Monday, October 11, 2004

Iraqi Nuclear Materials Stolen

You have to be shitting me.
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Equipment and materials that could be used to make nuclear weapons are disappearing from Iraq (news - web sites) but neither Baghdad nor Washington appears to have noticed, the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency reported on Monday.

Satellite imagery shows that entire buildings in Iraq have been dismantled. They once housed high-precision equipment that could help a government or terror group make nuclear bombs, the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report to the U.N. Security Council.

Equipment and materials helpful in making bombs also have been removed from open storage areas in Iraq and disappeared without a trace, according to the satellite pictures, IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei said.
I'm speechless right now. I'll update once I hear more on this.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Bombing in Egypt

It appears that there has been 3 bombings at Egyptian Resorts frequented by Israeli's. This is quite surprising and judging by the simultaneous nature of them seems to suggest al Qaeda or a Palestinian group (Hamas, Islamic Jihad etc.) Why al Qaeda you say? Well, their number 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was the leader of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad until it merged with Osama bin Laden's International Islamic Front (then changed their name to al Qaeda) in 1998. This attack would mark the first time since the 1997 Luxor Massacre that Egypt has been hit by a makor (and possibly even minor) terrorist attack. Dan Darling over at Winds of Change feels similarly. He adds:
If it's al-Qaeda, it means that al-Zawahiri has chosen to return to his roots and may feel that the political atmosphere in Egypt is such that it could accomodate an Islamist revolution. I very much doubt that, but then I'm not an international terrorist leader. Look for the Egyptian government to launch a full-scale crackdown on known or suspected Islamist extremists and probably another round up of the usual suspects that the Mubarak government seems to do every few days or so.
I agree. Now, this is a fascinating coincidence, I'm half way through Nasser: The Last Arab by Said Aburish, and Nasser hated the Muslim Brotherhood to a fierce extent (even martyring "bin Laden's brain" Sayyid Qutb in 1966). Islamists killed Nasser successor, Anwar Sadat was assasinated (al-Zawahiri was arrested and tortured in connection with it). Given the Egyptian history of torturing everyday citizens for small infractions, I almost feel sorry for what Mubarak will do to people caught in connection with this attack. Rumor has it that the crackdown has beegun in earnest and Egyptian security forces arrested several people in Taba. Developing.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

The Draft Meme

Our local paper here in the city, the Shepherd Express, has that quite alarmist cover in its latest issue. It certainly caught me attention, along with everyone else who happened to see it. The story says that the Selective Service Commission is secretly readying a mobilization of troops in 2005. This more or less centers around the two identical resolutions that have been circulating around Congress for almost 2 years now, H. Res. 163 and S. 89. the authors of the House bill are Rangel (D-NY) and Conyers (D-MI), and Hollings (D-SC) authored the Senate one. Now, does it strike anyone as interesting the pattern there is between the three? Yup, they are all Democrats.
Meanwhile, according to Project Censored, the Pentagon has launched a stealthy campaign to fill all 10,350 of its draft board positions and thousands of appeals board posts.

And still, if asked, federal officials aren't explaining the reasons for this mass recruitment. It's this attitude, in Washington--and especially in the White House--that should scare you the most. After all, you could be their next recruit.

If this isn't enough evidence, Sen. John Kerry alleges that Bush is planning a major mobilization of reserves and National Guard members immediately after the Nov. 2 election.
UPDATE: Congress has crushed the draft resolution with a nearly unanimous vote of 402-2 (incidentally, the two who voted for it were Democrats).

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Did Bush Really Win the Debate?

That's what Juan A. Hervada says. He bases that assertion around this Gallup poll and I think it's an extremely sound analysis. It causes me to view the debate in a new light.
I think that George W. Bush won the debate, if by winning we mean that he got closer to re-election; symmetrically, I believe Kerry lost because he didn’t get any closer to victory on November 2, far from it.
In fact, the numbers do seem to correspond with this. You must read the rest.

UPDATE: Newsweek begs to differ with Juan's analysis. (via Andrew Sullivan)
In fact, Kerry’s numbers have improved across the board, while Bush’s vulnerabilities have become more pronounced. The senator is seen as more intelligent and well-informed (80 percent, up six points over last month, compared to Bush’s steady 59 percent); as having strong leadership skills (56 percent, also up 6 points, but still less than Bush’s 62 percent) and as someone who can be trusted to make the right calls in an international crisis (51 percent, up five points and tied with Bush). Meanwhile, Bush's approval ratings have dropped to below the halfway mark (46 percent) for the first time since the GOP convention in late August.
Who's right? Time will tell.

My Dilemma Part 1a

Well, it seems as if the invaluable Michael Totten is in the same boat with me as well about who to vote for this November 2nd.

I do want to touch a little more in regards to Iran. I see that the Tehran Times has an article about the Europeans pressuring the Bush administration to adopt a more Kerry-like policy of "a mix with a package and incentives" toward Iran. I can't help but laugh. Iran has repeated rebuffed the European and US's respective policies, but in a last ditch effort to avoid an Iranian nuclear regime, they resort to bribes. Although, let me me clear about something, if it appeared that the mullahs really did want to play ball and would completely scrap their program irrevocably and allow extensive and intrusive inspections, it might be a wise policy to give them what they wanted (yes yes, I'd be giving into nuclear blackmail. It would be worth it to avoid the consequences of a nuclear armed Iran)

Now, back to reality. the Iranians will never give up what they deem, correctly, to be their impunity card. They will be greatly bolstered to conduct more operations inside Iraq and elesewhere, knowing that the Americans never attack a country with nukes. You could offer them a $100 billion dollars and yet, that won't be as good as a couple nukes. Iran is equipped with a highly advanced missle system, spearheaded by the Shahab-3.

I do recognize that me bitching and moaning about various proposals doesn't do a lot of good. So, you may be asking, what would you do about it LJ? Answer: There's really nothing that can be done. I'm sorry, but that's just a fact that we are going to have to get used to once the Buhser and Natanz reactors come online (Joe Katzman says 4-6 months at the earliest) The fact of the matter is that the Bush administration as well as the Europeans drug their feet for so long that it's too late for anything meaningful to happen. At Thursday's debate, neither Bush nor Kerry laid out any kind of plan to deal with the Iranians. Some people are still clinging to the idea that magically the regime will be toppled by the Iranian people before the production is complete. Dream on. Also, what's to say that even if the theocracy is removed from power, the new government won't continue the program?

If we bomb them, they will unleash chaos in the Middle East.
If we don't bomb them, they will unleash chaos in the Middle East.
Our best hope: to close our eyes and make the threat disappear.

I can't see any better options, so please, if you have any feel free to share.

My Dilemma Part I

I, apparently, am one of the only people left that is undecided about who to vote for in the upcoming election. Going into the debate Thursday night, I had hoped that it would either a.) further reinforce my support for George W. Bush or b.) that Kerry would be able to convince me that he can be trusted when it comes to securing Iraq. Unfortunately, I didn't count on c.) the fact that Kerry would beat Bush based on style, yet tie or possibly even lose to Bush on substance. National polls say that while Kerry won the debate, Bush is still ahead in the polls, at the same margin.

As everyone who reads this blog knows, the Iranian nuclear crisis is, in my view, one of the most important foreign policy issues this country will face in the next year or two. But I was sadly disappointed that none of the candidates said anything worth while on Iran. If Bush is re-elected and the international community says the air strikes probablly need to happen, what has Bush done to prepare the American public for such an operation? Nothing at all. On the other hand, Kerry apparently wants to
provide the nuclear fuel, test them, see whether or not they were actually looking for it for peaceful purposes. If they weren't willing to work a deal, then we could have put sanctions together.
As I said in the comments section by The Glittering Eye:
Maybe I'm just not thinking of the right examples but haven't most countries that have had economic snactions slapped on them, been able to manipulate them in such a way so they could further entrench their regime while straving their citizens? (Bush did point out that the US has had sanctions on Iran since 1979) [UPDATE: I was wrong on the sanction year. According the US Treasury [PDF] President Reagan put sanctions on Iran in 1987, followed by a separate sanctions regime applied by President Clinton in 1995, although those were later eased by Clinton in April 2000.] Say harsher sanctions are applied to Tehran, won't that make them, you know, more threatened about a potential collaspe of government to either become more hostile or covertly sell the nuke to al Qaeda?
If I were the Iranian Mullahs, you damn well better bet I would be emboldened if Kerry won.

I'll write more later.