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Tuesday, 30 May 2006
The Coalition Against Illegal Immigration Roundup
A gathering of thoughts by those who are in this country legally.

Mexican Politico's Woo Hispanic Vote!!! from Red Hot Cuppa Politics
Both US -- and Mexican! -- politicians are scrambling for the fabled Hispanic vote by catering to illegal aliens in the USA.
There's something very, very screwey about Mexican politicians building a campaign around US Immigration policy.

What’s In the “Comprehensive Approach” To Illegal Immigration from The Uncooperative Blogger

An analysis of the Specter-Hagel S-2611 Immigration Bill

All these facts, except those with an *asterisk* are in the text of the legislation. Because it is long and cumbersome to read, we included links to articles and studies that summarize the legislation. If you have the time and patience to read the bill, click here. The Federation for American Immigration Reform has summarized the Amendments and the Bill in slightly less technical jargon. Click here for Amendments, and here for the main text (this text is a PDF chart comparing several competing bills, the Senate just passed the one labeled Specter-Hagel)

Notice that the figures below are based on a number of 12 million illegals when when, according to Bear Stern, the figure is actually more like 20,000 + million and some of us believe as high as 28,000 milli

Senator Jeff Sessions: Immigration Bill Is Worse Than You Think from The Uncooperative Blogger

MY new hero, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R.-Ala.) a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, offered a devastating analysis on the Senate immigration bill in a speech delivered on the Senate floor on Tuesday, May 23. Sessions pointed to outrageous parts of the bill that were hidden deep in its text. These include, for example, that the employers of illegal aliens would be given an amnesty for cheating on their taxes, and that under the terms of the law the government would for all practical purposes have to take an illegal alien's word for it that he has been in the country illegally long enough to qualify for an amnesty.

Sessions also pointed to some of the tremendous hidden costs of the bill, including the $500 billion in additional welfare payments it will cost American taxpayers in the period 10 to 20 years after its passage.

Senators who vote for the bill today cannot credibly claim later they were unaware of the elements and consequences that Sen. Session's outlined in this speech

those who do not learn from history from Organized Chaos

you know the rest. amnesty doesn't work. we tried this already in 1986. the INS(immigration and naturalization service) released a study on this back in 2000. guess what they found out? here are a few highlights (courtesy of the center for immigration studies).

Amnesties clearly do not solve the problem of illegal immigration. About 2.7 million people received lawful permanent residence ("green cards") in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a result of the amnesties contained in the Immigration Reform and Control Act(IRCA) of 1986. But these new INS figures show that by the beginning of 1997 those former illegal aliens had been entirely replaced by new illegal aliens, and that the unauthorized population again stood at more than 5 million, just as before the amnesty.

In fact, the new INS estimates show that the 1986 amnesty almost certainly increased illegal immigration, as the relatives of newly legalized illegals came to the United States to join their family members. The flow of illegals grew dramatically during the years of the amnesty to more than 800,000 a year, before dropping back down to around 500,000 a year.

shouldn't we take this into consideration when thinking about the consequences of a second amnesty for even more illegals? we shouldn't reward them or the employers that hire them for breaking the law. we should care more about protecting the rights and the jobs of american citizens than we do about taking care of those unfortunate souls whoare citizens of a corrupt socialist government. border enforcement should be a priority, but we also need to destroy incentives for employers and illegals to break the law. that's the only way to significantly reduce illegal immigration. that's where the senate bill fails to deliver the goods.

here are some important facts to know(from the heritage study):

**This was a production of The Coalition Against Illegal Immigration (CAII). If you would like to participate, please go to the above link to learn more. Afterwards, email the coalition and let me know at what level you would like to participate.


Posted by ky/kentuckydan at 5:35 PM CDT
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Updated: Wednesday, 31 May 2006 5:59 AM CDT
Carnival of Liberty 47
Carnival of Liberty 47 is up at New Worldman, organized (in the sense that anything with libertarian tendencies is "organized") like the Indianapolis 500, complete with pictures of selected drivers, all of them Danica Patrick

Get thee hence to New World Man and the Greatest Spectacle in Liberty Blogging! The 47th Carnival of Liberty is organized like the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race -- its official name -- held each Sunday before Memorial Day. (Did you know that in 1919, the first race after the Great War, the race was called The Liberty Sweepstakes?) With luck, this week's CoL is half as exciting as Sunday's Indy 500. Read to the end to discover our editor's choice post drinking milk in the winner's circle!


Posted by ky/kentuckydan at 8:54 AM CDT
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Updated: Tuesday, 30 May 2006 9:12 PM CDT
My Name is Dan
And I Am
An American

Hi Dan!

I feel like making a virtual confession to Erik Svane's virtual self help group.

Americans Anonymous

Keep Your Hopes Up, Americans Overseas, Help Is Available!
"Hello, my name is Eric, and I'm an American."
"I used to be embarrassed to admit I carried a U.S. passport, for fear of what smug and self-righteous foreigners would carp to me about my country, and ashamed in turn about the embarrassment. These dark secrets led to feelings of guilt and to an evil circle from which I couldn't escape. That's when I discovered AA (Americans Anonymous)…” More

The reason I feel like this virtual meaning is because yesterday I had an American "Slip".

It was Memorial Day, I got to thinking about what we should remember, what we should be grateful for and that lead inevitably to being an American, what that means and entails.

As everyone know America is an Idea, therefore being an American is not just a Disease of Geography but of the Mind.

Images floated through my mind Apple Pie, Mom. Iwo Jima, and also those epithets hurled at Americans and at last my thoughts centered on the ONE slur that seems to be directed at us with the most venom.


Yes, often it seems that the word America is immediately followed with a rancorous gritting of the teeth and a spewing of the epithet McDonalds. as THE epitome of Yankee Imperialist Cultural Aggression, The Golden Arches of Infamy?

Not that any American gunship has ever steamed into a foreign harbor to force the inhabitants to give McDonald's their custom. In fact it seems that the people themselves seem to desire it, otherwise there would be no McDonald's in other lands.

Maybe that is what causes the Elite Intelligentsia of those countries so much ire?

In any event, I felt a sudden and overwhelming compulsion to do something symbolic, SO

I went to McDonalds and ordered a

Quar- No make that a DOUBLE Quaterpounder with CHEESE and Fries and a COKE.


It taseted GOOD too!

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Posted by ky/kentuckydan at 5:21 AM CDT
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Updated: Tuesday, 30 May 2006 5:24 PM CDT
Monday, 29 May 2006
Some Have Forgotten
One of the Universal Truths is that Humans tend to forget unpleasant things.

Some of us have forgotten a few unpleasant but vital truths.

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."

From the days a General named Washington helped give birth to a New Nation and refused to be crowned it's King.

To a Later General named Jackson who swore,

“The British Shall Not Sleep Upon Our Soil To Night

To a much later General named Grant who also saved the Union and who marched his troops into Washington after Lincoln's assassination to uphold the Constitutional Succession,

The Military of the United States has NEVER failed in its duty to the Nation.

Our Civilian Political Leaders may have, The Public and the Politicians may have failed the Military, betrayed them and treated them shabbily, but the Military has never failed to uphold their Oath.

I, _________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

But some of US have forgotten and failed THEM.

Board has plan to oust ROTC from S.F. schools

The San Francisco Board of Education appears poised to kick the military's Junior ROTC programs out of the city's public schools.

In February, Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval appeared on Fox's "Hannity and Colmes" show and said, "The United States should not have a military. All in all, we would be in much, much, much better shape."

Had the Military not done their duty about 60 years ago Mr(?) Sandoval might be speaking Japanese. But he and his ilk never think of things like that.

Fortunately San Fransisco is only a small perverted portion of this Great Nation.
I should not paint the whole City with the same brush, but their elected officials do leave a foul taste in the mouth
Let US remember with respect and with gratitude the sacrifices made over the years by those in Uniform.

Memorial Day

by Edgar A. Guest (1881-1959)

The finest tribute we can pay
Unto our hero dead to-day,
Is not a rose wreath, white and red,
In memory of the blood they shed;
It is to stand beside each mound,
Each couch of consecrated ground,
And pledge ourselves as warriors true
Unto the work they died to do.

Into God's valleys where they lie
At rest, beneath the open sky,
Triumphant now o'er every foe,
As living tributes let us go.
No wreath of rose or immortelles
Or spoken word or tolling bells
Will do to-day, unless we give
Our pledge that liberty shall live.

Our hearts must be the roses red
We place above our hero dead;
To-day beside their graves we must
Renew allegiance to their trust;
Must bare our heads and humbly say
We hold the Flag as dear as they,
And stand, as once they stood, to die
To keep the Stars and Stripes on high.

The finest tribute we can pay
Unto our hero dead to-day
Is not of speech or roses red,
But living, throbbing hearts instead,
That shall renew the pledge they sealed
With death upon the battlefield:
That freedom's flag shall bear no stain
And free men wear no tyrant's chain.

As usual Cox & Forkum capture the true spirit of

Memorial Day


Posted by ky/kentuckydan at 7:15 AM CDT
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Updated: Monday, 29 May 2006 7:26 AM CDT
The Open Trackback Alliance XXIX
For your listening pleasure while you browse

"Der er et yndigt land" (There Is A Lovely Land)

Words by: Adam Gottlob Oehlenschlager
Music by: Hans Ernst Kr?yer
Adopted: 1844

"Derer et yndigt land" was first performed for a large gathering of Danes in 1844, and became popular quickly with the Danish people. It was adopted later that year by the Danish government as a national anthem, but not the sole national anthem. This anthem is on equal status with "Kong Christian",which is both the national and royal anthem.

When the Danish anthem is usually performed or sung, the first verse is played in its entirety, then it is followed by the last four lines of the last verse. (This is true whether the lyrics are sung or not

Recentlty I have been posting music to Illustrate the Diversity of America, this week I have a different motive to express Solidarity with DENMARK

I maintain my Support of Denmark, and will later today, post links to and my thoughts about a Danish Editorial "We are being pissed upon by Per Nyholm "

I think I shall title my Post, "There is no "But" in "Freedom of Speech".

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.

For I believe that those bloggers who find their way, here and in particular from the Blogs associated with Sam.


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


This week I also have shortened my usual introduction for a more inportant message.

In it's struggle for Freedom of Speech.

Sign the Petition NOW!

JEG opstille hos Danmark!

44162 Total Signatures 0:38 AM CST 22 May, 2006 We can do better pass the word~!

From Agora a call to Support the Manifesto online by signing another Petition, why not sign both?

MANIFESTO: Together facing the new totalitarianism
Created by Mark Jefferson on March 1st, 2006 at 5:42 pm AST

After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new totalitarian global threat: Islamism.
We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all. "

Open Trackback Alliance

Blogs that Trackback to this Post:

On Monday
A Homework Assignment: "long train of abuses" from third world county

Y'al come back now, Y'heah? ;-)


Posted by ky/kentuckydan at 12:09 AM CDT
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Updated: Tuesday, 30 May 2006 2:00 AM CDT
Friday, 26 May 2006
From Behind the Quran Curtain

Iran to launch a new suicide bombers garrison on Thursday

Tehran, Iran, May 24 – Iran will launch a new suicide-bombers garrison on Thursday, according to the head of a group affiliated to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Mohammad-Ali Samadi, spokesman for the Headquarters to Commemorate the Martyrs of the Global Islamic Movement, a government-orchestrated campaign to recruit suicide bombers, told the state-run news agency Mehr on Tuesday that the group planned to officially announce the existence of the new garrison in a ceremony in Tehran’s largest cemetery on Thursday afternoon.

The new garrison will be named after Nader Mahdavi, an IRGC naval commander who died in a suicide attack on an American naval vessel in 1987, Samadi said.

The report said that more that 55,000 “volunteers for martyrdom-seeking operations” had been registered so far by the organisation, which also calls itself “Estesh’hadioun”, or martyrdom-seekers.

In February, the group launched a new recruitment drive for suicide bombers in Tehran to fight against “Global Blasphemy”.

The group was set up by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in 2004. Those who join have three choices: To carry out suicide attacks against “the infidels occupying Iraq”, against Israel, or against Salman Rushdie.

Crackdown on women spreads to Iran’s provinces

Tehran, Iran, May 12 – Iranian security forces have extended their crackdown on “mal-veiled” women from Tehran to Iran’s other provinces.

The semi-official daily Jomhouri Islami quoted on Wednesday the head of the State Security Forces in the province of Gilan, northern Iran, as saying that 15 women had been arrested on charges of “mal-veiling”.

The women were all arrested in the provincial capital, Rasht, it said, adding that a number of other women had also received warnings that they would also be arrested if they breached the Islamic dress code.

The crackdown, which began in Tehran in mid-April, coincided with a call by Majlis (Parliament) deputies for the adoption of a bill to regulate women’s attire during the hot summer months.

Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, women in Iran have been forced to cover their hair and wear long, loose-fitting clothes to disguise the shape of their bodies in public.

Penalties for disobeying the dress code are severe. Women caught flouting the code can receive lashes, jail sentences, and large fines.

Iran students protest over increased restrictions

TEHRAN, May 24 (Reuters) - Stone-throwing Iranian students fought police and Islamic vigilantes on Wednesday in protest against restrictions imposed by the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, witnesses said.

Students who covered their faces with scarves lit fires outside dormitories through Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, photographs showed. By dawn the streets were littered with hundreds of stones they had thrown.

Deputy Tehran Governor Abdollah Roshan told the ISNA students news agency 40 policemen and four students had been injured. He said the police had arrested six people.

Senior student leader Abdollah Momeni said up to 2,000 students had gathered for the protest over the expulsion of some students and the way authorities had been handling critics.

He added 20 had been seized by Islamic vigilantes who broke into the dormitories.

"The main reason for the objections in recent days goes back to the limitations imposed on universities and political students after the new government came to power," Momeni said.

Religious conservative Ahmadinejad was inaugurated in August.

"Some active students have been expelled and some students face mass summons before disciplinary committees. We are also objecting to recent dealings with critical professors such as Ramin Jahanbegloo," he added.

Iran earlier this month said it had arrested philosopher Jahanbegloo on charges of espionage. He specialised in liberal political philosophy and worked extensively on developing understanding between Iran and the West.

Other student witnesses said the crowd had chanted "Down with despotism" and hurled stones at police cars outside the dormitories, breaking their windows.

Iran's last major nationwide student demonstrations were in 2003, when hundreds of students were arrested.

Iran’s ethnic protests show no sign of relent
Orumieh, Iran, May 25 – Anti-government protests and clashes erupted in dozens of towns and cities in north-west Iran on Thursday following a 100,000-strong rally in the city of Tabriz by enraged Azeris on Monday against the publication of an insulting cartoon in an official daily, eye-witnesses reported.

In the town of Marand, thousands took part in a violent demonstration chanting anti-government slogans, a dissident who requested anonymity told Iran Focus by telephone.

In nearby Orumieh, government forces opened fire on a rally by several thousand protesters near the local headquarters of the state broadcasting company on Wednesday, killing at least people, witnesses reported. Previously, the offices of the daily Iran, which published the cartoon, were set on fire in the city.

Protests also flared on Thursday in the cities of Zanjan and Ardebil which had been the scenes of mass rallies since Monday.

During Monday’s demonstration in Tabriz, angry Azeris poured in the streets, attacking state-owned buildings and banks. Police used teargas to disperse the protesters.

Dozens of state-buildings were also set on fire in several other towns.

Ethnic Azeris make up approximately 25 percent of Iran’s population.

If you are reading this, then you must be interested in the situation in Iran to have gotten to his point, through all of the above.

I would like to ask you then, the items so far? Do they make sense in the same Universe as this statement in the Washington Post?

Iran Requests Direct Talks on Nuclear Program

TEHRAN, May 23 -- Iran has followed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent letter to President Bush with explicit requests for direct talks on its nuclear program, according to U.S. officials, Iranian analysts and foreign diplomats.

The eagerness for talks demonstrates a profound change in Iran's political orthodoxy, emphatically erasing a taboo against contact with Washington that has both defined and confined Tehran's public foreign policy for more than a quarter-century, they said.

Or, are our intellectual elite, once again practicing wishful thinking that will result in something like this

Ahmadinejad laughs off resolution

IRAN'S hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today brushed off a decision by the International Atomic Energy Agency to report his country to the UN Security Council as "funny" and labelled his country's enemies as "idiots".

"You can pass as many resolutions as you like and be happy about it, but you cannot stop the progress of the Iranian people... We thank God that our enemies are idiots," he was quoted as saying by Iranian news agencies.
The IAEA voted yesterday to report Iran to the UN Security Council amid fears the country is seeking nuclear weapons. Iran argues it only wants to generate electricity and has accused the West of trying to intimidate it.

"We don't need you. It is you who need the Iranian people. This is the funniest decision I've seen," said the austere president.

"They are angry at the Islamic Republic, because the Iranian people have reached the summit of science and technology."
And in a direct challenge to the West, he said: "You know you cannot do anything, because the era of domination and repression is over and we are no longer in the Middle Ages."

Iran has retaliated against the resolution, with Ahmadinejad ordering an end to snap IAEA inspections as well as the resumption of sensitive fuel cycle work



Posted by ky/kentuckydan at 12:00 AM CDT
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Updated: Friday, 26 May 2006 5:56 AM CDT
Thursday, 25 May 2006
Well It Seems To Be Unanimous

All THREE of the Dixie Chicks suffer from Hoof in Mouth Disease.

First came Natilie Maines with her now infamous

"Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas."

Then in interviews over the newly released
"Taking The Long Way", which now sits on the Billboard Charts in Top Country Albums at #69 , Martie Maguire said,

" "But over the years, and especially since country music's turned into this redneck thing, it's become kind of a negative. I think for a while, a lot of artists were doing great things that ... were broadening the audience so that country was cool. ... So it makes me sad that it's kind of reverted back to a place that I'm not that proud of, and this is coming from a true country fan. I can't listen to the radio right now."

So it appears that Natlie is ashamed to be lumped together with Bush, by being from the same State, Martie is ashamed to be lumped together with rednecks and wants fans that are cool (does anyone recall Barbara Mandrell's song, I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool?), andNOW Emily has stuck her foot down her throat with an unthinking statement about The View

Dixie Chicks' Emily Robison Apologizes to 'The View'

Thursday , May 25, 2006

By Michael Starr

Robison was quoted in Time's Dixie Chicks cover story as saying the group takes its politics very seriously - and how it asks itself, "What would Bruce Springsteen do?"

"Not that we're of that caliber, but would Bruce Springsteen do 'The View'? " Robison said

What difference does it make? One might ask what they say or think about Some Talk Show? It's real simple.

The comment infuriated the show's co-hosts, since "The View" gave The Dixie Chicks their big break in 1998. On Tuesday's show, Joy Behar tore the Time magazine article to shreds

We have some sayings down home about folks like this.

"Forgot where they come from"

"Think they are too good for Home folks"

I'd say the shoe fits and I hope the Chicks get to enjoy the taste of leather.

PS "While Taking The Long Way" Sits on the Billboard Top Country Albums Chart at 69,

Toby Keiths last album White Trash With Money which peaked at #2 is now sitting at #4 on Top Country Albums, I will be updating this post as the Dixie Chicks album climbs until it peaks.

J. Freedom du Lac in Dixie Chicks Leave Their Old Country says

Despite the excess fingerprints, the album holds together exceptionally well -- save for the inclusion of "Bitter End," an ill-fitting Celtic waltz with a chorus ("Farewell to old friends/Let's raise a glass to the bitter end") that seems to have been designed specifically for future pub singalongs. Either that, or a kiss-off party for the Chicks' former fans.

I'd say it was the later JF, to paraphrase Zell Miller, the Fans did not leave the Dixie Chicks, the Dixie Chicks left the Fans, and told them to F^&% Off.

I sure don't think they really mean "Freedom, Understanding, Truth & Knowledge." , and anyone who ever bought that lame story, can be excused, they are not mentally competent, and more to be pitied than scorned.


Posted by ky/kentuckydan at 10:08 PM CDT
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Updated: Friday, 26 May 2006 12:33 AM CDT
Break Point
By George Friedman

A government has been formed in Iraq. It is a defective government, in the sense that it does not yet have a defense or interior minister. It is an ineffective government, insofar as the ability to govern directly is at this point limited institutionally, politically and functionally. Ultimately, what exists now is less a government than a political arrangement between major elements of Iraq's three main ethnic groups. And that is what makes this agreement of potentially decisive importance: If it holds, it represents the political foundation of a regime.

If it holds.

If it holds, the rest is almost easy. If it doesn't hold, the rest is impossible. Therefore, the fate of this political arrangement will define the future of Iraq and, with that, the future of the region -- and in some ways, the future of the American position in the region. It is not hyperbole to say that everything depends on this deal.

The deal that has been shaped is about two things: power and money. First, it addresses the composition of power in Iraq -- defining the Shia as the dominant group, based on demographics, the Kurds next and the Sunnis as the smallest group. At the same time, it provides institutional and political guarantees to the Sunnis that their interests will not simply be ignored and that they will not be crushed by the Shia and Kurds. In terms of money, we are talking about oil. Iraq's oil fields are in the south, unquestionably in Shiite country, and in the north, in the borderland between Kurd and Sunni territory. One of the points of this arrangement is to assure that oil revenues will not be controlled on a simply regional basis, but will be at least partially controlled by the central government. Therefore, at least some of that money will go to the Sunnis, regardless of what arrangements are made on the ground with the Kurds.

The Sunnis got this deal for a simple reason: Their insurgency made them impossible to ignore. First, the insurgency forced the Americans to recognize that their initial inclination, de-Baathification, also meant de-Sunnification of Iraq, and that the price for that would be painful. Second, the insurgency threatened Iraq with partition and civil war. Any such partition would have made Iran the dominant power in the region, something that would be unacceptable to Saudi Arabia and the other governments in the Persian Gulf. The Saudis were no friends of the Baathists in Iraq, but the thought of partition -- and of only the United States to provide security against Iranian influence -- forced them to mobilize Arab support for the Sunnis. The insurgency was the Sunni leaders' prime bargaining chip, and they played it well.

Now there is a twofold question that must be faced. First, in response to the deal that has been made, can the Sunni political leadership move decisively to end the insurgency, or at least reduce its tempo? And second, is it willing to do so? The implications are significant: If the insurgency continues, the entire political agreement will cease to be meaningful to the Americans, who are sponsoring and, in effect, guaranteeing the deal. Moreover, if Sunni insurgents continue to target Iraqi Shia, the quietly vicious counterattacks that the Shia have carried out will surge. The Sunnis blow things up; the Shia come quietly and kill their enemies. If the sectarian violence continues, it will mean there is no political foundation, no government and no change in the situation in Iraq. In that case, the United States will have to choose between remaining and mitigating a chaotic situation, or leaving and letting events run their course -- which also means leaving an open field for Iranian ambitions. From the American point of view, this agreement has to work. And everything depends on the Sunnis.

Core Assumptions and Brass Tacks

Insurgencies don't simply float in the air. It isn't a question of just loading a car with explosives or setting up an improvised explosive device. Someone has to obtain, store and distribute explosives. Someone has to train people to build the device. Someone has to communicate with others without getting caught. Someone has to recruit new insurgents without being detected, and without allowing enemy agents to slip in. Someone has to provide security. And all of this has to happen somewhere, in a geographic space.

That space has been, for the most part, the villages and urban neighborhoods of the Sunni Triangle. The insurgency has been rooted there, the insurgents are known and their presence is protected in those neighborhoods. They are provided with food and shelter, and the village and neighborhood network warns them of enemy approaches. Mao Zedong said once that revolutionaries must be to the people as the tongue is to the teeth: If the support of the population is withdrawn, the revolution collapses.

At the heart of this political settlement, then, is the expectation that -- in return for political and financial concessions -- the Sunni leadership will order the insurgents they do control to cease attacks, and will order the population to withdraw support from the insurgents they don't control. In other words, the Baathist and nationalist insurgents who are linked to the Sunni leadership would halt operations, while the jihadists led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- who have their own set of needs and goals in the region -- would either halt operations themselves or have the shield of the Sunni community withdrawn. The insurgency would not just end suddenly, but would decline fairly rapidly as recalcitrant troops were squeezed out of the Sunni region.

Given this dynamic, we would expect a surge of violence from elements who oppose the political agreement in Baghdad and see themselves being squeezed out. Their hope will be that the violence, particularly against the Shia, will trigger a Shiite response and cause the settlement to collapse. But the success or failure of that gamble will hinge on the answer to the core question: To what extent does the Sunni leadership control the insurgents? We assume that it is not total control, and we assume that there are elements among the Sunni leadership who oppose the political deal.

But the central assumption is that the bulk of the leadership has bought into the deal and, therefore, that the bulk of the insurgents will follow their lead. There also is an assumption that the bulk of the Sunni population will follow these leaders and withdraw support for remaining insurgents. Now, these insurgents could enjoy some lingering support among the public, and they could coerce others into protecting them. This would lead to a short but intense struggle within the Sunni community that, given the correlation of forces, ultimately would result in the defeat of the diehards. They would hang on -- waging a campaign that would be painful but not decisive, increasingly marginalized and ineffective.

This is the likely path, but it assumes two things. The first is that the political wing that has negotiated this agreement is able to assert control over the bulk of the Sunni population. In other words, one assumes that the Americans and Shia have been negotiating with the right people. If not, then the political settlement will not end the insurgency, and the violence will continue. We do not see this as the likely problem, however: The leadership ought to be able to deliver the bulk of the Sunni community and therefore reduce the fighting, if they want to.

The real question is whether they want to. As we said before, the insurgency is the only bargaining chip the Sunnis have. It was because of the insurgency that the Sunnis were not completely bypassed by the Americans and Shia. If they stand down but retain the ability to resume their offensive, the political deal can hold. But if, by standing down, the Sunnis demoralize their forces or permit intelligence on the location of weapons caches and personnel to diffuse to the Americans or Shia over time, the Sunnis could find themselves in a position from which they no longer can enforce the agreement.

So the key calculation for the Sunnis is this: If they stand down, can they maintain a credible force that is ready to serve their political purposes?

The demand that Iraq's various militias disarm has been focused on the Shiite militias. But at the end of the day, the Shia are the dominant force in the Iraqi government: If their militias were integrated into the military and security structures, they still would be available to serve Shiite political purposes. If, on the other hand, the Sunni militias were disarmed or integrated into the Iraqi military and security structures, they would lose their force and their leverage.

Obviously, this is why the defense and interior ministers have not yet been designated. It is not really about the individuals to be named, as their power will be circumscribed by the Cabinet. The issue is not the ministers themselves, but how the ministries will be run. More accurately, since it is these ministries that will control Iraq's military and internal security forces, the question that must be answered is how these forces will be configured. The Shia do not need guarantees. The Sunnis do. So the architecture of these ministries -- and the constitution of military and police units -- has everything to do with Sunni security.

There is a chicken-or-egg problem. The Sunnis do not want to begin standing down their forces until structural guarantees are in place. The Shia -- and in this case, the Americans -- are not going to give those guarantees until they see that the Sunnis can and will control the insurgents. They will not both confirm the Sunni position in the ministries and continue to endure the insurgency. They want to see steps toward the insurgency being controlled. The naming of the ministers is more symbolic than real, but the ministries themselves are very real. The Sunnis cannot be both in the army and making policy and still be waging an insurgency.

Other Considerations

There also is a real question as to whether the Shia want the agreement to work. Certainly the Iranians would like another go-around in order to increase not only the power of the Shia in general, but of those Iraqi Shia who are close to the Iranians. A civil war would increase Shiite dependence on the Iranians, since they would need weapons and political support. The Iraqi Shia do not seem to have much appetite for Iranian ambitions at the moment. They will dominate the government; they do not need to obliterate the Sunnis at the cost of a long civil war. They have most of what they want. Still, there are those in the Shiite community who are ambitious to displace the current power structure, and who see civil war as the way to achieve this. They are the ones who will continue with operations against the Sunni community, hoping to prevent a stand-down by the insurgents. The Shiite leaders, therefore, have a similar (though smaller) problem to the Sunnis'. They can contain the more aggressive and ambitious Shia. But Iran's ability to destabilize their community is the wild card.

This points up another dynamic as well. The United States and Iran have been engaged in a seemingly incomprehensible round of meetings, non-meetings, threats, offers of accommodation and so on over Iraq and nuclear weapons. Each side has made strange noises, given contemptuous shrugs and pulled fierce faces at the other. One would think that war was imminent. In fact, the opposite is true: Each is trying to avoid war by appearing fearsome and slightly nuts. The Americans want to scare the Iranians away from destabilizing Iraq's Shiite community. The Iranians want to make one last run at the Americans to maximize the power of the Shia -- and particularly that of their allies -- in the Iraqi government.

The Americans obviously want a settlement. And the Iraqi Shia want one. They are less dependent on Tehran than it might appear, and it seems they are prepared to follow through. The Sunnis, all doubts and worries aside, have every reason to want a settlement, and it is unlikely that they will get a better one. Certainly there are Sunnis who don't want a settlement, but it seems to us that they can be dealt with if the Sunni leaders want to deal with them. At this point, the only alternative to this settlement is civil war -- and it is hard to see a major player who benefits from a civil war, even if plenty of minor ones might.

For the Americans, the deal at hand is the exit strategy from the war. As violence declines, the United States can draw down its forces and begin concentrating on the question of what it plans to do in Afghanistan, the next item on the agenda. On the other hand, if the agreement in Baghdad blows apart, there is little point in American forces remaining in Iraq. With 130,000 troops, the United States could not contain a civil war; the forces could only take casualties, while achieving nothing. The ideal outcome would be a drawdown culminating in a residual force of, say, 40,000 troops based outside of heavily populated regions.

This goal is not unreachable at this point. It is possible to recoup the poorly played American hand, to some extent. But the fate of the political deal is not within U.S. control. The outcome depends, first, on the Sunni leadership and its desire and ability to suppress the insurgency. It depends, second, on the Iraqi Shiite leaders' ability to dominate their community and resist destabilization by Iran. And it depends, finally, on the Iranians accepting the current situation without surging forces covertly into Iraq.

In other words, the United States has become, to a great extent, a bystander. Washington can make whatever guarantees it wants, but the calculus by all sides now is whether they can secure their interests with their own resources. At this point, the United States is growing less and less relevant to the outcome in Iraq, though it remains urgently interested in what that outcome will be.

If we had to guess, we would say that the political arrangement should work, more or less. But we don't have to guess. It is now nearly Memorial Day. The violence in Iraq will surge, but by July 4 there either will be clear signs that the Sunnis are controlling the insurgency -- or there won't. If they are controlling the insurgency, the United States will begin withdrawing troops in earnest. If they are not controlling the insurgency, the United States will begin withdrawing troops in earnest. Regardless of whether the deal holds, the U.S. war in Iraq is going to end: U.S. troops either will not be needed, or will not be useful.

Thus, we are at a break point -- at least for the Americans.
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Posted by ky/kentuckydan at 2:08 AM CDT
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Updated: Thursday, 25 May 2006 2:22 AM CDT
Tuesday, 23 May 2006
Not Ready To Make Nice

Today is May the 23rd and the long hiatus of the Dixie Chicks, comes to and end, with the release of their new album Taking the Long Way
, though to my mind if the idea was a fresh start and regain their former position it would have been better to have named this album Taking the Wrong Way

The last few years have not been kind to the Chicks.
One can see that readily enough in Billboard

Once the darlings of country, the Chicks lost many fans?and the support of country radio?after a 2003 incident in which Natalie Maines made a relatively innocuous comment about President Bush from a London stage. The group has finally re-emerged stronger, more defiant and more creatively ambitious than ever.

That more defiant--than ever is the crux of the whole matter.

Just peruse their Chart History 2003 "Landslide" in Adult Contemporary was their last #1 hit back in 2003 then they pretty much dropped off a cliff.

2003 "Godspeed (Sweet Dreams)" Hot Country Singles & Tracks #48 2003

Then a 2 year absence until in 2005 "I Hope" Hot Country Singles & Tracks #54 and Pop 100 #92?

The single pre-releases of this new album have been equally dismal.

There are reasons for this. We had an interesting debate last night on this subject over at Big Lizards in Maines Vs. Texas, what I am doing here is revising and extending my remarks there.

Country radio disses Dixie Chicks

'Nice' barely scrapes top 40; follow-up faltering

Monday, May 22, 2006; Posted: 9:37 p.m. EDT (01:37 GMT)
Dixie Chicks are not ready to back down (2:14)

Manage Alerts | What Is This? NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Billboard) -- Disappointing airplay for the first two singles from the new album by the Dixie Chicks exposes a deep -- and seemingly growing -- rift between the trio and the country radio market that helped turn the group into superstars.

The first single, "Not Ready to Make Nice," peaked at No. 36 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart, beginning its descent after just seven weeks. The second single, "Everybody Knows," is now at No. 50, down two places in its fourth week. (Watch the Chicks try to reposition themselves -- 2:14)

"Not Ready to Make Nice" performed only slightly better at adult contemporary radio, peaking at No. 32 on the AC chart and falling off after six weeks.

By picking the defiant "Not Ready" as the first single, they've reopened a wound that was particularly deep for country radio fans, and left many country programmers with the burning question: Why on earth would the band choose to do this?

After hearing the album, WKIS Miami program director Bob Barnett says he was "excited about the opportunity to introduce some great Chicks music to the listeners." But the group's decision to come with "Not Ready" as the lead single left him "stunned, especially in light of the fact that, when asked, programmers and consultants that listened to the project were virtually unanimous in saying we should put the politics behind us and concentrate on all this other great music we were hearing."

Barnett played the song for a week, but pulled it after listeners called to say it sounded like the Chicks were "gloating" or "rubbing our noses in it," he reports. "We didn't need to pick at the scab any longer."

That is it in a nutshell, they will have to transition out of Country Music, because the have in effect told Country Music Fans, We don't Want You, We don't Need You, and We don't even LIKE You.

At KNCI Sacramento, California, the Chicks' music weathered the 2003 controversy only to be pulled as a result of Maines' new Entertainment Weekly comments, coupled with poor scores in local music tests.

"When an artist says that they don't want to be a part of that industry, it made our decision a no-brainer,"
program director Mark Evans says. "There are too many talented new artists dying to have a song played on country radio, so I'd rather give one of them a shot."

To top everything that has gone on over the last three years for many Country Fans this next time may have been the last straw,

For band member Martie Maguire, the controversy was a blessing in disguise.

I'd rather have a small following of really cool people who get it, who will grow with us as we grow and are fans for life, than people that have us in their five-disc changer with Reba McEntire and Toby Keith," Maguire said. "We don't want those kinds of fans. They limit what you can do."

Now Toby Keith and the Dixie Chicks have a History, but I don't see any reason for Martie to put down Reba McEntire.

Except one maybe. My opposite number in a debate on Big Lizards made a big deal about the new album being #1 on Amazon, but I pointed out that in my opinion if you REALLY want to gauge the success of a Country album you will look at the Sales figures not on Amazon, but on WalMart.

On the WalMart Website in the top 100 best sellers on the fist page which has the top 30 best sellers, you will find Miss Reba at #s 1,2,3,6,7,21,22,23,24 & 25.

I might have over looked them and if I did it was not an intentional mistake, but I could not find a single Dixie Chick album WalMarts Top 100.

Note: I can't find the page I was on last night and I REALLY regret not having a URL to source, but I will stand by the above figures even though the ratings and the format on the WalMart Website have changed a lot. I did a search for the Dixie Chicks there and then clicked on a "Top Sellers" link on that page. Darn it next time I will save the link anyway no matter how easy it was to find

In any event the slur towards Reba McEntire was not necessary, unless the intent was to burn all bridges.

In AllAboutCountry an article stated.

The Chicks will perform on "The Late Show with David Letterman" tonight. AND, they will be featured on "Good Morning America" every morning this week (starting this morning), and ending with their performance of three songs live in Bryant Park in New York City, on Friday morning.

Which means the studio is pulling out all stops to the album's position in the Charts, BUT

Ironically, the Dixie Chicks are NOT involved at all, with "The 41st Annual Academy Of Country Music Awards" on CBS-TV tomorrow night...even though it airs on the same day that the new Chicks CD is released...and therefore are essentially competing with The ACM Awards for media attention. Coincidence? Hmmmm...

They make the transition to another Music or they are no longer the Dixie Chicks, but the Dead Ducks.

Like I said in the beginning of this post if the idea was to return to their former status and they WERE at the very top, This album should not have been named Taking the Long Way, but Taking the Wrong Way.

I just saw todays USA TODAY in the plant cafeteria. Say what you will, USA TODAY is a very popular Flyover Land News venue. The Frontpage has a noticeable absence of the Dixie Chicks BUT it does have a lead in for American Idol. ;-)

So I headed over to the Life section. No Dixie Chicks, American Idol AND todays Hot Story on Music?

Opening night with Madonna: The inside scoop

Madonna kicked off her Confessions Tour Sunday night at The Forum in Los Angeles. USA TODAY's Edna Gundersen was there to give you the inside scoop.
The music: The beat-crazy energy seldom flags in a highly polished two-hour show subdivided into Equestrian, Bedouin, Never Mind the Bullocks and Disco sections, though it's the heady pulse of dance music, fortified by a sharp band, that dominates throughout. The rhythm-driven bonanza plucks nine of its 22 songs from Madonna's sweaty Confessions on a Dance Floor album, and the new tunes hold up well live, especially Sorry, Jump and I Love New York. Latter-day hits eclipse classics, with the shimmery Ray of Light and boisterous Music easily outshining a tinny Lucky Star. Madonna is as fit vocally as physically, effortlessly nailing tender passages or a demanding upper register after strenuous bump-and-grind workouts.

STIRRING UP CONTROVERSY: Catholic League angered over crucifixion act during concert

Not the Stirring up controversy, I was expecting.
The Dixie Chicks do not seem to be impacting on Americana with a Bang, but a Yawn.

I FOUND the Link from last night!
Recommended Music
Albums by related artists. to Dixie Chicks. So by going to Dixie Chicks and the clicking on Recommended Artists is how I ended up on a page dominated by Reba McEntire.

I am beginning to wonder if I have stumbled into an alternate Universe at times. I just finished looking over an article by J. Freedom du Lac in the Washington Post. Dixie Chicks Leave Their Old Country
This part threw me for a loop.

Especially if you're listening to the album's centerpiece single, "Not Ready to Make Nice." The song opens as something of a dirge, with Maines quietly cooing: "Forget? Sounds good/Forgive? I'm not sure I could." It unfolds slowly, almost politely, but there's no mistaking the group's mood once the defiant chorus kicks in: "I'm not ready to make nice, I'm not ready to back down/I'm still mad as hell . . . can't bring myself to do what it is that you think I should."

Take that , Toby Keith!

But wait, there's more on what's likely to stand as one of the best songs of 2006.

Say what? one of the best songs of 2006 a song that as a single PEAKED at #32 in Adult Contemporary and #36 in Hot Country Songs????

How bad does a song have to bomb before this author would not think of it as "one of the best songs of 2006"????????


Posted by ky/kentuckydan at 5:53 AM CDT
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Updated: Wednesday, 24 May 2006 12:56 AM CDT
North Korea: Missile Tests and Regional Impacts
This just in my email box from "Strategic Forecasting, Inc."
By Rodger Baker

North Korea has done it again. A week after it tested seven missiles, including the long-range Taepodong-2, a resolution condemning its actions has stalled in the U.N. Security Council (UNSC), South Korea is criticizing Japan for hyping the launch, Japan is openly discussing changes to its constitutional military restrictions, and the United States is asking China to use its negotiating capabilities to bring some stability to the situation. If North Korea was largely marginalized leading into July, it is now once again the center of attention -- and controversy.

Defying repeated warnings from the United States, Japan, South Korea and even Russia and China, North Korea launched not one but seven missiles, early July 5 local time. Most were short- or medium-range Hwasong or Nodong missiles; the first launch was timed to coincide with the Independence Day launch of space shuttle Discovery in Florida. But it was the third missile, the long-range Taepodong-2 -- believed to be capable of striking Alaska or Hawaii -- that garnered the most attention.

Pyongyang accomplished quite a bit with the July 5 launches. First and foremost, it has shocked the world with multiple tests while managing to avoid a military confrontation with the United States. It has been able to gauge the effectiveness of improvements in its ballistic missile program -- particularly with the short- and medium-range models that pose a more significant threat to regional security than the Taepodong-2. And it has once again exposed and exploited rifts in Washington's Northeast Asian alliance structure.

Moreover, with disagreements stalling any actions against North Korea at the U.N. Security Council, it is China that appears poised to gain the most from Pyongyang's actions.

Taepodong Failure and U.S. Relief

North Korea had placed the Taepodong-2 on its launch platform more than a month prior to the test launch, as if posing it for U.S. spy satellites and reconnaissance aircraft. Several times, Japan or others announced that a launch was imminent, and each time there was a corresponding cry for restraint, and increasingly overt threats from the United States and Japan -- including calls to shoot the missile down in midflight or even strike it before it left the launchpad.

When the Taepodong-2 finally lifted off, at shortly after 5 a.m. local time, it produced more of a fizzle than a bang. The missile didn't fly over Japan. It didn't place a satellite into orbit. It didn't fulfill a bold, unofficial threat by Pyongyang and land off the coast of New York. In fact, it flew within parameters for just 40 seconds, before either breaking up or suffering engine troubles and veering off course. It landed in the waters between North Korea, Japan and Russia a few minutes later.

The failure was quickly labeled by international media, observers and U.S. officials as an embarrassment to the North Korean regime and a demonstration that Pyongyang lacks the wherewithal to pull off a successful test or to threaten the United States. The additional six missiles were written off as little more than upgraded, inaccurate, short-range SCUD missiles. The initial condescension towards North Korea's technical capabilities was coupled with condemnation of the tests and contradictory recommendations for follow-on actions.

But not all the details of the missile's flight path are clear. According to some reports, the missile performed normally for some 40-42 seconds, burned out and fell into the ocean. Other reports suggest a catastrophic failure, fragmentation of the rocket or a fire. Some estimates put the total flight time at around two minutes, while the South Koreans have said total flight time was seven minutes -- during which the missile traveled 499 kilometers from its launch facility.

Given the available information, it is very likely that the missile suffered system damage during the most critical and stressful part of the launch. This is certainly the picture the United States is projecting, and apparently with some relief. In the weeks leading up to the launch, Washington had touted the strengths of the U.S. missile defense system, moved tests forward on the calendar and warned that the option of shooting down the Taepodong-2 was clearly on the table. The failure of North Korea's missile, however, kept Washington from having to make the difficult decision of whether to carry through with that threat and shoot it down in flight.

There were real reservations about acting on those threats. First, while Washington has confidence in the missile defense system, that confidence is not 100 percent. If North Korea had fired its missile and a U.S. intercept failed, it would be the U.S. Defense Department and the Bush administration with pie on its face. More importantly, such a failure could undermine whatever psychological deterrent the missile defense system currently provides.

But perhaps even more troubling for Washington was the prospect that a strike against the North Korean missile would succeed. First, there is a question of where the intercept would take place -- and where the debris would fall. But the second question is how North Korea would respond. Pyongyang has one key consideration in its actions: ensuring regime survival. North Korea structures its defense force and projects a prickly personality in order to dissuade the United States or others from attacking. But Pyongyang knows that its capabilities are limited and that, in a war with the United States, it ultimately would lose.

Though it feels threatened by Washington, the North Korean leadership does not view launching an offensive war as a logical act. North Korea is outgunned and outclassed by the United States; launching an invasion of South Korea or an attack on Japan or the United States would be a surefire way to ensure regime change in Pyongyang. If Washington shot down its missile, however, the North Korean elite might view that as a guarantee of imminent U.S. military action -- and Pyongyang might strike out at its neighbors to inflict as much pain as possible, seeking to disrupt any U.S. invasion or attack plans.

But even barring such a reaction, allowing its missile to be shot out of the sky by the U.S. military would trigger significant stresses for North Korea -- both within the elite and from the broader military and society. The regime would question whether it could maintain cohesion and stability without retaliating. For Washington, then, either a failure or a success of the U.S. missile defense system could lead to open hostilities in Northeast Asia. The best thing Washington could have hoped for was that North Korea's missile would fail -- even before the button would have had to be pushed for the intercept.

And Pyongyang knew this as well.

A Scrubbed Launch?

There is some possibility that North Korea intentionally scrubbed the launch. On the one hand, simply putting the missile away after leaving it on the pad for more than a month would have been viewed as capitulation -- and that could have weakened the internal cohesion of the regime. A launch became necessary practically as soon as the missile was rolled out (unless Washington had given in to Pyongyang's calls for bilateral talks).

But on the other hand, while North Korea has always walked close to the line, it has been very careful not to cross it. A successful Taepodong-2 test could have shifted the strategic calculation of Japan or the United States toward North Korea. Tokyo already had warned that if any part of the Taepodong-2 fell on Japanese territory, it would be considered an act of war. And while Washington has been relatively lax toward North Korea, aside from rhetoric and the occasional economic lever, all bets would be off should North Korea demonstrate the ability to pose a concrete threat to the U.S. mainland.

For Pyongyang, a controlled launch failure presented a better outcome than risking an accident or simply putting away the long-range toy. A picture-perfect satellite launch would have been the best outcome, but it is questionable whether North Korea actually believed it would be able to pull one off. After all, few space programs have ever managed to develop new systems without many failures along the way.

Other Missiles and Regional Tensions

Whether Pyongyang failed to succeed or succeeded to fail, the Taepodong-2 was not the only missile launched that morning. There were many motives behind North Korea's additional launches. First, everyone was already expecting a Taepodong-2 launch; if Pyongyang had launched only that rocket, the psychological impact already would have been discounted. There would be little leverage. Second, if the North Koreans knew they would scrub the Taepodong-2 launch, they would want to demonstrate a variety of capabilities to cover for the failure.

Finally, and more significantly, North Korea is intending again to trade its missile launches for concessions from its neighbors and the United States. If a moratorium on missile tests is coming anyway, this launch represented a final chance to assess improvements to North Korea's missile systems, particularly as the country so rarely tests its ballistic missiles. Testing six short- and intermediate-range Hwasong and Nodong missiles -- the real bulk of North Korea's missile force -- would allow the country's military to learn more in a single day about their own capabilities and upgrades than they had in the entirety of the preceding decade.

It is these overlooked missiles that are the true face of North Korean missile technology. Pyongyang's Nodong missiles have the capability of reaching most of Japan, including U.S. bases in Okinawa. North Korea has more than 100 of these mobile missiles, making them an extremely valuable commodity. And its short-range Hwasong series can strike anywhere in South Korea and potentially parts of Japan.

The combination of short-, medium- and long-range missile tests helps to explain the political intent behind the July 5 launches. Dividing any coalition that forms against it has been a key aspect of North Korean foreign policy. The regime in Pyongyang has played skillfully on the differences in strategic thinking of trilateral allies Japan, South Korea and the United States. The current diplomatic spat between Tokyo and Seoul over the extent to which North Korea's missile tests should be dramatized is a key example of just how easily these rifts are exploited. The time and effort the United States is expending to convince the world that Washington and Seoul are on the same page is another.

Stalled at the Security Council

In the UNSC discussions, Russia is expected to abstain from any resolution to punish North Korea -- but China well might veto one, so Tokyo and Washington are delaying any vote on the issue. But though Moscow is not actively joining in attempts to have North Korea sanctioned, Russian authorities have found it difficult to conceal their frustration with Pyongyang. What is clear from initial statements, particularly about the safety of Russian ships and aircraft in the missile test zone, is that the North Koreans never bothered warning Russia before lobbing missiles off its coast.

Amid all of this, China appears to be the least fazed by the North Korean tests.

But China also may have had prior notice about the launches. Initial comments credited to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill suggest that China was notified about the tests before they occurred. Officials in Beijing have countered that they were told of the launches a few hours before North Korea formally announced them -- but still days after they actually had taken place. Either way, the Chinese once again have found the world turning to them for a solution.

Given the Security Council deadlock, China is the only viable path to negotiations with North Korea. In fact, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Richard Bolton has said the Security Council vote was delayed so that diplomacy through China could continue. Washington and Seoul both have called for Beijing to talk to Pyongyang, and the Chinese already had conveniently arranged for a relatively high-level delegation to visit North Korea.

For China, the missile launches have reinforced Beijing's importance to the United States and even Japan. Neither Washington nor Tokyo is prepared to strike back at North Korea militarily -- over either the missile tests or the ongoing nuclear crisis. Both have opted for sanctions and attempts to isolate North Korea, but these paths require the assistance and participation of South Korea and China. And even if Seoul were fully on board, China would remain as North Korea's primary lifeline. China can undermine any U.S. efforts to isolate or punish Pyongyang -- or it can facilitate dialogue.

In the weeks leading up to the missile tests, Beijing had proposed various ways to restart the stalled six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program -- talks from which both Washington and Pyongyang had basically walked away. As the primary coordinator and host of the talks, Beijing has leverage with all the participants -- but China found few takers (aside from South Korea) for its recent proposals. All of that changed, however, when North Korea actually tested the missiles. Washington sent envoys to Beijing and held out the possibility of bilateral talks with Pyongyang (which North Korea has demanded in order to discuss economic sanctions and frozen assets) on the sidelines of the six-party discussions.

While it is not certain that China facilitated the North Korean missile tests, it does seem that Pyongyang was certain the tests wouldn't trigger China to turn on it. If Beijing were truly upset, it could make that rather clear to North Korea in very painful ways. It hasn't. Rather, the Chinese have called on all parties to return to dialogue -- dialogue facilitated by and benefiting China. Meanwhile, North Korea is sitting back and studying the deadlock at the U.N. Security Council, the cracks in the U.S.-South Korea-Japan alliance, and the fact that the world's attention has again turned back toward Pyongyang.


North Korea considered its 1998 Taepodong-1 launch a brilliant success. Only two years later, Pyongyang had gone from being an international outcast and sidelined nation to the center of diplomatic activity -- with normalized relations across Europe and with Canada and Australia. North Korean leader Kim Jong Il hosted then-South Korean President Kim Dae Jung in Pyongyang for the first ever inter-Korean summit in 2000. North Korea gained economic and diplomatic ties and began to break past the constraints of a relationship that had been based primarily on U.S. pressure and Chinese handouts.

Pyongyang sees the same sorts of benefits in its future this time around. It has grown expert at creating artificial crises, from which it reaps economic and political benefits in exchange for merely maintaining the status quo.

In recent years, Washington has attempted to simply ignore North Korea rather than giving in to its temper fits. After all, if a kid in a toy store holds his breath while demanding that a parent buy a new toy, doing so only encourages the behavior -- whereas waiting for the kid to pass out and then start breathing again puts the kibosh on the temper fits. Or at least, that is the theory.

But North Korea always has an extra ace up its sleeve: geography. If the issue were only between North Korea and the United States, Pyongyang would have been ignored into submission years ago. But while its Taepodong-2 failed, its regional missiles proved quite effective. And neither Seoul nor Tokyo can feel as confident as Washington that North Korea really won't do something too crazy if left to stew in its own isolation. When Washington turns a deaf ear, Pyongyang pokes Tokyo and Seoul -- and when they cry out, the United States is drawn back in.

And until a new option is found to be effective, it seems that Beijing is destined to benefit -- as the only voice that can soothe the savage North Korea.
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Posted by ky/kentuckydan at 5:50 AM CDT
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Updated: Tuesday, 11 July 2006 7:24 PM CDT

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