Shia Satellite, Salafist Black Hole

Sunni Anxieties and the Rise of Shiite Power,” by Shahin M. Cole, Informed Consent,, 31 January 2005.

Iran Expects to Benefit from Iraq Election,” by Nasser Karimi, The Guardian,,1280,-4766740,00.html, 31 January 2005.

The occasionally off-balance Juan Cole is still informative, as shown by a link and a guest editorial

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iran strongly criticized the U.S. invasion of Iraq that toppled Saddam Hussein and opposed the American occupation of its neighbor, but with Iraqis voting Sunday for a new government, Iran stands to reap huge benefits.

“This is a unique opportunity, not seen for centuries, for Iraqi policy to go in Iran’s favor,” said political analyst Hamid Reza Jalaipour.

Iran’s state-run television hailed the vote as “the beginning of democracy and the end of occupation and insurgency in Iraq.”

Iran has good reason to celebrate. A sun of the Sunna is now a Shia satellite.

The election is likely to propel Iraq’s majority Shiites into power for the first time since modern Iraq came into being in 1921, giving them the leading voice in shaping the country’s future, which Shiite-dominated Iran hopes will lead to friendly relations between the two nations that fought a brutal war two decades ago.

Some Sunni Arab countries worry a new Iraqi government will form a Shiite alliance with Iran, but Iranians say they would be happy with a secular Iraqi government that will simply establish good relations. Most importantly, some said, Iraqis need to decide what they want.

But if the First and Second Battles of Iraq threw Iraq out of the Sunni solar system, for the Salafists it supernovad

Far from seeing the elections as a good thing to be emulated, the Sunni Arab neighbors of Iraq are likely to be alarmed at the rise of Shiite dominance. They will also be disturbed at any close Shiite-American alliance. Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and Salafi fundamentalists elsewhere in the Gulf (including Iraq itself), deeply disapprove of Shiite doctrine and practice.

It gets better

The Gulf monarchies are afraid of the Khomeini-inspired trend in Shiism to say that “there can be no kings in Islam.” If these Sunni hardliners had an “axis of evil,” the Shiites of Iraq and Iran would be in it. Many Sunnis fear Shiite power more than they ever feared Saddam’s predations. Many of them also view the United States as an imperial power in the region. A Shiite-American alliance is their worst nightmare, and many of them will see the Iraqi Shiites as puppets of the US. The elections, which the Bush administration sees as the solution to a whole host of problems, have upset the sectarian balance of power in the Middle East, and may well bring new kinds of instability in their train.

Madame Cole believes this is a bad thing

The differences and conflicts between the Wahhabi branch of Islam (prevalent in Saudi Arabia and Qatar) and Sunnis (who account for ninety percent of the world’s Muslims) are not widely appreciated. Sunnis and Wahhabis have often been at odds. The rise of a Shiite-dominated Iraq supported by American power could well create new alliances between Sunnis and Wahhabis that will radicalize both. The US CIA is already predicting that Iraq is becoming the new training ground for international terrorism.

Attacking radicalizes. Germans were much more prepared to shoot down Allied Aircraft after we bombed their cities. FDR’s declaration of war on Imperial Japan had a similar effect on the Pacific.

We are at war with an ideology of murder. We wrestle with principalities and powers that oppress their citizens. We fight for a connected and global world — an end to national ghettos.

Every struggle must be fought differently. The war of ideas is a different type of confrontation than walking with slowly liberalizing regimes or supporting content flows. But this not an excuse for us to shy away.

The wahabis are salafists are already radicalized. Under al Qaeda and affiliated groups they have the will and capacity to bring war to our shores and death to our skies. We have decided not to appease our enemies, so they we must destroy them. We have identified radical wahabism as an ideology of death, and we know how to deal with those. State Shinto, the National Reich Church, and the Ku Klux Klan are just three of the cults we have destroyed. We can do so again.

When Iran preaches freedom, they are right. When the Wahabis see a free Iraq as a threat to their rule, they are right. When they see American intervention as protecting rituals and beliefs they deeply disaprove of they are right.

Our big bang strategy has forever altered the constellation of the most repressive region of the world. They tyrants hate this. Good.

Free Arab Media

Qatar Advances Plans To Privatize Al-Jazeera: U.S. Has Criticized Arab TV Network,” by Shankar Vedantam, Washington Post,, 31 January 2005 (from Collounsbury).

Great news out of the Gulf.

The government of Qatar is pushing forward with plans to privatize al-Jazeera, the popular and controversial Arab television network that has often drawn the ire of U.S. administration officials, a network spokesman said.

al Jazeera’s prominance, and the forthcoming privitization, are both fallout from the Iraqi Big Bang Strategy

Details of the plan are yet to be worked out and await a feasibility report that should be completed in coming months, said Jihad Ballout, a spokesman in the Qatari capital of Doha. Al-Jazeera is highly popular in the Arab world but has repeatedly drawn criticism from the Bush administration about its coverage of the war in Iraq and other hot-button issues in the Middle East.

Pressure from U.S. officials has caused the government of Qatar, which bankrolls al Jazeera, to accelerate the spinoff, according to a report yesterday in the New York Times, which quoted an unnamed senior Qatari official.

This news is wonderful. While al Jazeera is anti-American, it also is the first news channel in the Arab world that freely criticizes everybody. We need to create real political debates in the Greater Middle East, and outlets like al Jazeera are part of this. It is problematic, however, that al Jazeera does not face market pressures and is owned by an ally. Allowing private investors, even if they are Saudi petrocrats, to run a free Arab news network is a great step forward.

In the Greater Middle East, we are the revolutionary aggressor and the dictatorial regimes that made up the status quo are the enemy. We have momentum and freedom on our side. Let’s keep going.

Academic Honesty

Shrinking polar icecaps (and credibility),” by Gaijinbiker, Riding Sun,, 31 January 2005.

You’re exactly right,” by Dan, Riding Sun,, 31 January 2005.

A new report on global warming is out. I’m not a climate scientist, and people who I respect are on boths sides of the debate — often in surprising way. But the article is a joke.

Gaijinbiker explains:

When you measure the same thing twice, you don’t expect the second result to be double the first. If it is, that’s a clue that your measurements are worthless. If the second try is 100% higher, perhaps a third try would yield results 100% lower — that is, zero.

My response?

You’re exactly right.

For my graduate degree (Computer Science) I had to build a model simulation large-scale systems. Results had to be consistent with itself and the real world. 100% variation is a failure — or more academically, a field for future research — not a conclusion.

But it doesn’t end there. In the original post, Gaijinbiker points out another problem

Also notable is that the article mentions only the report’s “worst-case” scenario. How likely is that scenario to occur? Ten percent? One percent? .00001 percent? And what are the other scenarios like? How likely are they? Are there any where the earth actually gets cooler?

It would be nice to know.

However, Mr. Connor apparently sees his purpose as terrifying Britons into immediate and unwarranted action, rather than skeptically assessing the most drastic outcome of a single new study.

Again, exactly right.

I’m not an expert on simulation design or criticism, but the guys on my committee where. If I would have presented, as my results, the most extreme outcome I’d be laughed out of the room, if not asked to leave the university.

The results of a simulation are taken. They are explained, and areas that seem particularly weak or interesting become “future research.” I was lucky to complete my studies under very experienced and knowldgeable professors. They taught me the pitfalls of simulation building, and how a simulation can be perverted for personal or political gain (one had been contracted to simulate how to “win” a thermonuclear exchange using equipment from only one military contractor — single-source the apocalypse!).

At best, the press coverage of this is biased and inaccurate. Alternatively, the scientists involved are shockingly unprofessional. At worst, they are academically dishonest.