Donnerstag, September 28, 2006
I think that this underscores what I tried to point out yesterday, but expands on the point further.
We're seeing the developments in the Middle East much too much through the eyes of what we would be thinking if we were there: we need to listen less to the rhetoric - if there was ever a culture where deception is a fine art, then it is the Arabic culture - and look more to the realities on the ground.
It's not about religion: it's everything about power.
It's not about democracy: it's everything about starting a civil society.
It's not about us: it's all about them.
That last point is critical: it's not about us. It's all about letting Iraqis start becoming a civil society after the trauma of the last 40 years. It's all about starting a peace process, one that doesn't cover up the problems and misery with a Potemkin Village facade, as most governments in the Middle East do, but rather a process that leads to a civil society where violence is not an instrument of politics, where government doesn't mean corruption and exploitation, where people can start the business of making themselves a society where the good predominates and where the bad is addressed instead of being used by political power seekers who believe that it's easier to emulate Hitler than it is to emulate Ghandi.
And they're right: it is easier.
Doesn't make it right, though.
Mittwoch, September 27, 2006
Here's a simple thought: why do Islamists so desperately want the West to surrender, to submit to Sharia and make Islam ascendent?
It's because they cannot concieve, at all, of co-existence.
I was reading this when it dawned on me. This is the key:
In truth, Islam's actual meaning is submission and not peace, or to use Ms. Armstrong's own words, "the perfect surrender (in Arabic the word for 'surrender' is islam) that every human being should make to the divine." And it is to achieve this goal and subordinate the Arabian peninsula to his rule that Muhammad fought almost incessantly for the last 10 years of his life, having fled from his hometown of Mecca to Medina in 622 to become a political and military leader rather than a private preacher: not to bring peace to a war-torn country, let alone to eliminate "greed, injustice, and arrogance."
The key is understanding that the word for surrender is islam, and that in order to become a political and military leader, that is what must be demanded. We in the West are unwilling combatants in a war to establish not a religion, but rather the attempt of those exploiting religion to become political and military leaders in the footpath of Muhammad. The Islamists exploit the tenets of the religion to justify their war, beautified as a holy war, as jihad.
Their problem, of course, is that once they've taken this path, they themselves do not see any alternative for themselves as to defeat us or that they themselves must surrender. For them it is a zero-sum game; we ceased seeing zero-sum games of this kind by the end of the cold war at the latest, and generally well before that as well...
They do not understand surrender as we understand it: rather, they understand that their surrender must be that of submission, submission to the kind of vulgar capitalistic society that they percieve as being the West. Which they reject. But we don't care if they reject it, saying instead "to each his own," which for them is incomprehensible.
That makes it easier to understand them. Now we have perhaps a choice: either we kill them all as they throw themselves against us, or we persuade them that co-existence isn't merely possible, but really the best of all possible worlds. After all, even they see Christians and Jews as People of the Book: we can see them as People of the Book, so to speak, as well. But how do we get Islamists to understand that they don't have to surrender their own beliefs when we don't let the Islamists win?
Freitag, September 22, 2006
It should be fairly apparent now that Iran is playing the UN as Iraq once did, with the difference being that the leadership in Iran is even more duplicitous than Iraq dared to be.
But let's understand the thinking behind Iran's abusing of the UN.
Why would they do this?
I think that the speech of Hugo Chavez at the UN General Assembly can give us a good idea of how some countries - Cuba, Venezuala, Iran - percieve the UN. You'll have to scroll down a bit on the link, but here are the key passages:
I don't think anybody in this room could defend the system. Let's accept -- let's be honest. The U.N. system, born after the Second World War, collapsed. It's worthless.
Oh, yes, it's good to bring us together once a year, see each other, make statements and prepare all kinds of long documents, and listen to good speeches, like Abel's (ph) yesterday, or President Mullah's (ph). Yes, it's good for that.
And there are a lot of speeches, and we've heard lots from the president of Sri Lanka, for instance, and the president of Chile.
But we, the assembly, have been turned into a merely deliberative organ. We have no power, no power to make any impact on the terrible situation in the world. And that is why Venezuela once again proposes, here, today, 20 September, that we re-establish the United Nations.
The assembly of the UN has never been anything other than a "deliberative organ". That's how the UN Charter sees it: decisions are made in the Security Council and no where else. Otherwise the work of the UN comes to a screetching halt as every country tries to put through it's agenda, leading to the League Of Nations and it's inability too to anything meaningful.
So Venezuala proposes to re-establish the United Nations.
And this isn't mentioned in ANY of the MSM reports? We see instead his references to the smell of sulfer at the podium and calls Bush the devil, and that's all. No mention of the attempt to truly establish the Axis of Evil...
The key point here is that the UN will fail to discipline Iran (and Cuba and Venezuala and North Korea) because none of these countries feel obligated to listen to the UN. They don't see it as the last best hope to work out problems, but rather they see it as being a tool of the US.Fine. It's not, but that's how they percieve it, and in politics that counts for around 95% of reality. The problem is that last 5%: the other 95% can't ignore that 5%, or, put more exactly, that 5%, reality, will always ultimately trump the other 95%.
And that is why the UN's attempts at persuading Iran to behave as it has pledged to do so (and continues to not do so) are in all likelihood doomed to failure. The UN can only work as long as all involved take it seriously and live up to their obligations: once countries start ignoring it and openly defy the UN, either the UN has to impose it's will or the UN becomes worthless.
That's one of the reasons that the UN almost became worthless when France, China and the Russians made it clear that they would veto an additional UN resolution on Iraq and why the US saved the UN by taking down Saddam Hussein despite the protests of those whom we now know were corrupted by Iraq's money. That's why it's important for the UN to be able to act now as well. The sad thing is, it's really in Iran's interest to work this out with the UN to avoid a war - they think they can do this by bluffing their way through - but instead they have fundamentally misunderstoof what the UN does: it isn't the world's forum where the bruised egos of psychopaths can rant and rave as they desire to try and demagogue their way through the institutions. Instead, it's where conflicts are addressed and worked on before push comes to shove.
And in a world without the UN, there wouldn't be discussions in the Security Council about sanctions and the like: once countries exhaust a bilateral approach, the only thing left is the resolution of conflicts via the military option.
And Chavez talks of what he wants:
Last year, Madam, we made four modest proposals that we felt to be crucially important. We have to assume the responsibility our heads of state, our ambassadors, our representatives, and we have to discuss it.
The first is expansion, and Mullah (ph) talked about this yesterday right here. The Security Council, both as it has permanent and non-permanent categories, (inaudible) developing countries and LDCs must be given access as new permanent members. That's step one.
CHAVEZ (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Second, effective methods to address and resolve world conflicts, transparent decisions.
Point three, the immediate suppression -- and that is something everyone's calling for -- of the anti-democratic mechanism known as the veto, the veto on decisions of the Security Council.
Let me give you a recent example. The immoral veto of the United States allowed the Israelis, with impunity, to destroy Lebanon. Right in front of all of us as we stood there watching, a resolution in the council was prevented.
Fourthly, we have to strengthen, as we've always said, the role and the powers of the secretary general of the United Nations.
Yesterday, the secretary general practically gave us his speech of farewell. And he recognized that over the last 10 years, things have just gotten more complicated; hunger, poverty, violence, human rights violations have just worsened. That is the tremendous consequence of the collapse of the United Nations system and American hegemonistic pretensions.Chavez wants to weaken the Security Council by putting people on it who have no intention of following the requirements of full membership: that of enforcing the peace against those who would deliberately destabilize.
What he means by "effective methods" is unclear, most likely deliberately so.
No veto rights: the tyranny of the majority.
And he wants to turn the role of Secretary General away from its traditional role - of unifier and someone who tries to get everyone to work together - into someone who will tell people what is to be done.
In other words, to try and turn the UN into a "democracy" like the have in Iran, Venenzuala and Cuba.
This is why the UN will fail: not because the Great Powers fail to agree - China, Russia, the US, the European countries know all that it is in their interest that the UN function at least at a certain level of competence and efficiency, but because lesser countries see it as being in their interest that the UN no longer interfere in what they see as they rights to do what they see as being necessary. Iran knows that, politically speaking, it cannot attack Israel directly and Venezuala knows that it cannot try and take over, say, Columbia via political subversion as it has done in Bolivia if there is a forum where those countries can bring up such problems and where the Security Council can decide that this is behavior that the UN cannot accept.
That is why the UN will fail: because the intentions of good people can achieve little or nothing against the machinations of those who want to subvert and compell others to do as they wish.
Chavez is now sayin this directly, but no one seems to be noticing...
Donnerstag, September 21, 2006
Even though he actually knows better, Nigel Andrews, the Film Critic of the Financial Times, gets it wrong factually on the following counts:
I f I were an opinionated madman licensed to be oracular – and I ignore retorts of "why say 'if'?" – I would aver this: the greatest disaster in the western world in the 21st century to date has been the victory of George W. Bush over Al Gore. Greater than 9/11? Yes, because it incorporated 9/11. It engendered it. Would terrorists have struck a Gore-led US? Since al-Qaeda's stated aim was to avenge the desecration of Saudi Arabian soil by foreign troops in the first Gulf war, wasn't Bush paying for Bush, the son for the father?
I remove my madman's hat: this is all speculation. Yet An Inconvenient Truth, Davis Guggenheim's documentary featuring the roadshow lecture about global warming that Al Gore has taken around the world, is a Tantalus glimpse of what America might have been with a president who cared about the planet, its people and its peace.Now, first of all: he really shouldn't ignore those retorts, the voices are trying to tell him something.
Second of all: this kind of "reporting" is part and parcel of the problem that journalists have. They think, smugly, that they are so smart and so much cleverer than The Common Man and can entertain this sort of silly sophomoric writing. And don't realize that this is the tone that leads to Chavez stating that Bush is the Devil and waving a book by Chomsky at the UN.
Nigel, grow up. You're bad attempt at ingratiating yourself to your red-hipped readership shows how simplistic and ignorant your thinking is. What makes you, first of all, so certain that President Bush doesn't care about the planet, its (sic) people and its (sic) peace? Can't even punctuate properly these days, eh?
But these are mere opinions: Nigel is entitled to them.
What he is not entitled to are his own facts.
It is romantic to suppose we would all now have hydrogen cars and solar-powered homes. As surely as the screening I saw was preceded by ads for gas- guzzling roadsters, a Gore White House would still drive limos and fly executive jets. It would still need to placate the oil lobby and control the individual delinquencies of 53 states. But at least Kyoto would have been signed. At least lip-service would be paid to eco-crisis. At least we wouldn't have Anthropithecus Dubya incanting: "What problem? What pollution?"
Idiot. Complete and total idiot. Nigel Andrews, that is.
Bill Clinton signed Kyoto. Even before he did that, the Senate voted 99-0 that they though Kyoto was a Really Bad Idea and that if he signed it, it would not be ratified .
But he signed it anyway.
Because Clinton didn't care whether the Kyoto Accord would actually become the law: all he cared about was being able to say "I signed the Kyoto Accord". He didn't care that the Senate, who under the US Constitution is there to make sure that dick-brained politicians - and Clinton is certainly by far the best example of this probably since the beginning of the 20th century - don't sign something that they don't understand and are too stupid to realize is a Really Bad Idea.
But hey, Nigel says that lip service would be paid to eco-crisis.
In other words, don't actually do anything: let's jsut say we do and pretend that it's not a problem.
In other words, Nigel and his red-hipped friends are doing exactly what they claim Bush is doing.
The good lines come quick and thick. In the despair column of the ledger: "Within the decade there will be no more snows of Kilimanjaro." In the hope column: "Political will is a renew-able resource." We can all do something if we try. Away from the lecture halls the folksiness is laid on with a pitchfork. Gore recalls his childhood, repines over the parental tobacco business – given up when Gore's cigarette smoking sister died of lung cancer – and sighs away the pain of that lost election. He now seems fitter, if fatter. There is always 2008. And An Inconvenient Truth, full of wit and wisdom, is a good campaigning ad. I hope it was meant as something more, although in politics scepticism is a renewable resource.
Nigel, the reason that there won't be snow on Kilimanjaro is not because of "global warming", but rather because deforestation around Kilimanjaro means that there is no water vapor rising from the jungle (which isn't there anymore) and because the missing water vapor doesn't form clouds that move upwards when they approach Kilimanjaro there is no snow that falls from them.
That's why the snow is disappearing on Kilimanjaro.
Idiot. Nigel Andrews, that is.
Gore also didn't give up the tobacco business when his sister died, but rather first when he realized that he was going to be lambasted as a hypocrite for pulling out the story of his sister dying AND continue to have a working tobacco farm (leased out) in the family.
Unfortunately, in journalism stupidity is also a renewable resource.
Even at the FT. Sad.
Donnerstag, September 14, 2006
Raymond Chandler on Advertising.
The man has a point. But he lived in a period of relative civil society, corrupt and problematic as it was (institutionalized racism, to name just one thing). Today he'd have to right this:
"It is pretty obvious that the debasement of political culture caused by a constant flow of fraudulent conspiracy theories is no trivial thing. There is more than one way to conquer a country."
Films like Fahrenheit 9-11 and Loose Change serve only one purpose, ultimately: to muddy the waters, to make clarity more difficult in the pursuit of the inane. By debasing knowledge and reducing it to opinion they remove the essential difference between the two. As the saying goes, you can have your own opinion, but you can't have your own facts.
But if your goal is to undermine and destroy political culture, then by all means present your opinions as facts. By removing and eliminating the difference between the two you've accomplished a lot: you've removed reason and argumentation, debate from the political arena and replace it with activism and the cultural meme of whoever shouts the longest and loudest gets his way.
Jerry Springer political culture.
This article should be a must-read. It's from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, by Graham Allison, who is Director of the Bellfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard.
With the benefit of glorious hind-sight, 9/11 should have been preventable.
A nuclear 9/11 should be preventable, but the likelihood that the solutions mentioned in the article above will be implemented is rather slim.
But I think the article above - please do read it - is too US-centric: if there is a nuclear terrorist event, it may well not be New York or San Diego, but rather Tel Aviv. Or even Delhi. Why? If terrorists want to create absolute chaos, absolute anarchy, then an attack on the US will not create it: the US is too decentral, with what amounts to a shadow infrastructure of the Federal government in each and every state. Destroy New York and the US will survive; destroy Washington, DC and the US will survive.
But destroy Tel Aviv and you have eviscerated Israel. Destroy Delhi and India may well collapse. Not today, not tomorrow, but these are countries heavily centralized or, in the case of Israel, simply too small geographically for the to be any meaningful decentralization. This is also true for France, but not, for instance, for Japan; it is true for England, but not, for instance, for China.
Further, nuclear weapons are traceable by analyzing the chemical composition of the fissile parts of the warhead, which are available even after detonation in the shape of fallout. Hence each and every weapon has its own unique "thumbprint" of where it was built, and can hence be identified even after detonation.
But what happens when the material is home-grown in Iran or North Korea, since their weapons have never been tested anywhere and there are no fallout samples from their tests to identify the plant and process?
Why, then we know that there is at least one new member of the nuclear club.
The real danger, of course, is one that is not explored in the article above completely, is that there be collusion between rogue states and terrorists. This exists already for "normal weapons", as can be seen with Iran and Hezbollah.
This is a deliberate usage of a grey zone in international affairs: a non-state acting as if it were a state but without identifiable assets and infrastructure, using instead that of other states, either in a deniable form (like Iran with Hezbollah) or covertly (like Hezbollah in Lebanon).
In other words, they can avoid becoming a target.
What if Hezbollah detonates a bomb in Tel Aviv that we find was built in downtown Teheran in facilities that do not officially exist? Do you destroy those facilities as well, killing millions as "collateral damage"?
The dangers of asymmetric warfare are greater than we think, and the key question will be how to deal with an enemy that deliberately uses civilians to hide behind. The only real answer is that you have to ensure that the civilians do not accept that this can be allowed to happen. Unfortunately, that is easier said than done...
The dismal thing is that this here is not my nightmare scenario: that's the one I don't want even to be discussed. Thinking the Unthinkable is all very fine for rational actors, but add irrationality to the equation, and all bets are off.
Montag, September 11, 2006
This post - hat tip to TigerHawk - shows how the kind of activism that has kept the Democrats energized and not cowering will backfire on them, and severely so.
It was bad enough that the Democrats tried to censor ABC (and it was an attempt to censor: the Republicans did not try to censor Fahrenheit 9/11, Bush merely mentioned that he wouldn't be seeing it...), but going after Disney?
Now that's just plain stupid.
But sure, bring it on. Alienate mainstream voters, alienate Joe Sixpack who has fond memories of going to DisneyWorld with his kids. You're not going to get him angry that Disney showed this: you're going to get him to watch the show and you're going to get him thinking what the heck is wrong with showing that.
Are there any adults in the Democratic Party?
Freitag, September 08, 2006
Well, well, well.
The Democrats have their knickers in a twist because St. Clinton and the holy court of Democratazia are being portrayed in a "docudrama" from ABC. The Alphabet has apparently got itself a huge amount of publicity (duh) and as well vicious attacks from what are probably under normal circumstances their best friends in the whole world.
Their behavior - of calling for the miniseries to be yanked entirely - is indicative of how panicked they are.
The fundamentals of the miniseries are known: it is based on the 9/11 report, which did, more or less, say what the miniseries says. Dramatization, sure.
But let's put this in perspective: did the White House and the Republican Party call for films like "Fahrenheit 911" to be pulled from the market?
What they did was to point out the inaccuracies and condemned it as being inaccurate and misleading while presenting itself as a documentary, as about a classic piece of agitprop as ever has come out of the US.
But no one called for the film not to be released.
Because that is censorship.
Democrats: let us see the damn thing.
You can rebut it all you want, you can bring out your own versions, you can bad mouth and condemn it and see that nobody involved ever works in Hollywood again. You probably will.
But to call for it never to be shown?
What arrogance, what complete and total lack of character and backbone. This is one of the reasons I cannot take Democrats seriously: sycophants and sophists dominate the party, with the spinmeisters in control. All that matters is perception and polls: there is no substance to the Democrats, and there hasn't been since the days of the Reagan White House.
To ABC: don't yank this miniseries.
And to those who want to compare it to "The Reagans": that was a hatchet job, designed to take down the Reagan legacy. There is a huge difference here: it was shown, albeit on Showtime and not on the regular channels.
Here the Democrats want to censor a miniseries. There is already talk of portrayals as being "defamatory," setting up the specter of lawsuits and penalties.
My, aren't the Democrats thin-skinned on this one? From what one can gather, both the Clinton and the Bush Administrations don't come away smelling of roses: but do you see any, any Republicans getting so upset as to call for censorship? For calling that no one ever see the miniseries without it being changed to show people who made mistakes as if they hadn't made any?
If you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen. This absurd reaction from the Democrats shows that they do not deserve to be let anywhere near a kitchen until they learn how to take responsibility for their actions.
Donnerstag, September 07, 2006
The French want power without commitment and truly believe that they will be able to master the challenge of terrorism.
This deserves not so much a fisking as critiquing and expansion.
France issued an implicit criticism of U.S. foreign policy on Thursday, rejecting talk of a "war on terror".
Well, that's nothing new: the French still believe that terrorism must only be fought by police tactics, despite the fact that terrorism of the 21st century is rather different than that of the 20th.
Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, speaking in parliament, expressed these views on global terrorism, while President Jacques Chirac backed France's claims to the international front rank with a fresh defense of his country's nuclear arsenal.Here it's appropriate to try and understand French security thinking over the last 50 years. Remember, France left the military part of NATO over the fact that the US would not accede to have a French general in charge, coupled with a continuing severe disappointment that the US directly embarrased the French (and the Brits, but they got over that) over Suez. The French realized that they can't afford another war like WW1 and made nuclear weapons to be the guarantor of their national existence in the face of Soviet ambition; their conventional military was more often a tool for industrial policy than a military force that could have stood up to a general Soviet attack with OMGs breaking into the French hinterland. The Force de Frappe was the core of the strategic philosophy of dissuasion, which is falsely translated as deterrence (it fulfills the function, but the difference is in the national understanding of what is meant. The meaning is more one of creating a mental state and is the antonym, in French, of persuasion. Deterrence means more of an objective analysis of terms of force that lead to a rational decision.
Villepin noted Chirac's strong opposition to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and said the Arab state had now sunk into violence and was feeding new regional crises.
Like Villepin didn't have anything to do with the fiasco of the UN in regards to Iraq. And not like the French didn't try their damndest to avoid dealing with the crisis: not avoiding the crisis, since the crisis came regardless of what the French did. The French wanted to avoid dealing with the problem. Big difference.
"Let us not forget that these crises play into the hands of all extremists," the prime minister said in a debate on the Middle East. "We can see this with terrorism, whether it tries to strike inside or outside our frontiers," he added.
But the extremists are the ones creating the crises.
"Against terrorism, what's needed is not a war. It is, as France has done for many years, a determined fight based on vigilance at all times and effective cooperation with our partners.
And what does this really mean? It means the reversion to fighting-terrorism-with-the-police, which has been shown not to work, especially when the terrorists can use co-option and corruption as non-government actors.
"But we will only end this curse if we also fight against injustice, violence and these crises," he said.
Villepin's remarks, which came a day after U.S. President George Bush admitted that the CIA had interrogated dozens of terrorism suspects in secret foreign locations, did not explicitly mention the United States.
But his rejection of language employed by Bush, who often uses the expression "war on terror" underlined the longstanding differences between Paris and Washington.In separate remarks, Chirac stressed that France was committed to maintaining a nuclear arsenal of its own.
Blah blah blah, first causes, etc. Meaningless rhetoric aimed at the gullible...and here is why this starts to become interesting:
"In an uncertain world, facing constantly evolving threats, nuclear dissuasion guarantees our vital interests," Chirac said on a visit to France's Atomic Energy Commission nuclear simulation facility at Bruyeres-le-Chatel near Paris.
That is the core of French politico-military strategy: dissuasion. But why bring this to the foreground? Why now? Of course it has to do with Iran.In the arguments and discussions during the Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons, the Iranian government will also have to develop a nuclear strategy to go along with it: at least this seems to be what the French are contemplating. Why talk otherwise of your national nuclear strategy at this point in time: the Iranians, so the French hope, must be dissuaded - again, the opposite of persuasion - from thinking of using their nuclear weapons against France.
But only that: dissuasion guarantees vital French interests, not the interests of the international community.
He stressed that France was committed to funding continuing research and development into nuclear weapons technology.In other words, in terms of nuclear weapons, walking the walk and not merely the talk, shoring up the believability of the Force de Frappe.
"There can be no great ambition without adequate means, that's clear," he said. "The position of countries is never guaranteed. In the 21st century, only those which make science a genuine priority will stay ahead."
What is the meaning of this? A put-down for the Iranians, who without a doubt have great ambitions but whose means are not adequate? The curious stating of what must be for the French painfully obvious - that the position of countries in never guaranteed - aimed at the Iranians? Or more exactly at the US?
Both France and the United States have played down splits opened by the Iraq war, pointing especially to cooperation on attempts by the West to contain Iran's nuclear ambitions.
But differences in tone and style have often resurfaced, notably during the Lebanon crisis, where France initially offered to send just 400 peacekeepers to Lebanon despite vigorously backing calls for an international force.
Ah, the classic problem of the French and one of the key problems for any country wanting to acquiesce to the nuclear club: the necessity of believable conventional capabilities as alternative to having one's bluff called when in conflict if the enemy thinks that you have abandoned conventional capabilities in exchange for the chimeric hope that the mere threat of using nuclear weapons is adequate.
Villepin's speech in parliament made much of France's leading role in securing a peace agreement in Lebanon backed by the United Nations, which he said had shown the virtues of "listening and dialogue."
"It is the duty of France and Europe to show that the clash of civilizations is not inevitable," he said. "No one retains this wisdom, inherited from our history, as we, French and Europeans, do," he said.The problem is that while we - collectively as the West - don't want, need or otherwise desire the clash of civilizations, the Iranians and the Shi'ite do.
This editorial in the WSJ from Newt Gingrich makes it clear what it will take to win this war.
According to Newt Gingrich, who wrote the article, there are three views to this war: that it is too hard; that it is wrong; and that we need to fight it right. Fighting it right, though, means making lots of pundits unhappy and encorages the anklebiters. But that's what Lincoln did, and that's what Roosevelt did. And they did it right.
Fighting it right is the only one that works: the Jacksonian thread of the US must once again come forward and settle the damn thing for once and for all.
The Hamiltonian and Wilsonian threads have had their say.
And to understand what *that* all means, read this by Walter Mead.
And this sums it up pretty well too, in the words of Mead describing what the Jacksonian tradition of US foreign policy means:
"Don't bother with people abroad, unless they bother you. But if they attack you, then do everything you can. . . . When somebody attacks the hive, you come swarming out of the hive and you sting them to death. And Jacksonians, when it comes to war, don't believe in limited wars. They don't believe, particularly, in the laws of war. War is about fighting, killing, and winning with as few casualties as possible on your side. But you don't worry about casualties on the other side. That's their problem. They shouldn't have started the war if they didn't want casualties."
To steal a phrase from Instapundit, indeed. If they start the war, it's their problem how many die.
The anti-war people are Jeffersonians and they emerge when the Hamiltonians get the US into trouble by actually getting involved with countries overseas, and the tension between the Jeffersonians and Hamiltonians leads to some awfully muddle-headed decisions that the Jacksonians resolve. The Wilsonians are those who think there really is something like international law and all we need to do to solve the world's problems is to negotiate them away. These folks really set up the long-term frameworks which function only briefly and then make things much, much worse until the Jacksonians solve them.
Sure, it's a bit simplistic, but it gives a huge amount of insight into how the US deals with foreign policy problems...
...and more importantly, it underscores that none of this is really new or unique to American history. In many ways it's the same damn thing time and time again.
As I've stated here before, the US has a hard time dealing with propaganda, especially that of the black sort. It's sort of like having to answer to the question of "having you stopped beating your wife?", since a no answer means that you continue to do so and a yes answer means that you have in the past.
This article by Gerard Baker of the Times is an indication of how successful the black propaganda (i.e. propaganda aimed at undermining a nation, rather than the usual propaganda aimed at glorifying one's own achievements) really is.
Here are the key points:
Far from driving us together in the face of a common threat, the events of September 11 have ripped the West apart. Now, the world's distrust of and disdain for America borders on pathology. It doesn't stop at opposition to US policies but seeks deeper explanations for American behaviour in society, economics and culture.
America is a country of religious zealots, it is said, typified by its president-zealot; a selfish and hypocritical people despoiling the planet even as they exalt their nationhood in their mega-churches. Its impact on the world is denounced not just for what its military does but for what its companies and workers do, from Exxon Mobil to McDonald's.
When Rupert Everett described Starbucks as a "cancer" last month in a campaign to stop the coffee chain from opening a shop in his London neighbourhood, it seemed to reflect not just a rebellion against the vast anonymity of globalisation but a rejection of everything for which America is despised.
But global warming, religious observance, McDonald's and even Starbucks were features of the US long before 9/11. In the end, deep as the cultural differences between Europe and America are, there is little doubt that it is the policies — the military and diplomatic stance of the US in the past five years — that have caused the rest of the world to turn away from its traditional ally.First of all, the key word is the pathology of the purported distrust and disdain: a pathology is a deviation from the norm, and in the terms that Baker is using, it is a psychopathology. Pyschopathology is used to denote behaviors or experiences that are indicative of mental illness. Baker is right: the kind of virulent anti-Americanisms that in in many places replaces discussion and discourse is indicative of a functional breakdown in cognition. If you have ever had to deal with someone who manifests BDS (Bush Derangemernt Syndrome, i.e. the mere mention of President Bush triggers aggressive and pathological behavior (see Kos, MoveOn.org, and significant portions of what is left of the Democratic Party).
And of course the descriptions of the US resemble not so much actual US behavior as much more the collective boogey-man for the left. Baker has a mistake in the next paragraph: he really means that Ruper Everett reflects a rejection of everything for which America is not despised, but rather loved.
And Baker is, of course, correct in noting that all of this is nothing new. But where I think he goes wrong is insisting that it is the behavior of the US which has "caused" the rest of the world to "turn away".
First of all, the rest of the world has scarcely turned away. NATO is still around, I do believe, and the Japanese-US relationship is better than it has been in many years. What Baker really means is that public opinion polls show something different: that when asked the right questions, "people" don't like what the US is doing.
Ah. Big difference, that last one.
Let me go back to Baker's article and start from the top here:
The rest of the world has always had a complex set of attitudes towards America — a mixture of envy, admiration, disdain, gratitude, exasperation, hope and, sometimes, fear. But that day, that week, America evoked only the sort of strenuous affection that causes a complete stranger to go out and stick bills on lampposts.
But that instantaneous solidarity with a stricken superpower was not, as it turned out, anything like a good predictor of the history that would unfold over the next half a decade.
As it prepares to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the attacks, America stands reviled in the world as never before. It is a remarkable turnabout. In the same amount of time that elapsed between the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and the Treaty of Versailles, in as many months as passed between Germany's invasion of Poland and D-Day, the US has gone from innocent victim of unimaginable villainy to principal perpetrator of global suffering.
So complete has been this transformation in global sentiment that it is inconceivable now, should America be attacked again, today, that the tragedy would elicit the same response. There would be horror and sympathy in good measure, certainly, from most decent people. But there would also be much Schadenfreude, and even from the sympathetic a grim, unsmiling sense that America had reaped what it had sown.
The key point here is that according to public opinion polls, America stands reviled in the world as never before, and he goes on to point out that this happened in the timeframe that saw the ending of both WW1 and WW2.
But what is really telling is the line: the the US has gone from innocent victim to principal perpetrator of global suffering.
Now, on the face of it this is an absurd statement: there have been no changes in the role that the US plays in terms of "global suffering" other than the US has always been blamed for this. But what is different is that those who said this were usually political hacks for the Soviets or ChiComs, or some sort of NGO leftist that used the boogeyman of US imperialism to go and raise money from guilt-stricken western liberals. Now this has become more mainstream: it is the increasing acceptance of political propaganda as a mainstream meme.
Sympathy for a grieving America translated quickly into general support for the US war against the Taleban. But within a few weeks that support began to drain, as civilian casualties mounted and some questioned whether the US was doing enough to address the "root causes" of terrorism, in particular the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Then, in the view of most of the world, the US took a terrible detour: from the high road of regime change against the perpetrators and enablers of 9/11, the US descended into the thickets of Guantanamo, the "axis of evil", pre-emptive war without UN authorisation, the invasion of Iraq, Abu Ghraib and the quagmire of Baghdad today.
It is the height of ignorance and stupidity for one to support a war against an enemy who deliberately uses civilians to hide behind and then abandon that when civilians get killed as a result. Addressing the "root causes" of terrorism is exactly what the US is doing in Iraq: it removed a regime that did nothing but terrorize its own people and pay others to be terrorists as well: there is now no doubt that pre-war Iraq was one of the major financers of terrorism in the Middle East and gave significant support to terrorist groups, including safe havens and training camps.
And Baker - representative for those "intellectuals" who fail to think things through - here muddles many things up. The US could have simply shot those now in Guantanamo out of hand, eliminating the problem, but as a land of laws with strict procedures, is now vilified for doing the right thing; the "Axis of Evil" is exactly that; there was UN authorization for the invasion of Iraq (just not the UN authorization that the corrupt French, Chinese and Russians wanted to deny the US and which has filled the public meme); the invasion of Iraq did what the UN failed to do (call Iraq's bluff and achieve regime change); Abu Ghraib was an anomoly and has seen those involved jailed and demoted; and the quagmire of Baghdad is not the doing of the US, but rather of Iran.
The US and its dwindling ranks of supporters elsewhere, led by Tony Blair in Britain, argued that 9/11 required a change in the way that America reacted with the world. The threat of Islamist terrorism, conducted by suicide bombers whose goals were nothing less than the destruction of the West and the return of the Caliphate, required something radically new. Armed potentially with weapons that could kill millions, these death-glorifying terrorists presented a wholly different challenge from the threat of the Cold War, and therefore required a much more assertive approach to the international system, led by the US.
But this argument failed to persuade much of world opinion, especially when Iraq, designated the most immediate threat, turned out to have been something of a paper tiger. Instead, the rest of the world simply saw an arrogant bully blundering into the Middle East and stoking the fire under the very terrorism that it had pledged to extinguish.
What other side? That of the Anti-Americanists.
But after President Bush's narrow but decisive election triumph in November 2004 that became less plausible. Americans had been given a chance to pass judgment on their leadership in the early years of the post-9/11 world. In John Kerry they had been presented with a candidate who explicitly articulated the critique of the rest of the world (He spoke French! He was clever! He liked the UN!) After 2004, confronted with the reality that President Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld really were the representative leaders of America, the rest of the world formed an alternative impression of the US — that 9/11 had, in fact, induced a dramatic change in the psychology of the nation. A nation that had not been attacked on its own soil in 60 years had overreacted and, through a combination of government lies and a complaisant media, had turned its back on co-operation with the world.
First of all, the election was anything but narrow: if it had been, then it wouldn't have been deciusive, right?
And Baker does hit it right: the "rest of the world" is being critical that the US hasn't ceased being the US, but rather soundly rejected Kerrey. And a compliant media? How little Baker recognizes how biased the media is in the US.
And by deciding to follow what the duly elected officials of the US decided was the right and proper policy, supported by the Congress of the United States, the US turns its back on co-operation with the world?
What the US turned its back on what co-optioning the policies of the US by foreigners. That is one of the reasons that Kerrey lost: the voting populace realized that he was not the one who would pay attention to US interests, and while the US is the world's eminent superpower, it doesn't give foreigners a say in how it runs things, thank you very much. But then again, neither does any other nation in the world. Duh.
And now we come to the core of the problem:
Conspiracy theories became even more popular. The US or its ally, Israel, was behind the 9/11 attacks precisely so that America could strike at its enemies in a broader clash of civilisations and battle for control of Middle Eastern oil resources. Even saner types who did not believe such fantasies still think that the US is a bigger danger to world peace than almost any other country in the world.
This is where the propaganda starts. This is where the sophists have spoken and corrupted the youth, presenting falsehoods as truths and denying truths as mere opinion.
The article by Baker is also indicative of the effects of propaganda: it is, itself, perhaps unwittingly, propaganda as well, for it misleads one down a dwindling path into a morass. It is opinion masquerading as "truth", the most insidious is that "public opinion" is somehow the final arbiter of these things.
If the situation was so bad, if the US was so nefarious and evil, if it were the perpetrator of global suffering, then why oh why are there more trying to get into the US than ever before? Because they want to join the Dark Side before the entry fee is increased?
Or could it be that what Baker is reporting is the result of a concerted propaganda campaign, one that started in the 1950s and has continued today?
First of all, this from the Austrian press. It's only in German, but I will translate the key graph. The author is, if I googled correctly, a politician with the OeVP, the conservative party of Austria, but he certainly takes leftist memes and runs with them.
Knapp zwei Monate vor den "midterm-elections" greifen George. W. Bush und Donald Rumsfeld wieder einmal in die Vollen. Während der Pentagonchef die Gegner des Irakkriegs als intellektuell unzurechnungsfähig und moralisch beschränkt brandmarkt, hat der Präsident bei einer Rede am Dienstag ein welthistorisches Potpourri angerichtet, in dem Lenin, Adolf Hitler, Osama bin Laden und Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad gleichzeitig zugegen waren.
Just two months before the midterm elections, George W. Buch and Donald Rumsfeld are in full-scale attack. While the head of the Pentagon brands the opponents of the Iraq War as intellectually incompetent and morally restricted, the President set up a historical potpourri in his talk on Tuesday, in which Lenin, Adolf Hitler, Osama bin Laden and Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad were all present. (translation mine)
First of all, Rumsfeld didn't use those words. You can read the sentiment into what he did say, but he most certainly didn't use those words. OK, it's an opinion piece and not something serious.
Mit seinen pompösen historischen Vergleichen, bei denen das Böseste gerade gut genug ist, lenkt Bush das Schlaglicht der Öffentlichkeit auf den letzten Bereich, in dem ihm die Amerikaner noch Reste von Regierungskompetenz zubilligen, sprich den Kampf gegen den Terror. Das Ganze folgt der banalen Logik von "Viel Feind, viel Ehr", wobei allerdings in diesem Fall zweifelhaft ist, ob sich Feind und Ehr auch in viele Wählerstimmen umsetzen lassen werden.
With his pompous historical comparison, be which the most evil is barely good enough, Bush attempts to distract the public from the last area which Americans give the administration that last of its competence, i.e. the fight against terror. The entire thing follows the banal logic of "many enemies, greater honor", whereby in this case it is more than a little dubious as to whether enemies or honor will result in votes.
Pompous historical comparison? Pompous?
That is absurd. The historical comparison is more than legitimate, indeed it is the correct one, as I've stated here more than once. And the idea of "many enemies, greater honor" is most definitely a European one: here the author is projecting the increasing historical failure of Europe to recognize that war has been declared upon them as something that the President of the United States is using in a cynical ploy to gain votes.
Was den Inhalt des Lenin-Hitler-Vergleichs betrifft, so hat Bush in einem begrenzten Ausmaß Recht damit. Es gibt eine Schicht von überzeugten Djiahdisten, deren Anspruch man in der Tat als totalitär bezeichnen kann und die sich durch unverhandelbare Forderungen (Errichtung eines weltweiten Kalifats) und nicht tolerierbare Mittel (terroristische Anschläge gegen zivile Opfer) charakterisieren.
Looking at the contents of the Lenin-Hiterl comparison, Bush is correct, but only in a limited sense. There is a group of committed Jihadists whose claim can be rightly called totalitarian and which are charachterized by non-negotiable demands (establishment of a world-wide Caliph) and non-acceptable methods (terrorist attacks against civilians).First the author calls the historical comparison pompous, then he say that Bush is correct. Huh? Completely contradictory in less than a few sentences. Just like many Europeans who simply haven't thought things through.
Allerdings, und hier beginnt der Vergleich schon zu hinken, ist ja auch kein ernst zu nehmender westlicher Politiker je mit dem Ansinnen hervorgetreten, dass man mit Osama bin Laden in ernsthafte Verhandlungen treten sollte (weniger Terroranschläge vonseiten Osamas, dafür mehr fromme Muslime im Westen?)However, and this is where the comparsion begins to fail, there is no serious western politicians who has ever brought up the idea that one should enter into serious negotiations whth Osama bin laden (fewer terror attacks in exchange for more pious moslems in the West?).
This is rich: because there is no explicit modern-day Neville Chamberlain, then the comparison isn't legitimate. Talk about splitting hairs.The problem isn't that there isn't an explicit Neville Chamberlain out there, but rather there are thousands of implicit Neville Chamberlains, each trying their best to influence public opinion towards appeasement.
Der Vergeich hinkt aber auch deshalb, weil es sich bei den versprengten islamistischen Terroristen um nicht-staatliche Akteure handelt, um einen vollkommen anderen Gegner als weiland bei der Sowjetunion oder bei Nazideutschland. Bushs Lenin- und Hitlervergleiche verraten indirekt auch eine merkwürdige Nostalgie an eine Zeit, als es noch einen benenn- und identifizierbaen Feind gab und man nicht einer gesichtlosen Schar heimtückischer Feinde gegenüberstand, die nur aus ihrer anoymen Finsternis heraus handeln können.Bush und Rumsfelds hinkende historische Vergleiche werden im besseren Fall keinerleit Schaden anrichten, weil wenigstens die gewitzeren amerikanischen Wöhler sie nicht zum Nennwert nehmen werden, sondern als das, was sie in Wahrheit sind: Wahlkampfgetöse.The comparison is also bad because the groups of islamst terrorists are non-state actors, a completely different kind of opponent as the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany. Bush's Lenin and Hitler comparisons show indirectly a kind of curious nostalgy for a time when there was an identiiable enemy and not a faceless horde of sinister enemies, who can only act out of anonymous darkness. Bush and Rumsfelds crippled historical comparison can in the better case not cause any damage, because at least the more clever of the american voters will not take them seriously and see instead what they are in truth: election campaign statements.
Oh, and that is rich as well: because the danger comes from the NGOs of Evil, then Bush's comparison is pompous.
GMAFB: The whole point of Bush's speech was to clearly state and label the enemy as to what they are.
And there is of course then that usual snide European hint of how ignorant and stupid the American voter is (after all, they voted for Bush). If the Europeans had anywhere near the number of college-educated folks in their population, then you wouldn't see the number of jobs that go unfilled in Europe because employers can't find qualified personnel: the unemployment problem in Europe is not one of demand, but rather one of supply: there are too many untrained and unskilled workers who want too much money, and there aren't nearly enough skilled workers. Talk about stupid: I'd dare say it's more likely that the average European wins this one, rather than the average American. Grrrr...
Im schlechteren Fall besteht freilich die Gefahr, dass die Art und das Ausmaß der Gefahr, wie sie für die freien Gesellschaften des Westens heute besteht, eher verunklart als transparent gemacht wird, wenn Politiker aus den obersten Rängen mit dem historischen Erbe billige Wahlkamppropaganda veranstalten.
In the worst case there is the danger that the type and dimension of the danger, as it exists for free societies in the west today, will be more likely muddied rather than made more transparent, when first-rank politicians try to make cheap election-time propaganda by using the historical heritage of a nation.
This is especially rich: because Bush dared to draw a simile, a comparison, he is abusing the historical heritage of a nation? Let's see, where was this sort of commentary when Kerrey was running?
I guess you can give the author some slack: he was, after all, born first in 1975 and has therefore no historical knowledge whatsoever, coming of age after the end of the Cold War. If this is supposed to be the creme of the European crop, dann Servus!
Mittwoch, September 06, 2006
Here are several posts put together because they tie in. Again, hat tip to Watching America, which gives a great round-up of non-American news and opinion on US politics and policies, but isn't limited to that.
First of all, the purging of Iran's universities of non-conformist thinkers resembles very much the "Gleichschaltung" of the early days of the Nazi regime in Germany.
What is the significance of this move? First, obviously, it underscores the ability of the government to stifle alternative thought. The government decides, it happens. Secular professors have been "sent" into retirement and a cleric is now head of the University of Teheran, which sat just fine with the students (not). This, accompanied with a crackdown on independent journalists, websites and bloggers - quelle Horror! - points to increasing control over what the Iranian population may see (remember, satellite dishes are increasingly dangerous to their owners!).
Control over the information that the masses see and hear is one of the prerequisites for successful radicalization of those masses. And the radicalization of the Iranian people is what the government wants: Iran is, for the mullahs, still too moderate for their needs. Not for their tastes: for their needs. The key point here is as well the denial of employment for those who do not toe the party line, for those whose opinions are not "correct". This is also a key development in the entrenchment of a fascist government in running any country: alternatives to the government and the government's ideology are not only not desired, but holding alternative political opinions is hazardous to your economic well-being.
And the opposition to these moves is heavily splintered and pursue contrary goals, meaning that there is no organized resistance, virtually ensuring that the fascistic control of the economy and politics (in the widest sense of the word) can be implemented fairly quickly.
Second of all, what is the core of the Iranian ideology, after one has removed the religious aspects? it is geopolitics, i.e.the direct linking of natural resources with political ambitions and foreign policy. In this article the link with one of Iran's erstwhile allies, Venezuala, should be clear. We have countries with massive oil reserves being taken over, as it were, by ambitious and ruthless politicians who appear to be dedicated geopoliticians and who want to create, effectively, a new world order of fascist cooperation.
Sort of like Germany, Italy and Japan before WW2, the Axis powers. President Bush didn't label countries like Syria, Iran and North Korea as the "Axis of Evil" for nothing: this is the rebirth of an obsolete political school, of geopolitics and the concurring belief that it is control over natural resources that determines international standing and political power.
Of course, this leads to my third point. geopolitics almost invariably sees the world as a zero-sum game, which has become, I think, thoroughly discredited in the wake of WW2 and, for instance, the post-war development of Japan as an economic powerhouse with little or no desire and ability to control natural resources.
And the Japanese link is relevant: will Iran follow the example of pre-war Japan and make the same kind of mistakes and miscalculations of judgement that led it to be blind to the potential of its enemies and vastly over-confident in its own? This article points to exactly this conclusion.
But even more to the point, the article points to the role that Ahmadinejad is playing that the Shah of Iran played before his collapse, that of regional hegemon. The gulf states back then rejected this, as they are rejecting this role today: the irony, of course, is that this rejection back then, as the Shah's attempts to intimidate his neighbors were public and helped undermine his authority at home when they failed, helped weaken his authority and helped his downfall.
Is Iran set to repeat history?
Dienstag, September 05, 2006
In today's Thüringer Allgemeinen (I know, every reads this...) there is an interview with Jacob Edery, who visited the offices of that newspaper with members of the Knesset. Minister Edery is the Minister for co-ordination between the Israeli administration and the Knesset.
This is the key paragraph in the story (and is really the only paragraph...):
Die USA müssten darum dieses Problem lösen "mit ihrer gesamten Macht". Da Irans Führung auf ihre militärische Stärke und dabei ebenso auf die Öl-Waffe setzen würde, bliebe kein anderer Ausweg mehr. Die USA hätten auch nicht die Zeit bis zur nächsten Präsidentenwahl. George W. Bush, so der Minister, müsse Kommando-Unternehmen einsetzen, "je früher desto besser". Schließlich würden die Iraner ihre nukleare Industrie verbarrikadieren. Den Europäern einschließlich der EU-Führung warf Edery vor zu ignorieren, dass sie selbst Teil des Konfliktes geworden und ebenso bedroht sind.
The US must solve this problem "with all of its powers". Since Iran's leadership will be using its military capabilities and will also want to use it's oil as a weapon, there is no other alternative. The US will also not have time to wait out the next presidential election. George W. Bush, according to the Minister, will have to use commandos "the earlier the better". The Iranians will be barricading its nuclear industry. The Europeans, including the EU-leadership, have chosen to ignore the fact that they have become part of the conflict and are as threatened as Israel.
This is my quick-and-dirty translation (took me 2 minutes) and hence any errors of translation are mine.
But this goes to underscore the point I made earlier today and which I have made in the past: now is the time to deal with the problem with the smallest loss of life and destruction.
Or does Europe want to wait until both Iran's and Israel's bluffs - bluffs in the sense that any deterrence strategy is the bluff that the weapons WILL be used of deterrence fails - are up on the table and the keys are half-turned in the firing controls?
Germany has quite a strong reputation in the Middle East (not the least because Hitler killed so many Jews, as repugnant as that might be and as little as that may have to do with the current German administration and the history of the Federal Republic) and if German politicians had the necessary sense they'd be out there pushing their good offices.
Instead they hide their heads in the sand and pretend that nothing's going to happen...
Inevitability is what brought us WW1 and the devastation of Europe.
Will inevitabilitynow bring the devastation of the Middle East, with a nuclear wastelands called Israel and Iran? With perhaps the destruction of a western European or US city as collateral damage as terrorists continue their attempt to reshape the world as they see fit?
It doesn't have to end that way, but it certainly is heading that way.
Maybe there is hope after all. At least perhaps for the French, maybe all is not lost.
I regularly go the the website "Watching America" to see what sort of takes they have found on foreign newspapers reporting on the US. More often than not, it gives you a good idea of what some of the mind-sets are overseas in regards to US politics and policies, with a fairly even mix of positive and negative. Highly recommended.
So I found this there today. The author, Raphael Drai, is a Professor of Law and Political Science at the Universoty of Aix-en-Provence and School of Psychoanalytic Research Paris VII, so he's got some bonafides there, plus this appeared in the French newspaper Figaro. If you know the French newspaper scene, this is not exactly a pro-American rag.
So what does he say? He presents, as far as I know, the first signifcant public analysis of what Iran is actually trying to do with its brinksmanship, and I think that his take on it is pretty much on the money, and agrees with some of what I've posted here in the past.
To put it simply, Iran wants the bomb because it sees it as the best and fastest way to force its will on others. With the bomb, Iran *must* be listened to. Acquisition is simply a matter of using it against Israel, but more importantly it will be the key to Shi'ite supremacy in the Middle East, since the Sunnis don't have the bomb, nor are they expected to. With the bomb comes the establishment of Iran as the premier sanctuary for terrorism, the use of which Iran has increasingly perfected and which is a fundamental part of the Iranian theocracy. From what I understand, Iranian support of terror groups is the equivalent of a line item in their government budget, with the (false) argument that one's man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.
This puts the goals that Iran is following in better perspective, and the understanding that Iran has of how decadent and weak the West is becomes clearer: Iran does not expect that the West will put together a cohrerent and meaningfull response, let alone through the UN, and Iran is truly becoming a rogue state, ignoring any and all treaties and agreements that it has signed. Non-Proliferation Treaty? Piffle. UN Resolutions? Double Piffle.
Because Iran - more exactly the Iranian theocracy, but hereafter Iran for brevity's sake - is not aiming for anything less than the end of days. This has been written off as so much farkle and talk, but this is the take of Drai as well. Put bluntly, as Drai does, Iran's goals are nothing less than the spread of Shi'ite doctrine as defined by Iran in a bid for global dominance and hegemony.
But what does this mean in the short-term?
Iran, as is now clear, supports Hezbollah and Hamas, both terrorist organizations dedicated to the destruction of a UN member state, with significant monetary, training and logistical assets. It brooks no interference from outsiders in this, i.e. this is, for the Iranians, not a subject of debate or of negotiations. It is their holy duty to do so.
Now imagine that Iran has the bomb. Not so much to use it - I think the Iranians also understand nukes as poltical weapons - but creating uncertainty and doubt about whether they would use it is almost as good as knowing for sure. The Iranians want the bomb for deterrence.
But not deterrence as we understand it: much more in the Russian sense, of ustrashenie (not sure of spelling or if that is the right word, will have to check that), which was the core of Russian nuclear strategy. It differs from the French concept of dissuasion (to dissuade, to convince someone not to do something) and from the English deterrence, to prevent by making it clear that the consequences are worse than the benefits.
The meaning of the word in this sense is compulsion, compulsion in the sense of adopting patterns of behavior so as to not be a threat to the one holding the weapons. This was, after all, the goal of the Soviets, turning their opponents will to serve that of the Soviet Union (this is not my fantasy, but rather served as the core of Soviet military thinking about nuclear weapons. Go find it out.) and hence change them from opponents into subservient vassals.
The Iranians aren't dumb. The stakes are huge and are very highly beneficiall if they can achieve them.
If they achieve their goal, they will not be opposed by ANY Middle Eastern state, at least at first. Their hold on Shi'ite terror groups and the extent that they are more than willing to finance and support terror directed against Israel means that they have covert tools at their disposal to undermine any and all Middle Eastern states with the exception of Israel, who they want to eradicate in any case.
This is the goal of the Iranians
This way lies madness, destruction and death.
The appeasement of the Europeans, the Russians and the Chinese towards Iran show that Iran has these countries properly nailed down politically. Neither the Chinese nor the Russians, the latter more so, can afford a nuclear-armed Iran on the Russian border, nor can the Chinese afford Shi'ite terror in western China. Both are trying to, figurateively speaking, ride the tiger while doing business with them.
Iran doesn't care about the UN: the UN is only useful to it as a delaying tool. They have seen that they can emasculate UN resolutions (Kofi Annan just proved this) by simply refusing to go along with them, ignoring them even though they are binding resolutions. They believe that they can, with impunity, ignore the NPT, which they are a signatory to, because they believe that nothing will happen to them when they break it.
And given the way that the appeasers in the West are arguing - that Iran should have the bomb and deserve to have it, that we should be friends, that their apocalyptic theology doesn't mean anything, that these are reasonable people if we were simply talk with them - I have very little hope that Iran will be stopped using political means. Which means that once again the US will have to take on the task to avoid even worse conditions later on.
Don't think they can be worse? Do you really think that Israel, who we all expect has nuclear weapons, will have its nuclear deterrence bluff called by the Iranians?
The whole problem of having nuclear weapons is that you have to be able to use them. If Iran truly believes that Israel will not use them, even while it is calling for the destruction of Israel, and that Iran can develop its own with impunity, abusing its status as nation-state to use terrorism as a political tool with immunity - we didn't do it, Hezbollah/Hamas did - then it is calling Israel's bluff.
The questions then becomes, as I have written here before, how many dead will it take before Iran's plans are thwarted?
And they must be thwarted: it is in our very own national interests to do so. I cannot understand how it can be in our national interests for Iran to break treaties, flaunt the international community and threaten not merely a member state of the UN, but even more fundamentally the very utility of the UN, with no consequences whatsoever.
But that this appeared in Figaro and from a Frenchman to boot: maybe there is hope after all.
Montag, September 04, 2006
Once again sanctions are being discussed as a way of "dealing" with the duplicity of Iran and it's nuclear weapons program (and given the duplicity over the last 20 years and the current brinkmanship being played out, there can be little doubt that this is the goal...).
Sanctions are at best a blunt instrument that at best annoys the guilty and always harms the innocent. It is the knee-jerk reaction of classic doomed western liberalism to a developing problem that calls for decisive action, since placing sanctions means postponing a decision. It means prolonging the situation in the chimerical hope that the problem will go away when those involved realize that by gosh, we're not pleased with them and we're not going to do any business with them until they stop acting so mean.
Sanctions have never worked. There are too many ways to defeat them, not the least being bribery on a massive scale, as we saw with the UN Iraqi sanctions.
"Real" sanctions mean not merely no official deals, but rather blockade and the deliberate choice that not only there be no trade, but there be no communication, no services, no access to the rest of world, no financial transactions and that the country being sanctioned be treated as an international pariah, with it's bank accounts frozen, it's trade embargoed, it's peoples isolated and it's ambassadors sent home packing.
This isn't even done to North Korea (their isolation is home grown) or Cuba (too many western countries interested in setting up business as the owner of the brothel), let alone Iran.
When you hear western politicians calling for putting sanctions on a country, that is a certain indicator that no one has a clue what to do, or more precisely, that no one is willing to take the next step.
Hence we have an escalating situation of a country that is betting its future that the West will bicker among themselves while they develop a full-scale full-circle nuclear industry that just happens to also be able to produce more than enough weapons-grade fissile material so as to make Iran and Iranian theology the dominant problem in the Middle East for the next 20 years.
Another case of the failure of the UN, and another good argument that Kofi Annan has caused the UN more damage than any of his predecessors. Any.
Freitag, September 01, 2006
So, two further data points to ponder.
First of all this Washington Post editorial underscores why it is increasingly the newspaper of mention and not the regrettable New York Times.
The key is in the last paragraph, and needs to be trumpeted from the towers with the same strength as the original allegations were trumpeted to the public.
Nevertheless, it now appears that the person most responsible for the end of Ms. Plame's CIA career is Mr. Wilson. Mr. Wilson chose to go public with an explosive charge, claiming -- falsely, as it turned out -- that he had debunked reports of Iraqi uranium-shopping in Niger and that his report had circulated to senior administration officials. He ought to have expected that both those officials and journalists such as Mr. Novak would ask why a retired ambassador would have been sent on such a mission and that the answer would point to his wife. He diverted responsibility from himself and his false charges by claiming that President Bush's closest aides had engaged in an illegal conspiracy. It's unfortunate that so many people took him seriously.
It is unfortunate that so many took him seriously? Unfortunate? It should be a topic of partisan shame. Will the pundits now denounce and state their regrets?
The silence is deafening.
Second, as if no one has noticed that Iran is pursuing a nuclear program that is aimed at developing nuclear weapons - and anyone denying this is either a useful idiot or is intellectually not the sharpest knife in the drawer - this should make it clear that their program is anything like what they say it is.
So where are the news media and where are the pundits?
The silence is deafening.
I came across this when I arrived this morning.
Guess no one can put two and two together?
For the very first time, Katuysha rockets are being used as a weapon of terror in Iraq. Fired at a Shi'ite community.
Now how difficult is it to connect the dots?
Who delivered literally thousands of such rockets to Hezbollah? Who really, really doesn't like the Shi'ites? Who is providing infrastructure and logistic support to the Sunni terrorists in Iraq?
And I deliberately call them terrorists, not an insurgency. An insurgency would have political goals: all that these people do is kill Shi'ites. Not to intimidate them poltically (you'd do targeted assasination for that), but simply for the joy of killing people they despise. Calling them an insurgency is to put gold plating on goat shit.
Iran continues to massively interfere in Iraq and Lebanon.
Where are the protesters? Where are the lawyers who should be dragging Iran in front of the International Court of Justice?
Oh, they're preparing their case against Israel instead.
Now you know why the ICJ is a mockery and a sham and isn't worth goat shit. Not even gold plated.