If you're going to reference probably the most famous video game line in history, please get it right! It should be "All Your Smoking Are Belong To US."
Seriously though, I'm all for local power to a point. Although I think their law is stupid I don't see it as a harbinger for a nation-sweeping trend. If the idiots in that town want to ban smoking, I could really care less. I'm sure some activist smokers are already on there way now to get tickets to pave the way for lawsuits, which could potential bankrupt the stupid little town. I wouldn't worry too much Rick - I don't think their council decision will stand in the log run.Comment Posted By Andy On 16.11.2006 @ 12:01
Well, now that the story is out on this well-trafficked site (read by many conservative bloggers), ignorance should no longer be an excuse for anyone.Comment Posted By Andy On 14.11.2006 @ 16:58
There's one problem with adding more troops - we can't; or at least we can't without some pretty severe consequences. The Army is now operating at peak capacity and has been sacrificing readiness for three years to keep the maximum number of troops possible in Iraq and Afghanistan. At any one time, almost 50% of the Army's brigades are deployed. The other 50% just returned and need to refit to replace those that are there. There simply are no more troops to deploy. Even this 50/50 ratio is unsustainable in terms of personnel and equipment readiness, which is why readiness levels have consistently declined since 2003. It may be possible to surge perhaps 50,000-70,000 additional troops for six months, but the cost to readiness would be high, and the Army would then be forced to downsize forces in Iraq considerably after the surge to refit. I know there are Army planners that game such eventualities, and I know it gives them nightmares. We would be woefully unprepared to meet any contingencies that required ground forces for perhaps a year to say nothing of the personnel costs.
Maybe another 50k troops for a short time would be worth the downsides, but I doubt it.Comment Posted By Andy On 13.11.2006 @ 22:25
Why does this delusion persist that more ground troops = greater pacification in Iraq? At this point, the opposite is actually true. Had more troops been deployed in 2003 then that would have had an effect by preventing or slowing the growth of the insurgency in the first place. But to pacify Iraq now means that we must play referee between two factions intent on killing each other. The question in Iraq each day becomes less and less one of fighting terrorists and more and more resembles tribal, ethnic and sectarian civil warfare. Pacification in this context is a job that no military force can accomplish, particularly a foreign one. The best that can be hoped for is to keep the lid on the kettle until a political solution can be reached, but it seems that few parties are interested in political solutions at this point. As Iraqis more and more come to realize that political solutions have failed them, those that still support the central government will abandon that political construct and return their loyalties to their tribal and religious kin. All this talk of "phased withdrawl" will only accelerate the end of Iraqi support for their government as Iraqis come to realize that the biggest promoter of political solutions - the USA - tacitly acknowledges that politics have failed.
Furthermore, the US has violated most of the major principles of counterinsurgency warfare in our conduct in Iraq and I think things are too far gone to salvage much. At this point the utility of our conventional forces dimish every day since they are not trained or equipped to police sectarian asymetrical warfare. My view is that our only hope for any measure of success is to change over completely to counterinsurgency-based unconventional warfare using indigenous troops led, trained and equipped by US SoF personnel. Though bloody and of questionable morality, our allies won the civil war in El Salvador through the training and organization of less than a couple dozen Americans. The right personnel supported by the right US personnel freed from political meddling may, one day, turn things around.
Once this plan of "phased withdrawl" that has been leaked so extensively is published and accepted, the goal for the US will quickly change to ensuring any allies we can cobble together in Iraq win the coming civil war. There are few other ways to ensure some kind of American influence in Iraq. I say this as an agnostic: God help us.Comment Posted By Andy On 13.11.2006 @ 21:40
There's an interesting discussion related to this going on over at Micheal Totten's site (http://www.michaeltotten.com/archives/001298.html). For three threads, a bona-fide member of Hezbollah has been debating everyone in the comments and giving their side of the story. Although deluded, he's a polite and skilled debater. Check it out but be prepared for a long read.Comment Posted By Andy On 12.11.2006 @ 23:53
I have to agree with your and Ed's assessment of AQ intentions. Their wider goals aim to divide loyalties and promote infighting. We see this in Iraq with their largely successful instigation of Iraqi-on-Iraqi sectarian violence. They are attempting similiar strategies in Afghanistan, Pakistan and around the globe. In Muslim communities they seek to divide moderates from conservatives and equate the moderates as American/western lackey's promoting an imperialist agenda. In many cases their strategy is working especially since many moderates in the Arab world are alread associated with despotic governments allied to the US. They've tried to divide Europe and other nations from the US with "peace" offers if nations will pull out of Iraq or end certain policies.
So it would not surprise me in the least if AQ applied this same strategy to domestic US politics. A radicalized and divided United States would serve them well.Comment Posted By Andy On 11.11.2006 @ 16:15
I would probably be a republican were it not for their support of government intervention on social issues. I don't understand how a party can on one hand hold liberty and freedom from government on one hand, then attempt to codify acceptable social behavior on the other. It's my opinion that the social/religious conservative wing in the party is what is killing it.Comment Posted By Andy On 10.11.2006 @ 18:33
One of the best posts you've written in a long time, possible ever. It will only cement me as an avid reader.
One thing you failed to mention is that there is a difference between being a Republican and/or Bush supporter and a conservative. You can still be a conservative and roundly criticize Bush and republicans. The sad fact is that so many support Bush and the Republicans simply because they are called "republican" and there is not alternative for them to support. I could launch into one of my tirades on the two-party system, but I'm sure you get the point.
As for Iraq, we certainly need to look at other options. One imperfect option to consider is to end our supposed neutrality and take sides, probably in the form of a semi-secular military coup. I see few options to preserve American influence and interests in Iraq. I go into a little bit of detail on this particular option on my site if you want to take a look. I must say I'm envious of your writing skills. I've been hobbled for too long by bureaucratic government standards I fear.
Best of luck Rick, I'm behind your "coming out."Comment Posted By Andy On 9.11.2006 @ 15:27
Couple of points:
Iraq could have reconstituted its program in about a year provided it had access to specialized materials and equipment only available in the West. It would take time to circumvent sanctions on this sensitive equipment so my assessment is more like 2 years, but at this point it doesn't really matter anymore.
What I find even more ironic is that the technology Iraq used up to 1991, EMIS (electromagnetic isotope separation), was based on published data from the Manhattan project. We used the EMIS process to produce our first uranium before switching to the Gaseous Diffusion (a much more efficient technology). Much of the enrichment-related technical documentation from the manhattan project was published because, at the time, EMIS was so expensive, inefficient and impractical that few believed anyone would go that route for enrichment. Well, Iraq improved upon the EMIS technology and had a full scale plant in operation until they declared it as part of the armistace after the first Gulf War.
So if this technology has now made its way to the Iranians, then we are the ultimate father of that technology. However, I'm not sure how it will help the Iranians since they've chosen centrifuge technology which is much more efficient and much easier to hide.Comment Posted By Andy On 4.11.2006 @ 01:56
The word "victory" is a self-defining term and like "torture" depends a lot on context and your personal view. That said, how each group defines victory is readily at hand. When you compare stated victory objectives to the current state of events, only the Sunni insurgents and former Baathists have done worse in achieving their goals. AQ has largely suceeded in its stated goal of sowing sectarian violence, which now constitutes most of the violence in the country. AQ was decimated in the process, but they still that major objective. Their second objective is to "defeat" us in Iraq. But their view of "defeat" means that we are bled dry and forced to withdraw in humiliation without achieving our major strategic objectives. The jury is still out on this one. The Shia's have done pretty well too and have skillfully used a combination of violence and political action to expand and cement their power and influence.
As for us, our success is pretty thin. We've beat back the foreign fighters, but didn't prevent them from causing chaos. The Shia-Sunni insurgency is a problem we are not really capable of dealing with - foreign armies are not good at ending civil wars without taking sides.
So it remains to be seen how this will turn out, but I don't hold a lot of hope that we can manage a political solution to the looming civil war in Iraq - especially when the principles on both sides have no interest in compromise. Eventually, we'll have to let them decide their own fate and follow their own path, which will likely mean a lot more blood spilled in mesopotamia.Comment Posted By Andy On 29.10.2006 @ 10:58