Zarqawi Does Know Better

Well, in response to that quibble,” by Mark, Zen Pundit,, 24 January 2005.

‘What fuels this difference?’,” by Praktike, Zen Pundit,, 24 January 2005.

Earlier I argued that Zarqawi’s last message gives us hope. That is true. Praktike on Zen Pundit goes one step farther, wondering if he is insane

Indoctrination, time spent in prison, experiences in Afghanistan … I dunno. Zarqawi seems like the craziest mofo of them all. What tipped him into violence where another adherent of salafism might merely advocate separation from the West? If I knew the answer, I wouldn’t be just another blogger.

He is echoing an opinion by Mark

Well, in response to that quibble that I would say that while a Salafist or Hanbali scholar might hold the same opinion of Democracy as a form of government as Zarqawi does – he probably lacks the desire to go out and kill fellow Muslims who differ or believes that would be an appropriate response. What fuels this difference ? ;o)

Critical thinking and will fuels the difference. Zarqawi is an evil villian who must be killed. But that doesn’t change that fact that he does know better. He is not insane. He is acting rationally and deliberately to build a future he believes his worth creating. The odds are against him, and he realizes this. While he may be ignorant and not realize the depravity of his Ba’athi brothers-in-arms, he is not stupid. Unlike idle scholars who share his views but not his courage, he knows that he has to /work/ to build a future worth creating.

Zarqawi views the present as a nightmare not worth living. It is clear that the Arab and Muslim worlds are backward, disunited, and corrupt. The governments of the region are naturally weak, and are part of a globalized system of (to him) dubious morality.

His diagnosis of this is apostasy. The fall of the Caliph was a symptom of this, but not a cause. So long as Muslims turn their back on God and worship false idols (socialism, nationalism, capitalism, democracy) they will be weak. In his view, the Muslim world is in a vicious cycle. Corrupt governments promote weakness promote dependency on foreign infidel powers promote corruption. He sees globalization as possibly the final blow. Not only are Muslims to live under corrupt, weak, and depdendent governments, but these governments themselves are losing power to outside forces. I doubt he has heard of Friedman’s thesis of a “global herd,” but he feels the trampling stampede.

Compounding this is that these forces work to destroy freedom (as he sees it). A truly free man is infinitely free to walk in the path of the Prophets, in the shade of the Koran, and personally know God. But “freedom of religion” means that a man will be tempted to walk a differen path. What Zarqawi wants is not “freedom of religion” as much as “freedrom from wrong religions,” not “freedom of speech” so much as “freedom from wrong speech.” He knows that the people chose “freedom of speech” over “freedom from wrong speech” every chance they get, so the will of the people is just another force to be destroyed, not reasoned with.

Zarqawi wants to move the world away from this confusion back to its right place. But in this vicious cycle every force is forever corrupting Muslims. Therefore he has to destroy every power. He has to destroy the status quo. Doing nothing guarantees failure. Shaking up the world at least gives a chance for success.

Zarqawi sees his limitations. He has no conventional army or air force. He has no money, and does not have the charisma of Osama bin Laden. He doesn’t even have popularity. But he has the will to violence.

He will continue to use his will to violence to destroy the powers that be until he has a chance of winning in peace. This is a far way away, but remember that if his violence stops know, he knows he loses.

He will rationally work with the Ba’athis to destroy the government, because he knows under the government he would lose. If the Ba’athis win and seize the government, he will try to destroy them with violence. If the Iranians invade, he will try to destroy them. If al Qaeda (an organization he admires, which is why he rechristed “Monotheism and Jihad” as “al Qaeda in Iraq”) can attack New York, Washington, Madrid, surely someone it can attack Teheran and Qom. If mujahideen can assassinate people in the Netherlands, surely they could get to the Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.

Eventually, his movement might prevail. Communism sure did. The Czar was overthrown. The Last Emperor of China was reeducated to be a gardener. It might take a century, but his preferred future is creatable. And he does not need an army. He does not need charisma. He only needs small cadres, and the will to violence.

(Though having faith in God and a promise of an eternal reward sure helps!)

Zarqawi is not crazy. He is only the salafist who does know better.

The Saddest Country

Japan’s free spirits,” BBC News,, 24 January 2005.

When I was reading these articles (hat tip No Left Turns) I was going to tie some points together with my earlier discussion of aikokushin. In particular, I wanted to expound on how Tony Williams’ point

The meritocratic class has clearly gone the way of birth control and severely limiting family sizes for the most part. Their drive for later marriages or never marrying and when they do two incomes and devoting larger resources to fewer children indicates that the professional classes will not be at the vanguard of any population explosion. Actually, I’m surprised that the prediction for U.S. growth is so high with current trends in thinking and action.

plays into the banishment of patriotism of Japan’s school curriculum. And how Japan’s tilt leftwards during the Occupation is still hurting that land.

But once again, Japan got the better of me.

The pajamahideen-in-waiting

Bartender Shinichi Yoshimoto used to do a 16-hour day at a loan-sharking company. “I took the first train to the company, and I took the final train home,” he said.

But he gave it all up to become a “furita” – a term used to describe those who do part-time or short-term work.

Shinichi, who has travelled to nearly 40 countries, said his time abroad opened his eyes.

“I realised that life is very short, so I don’t have any time. Life is only for joy… I like losers like me.”

The farcicle

But not everyone is keen on Japan’s “losers”, who over the last decade have become an increasingly visible section of the population.

Hideaki Omura, a lawmaker with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said 4 million furita out of a working population of 65 million was “very serious”.

We should enforce a policy to make young people get a proper job,” he said.

He stressed that furita do not pay income tax or make pension contributions.

“They work only when they want to, so… they are not the regular workforce that the country can rely on.

“They are young people, very lively with good skills and potential, but they don’t contribute their skills.”

The sad

Kei said some of Japan’s unskilled work was being outsourced to countries like China or Vietnam, and that corporate Japan was hiring fewer new recruits instead of cutting established staff.

“They (Neet [Not in Education — dropouts in a nation with no truancy laws]) cannot step into society again because they’re afraid of people and lack confidence. They don’t need to get into society again because of their parents,” Kei said.

What exacerbates their problem, says Yuji Genda, the author of a book on Neet, is their dislocation from a broad social spectrum.

“I have never met a Neet who doesn’t want to work. My impression is that they want to work too much. They think about what is the goal or concept of work too much. They are very serious.”

He said Neet had no real understanding of the world, for which he blamed shrinking social networks.

“There are lots of kids who have never talked to adults, apart from parents and teachers.”

The most heart-rending letter from the Dark Ages speaks of the growing old of the world. Japan has avoided most of the idiocy of Europe, and overseers a gentler society than America, and yet it is growing old.


The Rise of the DLC,” by Chris Bowers, MyDD,, 24 January 2005.

Personal connections often trump politics and ideology in South Dakota. Republican Governor Bill Janklow is close friends with Democratic former Senator Tom Daschle, for example. And the state is so one-party internally, that ideology has little meaning. Plus, its next door to Iowa. What this all leads to is that I was peripherally involved with Dean’s campaign in Iowa. Nonetheless, I was delighted (for the country) when he went down in flames and the “Deaniacs”/maniacs/insaniacs were replaced by “Saniacs.”

Perhaps no wing of the Democratic Party better promotes saniacs and sane policies than the Democratic Leadership Council. MyDD excepts a fascinating article on the DLC’s rise

Privately funded and operating as an extraparty organization without official Democratic sanction, and calling themselves “New Democrats,” the DLC sought nothing less than the miraculous: the transubstantiation of America’s oldest political party. Though the DLC painted itself using the palette of the liberal left–as “an effort to revive the Democratic Party’s progressive tradition,” with New Democrats being the “trustees of the real tradition of the Democratic Party”–its mission was far more confrontational. With few resources, and taking heavy flak from the big guns of the Democratic left, the DLC proclaimed its intention, Mighty Mouse-style, to rescue the Democratic Party from the influence of 1960s-era activists and the AFL-CIO, to ease its identification with hot-button social issues, and, perhaps most centrally, to reinvent the party as one pledged to fiscal restraint, less government, and a probusiness, pro-free market outlook.

Though it is undergoing turmoil now, I hope the DLC can gain control of the DNC and give President Bush real competition. I believe America already has one party worth voting for. We need two.

NCO v. 4GW

The Pentagon’s Debate Over What Iraq Means,” by Thomas P.M. Barnett, The Command Post,, 24 January 2005.

With no comment other than “I need to learn more about this,” I present Dr. Barnett’s latest article:

The current fight between NCO and 4GW, over who “lost” the war in Iraq, is basically a repeat of the Rumsfeld-Shinseki argument. The 4GWers accuse NCOers of blindly stumbling from a 3GW victory over Saddam into a 4GW stalemate with the insurgency. But again, this accusation tends to conflate two very different situations: one the war, the other the subsequently botched peace. But the 4GW crowd’s answer can’t be simply, “Let’s get ready for counter-insurgencies because NCO is powerless to deal with them.”

In short, our choice isn’t between Network-Centric Operations or Fourth Generation Warfare, it’s how we focus each effectively on the logically-defined tasks of effective regime change, a list that covers both war and peace. A Pentagon debate that pits these two visions of war against one another is self-defeating and a waste of time. We must take advantage of the force-structure savings allowed by NCO (e.g., the smaller footprint) to build up our 4GW capabilities and marry those with the larger force requirements entailed in successful SysAdmin work.

Massacre of the Innocents

President Bush’s Second Term,” Los Angeles Times,, 18 January 2005 (from The Corner).

Astoundingly great news

The liberal Los Angeles Times ran a poll on abortion. Among all respondents

Q65. Which comes closest to your view on abortion: Abortion should always be legal, or should be legal most of the time, or should be made illegal except in cases of rape, incest and to save the mother’s life, or abortion should be made illegal without any exceptions?

The results?

Always Legal: 24%
Legal with Exceptions: 19%
Ilegal Most of the Time: 41%
Always Illegal: 12%

In other words, 53% of Americans believe abortion should be mostly or always illegal, while only 43% of Americans believe it should be mostly or always lawful.

This is terrific news for a number of reasons. More than a generation after Roe v. Wade, proponents have been unable to built a toleration for mass infanticide. Of the extremists, most are proponents, making them easier to marginalize.

With a conservative President and a Republican Congress, we can expect real movement on this issue. Good.

Iraqi Dean?

Al-Yawir on the Chalabi Affair,” by Juan Cole, Informed Consent,, 24 January 2005.

Remember earlier discussion on the mysterious legal threats against Ahmed Chalabi? It may have been just the Iraqi version of Howard Dean running his mouth

[Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawir] said that Hazem Shaalan is an Iraqi patriot, but has a tendency to express sharp opinions in public that do not represent those of the al-Iraqiyyun Party slate, nor even the interim Iraqi government. He pointed out that Prime Minister Iyad Allawi had distanced his government from some of Shaalan’s statements.

A possibly corrupt Iraqi version of Howard Dean, at that

Shaalan directed his threat against Chalabi after the latter revealed that Shaalan had sent $300 million in cash to a Beirut Bank. Shaalan says it was to buy tanks and other weapons for the Iraqi government. The United States is investigating the transfer of funds.

As goes democracy, so goes crazy politicians and corruption scandals. Good.

Guns of Iraq

Agreed,” by Mark Safranski, tdaxp,, 22 January 2005.

Mark, the author of Zen Pundit, writes

Allawi seems to have a fair amount of ruthlessness and smarts but without troops who will fight and die for him – something that springs only from true political legitimacy- it is a paper government. Even Ngo Dinh Diem had a greater core of popular support.

The key will be a true Shiite-Kurdish partnership, if they can get it together enough to move to non-zero sum oriented partnership, there’s some real hope for Iraq.

I agree with his thoughts on Allawi. He is also right that a true Shia-Kurdish partnership will mean a very strong an dhappy Iraq. But I believe there are other likely options for Iraq.

I’m not sure that “true political legitimacy” is needed for a real security force, though some sort of organization is. Between the Kurdish peshmerga and the SCIRI Badr Brigade you have an armed and experienced local fighting force. If the Iraqi government is close to failing, I believe that these elements will be relied on.

If the U.S. leaves and then the Iraqi government fails, another possible option is Iranian “peacekeepers.”

The anti-Iraqi forces have been largely successful in their goals so far. They have severly disrupted rebuilding efforts while making Sunni lands increasingly lawless. Nonetheless, they have many enemies, and the future they are creating is not one that they will like. And every possible future is better than Saddam’s regime.

Free Movement of People

I Am Officially Middle-Aged,” by Thomas P.M. Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog,, 24 January 2005.

Once again, Dr. Barnett is right on

As I said on Blitzer: we shouldn’t be worried about an Iraq dominated by Shiites in bed with Iran, Iran should be worried about an Iraq led by Shiites that isn’t a theocracy.

I would go farther than Dr. Barnett. Iranian immigration, pilgrimages, and tourism to Iraq represent a significant victory in the Global War on Terrorism. Authoritarian regimes often limit information flows to their people by preventing free travel. Just today One Free Korea linked to a report of North Korean refugees seeking asylumn in a Japanese school. Meanwhile, Iran is letting hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of citizens move to and fro in Iraq.

Iran is not as nightmarish as North Korea, but nor is it harmless. Any regime that constantly refers to the Leader and has anti-Vice authorities is not free. Meanwhile, Iraq offers radically uncensored news and discussion, as well as a bewildering variety of political choices. Iraq also shows how Shia can stand up to murderous religious weirdos.

A free Iraq, and free movement of Iranians into Iraq, is Iran’s best hope for freedom. Let’s give it to them.