WTO Membership for Iran

Bush Weighs Offers To Iran: U.S. Might Join Effort to Halt Nuclear Program,” by Robin Wright, Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A58417-2005Feb27.html, 28 February 2005 (from Democratic Underground)

Right after the news that Cuba is telling its people to avoid foreigners, the Bush Administration is thinking of granting WTO membership to Iran:

The Bush administration is close to a decision to join Europe in offering incentives to Iran — possibly including eventual membership in the World Trade Organization — in exchange for Tehran’s formal agreement to surrender any plans to develop a nuclear weapon, according to senior U.S. officials.

That’s my kind of Islamic Republic!

Useful bs about Iran’s nuclear program aside, this is great news. Much better than crazy plans to embargo Iran. Iran’s democracy is about where Britain’s was a century ago, they have a very secular population, and Persia is a natural security pillar in the Middle East. We need to continue to integrate Persians into the international system so a future without the mullahs in charge becomes more and more real.

Free the Iranian people. Free the Iranian bloggers. Do everything possibel to add Iran to the functioning core.

The Reivew of the Review of the Review of the Reviews

The Review of the Review of the Review,” by Curzon, Coming Anarchy, http://www.cominganarchy.com/archives/2005/02/27/the-review-of-the-review-of-the-review, 27 February 2005.

Tom Barnett frequently publishes his “reviews of reviews” on his blog where he comments on media coverage of his book The Pentagon’s New Map. Younghusband reviewed PNM alongside G. Friedman’s America’s Secret War last month and Barnett gave his review of the review here and here.

YH liked the book and, not surprisingly, Barnett liked that (with a few sidenotes):

COMMENTARY: Mr. Coming Anarchy gives me the usual slap-down of those who really like the book but want to offer criticism: too repetitive, too self-congratulatory (America rules!) and too long. Fine. He scores his point. Bigger point is that he gets it for what it really attempts to be: a serious attempt at grand strategy that doesn’t focus on the tactics of today and isn’t just a long bitch-session about what the author can’t stand about the Bush administration’s security and diplomatic policies. He also sees the book as accessible, which is key, and views me as new school (definitely not another Kissinger or Brzezinski). This is all good, so I take the quibbling in stride. Mr. Coming Anarchy, despite the bias of his nom-de-scare, knows his rear-end from his elbow in terms of strategic analysis, and that, my friends, is rare in this world.

Admirable. We’re honored he stops by now and then.

Just one thing Mr. Barnett—the content on Cominganarchy.com is provided by two contributors with different educations, experiences, and nationalities, currently living on opposite sides of the globe. There is no “Mr. Coming Anarchy” (if anyone, that would be the dear Mr. Robert D. Kaplan—not your favorite journalist, I know). And as for us, the proper form of address is Sir Younghusband and Lord Curzon.

And we look forward to the next book.

Good review. Tactfully addresses Tom’s naming mistake while giving due credit to Robert Kaplan. Curzon’s use of British titles may be inflammatory to Americans who still dream of liberating the Northern Colonies from Windsor tyranny (or would be it be united States under Hannoverish Occupation?)

People’s Republic of Disconnectedness

Cubans told to shun foreigners,” by Stephen Gibbs, BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4301529.stm, 27 February 2005 (from Roth Report).

More than 100,000 workers in Cuba’s tourism industry have been ordered to restrict their contact with foreigners to an absolute minimum.

New regulations from the communist state’s tourism ministry apply to Cubans on the island and overseas.

They form part of a series of moves by the Cuban government to tighten state control across the country.

Workers are also told to watch their foreign employers and report actions that might threaten Cuba’s revolution.

The new regulations make stark reading. Everyone who works in Cuba’s expanding tourism industry – from bar staff to taxi drivers – is warned to keep a safe distance from foreigners.

Workers are advised that they can attend events at the homes of non-Cubans only with advanced written permission

Similar warnings are issued by Saudi Arabia. Both Cuba and Saudi Arabia are disconnecting regimes. Both governments are enemies of freedom, and neither’s system of vertical control can survive a horizontal flood of content flow.

There is a difference, though. While Havana is a friend of Caracas, Cuba is not the nest of terrorism that Riyadh is. While we should challenge the Communist regime, we should recognize that it is functional (or at least not dysfunctional). So if there is no future for The Saudis’ Arabia but regime revolution, our goal for our island neighbors must be regime transformation.

Pakistan’s Wrong Kind of Connectivity

Iran Was Offered Nuclear Parts,” by Dafna Linzer, Washington Post, http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=1802&u=/washpost/20050227/ts_washpost/a56391_2005feb26&printer=1, 27 February 2005 (from Roth Report).

International investigators have uncovered evidence of a secret meeting 18 years ago between Iranian officials and associates of Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan that resulted in a written offer to supply Tehran with the makings of a nuclear weapons program, foreign diplomats and U.S. officials familiar with the new findings said.

The meeting, believed to have taken place in a dusty Dubai office in 1987, kick-started Tehran’s nuclear efforts and Khan’s black market. Iran, which was at war with Iraq then, bought centrifuge designs and a starter kit for uranium enrichment. But Tehran recently told the International Atomic Energy Agency that it turned down the chance to buy the more sensitive equipment required for building the core of a bomb.

There is evidence, however, that Iran used the offer as a buyer’s guide, acquiring some of the pricier items elsewhere, officials said.

Pakistani “hero” AQ Khan remains protected by the Pakistani government. Because we are not allowed to talk to him, we don’t know who else he helped spread WMD tech too besides Tehran, Tripoli, and Pyongyang. Or if he even “acting alone.”

The irony, of course, is that we have much more to fear from “friend” Pakistan than our “enemy” Iran.

Mad at Madd

MADD at GM,” MADD at GM, http://www.maddatgm.com/index.html, http://www.maddatgm.com/index.html (from Houston Chronicle through The Corner).

MADD Off the Rails,” MADD at GM, http://www.maddatgm.com/rails.html.

Have you ever had a glass of wine with dinner… and then driven safely home?
Have you ever driven home after having a beer at a ballgame?
Have you ever had a cocktail with your friends after work before heading home?

If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you’re what MADD calls a “drinking driver” .. and if MADD had its way, you would have been arrested.

From another MADD at GM page

Over the past twenty years, efforts of government, traffic safety, and adult beverage retailer groups have fundamentally changed the nature of the drunk driving problem. What once was considered at worst a social mistake is now recognized as a life-threatening and illegal act. Recognizing this fact, drunk driving is anathema to responsible adults.

Drunk drivers are now overwhelmingly made up of product abusers who routinely reach high blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) and often are repeat offenders. Government data shows that the average BAC of a drunk driver in a fatal crash is .19%—over twice the legal limit. And while this group makes up a very small portion of all drivers, they cause an overwhelming majority of alcohol-related fatalities each year. (Many of them are the drunk drivers themselves.)

But despite the fact that the drunk driving problem has been boiled down to what even MADD calls a “hard core of alcoholics who do not respond to public appeals,” MADD continues to advocate senseless PR campaigns—campaigns that take aim at responsible adults, not this “hard core.” Why? Because the original, well-intentioned MADD organization has been hijacked over 25 years into a $50 million PR organization with an anti-alcohol agenda.

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I have little sympathy for the health mullahs. The Global War on Terrorism is a war for freedom against vertical control. Salafists and virtue police are a danger to the liberal dream in every nation, whether Secular, Christianist, or Islamist.

Free Arab Music (Pseudoislamic Ethnomusicology)

I’ve received a not insiginificant number of hits for my post Free Arab Media from people searching for free arab mp3s. That page wasn’t any help, and frankly I don’t know of any good Arab musicians. I do know of one good swaydo Arab fellow though: the utterly unique Bryn Jones, aka Muslimgauze. Before his death, was prolific, creating hundreds of albums in several pseudo-Muslim styles. Epitonic has a few of his tracks available for download, including:

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(Also available from epitonic are a few songs by the airy 1 Mile North, the oddly named Arab Strap, and the “pseudo-ethnomusicologist” Zoviet France.)

(For a taste of the “lyrics” of these songs, read my attempted transcription of Hindu Kush Opium Crop.)

As for Muslimgauze, in the non-free world…

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MP3.com also has Muslimgauze previews available from 4 albums: No Human Rights for Arabs in Israel, From the Edge, Red Madrassa, Dar Es Salaam, and Abu-Dis, though the site’s arcane interface makes it hard to say whether full albums are available there or not.

Fellow iTunes aficionados can download two albums: the famous Arabbox and The Remixes.

Bryn Jones teamed up with Bass Communion to create the obviously named Bass Communion v. Muslimgauze.

Free and Fair Egyptian Elections?

Earthquake in Egypt!!,” by GM, Hello From the Land of the Pharoahs Egypt, http://bigpharaoh.blogspot.com/2005/02/earthquake-in-egypt-i-never-imagined.html, 26 February 2005.

Hello From the Land is to Egypt what Iraq the Model is to mesopotamia: a great source for native, on-the-ground news and opinion. I first heard the news this morning, but GM’s description speaks for itself

I never imagined what President Mubarak said today. He asked the parliament to amend the Egyptian constitution to allow multiple candidates to run for the presidency. This means that Muabark will have opponents running against him.

Now, I am not stupid nor am I living in la la land. Mubarak’s decision today came after immense pressure from the US and the current earthquakes (the purple revolution in Iraq and the Hariri revolution in Lebanon) that shook the region days ago. However, I credit US pressure as the number one reason. Condoleezza Rice cancelled a trip to Egypt scheduled for next week because of the arrest of Ayman Nour and Mubarak’s failure to “change”. Well, it seems that Bush turned out to be bloody serious about this democracy in the Middle East thing. It also seems that Bushie will in fact make it to the history books that my grandchildren will be reading at school 50 years from today. If Syria or Iran fell, Bush can rest assured that he will add his name to the Lincoln-Wilson-Roosevelt-Reagan quartet.

Well, what do I think about all this? I mentioned before that I didn’t want Egypt to rush to the ballot box. I wanted Mubarak to be pressured to open up the civil society of Egypt so that alternatives to his rule start to pop up. We simply do not know better and we needed time in order to see the alternatives and decide who is better.

Unless I am 100% sure that one of the candidates who will compete with Mubarak will be better than him, I’ll probably vote for Mubarak next October whom I believe will win because of the resources he has as the country’s sole authority.

GM speaks of the events of the last few days, but Bush’s actions in the last few years have been even more important. The Big Bang strategy took down Saddam and ushered in Baghdad Spring. Lebanon may slip out of Syria’s orbit and the big prizes of Iran and Eastern Arabia are just out of reach. And maybe we will get Egypt too!

I’m assuming Collounsbury‘s take will be biting, sarcastic, and informative, but for now I will be happy too!