Thursday, July 31, 2003
Anybody out there in the Rocky Mountain region (specifically in the Denver or Salt Lake City areas) looking to hire a great accountant (or know of any such openings)? My Father In-Law was laid off a couple months back, and he's a very experienced general ledger accountant with tremendous people and management skills, as well as experience with complex Federal regulations, etc.. Anyway, if anyone's got a lead, fire me an email (jaredkeller74-at-hotmail.com), or post a comment. Thanks!
NOT A MONKEY! NOOOOOOOOO!
Get your hands off me, you damn, dirty ape!
THE PRESIDENT'S REMARKS ON HOMOSEXUALITY
Yesterday, during a press conference with the Washington Press Corps, President Bush was asked a question regarding his personal views on the morality of homosexuality (read the AP’s coverage here). His response has set off a bit of a mini-firestorm, especially among the Left, and among libertarians. Many of the more well-known bloggers out there (Reynolds, Sullivan, etc.) are very libertarian in their leanings, and reacted negatively to the President’s remarks. Glenn Reynolds had a collection of links to other blogs, and, as he says the comments under Roger Simon’s blasting of Bush are intriguing, and are an excellent microcosm of the debate taking place in society at-large.
As a conservative, Evangelical Christian, I’m always interested in observing the results of collisions between faith, culture, and politics. Many on the Left (and many libertarians) immediately jump to the “Holy Roller” mud-slinging, as their view of conservative Christianity has been formed by stereotypes within the media, and, in fact, within their own minds. This is what seemed to happen to Roger Simon. To be fair, the same thing often happens in reverse - many of us on the Right would be too quick to stereotype gays and lesbians for lack of specific exposure to such individuals.
I’ve had a bit of a different experience than many in my community of faith, however, and have, through various experiences, had fairly regular contact with both gay and lesbian persons. That having been said, I must express my utter frustration and discouragement with many of the voices in the debate today.
I believe that marriage is viable only as a construct made up of one man, and one woman. I find the arguments of the gay rights movement to be utter untenable in this regard, as they do nothing to address the fundamental issues regarding just what constitutes a marriage. Marriage is far more than just a collection of benefits, despite what the Left would have you believe. That’s why there is a significant difference in the levels of recognition given to marriage and to domestic partnerships. Marriage has traditionally been an institution not ordained exclusively (or even originally) by the State, but rather by the Church. It is a system that has been established by the Church (and even by non-Christian cultures throughout the history of man) to act as a bridge between male and female – an arrangement that allows for completeness and for the protection of both the husband and wife, and of the children that they bear.
As per the libertarian argument, I guess I fail to see how taking a pro-gay marriage position is non-federalist in nature. The institution of marriage (defined as being made up of one man and one woman) is far older than the United States of America, or, for the most part, even the whole of Western Civilization. It would seem to me that, by setting up laws that mandate the recognition and endorsement of a construct that goes against long-held societal, cultural, and religious norms, the government would, in fact, be guilty of not only legislating and regulating behavior; but also of taking the far more extreme step of legislating a belief system. Marriage is not a Constitutional right. Marriage is an arrangement that forms one of the pillars of civilization itself – established by religious communities, and supported by the state. Were the State, then, through its own endorsement, to demand that the religious communities responsible for the establishment of marriage recognize same-sex marriages (or plural marriages, etc.), the State would be, in my opinion, in very real danger of violating the First Amendment – by virtue of the fact that a demand upon the religious communities of America to renounce the moral code by which so many lead their lives would, without exception, inhibit the free exercise of the religious beliefs held by those communities.
What are the options? As the situation is currently posited, homosexual couples do not have the ability to marry, and to have those marriages recognized by the State. As such, it is argued, gay couples are discriminated against, as they are prohibited from obtaining visitation rights, and inheritance privileges that married couples enjoy. The problem, of course, is that each of these benefits is quite open to gay couples in the form of legal contracts, which are, in fact, far more durable than marriage, due to laws permitting no-fault divorce.
If the goal of same-sex marriage legalization is not one of legal equality (which is already available), what is it? Certainly, one of the central goals of the gay rights movement has been the normalization of homosexuality in the eyes of the American public. This goal has, for the most part, been achieved. Archaic laws restricting the practices of consenting adults have been stripped away, and there is largely no stigma attached to homosexuality within the American people at-large.
However, there is still the matter of moral equality. As a Christian, I believe that we are all sinners (as the President said). This means that I, as a married Christian man (who still commits sin), cannot look down upon a gay or lesbian person as somehow “inferior” to me (and yes, according to the Bible, homosexuality is a sin – there’s no getting around that fact, if one is to be at all intellectually honest. Those who deny that fact always intrigue me, with the lengths they’re willing to go to in order to conjure up bizarre interpretations of what the passages in question truly mean – the logical contortions are breathtaking). We are at the same level, morally – left to our own devices, we would both end up in the same place for eternity, and are both in need of a Savior. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”, Jesus said, when confronted with the woman caught in adultery. Once a sinner accepts Christ, no matter his/her sin, he/she is washed clean. This philosophy (often referred to as "hate the sin, love the sinner") does not imply that we, as human beings, are forbidden from taking a moral stance of any kind, or, in fact, from calling a sin a sin. Rather it simply states that we are to love and show kindness, regardless of the person in question, as we are no better than anyone else without Christ. With Christ, we are still no better, but we have been cleansed from our sin in God's eyes (hence the bumperstickerism, "Christians aren't perfect - just forgiven" Though you know how I feel about bumper stickers...). Once again, this admonition does NOT preclude judgement of behavior. Tolerance is not the same thing as endorsement; and while it's certainly within the purview of the Federal govnernment to mandate tolerance of behaviors that may or may not be objectionable, the same cannot be said of a government mandate regarding the endorsement of such behavior.
The President’s remarks were wholly consistent with his deeply held beliefs, and, while many on the Left see their opposition to his position as “righteous indignation”, I must confess that I am more inclined to see it another way. The prospect of the forced moral normalization of any behavior within the hearts of the American public is, to me, a most unpleasant one.
And now, without further adieu, let's check in with Everyone's Favorite Crack-Smokin' Commie™, Kim Myong-Chol!
From here on out, my MYONGWATCH! posts will begin with a link to one of Myong's glorious essays. YOU READ NOW! This week's winner is North Korea Makes Public Threat to Blow Up US Mainland. It's a short piece, but here's a brief snippet:
The threat came on December 3 in a statement issued by Vice Defense Secretary Jong Chong Ryol. The North Korean defense official declared that the Korean People's Army is prepared to "blow up American soil entirely" and went the length of saying that "this planet would cease to exist without Korea."
Cheery, cheery people, those NorComs...
During a March, 2003 interview shown on Austrailia's long running current affairs program 60 Minutes (no, not the one with Andy Rooney), The Myong-Man had some rather, awkward exchanges with interviewer Tara Brown...
TARA BROWN: This is the North. This is South Korea. The more you see and hear, the more difficult it is to believe that they are the same people. Sometimes the same families, divided by politics and barbed wire.
KIM MYONG CHOL: North Koreans are hungry wolves.
TARA BROWN: Hungry?
KIM MYONG CHOL: Wolf. South Korea rich, (Mmmmm...delicious...) fat dog.
TARA BROWN: Kim Myong Chol is the face of North Korea in the West, recognised as their unofficial spokesman.
He continued rambling:
TARA BROWN: Do you understand why America doesn't want to deal with North Korea?
KIM MYONG CHOL: They are afraid of us.
TARA BROWN: So it's about fear? It's not because they don't want to sit down with a dictator who is a liar and a cheat?
KIM MYONG CHOL: No, they are afraid of talking with North Korea. North Korea is talking justice and truth. They are talking injustice, doing injustice. They are not confident.
Ahh yes...North Korea, well-known land of justice and truth.
Somehow, Tara Brown gets a bit of well-placed sarcasm over the Myongster's head...
TARA BROWN: If you're North Korean, these are some of the things you would know about your "Dear Leader". Kim Jong Il is a genius. As a university student, he taught the teachers (ed. - and then had them shot, no doubt). He's musically gifted, writing six operas in two years and on the sports field, he's unbeatable. Now, there's nothing wrong with a little bit of exaggeration, but Kim Jong Il has his finger on the button.
What sort of a man is Kim Jong Il, in your opinion?
Myong-O-Rama gamefully responds:
KIM MYONG CHOL: He's a very … I'd say he's a canny fox. Very calculating.
TARA BROWN: Cunning fox?
KIM MYONG CHOL: Yes.
TARA BROWN: Very calculating.
KIM MYONG CHOL: Yeah.
TARA BROWN: He's not evil?
KIM MYONG CHOL: Oh, he's not evil man.
Let that last one sink in a bit...
Some omitted quotes
South Koreas lazy dogs! Lazy, delicious dogs. Do you have napkin?
Oh yeah...forgot. Kim Jong-Il only have one weakness - kryptonite. If Bush try to use on Kim-Jong, though, Kim-Jong unleash Tae Kwon Tang Soo Hap Ki Do on his Texan butt. He a baaaaaad man!
Do you have animal shelter nearby?
Here puppy! Here, fat and tasty puppy! Come to Myong!
Boy...you see Gigli yet? Talk about weapon of mass destruction. Phew! That some BAD kimchee. They need execute Martin Brest. Kim Jong got nothing on him!
You read about Al Gore yesterday? Maybe he enter race, huh? Gore would do very well in North Korea. He could feed entire village for three month!
Along those line, entire country a bit down right now. Michael Moore turned down invitation to open up Pyongyang Film Festival. Maybe we shouldn't have invited him to stay for dinner. We didn't think he that smart...
This interview over. I hungry, and Glenn Reynolds say he leave me piece of puppy paw pie in freezer.
THIS WEEK's WATCHER WINNERS
Our first week at the Watcher's Council has finished, and everyone submitted some great blog entries. I know I had a hard time picking just one from each category (Council-written links, and external links).
The Council-written winner this week was none other than the blog you're now reading! Woo-hoo (hey, even I get lucky every now and then, right? Wait, that didn't sound right...)!
My kind fellow-members voted for my account of the "Nuclear Nun" foolishness, You Can't Hug Your Children With Nuclear Arms. Painful, painful stuff.
The external link winner of the week was a terrific interview with editorial cartoonists Cox & Forkum, done by Dean Esmay. It's a must-read.
To view the voting results in their entirety, check out Watcher of Weasels.
Wednesday, July 30, 2003
THE TYRANNY OF "BIG MOO"
Here's a drive-by blogging -
I love Dave Barry's stuff. Always have. Ever since I read his absolutely brilliant piece on Tony Robbins and the world of motivational speakers (reprinted here), I've never missed a column. Last weekend's was another classic, combining Cheez-Its, vegans, and "Big Moo." Read.
The Policy Analysis Market “scandal” now seems, unfortunately, to have resulted in the Pentagon’s burial of the project. This is truly a shame, as the intelligence community is in dire need of an injection of innovation and creativity – two things that this experiment would likely have provided.
The intelligence world is, for the most part, stuck in a series of heuristics and constraints that have, to some degree, limited its effectiveness in predicting the outcomes of current events – especially the traumatic. The central debate taking place within the world of analysis – intuition vs. analytic process – is, to some degree, just a microcosm of the larger issues at hand within the world of intelligence. All of the major intelligence agencies - CIA, NSA, DIA, etc. – have experienced countless internal struggles over their roles within the greater intelligence community, and the methodologies that they should use to achieve the missions attached to those roles. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the work done within these agencies, they tend to be inherently insular, and, in some ways, incestuous in their dealings with intelligence data. All-too-often, these agencies tend to develop tunnel vision regarding their particular area of focus. This tendency has, undoubtedly led to intelligence failures through the years, that might have been avoided if a different perspective might have been brought to bear on the data at hand.
In this way, the Policy Analysis Market – the brainchild of George Mason University economics professor Robin Hanson – might have served an indescribably valuable purpose. An outsider’s view on intelligence matters might have been successful in overcoming one of the unfortunate side-effects of expertise – a too-narrow focus, and a loss of “the big picture (as described in this piece from the CIA’s Center for Studies in Intelligence)". Futures markets not unlike the PAM have been used in other areas of national interest for quite some time now (a great discussion of both the PAM, and other similar efforts may be found here), and have allowed for the flourishing of creativity and revolution in thought. Such a revolution is much-needed within the intelligence community, and it’s too bad that this promising effort has been strangled in its crib.
RELATIVELY LIGHT POSTING DAY
I've got much work to do at the office, but tune back in tomorrow for another account of the adventures of Everyone's Favorite Crack-Smokin' Commie™, Kim Myong-Chol, as MYONGWATCH! makes its regular Thursday appearance.
THE QUALITY PROGRAMS ON FOX
Well, I suppose it had to come to this sooner or later, didn't it?
101 Things Removed From The Human Body
Lord, ha' mercy!
NEW (OLD) BLOG IN TOWN
My good friend John has re-started his blog. Check it out.
John's a terrific guy, and is easily one of the smartest folks with whom I've had the pleasure of being associated. His site should be well worth a blogroll!
Tuesday, July 29, 2003
IRAQ AND THE LARGER WAR ON TERROR
The StratFor Weekly for this week (as was the case for the previous six) focuses on Iraq. In this case, however, the piece does not deal with the day-to-day tactical maters at hand in the nation, but rather focuses on the potential ramifications of success or failure in Iraq, as well as on the significance of the deaths of Uday and Qusay Hussein to the larger insurgency.
Although the piece tends to take StratFor's typically relatively pessimistic stance on several issues (with which I would disagree a bit), they present an extremely well-reasoned case for a continued, and even intensified focus on Iraq, and therefore, on the entire region. Some excerpts -
The Stratfor Weekly is supposed to focus on the most important geopolitical issue of the week. The last six have been about Iraq; this will make the seventh. Certainly, there are a great many things happening in the world. However, our apparent obsession with Iraq reflects our conviction that Iraq, right now, is the pivot of the international geopolitical system. A global war is under way between the United States and militant Islam. That war is reshaping the international system. As with the Cold War or World War II, a host of relationships in the international system are aligning themselves along the axis defined by the war. The Iraqi campaign is a subset of that global war; however, it is a critical subset because the outcome of that campaign will decisively shape the U.S.-Islamist conflict -- which in turn will shape the international system.
As has been stated in many other forums, ultimate success in the war in Iraq is absolutely crucial to the further stabilization (and, though it would seem contradictory on its surface, the revolutionization) of the entire region. Were we to leave the job undone, or to avoid carrying it through to its necessary conclusion, the results would be disastrous, with a newly emboldened group of Islamists ready to step forward into the gaps left by the Taliban, and by the Ba'athists in Iraq.
U.S. forces must, at the very least, achieve two objectives. First, the guerrilla war must be contained at the current level; second, there must not, under any circumstances, be a Shiite rising in the south. An expanded guerrilla war in the north and a rising in the south would move the U.S. situation to the worst-case scenario.
Preventing this requires political rather than military leadership. Washington must make core decisions about the future of U.S. relations with Shiites in general and with Iran in particular. Just as Nixon split the communist bloc by forming an alliance with Mao, so too does the United States see the need to divide the Islamic world, which it cannot face as a single bloc. Complex and sophisticated political maneuvering is needed to split the Islamic world and, more immediately, to co-opt Muslims in Iraq. If the United States can't achieve this, it must fight a war on all fronts simultaneously -- hardly an ideal situation, and possibly not winnable. Therefore, containing the Shiites in Iraq at an affordable price represents not only a key to Iraq, but to the entire war.
This is an intriguing, and difficult prospect. Although there are natural point of division within the Islamic world (i.e., Sunnis v. Shiites, etc.), it will be no small acheivement if will are able to pit them against one another in such a way as to benefit the West, and to do so without utterly destroying any chance for true political and cultural reform in the region. Though our chief goal must always remain the physical protection of the United States and our allies, we should not abandon the longer-term goal of introducing democratic principles into the region. If we are unable to bring about political reform, we will be forced to rely upon the threat of overwhelming retribution alone as the motivating force for peaceful coexistence. Granted, this approach worked with the Soviet Union, and, may very well be our best and, in fact, ONLY real option in this case, as well. However, I don't know that we need to abandon all optimism just yet.
Monday, July 28, 2003
GREAT INTERVIEW WITH TANCREDO
Right Wing News has a great interview with Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo. It's all over the blogosphere, but hey...the guy's from my district, and I'm proud to have voted for him. Read the whole thing.
PETITION O' THE DAY!
Ian has annoyed the wrong people.
YOU CAN'T HUG YOUR CHILDREN WITH NUCLEAR ARMS
Says it all, doesn't it?
For those of you not fortunate enough to live in Colorado (or the surrounding region), this will all be new info. For the rest? We've seen it all before, but never at this level of ickiness.
I'm referring to the relatively recent hysteria over three Dominican nuns - Sisters Ardeth Platte, Carol Gilbert, and Jackie Hudson - who were arrested, charged, convicted, and, over the past couple of weeks, sentenced to jail for breaking onto the grounds of a Minuteman III missile silo (of which there are still quite a few scattered across the plains of Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming), banging on the silo doors with hammers, and writing what are certain to have been pithy messages in their own blood on said doors.
The reliable Lefty enclaves in Denver and Boulder (in virtual hibernation sine the nuke-crazy day sof the Reagan Administration) have gone ape poopy over the possibilities for meaningless and annoying slogan shouting, paper mache puppet (and missile!) construction, and nausea-inducing street pseudo-theater presented by this ignominious deed (the arrests...not the "protest").
Some of the "highlights" of the intensely painful Denver Post article linked above:
"It was one of the most unjust sentences of our time," said protester David Silver, a Boulder physician. "They were clearly involved in a symbolic action." - apparently, no one has informed the good Dr. Silver that the US Criminal Code doesn't make exceptions for "symbolic actions"...
Other nun supporters included Magdalena "Mag" Seaman, 77, a member of the Raging Grannies of Denver who traveled to the northeastern plains with seven members of her group.
"The sisters are trying to save the Earth for the rest of us," Seaman said. - personally, I prefer the "Peace Through Strength" method of Earth-saving, but that's just me, I suppose...
Organizers of the protest were surprised to see so many people travel to Weld County to support the movement.
"I'm amazed at the turnout," said Cynda Collins Arsenault, a member of a group called Code Pink Colorado.
Arsenault said she thinks the media hype over the arrests and sentencing of the nuns drew the huge crowds to the silo areas Saturday. - Ah yes...49 missile silos, "hundreds" of protestors. Even if there were 500 (which there weren't), that's 10 per silo. Woo-hoo. That's stickin' it to the Man.
For Greg and Kymm Ciccin of Golden and their 3 1/2-year-old daughter, Mekayla, the event was a family experience.
"This is not her first protest, and it's not going to be her last," Kymm Ciccin said. - Rule #1 - don't trust anyone who spells "Kim" K-y-m-m. Rule #2 - forced sterilization is not without its benefits...(kidding!)
Ahhh, yes. This whole thing takes me back to my childhood in the 80s, when the evening news always seemed to bring fresh footage of ninnies like this dressing up in hazmat suits, and lying down in front of the Rocky Flats plant (often accompanied by Martin Sheen!), or spouting off with migraine-inducing chants like the one from the headline above (and seen on a banner at one of this weekend's "mass" protests!).
Come on, you insufferable pinkos! Get some new material! Live in the now! GAH!
Morons. All of them, morons...in my state. Sigh...
MEMPHIS BELLE RAFFLE
If you're like me (the Peanut Gallery will remain SILENT!), you love military aviation (granted, you also love The Simpsons, John Locke, and blasting clay pigeons, but that's another matter altogether). If so, you'll want to check out a great little online store I've been patronizing for awhile now. It's called AV8RStuff.com, and it carries a VAST selection of patches, clothing, and miscellaneous stuff from American military squadrons from all branches and missions. Though I'm a t-shirt guy, myself, they have an ENORMOUS selection of patches - from both active, and disestablished squadrons.
Right now, Whitey (William White - he's a great guy, and a military aviator) is holding a raffle (I believe it's $10 a ticket) for a hand-painted A-2 leather flight jacket featuring the nose art of the Memphis Belle - one of the most storied B-17s of the Second World War. You can see a similar (not as nice) jacket, and read the story of the Belle here.
Email Whitey, and let him know that you'd like more info about the raffle!
SHOULDN'T IT BE CALLED THE "REALLY, REALLY MILITARIZED" ZONE?
The Heritage Foundation's Peter Brookes shows some good insight regarding a US presence on the Korean Peninsula in the latest of a series of editorials he's written for The New York Post.
From the piece:
The dramatic changes in warfare and technology provide opportunities to strengthen the U.S.-South Korean alliance. New capabilities in long-range, high-precision munitions, intelligence and information systems, and joint operations demonstrated in Afghanistan and Iraq should be incorporated into the defense of South Korea. It also seems appropriate to look at defense cost- and burden-sharing (Korea should do more on both accounts) and the location of U.S. forces on the peninsula in light of these new capabilities.
The U.S. will, of course, do its part to enhance the partnership. According to the Pentagon, Washington will make an $11 billion investment in some 150 military capabilities over the next four years that will enhance American war-fighting on the peninsula, including Patriot PAC-3 surface-to-air missiles (of Gulf War I/II fame), the Army's new, highly mobile Stryker brigade and the Navy's High Speed Vessel.
The U.S.-South Korean alliance is a partnership forged in time, blood and valor. It is strengthened by the shared common values of freedom, democracy and open markets and by the millions of Koreans who have come to America's shores as immigrants. It is appropriate for Seoul and Washington to upgrade their defense relationship to ensure that it is capable of meeting the increasing security challenges posed by Pyongyang.
As Yogi Berra said, "It ain't over till it's over."
Like it or not, we're there to stay. The region is far too strategically important to be left at the "mercy" of Kim Jong Il's brutish and backward regime, and we're the only ones up to the job. It's an ugly job, and potentially, a very deadly job...but it's ours. We have no other options left.
THESE DON"T COUNT
Naturally, none of these weapons will make a dent in the Left's monolith of Iraqi innanity, but it's a good find, nonetheless. They're off the streets, and away from the Fedayeen (or the pseudo-Fedayeen)...
DAI has a nice piece on the recent study of crime rates in London. Good stuff. My, how they do love to protect their burglars n' muggers there, don't they?
IN A SAD TURN OF EVENTS
I'll be attending a memorial service this morning, so I won't be able to post much until this afternoon/evening. See you a bit later in the day.
Friday, July 25, 2003
THE WATCHER'S COUNCIL
Exultate Justi is proud to announce that we've been selected as one of the members of The Watcher's Council. Also included are two must-read blogs, Aaron's Rantblog, and, of course, the founding member, Watcher of Weasels. Gotta get me one o' them slick graphics like Aaron's got!
More to come!
FYI - here are the rules and regulations pertaining to The Council.
PETITION O' THE DAY!
Apparently, the FuTur3 will be both annoying, and confusing. Huzzah.
FRANCE SURRENDERS TO TEXAS HIGH SCHOOL
(hat tip Jheka, in the LGF comments section)
Yeah, yeah, I know...but I haven't seen a good "France surrenders" satire in awhile (the world just isn't the same without SatireWire), and this is a good'un.
NOW IF WE COULD JUST CONVINCE THE AMERICAN LEFT...
(hat tip InstaPundit)
The Telegraph's Jonathan Foreman, an "embedded" reporter with American troops in Iraq, offers an uplifting appraisal of the quality of our troops. Specifically, he addresses the grumblings about the necessity of Uday & Qusay's deaths (vs. their capture). Read the whole thing. Terrific stuff.
THE DAY OF RECKONING APPROACHES...
The US continues to capitalize on its recent change in strategy (detailed at numerous other blogs) toward the elimination of the Ba'athist regime in Iraq, and, as has been said frequently, the noose continues to tighten.
The entire character of this ongoing conflict would change markedly were we to find, and apprehend or kill Saddam Hussein. This event (which I firmly believe will happen quite soon) will have massive ramifications on both combat operations in Iraq, and on the political environment in the United States.
The chief “weapon” of the Left currently being utilized against the Administration is to construct Ex Nihilo the idea that Iraq is rapidly becoming another Vietnam, and that the entire mission is at risk of failure (this tactic, it would seem to me, is quite lacking in common sense, as, whether or not one is satisfied with our performance in the days following the cessation of major combat operations, there is no denying the success of the mission. Hussein is, at a minimum, deposed, and his brutish sons dead). The refrain heard from much of the Left is that, even if one claims that we’ve won the war, we run a tremendous risk of losing the war. In the event of Saddam Hussein’s apprehension, the rhetorical arrows of the Left will vanish from their quiver, leaving them to internal sniping, and a degree of nitpicking (when dealing with the performance of the Bush Administration in the War on Terror) that can only be seen as unseemly, and, to some degree, delusional.
As Bill Kristol noted yesterday in a piece for The Washington Post, the Democrats (specifically Dick Gephardt, in this case) are rapidly digging holes for themselves through some fairly stupefying statements. During a major foreign policy speech given on July 22, Gephardt had this to say regarding the state of our national security –
George Bush has left us less safe and less secure than we were four years ago.
Kristol’s response to this asinine assertion is spot-on:
Is this the case? Were we safer and more secure when Osama bin Laden was unimpeded in assembling his terror network in Afghanistan? When Pakistan was colluding with the Taliban, and Saudi Arabia with al Qaeda? When Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq? When demonstrations by an incipient democratic opposition in Iran had been crushed with nary a peep from the U.S. government? When we were unaware that North Korea, still receiving U.S. food aid, had covertly started a second nuclear program? When our defense budget and our intelligence services were continuing to drift downward in capacity in a post-Cold War world?
Are we not even a little safer now that the Taliban and Hussein are gone, many al Qaeda operatives have been captured or killed, governments such as Pakistan's and Saudi Arabia's are at least partly hampering al Qaeda's efforts instead of blithely colluding with them, the opposition in Iran is stronger, our defense and intelligence budgets are up and, for that matter, Milosevic is gone and the Balkans are at peace (to mention something for which the Clinton administration deserves credit but that had not happened by July 1999)?
In a sense, it is disturbing and disheartening to see the depths to which the Left has sunken on this issue. Admittedly, as a conservative, I feel some degree of glee in watching this mass act of seppuku, committed upon the altar of bizarrely convoluted political strategery. On the other hand, we have now come to the place in the world of American politics where the opposition is no longer loyal, and is certainly no longer rational. As such, they lose their ability to spark and focus honest debate where it might be effective in sharpening ill-defined policies.
Combined with the efforts of other such luminaries as the Left’s current darling, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (who has said that he’s not sure if the Iraqi people are better off now than they were under Hussein), and crazy Charlie Rangel, who has, for all intents and purposes accused the troops responsible for the raid that resulted in the deaths of Uday and Qusay Hussein of murder, the Left continues to come ever more unhinged, and, by default, has become less-than qualified to speak to matters of national security.
The ground being staked out by the Democratic Party is incredibly dangerous – and not merely for the Party itself. They have painted themselves into a corner such that, one must honestly consider whether or not they would see the death or capture of Saddam Hussein as a good thing. The prospect of even a minute's hesitation by members of the Democratic presidential "team" is truly a frightening thing..
Thursday, July 24, 2003
LET THE SPINNING BEGIN
And so it begins...
The first reports dealing with missed opportunities in regard to the handling of intelligence in the days, weeks, months, and years leading up to the attacks of September 11 have surfaced, and already, the tomfoolery has gone into full swing.
Former chairman of the Senate's Select Committe on Intelligence, and resident crank, Sen. Bob Graham of Florida, had the following scintillating observation of the entire affair:
The attacks of Sept. 11 could have been prevented if the right combination of skill, cooperation, creativity and some good luck had been brought to task.
For those of you in the balcony, what he just said was this:
"If everything had gone exactly right, and if the bad guys weren't trying to hide anything from us, and maybe, if we had some of those psychics from The Weekly World News on our side, we might conceivably have possibly considered the off chance that we might have prevented this particular attack. Granted, we certainly would have opened ourselves up to a different threat, as every man, woman, child, dog, cat, and hamster on the Government payroll would had to have been fully committed to this operation, but still..."
Once again, intelligence is ALWAYS a game of uncertainties, of best guesses, and of large portions of luck - both good and bad. Am I saying that we shouldn't be taking a look at the failures of our intel system? Of course not. Our intel system is imperfect - there's WAY too much interagency competition, and too little info sharing, but that problem has existed for a whole heck of a lot longer than the CIA (Bill Donovan wasn't exactly forthcoming with others in the intel community either...). There is work being done to bring more accuracy, process, and logic to the realm of intel analysis, but until the public stops imagining an Ian Fleming world full of dashing field agents and daring-do, and wakes up to the reality of the situation - that we have far more intel data than we can presently analyze - there will be little real pressure put on our elected officials to make the types of changes that will bring about real benefits, rather than just neato photo opportunities.
It's time once again for a briefing on the world of Everyone's Favorite Crack-Smokin' Commie, Kim Myong-Chol!
Kim Myong-Chol is the author of such insightful essays as N. Korea Makes Public Threat to Blow Up US Mainland, N. Korea Ready to Take Their Bloody Revenge on the Americans, and, let's not forget that literary classic, US Will End Up In Shotgun Marriage With DPRK. In the "Shotgun Marriage" piece, Kim Myong includes the following dazzler of a statement:
Most Americans deny that they are in love with the North Korean regime of Kim Jong Il. However, sooner or later Uncle Sam will find himself left with no other option than to accept a shot-gun marriage with the North Korean girl and eventually desert his long-standing South Korean mistress. Once married, the American man will be totally fascinated by the feudalisticly loyal, sexy North Korean wife. No additional extramarital relationships will be tolerated.
Wow. I mean, really...wow. The rest of the piece is similarly fascinating and, um, challenging.
Kim Myong-Chol is the Executive Director of the ever-so-aptly named Center for Korean-American Peace, which seems to exist solely to publish pieces with titles like "DPRK - You Know You Want Us, Capitalist Pig-Dogs", or "Give Us The Reactors, Or Seoul Gets It - But We're Not A Rogue State!" Be warned, though...a visit to The Center's site may very well induce seizures...or fits of uncontrollable laughter resembling seizures.
Here are some more excerpts from Kim Myong-Chol's recent interview with Australia's ABC.:
The executive director of the Centre for Korean-American Peace, Kim Myong-Chol, says if US ships interdict North Korean vessels, North Korea will retaliate with a nuclear missile attack on major cities such as New York and Washington.
Mr Myong-Chol has told the ABC's Lateline program that if Australia is part of the interdiction, it could also be attacked.
"If Australia becomes part of American manipulation against North Korea, North Korea reserves the right to strike back on Australia - that is official North Korean position," he said.
He added: "North Korea can reach Australian mainland anytime. Unfortunately, Australia has no capacity to reach North Korea."
Mr Myong-Chol has warned Prime Minister John Howard to carefully consider his approach to the North Korean issue.
"The North Korean message is to be careful in talking," he said. "Otherwise, harm to Australia."
Some insightful comments that were, unfortunately edited from the interview
These comments provide some insight into Kim Myong-Chol's strange hatred for The Land Down Under...
"What is it with that place? I mean, everything there can kill you, right? They have salt-water crocodile, great white shark, big nasty snake, box jellyfish! I mean, come on...we nuke that place, we take out most of dealy creature in world. We doing you a favor!"
"Elle MacPherson say she not go out with me back in '89. I devastated."
"They bring this on selves! Did you see Crocodile Dundee III?!"
"It has come to our attention that Australian Government funding big research project to arm wombats with MIRV capability. This cannot stand."
"Say, what you think about Ben and Jen? What she see in him? He have head like a brick! I should know, right?"
"Want to know real reason why we building nukes? Kim Jong-Il BIG fan of Justin Timberlake. RIAA not so quick to come after guy with nukes, you know? He ALWAYS on Kazaa."
"Why the US go after Iraq? Sure, Hussein crazy, but he small time. Kim Jong-Il so crazy he have three nukes targeted on Ashton Kutcher alone! That how crazy he is!"
"Oh, he also targeting Michael Savage. Whole 'Red Diaper Doper Baby' comment very much rub Kim Jong-Il wrong way."
"What this word 'Crikey' mean? All the time, it's 'crikey'-this, and 'by-crikey'-that. So annoying!"
"Yeah, that's right...I'm looking at you, too, Japan. Your prime minister hair look even funnier than Kim Jong's! Ha! We have Ghidra now, too, so you watch out!"
Wednesday, July 23, 2003
NOT SURE WHAT THIS MEANS, BUT...
You are Optimus Prime!
Vast, red and ready to turn into a lorry at the slightest provocation, you are a robot to be reckoned with. Although sickeningly noble, you just can't resist a good interplanetary war, especially when Orson Welles is involved. You have friends who can shoot tapes from their chests. Tapes that turn into panthers. And other friends who are dinosaurs. Dinosaurs who jump out of planes. Will you have my children?
Which Colossal Death Robot Are You?
Coming Tomorrow, an all-new MYONGWATCH!
Featuring Everyone's Favorite Crack-Smokin' Commie, Kim Myong-Chol!
PETITION O' THE DAY!
Today's PETITION O" THE DAY! is truly worthy. By signing, you, too, can let the world know that yes, indeed, JOHN KERRY SUCKS!
TRUTH AS A CONSTRUCT
In a stunningly good piece, Randy Barnett (via Glenn Reynolds) discussus truth vis-a-vis the American Left. The piece includes this remarkable passage:
Since the 2000 election, however, I have begun to realize for the first time that the Left really and truly lives in a socially constructed world — a world where “truth” is their own construction. In their world:
Al Gore was elected president. Bush was selected. The Supreme Court “decided the election” (rather than reversed a rogue Southern state Supreme Court and restore the rulings of local, mainly democratic, election officials). Bush is in the pocket of the oil companies. Dick Cheney really runs the country. Bush’s energy plan would destroy the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
I could go on and on. These are not disagreements about “values” or ends, but disagreements about facts. Once you notice this phenomenon, you see it everywhere. Now the Left is lying about Bush to make him appear to be a liar because they cannot catch him in any actual lies. The question is whether they believe what they are saying. Some do, some may not, but millions certainly believe what they are hearing.
Utterly brilliant, and very important. Read it.
As we learn more about the raid in which Uday and Qusay Hussein (now referred to as "The Brothers Grim") met their end, we've already begun to hear the voices from the back of the room - "How convenient! Bush is under fire so they cook this thing up to distract the people from the TRUTH!" or the similar "Why should we believe this? They've told us about stuff like this before!".
Yesterday, I mentioned the fact that we seemed to have gotten Uday and Qusay to a guy with whom I worked, prompting him to respond that Bush had lied about the reason for going, so he'd believe it when he saw it. Not an untypical response among many in the world, and far too many among the American public, I'm afraid.
I remain of the opinion that the vast ajority of Americans remain supportive of the President, and of our mission in Iraq. However, there is a growing percentage of people who only get their news from folks like ABC and The New York Times, and accordingly, have gained an impression of events in Iraq that is altogether different from that which is held by the people actually on the ground over there. The most infuriating aspect of this entire phenomenon is that the information isn't a secret. As they say on The X-Files (never did watch that show, but hey...), "The truth is out there".
It only takes an elementary understanding of the web (specifically search engines like Google) to discover some pretty detailed (and very damning) evidence concerning Saddam's record of torture, murder, and pursuit of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. To allow oneself to remain ignorant of readily available information, simply because it might counter a viewpoint that appeals to you, is the height of arrogance, and is a complete refusal of one's responsibility as an American citizen.
What on earth does it say about the desperation of the Left, when wannabe Presidential candidates bloviate about non-issues, while ignoring the good that's been done in Iraq? One can only be left with the impression that these folks truly and deeply desire to see the US fail completely in its mission - if only to score political points, and to further their own careers. This, of course, is an accusation that has been flying about for the past several months, as, one-by-one, the seemingly hundreds of Democratic candidates for the Presidency have come forward to take shots at the Bush Administration, and its policies in the Middle East.
However, as the rest of the nation celebrated the news of the death of Hussein's butcher-offspring, the Left continues its clarion call of doom, gloom, and petty sniping. They do so, in some cases, even at the risk of appearing almost comically contradictory. John Kerry, now one of the President's most strident critics, voted for the Iraqi use of force resolution a matter of months ago, and, in 1997, was described by The Washington Times as
calling for a 'strong' military attack in response to the Iraqi leader's 'horrific objective of amassing a stockpile of weapons of mass destruction.'
The piece continues -
As the senator points out, military might is the only language Saddam knows — and fears. 'Saddam Hussein should pay a grave price, in a currency that he understands and values, for his unacceptable behavior,' says Mr. Kerry. 'This should not be a strike consisting only of a handful of cruise missiles hitting isolated targets primarily of presumed symbolic value. But how long this military action might continue and how it may escalate ... and how extensive it would reach are for the [White House National] Security Council and our allies to know and for Saddam Hussein to find out!'
You know the Democrats are WAY out in left field on an issue when Bill Clinton steps forward to speak up for Bush. I think that's one of the signs of the apocalypse...
Tuesday, July 22, 2003
IF YOU CAN STIFLE THE BILE RISING IN YOUR THROAT...
Try and get through this marvelous profile of the REAL Michael Moore, as seen through the eyes of City Journal writer, Kay Hymowitz.
(hat tip to The Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs' blog, No Left Turns, and to my buddy John, who's an Ashland alum)
THE SUN IS BREAKING THROUGH...
Andrew Sullivan posts a letter from Iraq. GREAT stuff.
UDAY and QUSAY? SAY IT AIN'T SO!
It looks like Saddam's nutjob sons may have bought the farm (and NOT the farm on which Uday used to store millions of incriminating documents, either!). It should be interesting to see what effect this has on the ongoing streetfighting...
It's true! Nice work, boys. Keep it up, and know that we're all proud of you, and that you've lifted an evil from a nation too-long oppressed. Your deeds won't be forgotten, despite the best efforts of some to do so...
PETITION O' THE DAY!
You must act now. Make Cup O' Noodles the Naitonal food of the United States. It has, after all, kept millions of college students alive. Oh, wait...
Monday, July 21, 2003
LIGHT POSTING DAY
Well, y'all, it's going to be that kind of day. I've got a major project to finish up at work, and will have to leave early, as my wife and I will be travelling to the Hinterlands (well, the Boulder area, actually) this afternoon to have our first meeting with the birth mother whose baby we'll be adopting. Looking forward to it, but also very nervous.
I'll squeeze in a PETITION O' THE DAY! before I leave, and then tonight, I'll be posting the next section of my Iraqi nuke program research paper.
Later this week, I'll be bringing you another MYONGWATCH!, so stay tuned...
Too busy for tonight...sorry. More tomorrow.
Friday, July 18, 2003
OUTTA HERE FOR THE WEEKEND
With parenthood rapidly approaching, my lovely bride and I will be running up to the mountains for a couple of days R&R. Have a great weekend, and we'll see you on Monday.
Allow me to preface this passage by, once again, declaring my utter, and complete disdain for the Presidency and character of William Jefferson Clinton. I voted against him (the first election in which I was old enough to vote was 1992 - I made the cut by a week!), and generally speaking, wished for the treacherous flying monkeys of Oz to be visited upon him.
Having said that, he got a few things right (though what he did after reaching the right conclusion was almost always a cluster). Included in this (rather short) list, is his belief in the need for action against Saddam Hussein. Lost in the current nonsense is the fact that this belief (that Hussein had reconstitued his WMD programs) is not new, is not radical, and is not merely the groundless assertion of a bloodthirsty sixgun-packin' cowboy from Texas (or a crisp, liberal English Prime Minister). There are scads of intelligence going back for years detailing the efforts of the Ba'athist regime to construct a nuclear weapon, and, unfortunately, Saddam's own people can provide all of the confirmation we need regarding his stocks of chemical weaponry. In short, there IS no controversy to be found, if one is intellictually honest. Hussein DID pose a serious threat, and he DID attempt to reconstitute his WMD programs. To deny this fact is to relegate oneself to the dustbin of moral turpitude and intellectual blindness. Moreover, for members (or defenders) of the Clinton Administration to come forward with criticism of President Bush's actions is an utterly laughable (and damnable) turn of events. They, by their own words, have braided more than enough rope by which to hang themselves. The Clinton quotes aren't bits of information that have not yet been rehashed...it's out there, but, for some reason, the Left has failed to take heed of that info. I wonder why that is...
Some excerpts from President Clinton's comments on Iraq (from January 17, 1998 - the entire speech may be found here) -
Those who have questioned the United States in this moment, I would argue, are living only in the moment. They have neither remembered the past nor imagined the future.
So first, let's just take a step back and consider why meeting the threat posed by Saddam Hussein is important to our security in the new era we are entering.
(in regard to the inspections process, to which he ascribes far too much credibility)
Now, let's imagine the future. What if he fails to comply, and we fail to act, or we take some ambiguous third route which gives him yet more opportunities to develop this program of weapons of mass destruction and continue to press for the release of the sanctions and continue to ignore the solemn commitments that he made?
Well, he will conclude that the international community has lost its will. He will then conclude that he can go right on and do more to rebuild an arsenal of devastating destruction.
And some day, some way, I guarantee you, he'll use the arsenal. And I think every one of you who's really worked on this for any length of time believes that, too.
Regarding the need for action -
If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow by the knowledge that they can act with impunity, even in the face of a clear message from the United Nations Security Council and clear evidence of a weapons of mass destruction program.
To be fair, President Clinton placed a great deal of responsibility on the shoulders of the UN inspections system. He, unlike President Bush, argued that the inspections were the central issue at hand, and that WMD were merely the subtext that required those inspections. However, given what we know about the IAEA and UNSCOM inspections process, how on earth can it be argued that a continuation of these programs would have brought about any results?
For a second example, I'd like to reference President Clinton's speech to the nation on the night of his airstrikes on Iraq, given December 16, 1998. The transcript for the speech can be found here.
From the speech -
The international community had good reason to set this requirement (for rigorous inspections). Other countries possess weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. With Saddam, there is one big difference: He has used them. Not once, but repeatedly. Unleashing chemical weapons against Iranian troops during a decade-long war. Not only against soldiers, but against civilians, firing Scud missiles at the citizens of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Iran. And not only against a foreign enemy, but even against his own people, gassing Kurdish civilians in Northern Iraq.
The international community had little doubt then, and I have no doubt today, that left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will use these terrible weapons again.
In short, the inspectors are saying that even if they could stay in Iraq, their work would be a sham.
Saddam's deception has defeated their effectiveness. Instead of the inspectors disarming Saddam, Saddam has disarmed the inspectors.
This situation presents a clear and present danger to the stability of the Persian Gulf and the safety of people everywhere. The international community gave Saddam one last chance to resume cooperation with the weapons inspectors. Saddam has failed to seize the chance.
He ented his speech with the following, rather "Bushian" passage -
In the century we're leaving, America has often made the difference between chaos and community, fear and hope. Now, in the new century, we'll have a remarkable opportunity to shape a future more peaceful than the past, but only if we stand strong against the enemies of peace.
Tonight, the United States is doing just that. May God bless and protect the brave men and women who are carrying out this vital mission and their families. And may God bless America.
So I guess all of this means that somehow, Bush lied to Clinton, too?
PETITION O' THE DAY!
Stupid liberal media! First they covered up the proof of Nessie's existence, now, they want to shut down the live, Loch Ness Web Cam that allowed the monumentous discovery! Stop them!!
MYONGWATCH! Part deux -
Normally, MYONGWATCH! will be a weekly feature, but due to our exciting news (the adoption), and my stark, dumb luck for stumbling upon more fodder for the column, I'm in a writin' mood, and I give you Kim Myong-Chol! Once again, we feature an interview with "The World's Favorite Crack-Smokin' Commie!™"
In an interview given to a NineMSN's Jana Wendt, the Myongster -
Describes North Korea's similarities to the US -
I'm afraid that North Korea is a dictatorship, yes. If that is the case, there is also a dictatorship under Bush. (ed. note - What if they gave an election, and nobody came? Or, if they did, they were rounded-up, shipped to concentration camps, and summarily executed?)
He then comments on the need for the Commies in the PRK to watch out for mass defections -
(Laughs) No, no, no. Highly unlikely. In any country there are some defections, defections from South Korea, defections from the US, any country. There is no need for the North Korean Party to watch for such a thing. (ed. note - Funny, I can't remember the last time we shot a bunch of folks trying to LEAVE the US, but maybe it's just me...)
And finally, he comments on the title bestowed upon him by the Western media -
No, the news magazines call me a spin doctor for North Korea and Kim Jong. It's an honourable title for me.
"You going to eat rest of that?"
"Did I mention that our nukes invisible? We don't even need super-invisible nuke, though. We have giant Whiffleball bat! It more scary than Marlon Brando! Kill you all!"
"That Angelina Jolie. She very strange chick. Maybe Kim Jong's type though...he a freak."
"'Freak' in hip, streetwise sense of word."
"Pyongyang nice town, but it cramping Kim Jong's style. He more suited to hollowed-out volcano, or place like Legion of Doom headquarters from Superfriends. You know, the one that look like Darth Vader's head. That more his style."
"It funny, but after I make comment about Howard Dean and John Kerry, Somebody throw brick of Brie at me. He yell something about Vietnam and run. Didn't get a good look at guy, though. It was here in Sydney, so maybe it Steve Irwin."
IRAQ's nuclear program - a recap
As part of my Strategic Intelligence class at AMU last fall, I authored a 35-page research paper (incorporating only open-source intel) regarding the history and progress of the Iraqi nuclear weapons program. With all of the nonsense taking place at this point, I have decided to post the paper in its entirety (though in sections) here at Exultate Justi. The first section deals with a brief history of the nation, and the early days of its nuclear program.
INTRODUCTION AND HISTORY
Since 1979, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has sought to place himself amongst the ranks of the world elite in wealth, political accomplishment, and military might. To that end, he has lead, for more than 30 years, an effort to acquire the technology and materiel to allow his nation to enter the ranks of nuclear powers. Disregarding various international regulations and agreements, Iraq has worked with any and all willing sources, both internally and externally, to develop a viable nuclear weapons program to compliment her already well-developed chemical and biological weapons programs. The story of this effort is largely the story of Saddam’s rise to power.
Despite the tendency of many Iraqis to credit the ancient Babylonians with the development of Iraqi culture, Iraq is distinctly Arabic. The Iraqi people are descended from the groups of nomadic peoples who roamed the Arabian Peninsula long after the Babylonians, their language, and their culture, had vanished from the earth. In the Seventh century, A.D., the Prophet Muhammad united the Arab peoples under the banner of his teachings, and, in thirty years had, through conquest, firmly established the dominance of Arabic culture in the region.
Iraq became an autonomous state in 1932 (the first modern Arab state to do so). Its ruling Hashemite family retained power through various coups and uprisings until 1958, when a group of military officers led by Brigadier Abd al Karim Qasim and Colonel Abd as Salaam Arif staged a violent early morning coup that left much of the royal family (including King Faisal II – a western ally) and many governmental ministers dead. Not long after the coup, the plotters themselves became targets for elimination. In 1959, a young Army officer named Saddam Hussein attempted to assassinate Qasim. The plot failed, but Qasim would eventually fall victim to a coup in 1963, in which he would be killed.
That coup, which took place on February 9, 1963, would set the stage for Iraq’s future as in Arab power. The coup was staged by a political movement originating in Lebanon, and called the Ba’ath Party. This party, founded by a Lebanese-Syrian student named Michel Aflaq, promoted a version of Western Socialist thought, appealing more to nationalism than to any particular economic theory. The Ba’ath Party, founded in 1946, pushed for Arab unity and opposition to colonial powers (Ba’ath is Arabic for “resurrection” or “renaissance”).
Hussein became a central figure in the Ba’ath Party long before he rose to leadership, but his ascension coincided with the founding of Iraq’s Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) – the most powerful political body in the nation. Ahmad Hasan al Bakr, who, like two other members of the five-member body, shared Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit, founded the RCC. Hussein was placed in charge of the group’s internal security and, within weeks of his placement in this position began a series of bloody purges within the Iraqi political community. Over the next few years, the “Tikritis” consolidated their power, and by 1969, they controlled the RCC, and indeed, all of the Ba’ath Party. Bakr acted as the public face of power within the government, even as Hussein ran the nation behind the scenes.
Saddam Hussein has made no secret of his desire to become the first truly Arab nuclear power. This desire is in keeping with his vision of himself as the inevitable unifier of the Arab people, and of Iraq as the seat of power in a powerful Arab “superpower” of states. These visions are deeply rooted in a mindset that mixes Stalinist rhetoric with fascist reality. Saddam Hussein consolidated his power when Bakr, who had previously served as president of the republic, secretary general of the Ba’ath Party, chairman of the RCC, and commander-in chief of the armed forces, was forced to resign his positions. Within months, Hussein had purged the Ba’ath party of all those who he viewed as loyal to the previous regime in a series of mass executions (over 500 in all). Hussein’s rise to power encountered its first roadblock with the rise of the Shiite regime of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in neighboring Iran. Hussein, a Sunni Muslim, was deeply suspicious of the native Shiites within his country and soon began an effort to control and, in some cases, eradicate them. He has followed suit with native Kurdish populations in the north of Iraq. Since the early 1980s, Hussein is believed to have ordered the use of chemical agents (Sarin, Mustard Gas, Tabun, and Cyclosarin) in attacks that killed more than 20,000 (mostly Iranian troops and Iraqi Kurds).
Iraq and the NPT
In 1968, Iraq signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The treaty was ratified by Iraq in 1969. However, from the beginning, Iraq’s purpose in signing this treaty was one of deception. The treaty allowed Iraq to continue to build its fledgling nuclear program in the open, under the auspices of a nuclear-power cover. Iraq’s eventual purchases were all fully vetted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Khidhir Hamza*, who at one point was the Director of Weaponization for Iraq’s nuclear program said of the IAEA:
Acquiring nuclear technology within the IAEA safeguards system was the first step in establishing the infrastructure necessary to develop nuclear weapons. In 1973, we decided to acquire a 40-megawatt research reactor, a fuel-manufacturing plant, and nuclear fuel-reprocessing facilities, all under cover of acquiring the expertise needed to eventually build and operate nuclear power plants and produce and recycle nuclear fuel. Our hidden agenda was to clandestinely develop the expertise and infrastructure needed to produce weapon-grade plutonium.”
As it turned out, few of Iraq’s suppliers – or the IAEA itself – ever bothered to ask a simple question: Why would Iraq, with the second largest oil reserves in the world, want to generate electricity by burning uranium? For its part, Iraq was careful to avoid raising IAEA suspicions; an elaborate strategy was gradually developed to deceive and manipulate the agency.
Iraq limited its requests from the IAEA to non personnel-related issues, so as to avoid close contact as much as was possible. In 1974, Iraq sought to gain a seat on the IAEA’s Board of Governors, so as to allow for close observation of the inner workings of the agency. Despite a late start to the process, Hisham Al-Shawi, Iraq’s Minister of Higher Education was elected to the Board. However, immediately after the IAEA’s general conference of 1974, Saddam Hussein gave control of the Atomic Energy Commission to the RCC, and appointed himself its chairman, effectively pushing Al-Shawi out of the picture. In addition to its seat on the Board of Governors, Iraq was rewarded with the creation of a new position – “Scientific Attaché”, to be based at Iraq’s embassy in Vienna. The brother of one of Saddam’s senior bodyguards, Suroor Mahmoud Mirza was appointed to this position, with the express purpose of providing Baghdad with detailed information about the IAEA’s inspection processes, and the ways in which Iraq could defeat these processes.
BIG NEWS (well, for us...)
Thanks to Tim Blair, Frank J., and fellow Coloradan Maripat for the links!
Exultate Justi – A little less obscure every day!
Now for the big news of the day…
We were chosen (I sound like one of those three-eyed aliens from Toy Story - “The Claw has chosen!”)! We’ll be brining home a baby boy or girl in the next few weeks (sleep now, for the end is near…).
What a wonderful, intimidating feeling this is.
More to come later – some funny stuff (hopefully), and some serious stuff.
Thursday, July 17, 2003
PETITION O' THE DAY!
Soylent Green is made of PEOPLE! PEOPLLLLLLLLLLE!
Was it something I said, Tim?
Unfortunately, your mail was not delivered to the following address:
126.96.36.199 does not like recipient.
Remote host said: 550 you are not allowed to send mail to (trblair-at-ozemail.com.au)
Giving up on 188.8.131.52.
BUSH LIED - A PRIMER FOR DISASSEMBLY
(hat tip to InstaPundit)
Terrific reference for the facts in the Africa/Iraq/Uranium "scandal"...
And now, the latest update from everyone's favorite crack-smokin' Commie, Kim Myong-Chol! Give it up for the Myong-Man.
In an interview given to Australia's Herald Sun, crack-smokin' Kim dares the US to attack North Korea, describing such an attack as the best way to judge the truthfullness of North Korea's claims regarding its nuclear arsenal.
"The best way is to start a war against North Korea," Mr Myong-Chol said, adding he was representing the views of North Korea.
"Why don't they (America) launch a surgical strike against Pyongyang?
"Why not start a war, why not launch a preemptive strike on North Korea? Get the answer."
SOME QUOTES OMITTED FROM THE PRINTED INTERVIEW -
"Yeah...Kim Jong Il - he all that and bag o' chips."
"In addition to threat against US, I now make threat against Japan! We have captured several monster from Monster Island. Japan give us respect, or we send Mothra! You know how much neon in Tokyo? It take forever to get rid of huge moth! HA!"
"Personally, I think Howard Dean has outside shot. He a very reasonable guy, and Kerry too French-looking for capitalist pig-dogs in red states!"
"Cocker spaniel OK, but if you want real good stuff, there no other dog but Shar-Pei. So much flavor!"
"North Korea have a google nukes. You know how much that is? That a one, with one hundred zeros after! They all invisible, too! You all die!"
"That Katie Couric. She very cute. Too well-fed, though. I like women with a little bone on their meat."
"Steve Irwin! Is that guy crazy nut, or what? 'Look! Sydney Funnel Web! Gorgeous!' What a crazy guy. He need to get out more."
"I like Raiders in AFC West. Tough division, with Broncos and Chiefs, but I like Raiders. Something about air of pestilence and death make me feel at home."
Amazing insights from a truly messed-up guy.
Wednesday, July 16, 2003
Oshkosh 2003/Baby blogging
Well, this next post will be of very little interest to those who can't tell the sound of a Rolls-Royce Merlin-powered P-51D from a Cessna 172. If you have no idea what I just wrote, move along. This post's for the airnerd crowd (sort of).
As I mentioned briefly in an earlier post, my wife and I are in the process of adopting a baby. Last year, we discovered that is was highly unlikely that we would be able to conceive a child naturally. Due to our beliefs, we weren't comfortable with the notion of invitro-fertilization, and, as we had both felt a call to adopt at some point, we thought we'd build our family in this way. Well, it's been a long and arduous process, with my wife having to bear the brunt of the labor. The process goes something like this -
1. Select an agency.
2. Pay said agency lots o' money.
3. Fill out LOTS of paperwork.
4. Create painfully intricate scrapbook to be shown to birth mothers (they pick the family that they'd like their child to be placed with. My wife did this by herself, and did an extraordinary job of it. She referred to it as her "labor and delivery").
5. Wait for a call.
We're at step 5, and it's rough. Our book was one of seven selected to be shown to a birth mother who's due very soon. We haven't heard anything, so we're in a kind of emotional limbo.
What does this have to do with airplanes? What a silly question!
We are scheduled to go to the Land O' Lincoln to vist my brother, his lovely wife, and his great kids. The trip is to take place next week. During this trip, we are planning to head up to Oshkosh, WI, to breathe the JP-7, and hear the rumble of big radial engines at the enormous airshow held there each year. This thing is a monster. Lotsa planes, including tons of warbirds. My brother, dad, nephew and I are all salivating at the thought of spending a whole day walking amongst these legends of the sky.
The problem? If we're picked, we'll have to miss the trip, as the baby is due in short order. Of course, this isn't a PROBLEM, perse. To get that call would be incredible. I would be more happy than I could express. It is, however, indicative of the difficulties inherent in the adoption process - specifically, the need to balance anticipation with the ability to live your life from day-to-day while you're waiting. We're on pins and needles, and the fact that this incredible news might just preempt another long-anticipated event just magnifies our stress. Can we plan on going, or do we need to cancel our reservations and do some (very) last-second baby shopping? Frustrating, but wonderful, too. Our agency is really terrific, and they've done a great job of prepping us, but at this point, all we can do is wait, and pray. In a perfect world, I'd get a baby, AND I'd get to go see the P-51s, and pet the metal. But, if the Lord decided that He'd rather us have the baby than the vacation, I think we'd be pretty darn fine with that...but I'd sure miss those Mustangs. Might have to name the kid "Merlin"...
PETITION O' THE DAY!
Today's PETITION O' THE DAY! is a high-tech iteration of a cry as old as school itself...no more homework!
This petition is, no doubt, part of some kid's campaign for Student Body President - "If elected as San Dimas High School Student Body President, I, Ritchie Thacker, will circulate a petition to BAN homework! Oh, and also, I'll make another one demanding Pepsi in the drinking fountains! SAN DIMAS HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBAL RULES!!"
CBRN and the terrorist threat
Given the uncertainty regarding the location or condition of much of Iraq's suspected arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, as well as the possibility that some of the materiel missing from al-Tuwaitha nuke facility is on its way to the black market (and therefore, into the hands of al-Qaeda, etc.), it makes sense to take a look at the most likely methods of attempted use of these materials by terrorist groups. Along these lines, the CIA has offered a quick-and-dirty primer on the threat posed by Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists. The report can be found here. It's a quick read, and is an excellent reference for clearing up misconceptions, and clarifying the true effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of such weapons systems.
SPIN, SPIN, SPIN
(Hat tip to InstaPundit) In a stunning turn of events, the normally anti-Bush Daily Howler has a very well done piece on media distortion regarding the press' treatment of the Administration's position on the Iraq/African uranium matter. Read it.
Along those lines, Peter Jennings and the rest of the folks at ABC News were in rare form last night, with the lead-in to the newscast all-but proclaiming the Bush Administration to be a lying bunch o' liars - hated by the troops in Iraq. There was one segment featuring a group interview with a bunch of 3rd ID guys airing their dissatisfaction with the Bush Administration (specifically SecDef Rumsfeld) over the fact that they're still over there, and that their departure dates have gotten moved several times.
Now, notwithstanding ABC News' crappy (but not surprising) judgement in prodding troops on active duty in a war zone to gripe about the Admin, I have to wonder if these guys (the soldiers quoted in the piece) might have crossed a line in protocol, if not in military regulations (frankly, I suspect that they did this, as well). Lord knows that I feel for these guys. It's a lousy thing to have to go through, I'm sure. I can't fathom being away from my family for such a long period of time, and I offer my thanks and my respect to each and every serviceman/woman over there. We owe them our total support. Just the same, they owe their Commander In-Chief more respect than they showed by allowing themselves to be used by a reporterette with an axe to grind. Good display of judgement, guys.
Tuesday, July 15, 2003
(Hat tip to Tim Blair)
Never one to miss an opportunity to steal another, more-talented blogger's idea, and post it on my own obscure site, I've decided to become the official outlet for all of "unofficial North Korean spokesman" Kim Myong-Chol's otherworldly rantings about who NK's gonna nuke, and how their "Dear Leader" can beat up all of our dads, with both arms tied behind his back, using nothing but a Whiffle Ball bat. It's true! See the following passage from the above-linked interview with Mr. Myong-Chol by Tony Jones -
TONY JONES: They're increasingly confident because they already have nuclear weapons or because they believe they will soon have nuclear weapons?
KIM MYONG-CHOL: No, no, already.
Already North Korea have nuclear capability to fight war with America at any time.
TONY JONES: Alright.
Has North Korea already begun to reprocess fuel rods at the Yongbyon nuclear plant?
KIM MYONG-CHOL: Yongbyon is nothing.
Yongbyon is a joke.
North Korea already has more than 100 nuclear warheads.
TONY JONES: More than -
KIM MYONG-CHOL: Yongbyon facility has 100 nuclear war heads, including hydrogen bomb. (Ooh! And also big scary Whiffle Ball bat!)
TONY JONES: They certainly haven't done any testing of those, sir, how can they have 100 without anybody knowing?
KIM MYONG-CHOL: That is a North Korean technique. (We have own house! Neighbors not hear a thing. Very thick walls!)
America CIA intelligence always failure, blunder.
Pakistan did testing for North Korea.
That was no problem.
Watch for more kookiness from a man who makes Baghdad Bob look like Edward R. Murrow!
PETITION O' THE DAY!
Well, you knew this day would come. Sign this petition to ban petitions.
Sorry. I'm just a bit hacked by all of the absolutely, incontrovertably moronic crticism being leveled at the Bush Adminiatration over the "African uranium" goings-on. The Left seem perfectly comfortable to continue their onslaught despite the fact that the Brits are standing by this intelligence. The real problem here is not one of deception, but rather one of stating the truth while potentially citing the wrong source (even this contention is in doubt).
For a different view of the Iraqi WMD situation than has been presented in most outlets, see this analysis by StratFor, and stay tuned. There still WAY more info that'll come out, and, as the StratFor piece asserts, the scary question isn't whether or not the Bush Administration somehow cooked-up a bogus WMD argument to justify a war over OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOIL! Rather, the question that should be keeping us up at night is this: where are the WMD now?
NORTH KOREA - NEW RUMBLINGS
Last week, North Korean officials informed the Bush Administration that they have reprocessed enough spend fuel rods to fashion six nuclear weapons, and had plans to do so sooner, rather than later. In a story running in the StarTrib, North Korean officials are quoted as saying that “weapons production was beginning.” One senior American official said, “They didn't say how long it would take, and they didn't threaten to sell anything."
Are the North Koreans telling the truth? No doubt there is some truth to their claims, but according to the story,
...that the answer is unclear. A preliminary set of atmospheric tests for the presence of a gas given off as nuclear waste is reprocessed into plutonium is the best indicator the United States has to work with from one of the world's most closed nations. The most recent tests suggested that nuclear work has accelerated, but the results were inconclusive. More test results are expected at the end of this week.
It is, of course, in the interests of North Korea to lead the rest of the world to fear the repressive regime. On the other hand, Pyongyang has come far too close to outright provocation than can be deemed wise.
Due to the closed nature of the country, it is nearly impossible for Western intelligence agencies to accurately determine the extent to which North Korea has been successful in developing a viable nuclear weapons program. The consensus is generally that, while they may not be as close as they say they are, they are far closer than any of the rest of us would like.
In the past several months, North Korea has sought to use the war in Iraq as a fulcrum upon which to shift the advantage in the political (and strategic) struggle on the Korean Peninsula. From a piece published by the intelligence analysis firm StratFor:
Pyongyang is carefully studying the war in Iraq, as it represents a test case of U.S. will and ability to disarm and "liberate" a member of Washington's so-called "axis of evil." But far from the expectations so widely touted in international media, the Iraqi people have not risen up against their government, the military has not deserted en masse and the regime has not collapsed. Instead, irregular forces have carried out harassment attacks against rear-area positions while regular forces have established a ring of defenses around Baghdad. And despite some limited signs of popular revolt, the military campaign seems if anything to be strengthening the resolve of the Iraqi people to resist -- or at least not directly support -- the U.S. campaign.
From Pyongyang's view, the lesson of Iraq thus far is that, although the United States has a technologically superior military, it is not suited to a war where the stated aim is disarmament and liberating the citizens of a nation from their own government. If North Korea launched an attack on South Korea, officials in Pyongyang know that the technological might of the U.S. military would triumph. However, if Washington decided to disarm North Korea pre-emptively, its own rules of engagement would hinder it from fully using its superior firepower and force projection -- leaving U.S. forces vulnerable to irregular and asymmetrical warfare from the North Koreans.
Pyongyang is taking hope from this assessment of U.S. military actions in Iraq. If North Korea refrains from striking first, the United States will be tied by a set of combat constraints that significantly narrows the technology gap between the U.S. and North Korean forces. And even if Washington eventually wins in Iraq, the message already will have been delivered: Unilateral attempts at disarmament and regime change are no cakewalk. Since Pyongyang has little interest in instigating a full-scale war with the United States, the regime now feels more confident in its ability to withstand a U.S. assault under the aegis of "liberating" the North Korean people from their own leadership or "disarming" a rogue nation.
This approach is, obviously, not without significant risk to North Korea (and, in fact, to the entire region). The article continues:
That said, in order to gain maximum leverage against the United States, leaders in Pyongyang feel they must move now to take advantage of the military situation in Iraq. Thus, the North Korean regime has withdrawn from military liaison talks with the United States, warned that "no one can vouch that the U.S. will not spark the second Iraqi crisis on the Korean Peninsula," and moved vehicles around its nuclear and missile facilities -- in plain view of U.S. satellites. Pyongyang also has delayed talks with Seoul and threatened that the upcoming Japanese satellite launch will only ensure Japan's destruction.
Should North Korea move in an overtly aggressive way against either her sister nation to the South, or Japan to her east, the reaction of the United States would be swift and severe. The unfortunate aspect to every dealing with the North Koreans is the wildcard himself – Kim Jong Il. Rationally, one would assume that the North Koreans are aware that steps taken to engage in hostilities with the United States (or her allies) will result in their annihilation. With Kim Jong Il, however, there has been no real sign given that reason and rationality enter into his thought process to any large degree.
StratFor agrees, stating that
Rhetoric will not be enough to press home the dire nature of the situation in North Korea to Washington, Pyongyang has seen, and North Korea may well be preparing two more concrete steps to up the ante: firing up the nuclear reprocessing facilities and launching another long-range ballistic missile. Both moves would trigger an outcry from South Korea and Japan, thus pressuring the United States to address the situation immediately. And in North Korea's calculations, Washington has only two choices in such circumstances: either launch a pre-emptive strike against North Korean facilities or accede to bilateral talks aimed at ending the nuclear standoff and formulating a non-aggression pact with the North.
Despite the lack of attention given to the ongoing situation on the Korean Peninsula, we would be foolish to completely take our eyes off of the very real danger growing there.
Monday, July 14, 2003
INTEL ANALYSTS - WHO WILL TRAIN THE TRAINERS?
Shortly after the attacks on New York City and the Pentagon in September of 2001, DCI George Tenet implemented an aggressive plan designed to address a long-neglected shortfall in the number of intelligence analysts at work within the nation's intelligence network. There has never been any lack of raw data - rather, what's been missing is the necessary volume of well-trained analysts who are able to make sense of the vast quantities of data that circulate on a daily basis. In a recent piece for Congressional Quarterly, Jim McGee writes that this newly concentrated effort has exposed a serious deficiency in the nation's training apparatus for intelligence analysis. From the piece (a subcription is required to view the entire article):
In June, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence issued a fiscal 2004 Intelligence Authorization Act report chiding the intelligence agencies for dwelling on acquiring expensive new technologies to collect more information while dragging their feet on the less costly, but equally urgent, task of growing a much larger cadre of analysts to find, with needle-like precision, terrorist plots hidden in the haystacks of data gathered by satellites and spies.
"The formal training analysts receive remains brief and uneven across the [intelligence] community," the report said. "More emphasis must be placed on analyst training, on consistent career development, and on better mentoring."
Appropriating large sums so that intelligence agencies can hire hundreds of new analysts does not ensure the agencies will do a better job of connecting the dots of future terrorist plots, said Robert David Steele, a former CIA officer who has published two books on intelligence reform.
The intelligence community has always been divided by various internal debates. Potentially the most public being the debate over intuition- vs. analytics-based analysis. This debate has overflowed into the field of training. In the past, analysts were expected to show near-psychic abilities of intuiting an enemy's capabilities, while little attention was given to other. more reproducible means of analysis which rely on the consistent implementation of various sets of criteria.
More recently, innovators like Dr. Jonathan Lockwood have begun to win widespread acceptance of programs like his Lockwood Analytical Method of Prediction method - a methodolgy featuring a solid foundation analytical process.
All in all, the level of accuracy being demanded of our intelligence agencies will necessitate the (at least partial) resolution of this debate if we are to see true improvement in the field of intelligence analysis.
PETITION O' THE DAY!
Here's today's fittingly migraine-inducing petition. It deals with a concern we all share - the inability of the Irish to get drunk at a reasonable price. Woo-hoo. If you're tired of looking fer ye Looky Chahrms, click 'ere.
It's going to be a light posting day (perhaps until this evening). I've got lots of work to do, I've got a migraine, and my lovely wife and I are awaiting a VERY important call from our adoption agency (perhaps THE call). Petition of the day coming soon...
Saturday, July 12, 2003
Tempest, meet teapot.
Well, now the DCI is being drawn into the Iraq/Africa uranium nonsense. This bit of info made up a whopping 16 words during the POTUS's State of the Union Address, and the left is, rather predictably, acting as if he had build the entire foundation of the case for war in Iraq upon this single brick. Absolute rubbish.
From the article:
Members of Congress called on the CIA to be held accountable. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, said Tenet was ultimately responsible for the mistake.
"The director of central intelligence is the principal adviser to the president on intelligence matters," Roberts said. "He should have told the president. He failed. He failed to do so," Roberts said.
It's not unusal for the DCI to be called upon to fall on his sword for embarassments such as this, but, in this case, I think that this eventuality is going to be a mistake. Tenet, for all of his falws, seems, to me, to be an effective Director. He's made every effort to revitalize the United States' intelligence community (especially in the area of field/black ops - a field of focus that was neary eradicated by the Church hearings), and has, from what I've seen, been fairly well received by those under him, which is no small feat, given the hellish nature of political wrangling within the various competetive branches of the intelligence community. The CIA is the big dog, and wishes to be seen as such, but more speciallized agencies like the NSA, NRO, and NIMA want, and deserve recognition for their contributions, as well. Add to the mix the various military intelligence agencies (the DIA, and the intel groups within the various branches, etc.), and you've a recipe for chaos - even by Beltway standards.
In his seminal work The United States Intelligence Community (now in its 4th printing), author, and fellow with the National Security Archive, Jeffrey Richelson defines intelligence analysis as follows:
Analysis involves the integration of collected information - that is, raw intelligence from all sources - into finished intelligence. The finished intelligence product might be a simple statement of facts, an eveluation of the capabilities of another nation's military forces, or a projection of the likely course of political events in another nation.
A fairly broad definition, you'd have to agree. More than ever before, it is critical that the American public learn the basics of what intelligence agencies can, and cannot control within their analyses. It is readily apparent that, though there may have been reasons to suspect the validity of the British intellligence at the heart of this matter, there were also potentially more valid reasons for which to have confidence in the accuracy of the information.
In the Washington Post article linked above, John Solomon, the piece's author writes the following:
Although the CIA did not learn until well after the president's speech in January that some documents obtained by British intelligence that formed the basis of the Iraq-Niger uranium allegations were forged, CIA officials recognized at the beginning that the allegation was based on "fragmentary intelligence gathered in late 2001 and early 2002," the director said.
To the unitiated, this would appear to be a smoking gun...an admission that there was significant suspicion regarding this intelligence. This theory would not hold up under close scrutiny, however. The second half of the quote above (the "gotcha" portion, wherein we're supposed to be dismayed by the use of the sinister-sounding "fragmentary intelligence") says essentially nothing. The bottom line to be found is in the first half of the quote - "...the CIA did not learn until well after the president's speech in January that some documents obtained by British intelligence that formed the basis of the Iraq-Niger uranium allegations were forged".
ALL intelligence, by its very nature, is fragmentary. Intelligence analysis will (much to the consternation of many in the field), never be purely analytic in nature. To some extent (though it should be minimized where possible), analysis will always involve intuition, and a well-reasoned reading of political events, national tendencies, and gut feelings. As such, when information that makes sense from a rational perspective comes along which would seem to indicate a serious threat to national security, there is little time to be spared. Decisions must be made, and made quickly. Will mistakes be made? Undoubtedly. But, let's have some perspective when we look back at those mistakes in the grand scheme of things, shall we?
Friday, July 11, 2003
A big thanx to the kind Mr. Blair
I was a bit surprised to see that my readership had jumped from the usual 2 or so...
To read the exchange to which he's referring, scroll down, or click here.
I will need to fix the stupid formatting problem, though...!@#$! Blogger (guess I shouldn't complain...it is free, after all...).