The Next Iraqi Government

The New York Times reports on the United Iraqi Alliance, a grand coalition that will certainly be the dominate voice in the new Iraq.

It includes The Dawa Party, The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, The Mahdi Army (remember when they staged their “uprising”), and The Iraqi National Congress (whose leader, Ahmad Chalabi, is the uncle of the first procsecutor against Saddam for war crimes). For good measure the United Iraqis have some token candidates from minority groups as well.

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Dec. 8 – Iraq’s leading Shiite political groups agreed Wednesday to unite under a single banner, a move that could help them win a dominant share of votes in the coming national elections.

The agreement came as several Sunni parties, including one that led a broad movement to delay the elections for six months, registered to field candidates.

Shiite Arabs, representing 60 percent of Iraq’s population, have long been dominated by the Sunni minority, and they see the elections as a chance to turn their majority status into political power for the first time.

The new coalition, called the United Iraqi Alliance, brings together many of Iraq’s best-known political figures, including the renegade cleric Moktada al-Sadr and Ahmad Chalabi, the former exile once championed by the Bush administration. It is composed mostly of Shiite parties, but also includes Sunnis, Kurds, Turkmens and tribal leaders from across Iraq, in what the organizers hope will be seen as a diverse ticket with broad national appeal.

Relatedly,

News of the agreement came as fighting continued in at least two cities. In Mosul, far to the north, one commando with the Iraqi Interior Ministry was killed and six were wounded in a gun battle that broke out when insurgents attacked a convoy, officials said.

If they wish to reimpose apartheid, the Sunni terrorists need to stop this. The people of Iraq are united for freedom. The Sunni terrorists are on the wrong side of history.

The Monsters (2)

Japan to Suspend Aid to North Korea,” Digital Chosunilbo, 9 December 2004, http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/news/200412/200412090050.html.

Developments and fallout on the previous post.

Daily Chosunibo has a different take on North Korea’s new criminal law

N.K.’s Revision of Criminal Law Reflects Instability

North Korea amended its Criminal Law in April by reinforcing penalties for acts that threaten to undermine the regime and incorporating a horde of new articles to regulate new crimes, hinting at immense change that the regime is struggling to control.

The revision reflects greater change in the reclusive state than was previously imagined, suggesting that people’s lifestyles, ways of thinking and the speed with which information is circulated are all transforming rapidly.

With no sign of improvement in the North’s escalating financial and food crises, the populace has to find extra-judicial ways of surviving. A collapsing system of food rationing has led to the rampant spread of illegal money-making enterprises, with 80-90 percent of the population making forays into the black market to support themselves. As a result, the new Criminal Law attempts to impose greater state control of the populace.

If this is true, it is great. One reason for making laws more severe is that chaos is growing. Beware of wishful thinking, but if up to 90% of North Koreans are economic criminals, we are seeing a stalinist state in dire decline.

In the same paper,

Japan to Suspend Aid to North Korea
The Japanese government has suspended its plan to ship 125,000 tons of food aid and US$3 million (W3.17 billion) in medicine to North Korea after DNA tests revealed the remains of a Japanese kidnap victim turned over by Pyongyang were false.

Asia Times elaborates

A week ago, sanctions seemed highly improbable, now they seem like a real possibility. This is a development that is worrying for the leadership in both countries, and alarmingly, neither is fully in charge of the forces driving the debate.

If Japan can help collapse North Korea, it marks the return of the Land of the Rising Sun as a real player in the region. Go get ‘em, Nihon!

Removing the I.V. from Tyrants

OPEC Poised To Cut Oil Output Despite Consumers’ Pleas
Erik Burns and Simeon Kerr
http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/news/38865.html

Why the Future is Hybrid
The Economist
http://www.economist.com/science/tq/PrinterFriendly.cfm?Story_ID=3422941

Fly Me to the Moon
Tom Friedman
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/05/opinion/05friedman.html

Results 1 – 10 of about 3,440 for Saudi terrorism
Google News
http://news.google.com/news?q=Saudi+terrorism

The Saudis are worried

Despite the pleas of the leading oil-consuming nations to keep the taps open, OPEC looks poised to commit to cutting existing production levels, with the prospect of more to come next year.

Fearing a further fall in prices after they dropped by a quarter in recent weeks, ministers from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries arriving here in Cairo ahead of Friday’s meeting said there was a growing consensus the first step would be to rein in output to the current quota ceiling of 27 million barrels a day.

After meeting with Saudi Arabia and ministers from two other Gulf producers, Kuwait’s Oil Minister Sheikh Ahmad Fahad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah said he estimated overproduction of around 1.7 million b/d.

Al-Sabah said all OPEC members were committed to stricter compliance with the self-imposed output cap, adding that since most crude deliveries are already settled for January, the retrenching could begin from Feb 1.

OPEC would then meet again in February to assess market conditions and decide whether a more drastic move — lowering the ceiling — would be necessary.

The reason is clear

When did the Soviet Union collapse? When did reform take off in Iran? When did the Oslo peace process begin? When did economic reform become a hot topic in the Arab world? In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. And what was also happening then? Oil prices were collapsing.

In November 1985, oil was $30 a barrel, recalled the noted oil economist Philip Verleger. By July of 1986, oil had fallen to $10 a barrel, and it did not climb back to $20 until April 1989. “Everyone thinks Ronald Reagan brought down the Soviets,” said Mr. Verleger. “That is wrong. It was the collapse of their oil rents.” It’s no accident that the 1990’s was the decade of falling oil prices and falling walls.

The technologies exist

While it is uncertain whether the car will be mass produced, it is clear that a diesel-electric hybrid would make for an extremely frugal vehicle. A study by the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which looked at energy use over the course of a vehicle’s life, predicts that by 2020, diesel hybrids could achieve the same energy-efficiency and greenhouse-gas emissions as fuel-cell cars powered by hydrogen made from natural gas. The difference is that diesel-hybrid technology is available today.

The challange is formidable

So why are diesel hybrids taking so long to appear on the roads? Hybrid diesels impose a double price premium, explains Lindsay Brooke, an analyst at CSM Worldwide. Combining a diesel engine, (which costs around $2,000 more than a petrol engine) with a hybrid powertrain (which adds another $3,000 or so) would make for an expensive proposition. Systems to treat the exhaust would impose further costs. The prospects for diesels and diesel hybrids are particularly dim in America, where regulations in California (and, from 2007, nationwide) require diesels to be as clean as petrol-driven cars. Some progress has been made: particulate filters can now eliminate more than 90% of diesel soot. But traps for nitrogen oxides remain a challenge.

But we have done great things before

If President Bush made energy independence his moon shot, he would dry up revenue for terrorism; force Iran, Russia, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia to take the path of reform – which they will never do with $45-a-barrel oil – strengthen the dollar; and improve his own standing in Europe, by doing something huge to reduce global warming. He would also create a magnet to inspire young people to contribute to the war on terrorism and America’s future by becoming scientists, engineers and mathematicians. “This is not just a win-win,” said the Johns Hopkins foreign policy expert Michael Mandelbaum. “This is a win-win-win-win-win.”

We need to end the huge never-ending subsidy that is foreign oil. To stable, free, and civic societies, like Norway or Alaska, oil is a nice cushion. But in the barbary states it retards progress, corrupts governments, and creates a terrorist society. A $5,000 federal tax on new vehicles, fully refundable if spent on hybrid-diesel or similar technology, would be an incredible step forward

It would dry up terrorist states. It would cause reform. Heck, it would help our balance of payments. It’s the right thing to do.