Friday, June 16, 2006

Musings and BS:

Here are some random musings on the foreign affairs of the day. I generally do the foreign stuff over at LTAD, but I'm running out of free disk space there (after two years) so I'll be doing more of it here.

The big news breaking right now is that W. is in Baghdad on a "surprise" visit. It was such a surprise, in fact, that W. didn't even bother to tell Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki that he was coming. Now, that's really showing that you trust the Iraqis not to let the cat out of the bag. (Imagine if a major world leader just showed up on the steps of the White House unannounced!) W.'s arrival was apparently a real "bring 'em on" kind of deal, landing in daylight at the Baghdad airport and then flying from low over Baghdad to the Green Zone. Pretty risky there W., I hope you had your six-shooters on!

The White House is on a roll this week; Zarqawi is dead, the Iraqi "government" finally has finally got all its cabinet posts filled, and just today the news is that Karl Rove supposedly is out of Patrick Fitzgerald's line of fire. Man, if only those detainees at Gitmo hadn't killed themselves!

There are a few things on the horizon that might not bode well for this good news continuing for W. & Co.

On the Middle East "peace process" front:

Our good friend Ehud Olmert is sinking even faster in Israeli polls than even W. is here, which puts his grand plans for establishing permanent borders for Israel in doubt. The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is heating up again as Hamas announced this week that it was ending its year-long cease-fire with Israel after 7 Palestinians were killed on the beach in Gaza. And as if that wasn't bad enough, the PA is coming apart at the seams as we speak.

Fatah militants have launched attacks against Hamas and their strongholds and yesterday even went so as far as to shoot out the windows of the parliament building. While W. has been busy focusing all his attention on Iraq to the exclusion of all else, our lack of any policy towards Israel and the PA is now blowing up in our faces. You would think that after insisting that the Palestinians hold elections, which Hamas then won, we'd feel an obligation to do more than to just call them terrorists and cut off all funding to the PA. But instead we're just out-sourcing all our diplomatic responsibilities to the Europeans, which worked so well with Iran. [Update: Hamas says they might resume the ceasefire, as it appears they might have bitten off more than they can chew.]

Speaking of Iran:

It took almost this administration's entire time in office, but they've actually come up with some sort of a policy on Iran. After insisting that they'd never talk to Tehran, they're now in the process of talking about talks. Condi Rice is really running a risk here, if things don't work out the Cheney/Rummy cabal of neocon-true-believers that's kept Iran policy paralyzed all this time by refusing to reward Iran's "bad behavior, " are going to be fitting her for a Colin Powell necktie. They've been feverishly working on building bunker buster bombs and regime change and now Condi pulls this end-around on them. Now what do they do? (Man, she'd better hope this works out because Cheney is thinking about going out on another hunting trip soon.)

Although at present it appears both W. and the Iranians are willing to let the adults have a hand at working out a deal, there's no telling when Mahmoud Amadinejad or Cheney's minions might do or say something stupid that could blow everything out of the water. A case in point is John Bolton, Cheney's man at the UN --- who Condi is supposedly keeping a tight leash on --- who was caught shooting his mouth off just the other day. He told the FT last Friday that time was running out for diplomacy and he said the US had no intention of striking a "grand bargain" with Iran. (Wait, didn't we just give them our proposal just last week?)

FT: "Referring to a report by the United Nations nuclear watchdog that Iran has stepped up uranium enrichment --- a process that can create both nuclear fuel and weapons grade material -- Mr. Bolton said, 'They've got both feet on the accelerator, which is why we have a sense of urgency that these diplomatic efforts can't continue indefinitely... Each day that goes by gives Iran more time to continue to perfect its efforts for mass production.'"

Of course, no one --- except the Israelis and their pawns in Cheney's office and at the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal ---thinks the Iranians are close to getting the bomb within the next five to ten years, but I guess they'd better hurry up and make up their minds to capitulate, otherwise we're going to get on with our plans for regime change. Bolton tells the FT that he's not much of a "carrots man" and thinks that "our experience has been that when there is a dramatic change in the life of a country, that's the most likely point at which they give up their nuclear weapons."

Like in Iraq, for instance: So they didn't have nukes and were no where near having nukes, but if we hadn't gone in there and dramatically changed the life of that country, they might have had them at some point. So listen up Iran, you've got weeks rather than months (where have I heard that before?).

Of course, maybe Bolton didn't get the memo, because the Iranians say that they were given no deadline to answer and the chief EU diplomat Javiar Solana confirmed that by saying that the proposal given to the Iranians "was not conveyed as a deadline. The message was that they should reflect and not answer hastily."

Luckily, no one is really listening to Bolton these days, particularly the Russians. Vlad "the impaler" Putin says he had a little chat with Ahmadinejad on the sidelines of the Shanghai Co-operation Organization summit, where Iran was an observer, and he says Iran is ready to deal. "The Iranian side responded positively to the six-nation proposal for a way out of the crisis," Putin said." What he didn't say, however, was whether they agreed to the US precondition that they suspend enrichment, which is kind of the key to the whole thing. The FT reports that a regime insider said Iran would reply in a week or two but that their response would be "general rather than specific." They will require a clarification for further talks; in other words, they want to talk about talking. The insider said "there is no chance whatsoever of Iran stopping enrichment." But that may not be the final word; the Saudis have gotten involved and their foreign minister, Saud al-Faisal, met with Ayatolla Ali Khamenei (the real power in Iran) in Tehran this week and Saudi sources say that Tehran was in favor of negotiations. It seems many are of the mind that the Iranians could suspend enrichment and sell it as a technical break, as a face saving measure.

So, things are going fairly well with that part of the Axis of Evil, unfortunately the North Koreans are up to their old tricks again. They're feeling slighted nowadays because the US is focusing all its attention on Iran and they feel left out. In order to get back in the game it looks like they're preparing to launch Taep’o-dong 2 intercontinental missile, which is thought to be able to reach the US mainland.

They could either be bluffing, just going through the motions to keep US satellites busy, or they could really be determined to set this thing off. The thinking is that this missile has only been tested once ---back in 1998 when they gave Japan a scare --- and they might need to test it again. No one thinks it would have a warhead but since the North Koreans aren't too sure about what this thing can do, it might go veering off to God knows where and possibly start a war.

That would really ruin the warm and fuzzy mood at the White House. Imagine if people started asking why the administration hasn't done anything about the Hermit Kingdom and their arsenal of nukes for the past five years. Sure, we're fighting the terrorists in Iraq so we don't have to fight them here, and we're all worked up about the threat to Israel that Iran poses, but what about the crazy North Koreans and their ICBMs that can rain down nuclear destruction on the continental US?

That would defiantly shift the debate in Congress from the dangers of gay marriages and burning flags to something more urgent! And while we're discussing this administration's laser-like focus on Iraq, what about Somalia...that worked out well. W. & Co. have squandered hundreds of thousands of dollars in an effort to keep Islamic warlords from taking over that country and guess what, it was a total failure. I hope all those knuckle-heads shouting "USA, USA, USA," after watching Black Hawk Down realize this administration has been funneling money to the very same people who killed those 18 Army Rangers.

And to what end? Now we have to deal with a bunch of turbaned lunatics in Mogadishu who know that we were backing their enemies. Ring up another foreign policy success for the gang who couldn't shoot straight! Well, it all could work out in the end, because we've been dying to get a big footprint in Africa; this could be just the ticket. If we can just extract ourselves from Afghanistan and Iraq somehow without leaving more of mess than what we're already dealing with, we ought to be able to sell the idea that the next front on the war on terror is in Africa. And it just so happens that there's a lot of oil there that we need to protect from the Chinese, who are moving into that part of the world in a big way.


Anonymous Karen I. said...

I agree that the Miami library actions do not promote the free speech our Marines and other troops are fighting for.

4:26 PM  

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