History's End

History will end only when Man does

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  • Monday, February 28, 2005

    Free Lebanon

    Free Lebanon Posted by Hello

    This nifty graphic is courtesy of Discarded Lies.

    Now, how to get it into my sidebar...


    Bold Predictions

    This thread is about, you guessed it, bold predictions. Some of them will be very far into the future, while others will be a year or less. I am not sure if this is going to be a series or not.

    Prediction 1: Within 5 years there will be a major effort to put into the record of history that the sweeping democratization we are seeing now was caused in spite of the Bush administration and the Bush Doctrine, not because of it.

    Prediction 2: Within 10 years we will start to see an effort by some on the political Left, namely the far-left, to re-legitimize Hitler and the German National Socialist Worker's Party.

    Prediction 3: Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic Nominee for President of the United States in 2008.

    Prediction 4: In the event of a Democratic loss in 2008 for Presidency we will start to see serious cracks form in the coalition that makes up the Democrats. The abandonment of the party by some elements would be an extreme of this.

    Prediction 5: Blogging will become a huge factor in the 2008 election, with both major parties running official campaign blogs, and a strong possibility that the candidates themselves will use those blogs. Bloggers will sometimes scoop the major media, and citizen journalism will become quite common.

    Prediction 6: The decade from 2001 to 2010 will become known as the "blogging decade."

    Prediction 7: The GOP ticket in 2008 for President will have either a women or a member of a minority in it, possibly both.

    Prediction 8: The US and India will form a major strategic partnership before the end of 2010.

    Agree? Disagree? Speak your mind in the comments.


    Freedom on the March

    Marc Schulman has more on the democracy movement in Lebanon, and in the greater Middle East. The photo is superb.


    For Even More Info on Lebanon

    I recommend Syria Comment, which I found courtesy of Wretchard. Its a great site with information I haven't seen elsewhere. Go check it out.


    The News

    What is "The News"? Well, from the looks of Fox, CNN, MSNBC, CBS and ABC, its Michael Jackson. Yup, Jacko. Forget the historic events occuring in Lebanon right now. Nope, what everyone needs to know is the status of the Michael Jackson trial. Bah.

    Update: The BBC at least has Lebanon as its primary news item of the day.


    India Rising

    Here are two articles about India which I found over at Winds of Change.

    1) The first is a report that the US NIC predicts India to be an unrivaled power in the region in 15 years.

    2) The second concerns the possibility of the US selling F-16s and Patriots to India.

    I will comment more on this later if I have the time.


    Cakewalk Iran?

    RegimeChangeIran has introduced me to this article in India Daily which states that the US would have little trouble over-running Iran in a couple of weeks.
    American warfare technologies are capable of making the Iranians outright surrender in a few weeks with little real fighting. In the last two years, American have mastered such technologies that Iran will not be able to stand even days.

    Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf said on Feb. 25 that Pakistan would remain neutral in the case of a U.S. attack against Iran over Tehran's nuclear program. However, he expressed hope that such an attack would not occur.

    Sources say, Pakistan is very convinced that if situation arise, Iran cannot even stand the American invasion for even days. General Musharraf knows something that the world does not know yet.

    I have no idea of the credentials of who wrote this, or just how trustworthy the sources are for India Daily. However, this is still an interesting read, in particular because it mentions the possible use of EMP weapons against Iran.
    International think tanks believe, the main weapons Americans can use is creation of charged ionized environment where the enemy is unable to fight. In addition, what ever we saw in use in Iraq still exists and they are all more perfected.
    That is a very crude way of speaking of EMP weapons, which could be used to disable the electronics of the Iranian military. One of the problems with attacking Iran is that it might launch a series of Ballistic Missile attacks against targets across the Middle East, such as Iraq, or perhaps the Saudi Oil Fields, or more likely the Israelis. If they use Chemical or Biological warheads serious problems could result. Not only the potential for high casualties, but it could also force a military response by Israel, which could complicate things. EMP weapons could disable Iranian missiles, removing that threat. Also, E-bombs could be used to attack Iranian weapons positions which might threaten the Strait of Hormuz. One of Iran's more potent deterrents is the fact that it could close the strait, through which 25% of the world's oil is shipped.

    Also, this article goes against the conventional wisdom that Iran would be a tough nut for the US to crack. I think that the toughness of the nut depends on the US political and military objectives. Merely destroying their nuclear program is considerably easier than conquering the whole nation. Combine this with the previous bit by Debka, and you have a strong possibility of something happening in only a couple of months.

    Update: I should note that I don't necessarily think it will be a cakewalk.



    A lot is happening in the small Middle Eastern country, and publius pundit is the place to go for information. Of course, Glenn has a lot of information as well. And Ed Morrissey as well.

    Update: Colt is pessimistic about Lebanon's future, be it Syrian controlled or not.



    Debka, always a questionable source, has this little tidbit:

    Some Western sources predict Russian-Iranian agreement signed Sunday to supply nuclear fuel for Bushehr reactor signals countdown to US and/or Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

    Deal signed inside reactor over strong American objections said first batch of enriched uranium fuel ready in Siberia for shipping - by late April, according to DEBKAfile’s sources.

    Any attack must precede fuel delivery to avoid radioactive fallout across the region as did Israel’s 1981 strike against Saddam’s reactor. Sunday, Tehran rejected EU-3 demand to cease uranium enrichment as non-negotiable.

    While Debka's reliability is always in question, this report does make a lot of sense, and is something I can put some trust in. If the reports are accurate, it could mean that whatever happens vis-a-vis Iran will happen before June.


    Sunday, February 27, 2005

    Secret Peace Talks?

    The Jerusalem Post is reporting that secret peace talks between Israel and Syria were held last week in Jordan:

    Syrian, Jordanian and Israeli Foreign Ministry officials held secret peace talks in Jordan last week, an official Jordanian source told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. According to the source, technical committees from Syria and Israel were hosted at the Movenpick Hotel on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea.

    Another meeting is planned, but there is no date set for it yet, said the source, who added that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss possibilities for more substantive peace contacts. The Israeli Foreign Ministry had no comment on the meeting. "This is the first time I have heard of this," said Mark Regev, the ministry's spokesman.

    It sounds like this is pretty low key at the moment, but the fact that Syria is even considering just talks is an important sign. Syria has long been the state the most hostile to Israel and if Assad decides to relax tensions with Israel then it could be a sign of a massive change inside Syria. These talks must pre-date the Harriri assassination, so that couldn't have prompted the Syrians to the table. More likely is the success of the elections in Iraq, as well as the US removal of the Hussein regime in general. The Syrians are starting to feel hemmed in, and even with Iranian help aren't in an ideal position. Getting some breathing room is no doubt a major priority for them at the moment. It will be interesting to see how this turns out.


    Blog Roll Update

    I have decided to add a few more blogs to my blogroll, a much easier affair now that I have blogrolling.

    You Big Mouth, You

    Mythusmage Opines


    Democratic Peace


    If I have forgotten anyone, post a comment below so I can add you.

    Update: Americans for Freedom added as well.


    A Red Herring?

    I have been suspicious about Sharon's efforts to pull out of Gaza for a while now, and his other actions only further my suspicion. I am now starting to think that the deal will be for Israel to pull out of Gaza, and in return take large parts of the West Bank to help secure its borders. However, there may be another motivation on Sharon's part. He could be attempting to get the Israeli far-right to implode. From the Jerusalem Post:

    Shin-Bet Chief Avi Dichter warned the cabinet on Sunday that dozens of hard core right-wing extremists "have the potential to commit an act of terror" against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon or the Temple Mount in an attempt to stop the disengagement plan.

    Dichter said that the number of cases of extremist statements threatening the prime minister has more than tripled from last spring. The Shin Bet tracked 70 such statements made by leaders of the extreme right from December to February.

    The statements included: "Yigal Amir is alive, Rabin is dead, and Sharon will die too," "Sharon is worse than Arafat," "Sharon will meet Arafat in hell," "the government declared war on the Torah and Judaism," "a political assassination would be welcome," and "pray for Sharon's death to stop the diplomatic process."

    I now must wonder if Sharon is hoping to discredit the far-right in Israel, by goading them into taking actions which will hurt their credibility with the rest of Israeli society. They are overly powerful in Israeli politics, especially through the settler community, and weakening their authority and control over the Israeli political machine would make things much easier for those hoping to find a peaceful solution. The primary impediment to this is the Palestinians, of course, but assuming they do somehow find some common sense somewhere, the Israeli far-right will be the next barricade. Removing them from the scene early on might make the rest of the job easier. Assuming, of course, that this is part of the plan.


    Syria Feels the Heat

    Instapundit has directed me to Captain Ed's Quarters, where the good captain is covering the recent arrest of Saddam's half-brother. I dare say this is further evidence that Assad and Co. are feeling the heat, and are doing what they can to get the US to relieve the pressure on them. While such actions by Syria are nice, I think far more can be gained by keeping Assad in a corner. Hopefully the Bush administration realizes this, and squeezes Assad until he and his regime pops.


    Saturday, February 26, 2005

    Republican Majority?

    Thanks to Roger L. Simon, here is an article from Michael Barone describing how Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman:

    On the surface, the 2004 election looked very much like the 2000 election. George W. Bush was again running against a liberal Democrat who had spent much of his career in the Senate and who had clinched his nomination by early victories in Iowa and New Hampshire. In November, 47 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia voted for the candidate of the same party as they had in 2000. Only three states switched, New Hampshire to the Democrats, Iowa and New Mexico to the Republicans. Bush won again, this time without a court battle. Republicans ended up with majorities in both houses of Congress. But in many ways, the 2004 campaign was very different from 2000. It produced a different kind of politics, a politics that reflects the character of the post-industrial, networking age we live in.
    Networking will be key to the rest of the article. Rather than just excerpt it, go read the whole thing, I will need some time to fully appraise it.


    9/11 Republican

    Here is a story about someone who experienced a radical transformation of their life in just a few years.

    Having been indoctrinated in the postcolonialist, self-loathing school of multiculturalism, I thought America was the root of all evil in the world. Its democratic form of government and capitalist economic system was nothing more than a machine in which citizens were forced to be cogs. I put aside the nagging question of why so many people all over the world risk their lives to come to the United States. Freedom of speech, religious freedom, women's rights, gay rights (yes, even without same-sex marriage), social and economic mobility, relative racial harmony and democracy itself were all taken for granted in my narrow, insulated world view.

    So, what happened to change all that? In a nutshell, 9/11. The terrorist attacks on this country were not only an act of war but also a crime against humanity. It seemed glaringly obvious to me at the time, and it still does today. But the reaction of my former comrades on the left bespoke a different perspective. The day after the attacks, I dragged myself into work, still in a state of shock, and the first thing I heard was one of my co-workers bellowing triumphantly, "Bush got his war!" There was little sympathy for the victims of this horrific attack, only an irrational hatred for their own country.

    This kind of story isn't uncommon, I am sure there are many Americans with similar tales of political shifts resulting from the World Historical that was 9/11. The long term impact of this is only just being felt.

    Hat Tip: WizBang!

    Update: One person who underwent such a change is Jane. Charles also underwent something similar. As did Roger, to a lesser degree.


    Egypt Feels the Pressure

    Apparently being snubbed by Condi had its effect, as Mubarak has now started to implement election reforms in Egypt. Or at least, he is saying he is. Marc Schulman at American Future has a post up with a thorough collection of links concerning this latest shake-up in the Middle East.

    This is undoubtably good news, and is another sign that the times, they are a changin'. Mubarak now has to at least make pretenses of reform. He wouldn't do that unless he was felling pressure. Why? Because the trappings of democracy are dangerous to autocracy. When the people are surrounded by democratic institutions and ideas, without the actual democracy, they will grow pessimistic, cynical of their current regime. They will lose faith in it, and you will see the rise of groups dedicated to actually carrying out the reforms which were touted in the past. Mubarak is now setting up the institutions by which he will lose power. Perhaps he can and will game this coming election, but its doubtful he will be able to do it afterward. The people of the Middle East have seen the Iraqis make their stand for democracy, and now are asking of themselves: "Why not us, too?"

    The pretenses of democracy, while they may distract the populace for a while, also give support to the very ideal of democracy, and create further pressure in turn. Mubarak is now locked into a cycle he can't stop. The people of Egypt will not forget broken promises, they will remember and express their true sentiments soon.

    Update: Via LGF, I find a post on Scylla and Charybodis about this subject. They believe it to be part of a "rising expectations" strategy.

    To the extent that one believes that micro- and macro-history is closely linked with Rising Expectations, the Wolfowitz Plan is simple. It is the US using military might to inject, and support, a democratic area into a despotic region. Over a long period - a generation or two - the Rising Expectations created will change the region, somewhat organically. The resulting political structures will not be carbon copies of the US, but the hegemony of despots will have been broken. And that stranglehold of despots, financed by petro dollars and continued with the use of their own Big Lie - the scapegoating of Israel as the nefarious cause of all of the regional woes of the Arab and Muslim proles - will go away. (What about that American flag? Well, that's simple. The Jews secretly control Amerika....Amerika is a puppet of its Israeli masters.....)
    That is only a small part of a greater whole, read it all.


    Friday, February 25, 2005

    History in Color

    Courtesy of Tom at PookleKufr, I have found a collection of color photos from World War I. I have never seen their like before, and find myself entranced. You can find them here.


    Science vs Leftism

    Bill at INDC Journal alerts us to an article on CNN which should once and for all dispell the myth that men and women are no different when it comes to brain chemistry:
    The human brain is composed of two types of tissue--gray matter and white matter. While men and women have about the same amount of gray matter and white matter, men appear to use more gray matter, while women use more white matter. Before we proceed further, it's important to note that while the two genders may think differently, this does not affect their intellectual performance or overall intelligence.
    This isn't the first study to assail women's map-reading skills. Previous research has also shown that women have weaker spatial awareness than men, which makes it more difficult for them to read maps. But women outshine men when it comes to vocabulary. In childhood, girls' vocabulary develops more quickly than that of boys; by adulthood, women can speak 20,000 to 25,000 words a day compared to a man's 7,000 to 10,000.
    There is plenty more there, read it all. I can assure that that the Leftist conducting their own witch trial in Harvard won't.


    Tightening Noose?

    Hammorabi says that the rope is being drawn closer around Zarqawi's neck:
    Day after day the way leading to Zarqawi becomes shorter. The corners he may use become very few and disclosed.

    Talib Minkhlef Airsan (Abokotayba) one of the top cards just beside Zarqawi has been arrested 4 days ago near Aana which is close to the Syrian border. He is one of the most dangerous terrorist in Zarqawi group. He was responsible for the personal security of Zarqawi!

    Similar thugs have been arrested in Diyala, Ramadi and Mosel over the last few days. Mohamad Najem was responsible for many beheadings and Abo Othman was a personal driver for Zarqawi.
    This is good news, as Zarqawi runs one of the more efficient operations in Iraq. Taking him out won't stop the terror, but it will go a long way towards that goal.

    Also, civilan involvement appears to be increasing as well:
    Iraqi ordinary civilians are now actively involved in dismantling and arresting the terrorist networks. They play very active role to arrest the thugs.
    Two days ago 4 terrorists tried to attack the Iraqi National Guards in the centre of Baghdad near the motor way. The civilians in Alhoriyah city suspected their intention and captured them just before they attack the Iraqi National Guards. When the Iraqi forces arrived the civilians handed the captured terrorists with applauses! No one of the terrorists were harmed or beaten by the people! Is it not civilized and brave way!
    This is perhaps even better news. Metrics have been difficult to find in Iraq, and there are few easy ways to gauge success. Civilian involvement is one of them, and stories like these are a good sign. Ultimately it is actions like this which will ensure a safe and secure Iraq.


    The Democratic Peace

    The blogosphere has a new member, as R.J. Rummel joins us with his new blog, Democratic Peace. The site is a great place to find out about the role that government plays in war and death. In just a few days Professor Rummel has blogged about Ward Churchill, the UN and Famine. Be sure to check it out.

    Hat Top: Dean Esmay


    Thursday, February 24, 2005

    Northern Resource Area

    Chuck at the blog You Big Mouth, You, has his third and final post up discussing the issue of China and Taiwain. In this last installment, he covers a possible Chinese move northwards into Russia's Far East, something I have talked of before.


    Balancing Act

    The diplomats at New Sisyphus have a superb account of the issue of civil-liberties versus national security. Go read it.


    Come the Revolution

    Discoshaman, of the Ukranian blog Le Sabot Post-Moderne, is hoping for a democratic revolution in Syria and Iran, as compared to external regime change by the United States.

    Farid Ghadry, president of the Reform Party of Syria has a good column in the WashTimes today.

    "The next U.S. step, following the withdrawal of the U.S. ambassador in Damascus, must be to open a front against the Syria Ba'athists in their own backyard. Not a military front, far from it, but a popular civilian offensive. The United States should aim to create the same disequilibrium in Syria that the Syrian Ba'athists so readily encourage elsewhere."

    The US should be doing everything it can to foster democratic revolution in Syria and Iran. My Iranian activist friends all talk of the importance of the Farsi channels beamed in from LA. These still struggle for money to stay afloat, from what I understand.

    These two regimes teeter on shaky foundations -- lots of guns, little real popular support. The US should be doing everything it can to give them a shove -- cultivating expats, supporting internal resistance groups, broadcasting the truth night and day through radio and TV.

    What do we have to lose? Will Assad and the Ayatollah start supporting terrorists or the Iraqi resistance or something?

    My response to this was that there has never been a successful revolution in country with strong and loyal security services that didn't cause massive bloodshed. In fact, few revolutions like this can and do occur. Ironically, Iran is one instance, with the Shah being overthrown in 1979, despite his still having relatively strong and loyal security services. My suspicion, though, is that they weren't quite as strong and/or loyal as is generally believed. When the security services are loyal, especially to the point of death, to the leadership of the country, its nearly impossible to launch a successful revolution. It will most likely be put down, brutally, as in the case of Hama. The only way to overthrow the regimes of Syria or Iran, or in fact, any other authoritarian government, is to either undermine their security services , or invade and destroy the regime.

    This fact is most easily observed in Iraq. The Shi'ite Revolution in 1991 (scroll down) was crushed because Saddamn's security services, in this case the Republican Guards, were still intact, and loyal to him. No revolution was possible in Iraq, simply because Saddam and his supporters were too strong. Only open war could destroy the Saddam Regime. The same is true for Iran and Syria. As long as their security services remain loyal and competent, an internal revolution is not possible.


    Changing of the Guard

    The Pope appears to be very ill, and I think it will not be long before John-Paul II leaves this world. The work he has accomplished while Pope is significant, and would fill up many pages. However, in his passing another will have to replace him, and who that person is could have a profound affect.


    Wednesday, February 23, 2005

    Such Wonderful Friends, Have we

    Europe once again proves itself to be the kind of friend you don't want to have:

    KISH, Iran - As President Bush pressures European allies to get tougher with Iran, NBC News got a rare glimpse inside the country — at an Iranian air show attended by some of the world's leading military contractors eager to do business with America's adversary.

    On the island of Kish, mullahs mixed with Ukrainian generals amid photos of the Ayatollah Khomeini. Iran's contempt for the United States was clear — emblazoned underneath a helicopter, in Farsi: "Death to America."

    It's generally illegal for American companies to do business with Iran. But NBC News found more than a dozen European defense and aviation firms eager to fill the void. Some do business with the Pentagon, yet they were actively selling their wares to Iran.

    Words defy me.


    History Repeating Itself

    Der Spiegel Online:

    But history has shown that it wasn't Reagan who was the dreamer as he voiced his demand. Rather, it was German politicians who were lacking in imagination -- a group who in 1987 couldn't imagine that there might be an alternative to a divided Germany. Those who spoke of reunification were labeled as nationalists and the entire German left was completely uninterested in a unified Germany.

    When George W. Bush requests that Chancellor Schroeder -- who, by the way, was also not entirely complimentary of Reagan's 1987 speech -- and Germany become more engaged in the Middle East, everybody on the German side will nod affably. But despite all of the sugar coating the trans-Atlantic relationship has received in recent days, Germany's foreign policy depends on differentiating itself from the United States. And when Bush leaves Europe, the differences will remain. Indeed, Bush's idea of a Middle Eastern democracy imported at the tip of a bayonet is, for Schroeder's Social Democratic Party and his coalition partner the Green Party, the hysterical offspring off the American neo-cons. Even German conservatives find the idea that Arabic countries could transform themselves into enlightened democracies somewhat absurd.

    This, in fact, is likely the largest point of disagreement between Europe and the United States -- and one that a President John Kerry likely would not have made smaller: Europeans today -- just like the Europeans of 1987 -- cannot imagine that the world might change. Maybe we don't want the world to change, because change can, of course, be dangerous. But in a country of immigrants like the United States, one actually pushes for change. In Mainz today, the stagnant Europeans came face to face with the dynamic Americans. We Europeans always want to have the world from yesterday, whereas the Americans strive for the world of tomorrow.
    I think that the whole idea of "The West" being dead is inappropriate. There never was a "West" to begin with. America is a nation that looks to the future, while Europe tries to preserve a dead past. America is fundamentally not a European nation, it is an English one, part of the greater Anglosphere. "Western Unity" was necessary during the Cold War, with that being done and over with there is nothing holding us together. No common language, no common culture, no common principles, not even a common religion anymore, thanks to G-d being dead. We are like two long lost relatives, rediscovering each other, only to find out how different we truly are. Parting cannot be that far off.

    Ooops: Hat Tip: TKS


    America's Good-Bye

    Callimachus at Done with Mirrors believes that Bush's visit to Europe wasn't the start of a re-approchment, but rather a farewell tour:
    I'm watching Bush's Europe trip, and I realize Mark Steyn's right. This isn't a new beginning. It's a farewell tour.

    You won't see visits like this as often in the future. American presidents might make them once per term, that's it. Except for fly-ins to Davos or such places for special events.

    The connection is broken. There's time for a little wistful nostalgia. Everyone's saying the nice words, but it's like the "I'm OK, you're OK talk" you have with someone after you've already broken up with them and you've divided up the books and the CDs and the car engine is running and you're saying good-bye for the last time.
    Needless to say, go read the rest.


    Russian Compendium

    I just realized I had failed to do a compendium post, listing all of my various posts on Russia. Here is my series:

    1) Colonization
    2) Retro-Colonization
    3) The Death of Russia
    4) The New Feudalism
    5) A Step to the Sidelines
    6) Bottled Sunshine

    The idea to bring this all together is thanks to Mythusmuge, and his post on Russia as a Dead Nation Walking.

    Update: Cox and Forkum's take on Putin's Russia is spot on.


    Women's Suffrage in Kuwait?

    Courtesy of Jane, here is some good news from Kuwait:
    KUWAIT (Agencies): Kuwait Parliament could next month view a bill granting women the right to vote, a government minister said on Tuesday. Washington has been pressing its allies in the Middle East to bring in political reforms, saying lack of freedom and democracy have fostered violent Islamic militancy inspired by the al-Qaeda network led by Osama bin Laden. Asked when the female suffrage bill would be debated, Deputy Premier and Minister of State for Cabinet and Parliament Affairs Mohammad Sharar told reporters: "I think in March, God willing."
    The rest can be found here. The willingness of the Islamist Parties to support this move indicates that things are moving forward in the kingdom, and hopefully serious political progess can be made before the end of the decade.


    Tuesday, February 22, 2005

    Link Dump

    I am rather busy right now, so all I can offer you are some links to things you might find interesting.

    1) Discarded Lies is full of good information right now, including a bit on China pressuring North Korea on its nuclear weapons.

    2) Andrew Cory argues that Hillary Clinton won't run for President in 2008, or at least, that is what the tagline says. Rather, he argues that she can't win, which I guess means she won't run, assuming she knows as much.

    3) Gerard Vanderleun suggests sending your kids to trucking school rather than college. No, really!

    4) Austin Bay informs us that one of America's favorite dictators now has a blog.

    5) Kevin at Wizbang! has a good post rounding up a lot of the info on the would be presidential-assassin.

    6) Courtesy of Chester, here is a blog called Across the Bay, which has a lot of good information on events going on inside Syria at the moment.

    7) Jheka helps show us the true colors of the Left.

    8) Dan Darling, over at Winds of Change instead of his own blog, presents some startling information.


    Monday, February 21, 2005

    Israeli Saber Rattling?

    Israel Air Force Commander-in-Chief Major General Eliezer Shakedi said Monday that Israel must be prepared for an air strike on Iran in light of its nuclear activity.

    But in a meeting with reporters, Shakedi wouldn't say whether he thought Israel was capable of carrying out such a mission alone, as it did when it bombed an unfinished Iraqi nuclear reactor near Baghdad in 1981.
    This sounds to me like effort to put some pressure on Iran, perhaps to make them more cautious about supporting Syria. Perhaps it is simply a counter to Iran's vow to work/ally with Syria. Or it could simply be a sign of concern about Iran's nuclear capacity. Either way, I don't expect the Israeli's to advertise their plans beforehand. The first sign of an Israeli decision in this regard is when we see the news reports about air raid sirens in Iran.


    North Korea Realizes Something...

    ...B----ing and Moaning doesn't make for a good foreign policy.
    We will go to the negotiating table anytime if there are mature conditions for the six-party talks thanks to the concerted efforts of the parties concerned in the future," the state news agency KCNA quoted Kim as saying.

    The agency said Pyongyang "would as ever stand for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and its position to seek a peaceful solution to the issue through dialogue remains unchanged."

    The six-party talks include North and South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.

    North Korea announced on February 10 that it would withdraw from the talks and declared for the first time that it possessed nuclear weapons, blaming a hostile U.S. stance for the impasse.

    But, in what appears to be a reversal, Pyongyang said Tuesday that its government "has never opposed the six-party talks but made every possible effort for their success." (that one got me laughing, ed.)

    The NorKors thought they could scare us. Oops. Looks like that one didn't pan out. Now they are desperately trying to get the talks going again, perhaps in hope that food aid will increase. Or perhaps they simply didn't like being ignored, and felt that at least at the talks they got some attention. Either way, I predicted this earlier. It didn't even take weeks, either.


    War on the Horizon?

    The US is planning on attacking Iran in June, according to that always trustworthy and loyal American, Scott Ritter:

    The principal theme of Scott Ritter's talk was Americans’ duty to protect the U.S. Constitution by taking action to bring an end to the illegal war in Iraq. But in passing, the former UNSCOM weapons inspector stunned his listeners with two pronouncements. Ritter said plans for a June attack on Iran have been submitted to President George W. Bush, and that the president has approved them. He also asserted that knowledgeable sources say U.S. officials "cooked" the results of the Jan. 30 elections in Iraq.

    On Iran, Ritter said that President George W. Bush has received and signed off on orders for an aerial attack on Iran planned for June 2005. Its purported goal is the destruction of Iran’s alleged program to develop nuclear weapons, but Ritter said neoconservatives in the administration also expected that the attack would set in motion a chain of events leading to regime change in the oil-rich nation of 70 million -- a possibility Ritter regards with the greatest skepticism.

    The former Marine also said that the Jan. 30 elections, which George W. Bush has called "a turning point in the history of Iraq, a milestone in the advance of freedom," were not so free after all. Ritter said that U.S. authorities in Iraq had manipulated the results in order to reduce the percentage of the vote received by the United Iraqi Alliance from 56% to 48%.

    Needless to say, anything the man says needs to be examined skeptically. This pervert is most likely just trying to get himself some attention, as I doubt he has any contacts near anyone in "the know." However, its possible that he is being used for purposes of disinformation. Either way, interesting info, if from a disreputable source. As for the cooking the books part, how in the hell does he know that? Or rather, how can he claim to know that? Considering that he is pretty much the only person making that claim, best to just silently nod and back away. Given that aspect, I most especially doubtful of the claims of a looming war with Iran. This guy just can't be trusted.

    Hat Tip: The Corner



    Hunter S. Thompson is dead, apparently at this own hands. The man himself has quite a reputation, and many in the blogosphere have their own takes on the man. However, only two bloggers really knew the man: Roger and Gerard. Each has his own take on the man, and I suppose each has the right to his version of who Thompson really was. Gerard, however, I think really got at the heart of the man, though.


    Sunday, February 20, 2005

    New Banner

    At the bottom of the blog is a banner which contains information about missing children. I have been working on the template and haven't been able to get it higher than that without causing problems. Hopefully that can be fixed in time. Idea thanks to Jane.


    Democrats: We don't need no Stinking Facts!

    Think I am full of it? Check this out. This is a US Congressman. Not some partisan hack. Or at least, not just a partisan hack. This kind of behavior is simply unbelievable. A US Congressman accuses the White House of perpetrating a vast conspiracy against the US media, and has absolutely no proof to back up the claim, only it takes him twice to admit as much. The comments section at LGF is full of great quotes, I suggest reading it as well.

    Update: Set link to no comments version. Apparently Instapundit has picked this up. It will be interesting to see if this gets any further.

    Update 2: I got to thinking...

    The Congressman initially tells the LGF Operative that he did, in fact, have evidence. Later he admits this isn't' true. Why would he do such a thing? The only logical possibility that comes to mind is that he said he had evidence initially to shut the questioner up. The Operative was ruining the moment, if you will. He was on a roll, denouncing the evil Republicans, and Karl Rove in particular. The intent wasn't to lie, I think, it was to get the questioner to be quiet. Facts and evidence would only get in the way of his convictions. Ironically, this says a lot more about Congressman Hinchey than first meets the eye. He certainly isn't a "just the facts" kind of guy.


    Busy Skies.

    For some interesting analysis of US actions in Iran, check out this post over at the Adventures of Chester. More later, perhaps.


    Saturday, February 19, 2005

    Feeling Blue?

    Then this site is for you.

    The problem is I can't tell if this site is serious or not. That is rather disturbing, actually.


    The Kurds have their goals, and an Islamist Iraq isn't one of them

    Courtesy of the IraqElectionWire, I bring news about Kurdish plans for the New Iraq:
    Jalal Talabani is a former peshmerga--the name means "those who face death" and refers to the Kurdish guerrillas who spent decades in the mountains of northern Iraq fending off the assembled might of Saddam Hussein's army. Now 72 years old and a candidate for the Iraqi presidency, Talabani looks out his study window at the snow-covered peaks before choosing his words carefully to answer the question on every Kurd's lips--for the first time in the country's history, will Iraq have a Kurdish president?

    "Without reaching agreement, there is some kind of understanding, yes. The Shiites are insisting on having the post of prime minister and they are supporting Kurds to have the post of president," he says, puffing on a large cigar.

    I predicted a Kurdish president earlier, but the key issue in all of this is the role of Islam in Iraq.

    The Shiites need an alliance with the secular Kurdish parties in order to gain control of parliament, hence the possible deal over the country's top two posts. But having won more than a quarter of the votes, Kurds know they are in a strong bargaining position--and Islamic law is not on their agenda.

    "When you say that Islam must be the only source of all laws, that means you're going to found an Islamic state," says Talabani, who, like the overwhelming majority of Kurds, is a Sunni Muslim. "The structure of Iraqi society cannot accept such a kind of government."

    The Kurds will resist strongly any Islamist in the position of Prime Minister, so I expect a pretty moderate Shi'ite to take the post. Given the strength of the Kurds in the National Assembly, they have the power to decide who is PM. I don't think it will be an Islamist.


    The Lemon Revolution?

    From the good folks at the Corner, I bring you hints of a possible Lemon Revolution:

    IT WOULD be either the “lemon” or the “tulip” revolution. Kazbek and his friends could not quite decide.

    But as they watched Ukraine’s Orange Revolution unfold last year, they were convinced of one thing: Kyrgyzstan could be next. Their mountainous homeland was thousands of miles east of Ukraine, and one tenth of its size, but the political parallels between the former Soviet republics were striking.

    Kyrgyzstan, like Ukraine, was hailed as a beacon of democracy after the Soviet Union’s collapse but had slipped into the standard post-Soviet habits of clan capitalism and authoritarian government.

    After 15 years in power Askar Akayev, the President, now appears determined to pack the parliament with relatives and allies at elections on February 27 — and to install his chosen successor at a presidential poll in October. Kazbek, a young Kyrgyz democracy activist, had been an election observer in Ukraine and witnessed first-hand the tactics used to mobilise opposition protests there.

    Sounds familiar, doesn't it? The parallels to Ukraine are striking. And guess who is up to even more dastardly deeds?

    In addition, the Kyrgyzstan Government has openly courted support from Russia and China, playing on their fears of US encroachment in Central Asia.

    It has asked Beijing to send election observers, while barring those from the National Democracy Institute. When the Kyrgyz Foreign Minister visited Moscow this month, Russia announced that it would double the size of its military base in Kyrgyzstan. The Kyrgyzstan Government then said that it would not allow the United States to use Awacs surveillance aircraft at its base.

    Moscow has been careful to appear impartial this time, holding talks with opposition leaders as well. But analysts say that it could be heading for another foreign policy failure.

    Putin has shown himself to be no friend of democracy, and is in fact one of the leading enemies of freedom in the modern world. The day that he and his ilk will lose power in Russia will be a good day indeed.

    As for the "Lemon Revolution," I do not think that such an attempt will be successful in February, but things could change for the October Presidential Election. Needless to say, the US needs to give democracy advocates in Krygyzstan as much support as possible. Not only will it hinder Russian plans, thereby weaking Putin's support in Russia and helping strengthen democracy there, democracy in Krygyzstan will hopefully spillover into the rest of the region. The threat of the Islamists is there, but since they don't actually believe in democracy, I suspect that they will receive rather less support at the ballot box as might be believed.


    Death Grounds

    Today is the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima. BlackFive has his own take, and a set of links about the battle.


    Friday, February 18, 2005

    Freezing Point

    Is the Cold War on its way back? Secular Blasphemy has more.

    Update: Forget to tip my hat to Roger L. Simon.


    I stake my claim

    Based on a post by Roger L Simon, I hereby stake a claim to a new word:

    Checkistocracy- which translates as rule by the intelligence services.

    It applies to what is happening in Russia under Putin, as he puts his Chekist cronies into positions of power. I looked for a word that describes this situation, and can't find one. Hence, Checkistocracy.


    Thursday, February 17, 2005


    I got a g-mail account courtesy of El Bandito, and have tried it out. It looks efficient so far, and I think that I am going to replace my hotmail e-mail with it for blog-contact info.


    Understanding the Enemy

    For the best analysis I have yet seen on Al Qaeda and sunni Jihadism, head on over to Discarded Lies. This statistical and scientific approach to terrorism is certainly nothing you will ever see come from the Left, for more reasons than I care to enumerate. Dispelling the myths is nice, but unless people see this, they won't really understand what is behind the enemy's actions. Hopefully as more people join the 'sphere, more will come to understand this.


    The Al Qaeda Connection

    Jack of TigerHawk (a vastly under-appreciated blog in the sphere, BTW) links to a very disturbing report by the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (pdf). It alleges a possible Al Qaeda connection, a direct one, to the slaying of Theo Van Gogh. Rather than just copy what he did, head on over to his site and check it out.


    Welcome C-SPAN Viewers! Part Deux

    Welcome too all who arrived at my (not so humble) blog from C-SPAN. I am pleased to find myself on a rather short list of blogs, including many of note. I hope that you enjoy my little site, and take the time to read some of what I have to say. I find it interesting now that I am getting so many visitors from C-SPAN, and if one of you is feeling up to it, I would appreciate a comment below on what directed you to the C-SPAN blog list, and in extension, to History's End.


    Wednesday, February 16, 2005


    I am going to ask a simple question, and I hope that anyone who actually reads this blog will answer. The question is:

    Should the US allow the Iranian Mullahs to acquire nuclear weapons?

    I say allow, because they will almost certainly get them sometime in the future. I think everyone with any sense realizes this. The question is not whether or not Iran is going nuclear. The question is, should the Mullahs be allowed to get the Bomb? It is really up to the US in this, because no one else has the will, and the capability, of preventing this. Its not a question of who does it. Either a yes, or a no. I would appreciate your reasons for this decision as well. I plan on posting my view, and much more, sometime tomorrow.


    The Axis of Evil Gets a New Member

    Syria has apparently decided to become a full member of the Axis of evil recently, as it stregthens ties with Iran. Rusty at mypetjawa has more.



    Jack of TigerHawk details the rise of Patriotic Militia's in Iraq.

    This is a good sign, and is another indication that the insurgency is failing to achieve the kind of popular support it needs to win.


    Tuesday, February 15, 2005

    So Long Allawi...

    ... there will always be the Opposition.

    More advice? Try and court the Sunnis. They are looking for a way in now, and you can provide it for them. If you tell them that their interests are your interests, you can build up support among Sunni Arabs, especially secular ones. This will help greatly in the elections in December. Also, keep on trying to woo as many members of the UIA as possible. You can never get enough to force them to include other parties in their general coalition, but you can deny them a simple majority in the Assembly. That could be helpful later.


    US Withdraws Syrian Ambassador

    From CNN:

    The United States announced Tuesday the recall of its ambassador to Syria in response to the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

    State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the United States has "made it clear" it wants Syria, which maintains some 16,000 troops in Lebanon, to use its influence to prevent such attacks.


    Two key members of the U.S. Senate expressed support for the ambassador's recall.

    "I think perhaps tightening the screws somewhat more would be appropriate," said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas. "Everything indicates that Syria is harboring terrorists."

    Sen. Byron Dorgan said the move sends a strong message. "I think it's a very serious step and will be an understandable signal to the Syrians," said Dorgan, D-North Dakota. "The Syrians have been identified as a country that's engaged in state-sponsored terrorism."

    I am guessing that this move is not just for show. An opportunity has presented itself, and I suspect that the Bush Administration will use it. Just how far it will take this, though, is still up in the air.


    Monday, February 14, 2005

    A Guide Book to Iraqi Politics

    I suspect that, in an ironic twist of fate, Iraq and Israel will have similar political currents, and that each will have more in share politically than other neighbors in the ME, or even Europe.

    One of the ways in which I see this happening is in the political spectrum in Iraq. I believe that it will become a 3-axis spectrum, as compared to the 2-axis spectrum in the US, for example. In the US, there are two main separate spectrums, the social political spectrum, and the fiscal political spectrum. In Iraq, I think that the fiscal one will be roughly the same, but then the differences will kick in. The new spectrum will be the religious/secular spectrum. It will differentiate parties which are openly religious, and those which choose to be openly secular. The social spectrum will likely be there as well, with the religious spectrum usually determining it. However, its possible you could have a secular party which is also conservative socially. This could come from it being a multi-religion party, or one which tends towards anti-clericism, although it supports existing cultural/religious social views. I will try and elaborate further.


    The Anti-Moore?


    hat tip: Tim Blair and Instapundit


    Syria's Big Mistake?

    The recent assassination of the former Prime Minister of Lebanon could be a catastrophe for Syria. Even if Syria wasn't involved, which I doubt at this point, they are already being blamed:
    he United States called the attack "a terrible reminder" that Lebanon still must shake free of occupation by Syria — the neighbor that keeps 15,000 troops here and influences virtually all key political decisions.

    Syria denied any role and condemned the assassination. But opposition leaders in Lebanon said they held both the Lebanese and Syrian governments responsible and demanded Syrian troops withdraw.

    A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was too early in the investigation to know who was responsible, but said any list of suspects "would have to include the Syrians and their surrogates in Lebanon."

    Apparently the former PM was also a friend of Chirac, as well:
    President Jacques Chirac of France, a friend of Hariri, demanded an international investigation, saying Hariri represented "the indefatigable will of independence, freedom and democracy" for Lebanon.
    If Chirac and the US are united in this effort, then I think that Syria is going to be in big trouble. Already the US has been putting pressure on Syria to remove its troops from Lebanon, and this might be the impetus to get the UN to demand a Syrian withdrawal.

    This could also be a move by Hizb'allah, which has ties to Iran, but also to Syria, through Iran. So its possible both nations wanted Rafik Hariri dead. I think its likely Iran will escape "notice" for this, but I don't think Syria will. The next couple of days could give an indication of which way the wind is blowing. If we see a UN resolution demanding Syria's withdrawal, things could come to a head.


    One Party

    Via the Corner, I introduce you to this little bit from Tapped:

    With the Democrats gathered in Washington for Dean's coronation and in the wake of Bill Clinton's delivery of a Delphic roadmap at the Terry McAuliffe send-off last night, let's examine what separates the Republicans from the Democrats (with apologies to Ralph Nader):

    One party has political elites who revere and respect its recent presidential candidates; one party can't even be bothered to stop chatting and, err, partying to listen to its candidates speak.

    One party has a clear programmatic agenda that has been relentlessly pursued in a well-organized fashion for five years; one party is still trying to build a credible war room (both materially and culturally).

    One party never apologizes and never shows weakness; one party is on its fourth day of cry-babyish "defense" of its Senate Leader, after a run-of-the-mill GOP "attack."

    One party is already organizing for 2005/6/7/8; one party is still trying to figure out what changes a yet-to-be-elected chair will make on the Wisteria Lane of politics — Ivy Street, SE.

    One party would know that electing a national chair with a net negative approval rating is at a minimum problematic; one party thinks it's a virtue.

    One party can whenever it wishes take off-the-shelf opposition research (video and text) and turn it into talking points that drive the friendly and (sometimes) mainstream media; one party considers 36 hours to be "rapid response."

    One party will air its dirty laundry to whatever lowest-common-denominator media outlet comes a-sniffin'; one party engages in cock-fight-style drag-'em-outs in their headquarters' basement.

    One party is on offense; one party is on . . . something else.

    On party learned the lessons of the '90s; one party unlearned them.

    One party knows the press is its "enemy"; one party mistakenly thinks the press is its "friend."

    One party is expending resources to expand the base and broaden the tent; one party says it is planning to do those things, but is distracted defending demographic and geographic turf.

    One party owns national security; one party can't figure out how to own health care or the environment in a way that would help win elections.

    One party figured out how to keep its "extreme" party platform on abortion and still make electoral gains; one party hasn't.

    One party is trying to use its general unity to hold together and pass Social Security reform; one party is trying to figure out how to extend and build on its unity over opposing personal accounts to a general strategy.

    One party has been taking the long view for a long time; one party can't see past yesterday.

    One party has members who will take these words to be gospel; one party is dominated by people will quickly dismiss it as mean-spirited.

    One party would agree with what we wrote above; so would the other one.

    This is the landscape as the DNC winter meeting continues today...

    Hillary Clinton has her work cut out for her.


    Sunday, February 13, 2005

    The Deal

    Jack, of the blog TigerHawk, recently asked a rather simple, but rather important question which many others have not been asking as of late: Is Iran deterrable?

    Unfortunately for Jack, my answer to this question is just a simple: For Now. I have written a few posts on Iran lately, dealing with the Nuclear Threat it poses, among other things. My most recent post on the subject expressed the summation of most of my thoughts on the subject. Like me, Jack also responded to what Thomas Barnett wrote, although the part Jack examines was different than what I analyzed. Here is what Jack examined:
    Our offer should be both simple and bold. I would send James Baker, our last good secretary of state, to Tehran as your special envoy with the following message: "We know you're getting the bomb, and we know there isn't much we can do about it right now unless we're willing to go up-tempo right up the gut. But frankly, there's other fish we want to fry, so here's the deal: You can have the bomb, and we'll take you off the Axis of Evil list, plus we'll re-establish diplomatic ties and open up trade. But in exchange, not only will you bail us out on Iraq first and foremost by ending your support of the insurgency, you'll also cut off your sponsorship of Hezbollah and other anti-Israeli terrorist groups, help us bully Syria out of Lebanon, finally recognize Israel, and join us in guaranteeing the deal on a permanent Palestinian state. You want to be recognized as the regional player of note. We're prepared to do that. But that's the price tag. Pay it now or get ready to rumble."
    Mr. Barnett, I suspect, doesn't fully appreciate the irony of the situation. He is offering Iran the bomb, in exchange for "ending your support of the insurgency, you'll also cut off your sponsorship of Hezbollah and other anti-Israeli terrorist groups, help us bully Syria out of Lebanon, finally recognize Israel, and join us in guaranteeing the deal on a permanent Palestinian state." The Irony here is that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons in order to assure its ability to support the insurgency, to support Hizb'allah, to not recognize Israel, and to keep a Palestinian state non-existent. All of those things fall into the list of Iran's strategic goals, as defined by the Khomeneist Mullahs. What Barnett offers is a situation where Iran can go nuclear, and then do nearly whatever they want. After all, what is the US going to do about it? If we aren't willing to endure the hardship of attacking a non-nuclear Iran, why the hell would be willing to attack nuclear Iran? What can we do to prevent Iran from cheating on this so called deal? Forget that, what can we do to Iran if it breaks its promise? The answer is simple, and chilling:

    War, or nothing.


    Letter to Barnett

    Here is an e-mail I wrote to Thomas Barnett a couple of days ago. I intend to add some more thoughts later. Actually, I think I will work on a new post now...

    As an avid reader of your blog, and a supporter of your Core/Gap thesis, I must take exception to your analysis of US interactions with Iran. Specifically, this part:

    "Second story ("Rice Says Military Action Against Iran Not on Agenda," by Robin Wright, WP, 5 Feb 05, p. A12) seems to indicate that Rice, while not promising war any time soon, has decided she's going to be bad cop at State to go along with Rumsfeld's bad cop. Hmm. That's helpful. I mean, we have so many levers to pull with Iran, surely we can stop them from acquiring the bomb after all these years of no trade, no relations, no nothing. And Rice goes out of her way to signal she's not interested in carrots. She wants Iran to stop the program in exchange for . . . ? U.S. military domination in the region right on Iran's eastern and western borders? Nice offer. I'm sure it'll work wonders. And I'm sure this principled stance will convince Iran to stop supporting the insurgency in Iraq and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. Yes, I'm sure the mullahs will give us the peace we seek in both situations. I mean, look at what we're offering!"

    I don't think you fully understand the situation that that we are in. The Iranian leaders want nuclear weapons, and there is nothing we can offer them that would make them stop their drive for nuclear weapons. You understand that they want them to defend against the US and Israel, which is partly true. But not necessarily just those two, and not for the reasons you think. Iran's leaders are Shi'ites. They are considered heretics by the Sunni majority, and consider the sunni majority heretics in return. They have no desire to start a nuclear conflict with Israel, they know it will result in their destruction. The Russian's didn't consider the fact that China would survive a nuclear war between the US and Communist bloc as a win for them. Both versions of Communism were at odds with each other. The same is true with Islam. The Shi'ites don't want the sunnis to win, even if their mutual enemies are destroyed. The Mullahs of Iran want Israel destroyed, yes, but they want the Shia sect to emerge dominant over the sunni sect, and certainly to survive the "eventual" war with Israel.

    Iran wants nuclear weapons for protection, yes. From the US and Israel certainly. But not simply because it fears "regime change". Iran wants nuclear weapons in order to develop a nearly perfect defense, a wall that can't be overcome. What nation would be willing to pay the price neccessary to take down a nuclear Iran? Iran wants nuclear weapons in order to achieve its strategic objectives. What are those objectives? To destroy Israel is one. But the other, the far more important and relevent objective, is to help alter the balance of power in the Islamic world to the Shia's favor. Iran wants Shia Islam to overcome Sunni Islam, and with a nuclear deterrence can help support Shi'ite armed factions across the Muslim world. From Pakistan to Saudi Arabia to Lebannon, Shi'ite populations would be armed and incited to revolt and fight the Sunni. Iran wants to destroy the heretics, in order to destroy the infidels. Nuclear Weapons are key to this. The other Islamic states are relatively limited in their ability to respond to an aggressive nuclear Iran. They would have no other option than to go nuclear themselves, and that would only deter so much. Iran is preparing itself for a Shi'ite-Sunni Islamic Civil War, and it is key for us to understand this. Groups like Hizb'allah are just the beginning. The Shi'ite-Sunni conflict has been fairly low key for a long time, that is soon going to change. Iran is going to fan the flames of war in the Islamic World. Their nuclear arsenal is aimed as much as Sunni states, as it is at Israel and the US. Perhaps even more so.

    This is the situation the US faces. How do we dissuade the Iranian religious leadership away from what they see as their religious duty? What can we do? They want nukes, and I don't see a way to convince them that they don't need them.

    -Final Historian



    Back on the Net

    My Network connection died on me this weekend, and I have finally been able to restore it. Hopefully I can get some posts up.


    Friday, February 11, 2005

    Better Living Through Science

    Head on over to Discarded Lies to hear how the people of Galena, Alaska will hopefully have cheap energy, thanks to the wonder of the atom.


    Thursday, February 10, 2005

    North Korean Nukes...

    This admission doesn't really come as a shock to me. The NorKors are making a fuss now, and in a few weeks time will likely be back at the table. This tantrum was an effort to blackmail the other states, to get them to make concessions. I don't think that it will work.


    Wednesday, February 09, 2005

    Another Warning to Iran?

    The US is apparently updating its War Plans with Iran:

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military is updating its war plans for Iran but is not in a heightened state of planning over Tehran's suspected nuclear weapons program, a senior general said on Wednesday.

    "I'm not spending any of my time worrying about the nuclear proliferation in Iran. I haven't been called into any late-night meetings at 8 o'clock at night saying, 'Holy cow, we got to sit down and go plan for Iran,"' Air Force Lt. Gen. Lance Smith said at a Pentagon briefing.

    Smith is deputy commander of the U.S. Central Command and oversees military operations in the Middle East, parts of Asia and northern Africa.

    "As far as the planning efforts, we simply go through our normal mode of updating whatever war plans we have for all parts of our region," he said.

    This sounds like a pressure move to me.


    Iraqi Politics

    It is apparently going to take a while longer for the final results of the Iraqi election to be announced, but Iraqi Election Discussions has an early projection up:
    Seats - Party/List
    140 - United Iraqi Alliance (Shi’ite)
    68 - Kurdish List
    40 - The Iraqi List (PM Allawi)
    3 - Natl Elites & Cadres (Moqtada al Sadr)
    3 - People’s Union (Communist)
    3 - Iraqis List (Pres. al-Yawer)
    3 - IMIK (Islamist Kurdish)
    15 - Other parties
    275 - TOTAL SEATS
    The UIA is dominating the vote already, and looks to get a majority in the National Assembly. However, the Iraqi Constitution is set up so that it takes 2/3 of the Assembly to appoint people to the Presidential Council. That means that the UIA and the Kurds will need to form a general coalition in order to set up a government, as it is the presidency council which determines the Prime Minister. The Kurds, being the second most powerful bloc in the Assembly, and not explicitly secular like the Iraqi List, will be the partner with the UIA. They will use this opportunity well, I am sure, and are already flexing their muscles:

    The Kurds’ confidence in their political muscle has grown tremendously since Monday, when it became apparent they will almost certainly have the second-largest - and possibly the most cohesive and most courted - bloc in the constitutional assembly.

    The electoral commission announced then that the main Kurdish coalition had a quarter of the 4.6 million votes tallied so far, behind the leading Shiite slate of candidates but well ahead of the other parties. The Kurds are expected to take at least a fifth of the 275 assembly seats by the time the final count is announced.

    Securing the president’s office would give the Kurds enormous power in appointing key members of the new government, including the prime minister, and would bolster the standing of Kurds in the Middle East, where the governments of Turkey, Syria and Iran are fearful of any moves toward independence by minority Kurd populations in their own countries.

    I think that the Kurds will get the post of President, which is mainly a prestige post, as all three members of the council are equal in power. I expect the PM to be a religious Shi'ite, probably the leader of the UIA list.

    My advice to the Kurds is to get the Foreign Minister and Defense Minister posts, if possible. The Foreign Minister post is useful, as it raises the image and prestige of Kurds in the Middle East, and the Defense Ministry would be good to have on general principles. I would advise to not get any economic posts. The economy and infrastructure in Iraq will take time to build, and thus there is a good chance that Iraqis will blame the government for the inevitable failure. In such a scenario it would do the Kurdish list well to avoid blame, and instead have the UIA get the blame. This would help the Kurds, because it could reduce the amount of votes that the UIA gets in the December elections. This will give the Kurds more options, and could give them more power in the coalition that forms after those elections.

    My advice to the current Prime Minister Allawi is to not join the UIA-Kurdish coalition. Given the likely distribution of votes, it would be difficult to get either the post of President or Prime Minister. As those would be the two most visible posts, it would be almost necessary to get one of the two, otherwise the other members of the coalition would get more press, necessary for a better outcome in December. Far better would be to become the head of the Opposition. There you would have almost as much visibility as the PM, and would be able to avoid blame for things wrong. Since the economy and infrastructure won't be fixed by December, you can use the Opposition pulpit to help draw support for the December elections. This gives you a chance of getting a better share of the votes for the Constitutional government that follows. Also, by staying out of the coalition you could actively try and draw away support from the UIA from within. Encourage it to fracture or try and woo away members to join the opposition. That is my advice for now, but events on the ground could nullify it quickly.


    Smoke'em if you got'em

    Gerard Vanderleun traces the sad and dangerous fall of the Left into the Rabbit Hole. Dark days lie ahead.


    Tuesday, February 08, 2005

    Getting Your Fix

    Patrick Laswell explains how Protesting has become an addiction for many people, and how he came to realize this, right here. Its certainly a new way of looking at the issue.

    Hat Tip: Michael Totten


    I am dying with a taste of freedom in my mouth

    Those awe-inspiring words, and their context, can be found here.


    Monday, February 07, 2005

    Following the Wind...

    The French aren't completely stupid, they know when the wind is changing, and they know to go with it than to go against it. As Reuters reports, they are already making attempts at rapprochment:

    PARIS (Reuters) - France wants a fresh start in relations with the United States and both sides have much to contribute to a renewed transatlantic partnership, Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said in comments published Monday.

    He made the remarks before a visit to Paris Tuesday by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice aimed in part at repairing ties damaged by the U.S.-led war in Iraq, which France opposed.

    "The moment has come for a fresh start in our relations," Barnier said in an interview with the French daily Liberation which was conducted late last week.

    "Alliance doesn't signify allegiance," he said, underlining the need for a mutual partnership. "A renewed transatlantic alliance must be based on two pillars (European and American)."

    The French still hope to make the EU a counter to the US (because they see themselves dominating the EU), but they do know that making the US an enemy before that day is a mistake. We might even see some French help in Iraq soon, although I suspect it will be mostly show.


    Why is America such a great place?

    Because of people like this.

    If this had happened in Europe, does anyone honestly think they would have continued to keep the store running? That kind of dedication is rare, and refreshing. I hope they give those employees a raise afterwards.


    The Americans are not within 100 miles of Baghdad!

    I am sure many of you remember that classic line from the Iraqi Minister of Information during the Baghdad phase of the Iraq war. I sure do. I noticed this post over at the Adventures of Chester, and couldn't help but laugh.

    When Marine and Army forces made it to Baghdad and entered the city, no report of this was made on the BBS radio news. But we could see it happen. We could see where individual Army and Marine humvees were inside Baghdad, overlaid on imagery of the city.

    Later, the BBC quoted Iraqi news organs as saying that the presence of US forces inside Baghdad was a fiction, and propaganda by the US government. Still, we could see our own vehicles all over Baghdad -- we could even pinpoint a specific vehicle and ask the system which unit each was attached to. We were 60 miles or so away and could see the infiltration of American units throughout the city.

    The effect this will have can't be over-stated. US troops now have access to information that helps nullify enemy propoganda effects, besides giving them a better sense of the battlefield situation. If you say you are beating the Americans now, you had better be beating them, because they will know when you are lying. This also goes the other way, as US troops can't be lied to by their superiors as easily as before, something that has never been as much a problem in Western nations as it has in Eastern nations. Uncertainty is worse for morale than the truth, no matter how grim it may be. Even when losing, our troops will have an idea just how badly, and sometimes that may be enough. Either way, its another tool at our disposal, another hurdle for America's enemies to jump.


    Sunday, February 06, 2005

    Uh Oh

    Put this in the category of BAD THINGS:

    They number in their hundreds, according to some estimates, with ages ranging from 15 to 30, and their hallmark is extreme violence, with automatic and semi-automatic machine guns their weapons of choice. But what makes them unique is that they are socalled "converts", whose perverted interpretation of Islam is central to their identity as killers and criminals. Their stamping grounds are the estates of south London, where they hole-up in safe houses, living ascetic lives in stark contrast to the " blingbling" lifestyle of other gangs.


    D e t e c t i v e Chief Superintendent John Coles, in charge of the Met's Operation Trident team, which investigates black-onblack shootings, confirmed that " the Muslim Boys are responsible for at least two executionstyle murders in the past eight months", as well as scores of robberies and attempted murders. "We have taken out most of the hardcore," he says. "We arrested 20 of them. The majority were sentenced for crimes ranging from murder to shootings to possession of firearms and drugs."

    The shooting of PC Liam Morrow, shot in the legs in Bromley in December, has also been linked to the gang. A 19-yearold youth has been charged with attempted murder.

    Coles believes, nevertheless, that the Muslim Boys have been "over-hyped", that there are "less than a hundred", and that they are nothing more than "nasty, ordinary south London criminals who have adopted the Muslim Boys name to make them sound bigger and more fearsome than they really are".

    But Lee Jasper, the Mayor of London's senior advisor on policing, vehemently disagrees. He says: "The Muslim Boys pose one of the most serious criminal threats the black community has ever faced. The police tell me they have never seen anything like this gang before. They speak in an almost impenetrable code, they use heavy firepower, are forensically aware, unbelievably violent and extraordinarily disciplined. They're as tough to crack as the IRA."

    At this point we have a serious crime ring in England to worry about. A major problem, but not an international one. But then there is this:

    Jasper's deepest worry - that "the leaders of the Muslim Boys could be a criminalised front for terrorist extremists" - is voiced by many with links to the south London underworld.

    Trident's John Coles acknowledges these concerns, but says, "we have found no evidence whatsoever of a link to terrorism". Nevertheless, questions remain: if their crime spree is not funding a lavish lifestyle, what are the Muslim Boys doing with their illgotten gains?

    The story of the rise of the Muslim Boys started 15 months ago, when a hardcore of Afro-Caribbean "Muslim converts" began violently "taxing" the south London criminal community. Dressed in long, flowing black leather coats, as in the film The Matrix, and initially dubbed "the Taliban Terrorists", these were exconvicts who had been turned on to Islam in prison, and who began to use the austere discipline of Islam to fashion a criminal network with a "higher" purpose.

    This worries me greatly. I can't help but feel that Al Qaeda may be setting up a force of Irregulars in England. These goons could be used either as decoys, providing cover while trained Al Qaeda terrorists launch an attack, or perhaps even as expendeble suicide troops who could cause considerable havoc before being taken down. Given that they possess some serious firepower already, the police would be unable to counter them in short notice. I suspect it would take army troops, perhaps even the SAS, to deal with them. There have been many reports of Al Qaeda setting up cells across Europe, and England is supposed to be terror central. Perhaps we have been given a glimpe of one such terror cell. Its members might not know that fact, perhaps only the top leadership knows. But its obvious that Al Qaeda has at the very least an ally in England, and perhaps much more.

    Link found at LGF


    Saturday, February 05, 2005

    Russian Diplomacy

    I was immediately suspicious when I heard reports about the death of Georgian Prime Minister Zurab, especially when the death was an "accidental gas leak." Given what happened to Yushenko, and Russia's past history for such affairs, not to mention Putin's background, it didn't take me long to suspect Russian foul play. Now, courtesy of TigerHawk, I learn that another Georgian politician is dead:
    A Georgian official who was a political associate of Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania, who died apparently of carbon-monoxide poisoning this week, has committed suicide, police said today.

    Georgy Khelashvili, 32, was found dead at his home Friday night of a gunshot wound, said Tbilisi police official Irakli Pirkhalala.

    Khelashvili was a member of the presidential commission on pardons. He also was a member of Zhvania’s United Democrats political bloc.

    Pirkhalala said Khelashvili shot himself with a hunting rifle that he had borrowed from a neighbour on the pretext of taking a hunting trip. He left a note asking for forgiveness, Pirkhalala said, but did not give further details of the note’s contents.
    Perhaps it is all a coincidence, but my gut tells me that Russia might be involved. Putin's actions in Ukraine have convinced me that he is not a well-intended guy, and I must now acknowledge that when it comes to Russian diplomacy, I am going to assume guilty until proven innocent.


    Oh Diplomad, where art thou?

    I am sure that many of you have heard by now of the sudden and unexpected retirement of the blog The Diplomad. I think its safe to say this came as a total shock to everyone. The speculation over the reasons why they "retired" are to be found all over the Net, but I have my own beliefs. I don't think that they were "forced" to retire by the State Department, despite the worries of some. No, not with Condaleeza Rice as the Sec State. Far more likely, I would guess, is that 'they' were promoted, and are moving elsewhere, perhaps even to Washington. With Rice as Sec State, she would know that she will need as many loyal people at Foggy Bottom as possible, in order to clean the place up. It seems to me that the Diplomad would be a good place to start. They are fairly high profile in the blogosphere, and its not out of line for them to have been noticed by Rice or some of her aids.
    Lest any of you think so, we have not been threatened or shut down; the State Department goons are not knocking at the door. It's just time to do something else.
    That seems to me to be an indicator that things may not be bad at all. The something else in question might be Washington work at State, and if that is the case, I wish them the best of luck.


    Thursday, February 03, 2005

    Put on Notice

    This is sure to keep the blood pressure of the Mullahs up. Something tells me that Bush's support of the people of Iran in the State of the Union wasn't just hyperbole or empty rhetoric.


    Starship Troopers

    Update: Welcome Winds of Change readers. Be sure to check the rest of History's End out while you are here. Who knows, you might find something interesting

    Heinlein must have known something, because combat Mecha aren't that far ahead into the future. Thanks to the always entertaining trying to grok, I came across a site by a former US soldier who is working on his own Powered Combat Armor.

    “Hey mister,” the kids ask. “Are you building a giant robot?”

    The private first class uses some hydraulics training he learned in the Army as a heavy equipment mechanic, but mostly loads of imagination and gumption, to build an 18-foot “mecha” in the snows of his Wasilla, Alaska, back yard.

    For those unversed in the world of Japanese anime, a mecha is a hulking robot with a human pilot inside. Owens soon plans to fire up his machine for walk testing. The 27-year-old believes his machine could fight wars, fight fires, or — at the very least — take on old Volkswagens for cheering crowds.

    “Pound for pound, it’s the most powerful exoskeleton on the planet,” Owens says.

    The rest is worth reading as well. What he has been able to accomplish with only 15,000 dollars is amazing. I don't doubt that he would use that $50 million more effectively. If someone in the military had any sense, they would get Carlos to ship his mecha to Iraq after its trial run. With some upgrades, notably armor, it could demonstrate just how useful such a machine could be. That ought to get the people over on the Hill to pay attention, and start thinking about re-allocating funds.



    Plenty of others have covered the State of the Union in depth, so there is only one thing I intend to cover at the moment. I was perplexed when Bush brought up the Federal Marriage Amendment, considering that is not going to pass in the Congress. I doubt it would work to have the states call a Convention, either. So why bring it up?

    I can think of only three reasons:

    1) Laying the ground-work for the mid-term elections in 2006. Perhaps the administration wants to remove the "red state" democrats in the Senate with Republicans. The Same-sex marriage issue is one that might work there against the Democrats.

    2) The Administration is worried about the President's base among Evangelicals, and wants to keep their support up. Either the support is flagging, or perhaps the intention is to boost up support in order to gain help for other initiatives.

    3) Lastly, perhaps Bush is actually rather serious about this issue. I don't think that is the case, but I might be wrong. Perhaps now that the election is over he feels that something might be possible with regards to FMA.


    Wednesday, February 02, 2005


    Unfortunately, I missed the State of the Union, and will have to read the transcript later. Expect comments on it, and other topics, some time later tomorrow.


    Tuesday, February 01, 2005

    Chris Muir sure is quick...

    ... and funny to boot.


    Salient Point

    Many of the Iraqi bloggers have posted their reactions to the recent elections, and they are all worth a read. However, something in a post by Firas in the blog Iraq and Iraqi's caught my eye:
    Many things happened today for, example:
    A suicidal terrorist exploded himself while a policeman was searching him before letting him in a voting center.
    An old exited man died by a heart attack after voting.
    Many terrorists were caught from many countries a Syrian, Sudani, and even a Chechanyan.
    For the first time after April 2003 we could see Iraqi army tanks and armored division in the streets.
    Abdul Ameer an Iraqi solder died alone holding a trapped terrorist who was trying to explode a voting center.
    I was not aware that Iraqi army units had been equiped with tanks, and much less that it had armored units more specifically. This is good news, as Iraqi armored units not only help the Iraqi army fight the terrorists more effectively, its a morale booster as well. Having tanks, your own tanks, to call upon when the need arises provides a lot of comfort, and some pride as well. I wish that he had included the types of tank they were using, but I suspect they are older US M-48s and M-60s.


    Breaking News

    Breaking News! Posted by Hello

    Thanks to the good folks over at Powerline.


    How Serious is the Threat?

    Serious enough that there are plans and contingencies in place to evacuate an entire state.


    And so the question was asked: Just how dumb were they?

    This one still gives me chuckles: Militants take US GI (JOE) hostage.

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