Monday, February 27, 2006

Party On!

N’Awlins got the living bleep knocked out of it some seven months back. The tragedy was exacerbated by a creaking FEMA response and every one above the rank of First Lieutenant thinking they were in charge of relief. The Keystone Kops couldn’t have done it better.

Rebuilding and restoration is nowhere near complete, but a centuries old Bacchanalian tradition is ongoing while I write this – Mardi Gras.

Some people think it improper to be out boogieing in the streets after all the mess of thousands dead and missing, a majority of the population still in refuge away from the city, and recriminations still flying. The alternate point of view is it is time to lay all seriousness aside and let the party spirit out of the bottle.

I’m in agreement with the latter. Y’all just have yourselves a good ole time! All y’all.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Revolutionary Guards

Khomeini chased the Shah out of Iran back in 1979. Soon after, the American Embassy was overrun and the diplomatic personnel taken captive. Whether by his own initiative or at the behest of the US, Saddam ordered his forces into war with his neighbor.

Iraq, with the tacit blessings and behind-the-scenes aid from the US, invaded. The Iranians were hard put to deal with the situation. Their armed forces were reduced to a shamble; having been recently torn apart by post-revolutionary recriminations. Many officers were in prison or jail. They had been the Shah’s men, don’t you see.

In addition to rushing what was left of the army and air force off to deal with the threat, a large body of zealous young men were raised. The Revolutionary Guards; something of a raghead SS.

Untrained, under-equipped Guards died by the tens of thousands advancing on fortified Iraqi positions through chest deep water while being shelled, machine gunned, and gassed. They took their faith and whatever weapons might be available and enthusiastically marched (slogged) to their painful deaths.

Somebody woke up and realized there was a much better use for dedicated young men than the feeding of swamp crabs. Over time the Iranian Revolutionary Guard was transformed into an effective special operations force; well trained and decidedly devout Muslim fundamentalists.

During the wars in the former Yugoslavia, young Iranian special operators began to secretly filter in to aid the beleaguered Moslem Bosnia-Herzegovinans who were being slaughtered by the thousands by Serbian militia under Ratko Mladic. Until this time, the civilized world talked about how sad it was that the poor Muslims were be treated so badly by the mean old Serbs.

Israel, whose founding was made possible by the world’s reaction to the Holocaust, deplored the genocide or “ethnic cleansing” but lifted not a finger to help. The US viewed it as a European problem and the nations of Europe had competing agendas. Again, no one was coming to the aid of Bosnian Muslims who continued to be massacred by the thousands.

At long last, the Bosnians seemed to find the wherewithal to resist Serbian aggression and then go on their own offensive. That was when it became evident they were getting outside help. It didn't take much looking to figure out who and what.

When it came to light just who was helping the Bosnians, a shift in thinking occurred in NATO capitals. It’s one thing to stand by while innocent people of a different faith are being murdered wholesale, it’s quite another to tolerate a military force from the Middle-East (read Terrorist) operating on the European Continent. Can’t have that, you know.

The world flocked to the Sarajevo’s rescue.

A few years have ticked by, and now we are engaged in an ill-advised misadventure, and as bad luck would have it, right next door to the home of the Revolutionary Guard.

The stakes in the Operation Iraqi Freedom are enormous. Trillions of dollars, and the very shape of the economies of the oil-dependent industrialized world hang in the balance. It is very much to Tehran’s benefit to see Iraq fall into the chaos of civil war. While Iranis might share the Shi’ia faith with their neighbors, they are a different race. This fact is largely ignored in the pluralistic West, but it has serious implications in the Middle-East. When push comes to shove, Persian Shi’ias will dump on Arabic Shi’ias as soon as it becomes convenient.

Iran stands to gain new territory underlaid with a vast petroleum pool. All they have to do is see that there will be no peace until Iraq fractures into its disparate parts. Eventually, the nations of the US-led coalition will tire of having their young people turned into coffin fillers and call it quits.

Revolutionary Guards are already in Iran teaching the rebels how to build bigger and better bombs to slaughter foreign forces more efficiently, and since it’s in their interest to keep the blood flowing, it is distinctly within the realm of possibility that the outrages perpetrated on Shi’ias might well be the disguised hand of Iran’s special operators. It’s an old tactic. The Nazis burned the Reichstag so as to blame the Communists whom they immediately purged, paving the way to take control of the government. It could well be happening in this instance.

They’re just one more group of players in the most cynical game around at the moment.

One of the lessons I learned from Vietnam is the longer a war lasts, the more brutalized the participants become, eventually making killing as casual as a trip to the dope dealer’s place. When that point is reached, when human life is no longer mankind’s most precious commodity, depravity follows.

There is one way out of this mess, but the price is steep. The question is, do we not dare pay it?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

What’d I Say?

I’ve been absent from this page for a while, but recent events in Iraq move me to comment. This is going to be in the vein of “I told you so.”

My long ago prediction was this; without a superior, iron-handed power in Baghdad, Iraq would dissolve amidst a three way civil war pitting Irani-backed Shi’ites against Sunnis primarily and Kurds incidentally.

It’s begun. Party or parties unknown blew up the Golden Mosque in Samarra, a highly revered Shia shrine. Shi’ites immediately took Sunnis to task attacking mosques and individuals across the country. Whoever did the dirty deed of blasting the age old edifice apart played right into Iran’s hands.

Playing into Iran’s hands is nothing new. This whole expensive, homicidal adventure has benefited Iran and has done zippo for the American taxpayer. Iran stands to annex Shia territory under which lies a mammoth pool of petroleum. Once that conquest is complete, the Al Sabah regime in Kuwait and the Al Saud regime of Saudi Arabia will be on shaky ground.

In the meantime, Dipshit Dubya who committed us to this insanity is now promising energy independence based on new technology. I won’t tell you that I am the hippest dude happening in the technology world, but I’m no slouch. The question remains; what new technology?

Nuclear is out. Building and running nuclear plants cost more in energy than the resulting power derived. A net loss in other words. Hy-fuels have yet to be anything more than expensive–make that very expensive–engineering curiosities.

Wind and geo-thermal generation along with hydro can’t begin to meet the needs of simple day-to-day power consumption and wouldn’t be a drop in the bucket if all the motive power were converted to electric rather than petroleum fuels.

So here we are, sucked into a war nobody needed which has infuriated to entire Moslem world, alienated our traditional allies, killed thousands of our people and tens of thousands Iraqis, turned a bumper treasury surplus into the largest deficit in the history of the world, and run up energy costs by at least 40% with higher costs in the offing.

To balance all this off, the Fed is monitoring your emails, can run investigations on your activities with no evidence of wrongdoing, and is now telling us that governmental alchemy will see to our future energy needs.

On top of that, the Military Mouthpiece in Baghdad is telling us that the country is not on the brink of civil war. One must parse military pronouncements most carefully. In this case, the BS is right on the money; Iraq is not on the brink of civil war, the war has already started. Pandora’s Box stands wide open with decades of death, suffering, and degradation ahead for all the people of the Middle East.

Good goin’ there, Dubya. What’s your next move?

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