“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Obama, Quick, Glib and Deadly Wrong on Pakistan.

Listen to the words of this Pashtun fighter. Is he an Al Qaeda operative?

He is not. He is not a terrorist.

He does not care about what goes on in New York or Jerusalem or Chicago. He cares plenty about his tribe and his turf.

Obama declared that he would use military force against Al Qaeda operatives in tribal areas of Pakistan. He will send in US forces to try and hunt down such men as this. It will be the Obama equivalent of solving the energy crisis by topping up tires.

The junior inexperienced community organizer and Senator from Illinois said in 2007:

"I understand that President Musharraf has his own challenges," Obama said. "But let me make this clear. There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. ... If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf will not act, we will."

Obama, if elected President, will get more Americans killed in Afghanistan than Bush did in Iraq. He is ignorant about Afghanistan and Pakistan and painfully naive on foreign policy. He is however, very good at running a campaign. That is what a community organizer does. If his campaign is successful we will end up with a  Jimmy Carter of color. We will pay hell for the folly. I urge you to read this:


Current Afghan conflict finds echoes in centuries-old feud between tribes

Jul 24, 2008
Canadian Press

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — It's a centuries-old tribal feud pitting Afghanistan's noble clans against the perennial outsiders - and Canada and its allies have been dragged into the middle of it.

The current conflict in Afghanistan is only the latest chapter in three centuries of squabbling between the two main tribal clans of the country's dominant Pashtun ethnic group.

Experts say the West must make a better effort to understand the tribal complexities or its nation-building project in Afghanistan is doomed to fail.

It is no easy feat for an outsider.

The byzantine dynamics of Afghanistan's tribal system include ancient rivalries, election processes and legal codes that can vary from one village to the next.

There are about 60 main Pashtun tribes and they include roughly 400 smaller sub-tribal offshoots - some are tiny, some have hundreds of thousands of members, some break with the majority and some simply sit on the fence.

But boiled down to its simplest description, this is a rivalry between two giant sets of families: the Durrani and the Ghilzai. Their history of violence makes the vaunted Hatfield-McCoy feud look brief and blissful by comparison.

"I really think tribal factors are still important," said Nasir Islam, a University of Ottawa professor who provides a two-day training course on Afghan culture to Canadian soldiers before they deploy.

"It's the $64,000 question: How do you bring change to a society that is so tradition-bound?"
For most of the last three centuries, the blue-blooded Durrani tribal clan ruled Afghanistan, providing the country with its kings who periodically sought to exercise control and bring modernity to the hinterland.

Their attempts to create a modern, central government prompted several violent uprisings from the Ghilzai - a name loosely derived from the term "mountain swordsmen."
President Hamid Karzai is a Durrani.

More specifically, he is a Popalzai, the royal-blooded sub-branch of the Durrani family tree that traces its ancestry to Ahmad Shah Durrani, the 18th century king widely considered the founder of Afghanistan.

The Taliban regime was comprised almost exclusively of Ghilzai tribesmen.

Members of this tribal family are the backbone of today's insurgency, as were their ancestors who waged revolts against Durrani royalty.

The Ghilzai also rebelled against the communists, even though three of the country's Soviet-backed rulers belonged to their clan.

Before that, they rebelled against Durrani kings like Amir Abdurrahman, known as the Iron Amir for his often brutal efforts to reduce the power of tribal leaders and increase the presence of the state in the 19th century.

A Ghilzai uprising later derailed Amanullah Khan's plan to modernize the country with a new public school system for boys and girls, a constitution that guaranteed equal rights, and an end to the strict dress code for women.
After 10 years of trying, Khan was forced into exile in 1929.

It might be tempting for outsiders to see these ancient bloodline identities as an impediment to building a stable Afghan state.
But many of the country's most reputed observers argue the exact opposite: that foreigners and the central government need to better understand tribal realities and incorporate them into larger state structures.

They say that the current nation-building project is being undermined by a lack of cohesion with traditional structures.
Nasir Islam suggests that while a legal system develops, the state should recognize tribal dispute-resolution mechanisms. Plaintiffs could then be allowed to appeal tribal verdicts to a state-run court, he says.

One of the world's leading experts on Afghanistan makes a similar argument.

Barnett Rubin says that in most of the country, the only law enforcement available to villagers rests with tribal councils and their crude interpretation of Islamic law.

The political scientist at New York University argued in a Foreign Affairs magazine article last year that there will be only two options available in the years to come, pending the development of a modern justice system: "Enforcement of such customary or Islamic law - or no law at all."

An incident just last week in northern Afghanistan illustrates his point.

A father in Sarpul province publicly threatened to make his entire family suicide-bombers unless he gets justice in the gang-rape of his 12-year-old girl.

He said the rapists had bribed their way out of trouble because they had powerful links to the police department and politicians.

One Afghan scholar describes how rural-dwellers consider their traditional legal system fairer than anything foreigners have to offer. It may crude by western standards, exceptionally harsh in some cases, and jaw-droppingly misogynistic - but at least the people will follow it.

For serious matters, like a murder trial or a treaty negotiation, Pashtun tribes will gather all adult men for a so-called shura.
In the case of an accidental killing, the trial begins with the placing of a stone on the ground between the houses of two feuding parties. It is a symbolic gesture that declares an inviolable truce period - with members of each home forbidden from crossing that stone to fight.

The adult men of the tribe deliver a verdict after gathering the facts of a case. The ultimate aim is to find a satisfactory solution for both families, and not to punish any individual but to establish some compensation to the injured parties.
Penalties for a crime can see one family forced to transfer land, money or one of its females to the injured parties.
A family that refuses to abide by the verdict can have its house burned down.

Two academics who described the process in a recent paper say foreigners are being led astray if they believe the current government can replace these systems.

"This is a dangerous and fundamentally bankrupt approach," say Afghanistan scholars Chris Mason and Thomas H. Johnson.
"(It is) arrived at by misguided bureaucrats, policy analysts, and westernized Afghan elites, who are the first to downplay the importance of tribalism ... Such elites (are) often the only contacts of western policy professionals."

In fact, the Canadian government is keenly aware of the powerful tribal dynamics at play in the rural areas.

Its analysts have closely studied the legal system and attempted to incorporate tribal realities into their interaction with locals.
If a public works contract is tendered in a village with different tribes, there is an effort to ensure that various clans each receive a share of it.

The Canadians have seen how tribal leaders can serve as the most reliable bulwark against the insurgency.
In areas where the tribal structure is weakest, the Taliban tends to be strongest. In the Kandahar districts of Sanzari and Arghandab, the number of Taliban attacks and incursions skyrocketed after the death of local leaders.

"When the leaders tell people, 'Stand against the Taliban,' they will stand," said a local Afghan who acts as a cultural adviser to the Canadian government.

"Now the Taliban are killing tribal leaders."

The Taliban have always railed against tribalism and described their own mission as a pan-Islamic one that should unite Muslims of different tribes.

However, they have used the symbolism and rules of tribal politics to their advantage.

When their leader Mullah Omar sought to assert his authority over the country in 1996, he repeated a grand gesture that cast him as a modern-day Ahmed Shah Durrani.

He headed over to a Kandahar shrine that supposedly holds a cloak that once belonged to the Prophet Muhammad - one that Durrani brought back from the Holy Land in 1768 - and draped it over his shoulders.

That symbolic gesture helped build Omar's reputation as "Leader of the Faithful," and cast him as a modern-day heir to the famous patriarch of the Durrani bloodline.

The Taliban also use the rules of Pashtun tribalism to their advantage on the battlefield. When they hide in villages and NATO planes bomb those villages, they know they are winning converts to their side.

The ancient principle of badal - vengeance - is among the core tenets of Pashtunwali, the ancient tribal code.

Human-rights groups estimate that by December of 2001, more innocent civilians had already been killed in coalition strikes than the total number who died on Sept. 11.

And when foreign soldiers forcibly enter a home, search a woman, and especially if they kill an innocent person, they have made new enemies.

The Taliban know the rules well.

"If your brother or my brother was killed by someone, we would not be happy," says Nasir Islam.
"(But in Pashtunwali) it's a question of honour. If you do not take revenge, you are dishonourable."


  1. Looking at various videos of the Pashtuns in Waziristan, there is a striking difference in their physical appearance from the dark skinned Punjabis. Add that to the ties of territory and culture and you have the traditional tribalism that is universal except in the new age world of multi-culturalism. The vast majority of people on planet earth are happy to be left alone in their own culture and do not need advice, direction, and oppression from foreign tribes.

  2. The War on Terror is a war of vengence, against those in Pakistan. Lest we forget.

    The number of US troops lost is secondary to that vengence, or we should come home to Fortress America. Leaving world leadership to others more capable.

    But let Osama take his pass, let him die of natural causes. Justice for 9-11-01 just a Bridge to Far, for US, aye?

  3. If you do not take revenge, you are dishonourable."

    Fellow is right, the US has not taken its revenge, we have behaved in a dishonorable fashion.
    Unless one has spent to much time in cutler's schools, then the perception changes. Then honor becomes something else, entirely

  4. I would prefer a war of vengeance, but take your vengeance on the right people and leave.

  5. Couldn't agree more.
    Obama's team for managing the vengence, Clarke and the fellow that designed the program in Colombia, for Clinton.
    His name escapes me at the moment.

    We know that Maverick will not chase 'em down, he's staying in Iraq for 100 years, that is his priority.

  6. A bunch of middle class Saudis, using Saudi money, trained in Western universities and US flight schools hijack four planes. They crash four planes into the crown jewels of American civilization, killing 3000 and doing hundreds of billions in economic damage.

    I guess we could have attacked the flight schools and seized the Saudi oil fields. That would have been a wake up call.

  7. The Saudi fields have been available to US, in that regard, since 2003. If we were going there, we would have, already.

    The same is true of the Iranian assets. I recall that one of the worse case scenarios with regards acting against the Iranians, oil at over $125 per barrel.

  8. You still giving yuppies saddle sores?

  9. On occasion.

    Mostly a winter activity, due to the heat, here, below 5,000 ft elevation.

    These kind of times, with the dollar being beaten upon, the Germans come. This is the third time they've cycled through, in my 36 years of watching. Everything is cheap for them, so they buy in.

    The real estate investors have not arrived, still early in the curve, though.

  10. At a gathering where Mullah Nasruddin was present, people were discussing the merits of youth and old age. They had all agreed that, a man's strength decreases as years go by.
    Mullah Nasruddin dissented.

    - I don't agree with you gentlemen, he said.
    In my old age .

    - How do you mean, Mullah Nasruddin? asked somebody. Explain yourself.

    - In my courtyard, explained Mullah Nasruddin, there is a massive stone. In my youth I used to try and lift it. I never succeeded. Neither can I lift it now.

    Only God knows the whole truth.

    - Barnett R. Rubin

  11. "These kind of times, with the dollar being beaten upon, the Germans come."
    The Times just had an article about free-spending Euros in NYC.

  12. If you listen to the video, this Pashtun is complaining that a foreign Punjabi invader has attacked his country, destroyed property and killed his people. He wants them out and he wants blood vengeance.

    The proper equivalency would be for a fellow from New York, Tennessee or Iowa talking about Saudis.

  13. I guess Bobal is out there firing up the combine.

  14. Doug is still wandering around in his boxer shorts in Hawaii. The wonderful world of the web.

  15. Damn, caught w/shorts on for a change!
    Al-Qaeda hails 'revival' in Afghanistan
    Michael Scheuer

    The attacks almost certainly will lead to heightened military tensions between India and Pakistan; indeed, Pakistani and Indian artillery batteries engaged in a 13-hour duel along the Line of Control in Kashmir on July 29, violating a 2003 ceasefire agreement. This reality will, in turn, motivate Pakistan's General Staff to request that regular army units be held back from operations in the FATA until it is certain they will not be needed on the Pakistan-India border. The new and fragile civilian government in Islamabad is likely to concur with such a request - especially if New Delhi does any saber-rattling - and thereby reduce Pakistani pressure on the Taliban and its allies.

    Abu-Yazid's optimism is another signal of the ongoing revitalization of the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan, an insurgency now grown to the point, in size and geographic dispersion, that the two additional US brigades promised by presidential candidates Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain are likely to make little or no difference.

  16. What I find funny?

    Is that so many applaud the rights of the Palestinains, the Pashtun, the Arabs to have THEIR homelands ethnically pure...

    Why not insist that these people be RESTRICTED from the rest of the world?

    Oh, we cant do that!!!!!

    How many Saudis are now getting visas to the USA?

    How many Churches are allowed to be IN Arabia?

    It's a double standard at best...

    In Israel, 17% of the population is Arab & moslem, and yet ARABS OUTSIDE of Israel say that Israel is BAD cause it doesnt allow NON-citizens from OUTSIDE israel to have rights...

    I wonder if the Pashtun fighter allows real freedom of choice in his lands?

    Do women have equal rights, Do they have a transgender group? A lesbian Pastun club?

  17. DR: The War on Terror is a war of vengence, against those in Pakistan. Lest we forget.

    It better not be, with my tax dollars. In terms of ending the careers of terrorists, ts six times more efficient to use intelligence and law enforcement procedures to bring terrorists to justice, says the Bland Corporation, than to use military force. The LORD saith, To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.

  18. WIO,
    Muslims are confronted w/a grand new opportunity:

    Rubin: Afghanistan at Dangerous 'Tipping Point'

    I am told that the Pakistani intelligence service is supporting the Taliban leadership from the Taliban headquarters in Quetta, which is not in [Pakistan’s] tribal territories. And yet President Bush, Secretary Rumsfeld, and Vice President Cheney did not mention the Taliban headquarters in Quetta to President Musharraf during his recent visit. Why is this?

    This is because everyone perceives that containing Iran, and trying to stop Iran’s nuclear program, and perhaps destroying the Islamic regime in Iran, and perhaps changing the regime in Syria, and winning in Iraq are much higher priorities for the Bush administration than succeeding in Afghanistan. And the administration thinks they can succeed in this regional objective only if they keep Pakistan relatively quiet.

    When both Musharraf and [Afghan President Hamid] Karzai were in New York last month for the UN General Assembly, Karzai said he’s given the coordinates to President Musharraf on where Taliban leader Mullah Omar’s headquarters were in Quetta. And you say the American intelligence confirms that, right?

    American intelligence and NATO intelligence. I’d note that when General James Jones, the Supreme Allied Commander for Europe, four-star Marine general, former member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on September 21, he was asked by Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE), “Is it true, as some allege, that the headquarters of the Taliban is in or around the Pakistani city of Quetta?” And General Jones responded, “That is generally accepted. Yes, sir.” So the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, which is now in command of the entire military operation in Afghanistan, says the headquarters of the Taliban is in Quetta and yet, the top figures in our administration did not mention this, as I understand it, to President Musharraf when he was here. They focused much more on another serious issue, which is the Waziristan [in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas] issue, because al-Qaeda people are headquartered there. It’s the al-Qaeda people whom they believe pose more of a direct threat to the United States. But this just reinforces the general perception in the region that the United States is not serious about succeeding in Afghanistan.

  19. off topic but rather important and interesting

    Arab media reported on Sunday that General Mohammed Suleiman, a top Syrian general who acted as his country's liaison to Hezbullah, was assassinated on Friday in the port city of Tartus. Pan-Arab al-Hayat newspaper, quoting "well-informed" sources in London, said the officer had been found dead on Friday night-Saturday morning. It said the officer had been in charge of "sensitive files" and was close to the Syrian leadership.

    Lebanon's [pro-government. CiJ] Future News television station identified the officer as Brigadier General Mohammad Suleiman whom it said was a military aide to Assad. It said his body was found at a hotel in the northern port city of Tartous.

    According to the Syrian newspaper Albawaba, the sources told another Arabic-language newspaper, the London-based Al-Hayat, that Syrian authorities have been trying to prevent the publication of the news regarding Suleiman's assassination.

    The Syrian Web site "Free Syria", affiliated with Syrian opposition leader Abd al-Halim Khaddam, also dealt extensively with the assassination, and described Suleiman as Assad's right-hand man on military matters. According to the Web site, Suleiman was also a member of Syria's Baath Party, and held the government's Lebanon portfolio.

    Albawaba stated that no organization has claimed responsibility for the killing as of yet and the reports did not say who was behind it.

    The reports did, however, refer to the assassination of Hezbollah's senior commander Imad Mughniyah in February, and suggested that Israel was involved in the killing. Heh. Ya' think?

    Now Lebanon has several different versions of Suleiman's (they spell it Sleiman) identity. The Saudi-owned pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat on Sunday quoted "informed sources" in London as saying that a senior Syrian officer had been found dead.

    "The circumstances of the incident are not clear," the London-based paper said in its report, which said the sources suggested that the slain officer had been "in charge of sensitive files and closely linked to the Syrian top brass."

    Al-Bawaba, an Arab news website, named the officer as Mohammed Sleiman and said he was "Syria's liaison officer with Lebanon's Hezbollah movement."

    It said he was killed by a sniper in the northwest Syrian town of Tartous and would be buried in his hometown of Driekesh on Sunday.

    The Lebanese Hariri-run daily al-Mustaqbal quoted a Syrian news site as saying Sleiman was the head of security at the presidential palace in Damascus and President Bashar al-Assad's "right-hand man."

    The paper made no mention of Hezbollah in its report.

    A Hezbollah official told AFP in Lebanon that he did not know Mohammed Sleiman and had not heard about any killing. Hmm.

  20. 01 August 2008
    More than two years ago, I reported from the ground that we were losing the war in Afghanistan, a conclusion that was met with widespread ridicule and criticism.

    Now, more than two years after those reports, the situation there has only gotten worse.

    Our next President will have to make some painful decisions regarding Afghanistan. If those decisions are unwise, we will lose the Afghan front of this war.

    On the upside, however, our military has proven that it can take a war that looks unwinnable and turn it around. During those very dark days in 2006 and early 2007, the Iraq war seemed lost to many "experts." Many "experts" were ready to cut and run. But we won in Iraq. Against heavy odds. Our very experienced and capable military -- who truly rescued victory from the jaws of defeat in Iraq -- are my only hopes for Afghanistan.

    Michael Yon

  21. "The LORD saith,.."

    And I saith, I am the instrument of the LORD.

  22. The Perfect Evil In Afghanistan, heroin has become the Devil’s cocktail.

    “Smack” is already one of the most addictive and destructive drugs on Earth, and now numerous academic studies show addiction levels on the rise particularly among younger children. In a place where 90% of the world’s heroin supply originates, the Taliban, al-Qaeda and others harvest profits from opium poppy cultivation to buy weapons and equipment used to attack soldiers and civilians engaged in a mostly stalled reconstruction mission.

    A reverse symbiosis is at work: those who benefit most from the opium/heroin trades also benefit most from a destabilized Afghanistan...

  23. Why is this fellow talking about oil?

  24. I Sayeth you ain't shit, Boy!

  25. That's what you saith to ass LORD.

  26. Not to be confused with lard ass.

  27. Why is this fellow talking about oil?

  28. This is for the previous thread, but since al-Bob has the Combine Occupied, it will have to wait for the 'morrow.


    Simmons, who has never been married, currently lives in Beverly Hills, California with longtime partner and former Playboy Playmate Shannon Tweed. They have two children: a son, Nicholas (born 22 January 1989), and a daughter, Sophie (born 7 July 1992). He has formerly lived in relationships with Cher and Diana Ross.[2] He has also dated actress Liv Ullman.

    Simmons speaks four languages – English, Hungarian, Hebrew and German – and is currently learning Japanese and Mandarin.[2]
    In a February 4, 2002 interview on the NPR radio show Fresh Air with Terry Gross, Simmons said to Gross regarding his claim to have bedded more than a thousand women: "If you want to welcome me with open arms, I'm afraid you're also going to have to welcome me with open legs"
    In a later Fresh Air interview, satirist Al Franken related to Terry Gross his own encounter with Gene Simmons. According to Franken, he was awaiting a racquetball partner at a club when Simmons, whom Franken had not recognized, challenged him to a match, stating "I'll kick your ass," only to suffer an embarrassing loss to Franken. Simmons responded by calling for another match, and when Franken indicated that since his racquetball partner had arrived, he couldn't play Simmons again, Simmons responded by making loud "bock, bock, bock" chicken sounds. Franken then offered to play Simmons with $500 at stake, at which Simmons walked away.[11][12] Franken told Gross not to blame herself for her experience with Simmons, and that Simmons' behavior at the racquetball club made him "the most awful person I've ever met."

  29. Correction:
    "the most awfullest person I've ever met."

  30. Worse than the
    Worst Person in the World!

  31. WiO:
    That's an interesting news development. Thanks for bringing to my attention. My first reaction was "did Assad get rid of the most incrimating connection to Iran?" And if so, "Is Assad backing away from Iran and Hesbollah?"

    The the question of the Israelis came up. Very interesting...we'll see how it plays out. Also, interesting is the flare-up between Fatah and Hamas. All part of a larger plan? I would hope so.

  32. Speaking of Assad and Iran:
    Ahmadinejad: Iran aims to reinforce nuclear rights

    By NASSER KARIMI, Associated Press WriterSun Aug 3, 7:15 AM ET

    Iran will not give up "a single iota of its nuclear rights," the country's president said Saturday, rebuffing an informal deadline to stop expanding uranium enrichment or face more sanctions.

    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made the remarks during discussions with Syrian President Beshar Assad, who arrived in Tehran Saturday for a two-day visit, the Iranian president's official Web site said.

    Assad is in Tehran to discuss Iran's controversial uranium enrichment following a request from French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

    Tehran was given an informal two-week deadline, set July 19 by the U.N. Security Council's five permanent members plus Germany, to stop expanding uranium enrichment — at least temporarily — in exchange for their commitment to stop seeking new U.N. sanctions.

    Ahmadinejad's stance signaled both a failure of Assad's mission and a rejection of the deadline, although his comments indicated he was not ruling out international talks on Iran's nuclear program.

    While stating that the Iranian nation "will not give up a single iota of its nuclear rights," he also said any participation in international talks on the nuclear issue would be aimed at reinforcing those rights.

    Assad, who has been seeking a more prominent Mideast role for Syria, promised Sarkozy during a visit to France in July to try to persuade Iran to offer proof to the West that it isn't developing nuclear weapons.

    Syria is Iran's closest Arab ally — the two countries have had close relations since 1980, when Syria sided with Persian Iran against Iraq in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

    Iran's claims that it only wants nuclear technology for the production of energy have failed to quell Western suspicions that it is seeking a pathway to an atomic bomb.

    Meanwhile in Brussels, a European Union official said Saturday that the office of EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana had not yet received an answer from Iran, but expected a reply "in the coming days" after the weekend deadline.

    The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said EU nations and diplomats are not too concerned about Tehran's adherence to the exact deadline — but are keen for Iran to come back with a concrete reply that could form the basis of further negotiations.

    Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier urged Iran to stop playing for time and deliver a "clear answer" to the latest initiative. "Stop dallying," Steinmeier was quoted as saying in an interview with the weekly Der Spiegel that was released Saturday.

    Steinmeier said he expected "a clear signal for a mutual freeze: We would freeze our sanctions efforts and Iran the development of its centrifuges." He warned it would be "negligent" for Iran to pass on the opportunity and added that in case of Tehran's refusal, the six nations would consider increasing pressure on Iran "via sanctions."

    The Security Council has slapped three sets of sanctions on Iran over its enrichment and reprocessing of uranium, which can produce the ingredients for a bomb but which Tehran insists is for peaceful purposes only.

    In Damascus, Syria's official news agency SANA reported on Assad's visit as having affirmed "identical views" of the two countries on major regional and international issues. The agency, which is a government mouthpiece, hailed the two nations' rejection of "foreign dictates" and stressed the need for a "timetable for a withdrawal of foreign forces from" Iraq — an allusion to U.S. troops there.

    Assad's visit was also to focus on economic ties between Tehran and Damascus that have resulted in over a dozen projects in Syria, worth $896 million, SANA said, adding that both governments are "seriously seeking to increase the size of joint investments to more than $3 billion over the next years."

  33. With regard to the Arabs, if embrace them with open arms, you can expect to open your legs also.

  34. There are four Iotas in a Neutron.

  35. Whit

    my belief?

    the war with iran started years ago...

    many confuse the public dhimminess of the west with the actual actions on the ground:

    Iran: I do not doubt that the USA is spending at least 400 MILLION a year on certain groups INSIDE IRan to cause shit...

    Syria: Israel has taken out INSIDE Damascus Ultra secret targets as well as proved to be able to take out a NUKE site..

    This newest link just is another piece of the board..

    Remember the Iranian defection 2 years ago?

    I think that the iranian/hezbollah/syria/fatah/hamas side love loud speeches and larger than life pronouncements

    I prefer the quiet liquidation of the senior bad guys, in their beds, within their "safe. protected wombs"

  36. whit said...
    With regard to the Arabs, if embrace them with open arms, you can expect to open your legs also.

    So wrong whit, you can get pounded up the ass without spreading your legs

  37. Why is this fellow talking about oil?

  38. I am the One We Are Waiting For!
    "The pop superstar arrived in this northern Michigan resort town Saturday to introduce her documentary,

    "I Am Because We Are,"

    a highlight of the Traverse City Film Festival. The event was co-founded by filmmaker, author and fellow Michigan native Michael Moore."

  39. Building Towards Peace

    Needless to say, amidst the optimism, there is no small measure of skepticism, paranoia, and mistrust.

    Feeding the skepticism are many Arabic-language outlets — especially in the Saudi-funded media — which are engaged in a daily hack job on the Syrians to complement their diplomatic initiatives to convince the French and Americans to shun the Syrian talks as a bait-and-switch, i.e. typical Damascene politics as usual. Of course, this response is partly understandable: inquiring minds in Washington, Paris, Tel Aviv, Beirut, Riyadh, and Cairo would like to know what Bashar al-Assad can possibly deliver in exchange for the return of Syria's Golan Heights, after having built up a resistance infrastructure that will not easily dismantle itself. On the other hand, the criticism of the Syria-Israel talks in Saudi newspapers and satellite news networks is also strongly motivated by the bad blood between Damascus and Riyadh, which has built up over the past four years through their turf wars in Lebanon. Having seen Syria's allies emerge empowered after the Doha Accord, the Saudis remain furious and the mini regional Cold War shows no signs of thawing.

    Syria has largely ignored the provocations and outspoken indignance of the Saudi columnists, but this may not be the wisest strategy. A barrage of negative publicity runs the risk of being taken seriously and undermining the peace negotiations, particularly if the Israeli public remains unconvinced of Syria's sincerity, and if the next American president declines to commit the United States to its essential role as a mediator of the deal. As such, al-Assad might do well to start trying to build more confidence in his intentions, and in his ability to make good on them. There are three clear ways to approach this challenge, each with a different audience in mind.

    I. Damascus Spring, redux

    II. A Simultaneous Lebanon-Israel Peace Track

    III. The Arab Peace Initiative

  40. Seeking Refuge in Kabul
    A refugee camp in the capital of Afghanistan is steadily swelling as more families arrive in batches displaced by the heavy bombardment across the country’s south.

    Moises Saman, a photographer, narrates a visit to a crowded refugee camp on the outskirts of Kabul.

  41. For some unknown reason, The Elephant Bar is blocked in China.

  42. 2164th: For some unknown reason, The Elephant Bar is blocked in China.

    They didn't like your topics on July 20 and July 18, and July 28 was iffy.

  43. This comment has been removed by the author.

  44. Metuselah: Lebanese singer Haifa Wehbe: I can make peace with that.

    I'll see your Lebanese one, and raise one Israeli singer Ofra Haza. Dead, unfortunately, at age 42.


    Iran's Nukes
    Iran’s S-300 Delivery Debated as Israel Delays Pre-emptive Strike Allowing Diplomatic Progress a Chance
    Edwin Black July 28th 2008

    Israeli and American military officials are now publicly differing on whether Iran will receive its pivotal S-300 Russian anti-aircraft batteries by September of this year or well into 2009, according to media reports. However, informed sources tell this reporter that while some of the first components have already arrived in Iran, they are still disassembled in boxes and undeployed. Hence, the difference between Washington and Jerusalem military sources may be parsing over the operational nature of the state-of-the-art batteries, not their actual delivery.
    The S-300’s potent versatility is a key factor in Israel’s pre-emptive Iran strike strategy. A test of the strengths and weaknesses of a similar S-300 system by Israeli Air Force jets and drones over Crete with the cooperation of Greece, was first reported in The Cutting Edge News exclusively on July14, 2008.
    Considered one of the world’s most versatile radar-missile systems, Russia’s S-300 batteries can simultaneously track hundreds of semi-stealth cruise missiles, long-range missiles and aircraft, including airborne monitoring jets. As many as ten intruders from as far off as 75 km can be simultaneously engaged by the S-300’s mobile interceptor missile batteries, military sources say. As such, the S-300 is a major threat to the long-range weapons in the Israeli arsenal.
    Following The Cutting Edge News revelations, picked up by the Jerusalem Post and other outlets worldwide, the Israeli Defense Ministry, previously mum, revealed that it was convinced the S-300s would be delivered by September via Belarus. Belarus is a common portal for controversial Russian arms shipments. Russian sources contacted by The Cutting Edge News speculated that as many as five batteries were recently delivered to Iran, these having been pulled from active Russia defense units. The transaction is thought to be valued at $800 million, an easy sum for Iran whose economy is some 75 percent empowered by oil revenues.
    However, Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell told Reuters, "We firmly believe, based upon our understanding of the situation, that the Iranians will not be receiving that Russian anti-aircraft system this year." Morrell echoed the words of Defense Secretary Robert Gates who quipped it was "highly unlikely that those air defense missiles would be in Iranian hands any time soon."
    Iran has warned that if its nuclear infrastructure is attacked, it will immediately retaliate against America’s many military installations in the extended Middle East, Israel and the Strait of Hormuz, through which 40 percent of all seaborne oil traverses.
    Israeli sources were allowing the latest two-week diplomatic deadline from the six-nations engaged in the nuclear controversy to lapse before making any decisions on a first strike.
    Edwin Black is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of IBM and the Holocaust, and the forthcoming book, The Plan--How to Save America the Day after the Oil Stops— or Perhaps the Day Before (Dialog Press, September 2008).

    Copyright © 2007-2008 The Cutting Edge News

  46. Worthy of being banned.

    Must be doing something right.

  47. So the choices are:
    Five active batteries already shipped from Russia

    An unknown number of S-300 systems, delivered, but unassembled, the components still in the crates

    There are no S-300 systems in Iran and will not be, any time soon.

    Looks like a slam dunk, to me.

  48. "...we will end up with a Jimmy Carter of color."

    Is the EB going to run another pool for this election, Deuce?


  49. desert rat said...
    So the choices are:
    Five active batteries already shipped from Russia

    An unknown number of S-300 systems, delivered, but unassembled, the components still in the crates

    There are no S-300 systems in Iran and will not be, any time soon.

    Looks like a slam dunk, to me.

    Looks to ME, that the TIME to HIT Iran is NOW...

    Why wait?

    There is nothing that says a country (iran) that calls for another to be wiped off the face of the earth should not be utterly destroyed asap...

    I would not GIVE iran a nanosecond to put in ONE sand bag more inplace before taking them out

    Now that the Russians are upgrading the weapons of Hezbollah, Syria and Iran, WHY wait until all the improvements are inplace?

  50. Well, sure wi"o" if you could decide, we'd be another course. If I was the Decider another all together but neither you nor I get to decide.

    Today that task falls to GWBush, and as of yet he has decided to police Iraq.

  51. McCain is vetting Cantor

    John McCain's presidential campaign is vetting Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) as a potential vice presidential candidate, a campaign adviser told Politico on Saturday.

    Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine is a top running mate prospect for Barack Obama, opening up the possibility of an all-Old Dominion, Kaine vs. Cantor vice-presidential debate.

    Cantor, 45, has provided records to McCain's running mate search team the adviser said.

    With a Southern lilt and a talent for raw politics, Cantor is one of the nation’s most prominent Jewish Republicans; he has impressed the McCain team by becoming a prolific fundraiser for the campaign.

    A young fiscal conservative who could help keep Virginia from tipping blue, Cantor could also be an asset in battlegrounds such as Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio. He has shown appeal to the party's base as well as to independents, and would be an unconventional choice at a time when McCain is looking to add excitement to his campaign.

    "McCain needs to do something different," said Chris LaCivita, a top Virginia Republican strategist. Citing his youth, ties to the business community, strong relationship with conservative activists and proven ability to raise money, LaCivita said Cantor "fits all the bills."

  52. This comment has been removed by the author.

  53. This comment has been removed by the author.

  54. desert rat said...
    Well, sure wi"o" if you could decide, we'd be another course. If I was the Decider another all together but neither you nor I get to decide.

    Today that task falls to GWBush, and as of yet he has decided to police Iraq.

    he also decided to spend 400 million a year on covert iranian action

  55. Al-Qaida confirmed Sunday the death of Abu Khabab al-Masri

    Al-Qaida confirmed Sunday the death of a top commander accused of training the suicide bombers who killed 17 American sailors on the USS Cole eight years ago.
    Abu Khabab al-Masri, who had a $5 million bounty on his head from the United States, is believed to have been killed in an airstrike apparently launched by the U.S. in Pakistan last week.

    An al-Qaida statement posted on the Internet said al-Masri and three other top figures were killed and warned of vengeance for their deaths. It did not say when, where or how they died but said some of their children were killed along with them.

    Pakistani authorities have said they believe al-Masri is one of six people killed in an airstrike on July 28 on a compound in South Waziristan, a lawless tribal region near the Afghan border.

  56. This is good and worth reading, though it's kinda long. About Obama's early days in Chicago and the legislatue.
    C2C tonite....

    Sun 08.03 >>
    First Hour: Physicist Dr. Walter L. Wagner will provide an update on the CERN accident.

  57. Yet Obama's economic experience is largely limited to social welfare spending. Indeed, precisely because of his penchant for spending, Obama's fingerprints are all over Illinois's burgeoning fiscal crisis.

  58. If you know the Congress appropriated and Mr Bush spent $400 million, USD on covert action in Iran, we failed.
    It is none to covert, now.

    And six years on, the status que still remains. The centrifuges spin and the US poses gor pictures in Baghdad.

    The Israeli bluster, while another government forms.
    The Iranians keep on spinin'.

  59. Threat Perception and Risk Inversion

    Why Pakistan, not Iran, is the most pressing nuclear threat.

  60. Bobal: First Hour: Physicist Dr. Walter L. Wagner will provide an update on the CERN accident.

    Is that where they created a black hole and accidentally dropped it into the center of the earth, where it will proceed to swallow the whole planet?

  61. dr: The Israeli bluster, while another government forms.
    The Iranians keep on spinin'.

    Israel busters?

    Number 2 in hezbollah taken out

    Number 2 in syria taken out

    Syrian/nkor/iranian nuke plant in syria taken out

    and that's just what in the public domain...

  62. The Audacious, Impatient, Messiah

    Perhaps one of the clearest indications emerged Tuesday from the world of late-night comedy, when David Letterman offered his

    Top Ten Signs Barack Obama is Overconfident.”
    The examples included Obama proposing to change the name of Oklahoma to “Oklobama” and
    measuring his head for Mount Rushmore.

    “When Letterman is doing ‘Top Ten’ lists about something, it has officially entered the public consciousness,” said Dan Schnur, a political analyst from the University of Southern California and the communications director in John McCain’s 2000 campaign. “And it usually stays there for a long, long time.”

    Following a nine-day, eight-country tour that carried the ambition and stagecraft of a presidential state visit, Obama has found himself in an unusual position: the butt of jokes.

    Jon Stewart teased that the presumptive Democratic nominee traveled to Israel to visit his birthplace at Bethlehem’s Manger Square. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd amplified the McCain campaign’s private nickname for Obama (“The One”).

  63. One of the super magnets lost it's tether when they were warming the sucker up, and went flying.

    It's kind of like the first atom bomb test, T.--'well, this might ignite the atmosphere'--here it's 'well, this might create a black hole and swallow us all up'...

    But, Fermi was right about the a-bomb, and most say there isn't any chance of creating a lasting black hole.

  64. It's known as the Fermi Fuckup

  65. I read the magnets had a Fermi Labs Design Flaw.

  66. Guy one C2C now is singing the praises of Methanol as a fuel, and way out from under OPEC, but I'm not sure how accurate he is on it's virtues.

  67. This comment has been removed by the author.

  68. O 0 o . . . . poof *

    Black Hole

  69. The reason we can't seem to find any other life out there in space is because every time it gets to our point, the scientists start messing around, and poof*.

  70. This comment has been removed by the author.

  71. Elect the democrats, we'll be back to the 1970's

    Trouble is, many of today's voters weren't alive then, and others can't remember the gas lines, the shootings at gas stations, farmers hanging themselves, etc.

  72. [Hammurabi] was the ruler who chiefly established the greatness of Babylon, the world's first metropolis. Many relics of Hammurabi's reign ([1795-1750 BC]) have been preserved, and today we can study this remarkable a wise law-giver in his celebrated code. . .

    [B]y far the most remarkable of the Hammurabi records is his code of laws, the earliest-known example of a ruler proclaiming publicly to his people an entire body of laws, arranged in orderly groups, so that all men might read and know what was required of them. The code was carved upon a black stone monument, eight feet high, and clearly intended to be reared in public view.

    This noted stone was found in the year 1901, not in Babylon, but in a city of the Persian mountains, to which some later conqueror must have carried it in triumph. It begins and ends with addresses to the gods.

    Code of Hammurabi

  73. "It is because of pundits such as the esteemed Mr. Ferris here that I canceled my dead tree edition of the Inquirer. There is no coherent thought on display in this article; just right-wing drivel and prepackaged talking points mailed directly from the RNC. Way to go, Kev."


  74. for if the current bore him to the shore alive he was declared innocent, if he drowned he was guilty.

    In Europe for awhile they had a deal where you were thrown in the water, and, if you sank, you were innocent, but if you floated, you were quilty, as they thought that the River Gods were rejecting you for you sins if you floated.

    Seems damned if you do, damned if you don't, to me.

    I'd take any Texas Hanging Judge, over this option.

  75. This comment has been removed by the author.

  76. Obama wants our energy mix to be mentholated:
    It's a black thing.

  77. are an Eastern Iranian ethno-linguistic group with populations primarily in eastern and southern Afghanistan and in the North-West Frontier Province, Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Balochistan provinces of western Pakistan. The Pashtuns are typically characterized by their usage of the Pashto language and practice of Pashtunwali, which is a traditional code of conduct and honor.

    Pashtun society consists of many tribes and clans which were rarely politically united,[14] until the rise of the Durrani Empire in 1747.[3] Pashtuns played a vital role during the Great Game as they were caught between the imperialist designs of the British and Russian empires.

    For over 250 years, they reigned as the dominant ethnic group in Afghanistan. They gained world-wide attention after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and with the rise and fall of the Taliban, since they were the main ethnic contingent in the movement.

    Pashtun People

  78. al-Bobal has always practiced Pashtunwali, except back in the days when he was hanging himself.
    Some kind of kinky sex practice, I hear.

  79. The Canadians have seen how tribal leaders can serve as the most reliable bulwark against the insurgency.
    In areas where the tribal structure is weakest, the Taliban tends to be strongest. In the Kandahar districts of Sanzari and Arghandab, the number of Taliban attacks and incursions skyrocketed after the death of local leaders.

    "When the leaders tell people, 'Stand against the Taliban,' they will stand," said a local Afghan who acts as a cultural adviser to the Canadian government.

    "Now the Taliban are killing tribal leaders."


    The payoff for this approach is that tribal leaders are hard to replace.

    But the cost of this approach is going to be steep. And they know that.

    They're burning their bridges in the longer term.

    The Taliban has to be wiped out. And it will.

    Those who unfairly suffer as a consequence - and there's no getting around that - require compensation for enduring it.

  80. At Ekibastuz, any writing would be seized as contraband. So he devised a method that enabled him to retain even long sections of prose. After seeing Lithuanian Catholic prisoners fashion rosaries out of beads made from chewed bread, he asked them to make a similar chain for him, but with more beads. In his hands, each bead came to represent a passage that he would repeat to himself until he could say it without hesitation. Only then would he move on to the next bead. He later wrote that by the end of his prison term, he had committed to memory 12,000 lines in this way.

    from the above article

  81. This physicist talking on C2C is scary. Not only black holes, but Strangelets


    If the strange matter hypothesis is correct and a strangelet comes in contact with a lump of ordinary matter such as Earth, it could convert the ordinary matter to strange matter. This "ice-nine" disaster scenario is as follows: one strangelet hits a nucleus, catalyzing its immediate conversion to strange matter. This liberates energy, producing a larger, more stable strangelet, which in turn hits another nucleus, catalyzing its conversion to strange matter. In the end, all the nuclei of all the atoms of Earth are converted, and Earth is reduced to a hot, large lump of strange matter.

    Sleep tight, barmates.

  82. Isn't there a queer state in quantum physics?
    That sounds strange.

  83. That sounds a little quarky to me, al Doug.

  84. The most compelling evidence for intelligent life elsewhere in the universe is that they've avoided coming here.

  85. "Gedaliah is mentioned by name in Jeremiah..."

    Coffee. Sounds like that Swedish mailorder coffee. I grind Jeremiah's beans every morning. Connections everywhere.

  86. The guy that started Quark, as in Quarkexpress publishing software is queer.
    Sold it for 500 million or so and now is becoming active promoting gay agenda, candidates, and etc.
    Just what we need more of.

  87. Cochise and Bobaloui
    PDF - My new acrobat actually works!

    I was using version 5 too on XP, Linear, but 8 sucked on Vista.

  88. Canine Courage

    Canine Courage started out as a collection of dog hero stories.
    However, during my research, I realized that the real story is the relationship between dogs and people, which is the basis for heroic dog behavior. The domestic dog is the corporate protégé who bets his future on his boss' success, and uses sacrifice to gain the boss' help. Heroism is a part of the dog's overall survival strategy of saving people to save themselves. So the book become much more than stories as I looked at the dog's natural history, behavior and relationship with people to help understand the nature of canine heroism.

  89. Mon Aug 04, 02:13:00 AM EDT


    I'm listening to Dr. Bill. He grew up on a Cat M-60 tractor but I can't find a picture of one.

  90. An Escalation of the War in Afghanistan and Pakistan is a Very Bad Policy.

    Conservatives and liberals can argue the merits of the surge in Iraq, or the need to deal with terrorism now rather than later. I want to focus on something else: the impact of the perspective of 1.5 billion Muslims around the world. I’m not implying that it is somehow homogeneous, just relevant; more relevant than my opinion at least.

    Taking the war on terror back to Afghanistan (and most likely Pakistan) is bad for a number of reason: the perspective of the international Muslim community; the fact that a military solution has not worked thus far, so why keep kicking a dead horse (especially when it has the potential to trample you); the delicate balance of power in the immediate region and in the broader scope; the likely negative reaction of other states; and last but not least, its potential impact on the price of oil.

    Pakistan’s reaction to the Bush Doctrine has been somewhat mixed. Musharraf is caught in the middle between pleasing the US to ensure continued military and economic support, and the preferences of his constituents who resent the US presence there. The region is already very unstable because of this tension between the US applying pressure from the outside and the internal desire of the populace to rid themselves of the unwanted American presence.

    We can say the exact same thing about Afghanistan, Karzai is in a very similar position as Musharraf. In 2006, Karzai had to start rearming the warlords to maintain order. Similarly, Pakistan was forced to recognize the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan in September of 2006. The Islamic Emirate of Waziristan is a loose group of Waziristani chieftains, closely associated with the Taliban, who now serve as the de facto security force in charge of North and South Waziristan.

    If Senator Obama becomes president, and refocuses the war on terror in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the best we can hope for is another five to six years of what we’ve seen in Iraq. But this best-case scenario is very unlikely.

    In addition to a multiple-front war, we would not be dealing with a fallen state as with Iraq, but with two established states. This could possibly work in our favor as long as they continue to remain on our side. But as already mentioned, the tension is high, and there is a very delicate balance keeping Karzai and Musharraf in power. What happens if we lose the support of Karzai and/or Musharraf to the popular demands of the people? Or they lose control of power? Or are assassinated? We could find ourselves at war with the sovereign states of Afghanistan and/or Pakistan, not just insurgent forces there. If we consider the history of this region, we realize that this is not as far-fetched as it might sound on the face of it.

    As we all know, the Taliban was comprised of Sunni Islamists and Pashtun nationalists (mostly from southern Afghanistan and western Pakistan). The Taliban initially enjoyed support from the US, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates in the early 1980s to fight the Soviets. By 1996, the Taliban had gained control of most of Afghanistan, but its relationship with the US and most of the rest of the world became strained. Most of the international community supported the Taliban’s rival, the Afghan Northern Alliance.

    Still, even after the US began to distance itself from the Taliban in late 1997, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates continued to officially recognize the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Even after 9/11 when Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates officially stopped recognizing the Taliban, Pakistan continued to support it. The Taliban in turn, had tremendous influence in Pakistani politics, especially among lobby groups- as it virtually controlled areas such as the Pashtun Belt (Southeast Afghanistan, and Northwest Pakistan) and Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

    Going back to the perception of the international Muslim community … When the US demanded that the Taliban turn Bin Laden over, it initially offered to turn Bin Laden over to Pakistan to be tried by an international tribunal operating according to Sharia law. But Pakistan was urged by the US to refuse. Again, prior to the beginning of US airstrikes against Afghanistan, the Taliban offered to try Bin Laden according to Islamic law, but the US refused. After the US began air strikes, the Taliban offered to hand Bin Laden over to a neutral state to be tried under Islamic law, but the US again refused. This is important because in the eyes of the greater international community, the war in Afghanistan was justified (at least initially). But in the eyes of the international Muslim community, especially given the Taliban’s offer to turn over Bin Laden, it was an unnecessary war. This, combined with the preemptive war in Iraq, has led many Muslims to equate the war on terror with a war on Islam. Obama’s plan to escalate the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan will only serve to reinforce that impression.

    Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, an Islamic political party in Pakistan, won elections in two out of four provinces in 2003, and became the third largest political party in the Pakistani parliament – with substantial support from urban areas (not just border regions). This speaks to the tremendous influence Islamic groups enjoy in Pakistan.

    This strong influence is fueled by the fact that the Pashtun tribal group is over 40 million strong. The Taliban continues to receive many of its members from this group today. In fact, the Pakistani army suffered humiliating defeat at the hand of these so-called “insurgents.” Finally, in September of 2006, Pakistan was forced to officially recognize the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan. Many see the Pakistani government’s acknowledgment of the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan as not only a military necessity, but also a political one as well – a concession in response to the growing internal pressure on the Musharraf administration from the people of Pakistan who resent the US presence and involvement in the region.

    Just consider the many, many public protests against the Pakistani government’s compliance with the United States. For instance, on January 13, 2006, the United States launched a missile strike on the village of Damadola, Pakistan. Rather than kill the targeted Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s deputy leader, the strike instead slaughtered 17 locals. This only served to further weaken the Musharraf government and further destabilize the entire area.

    On October 30, 2006, the Pakistani military, under pressure from the US, attacked a madrasah in the Northwest Frontier province in Pakistan. Immediately following the attack, local residents, convinced the US military was behind the attack, burned American flags and effigies of President Bush, and shouted “Death to America!” Outraged over an attack on school children, the local residents viewed the attack as an assault against Islam. On November 7, 2006, a suicide bomber retaliated. Further outrage ensued when President Bush extended his condolences to the families of the victims of the suicide attack, and President Musharraf did the same, adding that terrorism will be eliminated “with an iron hand.”

    More recent troubles have escalated surrounding the Pakistani government’s siege of the Red Mosque where more than 100 people were killed. “Even before his soldiers had overrun the Lal Masjid ... the retaliations began.” Suicide attacks originating from both Afghan Taliban and Pakistani tribal militants targeted military convoys and a police recruiting center.

    There are countless more examples; too many to mention in detail. Likewise in Afghanistan; April 30, 2007 for example, when hundreds of Afghans protested US soldiers killing Afghan civilians. Why can’t the powers that be recognize that we’ve been in Afghanistan for nearly seven years, and in Iraq for over five; a military approach is not working. If we must focus the war on terror in Afghanistan and Pakistan, let’s focus on winning the hearts and minds of the beautiful people of these countries, rather than filling their hearts with bitterness and hatred toward us. With their support, we can offer them the financial and technical assistance that they need to rebuild their infrastructure, their agriculture and their economy. With their support, we can offer them the needed resources to rebuild their human capital and start attracting foreign direct investment. But without their support, we cannot possibly have any positive influence in this region at all; our only influence will be that of brute force, bribery of corrupt officials, and outright coercion. It will be a long, hard, costly and bloody endeavor, and the people of these countries will continue to suffer.

    Let’s not forget that Pakistan has nuclear weapons. Let’s not also forget that this is a highly Muslim-concentrated area, the Islamic concept of duty to come to the aid of fellow Muslims would no doubt ensure a huge influx of jihadists in this type of a scenario. Why on earth would we want to intentionally provoke a situation that would not only radicalize existing moderates in the region, but could also potentially cause the influx of a concentration of radical jihadists from elsewhere into an already unstable region (that has nuclear weapons no less)? We would be begging for a nuclear proliferation problem.

    We like to assume that we would have the upper hand in such a scenario. But we have been in Afghanistan since October of 2001. And we have yet to assume the upper hand. The fight in Afghanistan has the potential to become much more difficult than it already is.
    Nor would it be unheard of to expect other major powers to back these radical jihadists with economic and military assistance in much the same way that the US backed the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union. Beyond the fact that roughly 1/5 of the world’s population is Muslim (approximately 1.5 billion people- 85% Sunni, 15% Shia, Ibadiyyas, Ahmadis and Druze), we have to remember that Muslims are the majority in 57 states (out of 195). Most have Sunni majorities, which gives them added political power.

    China has traditionally backed Pakistan. What would China do if the US were to find itself at war with Pakistan?

    India has tremendous economic and security interests in the region. Let’s not forget that while India has been in nearly continual conflict with Pakistan, primarily over the Kashmir issue, it has the second largest Muslim population in the world next to Indonesia. What happens if India sides with the US? It will have a very difficult task justifying that position with its very large Muslim population. A US/Indian alliance could also spark more terrorist attacks in the Kashmir region. Or, if radicals gained control of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, a nuclear attack against India could spark a nuclear altercation between the two nuclear powers. What if radicals then gained control of India’s nuclear arsenal?

    On the other hand, what happens if India for some reason (either via a coup or due to internal pressure) were to side with Pakistan? It seems unlikely now, but not completely unrealistic considering the on-again, off-again relationship between the US and every country in that region. We constantly flip-flop in our foreign policy. An attack on Pakistani soil would be a perfect example of this type of wishy-washy foreign policy, as the Bush administration guaranteed Musharraf that the US would never do such a thing.

    Also consider the US position on Kashmir (which has a predominantly Muslim population); Pakistan wants a plebiscite, as called for in a 1949 UN resolution. India refuses a plebiscite, claiming Kashmir and Jammu as an integral part of India. The US is arming both sides through billions in aid to Pakistan and selective proliferation to India, but insists Musharraf stem terrorist activities flowing from Pakistan, and discourages India from attacking Pakistan. Yet an escalation of war in the area could backfire badly.

    Beyond all that we still have to consider a slew of other states such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia … etc. All of which have economic and/or political and security interests in the region. How will they react to an escalation of the war in Afghanistan/Pakistan?

    Finally, what would such a scenario do to oil prices? The oil embargo of 1974 (in support of Egypt and Syria in the Yom Kippur war against Israel) in retaliation against the US for its support of Israel had devastating economic and political consequences on the US and much of Europe. Also, the more recent boycott of Danish products across the Muslim world, in retaliation for the 2005 cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, demonstrates the ability of the international Muslim community to act collectively.

    Escalating the war in Afghanistan/Pakistan will also demonstrate the fickle and hypocritical nature of America’s foreign policy. We supported the Taliban when it served our interests (to oppose the Soviets in Afghanistan) in spite of clear human rights abuses, but still we condemn the Taliban (and much of the Muslim world) over the very same human rights abuses (against women …etc.), while we also continue to ignore similar or same human rights abuses in China, Saudi Arabia, Israel … etc., when it’s convenient to do so.

    We did the same thing with Saddam Hussein; arming him in spite of clear and egregious human rights abuses when he was our ally, and condemning the same actions when he wasn’t.

    The US practices selective proliferation with India, and selective sovereignty with those it chooses (today Pakistan, tomorrow someone other than Pakistan), while violating the sovereignty of other states depending on its whim at the time.

    We insisted that the Taliban turn over Bin Laden, but the United States has refused on several occasions to return foreign nationals (being held on death row in America) to their state of domicile because the US wanted them to face execution, and the home state did not uphold the death penalty. We also continue to refuse to acknowledge the ICC because we don’t want American military personnel tried in an international court. How is that so different from the Taliban wanting Bin Laden tried in an Islamic court?

    Rather than blindly accepting that America holds some God-given moral superiority over the rest of the planet, we need to realize that everywhere, humanity has a God-given right to live, love and prosper. Our children have the right to grow up in an environment free of air strikes and constant assault from an external enemy. They have the right to attend schools without fear of being maimed and killed inside of them. And they have the right to be children, instead of orphans. No state has the right to take that away from your children, or from mine.