Saturday, January 06, 2007

In Defense of Lieberman

  • Lieberman's Motives
    • Lieberman is to be trusted more than his opponents. He supports the war in Iraq, and, furthermore, he publicly supports more troops. Both of these are extremely unpopular positions. The only reason he would support them is because he genuinely believes them the best course of action for America. As to his opponents, they are merely following polls, moving with the herd, so to speak, not to mention settling grudges, as many Democrats are very upset over Lamont's defeat.
  • More American Soldiers is just part of Lieberman's solution
    • Lieberman- "To turn around the crisis we need to send more American troops while we also train more Iraqi troops and strengthen the moderate political forces in the national government."
    • Lieberman- "The addition of more troops must be linked to a comprehensive new military, political and economic strategy that provides security for the population so that training of Iraqi troops and the development of a democratic government can move forward."
  • However, more troops remains an integral part nonetheless
    • What Losing Iraq Means
      • Lieberman - "On this point, let there be no doubt: If Iraq descends into full-scale civil war, it will be a tremendous battlefield victory for al-Qaeda and Iran. Iraq is the central front in the global and regional war against Islamic extremism."
      • The people waiting for us to leave in Iraq are not citizens fighting for their liberties, as were we were in our own revolutionary war, nor members of a movement fighting for Iraq's nationalist right of self determination, as were the Vietnamese. They are kidnappers and criminals, they are terrorists, they are militias, and they are foreign proxies. If we leave Iraq, they, and their supporters (such as Iran) will be the ones to fill the power vacuum. Not only will the situation indubitably germinate larger problems down the road, such as terrorism, regional instability, and threats to Middle Eastern oil flows (and consequently our economy), but all those who have supported us in Iraq, all those who dared to dream of a better, more democratic, and more just tomorrow, will flee or perish.
      • Kurdistan is the notable exception- they are run by a movement fighting for their right of self-determination and citizens fighting for their liberties. We've also left Kurdistan. They also love the Americans.
    • A secure Iraq is necessary for the construction of democracy in Iraq.
      • Lieberman - "More U.S. forces might not be a guarantee of success in this fight, but they are certainly its prerequisite. Just as the continuing carnage in Baghdad empowers extremists on all sides, establishing security there will open possibilities for compromise and cooperation on the Iraqi political front -- possibilities that simply do not exist today because of the fear gripping all sides."
      • Try running a democracy when people will shoot you because of who you are. Not who you chose to be. Who you are. Your ethnicity. Your race. These people were born Sunni-Shi'ite, and they're getting killed for it because we cannot deliver basic security.
      • Try making improving a society when people shoot you for that to. Teachers. Policemen. Soldiers. Politicians. Judges. People who rose when we asked them to make a democracy are now getting mowed down (or are fleeing Iraq altogether) because we never bothered to provide adequate security.
      • According to Iraqi tallies, 13,896 Iraqis died in 2006, 1,539 of which were from the security forces. According to the UN and a John Hopkins study, the number is much higher. Furthermore, it is estimated that as of Nov. 2006, 1.6 million Iraqis have fled their neighborhoods and 1.8 million Iraqis have quit the country altogether. An additional 100,000 are fleeing monthly.
      • Lieberman- "The most pressing problem we face in Iraq is not an absence of Iraqi political will or American diplomatic initiative, both of which are increasing and improving; it is a lack of basic security. As long as insurgents and death squads terrorize Baghdad, Iraq's nascent democratic institutions cannot be expected to function, much less win the trust of the people. The fear created by gang murders and mass abductions ensures that power will continue to flow to the very thugs and extremists who have the least interest in peace and reconciliation."
      • There can be no doubt that what is impeding the progress of Iraqi society, what is impeding the progress of their economy and institutions, is the security situation. Without security, we, and the Iraqis, cannot nation-build in Iraq.
    • We cannot trust Iraqi forces to bring about that security without us.
      • "Those [Iraqi] forces, already struggling with corruption and infiltration, have shown little willingness to stand up to political pressure, especially when the Americans are not there to support them. That suggests, the commanders say, that if the Americans leave soon, violence will redouble." Link.
      • "Among Sunnis, there is absolutely no faith in the ability, or desire, of the Iraqi Army or police to provide protection." Link.
      • "American officials, who are overseeing the training of the Iraqi Army and the police, acknowledge that police officers and Iraqi soldiers, and the militias with which they are associated, may indeed be carrying out killings and abductions in Sunni communities, without direct American knowledge." Link.
      • According to the Human Rights Watch: "Iraqi security forces are committing systematic torture and other abuses against people in detention"
      • Without the strong political and societal institutions that cannot be built (democratically) without security, the Iraqis cannot build a competent police force and army. How are you to build a non-sectarian, competent police force when any Iraqi runs the risk of having his family gunned down for doing his job right? That leaves the task with us. There is nobody we can pass the buck to. It is up to America, as the principle agent in bringing Iraq to its present situation, to provide Iraq with basic security. A necessary component of delivering that security is more American troops.
    • More Manpower works
      • Ramadi - An escalation of US troops, coupled with cooperation of the Sheiks, has almost pacified a one-time insurgent stronghold and led to the successful creation of a 2000+ man police force in a city.
      • Fallujah - Another one-time insurgent stronghold has been turned into a "safe-haven" for Sunnis fleeing Baghdad due to a strong and effective American security presence.
      • At the beginning of the war, we did not know what we were doing. Now, as evident in Ramadi and Fallujah, the American military has developed extremely effective pacification tactics. With the appointment of Gen. Petraeus, the same man that just oversaw the recent drafting of the military’s counterinsurgency manual and who promises a shift of tactics from Casey's strategy (consolidate and prepare to leave) to the same strategies that have worked inRamadi & Fallujah- small outposts with many patrols, we can finally trust our manpower will be effective.
    • Commanders' Opinions
      • It is a tradition- and a good tradition- that military commanders refrain from commenting on policy. That keeps the military controlled by the civilians, not the other way around. It is then to be expected that military commanders do not voice their opinion on the number of troops in Iraq, and when they do it is either muted or private.
      • Nonetheless, a poll of the actual military reveal that as of 2006, almost half of respondents think the U.S. needs more troops in Iraq and only 13 percent said the U.S. should have no troops there.
      • Additionally, historically the most consistent opinion of those involved in the Iraq war is that we did not have enough troops:
        • Bremer : "Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, administrator for the U.S.-led occupation government until the handover of political power on June 28, said he still supports the decision to intervene in Iraq but said a lack of adequate forces hampered the occupation and efforts to end the looting early on."
        • General Shinseki (2003): "I would say that what's been mobilized to this point -- something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers are probably, you know, a figure that would be required. We're talking about post-hostilities control over a piece of geography that's fairly significant, with the kinds of ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems. And so it takes a significant ground- force presence to maintain a safe and secure environment, to ensure that people are fed, that water is distributed, all the normal responsibilities that go along with administering a situation like this."
      • Furthermore, commanders will often be appointed according to the opinions of the civilian leadership. Thus it was to be expected that the top man in Iraq underRumsfeld , Gen. George W. Casey Jr, who was appointed to oversee reductions in the troops in Iraq, "initially expressed public wariness about any short-term increase in troops in Iraq" (Link). Troop increases would be a rubber stamp on his failure to implement his own plan. Much more than a rubber stamp is the fact that he is now being replaced by Gen. David H. Petraeus, a man whose personal pride will not stand to be hurt by changing tactics in Iraq and who actually supports more troops.
    • Iraqi Opinions
      • It is to be expected that the most Iraqis (excepting the Kurds) do not like us- we broke their China bowl, so to speak, and now we will not clean it up. Those that do not want us there are either those that believe the conspiracy theories that we are there to set up a Christian empire, or are those resisting us, who, asafore mentioned, are miscreants whose opinions are not to be respected when it comes to making decisions about the course of a society.
  • On Campaign Promises
    • The core reason the liberal left does not like Lieberman is because of his unflagging support of the war in Iraq. They may say otherwise, but that is definitely where he has received the most flak. Thus, to call him alier for supporting more troops after he supposedly promised otherwise during the campaign is to be hypocritical. The left opposed him during his campaign because he supported the war in Iraq, the left still opposes him now for supporting in Iraq, and neither side has shifted its position dramatically. Find me a citizen of Connecticut who voted for Lieberman and is outraged that he now supports more troops in Iraq and I will take him seriously. As to those claiming moral outrage who have always hated him, they have no grounds for additional anger.
  • The Case.
    • The Bush administration has done a terrible job with the occupation of Iraq. Such a terrible job that, were we to go back to the beginning, knowing what I know now, I would have actively opposed the undertaking from the onset. But the fact of the matter is that we are there, and our inability to deliver basic security is to blame for Iraq's desperate plight.
    • Furthermore, our army has gotten much more competent at being an occupation force in the last (almost) four years. With increased manpower, there is a valid possibility we can succeed.
    • There can be no doubt right now that Bush, and the Republican congress that did not hold him responsible, is to blame for the incompetency that got us here. I also think there can be little doubt that the Democratic congressional victory can be credited for making Bush fire those responsible (Rumsfeld) and change his strategy in Iraq.
    • After having caused such a reversal, for the Democratic majority to throw away even the chance for victory by pushing for a full withdrawal is a cowardly, partisan, and politically easy solution to a very difficult problem on par with the Republican decisions that got us here.
    • Furthermore, while a withdrawal will certainly spare America much sacrifice in the short run, it will be little less than a betrayal of Iraq to leave them with the mess we made.
  • The Democrats, and all of America, should stand for competency and accountability, not partisanry and defeat. Lieberman seems to understand that. The Democratic leadership, I'm afraid, does not.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Practical Carbon Tax

The price of oil is looking to plunge again, and with it, most of the progress made thus far in the 'War on Carbon Fuel Consumption.'

Alright, the name's a lot less sexy, but seeing as our success on this front will decide our future foreign policy, trade deficit, and most importantly our ability to achieve energy independence and transition off of oil without resorting to coal or dirty oil (ie shale oil) and the environmental havoc that would wreak, I think it a much more important war to win.

We need to adopt an effective, comprehensive strategy for tackling our unhealthy oil habit if we are to win. That strategy is a carbon tax:

'Climate change is a real problem and the only way to tackle it is to reduce the gap between the price of fossil-fuel energy and alternative energy. But subsidies are not the best way to achieve that goal... A global carbon tax would be a more efficient way to close the gap between fossil and alternative fuels' -Economist, Nov. 18-24 2006.

It needs to achieve all the aims of a fuel tax (punishing consumption) while softening spikes, making gasoline prices predictable, and not giving the government ridiculous amounts of money.
Here's my proposal:

It has five points.

First, you decide (or more likely some skilled economist decides) the maximum rate at which the price of carbon fuels can rise to curb consumption without significantly impacting the economy.

Second, you define carbon-based fuels as all transportation fuels deriving more than 5% (can be a little more or less) of their energy from carbon fuels such as natural gas, coal, and oil. This ensures the taxation of second hand carbon fuels, such as coal-hydrogen, while allowing fuels like ethanol, which requires natural gas based fertilizers, some wiggle room.

Third, you take that rate of price increase, you pick a base price, and then you get target prices that will change every quarter, half year, or year (again depends on what the economist says). So, for example, you would say the price of carbon-fuels will be 3$ in 2008 and increase 10 cents every quarter thereafter.

Fourth, you achieve this target rate by, each month, taking the lowest retail price of carbon fuel and adding however much tax is necessary to raise it to the target price. Thus, with slight variations to ensure the market continues to take its course, the price of carbon-fuels will remain at the target price. This allows consumers in the market to plan fuel expenses years into the future, assisting them with decisions such as the purchase of a hybrid, and producers to do the same, allowing, for instance, ethanol producers to invest big without the fear of a sudden plunge in carbon fuel prices.

Fifth, you take all the revenue from the tax, which, because of it changes monthly, will be incredibly unpredictable, and you give it back. You simply take all the money, divide the revenue by the number of taxpayers, and mail each one a check. Because everyone gets the same check regardless of their fuel consumption, big consumers will be losing, and people who do not consume carbon fuels will be getting free money. Regardless, the American government will get nothing, the desired punitory effect of a gas tax will be achieved, and the money will remain in the private sector.

Fighting oil consumption is a subject of great interest of me, and this plan has come from many modifications. Please do tell me if you approve and/or have any more to make.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Its time to face up to the facts: not only has the war in Iraq been executed terribly, but we can hardly hope to have a decent outcome unless we chin up and put down the requisite resources:

More troops.

Perhaps, at the beginning of the occupation phase of the war, 150-200,000 might have cut it. There was still an army leftover from Hussein, and most of the institutions were intact. Then we fired all the Ba'athists, let those looters run free, slipped up a few more times... and now we're dealing with full-blown militias, a very effective insurgency, highly-developed terror organizations, sectarian strife and huge amounts of criminal activity.

Fortunately, we can cope. Using the right tactics and sufficient force one can bring about security. Unfortunately, you need to maintain that force while expanding the secure area until the insurgency, militia, criminals, terrorists, have nowhere left to run. That's not being done. The situation was recently aptly summarized in a NYT article:

"...counterinsurgency operations have taken on the quality of a whack-a-mole arcade game. Every time the Americans have massed force to put out one fire, they have created a vacuum elsewhere that the insurgents have rushed to fill. When the Marines gathered forces to clear Falluja in 2004, they drew troops from the Haditha area, where the insurgents promptly moved in and executed the defenseless local police near the town's soccer field. The Marines returned in strength to Haditha and established several forward bases, including the one at Barwana, but then many of the troops were sent to the far west when commanders decided to clear Al Qaim, near the Syrian border. And the insurgents filtered back to Haditha."

Once we've established security, economic activity and free-discourse can escalate to the point where Iraq can become a viable democracy, but we simply cannot establish security given our current manpower.

Currently, the American army is trying to substitute for the shortage by beefing up the Iraqi military and police forces, but unless we pull off a miracle (if we do, I won't complain), that just is not going to work.


In chaotic situations, it is very difficult to impossible for a decentralized-democratic government to impose order.

Take, for instance, the Russian Civil War. In that war dozens of democratic rights-abiding governments rose from the chaos of Tsarist Russia, only to be crushed by terror-driven, highly disciplined conscripts from a centralized dictatorship. Ultimately this dictatorship was the Bolsheviks but Wrangel, Denikin, and Kolchak all also had their time in the sun as dictatorial White autocrats (of course all promising democracy as soon as the Reds were defeated, to be fair to their legacy).

So, if left to fight for itself, there is almost no way Iraq's government can establish order without resorting to dictatorial measures.

Which is why they need us. They need us to provide the security normally only a dictatorship can attain while their nascent democratic institutions find their feet. To provide that security, we need more soldiers.

The failure to do as much has been the Bush administration's ultimate fault in Iraq. And it's not like we cannot either. In the first Gulf War, we put forth 500,000 soldiers- and that was just to liberate Kuwait. In this war, yes, the sacrifice of our soldiers has been great, probably too great in light of the harvest we are reaping, but the sacrifice of our nation on the whole has been negligible if not laughable. No extra taxes have been imposed- in fact I believe we've enjoyed several tax cuts, nobody has been asked to put forth a little more, American society on the whole is operating on a peace-time basis- fighting this war with one hand behind the back, so to speak. I'm not saying that we should go into World-War total-war mode, but only that the resources we can bring to the table in Iraq are much more immense than what we have brought to bear.

So, Mr. President, get a spine and put in the troops. You won't get popular support- Americans don't trust you with military operations (I wonder why...?), but what does it matter? Your poll ratings are low anyway and you don't have to get re-elected. Chin up, belly in, and face the electorates wrath. If we upped the number to 500,000 and our military commanders don't suddenly lose their minds, we will see results. In fact, we might even get a viable democracy in Iraq.

Perhaps you're just waiting for December...?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Israel Is Losing

The incredible stupidity on display in the allied and Israeli handling of Hezbollah and southern Lebanon astounds me. I hope for the welfare of the Middle East and America that mine is a skewed perspective on the region.

From the beginning it should have been clear to Israel that the key to undermining Hezbollah lay not in bombs and missions.

Hezbollah is invincible so far as military action is concerned: they are an incredibly popular grass roots organization, they have a morally just cause (the defense of ones country) and they will have personnel so long as Lebanon has Shi'ites, thus Israel cannot shoot them all. They are militarily and financially supported by Iran, meaning they will have resources so long as the regime in Iran persists, thus Israel cannot bomb them all.

So military action is not where the struggle for Hezbollah's survival is and will be fought. Nay, rather it is the occupation: wresting control of southern Lebanon's society from the grips of Hezbollah.

This task is simply achieved first by occupying the place (check) then, more importantly, filling those civilian niches in which Hezbollah has always resided with institutions that promote a free and open society.

Not too difficult. Merely give the Lebanese government the overwhelming technical and financial aid to rebuild all roads, hospitals, schools, homes, infrastructure in general and then staff them all. Voila, the government is in, Hezbollah is no more than another political organization. This should not be too difficult an undertaking were it given the support of all those nations that are already sending their soldiers there.

Unfortunately, it would seem Hezbollah is already winning this second, much more important battle. With Iran's unlimited support, they have promised to rebuild the south, and seem to be moving quickly to it.

How could Israel fail to see that it is about to lose any shot it ever had at gaining popular support and strengthening the Lebanese government? How is it that our own government, whose interests lie very much so in neutering Hezbollah, is being outspent by Iran?

I dearly hope I am not seeing the whole picture, that as we speak Western bureaucrats are organizing a massive aid program, but I fear the contrary.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

On The Sources of Terrorists

Meet Khalid. He drives taxis in Italy. He is Morroccan by birth, and a practicing Muslim. He speaks three languages fluently: Italian, French, and Arabic, and speaks well enough English (he's learning it) that I could carry on a conversation with him on our brief taxi ride encounter. He thinks his town in Italy is the most beautiful place in the world, was anxious about the upcoming world cup match, and has finally earned enough money to pay for his parents to join him.

Is Khalid a soldier, the first wave of what is a coordinated Islamic attempt to subvert and takeover Europe? Or is he just another man making his way in the world?

I'm going to take the latter. Unfortunately, there are people and forces who would have him, and the millions of other Muslim immigrants in Europe who have not reached his level of integration, be the former.

As explained in the previous essay, there is a very powerful and influential structure devoted to the reinforcement of radical Islam and the idea that the impoverished and politically disenfranchised masses of the Middle East have not their oppressive and downright greedy governments to blame but rather America and the West.

There are three groups, "armies" within Islam that this very propaganda combines with to create anti-Americanism at the least and terrorists at the worst.

First, the masses of the Middle East. They are the principle target, for they are the most capable of toppling the elites and governments who create the propaganda.

Second, the immigrant masses. They are a more indirect target but a target nonetheless. Most fall back on Islam and at worst radical Islam after having been economically denied and discriminated against in their new societies. Iran actually actively targets these immigrants through its financial support of radical mosques and schools towards the end of increasing its influence abroad.

Albeit it is difficult, almost impossible to bring the first group out of its propaganda bubble without solving the root problem by reforming their societies, the societies in which this group resides are already in an optimum state and need only end discrimination and deliver economic aid to battle discrimination in their ranks.

Finally, there are the well-to-do Muslims. Not the elites, those that run the propoganda institutions (Mosques, schools, media) and profit enormously from the Middle East status quo. No, these come from the "bourgeouis", the middle class. These are the most indirectly affected targets and yet also the most dangerous.

As explained in the previous essay, the radical Islamic movement is really operating on the same forces of a revolution: a large segment of society (the Arab Muslim societies of the Middle Eastern oil states, principally) has no economic or political stake in the system, and is thus inclined towards the destruction of the "nemesis" that is denying them said stakes. Thanks to the propaganda efforts of the elites, that nemesis is the United States. The problem? Our very way of life runs contrary to radical Islam, and thus "spoils" their society. The solution? Impose radical Islam on the world. Thus as the Russians once fought for communism, as the French once fought for "liberte, fraternite, et egalite", now these educated Muslims fight for the sharia.

That being re-established, if one examines most revolutions in the past, their most dangerous members, their leaders, are not from the masses themselves, but rather the middle class. Lenin, Trotsky, Marx, Robespierre, and many other revolutionary leaders (and philosophers) all enjoyed a fair degree of both comfort and education and were not affected by those maladies which they sought to cure, yet all the same were emotionally moved by the perceived plight of the masses and decided to take up arms in their name.

Thus it is easy to see that many middle class Muslims, well educated and well off, have, as in all revolutions, taken up (in their minds) the cause of their brethren to fight their nemesis (the West & the United States). Into this last category fits Osama Bin Laden, most of the 9/11 terrorists, and, most recently, most of the would-be plane bombers.

This last category is the most dangerous and almost impossible to stop without going after the root problem. So long as the forces of this global "revolution" remain in play, it will find "heros" in the middle classes. We can do our best to counter the propaganda and beef up airport security, but these misdirected "heros" will continue to fight us so long as we have not addressed the plight of their masses.

Thus albeit it may seem at first bizzarre to blame the plight of a poor Arab in Saudi Arabia for the actions undertaken by Bin Laden and the homegrown English terrorists, such is entirely the case. The root of the problem remains the same: despotic societies in the Middle East whose states beg revolution and yet redirect those deadly forces, through radical Islam, towards the West so as to tender their own salvation.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A Treatise On Radical Islam

Know your enemy before you go out to fight him.

Our enemy is certainly not Islam as a whole. Yet neither is is it the radical Islam that most our enemies espouse. Were it, it would be invincible. There is no way you can defeat a person a people imbued with radical Islam. As Kevino said, no conventional police force may defend against the suicidal.

Then it is fortunate radical Islam is not the enemy. Nay, rather it is those factors that bring about the circumstances under which radical Islam thrives. Namely, the desperate conditions enjoyed by most in the Middle East: their economies are going nowhere, almost all the power, political and financial, is held by an elite few, and the populace, the majority of which are youth under 25 years of age, are going crazy at their inability to improve their lives and take control of their future. Normally, when a large segment of society loses faith in its institutions' abilities to accomadate them, they lash out at those in charge of the institutions, attempting, in an often violent and disorganized manner, to fix the system by transforming it: they revolt.

The elites in the Middle East are atleast partially if not fully aware of the situation, but they have devised a devious system of avoiding said disorder (and the fate it would bring them): they've passed the buck. Through direct support of Islam and indirect support of radical Islam, they have successfully redefined the situation in the eyes of their desperate society.

The people in charge are no longer the elites who are hogging the oil while repressing reform and political dissent. Nay, it is the United States. The case that we are in charge is understandably easy to make. In many ways we are. We intervene continuously militarily, support Israel, and are always telling them what to do. The case that we are thus responsible for the woes of their society is made easy once religion is mixed in: our culture is "wrong" and thus by merely having power over them taint their society, causing social problems, which in turn is why you, Joe Muslim, are dirt poor, don't have a future, and feel hopeless & desperate. In such a way the oil elites of the Middle East have successfully deflected that malcontent that has in the past been at the root of revolts from France to Russia to Iran. Most Joe Muslims subsequently fume at the United States and cheer when the footage of Hezbollah comes up. A crazy few find the resources or provide the resources to "revolt" against the United States through acts of terror and many many delusional diatribes about how Islam will rule us all.

Thus the enemy is not radical Islam. No, that is just a weapon, a particularly dangerous idea that has been manipulated as deftly as we may manipulate planes and armor in our wars. The enemy is those that have decided the satisfaction of their greed is more important than the welfare of the societies they control. An example: Those Iranian Mullahs who fund Hezbollah, rail against the United States, and advocate their nuclear program are also some of the biggest Iranian propertyholders.

Thus now that we understand the root of radical Islam and the terrorism, anti-Americanism, and, occasionally, sharia it in turn spawns, we understand also the extent and capabilities of the threat.

First, in most open societies, radical Islam cannot endure. If a populace is to support it, they must not have an economic or political stake in society (thus be poor & without a vote) and be surrounded by an institutional & media presence that supports radical Islam. Impressively, through their negligence and the hard work of Iran, such a state has nearly been achieved in many European countries, yet were they to organize politically (begin voting) they would then have a stake (but take note: not control) in society and thus no longer interested in its destruction.

Second, the elites whose greed gives radical Islam its power, being motivated by greed, are also limited by it. Thus we can be assured that Iran, upon nuclear acquisition, will not use the nukes against us, as outlined by JEM. They know that were they to do such a thing, they would lose all power at the hands of an enraged America. Indeed (granted we would never want such a thing to happen for our love of life) the use of a nuke would ultimately be the most positive possible development for the US. We would instantly gain full unwavering support from all other Western nations and would use our military capabilities in such a callous fashion that we would soon effectively rule the Middle East. That is not what the elites want. Like smart drug-dealers, they never buy their own product. They are not suicidal. No, the Iranian elites (they are the best example) use radical Islam and war-mongering only as a tool to control their populace (and use it effectively, as noted by Kevino, Iranian malcontent with the government has dropped dramatically since 2003, the same year they announced the nuclear program), not to actually fight the United States. They will only push it as far as they think it safe and no further. Of course, should they gain the bomb, that "safe" limit may be extended enormously, which is why we need to work against such a thing happening.

Obviously we will continue to fight terror and call radical Islam wrong wherever it crops up. But that's just playing defense. To solve the problem we need to attack the root.

So how do we fight those elites that are spawning terror & anti-Americanism so that they might safeguard their own greed?

The most obvious method is to kill off the elites and institute a free society. We're trying that in Iraq. Unfortunately, that requires enormous resources and, if improperly executed (as has happened in Iraq) might have more negative than positive consequences, atleast in the short term (I still hope for success).

A more practical approach would be to use economic & limited military pressure to force the elites to reform their society so as to redress the desperation of their citizens. In this endeavor we are limited by our dependence on oil, which makes us more dependent on them than they are on us (and prevents us from, for instance, air-striking Saudi Arabia to make a point), and that economic sanctions can be ineffective if unilateral (the case with Iran).

We can also wage a propaganda war. Again, though, we are severely limited as their elites control all mainstream means of propaganda, and they have more experience. Iraq could become a platform for a much more effective propaganda campaign, but again, that hinges on establishing a stable free society there, by no means a certainty.

Finally, we can give them the hug of death. Were we to broker a permanent peace in Israel and affected areas and tone down all other policies that may be twisted to justify radical Islam while stepping up aid programs, encouraging trade (like we have with China), condemning all Islamic rulers that do wrong, and taking advantage of opportune moments to prove our goodness (the tsunami aid is an excellent example), then we might make it impossible for them to denounce us as evil (for we do nothing but good, bring nothing but prosperity) and free the Muslim societies against their rulers will (as is happening in China).

Certainly there is no straight arrow solution, but the fourth mixed in with the other three according to the situation will probably get the trick done. To summate: radical Islam is not the enemy, rather is only the shield of greed. The elites (the rulers, politicians, bureaucrats, clerics, royal families) of the Middle East are the true enemy, for their placement of their own welfare before their societies' is what has created such perfect breeding grounds for radical Islam. As such we need not fear a global war but the anti-Americanism, terrorism, and threat to our oil supplies radical Islam produces merits our effort towards a solution. Any such solution must concentrate on the elites and reforming their societies, and although I'll hear suggestions, it promises to be complicated.

If anyone has made the journey, yes, this is the same as a comment I left on vodkapundit.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Worst of All Possible Worlds

May 15, 2006- Presidential Address On Iran

Over the last seventeen days, negotiations stalled at the Security Council as China stonewalled. In the meantime, Iran stepped up its nuclear program, coupling the re-opening of the Natanz enrichment facility with a nuclear technology export deal with Sudan. Enraged at the Iranian's refusal to talk, their increasingly radical rhetoric toward Israel, and the inability to bring about cohesive international action, yesterday afternoon the American delegation walked out of the UN. This morning Americans were jolted awake by news from Iran of massive bombings, and civlian casualties. Speculation and rumors swirl while reporters eagerly awaits information from the government. The room hushes as the President enters, a solemn _expression fixed on his face.

Ladies and Gentlemen, People of America and Iran. Yesterday, after the breakdown of negotiations and failure to persuade the security council to take action, I was forced to order the initiation of our last resort: a military strike. Faced with the eminent development of an Iranian nuclear capability and their refusal to back down, much less negotiate, we were given no other alternative. After having consulted NATO and our allies in the Middle East, the United States Air Force and Navy commenced operations at sundown last night. The strikes were surgical yet overwhelming. All twelve known nuclear sites were struck, along with approximately two dozen suspected sites and the residences and laboratories of prominent scientists involved in the program. Additionally, various airfields, radar installations, and other air-defense facilities were bombed toward the end of neutralizing Iranian defenses. Finally, submarine facilities and missile pads were destroyed so as to eliminate Iran's ability to lash out at American forces stationed in the Middle East. American casualties were minimal. Iranian casualties are unknown, but in all likelihood substantial.

People of Iran, we are sincerely sorry. We know you mean us no harm, and the needless waste of human life that comes with military action pains us deeply. Furthermore, I apologize and take full responsibility for the grievous wrongs the United States has committed against the people of Iran in the past. In 1954, we took political power away from you, replacing a democratically elected government with a repressive, corrupt, and despotic one. Today, I am committing our full resources to doing just the opposite. Today, I am committing America to giving Iranian political power back to the Iranian people.

Towards that end, leaders of Iran, you are given two roads:

One allows you to join the modern world if you will abide by the rules. The first condition is that you must renounce terror and the organizations that support it. The second is that you must renounce attaining a nuclear bomb and open yourselves up to full inspections. Finally, and most important, you must hold free, internationally monitored, open, elections for both your Majiles (the Iranian Parliament) and Presidency, while giving the newly elected Majiles the authority to amend the Iranian constitution as they see fit. If you take these steps, we will embrace the proud nation of Iran's return to the modern world. The United States will drop all sanctions, pay for the damages you suffered last night, and allow you to proceed with your nuclear energy program, on the condition that the weapons geared parts of the process occur in some outside nation under international supervision, such as Russia. Furthermore, we will provide you with substantial economic aid and work toward your inclusion in various world organizations, such as the World Trade Organization

Yet if, leaders of Iran, if you refuse such an option, instead insisting upon wreaking havoc on both the outside world and your own people, we will have little option left but that of coercion. If you take this second road, starting in 48 hours a new, sustained, bombing campaign will be launched. It will be aimed first at those leaders that repress the Iranian people, second at those institutions they utilize to repress the Iranian people, and finally at those institutions, such as your military, that you might utilize against non-Iranian and Iranians alike. If, leaders of Iran, you continue to put your own wants and needs above those of the nation, then, in two weeks, we will broaden the campaign from the political to the economic spectrum. At that time, we will impose a complete blockade. Every plane will be intercepted, every outward leading road, railroad, and pipeline bombed, and every ship sunk. The actions and behaviour of your regime have rendered its continued existence in its present form intolerable to the United States and the world community.

Leaders of Iran, I beseech you, do not push us down the second road. Let us put our differences behind us, so that we all may enjoy the fruits and freedoms of life, and the prosperity the world has to offer.