IS AL QAIDA MUTATING ?
An excerpt from Foreign Affairs
. The full article requires purchase but you will get the gist.
SOME NEWS ON A LESSER KNOWN AFRICAN DESPOT AND PSYCHOPATH
Courtesy of JB
IRAN REJECTS TOUGHER IAEA INSPECTIONS OF THEIR NUCLEAR PROGRAM
From the BBC
THE FINAL FRONTIER
Where is the militarization of space headed ? A paper from RAND
MORE POSTINGS TO COME
Much later tonight a marathon blogging session will ensue to make up for my lackluster week.
ADDITIONS TO THE BLOGROLL
Check them out. An interesting mix I believe. A few are primarily there because they are excellent research sites. One of the new blogs, Classical Values
, was kind enough to initiate a link to Zenpundit and I liked the esoteric references ( for example, to war criminal Alois Brunner ) and the thematic focus on the ancients.
I HATE TO BREAK IT TO THEM BUT INVESTORS DO THIS ANYWAY
do they think Jordan lives off of handouts while Singapore flourishes ?
WOOLSEY ON THE " NEOCON STRATEGY"
PARENTS UNITED FOR IGNORANCE
As someone who who cares deeply about history and is an advocate of educational excellence for children this story
made my skin crawl.
I fully realize that school districts make all kind of personnel decisions based on reasons-often petty-other than the best educational outcome. The African-American teacher of Black History was assigned a different schedule for reasons unknown to the public - perhaps at that teacher's request, perhaps not and parents in that community may be reacting to what has been heard from the grapevine. Nevertheless, the argument of the parents that their children can only learn their history from a teacher of the same race as themselves is in principle a denial of the discipline of history itself.It is also an argument that would never be made about physics or math;by that logic, none of us could possibly understand archaeology because none of us are ancient Egyptians.
Morally, this claim is troublesome because it speaks to the poisonous idea of inherently racial knowledge, unkowable by outsiders, a tool of exclusion and a barrier to greater understanding and empathy. The study of history asks " why ? ", it puts the student in the shoes of another and makes them walk a mile. With "racial knowledge", your shoes couldn't possibly fit my feet so why bother trying them on ?
These parents are not hostile or ill-intentioned - they are scared that their children might have to try on something different than the same old shoes. It's a plea for comfortable ignorance and it should be roundly rejected.
TIPPING MY HAT TO H-DIPLO'S CONTRIBUTORS
, the academic listserv on H-Net catering to scholars and aficianados of diplomatic history and foreign policy is having the best round of postings that I have seen in years - though at one point I feared it might have to be renamed H-Chomsky. The debate of late has been terrific and it is worth checking out.
MODERATELY LIBERAL SLATE ECHOES RIGHT-WING ZENPUNDIT ON UDAY AND QUSAY
is the sincerest form of flattery. I'm happy that they aren't following the antiwar wingnuts on this one.
SENATOR KENNEDY JOINS ISLAMIST APOLOGISTS IN TRYING TO BLOCK PIPES NOMINATION
Par for the course for Senator Kennedy who is now trying to " Bork " Dr. Daniel Pipes
at behest of political front groups for Islamist radicalism
who dislike Dr. Pipes criticism and policy activism against terrorism.
ARE YOU SAFER TODAY THAN YOU WERE FOUR YEARS AGO ?
And would America be safer under a President Gephardt ? A President Dean ? A President Sharpton ?
Bill Kristol says " No."
THE RAND-MIPT TERRORISM DATABASE IS NOW ONLINE
Interested in the specific weapons used by terrorists in Southeast Asia ? The number of terrorist attacks in a given time period or region ? A wealth of statistical information at your fingertips.
IF YOU PUNISH US FOR CHEATING WE WILL STOP PRETENDING TO COMPLY
A translation from Farsi
on nuclear non-proliferation noncompliance.
MORE NONSENSE ON THE DEATHS OF THE BROTHERS HUSSEIN
This editorial in the guise of a news article alleges the combat deaths of Uday and Qusay were illegal assassinations.
There are many problems with this thesis to say the least..
First, the reporter/pontificator is defining " assassination" as any action, including a military attack during wartime, that results in the death of a foreign leader, an absurdly broad interpretation of President Ford's executive order
and one favored by crackpot leftist international lawyers
. Evidently they never heard of Admiral Yamamoto
Secondly,Uday and Qusay, for all their terrible abuses of power were neither the head of state nor the head of government in Iraq so even if we accept the above interpretation, they aren't covered under the assassination ban.
Thirdly, an executive order is exactly that. It is neither a law nor part of the UCMJ and may be amended or repealed by the sitting president at their discretion.
Fourth, command-and-control personnel during wartime, including guerilla operations like those occurring in Iraq, are completely legitimate targets for military attack under international law
Get the feeling that the Left is desperate these days ?
THIS SPEAKS FOR ITSELF
The anti-war set posting on Calpundit's comment board
- their misery at the recent elimination of Uday and Qusay, because it might be perceived as a " Bush success", is palpable. The particularly amusing fellow is " Mike " who posits killing an armed enemy who shoots first is a " war crime " ( I guess if Uday and Qusay's bodyguard had killed some American soldiers that'd be ok with Mike)
I've seen a lot of intelligent commentary on Calpundit from liberal posters. I've also seen the wingnut " Bush is Hitler " fringe show up with regularity and with that set Bush-hatred is now so intense that they are primed to rejoice at an American defeat, anywhere, anytime, so long as a Republican is president.
TWO DOWN, ONE TO GO
And leaving the world no poorer.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve."
THE STANDARD ON BREMER
. What I found heartening in this article is that Bremer appears to understand that along with security the issue of economics is crucial to establishing a democratic Iraq. Most State department types would have been in a hurry to establish all the forms of government control over the economy such as taxes, regulatory agencies and customs but Bremer clearly understands that such things will smother an incipient free market that is struggling to be born and send a bad signal that Iraq will be business as usual with corruption, baksheesh and statism as the norm. He's content to let the country remain for a time as a duty free zone and inject capital into the hands of ordinary Iraqis.
No wonder the Nation
is in a hurry to get the U.S. out of Iraq. Next to the invasion itself, capitalism breaking out is that crowd's worst nightmare.
GEORGIA,THE CHECHENS AND AL QAIDA
The Chicago Tribune
, whose foreign reporting seems to have improved markedly since 9/11, is reporting that the Republic of Georgia has rid itself
of al Qaida connected Chechen rebels who had established themselves in the infamous Pankisi Gorge region.
, a ferociously combatative Muslim minority known for their blood feuds and honor code called Adat have been battling Russian control of their home republic since the early 1990's when a former Soviet Red Air Force General Dzhokar Dudayev
siezed control of Chechnya and declared independence from Russia. Dudayev was killed by a Russian missile attack in 1996 and the Chechen rebellion, without Dudayev's leadership, gradually lost it's secular and nationalist character in favor of greater Islamist militancy. Previously the Chechens were not particularly noted for their religious piety and had provided a disproportionate number of NCO's for the Red Army, especially in the elite combat units, where they were much feared for their reputation for violence. Under Stalin, the Chechens were persecuted for anti-Soviet feelings and exiled en masse to Khazakstan. Solzhenitsyn writes admiringly of their defiant attitudes in the Gulag Archipelago.
The Chechens have accepted aid from Islamist militants
including al Qaida and Chechens have been found fighting as far afield as Afghanistan and Bosnia. The significant number of Chechens fighters with Soviet military training may have made the Chechens as valuable to Bin Laden as Bin Laden's assistance was to the Chechen rebels. The danger of the al Qaida-Chechen relationship is primarily ideological - that the spread of Wahhabi extremist militancy among the Chechens, Daghestanis and Azeris could inflame the Trans-Caucasian region into a general jihad emulating the great uprising against Tsarist Russia by the Imam Shamyl in the 19th century, jeopardizing the stability of Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and even eastern Turkey.
ZENPUNDIT BLOWS HIS OWN HORN - IRAQI RESISTERS WITH SOVIET SPETSNAZ TACTICS
General John Abizaid, the new CENTCOM chief confirmed the involvement
of Iraqi Special Security Organization troops in the ambush attacks against American troops. SRO involvement was reported here first on July 13.
Iraq's military was essentially built along the Soviet model in doctrine, training and armaments and it is easy to forget given the technological gulf between Iraq and the United States that by the start of the first Gulf War, Iraq possessed a very formidible military force - possibly the best in the third world and superior to anything else in the region except Israel's IDF. The officers who led Iraq's elite divisions - regular army heavy armor, the Republican Guard, the Special Republican Guard and small unit formations of the SRO or other security services- were neither incompetent nor cowardly. SRG units maintained order as they were destroyed by American fire but they did not flee or wave a white flag, recalling the ethic of the Napoleonic era that " ...the guard does not surrender. It dies ".
The Soviets had very specific ideas about the purpose of unconventional special operations against a first class modern military:
"Thus, the primary concern of Soviet strategists and tacticians is to launch low-visibility operations that ensure surprise, induce operational paralysis, and obstruct enemy mobilization and deployment "
Essentially this is the Saddamite strategy in Iraq. For a fuller examination of Soviet doctrine on special operations behind enemy lines ( or against an occupation force) go here
Presumably, the Pentagon and NATO sometime during the Cold War developed a counter-strategy for dealing with Soviet Spetsnaz
and Osnaz troops operating behind our lines in the event of WWIII. It may be time to dust some of those plans off.
SADDAM'S LAST STAND ?
Prior to the invasion of Iraq there were rumblings in the media and the internet about the extent of Saddam's underground bunkers, allegedly extended after consultations with the Serbians about the effects of the NATO air campaign in the Kosovo war. This website
indicates a major American assault may be in the works on one of these underground complexes in the region where there has been heavy Saddamite guerilla activity.
AN ANCIENT EVIL HAUNTING THE MODERN WORLD
The revival of chattel slavery
. A revival that to a great extent, thought not entirely, is interconnected with the spread of Islamism which teaches the moral rightness of the looting, murder and enslavement of infidels
BREMER GETS BEHIND AN IRAQI CONSTITUTION
Bremer reverses gears, aggressively moves forward on the idea of an Iraqi Constitution
. A deft reversal on his part.
THE PENTAGON CRACKS DOWN
On American troops who spoke out.
I realize that technically, ( and for reasons that make America different than Bolivia and Paraguay) uniformed service personnel are not permitted to make certain types of statements critical of the President of the United States or other government officials. I also realize that institutionally, there has always been " payback " given out by the brass to soldiers who dared to bring unfavorable press attention or an angry member of Congress to what the Pentagon considers mere " military matters ". I also realize that now that the embeded press corps in Iraq has been whittled down from 700 more politically representative reporters to about a dozen-plus, reflexively negative and anti-Bush senior foreign correspondents who set out to write this story with the spin it recieved. That being said, the bureaucratic retaliation against a handful of outspoken soldiers with typical and very legitimate gripes is not merely petty and vindictive. It is not merely dumb. It is a stridently dumb action on a variety of levels.
The political message sent by this action could not be more counterproductive had it been scripted by the Bush administration's antiwar political opponents. Institutionally, the Pentagon brass are sending the message to soldiers and airmen that the bearers of bad news - bad news that policy makers might need to prevent an irretrievable disaster in the making - will be punished severely. Those with the most information about local conditions in Iraq are going to simply shut their mouths and keep their heads down.
Part of the responsibility of leadership at times is to accept even ungracious criticism with stoicism, particularly when the critics have a point.
SAUDI ARABIA CRACKS DOWN
From Arnaud DeBorchgrave
The recent bombing in Saudi Arabia badly shook the regime because it was directed at one of the pillars of the House of Saud's power and legitimacy, the loyalty of the tribes. The tribes are heavily represented in the Saudi National Guard, once headed by Crown Prince Abdullah and generally regarded as his original power base. Abdullah, by the way, while like the other senior princes is a son of the legendary King Abdul Aziz, Saudi Arabia's founder, is on his mother's side an al-Rasheedi. The Rasheeds, like the Sherifs of Mecca who now rule in Jordan, were rivals to the House of Saud for control of the Arabian peninsula. Instead of destroying the Rasheeds upon their defeat, Abdul Aziz magnaminously amalgamated them with honor ( albeit in a junior position) into the ruling family and took a Rasheedi wife. An action that set the tone of the future relationship between the ruling House of Saud and the subordinate chieftains. That al Qaida has made inroads both operationally and ideologically into this once secure bastion of the Saudi regime has caused the normally lethargic and willfully blind ( as far as Islamists go) Saudi security apparatus to spring into action.
The princes may realize that their heads too are on the chopping block
AL QAIDA AND HEZBOLLAH IN SOUTH AMERICAN BORDERLANDS
A CNN Link via Winds of Change
IRANIAN REFORMERS - WE HAVE TOP LEVEL AL QAIDA IN CAPTIVITY
ZENPUNDIT PICKS - READING RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE REST OF SUMMER
Tacitus ( not the blogger )
The Persian Expedition
The Road to Serfdom
Friedrich von Hayek
Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life
Napoleon Bonaparte: A life
Hunting Captain Ahab: Psychological Warfare and the Melville Revival
Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical
Chris Matthew Sciabarra
Sunlight At Midnight: St. Petersburg and the Rise of Modern Russia
W. Bruce Lincoln
Discourses on Livy
Master of the Senate
Zen Training: Methods and Philosophy
GOOD NEWS FOR ZIMBABWE BUT DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH
Aging tyrant promises
to call it quits
IN LIGHT OF BASTILLE DAY
. A remembrance of the last time France was of any help
A GOOD EXCUSE FOR MORE REGIME CHANGING
CHOMSKY OVERLOAD ON H-DIPLO
Apparently too much fire and fury
over one aging charlatan.
NORTH KOREA'S HISTORIC WEIRDNESS EXPLAINED
By the Cold War International History Project
POTENTIALLY, IF SUCCESSFUL, THE MOST DESTRUCTIVE CRIMINAL DEFENSE ARGUMENT OF ALL TIME
The " I was born to murder "
IRAQ AND THE RULE OF HALF-MEASURES
The irony about the entire situation of Iraq is that the Bush administration failed in the aftermath of war to follow the approach that had brought them success - take full measure of what needs to be done and do it. Nation-building, like wars are not accomplished by half-measures.
For approximately twelve years from Bush I through Clinton the United States dealt with the threat of Saddam Hussein's through a number of measured and limited approaches designed to send " signals" or coerce a change in Iraqi behavior. Cease fire agreements, UN resolutions
, economic sanctions, UNSCOM and UNMOVIC inspections, no-fly zones, safe-havens, air strikes, and covert operations all failed to elicit any improvement in Iraq's defiance of it's international obligations. Glumly, the Clinton administration admitted in principle in 1998 and seconded by legislation
that the goal of United States policy in Iraq must become " regime change ". No action was taken to achieve this by the Clinton administration because to effect regime change in reality meant invading and occupying Iraq.
The Bush administration accepted the costs of regime change and Saddam Hussein's government fell more easily than any of the critics anticipated or even most of the supporters of war with Iraq. Forgotten are antiwar predictions of " months of battle ", Baghdad as Stalingrad
, the disintegration of Iraq, mass reprisals and civil war amongst Iraqis, mass civilian casualties. large-scale use of biochemical weapons against American troops. Instead critics now misrepresent ground conditions in Iraq as Vietnam revisted and focus on a political campaign to " prove " that Mr. Bush " lied " about Iraqi WMD that most critics, like Senator Bob Graham, were sure themselves existed and made an American invasion of Iraq too dangerous to risk.
The critics gain traction because it appears the Bush administration has attempted to occupy and rule Iraq through the same policy of half-measures and acting on the cheap that failed against Sadam Hussein. No clear lines of authority were drawn for Iraqis by the coalition authority. Jay Garner had no troops to enforce his orders and little enthusiasm for giving any. Democracy was promised but Paul Bremer has been inexplicably reluctant to lay out a roadmap to the Iraqi people for how to get there and irritated when impatient Iraqi groups demanded liberty ( getting Shiite clerics to sound like Tom Paine is one of the ironies of occupied Iraq).
The coalition faces a guerrilla war composed of former Baathist Special Security Organization
loyalists trained on the Soviet Spetsnaz model of sabotage and assassination, amateur Feydayeen Saddamists and Islamist militants
funnelled in from Syria and Lebanon and agents of the Iranian Pasdaran who aim to stir up trouble amongst Iraqi Shiites. It is a limited group but the SRO fighters are well-trained professional special operations soldiers who have the sympathy currently of some Iraqi Sunnis - potential supporters in the thousands. They are capable of great havoc.
The United States needs to give the Iraqi people a positive political future because without popular support the Saddamite resistance cannot be rooted out - the climate of fear athat is Saddam's legacy and uncertainty about our intentions will keep Iraqis on the sidelines or in passive support for the guerrillas. The time for half-measures in Iraq is over A strong occupation government is required, plans for a freely elected Constituent assembly need to be unveiled and basic services restored.
GREAT FOREIGN POLICY POST AT WINDS OF CHANGE
SADDAM-OSAMA BIN LADEN LINK
. Here is the article.
CAERDROIA ON THE ARMED FORCES
Has an excellent post
on the fact that our military is too damn small for all the responsibilities that we may have to expect them to shoulder. For the purposes of fighting the War on Terror to victory in the shortest possible time frame I am on record as favoring a limited draft
( I do not favor a peacetime draft or replacing our professional volunteer forces with full-scale conscription) but expanding the military in any sensible way would suit me.
THE FUTURE OF ANY STATE IS THE EDUCATION OF IT'S YOUTH
Education, by which most people mean public education, is a perennial political topic in this country which paradoxically manages to have ( sometimes literally) the world's premier universities alongside some of the worst public schools in the industrial world. Those are the extremes from which too often public debate tends to generalize and extrapolate; most four year institutions are not Harvard and most public schools systems do not resemble the schools in Washington, DC. but these parameters often shape our visions of American education. Having worked in the field for years I'm a major supporter of public education while recognizing the following caveats:
There is an aggregate need for substantial improvement in curriculum and teacher training even in good public school systems.
We do not, in aggregate ( I am not talking individual schools or teachers), intellectually engage and challenge two groups of students - ethnic minorities ( excepting Asian-Americans) and the gifted.
Hostility often evidenced by intellectuals, academics and union officials toward charter schools, private education and homeschooling is a colossal mistake
School discipline - usually lack thereof - is a major factor in determining whether or not students are able to learn in a given classroom, school or school system; secondly, public relations and economics are the true determinant of a school administration's position on disciplinary issues. Not educational philosophy or ethics or even simple consistency.
Teacher training has fortunately been addressed to some extent by the " No Child Left Behind "
act which is phasing in what would seem to be the fundamental requirement that at least secondary teachers be educated in the field in which they purport to teach. If your child has ever taken a history course from an instructor who is best known to the community as " Coach"
you have some insight into why hiring unqualified people to teach major subjects is a bad idea. One of the hidden problems with American education is that the States have set up a system in which people who have college degrees in education instead of a particular discipline like science or literature form the bulk of the teaching workforce. Education degrees are useful if you want to become an administrator or a specialist who intends to work with students with learning disabilities or emotional disturbances or other problems but on a Bachelors level, making education a college major or state certification requirement deprives prospective teachers of the upper-level coursework in an actual discipline. Lacking a large enough cognitive base ( i.e. content knowledge) of their own the new teacher tends to stick to the comfort zone of the textbook and sometimes fails to recognize when the publisher has made glaring mistakes or left out critical information.
On the issue of choice and other educational alternatives to the public schools like homeschooling: In a nation of almost 300 million people public education will continue to educate the vast majority of young people for the forseeable future simply because most people are satisfied with the performance of their local school even if they are worried about education or its costs in the abstract. Instead of reacting with hostility to the outgrowth of education alternatives they should be viewed as a wake-up call that a growing segment of the public is alarmed at the state of public education and are " voting with their feet" and secondly that these initiatives are often excellent pilot programs for techniques and methods that can or should be incorporated into public school classrooms. Educational alternative programs act as a useful " safety-valve" for students who might not otherwise reach their potential or drop out. Some students for reasons of maturity or temperment are simply not cut out for a traditional public school and react better to different settings be it single-sex education, Montessori, religious, thematic academies or other educational niches. The students admitted to the Illinois Math and Science Academy
( a selective public school) for example, are simply too bright to be well served in a mainstream school, even a " good " one.
For those interested in educational reform and curriculum ideas I'm offering a set of links you might find useful or stimulating. In some cases, as with the Curriculum Project or Project Excite, I've had the pleasure of interacting with one of the primary innovators behind the program.
The Curriculum Project
Dr. Roger Taylor
Paideia and Mortimer J. Adler
National Association for Gifted Children
National Center for Education Statistics
WARGAMING ATTACKS ON THE AMERICAN HOMELAND
A lengthy paper from RAND
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS ON THE EURO-LEFT
Via Foreign Policy
SPOKESMAN FOR MUSLIM RIGHTS GROUP INDICTED FOR TERRORISM
This was one of the characters screaming about discrimination against Muslims
. Allegedly he was affiliated with not one but two of the most vicious Islamist terrorist groups.
Why am I not surprised ?
CHOMSKYIANS AND CAMBODIA
Not only is there a thread running about Noam Chomsky's strange ideas about WWII on H-Diplo
but Tacitus is engaged in a debate
with one of Chomsky's acolytes about the Khmer Rouge. The acolyte is parroting apologetics for Communist genocide and it's pretty sick.
IRANIAN STUDENTS BATTLE POLICE AND ANSAR HEZBOLLAH THUGS IN THE STREETS
Iranian protestors are fighting
diehard supporters of the Islamist regime. Iranian police attempt to restrain Hezbollah from initiating further street battles. The regime arrests student leaders
PERHAPS I SPOKE TOO SOON -RUSSIA , FRANCE AND THE IAEA PROD THE MULLAHS
News story here.
Now, since Bush was blamed for French, Russian and German intransigence on Iraqi inspections shouldn't it logically follow that this level of multilateral unanimity ios to his credit ?
ARE THE MULLAHS WAVERING ?
NOAM CHOMSKY, APOLOGIST FOR GENOCIDE ?
Sure looks that way
. You don't often see Brad DeLong and David Horowitz in unanimous agreement but Chomsky is so extreme in his anti-Americanism and sloppy with his use of evidence that you can dislike him from a variety of angles.
NEW CENTCOM CHIEF AN ARAB-AMERICAN WITH A HARVARD DEGREE IN MIDDLE-EASTERN STUDIES
General John Abazaid
. Now, why when they were trying to figure out a good occupational governor for Iraq, did they not tap Abazaid ?
NATO MEMBERS IN TRANS-CAUCASIA ?
While this has escaped the attention of the American press, it appears the Republic of Georgia has quietly been attempting to build a relationship with NATO
is an ancient Christian nation and former Soviet Republic in the resource-rich
Trans-Caucasian region. The Georgians have a long history of suffering oppression from outside powers including the Iranians, Turks, Mongols, Russian Tsars and Soviet Communists. When not struggling against foreign rule, they tend to feud with their neighbors or amongst themselves being divided into ethnic tribes like the Abkhazians, Mingrelians, Svanyi among others. Since independence Russia has meddled in Georgia's internal affairs to encourage ethnic separatism in South Ossetia and Abkhazia and been a party to a number of peacekeeping and anti-terrorist agreements with Georgia.
, the former Soviet Foreign Minister under Gorbachev whose administration replaced the democratically elected but nonetheless weird and authoritarian regime of ousted president Zviad Gamsakhurdia, is essentially a survivor in a very tough neighborhood. Most people, to the extent that they remember Shevardnadze, is his courageous resignation as Foreign Minister, warning Gorbachev of a possible hardline Communist coup. It is worth recalling that Shevardnadze began his Soviet career using the Interior Ministry (MVD) to investigate and destroy a rival Communist faction in the Georgian Communist Party apparatus, catching the eye of KGB chief and Politburo member Yuri Andropov who also sponsored Gorbachev and Vladmir Kryuchkov, who later used his post as KGB Chairman to launch the Coup in 1991. A friend of the West today, yes. A model democrat or a liberal, no.
Relations between NATO ,other European political structures and the United States should continue with an emphasis on preventing Georgia's territorial disintegration, integrating it's economy with that of Europe and creating a professional military force capable of clamping down on ethnic paramilitaries, Chechen rebels and gangster bands without recourse to direct Russian assistance.
RESISTANCE GROUP POINTS TO IRANIAN NUCLEAR SITES
From the AP
Those who have decried the Bush administration " unilateralism" and called for multilateral, diplomatic, action and inspections as a credible alternative to force have an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment by demonstrating how well that approach can work with the Mullahs of Iran. UN, EU, IAEA, France, Germany, China - get started. I'll be pleased to announce your successes and sing your praises.
I WANT ONE OF THESE !
" NAVY PLANS DISPOSABLE RAY GUNS
American warships could be armed with disposable laser weapons within five years, if a plan by U.S. Navy scientists works as promised.
Michael Wardlaw, with the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, has proposed that the Navy use a battery of solid-state, one-shot-only lasers to zap enemy boats and defend against missile attacks. This Expendable Modular High Energy Laser (EMHEL), Jane's Defence Weekly reports, would use a brick of 120, meter-long laser modules that could fire individually or in one giant pulse
QUOTE OF THE DAY
" Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth "
The con side
of the debate.
LIBERIANS DEMAND SOME BUSH
Tyranny has few friends but it has many courtiers here in the West; a number of them in the academic world probably choked when they read this story
. Fortunately, the indicted war criminal who misrules Liberia has indicated he will be stepping down in a hopefully vain attempt to forestall justice
. ( Query: If Foday Sankoh
and Charles Taylor have been indicted for war crimes why not the culprit
who helped these thugs get started in the first place ? )
Africa is the great " sleeper " of profound international problems. There are a few bright spots - increased democratic reforms in Kenya, a popular weariness with the political mystique of " the Big Man " model of development and the stabilization of democratic rule in South Africa. These are not small victories.
I fear however that unless the international community takes some concrete steps over the next quarter of a century the future of Africa can be seen in Somalia, the Congo and West Africa - brutal dictatorships that collapse into civil war and ultimately the permanent anarchy of a failed state. Coupled with the demographic import of AIDS
, Africa could in thirty years resemble Europe after the Black Death or Germany after the religious strife of the Thirty Year's War. Zimbabwe
teeters on the brink of ruin, Nigeria will soon face a political challenge from militant Islamists
demanding a Sharia state or civil war like that which tears Algeria and the Sudan. As was demonstrated in the 1990's in Sierra Leone and Liberia, anarchy in one state can spread like a contagion to neighboring states. Imagine the snowball effect if Zimbabwe and Nigeria go the way of the Congo and the sheer magnitude of the humanitarian crisis that would result.
What to do ? Western nations need to open their markets to African nations that democratize and make progress toward restraining corruption and establishing the rule of law. Successfully reforming states will earn debt forgiveness and relief from economic growth choking austerity programs. Regressive regimes should face pressure, genocidal regimes intervention but the realization should be that some African states are ungovernable for the very reasons that Austria-Hungary and Yugoslavia were ultimately ungovernable. In some cases the European-drawn borders have created an ethnographic and religious crazy-quilt where the citizens do no have enough of a cultural " critical mass " in common to feel ties of attachment to the nation. In a few, extreme cases the redrawing of the political map should be considered under UN supervision to create states with some greater degree of homogenity, stability and safety for ethnic or religious minorities..
This is a risky strategy. The India-Pakistan partition left a legacy of hate and warfare while the Post-WWII west-central European frontiers have been accepted and internalized to the point that only crackpots long for the " return " of Alsace-Lorraine to Germany or think in terms of Poland's " claim " to western Ukraine. Nor should border changes be imposed on Africans without their participation and consent but minimal stabilization needs to be established in order to prevent an epochal disaster. The Bush administration seems to be aware of the strategic dimensions of the crisis and has begun to prod the world into action. The Europeans are starting to follow and younger African leaders are pressing hard for market access to Western economies and cheaper AIDS drugs.
There is time to act...but not all that much
PS. Prometheus 6
frequently, sometimes daily, has excellent links to African news stories and websites. One reason among several he is on the Blogroll.
EVEN GERMANY WEIGHS IN ON THE IRANIAN NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Given Germany's historic tendency to seek influence in the Mideast dating back to the Kaiser
I am taking this recent denunciation
with some degree of skepticism. It is however, good news to see major Western powers aligning themselves at least rhetorically with Washington on the prospect of nuclear weapons in the hands of Teheran's theocratic junta.
FINALLY...SOME TIME TO BLOG
Why is summer both the busiest and laziest season ?
JULY 4TH QUOTE OF THE DAY
" Thomas Jefferson still survives "
~ John Adams
Happy Independence Day !
MILITARY TRIBUNALS MOVE FORWARD
The first al Qaida members designated for trial before a military tribunal have been approved by President Bush
after being screened by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz.
Human rights groups are incorrect in their legal analysis of the Bush administration move which has ample precedent under the laws of war for trying war criminals caught in a zone of battle. However given the squeamish nature of European opinion toward the death penalty the captives selected to face the tribunal are likely to the most monstrous of the bunch - " Islamist Eichmanns " as it were - who Social Democratic critics of the administration's war on terror will have an extremely difficult time defending morally. This will particularly be the case since the defendents will be allowed considerable leeway in selecting a competent civilian attorney to aid their military appointed defense lawyer going above and beyond previous American military precedent from WWII when SS troops captured fighting out of uniform faced drumhead court-martials and firing squads.
ARE THE MULLAHS CAVING ON AL QAIDA ?
On the brink of revolution and facing international pressure over their nuclear program, will Iran's hardliners attempt to appease Bush administration concerns by handing over a massive contingent of al Qaida terrorists
Such a move would be warmly received by the American public if top level al Qaida leaders eventually ended up in American hands
CAN AL QAIDA GO NUCLEAR ?
Well...we hope not. An expert analysis here
HOW ACTIVE ARE THE BAATHIST LOYALISTS IN IRAQ ?
SYRIAN MEDDLING IN IRAQ ?
Link to an interesting article
via Judith Klinghoffer at Deja Vu
Is back from vacation and hit the ground running
THE INFLUENCE OF BUSH'S PREEMPTION POLICY AT WORK
The Terror-masters back away from suicide-bombing
( at least for public consumption).
GEE...WHAT A SURPRISE
The academic Left demands " international " control
Their previous program of demanding " Saddam control " of Iraq has apparently lost much of its former political appeal.
A CONSTITUTION FOR IRAQ
has a post that puts me into the somewhat embarrassing position of being in agreement with a Shiite Ayatollah
. On Natural Law grounds and Lockean tradition, Ayatollah Sistani is right, Bremer has no moral authority to just invent a constitution for Iraq ( even if arguably the outcome would be better in the long run than letting the Iraqis do it ) and if he does a lot of Iraqis will reject it for no other reason that their own lack of participation in the process.
That is not to say that a Constitutent Assembly should be left as a free-for-all for Islamist hardliners. There is no disagreement that the process should be supervised within parameters set by the Coalition authority that guarrantee a democratic and human-rights based outcome. Nor do elections have to be held tomorrow. A date however, should be set for elections, districts established to ensure a broad base of electoral, ethnic, religious and social participation in designing the constitution and guidelines that make it absolutely clear that any party trying to revive Iraq's legacy of politics by assassination, coups and violence will be met with extreme severity by occupation forces.
At root however, legitimacy derives only from the just consent of the governed. All else is folly.
SOME THOUGHTS ON PROJECT EXCITE AND AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
has been running an ongoing and thoughtful series on racism and one of the links he has examined is about a Northwestern University connected pilot program called Project Excite
. The goal of Project Excite is to increase minority student participation in the accelerated, gifted, honors and AP programs in the public schools of Evanston, Illinois and features collaborative interaction from elementary " feeder " districts through High School with Northwestern's Center for Talent Development, one of the nation's premier institutions for working with gifted children.
While generally positive about Project Excite ( which is only in the initial years of a longitudinal study) Prometheus 6 worries that :
"This is not the sort of thing the SCOTUS will approve of, yet it's exactly what is needed to address the education gap. If this program became wide-spread, it will be called racial preferences and either opposed or thinned out by an insistance on the (in my opinion) inappropriate application of the 14th amendment"
I wholeheartedly agree that this sort of program will be likely to address the persisting performance gap on standardized tests between minority and mainstream students but I think Project Excite meets 14th Amendment concerns in a way that fig-leaf or vague arguments about a " compelling state interest in diversity " at the university level do not, for a number of reasons.
First of all, there is a staff development aspect to Project Excite in terms of teacher training that benefits all students regardless of race or even Project Excite participation. Elementary teachers tend to be, on average, underexposed to rigorous science and math courses because they are generalist /Education majors and not focused upon a particular academic discipline like secondary or university instructors. Some of Project Excite's efforts " behind the scenes " are directed at improving the quality and depth of these areas of instruction at an early age ( primary/intermediate grades) when kids can truly become excited about a subject. The Project Excite staff development is a " spillover benefit " for all students and helps build a positive culture of education within schools so that academic interests and success are " socially acceptable " to students in later school years.
Secondly, given the nature of the Evanston community which is well-off financially in aggregate but has schools with student bodies divided between urban, poor and minority students and white and Asian-American peers from very wealthy, suburban and academic homes Project Excite takes no resources from any non-minority students. Few regions of Illinois can boast as successful an array of gifted, honors, accelerated, AP and similar programs as the Evanston schools. The High School for example, has produced forty plus finalists and semi-finalists in the highly prestigious Westinghouse and Intel science competitions. The problem has been not a lack of placement space but a lack of participation in advanced programs by minority students who have dropped out of the academic track from having been underserved in early years, from peer pressure or stress from trying to " catch-up " with a set of unusually advantaged ( relative to the general population) white peers, many of whom hail from homes where a parent is a professional academic, doctor, lawyer or the like.
The large number of alternative advanced programs negates most of the legal objections normally raised in regard to affirmative action in education settings. Granted, in duplicating Project Excite, if the results indicate the validity of this approach, will probably require that school districts beef up their opportunities for gifted and talented students across the board.
And that will be all to the good.