Saturday, May 29, 2004

Sorry for the Light Posting Lately

I've been really busy studying for finals and doing a lot of job hunting around town.

I have a few posts that I'm thinking about and I'll get those out sometime this weekend barring any unforseen event.

Thursday, May 27, 2004


Well, I called it. Abu Masab Zarqawi has apparently killed enough people that the US has decided to send the elite Task Force 121 after him, as well as raise the reward for his head from $10 million to $25 million. (Hat tip: History's End)

The fact that this step has taken so long is just a shame. Zarqawi's kill total is either approaching or already over 1,000 people in the past year alone. During that year, his Islamist group al-Tawhid (a derivitive of Ansar al-Islam) has conducted many strategic and tactical operations, from setting up terror cells in Turkey, Jordan, Syria, and North Africa, to pulling off devastating attacks within Iraq and elsewhere. It was Zarqawi's affiliates in North Africa that pulled off the 3/11 Madrid train bombing, the Irbil bombings, attempted ricin attacks in the London Underground and in Paris, the execution of Nick Berg, and the most under reported story of the past month, the Amman Chemical Plot which would have killed thousands and decapitated the Jordanian government and a couple dozen other attacks.

Both US and European officials are calling him the new top al-Qaeda operations chief. And if anyone is wondering who the 7 people wanted by the DOJ are in connection to the terror alert, they can go here.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

The Chalabi Timeline

Go read Kevin Drum now.

The Colonization of Russia

Over the past week, FH has put together a very intriguing series of posts about the creeping Chinese colonization of Siberia. (here, here, here, and here) I'll be honest and say that before I read these posts I had no idea that it was such a major problem. FH goes through several possible ideas as a way to stem this problem, including giving cash incentives to families who migrate to Siberia or selling Siberia to the US. While I tend to think that the cash incentive is the most practical, Russia hardly has enough money to fund this venture. So what should they do? They have a negative birth rate and the country is ravaged by organized crimes and AIDS.

In addition to the above posts, readers interested in the political aspects of Russia should read these articles. In Velvet Glove, The New Republic author Masha Gessen argues that contary to what Americans think about the Russian people nowadays, they do want democracy and not a dictatorship. Conversely, Paul Starobin argues that in this modern day world of terrorism, authoritarianism is sought by people in order to provide them with sufficient protection at home.

The Economist also weighs in with an opinion piece of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Containment vs. Pre-Emption

The doctrine of containment put forth by George F. Kennan is what won the Cold War for us. Expounding upon an article titled "Broken Engagement" by former General Wesley Clark, Kevin Drum says:
Clark's point is a simple one: Neither Reagan nor any of the seven Cold War presidents before him ever attacked either the Soviet Union or one of its satellites directly. This wasn't because of insufficient dedication to anticommunism, but because it wouldn't have worked. In the end, they knew that democracy couldn't come at the point of a gun; it had to come from within, from the citizens of the countries themselves.
Now, that's all well and good, but Kevin forgets two things. Nuclear weapons and 9/11.

The reason the containment policy was so adhered to was because of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction). Both the United States and the Soviet Union both cherished their societies too much to see them get utterly wiped off the face of the earth. But the Islamists we are fighting do not have that same rationale. As they have shown hundreds of times, they will willingly sacrifice their own lives to take ours.

On September 11th, terrorists killed 3,000 US citizens on US soil. With that blow, any sembalance of a containment policy flew right out the window.

Last September, Wretchard at the Belmont Club wrote a post that ultimately gave him his fame around the entire blogsphere, it was titled the Three Conjectures. In it he said this:

These obstacles to terrorist capability are the sole reason that the War on Terror has not yet crossed the nuclear theshold, the point at which enemies fight each other with weapons of mass destruction. The terrorist intent to destroy the United States, at whatever cost to themselves, has been a given since September 11. Only their capability is in doubt. This is an inversion of the Cold War situation when the capability of the Soviet Union to destroy America was given but their intent to do so, in the face of certain retaliation, was doubtful. Early warning systems, from the DEW Line of the 1950s to the Defense Support Satellites were merely elaborate mechanisms to ascertain Soviet intent. That put the Cold War nuclear threshold rather high. Even the launch of a few multimegaton warheads at US targets or a nuclear exchange between forces at sea would not necessarily precipitate Central Nuclear War if American national command authority was convinced that the Soviet strike was accidental or could be met with a proportional response; in other words, without the intent to initiate an all out nuclear exchange, there would be none.

In stark contrast, the nuclear threshold against a terrorism may be crossed once they get the capability to attack with weapons of mass destruction. Unlike the old early warning systems, designed to gauge Soviet intent, the intelligence systems of the War on Terror are meant to measure capability. The relevant Cold War question was 'do they intend to use the Bomb?'. In the War on Terror, the relevant question is simply 'do they have the Bomb?' This puts the nuclear threshold very low. Just how low was empirically demonstrated in the days immediately following the September 11, when it was reported that the United States had considered -- and rejected -- a nuclear response to the World Trade Center attacks. The threshold had almost been crossed. [Emphasis mine]

Monday, May 17, 2004

Gay Marriage

As most of you have heard by now, gay marriage is officially legal for the first time in United States history. I am a staunch supporter of gay marriage because I believe in equal rights for everyone. I do not see how withholding this basic right from a loving couple is anything other than classifying them as inferiors. Many conservatives are acting as if this is the dawn of the apocalypse. It's ironic that this happens to be the 50th anniversary of the historic supreme court ruling Brown vs. Board of Education, which desegregated and integrated public schools. Even then the argument against it was that it would lead to inter-racial intercourse and even marriage (the horror!).

Sunday, May 16, 2004

The Nick Berg Video

Over the past week, the vicious decapitation of civilian radio contractor Nick Berg has been widely discussed and debated across the spectrum of the blogsphere. (You can see it here.) I choose not to discuss it because I felt I could not contribute anything that hasn't already been said.

I've studied terrorism pretty religiously over the past few years, so it unfortunately comes as no surprise that al-Qaeda would do this. After all, they did it to WSJ reporter Daniel Pearl right after 9/11. I've said for a long time that Abu Musab Zarqawi is the most dangerous man in the entire world right now. Since the fall of Baghdad last year, Zarqawi has launched attacks in and out of Iraq that have killed over 1,000 people. He is responsible for the infamous Madrid bombings, the Irbil bombings, the Ashura Massacre, and the bombing of the UN headquaters and the Red Cross last year.

It's most disturbing that he has staged most these attacks while operating inside Iraq itself. Capturing or killing him

Sunday, May 09, 2004


Last year when we embarked upon this monumental undertaking, my one fear was always: What if we fail this occupation? Reader FH of History's End comments
I for one am optimistic, if only because I can't stomach what failure requires of us.
I agree with that.

I think failure in Iraq will have catastrophic consequences not only for the Iraqi's and America itself, but for the entire world as a whole. al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups will be empowered greatly and we'll have to deal with attacks more frequent and more deadly. But scariest of all is, if we fail and are forced to withdraw, AQ has a large enough prescence in the country now to take it over. We can't never let that happen, and like FH, I cannot stomach what we would have to do to that country in the event that that worst-case scenario comes into being. But now in light of the incredible outrage worldwide generated by the Abu Ghraib photos, us war supporters who based our decision primarily on humanitarian/anti-fascist regime change have lost much of the moral high ground. While apologies and court martials etc. are an absolute must, this will haunt us for years to come. It may have struck a fatal blow into the heart of the chief goal of winning the hearts and mind of the Iraqi people. I do not mean to sound defeatist.

We must see this through.