Archive for the ‘International Nonsense’ Category

Where There is No Vision, the People Perish

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Five days after U.S. forces hastily withdrew from Iraq, fourteen bomb blasts in Baghdad killed 63 people and injured 185 others.  Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned the attack as “cowardly” but what did we really expect to happen?

When the U.S. forces left Germany shortly after WWII ended nothing of the sort happened.  Exactly, nothing of the sort happened because the forces did not leave.  In 2011, Germany is a stellar member of the peaceful, productive nations of this planet.  While that is mostly due to the Germans, as they are as civilized as any people on Earth, had the conquerors of 1945 followed the model set by the U.S. in Iraqi, I venture to speculate they would not be the same today.  It takes organization, determination, and time to convert a totalitarian-warlike nation into a free and contributing nation.  Maybe it wouldn’t have taken 70 years, but it needed more than seven.

During the force-fed rehabilitation of Germany, the U.S. forces kept the Soviet antagonists at bay with a constant threat of war.  That threat of war included not just armed soldiers at checkpoints but also the promised use of annihilating-force against any large muscle movements by the Soviets.  We called that the “Cold War” back then.

With the advent of the Cold War, two German states were formed in 1949: the western Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the eastern German Democratic Republic (GDR). The democratic FRG embedded itself in key Western economic and security organizations, the EC, which became the EU, and NATO, while the Communist GDR was on the front line of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact. The decline of the USSR and the end of the Cold War allowed for German unification in 1990. Since then, Germany has expended considerable funds to bring Eastern productivity and wages up to Western standards. In January 1999, Germany and 10 other EU countries introduced a common European exchange currency, the euro. In January 2011, Germany assumed a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2011-12 term–that’s a success story.

The Soviets couldn’t logically risk their total destruction so they postured campaigns all around the world hoping to exhaust the U.S. and then they could have their way with Germany and the rest of the world.  But that didn’t happen, the Soviets were exhausted by the American double-blessings of leading-edge technological developments and the greatest economy in history of mankind, which enabled the U.S. forces to be unbeatable.

This “War in Iraq” mess went differently.  The rehabilitation program was mostly designed by the patient, while the U.S. forces allowed Iranian antagonists to leak into the county to lead the locals bandits in organized violent actions.  The U.S. political machine went out of its way to soften any demands or threats against Iran, which appeared to encourage their schemes.  Today the American technological programs have mostly been hacked into by the Chinese and others, which have mostly encouraged opposition to the U.S. and the American economy has been disassembled by a legislative branch which hasn’t produced a budget for over 1000 days, while the Democrat Party leaders have plunged the national debt to a greater level than the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the first time since the American Revolution.  For political reasons, which escape strategic reasoning, the U.S. has abandoned maybe the last opportunity to establish and maintain a civilized stronghold in a totalitarian-aggressive region without having to resort to annihilating-force.

Ironically, many are blaming U.S. intervention in Iraq as the reason for the current situation.  As a reminder, in August 1990, Iraq seized Kuwait but was expelled by US-led, UN coalition forces during the Gulf War of January-February 1991. Following Kuwait’s liberation, the UN Security Council (UNSC) required Iraq to scrap all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles and to allow UN verification inspections. Continued Iraqi noncompliance with UNSC resolutions over a period of 12 years led to the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and the ouster of the Saddam Hussein regime.

The invasion of Iraq was the result of Saddam Hussein’s failure to comply with U.N. sanctions, which was magnified through the prism of 9-11 and the resultant Global War on Terrorism.  Today’s revisionists are quick to say, “Saddam Hussein did not bomb the World Trade Center on 9-11,” which is just as true as the equally interesting but not compelling declaration, “Adolf Hitler did not bomb Pearl Harbor on 7 Dec 1941.”

To do great things, even great nations need great leadership.  Great leadership at the national level is usually manifest in the leaders ability to communicate his vision to the people.  “Hope and change” was a bumper sticker which appears to have been used as a blindfold on the American people.

The 44th U.S. President outlawed the use of the previous administration’s somewhat nebulous term “Global War on Terrorism” opting instead for the completely ambiguous term  “Overseas Contingency Operations.”  The resultant failure of national leadership to educate the American people as to why we were at war since 9-11 has all but squandered the investment of lives and treasure, which should have been used as a lever to move world opinion and policy against aggression and to deter what may prove to be the most destructive war ever.

It just makes sense.

Will the World Change Following the Death of Kim Jong-Il?

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Kim Jong-Il is dead—his heart failed him.  The country he leaves behind is economically dead, its population is mostly starving, as what resources it didn’t use to support the lavish comfort of the now dead 69 year-old dictator was pumped into maintaining an offensive military and the development of nuclear weapons and delivery systems.  Most likely, Kim Jong-Il’s death won’t end hunger in North Korea, reduce the threat of war, or work towards reuniting the Korean peninsula. 

The area we now call North Korea and South Korean was an independent kingdom for much of its long history, Korea was occupied by Japan beginning in 1905 following the Russo-Japanese War. Five years later, Japan formally annexed the entire peninsula and ruled with a brutality, which characterized the Japanese Empire of that day.

Historians and a few others know that the Soviets declared war on Japan the day after the A-bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.  In a mad rush to claim territory before it could be liberated, Soviet-sponsored Communists, under the leadership of Kim Il Sung took control of the northern half of Korea.  After the US and the rest of the free world disarmed, the Communist North Korea invaded liberated South Korea but failed to conquer the UN and US-backed Republic of Korea (ROK). 

President Kim Il Sung, adopted a policy of ostensible diplomatic and economic “self-reliance” as a check against outside influence. They demonized the US as the ultimate threat to its social system through state-funded propaganda, and molded political, economic, and military policies around the core ideological objective of eventual unification of Korea under Pyongyang’s control.  In 1994, Kim Il Sung died and Kim Jong Il assumed the dictators position.

After decades of economic mismanagement and resource misallocation, North Korea relies heavily on international aid to feed its population. North Korea’s history of regional military provocations, proliferation of military-related items, long-range missile development, WMD programs including tests of nuclear devices in 2006 and 2009, and massive conventional armed forces are of major concern to the international community.

Kim Jong-un, the third son of the dead dictator, is the new “dear leader” and get this—he’s 20 years old.  How will he lead?  But come to think of it, a lot of things were said about Kim Jong-Il which made one wonder how a Hennessey-sipping, sashimi-carving, caviar-chomping, DVD-watching, golf-cheating, people-starving megalomaniac could run an entire country, even one with such limitations as North Korea.  But we know the answer, don’t we? 

Since Kim Il-Song heart failed him at 82 years of age, other people have been running the country.  Having a “dear leader” for the people to worship helped them keep the people motivated.  Following Kim-Il Song’s death, many people reportedly “committed suicide” which probably goes to explain the consolidation of power by the winners.  Those folks, with their logical replacements, will continue to pull the strings on their new puppet—Kim Il-un.

Therefore, not much of anything will change.

It just makes sense.

Zelaya of Honduras–Good Guy or Bad Guy?

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

Soldiers stormed the palace occupied by José Manuel Zelaya Rosales on June 28, disarmed his guards, and arrested the Honduran president. The Supreme Court had ordered the army to remove Zelaya for “treason and abuse of authority, among other charges” according to the chief lawyer of the Honduran armed forces. He went on to say, “It was a fast operation. It was over in minutes, and there were no injuries, no deaths. We said, ‘Sir, we have a judicial order to detain you.’ We did it with respect.”

Then why is the US President denouncing the event?

For most Americans it’s a blur, which is understandable in part as we are saturated with the news of Michael Jackson’s, Farrah Fawcett’s, and Karl Malden’s deaths along with the weight of a 9.5% unemployment, a falling stock market, a $1.85 trillion deficit, and many communities lacking the funds for fireworks on the celebration of the 233rd anniversary of our independence–we barely have time to notice our troops pulling out of Iraq’s urban areas and the big troop push against the Taliban in Afghanistan, much less for what is happening where the Mayan’s used to live.

The Mayans? Yes, they used to live where modern-day Honduras is now found. You might have heard something about their calendar and the year 2012–but lets save that topic for some other day–instead we’ll just talk about Honduras.

Honduras is a Central American, democratic constitutional republic, which means the citizens there regularly cast ballots in accordance with the laws in their constitution to elect representatives for the purpose of administering their government in accordance with their constitution. Countries that have a constitution as their supreme law of the land have the potential for respecting individual freedoms.

Hondurans have traveled a rough road to liberty and pursuit of happiness and still have miles to go. Though independent since 1821, it wasn’t until 1982 that a freely elected civilian government came to power. During the Era of Reagan, Honduras was a haven for contras fighting the Marxist Nicaraguan Government and an ally to El Salvador as it fought leftist guerillas. Thus they were an important American ally in containing Soviet-sponsored communism during the decade that brought the Cold War to an end.

Hondurans are a young, literate, and poor people. Numbering over 7.7 million, their median age is just barely over 20 years-old with a per capita GDP that ranks 149th in the world. Unemployment was last reported at 27.8% with inflation at 11.9%. Thus, their misery index is 39.7%–which means most Americans really can’t relate to how bad it is for the typical Honduran. Such conditions encourage corruption and illicit drug activities, which are found in Honduras.

America buys over 67% of their exports, which is mostly coffee and bananas. They are heavily dependent on the health of the US economy. Certainly anything that compromised our trading relationship with them would be very important to them.

But these are a free people, and since 1982 their constitution has ruled them with elected representatives in a three branched government: an Executive (president elected to a 4-year term), a Legislative (National Congress elected for a 4-year term), and a Judicial (Supreme Court of Justice appointed for a 7-year term by Congress and confirmed by the president).

After a quick flashback to your high school government class, you’ve probably noticed that all of that sounds much like the American government setup. But there are some differences. For example, the Honduran President is only allowed a single term.

And there’s the rub.

Zelaya’s Liberal Party won the elections in 2005 after campaigning on “citizen power” and increasing “transparency in government” while promising to combat drug-trafficking and to maintain macroeconomic stability. But 4 years can pass quickly.

During that time, Zelaya managed to forge a regional alliance with Fidel Castro (of Cuba) and Hugo Chevez (of Venezuela) in the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ABL), which is designed as a counter to the trade and security policies of the United States. His presidency is linked with an increase in crime and corruption scandals. His remaining supporters were the labor unions and the nation’s poor–everyone else feared he wanted to follow Ortega’s example in Nicaragua and Chavez’s progressive movement in Venezuelan to make it possible for him to serve unlimited terms–in other words to become President for life.

Of course, in order to make that happen–their constitution needed to be changed.

Zelaya wanted to conduct a national poll on whether to convene a Constitutional Assembly to draft a new constitution, however the Supreme Court ruled that to be unconstitutional since the constitution of Honduras requires a two-thirds vote of Congress to take such action.

Since the electoral process in Honduras refused to cooperate with Zelaya, he improvised. With a little help from his friends (i.e. Chavez) he got the ballots, along with sealed ballot boxes, presumedly to be administered by Zelaya’s volunteers and community organizers. Then Zelaya ordered the ballots and boxes to be distributed by the Honduran Army, through it’s commanding general (Vasquez Velasquez), who refused because he knew it was unlawful.

But that couldn’t stop Zelaya. He fired him and sent his community organizers on a mission to get the ballots out to the people. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court reinstalled Velasquez and decreed that Zelaya be arrested and removed from power.

What didn’t happen?

A general didn’t shoot the president in the head and declare himself to be the new president–that would have been a military coup–generally considered illegal.

What did happen?

The president of a republic intentionally overstepped the limits of his constitutional powers–generally considered a high crime. Then the Supreme Court, operating in concert with the Attorney General of Honduras, issued a legal document to remove the President from office. And when that was complete, Congress appointed a temporary President to fill the void until after the upcoming national elections in November.

While that’s not exactly the way we do things in the United States–because our Constitution is different–it seems to fit with their constitution. So the entire process appears to have been a lawful act.

But then the other shoe fell.

The President of the United States sided with Zelaya and suspended military ties with Honduras, though he did stop short of severing our diplomatic relationship with the vulnerable republic.

It’s difficult to second-guess the President of the United States, as he is privy to much more information than the average American. Since that is so, you’d think he would have also known about Zeyala’s anti-US activities along with his illegal actions inside of Honduras–but the United States wasn’t doing anything about it. So there must be more to this.

Recently we’ve seen the United States announce a policy with Iran to not “meddle” in their affairs while the Iranian government–which by the way has been sponsoring and supporting a terrorist war against us–violently put down a massive civilian uprising. But now, in contrast, it appears as if we’re meddling in Honduras as they try to protect their constitution from a domestic enemy, who has garnered foreign support.

Confusing.

There is an old axiom about how you can be judged by the company you keep.

When we see Ortega of Nicaragua, Castro of Cuba, and Chavez of Venezuela (who has threatened to invade Honduras)
very upset with the actions of the Honduran people and their lawful government, is it too difficult to come to the conclusion that maybe Zelaya is a bad guy?

It just makes sense.

Achmadinejad or Mousavi?

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

Is this really the choice that is causing so much pain for the people of Iran? What difference will it make for the rest of us?

Over 66 million people live there, according to the CIA’s world factbook, and the median age is 27, which means most of the people who are in this charter-member country of the “Axis of Evil” were born after the Islamic revolution of 1979.

For those people, it seems they’ve grown up knowing nothing else. But in the 21st century, is it really possible for people to know nothing else?

Well, that probably depends on which people we’re talking about. Nobody believes the North Koreans understand the world outside of their prison walls. And there are still some backwards people living in jungles are deserts who know little to nothing about the world. But Iran? Those people are pretty smart, I suspect they know more about the world than many of us have given them credit for knowing.

They’ve embraced technology as part of their lives.  It takes almost no effort to see the videos posted on YouTube.com about the on-going civil disorder there.  Even with the government crack-down on the internet and cell phone service, the people there manage to spread the word about their fight to world, while the rest of the people watch and wonder about this struggle.

Iran was once a great ally of the United States. Less than half of the people in Iran can remember such a time. I don’t know how many in the United States remember that era. But I’m one who does.

Prior to 1979 revolution, Iran had a monarch named Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Many of the their military trained in the United States. I met a few of them and we became friends.

When you make friends in the military, you know that your actual association with them will be short-lived–we all move around so much. Even more so with foreign exchange personnel, as they are destined to return to their homelands after their precious training. Still, we’d like to think that we will remember each other.

To make it easier, two of my old friends, Amir and Babak, gave me a few Iranian coins. In return I gave them each a shiny new 1975 Eisenhower dollar. At first they protested, saying that the silver dollars (actually cupronickel) were of greater value than their gifts. I explained that the coins were tokens of friendship, not something that would be spent.

They accepted my explanation and then gave me some of their currency with handwritten notes of friendship. There was a time when I could read them, but alas skills not practiced soon fade away. The first one is a 50 rials bill from Babak, signed front and back.

The next two are a twenty rials and then a one hundred rials signed by Amir.

We crossed paths again later at a base in North Carolina.  One weekend in 1976, Amir traveled with me to my hometown in Virgina (about 150 miles from where we were stationed) and I introduced him to my family and friends. At the time, I considered him to be one of my closest friends. Eventually we went our different directions and lost contact with each other. But thanks in part to these out-dated bills, I’ve never really forgotten him or Babak.

Watching the 1979 revolution from afar, I assumed he’d met his end in the violence that transformed the greatest regional ally of the United States of the time into our sworn enemy as they exported terrorism to the rest of the world. Most recently it seems they are intent on obtaining nuclear weapons in order to destroy Israel. Many Americans blame Achmadinejad, while others blame the left-wing, religious leaders, who hold the real power.

Some Americans have been confused over the left and right of things. Simply put, left-wing political theorists believe the government is the state and people are just part of the state. The more power the government has– power it takes from the people–the more leftist the government. Powerful leftist nations include North Korea, Cuba, Iran, and China. Historical leftist nations which used to exist include Hitler’s Nazi Germany and the USSR. Leftist nations are sometimes called socialist nations.

Mousavi was Prime Minister of Iran from 1981 to 1989. That was a pretty tough time for Iranian and US relationships. In 1987, we even had a little war with them in the Gulf, called the “’87 Persian Excursion” by the Navy. Iran was littering the Gulf with random mines and shooting at ships from oil platforms as they attempted to disrupt the free-flow of oil. One by-product of that Persian Excursion was the rebuilding of the Air Force’s conventional bombing capability–as it was embarrassing to just watch the Navy fix a problem without Air Force play. That conventional bombing capability came in handy during the 1991 Desert Storm–our first war against Saddam Hussein.

Thirty years ago, the outcome of a revolution pitted Iran against its former friends and most of the world. Will this new revolution reverse all of that? Will Mousavi be the leader that the Iranian people are dying to have? Will the nations who Iran’s government terrorized since 1979 come to the aid of these people?

So once this unrest or revolution is sorted out, will Iran be any different–as far as the rest of the world is concerned? Will the people fighting and dying in the streets, since the bogus election, be willing to accept merely exchanging one puppet-president of a cleric-led oligarchy for another. Especially when that oligarchy appears to be dead-set on obtaining nuclear weapons in order to attack Israel.


Moments before death (warning graphic video)

Over the years, Israel has proven that it will act in concert with other nations to defend itself, but when other nations will not assist them–they are the masters of unilateral, preemptive action. Thinking out the consequences of such activity, it is possible for us to imagine the level of human-suffering that is about to happen.

This new revolution may be the only thing that can prevent the suffering of an impending nuclear war.

Thus it appears that whatever the outcome of this revolution is–the result can’t possibly be worse than it is now, or at least what it is about to become. Therefore, the United States, Israel, Iraq, Afphganistan, and all other nations who have suffered from the terrorism exported from Iran over the last thirty years should provide whatever support the bold people need. Who knows? We might even find an old friend when this is all over.

It just makes sense.

The Solution to North Korean Nukes

Friday, May 29th, 2009

America’s deterrence-record with North Korea has recently elevated from embarrassing to down-right dangerous.  Even though some form of independent Korean state or collection of states have existed nearly continuously for several millennia, we persist in dealing with them as if they were either children or cavemen.  The reality is North Korea’s nepotistic state possesses nuclear weapons and an effective means of delivering them, which possesses a clear and present danger to all their neighbors, except China and Russia.

The details of how the world arrived at this impending conflagration are obsfucated by historic neglect and revisionists efforts, but the major turning points are clearly visible.  The tenacious people of Koryo, Silla, Paeche, and Chosun built societies that equal all that is impressive in the study of the ancient Chinese and Japanese cultures. Many Koreans believe that those people descended from theirs or at least copied theirs to achieve greatness.  While the “what-ifs” of antiquity fascinate some people, it is obvious that during the last century, Korea was gobbled-up, spit out, and then transformed into a nearly “perfect” example of political Yin and Yang.

About a hundred years ago, all of Korea was formally annexed by Japan–a harsh experience that stirs “racial” strife in some people even today.  As bloody World War II (WWII) ended and Japan was pacified, America and most of the Allies rushed to disarm and revert to a consumer-based society–one that improves the standard of living for everyone.  On the other hand, the USSR sought to press onward with the momentum of their military might–seeking to control the entire world if they could–thereby blurring any differences between them and the totalitarian oligarchies the Allies had just fought so hard to eliminate.

In the conflict of political pressure and military maneuvering that followed WW II, the Korea peninsula was split into two nations, with the northern half coming under Soviet-sponsored communist control.

Communist North Korea was armed, trained, and then encouraged to invade South Korea.  Though initially unprepared, the United States led the UN effort to drive the brutal invaders back to the north.  But a new era had dawned.

Not understanding how important it was to stop before China was provoked into a military response, WW II tactical zeal carried the Allies all the way to the Chinese border.  Politically denied the option of interdicting the massive forces mustered just north of the Yalu River–General MacArthur could do nothing except wait for the inevitable.

Political contextual elements glowed heavily with American decision makers. The United States no longer had a nuclear monopoly, as the USSR has obtained vital secrets via spies and their own efforts–resulting in communist nuclear test/demonstrations.  The USSR had equipped Mao Zedung’s Chinese communists with captured Japanese military gear, as a 600,000-strong force in Manchuria surrendered to Russian forces following Japan’s capitulation after the nuclear bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  The exhausted forces of Chiang Kai-shek withered under the assault and barely escaped to Taiwan.  The Chinese decision makers were threatened by any thing that might threaten their reformation of their newly established communist state.  The Chinese viewed North Korea has a security buffer preventing a two-pronged attack on them sometime in the future–a southern thrust from Taiwan and a northern thrust from the Korean Peninsula–it didn’t matter if no one in America was thinking about doing that, the Chinese are notorious long-term planners.  Above all, the President Truman feared that narcissistic Joseph Stalin would employ nuclear weapons if China were invaded–requiring another WWII-style effort from a war-weary world to vanquish communism.

So Chinese forces swarmed across the border.  The fighting that followed produced most of what Americans remember as bad about the Korean War.  After much fighting and loss of life, the peninsula was once again divided via a crease-fire agreement in 1953.  The lesser known background of that agreement is that it was reached only after some combined military and political maneuvering designed to convince China to pressure North Korea into acceptance.

In March of 1953, Stalin died–some believe he was poisoned by members of his cabinet who feared yet another purge was imminent.  Regardless of how he died, the internal chaos in the USSR allowed for a window of political and military factoring by the Allies to bring about a ceasefire agreement.  Since the US had no formal way of communicating with the Chinese government–as it was not recognized as a legitimate state then–the American’s leaked information through political connections in India.  the message was basically that the US would destroy sanctuary bases in Manchuria if the fighting continued.  Initially this was hard to believe, as much collateral damage to civilians would accompany such attacks–and they knew the Americans had grown squeamish about such things.

To demonstrate the opposite, a series of previously unmolested dams were bomb, releasing flood waters, which prevented a year’s rice planting.  The suffering caused by the food shortage would far exceed the trauma of the initial flooding.  Only then were the Chinese convinced–those brutal Americans would probably attack, maybe use nuclear weapons, thus weakening China’s military so much it might result in their collapse–so they influenced North Korea to sign the armistice on July 27, 1953.

Since then a precarious state of “stand-off” exists between the dark oligarchy and what has grown into a thriving republic to its south.  South Korea has a GDP nearly 1.3 trillion dollars–equal to Saudi Arabia’s and Taiwan’s combined–much of which is reinvested into their growing economy.  Many of their quality products are purchased by Americans.  North Korea has a GDP of maybe 40 billion dollars–a little more than Uganda’s–much of which is used to maintain a massive military while their population is mostly fed by international aid.  North Korea is a charter member of the “Axis of Evil” and is a real-life characture of an evil nation.

On 27 May 2009, North Korea unilaterally withdrew from the armistice.  They’ve tested nuclear weapons and long-range missiles in a bravado attempt to intimidate the rest of the world.  The are heavily suspected of nuclear proliferation efforts with other nations in the Axis of Evil–mostly likely seeking additional sources of income for their dying economy.  In the wake of the nuclear tests and missile launch demonstrations, they have announced they will respond with military force if another of its ships are boarded by the US-led program to interdict illicit transport of weapons of mass destruction.

What kind of force do you think they are implying?  It’s obvious.

So what’s the solution?  While past performance is no guarantee of future results …

China has to pressure North Korea to behave.  Thus the key to making North Korea behave it to convince China that they stand to lose more than they will gain if they allow North Korea to continue their shenanigans.

The most threatened nations are South Korea, Japan, and the United States.  The US already has ample military power to counter a nuclear attack when it comes to it.  However, Japan and South Korea are precariously empty–historically relying on the US nuclear umbrella to cover them as needed.

Here’s the solution:

In the light of shrinking US resolve and inventory–Japan and South Korea need indigenous nuclear forces.   They have all the necessary technologies and their GDP’s will comfortably support the programs–the only thing that prevents it from happening is their own national laws and leadership.  International law have recently been proven inept at preventing any nation from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.

Thus, the US should encourage Japan and South Korea to develop strong nuclear capabilities to stand against the nuclear threats from North Korea.  And even if the US fails to encourage them, those nations need to consider what they need to do for their own survival–and do it anyway.  Of course, once that happens, Taiwan and Australia would need to belly-up to the nuclear club also–unless they wanted to remain optionless in the face of nuclear threats.

How would China like to be facing nuclear-equipped nations on all their borders?

Not at all, I’m sure.

The long-range planning Chinese leadership would be greatly concerned about this–they have a little history with the Japanese and the folks who live in Taiwan.  And that’s the problem with nuclear proliferation:  Once it gets rolling–how do you stop it?

Stop it early.

“Too late for that,” some might say.

Well, my grandpa used to say, “You can’t start where you were, only you are.”  And where we are is a nuclear equipped North Korea trying to intimidate the world as they seek to spread nuclear weapons to other nations, who also seek to do harm to things we consider valuable.

When it comes to allowing rogue nations to develop or maintain nuclear arsenals–nothing is worse than doing nothing.

It just makes sense.

Why Did Israel’s Deterrence Fail?

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

If deterrence is supposed to be about who’s the strongest, why did it fail in the Gaza strip?

The Gaza strip is a densely populated area about twice the size of Washington D.C. on the Mediterranean Sea bordering Egypt and Israel.  Under a series of agreements signed in the mid to late 1990s, Israel transferred its security and civilian responsibility to the Palestinian Authority (PA).  Not so surprisingly, autonomy was short-lived and Israel moved its military back in September 2000.  After much international effort, another “final settlement” was reached and Israel moved its forces and settlers out again, but then Hamas replaced the PA via local elections, and Gaza’s provocation towards its former master has been nearly nonstop.

The most provoking habit the folks running around the Gaza Strip have is their addiction to launching missiles into Israel.  Not that one missile isn’t enough to provoke a military response, but the missile launchings have numbered into the hundreds and even thousands.

After Israel had had enough, they initially inflicted punitive strikes on the police and Hamas headquarters throughout Gaza–assuming that even if a government wasn’t actually performing the indiscriminate attacks, they are responsible for policing the people within their border.

In the fighting that followed, it appeared Israel was trying to reduce Hamas’ leadership and their inventory of missiles.  The missiles are called Qassam rockets, which are basically three-foot to seven-foot long rolls of sheet metal (with fins) filled with 1 to 20 pounds of explosives made from fertilizer.  The largest missiles have a range up to ten miles.  Easy to make, easy to launch and run, hard to counter-fire against.

But the ability to launch rockets indiscriminately across the border pales in comparison to Israel’s Defense Force (IDF).

So why didn’t deterrence work?

The answer is fairly simple.  Hamas leadership decided it was worth more to fire the missiles than the price they would pay for firing them.

Sounds almost too simple, doesn’t it?

Hamas’ objective appears to be acceptance and belonging to the community of Islamic governments around the world.  Sometimes it seems the only thing they completely agree on is that Israel needs to be destroyed.  Of course Hamas doesn’t have the power to push Israel into the sea, so they launch crude terror weapons to terrorize the Jews and to inspire those who hate the Jews. They’ve got enough sheet metal and fertilizer to keep building rockets for a long while.  The folks who launch the missiles require little training and support, thus they’re well inventoried to continue.  They probably feel quite good about themselves when they launch the missiles.  In addition, it appears that no contextual elements (population, legalities, economic, environmental, or diplomatic factors) work towards dissuading them at all.

Israel has plenty of military means and will to punish the Hamas-led Gaza Strip for their missile attacks– nobody believes Hamas could out fight the IDF.  Hobby-shop missiles can kill regular people going about their normal lives but they can’t stop a column of tanks.   But the attacks did increase Israel’s population and government support enough to persuade the IDF to strike back.

Almost immediately, journalist began to feed Americans and others stories about how disproportionate the use of force was.  Someone even said it wasn’t a fair fight.  Imagine that.   Does anyone really believe pirates should be fought with fishing boats, or a thug with a knife should be fought with a knife, or thieves should have their stuff stolen as punishment for their crimes?

No.  The forces that seek to stop pirates, thugs, thieves, or missile launching neighbors will always go in better armed, seeking to use overwhelming force to stop the activity.  That tactic is actually better for everyone.  When the sides are close to being evenly matched, the historically proven results is a protracted war of attrition–shades of Rome and Carthage or the American Civil War or World War II–thus bloodshed is greater.

So, knowing that Israel was so much more powerful than Hamas, why didn’t deterrence work?

Deterrence is a value-based decision equation, where the perceptions of the antagonist decide if deterrence will work or not.  The protagonist has to adjust the factors of the equation enough to tilt the value towards their desired outcome.

The equation looks like this:  If PV(cA/xA) > OV(e∆/x∆) then Σ∆ = a∆ = D

I know. It seems kind of complicated.

If you want to know all the details, you can read my book on line–or even buy a copy if you want to impress the folks you work with.  But for the sake of this specific situation, let me simplify it even more.

Basically everything–except the two objectives (PV and OV)–were the same values.  The unacceptable behavior (e∆) wasn’t just expected–it was on-going.  Some Hamas leaders have said the behavior was about security, but it seems more likely the actions were meant to insult or provoke Israel to military action with the firing of missiles in the quest of Hamas’ objective (OV), which is to belong  to the exclusive club of Islamic nations that hate the Jews.

The advertised threat (PV) from Israel was a military response to punish Hamas.  Which was limited to showing the world that Hamas is weak–which would reduce their esteem.  Israel has never tried to maximize death or destruction when they wage war. Their enemies know that.

Since “loss of esteem” is less valuable than “belonging to the club” the deterrence equation tipped to the right and the antagonist (Hamas) was not motivated to alter their behavior.  Thus deterrence failed.

When Israel executed the predictable punishment, Hamas defiantly continued to launch missiles.  So Israel was forced to attack other factors in the deterrence equation–they went after the will and the means of the antagonist to fire missiles at them.  Even though Hamas has lost some of its leadership and its fielded forces, it still has enough means to generate some missile attacks.  So they continued to fire missiles even after Israel declared a cease fire.

So did Israel’s actions solve anything?

Yes–a little–it reduced the means of the attacks but did not eliminate it.  So it has not solved the problem, its just made it more tolerable.

In order for the Israeli deterrence strategy to have worked with Hamas, they needed to reduce Hamas’s ability to produce and launch the cheap rockets down to zero.  Not very easy.

The Gaza strip area would have to be reduced nearly back to the stone age to make that possible.  For now, not even Israel is ready to extract that price from the people who live there.

Does that mean Israel can’t deter the firing of missiles at them?

No.  Deterrence can work, but the factors of Israel’s deterrence strategy must change.  Before they can have successful deterrence, Israel has to up the ante.

When the certainty of success is congruent on both sides of the deterrence equation, the precious possession has to be more valuable than the value of the antagonists objective.   Possessions are myriad but can be placed in one of five main categories:

    Category of Values       Relative Values
        Survival                  Highest
        Security                  High
        Belonging                 Middle
        Esteem                    Low
        Actualization             Lowest


Israel’s deterrence planners need to select an objective that has a value at least equal to the category of “belonging” or of a higher value, and the value standard has to be according to the value-set of the antagonist decision-makers.  Then Israel needs the antagonist to be certain that they will follow through with divesting Hamas of that particular precious possession unless they alter their behavior.  Only then, will deterrence be successful.

Deterrence is a little like a dance.

It takes two to tango.  The protagonist must lead by providing the motivation.  The antagonist follows by deciding if the motivation is sufficient for deterrence.

It just makes sense.

General Georges Sada Shares Saddam’s Secrets

Saturday, November 15th, 2008

Did Saddam Hussein’s Iraq have weapons of mass destruction (WMD)? If so, what happened to them?

Was Saddam Hussein ever planning to attack his neighbors?

Was Saddam Hussein really a bad guy, or was he just misunderstood?

I know it’s difficult for most of us to believe, but since some time has passed, more than a few Americans have forgotten who Saddam Hussein was and what he did. They probably only vaguely remember the leftist mantra, “Bush lied, people died.” So a quick history lesson is in order.

Here’s an extract from the CIA country study on Iraq:

In August 1990, Iraq seized Kuwait but was expelled by US-led, UN coalition forces during the Gulf War of January-February 1991. Following Kuwait’s liberation, the UN Security Council (UNSC) required Iraq to scrap all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles and to allow UN verification inspections. Continued Iraqi noncompliance with UNSC resolutions over a period of 12 years led to the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and the ouster of the SADDAM Husayn regime.

Yes, I know.

They spelled Saddam’s last name wrong. I don’t know if the spelling was changed when the page was updated on 6 November 2008 or some time earlier. After a little research I discovered that there are multiple acceptable spellings since it is merely a transliteration of the Arabic language. I don’t think it was intended to disassociate the dead dictator’s last name from the middle name of our President-elect.

Did I say dead dictator?

Yes I did.

Iraq’s High Tribunal found Saddam Hussein/Husayn guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced him to hang in 2006. The trial wasn’t about WMD or any intent to invade his neighbors, instead it was about some of his murders in 1982. To have tried him for all his crimes, would have taken many years–maybe decades. As it was, it only took one conviction and one hanging to put an end to him.

But we’re stuck with those lingering questions. Was it all a sham? How will we ever really know?

Come to think of it, how do you know anything? Think about it.

There’s only two ways to know anything. You either have to experience the event or believe somebody else’s account of what happened. Most of the stuff you know, you know because you’ve taken someone else’s word for it. The challenge is to decide who to believe.

In legal proceedings and in historic research, the closer the witness is to actually experiencing the event, the more reliable they are as a source. For instance, the personal testimony of an eye-witness is considered more reliable that the testimony of a person who read about the event in a newspaper or saw it on an edited television news cast. Even somebody who talked with an eye-witness of an event is more creditable than someone who formed an opinion based on a collection of news reports and documentaries. And when the testimony is supported by circumstantial evidence, greater credence can be given to the witness.

So what about the Iraqi WMD?

Many blogs and news reports declare that there weren’t any. But how could they know? And who has disagreed with them?

Bill Clinton did in 1998 and still did as late as 2003. Maybe he was wrong. Do you think? Several other people disagreed also, such people as Nancy Pelosi, Sandy Berger, and Madeline Albright. Maybe they were wrong too. Certainly they weren’t all liars. No, they had to believe what they were saying, which had to be based on some reliable source they had access to. So much of that high-level stuff remains unavailable to the average American due to classification levels.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could talk to an eye-witness about what was going in Iraq. Or at least be able to read a book written by a witness. Maybe then we could have some certainly about whether there were WMD in Iraq.

Well, now there is.

A retired Iraqi Air Force Vice Air-Marshall (a.k.a. General) Georges Sada has written his testimony called Saddam’s Secrets. It answers the questions I asked at the beginning of this column. If you’d prefer to read the book and find the answers yourself, you need to stop reading now. Otherwise, here goes:

Did Saddam Hussein’s Iraq have weapons of mass destruction (WMD)?

Yes (page 71).

Then what happened to them?

Some of them were found by occupying forces, but most of them were transported to Syria in the summer of 2002. Pretending to provide humanitarian support in response to a collapsed dam in Zeyzoun, fifty-six flights on modified commercial 747s and 727s transported hundreds of tons of WMD (pages 260-261). I found an article referencing an Agence France-Presse (AFP) story about 20 plane-loads of aid from Iraq to Syria on 9 June 2002. There are some people who say they know where the WMD in Syria are today.

Was Saddam Hussein planning to attack his neighbors?

Yes. As most people know he initiated an eight-year war with Iran and then in 1990 he invaded Kuwait. However, he also planned to attack Israel with a air-armada of 98 aircraft all using chemical WMD (pages 128-129, 135, 140). And he intended to attack Saudi Arabia with twelve combat divisions (pages 171, 172). The primary reason he canceled the attacks against Israel and Saudi Arabia is because of the US-led attack which neutered his military power (page 173).

Was Saddam Hussein really a bad guy, or was he just misunderstood?

He was about as bad as a human can be. See pages 299 and 300 for a summary, but multiple accounts are scattered throughout the 315-page book.

Who is this General Sada and why should we care about him?

He graduated from Iraq’s Air Academy in 1959, received training in Great Britain, Russia, and the United States, trained many Iraqi pilots, and was the second ranking officer in Saddam Hussein’s air force. He was forced into retirement in 1986 because he was a member of the Baathist party, but was recalled during the First Gulf War to interrogate coalition pilots. He placed his life on the line by refusing to execute the coalition pilots as Qusay (the son of Saddam) ordered him to do (pages 181-187).

Without General Sada’s actions, no coalition pilots POWs would have survived to tell their tales.

When was this book, Saddam’s Secrets, published?

2006. 2006! Why haven’t I heard about this book before now?

He was briefly interviewed on Fox News’ Hannity and Combs, and then again on the comedic Daily Show. He has talked to a few churches around the country. But otherwise, he’s mostly ignored. I suggest there are at least six reasons why Saddam’s Secrets hasn’t been given much press coverage.

First of all, it is filled with little stories about Georges Sada’s life. For the reader who is searching for information about WMD, these stories can be annoying. Initially, I found them to be so, but the more of them I read, the more I grew to like the author. His account of his first flight in the MiG-21 on pages 54 to 62 was the turning point for me. As an Air Force pilot I understood what he went through as a 28-year-old aviator trying to do a mission without being fully trained for it. From there on, he was a friend telling me about his life. A life which had a connection to an evil dictator.

Saddam’s Secrets in not complimentary of the United Nations (UN). From high-level leadership down to the lowly blue-helmeted UN peace-keeper, they are all portrayed as bride-seeking individuals supporting nothing that relates to peace or justice. Some people might think it could bolster the traditional anti-UN sentiment of many Americans, whose tax-dollars pay 22% of the UN operating costs.

Georges Sada also talks about a Chinese connection in a deal to supply nuclear weapons to Iraq. Saddam offered them $100 million, but the deal was squashed when coalition-efforts prevented the transfer of funds. This information might set back the progress of elected officials working to convince Americans to accept China as a strategic partner and friend.

Probably the second worst offense in the book is that he warns us about a cultural invasion by the followers of Islam. Ever since shortly after 9/11, President Bush has repeatedly insisted that Islam is a religion of peace. Sada’s discussion on pages 285 to 291 suggests America and Europe are under going an assimilation that if ignored will soon transform our customs, history, and languages. This type of talk is not popular in an age where tolerance is culturally demanded, even written into our laws.

He criticizes the American handling of Iraq after the defeat of Saddam’s military. Not only were their major mistakes made after the 1991 war it was worse after the 2003 war. Disbanding the military the way it was, depleted the resources that could have been used to expedite stability and even worse encourage thousands of former officers to join the violent opposition. Shortly after the war, General Sada offered to establish security for Baghdad if he could have 40,000 UNARMED former Iraqi air force personnel assigned as police to him. The plan was rejected by the Americans in charge.

But Georges Sada’s greatest offense to the popular media might be that he is an Assyrian Christian. As an Assyrian, his ancestral claims to live where he does predate those of Arabs. It’s like a 2000-year trump card on the “evil-Crusading-invaders” argument used by many non-Christians. Greater than being Assyrian, the “Christian” descriptor is an obvious offense to non-Christians in the 21st century.

General Sada does more than just say he’s a Christian, throughout his book, he often gives thanks to Jesus for things that went right in his life. He also suggests that others should seek the truth of Christianity in several places throughout his book. He even has a small lecture for young people concerning their dress and sexual behavior–how dare he.

Personal testimonies of Christians often make non-Christians feel uncomfortable. I discovered through other sources that while Georges Sada was raised in the “old-style Christianity” of the middle-east, he actually became a born-again Christian in 1989. That was after an American preacher from California visited his church and taught about the individual relationship a person can have with Jesus. That explains a lot to those who understand what it means.

So Georges Sada has at least six reasons for people not to promote his book. Nevertheless the book is published and you might want to read it. If you don’t have a friend to lend one to you, it might be in your local library, or you can order a copy on-line at Amazon.com for about $17, it retails for about $25.

Another subplot in the book dealt with Saddam’s leadership style. Specifically, he placed very incompetent people below him in positions of great authority. While this tactic resulted in national leaders who were terrible at their jobs, they were totally loyal to Saddam. Without the power of Saddam to support and protect them, they would never be followed by the people they supervised. Thus revolution was impossible.

Doesn’t that make you wonder?

If you ever worked for an incompetent boss, did you ever wonder how he got there? Was it just a fluke, or was it a parallel of the Saddam principle of leadership?

Kinda makes you think about what your boss’s boss is thinking.

It just makes sense.

America’s Allies Need An Appropriate Defense

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

Russia has violated Georgia. A Russian invasion force–thousands of soldiers and hundreds of tanks–scattered the ill-prepared Georgian military. The Russian air force bombed Georgian cities and then occupied some of them. They stole the small boats of its navy. Pillaged and destroyed army bases. Pushed civilian police cars aside with tanks. Robbed banks. Put citizens in work details. And then scoffed at the international response.

America, its military stretched thin between two theaters of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT)–Iraq and Afghanistan–reacted with diplomatic sternness. The American stance might have been respected by the Russians if NATO had offered a solid front. However, they only offered the threat of diplomatic reprisals due to some of its members being energy dependent on the Russian Bear.

Then in a diplomatic surprise, the new leader of the European Union–French President Nicolas Sarkozy–echoed the American position. Suddenly there was a ceasefire deal. American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice saw to it that Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakshvili and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev both signed the treaty this weekend.

Once the agreement was signed, the Russian invasion force was supposed to begin leaving. But “surprise” — they didn’t. Who’d a guess it? Who wouldn’t have?

The Russians said they would leave Monday, but they didn’t. They continued to position themselves to control Georgia–taking over villages and a power plant.

They continued to assert moral ascendancy on the people of the small country. The Russians even said they were leaving as some rumors spread that more forces were moving into the region. Hard to trust those Russians, ain’t it?

This is troubling, as most of the civilized community is trying to find a solution to an evil force that is bent on destroying the world as we know it.

Terrorist organizations are waging war against the civilized nations of the world. Suicide terrorists do what their label implies. Attacks are launched, just about everywhere. The Chinese are not immune. Terrorists blow up civilian aircraft, even in Russia.

The terrorists see little difference between the Russians, the Americans, the Chinese, or the Jews. But instead of cooperating and putting as quick as possible of an end to the GWOT, we have to revisit old wounds. What causes that? If we ever get it under control we just might have peace in our time.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to established a hedge against Iranian missile threats–especially with the imminent development of nuclear warheads–America has agreed to build a missile defense system in Poland.

While this might be part of a master plan to avoid having to depopulate Iran in order to stop their weapons development program, Russia has stated that it is just an attempt to weaken Russia. They rattle their saber and spout not-so-veiled threats of attack on Poland and others. So we’re going to put Patriot missiles in Poland to protect them from Russian missiles. Well, that’s a start.

This is getting complicated. Russia is a threat to its neighbors that are American allies, or are considering to become so. It’s a good thing to protect them from missile attack, but that’s not enough.

If our allies are to be safe from Russia, they need a tank defense system.

America has had success in stopping Soviet-technology tanks in the past couple of wars. Its probably safe to say, “Nobody does it better.” We should share our techniques and some of our hardware with our allies.

Did somebody just whisper, “It might be good for the economy.”

There are a vast array of stop-the-tank weapons out there. The Army says the best anti-tank weapon is a tank. Maybe so, but airplanes do a pretty good job of stopping tanks too–ask any Hog-driver.

Of course, all of that needs air superiority to happen. Come to think of it–America does that quite well too. If we feel up to the job, we might want to reconsider the number of F-22s we’ll need. I know that’s not a popular stance in the wake of the UAV craze. But can UAVs shoot down the Su-35 and MiG-29?

Some folks will say that these suggestions are needlessly extravagant. They will say things like: It will cause a war! It will never work! It will cost too much!

Georgia is being snuffed as we speak–and not because they were too strong. They were without the resources to stop 10,000 soldiers and 350 tanks who enjoyed air superiority. If they had, let’s say 20,000 combat soldiers and 400 tanks and air defenses to stop Russian airpower technology–or at least slow them, would it have been different? Could they have defended themselves long enough for the US or NATO to have moved an air superiority shield over their territory? Maybe.

In addition, the Russians would have had to muster a force of about 3 to 1 to be confident of success. Forces in that number don’t assemble quietly or cheaply–maybe that in and of itself would have been enough to have prevented the invasion of Georgia. Who knows?

What we do know for certain is that what was done wasn’t enough. We have to do something different. If we keep doing the same thing, we’ll eventually see all the border states around Russia forced to surrender to the Bear. Do we really want an imperialistic Russian Empire expanding its sphere of control with hot lead and cold steel? When they eventually clash with China’s ambitions, will the EU and US be influential enough to get them to sign a ceasefire treaty? Or will we see the Dragon and the Bear wear each other out with massive bombardments of nuclear weapons? Which one of them would you like to win? Would that be a better world than we have today?

No way. We have to do something else.

It just makes sense.

Let’s Be Mindful Of Georgia

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

Russia’s brutal invasion of Georgia is seen by some as a cry for respect–like a shout in the darkness, ”The Bear is not dead, it was merely hibernating.” But now that the dastardly deed is in progress, how the world deals with Russia will set the tone for future imperialist schemes.

Georgia is a small nation–about the size and population of South Carolina–in the Caucasus region of Asia. It became independent during the breakup of the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) following the Cold War. Since then, Russia has supported two break-away regions within Georgia: Abkhazia on the coast of the Black Sea and Ossetia in the middle of its northern border with Russia.

On August 7, the fighting started in Ossetia. Well, at least the shooting and killing started then. Georgia had been under an intense cybernetic attack since July. While its difficult to prove, much of the attack appears to have come from Russia. It was the cyber-equivalent of a blockade of Georgia. No cyber-business or commerce in or out of the cyber-ports–the government was cyber-crippled. Then kinetic shots were fired, a few people died, and Georgia reacted.

Their reaction against the Ossetia separatist forces was the “moral high ground” Russia needed to launch their invasion of Georgia. They just happened to have hundreds of tanks and thousands of soldiers ready to roll. Probably just a coincidence.

The Georgian forces were chased out of Ossetia but the Russians kept coming across into the rest of Georgia. They quickly took control of the air and their invading army was free-to-attack and free-from-attack by the diminutive Georgian air force. The United States has officially denounced the invasion, telling Russia to return to their August 6 positions.

Russia has sent various mixed messages. They said they would stop, but they didn’t. They said they had stopped, but they hadn’t. They said it was just like 9-11, but it wasn’t. They say they’re merely defending the independence of “Southern” Ossetia. Defending as they leveled buildings across Georgia, bombed airports and pipelines. They call their forces “peacekeepers”. They’re acting a bit like the old USSR did, invading any of their occupied nations when resistance stood-up. Hungary in 1956. Chechoslovokia in 1968. But our Secretary of State reminded the world today that things had changed.

“This is not 1968 and the invasion of Czechoslovakia, where Russia can threaten a neighbor, occupy a capital, overthrow a government and get away with it.”

Wow! Smart, beautiful, and tough.

But the toughest stuff is yet to happen. If the world is not shown that those words she spoke are true, millions of people could suffer. If Russia can invade and gobble up Georgia, why not the Ukraine? If Russia can have Georgia and Ukraine, why can’t China invade and conquer Taiwan? Once Taiwan goes, the United States will no longer be creditable as a superpower. Our allies would never take a chance on siding with us, because we will be seen as hollow and worthless.

Now, there’s a change we don’t want.

So what do we do? We need solutions not just criticism.

First of all, every member of NATO needs to publicly denounce Russia’s action. They need to make similar statements as our President and Secretary of State have. In an election year everyone seems to have some words to say but this challenge will either be fixed or broken–maybe beyond repair before January 2009. The official opinions of the NATO members need to be congruent with the official opinion of the United States.

That opinion must include, “[We] stand with the democratically elected government of Georgia. We insist that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia be respected.”

If the members of NATO can’t do that one simple thing–and do it quickly–then NATO has outlived any usefulness. NATO would need to either expel the dead weight or the United States would need to resign. I think NATO can belly-up-to-the-bar on this in the next day or at the most two.

That might be all it takes. But maybe not. What if Russia calls the bluff? What then?

Well first of all, it’s not a bluff. NATO would need to declare a no-fly zone over the entire country of Georgia. The Russian ground force would no longer be protected by an airpower umbrella. They would be subject to attack. Georgian forces defending their towns would have the freedom to maneuver for positional advantage. The Russian response would determine what would happen next. Columns of T-80s are no match for what could come their way. And if Russia pushed NATO in the air, there would be a new generation of Aces to put on playing cards for years to come.

NATO would only have to press as hard as was required, remembering the objective would be to stop Russian aggression–not kill them all. Ironically, we would be teaching the Russians how to respond with appropriate force. Some lessons are tougher than others.

But could this lead to a nuclear war? Would the Russians respond with nuclear weapons, forcing NATO nations to depopulate the Russian homeland? It could. But it won’t.

Vladimir Putin’s job pays a lot better than most. He’s the richest man in Europe, maybe the world. He’s also the Russian decision-maker. And he cares about himself–doesn’t smoke or drink to excess–has two well-educated daughters, has a lovely wife, and a little poodle named Tosca. Life is good for him. He doesn’t want a big war between Russia and NATO anymore than America does. But he does want more.

We just have to convince him that less is more. The less Russia invades its neighbors the more airplanes Russia will have.

What about the people of Southern Ossetia? Russia is just helping those people to have their liberty and independence, right? Okay, lets solve that problem too.

The people of Southern Ossetia are said to have a culture tied to the people of Northern Ossetia (a province in Russia). What do you say we have Georgia and Russia let all the Ossetia people have their liberty. The two regions could be united and allowed to be a sovereign, independent country. Maybe after a while they too, would like to join NATO.

It just makes sense.

Georgia,
Georgia,
No peace, no peace I find
Just this old, sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind

I said just an old sweet song,
Keeps Georgia on my mind  

 

 

The 8888 Uprising*

Saturday, August 2nd, 2008

We’re fast approaching the 20th anniversary of an infamous massacre of people who were protesting against socialist rule. And yet, the majority of Americans won’t even notice.

However, the United States government is well aware of what has been going on in the country calling itself Myanmar since 1989. Last week, President Bush extended our import ban on Burma. The goal of our sanctions is to convince the military dictatorship to stop suppressing democracy and to release Noble Peace Prize winner Dr. Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest.

She is the daughter of General Aung San. He’s basically the George Washington of modern-day Burma. Following WWII, he led the negotiations with the United Kingdom which resulted in the establishment of the fledgling democracy. Life was good. But democracy was strangled in 1962.

General Ne Win led the coup which transformed the once prosperous nation into a beggar. He set up “the Burmese Way to Socialism” which extinguished the flame of economic freedom and banished Chinese and Indian businessmen. Officially, he stepped down from power in 1988–but ruled in a veil of obscurity until his death in 2002. During that period he transformed the government with a strong hand into one with an iron fist.

Myriad people demonstrated in the streets. Some say it was chaos, but the students and monks used peaceful tactics. Their civil-disobedience was countered with cold steel and hot lead on August 8, 1988. Some reports say more than 3000 people were killed, the junta counters that only a few were killed. You’ll have to decide who you believe.

Regardless of how many were killed during the 8888 Uprising, it didn’t stop the movement toward freedom. The National League for Democracy (NLD) won the 1990 election with a landslide. The only problem was that the junta refused to step down. It seems they had a monopoly on guns–no second amendment over there. Its hard to argue with a government that doesn’t mind shooting its citizens.

Americans learned that lesson in the 1770 Boston Massacre. History records that those demonstrators were not all that peaceful. And only five were killed. But it was enough to help fuel the movement that resulted in the American Revolution. Of course, Burma’s struggle is not over.

In September 2007, the government suppressed protests over fuel prices by killing at least 13 and arresting throngs of people. Since then, government thugs continue to roll through houses and monasteries to arrest anyone they think is associated with the pro-democracy movement. Most Americans didn’t hear much about Burma/Myanmar until May 2008.

That was when category-four cyclone Nargis hit Burma at 135 mph. Causing more than $10 billion in damage, it killed more than 100,000–some extreme reports say nearly a million were washed out to sea. The junta initially resisted foreign aid, maybe fearing they might lose their iron-fisted grip on their people. In response, President Bush encouraged the world to condemn Burma’s military leaders. Under diplomatic pressure from all directions, they eventually allowed aid to flow in. And nobody really knows how many people died lacking timely aid. But it had to be more than a few.

The junta does its best to keep reporters out of the country. They say the people’s unrest is caused by foreign media reports and radio broadcasts in exile. But like a bad movie, the current regime uses those old-time despotic favorites: slaughtering, raping, and displacing to control the folks who oppose them.

But still they oppose.

The people in the democracy-movement in Burma will no doubt do something to remember August 8, 1988 on the 20th anniversary of the massacre. Anyone with even a vague familiarity of the military junta’s iron-fisted tactics should not be surprised when the charge to remember the 8888 Uprising is paid in blood.

But of course, that has been the price of freedom throughout the ages.

It just makes sense.


* (August 8, 1988 – a.k.a 08-08-88 – Thus 8888)

A few opinions about the situation in Burma from people much more famous than me:

Jim Carrey on Burma

Sylvester Stallone on Burma

Will Ferrell on Burma

Damian Marley on Burma

Kim Kardashian

One More Last Chance For Iran

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

Iran is teetering on a political precipice. Very soon it will fall one of two ways.

Iran will either back down or get shut down.

They’ve adopted an anti-civilization stance since their muslim-revolution in 1979. They purged themselves, fought with their neighbors, threaten the world, and sent terrorists to kill the people in many places. They were identified as a charter member of the “Axis of Evil” by the President of the United States. And have been sponsoring the terrorists in the Global War On Terrorism (GWOT). Even with a stack of sins that high, they weren’t on the edge of what is about to happen.

What put them on the brink of doom is their well-publicized effort to acquire nuclear weapons and their public declaration that they will destroy the nation of Israel. Any reasonable reader of the news should be able to deduce that Iran intends to use nuclear weapons against Israel some time after they get them. Since it appears that nothing short of national disintegration will change their minds, the only solution is to deny Iran the ability to possess nuclear weapons.

As much as a nuclear attack on America would bother us, a geographical small nation like Israel couldn’t absorb the attack and expect to recover. Thus is seems that nothing short of national disintegration will prevent them from doing everything they must to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Some say it would be impossible for Israel to succeed with such a mission against Iran.

That’s what some people said prior to the successful 1981 mission against Hussein’s nuclear reactor in Iraq and the surprising 2006 mission against the “secret” nuclear reactor in Syria. While past performance is no guarantee of future results, it does suggest more truth than those who oppose freedom’s war against terrorism.

Suppose Iran doesn’t back down. Suppose Israel decides Iran is about to have functional nuclear weapons. Suppose no other nations shut down Iran. Then one of two things will happen.

The first possible outcome is that Israel once again pulls off the impossible. They destroy the 1000-megawatt nuclear plant at Bushehr and the other two-dozen or so suspected nuclear targets. In the process they out-think and out-fight what ever defensive actions Iran tosses at them. Standing in the rubble of extensive national damage and total embarrassment Iran would have two choices.

Choice one: Cut their losses and back down. Squeal to the UN and complain about the aggression of Israel, producing nothing more than a tongue-lashing for Israel. Israel, believing they saved their own lives, would tacitly accept the short season of talk. Eventually indigenous forces for change inside of Iran would prevail and they would have regime change.

Choice two: Iran squirts out of their borders with their diminutive airpower only to have most, if not all of it converted into smoking holes in the sand. Iran’s neighbors are not likely to give them free-transit of their airspace. Most of Iran’s neighbors are friendly enough with America to request assistance as needed. Having failed in the air, they would try to shut down the flow of oil through the Straits of Hormuz. After one or two successful attacks against merchant vessels, American air and sea power would neuter Iran’s ability to project power. Civil unrest at the embarrassing turn of events would most likely produce a violent regime change.

Another outcome supposes something different. Suppose Israel’s attack is unable to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Then Iran will most likely use their nuclear weapons on Israel. Maybe even on some of their other neighbors, but certainly against Israel.

Thanks to Jimmy Carter the world has little doubt that Israel has more than 100 nuclear weapons.

Let’s suppose Iran’s nuclear strike on Israel is successful. Israel would have little need for their nuclear weapons after they’ve been wiped off the map. Thus, they would at least give a major portion of their arsenal to Iran. Pointy end first. The parties in the streets of Iran’s major cities would be short-lived. The bowl of death produced by the nuclear shock-waves rebounding off the mountain ranges around Tehran would probably be studied for years by nuclear weapons experts. There would probably be little left of the near 13 million who live there now. But that would be from just one of the more than 100 weapons that would rain down on the Iranians. The small bands of survivors in the less populated areas of Iran would eventually be assimilated by their neighbors as the land became more inhabitable. The ultimate regime change.

The really ugly part of that entire scenario is that it would establish a precedent for using nuclear weapons in war. A pity for twenty-first century humanity, especially after over 60 years of investment by Americans to deter use of such destructive weapons.

But that’s what happens with rogue nations are not convinced to back down.

When will the attack happen?

According to John Bolton, former American ambassador to the UN, the attack will take place between the November 4, 2008 presidential election and swearing in of whoever replaces George W. Bush on January 20, 2009. Thus George W. Bush will be in command of the American response to Israel’s bombing of Iran.

So is all lost?

Not yet. You might have read in the news about the American envoy going to Geneva this week for the Iran nuclear talks. It hasn’t gotten as much attention as the Obama cartoon on the cover of the New Yorker or Jackson’s vulgar language but it’s much more important than either of those.

It is completely out of step with American policy. Presidents have been impeached for less. Yet, the civilized-world’s leader is sending Williams Burns, the third highest-ranking American diplomat to Geneva. The cover story is that he’s there to listen.

Of course we know that diplomats are best at talking, not listening. Is it possible that America is going to give Iran one more last chance? Will Mr. Burns say something like, “Let me help you save yourself from embarrassment, pain, and national suicide. Back down or get shutdown.” Will he? I hope so.

It just makes sense.

Party Pooper

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

Five Hundred and Fifty metric tons of yellowcake. That’s a lot.

A metric ton is equal to a little over 2204 pounds. So 550 of them is just on the shy side of 1 1/4 million pounds. Needless to say, over a million pounds of anything is a huge amount. Thus, 550 metric tons of yellowcake is a huge amount of yellowcake.

No joke.

The Canadians bought the huge amount of yellowcake from the Iraqi government. The US military saw to its safe shipment via aircraft then by ship. Canada will process the yellowcake into energy-producing nuclear fuel. Yellowcake even in its raw form is a radioactive hazard. Now this potentially hazardous material is going to be used for good and not for the evil it was intended.

Certainly the former leftist ruler of Iraq, Hussein was his name, never intended for any good to come of his WMD seed. Even with his body digested by worms, the remnants of his nuclear weapons development program still was a threat to civilized people.

Imagine suicide terrorists padding their underwear-bombs with a few pounds of radioactive yellowcake as they went about their dastardly deeds. Now don’t imagine it, because America and its allies have prevented that from happening.

At least that time. At least in that place. America had the leadership with the determination to do what they believed to be the right thing to do. Since Americans were unable to deter Hussein from plotting, preparing, and performing evil, the next best thing was to invade, dispatch his fielded forces, and force a regime change. The criminal had to be stopped.

To have allowed Hussein’s fascist forces to fully develop nuclear weapons for employment against the civilized world would have been criminal on America’s part. Even though the powerful press in America continued to insist there were no WMD in Iraq, even though influential left-bent politician in America continued to call for the impeachment of President Bush, even though evil still stands strong in some rogue nations, America went the distance.

And it worked.

The terrorists invaders have nearly been completely pushed out of Iraq in a war of attrition. The strategic sponsors of the terrorist fielded forces have been mostly untouched, except for the former regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, which were annihilated. Because the people of Iraq recognized Operation Iraqi Freedom as a liberation campaign within the Global War on Terror (GWOT), they joined forces with the civilized nations of the world. Soon Iraq will be cleansed of any large scale terrorist forces. But the GWOT will continue. It’s not over.

If the majority of the well-financed, left-leaning Americans would stop for a moment and realize that the terrorists are not their buddies, not their ideological soul-mates, they are their want-to-be executioners–then the war could end soon. Before that can happen, those same folks will have to understand that Hussein had a huge amount of yellowcake in his basement. He was planning a surprise death day party for a huge amount of people.

George W. Bush was Hussein’s party-pooper. Thank God for George W. Bush.

It just makes sense.