2003 January 31 Friday
Freighters Potential Terrorist Attack Vehicle

The nature of the shipping industry provides great opportunities for Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations to move around people and supplies and even to use ships as large weapons delivery vehicles. Ships carrying weapons of mass destruction could be blown up in harbors of densely populated cities. The ownership of many ships is already hidden behind layers of front companies for tax and regulatory reasons. Many sailors are using counterfeit identifications and counterfeit training certificates. Nations that serve as "flags of convenience" do little to regulate and track ships that are registered with their national authorities. The amount being moved by ships is enormous and it is next to impossible to check all incoming cargoes. Besides, if a ship is going to be used to deliver a bomb that will kill people at the harbor then its crew can arrange to have it blown up before the ship would have a chance to be searched unless the ship was searched at sea.

Al Qaeda is already operating a fleet of at least 15 ships. What is curious about this is that even though the US Navy knows the identity of some of those ships it is allowing them to continue sailing. Why is that? One probable reason is that the US and its allies would have a difficult time legally proving (and in the courts of a variety of countries) that a ship really is effectively owned by Al Qaeda. This article provides an indication of the number of difficulties facing US and allied efforts to reduce terrorist use ships.

In August, the captain of another of Nova's freighters, the recently renamed Sara, radioed to maritime authorities in Italy that 15 Pakistani men whom the ship's owner had forced him to take aboard in Casablanca, Morocco, were menacing his crew. Although the 15 claimed they were crewmen when questioned by U.S. and Italian naval officers, the captain said they knew nothing about seafaring.

U.S. officials say they found tens of thousands of dollars, false documents, maps of Italian cities and evidence tying them to al Qaeda members in Europe, and concluded that they, too, were possibly on a terrorist mission. The 15 were charged in Italy with conspiracy to engage in terrorist acts.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 31 02:29 PM  Terrorists WMD
Entry Permalink | Comments(1)
2003 January 29 Wednesday
Why Military Option Against North Korea Unattractive

A war against North Korea would cost tens of thousands of US casualties, an equal or greater number of South Korean military casualties, hundreds of thousands of South Korean civilian casualties, and months to fight. The US lacks a quick and efficient means to knock out the North Korean artillery pieces that are burrowed into caves. Those artillery pieces are within range of the densely populated northern suburbs of Seoul. The North Korean civilians would similarly suffer appalling losses as the fighting moved into North Korea. The military option for dealing with North Korea is quite unattractive.

In 1993, shortly before the last crisis triggered by North Korea's then-unfulfilled quest for a nuclear bomb, a classified Pentagon estimate said a conventional war with North Korea would require four months of "very high-intensity combat" by more than 600,000 South Korean troops and about half a million U.S. reinforcements to the regular contingent of 37,000 U.S. military personnel stationed in South Korea, or about half the total U.S. fighting force.

Since then, in some respects, the trends have only deteriorated, according to Army Col. Dean A. Nowowiejski, a federal executive fellow at the Brookings Institution who served as a regional war planner in South Korea from 1995 to 1998. North Korea has been moving more and more troops and long-range artillery, with ever greater fortification, closer to the Demilitarized Zone.

Bribery of the entire regime is not going to work because even if North Korea would be willing to accept a deal it will not accept the kinds of terms that would make verification possible. That leaves sanctions. But its doubtful that China will go along with a sanctions regime that is strong enough to bring about the downfall of the North Korean regime.

Doing nothing is not a wise option. The North Korean regime has demonstrated its willingness to sell any weapons it can build to any other regime that has the money to pay for them. It is realistic to expect they will be willing to sell nuclear weapons once they have made enough for their own purposes. Then we will face a Nuclear KMart selling nuclear weapons to all comers.

Faced with options that are either unattractive or unworkable we have to ask if there are any other possibilities. One interesting question is whether there is any chance of an internal overthrow of the North Korean regime. If the North Koreans realised just how much worse off they are than their South Korean cousins they might be more motivated to overthrow their government. But the North Koreans are probably the most isolated population in the world. Any reduction in that isolation would tend to make the North Koreans see just how much better off they could be if their government was removed. I've previously suggested that a much bigger effort should be made to reach their populace with, for instance, sea drops of floating packages that contain extremely small radios that could run off of sunlight or mechanical winding. Still, even populations suffering under terrible regimes who are aware of the conditions outside their countries rarely manage to rise up and overthrow their governments. Successful popular revolutions are rare even under conditions of terrible suffering.

On the Winds of Change blog Trent Telenko (whose posts I generally enjoy reading btw) has recently argued that corruption could bring down the North Korean regime.

n North Korea, a much larger standing army was required earlier in the history of the communist state. This resulted in the Army filling many of the "ecological niches" in regime politics that in other communist states were held by the Party and the secret police/forced labor camps. The end result was corrupt regional power groupings centered on the various Army Corps. These military leaders are North Korea's "Tony Sopranos" and like their TV name sake, they chose a weak leader they could dominate, Kim Jong Il.

Once these North Korean "Tony Sopranos" got in the habit of disobedience for the sake of corruption to line their pockets, they became "a little bit pregnant" in the disobedience department regarding other things, hopefully including suicidal orders to bombard Seoul. This is why I feel there is little chance of that.

I find this argument to be Panglossian. Yes, it sure will be great if corruption in North Korea eventually bring downs the North Korean regime. But historically regime decay has taken decades or even centuries. The Soviet Union collapsed but its notable that it was the oldest communist regime when it finally fell apart. By the end of the Soviet era the party apparatchiks had lost their fervor for the system. That loss of fervor in the USSR was caused in part because successive generations of leaders promoted fawning deputies who had less doctrinaire enthusiasm than their bosses. An essential element in the regime decay of the Soviet Union was the passage of time that allowed successive generations of leadership to rise up, each less fervent about communism than the generation before it.

Lets look at some contrary examples. Fidel Castro, running a much newer communist regime, still rules in Cuba. Also, the Chinese regime, about the same age as the North Korean regime and both of a few decades more recent vintage than the Soviet Union, has managed to morph itself from a totally communist system to a sort of state crony capitalistic system without losing its control of China. It is possible that the North Korean regime could follow the Chinese example and hang on for decades before an internal revolt brings it down.

Is there anything that can be done about the nature of North Korean regime? It is possible that the spread of corruption in North Korea could be accelerated. The intelligence agencies of the United States and South Korea should look for ways to arrange questionable business deals for North Korean military officers. The more North Koreans that have foreign bank accounts and secret corrupt business deals with Western businesses that they need to hide from their government then the more pressure there will be for them to operate in ways that undermine the authority of the North Korean central government. Still, I'm not optimistic that this sort of approach will bring down the North Korean regime soon enough to prevent it from playing the role of Nuclear KMart before it collapses.

We still need a better solution to the threat posed by North Korea.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 29 02:52 PM  US Foreign Preemption, Deterrence, Containment
Entry Permalink | Comments(14)
Robert Spencer on the Nature of Islam

In an article entitled "Muslim Disinformation Campaign" Robert Spencer examines the arguments that Muslims make in defense of Islam. Spencer points out that while Muslim apologists point to verses in the Koran that sound tolerant and peaceful these citations are misleading about the true nature of Islam. Muslim theologians accord less weight to those verses because they mainly come from the early career of the prophet Muhammed. The Islamic theory of abrogation or naskh holds that earlier verses that contradict later verses are cancelled and replaced by the later verses.

There is no universally accepted chronology of the revelations of the Qur’an, but the broad outlines of the prophet’s life make it clear that the bellicose verses were revealed later than the peaceful ones. His more conciliatory revelations come from his early prophetic career in Mecca, when he still had high hopes of winning over Arabian Jews and Christians. Later, however, when it became abundantly clear that Jews and Christians would not accept him as a prophet, Allah’s messenger became bellicose: revelations from the latter part of his career in Medina are considerably more hard-edged. Hence, according to the idea of naskh, the peaceful verses are abrogated but the violent ones are still in effect. Muslim extremists are fully aware of this. It is another reason why they feel free to quote the Qur’an in support of their violent actions today: they clearly believe that when they do so, they are using the book properly and "in context."

By Randall Parker 2003 January 29 01:18 AM  Religion Secular Ideologies
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
UK Tories Opposed To Asylum For Terrorists

The British government interprets a UN convention and European human rights laws as requiring even a member of the Taliban to be granted asylum in Britain. The Conservative Party in the UK thinks it is dumb to grant asylum to foot soldiers in Islamic Jihad armies and to terrorists.

The Conservatives will unveil "radical" reforms of Britain's asylum laws next week to allow those suspected of terrorist offences to be deported or refused entry to this country. Every asylum seeker entering Britain would be vetted on security grounds under the Tory plan.

It could mean the next Conservative government temporarily withdrawing from, or seeking changes to, the United Nations Convention on Refugees and European human rights laws, which prevent individuals being deported to a country where they claim that their life would be endangered.

Unfortunately for the British the Tories are in a rather small minority in their Parliament. The Labour majority may well decide to place international law over the safety of the British people. The US constitution has one big underappreciated advantage over international law: In the United States it is generally widely conceded that the US constitution is not a sucide pact.

In 1949, Justice Jackson (he was not the chief justice) finished a fiery dissenting opinion in Terminiello v. City of Chicago (1949) with these words: "There is danger that, if the court does not temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact."

By Randall Parker 2003 January 29 12:10 AM  Immigration Border Control
Entry Permalink | Comments(1)
2003 January 27 Monday
Islam is a Totalitarian Doctrine

Writer Chua Lee Hoong reviews the arguments that Roger Scruton has made in The West And The Rest about the totalitarian nature of Islam.

The other chilling point from Prof Scruton is that unlike Western individualist secularism, Islam is in a very fundamental sense a totalitarian doctrine: It seeks to embrace and subordinate to its dictates the totality of life. The ulama ('those with knowledge') have their authority directly from God. The syariah, the revealed will of God, is the only sanction for law.

The point is affirmed by Iraq-born Islamic scholar Majid Khadduri, who wrote in The Islamic Conception Of Justice that Muslims took for granted that political justice was 'an expression of God's will as interpreted and put into practice by the Prophet', and, after the Prophet's death, by his legitimate successors.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 27 10:43 AM  Religion Secular Ideologies
Entry Permalink | Comments(2)
Musharraf Warns Jihadis That US Could Attack Pakistan

Some critics of the coming war with Iraq claim that it is a distraction from the battle against terrorists. There are even critics who claim that the war against Iraq will so inflame Muslim opinion against the United States that the US will get less intelligence cooperation from Muslim governments in tracking down terrorists. These arguments are thrown into some serious doubt by a recent speech that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf gave warning Pakistanis that after Iraq Pakistan could become the next target of American wrath.

Addressing a meeting of businessmen and industrialists in Lahore at the weekend, Musharraf said that there was speculation that Pakistan would become the target of "Western forces" after the Iraq crisis and that there were chances of such an eventuality. "We will have to work on our own to stave off the danger. Nobody will come to our rescue, not even the Islamic world. We will have to depend on our muscle," the general said.

Why is Musharraf saying this? He's trying to convince his fellow countrymen that fundamentalist fervor and terrorism are dead-ends that will only lead to ruin for Pakistan.

Musharraf's unexpected comments could, therefore, be interpreted as a warning to jihadis in the country that their actions are making it very difficult for the government. As Musharraf said, "We can talk to the US ... but how can we convince them on our points when the whole country echoes with the slogans of jihad [against the US]."

Musharraf is arguing that foreign terrorists in Pakistan are not serving Pakistan's best interests.

On the Taliban and al-Qaeda regrouping, he said "some foreigners in Pakistan are harming US interests here though we take them as brothers."

Musharraf also appealed to Pakistanis to shun extremism. "Muslims are suffering everywhere but in the hour of the need no one would help us because everyone has his own interests. We will have to be a very moderate county, not with a confrontationist approach but with liberal mind."

Musharraf is using the example of what the United States is about to do to Iraq to argue that Pakistan must turn away from a confrontational radical fundamentalist path. He's trying to win support for a crackdown on Al Qaeda and Taliban in Pakistan and he's using the threat of an American attack to convince various segments of Pakistani society that the crackdown is necessary. Musharraf's argument is made credible by the spreadng belief that the US is willing to do regime change in Muslim countries. Actions that the US takes that increase the credibility of US threats to use military force help to further the war against the Muslim terrorists.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 27 12:13 AM  Civilizations Clash Of
Entry Permalink | Comments(2)
2003 January 26 Sunday
Saddam Hussein Popularity Down With Arabs

Saddam's goose is just thoroughly cooked. Even the vaunted "Arab street" has abandoned him.

Baka'a and other Palestinian camps, in Jordan and throughout the Middle East, were hotbeds of support for Iraq and its leader during the 1991 Gulf War. People demonstrated, put up posters of their hero and bought watches and pictures with his likeness.

Now, the narrow streets of the camp are clear of posters and nobody demonstrates. It is a measure of the changed popular as well as official attitudes to Saddam Hussein.

The article provides a very interesting analysis of why anti-American attitudes are growing in governments in the region: they are afraid of regime change. Once Iraq's government has been replaced by the United States the other regimes are afraid that the US will decide that regime change is a good idea and that the US will then proceed to overthrow other regimes in the region.

Note that these governments are far more worried about what the United States might do to them than they are about popular opinion in their own countries. They are confident of their ability to control their populaces. Popular uprisings rarely topple repressive regimes and haven't done so in an Arab country for a very long time.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 26 10:14 PM  Axis Of Evil
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
2003 January 25 Saturday
Perspectives On The Coming Iraq War

Saddam Hussein biographer Con Coughlin says Saddam Hussein believes he can defeat the United States if his troops can only manage to get close enough to American troops to inflict some casualties.

Saddam was also immensely frustrated at his inability to engage US troops on the ground while some of his Republican Guard battalions remained intact. He believed that if he could inflict just a few casualties, Washington would cease hostilities. There is no reason to believe that Saddam's view of the US is any different today than it was then. It is a mindset that provides Saddam with the confidence not to be intimidated by the Americans, even though they have overwhelming firepower. In this context he will have taken Donald Rumsfeld's suggestion last week - that war could be averted if Saddam slipped quietly into exile - as yet further evidence that Washington's arch hawk has lost his bottle.

Saddam thinks the Americans are so casualty-averse that by inflicting some losses on the US Army he will be able to get the United States to withdraw from the field in the middle of battle. If Coughlin is right about this then Saddam sees no need to go into exile or give up his weapons of mass destruction. This makes war inevitable.

The French see the war debate as presenting them with a difficult dilemma. On one hand, they want to oppose the Iraq war in part because of a reflexive desire to oppose the will of the United States on the international stage and in part because France has its own interests in Iraq and it doesn't want to lose its political influence and contracts with the Iraqi regime. Plus, they may sincerely believe that the war will inflame the Arab street and increase the attractiveness of terrorism. On the other hand, if they sit it out they will have no influence in Iraq when its over. The French see the Iraq war mainly in terms of a threat to French power and influence. (The "duel" in the first line of the excerpt should probably have been "dual".)

"The French have a duel problem," said David Malone, head of the New York-based International Peace Academy think-tank and a former Canadian U.N. ambassador.

"On one hand they have played their cards masterfully and achieved a genuine compromise with the United States," he said.

"But the risk for them is that if the United States moves ahead, France may be dealt out of Iraq altogether, a significant blow to its standing in the Middle East and commercial prospects in the area," Malone said.

Another council diplomat agreed. "The Germans may be quite happy to sit this one out but the French would want to be leading any action," the envoy said. "It matters to matter for France."

Of course, if the French cave and go along with the US then they will be seen as having been bluffing in their opposition all along. But if they don't cave and the US goes ahead anyway then the UN Security Council will be seen as irrevelant and therefore the French seat on the UN Security Council will be seen as irrelevant. The French leadership is having a hard time trying to figure out a course thru the Iraq crisis that is least costly in its longer term effects on French influence and credibility.

Meanwhile, the British government still believe that the UN "international community" path will work for them.

The British Government, meanwhile, remains quietly confident that a second resolution is within its grasp. Gerhard Schröder's position, ministers say, is annoyingly sanctimonious, but entirely explicable in the light of forthcoming elections in Germany, and the German people's resolute hostility to a war in Iraq. President Chirac's posturing has caused more fury in Number 10. But, as one Cabinet Minister put it to me, "there is no way the French won't want a slice of the Iraqi cake when Saddam falls". No less than the Russians, though less explicitly, the French have their price.

That same article by Matthew d'Ancona argues (and I suspect correctly) that most of those calling for UN approval for the Iraq war do so because they sincerely believe the UN Security Council's permanent members would never all vote for it. The Blair government thinks the UN will come thru and make its life easier. Many others just as firmly believe (and comfort themselves with this belief) that they can count on Russia, China and France to prevent that outcome. Someone's going to be wrong here. What will Chirac decide? I for one hope he opts for making the UN Security Council irrelevant.

While the Brits still think they can bring the French around and save the United Nations route to war with Iraq the belief in Washington DC is that the French are a hopeless case. As a result Colin Powell's star is falling.

Last fall Secretary of State Colin L. Powell won unstinting praise for what the world seemed to regard as a coup: persuading President Bush to seek United Nations Security Council approval for confronting Iraq, and then lining up unanimous Council backing for that approach.

Today administration officials say Mr. Powell is abruptly on the defensive after France and Germany went public with their bluntly worded refusal to support quick action to find Iraq in breach of United Nations resolutions and clear the way for a military attack.

The NY Times reports the French diplomats say privately that they see war is inevitable. Then why are the French taking the position with Germany against the war? Do the French see opposition to the Iraq war as a way to increase their standing with Germany in order to get what they want from the EU? The French position is causing people in the US State Department to refer to the French envoys as "the French resistance".

There are perspectives on the coming war that sound like they are the result of sincere deliberations about moral principles and what will result in the best future for the world. Whether one agrees with the UK Observer's principles or its view of the world it seems clear that the Observer's support for military action to take down Saddam's regime isn't the result of a cynical calculation.

The moral and political advantages of holding to the current course of action are overwhelming. Legitimacy is fundamental to the values of Western powers. Wherever possible, we make law, not war, and where war is unavoidable, we observe the law in its conduct. The prospects for any successor Iraqi regime will be much rosier if it is seen to have come into being through a UN mandate derived from a very substantial majority of members, rather than bilateral Anglo-American action.

Those who demanded a multilateral route have responsibilities, too. They must recognise that the much-maligned Bush administration has dutifully pursued a multilateral approach over both Iraq and the war in Afghanistan. The world asked America to work through the UN. The UN and its members must now show that its decisions and resolutions can be effective.

Some US war theorists see the Iraq war as an opportunity to try out a method of rapid attack that they hope will break the enemy's will to fight. This approach features an enormous opening attack of precision guided munitions that will include 300 to 400 cruise missiles per day in the first 2 days of fighting.

The battle plan is based on a concept developed at the National Defense University. It's called "Shock and Awe" and it focuses on the psychological destruction of the enemy's will to fight rather than the physical destruction of his military forces.

"We want them to quit. We want them not to fight," says Harlan Ullman, one of the authors of the Shock and Awe concept which relies on large numbers of precision guided weapons.

Will the US military shock and awe large portions of the Iraqi military into immediately surrendering? Seems possible. The regular Iraqi army has got to be looking beyond the end of Saddam's regime. When the field commands and large chunks of the Iraqi communications networks get taken out in the initial attack they will know how its going to end and will be looking for a way to still be alive when the US and its allies take over.

Here's an argument on the Iraq war which I haven't yet seen made: the conquest of Iraq will free up 1 or 2 precious US aircraft carriers which would otherwise need to be stationed all the time in the neighborhood of the Middle East. After the war the USAF will be able to establish air bases in Iraq. Use of USAF aircraft will no longer be restricted by the Turks, Saudis or other regimes which now provide basing rights. With a centrally situationed set of air bases the USAF will be able to project from Iraq any air power that US might need to use in the region. So the US Navy can move a lot of assets toward the Pacific.

The argument against attacking Iraq first misses another obvious point: Iraq is really the best place to control first because it borders on Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. All three of those countries pose various forms of terrorism problems and/or WMD proliferation problems to the United States. Control of Iraq provides the US military a suitable place from which to pressure or attack any of those regimes.

Update: There's also an intelligence agency conflict about how much risk to run with intelligence sources in Iraq in order to prove the obvious fact that Saddam is developing weapons of mass destruction.

Senior Foreign Office officials said that, to date, they had been instructed to be circumspect with sensitive evidence about Saddam's weapons to protect Iraqi informants. But ministers have accepted that more information must be released if the case for a pre-emptive war against Iraq is to be made.

Disclosing more detail may lead to tensions between MI6 and the CIA, which fears that a more explicit dossier could jeopardise Western intelligence networks in Iraq.

The people who don't believe that Saddam is developing WMD are people who don't want to know the truth. Blair's problem with British public opinion on this is so large that Iraqi informers may end up dead so that Blair can sway British public opinion.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 25 11:49 PM  Military War, Rumours Of War
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
1,200 Brits Trained With Al Qaeda

The names of 1,192 Britons who trained with Al Qaeda have been identified so far. Some died in the fighting, some are still over there, but some may have returned to the UK to conduct terrorist attacks in Britain.

Special Branch detectives fear that some of the men who cannot be traced could be plotting terrorist attacks in Britain.

It is quite possible the real number is much higher. The data was created from discovered Al Qaeda lists. But those lists may not be complete or accurate.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 25 11:05 PM  Civilizations Clash Of
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
2003 January 24 Friday
Mark Steyn: Canada Opts Out Of Security Perimeter

Mark Steyn says that Canada is unwilling to cooperate with the United States to form a North American security perimeter. It is even more unrealistic to expect that level of cooperation from Mexico. Though in Mexico's case the its government's intentions matter less because Mexico lacks the necessary institutional capacity to enforce such a perimeter even if it was willing to try. In Canada's case the requirements of increased security clash with other values (a large value for the elites of both Canada and Mexico is the emotional need to appear as distinct and independent of America as possible) and the Canadian government has decided the other values are more important.

Within 48 hours of 9/11, it was clear that Canada had a choice: It could be inside a North American perimeter or outside a U.S. perimeter. Given that the trucks were mostly backed up on the northern side of the border, the answer seemed obvious. But the siren song of "Canadian values" -- i.e., Liberal Party values -- was too powerful, and, as we know from Kyoto to the gun registry, whenever the national interest conflicts with Liberal platitudes the Grits go with the latter. Last fall, when the U.S. announced that Canadians born in selected Middle Eastern countries would be required to submit to "special registration" procedures, Ottawa's privacy commissioner responded by demanding that "place of birth" be removed from all Canadian passports and The Toronto Star huffed and puffed about "Muslim-focused racial profiling" full of "contempt for due process."

They have a point. Effectively, the commissioner invited the U.S. to treat all Canadians as Syrian, and increasingly they do. No more profiling! That's great, isn't it? Unless you're a Quebec logger.

We live in an era when declining costs of transportation and communications are combining with increased economic integration to bring the peoples of the world into increasing contact with each other. This leads many commentators to prophesy the decline of the nation-state. However, the growing threat posed by terrorists will increasingly trump these other trends in importance. The ability of the denizens of Toronto (or of London or Rome or Calcutta for that matter) to fly to New York City or to cheaply call or exchange electronic data with people in New York City depends very strongly on the physical existence of New York City and the absence of biological, chemical and radiological contamination therein.

National borders are the places where the still very powerful sovereign states can exercise the greatest control over the movement of people. Just as it is inevitable that new terrorist attacks will occur in the Western nations so it is inevitable that the attacks will lead to greater anger and fear in Western populaces. These populaces will respond by making increasingly strident demands that borders be made larger obstacles for the passage of any people who might conceivably be terrorists.

As for the inevitability of future terrorist attacks in Western countries look at the recent spate of arrests of terrorist suspects throughout Europe. 16 terrorist suspects were just arrested in Spain.

Sixteen suspected Islamic terrorists arrested in Spain were "preparing for attacks with explosive and chemical material" in Europe, top Spanish officials say.

The suspects in Spain had links to four arrested last month in France:

Four Islamic terrorist suspects arrested last month in France -- identified as Merouane Benahmed, Mourredine Merabet, Menad Benchellali and Ahmed Belhout -- had previously been in Spain and had maintained contact with the suspects arrested on Friday, the government statement said.

Connections to the London apartment raid that found ricin led to a raid and arrests at the Finsbury Park Mosque.

Police swooped on a north London mosque linked to Islamic radicals, arresting seven people in what a top police officer called a "successful raid" linked to the discovery of deadly ricin in a London apartment two weeks earlier.

A sixth man has been arrested in connection with five originally arrested due to the ricin discovery in a London apartment.

British police have arrested a North African man in connection with the discovery of the deadly poison ricin in a London apartment.

The five Moroccans arrested Wednesday in Italy were discovered as a result of efforts to find illegal aliens.

Police who had been looking for illegal immigrants discovered a kilo of explosives, believed to be C4, and maps of central London. Police also reportedly found maps marking the site of Italian churches and Nato bases.

This bears repeating. The Italian police were not looking for terrorists. They were only looking for illegal immigrants and in the process came across what appears to have been a terrorist cell. Certainly this is an argument for a larger effort to round up illegal aliens from Muslim countries. But is the recent spate of arrests of terrorist suspects also a sign that the Western countries are going ot be able to prevent further attacks? Unfortunately the opposite is more likely the case. The element of luck involved in making some of the arrests is an indication of a much larger number of terrorist operatives still at large in Western nations who are not going to be detected by conventional methods for identifying terrorist suspects. For many terrrorists luck will break in the other direction. They will elude detection. Other networks of cells will manage to organize and pull off attacks.

My forecast is for more terrrorist attacks in the West, rising populist anger, and in response to that anger the sweeping from power of Western political parties that so far have been unwilling to take greater measures to expel and prevent the entry of terrorists into Western countries.

Update: An Algerian arrested during the sweep on Finsbury Park mosque was helping to finance the ricin plotters. His assistance included helping the budding terrorists to apply for British government welfare benefits.

The paper reported that detectives, who have examined computers seized during the investigation, believe the man recruited men from the Finsbury Park mosque, helping them with benefit claims.

By funding a social welfare state that gives money to terrorists the British government is, in effect, paying for "Getting hit on the head lessons". One wonders how big the lesson will have to get before it sinks in.

The UK Daily Telegraph has an article that summarizes the recent wave of terrorist arrests in Europe. The accompanying pop-up graph lists all the terrorist arrests since September 11, 2001. Note that the 70 arrested in Britain exceeds the number arrested in all of the rest of Europe. The effectiveness of this round of arrests depends in part on whether are separate terrorist networks that have no contact with the North Africans currently being rounded up.

Most of the fundamentalists arrested so far are north Africans with a web of connections to fellow nationals throughout Europe. Arrests in one country have led police and intelligence officers to alleged cells in others.

The latest arrests follow dozens made in London, Paris, Manchester and Edinburgh in recent weeks. More are expected soon.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 24 10:41 AM  Immigration Border Control
Entry Permalink | Comments(2)
2003 January 23 Thursday
China Faces Threat Of Migrant Worker Protests

Tens of millions of people from China's interior have moved to the eastern zones to work 14 hour days and live in company dormitories for jobs that pay salaries only once a year. At the end of the year some companies either do not pay or pay less than was promised. If the leaders of China had any sense they'd require that workers be paid more often. The abuses that such a system makes possible are a threat to the political stability of China.

The number of workers living with migrants' permits in the tiger economy zones of the east officially rose this year to 94 million. Millions more are thought to escape the periodic roundings-up of those with no permits at all.

Surveys have found that in some cases a third are still owed money a week before Lunar New Year, when most get their year's pay in a lump sum. Even state media have begun to report their complaints. Some feature gory cases of labourers beaten up by company henchmen for daring to complain.

What is less clear is whether threats to the political stability of China are a good thing or a bad thing. Would political protests just lead to an effective crackdown, to pressures for gradual democratization, or to chaos and civil war? Could political strife in China perhaps lead to an attempt to seize Taiwan as a way to deflect the attention of Chinese people attention elsewhere?

At a minimum corruption and the lack of legal protection for the common worker and for the consumer effectively place outer limits on the ability of China to economically develop. Living standards can still rise quite far from where they are today. But they can not approach first world standards as long as the government doesn't provide a fully developed and uncorrupt legal system that enforces contracts and protects property for all citizens.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 23 11:29 PM  China Control Internal
Entry Permalink | Comments(1)
David Kay on the Limits of UN Inspections Teams

Former UNSCOM chief nuclear weapons inspector David Kay describes why its foolish to expect a weapons inspections team to find hidden weapons.

When it comes to the U.N. weapons inspection in Iraq, looking for a smoking gun is a fool's mission. That was true 11 years ago when I led the inspections there. It is no less true today -- even after the seemingly important discovery on Thursday of a dozen empty short-range missile warheads left over from the 1980s.

The only job the inspectors can expect to accomplish is confirming whether Iraq has voluntarily disarmed. That is not a task that need take months more. And last week's cache is irrelevant in answering that question, regardless of the U.N.'s final determination. That's because the answer is already clear: Iraqi is in breach of U.N. demands that it dismantle its weapons of mass destruction.

Kay points out that it took 4 years for UNSCOM to find the Iraqi biological weapons program. An extension of the UNMOVIC and IAEA inspections into the rest 2003 will accomplish nothing more than buying Saddam more time to develop more weapons. Kay reiterates the argument he's repeatedly made in the past: a country like Iraq is too big, its intelligence agencies are too resourceful, and the inspections teams are too small for inspections to be a viable way to discover prohibited weapons. The government that is having its territory searched has a far easier task to keep things hidden than the inspections teams have in trying to find the weapons and labs.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 23 12:42 AM  Inspections and Sanctions
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
The Irony of the UN on Iraq

The Daily Telegraph quotes Mike O'Brien, UK Foreign Office minister who handles the Middle East, trying to placate the left of the Labour Party on Iraq.

"We have to draw the line on Iraq," he said, "If we do not draw the line here, the message to other countries such as Iran, Libya and North Korea is that UN resolutions do not matter. They will be encouraged to seek nuclear weapons and that will press other countries to seek a nuclear capability for their own defence."

The article discusses the poor prospects for a second UN Security Council resolution explicitly authorizing the use of force in Iraq. It seems likely that the US and its allies will invade Iraq without a second authorising resolution. Some consider this to be a horrible undermining of UN authority and of international law (or at least of their reinterpretations of international law).

Here's the irony of the current situation: If the US and its allies do not succeed in preventing the development and spread of more advanced weapons of mass destruction throughout the Middle East and eventually into other parts of the world then the United Nations will become irrelevant. Nuclear armed states will have no need to obey UN Security Council resolutions because no state or group of states will be willing to use military means to discipline them. Already the North Korean regime has stated repeatedly that even economic sanctions against it will be treated as an act of war. That sort of threat has to be taken seriously because the North Korean regime may well already have a couple of nuclear weapons. Therefore even the use of sanctions may not be a usable option for the UN Security Council when dealing with a nuclear state.

It remains a Hobbesian world. Proponents of an idealized and expanded role for the United Nations willfully ignore the central role that force must play in the maintenance of any political order.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 23 12:22 AM  UN, International Institutions
Entry Permalink | Comments(2)
2003 January 22 Wednesday
Tribalism Is Alive And Well In Iraq

For many years Saddam Hussein actively worked to undermine the authority of tribal leaders. But starting around the time of the Gulf War Saddam switched course and began to actively support tribes as power centers. This promises to make US occupation and creation of a democracy much more difficult.

"The government even came to my family and said, 'We'll give you land, money, weapons and salaries to reorganize your tribe, but your allegiance will be for the government, for the Baath Party and President Saddam Hussein,' " said Hassan, the sociology professor. "They were ready to give us a tribal seal and a stick and a shroud, and even a monthly salary."

Residents of Baghdad have increasingly begun identifying with their tribal groups, sometimes choosing the places they shop and eat by the owner's tribal affiliation. Jassim, whose village is about 25 miles north of Baghdad, said many members of his tribe live in the city but regularly return to the village for tribal ceremonies and to resolve disputes.

"If you have a car accident, you don't sort it out in the courts anymore," said Wamidh Nadmih, a professor of political science at Baghdad University. "Even if you live in the city, you sort it out in the tribe."

If you understand why tribalism is an obstacle to democratization and are interested in the prospects for democratization of the Iraq be sure to read the full article. Also, be sure to read Stanley Kurtz on the reasons why the creation of liberal democracy in Islamic lands is so problematic.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 22 08:24 PM  Mideast Iraq Human Nature
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
2003 January 21 Tuesday
The Cult and Lifestyle of Kim Jong-il of North Korea

Some objected to George W. Bush's inclusion of North Korea in an Axis of Evil.

Kim has a legendary weakness for women and parties. He's been married four time, coerced many actresses, and funded specially trained females in official "dancing teams," "happiness teams," and "satisfaction teams."

In the 1990s, during a mass starvation that took 2 million lives, Kim continued a costly complex in Pyongyang called the "Longevity Institute," dedicated to research in prolonging his life. He has a set of lavish palaces, including one at the summit of a mountain with an air strip and a system of tunnels that would awe a prairie dog. He enjoys an enormous floating amusement park with two water slides that can be towed to various family coastal resorts.

One couldn't maintain such a sumptuous lifestyle in the face of large scale poverty and suffering without a huge brutal Stalinist prison system to suppress any opposition.

Jan. 15 — In the far north of North Korea, in remote locations not far from the borders with China and Russia, a gulag not unlike the worst labor camps built by Mao and Stalin in the last century holds some 200,000 men, women and children accused of political crimes. A month-long investigation by NBC News, including interviews with former prisoners, guards and U.S. and South Korean officials, revealed the horrifying conditions these people must endure — conditions that shock even those North Koreans accustomed to the near-famine conditions of Kim Jong Il’s realm.

Any attempt to bribe the North Korean regime with aid in exchange for a reduction of its threat to the rest of the world amounts to a willingness to accept a horrible moral price: the bribery payments helps prop up a regime that inflicts suffering and death on a large fraction of its population.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 21 11:19 AM  Axis Of Evil
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
Democracy Requires A Supporting Set Of Beliefs

Fawaz A. Gerges says there can't be democracy without democrats.

Anti-Americanism in the Arab world has become a tool used by all political factions handicapping its politics and slowing any move toward democracy.

Clearly there is a general misunderstanding of the potential US role in furthering democracy among Arabs and Muslims as well as of the required conditions for it. On the one hand, Muslim liberals believe that the US possesses a magic wand that can easily open Muslim eyes to democratic paradise. On the other hand, Islamists and leftists more or less subscribe to a conspiracy theory holding Washington mainly responsible for the absence of democracy in the Arab world. Both positions indirectly imply that Arabs and Muslims aren't to blame for the dismal political and economic situation in which they live - that it's the fault of the US.

Neither the US nor any external power can do the work for Arabs and Muslims by exporting a well-tailored democratic model. Democracy can't be offered on a silver platter - nor can it be achieved without democrats.

Many of America's critics on the Left along with many in the Muslim countries hold that there is not democracy in the Muslim countries because America has prevented it from developing. The easiest way to refute that theory is to look at the Muslim countries that do not have a history of alliance with the United States (e.g. Syria, Algeria, Tunisia) or which used to ally with the US and which broke away (e.g. Iran) and ask whether countries with which the US was not involved became any more democratic than the rest. The countries which have not had close relations with America are just as undemocratic as those which have various forms of American involvement. Given that Muslim majority countries have such a wide range of relations (or lack thereof) with the United States and that they all have little or no democracy and little of the political culture that supports a democracy its hard to argue that the United States is the cause of this lack of democracy and lack of freedom.

The tendency to blame America for the lack of democracy in some parts of the world is part of a larger problem with reflexive anti-Americans: they imagine the United States to have more power and more influence than it possesses. The occasional dramatic demonstration of American power combined with a need to find fault with capitalism, democracy, secularism, or any other symbol that America represents leads to an exaggerated sense of what that power causes or prevents.

On the other hand, there are Panglossian democracy advocates who argue that democracy is so appealing and so successful that it is destined to spread and eliminate the cause of wars, political oppression, corruption, and various other political problems. They also overestimate American power while underestimating the influence of local conditions and of cultural characteristics and religious beliefs.

Be sure to read Stanley Kurtz on the reasons why the creation of liberal democracy in Islamic lands is so problematic.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 21 07:55 AM  Reconstruction and Reformation
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
Tolerance Makes Holland Terrorist Target

The reward for letting many Muslims immigrate is to become a center of terrorist activity.

The penetration of Al-Qaeda-connected operatives is greatest in those nations of the European Union that have liberal asylum and immigration laws, and those countries that maintain established and strong immigrant communities within well-defined geographic boundaries.

The problem has grown to such proportions that the Dutch internal security service, the Binnenlandse Veiligheidsdienst (BVD), stated in an official threat assessment that potential terrorists have singled out Holland - as a result of its lenient attitude to asylum and religious freedom. The BVD suggests the country is seen by potential terror groups as a safe haven where they can set up operational bases for furthering their cause. Dutch media has estimated the existence of several hundred terrorists on Dutch soil.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 21 07:23 AM  Immigration Terrorism
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
2003 January 20 Monday
Jemaah Islamiyah in South East Asia

The Janes.com site has an article describing a recent report by the Singaporean Ministry of Home Affairs on the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist group.

Of particular note are findings on the JI methods of recruitment and indoctrination. Potential candidates were first identified through religious study groups, where they would be introduced to discussion of Jihad and the world-wide plight of Muslim populations. Students demonstrating a particular interest in Jihadi theology were then engaged specifically over a period of around 18 months, and made to feel a sense of exclusivity by their recruiters.

Certain students were selected as JI members and gradually subjected to well- documented techniques of escalating commitment, the report states. They were first taught that anyone who left the group was an infidel, and that all Muslims who did not subscribe to Jihad were also infidels - a dogmatism designed to convince group members that even the killing of innocent Muslims was justified.

If you want to read the full report from the Singaporean Ministry of Home Affairs it is available as a zip of a PDF file entitled White Paper: The Jemaah Islamiyah Arrests And The Threat Of Terrorism. Unfortunately it is an image made of the actual published hardcopy document and so it is not possible to select text from it to post. Still, here are excerpts I typed in:

The relationship between the Al-Qaeda and the leaders of these indigenous South East Asian groups continued actively after the Soviet-Afghan War. Even while Taleban Afghanistan provided sanctuary for the Al-Qaeda to conduct terrorist training for members of such militant groups from all over the world, the Al-Qaeda leaders were already searching for new training bases elsewhere, including in South East Asia. They also secreted key operatives like Omar Al-Faruq into South East Asia. Several operatives acquired new identities indigenous to these countries. They acted as "sleepers" as well as advisers and resource persons who transferred funds and expert knowledge on terrorist tradecraft, including bomb-making, to the local groups linked to the Al-Qaeda. In addition, there are indications that some of the local leaders were co-opted into the Al-Qaeda organisation even as they continued to hold their positions in their indigenous organisations. Some analysts believe that the JI is the group which enjoys the closest relationship with the Al-Qaeda in the region.

In 1999, the JI regional leadership formed a secret caucus called the Rabitaul Mujahidin (Mujahidin Coalition) to bring together the key leaders of the various militant Islamic groups in the region. Representatives from the MILF, JI, various extremist groups active in Aceh and Sulawesi in Indonesia, as well as the Rohingyas (a predominately Muslim ethnic group in Myanmar), attended the Rabitaul Mujahidin's meeting in Kuala Lumpur in 2000.

Through this brotherhood of Afghanistan/Al-Qaeda "alumni", Al-Qaeda enjoys secure, reliable, and easy access into South East Asia. For instance, the two Al-Qaeda operatives who eventually crashed a plane into the Pentagon on 11 September 2001 stayed with Malaysian JI member Yazid Sufaat when they visited Malaysia in January 2000. Yazid and another Malaysian JI member Faiz Bafana are also believed to have provided assistance to Zacarias Moussaoui (the French national of Moroccan descent, currently indicted in the US for his involvement in the September 2001 attacks) when Zacarias visited Malaysia in September and October 2000.

The Singaporeans see a long-term threat from Al Qaeda's allies even if Al Qaeda is dismantled.

Al-Qaeda's links with the regional brotherhood of militant Islamic groups have given it a strong foothood in South East Asia. The US-led military campaign in Afghanistan may have disrupted its bases there, but Al-Qaeda is still able to launch terrorist attacks by tapping the network of militant groups in the region.As investigations into JI revealed, some Singapore Muslims have already been drawn into this web of terrorism.

Even if the US succeeds in dismantling Al-Qaeda, radical Muslim groups in the region will continue to pursue Al-Qaeda's agenda of global jihad. Some of these groups were started well before Al-Qaeda, and have stubbornly persisted over the years. With their radical agenda and their enhanced skills acquired from Al-Qaeda, these groups, if left unchecked, will pose a grave threat to the security of South East Asia for a long time to come.

Those who think that the movement to create radical Islamic states really only got started with the revolution that toppled the Shah might be surprised by the historical origins of JI:

Historically, JI traces its roots to the Darul Islam (DI or 'House of Islam), an organisation which emerged in the 1940s and which fought together with the Indonesian revolutionary army against Dutch colonial rule. After Indonesia gained independence in 1949, DI continued its armed and violent struggle for the establishment of an Islamic state in Indonesia.

The Indonesian government tried to suppress the group after independence but never completely succeeded. In 1985, several radical DI elements fled to Malaysia to avoid arrest by the Suharto government. They settled there, and later regrouped and renamed themselves Jemaah Islamiyah. They expanded the group's membership through recruitment in Singapore and Malaysia. After the fall of the Suharto regime in 1998, several of these JI leaders returned to Indonesia.

JI members are fairly intelligent and not poor or ignorant. Though I wish the quantified what was meant by the terms used to describe their intelligence:

Independent teams of psychologists have interviewed the 31 detainees. All except two were assessed to have average or above average or above average intelligence. About one-third had intelligence above the population norm, including two with superior level intelligence. These men fully understood that they were not dabbling in childish play. Certain items among their possessions, including topographical maps with detailed markings (showing observation posts and "kill zones"), hunting knivs (for knife-throwing and jungle survival), forged immigration rubber stamps and documents for subterfuge, detection-avoidance and bomb-making, showed that they were deadl serious about their actions. Over a prolonged period, they had systematically conducted reconnaissance of key targets and had repeatedly and consciously accepted instructions from foreigners such as "Sammy".

These men were not ignorant, destitute or disenfranchised outcasts. All 31 had received secular education (although one later pursued and obtained a degree in Islamic studies at a university in Malaysia). Like many of their counterparts in militant Islamic organisations in the region, they held normal, respectable jobs.

Terrorist organisations need members. As is the case with other Islamic terrorist organisations the recruitment into terrorism employs Islamic worship services and classes to steer intellectual development toward Jihad and terrorism. Then the enthusiasts are gradually identified and recruited.

The first stage of JI recruitment involved religious classes organised for a general mass audience. The potential JI recruit was usually recommended quite innocuously to Singapore JI leader and spiritual advisor Ibrahim Maidin's classes by their friends, relatives, and colleagues. The majority of JI members were introduced to JI in this way and many continued studying not only because of the search for religious knowledge but also the sense of Muslim fraternity and companionship. The JI teachers would employ the tactic of inserting into lectures quotations from the Quran and Hadith, discussion on jihad and the plight of suffering Muslims worldwide.

The second stage of JI's recruitment involved identifying those who were captivated enough to find out more about the plight of Muslims in other regions suh as the Malukas, Bosnia, and Mindanao. Ibrahim Maidin identified potential members from those who were curious enough to remain after classes to enquire further. He engaged these students' interest and compassion further and finally invited those he deemed suitable to join JI. This recruitment process would usually take about 18 months. The few who were selected as members were further made to feel a strong sense of exclusivity and self-esteem.

The members were taught that anyone who left the group was an infidel. On the other hand, those who remained enjoyed a sense of exclusivity and commitment in being in the in-group of a clandestine organisation. Secrecy, including the secrecy over a true knowledge of jihad, helped create a sense of sharing and empowerment vis-a-vis outsiders. Esoteric JI language or "JI-speak" was used as part of the indoctrination process. Code names for instance resulted in a strong sense of "in-group" superiority especially since JI members were said to be closer to Allah as they believed in the "truth" (JI doctrine); even Muslims who did not subscribe to militant jihad were seen as infidels. This dogmatism convinced many JI members that in the course of jihad, innocent lives (Muslim or non-Muslim) could be sacrificed.

The members get a feeling of higher status and empowerment. They also get a sure route to heaven (bold emphasis below mine):

The psychologist concluded that many JI members turned to leaders like Ibrahim Maidin as they wanted a "no fuss" path to heaven. They wanted to be convinced that in JI they had found "true Islam" and free themselves from endless searching as they found it stressful to be criticial, evaluative and rational. They believed they could not go wrong, as the JI leaders had quoted from holy texts. The psychological profile of the JI members (e.g. high compliance, low assertiveness, low in the questioning of religious values, and high levels of guilt and loneliness) suggested that the group of JI members was psychologically predisposed to indoctrination and control by the JI leaders and needed a sense of belonging without close attachments. Some where altruistic and wanted to help the ummah. Others wanted to accumulate "points" for a place in heaven.

There's no shortage of people in the world who fit that psychological profile. This isn't a problem if the religion they believe doesn't have pretensions of being destined to rule the whole planet and doesn't see killing of non-believers as a doctrinally correct way to achieve global rule. Unfortunately there are too many Muslim clerics throughout the world who are willing to encourage those who are predisposed to be attracted to that message.

the Council on Foreign Relations has a useful site called terrorismanswers.com that provides good brief overviews of a variety of terrorist organisations including Jemaah Islamiyah.

What is Jemaah Islamiyah?

A militant Islamist group active in several Southeast Asian countries that’s seeking to establish a Muslim fundamentalist state in the region. Jemaah Islamiyah (“Islamic Group” in Indonesian) is alleged to have perpetrated attacks and crafted plots against U.S. and Western targets in Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines. In the fall of 2002, an alleged member of the group, Imam Samudra, confessed to organizing the October 2002 bombing that killed nearly 200 people at a Bali nightclub. Governments in Southeast Asia have taken a range of approaches to the group, from aggressive law enforcement to ambivalence. Following the Bali bombing, the United States—which suspects the group of having ties to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network—designated Jemaah Islamiyah a foreign terrorist organization.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 20 09:09 PM  Terrorists WMD
Entry Permalink | Comments(2)
Al Qaeda Fighters Taking Over Pakistani Villages

Christian Science Monitor staff writer Scott Baldauf has written an interesting story on Al Qaeda fighters living in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province.

NAWA PASS, AFGHAN-PAKISTAN BORDER – Locals call Sabila "the lonely village."

"There are no children, no women, no relatives to celebrate Eid [the Islamic feast day] with," says Mohammad Nasser, a shopkeeper from Asadabad, Afghanistan, who has visited Sabila.

The village, just 10 miles across the border in Pakistan, is a collection of high-walled adobe compounds that house a brigade of 300 Al Qaeda fighters who are preparing to attack the Kabul government and US forces, say local Afghans and Afghan intelligence sources.

The article reports that representatives of the Northwest Frontier Province government (which is dominated by Islamists) come to visit the Al Qaeda fighters and that Pakistani border guards help them.

In light of the continuous reports of the welcome that Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters are receiving in Pakistan consider the Pakistani government's vigorous protests against the requirement to fingerprint all Pakistani males over the age of 16 who want to visit the United States.

Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, the Pakistani minister, said the decision to place his country on a list of nations whose male citizens must be fingerprinted, photographed, interviewed and registered was blatantly unfair in light of Pakistan's crucial role in combating Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

"Our effort is to get Pakistan out of the list," Mr. Kasuri said in a television interview before he was to fly to the United States today. He will attend a one-day meeting of foreign ministers from the 15 nations on the Security Council at the United Nations in New York on Monday before visiting Washington for talks with American officials.

If the Pakistani federal government is to be taken at its word that it is united in its desire to stop Al Qaeda from using Pakistan as a base of operations then one has to conclude that the federal level of government is not strong enough to control its own country well enough to prevent whole villages from being taken over by Al Qaeda. Of course alternative explanations are equally plausible. Its quite possible that Musharraf has only partial control of the federal government and that ISI and military officers and various civilian departments are pursuing conflicting interests with some in collusion with assorted terrorist groups including Al Qaeda.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 20 05:04 PM  Civilizations Clash Of
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
2003 January 19 Sunday
The Iraq Attack Should Not Be Delayed

There is an argument being made now by Hans Blix and all the usual suspects for letting the UN weapons inspections run on for months until more hotter "smoking gun" evidence is found against Saddam. The argument is not convincing for a number of reasons. Here are some reasons for attacking sooner rather than later:

  • North Korea is using our preoccupation with Iraq to embark on a threatening and dangerous course of action. The longer the Iraq issue hangs in the balance the longer the US have fewer resources to bring to bear on the North Korean threat.
  • Iraq's WMD programs are still on-going. Delay allows him time to make more WMD to use against invading troops.
  • Pressures will build in the Middle East against an attack the longer we wait
  • Inspectors can not find all the weapons and weapons labs. Only an invasion can disarm Saddam. He has already demonstrated an unwillingness to voluntarily give up his WMD capability.
  • An invasion that starts in the spring will put allied troops at a huge disadvantage against Saddam's biological and chemical weapons because the protective suits for the soldiers are too hot to use in weather that is the least bit warm. This was dramatically shown during a Pentagon press conference when one of the soldiers wearing the protective clothing fainted from the heat build-up the protective clothing causes.
  • The invasion of Iraq will be an intelligence bonanza in notable ways. The identities of most of Iraq's sources of technology for WMD development will be discovered. The types of technology discovered and the origins and methods of acquisition (e.g. names of brokers and smugglers) will point to where and how other regimes are acquiring the same kinds of technology. Also, Iraqi contacts with and assistance to assorted terrorist groups will be discovered and the details will be helpful in fighting those terrorist groups.
  • Firm control of Iraq would put the US into a stronger position from which to pressure Saudi Arabia on issues relating to terrorism. We wouldn't need Saudi bases. We wouldn't need to defend Saudi Arabia from Iraq. We wouldn't need Saudi oil.

Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution lays out arguments against delay in the Financial Times of London.

Some will argue that inspections are working. But disarmament is the goal, and it is not happening. Iraq has failed to account for large quantities of precursor chemicals, biological growth media and other dangerous technologies that we know it imported or produced at one time. This is not a US conclusion; it is a UN conclusion based on inspections in the 1990s as well as Iraq's seriously incomplete weapons declaration of last December 7. The US has done a poor job of reminding the international community about what we know, and how we know it, and must radically improve its diplomacy to develop a strong coalition for war in the coming weeks.

The Financial Times also reports on Turkey's reluctance to allow US troops to attack Iraq from Turkey.

Turkey's stated intention of giving "limited" support to any US-led war on Iraq means restricting the number of troops that Washington could deploy in a second front to overthrow Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi leader, officials and analysts said at the weekend.

If the United States had attacked Iraq last winter while the less Islamist government was still in power in Turkey it is very likely that the US could have struck a better deal with Turkey over Iraq. This demonstrates the danger of waiting: more new things can go wrong. Can we count on continued political support from Kuwait or Qatar if we delay for most of 2003? Delay gives domestic opponents in each Middle Eastern supporting country time to organize opposition and use various means (possibly including terrorism) to pressure their governments. The regional media are beating the drums against war. Also, there are signs that Jordan's King Abdullah may be backing out of allowing Jordan to be used as a jumping off point into Iraq..

Jordanian’s monarch Abdullah II has developed cold feet on his armed forces’ role in the US campaign against Iraq, a mere two weeks after Turkey held back permission for US forces to use its bases as staging posts for its invasion of Iraq from the north (as first revealed in DEBKA-Net-Weekly on Jan. 10) – halting the transfer to Turkish bases of American armored divisions, warplanes and naval units. Abdullah followed suit by backtracking on his previous consent for additional US forces to ship out to Jordan to build up the invasion force on the Western sector.

The United States does not have an infinite amount of military or diplomatic resources. The US needs to invade Iraq and get it over with so that attention can be shifted toward other pressing matters. Also, an invasion of Iraq should result in an intelligence bonanza as Iraqi intelligence agents with links to regional terrorist groups are rounded up and interrogated.

By the way, the need to attack simultaneously into all of Iraq's regions at the outset is illustrated by a StrategyPage.com map of Iraqi missile ranges from three different launching points.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 19 03:13 PM  US Foreign Preemption, Deterrence, Containment
Entry Permalink | Comments(2)
Nuclear Weapons Development Evidence Found In Iraq

UN weapons inspectors have found documents in the homes of two Iraqi scientists showing evidence of on-going nuclear weapons development work.

Although UN officials say that they have no comment to make at present on the documents found at the scientists' homes, a Western diplomat closely involved with the investigation into Saddam's nuclear capability yesterday confirmed that the documents showed that Iraq was still attempting to develop its own atomic weapons.

"These are not old documents. They are new and they relate to on-going work taking place in Iraq to develop nuclear weapons," the official told The Telegraph.

Lots of obvious questions come to mind. Which western intelligence agency tipped the UN inspectors as to the home addresses of these nuclear scientists? Also, why couldn't Saddam Hussein find a better place to hide the documents? Couldn't he at least have had some specialists construct a well-hidden compartment for the documents under each home that would have eluded detection? It is surprising just how easy it was to find those documents. If the Iraqi scientists and officials had more enthusiasm for their jobs and weren't living in fear of Saddam my guess is that they would have shown more initiative and ingenuity in developing ways to hide the evidence of WMD development.

If this Daily Telegraph report is accurate then George W. Bush now has the sort of smoking gun evidence that proves Saddam Hussein's regime is trying to develop nuclear weapons. That the Iraqi regime is trying to do development of WMD should be glaringly obvious to anyone who wants to examine the other forms of evidence and the historical record and nature of the Iraqi regime. The use of UN inspection teams is, depending on your point of view, for the purpose of either proving the obvious to fools or to allow those who oppose the overthrow of Saddam's regime some hope of preventin its overthrow.

The writer of the Daily Telegraph report above, Con Coughlin, is the author of a recently released biography of Saddam Hussein Saddam: King of Terror.

The scientists whose houses were searched are being asked by the UN inspectors to leave the country for interviews. They are vehemently refusing to leave

Physicist Faleh Hassan Al Basri said a female American inspector told him the United Nations could help expedite departure for him and his wife, who has diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney stones.

"Never, never, never ever," Al Basri told reporters. "Even if I have instruction from my government, I would not leave my country."

They are strongly motivated to stay in Iraq because they do not want their entire families out to the level of 6th cousins killed by Saddam in retribution.

Iraqi exiles told London's Sunday Times that scientists with vital information for the UN inspectors had been forced by the Saddam regime to produce the names of scores of relatives to intimidate them against giving evidence.

The exiles claimed Saddam's secret police had formed what was called a "Six List" of family members – meaning that everyone up to and including sixth cousins would be killed if key information was revealed.

In Iraq's close-knot family structure, that meant hundreds of deaths.

The high level of marriage to relatives characteristic of Arab societies makes threats against extended family members especially effective. Cousin marriage and tribal ties will also make the creation of a liberal democracy in Iraq somewhere between extremely difficult and impossible.

Update: This latest report combined with Colin Powell's comments to a German newspaper makes clear that the war is still scheduled for February 2003.

"We believe a persuasive case will be there at the end of the month that Iraq is not co-operating," Mr. Powell said in an interview with Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung, according to a State Department transcript.

Update II: Its clear from this New York Times report that the Bush Administration does not even believe its necessary to prove that Iraq possesses or is developing WMD. The Bush Administration party line is that if Saddam Hussein isn't actively cooperating with UNMOVIC and IAEA then its time to start a war to remove him from power.

Top officials of the Bush administration today rejected calls for a prolonged inspections process in Iraq, asserting that the moment of decision was fast approaching on whether Saddam Hussein's regime had complied with the disarmament demands from the United Nations Security Council.

How long will the Bush Administration be willing to discuss the matter with the UN Security Council? Will they ask for a quick vote and then attack if the UNSC doesn't respond quickly? Or will they let talks go on for a few weeks while they wait for all the aircraft carriers to arrive in theater?

By Randall Parker 2003 January 19 11:57 AM  Inspections and Sanctions
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
Cricket Captain To Jail If He Doesn't Shake Mugabe's Hand?

It is against the law in Zimbabwe to show any disrespect for President Robert Mugabe. But the England cricket team does not want to be used by Mugabe to help boost his image.

If he refuses Mugabe a shake hand, Nasser Hussian faces jail. It is a no-win situation for the England Captain Nasser Hussain. He is under threat of imprisonment if he refuses to shake hands with President Robert Mugabe at next month's World Cup match in Harare.

While, he has to obey the dicta from Tim Lamb, chief executive of the England Cricket Board. He had announced last month that the team would not play any part in "ceremonial activities" that could be used to boost Mr Mugabe's position.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 19 11:11 AM 
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
2003 January 16 Thursday
North Korea, China, and the United States

The press is full of reports about the North Korean nuclear weapons development efforts with lots of statements from government leaders and off-the-record comments of diplomats. But lets keep track of the basics: Which country is willing to do what in order to either restrain or bring an end to the North Korean regime? China is not helping.

Diplomats say the United States would like China, which provides Pyongyang with cheap grain and oil, to put more pressure on North Korea to drop its nuclear ambitions and avoid provocative moves such as missile testing.

China, which has taken a relatively balanced approach to the nuclear dilemma, has been pressing the two sides to negotiate. But two days after China invited the two sides to meet in Beijing, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said on Thursday there had been no takers.

What is a "balanced approach"? Reporters ought to be more careful about endorsing the spin that diplomats place on their position. China's idea of balance is to figure out how to block US moves to pressure the North Koreans to stop WMD development and WMD export while also working to keep US markets open to Chinese exports.

China does not want the matter to go to the United Nations.

Administration officials privately complain that regional players, with the possible exception of Japan, have been too wobbly in dealing with the crisis. China has been a roadblock in bringing the matter to the U.N. Security Council, officials said.

Bush has the choice of carrots or sticks. Carrots aren't going to work. Bush Administration doesn't want to try bribing the North Koreans because, as past events have already demonstrated, Kim Jong-il won't stay bought off and permanently stop WMD development. Kim will not accept a bribery deal that includes sufficiently intrusive inspections to allow verification that he's sticking to the deal. The Bush offer of food and fuel should not be seen as a formal attempt at bribery in exchange for a halt to North Korean WMD development. Bush is just trying to buy himself time to deal with Iraq.

This brings us to sticks. China supplies North Korea with a significant portion of its food and fuel. The Chinese leaders have compelling reasons to keep the North Korean regime in power. China doesn't see North Korea's nuclear ambitions as a threat to Chinese interests. At the same time North Korea is a buffer that separates China from a freer and highly affluent South Korea. Plus, much of North Korea's export of weaponry serves China's long-term interests in the Middle East. So the potentially most effective non-military stick that could be used against North Korea is not available. The US could still try to more thoroughly cut off non-Chinese supplies to the North Korean regime but Bush won't seriously consider doing that as long as Iraq is unresolved.

The US certainly is not going to take military action against the North Korean regime while Iraq's fate hangs in the balance. So the military option is off the table. Even once Saddam's regime has been consigned to the dustbin of history Bush still won't want to risk an attack on North Korea because the casualties and damage to the South Korean economy would be enormous.

Without the active support of China the United States will be hard put to force a change in the behavior of the North Korean regime. Therefore expect little action from the United States for now. The only way this crisis could escalate in the short term would be if the North Koreans miscalculated and took some form of military action. The question facing the Bush Administration is just how far is it willing to go to apply pressure to China (e.g. by gradually raising restrictions on exports from China) to make China in turn apply pressure to North Korea. We are not going to find out the answer to that question as long as Saddam Hussein remains in power in Iraq.

Kim Jong-il clearly realises the extent to which he has maneuvering room due to the heavy diplomatic and military involvement of the United States in the Middle East. He's using this opening to use rhetoric to pressure the United States to placate him while he pushes along his WMD development projects as fast as possible. The most immediate consequence of Kim Jong-il's increasingly threatening actions and rhetoric may well be to stiffen Bush's resolve to take out Saddam Hussein's regime sooner rather than later in order to free up US military assets and to get past the need to constantly do diplomatic work on issues relating to Iraq. It can't do that as long as Saddam Hussein is in power. Tony Blair is under considerable domestic pressure to try to delay the attack on Iraq until the inspectors find direct evidence of WMD in Iraq. Under different circumstances Bush might be tempted to try to help Blair by delaying the attack for many months. But the need to move on to dealing with North Korea may convince Bush that he can't let the Iraq situation go on for most of 2003.

There is a lesson here: the inability of the US military to fight and win two regional conflicts at the same time has provided an opening for the North Korean regime to accelerate its WMD development projects and to try to extract diplomatic and financial concessions from the United States and from countries in the region. The US either needs to preempt potential threats at much earlier stages or it needs a bigger military.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 16 01:36 PM  Axis Of Evil
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
2003 January 15 Wednesday
Al Qaeda Adapting To US Military Tactics

Rowan Scarborough reports on ways Al Qaeda is nullifying some of the technological advantage of the US military.

   "At night, when these groups heard a Predator or AC-130 coming, they pulled a blanket over themselves to disappear from the night-vision screen," Maj. Gen. Franklin L. Hagenbeck, who led U.S. forces in Afghanistan, told the Army's Field Artillery magazine. "They used low tech to beat high tech."
   •Al Qaeda leaders greatly reduced their time on telephones and radios after realizing the United States' unmatched technical ability to monitor voice communications. During the summer, the military found a large cache of brand-new satellite phones — unused. This signaled that al Qaeda fighters have found other ways to talk without being detected, a Pentagon official said.

Steven Biddle has written more extensively on how Al Qaeda has adapted to and reduced the efficacy of US military weapons systems and tactics.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 15 11:17 AM  Military War, Rumours Of War
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
Kay Hymonitz On Feminists And Islamic Women

Kay Hymonitz examines why the three major schools of feminism are failing to speak out more forcefully against Islamic oppression of women.

That this combination of sentimental victimhood, postcolonial relativism, and utopian overreaching has caused feminism to suffer so profound a loss of moral and political imagination that it cannot speak against the brutalization of Islamic women is an incalculable loss to women and to men. The great contribution of Western feminism was to expand the definition of human dignity and freedom. It insisted that all human beings were worthy of liberty. Feminists now have the opportunity to make that claim on behalf of women who in their oppression have not so much as imagined that its promise could include them, too. At its best, feminism has stood for a rich idea of personal choice in shaping a meaningful life, one that respects not only the woman who wants to crash through glass ceilings but also the one who wants to stay home with her children and bake cookies or to wear a veil and fast on Ramadan. Why shouldn’t feminists want to shout out their own profound discovery for the world to hear?

Perhaps, finally, because to do so would be to acknowledge the freedom they themselves enjoy, thanks to Western ideals and institutions. Not only would such an admission force them to give up their own simmering resentments; it would be bad for business. The truth is that the free institutions—an independent judiciary, a free press, open elections—that protect the rights of women are the same ones that protect the rights of men. The separation of church and state that would allow women to escape the burqa would also free men from having their hands amputated for theft. The education system that would teach girls to read would also empower millions of illiterate boys. The capitalist economies that bring clean water, cheap clothes, and washing machines that change the lives of women are the same ones that lead to healthier, freer men. In other words, to address the problems of Muslim women honestly, feminists would have to recognize that free men and women need the same things—and that those are things that they themselves already have. And recognizing that would mean an end to feminism as we know it.

Western intellectual factions such as those described by this article effectively reduce the ability of the United States to reform Iraq. Far too many of the intellectuals of America have embraced ideological views that make them hostile toward any effort to spread core values that make a liberal democracy possible.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 15 02:56 AM  Cultural Wars Western
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
Stanley Kurtz: After the War

In an important essay Stanley Kurtz describes in considerable detail why the creation of a functioning sustainable democracy and effective state in Iraq is enormously more difficult than it was in Japan after World War II. He details factors from Japan's history that made possible a bureaucractic state with a low level of corruption and describes all the helpful factors that were present in Japan that are absent from Iraq.

Nothing comparable to Japan’s liberal intellectual tradition and modern, public-spirited bureaucratic class exists in Iraq or in any Arab country. The influence of fundamentalist Islam in the Arab world reflects a culture deeply inhospitable to democratic and liberal principles. In a perceptive recent National Interest article, Adam Garfinkle explains that, whereas democracies take as bedrock assumptions that political authority lies with society, that the majority rules, and that citizens are equal before the law, Arab societies vest political authority in the Qur’an, rest decision-making on consensus, and understand law and authority as essentially hierarchical. They lack such essential cultural preconditions for democracy as the idea of a loyal opposition or the rule of law or the separation of church and state. No surprise, given their nonmodern political beliefs, that not one Arab Muslim country qualifies as “free” in Freedom House’s annual survey, and that a disproportionate number of Arab regimes qualify in the “worst of the worst” category—the least free and least democratic on earth.

Arab Muslim societies remain un-modern and un-democratic not just in their attitudes toward political authority and law but also in their social organization. For men and women living within a universe where tribal identity, the duties and benefits of extended kinship networks, and conceptions of collective honor organize the relations of everyday life, democratic principles will be incomprehensible.

And therefore democracy would be impossible.

This is a very important essay and I strongly urge you all to read it in full. Kurtz views the British model of educating an English language liberal-minded elite in India as the appropriate historical parallel for what would be required to liberalize Iraq. He is not optimistic that such an attempt would succeed and has serious doubts (which I fully share) that the United States would have the patience to spend the number of decades required to create a liberal elite in Iraq.

Update: To read more on why Kurtz sees tribal family structure and cousin marriage as germane to why the Middle East is such infertile ground for the spread of liberal democracy be sure to read "Consanguinity prevents Middle Eastern political development".

Update II: If Stanley Kurtz is correct (and I believe he is) then US intervention in Iraq to create a liberal democratic elite would require decades of sustained direct control of educational institutions and of the recruitment process into the bureaucracies to yield the desired outcome. Therefore the odds of the development of a liberal democracy in Middle Eastern countries that are not subject to US conquest and occupation are somewhere between slim to none. This presents an enormous problem for the United States and to the West as a whole. Many commentators are calling for the development of democracy in the Middle East as the solution that will spur economic development, increase freedom, and, as an expected consequence, decrease resentment and anger toward the West among Middle Eastern Muslim populations. But that approach has tough odds of even being tested as a solution anywhere outside of Iraq (since to test it requires direct control of key institutions ala the British Raj in India). In Iraq the attempt to establish a liberal secular democratic state will take decades to play out and then only if the US has the patience and the wisdom to pursue and sustain that course (and it is unlikely that it does). Democracy is not a short or medium term solution for the problems of Middle Eastern terrorism and WMD proliferation.

Update III: Be sure to read Stanley Kurtz's follow-up article from the April 2003 issue of Policy Review: Democratic Imperialism: A Blueprint.

The British Raj does indeed represent a useful countermodel for any American venture in Iraq. Yet the experience of India under the British was by no means entirely negative. In fact, the very movement of Indians to free themselves from British rule was a product of British influence. Above all, the British cultural legacy explains why post-independence India took a democratic turn. Nor was the emergence of Indian democracy an entirely unintended consequence of British imperial domination. Despite the many problems and conflicts of empire, several critical threads of British imperial policy were intended to bring about eventual democratic self-rule in India. When India finally did attain independence and democracy, it was in no small part due to those policies.

The problem is that the development of liberal democratic values takes a lot of time but the Bush Administration and a large number of optimistic advocates of democracy in Iraq (including but not limited to most of the prominent neoconservative hawks) are acting as if everyone holds the set of values that are needed to support a democracy. This belief in the universal appeal of democracy is dangerously naive.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 15 12:15 AM  Reconstruction and Reformation
Entry Permalink | Comments(3)
2003 January 13 Monday
Turkey Being Tempted By Iran, Saudis, Others?

Debka says Turkey is shopping around for a better deal on Iraq's fate from other countries.

DEBKAfile’s sources in the Persian Gulf reveal that the question the Turkish prime minister privately posed Arab leaders, including Saddam Hussein, was this: Was Turkey’s unwavering resistance to Washington’s demands worth a comparable level of aid to that pledged by the US for taking part in the war, namely $4-6 billion? The Turkish prime minister topped his question up by asking for a further $4-5 billion, to be allocated over the next two to three years.

According to our Gulf sources, Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed in principle to put up or guarantee the money. Saddam’s reply is unknown.

Will Turkey turn down the US request for use of Turkish bases in an attack on Iraq? Its possible. But if Turkey does so and the US goes thru with the attack anyhow then Turkey will be left with no US aid. Will the Iranians and Saudis still give Turkey aid to make up for it even if the Turkish refusal to help the US doesn't prevent the US from removing Saddam from power? After such an attack the US would make sure that Turkey had no influence in northern Iraq and might go thru with creating a highly autonomous Kurdish state loosely confederated with the Iraqi central government in Baghdad. The US can play hardball during negotiations with the Turks by threatening to do that.

Consider the larger context. Debka's been claiming for a few months now that hundreds of Iraqi nuclear scientists are at work in an underground Libyan complex at Kufra Oasis. Debka also claims that North Korean nuclear weapons development equipment has been shipped to Iran where it is making enriched materials for nuclear weapons manufacture for Iran and North Korea. Are these rumours plausible? Well, more mainstream sources are reporting that Pakistan and North Korea have cooperated in nuclear weapons development. The Washington Post reported in November 2002 that North Korea and Pakistan were doing nuclear technology exchanges as recently as the summer of 2002.

While the administration has taken a hard line against North Korea, demanding that it verify it has dismantled its efforts to enrich uranium before U.S. officials engage in further discussions with the communist state, it has taken a much softer tack against Pakistan. Publicly, officials have suggested that if Pakistan, a key ally in the war against terrorism, had provided help to North Korea in the past, it changed its behavior after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington.

But in reality, U.S. officials say, the administration believes Pakistan continued to trade nuclear technical knowledge, designs and possibly material in exchange for missile parts up until this summer, when the administration concluded North Korea was secretly trying to construct a facility to enrich uranium for a bomb. Administration officials would not discuss the extent of the evidence, but they said it involves highly suspicious shipping trade.

Also, Russia of course has been selling nuclear technology to Iran and Iran can afford to pay because it produces a lot of oil. In turn that means Iran has additional technology to use to trade with other countries which are also pursuing nuclear weapons development. The countries that are trying to develop WMD have plenty of incentives to cooperate with each other to trade technology and materials.. At the same time, they have incentives to try to protect each other from US reprisals. Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other regimes have motives to offer Turkey money to try to protect Iraq from a US attack.

Another piece of context is the latest Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions, 1 July Through 31 December 2001. See, for instance, the Iran section of that report.

China is completing assistance on two Iranian nuclear projects: a small research reactor and a zirconium production facility at Esfahan that will enable Iran to produce cladding for reactor fuel.[1] As a party to the NPT, Iran is required to accept IAEA safeguards on its nuclear material. The IAEA's Additional Protocol requires states to declare production of zirconium fuel cladding and gives the IAEA the right of access to resolve questions or inconsistencies related to the declarations, but Iran has made no moves to bring the Additional Protocol into force. Zirconium production, other than production of fuel cladding, is not subject to declaration or inspection.

Ballistic missile–related cooperation from entities in the former Soviet Union, North Korea, and China over the years has helped Iran move toward its goal of becoming self-sufficient in the production of ballistic missiles. Such assistance during the reporting period has included equipment, technology, and expertise. Iran, already producing Scud short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs), is in the late stages of developing the Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM). In addition, Iran publicly has acknowledged the development of follow-on versions of the Shahab-3. It originally said that another version, the Shahab-4, is a more capable ballistic missile than its predecessor but later characterized it as solely a space launch vehicle with no military applications. Iran's Defense Minister has also publicly mentioned a "Shahab-5." Such statements strongly suggest that Tehran intends to develop a longer-range ballistic missile capability.

China does not want to see the North Korean regime fall. China doesn't see North Korean nuclear missiles as a threat to China. At the same time, China is helping some of the same regimes do nuclear proliferation that North Korea is helping. There are more connections. Saudi Arabia is rumoured to have funded Pakistan's nuclear weapons development program. Jim Hoagland thinks Pakistan might be willing to sell nukes to Saudi Arabia.

A bunch of regimes are trying to develop weapons of mass destruction so that they can be free of US pressure and so that they can then in turn pursue their own strategies to apply pressure for their own ends. Given enough regimes in possession of nuclear weapons and with some of those regimes willing to sell nuclear technology and perhaps even nuclear weapons the ability to trace the clandestine movement of nuclear weapons would become impossible. The ability to even identify the origin of a nuclear weapon used against a Western city would become highly doubtful.

The Trends section of the latest CIA WMD proliferation report summarizes all the ominous trends that are causing the accelerating failure of efforts to block WMD proliferation. (my emphases added)

Some key WMD and missile programs are becoming more advanced and effective as they mature and as countries of concern become more aggressive in pursuing a range of technologies.

Key WMD proliferators are taking steps toward becoming more self-sufficient. They are better able to shield their programs against interdiction and disruption. To this end, they are seeking greater indigenous capabilities, including more advanced production technologies. Such domestic capabilities may not always be a good substitute for foreign imports, but in many cases they may prove to be adequate.

Furthermore, many WMD and missile proliferators are becoming more adept at denial and deception efforts, including hiding transactions and using dual-use technology and underground facilities in indigenous developments. For example, they are pursuing dual-use materials and technologies with WMD as well as legitimate applications that can be incorporated into commercial facilities and converted to WMD uses fairly quickly.

Under economic pressure, the need for lucrative foreign sales is a strong incentive to supplying entities, particularly in the case of dual-use items and technology. Weak export-control enforcement in some countries such as Russia and China encourages this trend. Furthermore, some traditional recipients of WMD and missile-related technology, particularly maturing state-sponsored programs, are beginning to supply technology and expertise to other proliferators. Such "secondary proliferators" as India, Iran, North Korea, and Pakistan are not members of control regimes like the Nuclear Suppliers Group, Australia Group, and Missile Technology Control Regime and do not adhere to their export constraints.

Nuclear, chemical, biological, and ballistic missile-applicable technology and expertise continues to gradually disperse worldwide. Nuclear fuel-cycle and weapons-related technologies have spread to the point that from a technical standpoint, additional proliferators may be able to produce sufficient fissile material for a weapon and to develop the capability to weaponize it. On the other hand, important political disincentives to nuclear weapon development will remain in place for most countries. As developing countries expand their chemical industries into pesticide production, they also are advancing toward at least latent chemical warfare capability. Likewise, additional nonstate actors are becoming more interested in the potential of using biological warfare as a relatively inexpensive way to inflict serious damage. The proliferation of increasingly capable ballistic missile designs and technology poses the threat of more countries of concern eventually breaching the 1,000-km range of SRBMs and posing greater risks to regional stability.

Finally, most countries of proliferation concern are continuing efforts to develop indigenous designs for advanced conventional weapons and to expand production capabilities, although most of these programs usually rely heavily on foreign technical assistance. Many of these countries -- unable to obtain newer or more advanced arms -- are pursuing upgrade programs for existing inventories. In addition, some of the recipient countries, such as Iran, have in turn become suppliers to those countries and entities that are unable to purchase weapons elsewhere.

All of these events and trends are driving the debate in Washington DC about nuclear proliferation. In the face of copious quantities of evidence to the contrary some such as Jon Wolfsthal of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace still think that traditional methods of trying to prevent WMD proliferation can work. However, the other school of thought argues that only military force can prevent any number of additional monsters from escaping from Pandora's Box.

According to Wolfsthal, two schools of thought currently dominate the Washington discussion of weapons proliferation.

The first says that non-proliferation efforts have failed and the number of states developing non-conventional weapons is out of control. Proponents of this view argue that the best hope is to try and eliminate dangerous regimes that are pursuing WMD, possibly through military force.

The more traditional view, held by Wolfsthal and others, is that while non-proliferation efforts are not perfect, they have succeeded in many cases.

The spread of knowledge and dual use technologies combined with greater coordination between WMD developers and the financial wherewithal provided by oil money are combining to make the traditional tools for WMD proliferation control woefully inadequate. If Gulf states really are trying to buy Turkey's outright opposition to a US attack on Iraq then that is another demonstration of just how high the stakes have gotten. There is no way for the United States to defend itself to prevent terrorist WMD attacks if WMD become easily available to terrorist groups. Can we trust Iran, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and other countries to never turn over WMD to terrorist groups? Can we trust that no internal faction within one of those countries won't just steal WMD and hand them over to terrorist groups? Can we trust that North Korea won't become Nuclear KMark selling nuclear weapons to the highest bidder or that Pakistan will not sell nuclear weapons to Saudi Arabia? I do not believe our cities will be safe if WMD proliferation continues and I do not believe that anything short of military force can prevent the spread of WMD. Technological trends and political trends (eg the collapse of the Soviet Union) are shifting the playing field in favor of the proliferators. More powerful counterbalancing tools are needed.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 13 08:54 PM  US Foreign Preemption, Deterrence, Containment
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
2003 January 12 Sunday
Terrorist Sympathizers and Illegal Aliens

These 1000 identified Bin Laden sympathizers in America are certainly only a subset of those who are in the United States.

The FBI has identified as many as 1,000 Osama bin Laden sympathizers living in 30 cities in the United States, Justice Department sources told ABCNEWS.

The FBI's surveillance capabilities are quite limited. They have to get wiretap authority to be able to listen to phone conversations and they need to find information to point them in the direction of any particular suspect. Smart terrorists will use encrypted e-mail messages on the internet and so phone is not a guaranteed way to track their communications anyhow. There are too many people for the FBI to watch in order to be able to identify more than a small fraction of Al Qaeda sympathizers. Plus, they have the additional bottleneck of not having enough people to listen in on foreign language conversations. Therefore their 1000 known sympathizers surely only scratches the surface.

The best reports I've seen about what Muslims in America say when they think they are talking to other Muslims come from Rod Dreher. Dreher knows Arab Christians who are mistaken for Muslims by Muslims in America. He's reported a number of times what these Arab Christians hear. As Rod Dreher has reported, Arab Muslims in America are widely sympathetic to Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden.

On the afternoon of September 11, I ran into an immigrant Arab Christian friend on a street in our neighborhood that is home to a number of Muslim-owned businesses. "Listen," he told me. "If you ask these Muslims in these shops what they think of the attack, they will tell you it’s horrible. But that’s not what’s in their hearts. I’m telling you what I know."

After a prayer service for the dead at our Maronite church (which lost six parishioners in the calamity), I talked to some young Arab immigrants about their fears of anti-Arab pogroms. One of the young men had just been deported from our great ally, Saudi Arabia, because he had been discovered praying to Jesus in a private house. These people argued that Americans shouldn’t stereotype Muslims. They said that they were friends with many good Muslims here.

"Tell me," I asked them, "do these Muslims donate money to the terrorist cause?" All admitted that yes, many of their friends do.

I had been taking notes, and one of the group asked me not to use their last names. They were afraid of being physically harmed if their pro-American views became known in their predominantly Muslim neighborhood.

There are neighborhoods in America where being pro-American is bad for your health. Think about that.

More from Dreher's Arab Christian friends in New York:

American Muslims understandably feel pressured now to show the non-Muslim majority that they are no threat, and well-meaning dolts like Oprah are key to this effort. Watching Oprah's "Islam 101" program, I thought of the Lebanese Catholics at my church, who stopped me after a prayer service for the World Trade Center dead to talk, on the record, about the anti-Arab persecution they feared coming.

They all said they knew plenty of Muslims here in New York who were peace-loving people, and that it would be wrong to think ill of them. I asked these Arab Christians if these Muslims supported terrorist organizations, monetarily or otherwise. Every one of them said yes, sheepishly. After the interview was over, the group asked me not to use their last names. They were afraid of being physically attacked by Muslims in their neighborhoods this, for standing up for America in print.

"That's amazing," I said to them. "You are all Christians living in the United States of America, yet you are afraid to have your names attached to patriotic statements, out of fear that your Muslim neighbors, the same people you are defending to me, will attack you. What does that say about the reality of Islam in America?"

They did not answer me, because they had no answer. Think about that next time you're told that Islam is a religion of peace. There's more to the story than what Oprah is telling you.

Dreher reports further on what Muslims in New York say when they think they are talking to fellow Muslims:

As it happens, I ran into a Lebanese Christian friend on the way to work today, and he was depressed by the latest news. He said to me, "America doesn't know who her real friends are. If it weren't for the state of Israel, the Muslims would cut every Christian throat in the Middle East." He talked about how right here in New York, he is constantly hearing Muslim merchants and taxi drivers talking in Arabic about what an evil place America is, what a fine thing 9/11 was, and how much more America must be made to suffer, etc.. "American people have no idea what they're facing," he lamented.

That such people are allowed to immigrate to America is the height of folly.

Why don't our academic intellectuals recognise the threat? Dreher relays the views of Dhimmitude historian Bat Ye'or

DHIMMITUDE IN AMERICA: [Rod Dreher] I went to hear historian Bat Ye'or speak today. She's on a short tour of the U.S., speaking about jihad and dhimmitude, which is the oppressive, second-class state under which Jews and Christians conquered by Islamic forces are forced to live. Bat Ye'or, who has been addressing groups on American college campuses, said she was so stunned by what she'd observed at universities that she decided to alter her remarks. "We are facing today a jihad against America," she said, because "America is a fortress of Judeo-Christian values, which Europe is no more." The jihadis intend to Islamize the West, but they are not only doing it by violent means. She said that they are doing so by splitting America from Europe, and by using multiculturalism and Western notions of tolerance to immobilize resistance to its demands. In Bat Ye'or's view, universities and naive Jewish and Christian religious leaders are carrying water for Islamists, as is the political Left ("The leftists were educated with hate of America and rejection of Judeo-Christian values," she said, and this perversely leads them to view Islamofascism uncritically). "We have to understand the cultural war we're in," Bat Ye'or said. "The war is not only a terrorist war, but a cultural war on our values and on our integrity."

Some Muslims in America are naturalized. Others were born here either to Muslim parents or they converted. Still others are here under various visas, work permits, or with various forms of permanent resident status. But then there are the illegals. You might expect that at least the illegals could be rounded up and deported. You might expect that in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001 where some of the attackers were illegal aliens that the Immigration and Naturalization Service would be all cranked up to deport illegals. Marisa Taylor has written a great article for the San Diego Union-Tribune on illegal immigrants and INS activities to round them up. If you expected a hypervigilant INS you would be wrong.

About 6,000 fugitives are thought to be in San Diego County. But between October 2001 and the end of September 2002, only 68 were located. Fifty-one of them walked into INS offices and surrendered voluntarily. Officers found the other 17.

A similar situation apparently exists in San Francisco where the Union-Tribune was able to obtain some numbers before the INS clamped down on information. Of 18,576 fugitives targeted for capture, only about 185 have been found since May.

"Everyone assumes after 9/11 that we're looking after the security of this country," one of the San Diego officers said. "The truth is nothing has changed."

Go read the full previous article. The scope of the problem is staggering. The INS San Diego district had 350 illegals to round up who came from countries which Al Qaeda terrorist come from and they have caught only 18. Nationally the rate at which the INS rounds up illegals from Muslim countries is not fast enough to decrease their numbers. Also, keep in mind that most of the numbers the INS supplies are for illegals they know about. Given that the INS is trying to deport 300,000 total while there are at least 7 million illegals in the United States it seems likely that while the INS is trying to round up 6000 from Muslim countries that is just a small fraction of the number of people from Muslim countries who are here illegally.

Note that INS doesn't want the public to know how its various field offices are doing in rounding up illegals. When the Union-Tribune started calling around for information its likely that higher-ups in the INS heard about it and ordered field offices to stop answering the reporter's questions. The American government doesn't want the public to know how ineffectual it is in trying to enforce immigration law and in reducing the threat of terrorism.

An INS spokesman defends the idea that terrorists will voluntarily register their whereabouts with authorities.

Arcaute said those arrested had violated immigration laws or were wanted by law-enforcement officials.

He rejected arguments by critics that terrorists would not voluntarily register with federal authorities. "Let me just remind you that the people who committed the terrible acts on 9/11 were registered," he said, referring to the fact that many of the hijackers had student visas.

Arcaute seems to be ignoring the fact that some of the 9/11 hijackers had overstayed their visas and were therefore illegals.

Several of the hijackers (the four or five pilots) had been in the United States for extended periods, although none was a legal permanent resident. Some had received more than one temporary visa, most of which were currently valid on September 11, but at least three of them had fallen out of status and were, therefore, in the United States illegally.

There are indications that the identity of at least some of the hijackers may have been assumed based on stolen identity documents. Given the fact that all of them died in the terrorist attack, their true identities and their nationalities may never be verified.

The skyjackers had obtained U.S. identification that was used for boarding flights in the form of Florida, Virginia and New Jersey driver’s licenses/ID cards. One of the terrorists, Mohamed Atta, was detained in Florida for driving without a license, but subsequently obtained one. Thirteen of the terrorists had Florida driver’s licenses or ID cards, seven had Virginia driver’s licenses and two had New Jersey driver’s licenses.

In the probe of the attack, numerous other people with potential connections to the hijackings have been detained for immigration violations.

Suppose the US government seriously wanted to remove the threat posed by hostile Muslims on American soil. Just what would be required? All known illegals would have to be tracked down and deported. But that really only solves a small part of the problem. The identify of most illegals isn't even known. When only 300,000 out of 7 million illegals are known well enough to have deportation orders against them the low rate of rounding up people for deportation looks even more absurdly inadequate. But the illegals are only part of the problem. There are also visitors and permanent resident aliens who are hostiles. Plus, there are even US citizen Muslim hostiles. Since the latter are most difficult to deport (in theory US citizenship can be revoked if it was granted under false pretenses so its not entirely impossible) or monitor the least the government could do would be to stop granting citizenship to Muslims who apply for it. Of course, that sort of action is quite beyond the pale of American poltiical discourse. We are supposed to believe the fiction that Islam in a religion of peace in this happy multicultural world.

All of this does not bode well for the future safety of American cities. The US government can't watch all possible hostiles. The number of federal agents needed to do that would be multiples more than the number of federal law enforcement agents that are working today. While the US government is watching only a fraction of the hostiles it only takes a small mumber of hostiles to cause enormous damage. A small group in possession of chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons could cause tens or hundreds of thousands or even millions of deaths.

It is clear now that the events of September 11, 2001 were not sufficiently transformative in the way that the events of December 7, 1941 were. People have only partially awakened to the threat. The nation is unlikely to take steps on the scale that the threat warrants until the first WMD terrorist attack on US soil has taken place. Those of us who see the threat can only go on record stating its scope and the needed response and then wait for enough of the rest of the country to come around and see it as well.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 12 01:21 PM  Immigration Terrorism
Entry Permalink | Comments(4)
Livermore Scientsts See Inevitable Terrorist WMD Attacks

Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory believe that terrorist attacks with weapons of mass destruction are inevitable.

The grim familiarity Livermore scientists have with doomsday scenarios that were once reserved for Hollywood thrillers-and their understanding of statistical probability-gives them an air of fatalism when talking about the likely toll of death and injury in the war on terrorism. It's not a matter of whether terrorists armed with weapons of mass destruction will attack the United States, they say. It's a matter of when.

"That's why I think one of the first acts of the Department of Homeland Security," said Livermore's Stoutland, "should be to define a matrix of success that will not judge them as failures in the event of a single successful terrorist attack. Because I think an attack by terrorists armed with weapons of mass destruction is inevitable. I don't know how many people will be killed or what kind of attack it might be. But it's inevitable."

Once a WMD terrorist attack happens on American soil the resulting populist rage will force the government to do things which today are considered to be totally beyond the pale. Large scale deportation of Muslim non-citizens would become probable and it it is not impossible to imagine even the deportation of some citizen Muslims. Also, some Muslims regimes which are now safe from US attack would become immediate targets for overthrow. The rage directed toward Saudi Arabia would certainly send that regime into the dustbin of history. The Saudis really ought to crack down much harder in order to save themselves from American rage once a WMD terrorist attack happens. Elite opinion can only ignore the opinions of the populace on a given issue when the populace cares less about that issue than about other issues. In the wake of a WMD attack the elites would lose their ability to control the response.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 12 01:59 AM  Terrorists WMD
Entry Permalink | Comments(3)
2003 January 11 Saturday
Tony Blair's Dilemma On Iraq

Tony Blair is between a rock and a hard place. His public and a significant portion of his parliamentary Labour Party are opposed to an attack on Iraq without UN approval. But George W. Bush may call him up asking for Britain to join in such an attack within 30 days from now.

One issue is crucial. Polls indicate that if the United Nations authorises an invasion of Iraq, then 73 percent of the British public will back it. But what if the United Nations doesn't?

"When you ask those same people what if the U.N. doesn't take action but the U.S. leads an attack on Iraq, how do you feel about using British troops then, it's now down to about 22 percent," says Peter Kellner, chairman of UK pollster YouGov.

It would probably take months of inspections for firm evidence of forbidden Iraqi weapons to be discovered. In my opinion it is unlikely that Bush will let inspections go on for that long before starting the invasion. Even if firm evidence was discovered by UNMOVIC or IAEA inspectors it is far from clear that Russia, France, and China would all vote to approve military action. Also, from a military point of view an attack under those circumstances would be far from ideal. There'd be basically no element of surprise and the Iraqi regime may be able to launch missiles with biological or chemical weapon warheads at Israel and at alliance military concentrations in Kuwait and other locations in the region.

Consider Blair's choices. If he doesn't go along with Bush then he loses support of the US for other purposes and damage to relations between the US and UK will be considerable. But Blair risks a rebellion from his own backbenchers if he tries to go forward with the attack. So what's he to do? He's got to figure that if he can manage to carry his Cabinet along to support the attack that within a week or two of the beginning of the attack US and UK soldiers will have captured Iraqi chemical and biological weapons stores and probably nuclear weapons development labs. Some of the critics will still be after him for failing to be more supportive of the UN and international multilateral "We Are The World" naive impractical utopian nonsense. But the wind will be out of their sails. So I say Blair goes along with the Bush attack unless Blair can convince Bush to delay till autumn. Will Bush feel enough obligation to Blair to hold back for Blair's political benefit?

The attack on Iraq is a character test for Dubya. He can push thru against all the international resistance and by March 1st have the evidence he needs to his decision. Or he can choke, take too long, and lose momentum while giving the rogue WMD proliferating states more time to do WMD development.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 11 06:37 PM  Military War, Rumours Of War
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
Debka: Turkey Opposing Iraqi Kurdish Autonomy

Many impatient commentators think the Bush Administration has taken far too much time before attacking Iraq. Part of the reason for the delay can be attributed to the limits of US military power. Budget cuts have cost the US ability to fight and win 2 regional wars at once. The large assortment of existing US military obligations combined with insufficient airlift and sealift slow any build-up. Also, limits to US military resources increase the extent to which the US must rely on allies for parts of the job and therefore the military limits increase the leverage that some US allies have over the US. One important ally for the attack against Saddam's regime is Turkey. Turkey's people are resistant to Turkish support for the US operation against Iraq because the last Gulf war generated large numbers of refugees who fled into Turkey, Turkey lost economically due to disruptions in trade and the fear and uncertainty that accompany war. Also, the Turks are Muslims and therefore resist attacks by non-Muslims against Muslim governments.

If all of this wasn't already enough, there is a large Kurdish minority in southeastern Turkey some members of which conducted terrorist operations for many years in order to push for greater autonomy and self-rule while at the same time there is a Kurdish zone in northern Iraq that has autonomy from the Iraqi government as a result of US and British protection. The Turks fear that the Kurdish zone in northern Iraq will gain a more permanent form of autonomy as a result of the defeat of Iraq's regime by the US coalition. Kurdish home rule in Northern Iraq would serve as an inspiring example for Turkish Kurds and therefore is seen by the Turks as a threat to the territorial integrity of Turkey. Turkish military is certainly competent enough and large enough to firmly grab ahold of northern Iraq in order to prevent this. Plus, the Turks under the Ottoman Empire once ruled all of Iraq and have claims to the oil fields around Kirkuk and Mosul which they are pressing once again because they want the revenue that the oil fields would bring.

In light of all this Debka's report of Turkish military actions in northern Iraq and of Turkish demands for a post-war settlement that is more favorable to Turkey is incredibly plausible.

Already, the Turkish army has stepped out of its pre-defined war role. The Turkish 2nd and 3rd Corps, deployed along and across the Iraqi border to take on Iraqi troops, are laying Iraqi Kurdistan to virtual siege, interrupting the flow of imported foodstuffs from Turkey and Kurdish exports going the opposite direction. Travelers to Kurdistan must go round through Syria or Iran.

A large Turkish military force fully deployed in northern Iraq has advantages for the US. One really big one is that the Turks (likely with the help of US special forces) may be able to move on the Iraqi oil fields rapidly enough to prevent Saddam's destruction of those oil fields. Large economic costs and environmental harm (both to human health and to other species) could thereby be prevented.

To the extent that squabbling over terms between the US and Turkey makes it seem less certain that an attack will take place this also has advantages. It is in the US interest for Saddam to not know for certain whether the attack will take place. Once Saddam thinks that the attack is a certainty he has actions which he could take (eg sending out terrorist squads against the US, shooting missiles off against Israel) that he would not take otherwise. Similarly, the diplomatic activities around the UN Security Council and the position of the Blair government in Britain to delay an attack all increase the doubts in Saddam's mind as to whether an attack is imminent. An ideal scenario from a military standpoint would be one where the doubts about the imminence of attack were quite high up until the moment when the attack began. The doubts would cause Saddam to hold back on using his most extreme options until the US began to deny him of the ability to use those options.

Could diplomacy (whether intentionally or not) provide the US with the element of surprise in its initial attack? The US force build-up continues. We do not know how many soldiers and how much equipment the US requires to have present in order to be ready to start. If the Bush Administration and the US Defense Department were wise they'd put the publically reported needed number of troops at a much higher level than the number they decide they want to have. That way they could be ready without seeming to be ready. But then the diplomatic element of the surprise has to be worked out. Would the US be willing to start an attack on Iraq while UNMOVIC inspectors were still present in the country? Would the US be willing to begin an attack even while UN Security Council deliberations were on-going? Uncertainty as to the answers to questions like these makes it hard to guess the true intentions of the Bush Administration at this point.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 11 03:38 PM  Military War, Rumours Of War
Entry Permalink | Comments(1)
2003 January 09 Thursday
International Law And Agreements Can Not Protect Us

Writing in the Times of London Philip Bobbitt makes an argument for the necessity of attacking Iraq.

The matter of Iraqi WMD cannot be detached from the development of non-state, or even virtual state, actors like al-Qaeda, which are well-financed and global, but are of no fixed abode and therefore immune to threats of retaliation. Whether there has been any direct collaboration between al-Qaeda and Saddam, the very existence of a global terrorist network makes Iraq’s nuclear and WMD capacity so much more threatening than that of other tyrannous regimes in previous eras.

Saddam would clearly be capable of using these non-state actors as unidentifiable agents to attack the US or the UK with weapons he would not dare use against us directly. But surely, some argue, we would know he was behind such an attack and would retaliate? Perhaps. But many doubt whether we know all the actors responsible for Lockerbie; we still do not know the authors of the anthrax attacks on Washington.

The widening availability of technology that makes it ever more easy to develop weapons of mass destruction obsolesces the existing body of international law governing the use of force by states. Attacks by small groups become steadily more lethal and also less traceable. Bobbitt seems to understand this. But he doesn't seem to understand the limits of what can be accomplished by an agreement between nations when at least one party of the agreement intends to violate it.

North Korea is now demanding a non-aggression agreement from the US as a condition of giving up its WMD. Let’s give it to them.

There is no way to verify the North Korean regime's compliance with such an agreement. The regime will try to violate any agreement that it enters into. Intentions matter. Any regime with sufficient intellectual and material resources that intends to develop WMD will eventually succeed in doing so. An incredibly closed society such as North Korea is extremely difficult to monitor for compliance with agreements. As long as North Korea is governed by a leadership that intends to develop WMD the very existence of the regime constitutes a threat to the United States and to a number of other countries.

What is at stake here is whether North Korea will succeed in becoming Nuclear KMart to the rogue states and terrorist groups of the world. The North Korean regime has already demonstrated a willingness to tolerate mass starvation of its population in order to stay in power. It has already become a supplier of missiles and weapons technology to other regimes. It has no internal moral restraints against selling weapons of mass destruction to the highest bidder. If the North Korean regime remains in power it will develop greater abilities to manufacture and deliver WMD and it will also grow in its role as a WMD proliferator.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 09 11:29 PM  US Foreign Preemption, Deterrence, Containment
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
British Want To Delay Attack On Iraq Until Autumn

The British government wants to give the UN UNMOVIC and IAEA weapons inspectors more time to find the weapons labs and storage facilities of Iraq.

Britain is pressing for war against Iraq to be delayed for several months, possibly until the autumn, to give weapons inspectors more time to provide clear evidence of new violations by Saddam Hussein.

Ministers and senior officials believe that there is no clear legal case for military action despite the build-up of American and British forces in the Gulf.

Here's the biggest problem with going along with such a delay: It ties up US military assets. The US does not have enough military capacity to deal with other problems such as North Korea or Iran while the US military forces are tied up waiting until autumn. North Korea already feels emboldened by the extent to which US forces are tied down in other theatres of operation. If the Bush Administration goes along with the UK request for a delay then this is going to cost precious time in efforts to prevent WMD proliferation in other countries which have dangerous regimes. Those other regimes will become more dangerous during the period of delay.

There are other benefits from invading Iraq now and getting it over with not least of which is that Saddam Hussein still has on-going WMD development programs. An attack on Iraq now already brings with it the risk that Saddam's regime will respond with chemical and biological weapons. We don't want to wait for that threat to grow larger.

Another big benefit that will come from defeating Iraq sooner is the intelligence bonanza that will come from capturing Iraqi government offices with all their files and from capturing and interrogating high level figures in the Iraqi regime and Iraqi intelligence officers as well. Saddam Hussein's regime has had many contacts with a large variety of terrorist groups (not only Al Qaeda) and has lots of useful information about their activities and their operatives and resources. Iraq's officials and intelligence agents also will certainly have information about the WMD development efforts and terrorist support efforts of other regimes such as that in Libya and Iran. We need that information.

A delay may have diplomatic benefits. But the risk of terrorist attacks and WMD proliferation are both too great for diplomatic considerations to outweigh them. US needs to make faster real progress in preventing the proliferation of WMD and in taking apart terrorist groups.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 09 12:47 PM  Military War, Rumours Of War
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
North Korea Diplomatic Game and WMD Proliferation

John O'Sullvan looks at the political crisis over North Korea from the standpoint the various players and also examines lessons that the crisis teaches.

Take Iraq first. Iraq can lose because it does not yet possess nuclear weapons and a credible means of delivering them--and it can therefore be attacked and conquered by a greater power. It probably will lose because North Korea has just demonstrated two things:

1. The possession of nuclear weapons can give a small backward nation the power to blackmail the entire world into giving it various forms of foreign aid.

2. Arms control treaties are mere paper unless there is a body with the power to enforce them, or, less securely, unless the states that sign them are trustworthy partners, which in turn means democracies with public opinion to consider.

One error in this article is that O'Sullivan puts China in a list of local US allies for dealing with North Korea. I do not think the Chinese leaders see themselves as such.

Martin Sieff's analysis of China's view of North Korea is much closer to my own. China sees a collapse of the North Korean regime as a threat to the stability of the Chinese regime.

But there are other, even more pressing reasons why China is determined to prop up North Korea. Pyongyang has proved an invaluable buffer to protect Mainland China from the contagion of democracy and a free press in neighboring South Korea and China. And since the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and massacre and the collapse of the Soviet Union that started so soon afterward, China's communist leaders have been united in a single fear. They believe that unleashing the same potent freedoms in their country that the last Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev, did would lead to the same result -- national disintegration and appalling mass misery.

China's leaders do not fear the North Korean government will attack China with nuclear weapons. At the same time, China sees the survival of the North Korean regime as valuable for maintaining the stability of their own political system. The Chinese leaders greatly fear instability. The incentives in the minds of the Chinese leaders point toward China's resisting US efforts to apply diplomatic pressures or sanctions to North Korea. China is a permanent voting member on the UN Security Council with veto power. The idea of China approving a UN Security Council sanctions resolution against North Korea seems a remote prospect. Not all view it as a remote prospect though. Writing in the Washington Post Jim Hoagland has an essay entitled "Nearing a Nuclear Jungle" where Hoagland calls on the UN Security Council members to recognize their shared interest in controlling nuclear proliferation.

The Security Council could offer Pyongyang nonaggression assurances and economic aid in return for a verifiable halt to its nuclear programs. At the same time, the U.N. body should threaten a global ban on North Korean arms shipments if defiance continues. The United States would be essential, but not alone and exposed, in either approach.

I find Hoagland's hope for UN action to deal with North Korea to be unrealistic for two reasons: First, China is not going to be willing to join in economic sanctions against North Korea and hence the UN Security Council will not be able to take any substantial position to put pressure on the North Korean regime. Second, his hope for a verifiable weapons inspectons system for North Korea flies in the face of our experience with UNSCOM, UNMOVIC, and similar efforts. It is not possible to control weapons proliferation with inspections regimes.

Hoagland makes a great point in his final paragraph when he warns the rest of the world that the Bush Administration could opt to build Fortress America with ICBM defenses and a less involved approach to the rest of the world if the US leaders decide they can't control nuclear proliferation with the help of the UN and major powers. However, by itself Fortress America is not an effective strategy of defense against weapons of mass destruction (WMD) because nuclear weapons can be smuggled in. America could have an incredibly effective defense against ICBMs and still be vulnerable to a nuke smuggled in to a US port in a container in a larger container ship or via any number of other means.

The US is still lacking an effective strategy to use against North Korea. North Korea as a proliferator of WMD technologies and even of complete WMD constitutes a grave threat to US and Western security.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 09 01:54 AM  US Foreign Preemption, Deterrence, Containment
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
2003 January 07 Tuesday
White House Groundsworker Illegal Alien Caught At Border

Michelle Malkin reports on an illegal alien who was working the White House for a couple of years after he was ordered deported as an illegal alien. Salvador Martinez-Gonzalez was caught at the Laredo, Texas border crossing with false documents when a fingerprint check identified him as having a deportation order against him.

While the Secret Service has now instituted criminal and citizenship screening procedures for all tourists (including children) who visit the White House, federal agents failed to detect an illegal alien who used a false identity and fraudulent documents and was employed for at least two years as a supervisor of tent installation for White House social events.

This illegal alien had been ordered kicked out of the county by the Immigration and Naturalization Service in February 2000, but was able to evade the law and fool both his employer and the Secret Service through petty identity fraud. He was finally caught at the U.S.-Mexico border last month, but it was no thanks to the law enforcement agents in Washington who are assigned to protect the White House from unknown intruders.

Update: Mark Steyn examines the national security implications of illegal aliens and the black market for fake IDs.

Maybe the Secret Service are right and all the fellows with "legitimate identification purchased from someone else" pose no security threat. But, in her riveting exposé of the immigration bureaucracy, Invasion, Michelle Malkin does a superb job of connecting the particular lapses of September 11th with the broader "undocumented" culture in the U.S.

One vignette is especially choice: A month before their rendezvous with destiny, two of the 9/11 killers drove to Falls Church, Virginia, to the parking lot of a 7-Eleven where "undocumented" Hispanics congregate in search of casual labour. The terrorists were in search of ID, and it pretty much fell into their lap. Luis Martinez-Flores, an illegal from El Salvador who's been in America since 1994, approached their car and offered his services. He accompanied them to the nearest Department of Motor Vehicles office, supplied the al-Qaeda guys with fake addresses for the residency forms and certified that they lived there. The ID was processed on the spot, and afterwards the trio drove back to the 7-Eleven where Hanjour and Almidhar withdrew a hundred bucks from the ATM and paid off Mr. Martinez-Flores.

America is still not entirely committed to fighting the Islamic terrorists. People do not yet believe that the threat is so great that hundreds of thousands or even millions will die from a terrorist attack. Look at the indicators. No serious attempt is being made to crack down on illegal aliens even though the methods that the job seeking illegal aliens use are many of the same methods that terrorists make use of as well. Also, the Bush Administration is proposing tax cuts in order to stimulate the economy even as the military is too stretched to deal with North Korea because it already has Iraq, Afghanistan, Al Qaeda fighters in Pakistan, peacekeeping duties in Kosovo, and assorted other commitments on its plate. A comparison to the mobilization for World War II is laughable.

We are supposed to believe that the threat is enormous (and I do). Yet its business as usual. The military's budget has grown by less than one whole GDP percentage point. Some even claim that increase is too much money even though in World War II the US dedicated over 50% of GDP to military spending. Current military spending is (at about 4% of GDP) about an order of magnitude less as percentage of GDP. Also, on assorted other public policy topics other considerations take precedence over fighting terrorism. For instance, the State Department is more concerned about inconveniencing Arab travellers than it is about preventing terrorists from entering the country. An alliance of business interests, Democratic Party activists eager for more naturalized Democrat voters, and Hispanic immigrant activists combine to ensure that increasing the flow of legal and illegal immigrant takes precedence over national security.

The inability of Al Qaeda to mount a second attack on American territory since 9/11 has lulled the public into complacency. A minority of the populace is very concerned but most people are not sufficiently worked up to make demands that override the forces that want to return to business as usual. This complacency is eventually going to cost a great many lives. The US is not going to exercise sufficient control of its borders or of its immigration process to prevent terrorists from infiltrating American society. It also seems unlikely at this point that the United States is going to do what is necessary to prevent the rise of an even greater threat of catastrophic terrorism. Programs to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD) proceed apace in North Korea, Iran, and very likely Libya. North Korea has already demonstrated a willingness to sell missiles and WMD technology to the highest bidder. It is not inconceivable that the North Korean regime would even sell a nuclear weapon.

Delay makes the problem harder to deal with. In 1994 Bill Clinton could have taken out the North Korean regime, albeit at considerable loss of lives. Clinton and Carter opted for a naive path of bribery instead. But the North Koreans never intended to live up to the bargain. Taking out the North Korean regime now may exact a higher price if the regime can get off some nuclear or biological weapons before it goes down (to be fair, it might have been able to do that in 1994 but to a lesser degree). An attempt to take out the North Korean regime 5 or 10 years from now after, say, its sold nuclear weapons on the black market and after it has ICBMs capable of reaching America would exact an enormously greater price.

To watch the TV news shows one would get the sense from the rhetoric that Islamic terrorism is a major concern. But against all the rhetoric and the speechifying measure what gets done and what could be done. America isn't fully mobilised to eliminate the threat of catastrophic terrorism committed by Islamic terrorists. It is not going to be until the scope of the attacks grows larger. Unfortunately, by the time the larger attacks begin the cost of victory will be much greater.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 07 07:31 PM  Immigration Border Control
Entry Permalink | Comments(3)
2003 January 06 Monday
The Origin of the Modern Left's Anti-Americanism

Lee Harris, writing an essay entitled "The Intellectual Origins of America-Bashing" in Policy Review, traces the Left's anti-Americanism to Marxist theorist Paul Baran's theory of how the United States caused Third World poverty.

Yet those who still claim to derive their heritage from Marx are mostly unwilling to acknowledge that their political aims are merely utopian, not scientific. How is that possible?

There might be several reasons advanced for this, but certainly one of them is Paul Baran. A Polish born American economist and a Marxist, Baran is the author of The Political Economy of Growth (Monthly Review Press, 1957). In it, for the first time in Marxist literature, Baran propounded a causal connection between the prosperity of the advanced capitalist countries and the impoverishment of the Third World. It was no longer the case, as it was for Marx, that poverty — as well as idiocy — was the natural condition of man living in an agricultural mode of production. Rather, poverty had been introduced into the Third World by the capitalist system. The colonies no longer served the purpose of consuming overstocked inventories, but were now the positive victims of capitalism.

What needs to be stressed here is that, prior to Baran, no Marxist had ever suspected that capitalism was the cause of the poverty of the rest of the world. Not only had Marx and Engels failed to notice this momentous fact, but neither had any of their followers. Yet this omission was certainly not due to Marx’s lack of knowledge about, or interest in, the question of European colonies. In his writing on India, Marx shows himself under no illusions concerning the brutal and mercenary nature of British rule. He is also aware of the “misery and degradation” effected by the impact of British industry’s “devastating effects” on India. Yet all of this is considered by Marx to be a dialectical necessity; that is to say, these effects were the unavoidable precondition of India’s progress and advance — an example of the “creative destruction” that Schumpeter spoke of as the essence of capitalist dynamics. Or, as Marx put it in On Colonialism: “[T]he English bourgeoisie . . . will neither emancipate nor materially mend the social condition of the mass of the [Indian] people . . . but . . . what they will not fail to do is to lay down the material premises for both” the emancipation and the mending of this social condition.

Baran's theory became widely accepted among Marxists in spite of its flimsy construction. There are numerous obvious reasons why it is wrong. The Third World was poor before the United States became a major factor in world trade. Countries which have economically isolated their economies from the world economy (parenthetically, the Arab non-oil producing countries are notable for their high tariffs, low levels of trade, and few are members of the World Trade Organisation) have done very poorly economically. Therefore world trade could not have been a means whereby their wealth was drained from them into the Western countries. Countries that were actively hostile to the US and united in rival blocs did not prosper. When the absence of the proposed mechanism of impoverishment still led to impoverishment was obviously time to look for another cause for economic failure. But even with the real world evidence running against them the true believers in Marxism had such an emotional investment in their ideology that they were not about to give up their faith. Rationalisation became the order of the day.

The Marxist theoretical construction of why companies would need to impoverish their workers is also obviously wrong. If profits were dropping due to excessive amounts of competition then salary decreases would be accompanied by dropping prices. The capitalists and the workers could not simultaneously be economically harmed.

That the argument that America increases third world poverty is used as a justification for Anti-Americanism on the Left can be seen as an accidental result of the Left's desperate need to fix Marxist theory in order to maintain its appeal. As the 20th century progressed so much empirical evidence was building up against Marxism that the Marxists urgently needed to find a way to maintain the viability of their intellectual and political movement. The tragedy is that even though Marxism belongs in the trashbin of history its latter 20th century neo-Marxist formulations are still used to justify anti-Americanism and to explain the failure of many economies and political systems. These formulations are harmful to both the West and to the impoverished of the world. In the era of catastrophic terrorism enabled by the spread of ever more powerful technologies of mass destruction the encouragement of resentments toward more affluent countries helps to put hundreds of millions of people at risk of terrorist attack. At the same time an explanation for political and economic failure that shifts the blame away from local conditions also delays the day when the local causes of economic failure are addressed.

Update: Writing in the Times of London in an essay entitled "The hatred of America is the socialism of fools" Michael Gove examines the harm of leftist anti-Americanism and the use of anti-Americanism as a proxy for anti-capitalism.

The widespread prevalence of anti-Americanism, the cachet accorded to its advocates, the reflexive sniggering triggered by any favourable mention of America’s President, all make opposition to this trend unpopular. But vitally necessary. For Yankee-phobia is, at heart, a dark thing, a prejudice with ugly antecedents which creates unholy alliances. And, like all prejudices, it thrives on myths which will end up only serving evil ends.

It is a myth that America is a trigger-happy cowboy state over-eager to throw its weight around, a myth that America seeks to use its undoubted military power to establish an exploitative empire, and a myth that America thrives by impoverishing and oppressing other nations.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 06 10:04 AM  Religion Secular Ideologies
Entry Permalink | Comments(6)
2003 January 05 Sunday
Theodore Dalrymple on Growth of Touchy-Feely Fascism

Theodore Dalrymple believes that the staffs of government bureaucracies value job security over moral conduct.

We, too, are now creating a cultural context in which great state crimes are possible, though perhaps not yet inevitable. When I see the routine inhumanity with which my patients are treated by the state and its various bureaucracies, often in the name of obedience to rules, I think that anything is possible in this country. Yes, when I see the baying mobs of drunken young people who pullulate in our city centres every weekend, awaiting their evil genius to organise them into some kind of pseudo-community, and think of our offices full of potential Eichmanns, I shudder. Our fascism will no doubt be touchy-feely rather than a boot in the face — more Kafka than Hitler — but it will be ruthless nonetheless. Timeservers led by scoundrels: that is the future of this septic isle.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 05 09:06 AM  Civilizations Decay
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
2003 January 04 Saturday
United States Lacks Good Options On North Korea

Consider some approaches that the United States could adopt to deal with North Korea's WMD development programs and willingness to export WMD technologies.

  • Diplomacy with bribery.
  • Diplomacy with threats.
  • Economic pressures.
  • Military operation against WMD development and storage facilities.
  • Military operation to hurt the North Korean regime economically and militarily but short of overthrow.

Some of these approaches are not mutually exclusive and they can be considered for

The first option of "Diplomacy with bribery" was pursued by the Clinton Administration beginning in 1994 when with Jimmy Carter's help the Clinton Administration negotiated an accord whereby the North Korean regime (Democratic People's Republic of Korea or DPRK hereafter) Even at this late date there are still prominent foreign policy hands arguing for the "diplomacy with bribery" approach to handling the DPRK. Former Clinton Administration lead negotiator to DPRK Robert Einhorn still favors negotiation.

"It's also a gamble that our relationship with our South Korean ally can survive a lengthy period of isolating and pressuring North Korea," Mr. Einhorn said. "Engaging North Korea has its downsides, but those must be weighed against the risks of not engaging."

The United States is unwilling to put enough economic pressure on North Korea to cause a famine. However, even if the US and its allies were willing to do so the previous famine was not enough to bring down the regime.

"My family began selling everything, from the sewing machine to blankets, to trade for a sack of corn," said Lim Hong-keun, 42, a North Korean coal-miner who defected to South Korea (news - web sites) in 2000, describing the situation in the late 1990s. The famine sent tens of thousands of people wandering in search of food, often across the border into China, North Korea's last remaining ideological ally. "Trains often sat idle for two or three days in each station, waiting for electricity," Lim said at a recent lecture to South Korean college students. At the height of the famine in 1997-98, soldiers went around collecting coffins, said Lee Mi-young, a North Korean who also defected to South Korea in 2000.

Famine-related deaths in North Korea from 1995 to 2000 most likely numbered between 600,000 and 1 million, according to a new study by two researchers at the International Center of the U.S. Census Bureau. The study, by Daniel Goodkind and Loraine West, appears in the June issue of Population and Development Review, a peer-reviewed journal published by the Population Council. Acknowledging that "the actual demographic toll of the famine remains uncertain owing to a lack of reliable data," Goodkind and West use demographic models to show how two direct sources of information on mortality—-the figures released by the North Korean government and recent surveys of famine refugees—-produce estimates ranging from 200,000 to 3 million deaths. By analyzing indirect evidence, including China's mortality experience during its Great Leap Forward and recent surveys of child malnutrition in North Korea, the authors are able to narrow the probable range of mortality to between 600,000 and 1 million.

A 2001 report paints a still very bleak picture for North Korea.

A German doctor who had traveled widely in the impoverished communist country described the bleak conditions facing the nation Tuesday. Norbet Vollertsen, expelled by Pyongyang in December after taking Western journalists on unauthorized tours of the North Korean countryside, said that hospitals lacked basic facilities, leaving patients vulnerable to poor hygiene and extreme temperatures. "They have no running water. No electricity…They do not have any medicine, no bandage material, no drugs, no nothing," he told reporters in Tokyo. "Some of the children are in such bad condition, they've no emotional reaction anymore. They can't even scream."

"We expect to continue providing the same level of aid to the [United Nations] World Food Program in Korea as we have in the past," a senior administration official said in reply to questions from Reuters news agency. "We don't use food as a political weapon."

Senior Bush administration officials also say that they would be giving in to blackmail by offering new incentives and that North Korea's clandestine efforts to produce highly enriched uranium demonstrate that the Clinton negotiating approach does not work. But skeptics say the policy of relying on allies will not work, in part because they are not prepared to use their full leverage to press for and possibly encourage the collapse of North Korea, an event that they fear would sow chaos in their region. China, American officials acknowledge, has not pressed the North Koreans as hard as Washington would like and is unlikely to support economic sanctions. South Korea's new president, for his part, has come to office on a platform that called for increased interaction with North Korea, not the increased its isolation.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 04 04:36 PM  Axis Of Evil
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
2003 January 03 Friday
Amir Taheri Interviews Libyan leader Kaddafi's Son

Paris-based Iranian writer Amir Taheri interviews Seyf al-Islam Kaddafi, son of Libya's Muammar Kaddafi. Its a rather bizarre interview which mixes some rather sensible statements along such hard to believe assertions as the idea that his father doesn't really rule Libya. After arguing that political decisions are made collectively he goes on to argue that the Libyan people are still too primitive to be ruled by a democracy.

Taheri: In that case why not have a constitution and hold elections?

Kaddafi: That is the logical direction of our political evolution. But don't forget that transforming a basically medieval and tribal society into a modern democratic one in just three decades is no easy task. We cannot achieve in Libya what older democracies have achieved in centuries. Promulgating a constitution is not a difficult exercise. In fact, all despotic regimes in the Arab world do have constitutions, written by those who intend to, and do, violate them systematically. Holding elections has also become a kind of fashion in the Arab world — largely to please the Americans. But everyone knows that these are fake elections in which people have the right to endorse the rulers, often by the notorious 99.9 percent majorities, but not the right to vote them out. These so-called elections are insults to the Arab people. We in Libya will not accept such an insult. We are honest with ourselves. We realize that moving from tribal monarchy to modern democracy needs more time. We need time to evolve our culture, reform our social habits, and reinterpret our traditions in the spirit of pluralism. We also need a solid middle class without which no democracy is possible. And that, in turn, requires the presence of a large number of educated citizens who can generate enquiry and political debate.

Sure enough tribal societies are not capable of supporting functional democracies. Seyf as-Islam could probably teach Washington power-brokers and the American media and academic elite valuable lessons which they are unaware of their need to learn. One senses from this interview that the son may well understand the world fairly well. But his future is tied to the power of his father and its clear that while some of his statements represent how he sees the world he is also spinning for the Libyan regime while paying lip service to the latest enthusiasms of his mercurial father.

Father Muammar Khadafy/Ghaddafi/Qaddafi has lost his interest in the Arab countries probably as a result of his having lost all influence with them (with the possible exception of deals he may be doing for WMD technology exchanges). So he's turned his attention to Africa as a playground with greater possibilities for exercising his influence. His oil money can buy far more influence in the poorest of countries and Africa has such countries in abundance. This involvement is not doing Africa any favors. He's been helping to prop up Robert Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe even as that regime drives that country into increasingly worse straits. As is noted in the Taheri interview he's so excited by his prospects for greater influence in Africa that he's offering Libyans cash incentives for marrying Africans (presumably only from the Sub-Saharan regions and further south)..

By Randall Parker 2003 January 03 08:16 PM  Axis Of Evil
Entry Permalink | Comments(1)
Muslim Immigration Moving Europe Rightward

John O'Sullivan and Christopher Hitchens see Muslim immigration as a cause of a rightward political reaction in Europe.

"Muslim immigration of a very considerable size has meant that the liberal traditions and liberal political values of some of these countries have come under attack," says O'Sullivan. As a result, many voters "have switched to the right because they're worried that Muslim immigration is transforming their societies in illiberal ways as well as in more obvious cultural ones." Hitchens saw this illiberal spirit during mass demonstrations in Britain by young Pakistanis who not only wanted to burn The Satanic Verses, but who "wanted to burn the author, Salman Rushdie, too."

This rightward swing may also translate into less power for Brussels and more power for the national governments if the rightwing parties are less supportive of the whole EU enterprise.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 03 03:09 PM  Immigration Border Control
Entry Permalink | Comments(6)
2003 January 02 Thursday
Practical Suggestions For Reforming Iraqi Society

I recently read someone (and now can't find the quote; anyone know which essay I'm referring to and by whom?) arguing that one element that will be missing once the US and its allies conquer Iraq that was present when the allies conquered Japan and Germany in World War II is the devastation that the World War II conquests brought. The Iraqis will not suffer the way the Germans and Japanese did and will not see ruin and death on a scale that the surviving Germans and Japanese witnessed. He therefore argued that the Iraqis will not see as clearly the failure of the old order and will therefore be less malleable for democracy-building purposes. The author (rightly) did not see that it would be morally acceptable to take that as a reason to cause massive devastation in Iraq. He merely argued that our coming attempt to create a viable democracy in Iraq will be made harder because the people in Iraq will not see the old regime as having led to as much total pain and destruction to Iraq as the Germans and Japanese saw. Therefore the old order will not be seen to have been as totally discredited as the Nazis and the militarist emperor-worshippers were in Germany and Japan at the end of WWII.

While the argument sounds incredibly hard-nosed and realpolitik it is naive because it fails to comprehend the nature of Iraqi and Arab society. As is the case in other Arab countries where loyalty to the government and nation is weak the Iraqi people do not identify with or feel much loyalty toward Iraq as a nation-state in the way that Westerners feel loyalty toward governments and nations. Because the Iraqis and Arabs in other Middle Eastern states do not feel that loyalty they will not feel that they are the ones being conquered and defeated. To them it what is about to happen in Iraq will be a defeat of Saddam Hussein, his extended family and his top level servants. It will be seen as a change at the top where one elite takes out another elite. The bulk of Iraqis will feel more like spectators. The reason for this feeling is that they do not feel allegiance to the abstraction (which exists in the minds of Westerners far more than in the minds of Iraqis) that is supposedly being defeated.

The Iraqis have loyalties that compete strongly with their feelings of loyalty to the Iraqi government. The highest loyalty is to their extended families and beyond that to Islam and also to the larger Arab culture. So out of 4 possible loyalties only one of them is being defeated and it is not their chief or even likely their second loyalty that is being defeated. This is not going to cause them to radically reexamine their loyalties. They will not see this coming change in regime as a reason to transfer loyalties to the new democracy that the United States will try to create in Iraq.

If the United States government wants to pursue policies in Iraq that would help foster a change in the culture of Iraq so that its people become capable of having significant loyalties to a nation-state then it is family structure that has to be tackled first and foremost. With that in mind here are some suggestions for how to accomplish that change:

  • Change school cirricula to teach the genetic risks of defects that come from marrying cousins and second cousins. Children should be taught that marrying outside of the extended family is a wiser choice that will result in healthier and smarter offspring.
  • Run documentaries and commercials on Iraqi radio and television that teach the genetic risks of marrying within the family and strongly exhort people to marry outside of their extended families. Develop strongly propagandistic documentaries replete with pictures of defective babies and babies that died at birth as a result of inbreeding. There should be characters that are dumber, uglier, and less happy who are the products of inbreeding and then characters that are smarter, handsome and better looking who are the result of marriages that were made outside of families. Lay the propaganda on thick.
  • Enact laws that outlaw marriage to first cousins. Though this might cause a great deal of opposition that would make the occupation of Iraq harder to maintain.
  • Have preferences in government job hiring and military officer promotion for top positions where those who are not married to their relatives would be favored for jobs. This will simultaneously serve to discourage inbreeding while also will create an officer corps and civil servant corps that will feel less desire to be nepotistic and corrupt.
  • Mandatory education to a higher age. This can delay marriage and might decrease the likelihood that the marriages that are entered into will not be arranged and hence will be less likely to be within families. It can also provide more time to teach against cousin marriage.
  • Enact laws that set higher minimum ages for getting married (there may not even be any minimum now).
  • The US occupation administration should take an active role in selecting state-funded Mullahs with an eye toward choosing clerics that will preach a strong anti-inbreeding message.

These suggestions would undoubtedly take decades to reduce family and tribal loyalties enough to make Iraq even as capable of liberal democracy as Turkey is today. But there is no fast and easy way to change the characteristics of Arab societies that do so much to hold back political development of the Arab countries.

If you find these suggestions to constitute an excessive and illiberal intervention in the culture of another society and yet if you still favor the overthrow of Saddam's regime and installation of democracy you need to find another way that has real prospects for success to accomplish the changes that are required to make an Arab society capable of supporting a non-corrupt liberal democracy.

By Randall Parker 2003 January 02 08:48 PM  Reconstruction and Reformation
Entry Permalink | Comments(2)
Richard Posner On The Predictions Of Public Intellectuals

This is the season for yearly predictions by pundits. It seems appropriate to look at the whole phenomenon of predictions and the poor quality of so many of them. In a review he wrote of Richard Posner's Public Intellectuals: A Study of Decline Denis Dutton explains Posner's views of why so many public intellectuals repeatedly make inaccurate predictions without getting called on it.

Why do such modest consequences attach to bum predictions by public intellectuals? Posner suggest that in the first place, public intellectuals’ forecasts are, unlike scientific hypotheses, not intended to be tested. Public intellectuals usually appear in print and on TV screens as representatives of an ideology or stereotyped position—conservatism, welfare liberalism, feminist victimology, libertarianism, and so forth. By representing a position they create public solidarity with it, confirming prejudices of that segment of the audience that already agrees with them. This affects the attitude toward public intellectuals of their ideological confreres: like-minded academics will tend to rally around each other—you’ll not see fellow environmentalists criticizing Paul Ehrlich no matter how daft his forecasts (even when the predictions are alarmist and wrong enough to damage the Green movement). A second reason, as mentioned earlier, is that there is no system by which the predictions of public intellectuals can be collected in one place and evaluated. And finally, Posner adds that the lack of scorekeeping shows that the views of public intellectuals are just not important to most people anyway.

Dutton's entire review is an excellent read that discourses knowledgeably on Posner's book while also pointing out problems in criticisms made by other reviewers. The review makes me want to read the whole book.

(thanks to Dave Ings for the link)

By Randall Parker 2003 January 02 02:59 PM 
Entry Permalink | Comments(0)
Advertise here. Contact randall dot parker at ymail dot com
Web parapundit.com
Site Traffic Info