Thursday, April 29, 2004
There is an interesting interview on Salon with a Middle East expert. I think that this paragraph does an admirable job in summing up why the Iraq war was a bad idea, even if we assume that there was some small risk of collaboration between Al Queda and Saddam:
Now we have in effect opened up a new front in the war on terrorism. We have provided a whole new set of targets. We have started an unnecessary war by plopping down in the middle of an Arab heartland a huge Anglo-American force, which, leaving aside the issue of whether we went in with enough force, is going to invite this kind of attention from a lot of people in the Middle East. I don't think that the decision to go to war in Iraq can be repealed. I'm not one of those people who believe that this was wrong in the first place and now it's time to cut and run. I think that would invite an even worse situation. One thing we don't want to do in Iraq is to leave behind another failed state that could become another breeding ground for terrorists, particularly in an area of such importance as the Middle East.The rest of the interview is somewhat worth reading, but it doesn't break much new ground.
Wednesday, April 28, 2004
According to a recent study, women who get dental X-rays while they're pregnant have a greater chance of delivering smaller-than-normal babies. Link.
My advice to you: do not get any x-rays unless absolutely necessary. There is no such thing as a safe dose of radiation.
Monday, April 26, 2004
This Debka article is more credible / interesting than usual and worth a read.
Via TalingPoints, an in-depth NY Review of Books article that comprehensively discusses the strategic situation.
Thursday, April 22, 2004
*** Foreign Policy
I'm so very, very busy ... but here's yet another must-read Billmon piece on US foreign policy and our strategic situation.
Monday, April 19, 2004
The NYTimes has a must-read article about DVD sales and how they are affecting movie-making priorities. I had no idea that DVDs were doing so well -- $431 million for Finding Nemo! And that's just domestic sales ...
Thursday, April 15, 2004
The war continues. Although this article is presented as a slice of life for some random soldiers in a convoy in Iraq, it perhaps gives away a little too much about what is really going on there. Clearly we are in a precarious logistical situation. With our convoys being mercilessly attacked, it makes me wonder how long we can sustain this type of war footing in Iraq, and how expensive it will be. Highly recommended reading.
This long Salon article is worth a read if you're interested in the mercenary / contractor situation in Iraq.
Monday, April 12, 2004
Billmon argues persuasively that the US's moves to begin diplomatic negotiations over Falluja and Sadr indicate the real weakness of the US position in Iraq. This won't be lost on our various enemies. As they learn that the Coalition "can be rolled", this will make it all the harder to retain credibility with the use of force.
I agree, and I think that perhaps the greatest long-term cost of this war to US national security interests will be demystification of US military power. Simply put, we're great at bombing stuff, but that's about it.
I hope the US public realizes this before the election -- the tough-talking Republicans have shot our own military in the foot.
Friday, April 09, 2004
Things are possibly much worse in Iraq than is being reported in the US media. (Big shocker, I know). I'm sure you're reading Juan Cole anyway, but in case you somehow missed it, you must read this post. He mentions the food convoy that was sent into Falluja. I saw a report on CNN this morning about this and they were reporting that the insurgents had fired upon the convoy. Well, the arab media is reporting that the convoy was attacked by Americans, although some American soldiers apparently were insubordinate and unwilling to fire upon the convoy.
One of my friends recently asked me what I thought would happen in Iraq, and I said that it is looking increasingly possible that we could suffer a military defeat. I'm not sure exactly what that means or what the parameters of such a defeat would look like, but if we can't control the supply lines into Baghdad, this whole war could come to a crashing halt. The experts don't seem to think that this could happen, so maybe I shouldn't be making predictions sitting here in my office in New York. But this is uncharted territory for the US military. And even as professional as they are, with our moronic civilian leadership, who knows what might happen?
Tuesday, April 06, 2004
Guess what, we're not just losing in Iraq, but we basically lost the war in Afghanistan too. This must-read Seymour Hersh article in the New Yorker shows how the US's plan to do Afghanistan on the cheap was a bad idea; bottom line, about all we did was to knock the Taliban out of Kabul. Then Iraq completely distracted the US from ongoing efforts to stabilize the country. Heroin accounts for 1/3 of Afghanistan's GDP. The US is essentially of the view that having warlords/druglords run the show will prevent a resurgence of Al Queda. But the good news, I guess, is that the Bush Administration is starting to pay attention to Afghanistan again.
Afghanistan is regaining the Bush Administration’s attention, in part because the worsening situation in Iraq has increased the need for a foreign-policy success.The bad news is that the people of Afghanistan are starting to remember the Taliban with fondness -- and remember, the ability to provide security was what got them into power in the 90s. So Afghantistan is once again in danger of becomming a terrorist breeding ground.
Monday, April 05, 2004
The stuff happening in Iraq right now is very, very important. I wish I had time to fully follow the story and read every article, but I don't. In the meantime, I strongly recommend this Billmon post as a good summary. And Jaun Cole, of course, remains required reading.
My only comment at this point is that Sadr will likely be a martyr within the next few days. Whether this is good or bad for the coalition, I have no idea. All I do know is that this is very high risk poker that we're playing.
Friday, April 02, 2004
Whoa, hold on a second. That forthcoming new Gmail service from Google is going to use technology that scans your personal emails and sends you targeted advertisements based on the content of those emails. That's a bit too friendly for my tastes. This is already stirring up a shitstorm, and hopefully they'll back off this idea (but without having to scuttle the whole thing altogether).