Friday, June 29, 2007
- Alan Boesak
Consider the geopolitical applications of this.
This is what we saw upon the collapse of the old Soviet Union. Not only did the USSR fall apart, leaving us with "former Soviet republics", but we also saw the collapse of Soviet bloc nations. This led to the division of some of those nations, and a major humanitarian crisis in Bosnia.
This principle is also apparent in Iraq. The 'unity' of the nation under Saddam was not true unity. He could not really 'force' a unification of the ethnic and religious differences that existed in Iraq. He could only keep the divisions beneath the surface. When the US invasion of Iraq removed Saddam, the apparent unification disappeared.
Can the US now force unity on Iraq? The obvious answer is no. In fact, the US will not even be willing to use enough force to create a surface unity. That is the our credit, one may say.
However, what we have, if we seek to retain the territorially integrity of a united Iraq, is an untenable situation. It will also be a situation that will not see an end of US military presence in Iraq any time in the foreseeable future.
While I know it will not be easy, it is becoming apparent that we need to explore the possibility of the partitioning of Iraq. Perhaps, in the end, that will not be the answer. We do not know this yet, however. I have heard no serious discussion of such a move from any political leader. As we move forward in this political season, we need to demand serious consideration of all legitimate (especially meaning "moral") options by our political leadership. We should not accept the political garbage that Rudy Guliani has resorted to ("We must fight them there so we don't have to fight them here") or the facile answers of Obama and Clinton (vague explinations of "draw-down" and "redeployment").
American has already been led down the wrong path by a leader of simplicity. We need to recognize the complexity of the Iraq situation, and demand realistic and detailed answers before putting anyone else behind the desk in the Oval Office.
Partitioning Iraq may be a bad option, but the fact is that when the decision to invade was made, bad options was all that the US was left with. Perhaps the bad option of partitioning would be better than the terrible option of 'stay the course,' which, despite any window dressing that may be used, is essentially what all parties are discussing now.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Meanwhile, a parked car bomb ripped through a crowded transport hub in southwest Baghdad's Baiyaa neighborhood at morning rush hour, killing at least 20 people and wounding more than 50, another officer said on the same condition.
Many of the victims had been lining up for buses, awaiting a ride to work. Some 40 minibuses were incinerated in the explosion, police said.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Thursday, June 21, 2007
THE CHALLENGE confronting those aspiring to the presidency, therefore, is to devise an alternative to Bush's failed strategy. To pass muster, any such strategy will have to recognize the limits of American power, military and otherwise. It must acknowledge that because the United States cannot change Islam, we have no alternative but to coexist with it.
Yet coexistence should not imply appeasement or passivity. Any plausible strategy will prescribe concrete and sustainable policies designed to contain the virulent strain of radicalism currently flourishing in parts of the Islamic world. The alternative to transformation is not surrender but quarantine.
Over time, of course, Islam will become something other than what it is today. But as with our own post-Christian West, that evolution will be determined primarily by forces within. Our interest lies in nudging that evolution along a path that alleviates rather than perpetuates conflict between Islam and the West. In that regard, the requirement is not for a bigger Army but for fresh ideas, informed by modesty and a sense of realism.
The candidate who can articulate such ideas might well merit respect and popular support. Those who in the absence of serious strategic analysis reflexively posture about the need for more troops deserve only contempt.
We need to move beyond our "war on..." analogies. We declare "war" on everything, it seems, here in the US: drugs, poverty, etc. We cannot simply kill or destroy everything we don't like about our world.
Part of our failure in this area, and it seems to me that this is a direct outgrowth of our "war on..." approach, is our inability to recognize the role we play in creating the root causes in some of our problems. While the US is not responsible for the twisting of Islam into a fundamentalist, violent religion by some of its practitioners, we are responsible for policies that directed much of their anger at us. But we cannot say that here in the US (the Pilgrim can get away with such heresy due to his political irrelevance). Witness what happened to Ron Paul when he dared to think this way- and say so- during the Republican debate. It was so easy to spin his argument into a "straw man" ("Ron Paul blames the US for 9/11"), and his opponents didn't resist doing so.
In war, both sides always thing themselves on the side of the right. That is why so many Americans are willing to tolerate torture- of both detainees and the Constitution- right now.
Outside of the "war on..." approach is found greater possibility for self-criticism, and, thus, greater chances for growth and actual achievement of goals. There is no "modesty," as the author quoted above calls for, in a militaristic approach.
Flawed thinking puts us on the wrong path. If we are on the wrong path, how can one argue that we will get to the desired destination?
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Well, the facts are coming in to justify that previously speculative claim.
Iraq becomes prime training ground for export of Jihadists
The new generation of Islamist militants in Iraq are more battle-hardened than their veteran anti-Soviet counterparts from Afghanistan, and the export of their Muslim "holy war" to calmer Arab countries has become a phenomenon.
"The Iraqi resistance doesn't need people inside, they have more than they need, freeing up foreign fighters to fight elsewhere," said Marwan Shehadeh, an expert in radical movements with the Vision Research Institute in Amman.
"They are in contact with each other because Salafi (strict Muslim) ideology is spread all over Arab and Islamic countries," he said.
In a report released in April by the US government, Dennis Pluchinsky, a former intelligence expert in the State Department, said Iraq veterans were the most dangerous because they were better trained than their Afghanistan counterparts.
"There are some operation parallels between the urban terrorist activity in Iraq and the urban environments in Europe and the United States," Pluchinsky wrote.
"More relevant terrorist skills are transferrable from Iraq to Europe than from Afghanistan to Europe."
In the Al-Qaeda camps of Afghanistan, volunteers almost never see real fighting, according to those who have passed through.
In Iraq, if he survives, a Jihadist will have acquired unbeatable experience having been pitted against the world's best army.
"If Afghanistan was a Pandora's box which when opened created problems in many countries, Iraq is a much bigger box, and what's inside much more dangerous," said Masri.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Court overrules Bush ‘enemy combatant’ policy
Judges: President may not detain legal U.S. resident without charging him
The ruling was a harsh rebuke of one of the central tools the administration believes it has to combat terror.
“To sanction such presidential authority to order the military to seize and indefinitely detain civilians, even if the president calls them ‘enemy combatants,’ would have disastrous consequences for the Constitution — and the country,” the court panel said.
Friday, June 08, 2007
The Pilgrim is no xenophobe, but it is undeniable that illegal immigration is a problem in this nation. It is a problem for both the immigrants (paid terribly, lacking adequate medical care, unfit housing, etc.) and for the rest of America (it is placing an incredible strain on the infrastructure of cities and states). Immigration is a problem that must be addressed.
The bill killed by the Senate seemed a reasonable one. The fact that both the far right and left hated it may be considered evidence of that reasonableness. The bill seemed to be one that would at least begin to get a handle on the problem. Its failure is further evidence of our government's inability to truly address the issues of greatest importance to the nation. Rhetoric is provided when action is needed.
The 100 members of the Senate should be deeply embarrassed by their failure.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Second, Congress should repeal the Military Commissions Act and start anew on a just system for determining whether prisoners are unlawful combatants. Among other things, evidence obtained through coercion and torture should be banned.
And Congress should shut down Guantánamo Bay, as called for in bills sponsored by two California Democrats, Representative Jane Harman in the House and Senator Dianne Feinstein in the Senate. Both lawmakers are intimately familiar with the camp and have concluded it is beyond salvaging.
The Guantánamo camp was created on a myth — that the American judicial system could not handle prisoners of "the war against terror." It was built on a lie — that the hundreds of detainees at Gitmo are all dangerous terrorists. And it was organized around a fiction — that Mr. Bush had the power to create this rogue system in the first place.
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Monday, June 04, 2007
Friday, June 01, 2007
- Norman Wirzba