Washington – Baghdad – Tehran

Iraqi MPs approve partial cabinet,” BBC News, 28 April 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4492457.stm (from Democratic Underground).

Remember this blog saying something about the Iraq-Iran alliance, and American efforts to create a Shia Gulf

MPs in Iraq have approved a new government by a large majority despite failure to agree on several top posts.

Among the names on the new list is Shia politician Ahmed Chalabi, a one-time US favourite who fell from grace.

Mr Chalabi will also take one of the deputy prime minister’s posts.

Chalabi is an Iranian agent and sometimes American agent. He is a Shia Iraqi patriot who knows his country benefits from connectivity with stronger powers. The Sunni Arab Nationalist offer disconnection and despair. Chalabi, Iran, and America offer Iraq a way congratulations.

Congratulations to the Iraqi people and to Minister Chalabi. It has been a long journey.

Update: Atrios, Martin Stabe, and BTC News completely miss the point.

Update 2: Juan Cole doesn’t mention an Iran angle, but adds some sensible thoughts

I wonder if this appointment was a sop to the more secular-leaning members of the United Iraqi Alliance, who must have been extremely alarmed that the fundamentalist Fadila Party was making a bid for petroleum minister. It should be remembered that in contemporary Iraq, as in Jacksonian America, cabinet posts are sources of patronage and wealth, since there is a sort of spoils system. Chalabi will place his Iraqi National Congress members throughout the ministry.

Hmmm… bribery side-payments as a method of control… hmmm…

The Economist: Vote Labour

There Is No Alternative (Alas),” The Economist, 28 April 2005, http://www.economist.com/printedition/displayStory.cfm?story_id=3910189&fsrc=RSS.

Agreeing with me and Tom Friedman, The Economist endorses Tony Blair for the 05/05/05 British general election.

Most elections are won or lost on the economy, wealth and jobs. In that case Labour should be further ahead even than it is. Britain has enjoyed 13 years of uninterrupted, pretty steady economic growth, eight of them under this Labour government. Much of the credit due to Labour is for carrying on with the pro-market inheritance from Margaret Thatcher, but Gordon Brown, Labour’s chancellor, also deserves praise for having given independent control over monetary policy to the Bank of England in 1997 and for keeping both public spending and taxes under control in his early years in office. For that reason, voters may feel calm about the likelihood that Mr Brown will succeed Mr Blair as prime minister at some stage during the next four years. He is unlikely to change his economic ideas just because he moves his office to 10 Downing Street.

As Tony Blair’s Labour government leads Britain forward, the Tory Party hypocritically falls apart

As the The basic background to this election is that Mr Blair has continued to hog the centre-right ground in British politics, as he has done ever since becoming Labour’s leader in 1994. Michael Howard, the Conservative Party’s leader since 2003, has sought to share some of that ground, at least on the NHS. But he has blurred his party’s own identity by failing to offer a tax-cutting alternative and by his appallingly hypocritical opposition to Mr Blair’s brave effort to ease universities’ financial problems by allowing them to charge fees to British students—a reform that could have been taken from a Thatcherite textbook. Hence Mr Howard’s resort to traditional Tory populism on immigration in order to make his party look distinctive. To The Economist’s taste, this is a terrible move: we favour fluid migration, both on grounds of liberty and for practical economic reasons. The Tories instead favour illiberal limits and a labour-allocation system that smacks of central planning.

Tony Blair isn’t a perfect leader, but he’s far better than the Liberal Democrat (left) or Conservative (incoherent) alternatives. Vote Labour.

Our Friend Vietnam

Vietnam’s end of war celebrations to be muted,” Reuters, 28 April 2005, http://www.swissinfo.org/sen/swissinfo.html?siteSect=143&sid=5729787&cKey=1114674631000 (from DU).

America Lost, Capitalism Won,” The Economist, 28 April 2005, http://www.economist.com/printedition/displayStory.cfm?story_id=3914886.

Vietnamese tourguards don’t care much about the “American War”

On the steps of the Reunification Palace in Ho Chi Minh City, a guide recounts the final, dramatic moments of the Vietnam war. On the morning of April 30th 1975, two tanks of the “liberation forces” crashed through the gates of what was then the presidential palace of South Vietnam, in what was then Saigon. One of the tank commanders raced to the roof to tear down the flag of the American-backed regime and raise a communist banner in its stead, symbolically reuniting the two halves of the country and putting an end to 30 years of conflict.

The guide himself, however, does not seem very stirred by this story. He tells it only halfway through his tour, as one of a number of historical anecdotes. Like most Vietnamese, he was born after the war, so feels little personal connection to the events he recounts. He is from the north, he says, but has come to the south to improve his English and find a good job. From the rooftop, he gazes not at the famous tanks enshrined in the grounds below, but at the high-rises sprouting from the city’s skyline, emblazoned with American brand names such as Citibank and Sheraton.

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Communist Architecture

Hanoi agrees

Vietnam commemorates 30 years since “The American War” ended on Saturday, no longer simply exulting in the victory but instead urging people to look to the future.

Concerned that too visible a show of triumph could harm ties with the United States, the celebrations have been toned down compared with previous years.

The government’s talking of more market-based reforms

“The way we have been commemorating these historical dates is getting repetitive and overdosing on them may have a counter-effect,” he wrote.

We have to push ahead with reforms and stay away from self-satisfaction and the disease of talking too much about our achievements,” said Kiet, prime minister in the mid-1990’s.

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Skyline of Capitalist Saigon, see also the Samsung Billboard

While the people just make money

Little trace remains of any hostility towards America—just one, after all, of the many countries Vietnam fought during the past century. It went to war more recently (in 1979) with China, a perennial enemy over the last millennium, and the authorities still seem more suspicious of their northern neighbours and fellow communists than of anyone else. America and Vietnam restored diplomatic ties in 1995, and signed a trade pact in 2000. America is now Vietnam’s largest export market. Disputes between the two countries hinge more on tariffs and market access than on war crimes or missing soldiers.

Last year, United Airlines resumed flights to Ho Chi Minh City—which still bears the code SGN. A pilot who was lionised during the war for bombing the presidential palace in Saigon is now looking forward to captaining Vietnam Airlines’ first commercial flight to America—on one of the firm’s ten Boeing jets. Last month, Ho Chi Minh City received an American naval vessel for the second time in as many years. Locals scarcely batted an eyelid at the sight of uniformed American sailors wandering the streets.

The South is benefiting most from Hanoi’s liberalization, because of its connections with the United States and its history of free-market economics

The war exacerbated these differences. For one thing, the south suffered less from American bombing, leaving it with better infrastructure. What is more, northerners have lived under a communist regime since 1954, whereas southerners have much more recent experience of capitalism. The flight of well-to-do southerners in the face of the communist advance in 1975, and the subsequent exodus of boat people, has left the south with a bigger diaspora. These links to viet kieu, or overseas Vietnamese, give the south a more cosmopolitan outlook, and provide southern businessmen with capital and ideas.

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Stylish Vietnamese Capitalists

Saigon is a huge part of the boom

Ho Chi Minh City alone accounts for 17% of national output, 30% of foreign investment and 40% of exports—far in excess of its 9% share of the population. Local income per head is roughly four times the national average. Throw in the four adjacent provinces, and the share of output rises to 40%, and of exports to 70%.

Ho Chi Minh City, for example, has refurbished a beautiful colonial building as an investment-promotion office. English-speaking officials enumerate the city’s many advantages with the help of PowerPoint displays and glossy brochures. The city government, explains one, can process applications for various business permits online. It is also starting up an “e-discussion” scheme to answer investors’ queries, in both English and Vietnamese.

America’s post-1972 betrayal of South Vietnam is shameful. Suspending military aid to the Republic of Vietnam was the worst action of the U.S. Congress in history, and the moment of Democrat Party bankruptcy. But this tragedy of the past does not change the present.

Vietnam is rapidly becoming a Thailand-class ally of the United States. Like America, Vietnam has strong interests in containing China and growing the world econony. That is why our ships are visiting her ports, and that is why Hanoi is the capital of America’s friend, Vietnam.

Daschle to Run Again? For What?

On the record with Tom Daschle,” by Tim Fernholz, Georgetown Voice, 28 April 2005, http://www.georgetownvoice.com/news/2005/04/28/News/On.The.Record.With.Tom.Daschle-942532.shtml?page=2 (from South Dakota Politics).

Daschle’s not content with Thune being the highest profile South Dakotan.

As to your own political career, do you foresee a return to public office, perhaps a run for South Dakota governor?

I’ve always felt that it’s important that you never close any doors, and I’m not going to be closing doors in my political life for the foreseeable future. I don’t have any current plans to get back into elective political office, but I won’t say, and I couldn’t say, that that wouldn’t happen. We’ll have to wait and see what the future holds and what opportunities present themselves.

Daschle’s wife is a professional DC lobbyist, and unlikely to move out to Pierre. Tom is unlikely to want to be a Representative. Thta leaves Senator, Vice President, or President.

He couldn’t run for Senate before 2008, when the election will be Johnson v. Rounds. In 2010 he can challenge Thune again. Of course, if Thune resigns his seat to become Vice President, there’s an empty seat Daschle might easily take. Of course, “Democrat” Representative Stephanie Herseth would want the spot too.

President or VP is just as likely. Daschle was close to running for President in ’04 — so close that the Sioux Falls Argus Leader said he was — so that’s most likely. He doesn’t have a chance, so hoping for an Executive spot doesn’t make sense. Then again, his hard-line opposition to President Bush during his (attempted) reelection didn’t make sense,either.

Barnett and Vader Criticize NCW Arrogance

The Seven Deadly Sins of Network-Centric Warfare,” by Thomas P.M. Barnett, Proceedings, pg 36-39, January 1999, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/published/7d.htm.

It’s Christmas on Hoth,” by Darth Vader, The Darth Side, 27 April 2005, http://darthside.blogspot.com/2005/04/its-christmas-on-hoth.html (from Slashdot).

Net-Centric Warfare is an attempt to use technology to win “conventional” (maneuver-based or Third Generation) wars more easily. It is often criticized by proponents of Fourth Generation Warfare, though both NCW and 4GW are partially right. Nonetheless, it is important to realize that NCW is not perfect. Grand Strategist Tom Barnett lists the following as the “seven deadly sins” of NCW

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Dr. Barnett, whose mentor founded NCW,
criticizes the doctrine’s arrogance
  1. Lust -NCW Longs for an Enemy Worthy of Its Technological Prowess
  2. Sloth -NCW Slows the U.S. Military’s Adaptation to a MOOTW World
  3. Avarice -NCW Favors the Many and Cheap; the U.S. Military Prefers the Few and Costly
  4. Pride -NCW’s Lock-Out Strategies Resurrect Old Myths about Strategic Bombing
  5. Anger -NCW’s Speed-of-Command Philosophy Can Push Us into Shooting First and Asking Questions Later
  6. Envy – NCW Covets the Business World’s Self-Synchronization
  7. Gluttony – NCW’s Common Operating Picture Could Lead to Information Overload

The full article is available here.

More succinctly, Barnett’s thoughts are seconded by Darth Vader, dread lord of the Galactic Empire in his new blog, The Darth Side

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Lord Vader Criticizes Admiral Ozzol For NCW Arrogance

Admiral Ozzol took the fleet out of hyerspace too close to Hoth, and the Rebel Alliance were — you guessed it — alerted to our approach. The cornerstone of Ozzel’s arrogance is his insistence that rebel technology is so vastly inferior to Imperial technology that we need broker no caution.

This attitude is typical of a man who could not rephase his own fusion orb if his life depended on it. He cannot fathom what rebel engineers may accomplish out of desperation. People who are good with things, people like me, can appreciate the infinite diversity of possible tools buried in artful combinations of even the humblest technologies. Give me an hour to reconfigure an industrial grade repulsolift and I will give you an ion cannon and enough parts left over to build a droid to run it.

Besides running a hyper-advanced NCW space fleet, Darth Vader is proving himself to be an adept Fourth Generation Warrior. With the full might of the Galatic Empire behind him, his only problem is finding an heir to continue his House down the generations.

Update: Zen Pundit compares Barnett’s criticisms with Cebrowski’s original.

4GPS2 Network Disintegration (Netroots Homosexualists against Mainstream Liberals)

Bill Gates lies to National Public Radio,” by John, America Blog, 28 April 2005, http://americablog.blogspot.com/2005/04/bill-gates-lies-to-national-public.html (from Eshcaton).

Remember this?

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Key: Red, Attacks; Blue, Defender Fighters; Yellow, Defender Deserters; Purple, Defender Quislings

The graphic shows a classic 4th Generation Politics / 2nd Stage network-on-network attack. The right network has seen an opening and it trying to tear apart the left network. For an example, I used Microsoft’s abandonment of the Washington State Homosexualist Rights Bill. The goal of this sort of attack is to split the opposing network into opposing camps, furthering the attacker’s cause.

which sees the left network near collapse.

It’s working

I hate to say “lie” because I wanted to trust Gates on all of this. He really has been great on gay issues, and his foundation has been tremendous on AIDS funding. And he personally supports the state gay rights bill. And all of that is great.

So WTF was Gates talking about with NPR today?

NPR: “Was it a mistake to make the steps on the gay rights bill that you did, changing your support.”

Gates: “We didn’t change… we chose not to get involved in that.”

Ok, that was an outright lie and an attempt to mislead NPR and the American public. Microsoft has for years supported this legislation and this year they changed their mind and are no longer supporting it. How in God’s name is that not “changing” your position?

I’d like to think Gates has just been misinformed by his staff, but he’s a smart man and appears to know what he’s talking about here. He seems to have intentionally lied to NPR, and that hardly bodes well for Microsoft’s goodwill in handling this entire affair.

As if Microsoft is the movement and homosexualists are the sponsor!

For homosexualism to win, it needs an peaceful ideological network willing to push its political agenda. To do this it needs sponsors and allies, such as Microsoft. The left’s attack on Microsoft is stupid — it alienates a key ally while splitting its own movement.

Good.

Update: More good news from America Blog. I’ll quote it in full

More worthless, spineless Democrats in name only. These are your own God damn constituents he sold out, not to mention he’s giving fuel to the religious right nationwide, and you couldn’t give a damn, could you, Senators? Then again, Gates is rich, and when it comes down to it, what really is the difference between Tom DeLay and you two – money talks, doesn’t it.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said she was disappointed at the way the controversy has emerged — especially given Microsoft’s lengthy record in support of gay rights — but was satisfied with the Gates’ answers.

“They have a huge portfolio” of issues that are important to the company and cannot be expected to push all of them at the same time, she said.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said she was reassured by Gates’ promise that Microsoft was looking at ways to “revisit” its decision to take a neutral stance on the gay-rights bill it had once championed.

The continuing collapse of the network of mainstream liberals and netroots libeals… Good.