Guns of Iraq

Agreed,” by Mark Safranski, tdaxp, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/01/22/no_longer_jordanian_candidate.html, 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, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/001445.html, 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.

They Hate Their Freedom

Sure Sounds Like They Hate Our Freedom,” by “Mark,” Zen Pundit, http://zenpundit.blogspot.com/2005/01/sure-sounds-like-they-hate-our-freedom.html, 23 January 2005.

The always informative Zen Pundit ways in on Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s rant against Shia, democracy, and freedom. Comments his, emphasis mine

The always ghoulish Abu Musab al-Zarqawi released a new tape declaring that democratic governance itself was blasphemous and that everyone involved in the Iraqi election, candidates, election officials and voters – all of them – should be killed:

We have declared a bitter war against democracy and all those who seek to enact it….Democracy is also based on the right to choose your religion,” [he said, and that is ]”against the rule of God….Americans to promote this lie that is called democracy … You have to be careful of the enemy’s plots that involve applying democracy in your country and confront these plots, because they only want to do so to … give the rejectionists[ Shiites?] the rule of Iraq. And after fighting the Baathists … and the Sunnis, they will spread their insidious beliefs, and Baghdad and all the Sunni areas will become Shiite. Even now, the signs of infidelity and polytheism are on the rise….For all these issues, we declared war against, and whoever helps promote this and all those candidates, as well as the voters, are also part of this, and are considered enemies of God”

To further accent the point, Zarqawri’s group beheaded a couple of hapless Iraqis.

The more I hear of Zarqawri’s messages in context with his group’s terror tactics the more he seems like a fetishistic serial killer using Islamist mummery as window dressing. All of the voters are enemies of God? Millions of fellow Arab Sunni Muslims ?

Say what you want about Osama bin Laden but he isn’t out to annihilate his own people on a flimsy pretext by beheading them one or two at a time.

Even apart from the Big Lebowski reference, right on. It’s nice to see an enemy finally gave a coherent set of complaints. What’s interesting in the statement?

1. Zarqawi clearly spells out that Shia are the enemy. Good. This means that Secretary-designate Rice’s dual-track political-military plan is working. We have successfully turned part of the insurgency (al Qaeda in Iraq) against both the majority of the population and former insurgents (especially al Sadr’s Mahdi Army).

2. Zarqawi clearly states that democracy and freedom of religion are his enemies. Nice to hear.

3. Zarqawi is talking to Ba’athis. He warns them that they are in danger of being concquered by the Americans and being forcibly converted to Shiism. (Not that his plans are any gentler). I don’t know if he is trying to speak to the Ba’athi leadership or to lower-ranking members. If he is trying to speak to the leadership, and is honestly warning them that if they lose, they will be forced to await the Occupted Mahdi, it is sad. Could Zarqawi truly have such a simplistic view of the world that even secular Ba’athis are at heart good Sunnis like him? Alernatively, he may be trying to speak to the Ba’athi masses. Perhaps they are not truly indoctrinated, and are as malleable as he presumes.

If any of these possibilities are true, its good for us. An enemy deprived of situation awareness is a crippled enemy. And if the masses are nonideological, it opens the door to reconcilliation with the people after the leadership is crushed.

Thanks for the clarification, Abu.

Reagan Doctrine

Overall, A Tough Week for Pyongyang,” by “Joshua,” One Free Korea, http://freekorea.blogspot.com/2005/01/overall-tough-week-for-pyongyang.html, 21 January 2005.

Reagan did essentially all he could,” by “Joshua,” One Free Korea, http://www.haloscan.com/comments/stantonjb/110631347608547128/#80485, 21 January 2005

Great Blog,” by “Joshua,” tdaxp, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/01/21/not_the_reagan_doctrine_but_better.html, 23 January 2005.

President Bush’s Second Inaugural Address
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
Not the Reagan Doctrine… but Better
The Reagan Doctrine
The All-Consuming Fire

On the internet, an intelligent and vital discussion has broken out.

One Free Korea‘s Joshua and I are big admirers of Bush’s Second Inaugural Address. One of us even blogged an analysis. But is this new Bush doctrine the same thing as the Reagan Doctrine, and was the Reagan Doctrine abandoned by Bush’s father?

Joshua persuasively argues that Reagan’s doctrine was a aggressive one of liberty

Reagan believed that sovereignty belonged only to the people, and that it was their natural right to take it back, by force if necessary. This was more than war “on the cheap,” and it was not defensive.

OFK‘s author argues that most of Bush’s envisioned enemies are the same as Reagan’s enemies

Reagan did essentially all he could to advance that vision given the constraining power of the USSR and the constraints of time. When Soviet power no longer constrained us, we found ourselves led by twelve years of “realist” foreign policy that would not exploit the opportunity to spread freedom, and which sought a balance of power that no longer had a foundation of reality in post-Cold War geopolitics. … Note also that all of the “outposts of tyranny,” save Iran, are former Soviet client states, and that all were able to remain in power because of the Third World War. [emphasis mine]

in repetition,

After Reagan, we had a 12-year hiatus of “realism,” but it’s interesting to note that today, plus or minus a few exceptions, Bush is going after the very same former antagonists and Soviet client states with which Reagan was already on a collision course. [emphasis mine]

I disagree. The Reagan Doctrine was a defensive attack on Soviet-friendly regimes. While it was not the same as containment, it did argue that the U.S. should only walk toward free societies, but destablize pro-Soviet states. To use the State Department’s summary of the Reagan Doctrine (all emphasis mine)

The “Reagan Doctrine” was used to characterize the Reagan administration’s (1981-1988) policy of supporting anti-Communist insurgents wherever they might be. In his 1985 State of the Union address, President Ronald Reagan called upon Congress and the American people to stand up to the Soviet Union, what he had previously called the “Evil Empire”:

We must stand by all our democratic allies. And we must not break faith with those who are risking their lives—on every continent, from Afghanistan to Nicaragua—to defy Soviet-supported aggression and secure rights which have been ours from birth.”

Breaking with the doctrine of “Containment,” established during the Truman administration—President Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy was based on John Foster Dulles’ “Roll-Back” strategy from the 1950s in which the United States would actively push back the influence of the Soviet Union. Reagan’s policy differed, however, in the sense that he relied primarily on the overt support of those fighting Soviet dominance. This strategy was perhaps best encapsulated in NSC National Security Decision Directive 75. This 1983 directive stated that a central priority of the U.S. in its policy toward the Soviet Union would be “to contain and over time reverse Soviet expansionism,” particularly in the developing world. As the directive noted:

“The U.S. must rebuild the credibility of its commitment to resist Soviet encroachment on U.S. interests and those of its Allies and friends, and to support effectively those Third World states that are willing to resist Soviet pressures or oppose Soviet initiatives hostile to the United States, or are special targets of Soviet policy.”

To that end, the Reagan administration focused much of its energy on supporting proxy armies to curtail Soviet influence. Among the more prominent examples of the Reagan Doctrine’s application, in Nicaragua, the United States sponsored the contra movement in an effort to force the leftist Sandinista government from power. And in Afghanistan, the United States provided material support to Afghan rebels—known as the mujahadeen—helping them end Soviet occupation of their country.

It’s clear from this synposis that the Reagan Doctrine was anti-Soviet. It offered nothing to those under nonideological dictators and no pressure on friendly dictators. It did not seek to protect or expand a “sovereignty of the people,” except perhaps in the loosest possible sense. Reagan recognized the great danger of the Soviet Union and sought to end it. He worked towards the Soviets’ destruction even in cases where it meant replacing a peaceful, modern society with a backwards and violent one. Reagan realized that the Soviet Empire was the greatest despotism in human history, and that sacrifices would have to be made to destroy it.

The Reagan Doctrine was aggressive, because it envisioned anti-Soviet activities within the Iron Curtain. But it was not positive because it did not offer a vision of hope. Instead, it merely took away the vision of Soviet Communism. Violent thugs, radical Islamists, international trade unionsts, and Red Chinese could all work together because the Reagan Doctrine sought to destroy a future, not create one. Under the Reagan Doctrine, a thuggish, radical Islamist, trade unionist, or Red Chinese seizure of control of some Soviet satellite was an improvement, because all of these were not Soviet.

Though couched in diplomatic language, Reagan himself implied this. “We must stand by our democratic allies,” he said. But we will also stand by others who “are risking their lives — on every continent, from Afghanistan to Nicaragua, — to defy Soviet-sponsored aggression.” The rest of State’s synposis implies that those in the latter categories are “friends” not “allies.”

As the Soviet Union fell, Soviet aggression ceased. Therefore, there was no operative doctrine for George H. W. Bush to abandon to reverse.

President Bush’s Second Inaugural Address
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
Not the Reagan Doctrine… but Better
The Reagan Doctrine
The All-Consuming Fire

Fortress Core

(This was originally intended as a comment on Zen Pundit, but blogspot’s simplistic sign-in hassles got the better of me. It should still appear on that great site. But in any case, here is a discussion on whether it is possible to create a “Fortress” mentality, as opposed to spreading liberty in the Gap).

Fortress America may not be a viable option, but Fortress Core is. Dr. Barnett identifies four important flows as

People from the Gap to the Core
Energry from the Gap to the New Core
Investment from the Old Core to the New Core
Security from the Core to the Gap

Imagine a world where we decide to fireall off the Core from the Gap, to ride out Islamism. Seam states with small or no Muslim minorities (say, Thailand) join the Core, while Muslim seam states join their brothers in the Gap. While some of these flows would be reduced, the resulting world would still be a Future Worth Living (at least for the Core)

There would be less people, but Japan has proven that a capital-heavy labor-light economy is possible. Growth would be slower in the Core, but the average wage would be higher (at least in the short term). Energy and Security would still flow, much as it does now. We get dictators’ oil, we topple a stupid regime once in a while, life goes on. Investment flows in the Core unimpeeded.

I fear that it would not be too hard for European leadership to expel Muslim immigrants, if it decides to do so. Immigration is unpopular with the people, and European states have grown accustomed to a top-down decision making style. The choice is European leaders’ to make.

It is not that this world is “impossible.” It is that it is undesirable. It is better to take big deficits now, and more terror attacks now, and a lower average wage now, in exchange for higher growth, a safer world, and a better future long term. I do not know how the American public would decide the issue if it was clearly presented to them. I hope they would support ending world poverty and a better world tomorrow. They have not always been so wise.

Definitions of Marriage

Utah State Lawmaker Defends Polygamy,” Associated Press, http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/wire/sns-ap-brf-defending-polygamy,0,6947345,print.story?coll=sns-ap-nationworld-headlines, 22 January 2005.

Not much comment on the story itself. It is mainly presented as a comparison to some blogs that have been trumpeting homosexual marriage. Considering that “homosexuality” does not exist historically, homosexualists are arguing for an institution that is new to history. The most likely long-term effect of a move to legalize same-sex bigamous marriage will be legalize polygamous marriage.

Like racism, feminism, and other artificial -isms, homosexualism will one day fade and die away. But what will be its legacy? Will it be the normalization of this?

SALT LAKE CITY — A Republican state lawmaker countered a Senate colleague’s dispersal of an anti-polygamy book by passing out materials to fellow legislators defending the practice as natural and not necessarily harmful.

State Sen. Carlene Walker said she was offended by the book, “God’s Brothel,” that Democratic Senate Minority Whip Ron Allen distributed to legislators Tuesday.

Walker said she has known polygamists who are “fine, honest, educated, wonderful people.”

“To characterize the whole polygamy community as abusive to children and the welfare system is inaccurate,” she said.

Dam Them All

Governor summit won’t gain much water leverage,” Sioux Falls Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050123/OPINION01/501230301/1052, 23 January 2005.

This article combines two themes of South Dakota politics. One is a yearning to conduct an independent foreign policy. Several times under Governor Janklow we blockaded Canada, in spite of the obvious difficulty of not sharing a border with that Northern Despotism. It wasn’t just symbolic, though. The Highway Patrol was quite active in interdiction activities and it caused real headaches for Canadians trying to drive through our interstate-stradling state.

The other theme is the Missouri River. The River defines the state (there is “East River is East River, West River is West River, and Never the Twain Shall Meet”), and we use it heavily for recreation and hydoelectricity. However, our desire for a high water level is constantly trumped by downstream states and the Army Corps of Engineers. While downstream states use the river only for shipping, and that traffic is minuscule, that special interest lobby has enough influce in Washington to prevent rational water management. During the last gubernatorial election, the President of the University of South Dakota suggested South Dakota and other northern states simply buy-out the downstream barge industry. The victor, Mike Rounds, is working with other states, but with little progress.

In that context, the Sfal’s modest proposals:

Gov. Mike Rounds has proposed another summit with eight governors from Missouri River states.

The goal would be to get everyone together and persuade the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to keep more water in South Dakota reservoirs this year.

He’s proposed keeping more water as a method – during drought – of ensuring a better barge season next year. It also would help recreation in upstream states.

While the governor will have a tough sell with downstream states …

Oh, who’s kidding whom? There’s no way in the world we’d persuade Missouri and Iowa, especially, to go along with such an idea.

The corps won’t help. It’s already has flatly rejected Rounds’ suggestion.

And we can’t expect any aid from Congress.

So getting some governors together to flap their jaws – never agreeing – won’t accomplish anything.

Maybe it’s time for South Dakota to take the bull by the horns. It seems we’ve got two choices:

# Rounds can call out the National Guard – once they all return from Iraq – and we can take over the dams. After all, they’re run by the Army’s engineers, not the Green Berets.

# Or we can build our own dam and trump the corps.

The second option seems best. There might be some objection to an armed insurrection. The USA Patriot Act probably has a provision against it.

If we built our own dam on the lower stretch of the river, we’d have the hand on the final spigot.

Why not? Governor, the ball’s in your court.

Unilateral Continent

“Trade Trouble Ahead: The fast spread of genetically modified crops means transatlantic trouble,” The Economist, pg 59, 15 January 2005.

News of the worldwide scientific revolution to increase food production and decrease food prices, and the dying Continent’s predictable response

As the world marches ahead…

After an 11% rise, America still accounts for nearly 60% of the total, but GM areas in other big food exporters, bar Australia, were rising fast: in Argentina by 17%, Canada by 23%, Brazil by 66%…

Europe reacts unilaterally, shutting its doors to farmers from the developing world and my brethren South Dakotans

The European Union (EU), whose consumers mostly fear GM, is already underfire from America, Canada, and Argentina for its past ban on their GM exports. And though the ban has gone and the EU recently approved some GM varieties of maize, its news GM rules look — from the pairies — just as obstructive…

Fortunately, there are elements inside the EU which work to subert Brussels. They are our friends.

Yet the EU has a fifth column inside: Spain plants a small but rapidly increasaing area with GM maize and Romania, which is likely to join the EU in 2007, grows GM soya.

The Jordanian Candidate

Iraq to arrest Ahmad Chalabi after Eid,” Reuters, http://www.reuters.co.uk/newsArticle.jhtml?type=worldNews&storyID=658423, 22 January 2005.

Allegations of dirty tricks fly before the Iraqi elections

DUBAI (Reuters) – Iraq’s interim defence minister says the government will arrest Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmad Chalabi after the Eid al-Adha holiday on suspicion of maligning the defence ministry.

“We will arrest him and hand him over to Interpol. We will arrest him based on facts that he wanted to malign the reputation of the defence ministry and defence minister,” Hazim al-Shaalan told Al Jazeera television on Friday.

The satellite channel quoted Shaalan as saying Chalabi would be handed to Interpol over his conviction in absentia by a Jordanian court in 1992 of embezzling millions from Petra Bank, whose 1989 collapse shook Jordan’s political and financial system.

Shaalan told London-based newspaper Asharq al-Awsat in remarks published on Friday he would order the arrest after Chalabi accused the defence minister in an interview of stealing $500 million from the ministry and posted documents on a Web site accusing Shaalan of links to Saddam Hussein’s government.

This sounds very political. And stupid. And it might work.

Both Chalabi’s speech and Shaalan’s rants are examples of negative campaigning. Chalabi’s anti-military-clique patriotism had led him first to oppose the Ba’athi government, and then to ally himself with Iranian forces. Chalabi’s early purging of Ba’ath officials shows his true fears — that a sufficient number of Ba’ath in the Iraqi army and bureucracy could launch a bloddy coup and reestablish the Sunni order as a fait accompli.

Note that I said a Sunni order, not necessarily a Ba’ath tyrannt. The INA (Iyad Alawi’s party, part of The Iraqi List) is composed primarily of Ba’ath officers who eventually fell out with Sadaam Hussein. They are also patriots. They see Sunni predominance over Iraq as “natural” and blame Saddam for being paranoid and stupid.

The Iraqi List and the INA has to prevent a Untied Iraqi Alliance landslide. If the UIA, the “Shia” party in Iraq, winds a landslide the Sunnis may be shut out for ever. Suppose that the UIA gains only two-thirds of the Shia vote, or 40% of the total possible vote. Presuming that all Kurds vote for the Kurdistan Alliance, a coalition of the UIA and KU would have 60% of the seats. But for the Iraqi List it gets worse, because Sunni turnout will be depressed by boycott moves. If half of the Sunnis boycott a UIA-KU alliance that gains 60% of the possible vote gains 66.7% of the seats.

A UIA-KU alliance is quite likely. In its own sphere, each could take extreme positions and rely on the other for support. KU could demand autonomy, Kirkuk, and revenue from Kurdish oil, UIA could demand a military alliance with Iran and some form of Sharia in the Arab lands, and each would vote for the ohter. In the scenario above, this could be accomplished in spite of any Iraqi List efforts, and in spite of a Sunni opposition.

Hence, the dirty trick. The Iraqi List is trying to paint the United Iraqi Alliance as “the foreign candidates.” Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani’s Iranian birth and accent are talked about, as it the very Iranian Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (part of the UIA). By publicly descring Chalabi as a Jordanian, and worse a Jordanian thief, the Iraqi list is trying to drive this point home.

I don’t like dirty tricks. But I’m happy Iraqis are fighting with words, not bullets. The Iraqi elections are monumental in Iraqi history, and they are the way to resolve this dispute.

Pension Health

“Raw Nerves in Motown: Making money remains tough for America’s big three carmakers,” The Economist, ppg 58-59, 15 January 2005.

It’s hard to find a more apt example of the Social Security crisis than what is happening to pensions in the car industry. Huge greying behemoths, tied down by increasing unaffordable pensions, are becoming a shadow of their former selves. New competitors, relying on 401ks and more modern retirement vehicles, are winning market share hand-over-fist. Perhaps not coincidentally, the inflexible 1930-era dinosaurs are based in a blue state (Michigan), while the nimble new entrants are in red states.

One reason for the (belated) success of Japanese firms in light trucks is their effort to promote themselves as “domestic.” Last year, Nissan sold 985,000 vehicles in America — and built 950,000 of them in Tennessee and Mississippi. Toyota’s TV ads stress the billions of dollars it has invested in America and the size of its American payroll.

Faced with this, it was hardly surprising that GM’s chairman, Rick Wagoner, could manage only a strained smile when he posed in front of the Sequel, a prototype fuel-cell vehicle. The hydrogen-powered car, he said, would put GM at the forefront of automotive technology. But few expect the technology to be ready for mass production soon. Meanwhile, GM must content with the crushing burden of health-care costs for current and retired workers: $4 billion a year, roughly $2,000 for each vehicle it makes in America.

Pensions aren’t the only mess. America’s wildly unaffordable health care system are also dragging workers down

Without its health-care costs, GM would show decent profits in its North American business

.

The tDAxp eXPerience