Monday, August 28, 2006

The government has been infiltrated by... Owls?

And now, for a brief moment of levity. Evidently, the government of Nassau County, NY has been infiltrated by the famous O RLY Owl. Link.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Iran inaugurates heavy water reactor

Oh joy. Just days from the deadline for Iran to stop enriching uranium, they fire up a reactor that produces plutonium as a reaction byproduct instead. Great. Now they can stop enriching uranium all they want; they can just churn out plutonium devices instead. Like that's so much better.

This has got to stop. Nobody, least of all Iran's regional neighbors, can afford a nuclear-armed Iran. The current regime compounds the problem, but there are too many factors that make a powerful Iran dangerous no matter what.

First, Iraq. The United States inadvertently did Iran a huge favor when it eliminated Saddam Hussein; we removed their biggest local military rival. Now the Iranians have a vested interest in making sure that Iraq remains unstable or, worse, falls under Iranian influence so that it can never again pose a serious military threat. A democratic, Westernized, and militarily powerful Iraq with the backing of the United States is the Iranian government's worst nightmare. Nuclear arms are a sure way to make sure Iraq remains cowed no matter what happens.

Second, Israel. Even without Ahmadinejad's standing threat to wipe Israel from the map, Iran has never been a friend to the only remotely Westernized state in the region, and never will be. A nuclear standoff there would be frightening, especially as it would be less likely to remain a standoff with the ayatollahs and their puppets in charge.

Third, Afghanistan. Much like Iraq, the Taliban was no friend to the Shi'ite Iranian government. The Iranians similarly have a vested interest in ensuring that Afghanistan never again presents a threat, which means that they exert destabilizing influence directly counter to Coalition and NATO objectives.

And we can't forget the direct enmity that the Iranians have for the United States. There's a reason the Swiss embassy handles all of our diplomatic business in Tehran, and it isn't because our own embassy staff is too busy enjoying the pleasures of the city's night life, if you know what I mean.

I just hope they realize that the more they do this, the more crosshairs military strategists paint on their facilities.

Friday, August 25, 2006

It seems I may owe France an apology

After seeming to back off of it's previous commitment of 2,000 additional troops for the United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon (UNIFIL) under the UN ceasefire resolution for the Israel-Hezbollah conflict, lessening it's commitment to 200, France has once again changed it's mind and raised it's commitment back to 2,000 men. I had previously blasted the French government for chickening out in this post, and for that I apologize.

However, while I can't accuse France of reneging on it's commitments, I can say that Jacques Chirac doesn't quite realize the task before the peacekeepers, if he considers the 15,000 troops called for in the resolution "excessive." If anything, 15,000 won't be enough. If the force is to do anything at all, it must be robust.

I must give him credit, however, for pushing for robust rules of engagement for the peacekeepers. All the troops in the world won't help if they aren't actually allowed to do anything to restrain the people they're supposed to be pacifying.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Hilarious video re: the Reuters fake photo scandal

I'd been leaving the whole deal with Reuters and other news agencies faking photos from the Israel-Hezbollah war alone because it'd already been done to death by the bigger blogs before I got back to blogging. (I especially like the analyses done by zombie, found here and here.) But the Jawa Report recently put out a video that I found too great to pass up, so here it is.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

84 Hollywood celebrities sign statement condemning Hamas; Islamists call for harassment

On August 16th, 84 Hollywood celebrities signed a statement saying that they are "pained and devastated by the civilian casualties in Israel and Lebanon caused by terrorist actions initiated by terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas," and ran it as a full-page magazine ad. (You can read the full statement with signatures here.) Almost immediately, one Akram Awad researched the addresses of the signatories and posted them in a call to action on his blog entitled Bonsoir | يسعد مساكم: ActionAlert :: Nicole Kidman Shame on You!, calling for his readers to write the celebrities en masse to tell them that they are wrong, and that all the ills in the Middle East are, in fact, the fault of Israel.

Now, I don't usually involve myself in celebrity dealings outside of their jobs (that is to say, I watch movies), but this is too funny to pass up. Jules Crittenden almost immediately fired off an editorial in the Boston Herald calling for Israel supporters to go to his blog and use his list to mail the celebrities to thank them for their stance. As I think this is a positively wonderful idea, I'm posting this to add what little exposure I can to his plan. Go forth, and write letters of appreciation. I'm going to do mine now.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Iran to continue uranium enrichment

Well this is just great. Not that it's a surprise. Iran has refused the UN's incentive package in favor of enriching uranium suitable for nuclear weapons.

With negotiations still pending, there is some hope that Iran's statement that a halt to enrichment is "not on the agenda" is a bluff in an attempt to gain a stronger bargaining position, but given that Iran's government is crazy, I wouldn't bet on it. The only question now is what does the world do about that?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Okay, I'm back. For real this time.

Well, after a brief scare in which HP gave me the wrong tracking number and managed to convince everyone (themselves included) that they'd shipped my computer to Albuquerque, it came today. I'm back, this time for sure.

It's late and I'm tired, so I'll only put in a little bit about the late conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. (I promise, barring major new developments, I'll start harping on something else soon.)

I'm sorry to say it, but strategically Hezbollah won. Just barely, and in such a Pyrrhic fashion that they can't stand to "win" like that again, but the so-called "Arab Street's" expectations are so low by now that merely surviving against Israel for more than a couple weeks is seen as a massive victory, and that perception is enough of a boost for Hezbollah to make it worth it to them. Tactically, Israel won every battle, but in the end none of it's objectives were achieved. Hezbollah is not disarmed, it is still present on the Israeli-Lebanon border, and the kidnapped soldiers whose capture sparked this whole thing were not recovered. And to top it off, the real losers in all this were the Lebanese people, bombed back into Third World status after Hezbollah used them for cover.

And in the meantime, France is chickening out after promising to lead the UN peacekeeping force, outdone by an order of magnitude by Bangladesh in troop numbers committed. Good luck to the Lebanese army in disarming Hezbollah. I sincerely hope that this turns out all right, but as usual the prospects seem dim.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Be back soon

Ordered a new comp yesterday. I'll be back to blogging when it gets in, though not for very long before I take yet another four days off to go to GenCon. See you then.

In the meantime, here's to Israel kicking Hezbollah right in the bollocks. But do try to not shell the crap out of villages hours after the rocket launchers have left, mkay?