Winners and Losers of a Violent end of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Iran’s and America’s strategic expansion, combined with Iran’s attack on the British, make war an unfortunate possibility. Assuming the war would end with the violent end of the Ayatollahist regime, but without American occupation of significant portion of the country, who would win and lose?

“ALLAH” in Four Crescents and a Sword


The Shahada and a Sword

  • Saudi Arabia — the Kingdom would be the biggest winner, by far. The Bush Administration would be the best thing to happen to Riyadh since the discovery of oil, with two regional enemies (Iraq and Iran) smashed and a friendly but dangerous reformist element (the Taliban) driven from power. Additionally, the higher oil prices would line Saudi pockets while the Gulf principalities re-align with their western neighbor. And obviously, Iranian pressure on Eastern Arabia would lessen considerably.
  • Egypt, Kuwait, etc. – Second- and Third- tier Sunni Arab stats would also benefit from the end of Tehran’s ability to export security. From the perspective of these statist countries, the largest benefit of the Iraq War (ending the instability caused by Saddam Hussein) has been washed out by the biggest detriment of the Iraq War (the renewed instability caused by Iran).
  • Pakistan – With Russia discredited as a major power and America having limited staying power, Islamabad looks forward to recolonizing Afghanistan, as she had previously done through the Taliban. However, Iran also neighbors Afghanistan and works to spoil any Pakistan-oriented Afghani regime.


Persians in Light Green

  • Persians – Persians only make up 51% of the population in the old Persian state, and are almost completely absent on the volatile western front. Persians aren’t in danger of the fate that awaited the Iraq Sunni Arabs, but the loss of their government would hardly be good.
  • Syria — Syria is a Sunni Muslim state run by Wahabi Shia Muslims and aligned with Iran. The fall of fellow-Shia Iran, in the shadow of the fall of fellow-Ba’ath Iraq, would leave Damascus both friendless and humiliated.
  • Hezbollah — Hezbollah’s main achievement in the war with Israel was to separate herself from Syria as Iran’s preferred client in Lebanon. But the fall of Iran would place Hezbollah, by necessity, under Syrian tutelage. Worse, if the Syrian Ba’ath Party would fall to the Muslim Brothers, Hezbollah may be left without friends in the region.
  • China – The People’s Republic concentrates on economic growth, and for that requests only geopolitical stability and open trade. An American war with Iran would destabilize the middle east and drive up energy prices. Bad news for Beijing.
  • India – New Delhi is weak and uses Iran to help keep Pakistan in line. The fall of Iran would help Islamabad’s quest for strategic depth and take away Pakistan’s second front.


Old Glory

  • The United States – America would lose an often de facto in Tehran but would reward her oldest friends in the region.
  • Russia — Moscow would lose her trans-Caspian partner, but would profit from higher energy prices. As Russia has for decades traded land and influence for cash, the fall of Iran would be almost a non-event.
  • Europe – higher energy prices and a richer Russia would be partially offset by a greater clamor for energy independence from Russia. Short term pain, long term gain.
  • The Iraqis – the end of the Shia and Kurdish sponsor would increase the voice of America in internal Iraqi projects, but perhaps help get America out sooner (as “losing to Iran” would no longer be an option). The same logic applies, in reverse, for the Iraqi Sunni Arabs.
  • The Muslim Brothers – the strengthening of the Egyptian regime would be counterbalanced by the weakening of the Syrian government.
  • Israel – Iran and her clients, Syria and Hezbollah, are obviously weakened. But the potential for a Muslim brother revolution in Syria is disquieting (Jerusalem would prefer the incompetent Ba’ath to stay in power).

Conclusion: Should America attack Iran?
My take: It’s a wash. Iran would have made a great partner for piece, but Iran has not stepped up to the plate. As a nation we rely on having a President with the power to take action when he sees fit. Ultimately, it’s Bush’s call.

American-Iranian Tensions Heating Up Fast

Kukis, M. 2007. A deadily U.S.-Iran firefight. Time. March 30, 2007. Available online:,8599,1605487,00.html.

Saba, S. 2007. Iran crisis reflects growing isolation. BBC News. March 29, 2007. Available online:

Apparently, the Iranians attempted to abduct Americans before they snagged the Brits:

A moment later, U.S. and Iraqi forces came upon a third Iranian soldier on the Iraqi side of the border, who stood his ground. As U.S. and Iraqi soldiers approached the Iranian officer and began speaking with him, a platoon of Iranian soldiers appeared and moved to surround the coalition patrol, taking up positions on high ground. At that point, according to the Army’s statement, the Iranian captain told the U.S. and Iraqi soldiers that if they tried to leave they would be fired on. Fearing abduction by the Iranians, U.S. troops moved to go anyway, and fighting broke out. Army officials say the Iranian troops fired first with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades, and that U.S. troops fell further back into Iraqi territory, while four Iraqi army soldiers, one interpreter and one Iraqi border guard remained in the hands of the Iranians.

Besides attacking Americans and British citizens, Tehran has also isolated herself on other fronts:

Earlier this month the UN Security Council passed a resolution against Iran over its nuclear programme.

Iranian diplomats worked very hard to convince some members of the council, such as South Africa, Indonesia and Qatar, to support Tehran’s case.

But it failed, and the vote in favour of the resolution was unanimous, further convincing the Iranian leadership that they have few friends left at the UN and that diplomacy is not working in their favour.

Iran is now also militarily encircled by the US forces. American troops are based in almost every country bordering Iran – Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan and Azerbaijan.

The US Navy has been conducting a series of exercises in the Gulf – the biggest war

Perhaps Iran will manage to turn this around. But the Islamic Republic has thrown away any expectation of peace.

Walking to Work in Lincoln, Nebraska

On my blog, I’ve documented cities from the Badlands to Beijing, Peking U to Stephen F. Austin State U. However, I haven’t photoblogged one of the closet things to me yet: my walk from where I live to where I work and study. The full photo series is available on my photogalleries.

The parking lot, looking toward a fraternity house and a no-longer-used schoolhouse.


A four-line highway connecting me to the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. A ciy bus approaches in the distance. Both the City of Lincoln and UNL maintain excellent bus systems(though UNL’s has better hours and more regular service).

Ben Nelson’s position as the most-conservative Democrat in the Senate allows him to get pork brought home, regardless of who’s in power. Here, heavy machinery work on the Antelope Valley Project.


Right next to the main construction, work continuse on a quicker link between my the campus and the interstate, allowing commuters to avoid downtown. The nifty skybridge in the background already has three connections, and I use it whenever I leave town.


Further down the sidewalk: the Engineering complex of halls.


Two blocks later: the Education complex of halls. I’ve been interested in instructional psychology for quite a while, so I end up spending a lot of time here.

While our college football team is named the Cornhuskers, it could be The Mammoths: A giant mastodon (or whatever) looks out over the pakring lot.

Said parking lot. Memorial Stadium‘s gigantic TV (second largest in the world, and for a time the biggest) is in the background. I have a perfect view of the set from my office.

Blossoming trees on the main field of campus. The tower in the distance is Love Library‘s.

A better view of the trees. Note that other’s still don’t have leaves.

A lone tree in a courtyard…

… and we’re at Oldfather Hall!

Welcome to Nebraska!

Bill Gates on Technology and Strategy

Over the past few days, I had the great pleasure to savor a 1989 speech by Bill Gates to the Computer Science Club of the University of Waterloo. My previous exposure to Bill Gates’ thought had been rather disappointing — Business @ The Speed of Thought has to be one of the emptiest collections of cliches ever written — so I tuned in mainly for the nostalgia.

Little did I know that I was in for 93 minutes of brilliance.

Bill Gates speech in 1989 reveals two things: he is an expert at technology and an expert at strategy, both theoretical and applied. Except for the parts of his speech which deals with the specific environment of the late 1980s, most of Gates’ technological statements are timeless. Listening him to talk about his vision for programming I kept having to tell myself that .Net wouldn’t be released for another 14 years. Likewise, listening him to how he structures teams at Microsoft, and how he forms goals and sets release schedules, I kept being reminded of Chet Richards’ Certain to Win: The Strategy of John Boyd, Applied to Business.

The grand view of Gates’ ability is emphasized through his repitition of a near-disasterous decision. At the time, Microsoft and IBM were collaborating on a new operating system called (with typical IBM finesse) OS/2 (short of Operating System / 2). The relationship would collapse the very next year. IBM and Microsoft have very different operating philosophies, and Microsoft assisting in building and promoting IBM’s “successor” to Windows was in retrospect unimaginably dangerous. It was as if Queen Elizabeth I had supplied timber and workers to build the Spanish Armada.

Of course, like in that war, it didn’t matter.

IBM’s islamic, top-down, one-true-way philosophy was outclassed by Microsoft’s theory of embrace and extend. Just as the British defeated the Armada, not because of luck but because of the Spanish inability to change in respond to changing events, Microsoft defeated IBM because of International Business Machine’s inability to change in respond to changing event. On paper IBM had the advantages

  • Man power
  • Hordes of cash
  • Business Contacts
  • Experience (IBM had previously been outmaneuvred by Microsoft in the release of DOS)

But Microsoft had a unity of purpose, iterative design, and flexibility. IBM had none of these.

Within half a decade, the war was essentially over. IBM released the last commercial version of OS/2 in 1996. The overwhelming power & success of Microsoft Windows, by contrast, needs no elaboration.

A good but tiring day

Finished up some major work on a project that I will go into detail on later. Up to now most of the benefit of this project has been humor at a piece that requires this man

to be associated with this one

If you’re thinking “that’s not funny,” then you’re right. But that’s one long hours do to you.

Audacity violates the Unix Philosophy

Why is it that, considering that command line interfaces is a core of the Unix Philosophy

(ii) Expect the output of every program to become the input to another, as yet unknown, program. Don’t clutter output with extraneous information. Avoid stringently columnar or binary input formats. Don’t insist on interactive input.
Rule of Modularity: Write simple parts connected by clean interfaces.
Rule of Composition: Design programs to be connected to other programs.
Rule of Separation: Separate policy from mechanism; separate interfaces from engines.

… the case that Audacity, the best free software audio recorded and editor on the planet, has no command line interface?

Shame! Shame!

I’ll be able to get around this by using lame.exe or somesuch, but it doesn’t make sense that I have to manually export the fourty sound files I recorded with audacity, all to use a non-audacity program to edit them.

Catholicgauze Hacks Google Earth!

Using KML2Shp, Forestry GIS, and, Catholicgauze adds the Oregon Trail to Google Earth:

CG’s Oregon Trail on Google Earth

As he writes:

This is one way Catholicgauze has discovered to made “professional” looking maps. If you have your own way feel free to comment and share!

As part of my efforts to eventually get my writings on the Oregon Trail published I have been creating maps. However, as a poor person most cartographic programs are beyond my reached. However, by scouring the internet I have found a way to make maps for free. All one needs is a little time and several easy to use freeware programs.

Read the whole thing.

Oasis China Visa: Fast, Affordable, Reliable Chinese Visa Service

I will be traveling to China again this summer (hopefully traveling to Beijing, Hohhot (Inner Mongolia) and Xi’an (the ancient capital).

My thanks to for their quick and reliable service, for the second year in a row. Using standard service, I obtianed my new Chinese visa in only a week — and that counts shipping!

Sample Chinese Visa

Thanks, Oasis China Visa!

Happy Birthday, Europe

Fifty years ago today, the Treaty of Rome was signed. With this treaty, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, and the Benelux countries formed the European Economic Community. That small club has now grown into a continent-straddling economic and political union of twenty-seven member states. An important front-line state, with Arabian Africa to the south and Russia to the east, the European union is an important engine of connectivity and a vital player in the domino-like globalization of the world.

Europe’s constitution, the Ode to Joy, salutes the wonders of connectedness:

Be embraced, ye millions!
This kiss for the whole world!
Brothers, beyond the star-canopy
Must a loving Father dwell.
Be embraced,
This kiss for the whole world!
Joy, beautiful spark of the gods,
Daughter of Elysium,
Joy, beautiful spark of the gods

Happy Birthday, Europe!