Thursday, November 30, 2006

Coalition of the Grudging

Slate's Jacob Weisburg has a good argument today for the U.S. to again revamp its multilateral streak and press for NATO to take up peacekeeping responsibilities if the U.S. withdraws from Iraq.

Now I don't agree with Weisburg when he compares Iraq to Vietnam -- it's not anything like Iraq other than we may lose and the U.S. certainly did not enter Vietnam to stop totalitarianism -- and his comparison of a possible genocide in Iraq to Cambodia is wrong -- it would be more like the Balkans. Nevertheless, he makes some great points, especially why it would be in certain countries interest to stop Iraq from falling into genocidal madness.
Where might troops come from? The most willing providers would probably be "new" Europeans such as the Poles, who remain eager to demonstrate their cooperative capabilities and earn some cash. Muslim troops might come from neighboring Jordan and Turkey, which have obvious stakes in preventing the refugee crisis that would attend violent partition. Western European nations would be reluctant, but possibly willing, to contribute when faced with the consequences of inaction. For France and Germany, the bargain would involve Bush admitting, at least implicitly, that his previous unilateralism was bad and wrong. Call it the Coalition of the Grudging
Spot on.

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Saturday, November 25, 2006


Via the indomitable John F. Burns of the NYTs:
The insurgency in Iraq is now self-sustaining financially, raising tens of millions of dollars a year from oil smuggling, kidnapping, counterfeiting, corrupt charities and other crimes that the Iraqi government and its American patrons have been largely unable to prevent, a classified United States government report has concluded.
The U.S. did its best to give the Soviets their "own Vietnam" in Afghanistan and now it seems we have forgotten the lesson of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and given ourselves our own Afghanistan.

While most of the insurgency is certainly native-born, the U.S. invasion of Iraq has created the conditions for foreign jihadists to train, fight, learn and prosper. Is it possible we have given the jihadists precisely what they wanted: Prime real estate to establish their long-lost Caliphate of an illusory past?

It definitely appears that way.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Iraqi People: Get Out Within a Year

Kevin Drum, over at TWM, links to the recent poll released by Program on International Policy Attitudes which clearly states the Iraqi population's -- Shia and Sunni -- attitude toward the U.S. occupation: Get the hell out of here as soon as possible.

Drum writes:
74% of Shiites and 91% of Sunnis want us to leave within a year (the number is 80% for Shiites in Baghdad). By wide margins, both groups believe U.S. forces are provoking more violence than they're preventing, and both groups believe that day-to-day security would improve if we left. Support for attacks on U.S. forces now commands majority support among both Shiites and Sunnis. And none of this is because of successful al-Qaeda propaganda: 94% of Iraqis continue to disapprove of al-Qaeda.

Now, it may be that these views are misguided. But it hardly matters: it's simply not possible for us to occupy the country successfully if a majority of Iraqis actively support attacks on our troops and a vast majority think we're responsible for the rising violence. It's time for us to leave.
If this is correct, I do agree with Kevin that we cannot stay and withdrawal is necessary. I am just so very afraid we have created the conditions for possible genocide. But without an enlightened leadership and multilateral coalition of partners could we even avert genocide if we wanted to? I say no and I don't believe the American people have the will for American soldiers to be the fleshy buffer between ethnic and religious hatreds.

The only problem is this: If the U.S. does leave, does anyone seriously think we won't be back there in some capacity within a decade?

Strategically, for the U.S. and those of us that believe in democratic internationalism, Iraq could've gone worse. Every U.S. interest in the region is worst off and democracy in Iraq is effectively dead.

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Our Responsibility to Protect

Anne Applebaum's excellent commentary on Darfur. Read it.

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Another Lebanese Assassination

Anti-Syrian Lebanese Cabinet Minister Pierre Gemayel joins Prime Minister Rafik Hariri as the latest Lebanese politician to be assassinated. According to WaPo, this will increase tensions with Hezbollah, which has been pushing for more power after their recent electoral victory dampened hopes another secular-democracy might spring up in the Middle East.
The shooting will certainly heighten the political tension in Lebanon, where the leading Muslim Shiite party Hezbollah has threatened to topple the government if it does not get a bigger say in Cabinet decision-making...Gemayel, the minister of industry and son of former President Amin Gemayel, was a supporter of the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority, which is locked in a power struggle with pro-Syrian factions led by Hezbollah.

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Bush's Vietnam Analogy

Noam Chomsky used to write alot about the "Vietnam syndrome" or the belief among elite decision makers that the American people could not and would not weather long drawn out wars and would call for withdrawal once the body count escalated beyond what the public could stomach. Today, aptly in Vietnam, President Bush likened the Iraq War to the Vietnam War stating "we'll win unless we quit." Now this statement hosts a dizzying array of questions both moral and pragmatic, chiefly: Did the U.S. morally speaking deserve to win the Vietnam War. Unsurprisingly, I say no.

But I don't like this Vietnam analogy concerning Iraq no matter where it's lobbed out of the political spectrum. American troops should have never been deployed to Vietnam, period. Iraq is not so easy. While I still believe the initial war in Iraq was illegal and immoral, it is now and will continue to be a front in the global war against jihadism, whether we like it or not.

Now the question we must ask ourselves is: Are we willing to sacrifice the lives of more American soldiers to keep Iraq from falling into utter anarchy -- which is our moral responsibility considering we took over the security responsibilities for the country once we invaded -- or will we completely withdraw, let Iraq fall into civil war and possible genocide, which could ignite the whole Middle East, Sunni vs. Shia and both vs. Israel, while Al Qaeda uses the chaos to radicalize, train, and arm more jihadists for their global campaign against rationalism?

There can be no doubt the Bush Administration has led us right into a colossal debacle of historic proportions. The initial fight should have been concentrated mainly on the core Al Qaeda organization. But we are past that. The fight against jihadism and the war in Iraq have tragically become one and the same. No matter what we do, withdraw from Iraq or walk the same crimson path, there will be bloody consequences that will continue on for generations.

The right question to ask now is: "What is best for the Iraqi people and is in the long term interest of progress and peace in the Middle East?"

My answer is feeble, I honestly don't know.

Morally, the Vietnam War was never this complex. We should have never have gone and we should have never stayed.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Israeli Cannon Fodder

The NYTs reports again the evangelical belief that support for Israel is "God's foreign policy" in the words of an evangelical preacher. Of course this isn't to preserve Israel, but to initiate a war that will bring about the Apocalypse and the rapture of those true believers.
Many conservative Christians say they believe that the president’s support for Israel fulfills a biblical injunction to protect the Jewish state, which some of them think will play a pivotal role in the second coming...Administration officials say that the meeting with Mr. Hagee [founder of Christians United for Israel] was a courtesy for a political ally and that evangelical theology has no effect on policy making. But the alliance of Israel, its evangelical Christian supporters and President Bush has never been closer or more potent. In the wake of the summer war in southern Lebanon, reports that Hezbollah’s sponsor, Iran, may be pushing for nuclear weapons have galvanized conservative Christian support for Israel into a political force that will be hard to ignore.
Samuel Huntington had it wrong. It will not be a clash of civilizations but a clash of fanaticisms with the rational and reasonable left to dispose of the bodies or to become victims of the ecumenical bloodletting themselves.

Oh where, oh where has the Enlightenment gone?

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Sweep

According to the NYTs, Senator George Allen probably will concede today giving the Dems sole control of Congress. Incompetence and corruption at a national level has its costs.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Islamists Strike Back

A suicide bomber detonated himself today at a military base in Pakistan killing 35 soldiers and wounding many more. This is in apparent retaliation for the missiling of a madrassa last month in the Bajaur tribal area of Pakistan, which killed 80 students, mostly teenagers. The Pakistani government claimed it was a base for militants.

It's as simple as this: Terrorism must be defeated using the criminal justice model, not military solutions. But then again dictatorships aren't the best practicioners of a fair criminal justice system. Also, because the target was a military training base, I would argue this was not terrorism, but an act of asymmetrical warfare. So there can be no phony conceptual differences for the tactic of terrorism, it must be reserved for political violence perpetuated against civilian targets.

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Open the Gates

Robert Gates, former Acting Director of the CIA, will replace Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense. This is going to be interesting. Does this signal a new direction in Iraq? Is going to a former top CIA official the best move after Tenet's numerous blunders? What's scary to me is that Gates was a top executive in the CIA throughout Reagan's terrorist wars in Central America, specifically in Nicaragua and El Salvador. How fitting Gates now heads the Pentagon as ex-guerilla leader Daniel Ortega has just won the presidency of Nicaragua and all of the Western Hemisphere below Texas has shifted further left.

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The First Fallout

ABCNews has just reported that in President Bush's 1pm address he will announce Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will be stepping down. Is this the first olive branch in relation to Iraq to be extended to the Democrats and the nation because of yesterday? Or is it just another fig leaf to distract the nation from our "staying the course?"

We'll have a better sense after President Bush addresses the nation at 1pm. Stay tuned.

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Ding Dong

Santorum's Senate life is over. The people do eventually get tired of fanaticism.

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A Divided Congress

Yes! It is official we have a divided Congress and now the possibility of some accountability. If the three remaining Senate seats go to the Democrats, the whole Congress is of a blue blush. President Bush may finally have some explaining to do if the Dems sweep Congress as the power of investigation would now be in the hands of those "wily" liberals. Whatever happens, a Democratic House should demonstrate to the Bush Administration that the current Iraq policy is failed and now a new bipartisan strategy to win the peace is in order.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Voting Machine Problems in PA

I had to watch Hijacking Democracy on HBO this weekend didn't I. The conservative reported earlier today that there is a "massive meltdown" in my home state of Pennsylvania's voting machines.
RedState is getting widespread reports of an electoral nightmare shaping up in Pennsylvania with certain types of electronic voting machines.

In some counties, machines are crashing. In other counties, we have enough reports to treat as credible that fact that some Rendell votes are being tabulated by the machines for Swann and vice versa. The same is happening with Santorum and Casey. Reports have been filed with the Pennsylvania Secretary of State, but nothing has happened.
What's good about this report is the machines are malfunctioning and tablulating the wrong votes both ways. What's bad about this is simple: Will we ever get through an election without the taint of possible election stealing? Get ready for the recounts and recriminations.

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Do your civic duty and vote today. The fifteen minutes it takes has repercussions for the next two to four years. And if you live in PA's Fighting 8th District, vote Rendell, Casey Jr., and Murphy and bring some accountability back to Congress.

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Hitchens: Don't Kill Hussein

If the new Iraqi government -- and the U.S. by association -- wants to begin a new Iraq, the best way of demonstrating this fact would be to give Saddam Hussein life imprisonment and prosecute him for all his crimes so an exhaustive history of his atrocities exists for all time. As Camus said: Neither victims nor executioners.

Check out Hitchen's piece for his argument.

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Hypocrite and the Congregation That Loves Him

Via the NYTs:
Long before the first tissue boxes were passed down the aisles for mopping tears, and before the first guitar chords were struck to begin the worship, many of the thousands of people who gathered on Sunday morning at the New Life Church here knew that it would be a service unlike any other in their lives...
By then, the news was less than 24 hours old that the church’s founder and senior pastor, Ted Haggard, a prominent author and national evangelical Christian leader, had been dismissed by the church’s Board of Overseers for “sexually immoral conduct.”

A male prostitute in Denver said in a radio interview on Wednesday that Mr. Haggard had been a monthly customer and a buyer of methamphetamines. Mr. Haggard issued denials, but by Saturday the brief, explosive standoff was over. The board members had heard enough — mostly from Mr. Haggard himself, they said at Sunday’s service — to justify his removal.

What was left for Sunday was to begin sorting the tangled skein of spiritual and political implications, betrayal, anguish, anger and sadness that the episode left behind in the church and across the evangelical world. Speakers urged the church’s members to find a way forward without recrimination or bitterness; a letter from Mr. Haggard was read from the 8,000-seat auditorium’s center stage.

Mr. Haggard’s letter said that people should forgive the Denver man who broke the story, Michael Jones, in particular — though Mr. Jones was not referred to by name.

“He is revealing the deception and sensuality that was in my life,” Mr. Haggard wrote. “Those sins, and others, need to be dealt with harshly. So forgive him, and actually, thank God for him.”
Naturally Haggard was vehemently against equal rights and marriage for gay couples. The only good thing besides outing another craven pseudo-Christian who didn't practice the intolerance he preached is that maybe just a sliver of the evangelical world will begin to question revealed truth and the people making money -- a great deal of money -- preaching it.

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Thursday, November 02, 2006


If you were a terrorist where should you look for basic blueprints for building an atom bomb? Stumped? Online from declassified Iraqi documents uploaded onto the Internet by who other than our federal government ordered by the GOP dominated House and Senate Intelligence Committees.

More evidence that shows the GOP's political opportunism and avarice is more detrimental to our national security than the Democrats ever could be.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Going, Going, Maybe Gone

If you think Iraq is not teetering on the brink of civil war or not at the beginning of a sectarian blood-letting, think again. Via the NYTs, here's U.S. CentCom's diagram showing Iraq racing towards chaos:

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