Saturday, October 30, 2004

Osama bin Laden: Signalling an attack with his new video?

I have no idea how the Osama bin Laden tape will affect the election. I would hope not at all, since if anyone has forgotten that Osam bin Laden doesn't like America and needed to be reminded, they shouldn't be voting. But there's one point I'd like to make to the fear-mongerers on the right. Why did bin Laden need to release videos to trigger terror attacks before? Because dates of attacks are not set in advance and the cells need their cue. So, if al Qaeda were planning an attack for a set date (ahem, Election Day), why in the world would they need bin Laden to spur them into action? Who knows why bin Laden released this video (probably to mess with our heads, which has been amazingly successful), but I would bet it's not to cue attacks any time soon. Probably more posts to come. Midterms are done and done.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Quick post: Watch this

Watch this speech by Congressman Tim Ryan about why so many people are worried about the reinstatement of the draft:

Thanks to DailyKos for posting it. (

Friday, October 08, 2004

Al-Zarqawi gaining support in Iraq?

This, from Knight Ridder:

First, I'd like to commend the reporter, Hannah Allam for actually getting out into Baghdad and talking to people. It's not a safe place for anyone, let alone foreign reporters (I'm assuming foreign, although she might not be). Second of all, I think all of this raises an incredibly important point: Cracking down on guerrillas that are this embedded with the population with air strikes, pitched gun battles in city streets, and firing into crowds (as an American helicopter did when a group of Iraqis were celebrating around a burning tank) will inevitably drive people into the hands of the opposition.

Right now it seems that the process has made anti-American Iraqis into pro-Zarqawi fighters. At the point that it begins to make moderates anti-American fighters, then the war is lost for the Americans. The moderates in the population are really the critical group. In the face of a violent and brutal opposition that is blowing themselves up in crowded Baghdad neighborhoods, the moderates should always be on the side of those working to destroy the resistance. If we manage to alienate them, through civilian casualties and negligent tactics, then we have no way of maintaining a presence in the country. Anyway. Maybe I'm being too utterly obvious, so I'll stop. Just read the article.

Also, note on the right, there's a new button that says "Subscribe to Bloglines." If, for some reason, you want to subscribe and get notified when I update this thing, click on, it follow the directions.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Kurdistan, Kirkuk, Turkey . . . can you say "civil war"?

This from Reuters:

Of course the Kurds are starting to push for their independence. With a fairly stable polity and de facto independence since the 1991 Gulf War, who would want to be shackled to a state racked by internal violence and the growing threat of Sunni-Shi'ite conflict? Though, if the Kurds make a significant push for independence, which they are bound to do if conditions don't improve in southern Iraq (and which they might do regardless), the problems for the new Iraqi state become perhaps even greater than the current rebellion. Reuters touches on some of the conflicts that might ensue: Kurds, Turkmen and Arabs battling for control over Kirkuk, while pro-independence Kurdish parties unite to lobby the new government and Sunni and Shi'ite Arab parties for control of the city's oil revenues.

But what else could happen? Innumerable scenarios jump to mind. Turkey, long opposed to a Kurdish state, would continue to mount a military presence on Iraq's northern border. The United States and Europe might effectively pressure Turkey to stand down, especially considering Turkey's desire to join the EU. But will the US really risk alienating the only allied, secular state in the region? Unlikely. But what's the alternative? Alienating the only faction of the Iraqi population that has always supported the United States and the invasion of Iraq? If the United States pressures the Kurds to remain a part of the Iraqi state, it's not hard to imagine a coalition of parties forming within a newly formed Iraqi government to buck American influence over the country. And then?

While American leaders spend their time speaking up the challenge of putting down the rebellion in southern Iraq, that is only the first problem. Growing numbers of murders in Iraqi cities, increasing evidence of Sunni-Shia ethnic violence, and mounting pressure from the Kurds to will rip the country apart. I hate to say it, but perhaps a strong autocratic government is the only one capable of keeping the country together. And any move to break it apart will inevitable involve Iran (supporting Shi'ite independence, or seeking to absorb those regions into the Iranian religious state) and Turkey (to prevent Kurdish independence), and probably every other country in the Middle East. The democracy in Iraq will operate along ethnic lines. Ethnic political parties, all of whom wouldn't mind being in control of its own state, will pull in different directions.

All of this is not new. I wrote about this two years ago in a final exam for my Moral Foundations of Politics class. These are the scenarios that I discussed with my friends. I remember a certain Flash animation that followed this logic to a bloody inferno conclusion. The challenges in Iraq go so far beyond the "insurgency" or the "rebellion," it's astounding.