Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Persian Nights

One major story that isn't getting much attention at all is the situation in Iran. It's widely considered that the 1979 Iranian revolution was the catalyst for modern day Islamist terrorism. The current crisis that began in August 2002 with the discovery of illegally enriched uranium at their Natanz facility. I believe in this day and age, where WMD technology is increasingly easier to come by, that the threat of proliferation is of even greater importance then stopping an al-Qaeda bombing. The invasion of Iraq secured the fact that it was WMD free. We cannot handle unstable governments in possesion of such weapons, not because we believe they will actually attack us with them (although that's a possibility), but because we think they might be willing to sell them to terrorist organizations.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

The 9/11 Commission and Richard Clarke

My main interest in politics continues to be foreign policy. Despite this, I have not been paying much attention to the commencement of the 9/11 hearings or the Richard Clarke scandal. Because frankly, they both strike me as blatant political posturing during a key election year.

Sure the commission is bipartisan with officials from both the Bush and Clinton administrations testifying, but nothing is really accomplished. Wonkette provides this handy flowchart. As for the Richard Clarke fiasco, honestly, there isn't much else to say that hasn't been discussed to death already. Dan Drezner has the best commentary regarding it. The fact that he seems to say that 9/11 is all Bush's fault, while Clinton handled terrorism with the utmost concern is simplely wrong. TIME Magazine also weighs in.

Hamas: Dead or Alive

Since last weeks hellfire missle strikes that killed Hamas founder and spiritual advisor Sheik Ahmed Yassin, a lot has happened it the world. But for Hamas, their initial reaction has been somewhat more subdued then usual. That might have something to do with Israel's defense minister Shaul Mofaz saying that all of Hamas' leaders are now targeted for assasination. This was one of the most dramatic escalations in policy since the beginning of the second intifada in September, 2000.

More on this later.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Allahu Akbar!

Vectorize commented on how the assasination of Hamas founder and spiritual leader Sheik Yassin was dueling it out in the American media with the tragic accident that has befallen Paris Hilton. One person who has given the Yassin killing the appropriate amount of coverage is the benevolent, all-knowing, creator of worlds, Allah. Not to mention, he so eloquently summarizes the reaction of leaders from around the world. But this is a must-read: Saurmon is dead!

While Yassin gets to put his viagra to use with his 72 virgins, people still mourn for him to return. This is the saddest place on the net tonight.

But in all seriousness, Yassin got what he deserved.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Political and Moral distinctions

For most of my life, I considered myself a hardcore democrat, with all that that entails. However, the core of my beliefs was a visceral hatred of fascism. I believe that every citizen of this world has a right to basic, inalienable rights of freedom and equality. I felt at home within the Democratic Party because I thought they best reflected my own ideas. My view of the world was shaken on September 11. I decided soon after to immerse myself in history and politics to better understand just why these horrendous acts had taken place. Interestingly enough, I had been following al-Qeada ever since they bombed the USS Cole in the summer of 200, so there was little doubt in my mind, as to who the perpertrators were.

Something that shocked me even more then the collaspe of the World Trade Towers was that fact that many on the Left rationalized the attacks and said that the United States got what they deserved. This showed a monumental lack of sympathy and downright ignorance. Those who continuely spout off how globalization has caused billions of people to be malnurtioned and the fact that the US intervenes where it has no business, as the root causes of terrorism are only partially correct. Terrorism breeds in societies where dissent is ruthlessly stiffled and the people are poor due to their leaders hoarding all the money. But the threat that the free societies of the world face from al-Qeada is different.

Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri are both millionaries many times over and they grew up in the rich communites of Ryadh and Cairo, respectively. Many on the Left asked right after 9/11: "Why do they hate us?" Quite frankly, they hate us because we are free. They hate our decadent lifestyles and most importantly, the fact that women are equal within our society. I agree with Roger Simon that seeing that Muslim woman executed in the soccer stadium by the Taliban, really clarified for me why the War on Terror was a just cause. This is going to be an epic struggle akin to the ones we have fought against Fascism and Communism and who knows whether the scourge of Islamofascism will take 6 or 60 years to defeat, but it will be defeated.

But unfortunately, our current political system hinders any progress that has occured in the War on Terror. Many on the Left are simply apoligists for terrorism and some even go so far as to call it a farce. I felt abandoned and decided begrudgingly that there was no longer a place for me within the Democratic Party. But equally difficult, I could not complete the transformation and switch to the Republican Party, for my values don't line up with theirs. Therefore, I am stuck in limbo. I am, when it comes down to it, a single issue voter. And I think that this coming election is the most important one we've had in several decades. For if we lose this War on Terror, nothing else will matter.

Saturday, March 20, 2004


Now, I'm sure this is pure propaganda but still...
"He [North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Il] particularly enjoyed sashimi so fresh that he could start eating the fish as its mouth is still gasping and the tail is still thrashing," Fujimoto said. "I sliced the fish so as not to puncture any of its vital organs, so of course it was still moving. Kim Jong Il was delighted. He would eat it with gusto."
From the WaPo.

Top 10

Many opponents of the war in Iraq continue to say that nothing good has come out of the invasion. Well, I decided to make a list of the top 10 things that never would've happened without the war.

  1. Saddam Hussein removed from power.
  2. Iraqi women's rights and representation within their new interim constitution.
  3. The ability for Syrian's to openly challenge their own regime.
  4. North Korea engaged in multilateral diplomacy with the US and other SE Asian countries.
  5. Libya disarms its WMDs.
  6. Removal of all US troops stationed in Saudi Arabia.
  7. The discovery and subsequent unraveling of AQ Khan's nuclear black market.
  8. The Iranian's stage revolts against their oppressive government.
  9. Jordan and the U.A.E. taking steps to reform their societies through liberalization.
  10. An open and free-market Iraqi state.
Update: Tacitus and Michael Totten have more.

Friday, March 19, 2004

The Coming of Iraqi Democracy

Yes, I know he's a dirty neo-con, but Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Defense Secretary, writes about the importance of the mission the United States has undertaken in Iraq. If Iraq becomes a moderate and secular society, it will be a model to the entire Middle East. I don't give much credibility to those who say that democracy cannot exist within Iraq. I think that the "grand experiment" will succeed once the terrorist threat to their society is permanently eradicated. I think history will vindicate (or condem) the Bush administration as a great and decisive leader next to the likes of Harry Truman or a foolish idealist next to Woodrow Wilson.

One year later and the question is repeatedly asked: Are the Iraqi's better off now or not?

I'd like to think so, but honestly, only an Iraqi could realistically answer that question (apparently, 56% of them think they are better off).

Iraq: Year One

For a good round-up of links about this historic anniversary, click here.

Conflagration in Kosovo

Today's Washington Post editorializes the renewed violence and feared ethnic cleansing between Serbs and Albanians.
Once again violence is making policy in the Balkans. This week's ethnic fighting in Kosovo is the worst since the 1999 war there, and makes it more likely that Kosovo will ultimately be partitioned between Serbs and Albanians.

The United States and its European allies apparently never take wake-up calls in the Balkans but end up responding only to violence. They put pillows over their ears and declare that everything is going well in that part of the world. In fact, things have not been going well for years. Sustainable peace and progress in the region are impossible until the Kosovo issue, however difficult, is resolved.

The failure to establish Kosovo statehood creates massive uncertainty in the Balkans, exacerbates tensions between Albanians and Serbs, delays investment and growth, and keeps Serbia focused on the past. The main effort of the European Union in recent years has helped keep the past alive by insisting that Montenegro remain joined to Serbia and by holding out to Belgrade the prospect of a connection to Kosovo. In both the Clinton and Bush administrations the United States has followed this EU line.
NATO forces scrambled to stop the violence as mobs burned Serbian churches to the ground. Serbs have fled their homes and gunfire has erupted throughout several villages. 31 people have been killed so far.

Breakthrough in the works?

Sorry for the lack of posting today. I had a very busy day due to conferences and all. But when I got home I watched the Showtime movie, Spinning Boris. It's about 3 American political consultants who are paid to come to Russia to help re-elect Boris Yeltsin. The trio tries to come to grips with Russian politcs while trying to employ American tactics, that ultimately win Yeltsin the election. The film stars Jeff Goldbulm, who steals the show, and it is genuinely a good movie from which I learned a lot from. It was very remeniscient of the movie Wag the Dog from a few wars back.


I'll probably do a lot of blogging in the morning as I have a lot to talk about. But I'll leave with the potentially ground breaking news in the War on Terror that Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qeada's No. 2, is reportedly surrounded as in the Pakistani region of Waziristan.

(Credit: NYT)

Dan Darling of Regnum Crucis has an excellent recap of the events and it now appears that airstrikes have begun to try and obliterate any and all al-Qeada remnents in the area. What will we find when the smoke clears?

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

More on al-Qeada's Spanish Victory

“I am ashamed of being a Spaniard. We have just surrendered on behalf of the whole West. This is a real tragedy for all; now they know what works.”

Well, the Spanish elections on Sunday have sure sparked quite the intellectual debate around the blogsphere and - gasp - even the mainstream media. In today's WaPo, Anne Applebaum takes aim at the psychological ramifications for the War on Terror. (Hat tip: Porphy):
"Spain's announcement that it intends, in effect, to abandon the fragile "new European" coalition in Iraq is a blow to the notion of a unified West, and a great boost for those German and French politicians who have long dreamed of creating a Europe that is not a partner of the United States but a political and economic rival.

In part, this has happened for reasons beyond our control. Despite trade, tourism and European Union membership, Spain is a country that participated only peripherally in the two world wars and the Cold War. Its present anti-Americanism is deeply intertwined with the "anti-globalization" sentiments that so many young Spaniards have expressed for many years. Last week's bombings surely caused Spaniards to ask whether their government had dragged them too close to the United States and too far from the comfortable isolationism of recent memory."
Whatever the reasons for the upset election, this has to be seen (regardless, if you're on the right or left) as a victory for al-Qeada. Not only did their bombs overthrow a democratically elected Western government, but the new government promises to withdraw all 1,300 troops from Iraq. And now, Honduras and El Salvador appear to be running scared too. This amounts to the begining of a political rout.

Indeed, we will lose about 2,500 of a 150,000 man international contingent, which is a drop in the bucket. But let there be no doubt that this is even more then al-Qeada could've hoped for. I have a feeling that ultimately, history will view the Spanish Popular Party defeat as a major blow to the War on Terror and a turning point in how terrorists will operate from now on.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

The Sino-French Connection

Hopefully, this will become a major story soon. According to Reuters:
"BEIJING (Reuters) - China and France will hold rare joint naval exercises off the mainland's eastern coast on Tuesday, just four days before Beijing's rival, Taiwan, holds presidential elections.

China's official Xinhua news agency made no link between the exercises off Qingdao -- about 780 miles from Taiwan's northernmost point -- and the election.

But the show of military strength and solidarity signaled China's desire to isolate the self-governing island before the vote and its first-ever referendum, which Beijing views as a provocative step toward independence. "
This leaves me shocked to say the least and I have pretty low standards for the French government as it is.

Apparently, this is an effort to intimidate the Taiwanese elections by showing that China is not isolated. But there's more to it then that. This is the navy of a democratic world power sailing side by side with Beijing's Communist Regime, to effectively change the tide of democratic independence movements in Taiwan. This is despicable. What happened to democratic solidarity, France?

Then again, maybe the French just didn't realize there were elections coming up...

Or maybe the French want to teach the Chinese how to sink some of those menacing Greenpeace ships.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Welcome back, Andalusia

For 3 days, we as Americans, shared a common bond with the people of Spain in their time of terror.

But that all changed yesterday, with the elections of Zapatero's Socialist Party.

Prior to Thursday's train bombing in Madrid, the conservative Popular Party, led by staunch US-ally, Jose Maria Azner was expected to win yesterday's elections by a comfortable margin. The victory of the Socialist Party has many dire, yet to be seen consequences. Disregarding the fact that it brings to power another Social Democratic Western European country, it has to be seen as a de facto victory for Al-Qeada.

They were able, with just 10 well-placed bombs, to directly overthrow a democratic government. This sets a horribly dangerous precedent, which I fear may be followed in Italy and Great Britain, not to mention the United States itself. This attack was not in retaliation for the Spanish government's unwavering support in the GWoT. That's just a simple and ill-informed view from someone who knows nothing about the goals and ideology behind Al-Qeada itself. Spain has long been a target for AQ. This NRO article written in late 2001, talks about AQ's hope to return the Islamic caliphate to Andalusia (or modern day Spain). (Via Belmont Club)

Overall, these elections mean the loss of a coalition partner, but as Roger L. Simon pointed out, that's largely symbolic.

Armed Liberal over at Winds of Change has a good summary of the above post.

Welcome to The Urban Empire. I decided to start this blog as a way to voice my opinions publically on the Internet. I'm an avid blog reader, as I have been for the past year or so. Soon, I will have links to all of my favorite blogs.

I love history and politics, I'm quite opinionated, and I love to debate.

I hope you all find at least one new piece of information after reading this.