Wednesday, 25 January 2006
Osama's Vietnam Syndrome
By George Friedman
Osama bin Laden has broken his long silence: An audiotape containing his latest statement was delivered to and broadcast by Al Jazeera on Jan. 19. The United States has said that the tape appears to be authentic, and there has been ample time for al Qaeda to have denied its authenticity if it were fake. That hasn't happened, so it appears reasonable to assume that this is, in fact, an authoritative statement by the head of al Qaeda.
This obviously puts to rest the question of whether bin Laden is still alive. The tape apparently was recorded after Nov. 22, 2005, since bin Laden discusses the widely circulated story that U.S. President George W. Bush had suggested to British Prime Minister Tony Blair that Al Jazeera's headquarters should be bombed. That story first appeared in the press on Nov. 22. While the tape theoretically could have been made anytime between Nov. 22 and Jan. 19, logic and precedent dictate that it would have been recorded some time before it was aired. It generally takes -- and has always taken -- at least a week, and often longer, for messages from bin Laden to reach broadcast stage. Security requires a slow and tortuous journey, lest the tape be tracked back to bin Laden's location. So we would guess that the tape was not made much after Jan. 1.
If we were to guess -- and this is pure guess -- we would argue that the tape was made after Dec. 15, 2005. Dec. 15 was the date of the election in Iraq. That election drew extensive participation by the Sunni population and posed a serious crisis for the jihadists in Iraq. It raised the real possibility that a substantial portion of the Sunnis would turn against the jihadists, since they would now have a role to play in the government. There were also serious discussions within the Muslim world, and in the United States, as to whether al Qaeda remained functional and whether bin Laden -- who hadn't been seen or heard from since December 2004 -- was still alive. The Dec. 15 date represented a crisis for al Qaeda, and it was logical that bin Laden would be willing to face the security risk involved with making and transporting a tape. Therefore, not that this is critical, but we would guess the tape was made sometime between Dec. 16 and the first week of January.
The recording reveals two things about bin Laden.
First, he is still in touch with the world. He knows what is going on in American politics, he has access to American books -- he mentions one book by name -- and he is aware of the state of operations in Iraq. The level of detail varies, but it is unlikely that he is stuck in a cave somewhere. Unless there are platoons of couriers bringing reports to him -- something that would violate all rules of security -- it would appear that bin Laden is able to access satellite television and possibly the Internet. Wherever he is, there is electricity and some degree of connectivity to the world. He's getting his news from somewhere.
Second, and much more important, bin Laden is aware of the state of the war and has decided that he needs to change tactics somewhat. He acknowledges the possibility of al Qaeda's defeat, which is not like the old bin Laden. On the tape, according to a translation made by The Associated Press, he says:
"Finally, I say that war will go either in our favor or yours. If it is the former, it means your loss and your shame forever, and it is headed in this course. If it is the latter, read history! We are people who do not stand for injustice and we will seek revenge all our lives. The nights and days will not pass without us taking vengeance like Sept. 11, God permitting."
At this juncture, he is separating the war from the attacks of Sept. 11. He is open to the possibility that the war might be lost. However, acts of revenge -- like the Sept. 11 attacks -- will continue. Bin Laden therefore is referring to Sept. 11 as an operation other than war.
In referring to the true war, he specifically cites Iraq and Afghanistan. About those, he speaks -- at the beginning of his recording -- with his usual bravado: "The war in Iraq is boiling up without end and the operations in Afghanistan are continuing in our favor." Thus, there is a disconnect between this assertion that the war continues and that the trends favor al Qaeda, and the assertion that the war might go either way. Two things are clear: First, bin Laden increasingly means, by "war," operations in Iraq and Afghanistan; and second, he views Sept. 11-type operations not as part of the war, but as an alternative to war.
These points are interesting. But what is fascinating and vital is his turn to Vietnam as a mode of analysis and strategy. Bin Laden refers to the U.S. Army as the "Vietnam butcher." This indicates that he has been thinking about Vietnam, but that thinking becomes clearer in the way he addresses the problems and opportunities in Iraq and Afghanistan.
First, he focuses on anti-war sentiment in the United States:
"But I plan to speak about the repeated errors your President Bush has committed in comments on the results of your polls that show an overwhelming majority of you want the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. But he has opposed this wish and said that withdrawing troops sends the wrong message to opponents, that it is better to fight them on their land than their fighting us on our land."
Bin Laden clearly knows about the polling trends in the United States and obviously knows that Bush has slipped substantially in opinion polls. He overstates the numbers when he says that the overwhelming majority want withdrawal -- it is a majority, but far from overwhelming -- but he clearly is speaking to the anti-war movement in the United States.
He is also speaking to troops in Iraq, saying: "Pentagon figures show the number of your dead and wounded is increasing not to mention the massive material losses, the destruction of the soldiers' morale there and the rise in cases of suicide among them." Bin Laden is portraying the U.S. Army in Iraq as being in fairly desperate straits, while the Pentagon remains indifferent.
[ I feel I must interject a few words here. The DoD does take the increase in suicide rate very seriously, it has climbed to an equivalent level with Civilian Rates (military personnel usually have a much lower rate than civilians) though it is still below the Military Suicide Rate for instance in 1995.
Iraq Troops Suicide Rate Spikes ]
Analytically, he views the condition of the United States as if it were Vietnam. Bin Laden is asserting that there is massive sentiment against the war and that Bush, like Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, is resisting that movement and resisting withdrawal. He is portraying the Army in Iraq as if it were the Army in Vietnam, late in that war. The truth or falsehood of the view is not material here -- nor should his statements be taken as propaganda directed at the American public. Bin Laden is not unsophisticated. He is not trying to persuade the American public to oppose the war. His view is that the polls show that Bush's political base has collapsed, along with morale in the U.S. Army.
Bin Laden then pulls a maneuver right out of Ho Chi Minh's playbook, saying:
"We don't mind offering you a long-term truce on fair conditions that we adhere to. We are a nation that God has forbidden to lie and cheat. So both sides can enjoy security and stability under this truce so we can build Iraq and Afghanistan, which have been destroyed in this war. There is no shame in this solution, which prevents the wasting of billions of dollars that have gone to those with influence and merchants of war in America who have supported Bush's election campaign with billions of dollars -- which lets us understand the insistence by Bush and his gang to carry on with war. If you are sincere in your desire for peace and security, we have answered you."
[ Another interjection on the meaning of "long term truce" I would advise some study on two issues, the concept of
"Hudnaنة) is an Arabic term meaning "truce" or "armistice" as well as "calm" or "quiet", coming from a verbal root meaning "calm". It is sometimes translated as "cease-fire". In the Lisan al-Arab (Ibn al-Manzur's definitive dictionary of classical Arabic, dating to the 14th century) it is defined as follows:
"hadana: he grew quiet. hadina: he quieted (transitive or intransitive). haadana: he made peace with. The noun from each of these is hudna."
A particularly famous early hudna was the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah between Muhammad and the Quraysh tribe.
According to Umdat as-Salik, a medieval summary of Shafi'i jurisprudence, hudnas with a non-Muslim enemy should be limited to 10 years: "if Muslims are weak, a truce may be made for ten years if necessary, for the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) made a truce with the Quraysh for that long, as is related by Abu Dawud" ('Umdat as-Salik, o9.16)."
And the information in an Essay by Tarek Heggy where he states,
" A few years ago, I discovered that there is no equivalent in the Arabic language, classical or colloquial, for the English word ?compromise?, which is most commonly translated into Arabic in the form of two words, literally meaning ?halfway solution?. I went through all the old and new dictionaries and lexicons I could lay my hands on in a futile search for an Arabic word corresponding to this common English word, which exists, with minor variations in spelling, in all European languages, whether of the Latin, Germanic, Hellenic or Slavic families. The same is true of several other words, such as ?integrity?, which has come to be widely used in the discourse of Europe and North America in the last few decades and for which no single word exists in the Arabic language. As language is not merely a tool of communication but the depositary of a society?s cultural heritage, reflecting its way of thinking and the spirit in which it deals with things and with others, as well as the cultural trends which have shaped it, I realized that we were here before a phenomenon with cultural (and, consequently, political, economic and social) implications"
Those two factors do complicate any Truce leading to a Lasting Peace ]
If there is a massive anti-war movement in the United States and if the Army is weary of war, then the next logical move is to offer negotiations toward a cease-fire. Bin Laden completely understands that Bush would reject that offer. His hope is that the offer of a truce would further split the United States -- undermining Bush's political power even more and giving ammunition to those who want an end to the war. "If you are sincere in your desire for peace and security," he says, "we have answered you."
During the Vietnam war, the North Vietnamese introduced the idea of a negotiated settlement in large part because they wanted to provide a rational basis for the anti-war movement. They understood that there would be only a tiny pro-Hanoi movement in the United States. They also understood that as the war dragged on and victory became less visible, support would grow for a negotiated settlement as the only reasonable outcome. The view of the pro-war faction -- that the offers of peace talks did not provide any basis for a real settlement but were a cover for a North Vietnamese victory -- was opposed by those who argued that settlement and withdrawal were the only rational actions for the United States in an unwinnable war.
Wherever he is, bin Laden has done a lot of thinking, and he apparently has come to think of himself as Ho Chi Minh. From his viewpoint, Bush, like Johnson, is resisting a wave of anti-war sentiment. The Army is tired. An offer of a long-term, honorable truce would build up the anti-war faction. Add to that the promise that even if the United States wins the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, al Qaeda will continue to stage Sept. 11-type attacks, and you have an added incentive for a negotiated settlement.
Bin Laden may be deluding himself, but he smells serious political problems for Bush in the United States and a movement that wants to withdraw forces in return for a truce that guarantees no further attacks on the American public. That is the heart of his message. He is prepared to negotiate a truce. He believes that this will fuel anti-war sentiment today, just as the offer of negotiations fueled anti-war sentiment in the 1960s. And if that truce is agreed to, he believes that he can reshape the Islamic world today much as North Vietnam reshaped Indochina.
What is most clever in this move is that it doesn't require actual negotiations. If Bush starts to draw down forces in Iraq, bin Laden can declare a truce and imply in the Muslim world that he compelled the United States to capitulate. He is trying to trap Bush in two ways. If there isn't a drawdown, Bush would face an anti-war movement calling for truce with al Qaeda. And if there is a drawdown, Bush would face assertions that he is implicitly or secretly agreeing to the truce that bin Laden proposed.
Bin Laden is not Ho Chi Minh. No one will call him "Uncle Osama" or liken him to George Washington, as they did Ho. It is difficult to imagine that anyone -- pro- or anti-war -- in the United States would think seriously of negotiating with him. Even the Europeans, who have never seen an offer of negotiation they didn't like, took a pass when it came to bin Laden. Nevertheless, as a glimpse into bin Laden's strategic thinking, the view is fascinating. Above all, there is this parallel: The most creative diplomacy of the North Vietnamese followed their defeat in the Tet Offensive. The moment that bin Laden's strategic position in Iraq (but not Afghanistan) is at its weakest -- following the Dec. 15 elections -- is the moment he offers a truce.
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Tuesday, 24 January 2006
The Age of Right Thinking
Does anyone remember this map?
It was created to defame the direction Political Thought has taken in the United States.
Created by the Forces of Socialist Lotus Eaters.
For myself, I do not believe the the American Public has actually turned towards Conservatism that much, but that the Political Leaders of the Democratic Party have traveled so far to the Left that the Mainstream of America has woken up to the realization that Party can no longer represent them.
They have instead steadfastly hung onto the basic values the Founders based this Nation upon.
The Rights, Liberties and Responsibilities of the Individual.
It would seem we are not alone.
That Map above? That Map with its homogeneous area in Red (they got the colors right on that Map) in opposition to the results of our American Elections is a LIE.
It is a Lie because to the North we have kindred spirits and THEY number in the Plurality.
This Last Canadian Election has shown this plainly.
I look forward to adding a Map of the Present Election to this Post as it becomes available, but look now at Maps of the Last two Canadian Elections.
Here is the 2000 Canadian Election Map
Here is the 2004 Canadian Election Map
Update 2006 Canadian Election Map
It would appear those who created the First Map above, never bothered to consult those who live in broad stretches of Canada about how they really thought, felt and believed, they simply decided for them, which is what Socialist do isn't it?
Decide for others what they should think, feel and believe.
We often hear of this poll and that poll, but the one that really counts is at the ballot box, and Canada has just had a poll, and to quote a Canadian Friend of Mine
Yup the Conservatives have won over the Liberals. Although it is a minority government, Canadians made it clear that this is the time for change"
Here are the results so far.
Conservatives win minority; Martin to step down as leader
By TERRY WEBER
Tuesday, January 24, 2006 Posted at 1:56 AM EST
Globe and Mail Update
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper was headed to Parliament Hill as Canada's next prime minister after capturing a fragile minority victory in Monday's election, picking up votes in Quebec and making inroads in Ontario but failing to scale the heights early polls had predicted.
"Tonight, friends, Canadians have voted for change," Mr. Harper said, speaking to supporters in Calgary.
"And Canadians have asked our party to take the lead in delivering that change. I tell Canadians we will respect your trust and we will stick to our words."
Mr. Harper's comments capped a night in which the Liberal's 12-year reign came to an end in a vote that handed the Conservatives a minority mandate --
By late in the night, the Conservatives had won 124 seats, to the Liberals' 103. The Bloc Quebecois were elected in 51 ridings and the NDP in 29.
The Conservatives' gains came on the back of a swell in support in central Canada for the party, but the Liberals still managed to cling to seats in some key regions — helping limit the Tories' overall advance.
By the end of the night, the Conservatives had managed roughly 36 per cent of the popular vote nationally compared with 30 per cent for the Liberals, 17 per cent points for the NDP and 10 per cent for the Bloc Quebecois.
Oh and for a belly laugh. I think I will end with this.
Michael Moore Statement on Canadian Election
by Michael Moore : Oh, Canada -- you're not really going to elect a Conservative majority on Monday, are you? That's a joke, right? I know you have a great sense of humor, and certainly a well-developed sense of irony, but this is no longer funny.
Actually Michael I DO think you are funny this time out. ;-)
hese are no ordinary times, and as you go to the polls on Monday, you do so while a man running the nation to the south of you is hoping you can lend him a hand by picking Stephen Harper because he's a man who shares his world view. Do you want to help George Bush by turning Canada into his latest conquest?
Is that how you want millions of us down here to see you from now on? The next notch in the cowboy belt? C'mon, where's your Canadian pride? I mean, if you're going to reduce Canada to a cheap download of Bush & Co., then at least don't surrender so easily. Can't you wait until he threatens to bomb Regina? Make him work for it, for Pete's sake.
But seriously, I know you're not going to elect a guy who should really be running for governor of Utah. Whew! I knew it! You almost had me there. Very funny. Don't do that again. God, I love you, you crazy cold wonderful neighbors to my north. Don't ever change.
They didn't change Mike but then you never asked them what they really thought did you? You just told them what they should think
I have some BAD News for you Mikey, the 21st Century looks like it is shaping up into the Age of Right Thinking.
Where are you going to move to now?
As for us? We are acquiring more and more options among Folks who believe in Freedom, Liberty and the Rights of the Individual, instead of supporting Facsist Buthers like you do.
Folks like the Canadians who just stood up to be counted.
Folks like this woman, to whom being able to vote meant something.
But you wouldn't understand us would you?
It doesn't matter, We are the Future, Get used to it.
Tuesday Open Trackbacks from Right Wing Nation
Monday, 23 January 2006
Iran's Redefined Strategy
By George Friedman
The Iranians have broken the International Atomic Energy Agency seals on some of their nuclear facilities. They did this very deliberately and publicly to make certain that everyone knew that Tehran was proceeding with its nuclear program. Prior to this, and in parallel, the Iranians began to -- among other things -- systematically bait the Israelis, threatening to wipe them from the face of the earth.
The question, of course, is what exactly the Iranians are up to. They do not yet have nuclear weapons. The Israelis do. The Iranians have now hinted that (a) they plan to build nuclear weapons and have implied, as clearly as possible without saying it, that (b) they plan to use them against Israel. On the surface, these statements appear to be begging for a pre-emptive strike by Israel. There are many things one might hope for, but a surprise visit from the Israeli air force is not usually one of them. Nevertheless, that is exactly what the Iranians seem to be doing, so we need to sort this out.
There are four possibilities:
1. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, is insane and wants to be attacked because of a bad childhood.
2. The Iranians are engaged in a complex diplomatic maneuver, and this is part of it.
3. The Iranians think they can get nuclear weapons -- and a deterrent to Israel -- before the Israelis attack.
4. The Iranians, actually and rationally, would welcome an Israeli -- or for that matter, American -- air strike.
Let's begin with the insanity issue, just to get it out of the way. One of the ways to avoid thinking seriously about foreign policy is to dismiss as a nutcase anyone who does not behave as you yourself would. As such, he is unpredictable and, while scary, cannot be controlled. You are therefore relieved of the burden of doing anything about him. In foreign policy, it is sometimes useful to appear to be insane, as it is in poker: The less predictable you are, the more power you have -- and insanity is a great tool of unpredictability. Some leaders cultivate an aura of insanity.
However, people who climb to the leadership of nations containing many millions of people must be highly disciplined, with insight into others and the ability to plan carefully. Lunatics rarely have those characteristics. Certainly, there have been sociopaths -- like Hitler -- but at the same time, he was a very able, insightful, meticulous man. He might have been crazy, but dismissing him because he was crazy -- as many did -- was a massive mistake. Moreover, leaders do not rise alone. They are surrounded by other ambitious people. In the case of Ahmadinejad, he is answerable to others above him (in this case, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei), alongside him and below him. He did not get to where he is by being nuts -- and even if we think what he says is insane, it clearly doesn't strike the rest of his audience as insane. Thinking of him as insane is neither helpful nor clarifying.
The Three-Player Game
So what is happening?
First, the Iranians obviously are responding to the Americans. Tehran's position in Iraq is not what the Iranians had hoped it would be. U.S. maneuvers with the Sunnis in Iraq and the behavior of Iraqi Shiite leaders clearly have created a situation in which the outcome will not be the creation of an Iranian satellite state. At best, Iraq will be influenced by Iran or neutral. At worst, it will drift back into opposition to Iran -- which has been Iraq's traditional geopolitical position. This is not satisfactory. Iran's Iraq policy has not failed, but it is not the outcome Tehran dreamt of in 2003.
There is a much larger issue. The United States has managed its position in Iraq -- to the extent that it has been managed -- by manipulating the Sunni-Shiite fault line in the Muslim world. In the same way that Richard Nixon manipulated the Sino-Soviet split, the fundamental fault line in the Communist world, to keep the Soviets contained and off-balance late in the Vietnam War, so the Bush administration has used the primordial fault line in the Islamic world, the Sunni-Shiite split, to manipulate the situation in Iraq.
Washington did this on a broader scale as well. Having enticed Iran with new opportunities -- both for Iran as a nation and as the leading Shiite power in a post-Saddam world -- the administration turned to Sunni countries like Saudi Arabia and enticed them into accommodation with the United States by allowing them to consider the consequences of an ascended Iran under canopy of a relationship with the United States. Washington used that vision of Iran to gain leverage in Saudi Arabia. The United States has been moving back and forth between Sunnis and Shia since the invasion of Afghanistan, when it obtained Iranian support for operations in Afghanistan's Shiite regions. Each side was using the other. The United States, however, attained the strategic goal of any three-player game: It became the swing player between Sunnis and Shia.
This was not what the Iranians had hoped for.
Reclaiming the Banner
There is yet another dimension to this. In 1979, when the Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini deposed the Shah of Iran, Iran was the center of revolutionary Islamism. It both stood against the United States and positioned itself as the standard-bearer for radical Islamist youth. It was Iran, through its creation, Hezbollah, that pioneered suicide bombings. It championed the principle of revolutionary Islamism against both collaborationist states like Saudi Arabia and secular revolutionaries like Yasser Arafat. It positioned Shi'ism as the protector of the faith and the hope of the future.
In having to defend against Saddam Hussein's Iraq in the 1980s, and the resulting containment battle, Iran became ensnared in a range of necessary but compromising relationships. Recall, if you will, that the Iran-Contra affair revealed not only that the United States used Israel to send weapons to Iran, but also that Iran accepted weapons from Israel. Iran did what it had to in order to survive, but the complexity of its operations led to serious compromises. By the late 1990s, Iran had lost any pretense of revolutionary primacy in the Islamic world. It had been flanked by the Sunni Wahhabi movement, al Qaeda.
The Iranians always saw al Qaeda as an outgrowth of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and therefore, through Shiite and Iranian eyes, never trusted it. Iran certainly didn't want al Qaeda to usurp the position of primary challenger to the West. Under any circumstances, it did not want al Qaeda to flourish. It was caught in a challenge. First, it had to reduce al Qaeda's influence, or concede that the Sunnis had taken the banner from Khomeini's revolution. Second, Iran had to reclaim its place. Third, it had to do this without undermining its geopolitical interests.
Tehran spent the time from 2003 through 2005 maximizing what it could from the Iraq situation. It also quietly participated in the reduction of al Qaeda's network and global reach. In doing so, it appeared to much of the Islamic world as clever and capable, but not particularly principled. Tehran's clear willingness to collaborate on some level with the United States in Afghanistan, in Iraq and in the war on al Qaeda made it appear as collaborationist as it had accused the Kuwaitis or Saudis of being in the past. By the end of 2005, Iran had secured its western frontier as well as it could, had achieved what influence it could in Baghdad, had seen al Qaeda weakened. It was time for the next phase. It had to reclaim its position as the leader of the Islamic revolutionary movement for itself and for Shi'ism.
Thus, the selection of the new president was, in retrospect, carefully engineered. After President Mohammed Khatami's term, all moderates were excluded from the electoral process by decree, and the election came down to a struggle between former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani -- an heir to Khomeini's tradition, but also an heir to the tactical pragmatism of the 1980s and 1990s -- and Ahmadinejad, the clearest descendent of the Khomeini revolution that there was in Iran, and someone who in many ways had avoided the worst taints of compromise.
Ahmadinejad was set loose to reclaim Iran's position in the Muslim world. Since Iran had collaborated with Israel during the 1980s, and since Iranian money in Lebanon had mingled with Israeli money, the first thing he had to do was to reassert Iran's anti-Zionist credentials. He did that by threatening Israel's existence and denying the Holocaust. Whether he believed what he was saying is immaterial. Ahmadinejad used the Holocaust issue to do two things: First, he established himself as intellectually both anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish, taking the far flank among Islamic leaders; and second, he signaled a massive breach with Khatami's approach.
Khatami was focused on splitting the Western world by dividing the Americans from the Europeans. In carrying out this policy, he had to manipulate the Europeans. The Europeans were always open to the claim that the Americans were being rigid and were delighted to serve the role of sophisticated mediator. Khatami used the Europeans' vanity brilliantly, sucking them into endless discussions and turning the Iran situation into a problem the Europeans were having with the United States.
But Tehran paid a price for this in the Muslim world. In drawing close to the Europeans, the Iranians simply appeared to be up to their old game of unprincipled realpolitik with people -- Europeans -- who were no better than the Americans. The Europeans were simply Americans who were weaker. Ahmadinejad could not carry out his strategy of flanking the Wahhabis and still continue the minuet with Europe. So he ended Khatami's game with a bang, with a massive diatribe on the Holocaust and by arguing that if there had been one, the Europeans bore the blame. That froze Germany out of any further dealings with Tehran, and even the French had to back off. Iran's stock in the Islamic world started to rise.
The Nuclear Gambit
The second phase was for Iran to very publicly resume -- or very publicly claim to be resuming -- development of a nuclear weapon. This signaled three things:
1. Iran's policy of accommodation with the West was over.
2. Iran intended to get a nuclear weapon in order to become the only real challenge to Israel and, not incidentally, a regional power that Sunni states would have to deal with.
3. Iran was prepared to take risks that no other Muslim actor was prepared to take. Al Qaeda was a piker.
The fundamental fact is that Ahmadinejad knows that, except in the case of extreme luck, Iran will not be able to get nuclear weapons. First, building a nuclear device is not the same thing as building a nuclear weapon. A nuclear weapon must be sufficiently small, robust and reliable to deliver to a target. A nuclear device has to sit there and go boom. The key technologies here are not the ones that build a device but the ones that turn a device into a weapon -- and then there is the delivery system to worry about: range, reliability, payload, accuracy. Iran has a way to go.
A lot of countries don't want an Iranian bomb. Israel is one. The United States is another. Throw Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and most of the 'Stans into this, and there are not a lot of supporters for an Iranian bomb. However, there are only two countries that can do something about it. The Israelis don't want to get the grief, but they are the ones who cannot avoid action because they are the most vulnerable if Iran should develop a weapon. The United States doesn't want Israel to strike at Iran, as that would massively complicate the U.S. situation in the region, but it doesn't want to carry out the strike itself either.
This, by the way, is a good place to pause and explain to readers who will write in wondering why the United States will tolerate an Israeli nuclear force but not an Iranian one. The answer is simple. Israel will probably not blow up New York. That's why the United States doesn't mind Israel having nukes and does mind Iran having them. Is that fair? This is power politics, not sharing time in preschool. End of digression.
If the Iranians are seen as getting too close to a weapon, either the United States or Israel will take them out, and there is an outside chance that the facilities could not be taken out with a high degree of assurance unless nukes are used. In the past, our view was that the Iranians would move carefully in using the nukes to gain leverage against the United States. That is no longer clear. Their focus now seems to be not on their traditional diplomacy, but on a more radical, intra-Islamic diplomacy. That means that they might welcome a (survivable) attack by Israel or the United States. It would burnish Iran's credentials as the true martyr and fighter of Islam.
Meanwhile, the Iranians appear to be reaching out to the Sunnis on a number of levels. Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of a radical Shiite group in Iraq with ties to Iran, visited Saudi Arabia recently. There are contacts between radical Shia and Sunnis in Lebanon as well. The Iranians appear to be engaged in an attempt to create the kind of coalition in the Muslim world that al Qaeda failed to create. From Tehran's point of view, if they get a deliverable nuclear device, that's great -- but if they are attacked by Israel or the United States, that's not a bad outcome either.
In short, the diplomacy that Iran practiced from the beginning of the Iraq-Iran war until after the U.S. invasion of Iraq appears to be ended. Iran is making a play for ownership of revolutionary Islamism on behalf of itself and the Shia. Thus, Tehran will continue to make provocative moves, while hoping to avoid counterstrikes. On the other hand, if there are counterstrikes, the Iranians will probably be able to live with that as well.
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It took 2 tries to take down the World Trade Towers,
So don't tell me we're not
ON THE EVE OF DESTRUCTION
The Open Trackback Alliance XI
For your listening pleasure while you browse
Battle Hymn of the Republic
the world thinks they know all about Americans, I intend to present music each week in this post illustrating our extreme diversity, this one will celebrate our Unity for a change of pace
When I first started upon my journey through the blogverse I created a Statement of Purpose
Now upon reading it, one can realize that I did not hold to every detail of that original statement, but from it's basic premise, I have never swayed, in my belief that the Blogs are in fact the Committees of Correspondence of the Second American Revolution.
And that it is a Revolution of Information, no longer can we afford and allow elite gateways to control what we can see, hear and discuss.
One of the most important discoveries I make in those early days was the website of Samantha Burns, which included a unique informal community of bloggers, who not only linked to each other but actually browsed and read the blogs they linked to.
Later I was honored to be allowed to join another more formal blog community. At that time I decided that while I welcomed blogs that wanted to link to me, I was not that interested in simply joining blogrolls to add links. After that I made no more attempts to join any blog alliances. I have been kept busy supporting the linkages I have and at times I feel guilty that I cannot get around to all the websites on my blogroll as I could when it was smaller.
So why do I welcome this recent invitation to join the Open Trackback Alliance? Have I reconsidered my former decision?
No I am posting and joining this Alliance because it is RIGHT for me to do so.
Because it FULFILLS my original Statement of Purpose that the Blogs are indeed the 21st Century Committees of Correspondence, whose duty and honor it is to SHARE information, thoughts, ideas, news and to discuss the same. To diligently search for the truths that lie behind the distortions and half-truths of the Legacy Media.
What the blogs associated with the Samantha Burns site did informally, and without structure, this Alliance only aids and structures. There is in fact no conflict between what I do now, and what I decided to do sometime ago.
For I believe that those bloggers who find their way, here and in particular from the Blogs associated with Sam.
HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY.
Some of us are more Serious, some of us are more lighthearted and some post the common ordinary things that make one smile and recall that Life without the simple things to treasure is meaningless.
And it is important that all have a platform from which to speak.
As I understand this process you can link to this post and trackback to this post on ANY subject or post you think important. It is open. I will repeat this every Monday.
The Committees of Correspondence welcomes your intelligent comments. And also welcomes you to join the
OPEN TRACKBACK ALLIANCE
Blogs that Trackback to this Post:
The New Slave Trade--Guard the Borders from third world county
End of the Spear, Start of an Era from Bloggin' Outloud
Adios Middle Class from Freedom Folks
Iran Pulling Money out of Europe from The Uncooperative Blogger
Y'al come back now, Y'heah? ;-)
A Special Link to The_City_Troll for News of Vital Importance
Tehran plans nuclear weapon test by March
PS I think the Troll is worth linking to, let's give him a hand up to Slithery Reptile
Saturday, 21 January 2006
Hostages for Hire?
Well it seems we have a new occupation provided by the Political Left.
a really explosive bit of new, I wonder how much coverage it will get in the Major Media Outlets?
Were Kidnappers Osthoff's Business Partners?
A strange development in the Osthoff case...
Report says ransom money found on Osthoff
Part of the ransom money alleged to have been paid by the German government to win the freedom of Iraq hostage Susanne Osthoff last month was found on Osthoff after her release, the German magazine Focus said on Saturday.
Without citing its sources, Focus said officials at the German embassy in Baghdad had found several thousand U.S. dollars in the 43-year-old German archaeologist's clothes when she took a shower at the embassy shortly after being freed.
The serial numbers on the bills matched those used by the government to pay off Osthoff's kidnappers, the magazine said---
More on the Osthoff case from
Osthoff herself caused a stir when she said in an interview at the end of December that she did not believe her kidnappers were criminals. "
Why am I not surprised by that statement?
One recalls the Japanese Kidnapping? I seem to remember that there was some information on their personal websites before they left, indicating that they would be taking part in some dramatic event that would "make a difference"??
ANTI-USA/PRO-ACTIVIST JAPANESE WEBSITE OF JAPAN 'HOSTAGE' FOUND/TRANSLATED (IRAQ)
On thing was certain the Japanese Public was not pleased with their manipulations.
Hostages Get Icy Welcome Home
The three hostages including a woman who went to Iraq to help street children in Baghdad had been shown on television being threatened by their knife-brandishing kidnappers but a hand written sign at the airport in Tokyo on their return, which read "You got what you deserve!" was a sign of worse to come. Another compatriot wrote on the website of one of the former hostages: "You are Japan's shame," and to add insult to injury, the Japanese Government billed the returnees $6,000 for the air fares. By this weekend, the former hostages were in hiding from an angry public.
Now let's see how the German Public Reaction plays out? ;-)
The Erosion of Values in Society
I suppose at first glance, there will be some who expect a Sodom and Gomorrah polemic about our Society and Culture Today.
In a sense this will be true, but I will NOT speak of consensual activity, between adults, nor non-victimless crimes.
I DO have certain opinions on the concepts of "adult" and "consent".
I consider it a primary Duty of Adults to "Protect Children".
I consider it THE primary Duty of Society to "Protect Children".
Failure by either Society or any Individual to recognize and respond to this Primary Responsibility, is in my eyes a Crime against Nature on the one hand and a Abrogation of the Social Contract between the Individual and the State on the other.
In the current era it has be de rigeur to "redefine"
the concepts of "consent", "adult" and "children" to shirk these duties.
This must stop if we do not wish the Present Civilization of the West to descend into Oblivion.
In my last article I wrote on the Story of Dyan Purdu.
I find it totally obscene that California Law finds that the lack of saying "No" constitutes "consent".
(you will recall the reason given for Dylan not saying No was that she was unconscious at the time)
But passed that fundamental objection of justice I find something even more obscene.
That the Law expected a FOURTEEN YEAR OLD LITTLE GIRL to be able to give consent at ALL!
Adults are responsible for children, children are NOT responsible for such as this.
We have made it so, by the perverted erosion of our duty and the introduction of the disgusting concept of "Age of Consent"
A minor should not be able to give Consent period.
That was the way it used to be.
What is the rationale for now giving them consent on those matters which can be the most damaging to them??
Sex, Rape and Abortion??
I understand that the Supreme Court has just returned to a lower Federal Court a Law informing
the parents of a minor of an impending abortion.
A minor cannot even be given an aspirin in most jurisdictions, without parental consent
but one assumes by the direction of the Law that now this most serious medical procedure, which could scar a young girl with guilt for the rest of her life can be given, and the parents need merely be informed
The rationale for the Lower Federal Court striking down the New Law was the lack of consideration for Medical Emergencies.
OK I will stipulate in a medical emergency, when the life of the Child is at Risk, physicians need to be able to render such aid as they deem fit.
How many abortions fit this ?
The State has NO right to take away the Parents primary responsibility to protect their own Child.
But the State does such these days, the State has redefined and blurred the concept of adult and minor with the introduction of "Age of Consent" this is wrong.
This is in fact a Statement by the State that it no longer "chooses" to protect these children, but instead gives to them the responsibility.
In other areas the State has fallen even further into what can only be described as perversion.
In several recent case in New England, Judges have given sexual predators, a mere slap on the wrist, because, they do not believe in PUNISHMENT?
How about protecting the Children on our Streets from being raped and abused by degenerates?
No Folks this erosion of the most BASIC Values of our Society, must cease.
From this day forward, you must think of each election, as the Most Important Election in your Life and do what you can to ensure that those who would leave the most vulnerable of our Society, our Children, defenseless, do NOT assume the mantle of Political Power.
We have on the Supreme Court of the United States today, a Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who thinks that the Age of Consent should be lowered to 12.
We cannot afford any more like her deciding the Fate of the Nation.
From Michele Malkin comes yet another story of the Failure of Society to protect one of our children and indeed an attempt by the State to prematurely bury it's failure!BLOGGING FOR HALEIGH
Here's the latest in Haleigh Poutre's fight for her life: The Massachusetts Department of Social Services, which last week won court-ordered authority to remove Haleigh's feeding tube, is now under fire for failing to detect and act on signs that Haleigh was abused:
Our very Civilization is under Attack these days. The Obvious threats are those who speak plainly in public that they wish to rain total destruction upon us. The less obvious ones are those who come to us with a smile and offer to lift from our shoulders the heavy burdens of responsibility and choice.
I do not believe the First has the Power to destroy us, I DO believe the Second can if we are not vigilant.
OTA Weekender at The Crazy Rants of Samantha Burns
Thursday, 19 January 2006
Not Saying No,
is NOT Saying
If anyone finds the above statement confusing?
You are not unique, the Legislature of the State of California has not been able to figure out that Consent, requires Acquiescence and not just the inability of a 14 year old girl who is unconscious, to say No, to the advances of a rapist.
I suppose using the same logic, if you are asleep when a burglar enters your house no crime is committed?
As I understand it this young lady a few years older since the incident wants verbiage put into the Law to make the rape of an unconscious, women or girl illegal.
I am trying to understand the problem with this logic.
Of course this is NOT what the media, except for Fox calls News.
I put her name into a Goggle News Search and got this.
Yep except for a certain Media that tries to make the News Balanced by being all by it's lonesome, the only links I found about this story, was, you guessed it Blogs.
Here is one Big Bubba's Big Blog
Now Big Bubba and I see to be equally disgusted by the confusion of the California Legislators (why am I not surprised?)
Again, I am not sure, don't remember, the details, but it seems the girl, her family, and supporters believe that the boy did not receive deserved punishment. Why? Because the charge of rape could not be prosecuted because she did not say no. Never mind that she couldn't say no because she was drugged and passed out. She didn't say no so the boy received a hand slap.
Something is very WRONG with this picture.
Folks we HAVE to take back our Country and our Courts, things have gone too far!
PS I would say Big Bubba would fit right in with anyone who reads here regularly. Stop by his Blog and Say Howdy. ;-)
Tuesday, 17 January 2006
Where my Readers Come From
Well it does look like I have spread to a few more countries since the last time I assembled this map in Dec? Eighty one different Nations now have come to this website and I thank everyone for the kind attention and the fact that my comments here where they do occur have been courteous and friendly natured.
On another note, it was nice being a Large Mammal for a while but I am now back to being a Marauding Marsupial.
My First Map
Follow The Money
I, like quite a few, I would wager, at times ponder the shift in political power over the last few decades.
Some maintain that the public has shifted to the Right, like Zell Miller,I am more of the mind that "I never left the Democratic Party; they left me."
One thing is certain that as the DNC shifted more and more Leftward, they became more and more dependent upon funds raised by massive Transnational Progressive NGOs.
It is moot now, which was cause and which was effect, it is so. To the extent it is broadly proclaimed, not by their detractors, but by the very NGOs themselves. Liberal powerhouse MoveOn has a message for the "professional election losers" who run the Democratic Party: "We bought it, we own it, we’re going to take it back."
That is true in a manner, never before seen. It has been a golden age for fund raising for the Orgs on Left.
The reason is not too hard to understand. No Grand Inquisitor was ever able to raise a howling mob with cries of "HERETICS!".to the extent that the mere whisper of the word Bush, can rouse the Faithful to a frothing frenzy and -- mail in checks.
If anyone thinks I exaggerate? Consider the "Therapy Sessions" after the last few elections where traumatized Bluebloods gathered to shriek, foam and spew at the photo of the man they did not want to be President, and in doing so illustrated their manifest fitness to hold the Fate of the Nation in their hands.
Yes, it has been a golden age for fund raising on the Left. Their coffers overflow with donations and a tithe of that bounty goes to politicians they support.
But one wonders, what happens if the Democrats succeed in their efforts? What happens if the Evil Repugs are driven from the Seats of Power of the Nation?
Simple, the overflowing river of donations dries to a trickle. Where there is no threat, there is no desperation, there is instead a danger of complacency.
The politicians will still need campaign funds, might they not turn to and listen to more moderate sources?
PERISH the THOUGHT
So one is left with a question.
Is it wise for a Party to be so financially dependent on a source of funding,in whose best interest it would be for them to Fail?
I have a picture in my mind of the NGO Fund Raising Gnomes, gathered , plotting how best to maximize their donation efforts.
Smiling and thinking of the Golden Rule.
"He who has the Gold Makes the Rules."
And then explaining to the candidates how they want their money spent.
Telling themselves, "at the end of the Day, when the bitter reality faces our candidates, we can ALWAYS blame it on Karl Rove." ;-)
Bear in mind, for maximum effort the carrot must be placed just beyond the donkey's reach.
If it's Tuesday, it must be Open Trackback Day at Those Bastards!
Funny Stuff at The Conservative Cat
Tuesday Open Trackbacks at Right Wing Nation
Monday, 16 January 2006
The Cultural Matrix
For most, the term Zealot brings to mind Religious Extremism. The shabbily dressed sweating figure clasping a Bible and pounding on a podium, A Puritan all in Black burning witches or a Muslim Extremist cutting off a victims head to the Litany of "God is Great!".
Those are indeed examples and few of us have not heard someone pronounce pontifically that ALL the Death, Destruction, Mayhem and Discord through Centuries can be more laid at the feet of Religion than any other cause.
Those who are satisfied with surface impressions and shoddy logic, will be nodding in agreement at this point.
Of course to make the above case one must ignore all the GOOD that has been the result of Religious Practices. It is true that Religion has been used in the manner I described above. It cannot be otherwise.
Religion IS one of the most powerful motivating forces on the Face of the Earth. Power cannot be a source for Evil without being a source for Good in the same order of Magnitude.
This little fact is blithely ignored by those who rail against Religious Zealotry.
They also ignore the fact that Religion is not THE most powerful motivation force in human history.
Sex is. Sex in fact is probably responsible for MORE Death, Destruction, Mayhem and Discord than any other motivator in all the Ages.
I however am unwilling to give it up, to create a More
Perfect World. I find some positive aspects in it despite the intense suffering it has caused me in the past, as have we all, I would wager to say.
All of the above would be moot if the Zealots of both extremes were willing to disavow what they deem the Ultimate Evil themselves, and leave the rest of us to make our own decisions.
BUT the main characteristic of the Zealot, despite ANY surface differences caused by the direction of their fanaticism is---
The total rejection that individual choice is the right of every human being. Individual choice is an anathema to them.
There is no difference between a Christan, Muslim or Socialist Progressive Zealot, except for the Chance of Birth, which landed them in their particular group. They think, in the same manner they act in the same manner.
No clearer example could be given than that of the philosophical journey traveled by a man named Bruce Bawer, an openly gay American
( from David's Medienkritik
"A few years back, after a prolonged immersion in American Protestant fundamentalism (I was writing a book), I moved from the U.S. to Western Europe, ready to bask in an open, secular, liberal culture. Instead I discovered that European social democracy, too, was a kind of fundamentalism, rigid and doctrinaire, yielding what Swedish writer Johan Norberg calls "one-idea states"?nations where an echo chamber of insular elites calls the shots, where monochrome media daily reiterate statist mantras and shut out contrarian views, and where teachers and professors systematically misrepresent the U.S. (millions of Europeans believe that free public schools, unemployment insurance, and pensions are unknown in America). The more I saw of the European elites' chronic distrust of the public, and the public's habitual deference to those elites, the fonder I grew of the nasty, ridiculous rough-and-tumble of American democracy, in which every voice is heard?even if, as a result, the U.S. gets capital punishment and Europe gets gay marriage.
How did Western Europe come to be ruled by monolithic ideologues?"
I encourage to read further the works of this man, he is by no means a member of the Religious Right Fascist Movement. ;-)
I have a good friend who worriea about what the Religious Right might be up to. I do not recall if he has as some described them as the American Taliban, but it is a source of concern for him.
Compared to the other sources of repression, of freedom of thought, belief and expression, I find the case totally exaggerated. Americans are to a great extent immersed in egalitarian ideals. That cannot be said of elsewhere in this world
President Bush has been mocked over and over again when he stated that our enemies hate us because we are Free.
The TRUTH is that there are other Talibans far more dangerous to the concept of Libery, Freedom and Individual Choice and they make no bones about publicly stating their desires.
There can be nothing plainer than the words of Abu Musab al-Zarqaw"We have declared a bitter war against democracy and all those who seek to enact it----"Democracy is also based on the right to choose your religion," he said, and that is "against the rule of God"
Those sentiments are amply echoed by Transnational Progressives.
One example, the British columnist Will Hutton," The essence of Hutton?s argument is that ?all Western democracies subscribe to a broad family of ideas that are liberal or leftist? (note the sly conflation here of ?liberal? and ?leftist,? which in Europe, of course, are opposites), and that first among these ideas is ?a belief in the primacy of society? as opposed to the insidious ?American belief in the primacy of the individual.? Hutton traces the prioritization of society over the individual back to medieval feudalism, which he holds up?hilariously?as an ideal. The trouble, he explains, started when Puritan individualists ?who passionately believed that they could individually establish a direct relationship with God? emigrated to North America and invented ?an explosively new and radical ideology? that justified ?an individualist rather than a social view of property.? This led to the American Revolution, which Hutton compares unfavorably with its French counterpart of 1789, since the former put the individual first (bad) while the latter introduced a ?new social contract? (good).
Indeed on of the problems Mr Hutton sees with America is the very concept of Freedom of Expression and the Press.?European governments and the EU,? because they?re ?aggressive in their regulation of broadcasting content? and ban, for example, ?racist expression.? He favors, in short, allowing government bureaucrats to decide what is and isn?t racist (or, for that matter, sexist or homophobic) and to punish transgressors.
"While American broadcasters,? he notes, ?plead the First Amendment?s commitment to absolute free speech, making public interest regulation almost impossible??the knaves!??Europe acts to ensure that television and radio conform to public interest criteria.? Public interest criteria:
As it turns out the best cure for European propaganda is for them to actually visit the US.
As a polar opposite to Mr Bawer"Jean-Francois Revel?s L?obsession anti-americaine, which has now appeared in the U.S. as Anti-Americanism.16 Revel?s earliest opinions of America, he tells us, were formed by ?the European press, which means that my judgment was unfavorable?; yet those opinions changed when he actually visited America during the Vietnam War. Decades later, he notes wryly, the European media still employ the same misrepresentations as they did back then==
Western Civilization IS under attack in the 21st Century by Zealots. To call them terrorists is simplistic, terrorism is but one tactic.
The world is divided into two camps as Robert Heinlein
once statedPolitical tags - such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth - are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surely curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort
I have stated this time and time again, and it bears repeaing, the only difference between the Muslim Taliban and the Transnational Progressive Taliban,is over WHO gets to Control Society, their goals and aims and idealized structure of Society is the same.
Open Trackback Day at Pirates Man Your Women
Open Trackback Monday - OzzPoll at The Land of Ozz
Monday's Pun & Open Post at Bloggin' Outloud
Monday's Best Bets at Don Surber
A Day in Honor of a Great American from Peakah's Provocations...
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