Posted by sanityinjection on March 11, 2010
The diplomatic world awaits with baited breath today the announcement of the results of Iraq’s election. Columnists are in a tizzy over what outcome would be best for Iraq or for Western interests.
But all the speculation is missing the essential point: Nobody knows who is going to win. That in itself is the key victory for democracy – a hotly contested election whose outcome is not a foregone conclusion. What other Arab country can boast of this? Lebanon, perhaps, no other. And it’s a far cry from the days when Saddam Hussein used to be “re-elected” with 98% of the vote. And don’t think that the significance of this is lost on Iraqis themselves. With all the hardships they have faced over the last seven years, this at least is one tangible benefit: proof that the destiny of their country lies in their own hands.
Posted in Foreign Affairs | Tagged: democracy, Election, Iraq | Leave a Comment »
Posted by sanityinjection on March 9, 2010
Following up on last week’s TRT in which I complained about Americans’ increasingly poor driving…Today I got to witness someone trying to back out of their driveway into a busy state highway. At first this appeared to me to be merely annoying rather than idiotic, until I drove past and realized that the driveway in question was big enough to land the space shuttle on. In other words, this driver could easily have turned his or her car around in their own driveway before trying to pull out into the highway, but was too lazy to do that. Instead, they insisted on backing out, creating a hazard to themselves and everyone else and also causing a backup of cars.
Something tells me this jackass was not the only such offender in my area this morning. I would put this in the same category as people who realize at the last second that they’re going to miss their exit. Instead of accepting the consequences of their mistake by going to the next exit and turning around, they swerve across multiple lanes of traffic, heedless of the danger to themselves and others. They would rather risk their lives and the lives of others around them than be even slightly inconvenienced by their own actions. Stop making everyone else cope with the consequences of your own failures! The only person who should be inconvenienced by your laziness on the road is YOU.
…and in a totally unrelated development, the family of American Rachel Corrie is suing the Israeli government for $324,000 in damages for Corrie’s alleged wrongful death in the Gaza Strip in 2003. Ms. Corrie was inside a militant as it was being bulldozed by the Israeli army, and died when a concrete slab fell on her. Corrie’s family claims the Israelis must have seen her. Of course, Corrie was there for the specific purpose of protesting Israel. She apparently ignored the tear gas and stun grenades that the Israelis had fired to clear the area of idiots like her. How are you supposed to spare the life of someone who is doing their best to get killed?
While I can of course sympathize with parents who lose their daughter – no matter how stupid she may have been – this is a ridiculous lawsuit. If your daughter is in the Gaza strip hanging out with terrorists and getting in the way of army operations to take them out, you’re a damn fool to be surprised if she gets killed. Corrie was 23 when she died, so her parents may not have been able to legally prevent her actions, but how much do you want to bet she was doing it all with Mommy and Daddy’s money? (Not too many people who work for a living have time to protest in war zones.) Call me harsh, but if Corrie had lived, she would most likely have fallen in love with some dashing Hamas terrorist, eventually becoming disillusioned, but not before breeding one or more future terrorists. It’s sad that Corrie didn’t have time to realize the error of her ways, but the fault is entirely her own.
Posted in Foreign Affairs, Uncategorized | Tagged: bulldozer, driveway, driving, Gaza, Israel, lawsuit, lazy, protester, Rachel Corrie, safety hazard, terrorists, traffic | 2 Comments »
Posted by sanityinjection on March 9, 2010
I recommend to you this piece in the New York Times by veteran Iraq journalist Bartle Bull. Mr. Bull’s interviews suggest that there is – at least in Baghdad – a movement in this election away from sectarianism. If that’s true, it’s the most positive sign yet of a potentially stable and peaceful future for Iraq.
One of the things that seems to stand out in the interviews is the Baghdadis’ sense of pride in their democratic elections as putting them far ahead of their Arab brethren or even their Iranian neighbors. Of course, Iraqis have long viewed themselves as being more educated and modern than other Arabs. But it bodes well if Baghdadis’ attitudes gradually spread across the rest of the country.
I’m not sure why this piece was buried by the Times in their Op-Ed section, unless it simply wasn’t anti-American enough to qualify as “news”.
Posted in Foreign Affairs | Tagged: Bartle Bull, democracy, elections, Iraq, New York Times, sectarianism | Leave a Comment »
Posted by sanityinjection on March 8, 2010
Great column up by Barry Rubin explaining how the Obama Administration’s limp-wristed pursuit of “more sanctions” against Iran has convinced America’s enemies in the Middle East that we are weak:
I wish that the President would wake up and realize that Russia and China have no real interest in supporting sanctions against Iran, Hezbollah, or any other violent Islamic groups. On the contrary, to them Islamic terrorism within their own borders is a perfect excuse to repress their own people.
The US has had multiple levels of sanctions in place against Iran for 30 years. Sanctions only work if the majority of the world’s economic powers observe them.
How about we get serious? Declare Iran and Syria to be “state sponsors of terrorism” and get all NATO countries to agree to revoke diplomatic immunity so that any Iranian or Syrian diplomat can be arrested on charges of supporting terrorism. Then arrest the entire Iranian and Syrian delegations, put them in jail, then deport them – by slow cargo freighter.
Posted in Foreign Affairs | Tagged: Barry Rubin, Iran, sanctions, Syria, Terrorism | Leave a Comment »
Posted by sanityinjection on March 5, 2010
An interesting political question is raised by the case of the Romeike family – German citizens now living in the Unites States after being granted asylum by an immigration judge. What makes the case interesting is that the Romeikes’ reason for leaving Germany is that they are homeschooling their children – which, in Germany, is illegal.
The question is whether this is sufficient cause for the Romeikes to be granted asylum here in the US. Generally, people from western European countries rarely are granted asylum because they have to show that they could reasonably expect to be persecuted in their home country. Since Germany has a well-established justice system based on Western norms of human and civil rights, that is a high hurdle indeed. But the Romeikes pointed to a 2007 ruling by the German Supreme Court that parents who insisted on homeschooling in defiance of the law could lose custody of their children.
Personally, I am supportive of the right to homeschooling, provided that there should be some curriculum and testing oversight by the government to make sure that homeschooled students are held to the same standards as other children. While I believe that most children will be better served in a school setting, I think ultimately it is the parents’ right and responsibility to control their children’s education.
But there is a larger issue here. If the Romeikes are allowed to stay, it could set a precedent for any of the thousands of people in other countries where homeschooling is illegal to apply for and be granted asylum. I do not believe we should be forced to open our doors in this way simply because other countries’ laws differ from our own. German free speech laws also differ from ours – must we also offer asylum to German neo-Nazis when they are prosecuted for using banned Nazi speech and symbols? Then of course there is a reciprocal issue – we do not want the Germans, for example, to offer asylum to any US criminal who may be facing the death penalty, which is illegal in most European countries and viewed as a violation of human rights. For these reasons, the US government is appealing the ruling in the Romeikes’ case. And while I sympathize with their quest to give their children what they believe to be the best education for them, I have to support the government’s push to have them sent back to Germany.
What do you think?
Posted in Foreign Affairs, Politics | Tagged: asylum, Germany, homeschooling, persecution, Romeike | 2 Comments »
Posted by sanityinjection on March 1, 2010
Honestly, sometimes I think I could write a whole blog just about Venezuela’s strutting thug of a caudillo, Hugo Chavez. I’m sure others have done just that. Whether it’s trying to rule Honduras through one of his bullyboy stooges or declaring that the United States somehow deliberately engineered the Haiti earthquake as a pretext to take over that country, Chavez is a headline news writer’s dream – always good for some copy.
For now, let me just comment on one aspect of Chavez’ foreign policy. As even the most casual follower of international issues knows, Chavez casts himself as the chief opponent of the United States in the Western Hemisphere. Everything in Latin America is the fault of US imperialism, according to Chavez. Chavez reserves particular spite for neighboring US ally Colombia. Relations between Venezuela and Colombia have deteriorated drastically since Chavez gained power. Chavez frequently accuses the US of planning to invade Venezuela with Colombian help to overthrow him, while at the same time denying accusations that Chavez’ Venezuelan military and intelligence services have provided aid to the FARC rebels in Colombia.
In fact, it is Chavez, and not the United States or Colombia, who is actively engaged in attacking other nations by funding and training rebels and terrorists. Support for this comes from a judge in faraway Spain, whose recent indictment accuses Chavez’ government of not only harboring terrorists from Spain’s ETA and Colombia’s FARC, but actually presiding over explosives training involving both groups.
Of course, allegations of this type have been coming from the US and Colombia for a while now, but this comes from an essentially neutral source (personal friction between the Spanish King and Chavez notwithstanding.) It will be much harder for Chavez to brush this off as US propaganda, though it is unlikely to have any direct consequences.
Meanwhile, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which has members from Argentina, Brazil, and Chile as well as the US, has issued this 150-page report detailing the systematic way in which Chavez has undermined democracy, freedom, and human rights in his country. Again, not new information, but when you put it all together in one place it’s a staggering condemnation. The Commission, of course, like its parent group the Organization of American States, is toothless, but in Chavez’ world, sometimes propaganda counts for a lot. It is getting harder and harder for Chavez to present himself and his government as victims when the evidence is mounting that they are the victimizers.
Posted in Foreign Affairs | Tagged: Colombia, democracy, ETA, FARC, Hugo Chavez, human rights, indictment, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, international relations, OAS, propaganda, rebels, Spain, Terrorism, United States, Venezuela | Leave a Comment »
Posted by sanityinjection on February 26, 2010
If you follow foreign policy, you know the drill when it comes to NATO missions in places like Iraq and Afghanistan – places where actual fighting takes place. America’s NATO allies (with notable exceptions such as the UK) usually make big promises about sending troops, but once the bleeding starts they have a tendency to cut and run.
With this in mind, I salute the German Parliament, which today overwhelmingly approved the government’s plan to send 850 more German soldiers to Afghanistan. Granted, many of these will be focused on training Afghan soldiers and won’t be serving on the front lines, but that is in fact the type of assistance that is needed at the moment. The increase represents a 19% increase in the size of the German force currently in Afghanistan.
Obviously no country likes to send its young men and women into harm’s way. But clearly Germany is committed to doing its part in the shared fight against Islamic terrorism. I hope other NATO countries will follow the German example and send their additional troops where their mouths have been.
Posted in Foreign Affairs | Tagged: Afghanistan, Germany, increase, NATO, Terrorism, training, troops | Leave a Comment »
Posted by sanityinjection on February 18, 2010
The Obama Administration is supporting Tony Lake to be the new Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund – better known as UNICEF. I cannot state strongly enough that I am 120% in support of this nomination!
For those not familiar with Mr. Lake, he is a long-time leftwinger who served as the National Security Advisor under President Clinton fron 1993 to 1997. Yes, Mr. Lake was the single American primarily tasked with safeguarding the security of the United States of America during the years when Al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein, Iran, and North Korea were allowed to increase their weapons capabilities unchecked by American action. In fact, it was Lake who was primarily responsible for the failure to adequately follow up on the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. To the extent that there is one individual who bears the most responsibility for failing to prevent the 9/11 attacks, it is Tony Lake.
That’s why I am proud to support Mr. Lake’s candidacy for the important position of Executive Director of UNICEF. I have full confidence that Mr. Lake will do a much better job look after the welfare of children around the world than he did looking after the security of the people of the United States. Furthermore, I expect that his duties as head of UNICEF will take up enough time and energy that he will be unable to offer any of his wisdom on national security issues to anybody from now on.
UNICEF needs Tony Lake….but possibly not as much as the rest of us need UNICEF to need him.
Posted in Foreign Affairs, Politics | Tagged: 9/11, Al Qaeda, Anthony Lake, Clinton Administration, Iran, National Security Advisor, North Korea, Obama Administration, Saddam Hussein, Tony Lake, UNICEF, World Trade Center | Leave a Comment »
Posted by sanityinjection on February 12, 2010
You want to know why I am generally supportive of defense spending? This is why.
The US Missile Defense Agency has just announced that last night they successfully tested an air-based laser missile interception system. In other words, a special jet plane goes up in the air, locates the missile, fires a laser and destroys the missile.
Folks, this is science-fiction/cartoon stuff brought to life. It also represents one of the many aspects of US missile defense technology that continues to develop at a rapid pace. We are getting close to the point of having systems in place that can successfully defend against a limited WMD missile attack, thanks to the foresight of Ronald Reagan who created the predecessor of missile defense in 1983 with the “Star Wars” Strategic Defense Initiative. This most recent test is exactly the kind of thing Reagan had imagined and for which he was mocked and sneered at by his opponents.
Even better, this particular piece of technology is a joint venture among Boeing, Northrup Grumman, and Lockheed-Martin. Which means jobs for Americans and no squabbling between the big three areospace firms.
Want more good news? The technology is actually cost-efficient. While the laser-equipped planes are probably expensive to build, once operational it cost much less to fire the laser to blow up a missile than it would to hit it with another missile. Win, win, win, win.
Of course there is a way to go between successful tests and actual deployment of a working system. But isn’t it nice to have some good news on the security front for a change? Sort of puts in perspective yesterday’s crowing by the Iranians about enriching a tiny bit of uranium – something the US mastered over half a century ago. Where are your lasers, Mr. Ahmadinejad?
Posted in Domestic News, Foreign Affairs, Politics | Tagged: air-based, Defense, laser, missile defense, weapons test | 1 Comment »
Posted by sanityinjection on February 9, 2010
In a great piece, Matt Welch, the editor of the libertarian magazine Reason, analyzes the so-called “progressive” policies of the Obama Administration and explains why they are failing both in the foreign and domestic realms. Essentially, Welch argues that it has been so long since progressives have been in power that their ideas have not had to meet the test of being applied to the real world. He also neatly disposes of the canard that the person of George Bush was the greatest obstacle to international cooperation and world peace: “No amount of international do-goodism is going to prevent countries from acting in what they perceive to be their own self-interest.”
Posted in Foreign Affairs, Politics | Tagged: domestic policy, foreign policy, George Bush, Libertarian, Matt Welch, Obama Administration, progressive, Reason | 1 Comment »