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Lets's talk about democracy
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Saturday, 25 March 2006
Soul mates
This is neither here nor there necessarily but, I just happened to come across a Deutsche Welle Tagestema story from Dec. 24 1999, which showed how the people of Groznyy, the capital city of Chechnya, were dealing with the Russian bombardment there. If you'll remember, Vlad claimed that apartment bombings in Russia that killed ------ civilians was the work of the Chechen rebels, and even though he has yet to this day provided any evidence of this, he went ahead and launched another war in Chechnya that goes on to this day. The opening round of this his new "war on terror" was the indiscriminate shelling and strafing of a city of ----- people. At the time, nearly a discouraging word was heard from the Europeans or the American about this campaign of terror and murder and when W. got into office he looked into Putin's eyes and saw a man he could deal with. Putin's war of convenience dove-tailed perfectly with W.'s war of convenience and the two lived happily every after.

As we're lecturing the Russians on their violations of human rights, I though it would be instructive to compare the results of their campaign to wipe out terror.

Here's Groznyy in 1999:

and here's Fallujah in 2004:

Posted by bushmeister0 at 4:00 PM EST
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The Russians are no friends of ours! Well, duh!
Topic: General News.
As I mentioned a while back, the Russians are on W.'s shit list these days. It's come to the attention of the president that Vlad "the impaler" Putin, the man who he thought was his soul-mate, is really just another tin-horn dictator. (I don't know, maybe they really are soul-mates.) This apparently hadn't occurred to W. & Co. before, when Putin was closing down all the independent news outlets, rejiggering the constitution to allow him to appoint previously elected Governors and sending his political opponents to Siberia. The veil began to lift when Putin tried to strong-arm the Ukrainians into voting for his guy and then cut off the gas pipelines to Ukraine and Europe during the worst of the winter months. The kicker must have been when Condi came out and declared that Belarus was last true dictatorship and in reply Vald invited Lukashenko to Moscow.

Speaking of Belarus, it's purely a coincidence that just as the Europeans and the Americans are talking about imposing sanctions on president Alexander Lukashenka, who just won re-election with 82% of the vote --- low and behold ---a story comes out in the media that says Russia was spying on us before and during the invasion of Iraq. Strange bit of timing there.

This spying story is really much to do about nothing, because ultimately the intelligence they passed on to Saddam just reinforced his already muddled appraisal of the American strategy in the first place. And something tells me that the U.S. had some inkling of what the Russians were up to because, it's a little difficult for me to believe that they could have gotten their information so wrong on so many things if they actually had someone right in the heart of the command center at Doha. Obviously, they were being fed misinformation on purpose. For the U.S. to be crying foul at this point is a bit like Claude Rains being shocked, shocked that gambling was going on at Rick's.

[An interesting side note in all of this is that the Russian ambassador to Iraq was passing this intel to Saddam, and oddly enough, as he was making his getaway out of Baghdad his his convoy was fired on by U.S. troops and they damn near killed him. Was this a case of trigger-happy troops in the fog of combat, or an intentional attempt to kill or capture the Russian ambassador who no doubt knew who the mole was at Doha?]

I think, the point of this charade is to get tough with Putin. This is SOP for W. & Co.: carry a big stick and...carry another big stick in case the first one doesn't do the job. In this case, though, I don't know how far we're going to get with threats. Russia is the second biggest supplier of oil to the world and Europe would come to a grinding halt if he cut off their natural gas. Plus, China just made a big pipeline deal with the Russians, so even if we're now over the idea of the Russians helping us out with Iran's nuke's the Chinese are hardly gong to be on our side on the Belarus issue.

Besides, they can turn right around and point out that we said not one word when Ilham Aliyev in Azerbaijan won his election with 82% of the vote back in 2003. At the time, undersecretary of State Richard Armitage even congratulated him on his "strong showing."

Posted by bushmeister0 at 3:57 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 27 March 2006 2:00 PM EST
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Friday, 24 March 2006
More progress in Afghanistan:

Democratic institutions are flourishing in Kabul and a newly elected parliament of warlords is getting down to the business of reinstating Shariah law. Everything there is going so well --- except for the resurgent Taliban and the opium growing ---and now there comes this case of Abdul Rahman, who is under the threat of being put to death by an Afghan court for converting to Christianity. President Bush is very upset about this latest embarrassment and has sic'd Condi on Hamid Karzai. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says Condi called Karzai and discussed this issue with him "in the strongest possible terms." McCormack says that Condi, "urged president Karzai to seek a favorable resolution to this case at the earliest possible moment."

The problem, according to Barnett R. Rubin, and expert on Afghanistan, is that the West, with their money and military presence, is putting a lot of public pressure on Karzai to quash this, which makes matters worse. The religious types are questioning his credentials as the leader of an Islamic country and in the current atmosphere of religious hurt feelings over the Mohammed cartoons he can't be seen to be backing down to infidels. [Hear Rubin on the World for more on this]

W.s right-wing Christian fanatic constituents here at home are also equally exorcized about this story and are demanding Bush do something about it. The only supporters W. has left at this point are his radical end timers, so when they say jump he says how high. This is the problem you run into when your foreign policy is based on the teachings of the Bible. A book written by a bunch of stinky sun-stroked lunatics 2000 years ago is probably not the best guide to conducting your foreign affairs in the age of instantaneous communications and nuclear weapons.

But, this isn't about religion, parish the thought, it's about democracy. We're all about democracy. Scott McClellan says that this prosecution "clearly violates the universal freedoms that democracies around the world hold dear." W. said on Wednesday that he expects Afghanistan to "honor the universal principle of freedom." What he didn't explain was why Afghanistan is being held up to this standard but Pakistan isn't.

In any case, this puts the Afghan government is a bit of a pickle and everyone concerned wants this story to go away. Supposedly, there is a chance that Rahman will be declared mentally unfit to stand trial and he'll be deported. That doesn't really do much for him or his child custody case, the reason he got into this mess in the first place, but at least he'll get out of Afghanistan with his head still intact.

With all this going on some are starting to wonder what difference getting rid of the Taliban really made. For a long time we were perfectly fine with them being in power so what happened? Oh right, the pipeline deal. Hamid Karzai, being a former adviser to Unocal, understands the value of a pipeline to his country. I guess, as long as the oil flows, we can put up with a little warlordism and Sahriah law.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:01 PM EST
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Iraqi My Lai continued:

Time Magazine reports that the military has reluctantly launched an investigation into the allegations that Marines summarily executed 15 Iraqis civilians in Haditha last November. This comes at the same time that the military is investigating the deaths of 11 civilians last week in the village of Ishaqi, where Iraqi police say Marines killed a whole family execution style. [Night Ridder] The military initially said the civilians were "collateral damage" from a fire fight between them and a suspected al-Qaeda member, but the Iraqi police rejected that claim. Farouq Hussein, a local police official, told Reuters that all the victims were shot in the back of the head. "It was a clear and perfect crime without any doubt," he said.

If this is true, what was going on in these two units? The Marines Corp. isn't exactly an organization that is known for its trigger happy killers. The Marines are the creme de la creme of military, their discipline and professionalism is legendary. If these Marine units just went off on their own and decided to kill civilians in revenge for the death of one of their own and then tried to make it look like it was the Iraqis who did it, with the bullet in the back of the head thing --the Interior Ministry's trademark ---we've got a much bigger problem in the military and the strain its under than just endless rotations and equipment fatigue.

For a while now I've been noticing the large number of NCOs we're losing in Iraq every week and I've been wondering how long we can sustain the loss of so many experienced members of the military and not start to suffer from it. The NCOs are the backbone of the military; they train the recruits and the officers. The hallmark of the volunteer army and its high level of competence is the NCO. All that experience and skill that's lost every time another Staff Sergeant or Lance Corporal is killed starts to add up after a while. Just look at the pathetic state of the Russian army, which uses "grandfathers," or soldiers with two years in the army, to enforce discipline on the new recruits by beating and hazing them. We can't get to the point where the ones training new recruits are just slightly less trained than they are.

Discipline and unit cohesion is what makes an army an army. When young soldiers are going off on their own without orders and killing civilians, especially in an insurgency war like Iraq, where such atrocities can be used by the insurgents to gain support from the local population, it's a sign something is going terribly wrong. Of course, it doesn't help that the Commander-in-Chief, who managed to avoid military service when his country needed him, regularly rewards incompetence and condones the punishment of the lowers ranks while those in command get off scott-free. As long as Rummy, the man most responsible for this mess in Iraq, gets to keep his job and continues to run the military, I don't see things getting any better over there.

I feel really sorry for those poor bastards in Iraq that somehow have to manage to fight day in and day out in the middle of the impossible situation they've been put into by the likes of Rummy and his compliant generals. The most solemn duty a general has is to ensure the safety of those he commands. This batch of lackeys, Tommy Franks chief among them, who remained silent while Rummy violated every hard learned lesson of the Vietnam war, should be prosecuted, not rewarded. Every rule guiding the uses of a post-Vietnam volunteer army was broken by Rummy and Co.:

If you're going to go to war, make sure you have the support of the public, make sure you have overwhelming force to achieve your goals and make sure you have an exit strategy. None of these rules was applied in this situation. The public has bailed, we never had enough troops and W. is hoping a future president can figure a way out, once he's safely out of office building his presidential library.

Our brave war president defends all the good work Rummy has done by saying to his critics, "Listen, every war plan looks good on paper until you meet the enemy." The problem with that is the war plan Rummy came up with didn't envision an insurgency. W. even denied that this particular "enemy" even existed until about a year after our people had started fighting them. Rummy dismissed the insurgency as a small group of Saddam regime "dead-enders" and just ten months ago Dick-shot Cheney said they were in their last throes.

The leadership of this war is seriously flawed, to the point of being dangerous, but this isn't to say the military is completely remiss in its duties to the men and women fighting the war. ATC had a piece the other day on a mock Iraqi town they've built in the Mohave Desert at Fort Irwin to work out strategies to fight the insurgency. It's quite a major undertaking and one of the only generals who actually got his stuff together, Lieutenant General David H. Petraeus, is overseeing the whole thing. This is good and we should all be happy that the people charged with defending this country are using their training and expertise to try and get things right in Iraq, despite the lack of leadership at the top.

Deborah Amos, who did the report, interviewed a general involved in this project, who had been in Iraq during the early stages of the insurgency and he gave an example of the level of denial that was going on in the military back then. He said he was talking to a Colonel about the insurgency when the Colonel stopped him in mid-sentence to tell him there was no such thing. There was only a limited violent uprising, or some such blather. The general told Amos that those using terms to describe what was going on right in front as something other than what it was, was a form of self-delusion.

When I heard that, I was thinking how apropos that was to what is going on in the halls of the pentagon and in the White House even at this late date. As much as I am heartened by the fact the some in the military are trying to get down to brass tacks and come up with a way to fight the insurgency and save American lives, all of that effort is pretty much futile as long as we've got a president who thinks we're on the verge of a glorious victory.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:53 PM EST
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Things couldn't be better in Iraq, really.
Topic: Iraq

Despite what you see in the news everyday, things are going swimmingly in Iraq. All that daily violence over there is the media's fault. Like W. said the other day, the insurgents are "capable of blowing up innocent life so it ends up on your TV show." That doesn't explain, though, the dozens of bodies that keep popping up everyday with their hands tied behind their backs with bullets in the back of their heads. Something tells me these deaths aren't the work of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Yesterday's death total, reported by the pliable media lackeys from AP, was 58 killed by "execution-style slayings, bombings and gun battles." For the third day running insurgents attacked a police facility, this time in the Karradah district which killed 10 civilians and 15 policemen. This follows major insurgent attacks on a police station in Salman Pak on Wednesday and the big one in Muqdadiya on Tuesday that killed 18 policemen and freed 33 prisoners. Now before you get the idea that all this violence is widespread and the whole country is going up in flames, the U.S. military spokesman, Maj. Rick Lynch, would like to put all of us straight. "There is not widespread violence across Iraq. There is not." The good news he wants you to know is that, "Seventy-five percent of the attacks still take place in Baghdad, Anbar or Salaheddin." Of course, two-thirds of the country is either Kurdish ruled in the north or under the de-facto rule of the Badr brigade and the Mahdi army in the south. The rest of the country that isn't desert wasteland is where all the trouble is.

Remember, Salaheddin, where Sammara is, and Anbar, where Fallujah and Tal Afar are, are the big time military success stories of the war. So it’s just a matter of time before it’s all over, over there. Just the other day General Peter Pace said things were "going very well" in Iraq, so who are you going to believe, the media or the military?

Maj. Lynch is not all Pollyanna about what's going on over there, though, there's still some hard work to be done and he admits that there has been a "spike in ethnic-sectarian incidents." Seventy-five percent more civilian deaths occurred between the week of March 11 through the 17th and in Baghdad alone there has been 58 attacks killing 134 Iraqis, but still the enemy is unable to mount significant attacks in Baghdad because of all the extra security that those crack Iraqi security unit that will be taking over from us any minute now. Well, except for the four car bombings yesterday, naturally.

But overall, we should all be optimistic like W. is that a future president will have to dig us out of this mess he's gotten us into.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:31 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 24 March 2006 2:07 PM EST
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Monday, 20 March 2006
An Iraqi My Lai?
Topic: Iraq

According to an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, an Iraqi police report accuses the U.S. military of executing 11 Iraqi civilians in a village 60-miles north of Baghdad last week, including a 75-year old woman and a six-month old baby. "The villagers were killed after U.S. troops herded them into a single room of the house...The report did not specify how the villagers were killed, but a local police commander said autopsies indicated they had all bullet wounds in the back of their heads."

The reports says, "The American forces gathered the family members in one room and executed 11 persons, including five children, four women, and two men. Then they bombed the house, burned three vehicles, and killed their aninals." According to U.S. military spoksman Maj. Tim Keefe, there had been a fire-fight after U.S. troops were tipped off that there was an al-Qaeda member in the house and had used "ground and air assets" to neutralize the target, which included a missile fired by an attack helicopter, but he hadn't heard about the report alleging executions. He said he had seen the pictures of the dead and concluded from them that they hadn't been killed by our troops. Of course, an investigation has been launched and I'm sure the military will do its usual thourough job of making sure the truth comes out, just like at Abu-Ghraib and Gitmo.

While they're at it they might want to look into the killing by U.S. troops of a teacher, his wife and 13-year old son and four other people in the Sunni town of Duluiyah yesterday.

The WaPo reports:

"A top police official, as well as a resident who claimed he saw the fighting, said U.S. troops also shot and killed a family of three during house-to-house searches after the firefight.

'I saw corpses on the ground that I believe were of armed men who had clashed with the American forces' and with the Iraqi army, said Ahmad Hashem, the resident. 'Then the American soldiers appeared and started searching homes. They raided a house which was close to my home and killed a man named Ahmad Khalaf Hussein, his wife and his 10-year-old son.'"

And then there's also the new investigation that took three months to get started into the killing of 15 civilians last November in Haditha.

Knight Ridder reports:

"The investigation will center on whether a squad of 12 to 15 Marines with the 2nd Marine Division's Regimental Combat Team 2 from Camp Lejeune, N.C., responded appropriately to the insurgent attack 'and whether proper procedures were followed,'(an) official said.

The U.S. military official described the November incident as a coordinated attack that included improvised explosives and small-arms fire from several locations. The official said that it was common for insurgents to fight from civilian homes and structures and place noncombatants in the line of fire. But Iraqis frequently have accused U.S. forces of opening fire indiscriminately after they are attacked."

That would pretty much explain all of these incidents. My God, what the hell are we doing over there?

[See Non Sum Dignus for "Rummy's march of folly."]

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:35 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 20 March 2006 2:43 PM EST
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Friday, 17 March 2006
Is there an Iraq left to win?
Topic: Iraq

Yesterday, the military announced they had launched operation "Swarmer," the biggest air assault since the beginning of the Iraq war in the area around Samarra. There was confusion all day in the media about what exactly "air assault" meant, because at first everybody thought this was "shock and awe" all over again. Later on the pentagon explained they were talking about helicopters landing troops, not fixed wing aircraft dropping smart bombs.

Part of the confusion might have been from the day before when the U.S. used what military spokesman Maj. Tim Keefe said were "air and ground assets" to demolish a farm house in Balad, which he said was supposedly occupied by insurgents. In the process, they managed to kill 11 civilians, who were apparently members of an entire family --- "from a 75-year old grandmother to a six-month old baby" ---from what Jeffery Gettlman in the NYT reported. The results of the air and ground attack were, "devastating, according to images broadcast on Arab TV: dead cows, scorched cars, a smashed house and 11 bodies wrapped up in blankets."

In the effort to win hearts and minds, and keep everybody's mind off the lack of any political progress in Baghdad, the U.S. is really going after the insurgents, or al-Qaeda, or whoever is in Samarra, now that the horse is already out of the barn. Today, I heard resistance has been light, which probably has to do with the fact that the insurgents knew well ahead of time what was coming and redeployed the hell out of there.

The Iraqi army makes up half the forces involved in this "offensive," which is great, but from what I hear they're not the problem---the Interior Ministry forces and the police are. No one ever said the U.S. military couldn't train an army, I'm sure the Iraqis are way more capable than they were a year ago. The question now is, after they've got control of Samarra, will the Iraqis stay to make sure al-Qaeda doesn't come back? I seem to remember that U.S. launched another big offensive almost to the minute that W. and John Kerry started their first debate back in October which was supposed to flush the insurgents out of Samarra for good. Whatever happened with that?

Last night Jay Leno joked that this offensive would last as long as it took to get Bush's poll numbers up to around 40% and I think there might be some truth to that. I noticed a distinct lack of Rummy in the press and a whole lot of Scott McClellan. When the White House press secretary is giving the blow by blows on a military operation, you have to wonder. The thing is, I don't think at this late date that big military operations deflect the public's attention away from the chaos and political gridlock that's going on everywhere else in Iraq. We're still getting a heavy dose of "civil war has been averted," but if you listen to what the major players are saying you don't really get that feeling.

On Wednesday, the day before the parliament met for about a half hour to show the cameras that they could actually all sit down together in the same room --- and get nothing done --- Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of the powerful Shiite group Sciri, said the only way to provide security for Iraq was to split up the country into autonomous regions. "This way, each region can be guarded by its own people and the criminals won't have a chance." Good idea, sounds like a perfect recipe for civil war, too. Al-Hakim's boss, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who is supposedly the voice of reason, said last week that if the government couldn't ensure safety, the militias would.

When you judge the situation by the lack of progress being made in the moribund parliament and the comments of one of the largest power brokers saying they want to run their own show down in the south, what makes anyone think there's a snow balls chance in hell of a "national unity government" ever happening? Sending 1,5000 troops into Samarra to chase out a few hundred ragtag insurgents who will just relocate to another part of the desert doesn't solve the larger issue of whether there even really is an Iraq to defend anymore.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 12:31 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 17 March 2006 12:33 PM EST
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Thursday, 16 March 2006
More preemption coming.
Topic: Bush Administraiton

The Bush administration is releasing its updated national security strategy plan which advocates preemptive strikes against countries W. & Co. think might be a danger to us at some point in the future. (This is the same kind of loose thinking that led us into Iraq.) This time around, it's Iran in the cross-hairs for "anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy's strike." But, of course, this applies to countries with WMD and would only be used as a "last resort." Just like in Iraq, only then it was a first resort. It does say, though, that diplomacy to stop Iran's nuclear enrichment program "must succeed if confrontation is to be avoided," so that's hopeful right? Didn't we try diplomacy on Iraq? No?

The NYT reports that the new document makes "no such direct threat of confrontation with North Korea," which, after all, actually has nukes. Asked about this double standard --- because some think a crazy regime like North Korea with nukes might be more of a danger than a not as crazy that just wants nukes --- National Security Director Steven Hadley said, "the sentence applies to both Iran and North Korea." Right, you can take that to the bank. So watch out Kim Jung-Il, you're still on the list. (But not really)

Of course, we know Iran is a major threat to this country and could pass the "point of no return" within minutes, but North Korea, who actually has WMD and has threatened to use them against us, makes Iran's human rights record look like Denmark's. A new musical, the Yoduk Story, in South Korea about the north's Gulags is stirring up all kinds of controversy, mainly because the government there is trying to make friendly with Kim Jung-Il and doesn't want to offend him. Jung Sung San, the musical's producer, who was sent to a camp for listening to a South Korean radio broadcast, had to actually use one of his kidneys as collateral to get the money to put the show on and still risks losing it if he doesn't make money by the end of the month. This is the lengths this man is willing to go to get the word out about the horrors that go on beyond the DMZ. I'm just wondering where the Bush administration, the great defender of democracy, is on the issue of the perhaps millions of North Koreans who have died under this regime? When you consider how really dangerous North Korea is along their egregious human rights violations compared to Iran, which has elections however flawed, one wonders what is really going on here. (Oh, right, they're a threat to Israel!)

Global warming, not a threat!

This new document says a lot about the major perils of regimes like Iran and Syria (The fact that they're neighbors of Israel is just a coincidence), but nothing at all about global warming. It does say that "new flows of trade, investment, information and technology" are changing national security when it comes to disease and natural disasters, but nothing about global warming. I seem to remember an article in the Observer about a Pentagon report on global warming came out a while back saying that, "Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters," and that, "Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world," but since it didn't mention Israel, I guess, its not that much a threat.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 12:26 PM EST
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Wednesday, 15 March 2006
Vote for Kadima: we've got really big ones!
Topic: Israel

In a nasty bit of electioneering yesterday, acting Israeli PM Ehud Olmert sent the IDF into the PA to storm a prison in Jericho in order to arrest some Palestinian terrorism suspects who were already locked up. The story is that the Brits and Americans who were guarding the prisoners, in a special arrangement brokered a few years back, left because of security concerns and the Israelis fearing the PA would let them escape came crashing in to get them. During the 10-hour siege, the streets of Palestine predictably exploded and protests in the West Bank and Gaza turned violent, resulting attacks on the British Council buildings in Gaza and Ramallah and the kidnapping of 17 foreigners, according to the AP.

My question is, what the hell were the Israelis doing deep inside the PA to begin with? And how did they know to go in the second the international monitors left? It's all very fishy. In my opinion, the British and the U.S really blew it. The two countries claimed they had been complaining about the security situation at the prison for quite a while, but this is the first anyone has heard of it. If it was such a problem, why didn't they come out publicly and say something before they just up and left. This is now going to turn into yet another political crisis. You can't exactly claim you're an honest broker when you reinforce the perception that you're wrapped around Israel's little finger by allowing something like this to happen. The use of American Apache helicopters and Caterpillar bulldozers in the attack, doesn't help either.

There had to have been a better way to handle this. Now, the bomb-throwers and fire breathers are all fired up and there's likely going to be some kind of retaliation, which will then lead to a heavy handed response from the Israel and then the Palestinians will hit back and so on and so on and so on....But, hey, Kadima's sagging poll numbers went up, so know we know Olmert is capable of using overwhelming force against unarmed targets, just like Sharon always did. And he's way mas macho than Bibi.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:28 PM EST
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What are the Iranians thinking about?
Topic: General News.

You know, when I was just a little nipper, Iranian students stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran and held Americans hostage for 444 days. At the time, I remember being outraged at pictures of them using an American flag to take out the trash. My dad was shocked at how pissed off I was, because even at 14, I was one of those picko liberals, who I guess, he assumed wouldn't mind people abusing the flag. At the time, I didn't understand why the Iranians hated us so much and just assumed they were all crazy.

What I found out later was that we had overthrown the democratically elected government of Muhammad Musaddiq and set up the Shah to make sure they didn't do anything crazy like nationalize the oil wells. From 1953 on, the Shah ruled with an iron fist and eventually his misrule led to the Islamic revolution. After digesting that little tidbit of information, it's a little easier for me to understand why the Iranians distrust us so much. Now as we discuss the crisis of Iran's nuclear ambitions, which is a direct result of our bone headed policies in that region for the past 60 years, it might be instructive to think about what is it that makes the Iranians think they need the bomb.

I found this appraisal of the thinking behind Iran's foreign policy in a book called Diplomacy in the Middle East, which was edited by Carl Brown. This excerpt is from an essay called "Iran's Foreign Policy under the Islamic Republic, 1979-2000," by Shaul Bakash.

"Iran's foreign policy is shaped by overriding security concerns. Iraq's invasion of Iran in 1980, the eight eight-year war with the country, and the sense that Iran received virtually no support from the international community in the face of naked aggression has left deep scars on the national psyche. Moreover, Iran with good reason feels it lives in a dangerous neighborhood. Instability is endemic along its border with Afghanistan...(And) given its hostility to Iran, American's huge military presence in the Persian Gulf and uncertainty about its intentions is another source of concern."

Of course, they probably have a somewhat better idea of what American's intentions are in the region since the invasion of Iraq. This is probably why they're so intent on having a nuclear deterrent. I'm not saying its right that they should have a bomb, actually I don't think anyone should, but all you have to do is look at which axis of evil country got invaded and which one didn't. North Korea, with the bomb, is untouched, and Iraq, without the bomb, is a mess. It's easy to understand why Iran thinks its next on the list if they don't get a bomb pretty quick.

Iran's current policy of playing the Russians and the Chinese off the Europeans and the U.S. is nothing new, either. They've been doing it for centuries. Bakash writes, "Muhammad Musaddiq coined the term 'negative equilibrium' to describe the manner in which Iran would avoid falling under the influence of either Britain or Russia...The Islamic Republic's great-power diplomacy in the 1990's was therefore a return to a well-established tradition." Actually, friendly relations Iran enjoys with Russia and China started with the Shah in the 60' and 70's, who eventhough he was an ally of the U.S. during the cold war still wanted to keep his options open.

I'm not going to attempt to go into a whole lecture on Iran here, I just wanted to point out that there are reasons for the way Iran is behaving, other than the ones you hear in the media; that they're all crazy and they just hate us. Not all Iranians hate us, but they do hate our government. They see themselves as a great country with a long history of greatness and they're not likely to just let us or anyone else boss them around. According to Shaul Bakash, "The Shah had cultivated a sense of the greatness of Iran by virtue of its size, population, history and imperial past. The Islamic Republic cultivated a sense of the greatness of Iran on the same basis, but rather than the imperial past it stressed the centrality of the revolution itself and of Iran's Islamic credentials."

It's bad enough they've got an inferiority complex, but adding religion into the mix makes everything that much more dangerous. Bomb + God = kaboom.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:22 PM EST
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