China Ups the Ante

January 18, 2007 at 4:15 pm | Posted in America, American politics, China, Military | Leave a comment

Well, China just destroyed one of its own satellites with a ground-based rocket. Impressive. Only the Soviet Union and the United States have done this, back in the 80s.

So let’s see, China is buying up our debt. China is investing in numerous places around the world, including Latin America and Africa (regardless of the political affiliations found in those various countries), and is quietly pressuring Iran to stop the fiery rhetoric. It seems China is attempting to become the next superpower, through the means which the United States did back in the 50s and 60s, through soft power, while at the same time, flexing military might to show they mean business.

What should the United States do?

1. Stop the bellicose rhetoric and action towards nations we don’t like.

2. Continue building the military relationship with China that has been going on since the 90s. Clear and constant communication between the two military groups will help avoid any catastrophe or major problem.

3. Realize that the events of the last decade under Bush have lowered our political power in the world and that we have to approach our allies and enemies differently or lose even more political capital.

4. Stop annoying Russia with talk of democracy and human rights, or we will lose them to China. We need Russia on our side, not China’s. At this point, Russia is leaning on siding with China, which is bad for the West.

5. Continue pressing China on human rights and democracy. Push them to realize that an open society is far more powerful than one with strong limitations on the population. Highlight the fact that even though America has only 300 million people, compared to China’s 1.3 billion, our wealth exceeds China’s by a thousand-fold, due mainly to America’s free society. Help China see just how powerful they could be as a free and open society with 1.3 billion people!

China is the key in the Security Council, not the United States, because China rarely takes a stand, and usually if it does, the UN goes its way. Because of its recent harangues against the UN, America’s influence there has weakened, not strengthened.

I know many Americans foresee a fight with China at some point, perhaps a second Cold War, but it really doesn’t have to be this way. Modern China is vastly different than the old Soviet Union. China is far more open as a society than the Soviet Union was. China’s economy is capitalistic, and while still very corrupt, does far better than the Soviet Union’s economy due to following capitalistic principles.

Americans need to put down their Red Scare as a thing of history. The world has changed. We’re in a new era. America has its required boogie-man in “Islamic terrorists,” and as such doesn’t need to go looking for any other enemy. There can actually be good relations with nations we do not fully understand or particularly like. I’m glad to see Chinese culture being far more accepted in American society than Russian culture was during the 20th century. This is a good sign that future relations with China will be far warmer than those with Russia in the 20th century.

Peace can happen if we but try.

There Is No Value To Torture

January 16, 2007 at 1:30 pm | Posted in American politics, Torture | 15 Comments

A new report out hopefully clarifies to all that torture really is not the magic bullet, the elixir to stop terrorism, or even to get any kind of actionable intelligence. Some of the key points to this new report are: Continue Reading There Is No Value To Torture…

The Way To Win Counterinsurgencies

January 16, 2007 at 10:28 am | Posted in American politics, Iraq, Military | 5 Comments

General Patraeus’s counterinsurgency field manual says it best:

Mistake No. 1, the manual instructs, is to “overemphasize killing and capturing the enemy rather than securing and engaging the populace.”

I don’t know how many times I would watch on the evening news footage of American soldiers breaking down doors instead of knocking on doors in Iraq. You simply cannot win a counterinsurgency by bashing into people’s homes, take the father and embarrass him in front of his family, not in a culture as the one you find in Iraq. Continue Reading The Way To Win Counterinsurgencies…

Kurds To Take Baghdad

January 13, 2007 at 9:23 pm | Posted in Iraq | Leave a comment

Boy, what are the Kurdish leaders thinking? They are apparently signing on to take Baghdad. In other words, Kurdish militias are being used to kill Shi’ites and Sunnis. How’s that going to run over with the Shi’ites and the Sunnis, I wonder…..

The Gleiwitz Incident and Iraq and Iran

January 12, 2007 at 3:20 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Cheney, conservatives, George W Bush, Iran, Iraq, King George, Middle East, Military, Republicans, War on Terror | 5 Comments

I’ve discovered by way of a commentator here, something I had forgotten about Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939. Read the following about the Gleiwitz Incident. Continue Reading The Gleiwitz Incident and Iraq and Iran…

Jos Mafia! Sus Patria!

January 12, 2007 at 1:34 pm | Posted in nationalism, Romania | 3 Comments

I wrote the following for my Comparative Politics class at BYU. Our topic was nationalism. I had the opportunity to watch the Romanian election process take place in October and November of 2000 and was amazed that this man, Corneliu Vadim Tudor received such popularity from so many Romanians. I subsequently wrote this paper on his run for president. As this brief Wikipedia article notes, he has changed his tune, and become more moderate of late, including no longer denying a Holocaust took place in Romania during WWII. In any case, here is my paper:

Continue Reading Jos Mafia! Sus Patria!…

More Commentary on Bush’s Iraq Plan

January 12, 2007 at 10:49 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, conservatives, Democrats, George W Bush, Iran, Iraq, King George, Military, neo-conservatives, Republicans, War on Terror | 2 Comments

There are two noteworthy op-eds on Bush’s “new” strategy on Iraq. Zbigniew Brzezinski lays out five flaws in the president’s plan. The most important point Mr. Brzezinski makes is in his fourth point: Continue Reading More Commentary on Bush’s Iraq Plan…

Quote of the Day – Condoleezza Rice

January 12, 2007 at 6:41 am | Posted in Bush Administration, condoleezza rice | 4 Comments

You guys gotta read this…..

“It’s bad policy to speculate on what you’ll do if a plan fails when you’re trying to make a plan work.”

Who here is not yet dumbfounded at this administration?

Bush Wants War With Iran

January 11, 2007 at 4:40 pm | Posted in Afghanistan, Democrats, George W Bush, Iran, Iraq, King George, Military, neo-conservatives, Republicans, War on Terror | 34 Comments

That seems to be the consensus from some observers.

Seek and Destroy.

Bush said that in his speech yesterday.

President Bush implicitly accused the two of providing sanctuary and material support for violent elements in Iraq. There is an ominous element here: When the President pledged to “seek out and destroy the networks supporting our enemies in Iraq,” to me, that means the threat of strikes on targets in those two countries.

So Afghanistan is worsening. Iraq is in Civil War. So, the right action is to escalate conflict with two more nations? Is this real?

Democrats in Congress must find a way to stop this. Seriously!

Social Security and Medicare Reform

January 10, 2007 at 8:50 pm | Posted in American politics, Debt | 4 Comments

Robert Samuelson writes about Social Security once more. He’s written numerous times about this topic, but this time he lays it out like it is. The baby boomer generation is a selfish generation (and I believe history will not look kindly upon this generation when the dust settles—who knows what history will say about my generation). There are so many ways that this generation wants all the comforts of life at the expense of, well, anyone but themselves.

As someone born in late 1945, I say this to the 76 million or so subsequent baby boomers and particularly to Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, our generation’s leading politicians: Shame on us. We are trying to rob our children and grandchildren, putting the country’s future at risk in the process. On one of the great issues of our time, the social and economic costs of our retirement, we have adopted a policy of selfish silence.

As Congress reconvenes, pledges of “fiscal responsibility” abound. Let me boldly predict: On retirement spending, this Congress will do nothing, just as previous Congresses have done nothing. Nancy Pelosi promises to “build a better future for all of America’s children.” If she were serious, she would back cuts in Social Security and Medicare. President Bush calls “entitlement spending” the central budget problem. If he were serious, he, too, would propose cuts in Social Security and Medicare.

Can any politician be able to sell himself to the public on the principles of actually asking Americans to make such sacrifices as they need to make? No, and not because of the politician, but because of the population. Are Americans really ready to make the sacrifices they need to make?

Before I got married, I lived an expensive life, buying this and that, not necessarily concerned because, well, I would be able to pay it off someday. At least, that’s the selling point. Now that I’m married and have a little baby girl, the taxman hath come. I’ve got bills to pay from my high-flying days. I could continue accruing more debt. That’s one way to live. But then I sell out more of my future, because that taxman will come eventually, even if we but delay him. The more we delay him, the more we will have to pay him. We’re cutting out many expenses in our lives that we used to enjoy, because we choose to live free.

The more debt America accrues, the less free it becomes. I don’t know what the best answer is on Social Security and Medicare, but we must change course. Either we cut the programs or we fund them more. On the one hand, we lower benefits for seniors, on the other we raise taxes on workers. Which is the best option? That will be for the public to decide. But either way, our time of high flying free spending is soon coming to a close, and the American public must be ready for the taxman who will inexorably visit their doorstep.

New Page – On Nationalism

January 10, 2007 at 2:09 pm | Posted in nationalism | Leave a comment

I first wanted to apologize that I keep changing the background. It has been hard finding one that I am fully satisfied with (and makes it more tempting to fork over the money to host wordpress on my own elsewhere and use my own designs).

Secondly, I have a new Page called On Nationalism that I hope you take a look at. Nationalism is a fairly new phenomenon and one that hinders much of the peace the world needs (at least from my point of view). So I hope to collect some of the best papers and books on nationalism so we can understand this phenomenon better. I also am posting (as soon as I get home) my own senior thesis on nationalism for my Comparative Politics class at BYU. I wrote about nationalism in Romania during the 2000 elections, when an ultra-nationalist named Corneliu Vadim Tudor nearly won the election. That would have spelled doom for Romania’s chances at entering into the European Union and NATO.

In any case, if any of you know some good articles on nationalism, feel free to let me know and I will look at them and add them to the list.

Thanks,

Dan

San Francisco Liberal

January 10, 2007 at 11:46 am | Posted in American politics, Democrats, liberals, Republicans, San Francisco | 4 Comments

Let Republican smear campaigns be sent the way of the Dodo Bird. Here is the real San Francisco liberal.

My Political Orientation

January 9, 2007 at 11:32 pm | Posted in American politics | 13 Comments

Personal Questions: Liberals and libertarians agree in choosing the less-government answers, while conservatives and populists agree in choosing the more-restrictions answers.

Economic Questions: Conservatives and libertarians agree in choosing the less-government answers, while liberals and populists agree in choosing the more-restrictions answers.

Your Score

You scored the following on the PoliticsMatch questions:

Personal Score 68%
Economic Score 40%

Where You Fit In

Where your Personal score meets your Economic score on the grid below is your political philosophy. Based on the above score, you are a Moderate Liberal .

Personal Score

This measures how much you believe government should intervene in people’s personal lives. Personal issues include health, love, recreation, prayer and other activities that are not measured in dollars.

* A high score (above 60%) means you believe in tolerance for different people and lifestyles.
* A low score (below 40%) means you believe that your standards of morality & safety should be enforced by government.

Economic Score

This measures how much you believe government should intervene in people’s economic lives. Economic issues include retirement funding, budget allocations, and taxes.

* A high score (above 60%) means you believe in personal responsibility for your financial matters, and that free-market competition is better for people than central planning by the government.
* A low score (below 40%) means you believe that a good society is best achieved by the government redistributing wealth. You believe that government’s purpose is to decide which programs are good for society, and how much should be spent on each program.

Where Do You Stand?

George Bush, Meet Jack Abramoff

January 9, 2007 at 9:13 pm | Posted in Abramoff Scandal, George W Bush | 3 Comments

A Picture tells 1000 words. I’ll let the picture do the talking.

Why The Surge Will Fail and Worsen the Situation

January 9, 2007 at 1:54 pm | Posted in Afghanistan, American politics, Bush Administration, George W Bush, Iraq, King George, Military, neo-conservatives, Osama Bin Laden, Republicans, War, War on Terror | 64 Comments

There are two indications why Bush’s surge will fail and worsen the already horrible situation.

Bush needs 20,000 additional troops (according to Fred Kagan’s plan), but he really does not have extra troops sitting around. So what is he going to do? Withdraw them from Afghanistan of course!

“As a last-ditch effort, President Bush is expected to announce this week the dispatch of thousands of additional troops to Iraq as a stopgap measure, an order that Pentagon officials say would strain the Army and Marine Corps as they struggle to man both wars.

“Already, a U.S. Army infantry battalion fighting in a critical area of eastern Afghanistan is due to be withdrawn within weeks in order to deploy to Iraq.

“According to Army Brig. Gen. Anthony J. Tata and other senior U.S. commanders here, that will happen just as the Taliban is expected to unleash a major campaign to cut the vital road between Kabul and Kandahar. The official said the Taliban intend to seize Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second-largest city and the place where the group was organized in the 1990s…

“Conway said U.S. commanders understand that the Afghan war is an “economy of force” operation, a military term for a mission that is given minimal resources because it is a secondary priority, in this case behind Iraq…

In other words, the bad guys who attacked us on 9/11 are second priority to the Bush administration to a nation that did not attack us…..

As Brian Ulrich of American Footprints says:

If Vali Nasr is right that the Iraq surge is aimed at destroying Muqtada Sadr’s Mahdi Army – and I haven’t seen much supporting that beyond his post – then the United States policy will be to retreat further from the battle against the forces which attacked us on September 11 to as to stamp out the main military support of the government we helped install in Baghdad, and which also happens to be a sworn enemy of al-Qaeda.

So we let Afghanistan burn to put troops in Iraq that actually won’t be able to fix the problem because, well, here’s the second indication why this surge is going to fail. General David Patraeus, the new general overseeing Iraq, previously wrote the counterinsurgency field manual for the Army. In it he recommends at least 20 soldiers for every 1000 people. In a city the size of Baghdad, well, that’s a lot more soldiers than we have in the whole country. Read the following:

Petraeus and his co-authors discussed this strategy at great length in the Army’s counterinsurgency field manual. One point they made is that it requires a lot of manpower—at minimum, 20 combat troops for every 1,000 people in the area’s population. Baghdad has about 6 million people; so clearing, holding, and building it will require about 120,000 combat troops.

Right now, the United States has about 70,000 combat troops in all of Iraq (another 60,000 or so are support troops or headquarters personnel). Even an extra 20,000 would leave the force well short of the minimum required—and that’s with every soldier and Marine in Iraq moved to Baghdad. Iraqi security forces would have to make up the deficit.

Fred Kaplan continues:

But security is the prerequisite, and to achieve enduring security, the hard arithmetic indicates that Bush needs to send in a lot more troops than 20,000. The problem is, he doesn’t have them, and he won’t be able to get them for many years, under the best of circumstances. (Even if he reimposed the draft—a sure way to convert popular disenchantment with the war to rioting-in-the-streets opposition—it would take a few years to get the Selective Service System running and to mobilize, train, and equip the draftees.)

So because he doesn’t have them, Bush is forced to make a choice. Does he take soldiers away from the fight against the Taliban and Al-Qaida (and Bin Laden) or does he allow Baghdad to dive further into its civil war? What happens when you still don’t have enough troops to accomplish victory? Does that not lead not just to failure, but a worsening of the situation? We know, from Porter Goss’s testimony in Congress that insurgents are using our military presence in Iraq to recruit more jihadists. Just what do we expect to accomplish by sending in an insufficiently sized force? Further, what are we telling Afghans? Most importantly, what are we telling Al-Qaida? This president of ours, George W. Bush, finds every way possible to worsen the situation. It is time for him to go. Fire. George. W. Bush. Now!

A Report on Lebanon and Hezbollah

January 9, 2007 at 11:45 am | Posted in Hezbollah, Lebanon | Leave a comment

Michael J. Totten spends a lot of time in Lebanon, reporting on what is happening with Hezbollah. His reporting is magnificent, and recommended reading for all interested in what is happening in the Middle East. I’m not going to comment on his latest offering, except that I highly recommend that you read it.

So This is Our Victory

Cartoon of the Day – Tom Tomorrow

January 8, 2007 at 9:05 pm | Posted in American politics | Leave a comment

Will The Promoters of the War Go to Iraq?

January 8, 2007 at 10:51 am | Posted in American politics, conservatives, George W Bush, Iraq, King George, Military, neo-conservatives, Republicans, Thoughts, War, War on Terror | 3 Comments

Glen Greenwald asks why war proponents, such as Fred Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute (and all his buddies there of course), don’t heed the call they make? According to their report, America is in need of men to fight in Iraq:

Victory in Iraq is still possible at an acceptable level of effort. We must adopt a new approach to the war and implement it quickly and decisively. . . . This approach requires a national commitment to victory in Iraq:
. . .

The president must request a substantial increase in ground forces end strength. This increase is vital to sustaining the morale of the combat forces by ensuring that relief is on the way. The president must issue a personal call for young Americans to volunteer to fight in the decisive conflict of this generation.

The decisive conflict of this generation. According to them, this is vital to our national security. So……..why don’t you see THEM going to Iraq to fight? Why don’t you see Bush’s family going to Iraq to fight? After all, Bush’s father fought in World War II, the last “decisive conflict of [that] generation?”

Glen Greenwald states:

But the current situation is completely different. Even according to the war’s remaining advocates — particularly those who want to escalate in Iraq — there is a serious and harmful shortage of willing volunteers to fight in Iraq and to enable a more aggressive application of U.S. military force generally. So we do now have a situation where those who are cheering on more war and escalation really are needed not at the computer screen but on the battlefield, in combat. And their refusal to fight is actually impeding the plans of those on whom the President is relying for “Victory.”

As a result, it is now morally indefensible for those who are physically able to do so to advocate a “surge,” or even ongoing war in Iraq, without either volunteering to fight or offering a good reason why they are not doing so. One of the war’s key architects is sending out a desperate plea for volunteers in order to enable the U.S. to achieve “Victory” in Iraq. How can those who believe in the premise and cheer it on — all the while depicting themselves as strong and resolute — possibly justify not taking the necessary action to enable the U.S. to “win”?

He then adds one final point:

Following these premises, it seems one could construct a univerally applicable (and self-evidently reasonable) definition of “cowardice” as follows:

A “coward” is someone who (a) fails to fight (b) in a war they consider to be necessary and just (c) notwithstanding their country’s need for more fighters and (d) in the absence of a unique and compelling excuse for doing so.

Note Jonah Goldberg, one of the strongest supporters of the war on why HE is not fighting in Iraq. Note his excuse:

As for why my sorry a** isn’t in the kill zone, lots of people think this is a searingly pertinent question. No answer I could give — I’m 35 years old, my family couldn’t afford the lost income, I have a baby daughter, my a** is, er, sorry, are a few — ever seem to suffice. But this chicken-hawk nonsense is something that’s been batted around too many times to get into again here. What I do think is interesting is that out of the thousands upon thousands of emails I’ve gotten from people in the military over the years, maybe a dozen have ever asked this question. Invariably, it’s anti-war leftists who believe that their personally defined notions of hypocrisy trump any argument and any position. Meanwhile, the military guys have been overwhelmingly friendly and very often grateful for the support we offer around here.

So in other words, for the most “decisive conflict of this generation,” war proponents themselves can’t fight because they’ve got to make money for their wife and kids…I’m sorry…let me get this straight. A young man, just married with a kid born while he is away isn’t making quite the same sacrifice as a 35 year old who also has a wife and kid?

Is this really the most decisive conflict of this generation? If it is, why are not war supporters the first ones to sign up? Why do they sit back in front of their computers, fat and happy, while others die for them?

It must not really be the most decisive conflict of this generation. Our enemy today must not be worse than Hitler and Stalin combined? Our enemy today must not be stronger than Nazi Germany, right? For that battle, millions of Americans were called to duty in one form or another, and nearly half a million died.

If it isn’t the most decisive conflict of this generation, why call it as such?

Utahns Are Turning Against Bush and Iraq

January 7, 2007 at 2:27 pm | Posted in American politics, George W Bush, Iraq, Utah | 6 Comments

Praise the Lord! This is the best news I have heard since the November elections, Utahns are turning against Bush on the war in Iraq.

A Salt Lake Tribune poll conducted last week shows Utah’s support for Bush’s handling of the war in Iraq has taken a substantial plunge in the past few months. Just 41 percent of Utahns say they support Bush on Iraq – marking the first time a Tribune poll has found fewer than half of Utahns in the president’s war camp.

Of course, they are the last state in the union to turn, but finally, some good news out of Utah!

They Were For It Before They Were Against It

January 7, 2007 at 1:49 pm | Posted in American politics, conservatives, George W Bush, Iraq, neo-conservatives, War on Terror | Leave a comment

Glen Greenwald highlights neo-conservatives’s selective amnesia about the war in Iraq. My favorite part:

Yet pundits who equated dissent with treason are now declaring the war to be a failure and are advocating withdrawal without bothering to reconcile their current views with their previous allegations.

New York Post columnist Ralph Peters wrote in November 2005 that a failure to see the mission through to completion would tell the world that “Americans are cowards who can be attacked with impunity.” He further argued that “a U.S. surrender would turn al Qaeda into an Islamic superpower” and that “[i]f we run away from our enemies overseas, our enemies will make their way to us. Quit Iraq, and far more than 2,000 Americans are going to die.”

But on Nov. 2, 2006, Peters wrote a column in USA Today announcing, “Iraq is failing. No honest observer can conclude otherwise. If they continue to revel in fratricidal slaughter, we must leave.” The same columnist who warned just a year ago in the most alarmist tone that withdrawal would gravely endanger the U.S., now claims that “Contrary to the prophets of doom, the United States wouldn’t be weakened by our withdrawal, should it come to that.”

All of these self-proclaimed super-patriots who spent the last three years shrieking that anyone who criticizes the war is a friend of the terrorists are now being forced to admit that the war is unwinnable. But rather than acknowledging their reversal, they seek to erase the public record, both to salvage their reputations and to obscure the intensity of their attacks against those who were right. Such vitriol against critics muted debate in the first place and ensured that we stayed in Iraq, pretending all along that things were going great.

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