Iraqi Elections Success, Terrorists defeated. Critics proven wrong

January 31, 2005

This post is just a gloat. We got rid of Saddam. Democracy is now in place in Afghanistan, the Ukraine, and Iraq. The terrorists have suffered a MAJOR blow on their own terms.

From a human rights, war on terror, and general security perspective, removing Saddam has turned out to be a major success.

I’m looking for some mea culpa from Josh and Robert.


Bush’s Inaugural Was Needed Years Ago

January 24, 2005

In the comments, Josh poins to Andrew Sullivan linking to this article by Fareed Zakaria in which both claim that the goal has always been freedom and the problem has always been implementation (with Sullivan making a snarky comment about Bush’s implementation. They both miss that there has in fact been a change of policy.

Zakaria talks about Bush cozying up to Putin. He ignores that Bush screwed Putin in favor of Ukrainian democracy. Sullivan misses the fact that much of our problem in Iraq comes from Bush never resolving an internal debate within the administration between those who believe we should have taken out Saddam and then left Iraq to deal however and those who wanted to go there to build a democracy. That failure to choose left much post-war planning up in the air. This Administration has actually done amazing things for democracy, in Afghanistan, in the Ukraine, and soon in Iraq. And the choice has now been made and is abundantly clear. We will continue to work for democracy in other places as well (damn the torpedoes of whether or not the governments will be more or less friendly!).

Regime Change in Iran

January 23, 2005

Hmm. I just realized that the Cheney comments about Iran’s nuclear threat that I discussed in mylast post came ahead of an inaugural speech in which Bush said:

Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world:

All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.

Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country.

The rulers of outlaw regimes can know that we still believe as Abraham Lincoln did: “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it.”

The leaders of governments with long habits of control need to know: To serve your people you must learn to trust them. Start on this journey of progress and justice, and America will walk at your side.

Yes, Bush is doing what Lincoln did in the Emancipation Proclamation, converting a war about politics to a war about morality. But more directly, he is exhorting the people of Iran to overthrow their government! The combination of Cheney talking about the necessity for military action to take out Iran’s nuclear capabilities and Bush’s claiming that we will also support Iranian reformers is exciting and should be making Iran’s leadership very very nervous.

Note: Yes, the speech is also addressed to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, etc. But Iran is obviously top of mind given Cheney’s comments.

Cheney Warns of Nuclear Iran

January 23, 2005

From the WaPost

Vice President Cheney said yesterday that Iran is a top threat to world peace and Middle East stability, accusing Tehran of sponsoring terrorism against Americans and building a “fairly robust new nuclear program.”

In an interview aired on MSNBC’s “Imus in the Morning” show a few hours before President Bush’s inaugural address, Cheney warned that Israel “might well decide to act first” militarily to eliminate Iran’s nuclear capabilities if the United States and its allies fail to solve the standoff with Tehran diplomatically.

“Given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of Israel, the Israelis might well decide to act first, and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards,” Cheney said.

So it looks like that is the plan. Israel will do the airstrike/special-ops stuff in Iran, giving the US additional runway in this game of chicken. Israel has been preparing to wipe out Hezbollah in Iran recently. The two attacks may be coordinated so as to avoid the risk that Iran would respond to such an attack by using Hezbollah to damage Israel. There is also a lot of background chatter in various new sources about the US doing a major assault on terrorist locations in Syria. It would be fabulously efficient if the US and Israel acted simultaneously, but such synchrony might lessen US plausible deniability about attacking Iran.

Spam Irony

January 22, 2005

I filter my mail using spamassasin and have recenlyt started filtering my blog commentspam using MTBlacklist. MTBlacklist relies on putting a link in the email notifications of new comments. However, I miss lots of these comment spam notifications because spamassasin interprets them as email spam and filters them out! Doh!

WMD Not Found

January 20, 2005

Josh in comments before said:
just a little reminder. please tell robert and me exactly how the administration was not lying through their teeth.

also tell me why we have not had any terror alerts since the election.

The link notes that the Iraqi Survey Group has stopped trying to find WMD in Iraq and a bunch of quotations from administration officials such as:

We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud
Condoleeza Rice, US National Security Advisor
CNN Late Edition

Given that every intelligence agency in the world believed that Iraq had WMD, that the UN (and the Clinton administration) said he had WMD in 1998, that he USED WMD before and we have no record of destruction of them, it seems odd to accuse the Administration of lying. Perhaps the administration was incorrect in their beliefs, but I think lying requires an intent to decieve that certainly appears to be absent. Moreover, given that we don’t know what happenned to the WMD he already possessed, we don’t actually have evidence that they were wrong. The reasonable presumption was that Saddam had WMD and much of the discussion was whether or not his WMD justified action. We also now know that Saddam was intent on being able to produce WMD (including nukes). We now know that the “sixteen words” from Bush’s State of the Union were true; Saddam was attempting to obtain uranium from Africa. I am not saying that the critics were lying when they claimed these 16 words to be false, but there is at this point a lot of evidence that Joseph Wilson, the primary source of these claims, lied quite a lot.

And the fact that Saddam was attempting to obtain uranium, places the Condi quote in context. Given that Saddam was evading the UN inspection regime, we didn’t want to find out he was successful in obtaining nukes the hard way. This justification for war stands regardless of whether WMD are ever found. I would also remind Josh that WMD was one of many justifications for this war, including shutting down his funding of terroritsts, building liberal institutions in the Middle East, securing the oil supply, and enforcing UN resolutions that were imposed on Saddam as the result of his invasion of Kuwait.

As for the absence of terror alerts since the election, I don’t know. Perhaps the terrorists decided that action immediately after an election is a lot less useful than action before an election. On the other hand, checking Google News…FBI Alerts Boston of Four Terror Suspects (from this morning!).

I would suspect that Josh does not actually believe there are terrorists out to get us and that they aren’t networked with the governments of Syria and Iran and the former government of Iraq. Perhaps he is right, but there is a lot of evidence the other way. I wouldn’t count on it and I’m glad that our President doesn’t either.

Dave Allen’s Getting Things Done

January 19, 2005

I keep hearing great things about Getting Things Done. I recently saw a review of it on Slashdot. The key insight is that you pay much more than you think for multitasking and context switching. If you accept that you can only do one thing at a time then you can get a lot more done. If you are already in an interrupt state, do quick things. Then settle down to concentrate to get some specific block done, if you can’t define a block that you can get done in the time you have available restructure. The review summarized his method as 3D. Do it. Delegate it. Delay it. The rest is a system of reminders so that you aren’t maintaining state about stuff you aren’t currently doing in your head. In the comments there was a link to a page summarizing the entire method that I found really useful. If you feel like you are thrashing rather than being productive, check this stuff out.