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Archive for January, 2005

Saturday, January 29th, 2005


Limping along with a semi-flu condition all week has left me too disconnected to blog properly. I have plenty of ideas I want to flesh out but the mental spark to connect thought and action has been lost in a miasma of wine and Nyquil.

I’m going to bed.

Friday, January 28th, 2005


Dr. Milt Rosenberg of Milt’s File, WGN 720 AM ” Extension 720″ and the University of Chicago had on his radio program last night Steve Coll, author of the highly regarded Ghost Wars:The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001. The discussion turned to the possibility of nuclear terrorism by al Qaida so I took the initiative to ask a question ( via email) that Marc Shulman, Dave Schuyler, Andrew and I debated a while back regarding the potential deterrence effect of indicating that the United States, in the event of al Qaida detonating a nuclear weapon on American soil, would target Mecca for a retaliatory nuclear strike.

Dr. Rosenberg was kind enough to read my question to Mr. Coll who responded( I’ll have to paraphrase)

” This is exactly the sort of question that I would hope is being discussed in the National Security Council “.

He went on to indicate that such a stance would as a side-effect, have a huge, probably negative, effect on the war of ideas aspect of the Terror War. It was a very interesting program which presumably, will be available in Dr. Rosenberg’s audio archive, if it isn’t already. Coll is also, by the way, in the midst of his next book on Islamist terrorism with a focus on Saudi Arabia.

Friday, January 28th, 2005


World leaders gathered today at Auschwitz to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the industrial killing center created by the Nazis that has forever defined the terms “death camp” and “Genocide” in the public mind. The vow ” Never Again” was made then and renewed today.

The best possible tribute to the victims of Nazi genocide would not be ceremonies or pious incantations of memory but for the world to actually try to stop the next one.

In Cambodia, when the Khmer Rouge marched city dwellers out into the countryside and created fields of human bones only Israel’s ambassador stood up in the UN and demanded that something be done. Nothing was done. Had not the mad and sinister Pol Pot not ordered a quixotic invasion of Cambodia’s brother Communist state of Vietnam, thus provoking Hanoi to conquer Cambodia, Pol Pot might still be in power. A quarter of a century later, the surviving architects of the killing fields remain unpunished.

In Ethiopia, the Communist government of Colonel Haile Menghistu Mariam, larded with Soviet military aid and Cuban advisors, starved a million people to death. The response of the West was to sing ” We are the World”.

Saddam Hussein gassed the Kurds, massacred the Shiites and destroyed the Marsh Arab minority and with his power broken he sits in a cell untried and defiant while European diplomats and NGO’s withold needed forensic expertise for fear that an Iraqi tribunal might sentence Saddam to death for his crimes.

How many Bosnians disappeared into Slobodon Milosevic’s Night and Fog ?

Where was Kofi Annan when the Interhamwe hacked 800,000 Rwandans to death and General Dallaire was begging his UN superiors for help ?

Where now is the world when the Janjaweed rides ?

Never Again ?

Thursday, January 27th, 2005


Dave Schuyler of The Glittering Eye posted on a bit of fuzzy headed nonsense today regarding an alternative plan B to having a democratic election in Iraq from Abu Khaleel of Iraqi Letter to America. I don’t blame Mr. Khaleel for wanting foreign troops to leave his country in a general sense but I’m having a hard time crediting that his Plan B is meant with any seriousness. Here it is, my comments will be in regular text:

“1. US maintains present course and status for a month but will only act in self defense and to preserve the peace and will not go after “insurgents” or carry out random searches and arrests, etc. during that month.”

Unilateral concessions to a multiheaded, 4GW insurgency of notorious inhumanity will result in the insurgency becoming the de facto government in waiting. Any latent Iraqi will to support a democratic regime will fold as local notables go into hiding or flee for their lives to avoid the inevitable killing fields style massacres that will begin as the Americans withdraw. Capital will flee too, so whatever nascent economic activty that currently exists in Iraq will vanish.

This is already a dumb plan. Not just for Iraq but for anywhere.

“2. US announces and implements an immediate freeze on the building of permanent military bases in Iraq. If there is no such intention (!) they can publicly and categorically state their policy in this regard.”

This would be a relatively meaningless concession though I’m not sure if either the Bush administration or Abu Khaleel realizes it.

“3. The US goes to the UN to help establish, within 2-4 weeks, a “International Council for Iraq” (ICI). Two alternatives are possible:”

Been there and done that several times already. Legitimacy does not flow from the UN, it flows from the consent of the governed. In any event, the radical Islamists and al Qaida view the UN as an ” un-Islamic ” Western puppet show. The Baathists too have every incentive here to keep fighting as they simply do not want the Yankees out of Iraq, they want us out and a Sunni-Baathist dictatorship in power.

“A council of 15 members each nominated by a UN Security Council member state and approved by a majority of the other members.

A council of 5 members of internationally respected figures nominated by the UN General Assembly and approved by the UN Security Council.

This council is to act as the supreme authority for running the country in the interim period of 6 months.”

A rearrangement of deck chairs and catchy UN-speak acronyms.

“4. The US reiterates its intention to withdraw completely from Iraq at the request of the ICI or a democratically elected government.”

So the insurgency can kill them with less inconvenience.

“5. Work out a UN Security Council resolution to “guarantee” the continuity of democracy in Iraq, under chapter 7 of the UN Charter (which authorizes the use of force). This is to guarantee that no military coup or other means of force are used to overthrow the newly born democracy of Iraq for a number of years. Iraq is already an international problem in many respects.”

The quotation marks were well-placed by Mr. Khaleel. The guarantee will be worth about as much as the paper resolutions in stopping a military coup by the ARVN – sorry – new Iraqi army, to say nothing of stopping the insurgents.

“6. Place the Multi-national forces now in Iraq as well as the Iraqi army, police, etc. under the political authority of the ICI.”

The track record of UN peacekeepers in Rwanda and Bosnia comes to mind here.

“7. The ICI is given an international mandate for six months to establish a democratic government in Iraq, without any conditions on its conduct apart from the objectives mentioned above and normal financial auditing.”

We will go through all these diplomatic charades to do in six months exactly what will be done on Sunday ( and should have been done six months ago). Actually the ICI personnel would not survive to form a democratic government unless Mr. Khaleel intends that they will govern Iraq from New York city.

“8. Let this “council of the wise” find its own solution without interference or pressure. I would only like to add that all its deliberations and activities should be made public.”

If I was Collounsbury and not Zenpundit I would as what kind of childish, fucking, nonsense is this ? Since I am not I will instead point out that councils of “wise men” get things done behind closed doors because the sort of messy but necessary deals required to achieve the greater good of stabilizing Iraq cannot get done with Chistine Amanpour sticking a microphone in everyone’s face on CNN live feed. That’s why they are wise men and not bloggers kibbitzing from the sidelines. This whole fantasy is little other than UNtopian wishful thinking that would accelerate Iraq toward a full-scale civil war.

Dave Schuyler had a good analysis:

“The invasion of Iraq, the removal of Saddam Hussein, and the attempt to establish democracy in Iraq is our Plan B. We abandoned our long-standing Hamiltonian Plan A on dealing with the Middle East before noon on September 11, 2001. This was the realist plan that Brent Scowcroft among others continues to foster. Been there. Done that. Ain’t goin’ back there anymore.

Plan B is GWB’s Wilsonian plan for remaking the Middle East and, as we learned in his second inaugural address, the world. The success of Plan B is not assured. It will receive its next great test at the end of this week. If in the succeeding weeks and months it proves to be a failure, I don’t anticipate our re-trying it under UN auspices (as Abu Khaleel suggests) or returning to Plan A. I think I know my countrymen well enough to believe that our distrust of the UN is sufficient that Abu Khaleel’s Plan B is a non-starter. And I believe that 9/11 taught us that economic realism is too slender a twig for a re-trial of that.

No, if the grand plan for democratization is seen to be a failure, I think it’s far more likely that we’ll go to Plan C which will be founded on one of the other historic strains of American foreign policy: the Jeffersonian or the Jacksonian. The Jeffersonian (isolationist) response will leave the rest of the world to stew in its own juices. And I won’t outline what a full Jacksonian response would be. All I’ll say is, Abu Khaleel my friend, you wouldn’t like us when we’re angry.”

Economic connectivity, like democracy, will create cultural change in the Arab world but for that to happen we need to establish security first. If not in all of Iraq then at least in a reasonably large portion of it, gradually shrinking the zone of entropy and death over time.

Wednesday, January 26th, 2005


The first ( and most importantly, FREE !) issue of The Rule-Set Reset is now available for your perusal. This month’s line-up includes Dr. Thomas Barnett, Dr. Robert Jacobson, TM Lutas, Brice Timmons and your humble host here at Zenpundit. I had expected something more along the lines of the standard PDF file but Bob Jacobson, Critt Jarvis and Steff Hedenkamp produced a very slick looking e-zine.

For subscriber information, visit The New Rule-Set Project.

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