Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Response to Atticus's "New Iranian Sanction"

The U.S. Foreign Policy: Which Options on the Table?

The sensation derived from the failure of Iraq War narrowed the breadth of selection. As Putnam (1988, 437-8) explained, the win-set size should be broad enough to have a room for negotiation. However, the U.S. has narrowed its win-set size to negotiate with Iran. What can be the best option for the U.S.? I suggest following: the U.S. invasion of Iran, nuclear armament of Iran, sanctions by the International Institutions and by the U.S., and remove the willingness and capability on nuclear weapons.

1) The U.S. Invasion of Iran: If the U.S. invades Iran, it can successfully deter the nuclear program? Bomb-Iran-Now is a military option suggested by the neoconservatives. However, the U.S. would blamed again whether it success or not, because people are jealous of the war in this region. Presidnt Bush’s invasion concluded with failure in Afghanistan and in Iraq - brought about another conflict (let say, civil war), cost much money and lost the U.S. soldiers. This option sound not so good to solve real problem. And, the relative weaknesses of neoconservatives after the last year's mid-term election might make it difficult to persuade the Democrats.

2) Nuclear Armament of Iran: Let Iran to repeat the history of Israel? As Israel did during the 1950s-60s, the U.S. just let them to develop nuclear bombs? In fact, Iran can easily acquire the related technological assistance from Russia. North Korea and Syria also are good partners. Forced resignation of Iranian top nuclear official means that the Iranian government would directly control its nuclear program. Iran rejected the international inspections itself, or disturbed inspectors. So, it is evident that Ahmadinejad intend to produce nuclear arms, even though he kept saying that it's only for "peaceful purpose." If Iran’s nuclear program turned out to be successful, we do not have answers to deter them from using it through various means such as terrorist groups. This option also not a good thing: it looks too pro-Iranian view.

3) Sanctions by the International Institutions and by the U.S.
The cooperation with the international institutions, such as IAEA and Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), are required for the legitimacy of inspections. Iran has a vast territory, which is the eighteenth largest country in the world, so locating the nuclear evidence will not be an easy task. The purpose of close inspection, however, is to pressure Iran. However, the use of international institutions is not a strong means to change Iran's attitude. We should understand this question: Why Iran does not answer the critical questions on nuclear program by the IAEA for five years? They just accepted the mild U.N sanctions accordingly not answering the truth to the IAEA. Why? Because, the sanctions by the institutions are not so powerful.
Hower, there was an announcement by the U.S. State Department that regards any trade with Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) will be considered like terrorist-supporting activity. This is a strong sanction that can prevent Iranian nuclear ambitions. Nobody know what the outcomes will be, however, I anticipat this might have a big influence - as the U.S. did on North Korean missile test. The sanctions should strongly threatening Iran to change its courses.

4) Remove the Willingness and Capability of Nuclear Bombs: Nuclear program can be resumed at any time if they have willingness (keep ambiguity policy) and capability (nuclear technology and resources). The sanctions might be useful to obtain short-term goal, not long-term goal of removing the willingness from developing the program. Deep-rooted nuclear willingness expected to be prevented under the improved relations with Iran. It looks almost impossible to make the theocratic fascist state Iran change their attitude.
Though Iranian nuclear capability is not a developed level, however, there are many sources which it can depend on. Russia is an awkward friend to dealing with. Because Russia continuously helped Iran for decades in a military sense. Even Putin, an eternal leader of Russia, publicly blamed the U.S. operation in Iraq and possibility of invasion on Iran. The U.S. should take Russia seriously, because it is still a second nuclear power state in the world. The possibility of technology assistance from North Korea is low after the successful negotiations from the Six-Party Talk. Unfortunately, however, we can’t believe such a communist state one hundred percent getting involved in rhetoric. Syria and Pakistan is a possible candidates. Bilateral deal might be helpful as alternative ways to change the current frameworks with the rogue regimes.

So what?
Iran can develop its nuclear program secretly like that of Israel. It is obvious to predict the result of the future when Iran has nuclear bombs. To prevent the disastrous situation, the U.S. should prevent the recent Iranian nuclear armament. It is not an easy task, but not impossible. Even though Iranian activities went too far from the maginot line, negotiation is still possible at any time. Attacking Iran and admitting nuclear armament of Iran is the worst options. Sanctions by the U.S. rather than by the international institutions might be strong. But, the institutions can endow us with legitimacy. Multilateral diplomatic solution is the best option to dealing with Iran's nuclear ambitions. So, the normalized American – Iranian relationship must be accomplished to solve this issue peacefully and permanently.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Oh Blackwater, Keep on Rollin'

The days when this sparked thoughts of a peaceful Doobie Brothers song are over. Now, this statement refers to the blatant disregard for life that Blackwater USA has gotten away with in Iraq. After the shooting of 17 Iraqis, Blackwater guards have been granted immunity by the Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Funny story though: the Bureau of Diplomatic Security does not have the authority to grant immunity. The Justice Department claims that they did not know beforehand that this immunity would be granted, and the Justice Department DOES have the authority to grant immunity. The argument of what kind of laws American civilians in Iraq have to abide by has become even more cloudy. Since Blackwater is not military, none of the employees can be tried in military courts, and in 2003, because of the American occupation, a law was passed that no American can be tried under Iraqi law. There are currently some measures within Congress that are trying to fix this problem, but until then, it is obvious that Blackwater, and any other mercenary group, will be able to break whatever laws and commit whatever human rights violations they want. They can even continue to treat American troops as useless and unimportant, which has been a common complaint fired at Blackwater. Maybe next time the US will think twice about sending a bunch of thugs in to do the job of our military.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

New Iranian Sanctions

Why is America using (more) sanctions against Iran? Will new sanctions get America anywhere? Have sanctions worked with Cuba? The answer is a resounding NO in both cases. Not to sound pedantic but the Bush Administrations is hitting a new low in stupidity. I understand the urge to prevent the Revolutionary Guard from interfering in Iraq, but unless these new sanctions are oddly effective they won’t work. What they will do is give Mahmoud Ahmadinejad more rhetorical firepower.

Look here is the deal with sanctions: they sound GREAT in the nation that is doing them, drumming up national pride and all, but often sanctions increase national pride/resolve in the sanctioned nation as well. I really believe that Castro’s regime would have fallen long ago if he was not able to blame Cuba’s economic plight on America. What America is doing is giving the pro-America Iranian population a reason to hate America. Seriously there is stupid and then there is stupid.

I did not agree with everything our recent speaker Jeremy Jones said, but he made a very valid point when he noted the lack of productivity when a nation only negotiates with its friends. Normalizing relations with Iran (i.e. talking with Iran) right now would be painful, and would give Mr. Ahmadinejad a lot to talk about, but talks are the only way the good ‘ol US of A and Iran will be happy bed fellows again. Somehow I think this concept might be far too complex for the Bush Administrations so I will sum up my feelings this way: IRAN SANCTION BAD! IRAN TALK GOOD! ARRG!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Missile Defense Shield Bad mmmkay.

The Bush administration just won't let the idea of missile defense shield. "We need to protect ourselves from Rogue states like Iran!," they say. Well, Rogue states like Iran and Syria don't survive by being stupid. No threat from a rogue nation from Iran or any other rogue state is so pressing as to create a shield to prevent such an attack. While Iran may possess the technology to attack Europe, they would most certainly refrain from doing so out of the possibility of being reduced to a pile of radioactive ash were they to strike with a nuclear weapon (should they ever acquire one).

Of course I'm not the only one who should stop making a fuss about the value of missile defense shield. As mentioned above, the US's current plans for basing interceptors in Poland and the Czech Republic are specifically meant to counter the remote chance of Iran firing a handful of primitive missiles at the state of Europe an in no way signify hostile intent towards Russia. You can relax, Mr.Putin. Anyways, your missiles can be launched from land, sea and air, and you have lots of them to hurl.

Hopefully the US will decide that the missile defense shield is a bad idea before pissing billions of greenbacks away.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Teeth of Diplomacy

Condoleezza Rice’s response to several Republican Representatives concerned about American negotiations with North Korea was that she was “using the teeth of diplomacy, not just the carrots.” (article)

After commercial satellite photos showing the beginnings of a possible nuclear reactor in Syria were released and circulated, some of the more hawkish and conservative members of congress accused Rice of valuing diplomatic negotiations with North Korea over our national security. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida wrote an opinion article, criticizing the administration for continuing negotiations and accusing the administration of creating a “veil of secrecy” around the Israeli airstrike issue.

A nascent Syrian nuclear program does not pose an immediate threat, and there is no need to call of negotiations because of it. It is quite obvious that Israel will not let the program grow enough to become a threat.

Both Rice (finally) and Christopher Hill understand that negotiating with North Korea is not going to be a zero-sum-game. If North Korea is responsible for Syria’s nascent nuclear reactor then that means that negotiations will be more difficult, not that negotiations should be called off. The most important time to talk and negotiate with North Korea is when it is behaving in a way in which we do not approve. Condemning North Korea for its actions and calling off negotiations is a juvenile and ineffective policy. What will it lead to? Diplomatically condemning North Korea’s actions in negotiations (with our big teeth) and having our top diplomats consistently and strongly offering it carrot after carrot is a proactive policy that could possibly to lead to a nuclear free North Korea.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Maybe Lt. General McChrystal is not a "Kook"

A couple of weeks ago, Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal advocated for military planners and leaders to declare a "Victory Declaration" for operations in Iraq. While I vehemently opposed such an idea then, and still do now, maybe the Lt. General was more aware than many gave him credit. Last week, OBL released a video criticizing Al-Qaeda insurgents. OBL chastised the insurgents for straying from the main mission of combating U.S. forces and instead focusing on advancing their personal allegiances at the cost of the primary cause: defeating the Americans Occupiers. He went on to further condemn the Al-Qaeda insurgents for using brutal tactics against the Iraqi people, who have grown tired of them and have begun assisting American troops. Many feel the cooperation of the local Iraqi leaders with the coalition forces have been key to the recent American successes.

I may be wrong, but this is the first time I can remember OBL publicly and blatantly chastising his own Al-Qaeda fighters through a released video tape. He usually saves that mechanism for delivering his anti-western propaganda or, as some feel, delivering hidden messages. While I feel it would be premature and extremely detrimental to active troops in Iraq to make a "victory declaration", maybe there are signs that Al-Qaeda has been weakened. After four and a half years of fighting: any objective, positive reports should be welcomed by everyone regardless of political party. However, I feel it important to treat the analysis as a postive sign but not go overboard in making an premature declartions. If anyone should feel different, I implore them to remember our President and the speech he gave under the now infamous banner approximately two months after the Iraq invasion began in March of 2003.

Kurdish Hellions, Turks screaming "Rebellion!"

Turkey, apparently feeling diplomatic pressure from all sides, has entered a deal to cooperate with the Iraqi government to confront the Kurdish problem. This has bought both Iraq and the U.S. valuable time to alleviate tensions, but the harsh rhetoric continues.

Most interesting are the words of Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan who flatly stated that “Ceasefires are possible between states and regular forces - the problem here is that we're dealing with a terrorist organization". This is telling because 9 years ago Turkey showed us that a ceasefire with a “terrorist organization” was not only possible, but that they would enter into one. They brokered an agreement with the PKK that brought relative peace to the region, until 2004 when the violence resumed.

This option has been taken off the table because Turkey no longer views such an agreement as viable, and it appears they are not only prepared but downright giddy with the thought of military intervention. By show of hands, who sees a diplomatic resolution to this issue? Anyone? Anyone? Beuller? …it will not work and the tensions in the region will continue to escalate militantly.

Luckily, it looks like Iraqi forces will be utilized to close the PKK camps in the North, possibly with Turkish assistance. This is excellent news for the U.S. because increased involvement in Kurdistan would be viewed with suspicion in Ankara and, to be honest, the U.S. military has more pressing problems further south (and east, and south east too) . However, I am not inclined to believe that Turkish, Iraqi, or a combination of Turkish and Iraqi forces are capable of effectively engaging the PKK. The Iraqi military has consistently underachieved and the Turkish forces have seen only moderate success against the determined rebels. Oh me of little faith.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Who Needs a Power-Sharing Deal? I have Emergency Powers!

Yesterday in Karachi over one hundred people were killed and hundreds more injured when two explosions rocked Ms. Bhutto's motorcade. Ms. Bhutto's arrival in Pakistan is almost certain to cause more instability in the country.

Musharraf could gamble on using emergency powers now to stay in office. Although Mr. Musharraf's constitutional legitimacy as president is questionable, Ms. Bhutto can not claim the high ground either. She is pushing for a third-term as prime minster, which is currently illegal. Idealist may point to the agreement between Musharraf and Bhutto as a step towards true democracy, but it looks like business as usual in Pakistan. Pakistan could now have two dictators. One would like to think that maybe two individuals could squash the problem with militants in the tribal areas, but given that both of Ms. Bhutto's terms as prime minister were riddled with corruption and incompetence, the situation looks bleak.

I hope that nuclear arsenal is secure.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Save Us From the Democrats

8 months ago, the democratic party campaigned endlessly on ending the war in Iraq. But alas, it is October, and the war continues with no end in sight. But its not all the fault of the Democrats, right? They do control Congress, but Bush is unwaivering in his convictions regarding the war and would certainly veto any bill calling for the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq. And, despite the majority of Democrats in the House and the Senate, the Democratic party lacks the numbers to overturn any veto issued by President Bush.

The spineless jellyfish who make up the rank and file of the Democratic party would love for America to think that they are doing all they can to end the war, but they're not. They could do a number of things, such as holding a filibuster. But all that bloviating takes away from valuable face to face contact with the special interest groups that many of them serve, such as...oh, I don't know...the Armenian Lobby.

The Democrats can't can't force the end of the war through "official" direct means or indirect means (i.e cutting off funding for the war). So... the Democrats have decided get behind a resolution calling for the recognition of a genocide of the Armenian people in 1915. Turkey, a key NATO ally and critical logistical staging ground for the Iraq war is obviously pleased. I guess the Democrats think that it is in the interest of the United States to lose the support of a key ally in the region in order to end an unpopular war.

The Democrats must be taking crazy pills. We already have our hands full battling insurgents in Iraq. It would incredibly stupid to give Turks any more reason to invade the only peaceful portion of Iraq and possibly ignite a wider regional conflict.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A Unified Iraq?

A recent Washington Post article quotes Iraq's Deputy Prime minister M Barham Salih, a Kurd as saying "I don't think there is something called reconciliation, and there will be no reconciliation as such". This brings us back to the issue - why are we insisting upon the survival of a unified Iraq, and is this still possible.

We must remember that Iraq is a very artificial country - yes, it was all part of ancient Babylon, but its borders were drawn by the British Empire after it colonized the area (along with the rest of the world, of course). It seems that the only Iraqis who are determined to cling on to a unified Iraq are those who would not control the nation's oil reserves. Their only desire comes from personal economic desires, not from a lofty Iraqi nationalism or anything of the sort.

The question remains, why has US policy remained that we insist on a unified Iraq? If our concern is truly security, why are we trying to force groups who have no desire to coexist to within the same borders and share power?

I know it’s shocking that there are massive logical fallacies in US Iraq policy, but it’s sad that the concept of dividing Iraq is seemingly not even being considered by any policymakers. One would think that after 4 years of mostly frustration and an inability to make significant political progress in Iraq, all options would be on the table, or at least discussed openly.

Interrogation is useful Pt. 2: So is torture (and its legal!)

AP 10/9/2007 - WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court on Tuesday terminated a lawsuit from a man who claims he was abducted and tortured by the CIA, effectively endorsing Bush administration arguments that state secrets would be revealed if the case were allowed to proceed. Full story

The United States will not allow legal proceedings where state secrets may be revealed, period. Even if the CIA kidnap, strip, beat, diaper (wtf?) and drug an innocent person. No criminal prosecution can occur so long as we call it a "secret". Ladies and Gentlemen of the supposed Supreme Court, this does not make sense. Chewbacca lives on Endor. It is disconcerting to see that between 1953 and 1976 the state secret doctrine was invoked 6 times, and the Bush administration, in less than half that time, has seen fit to invoke it on 39 occassions. You'd be hard pressed to convince me that this world is 80 times more dangerous than the Cold War period.

The rogue elephant is back, and this time hes drunk. It's time to gather up the surviving members of the Church Committee for a reunion tour of our intelligence community.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Oh Glorious Opium

So Afghanistan has just had its largest harvest of opium poppy in history, and who does the US blame. Afghanistan of course. Why would the US not blame them? I mean it is obvious that blame must be placed on a country that has found a cash crop that makes it a major source of revenue. The fact remains that this large amount of opium poppy harvested and the amount of opium produced makes the US look bad in many different ways. First of all, one thing the Taliban was successful in doing was cutting down on the opium production. Since the US has taken out the Taliban, both poppy harvest and opium production has greatly increased. So much for a "war on drugs." Another reason why this makes the US look bad is because a country should not be able to make money on such disgraceful acts that Americans happen to be the most abundant users of. It would be a dream if the blame would actually go on the demand for once in the US. Of course Afghanistan will keep harvesting and producing opiates when they know that the US will always be there as a customer. The only way to cut down on production is to take the money out of it. If demand were to decline, there would be less desire to produce the amounts that are being produced right now. We will see if this actually happens. I tend to doubt it.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Interrogation is useful

Using information gained from detainees, the US...[1]

· In 2002 disrupted a scheme of Khalid Shaykh Mohammad (9/11 mastermind, aka KSM) to attack West Coast targets with hijacked airplanes

· In 2003 derailed another KSM-plot involving hijacked airplanes, this one directed against Heathrow Airport

· In 2003 began an investigation that culminated in the capture of Hambali, leader of Jemaah Islamiyah and al Qaeda’s representative for South Asia

· In 2003 arrested Iyman Faris, who was involved in a plan to destroy New York’s Brooklyn Bridge

· In 2004 broke up a planned attack against urban targets in the UK

Interrogation is useful. Whether or not the methods used above amounted to “torture” is irrelevant. The point is that they were used for the advancement of policy—in this case, the suppression of terrorism—and were neither aimless nor indiscriminate.

What I am still waiting to hear is an argument why torture/interrogation is bad (assuming, of course, that the underlying policy is just, which most people take counterterrorism to be).

Is it because it’s “uncivilized?” Suffusing people with shrapnel seems also somewhat uncivilized, yet this is legitimate in war. Is it because the international community says it’s unacceptable? Or is torture just plain wrong? Someone tell me.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

To Torture or not to Torture

Today the New York Times reported on a US Justice Department memo issued in 2005 approving the use of torture after previously denouncing such methods in a an earlier memo in 2004 as "abhorrent". This new, revised memo endorsed methods such as head-slapping, simulated drowning, and exposure to frigid temperatures.

I know torture has its advocates and they make many nebulous claims to its effectiveness effectiveness in eliciting information. If someone could site a specific, compelling example I would love to hear it. I guess it is tempting to be seduced by the iron-clad logic that someone would never tell their torturer exactly what they wanted to hear in order to terminate the gruesome proceedings as soon as possible. And of course terror suspects have all the incentive in the world to divulge all their information...spending the rest of my days languishing in a concrete cell as an expended intelligence asset sounds great to me.

If someone shoved a snarling attack dog in my face or threatened to attach electrodes to my genitals, I think I'd say just about anything to make it all stop.

We're told that the War on Terror is being fought to protect civilization from those who would destroy it. Are we being civilized?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

North Korea Does Care

Just when everyone thought that North Korea was a desolate rogue state that only cares about finding a place of importance in the world, they prove that they actually care about their people. WOO HOO. Everyone take a picture because this does not happen often. It was officially announced today that North Korea has reached a deal with Russia, China, South Korea, and Japan to complete dismantle all of its nuclear facilities by the end of the year. This includes the reactor in Yongbyon which produces plutonium. In exchange for this disabling of nuclear facilities, North Korea will receive 950,00 metric tons of fuel oil or its equivalent in ECONOMIC AID. Yes economic aid. Kim Jong-il might actually have decided that starving his people to death is not a the best viable option. Or maybe the North Koreans got a hold of the picture that shows how lit up the rest of the Korean Peninsula and China is at night. Either way, things are looking up for the North Koreans.

Now this deal does not require North Korea to get rid of all of the technology and parts that have already been acquired already which could pose a threat if another state were to get their hands on them. In order to gain full support of the United States, North Korea must also disclose whether or not they have been supplying Syria with nuclear materials. If this condition is met along with full disabling of facilities by the end of 2007, then the US says it will "enhance mutual trust."

This is also seen as a major victory for the Bush adminstration. This administration, which has suffered through the debacle in Iraq, has shown signs of effectiveness. Not only has they worked with North Korea to disarm, they have also done the same with Libya early in the administration. These smaller victories certainly do not overshadow Iraq, but they do show some credibility, for what it's worth.