Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Archive for the ‘Iraq’ Category

SO FAR SO GOOD, HAPPY TO BE WRONG, KNOCKING ON WOOD, etc.

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Well, last night it seemed pretty sure Trump’s war with Iran was a done deal, now looks like cooler heads may be prevailing. Granted we’re not out of the woods yet, but Trump seems to have taken Iran’s retaliation for Soleimani’s death in stride. Iran apparently warned ahead about their missile attacks, and took other precautions to avoid casualties. Hopefully satisfying their need to retaliate without escalating the situation any further.

In more good news, the Philippines has approved the planting of Golden Rice. This is a GMO variety of rice designed to have extra Vitamin A, as large parts of the poor rice growing areas of the world suffer from serious Vitamin A deficiencies. Killing and blinding enormous numbers of children every year. Anti-GMO activists are outraged, but for once science and common sense won out. And Golden Rice is free to use, it was developed purely as a humanitarian concern. Basically ant-GMO activists don’t have a leg to stand on, and have been reduced to claiming Golden Rice is some sort of Trojan Horse. An insidious  plot to save millions of children from death and blindness to show GMOs are safe. I can live with that plot. So will millions of children.

Seeing a lot of anti-windmill propaganda on Facebook. It’s somewhere between funny and infuriating. Funny because the things they come up with don’t pass the laugh test. Infuriating because people innocently share them and spread misinformation. No, wind power doesn’t mean one can’t watch TV unless the wind is blowing, that’s not how power grids work. And yes, old wind power plants go into landfills. Of course they are completely non-toxic, and the space they fill up is beyond inconsequential compared to the staggering amount of toxic waste the equivalent in coal powered plants produce. And the good doctor covers the bird issue, basically the number of birds they kill is minor, and by being green, wind power saves far more birds than it kills.

Slow news day. Slow day in history too. The Battle of New Orleans was on January 8, 1815. This was where andrew Jackson got his big start to fame, as news of his victory and news about the end of the war reached the East Coast about the same time, forever associating them in people’s minds. The fact that the war was already over when the battle was fought, well, details. It wasn’t much of a battle either, the British commander was in early stage Alzheimers. He basically marched his troops straight at Jackson’s well fortified troops, who obliged by blowing them away. In any event the war ended because the Napoleonic Wars had ended, so the British were no longer drafting sailors off of American ships. And the real reason for the war, an American fantasy about bringing Canada into the United States, had failed miserably. So neither side was inclined to keep fighting, and the war ended officially as a draw.

Desperate for a story, I checked out an article about a Polish village where no boys have been born in a decade. It came to the world’s attention when they sent an all girl team of junior firefighters to some national event. Fame and fortune have followed. Well, minor fame, no fortune. I was intrigued, what scientific mystery could account for this? Then I read the story. Over the past decade, all girls. Yes, a whole dozen of them. Sigh. What are the odds of flipping a coin a dozen times and getting all heads or tails? A few thousand to one. In other words, there’s no mystery here, just a statistical fluke. People get excited about the silliest things.

In personal news, walking last night I noticed Venus was particularly bright in the sky. I stopped to gaze at it, and there was a bright flash about a Moon’s diameter away from it. I thought it was a plane for a moment, but no, just one flash. Never saw anything like it before. All I can imagine is that it was a small shooting star coming straight at me, so I just saw a flash, not a streak. It was right after I heard the news about the Iranian missile strike, so it was a bit unnerving.

And speaking of which, waited all day, looks like the shooting war has been postponed. Phew. The Iranian response to Trump’s attack was proportionate, and Trump seems to have accepted it. Him and his administration lied about all sorts of stuff, but that just goes with the territory. If nothing else happens, I’ll write about other stuff. Using the cool picture I found (above) in hopes that I won’t need it to illustrate a post. Flaming optimism.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Painting, The Apotheosis of War 1871 Credit: Vasily Vereshchagin 1842-1904 Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

January 8, 2020 at 5:51 pm

Posted in Iran, Iraq, Trump, War

TRUMP’S INTERNATIONAL SUCKER PUNCH, WHAT’S NEXT?

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Iraq_seaborne_crude_oil_exports_by_destination_in_2017_(31760972217)

Trump has threatened Iraq with terrible sanctions if they ask US forces to leave Iraq. Yes, America, our commitment to respecting democracy and sovereignty only extends to those who do our bidding. Nothing new here sadly. It should be pointed out, again, that sanctions hurt the people, especially poor people, of a nation first. So they are a form of collective punishment. And if anything they increase support for the hardliners.

Also, Iraq’s oil goes to a lot of countries, not sure how they will view sanctions. A lot also goes by pipeline through Turkey as well, the above chart is just oil tankers leaving through the Persian Gulf. We are talking the world’s 12th largest oil producer, so sanctions are going to hurt the world economy. I can’t see sanctions as being good for America either.

And it’s reported that Soleimani was on a diplomatic peace mission between Iran and Saudi Arabia. I don’t even know how to parse information like that, it certainly could be true. Neither Iran nor Saudi Arabia benefits if there’s a big war in the Persian Gulf. Nobody does. I don’t trust any particular news sources now. It goes without saying that anything the Trump administration or the Democrats say should be taken with an oil tanker full of salt.

Again, this raises the question, what is Trump trying to accomplish? I’m still not clear on that. I am not sure he is clear, though it’s clear that acting tough and bullying seem to be part of his plan. It’s not clear to me that he needs a distraction or is making some calculated move to get re-elected by being tough on Iran. It might energize his base, but it’s certainly not going to get him a lot of support on the general street. The majority of Americans are tired of our endless wars, Trump’s (now broken) promises to back off on them are part of the reason he got elected.

To simplify, Trump’s attack was basically outright war. Now we’re just seeing what happens next. The US started this, since at least the early fifties the US has been messing with Iran. This article has a factual timeline, even if the author’s attitude annoys me. Little countries don’t start wars with powerful countries, though powerful countries often claim their chosen victim started it. Germany claimed Poland attacked Germany in 1939. Russia claimed Finland attacked it shortly afterwards. The US and the Gulf of Tonkin incident. The list is endless.

There’s now a rumor the US ordered an Iraqi pullout, being denied now. Or it was some sort of draft letter. One wonders what Trump will do if Iraq formally requests our departure? Will we invade again? The Bush invasion of Iraq was one of the most botched invasions in history, I find it hard to imagine Trump’s team will do better. I’d wonder about Congress maybe doing something about this blatant disregard for the Constitution, but with the Senate in Trump’s control, I can’t see anything big there. As for Americans taking to the streets in millions, not yet.

Here’s a good article that covers stuff not seen on MSNBC or FOX. Here’s another one, long but interesting read. I can tell from the BBC and what is coming from my housemate’s room that the situation is still critical. I’m still out of sorts. Arms company stocks are up, and if my current reaction is common, beer sales are up. It’s not my imagination, Trump’s attack is a big deal and it’s likely to lead to bad things.

And if the Trumpers are right and somehow the US and the Middle East end up much better off because of this targeted killing I’ll eat my words. Stranger things have happened. That’s the beauty of reality, it’s not obligated to conform to our expectations. Keeps me guessing.

Your thoughts and shares appreciated.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Iraq oil tanker oil graphic. Credit: From Wikipedia, Public Domain in one fashion or another.)

Written by unitedcats

January 6, 2020 at 6:47 pm

Posted in Iran, Iraq, Trump, War

WAR DRUMS

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Well, so much for writing fun sciency or history posts. Stuff just keeps happening in Trump’s confrontation with Iran. I will write on and off during the day, updating when necessary. The first development is Trump threatening to attack 52 Iranian sites if Iran retaliates for the US’s targeted killing of a popular Iranian general. Hundreds of thousands have turned out for his funeral. The general’s, Trump is still with us. And Iraq just voted to expel all US troops from Iraq. Gee, they don’t want any part of Trump’s war with Iran, and they certainly don’t want it fought in Iraq. Who would have guessed? And just now, Iran rolled back the 2015 nuclear deal.

I’m not sure what Trump is trying to accomplish by making threats. It’s bizarre that his airport attack is presented as some sort of defensive move or preventing a war. Now if anything happens, he has backed himself into a corner. And gave Iran cover for rolling back on the nuclear deal. Which isn’t going to make our allies happy. And how will Trump respond to that? It’s not like harsher sanctions are an option. Worse, anyone who wants war between the US and Iran just has to fake an Iranian backed terrorist attack. If it’s spectacular enough Trump will really be on the hot seat. I can’t see any good about a war with Iran, but some organizations and even some governments would. Certainly I’m seeing people saying Trump is Israel and Saudi Arabia’s puppet, there’s some truth to it for sure.

It should be pointed out that Iran is closely aligned with Russia and China, which again highlights the absurdity of “Trump is Putin’s puppet” codswallop. And the administration idea that general Soleimani was some sort of American murdering terrorist plotting to kill more Americans doesn’t seem to have any evidence backing it up. Staggering amounts of nonsense all over Facebook and the media. At least we seemed to have backed down on Trump’s threat to attack cultural sites.

Trump should be happy, he’s destroyed the 2015 Nuclear deal with Iran, one of Obama’s signature accomplishments. Hopefully that’s the worst of it, but sadly burning oil facilities and a worldwide economic jolt are still very much an unpleasant possibility. Bombing Iran isn’t going to fix anything, nor will it engender regime change in Iran. Not exactly sure what Trump is trying to accomplish, if he manages to bluster through this without making it worse he’ll get my approval.

I am just trying to get my thoughts down and published. Some of my friends are refusing to watch the news, it’s all pretty depressing now. I have no idea what’s going to happen now, anyone who says they do is deluding themselves. “Everyone is loyal to the nightmare of their choice” though, as the good colonel said in Heart of Darkness. This often leads to bad things. I hope it all blows over and I can go back to blogging about cats.

I’m reading a book about the Battle of Stalingrad, some light reading to distract me from the news. Hope everyone is having a great weekend. Thoughts and shares appreciated.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Digital art. Credit: Pixabay, Public Domain under US copyright law.)

Written by unitedcats

January 5, 2020 at 5:03 pm

GENERAL SOLEIMANI’S DEATH, THE ARCHDUKE FERDINAND ASSASSINATION OF OUR DAY?

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Trump ordered the assasination (murder, killing, execution?) of a powerful and popular Iranian general, blowing him up at Baghdad’s international airport. I will be the first to admit, this event has upset me to no end. Even writing about it is hard. I’m also afraid that further developments might make what I write irrelevant even before I publish. My old friends will say I freak out easily, and I suppose they are right. It’s been a long time since anything freaked me out this much though, the American invasion of Iraq being the last time I was this upset. In both cases my gut was convinced that terrible things were going to follow. Well, my gut was right about Iraq, I can only hope it’s wrong this time. So in the hopes of making some sense of this all, my current thoughts on the topic, unorganized as they may be.

Reasons why I find this so upsetting. This could easily be the start of a big war. My comparison to the assasination of Archduke Ferdinand was not made flippantly. Ferdinand’s death set into motion a chain of events that quickly led to World War One; and while I think a world war is unlikely, no one thought Ferdinand’s death would lead to a catastrophic war either. And whether or not this attack leads to a wider war, it will radicalize a lot more people. The US doesn’t need more enemies, this is going to make America and Americans more hated in both Iraq and Iran, and to a greater and lesser extent throughout the Muslim world.

I am also horrified by how much support the idea of war with Iran is finding in Washington and the media. So far only Bernie Sanders is unequivocally condemning the idea of a war with Iran. I can’t see any good coming out of this attack, Trump has Palestinized Iraq now. By that I mean we are simply waging war with whoever we want inside Iraq, murdering our designated enemies at will. This is what Israel has done in its occupied territories for decades, and Iraq is a lot bigger than Israeli occupied Palestine. Israel has been whacking Palestinian leaders for decades, hasn’t brought peace any closer. And then the absurdity of Trump claiming that this utterly illegal act of war is about defending America.

Many people though are in fact believing the official narrative. “General Soleimani was a bad guy who killed hundreds of Americans, and whacking him was a great idea.” The Marvel comic book narrative. Even if it were true, Trump started the war with Iran when he pulled out of the nuclear agreement with them (which they were in complete compliance with) followed by devastating sanctions. Trump started this latest round of problems with Iran, and has now escalated it to outright war. Killing Soleimani isn’t going to make the war go away. “Revenge is not a strategy.”

I see a lot of memes to the effect that this attack is about Trump getting re-elected. I find that analysis facile. Trump’s been mindlessly hostile to Iran since before he got elected, this is just more of the same.  The bitter irony is that Trump partly got elected by claiming Hillary was the hothead who would get us into a war. If Trump does get us into war, he joins a proud legacy of Democrats who promised peace and delivered war, such as Wilson, Johnson, and Clinton. Now it can be a Republican tradition too! Isn’t bipartisanship great?

I’m also upset because my bunker isn’t fully stocked yet. Sort of a joke, sort of not. I hope I wake up tomorrow and cooler heads have prevailed. Peace is good, war is bad. We don’t need anyone else buried in Arlington. Right? Have a great weekend everyone.

Shares, comments appreciated.

Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image:Arlington Cemetery. Credit: Public Domain image from Snappygoat.)

PS: I’m afraid to sleep, a nightmare before the US invasion of Iraq haunts me still.

Written by unitedcats

January 3, 2020 at 9:16 pm

Posted in Iran, Iraq, Propaganda, Trump, War

HAPPY NEW YEAR

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January first, New Year’s Day. Oddly enough starting the year on January 1st is a relatively new thing. In much of Europe it wasn’t until after 1500. In the Ottoman Empire it wasn’t until 1918. And in Thailand not until 1941! Yes, there are Thai people alive today who remember when New Year’s Day wasn’t January 1st. Before then it was April 1st. So that means there must have been an extra long year or an extra short year when they made the switch.  Must of been a huge hassle with contracts, birthdays, and such. The legal equivalent of when Sweden switched to driving on the right.

So, any interesting history on January 1st? A little, there’s always something. The Chenogne massacre in 1945, where American troops in retaliation for the Malmedy massacre killed a like number of German POWs. I’m of a mind that events like this should be taught in school. On the same day the Luftwaffe launched its last air offensive, Operation Bodenplatte, an attempt to destroy a crippling number of Allied aircraft on the ground in Belgium and France, giving the Germans control of the skies over the then raging Battle of the Bulge. It was a catastrophic fail, destroying easily replaced Allied aircraft and losing many irreplaceable trained and experienced German pilots. So it was the Luftwaffe’s last gasp as an organized force, and through the end of the war the Allies completely controlled the skies over Europe.

In 1947 Canadian citizens became Canadian citizens instead of British citizens. I didn’t know that, but it was more a formality and legal nicety than any big change. Going back further, in 1804 “Haiti becomes the first black-majority republic and second independent country in North America after the United States.” That’s from Wikipedia. I guess the hundreds of Indian nations in the Americas didn’t count as independent countries? In 1801 Ceres was discovered, the first and largest asteroid discovered. It was considered a planet for some time, then an asteroid, and now a dwarf planet. Science marches on, if confusingly sometimes.

Back in the here and now 2020 rolls in with a new crisis. Iraqi protesters swarmed the US embassy in Baghdad, causing damage, but no deaths or hostages yet. My first thought on hearing the news was, wait, what, isn’t the US embassy inside the Green Zone, the huge fortified crusader complex the US built in Baghdad? How did protesters even get to the US embassy? Turns out the Iraqi government let them in. Sigh, what a mess. Trump publicly blamed Iran, claiming they orchestrated the attack somehow. At least he’s mastered that aspect of Neocon World Middle East, if anything we don’t like happens, it must be Iran’s fault! That the US airstrikes against Iraqi militia forces killed dozens of people and just might have enraged Iraqis, nope, not relevant, it’s Iran! 

Even if Iran did have a hand in this, it’s just another indication of how America’s hard line policy towards Iran is failing. And he’s threatening Iran that they are going to pay “a very big price.” It’s not like he can sanction them further, so I’m not exactly sure what he means. He’s going to bomb Iraq some more? And no, our embassy wasn’t attacked because Trump has made people around the world not respect us. Good chance most of the protesters don’t even know who Trump is, but they do know America has brought nothing but suffering and death to Iraq for decades.

That’s one of the most frustrating things about Americans, most of them are now oblivious to the carnage and subsequent ill feelings our endless wars in the Middle East are causing. Somehow they are all habituated to it, like it’s normal to be dropping bombs on poor people on the other side of the planet. If some other country routinely bombed the USA Americans would most definitely be attacking their embassy, Americans would be outraged.  Do as we say, not as we do, the imperial disease illustrated.

In any event here’s hoping cool heads prevail, the last thing Trump or the nation needs is another war. Even watching the impeachment show is preferable to seeing another war on TV. Speaking of which, I did see a great movie recently, ‘Long Shot’ with Seth Rogan and Charlize Theron. It was as funny as ‘The Hangover’ and ‘Game Night,’ to give the gentle reader an idea of what movies I find funny. And now I will never hear the word ‘cracker’ again without giggling. I hope everyone had a safe New Year’s Eve, welcome to 2020.

Comments and shares appreciated.

(Copyright © 2019 Doug Stych. All rights reserved.

(Image: Haitian revolution: The Battle of Palm Tree Hill   Credit: January Suchodolski 1897-1875. This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1924.)

Written by unitedcats

January 1, 2020 at 5:41 pm

“For Sale, Iraqi Army M-16, Never Fired, Only Dropped Once.”

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rifle

I’m trying to have a sense of humour about the dreadful situation in Iraq and Syria, but it’s hard. It’s been going from bad to worse for two weeks now as the ISIS blitz continues. They have consolidated their control of Northern and Western Iraq and are tightening the noose on Baghdad. It’s pretty clear at this point that the Iraqi army is an army in name only, they just keep running when the ISIS attacks as town after town falls without a fight. Some Iraqi special forces are trapped in the refinery in Baiji and have held out for days, but they can’t run and know surrender means almost certain death, so not surprising they are fighting. The Iraqi government has been unable to relieve them as the ISIS controls the roads to Baiji. There’s no question the ISIS has captured huge stores of military goods, captured Humvees have already been used to capture a town in Syria. How long Baghdad will hold out is anyone’s guess, but they are using volunteers with a weeks military training to fill the gaps left by massive desertion in the Iraqi army.

And if the situation wasn’t bad enough, just today Israel launched major air strikes against the Assad regime’s military in Syria. Assad was making progress, but his forces were being bolstered by Iranian supplies and Shia fighters from Iraq. Well, the ISIS has cut the roads to Iran, and the Shia fighters are returning home to defend Baghdad. It seems crazy on Israel’s part, they’d prefer the ISIS to win? Apparently an anti-tank gun fired from Syria killed an Israeli teenager in the Golan Heights. I can’t imagine that Assad would provoke Israel that way, makes me wonder if the ISIS tricked Israel into attacking their enemy. I can only suspect that Israel has decided that the situation is hopeless, and they want it to get worse so they have an excuse to ethnically cleanse the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the so called “transfer” plan.

In other words, I think this is going to get a lot worse before it gets better. I don’t really see how the situation can be stabilized. US air strikes aren’t going to stop the ISIS, if anything they will strengthen it. And it would be unpopular in the US and put Americans at risk. Washington doesn’t have any good options I can see, and is paralyzed by partisan politics. One of the most amazing aspects of this is that the architects of the US invasion of Iraq, people that lied us into an invasion and were utterly wrong on every count, are now sought out by the media as “experts” on the crisis. This is why I refer it it as the “lamestream media.” At least in other countries they have real experts on the news. On the plus side, at least we know since they were wrong about the invasion, and still haven’t admitted it was a disaster, it’s safe to say every word out of their mouths now is garbage. Still garbage I mean.

So what now? Who knows. I think this is the worst international crisis in decades, and I don’t see it going anywhere but downhill from here. I think the Maliki Regime will collapse. We might see Iran with Russian help hold onto the oil fields in Southern Iraq. The Assad regime’s days are numbered, and with the ISIS in charge, Israel will expel millions of Palestinians into Syria, making what is already a horrific humanitarian catastrophe all the worse.  And a defacto caliphate in Iraq and Syria, with an independent Kurdistan to boot. Even this scenario could be optimistic, this could be the start of  a much larger war or even a  world war.

My current take on history falls into the “punctuated equilibrium” realm. IE history is long periods of more or less stasis, with smaller periods of “shit happens.” And no one ever correctly calls the specific results when the shit is coming down. Could I be freaking out? Maybe. Will this affect us in the USA? Not likely. I do think now is a good idea to fill those extra gas cans. The price of oil is going up, and there might even be temporary disruptions of supplies. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Lastly, the human aspect. Imagine what people in Baghdad are going through now. For the second time in a decade conquering forces are approaching the city. A city of seven million people. I can’t imagine. I really can’t. God save us all.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit. Etc. I hope I don’t have to majorly update this tomorrow. What a mess.)

Written by unitedcats

June 23, 2014 at 12:28 am

Posted in History, Iran, Iraq, War, World

Tuesday, 17 June, 2014, Iraq Crisis

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baquba

Tuesday Morning. Don’t really have time for a full review. Christians are fleeing to what is now effectively Kurdistan. The Kurds have announced they have no interest in helping the Maliki regime recapture Mosul. No kidding, they have their homeland and they are digging in, at some point soon I would expect them to declare independence. And fighting has gotten closer to Baghdad, the ISIS appear to have resumed their push south. The city of Baquba is being fought over, less than 40 miles from Baghdad. It’s an important city of 500,000, many whom are fleeing south. I think the image is Iraqi volunteers heading north out of Baghdad.

Tuesday Evening. The ISIS appears to be advancing on Baghdad. A few larger perspective points. Right now, the events of the past week appear to have been game changers. I don’t see how the clock can be turned back and the “status quo,” whatever that was, will be restored. I think that the Sykes–Picot Agreement, the unnatural borders imposed on the former Ottoman Empire by France and England after World War One, may finally be unravelling. A major war may be in the offing, no one knows how those ever turn out. The ISIS advance so far has been stunning and almost unprecedented. Certainly in recent history. Other points:

“It’s Obama’s Fault.” Sigh. Well, at least the GOP is consistent. Anything bad is Obama’s fault. On the first pass, Obama’s foreign policy was the same as Bush’s foreign policy in any significant regard, so, wtf? Secondly, Bush was the one that invaded Iraq on lies followed by an occupation based on wishful thinking. Bush couldn’t fix the mess he created in his six years, so it’s Obama’s fault he couldn’t fix it? I don’t think anyone expected the ISIS to explode, although I was raising alarms a few months back, but the GOP certainly wasn’t. In any event looking for blame in a situation like this is like blaming Pearl Harbor on Roosevelt. Which the GOP didn’t do. The rise of the ISIS is the worst crisis the US has faced since 9/11, partisan politics has no place here. At the very least they should tone it down and try to help.

As a codicil to this, the people who thought the invasion of Iraq was such a great idea in the first place are now doubling down. Excuse me, but could we just give Senator McCain and his ilk rifles and send them to Iraq? Misguided US military action is what created this mess, it’s clearly not the solution. As Obama recently said, paraphrasing here, “Just because you have the best hammer, doesn’t mean every problem is a nail.” Sure, the US military could likely recapture Mosul and the rest more or less with ease. Then what? The ISIS would just melt into the population and wait for us to leave. They aren’t from Mars for God’s sake, they live there.

Which is the last point, the Manichean heresy. In essence, the idea that there are good guys and bad guys. And by extension the idea that if the good guys just kill all the bad guys, everything will be just fine. (That’s been tried repeatedly, it never works.)  Or as the Manichean heresy might be called today: the 12 year old boy’s comic book view of the world. The ugly truth is that people are people, they are all pretty much the same, and differences between them are due to circumstances and history, not inherent good/evilness. I’m not saying there aren’t just wars, and indeed people like Hitler do show up. My point is that when leaders say “They are the bad guys, we must wage war,” it’s not a logical argument. The first is simplistic at best, the later is a does not follow argument.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings. There are other points I should toss out for discussion. Like the fact that this could result in a huge loss of American influence in the world. Two Saudi Arabias, neither of which require the US as an Ally. Sleep tight.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit. It is arguably an historic image. I will gladly properly attribute it if I find out who to attribute it too. God save us all.)

 

Written by unitedcats

June 17, 2014 at 10:46 pm

Crisis in Iraq, Monday Evening Update

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iq

As anyone knows who hasn’t been in a coma the past week, Iraq has exploded into war as the jihadist group ISIS has roared through northern and central Iraq, the Iraqi army basically cutting and running. As a person who was adamantly opposed to the US invasion of Iraq, this is all very disturbing to me. This is the legacy of the senseless toppling of the Saddam regime. It’s easy to turn a country into a failed state, putting it back together again is a whole other kettle of fish. In any event events on the ground are moving too fast for me to write dedicated posts on it, so I am going to just start posting updates once or twice a day. I have been following this situation intensely since it exploded on the scene last week. and at least have some grip on what’s going on. Things are changing quickly though, sources tend to be very unreliable in situations like this, especially since all involved are lying as they try to manoeuvre for their advantage. My opinions may very well change as new information arises, or gentle readers argue otherwise. As ever, I am on the side of all the innocents caught up in this unholy mess. Here then is my latest update. I also have a group on Facebook, Doug’s Darkworld, readers so inclined are welcome to join the debate there.

Monday Evening, 16 June, 2014.

Well, the ISIS have been broadcasting their war crimes. They are trying to demoralize the Iraqi army and the Shiite militias still opposing them. They may also be trying to goad the US into doing something stupid. War is insanity, what can I say. And sadly the ISIS has no monopoly on senseless violence. In other developments a Shiite militia column on the way to Samarra was ambushed by the ISIS with heavy loss of life. However enthusiastic, untrained militias mostly consisting of teenagers are unlikely to prevail against the ISIS. As the map shows the ISIS now controls more territory that many countries. The UN is pulling personnel out of Baghdad, the US has sent more troops to defend the embassy. I can only assume that even if nothing else, the US forces sailing into the Persian gulf are preparing to evacuate the embassy in a hurry if need be. The Kurds and the ISIS appear to have a defacto truce, not good for Iraq, but makes sense for the Kurds. Lastly, the Syrian Air Force has launched airstrikes in Iraq against the ISIS. Might seem odd, but the Assad regime, Iran, and the Maliki regime have been cooperating for a long time. Maybe it wasn’t such a great idea to destabilize the Assad regime, but good thing we didn’t go further when the pressure was on because of their (alleged) gas attacks. The ISIS would be all the stronger. Again, no clue how this is going to turn out, but the longer this goes on the more impossible it will be to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit. Credit and Copyright: Wall Street Journal. lastly I note that Paul Bremer, architect of the utterly botched and disastrous US occupation of Iraq is now sharing his “wisdom” on NBC. No wonder Americans are clueless about the world.)

Written by unitedcats

June 16, 2014 at 8:58 pm

Posted in Iraq, Terrorism, War, World

I’m Back, and it’s Worse than I Thought

with 7 comments

A few days in the desert clearing my mind, and I’m back, safe and sound. Maybe not completely sound. No, I’m not in the above image. I’m the one in the 100 year old mine tunnel taking the picture. My friends did not share my belief that “It’s perfectly safe.” Of course it wasn’t perfectly safe, a half wheelbarrow full of gravel and rocks could have showered on my head at the entrance, falling from a few inches. I would have been bruised and dirty. Inside the tunnel, if it was a Hollywood movie, the entire tunnel could have caved in on me, crushing me in front of my horrified friend’s eyes. In real life, tunnels cut through solid dry rock are used as bomb shelters. Yes, there was a minuscule chance that a boulder could have fallen from the ceiling and killed me. Probably about the same risk I take crossing the busy corner by my house several times a day. It’s all about relative risk people.

Speaking of relative risk, standing near New York cops when they open fire clearly has some hazards. They managed to hit nine bystanders while gunning down an armed man?! Is this some sort of record? Fortunately only the suspect was killed, and none of the nine was seriously injured, few of them being directly shot. As police shootings go, this one seems justified to me, so hopefully there won’t be too much hue and cry. And another example of the need for cradle-to-grave health care. Sadly there will now be lawsuits instead.

Speaking of graves, Neil Armstrong is dead. He was a good man, a true hero. And not so much a hero for being the first man to step on the Moon, a hero for being humble about it and sharing the credit for what was a team effort involving tens of  thousands of people. Yes, he “flubbed” his line when he was the first person to step on the Moon, but anyone with a functioning brain understood what he meant. He was kinda nervous at the time, so I think we can safely say he gets a pass. And no, he wasn’t an Atheist; and the Mr Gorsky thing is an urban legend.

Two nice segues in a  row, but now I got nothing. I have done a bit of digging, and discovered that 31 states allow rapists some parental rights. And that Ryan, Romney’s running mate, co-sponsored a bill that would have given parental rights to rapists. I really hope some gentle reader can confirm that this isn’t true. I did seem to find evidence that Ryan believes that rape is “just another method of conception.” Yeah, and murder is just another form of death. This is the problem with ideology (and “life begins at conception” is as ideological as it gets,) it means that followed to its logical conclusions in any number of directions, one gets sick absurdities. No, rape is not “just another method of conception,” it’s a terrible crime. And rapists do not have parental rights. The Republicans need to clarify their position on this.

A  Jason left a nasty comment on my “We Could Have Won Vietnam” post, it’s the last comment. Sigh. Aside from missing the point of the post, he not only regurgitates the myth that we fought the Vietnam War with our hands tied behind our backs for political reasons;  he comes up with a new myth, that our victories in World War Two were due to barbarism and unrestricted warfare.  No, our victories in World War Two were because the Allies built dozens of planes and tanks and ships for every one that Japan and German built. The war crimes the USA committed on the side had no appreciable effect on the outcome of the war. And no, I’m not going to make any pro forma remarks about competence and heroism by Americans during the war. Deal with it.

Iran has opened the Summit of Nonaligned Nations with a call for a world wide ban on nuclear arms. A prominent Israeli spiritual leader called for Jews to pray for “the annihilation of Iran.” What’s wrong with this picture? Not to be out done, North Korea’s Kim has threatened war over a joint US/South Korean military drill. Of course if Russia and Mexico held an annual military drill in the Gulf of Mexico involving tens of thousands of Russian troops and nuclear weapons, the USA would be threatening war as well. Alas, most people are so wedded to their good guy/bad guy world view that they can’t imagine other perspectives. I still remember an online friend who insisted that it was “illogical” for Iraqi insurgents to be attacking US troops. One of the finest examples of Straw Vulcan Logic I have ever heard.

I hope everyone had a great weekend. ;)

(The above image is Copyrighted with the awesome might of the US legal system behind it, and may not be reproduced for any purpose. Credit and copyright 2012 Doug Stych, all rights reserved. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to publish it, but am very reasonable if asked. Coming someday, more desert pictures, some inspired by the fine photography of Mary Molnar.)

Written by unitedcats

August 27, 2012 at 8:26 am

War drums in Syria and Iran, the beat goes on

with 3 comments

I made the mistake of watching the TV news last night. Senator McCain was openly calling for the USA and the west to support the rebels in Syria. Heck, even Angelina Jolie is calling for intervention. I’m going to go out on a  limb here, and say that it’s gonna happen one way or the other. And I do mean out on a limb, anyone who has been paying attention knows that all bets are off in the Middle East right now. Well, specific bets at least. In general, it seems safe to say that the trend has been from order to disorder. It’s also very safe to say that the west has been batting 1000 when it comes to recent humanitarian interventions in the greater Middle East. Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya are all text book failed states … it’s hard to imagine Syria ending up any differently.

So, what happens if Syria turns into a failed state? Well, note Syria’s proximity to Iraq. Iraq is still out of control a decade after the fall of Saddam, it’s kinda like a free trade zone for non western approved activity. This means whatever is going on in Iraq will be able to spread freely to Syria, in fact there’s evidence it’s already doing so. Kurdish insurgents will now have access to the Mediterranean coast. Hezbollah will have more secure supply lines to Iran. Turkey, Israel, and Jordan will have more border issues. It’s interesting to note that Iran is hedging its bets, Iranian warships have docked in Syria. So they likely win either way. And Jordan and Saudi Arabia may very well see more internal unrest.

So who benefits? Israel will be happy to see the Assad regime go, though it may well end up being a mixed blessing for Israel. Other than that, it’s hard to see who is going to benefit from having the bloody stain on the map that is Iraq spread to Syria. Syria has no oil and is no threat to the international bankers. So what gives, is the USA really driven by humanitarian concerns? Um, no, similar rebellions are crushed all the time without “benefit” of western intervention. Heck, usually with little or no mention in the western press at all. Maybe some of the people calling for intervention are driven by humanitarian impulses, if so, they haven’t been paying attention the past decade or so. Insert obligatory comment about how one definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results here.

My current theory is that US foreign policy is driven by, well, inertia. The World War Two and Cold War “arsenal of democracy” and liberator mentality lurching forward of its own momentum. Driven by an array of well healed special interests, most purely looking out for themselves, some by the attendant ideological canard that peace and freedom can be brought to other lands at the point of a gun. And none of these interests seems really cognizant of the fact that the world is moving beneath their feet. Profits are still up, the rich are still getting richer, what’s the prob?

In Iran it’s even clearer that the same old dog eared, blood stained, playbook is in use. Make an ultimatum that is basically outrageous (shut down your nuclear industry or else in Iran’s case,) refuse to talk until they do so, and simultaneously claim to be using “diplomacy” to “solve” the “crisis.” The only crisis is that the USA is making demands that it would never bow to if it was on the receiving end, but oddly enough, despite many American’s claiming that we are a Christian nation, apparently they are comfortable with a foreign policy that is about as far from the golden rule as it is possible to get. Which I am beginning to suspect is the primary function of religion in society, to mask and justify the kinds of hypocrisy that allow massive inequities of wealth and power to exist both domestically and internationally.

And, well, among genders. There has been a war of sorts going on in the USA ever since modern birth control gave women control of their lives in the 1960s, there are a lot of men who are still not comfortable with this at all, as bitter and ongoing efforts to limit access to birth control in the USA demonstrate. I am suspecting that the USA’s incredible effort to “control” the world is to some extent driven by the same social and cultural forces trying to force America’s women back into the home, barefoot and pregnant, where they belong. That however is a topic for future blog posts.

Or maybe we’re just insane as a species.

(The above image is Public Domain under US copyright law, having been produced by the federal government. Note how large Iran is compared to Iraq. And anytime a country destabilizes, its borders destabilize. Notice how long Iran’s borders are.)

Written by unitedcats

February 21, 2012 at 8:07 am