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Current Topic: International Relations

Garry Kasparov vs. Russian establishisment
Topic: International Relations 9:36 am EST, Dec 16, 2006

A Russian anti-terror hit team raided the offices of the oppositional "United Civil Front" in Moscow. It's founder, Garry Kasparov, was removed from a German TV news discussion, at the behest of Russian authorities. Things are looking dangerous for the former world chess champion, who will participate in a "March of the Dissidents" on Saturday. Spiegel Online.

Hopefully Kasparov doesn't need to worry about someone giving him a polonium sushi roll...

Garry Kasparov vs. Russian establishisment

The New Middle East | Richard N. Haass | Foreign Affairs
Topic: International Relations 11:22 am EST, Oct 30, 2006

Richard Haass, author of The Opportunity and president of the Council on Foreign Relations, has written the lead article for the November/December issue of Foreign Affairs.

The age of US dominance in the Middle East has ended and a new era in the modern history of the region has begun. It will be shaped by new actors and new forces competing for influence, and to master it, Washington will have to rely more on diplomacy than on military might.

Although the basic features of this fifth era of the modern Middle East are largely unattractive, this should not be a cause for fatalism. Much is a matter of degree.

It is important to recognize that there are no quick or easy solutions to the problems the new era poses. The Middle East will remain a troubled and troubling part of the world for decades to come. It is all enough to make one nostalgic for the old Middle East.

The New Middle East | Richard N. Haass | Foreign Affairs

CNN | U.S. warns North Korea against nuclear test
Topic: International Relations 2:17 am EDT, Oct  6, 2006

The U.S. envoy to stalled North Korea nuclear talks says the United States will not tolerate a nuclear North Korea and has warned Pyongyang not to test a nuclear weapon."

We are not going to live with a nuclear North Korea," Assistant Secretary of State Chris Hill told the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University Wednesday. "We are not going to accept it.

"North Korea "can have a future, or it can have these weapons. It cannot have both," Hill said. The U.S. and its allies "are in a very tense time" in dealing with Pyongyang, Hill added.

South Korea, meanwhile, warned North Korea's stance could trigger a regional atomic arms race that could upend the balance of power in Northeast Asia.

The security infrastructure wants North Korea to test a nuke. It will signal the green light for nuclear bunker busting capability testing. When you've got underground infrastructure that deep, you present an engineering problem for which a solution is desired.

Plus, the entire security situation in the region goes into flux. Who wins? All parties that even remotely have a shot are either strong allies or allies we practice treating as enemies. North Korea's game is flawed.

If North Korea does conduct a test, it "will realize that they had a bad day when they made that choice," he said.

After his appearance, Hill told reporters, "if they think that firing off a weapon will somehow make them a part of some sort of nuclear club, they should think again."

"If they think that by exploding a weapon, that somehow we will come to terms with it, we won't," he said.

This is the quote I'm waiting for: "We don't negotiate with nations that export strategic instability."

Let's just get down to it already.. The people need to understand the strategy layout. This is going to hurt if/when it comes down. There is a good chance the entire world economy is going to feel the gravity. I think there is a plan, but I certainly don't understand it, and I'm smarter than most.

"The field of scientific research of the DPRK will in the future conduct a nuclear test under the condition where safety is firmly guaranteed," the statement said.

That's some nice wording. Remind me to see if the DPRK offers study abroad programs for lunatics. I'd like to see the syllabus for "Impulse 101".

Where the hell are the raw releases for this crap?

Is North Korea's logic in fact all based on the idea of crashing the economy they are not a part of? It's certainly the best way to account for the presence of a rationale.

"I think it is important for the international community, through the council, (to) let North Korea understand that noncompliance would invo... [ Read More (0.2k in body) ]

CNN | U.S. warns North Korea against nuclear test

Musharraf Defends Deal With Tribal Leaders
Topic: International Relations 7:36 pm EDT, Sep 24, 2006

Via noteworthy...

President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan tried to convince President Bush on Friday that a deal he approved with tribal leaders in one of the country’s most lawless border areas would rid the areas of Qaeda and Taliban influence, rather than give the groups more freedom to operate.

Mr. Bush and his national security aides were clearly skeptical, according to administration officials, but at a news conference, Mr. Bush appeared to take General Musharraf’s assurances at face value. General Musharraf knew that there were enough questions in the air about the accord that he felt compelled to explain that “this deal is not at all with the Taliban; as I said, this is against the Taliban, actually.”

I'm sure that's just what he was telling the mullahs across the negotiating table. To the extent his statement is true, it is of this nature: "If you would be so kind as to refrain from the use of the words "Taliban" and "Qaeda" in your written correspondence, telephone calls, emails, IM sessions, etc., that would really help me out. TIA, Mushy :)"

General Musharraf, who has a book coming out on Monday ...

I read that and thought, Whaa?

Indeed, Musharraf's book, In the Line of Fire: A Memoir, is currently at #46 on the Amazon top sellers list. Among books in pre-order status, it's #9. Among non-fiction pre-orders, it's #4.

I found this amusing:

General Musharraf said the agreement had "three bottom lines."

But not as amusing as this exchange:

When asked about the issue at the East Room news conference, General Musharraf refused to answer the question — not on national security grounds, but on the grounds that it would violate his book contract. “I am launching my book on the 25th, and I am honor-bound to Simon & Schuster not to comment on the book before that day,” he said.

After laughter subsided, Mr. Bush said, “In other words, buy the book.”

Presumably it's Bush's recommendation that has propelled the book to its present status. Still, they're no match for the duo of Chomsky and Chavez.

For the backstory on this exchange, see this; the "issue" mentioned above is the alleged threat issued by the US to Pakistan in the wake of 9/11.

As ever, I got as much out of the last sentence in a story as the first:

On Thursday, asked if he knew the whereabouts of Mr. bin Laden, Mr. Karzai smiled and said: “If I said he was in Pakistan, President Musharraf would be mad at me. And if I said he was in Afghanistan, it would not be true.”

Musharraf Defends Deal With Tribal Leaders

When North Korea Collapses...
Topic: International Relations 3:26 am EDT, Sep 15, 2006

Mike the Usurper wrote:

Maybe they're not providing the evidence because according to everyone in intel and at IAEA, they're not building them.

Decius wrote:

They likely see other reasons for attacking Iran, like Hezbollah. I supported Afghanistan, I was wavery on Iraq, but I'm going to go ahead and pre-emptively come out against a war in Iran. We have two intractable insurgencies on the go. I think thats quite enough, thanks. There is no good reason to add a third. If they know where nukes are and want to go get them, then thats cool, but regime change in Iran is way more then we can chew right now.

Have you read this article on North Korea yet?

The Bush administration has argued that Iraq was a case of picking our battles. I assume the administration sees Iran as a battle we are being forced into. North Korea could wind up being a battle dropped in our lap.

Wait a minute.. Weren't Iran and the DPRK trading weapon technology with each other? Wasn't the DPRK just caught shipping weapons to Syria? Does that mean China gets all the oil and we get all the bullshit?

The Axis of Evil, indeed.

When North Korea Collapses...

North Korea 'determined to carry out underground test'
Topic: International Relations 8:14 am EDT, Sep 11, 2006

Russian diplomats believe it is now "highly probable" that North Korea will officially join the nuclear club by carrying out its first underground test of an atomic device.

Kim Jong Il, the North Korean leader, is said to have made clear his intention to explode a device during recent talks with Russian and Chinese officials in Pyongyang.

Their fears appear to bolster American suspicions that a test is being prepared, after intelligence reports last month of unusual vehicle movements in the area believed to be the test site. Any such test would be an escalation of tension in the region and would raise the stakes in the stand-off with the United States.

Kim did his missile tests on the 4th of July. What are the odds that he would . . .

North Korea 'determined to carry out underground test'

Does Iran have something in store? | Bernard Lewis
Topic: International Relations 12:32 pm EDT, Aug 10, 2006

What is the significance of Aug. 22? This year, Aug. 22 corresponds, in the Islamic calendar, to the 27th day of the month of Rajab of the year 1427. This, by tradition, is the night when many Muslims commemorate the night flight of the prophet Muhammad on the winged horse Buraq, first to "the farthest mosque," usually identified with Jerusalem, and then to heaven and back (c.f., Koran XVII.1). This might well be deemed an appropriate date for the apocalyptic ending of Israel and if necessary of the world. It is far from certain that Mr. Ahmadinejad plans any such cataclysmic events precisely for Aug. 22. But it would be wise to bear the possibility in mind.

A passage from the Ayatollah Khomeini, quoted in an 11th-grade Iranian schoolbook, is revealing. "I am decisively announcing to the whole world that if the world-devourers [i.e., the infidel powers] wish to stand against our religion, we will stand against their whole world and will not cease until the annihilation of all them. Either we all become free, or we will go to the greater freedom which is martyrdom. Either we shake one another's hands in joy at the victory of Islam in the world, or all of us will turn to eternal life and martyrdom. In both cases, victory and success are ours."

In this context, mutual assured destruction, the deterrent that worked so well during the Cold War, would have no meaning. At the end of time, there will be general destruction anyway. What will matter will be the final destination of the dead--hell for the infidels, and heaven for the believers. For people with this mindset, MAD is not a constraint; it is an inducement.

How then can one confront such an enemy, with such a view of life and death? Some immediate precautions are obviously possible and necessary. In the long term, it would seem that the best, perhaps the only hope is to appeal to those Muslims, Iranians, Arabs and others who do not share these apocalyptic perceptions and aspirations, and feel as much threatened, indeed even more threatened, than we are. There must be many such, probably even a majority in the lands of Islam. Now is the time for them to save their countries, their societies and their religion from the madness of MAD.

I posted about Apocalypse Iran last month. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, happens. I wonder if this figures into the planned timeline for the conflict in Israel...

Does Iran have something in store? | Bernard Lewis

Topic: International Relations 12:17 am EDT, Aug  8, 2006

A few hours after a Franco-American draft for a UN Security Council resolution was released, pro-Hezbollah lobbies and allies launched a campaign to hijack the response of Lebanon to the United Nations. As noted by seasoned observers the campaign started at the top with an alert release by News Agency Reuters written by Lin Noueihed. The article, put out early Sunday has reached the four corners of the Globe and its title has framed the position of the Lebanese people in a "no" to the UN expected resolution. Amazingly enough, Lin Noueihid titles her release "Lebanon rejects draft UN resolution." But when you read the release you realize that the "representative" of all of Lebanon in the eyes of the Reuters reporter is no one other than pro-Syrian, Hezbollah ally, Nabih Berri, the leader of Shiite Movement Amal.

Noueihid wrote that "Lebanon rejects a draft U.N. Security Council resolution to end 26 days of fighting because it would allow Israeli forces to remain on Lebanese soil, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said on Sunday." Basing her entire report on one of the most powerful supporters of the Syrian occupation and who heads a militia allied to Hezbollah, Noueihid gives Berri the full power of the credibility of Reuters. This title will find itself printed from Yahoo to the last local newsletter in the Fidji islands. Evidently, local editors around the world trust Reuters as they trust the Red Cross, and will conclude that indeed "Lebanon" has rejected a UN resolution, while in reality, it is Tehran-Damascus-Hezbollah axis that rejected it, and unfortunately a Reuters writer framed it otherwise.

Hezbolla is on top of their information warfare game...


Pressure on Condi...
Topic: International Relations 4:13 am EDT, Jul 28, 2006

Apparently the heat is being turned up on Condi Rice by various parties in Bush's own garage.. The charge appears to be lead by Richard Perle, whom I was amused to learn carries the nickname "The Prince of Darkness". That does seem fitting. An op-ed he published in the Washington Post is rumored to be circling around within the West Wing and DoD circles. The obvious thrust, right out of the Iraq playbook, is to get more push for regime change in Iran. Both sides of the partisan divide have been linking this article from Insight the past day:

The conservatives, who include Newt Gingrich, Richard Perle and leading current and former members of the Pentagon and National Security Council, have urged the president to transfer Miss Rice out of the State Department and to an advisory role. They said Miss Rice, stemming from her lack of understanding of the Middle East, has misled the president on Iran and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

"The president has yet to understand that people make policy and not the other way around," a senior national security policy analyst said. "Unlike [former Secretary of State Colin] Powell, Condi is loyal to the president. She is just incompetent on most foreign policy issues."

The criticism of Miss Rice has been intense and comes from a range of Republican loyalists, including current and former aides in the Defense Department and the office of Vice President Dick Cheney. They have warned that Iran has been exploiting Miss Rice's inexperience and incompetence to accelerate its nuclear weapons program. They expect a collapse of her policy over the next few months.

A leading public critic of Miss Rice has been Richard Perle, a former chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board and regarded as close to Mr. Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Mr. Perle, pointing to the effort by the State Department to undermine the Reagan administration’s policy toward the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, has accused Miss Rice of succumbing to a long-time State Department agenda of meaningless agreements meant to appease enemies of the United States.

Mr. Perle's article was said to have reflected the views of many of Mr. Bush's appointees in the White House, Defense Department and State Department. Mr. Perle maintains close contacts to U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control Robert Joseph, Deputy National Security Advisor Elliot Abrams and Mr. Cheney's national security adviser, John Hannah.

A major problem, critics said, is Miss Rice's ignorance of the Middle East. They said the secretary relies completely on Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, who is largely regarded as the architect of U.S. foreign policy. Miss Rice also consults regularly with her supporters on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Chairman Richard Lugar and the No. 2 Republican, Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska.

Rolling Stone is also running an article on the behind the scenes dirty dealing within the DoD pushing for regime change in Iran.

EADT - Sealand in ruins after blaze
Topic: International Relations 8:27 pm EDT, Jun 24, 2006

Keith Churchman, of Harwich Royal National Lifeboat Institution, said: “The damage is very extensive. The fire started in a generator and spread quickly to the accommodation.

“There have been a number of explosions on board as the fire has engulfed gas bottles and batteries. Only one person was on Sealand at the time, whom we understand to be a watchman whose job was to maintain the generators and equipment.“

A team of firefighters was flown to the scene but because of the damage to the structure they decided not to go on board.“A firefighting tug sprayed the whole structure with water in the hope this would eventually cool the fire and starve it of oxygen.”

A spokesperson for Suffolk Fire Service confirmed the fire was left to burn itself out and was under control by 3.10pm.

Bad news for HavenCo. It appears that Sealand has been destroyed. There has been no comment from the principality's government.

EADT - Sealand in ruins after blaze

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