Saturday, December 31, 2005

Mad Jad Has a New Toy ?

Doctor Zin over at Regime Change Iran, in his Saturday post, states that CIA Director Porter Goss told the Turkish government that Iran has a nuclear weapon. Doctor Zin's source is Turkish Press.com
Very interesting...read the whole post here.
UPDATE: The Jerusalem Post and the Regime Change Iran blog (both citing the German press), report that the US and NATO are engaging in consultations regarding military action against Iran. The nature of these discussions is unspecified. The Jerusalem Post mentions CIA Director "Gus's" [Goss's] visit with the Turkish Prime Minister, saying he was there to request bases for such an assault. If this is anything like true, this probably means the US wants permission to use its big base near Adana, Incirlik Air Base.
The Post says that countries "... such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman, and Pakistan were also updated regarding the supposed plan..." and that plans are being "coordinated" with NATO.
Oh reaaalllly ? With this list of countries being "updated" and all those pro-American NATO countries being "coordinated" with, why aren't we just FedEx-ing our attack plans, together wtih a box of dates, some good tea, and a nice note telling the mullahs we're coming, straight to the offices of the Vezarat-e Ettela'at va Amniat-e Keshvar (VEVAK -- Iranian intelligence).
The source is interesting...the Jerusalem Post. Naturally, the Israelis are very concerned about an Iranian bomb, given that Mad Jad keeps threatening to wipe them out. I'd be inclined to suspect some Israeli maneuvering of some kind, but most of this information seems to be coming from the German and Turkish press. (Worth thinking on too, that the Germans and Turks are buddies from way back).
Outside of Israel, among the western powers, only the United States, and to a lesser degree, Great Britain, have real military ability to strike Iran. Were a resort to arms actually in contemplation, some discussions with other powers would probably be politically necessary. Still, given European political attitudes and the nature of the targets to be struck in Iran, all this "consultation" is as good as telling the Iranians that we're coming. Perhaps we're indeed coming, or maybe all this is just some sand in the mullahs' eyes: part of the ongoing "negotiations" between the Europeans, the Americans and the Iranians over the fate of the Iranian nuclear program.
UPDATE NUMERO TWO-O: Okay, this business now has my attention. The Times (London) says Pope Benedict XVI used his New Year's address for a "veiled attack on Iran’s hardline leadership" chiding "authorities" who "incite their citizens to hostility to other countries." Uh, Mr. President Mahmoud “Mad Jad” Ahmadinejad ? I think the Pope's paging you. He's not declaring a Crusade yet, but is your insurance all paid-up ?
The Pontifex Maximus also said "in another apparent swipe at Iran" that in "nuclear war there will be no victors, only victims" and he called for nuclear disarmament.

New Years Eve

Okay, tis New Years Eve, and your host, the Jefe, naturally has thoughts on where the year's going, where it's been, and other thoughts that he's sure his readers, millions actually, are dying to hear.
But he doesn't want to do it today.
El Jefe is tired, has Monday off of work, and doesn't EVEN want to work hard enough to write something today. I want to talk about last year's predictions....some right, some wrong, some wildly wrong....as well as trot out a batch of same for next year...but not just today.
Meanwhile, hope everyone has a nice New Year's Eve, gets to drink plenty of champagne; eat lots of yummy things; talk to interesting people; go to lots of cool parties; and find some leftover mistletoe someplace. Happy New Year !

Friday, December 30, 2005

Lunch

El Jefe, da Boss, and da Secretary have been to lunch for Christmas/New Years. Gone at 12:30 , it's now 2:30, and we're just staggering back.
We visited McCormick & Schmick's seafood restaurant in Houston, and El Jefe enjoyed the Black Drum (Gulf fish, caught around Palacios) and most of a bottle of St Clemont, 03 (Chardonnay).
Yum.
It's going to be a looonnnnng afternoon.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Germans and Kurds

Long breakfast, pouring over the New York Times. Several things of interest.

First, the Justice Minister of Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony), Herr Uwe Sch√ľnemann, told the German newspaper Die Welt that “known Islamic militants” should be “electronically tagged so their movements could be tracked.” Niedersachsen is one of the sixteen German States.

I think the good Herr Sch√ľnemann has an excellent idea, and in consequence I acquit him in advance of any malicious intentions. Keeping tabs on “known Islamic militants” and other people who want to blow us up seems pretty sensible to me. Too bad the Germans didn’t have such a program in place when Mohammad Atta called Hamburg home.

Still, am I the only one that sees a touch of, well, irony, in such a proposal coming from a German Justice Minister ? Mind you, it’s not a bad idea, and El Jefe in general likes Germans and Germany, but these are, after all, the people who invented the yellow stars-of-David from not so long ago. Stars of many other colors too.

Even more interesting is that such a proposal is in the back pages of the New York Times, and escapes entirely without comment from this journalistic beacon of civil liberties. Today’s editorial on foreign affairs is on Mubarak’s Egypt. You can bet your bottom dollar the editorial pages would be positively bleeding ink if the Governor of Texas or a pro-US foreign government such as Egypt or, God forbid, Israel, aired such a trial balloon. Of course, the Germans, as opponents of US Iraq policy, are in the Times’s good books…

A good story on page A-12 of the Times about the city of Kirkuk. That city, in northern Iraq, sits on lots of oil, and consequently, everybody wants it. The Kurds and Turkmens have a historic claim, but Saddam moved in Arab settlers because they were supporters of his government, and displaced lots of Kurds. Bottom rail on top now, and the Kurds are bussing in settlers as fast as they can: both former residents and new folks, trying to position themselves for a referendum on provincial status in 2007. The Kurds want the city included in their autonomous portion of Iraq.

The developing situation is interesting. The Kurds want independence, but neither the rest of Iraq nor the Turkish or Iranian neighbors want them to have it. Their only friends, for the moment, are the Americans. The Kurds have been the most reliable local US allies in the place.

The Kurds have, in practical terms, two choices. The first, and most rational, would be to grab all the autonomy they can get out of the central Iraqi government, and bend over backwards to get permanent US bases on their soil. Unlike the Shiites and Sunnis, the Kurds would probably like a long-term US presence, which guarantees their autonomy status and would keep the Turks and Iranians out. Control of the Kirkuk oil-fields would sweeten the pot. Neither the other Iraqis nor the neighbors would like this, but in the short term at least, there is little they could do about it. The joker in the desk is the willingness of the US to hang around long term. I would hope this would work: the US could do worse than having the Kurds securely in their corner.

The other choice is go full-bore for independence. Truly, the inclusion of Kurdistan in the Iraqi state, to begin with, was one of the greatest injustices of the post-World War I peace settlement, but outright secession at this point would be opposed by all non-Kurdish parties. Absent the total breakup of Iraq, I do not think this could be accomplished without US support, which, at the moment, is not forthcoming.

But the whole thrust of Kurdish policy seems to be autonomy now, and independence later, and this means Kirkuk will continue to be a flashpoint. An independent Kurdistan is not viable without the city, and the surrounding oilfields. The Sunnis and Turkmen are very, very upset about Kirkuk, which is possibly even more dangerous at the moment than Baghdad.

Watch Kirkuk. This city is the bird in the mineshaft. If Kirkuk can be pacified, the new Iraq, in whatever form it finally takes, will work. If not… it’s only a question of where the partition lines will be drawn, and how long the civil war will be.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Lets Pay Attention, Folks

The blog Officers' Club begins its 2006 predictions with the following chilling, but probably prescient prediction:

–I think that there will be a half-cocked attempt at a domestic terror attack… It will happen in the south, near a major artery of transportation (with operational support from personnel illegally entered into the US via the Mexican border)

Read the whole thing here. I completely agree with Officers' Club, with the proviso that we cannot count on an attempt being "half-cocked." Further, I will go the O-Club folks one better and tell my Houston friends that we really need to be on the qui vive, because in my humble opinion, our dear city is Number 1 in the terrorist bulls-eye, for a variety of reasons:

Proximity to the Mexican Border. Good for smuggling weapons and personnel in, and moving people out later.

Population. Our diverse, large and cosmopolitan population, and the traditional welcoming attitude of Houstonians towards newcomers and outsiders is made to order for concealing impending operations by a terrorist cell. Strangers with malign intent can move among us, reconnoiter their targets and plan attacks without attracting much suspicion.

Ties with the Arab World. Houston is nothing if not an oil town, and as such modern Houston has always had strong ties with the oil states of the Middle East, including, most pertinently, Saudi Arabia. Remember, 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers were Saudis. Lots of Saudis, and others from the Muslim world, have lived and studied in Houston, and have contacts here. The recruitment pool of persons with basic familiarity with the target is larger than for other US cities, and this is a boon for terrorist planners tasked with getting their operatives in position to hurt us.

The Bushes. Houston is associated internationally with both the current President Bush and his father. From a propagandist’s point of view, Houston is an almost irresistible target for this reason alone.

Target-Rich Environment. Houston is a a Port of Entry to the United States by both air and sea; the Port of Houston is the second-largest US port in terms of tonnage handled. Oil, natural gas and the chemical industry virtually define our city’s economy. This part of Texas boasts the largest concentration of US refining capacity. 25 percent of US gasoline is refined in the Houston area. Recall that US refining capacity is strained right now because of damage to the Louisiana refineries caused by Hurricane Katrina. Finally, the Houston freeways, particularly the interchanges, are a vital node in our interstate transporation system -- much of our economy depends on the movement of cargo by truck.

Houston is in general a well-run city. Here’s hoping our Police, Fire and emergency services personnel are on the case, and that Mayor White and Judge Eckels are getting enough help and support in terms of intelligence and security liaison, support, assistance and advice from the Federal Government. As we can see from the liberals, and their recent vaporings over our, unfortunately, rudimentary counterintelligence efforts: there is a great temptation, four years on, to return to a “September 10” mentality. Unfortunately, there are people out there who want to drink our blood. Shame on us if we make it easy.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Grab Bag


Still getting ready for Christmas, trying to clear out a bunch of work before the end of the year, and feeling under the weather today (and yesterday), so posting is apt to be light through the weekend. Meanwhile, the Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays controversy rages on. I wish my Jewish friends Happy Hanukkah, but I dislike the generic "Happy Holidays." Much too PC for me -- hence the above pictorial comment. (Graphic from Gates of Vienna).
Hmmm...just glancing at the papers, Saddam Hussein says the Americans have tortured him and that denials of same are lies. Mr. Saddam's had more people murdered than I have had hot dinners, so my heart is not exactly bleeding for the man.
The print edition of the New York Times today has an article about improvements the Israelis are making to their barrier fence between Israel and the occupied territories. The changes are intended to make traffic between Israel and the West Bank move faster, which should benefit Palestinians who need to move back and forth. But the Palestinians are unhappy, because the Israelis are essentially treating the fence like an unnegotiated international border. This amounts to a land-grab, the Palestinians say. Maybe, but what of it ? I would find it easier to muster some sympathy for the Palestinians if they had shown any interest at all in stopping murder-suicide bombers from blowing themselves and hundreds of civilians up in Israeli shopping centers and on city streets.
The Senate has given the USA Patriot Act a six-month extension. Thank God for small miracles. Meanwhile, the Democrats are all a-twitter about the National Security Agency intercepting international telephone calls without a warrant. Inasmuch as governments have been doing that like, forever, I find it hard to get worked up about that. More on that another time. Wonder how many of us the Left thinks its okay to kill just so terrorists get their civil rights ? What world do they live in ?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Invasion !

Casa El Jefe is under occupation by an army of the Heir's friends, from school and other places. SWMBO fed them dinner and organized a movie, whilst El Jefe dropped by his friend T's for a chat, and now El Jefe is entertaining/trying to get them settled in...possibly into the wee small hours ? How late can 10 year olds go ???

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Advent of the Raptor

Splendid and timely news from the US Air Force (hat tip, Vodkapundit). As of tomorrow: the F-22 Raptor is operational. The 1st Fighter Wing’s 27th Fighter Squadron is apparently the first Air Force unit to deploy the Raptor. According to General Ronald E. Keys, commander of the USAF’s Air Combat Command: “If we go to war tomorrow, the Raptor will go with us. I declare Initial Operational Capability for the F-22A as of 15 Dec o5.”
The F-22A is truly an awesome machine, and unquestionably the finest fighter aircraft on the planet. Bravo for the Air Force.

Singe the Mullahs' Beards

We did not carry out the Islamist revolution in order to introduce democracy. . .Our revolution seeks to achieve worldwide power…I am a pure fundamentalist.”

Mahmud “Mad Jad” Ahmadinejad, President of Iran

"And now… set Europe ablaze!"

Winston S. Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain, to Hugh Dalton, Minister for Economic Warfare, upon Churchill’s creation of the “Special Operations Executive” to organize sabotage, guerrilla warfare and other covert warfare type operations in German-occupied Europe.

Iran is all over the news this morning. Elections in Iraq are tomorrow and according to the New York Times, the Iraqi Interior Ministry reports that this evening, (Iraq time) Iraqi Border Police intercepted a tanker truck stuffed full of forged ballots which had just crossed the border from Iran. Under interrogation, the driver evidently told the police that several other trucks had crossed from Iran at different points.

It is not news that the Iranian government would like to influence the Iraqi elections. But the Mad Mullahs – and Iraq and the US, would do well to remember that border smuggling can work both ways.

Speaking of Mad Mullahs, AP reports today that Iran’s President Mahmoud “Mad Jad” Ahmadinejad says that the Holocaust was a “myth” started by Europeans to create a Jewish state in the Muslim world. The ever-quotable Mad Jad tells us: “Today, they have created a myth in the name of Holocaust and consider it to be above God, religion and the prophets.”

Mad Jad’s latest pronouncement amplifies his declaration last week while in Saudi Arabia that the proper place for Israel would be in Europe – specifically in Germany or Austria. Today, Mad Jad said: “This is our proposal: if you committed the crime, then give a part of your own land in Europe, the United States, Canada or Alaska to them so that the Jews can establish their country.”

No word yet that the Israelis are packing for Bavaria or Alaska: instead, Prime Minister Sharon has ordered his armed forces to dust-off their plans to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, and to be ready to go by March. Quite aside from the huge military difficulties Israel would encounter if it chose to exercise its military options against Iran, Israeli preparations seem quite reasonable, given that Mad Jad said in October that Israel needed to be wiped off the map.

I have been threatening for weeks to inflict my plan for dealing with Iran on my readers, but procrastinating about putting letters to electrons. No further excuse for delay because today, Herbert Meyer, a former Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), and once a Vice-Chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council – writes with the same idea.

As Mr. Meyer so rightly says we should aim higher than Iran’s nukes. Our real objective should be the whole enchilada: an end to the Mullah regime. This is achievable. As Mr. Meyer, and others, including Michael Ledeen correctly point out:

…Iran today is in a classic pre-revolutionary state…Today, by every credible measure, the Iranian population hates its government. And within the population, nowhere is this hatred of the government greater than among the young people – and fully 70 percent of Iran’s population is under the age of 30. These young people have been risking their lives by demonstrating against the regime – week, after week – for at least two years. Moreover, the kids never miss an opportunity to make clear their desire for friendly relations with – of all countries, the United States.

No, neither El Jefe, nor Mr. Meyer, nor Mr. Ledeen, nor others who point out what the mainstream media ignores except on the back pages – that the Mullahs are in trouble – are on crack. At least 200,000 Iranians are emigrating a year. Despite all the oil wealth, Iran suffers from at least 20 percent unemployment – and that’s on official figures, widely known to be fudged. Inflation is at almost 20 percent. . While the population has grown by a third since the end of the Shah, the economy, in real terms, has lost a seventh of its 1979 value.

The regime is disunited at the top. The Iranian Majlis, the Parliament, stuffed with supposed adherents of the clerical regime, late last month rejected Mad Jad’s third nominee to head the Petroleum Ministry, only approving a fourth nominee on 11 December. The Majlis has rejected nominees for other cabinet posts. Mad Jad’s rival, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani had powerful and influential supporters who have made lots of money off the present bandit regime, and who have reason to fear Mad Jad’s puritanical streak.

Even Mad Jad’s erstwhile supporters seem to think that he is something of a rube: according to the AP story on Mad Jad’s holocaust denial “[i]nside Iran, …[Mad Jad’s] remarks have been criticized by some of his conservative allies, who fear he is hurting the country’s image.” Still, in Mullah terms, Mad Jad is not wacky – the real ruler of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (affectionately known to some of us as “Ali Shah,” cause Shah’s what he acts like) - still approves of him.

But this is just the top leadership, and its cronies – really a very small group of people. Iran is a huge, potentially quite rich, country. The country is misruled, but may not always be so. The time to topple the regime is NOW, before it has a nuclear weapon, and before the increased confidence in its prospects can buy the regime allies, and find it foreign funds (from China, chiefly).

If the mullah regime gets nukes, it will be immunized overnight from retaliation for every kind of outrageous conduct, short of use of nukes, because a nuclear state is impossible to retaliate against without unacceptable risk. Despite their economic problems: caused by misrule and corruption, the price of oil means Mad Jad and his cronies always have options. Hiding behind a nuclear shield, the Mullahs and their intelligence organizations could go hog-wild with covert action and support of terrorism all over the Middle East, and nobody could do squat.

However, it appears to me to be too late to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. They are too far along in the process, the production facilities are dispersed, and the Iranians have built up the requisite technical base and have the educated people to make weapons. More importantly, the Iranian leadership and professional classes, whatever they think of the Mullahs and their regime, WANT the weapons. Recall the last Shah and his talk about building a “great civilization.” Nukes are prestige, as well as power. The Iranians, one way or another, are going to make a nuclear weapon.

It follows that if there must be an Iranian nuke: (and there must, because it’s too late to stop it), than this nuke must be in the hands of a normal government. This can be done. The Iranian government and senior religious establishment is barbarian and corrupt, the Iranian people are not. The one place in the Middle East right now, outside of Israel, where people actually like Americans is Iran (don't be deceived by the rent-a-mobs on TV). The one Muslim country where the whole concept of an Islamic state has been almost completely discredited is Iran.

It can be done.

The Iranians want to smuggle ballots into Iraq do they ? Hey Mad Jad – we can smuggle the other way too. The Iranian regime with all its big talk about wiping out Israel, and the “great Satan” and “worldwide power” ought to get what it's pushing back in spades. What I would like to see is a full scale effort, by all means short of war, to wreck this regime: money for dissidents, small arms, propaganda. Plenty of Iranians hate the mullahs, and we ought to be arming and paying all of them.

The Iranian economy is hurting a little. Inflation there is pretty high: how much higher would it be if millions of counterfeit Iranian rials started showing up from across the Iraqi border ? Come to think of it, an F-16 is about $15 million a copy. How bout smuggling the cost price of ten or so in dollars into Iran for free distribution to ordinary Iranians and enemies of the regime ? A great investment: get inflation growing like crazy, which would give the mullahs fits, but all the free simoleons would probably give a bunch of regular folks a hell of a good time first.

All the decadence of the west can be turned loose on the Mullahs for the good cause of making Mad Jad sweat. How about tanker trucks stuffed with People Magazine, or copies of Penthouse and Us or even the ever-vapid National Enquirer ? Ramp-up smuggling of liquor, drugs, porn, you name it, lets ship it. This is the era of digital film: How bout circulating a few billion smuggled videos of all the top mullahs playing patty-cake with cows, dogs and goats ? All kinds of possibilities and dirty tricks are out there. Won’t the religious police go nuts ? These are people who go ape when men and women share elevators. How wacked-out will they get about millions of pictures of Britney Spears's belly-button ? The more repressive the police, the more ordinary folks hate the regime.

If the Iranians want to interfere with their neighbors, that can go both ways. We can even do well by doing good: got to be plenty of Sunni Arabs in Iraq who haven’t forgotten about the Iran/Iraq war, who might be overjoyed to assist with such a program.

Meanwhile, let the Israelis get their military ready. Lets get our own air and naval forces ready. As Mr. Meyer says: “[g]iven the alternative of a massive attack by Israel, with or without help form the U.S. Air Force, a coup or a revolution may not strike at least a few of Iran’s political and military leaders as such a bad thing.” Perhaps the other steps I suggest might jog their elbows a bit, also.

The Mullahs want to play. We have an available countermove. Take a leaf from Churchill – set Iran ablaze.
ADDENDUM: Mr. Meyer's piece at Real Clear Politics is called "Leave the Nukes, Take out the Mullahs." Amen, but I keep thinking of that great line from The Godfather, when Clemenza said to Rocco, after wacking Don Vito's (supposedly) traitorous driver: "Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."

Thursday, December 8, 2005

Casus Belli

In the world according to Saddam, the unraveling of communism in Eastern Europe and Mikhail Gorbachev’s desperate plight in Moscow meant that the world was suddenly left with a single superpower. Saddam…surprised his fellow Arab leaders. The United States, Saddam said, “with its known capitalist approach and its imperialist policy…will continue to depart from the restrictions that govern the rest of the world.” With the retreat of their Soviet protector, Arabs would be in greater jeopardy than ever…“…the country that will have the greatest influence in the region through the Arabian [Persian] Gulf and its oil will maintain its superiority as a superpower without an equal to compete with it. This means that if the Gulf people, along with all Arabs, are not careful, the Arabian Gulf will be governed by the US will. If the Arabs are not alerted and the weakness persists the situation could develop to the extent desired by the United States, that is, it would fix the amount of oil and gas produced in each country and sold to this or that country in the world.”

Saddam Hussein, February 1990, at a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Amman, Jordan, prior to Gulf War I, quoted in Triumph Without Victory: The Unreported History of the Persian Gulf War, (US News and World Report Books, 1992, p. 16).

Hopper: “It's not about food; it's about keeping those ants in line.

A Bug’s Life (1998).

Yesterday, Tom Bevan over at Real Clear Politics teed-off on Chris Matthews’s Hardball dissection of Vice-President Cheney’s speech at Fort Drum, New Jersey. Mr. Bevin quotes Mr. Matthews as saying “I watched the vice president…and…I heard something different than we are just building a democracy over there. I heard we are fighting for American influence. It was a much more traditional position about geopolitics…He says we have a right to be there in force; we’re going to stay there. I thought he was staking a claim to the oil fields of Arabia…we belong there like we belong there in Texas or Wyoming.” (emphasis subtracted).

Mr. Bevan dismisses this as “wackiness.” I’d agree with him about the rantings re Texas and Wyoming, but as for “fighting for American influence” -- I’d have to say DUH. This was always the main reason to invade Iraq.

Speaking as an outside observer, an elector evaluating the claims of my country’s politicians, and, then, as now, a supporter of the invasion of Iraq. I never, ever believed that Saddam’s nuclear, chemical or biological weapons were an imminent threat, to the US at least – in 2003, so I never bought the WMD argument as a casus belli. Moreover, I don’t think anybody in the administration really believed this either. I certainly thought, along with virtually everybody else who had looked into the matter – that the Iraq invasion would uncover, at least chemical weapons, and evidence of a nuclear and biological weapons program.

My own opinion was that Saddam was lying low in the late 1990’s, (probably at least since President Clinton’s Operation Desert Fox) and in 2001-03, and waiting for UN sanctions to be lifted before resuming WMD efforts. But, again in common with everybody else who had any claim to knowledge on this issue, I always thought the invasion would uncover weapons – and am still not totally convinced that Saddam did not have a WMD program in 2003.

But this was never, for me, ample reason for war. The WMD business was simply the lowest common denominator that would produce UN and European support for war. Similarly, extending democracy and crushing a tyrant are both good things, but I never would have accepted them as legitimate causes for war with Iraq, either, at least the sole causes. Certainly these would be ample reasons for covert efforts to damage the regime, insofar as such was possible, but not reasons for an invasion.

Fighting for and extending US influence, for me, were the only reasons justifying war with Iraq in 2003. Liberals point to US support for Saddam’s Iraq in its war with Iran in the 1980’s as evidence of US hypocrisy on Iraq, but the liberals, unknowingly, are making my point. Had the Saddam regime continued what amounted to a pro-US policy in the early 1990’s: i.e. hostility towards the anti-US clerical regime in Iran; confining itself to mostly rhetorical support for the Palestinians; opposition to radical religious movements in the Sunni Arab world; and more-or-less good relations with the pro-US conservative monarchies of the Gulf, no doubt the US would have continued to hold its nose and deal with Saddam. And the US would have been right to do so: we have no Holy mission to democratize the planet: we are the friend of liberty everywhere, but the guardians only of our own.

But Saddam, after his stalemated war with Iran, chose to turn away from a somewhat pro-US foreign policy, and go into business on his own. Lets give the devil his due: Saddam did this for the best of good reasons – a bid for his own empire. Deeply in debt to Kuwait, with no Soviet Union to queer his pitch, Saddam decided to eliminate his money problem by robbing the bank. On 2 August 1990, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.

Saddam occupied, plundered and brutalized a US client state. Had Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait been allowed to stand, no pro-US government in the region could have deemed itself secure, and all would have hastened to align themselves with Saddam. Read the quotation above – Saddam understood precisely what he was doing: with the demise of the Soviet Union, the choices for the Persian Gulf were an American empire, or his own. Had his gambit worked, Saddam, overnight, would have controlled directly or by proxy, almost all Middle Eastern oil outside Iran, and graduated to the class of major world mover and shaker, a real Nebuchadnezzar, not a minor-league dictator.

Such a result would have been even more certain had Saddam, following a brief pause for re-supply of his Republican Guard formations – proceeded beyond Kuwait and taken physical possession of the Saudi oil fields and ports. It is difficult to see how the first President Bush could have mounted Desert Storm then, even had he wanted to. Saddam must spend nights in his prison cell regretting his hesitation.

But Saddam didn’t, Bush Senior did, and Saddam and Iraq were defeated. Rather than making the best of things and accepting his defeat, Mr. Saddam obeyed the cease fire terms only insofar as he was forced, and elected to play patty-cake with Osama, shelter scum like Abu Nidal and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, pay stipends to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, and allow his intelligence organization to operate terrorist training camps.

But on 11 September 2001, the rules changed. The United States learned that it could no longer afford to suffer the existence of unfriendly regimes that wanted nuclear weapons, and, at the least, turned a blind-eye to anti-US terrorists; in a part of the world containing the most vital of strategic minerals. On 20 September 2001, the Baath regime in Iraq was warned by President Bush:

Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other
we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret even in success. We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime. . .

. . . This is not, however, just America's fight. And what is at stake is not just America's freedom. This is the world's fight. This is civilization's fight. This is the fight of all who believe in progress and pluralism, tolerance and freedom.

We ask every nation to join us. We will ask, and we will need, the help of police forces, intelligence services, and banking systems around the world.

(emphasis in bold supplied)

Saddam and his secret police’s flirtings with our enemies were known. The Saddam regime had a proven track-record of continuous anti-US hostility, both rhetorical and otherwise, after Gulf War I; not to mention aggression against its neighbors, including pro US states. In the post-9/11 world, the burden was thus on the Saddam regime to prove to America that it was safe to allow it to survive.

If Saddam Hussein wanted to keep his seat, his course was clear: prove to the US government’s satisfaction there was no possibility that Iraq wanted to obtain WMD’s; arrest or kill terrorists and anti-US persons within his borders; cease the rhetorical war against the US and its allies; accept and comply completely with all cease fire terms of Gulf War I; and order his intelligence and secret police authorities to assist the Americans against Al Qaeda. Absent these or similar steps, no amount of games in the UN were going to save him.

Had Saddam done these things he would no doubt be sitting in his palace in Baghdad, a happy tyrant. But Saddam elected instead to serve as a central-casting example of a Bad Guy, an obnoxious, open, proud and publicly defiant anti-American dictator. His deposition and hanging are the reasons for this war: when he hangs dead from a noose: he will be the perfect object lesson as to the consequences of playing games with Uncle Sam. Of course the war was about “extending our influence,” about “educating” Middle Eastern regimes on proper behavior and getting them to do our terrorist hunting for us. DUH.

Of course, Americans don't like the idea of Empire. We drive foreign cars, drink German beer, wear clothes made in China, and guzzle Saudi oil like Coca-Cola, but God forbid we call a spade a spade and admit that the USA is a world empire. Of course it is, as much as Britain or Rome ever were. But we have to disguise it. This, of course, explains the difficulty President Bush has encountered explaining the reasons for the Iraq War: it's simply not politic to say that the reason for the war was to hang Saddam so that we could frighten other sovereign states into doing what we tell them. But it is, none the less, quite true.

Friday, December 2, 2005

The Sun of Austerlitz

Soldiers !

The Russian army is presenting itself before you in order to avenge the Austrian army...

...I shall direct your battalions myself. I will hold myself far from the firing if, with your accustomed bravery, you carry disorder and confusion into the ranks of the enemy. But, if victory should for a moment be uncertain, you will see your Emperor expose himself to the first blows; for victory shall know no hesitation during this day, when the honour of the French infantry is at stake, which means so much to the honour of the whole nation...

Napoleon

Proclamation of Emperor Napoleon I to his army, morning, 2 December 1805 (From Claude Manceron, Austerlitz, [W.W. Norton and Co., New York, 1966, pp. 174-75]).
Exactly one year after his coronation in Paris as Emperor, 200 years ago today, Napoleon I won his greatest victory, at Austerlitz, in what is now the eastern Czech Republic, over the combined armies of Austria and Russia. Sometimes known as the "Battle of Three Emperors" because the Emperors of France, Russia and Austria were all present, or at least nearby; Austerlitz, along with the Battles of Jena (1806), and Friedland (1807), gave Napoleon effective control of Europe.
36 years old on the day of his greatest victory, Waterloo was not even a shadow on Napoleon's horizon. French hegemony in Europe seemed assured for at least a century. Despite having the smaller army, the Emperor knew its quality -- having such confidence in his troops that he actually promised to stay back from the fighting; and the troops having such belief in him both as leader and talisman that they begged him to do so.
The Russians and Austrians adopted the precise plan Napoleon predicted: and, as the day wore on, and a brilliant sun chased away the early morning fog, the Allies paid heavily. The French suffered 8-9,000 casualties, but the Austro-Russians lost some 30,000 killed, wounded or captured. Napoleon's column on the Place Vendome in Paris is cast from the 180 or so Russian and Austrian cannon captured at Austerlitz. On hearing of the battle, William Pitt, Prime-Minister of Great Britain, organizer of the alliance against the French, said "roll up that map of Europe, it will not be wanted again in our time." Pitt died just over a month after Austerlitz.

Soldiers,
I am well pleased...!
You have, on this day of Austerlitz, justified everything that I expected of your intrepidity; you have covered your Eagles with an everlasting glory. A 100,000 man army, under command of the Emperors of Russia and Austria, was, within less than four hours, cut to pieces or dispersed. What escaped your blades drowned in the lakes. Forty flags, the banners of the Russian imperial guard, 120 pieces of artillery, twenty generals,more than 30,000 prisoners, are the result of this day now famous forever. . .
It will be enough for you to say "I was at the Battle of Austerlitz" for one to reply: "There is a brave man."
Proclamation of Napoleon I to his army, following Austerlitz. (from Manceron [see above] and Wikipedia, with corrections and modifications to Wikipedia translation by El Jefe.

Thursday, December 1, 2005

One of Those Who Am I Things

I am not usually given to self-revelation, but occasional bouts of truthfulness are enjoyable. My friend T, earlier, put up her answers to these questions. I found the exercise entertaining, so here goes:
Personal Stats: Born in Alabama, moved to Texas when I was eleven, away for eight years, and in Houston the rest of the time. Married for eleven years to SWMBO (She Who MUST Be Obeyed), with one child (Heir, age ten), and three cats, MILO, FLINKY and SUNSHINE, who are really children too.

Fantasy Dinner: Okay, this is a fantasy…so most of my guests would need a Oujia board; that or I’ll have to wait for an afternoon in the Elysian Fields. Hmmmmm, to dinner: Me, SWMBO of course, Julius Caesar, Napoleon, Cleopatra, Charles de Gaulle, Winston Churchill, Alexander Hamilton, Carl von Clausewitz, Marilyn Monroe, Henry Kissinger, Niccolo Machiavelli, Hortense de Beauharnais, George Patton, Tom Clancy, George W. Bush, Vladimir Putin, Margaret Thatcher, Elton John, John Glenn, Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, Charlton Heston, Georgi Zhukov, Chester Nimitz, Hu Jintao, Lee Kuan Yew, Otto von Bismarck, Augustus Caesar, Wretchard from over at Belmont Club Blog, the Baron and Lady D from Gates of Vienna, Sam Adams, the Duke of Marlborough, and George Washington.
Oh yeah, Michael Moore, because every crowd needs a butt for comic relief; Anna-Nicole Smith, for her deep thoughtfulness and intellectualism; Jennifer Aniston, Mariah Carey and Elisabeth Shue (just because); and my sixth grade English teacher (wherever she is – she was so nice and just so God-awful gorgeous).

I have this somewhat guilty wish to talk to Lenin and Stalin too, (stare at the abyss and it stares right back), but not over dinner.

Couldn’t live without: Family, computer, an occasional glass of scotch, fast cars, red wine, steak, seafood, German beer, chocolate, the sound of the ocean occasionally, intervals of peace and quiet.

People are surprised that: I’m shy until suddenly I’m not.

Greatest Indulgence(s): Gruyere cheese, time to read.