Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Brits Sure Do Have a Way with Words

Charles Clarke, U.K. Home Secretary (HT: ZenPundit):
"And make no mistake: The threat we face is ideological. It is not driven by poverty, or by social exclusion, or by racial hatred. Those who attacked London in July, those who have been engaged in terrorist networks elsewhere in the world, and those who attacked New York in 2001 were not the poor and dispossessed. They were, for the most part, well educated and prosperous. In the case of terrorists in the UK, they have also been ethnically and nationally diverse.

What drives these people on is ideas. And, unlike the liberation movements of the post-World War II era, these are not political ideas like national independence from colonial rule, or equality for all citizens without regard for race or creed, or freedom of expression without totalitarian repression. Such ambitions are, at least in principle, negotiable and in many cases have actually been negotiated.

However, there can be no negotiation about the re-creation of the Caliphate; there can be no negotiation about the imposition of Sharia law; there can be no negotiation about the suppression of equality between the sexes; there can be no negotiation about the ending of free speech. These values are fundamental to our civilization and are simply not up for negotiation."

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Zawahiri Letter Analyzed

I had originally sought to do my own analysis of the recently released Zawahiri letter, but do to unforeseen issues with school, my time has been constricted quite a bit. Instead, I wanted to link to two excellent articles on the letter. First is from the amazing Dan Darling in the Weekly Standard and the other is an impressive analysis from the thoughtful and underrated, Athena of Terrorism Unveiled. This should be required reading for everyone.

On the other hand, the Zarqawi's al Qaeda in Iraq group just released a statment saying that the letter is essentially a fake. The plot thickens.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Iraqi Political Progress

According to the NYT:
Iraqi political leaders said they had agreed to an important last-minute change in the draft constitution this evening in exchange for a promise by some prominent Sunni Arab leaders to publicly support the document in the nationwide referendum on Saturday.
This is one of the most positive steps in Iraq in quite some time, I must say. Over at Liberals Against Terrorism, Eric Martin says that:
Credit goes to Zalmay Khalilzad, who has proven his mettle as one of the most competent and skilled appointees of the Bush Administration's foreign policy wing. He may not have achieved the broad consensus he wanted, but he was working with intractable problems and managed to compel at least some compromise.
Indeed. Initially, I was worried that Amb. Khalilzad's presense in Afghanistan would be a hinderance to political progress there. But since he's been in Iraq over the past 2 months, he's a very skilled diplomat and has made some, albeit not huge, progress with the seemingly uncompromising Iraqi religious groups. As readers know, I do not advocate a position of "withdrawl now" in the least, the distinction goes to one Matt Yglesias. He argues that since this is a clear example of political progress, it is only the Iraqis that can achieve it and thus "it's largely out of our hands" and we should just leave now. This is one of the most morally bankrupt positions I've seen on the non-radical left in quite some time. Matt chooses to wilfully ignore the fact that this agreement never would've been reached had it not been for the intense pressure brought down on the parties to make something happen. The Shi'ites and Kurds would have never agreed to anything resembling this and instead would've opted for an all out power grab. Matt says that worse comes to worse, "they'll fight a vicious civil war for a while and then work out a way to live peaceably." What a depressing Realist-like position. Do we not have a duty to try everything within our power to stop this civil war from escalating? How would we look in the eyes of history if we abandoned the Iraqi people yet again? Not even mentioning the fact that al Qaeda has laid out it's strategy as clear as day. They want to force a US withdrawl so they can establish a mini-Caliphate in the Anbar, Salahad and Ninawa provinces of Iraq. Once this is done, al Qaeda seeks to spread the jihad Syria and Jordan (it's been simmering in Saudi Arabia for 2 years now). Isn't this something we should be worried about first and foremost? I don't even see how a person who believes in humanitarianism can advocate such a position.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Monday Recommended Reading

Blatantly copying Stygius, I think I will also post a recommended reading list for my four or five regular readers.

  • LA Times - A Central Pillar of Iraq Policy Crumbling: Senior U.S. officials have begun to question a key presumption of American strategy in Iraq: that establishing democracy there can erode and ultimately eradicate the insurgency gripping the country.
  • ACA - U.S.-Indian Nuclear Prospects Murky: "France, Russia, and the United Kingdom have all indicated they will welcome the U.S. initiative. Moscow, which has previously shipped nuclear fuel to India in defiance of the NSG, and Paris are particularly eager to do business with India. But Washington has to win over more than just these three states because the NSG operates by consensus."
  • Zenpundit - A VISION OF A FUTURE WORTH CREATING: REVIEWING BLUEPRINT FOR ACTION: "is a tour de force demonstrating the interconnections of the strategic challenges facing the United States. It is analytical, bold and at the end, Blogging the Future", highly speculative. In BFA you will find references to other thinkers from Ralph Peters to Robert Wright to Robert Kaplan to van Creveld to John Boyd."
  • Belgravia Dispatch - Detainee abuse redux: "Its continued existence continues to sap domestic support for the war, provides inadvertent aid and comfort to both the enemy and the US anti-war movement, and makes it difficult to curb the rise of anti-Americanism among the general populace our oh-so-superior European allies." By Dan Darling
  • Transitional Justice Forum - Rwandans, still struggling: Rwanda's leaders now expect "over 700,000 people-- almost one-tenth of the population-- to be brought before genocide courts."
  • Thomas P.M. Barnett - Iran's meager military-market connection: "UN's IAEA votes to refer Iran to the UNSC last month, and Iran's meager stock market drops 30% pronto in the days that follow. Local stock analysts say they've seen nothing like it before, as what Iranian money there is heads to Dubai, which just opened up its markets to foreign investors."
  • WaPo - Welcome to the Occupation: "How could the strongest power in modern history, going to war against a much lesser opponent at a time and place of its own choosing, find itself stuck a few years later, hemorrhaging blood and treasure amid increasing chaos? Americans will be debating the answer for decades, and as they do, they are unlikely to find a better guide than George Packer's masterful new The Assassins' Gate."

That's it for the time being. Now it's off to school and the wonders of Arabic at 10 AM.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Update on the South Asian Quake

When I said that the death toll from the earthquake would go "much higher" I had no idea that the toll would increase tenfold. Yes, the AP is now putting the total at 18,000 people. Eighteen Thousand People. Six times the toll of September 11th.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Dan Drezner denied tenure

Assistant professor in political science at the University of Chicago, Daniel Drezner was denied tenure on Friday. This is quite shocking because it seemed that after he compiled his massive tenure file back in June, that he expected to be approved (as we all did). Dan's was one of the first blogs I started reading way back in early 2003 and the quality and intellect of the content produced during that time was quite impressive. This truly sucks on so many levels. Given his stature I doubt that it'd be hard for him to find another job. You could always come up here to UWM, Dan! But on second thought, that'd probably be viewed as a big step down.

Good luck, Dan!

The Iraq War's Consequences Part 1

Stygius has a great post on the major Bush foreign policy speech from Thursday. Of course, I'm behind the curve and the blogosphere has already written at length on this speech. But I want to add my own take on what Bush articulated as my main justification against any sort of withdrawl from Iraq. Bush said:
[The] militant network wants to use the vacuum created by an American retreat to gain control of a country, a base from which to launch attacks and conduct their war against non-radical Muslim governments. Over the past few decades, radicals have specifically targeted Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, and Jordan for potential takeover. They achieved their goal, for a time, in Afghanistan. Now they've set their sights on Iraq. Bin Laden has stated: "The whole world is watching this war and the two adversaries. It's either victory and glory, or misery and humiliation." The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war against humanity. And we must recognize Iraq as the central front in our war on terror.
This is all very true and to my knowledge, it is the most stark statment of the realities of the situation we're in, by President Bush. As anyone who reads about terrorism knows, the whole goal of Zarqawi's Al Qaeda in Iraq group is to use Iraq as a base of operations to launch attacks against Jordan (he has vowed to overthrow the corrupt ruling Hashemites at all costs). So if Zarqawi can succeed in forcing either a complete or partial withdrawl of the Multinational Forces in Iraq, he will be able to turn the al-Anbar province into a "terrorist Disneyland," if it isn't already.

By big point that I mention to anyone who listens is this: The whole goal of 9/11 was to awaken the American giant in order to provoke a massive and stunning retaliation against Afghanistan. Osama expected that the Americans would unleash hell on Afghanistan and once the invasion happened, al Qaeda would spring into action to and bog the US military down. Once we were bogged down, we'd start using increasingly heavy handed tactics and this would show that America was waging war against Islam itself and the Ummah writ large would rise up against us and lead to our defeat. Unfortunately for bin Laden, it seems he didn't appreciate the fact that the Taliban's hold on the country was enormously weak and it crumbled before al Qaeda could begin sustained operations against the Americans. As Osama's main deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri stated in his recent letter to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaeda has resigned itself to the fact that it has lost Afghanistan for good.

Then comes Iraq. This is a depressing subject for me lately as I've sunken into a sort of despair over the true consequences of the Iraq War on the world. As my readers will know, I've long been a believer in the war. I supported it initially on a mixture of democratization and human rights, while I did believe Saddam possesed WMDs, I never thought that that alone was a sufficient casus belli as Saddam would never be stupid enough to attack the United States. I remember saying to a teacher of mine right before the fall of Baghdad that this is the most important undertaking the US has engaged in since Vietnam, if not more important. Perhaps I was naive and overly idealistic, but I believed that Bush would prosecute this war compotently. I after a year of sustained insurgency, I became convinced that Bush's handling of the war was severely damaging to American national security and thus I was forced to begrudgingly vote for John Kerry last November, despite my belief that he was a truly atrocious candidate.

Of course al Qaeda would try to challenge us in Iraq. This would be similar to invading France on D-Day and expecting the Nazis to not contest it. As I stated above, bin Laden wanted to soundly defeat the Americans in Afghanistan, but he failed badly. It took the mujihadeen 10 years to defeat the Godless Communists, with enormous backing by Pakistan's ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) and America's CIA, supplying the "holy warriors" with billions of dollars and millions of arms. The Iraqi insurgency headed by Zarqawi has conducted such sustained and brutal operations that the "withdraw now" coalition is getting increasingly stronger by the day and I fear that by next summer there will be an overwhelming chorus of both parties pushing for a withdrawl from Iraq. al Qaeda in Iraq is well on it's way to defeating the greatest superpower the world has ever known, in a mere 3 years. The reason this is so depressing was that this wasn't inevitable at all and had we prosecuted this war with one iota of compotence, we could've prevented this and Iraq would've been a far safer place and it's likely that a viable democracy would be in place and Bush would've gone down in history as a true visionary president. Instead, if all the signs of a partial withdrawl are true and if the US doesn't somehow make significant gains against al Qaeda, Iraq could very well end up as one of the worst strategic mistakes in US history.

More on this in part 2 either later tonight or tomorrow.

Pakistan Earthquake

Today I wake up and read the news, only to have have the same feeling I had when I heard New Orleans had been flooded overnight. This time however, a huge 7.6 earthquake struck along the Pakistan-Indian border and preliminary estimates are already at a staggering 1,700 people. This will undoubtedly go much higher as rescue workers retrieve the dead from under the rumble.
In the capitals of Pakistan, India and Afghanistan, buildings shook and walls swayed for about a minute, and panicked people ran from their homes and offices. Tremors continued for hours afterward. Communications throughout the region were cut.

About 1,000 people were killed in Pakistani Kashmir, said Sardar Mohammed Anwar, the top government official in the area.

"This is my conservative guess, and the death toll could be much higher," Anwar told Pakistan's Aaj television station.

He said most homes in Muzaffarabad, the area's capital, were damaged, and schools and hospitals had collapsed.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Sheehan in 2006?

Apparently there are some anti-war activists that want Cindy Sheehan to challenge Hiliary Clinton in the 2006 NY senatorial primaries or go against Sen. Diane Feinstein in CA (nevermind that Feinstein shares a great many of Sheehan's views on Iraq). I don't know about you, but this has to be one of the most bizarre delusions I've seen in quite sometime among the anti-war movement. I doubt they seriously believe she has a chance in hell to become Mayor of Crawford, TX let alone a United States senator.

Cindy Sheehan was utterly discredited by mainstream America when her "Camp Casey" effort evaporated and she made several obligitory anti-Israeli statments, to not mention the repugnant plea to "end the illegal occupation of New Orleans" and her smiling while being arrested. Is this the face that the anti-war movement wants to put forward?

RSS Feed

Just a note, my RSS feed is here in case you all were wondering. I'll add a link on the left side shortly.

There are no words for this...

Reading through the Muslim blog avari/nameh, I see this site that appears to be of a Islamphobic, uber-nationalist Hindu variant. I will copy the timeline of events below without comment because I really can't think of anything substanative to say.

Shape of things to come in Iraq (and the world over)
• US launches an air blitz of Iran followed by a land invasion and sets up a new regime
• The Shah of Iran returns to Iran as a private citizen
• Shia-Hezbollah led terror attacks across the West and Israel intensify
• Israel invades Lebanon to wipe out the Hezbollah threat
• Egypt/Syria threaten Israel with serious consequences.
• Terrorist attacks originating from Gaza intensify in Israel
• Israel warns Syria with military action
• Spectacular mega terror attack in Israel
• Israel declares Syria to be culpable and launches a swift land and air assault on Syria
• Syria appeals for Arab military action to save itself
• Egypt, Jordan and Saudis start military action against Israel
• Israel overruns Jordan to join up with US forces stationed in Iraq
• Israel occupies Damascus
• US forces enter Syria from Syrian-Iraqi border in the North, join up with Israeli military
• After the conquest of Syria, Israel turns on Egypt, annexes Sinai, crosses Suez Canal and threatens Cairo
• Mecca, Medina, Mena, Jiddah taken off the map thru IAF (Israel Air Force) nuke strikes
• Upheaval in the entire Arab world
• Western diplomats and businessmen attacked, kidnapped, beheaded
• Anti-American riots in Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia.
• Musharraf and Yudhyono regimes under tremendous pressure to give up pro-US stance
• Musharraf assassinated by pro-Jihadi elements in Army due to his association with the US. The Jihadis last straw being his helping the Americans in finding Iran's nuke sites as a trade off for letting AQ Khan off the hook. But Mushy's gamble does not pay off, as he loses his job and life.
• Jihadi regime in Pakistan ups hostility with India
• Jihadis succeed in smuggling nuclear devices in the US and exploding them simultaneously
• US army takes over US administration, suspends constitution
• US military regime blockades the UN and declares it persona non-grata
• US enters into emergency war council with Russia and Britain
• The triple alliance starts nuclear bombing military targets across the Islamic world
• Pakistani nukes taken out in first strike
• Pakistan explodes some nuke devices on India
• Indian retaliation wipes off Pakistan off the map – death toll in South Asia is over half a billion
• Widespread Hindu-Muslim riots in India on the lines of the Gujarat riots of 2002. Muslim population decimated, Hindus and Christians also suffer heavy death toll.
• Nuclear campaign launched by the triple alliance intensifies as many cities in the Islamic world are taken off the map to wipe off the air forces.
• Seaports in the Islamic world crippled to decapitate the navies
• Radiation causes second wave of deaths. The toll in secondary deaths more than three billion
• More than half of the fatalities are Muslims.
• Almost the entire population in the Muslim world is decimated.
• China joins war against Islam, wipes off Muslim (Ughir) population in Eastern Turkestan
• Muslims in Europe launch a wave of terror attacks in European capitals
• Conditions in Europe very disturbed in a civil war like situation
• Right wing coups in France, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Denmark. The new regimes join the triple alliance
• Widespread anti-Muslim riots in Europe aided by the militaries of those countries and NATO forces
• Domestic military action against Muslims in Europe intensifies as European militaries do combing operations to flush out Muslims
• The post-war Muslim population worldwide now accounts for only one percent of the global population concentrated mostly in Europe
• Military action ends, US, Britain and Russia announce reconstruction plan for the world
• Islam outlawed across the globe
• Residual Muslims worldwide embrace Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism. Judaism
• Humanity enters post-Islamic phase.

McCain in 2008?

Via Praktike's aggregator, I see that the always thought provoking Sebastian Mallaby, author of the wonderful book The World's Banker wrote an op-ed piece in yesterday's WaPo that essentially argues that with the rising discontent over the Bush Administration's fiscal policies, the time is right for John McCain (R-AZ) to step up and claim the mantra of Mr. Good Government. This strikes a chord in me for a number of reasons. One being that I've been a long time admirer of McCain's and have always hoped that he would make another run for High Office in '08. But also, for the fact that while I don't share many of his social views, we are very aligned when it comes to foreign and fiscal policy.

I was a pretty committed fiscal conservative centrist up until very recently. While watching the insanity of Bush's Big Government Conservative (tax cut and raise federal spending an mind boggling 33% in just four years), the reality sunk in that while many Republican's claim to support smaller government, when they got control of the power of the purse, they decided they would spend more money than most Democrats could even dream of. So with that, I decided that fiscal conservativism was indeed dead and anyway in this day and age, given the necessary spending on prosecuting the GWOT and stengthening Homeland Defense, fiscal conservativism made no sense either. As Mallaby succintly points out that with "the small-government right and the big-government left are equally exhausted. The only appealing political platform is good government."

Perhaps in 2008 McCain will be finally able to become President and institute a good, smart program that government will run on. Although my big fear is that by time the primaries roll around, the country will be so sick of Republican rule that they knee-jerkily turn to the Democrats to run the show. That is unless McCain is able to seperate himself enough from the Republicans in the eyes of mainstream America while still maintaining a viable party connection to give him backing. Time will certainly tell.

More on Meirs

Well, whaddaya knew, I guess the Pat Buchanan meltdown on MSNBC earlier today was justifed (in his eyes). He was screaming about the fact that Miers will end up being a liberal Justice in the mold of Earl Warren (of Brown v. Board of Education fame). From AMERICAblog (via Brad Plumer), on a gay rights questionarie Harriett Miers filled out in 1989. In Texas, no less.:
1. The questionnaire is from the Lesbian/Gay Political Coalition of Dallas.
2. Miers seems supportive of increased AIDS funding, which isn't a small deal in 1989, especially in a more conservative place with Texas.
3. Miers says she believes gays should have the same civil rights as straights. Again, perhaps no big shocker today, but this was 1989 in Texas.
4. At the end of the questionnaire, Miers says she is NOT seeking the endorsement of the gay rights group.
5. But then why did Miers fill out their questionnaire in the first place? Would a true conservative family-values candidate fill out a candidate questionnaire from a gay rights group TODAY, let alone in 1989 and in Texas to boot?
Also, didn't Miers start working for Bush in 1988 a full year before she filled this out? Very interesting indeed.

On India and the US

For those of you who don't know, relations between the United States and India are at their highest level in the history of the Indian state. The rapprochement heated up lthis past spring when Bush agreed to greenlight the sell of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan that had been held up by Bush 41 in 1990 due to concerns over Pakistan's nuclear program. This was done as a reward to Pakistan for it's valuable help in the GWOT. Not surprisingly, this decision greatly upset India, but the Bush Administration said that India would be able to purchase "the next generation of sophisticated, multirole combat aircraft, including upgraded F-16 and F-18 warplanes, as well as develop broader cooperation in military command and control, early-warning detection, and missile defense systems."

Fast forward to July 15th of this year and the historic visit to Washington DC by Indian PM Manmohan Singh. The PM and President Bush seemed very pleased with the agreement they struck during Singh's visit. It called for numerous joint initiatives between the two countries. But by far and away the most significant objective was that India will be permitted to acquire civilian nuclear technology internationally while retaining its nuclear arms. As this article makes clear, this monumental policy shift is being done primarily to use India as a counter-balance to China.
The US is offering India high-tech defence and space cooperation in terms of satellites and launch vehicles, Patriot and Arrow missiles and a greater role in global institutions.
I have been following this very closely since the F-16 decision was made and I was very surprised that more people hadn't picked up on the sea change in policy that had occured since the nuclear technology decision and now. Although, I suppose, with everything that happened between that, it's understandable.

Last month, when the IAEA voted to condemn the nuclear activities of Iran, while several countries decided to abstain, India voted "yes." I think it was praktike who first noted the surprise yes vote. One of my original blog friends and consistent over the past 18 months a favorite blog of mine,Stygius, mentioned that had India not voted yes, it was quite likely that Congress would've been inclined to reject the civilian nuclear cooperation project with India. I sent him an email linking to a Times of India article which copied this explicit statment from India to Iran:
"The Prime Minister received a phone call from President Ahmadinejad of the Islamic Republic of Iran at the Iranian request. The (Iranian) President raised the issue about Iran's nuclear programme in the IAEA. Prime Minister advised him that Iran should consider taking a flexible position so as to avoid a confrontation. The Prime Minister repeated the necessity for Iran to make concessions to this end. India supports the resolution of all issues through discussion and consensus in the IAEA."
The Times underscores that "eldom, if ever, has the government been so direct and candid in conveying a foreign policy shift through an episode some American policy analysts saw as a test case for India-U.S ties." To me, the vastly improved relations between India and the US represent Bush's most important foreign policy achievement.

Styguis replies:
More importantly than Iran -- and I use 'more importantly' deliberately -- are the implications of this shift for Russia and China.
To which I write back:
Regarding Russia and China, that's a good point and one I hadn't adequetely contemplated it. It is pretty late but off the top of my head, I'd imagine that China wasn't very happy. Russia and China both voted to abstain on the vote and were most likely expecting India to follow suit. I wonder if PM Signh notified Putin or Jintao about his decision like he did with Ahmedinejad. China had engaged in an unprecedented diplomatic courtship of India aimed at healing their decades old rivalry as well as preventing India from siding with the United States. That appears to have failed. India seems to be investing quite a great deal in the nuclear energy pact they signed with Bush, that was something China or Russia weren't capable of giving them. Not to mention, India has free reign to purchase as many F-16s as they want from us, which in turn would help them push the balance of power between them and Pakistan more in India's favor.

However, William Arkin laid out the ongoing military exercises that are ongoing or schedule to begin in the next few months involving India, Russia and China, in pretty extensive detail. Apparently, the US and Indian armies will be conducting several exercises soon and the India/Russia/China group have one scheduled for next year. So who really knows if the India vote was a huge policy change in the eyes of China and Russia. You're thoughts are more than welcome on this.
So, over to you Stygius. :)