The Greatest Magazine, Ever

In terminal decline?The Economist, http://www.economist.com/research/articlesBySubject/displayStory.cfm?story_id=3536178&subjectid=348873, 6

Comments like this make London-based The Economist the greatest magazine, ever. It is found in the print edition on page 14. For greatest effect, read outloud with a stuffy British accent.

Pedants will complain that we have ignored dollars sitting in bank accounts, but after a couple of free in-flight gin-and-tonics, most frequent fliers care little about the difference between M0 (the narrowest measure of the supply of… money) and M3.

And there’s always the swimsuit issue.

Flip-Flop Sunnis

Sunnis ready to accept Iraq’s new government: Clerics had urged boycott; insurgent attacks drop,” by Liz Sly, Chicago Tribune, http://www.freep.com/news/nw/iraq3e_20050203.htm, 3 February 2005.

Perhaps it was the realization that a Shia-Kurdish Alliance could push through the Constitution without Sunni approval. Perhaps they realized the impact a fully Shia Iraq would have. Perhaps they are lying. Whatever the reason, the Association of Muslim Scholars say they will work with the new government.

“We are going to respect the choice of those who voted, and we will consider the new government — if all the parties participating in the political process agree on it — as a transitional government with limited powers,” the association said in a statement.

Nothing too strong. And the usual bs about how Sunnis really did want to vote

Evidence is emerging that the low turnout in some Sunni areas can be partly attributed to a lack of voting facilities rather than a boycott. Several Sunni politicians who competed in the election have complained that ballot papers ran out or election centers failed to open in key areas, disenfranchising tens of thousands of voters [out of millions of voters — tdaxp].

Perhaps AMS’s words will be helpful. More likely, it will delay a forceful counterattack on Sunniyya. The AMS is playing for time, hoping the Sunnis’ assassination strategy pays off. More on that later.

Bush’s Iran Strategy?

Reading the tea leaves – Bush’s Strategy on Iran,” by “DoctorZin,” Regime Change Iran, http://regimechangeiran.blogspot.com/2005/02/reading-tea-leaves-bushs-strategy-on.html, 2 February 2005 (from One Free Korea).

I believe the President has settled on the direction he is going to pursue with Iran. If I am reading the tea leaves correctly, it would appear a pattern has begun to emerge in the recent statements by President Bush, Condolezza Rice and others.

What is the new strategy?

Let’s begin with President Bush’s State of the Union speech. The President warned the Iranian regime that he is willing to significantly ramp up his support for the Iranian people:

“And to the Iranian people, I say tonight:

As you stand for your own liberty, America stands with you.”

The President has recently warned Iran to end its nuclear enrichment program and that he has not taken the military option off the table. At the same time, he also made clear his interest in pursuing a “diplomatic solution.”

The article continues with supporting evidence of a human rights push, and mentions the upcoming Iranian elections in June.

Bush highlighting Iran’s human rights records is a good thing, but I do not think sanctions would work. Europe has consistently signaled weakness and spinelessness on sanctions. China and India need energy too much to sanction Iran. There is no chance of an international sanctions regime against Iran. We can’t even get one against North Korea, and the U.N. embargo of Saddam was riddled with corruption.

Iran’s June elections will be vital. Iran’s population is remarkably “European” — modernist and secular — and so an Orange Revolution is that unlikely. The US, EU, and NGOs pulled together in Tblisi and Kyiv. Hopefully Bush is signaling we will do the same in Tehren.

Al Jazeera’s Future

Israel’s welfare system feels the pinch,” by Khalid Amayreh, al Jazeera, http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/EE6EA66D-B6A4-4897-BD51-AC966AC83C9A.htm, 3 February 2005.

About the same time al Jazeera runs a story mentioning “hunger” in Israel

Meanwhile, hunger continues to win more territory in Israel as a result of rising unemployment and budget cuts affecting social and welfare services.

Zen Pundit picks up on a discussion between Collounsbury and I on possible al Jazeera privitization.

This discussion aside, Collounsbury is worth checking out. I’m still not sure what to make of him, but he writes very well, gets to the point quickly, and comes highly recommended.