Comments Posted By andy
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At least one thing we will need to do is to eliminate Al Sadr and his militia. If the Iraqi government is unwilling or unable to do this, the US military will have to do it.

That is assuming US Military power is able to do this and if the resulting negative consequences are worth it. We might be able to kill Sadr and some of his fighters (the rest will go underground and melt into the populace) but I'm not sure what that would ultimately accomplish. There is not really a military means to eliminate militias without separating them from the support base by providing a real political alternative. As it stands now, the general Shia population (and the Sunni's as well) see the militias as filling the role of government because the central government can't or won't fill that role. Simply eliminating Sadr and other militias will not solve the problem, especially in the face of continuing Sunni attacks on Shia civilians.

The way to win is by starting small - neighborhood by neighborhood - securing those areas and then growing outward. It's standard counter-insurgency doctrine really which, for some reason, still isn't the overall model for our Iraq strategy.

Comment Posted By Andy On 7.12.2006 @ 15:49


One thing to keep in mind when fighting an insurgency is that often less=more. In other words, fewer troops may be actually more effective in combating the insurgency. Our forces don't have the skills or training to referee a sectarian conflict. In that regard more troops would be counterproductive.

Comment Posted By Andy On 6.12.2006 @ 20:40



You might want to check you NPR's All Things Considered broadcast from this evening. I thought I heard this exact quote, but attributed to

"You will excuse me if I believe that talking to Syria while it is in the process of gobbling up its tiny Lebanese neighbor to be one of the most cynical, immoral, and ill-considered diplomatic ideas in a generation – which of course is right up Baker’s alley."

Comment Posted By Andy On 6.12.2006 @ 20:30


Good points. I didn't mean to suggest he isn't a fanatic - certainly he is, but all the 12th Imam theories I constantly see on (other) blogs are overblown. In any event, the larger point that most miss is that Ahmadinejad does not have the authority under the Iranian political system to carry out such grandiose plots.

Although it's not certain it's quite possible that Ahmadinejad was not Khamenei's first choice for President (Glalibaf supposedly was). Their relationship hasn't actually been that solid, and Khamenei has come out and corrected some of Ahmadinejad's more vitriolic statements, though that rarely gets reported in the western press. Additionally, the nuclear program is not run by Ahmadinejad but by Khamenei through the Iranian supreme national security council. In many ways, Ahmadinejad’s statements against Iran and open support to the nuclear program are designed to ensure his domestic popularity considering such decisions and responsibilities to not lie in his office. He's a savvy politician in that regard.

Unfortunately for Khamenei, Ahmadinejad’s radicalism is hurting Iran in the international arena. It seems to me this latest move to limit Ahmadinejad's term may be Khamenei's effort to ensure that we remember where the real power lies in Iran, especially considering all the talk about us attacking Iran. I personally think that Khamenei is tired of Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric and the problems it continually creates for Iran. Khamenei would rather have the world's attention focused elsewhere and he definitely does not want Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric to provoke war with the US and/or Israel.

It’s frankly sad that so many popular blogs do so little to get basic facts straight on important topics. You do a good job here, but so many take what Ahmadinejad says, combine it with ignorance and assumption and then make broad pronouncements about how we HAVE to attack Iran now or we’ll get nuked. The alternative media still has a long way to go.

Comment Posted By Andy On 5.12.2006 @ 16:07

Hopefully this story will help end the widely mistaken view in the righty blogosphere that the Iranian President is some kind of Krazy (with a Kapital K) future Hitler who will attack us and Israel with Nukes at the first opportunity. It should be apparent now that there are checks and balances and factions in the Iranian political system even if it is fundamentally flawed. Also, few seem to realize that the Iranian President is neither Commander in Chief of the armed forces nor does he have the power to declare war.

Comment Posted By Andy On 5.12.2006 @ 12:55


Hmm, two bloggers I read both discussing coffee. I smell a conspiracy somewhere!

Comment Posted By Andy On 3.12.2006 @ 00:13


I just want to say your coverage of Lebanon is, as always, outstanding. Between you and Michael Totten I don't really need to go anywhere else.

Comment Posted By Andy On 23.11.2006 @ 10:02


I just have to comment on this Israel bombing Iran theory: Ain't gonna happen in any meaningful way. Here's why:

1. Israel will have to fly over at least two foreign countries to get to Iran. They won't ask for or get permission, so they can really only attack one time, in one large strike package. In other words, they won't be able to conduct an extended campaign. Given the number of aircraft Israel has, this will severely limit the number of targets they'll be able to hit and they'll have no restrike capability should they miss.

2. Range. Israeli aircraft don't have the range to get to the critical sites and return without refuelling and they don't have a good refuelling capability. Furthermore, they'll have to refuel both on the way to Iran and back over someone elses airspace. Again, not going to happen.

So, at most the Israeli's could conduct a single, relatively small strike on a few facilities. The effect would not be too significant in terms of damage to the Iranian nuclear program. At best it might buy a year or two.

Of course, the Israeli's could opt for ballistic missiles, but those have disadvantages as well (namely small warhead size and accuracy, unless the payload is nuclear) and Israel does not have a large supply of them.

So overall, Israel's capability to conduct a conventional strike on Iran is pretty limited.



Qutb is much more closely related to Sunni radicalism than Shia. Are you suggesting that all the Iranian power players are "crazy" followers of his brand of radicalism? Remember that Islam is not unitary, just look at Iraq and Lebanon for proof.

Comment Posted By Andy On 20.11.2006 @ 23:40

There is plenty of anecdotal and circumstantial evidence that they are, in fact, working hard to build the bomb. But the fact remains that there is no documentary or photographic “smoking gun” that would confirm our suspicions one way or another.

One of the VERY VERY few times I've heard any blogger or media report state that simple fact, as is this:

To proceed on the assumption that they aren’t building a bomb would be stupid. To bomb them without some idea of what facilities to hit would be equally dumb.


One scenario I've put forth here and in other places is that Iran is not seeking nuclear weapons themselves, but the capability to produce them in a relatively short period of time. This strategy has several advantages for the Iranians. First, they don't need to worry about hiding a cladestine program, whose discovery would be the "smoking gun" initiating an attack. Second, they can get to 95% of a weapon by using technology that's perfectly legal under the NPT (as a reminder Iran's current development and deployment of enrichment technology is perfectly legal under the NPT). Third, once the nuclear fuel cycle is mastered, they could weaponize quickly by reconfiguring their cascades or building new ones.

There is a lot of hyperbole on Iran running around the blogosphere and media. People need to seriously and critically consider the evidence and the costs of military action. Those who advocate attacking Iran almost universally overstate the evidence against Iran and understate the costs of military action. They also view the Iranian leadership as "Krazy" with a capital "K."

And while negotiations would almost certainly be a waste of time, protocol, tradition, and common sense demands that we talk directly to the Iranians at some point.

That really depends on the context of negotiations. So far, Bush and company have primarily used poorly veiled threats in an effort to coerce Iran, and it's failed miserably (predictably, I might add). It's hard to change to negotiations at this particular point in time as Iran now views itself in a position of relative strength and therefore will likely be a much tougher negotiator, espcially given our hypocrisy in negotiating a nuclear deal with India.

Comment Posted By Andy On 20.11.2006 @ 18:19


Now that I think about it, the only problem I have with people smoking outside is their tendency to throw their used butts on the ground. Policing my kids around smoking areas is a huge PITA.

Comment Posted By Andy On 16.11.2006 @ 16:11

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