Iran: A 9/12 War?

In two recent posts, “You’re right. Both Tel Aviv and Riyadh play us like violins” and “The other Tom’s Sunday column,” Tom Barnett appears to lay the groundwork for supporting, or at least being indifferent to, a war on Iran. I don’t mean to say that Tom has a secret agenda, or even that he embraces the logical result of his thinking. Nonetheless, the conclusion that naturally flows from his writing is a command to opponents of offensive operations against Iran: take it easy.

Working backwards, Barnett seconds New York Times columnist Tom Friedman’s call for a 9/12 President. The 9/11 emergency, so goes the argument, is over. This is because emergencies are ruled by terrorists, but policy is ruled by states. We are in this for the long haul. This means getting back to normal, and letting the American system that works so well in generating wealth and happiness function. National security will take care of itself, as it always has, because we are the biggest and best country on the block.

But earlier, Tom notes that the Israeli and Saudi governments are manipulating our policy towards Iran. While the Jewish and Wahabi States are not fans of each other, both fear the rise of Iran more than they fear each other. So both advocate, using whatever means they can, for an American strike on Iran.

What a 9/12 President would do is obvious: attack Iran.

Barnett has opposed war with Iran before on the grounds that it would wreck the “big bang effect” caused by the Iraq War. I assume, that when Tom appears to endorse ludicrous ideas (like Friedman’s line of “I will not vote for any candidate who is not committed to dismantling Guantánamo Bay and replacing it with a free field hospital for poor Cubans”), Barnett is actually America’s governmental infrastructure (especially when it comes to national security) is sufficiently readjusted to the point where just playing for time makes sense. (America famously used the playing-for-time strategy in the Cold War.)

But if we are now playing for time, that means allowing the instability in the middle east to unfold as it will. It means that we no longer need a president who focuses on those problems, but one who allows our response to do the work for him. The rise of Iran surely is a consequence of the take-down of Iraq, as is the push-back from Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Of course, it was dysfunction in the Sunni Arab world that led to 9/11. But Iran’s been deeply involved in the Sunni Arab system since 1980, at the latest. The Iranian government is just as much part of that violently dysfunctional systems as Iraq’s Saudi Arabia’s, or Syria’s. A “9/12” President would treat the middle east as just another part of the world, and if our two closest allies in any region are threatened by a rogue enemy, would he act as an ally does or think deeply about what that means for transformative, systemic, change?

The former, of course.

The Boycott is Over!

Loyal tdaxp readers may remember my boycott against the National Review for their childish, unprofessional, and mean-spirited “spoiling” of LOST.

Well, the boycott is over.

Catholicgauze informs me that the writers at NRO are geeking out, live-blogging from the Star Trek Universe.

Select excerpts:

The Sources of Klingon Conduct:”

There can no longer be any doubt that the aggressive conduct of the Klingon Empire is irredentist in nature, its purpose to spread its sphere of influence beyond the Neutral Zone. This presents a new kind of threat to the galactic order, as the Klingon conduct does not comport with classic models of planetary self-interest. Rather, their intent is ideological in nature. They seek not to influence but to convert, not to find an atmospheric cushion but to create a gravitational pull toward a set of beliefs. Their evangel is by definition destabilizing and dangerous, since it postulates its own superiority, a superiority that will be demonstrated by conquest….

The Needs of the Many Outweight the Needs of the Pelosians:”

Over the course of this magazine’s four centuries (not counting the Great Interegnum during the Eugenics Wars, when conservatism was deemed a mental defect) National Review has always endeavored to chart a course balancing idealism with realism. Even in its infancy, facing the first great existential crisis of Old Earth, we argued for challenging aggression, whether in the form of the Soviet threat or the violence done to humanity through hubristic tinkering with the genetic code. We are proud to say that our opposition to the Soviets played its part in the prevention of one nuclear holocaust and saddened that our warnings fell on deaf ears before as so many of us were marched off to reeducation camps on the Mars colonies. After the Interregnum we counseled a different course when making first contact with the Klingons and the Romulans than that chosen by Starfleet Command. History has vindicated us on both scores, which is small comfort given the terrible price we all paid for Starfleet’s stubbornness.

Welcome back, National Review!

Affirmative Action: Bad Policy, Bad Science

Leonhardt, D. (2007). The new affirmative action. New York Times. September 30, 2007. Available online:

An interesting article in the New York Times about a rentier class, racial discrimination, and bad science. The focus is on racial jerryrigging by the University of California system. While on the second page I realized that one could replace “black” with “non-asian” with no loss of factual accuracy. Sure enough:

In particular, U.C.L.A.’s experience suggests that some tension between race and class in the admissions process may be inevitable. Even as the number of low-income black freshmen soared this year, the overall number of low-income freshmen fell somewhat. The rise in low-income black students was accompanied by a fall in low-income Asian students — not a decline in well-off students. U.C.L.A. administrators say they don’t fully understand why.

The article also goes into Peter Taylor’s race-based charity work and some really bad analysis of an “intelligece test” given to one-year olds.

A Big 12 North Day

You may recall that shortly after (Big 12 South) Texas A&M’s loss to (Big 12 North) Nebraska, Texas A&M’s President cut and run, taking a cushy government job instead of facing the Big 12 North again.

Good thing, too, as the two highest ranked Big 12 South teams fell specularly to Big 12 North schools:

#3 Oklahoma 24, Colorado 27
#7 Texas 21, Kansas State 41

Our Nebraska Cornhuskers didn’t have the luxury of playing a push-over from the Big 12 South junior leagues. We played a fellow Big 12 North Team

#25 Nebraska 35, Iowa State 17

My thanks to ESPN U GameCast and Huskers Radio for helping me keep up to date on games that weren’t aired in my area.

Clinton right on Baby Bonds

My friend (and fellow-Husker) Jason of SoDaPo criticizes Hillary Clinton for her baby bonds proposal. (Baby bonds grant newbornes $5,000 to be invested, that can be cashed out for either a first home or a college education.)

Baby bonds are a truly good idea. Home-ownership and college education generate positive externalities: they are not only good for the individuals who go down those roads, but also for the country as a whole. That is one reason that the government subsidizes both.

As someone who cares about the country but also is suspicious of big government, I’m OK with the first part (helping out home ownership and college education) but suspicious of the second (a large faceless bureaucracy making the big decisions on its timetable).

Thus, I support Hilldog’s great idea. Baby bonds are a first step in what President Bush calls an “ownership society,” where many social welfare initiatives and not hand-outs but rather capitalizations. Baby bonds connect every family in the country to the bond market in a meaningful sense. (Everyone already is through social security and medicare, but decades of misconception cloud that fact.) Finally, baby bonds amount to a delayed payment for procreation — a great idea in a world where growing our population is a prime concern.

Hillary Clinton: Huzzah!

Globalizaiton and Genocide

My friend Jason of SDP emailed me yesterday, asking about genocide, globalization, and ideology. Specifically, considering that neither race nor society are going away, does globalization have a chance to end genocide?

My answer: Yes.

Genocide — purposefully killing a large fraction of your own population — only works when you can get away with it. This means that it has to be either profitable or at least not terribly costly. In Rwanda, for instance, the massacred Tutsis didn’t just leave bodies behind — they also had farmland that needed to be disposed of. (In parts of Rwanda where there were no Tutsis, the Hutu hordes helpfully killed fellow Hutus, accomplishing the same land reform without the ethnic overtones).

Likewise, the German attacks against the Jews in the 1930s and 1940s were enabled by the disintegrating world economy that allowed Germany to “go it alone” away from the discipline of international capital markets. In the first phase, the Nazi regime confiscated wealth from the Jewish upper-class to fund a growing welfare state. (If 1990s Rwanda was “land reform,” then 1930s Germany was “capital reform.”) After the War had started, Hitler’s regime faced roughly equal costs in interning Jews and killing them. They chose the latter.

Certainly there are genocides — mass butchery — today. In Darfur, a nasty party of the nasty non-integration gap — people kill each other as they have for the past few thousand years. In much of the western world, late-term abortion puts Herod to shame. But a Darfuri and an infant a month from birth have the same economic value to you — zero — so they aren’t protected by the globalized order.

The Cost of the War on Drugs

An Associated Press story, 3 Charged in PC Magazine Editor’s Death:

Three men have been charged with murdering a senior editor for PC World magazine in what police said was an attempt to steal marijuana that the victim’s son grew in their home for medical use.

Rex Farrance, 59, the San Francisco-based magazine’s senior technical editor, was shot in the chest on Jan. 9 after masked men broke into his suburban home.

Prohibition kills.

So what is the definition of "global guerrilla," anyway?

I thought global guerrillas opposed the hegemony of the state. Apparently not (or else John has now transformed into an official anarchist cheerleader):

Chris Anderson (the editor of Wired magazine) has been pushing the envelope of do-it-yourself reconnaissance using low cost UAVs, stitching software (in conjunction with Google Earth), a GPS datalogger ($99), and digital cameras (the Canon PowerShot SD650, at 6 MP). Yet another global guerrilla (for good) tinkering project for applications in security and disaster response.

Thanks to Curtis of Dreaming 5GW and the 5GW Theory Timeline for the link.

Jomhuri Eslamiyi tries to convert on third and long

Whatever one may think of the Iran’s behavior up to now, Iran is presently choosing a high-risk strategy. Between President Ahmadinejad’s Jew- and gay- baiting speech in New York City to the sealing of the Kurdish border, the Islamic Republic has gone beyond the tit-for-tat proxy battles against America to actions that alienate potential sympathizers. (Specifically, Iran’s actions tick off American liberals and Iraqi Kurds, two groups with interests halfway between Washington’s and Tehran’s).

There’s no need to think that Iran’s government is crazy, or evil, or desperate. Merely that they see a bad situation getting worse and that normal behavior on their part would lead to bad outcomes.