THE EU HARDENS IT'S STANCE ON THE IRANIAN BOMB PROGRAM
The EU has warned the Iranian regime that it faces possible sanctions
if it continues to defy the IAEA. The hardline clique clinging to power in Teheran have rebuffed the Europeans.
Rogue states like Iran and North Korea are attempting to use the provisions of the NPT as a vehicle for proliferation and are acquiring nuclear weapons by misappropriation of peaceful nuclear technology - technology to which they are only allowed access as NPT signatories. They cannot be rewarded for such behavior nor be permitted to posses such weapons given the character of the regimes. Diplomatic pressure and " soft power " advocates in Brussells and Washington have here two test cases for their approach. Wish them luck because the " hard power " alternatives are not pretty to contemplate if negotiations fail.
MY THANKS TO JAY SOLO
For adding Zenpundit to his blogroll. Jay has quite the eclectic array of topics
on his blog, check him out. ( He'll be joining my blogroll soon - and I'll finally fix the link to Prometheus6 to reflect his new address and snazzier template)
AS PLAME AS THE NOSE ON YOUR FACE
The recent blogfury over the leak on Valerie Plame's role as a CIA employee is highly dispiriting for all supporters of the Bush administration and the War on Terror. It was moreover, no matter who did it, a wrong act compounded by morally obtuse stupidity in the bargain.
Take no comfort from the sepulchural silence of Congressional Democratic insiders on this issue, they've leaked too often on too many national security issues in the last twenty years to open their mouths. This issue will be driven by the press and will greatly damage the Bush administration unless one of two outcomes materialize. Either the leakers will be discovered to be relatively junior officials in one of the Cabinet bureaucracies who are unceremoniously shown the door or evidence will mount that Joseph Wilson, in addition to his worthy tenure in the foreign service will turn out to also be a longtime, very partisan activist with an agenda who has attempted to " sex-up " the story. If either come to pass Mr. Bush has few worries.
If neither of these possibilities come to the fore Mr. Bush will be in serious political trouble with moderate swing voters who side with him mainly because the Democrats as a party viscerally hate the war on terror and would like to return to the " law enforcement paradigm" ( i.e. - do nothing against terrorism except symbolic gestures and focus the nation on welfare-state trivialities) and international impotence masquerading as multilateralism. Somalia, Rwanda, Haiti and Bosnia were enough for me the last time around, and I would hope, for most Americans.
But at the moment it appears that the Republicans, for the third time in my life, have decided to rescue the floundering and nihilistic Democrats with an act of perverse political self-destruction.
AN INSIGHTFUL OBSERVATION AT CAERDROIA
"Really, I think that the editor is dead wrong: there is no such thing as politically unbiased news about the US and its actions at home and abroad from almost any source. The reason why is, there is no disinterested source. We are the 500lb. gorilla: US actions and policies affect virtually every nation on Earth, and most of all affect the ruling classes and intellectualist elites of every nation on Earth. As a result, there are no disinterested parties when it comes to US policy and national events."
And the threat of the semi-covert Transnational Progressivism
intellectual movement among American governmental and academic elites is essentially that ( with a wink and a nod) they say to these foreign ruling elites " Do not worry. We will restrain and marshal American power in partnership with you and your interests. We see overwhelming American dominance as a threat just like you do so we will help you erect counterweights to limit American freedom of action and do nothing to undermine your own, often illegitimate and undemocratic, power structures ".
These are the real stakes in 2004. A large bipartisan swath of the elite foreign policy establishment is absolutely furious with Bush for rejecting this implicit understanding with the rest of the world's power-brokers. Bush has upset all the restrictive applecarts ( Kyoto, ICC, the UNSC " veto " power over intervention) they designed to tie the hands of future American presidents. The Transnational Progressives don't really give a rusty damn about whether Iraq is running well or no anymore than they did about the survival of the Bosnians or the morality of negotiating with Slobodan Milosevic while the Balkan strongman played at genocide. They're after power for themselves, to be exercised in the most opaque and unaccountable manner the American electorate can be made to tolerate. The dream is to quietly and slowly jerry-rig a structure for America that apes that of the EU bureaucracy who are proof against democratic recall or oversight.
To them, Islamist terrorism is simply " the cost of doing business" for the lone superpower to be paid for by the rest of us.
NUKE PROGRAM CONTROVERSY ISOLATES IRANIAN HARDLINERS
The conflict over Iran's blatant violation of the NPT and , thus far, refusal to adopt the IAEA suggested additional protocol has become a focal point
in the power struggle between moderate reformers and the extreme hardliners in the Khameini-Rafsanjani-Pasdaran ruling clique. The recent Bush-Putin summit
indicates that Russia will not continue to covertly aid Rafsanjani's dream of a nuclear-armed Iran in the glare of world publicity. They're willing to help the mullahs of course and have done so since at least 1992 but not at the diplomatic cost of appearing to openly sanction cheating on the NPT
IS THERE A TALIBAN IN INDONESIA'S FUTURE ?
I had an ominoius discussion at a history conference with Dwight King
, one of the nation's top academic experts on Indonesia who also has on the ground experience there with post-Suharto political reform. While lauding the current moderate, tolerant and pro-reform stance of Indonesia's often syncretic Muslim associations, in response to a question from me he dropped the bombshell that Saudi Arabia has established and financed 14,000 Islamist boarding schools
in Indonesia of the kind now infamous in Pakistan for generating the footsoldiers of the Taliban. What will be the outcome for Indonesia should this effort go unchallenged for twenty years ?
I often advocate the stick in international politics because at root, most of the world's dictatorships are run by barbarians but this case is one that clearly calls for more in the way of carrots. We can open the door wider for Indonesian students to study here, particularly the children of the middle-class and business elite; the Peace Corps can make Indonesia a priority; we can build up the power and professionalism of Indonesia's police forces to be a democratic counterweight to their corrupt and human-rights abusing Army and improve trade relations with Jakarta.
The War on Terror is a war but it is also a battle of ideas. We musn't vacate that field to the enemy.
CAN CONDI RICE RIDE AN OCTOPUS ?
BULLETIN OF ATOMIC SCIENTISTS SEES IRANIAN A-BOMB BY 2005
And they are not exactly a group of militant Pentagon neocons either. Go here.
SAUDI ARABIA CONSIDERS THE NUCLEAR OPTION
Lending some weight to my speculation yesterday regarding Saudi pressure on Russia over Russian help with Iran's semi-covert nuclear bomb program was the following article in The Guardian
I BEAT THE COMPUTER...BUT CAN YOU ??!?
The first ever mildly amusing game
challenge on Zenpundit. ( Errr...let's hope this works )
OATH OF ALLEGIENCE...SORT OF
For reasons obscure to me, some governmental bureaucrat decided it would be nifty to revise the Oath of Allegience
that new citizens swear to de-emphasize, well, the concept of allegience to the United States. The bureaucrats have backpedaled in the light of publicity but their language indicates that this asinine p.r. proposal designed to send all the wrong signals to prospective citizens is far from dead.
I'm wondering how far we will need to dig into this story before we hit either a Clintonite appointee who burrowed into the Civil Service or an overpaid, outside, " diversity-consultant " with the usual patriotically challenged bad advice. Did anyone really ask
them to do this or did certain parties decide they knew better than the unwashed masses in flyover country ?
Call or write your Congressman. This may be a symbolic point but it isn't a small one.
LEDEEN ON THE IRANIAN BOMB
critiques the Bush strategy; meanwhile the power struggle within Iran has the regime zigzagging
over cooperation with the IAEA.
The concerted pressure by the US, the EU has been helpful in isolating Teheran on the nuclear issue- of greater practical value is the limited pullback on furthering Iran's nuclear ambitions by Russia which has agreed to accept spent fuel from Iranian reactors. Why this is I'm not certain though one possibility is pressure from the Saudis who might not be comfortable with a nuclear armed Shiite neighbor. The Saudis could sink the Russian economy by upping their production of crude oil and thus causing Moscow's prime source of foreign exchange to plunge ruinously.
LEFT-WING JOURNALISTS IN NEED OF A GOOD RESEARCH ASSISTANT
The Guardian opines on Iran's supposedly legitimate security need fornuclear weapon
putting the venerable left-wing British paper foursquare in favor of blatant cheating on the Nonproliferation Treaty by Islamist autocrats.
Perhaps someone could alert the Guardian's editors that Iranian nuclear ambitions predate the administration of the much despised cowboy George W. Bush. That the CIA wrote a warning report back in 1992 on Iranian nuke programs and that their effort to join the nuclear club stretches back to the Shah's regime.
DONALD SENSING ON BLOGGING
A good one.
BRIEF EXPRESSION OF PROFESSIONAL FRUSTRATION
Why is it that in general, when it comes to foreign affairs, the American media covers news as if all of us are morons ? With a few exceptions, to be well informed about foreign policy and international news you have to rely on foreign media sources, wire reports and think tank journals. Is there really no market here for decent world news coverage in a mainstream venue ?
TOP AL QAIDA LEADER FLESS IRAN ?
Iran has aided Number # 2 al Qaida chief, Dr. Ayman al Zawahiri flee according to the Debka file
. The Debka file is always an interesting read and is allegedly linked to Israeli intelligence which purportedly leaks ( selectively) to Debka. My experience in reading the Debka File is that they are often correct in a big picture sort of way that when they indicate something big is going to happen, it will, though the details may differ significantly from what they predicted. Meanwhile, the Saudis have asked Iran for the extradition of Saad bin Laden
, a middle level al Qaida leader being groomed to succeed his father Osama bin Laden
RUSSIAN-SAUDI STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP OF CONVENIENCE
I'm dubious about the durability of this relationship or the ability of these two states to choke off development of oil and gas reserves in the Trans-Caspian region ( instability and warfare will have far greater effect than Saudi-Russian pressure) but here's the article.
YOU MEAN STATIST THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES ARE BAD TRADING PARTNERS ???
Say it ain't so ! The Progressive Policy Institute
points out that, quite hypocritically, many of the sanctimonious Third World kleptocrats who complain bitterly about the West's trading practices are all that and more to each other. Case in point:
Bangladesh exports to United States, 2002: $1.90 billion
Bangladesh exports to India, 2002: $0.06 billion
PPI goes on further to say:
"India's case may be the most remarkable of all. Its Trade Minister Murasoli Maran noted when the Doha talks began in 2001 that "tariff peaks and tariff escalation continue to affect many developing country exports." He should know -- India itself has in essence one trade system for most of the world, and a second (far harsher) for its poorer neighbors. Cotton skirts are an example, carrying tariffs of "30 percent or Rs. 110/ - per piece, whichever is higher." 110 rupees are the equivalent of about $2.30 -- so in practice, a designer firm in Milan selling a $500 skirt gets a 30 percent tax, and small factories in Bangladesh making $1 skirts for their natural market in Calcutta get one of 100 percent or 200 percent
Remember to mention this at the next bash the West for the Rest type protest outside the WTO or World Bank.
RAND REINVENT'S ASIMOV"S " FOUNDATIONS"
Just kidding but this summary
of a paper argues for an application of very long term planning models for " robust " policy decision making. I'm highly skeptical that computer modeling of this sort will have much accuracy before the advent of quantum computing which will be able to handle the fluidity of the interacting variables over fifty or a hundred years.
THE NEXT GENERATION OF MILITARY COMMAND AND CONTROL
The long-term implications of this
are interesting. The projectory of the trend is that each individual American soldier will become increasingly lethal in terms of power projection, particularly as nanotech improvements are integrated into combat gear as well. On the other hand, the Pentagon has to be careful that when fighting an enemy with access to first rate technology that we aren't creating small units that are the sigint equivalent of mobile Christmas trees leaking data, microwaves and electromagnetic waves when stealth and surprise are required.
TWO THOUSAND ONE, NINE ELEVEN (2001-911)
Two thousand one, nine eleven
Five thousand plus arrive in heaven
As they pass through the gate,
Thousands more appear in wait
A bearded man with stovepipe hat
Steps forward saying, "Lets sit, lets chat"
They settle down in seats of clouds
A man named Martin shouts out proud
"I have a dream!" and once he did
The Newcomer said, "Your dream still lives."
Groups of soldiers in blue and gray
Others in khaki, and green then say
"We're from Bull Run, Yorktown, the Maine"
The Newcomer said, "You died not in vain."
From a man on sticks one could hear
"The only thing we have to fear.
The Newcomer said, "We know the rest,
trust us sir, we've passed that test."
"Courage doesn't hide in caves
You can't bury freedom, in a grave,"
The Newcomers had heard this voice before
A distinct Yankees twang from Hyannisport shores
A silence fell within the mist
Somehow the Newcomer knew that this
Meant time had come for her to say
What was in the hearts of the five thousand plus that day
"Back on Earth, we wrote reports,
Watched our children play in sports
Worked our gardens, sang our songs
Went to church and clipped coupons
We smiled, we laughed, we cried, we fought
Unlike you, great we're not"
The tall man in the stovepipe hat
Stood and said, "Don't talk like that!
Look at your country, look and see
You died for freedom, just like me"
Then, before them all appeared a scene
Of rubbled streets and twisted beams
Death, destruction, smoke and dust
And people working just 'cause they must
Hauling ash, lifting stones,
Knee deep in hell, but not alone
"Look! Blackman, Whiteman, Brownman, Yellowman
Side by side helping their fellow man!"
So said Martin, as he watched the scene
"Even from nightmares, can be born a dream."
Down below three firemen raised
The colors high into ashen haze
The soldiers above had seen it before
On Iwo Jima back in '44
The man on sticks studied everything closely
Then shared his perceptions on what he saw mostly
"I see pain, I see tears,
I see sorrow -- but I don't see fear."
"You left behind husbands and wives
Daughters and sons and so many lives
are suffering now because of this wrong
But look very closely. You're not really gone.
All of those people, even those who've never met you
All of their lives, they'll never forget you
Don't you see what has happened?
Don't you see what you've done?
You've brought them together, together as one.
With that the man in the stovepipe hat said
"Take my hand," and from there he led
five thousand plus heroes, Newcomers to heaven
On this day, two thousand one, nine eleven
And for the soldiers, sailors, pilots and marines who trod the paths of the Khyber Pass
and waded the Tigris and the Euphrates on our behalf
IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place, and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
PRESIDENT BUSH ON IRAQ
Drudge has the transcript
. Ideologically, the President reiterated a very strong commitment to democracy and political liberalism in Iraq. Secondly, there was not an inch of retreat in prosecuting the War on Terror in the face of recent Democratic criticism from the appeasement-Left candidates running for that party's nomination. Most importantly, Bush backed his speech with a real commitment in dollars. In terms of values, everything I could ask to be said by Bush was said.
The only exception to my general euphoria is the policy matter of the size of the military which seems to have been taken off the table by Rumsfeld despite a widespread realization in Congress stretching from Charles Rangel to John McCain that we are short on troops. I'm not sure why this is given that the administration spends money like drunken sailors in every other matter so the long-term commitment in terms of dollars to add a couple of divisions cannot be the trouble ( recall the US spent 6% of it's GDP on defense circa 1986, about two and a half to three times what we spend today). My guess is that adding extra troops would make it harder for Rumsfeld to engineer the " Revolution in Military Affairs " transformation because extra manpower would reinforce the desires of the brass to stick to current, modified Cold War military doctrines with which they feel most comfortable. The Army likes it's heavy armor, the Navy it's carriers, the Air Force it's B-1 bombers and hyperperformance fighters - getting them to move to lighter, faster, integrated, high technology doctrines requires dragging unwilling, autonomous bureaucracies accustomed to outwaiting and frustrating Defense Secretaries.
In any event, the war should have a higher priority than inside-the-beltway combat and more troops would relieve the stress on military families and overall combat readiness. It should be done intelligently before Congress does so without focus and with much irrelevant pork in the bargain.
PUTTING IRAQ INTO HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
While the situation in Iraq is worse than it need be and mostly for the Bush policy ennui that followed military operations against Saddam's regime, a few things ought to be recalled. Conditions in Germany and Japan after WWII were far worse than in Iraq today. Iraqis are not starving or in danger of freezing to death, Baghdad and Basra do not resemble Berlin and Nuremburg where piles of rubble remained heaped up in the streets for years. A major difference between today and back then is that the American public did not much care if the Germans starved and lived in ruins and today we expect - properly - that the Iraqis should be treated decently and helped to introduce democratic norms. We have unfortunately been quite slow to introduce the democratic reforms that held the best chance of allaying suspicions and winning popular support among Iraqis. Why this is in my view is that the major players in Washington - the Joint Chiefs, State, Rumsfeld and the DoD, the CIA, the Neocon policy advisers - were not forced prior to the invasion to implement one vision for occupied Iraq. Differences were sort of papered over when the president ought to have insisted on a decisive choice for American occupation policy. Consequently, each bureaucracy has felt free to pursue their own agendas in Iraq while eschewing responsibility for the resultant problems and lack of coordination ( case in point - the humiliation of Jay Garner whose utter lack of power and influence was bizarrely paraded before the Iraqis). The brass simply want to decamp and leave; State wants to further dilute authority and responsibility for occupation policy decisions by bringing the UN in some kind of amalgamated administration to achieve some kind of " fig-leaf legitimacy ". A gambit that has more to do with mollifying the cynical French and Germans and " controlling " the White House staff by limiting their room to manuver than achieving anything concrete on the ground in Iraq. The latest Neocon proposal to ship oil to Israel from Iraq via a pipeline, for whatever it's economic virtues in the long-term, was astounding.
Forgotten has been the promise of democracy. What American leader has directly addressed the Iraqi people as to our goals and intentions ? Paul Bremer is a bright guy but his policy has been to deal only with Iraq's traditional elites - and then at a distance - while leaving the average Iraqi completely in the dark. Offered nothing by vague assurances the common Iraqis stand on the periphery afraid to get involved but realizing that the Islamist-Baathist-Sunni nationalist lunatic fringe currently waging a terror and assassination campaign against Coalition troops will turn on them if the Americans suddenly cut and run.
The President is addressing the nation tonight. Hopefully he will offer a clear vision for our mission in Iraq and more importantly, force the recalcitrant bureaucracies to carry out his policy and not their own. The situation is still salvageable if for no other reason than our opponents in Iraq are loathsome and murderous and Iraqis cannot expect anything from them but dictatorship and cruelty. However if the sense of drift and weakness persist, if we do not make ourselves less hated and more feared then, Iraq will turn into a debacle. A great chance to renovate the poisonous political climate of the region will have been lost the way that Europe, once, without the Marshall Plan, might have been lost. We need more troops in Iraq and we need a larger military to prosecute the War on Terror. A peacetime force has accomplished great things in fighting this war since 9/11 but our resources are now at the breaking point. That means the President must level with the American people regarding the stakes, the costs and the price we will pay should we fail.
I hope he does.
ZENPUNDIT HIATUS DRAWS TO A CLOSE
Starting Sunday after I digest some of the news. I will start by rewriting the post on China's internal power struggle that Blogger so destructively ate yesterday. When I first started blogging Geitner Simmons helpfully suggested I write in Word prior to posting and like an idiot I seldom followed his sage advice. I am also going to try to get my thoughts on how the Bush administration has stumbled in Iraq prior to Bush's speech Sunday evening. I had a good email exchange with Juan Cole
on the issue and, quite sadly considering my stance as an administration supporter, found that our views converged as to what went wrong with the occupation. When people with my foreign policy views are becoming irritated, Bush is on the cusp of a serious political problem.
MILITARY POWER AT THE CENTER OF CHINA'S POWER STRUGGLE
Jiang Zemin, following in the footsteps of Deng Xiaoping's promises to the PLA to be part of " the Four Modernizations", has reasserted himself as Chairman of the Central Military Commission against his younger rival and successor as CCP General-Secretary and President, Hu Jintao. Zemin has called for an American-style " Revolution in Military Affairs "
to increase China's mobility and technological striking power in wartime
POSTING HAS BEEN LIGHT
Because I am, if not overwhelmed, at least " whelmed " at the moment with work and other responsibilities. I will however, take a moment today to post a few things I have found significant in the news.