International Pol.

4th Generation Warfare

The Israel-Lebanon Conflict has created tons of good discussion on geopolitics and warfare. This little nugget by William S. Lind caught my eye and indicates why states have so much trouble attacking terrorism and guerrilla warfare:

But his alternative, at least for a rollback force, includes privatizing the fighting function. The problem with this is that as the state privatizes security functions, for foreign wars or here at home, it strikes at its own reason for being and thus accelerates its crisis of legitimacy, which lies at the heart of 4GW. Once security is privatized, why have a state at all?

Conveniently, private armies have a long history of overthrowing states. There is good reason why the rising state of the 17th century abolished private armies and forcefully asserted a monopoly on violence.

Hank Paulson is new Secretary of Treasury

In a huge nod to Wall Street, Bush nominates Goldman Sachs’ Henry “Hank” Paulson for Secretary of the Treasury. This is about as high profile a cabinet pick as you can get as Paulson is one of the most well known and respected captains of finance. This follows on the heels of the high profile selection of Fox talking head, Tony Snow, for White House spokesman. It looks like Bush is signalling the business world (rather obviously) that he may need their help to keep the wheels on.

I found this quote, which in this context is rather interesting:

“The thing I learned in Washington is that just as important, or more so, as what you do is who you do it with.” -Hank Paulson, CEO Goldman Sachs

Nuanced first hand perspective

On Iraq, from one Major’s point of view:

Back to my non-insurgency theory: There is not a web of like-minded (much less amenable) patriots gaining succor and inspiration from the populace. There are a thousand disparate cabals and petit punks and opportunists, each with competing motivations and interests. A water truck leaving a coalition base may be fired upon by a host of various suspects. The “usual suspects” rounded up may include:

1) a 17-year-old who was paid $50,

2) a competitor of the truck’s owner who covets his contract,

3) a local tribesman who resents the presence of another affiliate,

4) a garden-variety criminal out to steal the truck, or embezzle the business,

5) a former Ba’athist apparatchik fearing the end of his gravy train,

6) a Jihadist from Yemen or Saudi Arabia or Egypt hoping to please God, or

7) an Iraqi, proud and nationalistic, believing the US is on a craven crusade to plunder his country’s oil and rich culture.

The permutations are endless and motivations intertwined. In this petri dish of conspiracy, those who are convinced that the Israeli Intelligence services, the Church of England, and Hollywood joined forces to mastermind the WTC attacks don’t even evoke a smirk. Credulity knows no filter. Lyndon LaRouche would be quite at home here.

Iraq is not about oil as a commodity

Iraq is about oil as an instrument of strategic control. The rhetoric leading up to the invasion of Iraq is the public justification for our presence in Iraq. In other words, whenever anyone asks why we’re there we trot out the story of the great dictator Saddam Hussein and how we liberated a nation from the grip of a brutal tyrant. This conceals the main benefit of our presence in the mideast, the control of oil supplies. We now have nominal control over the first and second largest proven reserves of petroleum in the world. There was a fantastic article in the Washington Post today: Big Shift in China’s Oil Policy:

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The Power of Nightmares

From a video about 9-11 and Al Quaeda, The Power of Nightmares, on the ties and similarities between fundamentalist Islam and Straussian neo-conservatism. You can watch the video and read the trascript of the documentary courtesy of the Information Clearing House. Conservatives of all types are often concerned with restoring the ‘lost’ virtue of the past, and fighting the decadence they see as inherent to individualism.

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Propaganda claims

Eventually, the Iraqis will eject the Americans from their country. The fact is, they live there and we don’t, so victory will eventually be theirs. Until then, it’s just a stalemate. I think it’s ironic when the Americans make claims against the other side’s propaganda since there has never been a more media-aware American military intervention. I found the following passage revealing:

One key reason to take Fallujah hospital early was likely to control information: The facility was the main source of Iraqi death tolls during the first U.S. siege of Fallujah in April, and U.S. commanders accused doctors there of exaggerating numbers.

The U.S military said Monday that insurgents had been in control of Fallujah General Hospital — located on the west bank of the Euphrates — and were “forcing the doctors there to release propaganda and false information.”

The media has lauded the ‘capture’ of the Fallujah hospital as a win for the Iraqis fighting “shoulder to shoulder” with the Americans, specifically this refers to Iraqi 36th Commando Battalion. The Americans use the brown-skins to put an “Iraqi face” on the assault on Fallujah. Who are the 36th Commando Battalion?

“The 36th was originally known as the ‘political battalion,'”
he said. That’s because it was formed from the militias of five major
political groups in Iraq: Iyad Alwai’s Iraq National Accord (INA), Ahmed Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress (INC), the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), which backs Ayatollah Ali Sistani, and the two main Kurdish groups, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). About 110 soldiers were originally culled from each group.

This group isn’t representative of Iraq. They are splinter groups who have an interest in gaining more power in Iraq. When you have 10,000 American soldiers and a few hundred Iraqi mercenaries leading the assault, it’s clear who’s in charge. More importantly, it’s clear that the Americans do not have the support of the Iraqi people on the ground.

Belle nuit

It’s a beautiful night tonight, Open your windows!

  • China will send troops to Haiti: “”It’s been a big year for China,” says one official opposed to the deployment. “They put a man in space, won gold medals at the Olympics, and now they are going to put troops in the Western Hemisphere for the first time.”
    The official says China’s first military presence near U.S. shores would boost Beijing’s long-term strategy to “supplant U.S. influence” in the region. “China is pursuing a maritime strategy in the Caribbean to gain access and control over port facilities, free trade zone infrastructure, fisheries, oil and minerals, and off-shore banking platforms,”
    For example, a Chinese company whose leader is close to Beijing’s communist rulers operates major port facilities at both ends of the Panama Canal.
    “They will assert political influence [through Chinese companies],” the official says. “That is where this is headed.”
    Administration officials say the decision to permit the Chinese to join the U.N. force in Haiti was made quietly, without a full debate among defense, foreign policy and national security agencies. “
  • Report: Civil war most likely outcome in Iraq
  • Violence May Force Iraq to Bypass Hotspots in Election
  • A Guide To Firefox Extensions Awesome list

Odds and ends

  1. Brain diseases treble in 20 years, says new report: Deaths from brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and motor neurone disease have soared in the past two decades, a study has found. Researchers are blaming the increase on higher levels of pesticides, industrial chemicals, car exhaust and other pollutants.
  2. Tecumseh’s curse

Bin Ladin’s Former ‘Bodyguard’ Interviewed on Al-Qa’ida Strategies

Bin Ladin’s Former ‘Bodyguard’ Interviewed on Al-Qa’ida Strategies via

(Abu-Jandal) Most of my answers were on Al-Qa’ida ideology and structure and why it deals in this way. The answers were to the point. They used to put forth rather strange questions. One question said: As far as we are concerned, 80 percent of what you said is true, but does Al-Qa’ida have chemical plants and nuclear weapons? I recall that my answer to them was that Usama Bin Ladin has a weapon that is far superior to all the US weapons. What is this weapon, the asked? I told them: “Among the believers are men, who have been true to their covenant to God: of them some have completed their vow (to the extreme), and some (still) wait: But they have never changed (their determination) in the least.” (Koranic verse) The US arsenal is full of weapons, but it does not have the men.

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Iranian Thinking

Good analysis from Juan Cole:

    It seems to me very likely that Iran will get a nuclear weapon. Any ruling elite in the global south with bad relations with the US can look at the difference between how the Bush administration dealt with Saddam and how it has dealt with North Korea. The difference seems mainly to be that North Korea already had a couple of nukes, whereas Iraq was not anywhere close. So Khamenei would look at that and decide that his government needs a couple of nukes to avoid being overthrown by the US, especially since Bush telegraphed his intention to do just that. I don’t see how it could be stopped militarily; the US is overstretched and in no position to attack and occupy Iran.