Showing posts from July, 2006

Lebanon links roundup

Obsidian Wings has a tremendous guest post from an Armenian of Lebanese origin, with family living there right now. It paints a much more complex picture of Lebanon, of identity, and war than I think most analyses have made. He talks a great deal about the fragility of the Lebanese civil society to begin with, and the further strains that the war has made upon them. And he talks about where the money for reconstruction is probably going to come from. Essential reading. On the topic of Lebanese identity, Josh Trevino argues that Lebanon is a fiction . However, Michael Totten draws upon his own direct experiences traveling in the region to argue that Lebanese national identity is nascent and something very real. Why does it matter? Jonathan Edelstein points out that anarchy in Lebanon - or partition, as proposed by streiff at RedState - is an outcome that bodes ill for Israel's security as well as our own interests. Do not miss the discussion on Jonathan's post, which touch

the case against partition

The idea that Lebanon is a failed state, and should be torn asunder, surfaces repeatedly. It is in one sense an excuse for the enlarged scope of the Israeli offensive against Hizbollah. But the issue does deserve discussion in the broader context of foreign policy aims aimed at furthering our own goals. To those ends, proposed partition of Lebanon (and/or Iraq) would only undermine prospects for peace. Partition only works if the ethnic enclaves are reasonably contiguous. The ethnicities in Lebanon are not as separable as pro-partitioners imply. For it to work, partition would require resettlement - which is invariably a massive scar that never heals. India is quoted as an example of a multi-ethnic success story. I largely agree; but if you look at indopak as a whole, we really are talking about a single canton in a very large partition - and the richest one in terms of resources (economic and human). Partition was achieved in the Subcontinent only via forced resettlement - which tore

Left morality

Over at Wizbang blog there was a post about the most beautiful person on Capitol Hill. The winner was a woman of Guayanese orgin, specifically, mixed East Indian (that's what they call brown down there), African and European. The comments started out crass , no big surprise. Someone expressed the opinion that the winner was butt ugly , while others disagreed . Par for the course in "guy talk." But then this comes up , "I haven't noticed Kos postings as being racist." Now, there was a crack about affirmative action earlier, but the general tone is just one of crass sexism and objectification. Now, myself, I do objectify women quite a bit, it is a personal pleasure of mine. Though I admit that women are more than eye candy, but who can't enjoy a little sugar now and then? The only reason I post this is that I was waiting for someone to call any criticism of the young woman's appearence racist . The problem with a segment of the modern Left i

ideas trump politics

since people who don't casually surf the leftsphere, let alone consider themselves members, have a very skewedperspective of the Democratic partisan mind, I wanted to point out a post at activist site that gives a little more depth into the netroot mentality. The basic issue here is that liberal voters - and this is especially true of the netroots - are proud of their beliiefs with respect to whether government can be a force for good, whether there is such a thing as a societal commons, whether there is a moral obligation upon those in society to help provide for those who are less capable by dint of circumstance or ability. They are proud to be Democrats and believe that what Democrats have stood for over history is something to be defended. And I agree, though I am not a Democrat myself. That is the true reason why, to take an example, Joe Lieberman is so hated. Because like many of the politicians in the DLC, but far more egregiously so, he advances his own political

Gore and Hitler sitting in a tree

Here we go again. This time, Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, heaping yet more glory upon the Republican Party tradition of elevating the debate: In an interview, he heaped criticism on what he saw as the strategy used by those on the other side of the debate and offered a historical comparison. "It kind of reminds . . . I could use the Third Reich, the big lie," Inhofe said. And of course the inevitable comparison: The Oklahoma Republican compares "An Inconvenient Truth," which he doesn't plan to see, to Adolf Hitler's book "Mein Kampf."

filtering Cole

Paleoprog over at American Footprints runs a few fact-check cycles on Juan Cole (not to be confused with John Cole ). While I don't take issue with the substance, I left a comment disagreeing with his style: While a response to Cole is a good thing - after all, continued dialouge on the topic is the best way to clear away the half-truths and misconceptions of the sort which you did a fine job in addressing herein - I don't understand why people accord to Cole's analysis the importance that they do. Cole is invaluabel for his translations and his knowledge of the Shi'a and Lebanese histories. As far as his analysis goes, as you pointed out, he's a lightweight. Ultimately I think it's harmful to paint him as a completely useless source because he does add value to the discussion, after proper filtering. And really, calling his misstatements "lies" is just too strong. You think he is being deliberately mendacious? I think it's more a case of pulling

Premises about human nature

A common refrain I hear in the blogosphere is about "mad mullahs" and the possibility that Iran might destroy Israel, or subsidize a nuclear attack via terrorist proxies on a US city. Of course, if the state of Iran does such a thing then it seals its own fate in a self-induced Götterdämmerung as it invites massive nuclear retaliation from either the US or Israel. How plausible is this scenario? In my opinion, not very, and the reason is simple: the commanding heights of government does not select for individuals with suicidal intent because those individuals are not by their nature good at manipulating politics and playing the "game." To put a not too fine point on it, political leadership tends to select for a somewhat craven sort, the Churchill's of the world stand in contrast to the run of the mill political leader, and this includes autocrats like Stalin or Hitler. The idea that Iran would engage in a nuclear attack proactively seems to defy a host o

The essential Djerejian

What was needed was a more proportionate response, one that didn't jeopardize the nascent fruits of the Cedar Revolution. It's decidedly not fair to Greg's entire 2,200+ words of analysis and quotations in that post to reproduce that single sentence alone, so go read the whole thing . And Eric Martin is on fire today , too. "To prevent a regional conflagration, Israel should attack Syria..."

a veto for progress

Matoko-chan deseerves some serious props for her stem-cell related posts over the past few months - and for her, it's deeply personal . As she notes , the argument by the conservatives who are applauding the President's impending veto that the need embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) is rendered moot by adult stem cell lines (ASCR), is bogus. These are complementary technologies, not competitive ones. The administration's dishonest statements to the contrary, adult lines simply do not have the differentiation potential that embryonic lines do - a fact vouched for by 80 Nobel laureates . Others may ask, why do we need federal funding? Why can't private funding foot the bill? Simply put, because ESCR is the Manhattan Project and the Apollo Project rolled into one. ESCR isn't an overnight panacea; therefore the immense profits are a long way off, far too long a horizon to justify the expense. NASA is why we have independent spaceflight companies like Scaled Composit


From reading RedState, one might conclude that the left-sphere is somehow silent on the matter of the Israel-Lebanon conflict. Are we at Nation-Building blog silent? Belgravia Dispatch ? Abu Aardvark ? American Footprints ? Juan Cole ? Balloon Juice (Tim, at least)? There were even a trio of diaries (nicely summarized by Bill White of Tacitus) at DailyKos that made it to the recommended list - one by yours truly. I know it pains some to hear to the following, but Yglesias, Drum, and the front page of DailyKos are not the sum total of the lefty blogsphere. The posts linked above represent a deep swath of serious analysis of the issue, and I sincerely hope that conservatives will take the time to visit them and see for themselves what liberals really are saying about the issue.

He who knows nothing speaks

This blog's title is "Nation Building." And yet here we stand today as a nation is crumbling, Lebanon is now as it was. I am not very interested in the details of day-to-day politics, but I am not totally averse to world affairs, so I ventured into the blogosphere late in the night. I witnessed a friend of Michael Totten's being savaged because he bemoaned his situation as a refugee from the bombing! At Dean Esmay's blog I read about commenters who talk of bombing Iran back into the Stone Age. As someone who is not particularly conversant in the details of current events and the background of the dynamics I am reluctant to speak. B ut, what I can offer is critique of both specifics and process. First, we have to know the history here. We have to know what Lebanon is. The Christians of Lebanon are predominantly "Maronites," likely a denomination which somehow arose of an obscure Christological controversy in the 6th century. Their relations wit

No good unilateral options

The bottom line is this. Lebanon has only two options: wait out the continuing collective punishment being meted out by Israel, or try to wrest the southern border from Hizbollah. The former means willingly allowing the Lebanese people to be pawns of Hizbollah and Israel's deadly test of wills. The latter means risking civil war of the type that ripped Beirut asunder for long years in the 1980s - a chaos that gave birth to the very forces that plague stability today. The bottom line is this. Israel has only two options: continue the present cycle of escalation, towards certain war with Syria, and ultimately Iran, or to stand down with a cease-fire. The former is a conflagaration that Israel cannnot win nor embark upon unless they are prepared to use their nuclear capabilities for a strike on Tehran (for they simply lack the ability to threaten Iran with conventional means). The latter means that the only route to securing their soldiers' release - soldiers who will no doubt be

humanitarian crisis looming in Gaza

This is not good for regional stability. As usual it is the ordinary citizens of Gaza who suffer for the grand designs of those on both sides of the conflict who control their destinies: Relief organizations in the Gaza Strip warned of an impending humanitarian crisis Tuesday, with basic supplies dwindling as a result of border closures and military operations. Closed road links and damage to the infrastructure have led to major shortages of basic supplies such as food, water and medicine, United Nations and other nongovernmental organizations said. Electrical outages have become common since the IAF bombed Gaza's main power plant on June 28. Hospitals, water utilities and sewage treatment plants are now dependent on generators, for which spare parts are not readily available. This has created a high demand for fuel, according to the UN's Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The power outages mean basic foodstuffs often can't be processed and perishables can'

Newt is running for President

RedState has an excerpt of an interview with Newt Gringrich from Newsweek that is about as direct as it gets: He's running, with a Contract for America v2.0 in hand. You've been saying you might run? I'm actually pretty direct about it. I'm going to talk about ideas and talk about solutions. There will not be a vacuum of ambition and there won't be a vacuum of competence. But if next October it's clear that we can create a national movement that would be like the Contract, then I'd be interested in running. What really matters is to recognize the challenge of the next 20 years. I think this is the biggest challenge we've had as a country since April of 1861. I think we do not realize how hard this is going to be or how big it's going to be. And so I'm going to try to spend the entire next year and a half--from now until October of '07--laying out a strategy for winning the future and laying out a series of policies, much the way I did with th

Israeli Forces Cross Border Into Lebanon

From Reuters , MARJAYOUN, Lebanon (Reuters) - Hizbollah guerrillas captured two Israeli soldiers and killed up to seven Israelis in violence on either side of the Lebanese border on Wednesday, further inflaming Middle East tensions. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert described the Hizbollah attacks as an "act of war" by Lebanon and promised a "very painful and far-reaching" response. Two Lebanese civilians were killed and five people wounded in retaliatory Israeli air strikes after Hizbollah announced it had captured the Israelis. Israeli ground forces crossed into Lebanon to search for the captured soldiers, Israeli Army Radio said. Hizbollah and the Lebanese authorities said there was no large-scale incursion. Israeli troops have not struck deep into Lebanon since they withdrew from a southern border strip in 2000 after waging an 18-year war of attrition with Hizbollah's Shi'ite fighters. First and foremost, it almost goes without saying that I hope this c

bomb blast in Mumbai

Several bombs struck a commuter train in a Mumbai suburb. Initial speculation is Kashmiri separatists. I am updating info sporadically at City of Brass ; also check out the Mumbai Help blog .

North Korea: The Python strategy

A PROGRAMME of covert action against nuclear and missile traffic to North Korea and Iran is to be intensified after last week’s missile tests by the North Korean regime. Intelligence agencies, navies and air forces from at least 13 nations are quietly co-operating in a “secret war” against Pyongyang and Tehran. more excerpts on the flip.   It has so far involved interceptions of North Korean ships at sea, US agents prowling the waterfronts in Taiwan, multinational naval and air surveillance missions out of Singapore, investigators poring over the books of dubious banks in the former Portuguese colony of Macau and a fleet of planes and ships eavesdropping on the “hermit kingdom” in the waters north of Japan. [...] “Diplomacy alone has not worked, military action is not on the table and so you’ll see a persistent increase in this kind of pressure,” said a senior western official. In a telling example of the programme’s success, two Bush administration officials indicated last year that i

Wal-Mart goes to the Goracle

No matter how you spin this story, it is bound to explode at least someone's brain. Former Vice President and environmental activist Al Gore is planning to address Wal-Mart Stores Inc. executives next week at the retailer’s quarterly conference on sustainability, part of the company’s recent efforts to become an environmental leader, a Wal-Mart spokesman confirmed. Gore will speak on global warming, the subject of his recently released documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.” The conference is an outgrowth of Wal-Mart’s mission, outlined by Chief Executive Lee Scott last November, to minimize its negative impact on the environment. At the time, Wal-Mart committed to, among other things, reduce energy use in its stores, improve the fuel efficiency of its truck fleet and substantially cut down on solid waste produced by its stores. I don't have anything particularly insightful to add other than to observe that corporations, while certainly not trustworthy to put the Good of the Commo

Breaking: N. Korea Targeted Hawaii

From Reuters , TOKYO (Reuters) - A North Korean missile launched on Wednesday was aimed at an area of the ocean close to Hawaii, a Japanese newspaper reported on Friday. Experts estimated the Taepodong-2 ballistic missile to have a range of up to 6,000 km, putting Alaska within its reach. Wednesday's launch apparently failed shortly after take-off and the missile landed in the sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan, a few hundred kilometres from the launch pad. But data from U.S. and Japanese Aegis radar-equipped destroyers and surveillance aircraft on the missile's angle of take-off and altitude indicated that it was heading for waters near Hawaii, the Sankei Shimbun reported, citing multiple sources in the United States and Japan. More information will be posted as it becomes available, but at least at this early stage it appears that the technological failure of the Taepo Dong-2 missile may have averted war. A successful attempt by North Korea to fire a missile at Hawaii

juche is a lie

If there is a central ideology animating the illusion of a functional society that is North Korea, it is juche (??). Loosely translated as self-reliance, juche comprises the following principles: The people must have independence (Chajusong) in thought and politics, economic self-sufficiency, and self-reliance in defense. Policy must reflect the will and aspirations of the masses and employ them fully in revolution and construction. Methods of revolution and construction must be suitable to the situation of the country. The most important work of revolution and construction is molding people ideologically as communists and mobilizing them to constructive action. Any objective assessment of North Korean society will quickly conclude that on each of these principles, the actual implementation of juche in North Korea is as hollow and meaningless as the concrete shell of the Ryugyong Hotel . What better symbol of a failed regime? What is particularly tragic however is how the facade of ju

Biden: N. Korea A Paper Tiger

From Reuters , WASHINGTON (Reuters) - North Korea's test-firing of missiles was an act of a "paper tiger" that has miscalculated the world's response and may result in sanctions, the senior Democrat on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee said on Wednesday. Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware said he was more concerned about Pyongyang's taking conventional provocative acts that could escalate tensions in north Asia, than about it's ability to hit U.S. territory with a missile. Asked on CBS' "The Early Show" whether Washington should have destroyed the missiles before launch, Biden said, "I would rather have seen it do exactly what it did, demonstrate to the whole world that it is in fact a paper tiger. "It does not have the capacity to do any short-term damage to the United States of America or Japan," said Biden, a potential Democratic candidate for president in 2008. Before I get too far into the actual North Korea business, it'

230 Years

Today is the 230th anniversary of our American independence from the shackles of British colonialism. Our history has been carefully documented, not just so that we may take pride in all that we have accomplished in our relative youth but also so that we, and others, may learn from the mistakes we have made. I wish to look back twenty years ago, on a day when I myself turned a mere eight months old, when this country faced a similar domestic crisis as to the one we face now. In 1986 Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act. This legislation would provide amnesty to those who entered the United States illegally. Over the course of the next few years, 2.7 million illegals acquired green cards for permanent residence in the United States. Ten years after the 1986 amnesty, the Immigration and Naturalization Service reported that the number of illegals in the United States was roughly the same as it had been in 1986. All the illegals who received amnesty had been replaced by