Thursday, May 27, 2004

Realpolitick!

I've been reading Henry Kissinger's Diplomacy for the past week. I recommend it highly. Though Henry has a tendency to repeat himself every couple of pages (a good editor could have made this a great book), it is a useful introduction to the history of Europe in the last 300 or so years, a very good analysis of WWI and WWII (at least from the diplomatic standpoint), and a great treatise on the global politics of the past 50 years.

Kissinger's analysis of American foreign policy is pretty interesting. He says because we have no real threats on our borders (at least until the Soviets developed nuclear weapons) and we've had an excellent track of democracy, we tend to be extremely idealistic in our foreign affairs. He isn't, of course, talking about the 19th century, since in the War of 1812 we tried to conquer Canada, or the Mexican War, where we took half of their country away, and we sure as hell weren't nice to the Indians. But we eventually reached our middle period, where we had no threats and two oceans between any potential adversaries. We could afford to be idealists.

A quick aside: the Civil War left a huge scar on this country and is the war in which the most Americans lost their lives (some half a million dead out of population of about 30 million). I bring this up because Europe learned nothing from our horrible war. They thought (based on the Franco-Prussian war) that war was bloody but quick. One of the main reasons that the assassination of an Archduke led to 7 million dead people was that the European leaders believed that who mobilized first would win, so that when one country did mobilize, that ended the possibility of a diplomatic solution.

I guess that wasn't a real quick aside. Anyway, Wilson decided WWI would be the war to end all wars. His centerpiece was the League of Nations, which he couldn't get Congress to agree to, and was even more impotent than the U.N.

But we didn't lose our idealism. We signed the Kellogg-Briand Treaty that outlawed war. Unfortunately, that didn't stop Hitler.

Oh, back to my point. I don't think we should have ever got into Vietnam, and I don't think we should have got into Iraq. Why? As much as I love democracy, I am not convinced it is exportable. Our fearless leader once said as much.

On the other hand, as stupid our policy in Vietnam was, I understand we couldn't just get out and let the communists take over. It would have made our geopolitical situation intolerable. Likewise, while the U.S. claims we will hand over control to the Iraqis, no one thinks (aside from the editors of NRO) that means the troops are coming home.

I am a bit torn. I am totally on the realpoltick side. I am very cynical, but I use idealistic arguments to make a point. What some of the cool kids said was that this would pressure the other countries of the Middle East to be more democratic, or at least, less anti-American. Of course, it would help if our ally didn't decide to bulldoze people's houses.

Anyway, the argument ran that a democracy in Iraq would make some of the other countries around it abandon tyranny and adopt pro-American democracy. It might work, or more likely, the fucking country will disenagrate into civil war.

I'm sorry, this post went too long. Because this was turning into a Den Beste post, I'll end with a parody of him:

(4,000 words which display a broad range of knowledge spanning a number of subjects, combined with smart analysis and interesting insights, leading up to-)

It is then impossible to escape the conclusion that we must invoke NATO's Article V and conduct a global war against France.

(Sound of thousands of readers interested by preceding technical discussion simultaneously going "Wait- what the fuck?")

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Another dissatisfied Customer

Former General Anthony Zinni has penned a book with the help of none other than Tom Clancy decrying the Bush administration (via Kevin Drum). I haven't read the book, but as a conservative who cannot stand Bush, I wonder how long he can just claim all these people who worked under him are just "disgruntled ex-employees" (Paul O'Neill, Richard Clarke, and hell, even though he still works for him, Colin Powell).

The excuse is wearing thin. These aren't a bunch of leftover career government liberals out to destroy Bush. They are conservatives who think he is incompetent and disengaged. I realized that when Bush admitted he doesn't read newspapers, but gets briefed on what's written by his aides. (though I admit, keeping up with Luann's love life might require some help). But I don't trust a President who gets his news spoon-fed to him and requires free speech zones (how fucking Orwellian is that?) at his public appearances to really know what the hell he's doing.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Our War President

Warbloggers increasingly claim that no matter how far right Bush goes, they will vote for him because he is our best defense against terrorism (as in we will all be reciting the Koran if Kerry is elected). I believe this is bullshit, but what do I know? However, two items have come to my attention in the past week that show Bush isn't the brightest bulb when it comes to protecting us from evil. To wit:

The first has to do with Abu Musab Zarqawi, the mastermind behind the beheading of Nick Berg. It turns out, the U.S. knew this bastard was in Iraq and had opportunities to kill him, but the Bush White House scuttled proposals to do so because they were afraid it would undermine their crusade to topple Saddam. You should read the entire article, but the important parts are:

In June 2002, U.S. officials say intelligence had revealed that Zarqawi and members of al-Qaida had set up a weapons lab at Kirma, in northern Iraq, producing deadly ricin and cyanide.

The Pentagon quickly drafted plans to attack the camp with cruise missiles and airstrikes and sent it to the White House, where, according to U.S. government sources, the plan was debated to death in the National Security Council. . .

The Pentagon drew up a second strike plan, and the White House again killed it. By then the administration had set its course for war with Iraq. . >

In January 2003, the threat turned real. Police in London arrested six terror suspects and discovered a ricin lab connected to the camp in Iraq.

The Pentagon drew up still another attack plan, and for the third time, the National Security Council killed it.

Military officials insist their case for attacking Zarqawi’s operation was airtight, but the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam.


I guess, in the neo-con's skewed world view, it was more important to keep the illusion that Saddam had a close relationship with al-Qaida than to actually do anything about al-Qaida. So for this brilliant policy we have a decapitated American, a broken country on the verge of civil war, and a situation in the Middle East that will take thirty years to rectify. I am sure glad the adults are back in charge now.

Well, look at the time! I'll have to post about how Bush's stupid diplomacy has made the madcap regime of North Korea even more dangerous next time.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Who's That Bitch?

Why, it's Ann Coulter! Since my last post was about Ted Rall, I figured my next one would be about his counterpart on the right. The Blond Bomber's latest excuse for a column takes to task the liberal media dissing on the intelligence of the average FOX News watcher. For five paragraphs, she's almost making a point! But this is Ann we are talking about, so:

The poll asked questions like this: "Is it your impression that the U.S. has or has not found clear evidence in Iraq that Saddam Hussein was working closely with the al-Qaida terrorist organization?" Sixty-seven percent of Fox News Channel viewers said the United States had found evidence of a link. Liberals view this as a "misperception."

Admittedly the evidence may not be as "clear" as the evidence proving a link between Osama bin Laden and Halliburton, but among other evidence connecting Iraq to al-Qaida, consider just these three items.


I was a little surprised she didn't say "as clear as Bill Clinton was getting blown by Monica Lewinsky," but perhaps Ann has moved on (yeah, right).

Last year papers were found in Iraqi intelligence headquarters documenting Saddam's feverish efforts to establish a working relationship with al-Qaida. In response to Iraq's generous invitation to pay all travel and hotel expenses, a top aide to Osama bin Laden visited Iraq in 1998, bearing a message from bin Laden. The meeting went so well that bin Laden's aide stayed for a week. Iraq intelligence officers sent a message back to bin Laden, the documents note, concerning "the future of our relationship."


I've heard about this, but it was in 1998. Osama's vision of Islam does not really correspond well with Saddam's, and Osama's main bitch with Saudi Arabia was that America, rather than Osama, would be defending the country from Iraq. But this is a relatively minor point. Let's go on:

In addition, according to Czech intelligence, a few months before the 9-11 attacks, Mohammed Atta met with Iraqi intelligence agents in Prague.

Christ, woman! This has been refuted so many fucking times that not even Rush Limbaugh brings it up.

Finally, a Clinton-appointed federal judge, U.S. District Court judge Harold Baer, has made a legal finding that Iraq was behind the 9-11 attacks -- a ruling upheld by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals last October.

I'm tired of quoting Coulter so that's the last I'm going to do before she sues me for plagiarism. But here is yet another bullshit statement. Baer didn't make a legal finding that Iraq was behind 9-11, but rather:

The testimony, Baer wrote, "barely" established a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq but offered enough proof to persuade a "reasonable jury."

Hardly a ringing endorsement.

P.S. Hey Ladies! Ann hates you too!

RANTEL: . . .What is your general take on all of this [Abu Ghraib]?

COULTER: Well, the point I just made on Hannity & Colmes--which no one has been making--is that this is yet another lesson in why women shouldn't be in the military.

RANTEL: Oh, really? You're bringing this up? It's funny because somebody mentioned that and I kind of pooh-poohed it. So tell me more.

COULTER: Well, you can't avoid the fact that there are a disproportionate number of women involved, for one thing, in the abuse photos. It was a girl general who was in charge of running our Iraqi prison. And, you know, for one thing, I'm a little disappointed in Rumsfeld--he allows the greatest fighting force on the face of the globe to have girl generals--what are we doing with girl generals? But I think as a general matter, besides the fact that women don't have the physical abilities to do the training exercises while carrying even a medium-size backpack, women are more vicious than men.


Here that, you women who have been raped? Wait kids, there's more!

COULTER: It is simply a fact--I have only seen five of the abuse photos--there are females in two of them. We don't have a military that's 40 percent female.

Five? That's what I call a representative sample!

COULTER: Yeah, and, of course, we have affirmative action to get more women generals--girl generals--running the--Come on! Come on! That's silly. No civilized society allows women in the military--this is separate and apart from the fact that you should not be allowing women to fight.

Come on! Come on! Just every modern country that exists today allow women in the military. Hell, Israel drafts women. Come on! Come on!

I will agree to no more woman soldiers as long as there are no more women columnists.

And since Ted Rall got one:

Fuck you Ann Coulter

I'm Hardly The First Person To Say This But . . .

Ted Rall is an asshole. Here's the ultra left-wing hack cartoonist's latest bullshit:

The justifications for the war, however, were every bit as fraudulent as the WMD claims about Iraq. Pakistan, not Afghanistan, was and is the world's HQ for Al Qaeda. Osama bin Laden wasn't in Afghanistan at the start of the war. And the Taliban repeatedly offered to turn him over in exchange for evidence that he was involved in 9/11.

Read the last two sentences and see if there isn't a contradiction. Osama was not in Afghanistan, yet still the Taliban offered to turn him over. Teddy, try to keep your conspiracy theories straight.

This is all in connection with a book Ted just wrote called Gas Wars (Ted didn't provide a link to where you could buy it, and I sure as hell ain't going to look one up for you). In it, Rall claims the war in Afghanistan was just a ruse so Bush could build a pipeline through the country. Ted's not going to give all the details, but to whet our appetites, he gives this little teaser:

Petroleum minister Nouraiz outlines foreign investment needs in Pakistan
By an OGJ Correspondent
KARACHI, May 3 -- Pakistan's Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Nouraiz Shakoor, at a press conference, invited foreign investors to participate in a $1 billion oil refinery proposed for Pakistan, in exploration blocks, and in gas storage facilities at Gwadar for Balochistan Province and in storage facilities for the hilly areas of the country.
Saying there was a need for both upstream and downstream investment in Pakistan's oil and gas sector, Nouraiz said he hoped in fiscal year 2004-05 to surpass the record $800 million provided by foreign investors in all sectors of oil and gas in Pakistan during fiscal year 2003-04.
He said the feasibility study for the $3 billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan oil pipeline would be completed by June, and the project would begin by yearend 2005. Nouraiz said that a consortium of companies would be formed later this year to fund the pipeline.
[Ted's emphasis]

See? There's a feasibility study coming out in June. Oh Bush, you'd better resign immediately, for the good of the country.

Fuck you, Rall


Friday, May 07, 2004

And Now For Some Intelligent Commentary

I've been lurking around message boards to see what peoples' reactions are to the Rumsfeld hearing (personally, I think there's going to be a lot more coming out), and for some stupid reason I decided to see what the wingnuts over at Free Republic had to say, and found this gem (scroll down, no permalink):

Why are you trying to excuse homoerotic torture?

It wasn't torture if the individuals involved found it erotic --- and we don't actually know what all was taking place. What were the interactions between the guards and the prisoners? Arabs aren't exactly what you could call puritanical --- women are nothing more than sex-slaves --- harem girls who themselves are lower than dogs. Mohammed --- their leader was a man very much consumed by lust --- a very large harem with little girls as his favorite brides.


That was posted by FITZ. He'll be here all weekend. Be sure to tip your waitresses.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

At Least I'm Not B.J.

Click here to take the M*A*S*H quiz!


I'm kind of torn on this: Hawkeye got the majority of the funny lines, but he was also a sanctimonious prick. I guess I could have tailored my answers toward Klinger.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

10 Most Overused Movie Songs

Have you ever been sitting in a movie theater, patiently sitting though the trailer of the eighth consecutive movie you are not planning on seeing when it comes out, and realize you have just heard James Brown's "I Feel Good" for the fourth time? It's not just you, so go see this list of the most overused songs in movie history. It's not a bad list; it's got the aforementioned "I Feel Good" and "Bad To The Bone," two songs that have been used in every stupid movie of the past twenty years. Two glaring omissions: Arethra Franklin's "Respect," and no movie taking place in the 60's would be complete without Hendrix's "All Along the Watchtower."

The article parts with the soundtrack to Eddie Murphy's craptabulous
Daddy Day Care. Check out this lineup:

1. Walking On Sunshine - Katrina & The Waves
2. Takin' Care Of Business - Bachman-Turner Overdrive
3. I Want You Back - Jackson 5
4. Coconut - Harry Nilsson
5. Rhinestone Cowboy - Glen Campbell
6. I Wanna Be Sedated - The Ramones
7. Kung Fu Fighting - Carl Douglas
8. Dream Weaver - Gary Wright
9. Ballroom Blitz - Sweet
10. Surrender - Cheap Trick
11. ABC - Jackson 5
12. I Want Candy - Bow Wow Wow

I've never seen the movie, but I can pretty much guess what happens during each of these songs.