction (by Iraqi politicians). Heres hoping it continues.

A game that can be played by two

The Palestinian political groups, Fatah and Hamas, have agreed on a power-sharing government, having barely avoided civil war in the process. The international community (specifically, a "Quartet" of UN, US, EU, and Russia) had placed three demands on any such government for the resumption of aid. Renounce violence, recognize Israel, and honor past peace agreements. The new unity government, dominated by Hamas still (as it won the election), has failed on all three counts.

This really shouldn't have come as a shock. Aren't terrorists like Hamas by definition uncompromising, fanatical people? Even so, there has been some positive change. Fatah has some ministers in the government, and Hamas said it would "respect" past agreements (whatever that means). This unity government is at least a small step in the direction that we desire. Therefore, I believe it is appropriate for the United States and the Quartet in kind to also take a small step, towards the Palestinian government.

Right now, the United States has declared it will work with ministers in the government that are of Fatah. This is a good place to start. We should also not shy away from humanitarian and economic opportunities. Still, we need to continue to make it difficult for Hamas to accomplish anything on its agenda. Hamas should know that if it wants support from the USA, they need to be willing to meet us in the middle.

I especially oppose outright recognition of the government until they have made more serious concessions to the international community. Norway, France, and Russia are all moving to give Hamas everything it wants for nothing in return. Thats probably the worst way to get Hamas to compromise.

Saturday, March 03, 2007


My enthusiasm for Barack Obama has grown, and fortunately so has his poll data. He looks to be catching Hillary in most categories. I really don't have any particularly strong negative feelings towards Hillary. She is a politician, and like most politicians she doesn't really have firm convictions or principles. She does not impress me as a leader, however. At any rate, she is deeply dividing; personally I don't think she has a remote chance of winning a national election. Dems should root for her only if they want a Republican president in 08.

One reason in particular that I am more excited about Obama is from this interview of Obama in 2002, before the Iraq war. He asks a lot of rhetorical questions in this interview, which are eerily predictive about the situation on the ground in Iraq today. For example, he specifically asks what our long term committment in Iraq will be, and how will we prevent sectarian differences from tearing the country apart.

Towards the end Barack is asked whether he would have voted Yay or Nay to invade Iraq, if he could have done so. He responds that he would have went nay. As a friend pointed out, voting nay on the Iraq war resolution was an extremely dangerous position for a nationally aspiring politician to take. Hillary, of course, voted yay. As did many others, who did not take the time to understand what we were getting ourselves into. And that is how we ended up in the situation we are in today.

On a related note, from what I've been reading, the 'surge' policy for a security crackdown in Baghdad is actually working to some extent. I am less optimistic than I was, however. I'm reading a book called "The Shia Revival" by Vali Nasr, and what has become clear to me is that this Sunni-Shia sectarian rivalry is hundreds of years old. I'm not sure that any amount of US military power could fix this problem. It is likely that the armed groups are just taking a breather from the civil war and will resume as soon as we leave. Any success will depend first and foremost on political solutions. An important first step was the recent revision of Iraq's oil laws that will redistribute revenue more evenly.

Finally, I noticed the world stockmarkets taking a dive for the last few days. I read an interesting article that suggested that China could not survive an economic collapse, politically. The country would erupt in protests and civil disorder, and the non-Han areas would likely secede (Tibet, inner Mongolia, et cetera). There are always positive side effects of bad situations. A world economic collapse killing off communism once and for all doesn't sound like a bad thing. Additionally, the price of oil would plummet following a Chinese collapse. That would shut the mouths of petro-powered international assholes like Hugo Chavez and Iran's Ahmedinejad. Course, not needing their oil would have the same effect...

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Courageous leadership, or political pandering?

Why was General Patraeus unanimously approved as our new commander in Iraq, if Democrats were going to pull the plug on the mission before we could even begin to have any success? And if they are deadset on withdrawal, why haven't Democrats started planning for what they are going to do in the aftermath of a hasty US pullout from Iraq? Are we going to partition the country? Withdraw to Kurdistan? Strike a deal with Iran or Syria? Does "pulling out" mean all 150,000 troops? Are we going to leave any of them to fight Al Qaeda? As Joe Biden pointed out, just "bringing home the troops" is not a plan or a strategy. It is a politically convenient and intellectually inane talking point.

One absolutely cannot discuss withdrawal without having a plan for it - and it better be a damn good one. The risks that would follow such a power vacuum in Iraq are enormous, and the Democrats aren't even beginning to acknowledge it, let alone discuss how to prevent a wider catastrophe. This is not Vietnam. This is not Vietnam. This is not Vietnam. There won't be a communist takeover and then peace once we leave. There will be far more violence. It is immoral and irresponsible to just plan on packing up and going home, leaving the region to implode in an orgy of ethnic cleansing, civil war, and regional conflict.

And now Hillary Clinton, one of those wise souls that voted for the Iraq war, and said a few weeks ago that she supported the 'surge', has started talking about a 90 day deadline to have troops out of Iraq. We have deluded ourselves into thinking that things can't get worse. Well, they can. And guess what? Its our responsibility to help fix it, whether we like it or not.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Don't even think about it.

I'd like to reiterate how strongly I would oppose a unilateral air strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. Some time ago, we sent a second carrier strike group to the gulf. A bit of sabre rattling, but not something to be alarmed about. In fact, I suspected that Bush's personality might come as an advantage in this standoff with Iran. Think about it - if Americans are worried whether Bush is going to bomb Iran, Iranians have got to be wondering more when than if its going to happen. In this game of diplomatic chicken that we seem to be playing, perhaps that might be the impetus that the Iranian leadership needs to negotiate a deal.

A strong position against Iran is very important. While Iranian support for Iraqi Shia insurgents is mostly exaggerated, Iran's support for Hezbollah is well documented. As we saw last summer, that proved to be a very destabilizing force in the region. I'm also very concerned with the Iranian nuclear pursuit, as I've written before. Not because I'm concerned that Iran will go and nuke Israel or even pass off nukes to terrorists (which is possible, but unlikely). The main risk is that Iranian nukes spark a regional arms race with the Gulf Arab states; Saudi Arabia and Egypt in particular. A nuclear armed Middle East would be a disaster waiting to happen.

This all being said, a strike on Iran's nuclear sites would be a disaster. It would rally their people around the government at a time when Ahmedinejad is becoming less popular in Iran for his extreme rhetoric. The air strikes would probably do little, if any good. We set back the nuclear program for a couple of years, and then what? Iran could retaliate throughout the world; in Iraq, Europe, and America. If we think the Shia insurgency in Iraq is bad now, just wait till we bomb Iran. Its just not worth it, not yet anyways. If we must do something, we should impose an oil embargo with our Navy - prevent Iran from exporting any of its oil.

The reason I write this now is because I've just heard that Bush sent a 3rd carrier strike group to the Middle East, and now I'm nervous that Bush isn't bluffing. If legally possible, congress should pass legislation that would prevent Bush from striking Iran without congressional approval. And Americans need to speak up and make sure this President knows that we don't want another war.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Subverting Democracy

Fabricating Casus belli. I'll say it again - I'm not against impeachment.

Speaking of getting rid of Bush. My presidential picks are definitely between two men: John McCain and Barack Obama. McCain has been my favorite for years now. Even though hes been selling out to the right a bit lately (hey, everyone has to play the game), he is one of the most genuine and most capable leaders this country has. In the event that relations worldwide are deteriorating and war or confrontation looks likely, theres nobody that I'd rather have than McCain.

Lots of things could go wrong with the world, too. Things could spiral out of control with North Korea. There could be a confrontation with China over Taiwain. The violence in Iraq would result in a regional war with Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, et cetera. Russia has been becoming more...fascist, lately; some speak of a renewed cold war. Incidentally, Putin had some disparaging remarks about the US this week; McCain's rebuttal was very impressive.

However, if things between North Korea and Iran have cooled down, and Iraq's violence is localized to that nation only, I'd support Barack Obama. This nation's image worldwide has been horribly damaged, and we need a salesman. Someone charismatic and appealing, to again sell America to the rest of the world. Electing an ethnic minority Democrat would send a positive message to Europe and to our own minorities. The election of B. Hussein Obama might suggest to the Arab and Muslim world that American's aren't as Islamophobic as they might think. And having an African president would go a long way towards developing great partnerships with African nations.

Besides, who else can compete? Hillary Clinton, who voted to invade Iraq but now has no ideas on how to fix it? She is so divisive, and calculating. What about Mitt Romney? A Mormon who is catering to the far-Christian right; where do I sign up!? Rudi Giuliani? Name one thing he has done other than be mayor of NY during 9/11. I'm not saying hes a bad guy, but that hes overrated. John Edwards? As Joe Biden pointed out, he knows nothing about Iraq and how to fix it. Incidentally, Joe Biden is the other foreign policy guru that I could support, except that I dont agree with his idea to partition Iraq (nor do any Iraqis or Arabs for that matter). And lets face it, the Democrat race is a two person contest between Hillary and Obama.

So there it is. McCain or Obama. Nobody else measures up.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

John Kerry sells out America.

Recently John Kerry has been abroad, chatting it up with Iran's leadership about the faults of America. For doing so, I believe he is a scumbag of the lowest order, and he is making the world a less safe place by doing so. I dont mind criticism of the US government, of course. God knows, they deserve it. But when abroad, especially when speaking to the leadership of a rogue state like Iran, such action is extremely counterproductive. Not to mention, contrary to American political tradition.

We are having a confrontation with Iran at this very instant. Right now, it is a war of words and of propaganda; it should remain that way. To win this war of words, we must convince the world, the Iranian people, and the Iranian leadership that a nuclear armed Iran simply cannot come to be. I've already posted extensively as to why not.

Sure, the US government has faults! But so does the Iranian government. Are Iranian officals going to come to the US and admit theirs as John Kerry has ours? Hell no! And theirs are many. First and foremost, publicly calling for the eradication of a UN member state. In addition, the Iranian government has repeatedly hung people accused of being homosexuals. The Iranian government recently hosted a Holocaust denial conference. It sponsors and controls Hezbollah, which started a war with Israel this summer and is about ready to start another civil war in Lebanon. It actively funds Shiite death squads in Iraq, helping to stoke tensions there. And all of the while, it is trying to develop nuclear weapons, and may spark a regional arms race in the process.

Recently, Iran's president has been coming under intense pressure, both at home and abroad. Iranians are tired of his extreme rhetoric. They are disgusted with his failed economic policies. They are angry that he keeps turning the international community against Iran and seems to be driving the country to war with the USA. The Iranian President is weak right now, which means it is an opportune time to strike a deal. And then John Kerry goes and completely undermines the USAs rhetorical case. The Iranian leaders already tell their people that the USA is evil. When John Kerry seconds this opinion, will they be more willing to negotiate and make peace? Or more resolved to stand and fight against the Great Satan?

Oh, and to hell with Jane Fonda. Socialist movie stars are the worst.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

One last chance to avert WW3.

When I first heard rumors of what Bush was going to do, I was strongly opposed. Several weeks ago I wrote that it was time for the United States to withdraw to Kurdistan. This position change stemmed from the fact that the political process was not moving forward. Regardless of that the media claims, I define a civil war as what happens when political negotiations fail; it seemed that Iraq was at that point.

And it still may be. But now Bush had put forth a new strategy, that couples increased force for security with major political concessions by the Iraqi Shiite Prime Minister, Malaki. He is offering a massive olive branch to the Sunni Arabs (who comprise the bulk of the insurgency) by addressing four of their main complaints. These are:

1. A new plan to spread oil wealth equally among all Iraqis.
2. Revision to the constitution that would make the future amending process easier.
3. Easing and eliminating many of the de-Baathification policies to allow qualified Sunnis regain their jobs.
4. A promise to fight renegade forces of all sects, including Shia ones.

In addition, we have two other advantages with this changed strategy. The first is new leadership. Some time ago, a certain US military commander was in charge of Basra (a large Iraqi city) and brilliantly orchestrated a political deal with the locals that resulted in peace and security. Unfortunately, this commander's unit was relocated and replaced by a unit using traditional US military doctrine. The situation in Basra quickly deteriorated. This same commander, who was so successful in Basra, has recently been made the commander of all US forces in Iraq.

Our second new advantage comes from the north. The Kurds have a well trained military organization that has turned Kurdistan into an oasis of calm and prosperity in Iraq, known as the Pershmerga. The Kurds have promised to send some of these units to Baghdad, to help secure the capital. These forces will be seen as neutral intermediaries between the Sunni and Shia Arabs who are warring. And the Pershmerga have a knowledge of local language and custom that US troops could only dream of having.

These are real solutions to an enormous problem; a far cry from the inane propaganda that we normally hear from the Bush administration. Unfortunately, it is likely that we will fail. I still support this last effort, however, because the alternative is simply not acceptable. At best, the conflict would stay localized to Iraq and there would only be a bit of ethnic cleansing and genocide. At worst, the war would spread to the wider Middle East. There could be millions of casualties either way. And imagine what oil prices would do in the event of a war between Iran and Saudi Arabia? Kiss the world economy goodbye.

I will greatly regret the US casualties that we will face, but I feel that we owe it to Iraqis and Muslims in general to give it one last shot. And besides, Bush set an implicit timetable in his speech anyways. If there hasnt been serious political gains by November, we're gone.