Toward a New, Democratic Middle East

Barnett, T.P.M. (2006). Treating Iran as a logical swing asset. Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog. January 10, 2007. Available online:

Tom Barnett gets it!:

Great piece by Luttwak exploring how sometimes (in Iraq) we need to be pro-Shiia and not be afraid of making Sunni states nervous and sometimes (in Lebanon vis-a-vis Syria) we need to be pro-Sunni and not worry about making Shiia leaders (Syria, Iran) nervous.

Now, where Luttwak doesn’t go is where I’m dying to go: play Iran more as a scary balancer. The more we dialogue (none yet) with Iran on Iraq, the more we freak the Saudis and the easier it becomes to splinter Syria because we’re basically playing prisoner’s dilemma with both Damascus and Iran–as in, who’s gonna bite first because we’ll go harder on the other next.

I agree completely, and back in August I wrote that a Shia Iraq and a Sunni Syria are exactly what we need.

A Democratic Middle East

Keep the Big Bang moving. Support Democracy in the Middle East. Support a Shia Iraq, and a Sunni Syria.


My friends, the charade is over. For years I have been furitively poisoning easter wells, using the blood of gentile children for matzo balls, and of course smuggling aphrodisiac chewing gum to Egyptian teenagers. I have been able to do this because your foolish governments have not required me to wear a yellow star, thus allowing me to deceive good Muslims and Christians into believing I am not a Jew. I know my actions are evil and wrong, but they are the ways of my ancestors, the pigs and the dogs.

What is disturbing about LNM’s comment, I also find it particularly disturbing for someone who is Jewish, and anti-Arab and anti-Muslim, to falsify his identity in order to defame others., is not that it is (apparently) Islamic hate-speech. I’ve been threatened with harm and condemned to Hell by Muslims on this blog before. Rather, it is that the comment combines serious criticism with paranoid ravings. Education and westernization no more detracts from Arab anti-Semitism than it detracted from German anti-Semitism.

When we face fanatics and anti-Semites, we are not dealing with back-water hicks. Rather, we struggle against modern ideologues who hold modern ideologies. This has implications for the long war against terrorism. Appeasing our enemies, avoiding outrages and allowing them to modernize on a steady tract, may not be a wise thing. The problem with the Arab world (and those it influences) is not that it is modernizing too slowly, it is it is modernizing in the wrong way.

Writing Inspired

One of the neatest things about the blogosphere is how a conversation can jump from blog to blog, with each blog addings its own touch.

First, Mark’s July 2005 post on 5th Generation Warfare inspired my first post on the topic the next day. Then just this month Herb Harris joined the conversation, which quickly jumped over to Dreaming 5GW.

5GW was also misused by John Robb, whose interpretation was analyzed the same day by Aherring, Curtis, and myself. The stand-out quote: Robb lets others do a lot of the building, claims they’re stealing his ideas, then changes his ideas to coopt and incorporate new little nuggets he’d not previously considered.

A more involved conversation included Tom and myself, spanning “Jimmy Carter’s New Book,” “The Jews, Israeli nationalism v. Globalism,” “The Jews, Reloaded,” and now “Another spiral development attempt on the Carter book controversy.”

A three-way conversation on new theories for a new way of war has seen contributions on Small Wars Journal, D.N.I., and (to bring this all to a circle) Zen Pundit.

In closing, I of course have to link to Soob / Soob du Jour, and Quiet Thoughts / Silence in Mind, two blogs that are both inspired and original.

Need a geographer?

My close friend Catholicgauze is halfway through his graduate training in Geography, and is looking for ways to leverage his skills this summer. From his resume:

Intern – National Geographic Society
At National Geographic I was one of nine geography interns for autumn of 2005. I worked with the internet and film library divisions researching possible stories and providing a geographic perspective to new educational material. Other duties include writing news pieces for National Geographic Kid’s News Online and aiding the internet division with the recently completed redesign of the homepage. Finally, I assisted the digital film library with research possible videos to adopt for video of the day on MSN and Yahoo.


Dean’s List every semester of full time study during undergraduate studies.
Duel-enrollment student during high school
Graduate in two years; entered college with junior standing
President of Delta Zeta chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon geographical honor society (2004-5)
Award recipient for work done for state’s geography convention
Recipient of many department and school scholarships
Full out of state tuition waver for graduate studies

Read the whole thing. (Even if you’re not hiring, help out Jude and edit it like crazy!)

Strategy on the Radio (and on Youtube)

“When I realized where I was
did I stand-up and testify?
Or fist up signify?”

“The Wrong Way,” TV On The Radio

As Dean, Mark, penraker, Sean, and Tom himself wrote, Dr. Thomas P.M. Barnett has begun a series of interviews with radio host Hugh Hewitt. Comments on this ranged from the supportive (apparently from people right-of-center to bitterly hostile (apparently from the reflexive Left), and are generally worth checking out. Listen to the interview now.

A Future Worth Creating

Relatedly, Dave Porter is hosting part one, part two, and part three of strategic breifing given by Tom Barnett some time ago.

Review of "My Secret," edited by Frank Warren

Frank Warren’s PostSecret is an internet phenomynon, and I have been lucky to have followed it over the past few years. In November, 2005, I reviewed the website and the next month, following a gratis copy, I reviewed the PostSecret book. Now that Frank’s new book is out, the publisher kindly gave me a review copy.

My Secret: A PostSecret Book

I liked the book, but as My Secret seems focused on teenagers, I did not feel competent to write my own review. Fortunately, my friend Quiet Thoughts took a look at my copy and posted a review.

Frank Warren, a strong supporter of 1-800-SUICIDE has made a compelling composition of post cards from teenagers and young adults. Each page is an insight into a personality that is more compelling than mere letters. The appeal of a post card is indescribable. It is a mini work of art that shows a person’s personality and mood, and the snippets written on them are condensed letters that anyone can understand with one glance.

Some of the pages are more disturbing, though. I discovered the more macabre side of my personality through this book, because it was the darkest pages the riveted me the most. Confessions of self-destruction, painful longing for friendship, and even affirmations of being apathetic to others, were not in short supply.

Read the whole thing.

The Iraqis

I like Eddie and his two blogs, Live from the FDNF and Hidden Utilities, a lot. He is one of my friends on shelfy, and (as he served and I did not) he is both braver and stronger than I am. However, one of his comments over at Coming Anarchy illustrates almost everything that is wrong about typical American opposition to the Iraq War:

At a noticeable level, [the execution of former Iraqi PM Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti] was quite like [al Qaeda’s] executions, considering the Sadr militias are guilty of mass murder in the form of ethnic cleansing of innocent civillians, whereas AQ is guilty of mass murder in the form of terrorism (and Saddam guilty of it in both forms as well as systematic rape and indiscriminate use of WMD against civilians). While various forms of evil are certainly not equal, it is the height of hypocrisy for the US to demean and betray itself aligning with one, especially the Mahdi militia.

I’ll concentrate on his accusation that A,erica demaned and betrayed itself by allowing members of Muqtada al-Sadr’s political party from participating in Saddam’s execution.

Excluding supporters of al-Sadr’s party amounts to political blacklisting in a friendly democracy. Among other reasons why this is a terrible, terrible idea:

1. “Blacklists” against members of political parties are in general a bad idea
2. “Blacklists” against members of political parties with elected seats in a national legislature are in general a bad idea
3. “Blacklists” against members of political parties which are part of a democratically elected governing coalition are in general a bad idea.
4. “Blacklists” against allies in the war against Baathism and the war against Qaedism are in geeneral a bad idea

The lack of basic respect for the Iraqi and Iraqi democracy shown by many anti-Iraq-War commentators is astounding.

A Friend, Not a Colony

For nearly a century the majority of Iraqis have suffered from tribal apartheid under a small Sunni clique (comparable in size to the white supremacist government of South Africa). In recent decades the Sunni Arab supremacists escalated the war against their own people to genocidal levels, using mass executions of entire families (such as Mr. Sadr’s), poison gas attacks (such as those against the Kurds), and other tools. After the American libration of Iraq, the Sunni Arab surpemacists responded with terror bombings that the American occupiers either pretended didn’t exist or blamed on the victims.

And once the Iraqi peopl became aware that the American strategy hinged on appeasing terrorists rather than defending civilians or supporting her friends, many (including anti-war commentators) prompted blamed the Iraqi people again for their heroic defense of their families, their communities, their nation. These commentators may or may not believe there is a right to self defense, but apparently not for the Iraqi people.

Too bad.


In celebration of my interest in cartoon human director at Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Italy, and 19th century German philosophy, my friend Brendan gave me a Dashboard Mohammed.

Brendan, who blogs at I Hate Linux, also treated me to dinner at Old Chicago. To encourage any other South Dakota bloggers (I’m thinking of you, Anish David 🙂 ), here are the ten most recent posts over at I Hate Linux.

Pizza, Pasta, and Pop. A delicious meal!

New Year, New Design

Despite French cries of protest, another year has turned. And with that, tdaxp has a (slightly) updated look.

The new banner image was taken by me, near the center of Beijing. Other new features include a “Popular Tags” box (currently featuring my posts on 5GW and Resilience, among other topics), new best posts (including Learning Evolved and The Wary Guerrilla), and new linked-to blogs (such as Gene Expression and gnxp).

Happy New Year!

New Year, Same Old Mainstream Media

Finkelstein, M. (2007). ABC’s ‘sic’ choice suggests belief in afterlife an error. NewsBusters. January 1, 2007. Available online:

“Sic” (“thus”) is a writing device used to distance the writer from an error. It is often used rhetorically to embarrass or ridicule the source of a quote. For instance, if I would say something stupid while misspelling a word, someone else might quote what I say, while writing sic, to focus attention on my poor writing ability. More technically, sic can be used when there is a fear that the reader will mistake a strange usage of the quoted person with that of the editor.

Which makes this disgusting. And sick.

“You were one of my best friends and I will never forget you. All my love and prayers go to your family and I’ll see you again.” (sic)

There is no grammatical error with the quotation — it is composed of two well-formed compound sentences. What the ABC News videographer appears to be distancing himself from — holding up to ridicule — is the belief that a friend will see his own friend — a soldier who died in Iraq — again.

This Richard Dawkins style of atheism — rude and socially inept — is an embarrassment.