Saturday, September 30, 2006

Iceland: End of an Era

On Saturday, 29 September, the U.S. ends its presence at Keflavik. US troops have been there since World War II, and I believe this now makes Iceland the only NATO member state with neither a military of its own nor allied forces stationed on its soil.

I guess will be relying more and more on SOSUS to deal with the threat of rickety Russian subs sneaking theough the GIUK gap.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

One of Washington's Top 10 Rules of Power

When a senior person announces that he has complete confidence in a member of his staff or political team, there is little doubt that that person is mentally redrafting his resume at that very moment. From that point of view, it seems increasingly likely to me that Musharraf knows his end is near:

Blair to allay Musharraf concerns

Pakistan's ISI is too close to Muslim terrorists: British Report


I'm not sure if it matters, but it was still nice to see that 7-11 was ditching CITGO. Of course, the government/military-only gas station on the Pentagon "reservation", well that's still a CITGO so I'm not sure everybody's on the same page yet.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

My Two Cents on the Irish Economic Miracle

During a trip to Ireland in summer 1999, my family noticed that 3 out of every 4 waitresses/hostesses was an Eastern European or German teenage girl. And a healthy number of the busboys weren't Gaelic either. My mom found it curious. She had not been to Ireland since 1957 and I think she had envisioned rubbing elbows with the charming young local sorts you find in the pubs, etc. My mom asked the manager at one place what was up and he replied:

  • Teenagers from the continent like to get summer jobs in countries where they can learn English.
  • They used to go to the UK but it's much easier for them to find a job in Ireland.

I went back to Ireland last summer and, saw more construction cranes from the rooftop bar at the Dublin Guinness Brewery than I had ever seen at one time in NYC. It's nice to see what capitalism can accomplish in seven years.

This all might be going to their heads though. One of the staff at Trinity college told me, geographically speaking, it is no longer politically correct to refer to Ireland as one of the British Isles. It is now the "Westernmost island of the North Atlantic Archipelago."

USA Today Cuts to Quick of Modern US Politics

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, a Catholic mother of five from San Francisco, has fewer children in her district than any other member of Congress: 87,727.

Rep. José Serrano, D-N.Y., has 227,246 children in his Bronx district, the 10th most in the House. Only 29% of those children live with married parents.

•Democrats represent 59 districts in which less than half of adults are married. Republicans represent only two.

•Democrats represent 30 districts in which less than half of children live with married parents. Republicans represent none.

Another Assessment About Musharraf

Tony Blankley signs on to the notion that Musharraf is on his way out.

“If you have ambition in Poland, you come to Ireland.”

The Irish Economic Miracle

Running Around Parliaments IS Bad

In case anyone was wondering why the US Capitol Police are being purged over the recent security breach:

Death date set for Delhi jihadi

Close the Hellhole Which Is Belgium, I Say

Youths riot in Brussels again over inmate death

Why is the International Red Cross not given access to these detainees? Where is Amnesty International? Surely these "youths" of peace would not riot without great provocation, especially in the garden hothouse of socialism and secular diversity which is Belgium. We clearly need more spending to address the root causes of this rage.

Have any EU parliamentarians' autos been torched, I wonder?

Who would win a popular vote in Pakistan?

When was the last time they even had an election in Pakistan? Pervez goofs around on the Daily Show.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

When I Became a Man, I Put Away Childish Things

Nevertheless, I want this. There's nothing childish about taking on the Destroyer of Worlds.

The National Intelligence Estimate

Here's the three-plus pages of "key judgements" from the April 2006 NIE. It's worth reading, particularly since it takes about five minutes. You can also tell it's a consensus piece because the thesis seems to cover just about everything. The bottom line is, "four underlying factors" are fueling the spread of the jihadist movement:

  1. "Entrenched grievances, such as corruption, injustice, and fear of Western domination, lead to anger, humiliation, and a sense of powerlessness"
  2. "The Iraq jihad"
  3. "The slow pace of real and sustained economic, social, and political reforms, in many Muslim majority nations"
  4. "Pervasive anti-U.S. sentiment among most Muslims"

If you can think of something that is happening, has happened or could happen vis a vis the West and the Islamic world, that doesn't fall under one of these factors, you're more imaginative then me. For example, support for Israel can fall under 1 or 4. The Danish cartoons and the Pope's recent speech defintely fall under under 1. Any use of military force to halt Iranian nuclear enrichment, would definitely fall under 1 and 4 and could easily become the a new number 2. A military intervention in Darfur by the West could be taken as another exanple of 1 and 4, and again could even be another 2. Even aid to foreign Islamic governments only seems to exacerbate 3.

Ironically, it's very similar to a CATO Instititute white paper on terrorism I read in the late 1990s. That paper proposed a solution for the rising anti-American terrorism in the Middle east at that time. First, it listed the major grievances that Muslims had with America: support for Israel, bases in Saudi Arabia, the occasional tomahawk strikes on Iraq, etc. The answer, it explained, was very simple. Stop doing those things, stop angering the terrorists, bring the boys home and everything would eventually settle down. (Not very surprising from the libertarian CATO institute. Not very practical then, and even less so now. I mean, we actually gave up the bases in Saudi and that hasn't seemed to take the edge off the situation.)

To it's credit, the NIE doesn't advocate ending our involvement in the Muslim world. But it does say, between the lines, just about anything we do, have done, or will do is going to make angry men angrier.

My recommendation is to read the NIE, then go read The Coming Anarchy and Blackhawk Down to get yourself in the right frame of mind for the next 20 years or so.

Dhimmitude Is Easy

Berlin Opera Cancels Mozart Show Featuring Severed Muhammad Head

So the notion of the importance of "artistic freedom of expression" in Europe has once again in practice been shown merely to amount to: "I disagree with what you say, but I will pose as defending to the death your right to say it so long as there is no actual prospect of actually having to so."

EU Passes on Turkey; Turkish Army Justifies Role

On the one hand, the EU seems unlikely to ever seriously consider Turkey's admission to the EU so long as basic liberal processes remain foreign to Turkish politics, but on the other hand, the Turkish army seems to lack confidence that such processes can develop in Turkey without causing their own termination.

Jihadists Continue Occupation of Somalia

While the world's attention has been elsewhere, the Islamist hardliners have been expanding their control in Somalia, prompting Ethiopia to move closer and closer to open intervention:

Ethiopian troops are in Somalia, say witnesses

Further Evidence That Musharraf Is Losing His Grip

Coupled with the recent separate peace Pakistan signed with the Taliban, and the rumours of coups generated by a blackout during Musharraf's book tour to New York, the data points are beginning to shape a line pointing to a future with Pakistan under new management:

Governing Pakistan is a difficult job: Musharraf

Musharraf's proposal that the Taliban in Afghanistan are really motivated by the plight of the Palestinians borders on the comical in its complete immersion in a preference for anti-Zionism as a substitute for actual engagement with difficult reality. Musharraf also proposes that India's nuclear programme is somehow the product of that naughty national treasure, A.Q. Khan.

It's also salient, in light of the coup in Thailand, to remember that the international community thought allowing Musharraf to overthrow the democratic government of Pakistan was the least bad solution at the time, as well.

New Japanese Premier May Tighten Screws on North Korea

The instability of the Kim family in Pyongyang is certain to be near the top of the agenda: Abe seeks urgent summit with Chinese leader

The positive comments of Wu Yi are almost dispositive of the question as to whether the summit will occur, although the Japan Times maintains a skeptical outlook: Success elusive so far in China summit talks

Monday, September 25, 2006

Wrong on So Many Levels

Russell Crowe wants to play Steve Irwin

ANZAC Countries Contemplate Future of Socialised Medicine in the Anglosphere

Staff exodus threatens Pacific health systems

Turns out that English-speaking medical staff are not fixed assets whose immobility may be presumed regardless of (dis)incentives. Anyone trying to find an obstetrician in New York already knows this.