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30 December 2007

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Curious

Here is another thing nobody has thought ahead yet.

Suppose there is protracted investigation. 1. Can the society handle such divisive issue. (we are talking about years of investigation here. Including call for each reports to be re-investigated again. And what happen if there is obstruction of justice upon stumbling other crimes. ..) 2. Suppose everything went smoothly, but the result is very surprising. eg. it's state sanction assassination that damages the legitimacy of military. Anybody ready for an Islamic rule? Let me assure you, people will vote the bastards out and install neither harvard educated stooges nor for bennings educated military thugs. (or whatever the default choice in Pakistan after removing status quo and military backed party.)

Now, we all act like we care if there is dead Pakistanis or nuclear explosion in Asia. Let me assure you we don't. Why we should care is this:

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/economics/article3111659.ece

Robert Shiller, Professor of Economics at Yale University, predicted that there was a very real possibility that the US would be plunged into a Japan-style slump, with house prices declining for years.

Professor Shiller, co-founder of the respected S&P Case/Shiller house-price index, said: “American real estate values have already lost around $1 trillion [£503 billion]. That could easily increase threefold over the next few years. This is a much bigger issue than sub-prime. We are talking trillions of dollars’ worth of losses.”

He said that US futures markets had priced in further declines in house prices in the short term, with contracts on the S&P Shiller index pointing to decreases of up to 14 per cent.

---------

A protracted instability in Pakistan will affect asian economy, stability of Iran, China's border, India, and naturally reverberate to energy supply price.

Current chilly economy is nothing compared to when we hit peak sub-prime reset.

We'll have to pay the troop IOU soon enough if the incompetency keeps up.

Curious

There is no reason to characterize the situation in Pakistan as "chaotic". The Armed Forces of Pakistan (including even the Sunni fundamentalist generals) will keep that country together

Posted by: Babak Makkinejad | 30 December 2007 at 05:49 PM

lol. so are you panicking yet in Iran?

The legitimacy of an army, specially for a country the size of Pakistan is not as solid as you think. People also know the military is in cahoot with everything they hate. (but at least they don't shoot and keep things together.)

That's why I keep saying, the minute the military start shooting people. It's over. The trust is broken, there is going to be internal crack in the military... etc etc. It's the fine line everybody knows shouldn't be crossed. Al qaeda will use that fact to put wedge into already bad public image.

A country the size of Pakistan or Indonesia has different dynamic than say Guatemala or Chile. The army cannot sufficiently control the country once general legitimacy is lost. The population size and geography is too big.

(heck, the Pakistani army can't even exert absolute control in the northern border, let along massive political fight in Pakistani major cities.)

maintaining population stability of 20-60 millions has different set of complexity than 200-300 millions.

Babak Makkinejad

Curious:

I stand by what I have said - there is no national political/religious leader who can bring millions to the streets and posit the possibility of a new dispensation for Pakistan.

In the absence of such leadership and the attempt to suppress it by the Armed Forces of the Pakistan, there will be no cracks and they will muddle through. And Pakistan still is much more organized and capable than Indonesia.

After the nuclear explosions of India and Pakistan in 1998, certain Iranian strategists suggested immediate withdrawal of Iran from the NPT for reasons of state security and cohesion.

Furthermore, my understanding has been that the destruction of the Shia government in Iran is one of the aims of Al Qaeda. The Sunni-Shia civil war in Pakistan, the neo-Salafi education received by many poor Pakistanis, the rise of the Sunni fundamentalist officer corps has not gone un-noticed in Tehran. This is a concern but not an immediate threat.

Andy
Congress is set to approve a plan to integrate the U.S. and Israeli missile defense systems.

That isn't quite true. The bill itself (which Bush just vetoed) does not contain any provision with such a mandate (The full bill is here, see section 227). Rather, it mandates a report on the current state of cooperation between Israel and the US. An accompanying report from the conference (noted here - again see sec. 227) indicates that Congress wants the MDA to look at the possibility of selling Israel THAAD or something else as a follow-on to Arrow at some point in the future. It's not well known, but the US and Israel have cooperated for many years on the Arrow system, sharing development costs and technology.

Finally, it should be noted that Israel has been partially integrated since the mid-1990's. They receive our satellite-based missile launch warnings, for example (although Israel received this information on a contingency basis as early as 1993).

Curious

Posted by: Babak Makkinejad | 31 December 2007 at 10:26 AM

Here is a scenario:

1. suppose US $1B military aid is stopped overnight.

2. foreign investment dries up too. (more widespread clash, etc etc)

That will put Pakistan right into recession. Currently they are running at nearly 8% inflation. 18% trade deficit. Tiny dollar reserve. Upper teens I think. Hardly sufficient to withstand currency manipulation.

Now, last time I check Pakistan isn't exactly running on oil money. During recession, they won't be able to make the population happy by pumping oil.

Question: how long you think it will take the military to escalate the ever tighter grip once they start shooting people when economy crash?

Look at Pakistan geography, mass media and cultural likeness.

During a hard economic crash, I give the Pakistan army less than 5 year to either create a junta, clean election, or fractured. I don't care how well trained the Pakistani army is. The broader their economic self sufficient, the worst they will compete inside shrinking economy. They have to to sustain the army viability. (paying troops, maintaining equipments, etc)

after that any idiot in a semi professional party can win an election, specially with populist religious tone.

Pakistan problem is structural. It's typical problem. The current set up has reached a point where it has to change or implode.

Indonesia probably would have self annihilated if it has same geographic characteristic as Pakistan. Close proximity high population centers, instead of isolated by islands and distinct language/cultural sophistication. Otherwise a relatively unsophisticated army won't be able to maintain order.

Same with Philippine. It is very hard to meaningfully move mass population using guerilla tactic. Al qaeda type of group cannot possibly accumulate enough population critical mass without government noticing.

PS. Al qaeda has no point except religious medievalism. All modern ideas, organizations, tools, etc are only device to achieve whatever they have in mind at particular moment. It's completely pointless. It's a ghost from 14th century running amok. That's why they practically declare war against every governments.

PPS. I said "Islamism" not Islam. There is a difference.

martin K

Curious: You forget that in Pakistan, nobody gets really angry if the military shoots a few people rioting, it is the law of the land. "Serves them right", pronounced in a paki-oxford tongue. They have a long tradition of whipping servants. What most people dont understand about Pakistan, is that it is basically a feudal republic, family and clan and constellations count most.

FDChief: As usual, spot on analysis. The position of Musharaf is being on top of the hill, trying to hold it together. I do not think he like Cheney very much.

socialman

Latest
news
from the Times of London is that Bhutto was going to
give Patrick Kennedy and Arlen Spectre, on the day she was killed, a
report proving that ISI was using American money to rig local
elections. The key lede is that she got the information from ISI
officers who support her. If the ISI has doubtful solidarity is the
army really seamless?

Babak Makkinejad

Curious:

I cannot speculate about Pakistan and how her Armed Forces will behave under the scenario that you have outlined; I do not have that specialized knowledge in detail of the subject matter. It might be useful to run simulations that might shed some light on some possibilities.

But, even under your scenario, things will not be as bad as 1948 during and immediately after separation.

Moreover, Pakistan is not friendless; Saudi Arabia and China come to mind. In addition, she can get economic help from the other members of ECO.

About Al Qaeda: I sometines wonder if this is a repeat of the US Civil War on the planetary scale with OBL being John Brown and the real war still ahead of us.

David Habakkuk

Babak Makkinejad:

'About Al Qaeda: I sometines wonder if this is a repeat of the US Civil War on the planetary scale with OBL being John Brown and the real war still ahead of us.'

The difference -- if your analogy proved prescient -- would be that the consequences could well be immeasurably worse, in the case of some global 'clash of civilisations', than in the case of the American Civil War (bad though those were.)

Which brings me back to your earlier argument about the need to 'lower the temperature'.

Rational fear should provide a very strong argument for doing this -- on many sides.

Unfortunately -- as before the American Civil War -- many people are either not fearful enough, or

I am not sure how best to put it --

Rate relative dangers wrongly?

hotrod

Leigh,

“It seems to me that anyone crying for an international examination of the latest assassination only reveals a lack of foreign policy expertise or finesse.”

I think a international investigation would be useful. Not least to the Pakistanis, unless of course, the ISI really was involved. That said, I am unsure of the wisdom of Senator Clinton’s call. And I’m very skeptical about the wisdom of publicly denouncing Musharraf’s credibility during a presidential campaign (ours). But it’s not the slam dunk you seem to think, Leigh.

FDChief

“What a clusterfuck”

Meletius

“Does this analysis mean that no powerful country has an interest in knowing how Bhutto died?”

Agreed with FDC, at least as regards the general sentiment. And it sort of gets to a larger point – I’m not sure it really matters (to the US, UK, et al) who killed Bhutto. Pakistan will still be a violent, impoverished kleptocracy. We know who would WANT to kill her, but short of revealing some dramatically deeper alliance between Musharraff’s administration and AQ elements than we suspect – I’m not sure the question of “who” has much impact on our likely courses of action, as our primary fear remains fragmentation. Which goes back to the Colonel’s point – there isn’t likely to be an investigation.

Babak Makkinejad and pbrownlee

Building police forces, as opposed to armies, has proven to be terribly difficult in developing and rebuilding nations. For all the problems, progress has been made in building both the IA and ANA. But the police in both places are terribly troubled. This seems to be a common issue. Training the cultural understanding that’s critical to good civilian policing is just very, very hard. Particularly from the ground up in societies we may or may not understand. Back in the ‘90s the US dumped the task on contractors, primarily DynCorp – with mixed results. I think you can make a case that the Brits and Germans haven’t done all that well, but it seems like a broader comment on the challenges and drift in the mission, rather than a particularly damning indictment.

I’m not one to treat the Iranians as a boogeyman, but they’re surely not saints (should probably use a non-Christian reference here, sorry) either, and they have their own shortcomings. Saying that dumping the mission on them would fix the problems, with no attendant problems of their own, strikes me as, respectfully, simplistic. The West probably needs to build\rebuild some sort of expeditionary policing\training capability. The Army’s MPs and some other communities are stepping up – but how it shakes out long term remains to be seen.

The following doesn’t really address the core of the COLs post, but I feel like writing a long and rambling comment.

As re: international law as a petty conceit.

What a lot of people forget is that “law” never exists without a social contract. It might be a wonderful contract in the context of a liberal democratic system, or it might be something less happy (and corruption can absolutely be part of the deal), but there has to be some sort of shared understanding of the circumstances under which, during the course of a dispute, you take one for the team, in lieu of ignoring and\or shooting the other party.

As much as it bugs some of the people that call themselves “conservative”, it is possible to have social contracts, of sorts, in the international arena, but the scope is inherently limited. I’m hardly an expert, but generally speaking, “International Law” is based on a mishmash of explicit treaty obligations, common law, and, possibly, the most extreme instances of violations of shared values. That’s why international law is really only useful and meaningful in matters such as maritime\admiralty law, extreme human rights violations, etc. The willingness of powerful nations to accept a claim against their interests by less powerful nations is, understandably, limited. E.g. Article III of the Geneva Conventions is valid international law, for a lot of reasons, but a call for an international investigation into a Pakistani criminal matter? Not so much (whatever the wisdom of it would be).

A lot of people are quick to proclaim the desirability and importance of broader forms of international\supranational law – but have no intention of extending or joining a social contract. That suits me fine – national sovereignty isn’t a minor matter, and I would only wish to join a social contract with those who have a reasonable basis of shared values. I am unsure as to how much translation of Locke there has been into Urdu. Others would do well to consider the matter, though.

Though I would very much approve of improved U.S. relations with the broader world, it will likely come primarily as a result of some combination of humility, diplomacy, military and economic cooperation, and various forms of soft power – not the “law”. It’s worth noting that the people in the US who tended to sneer at international law circa 2000 to, oh, say, 2006, also tended to sneer at such cooperation, but that reflects their own limitations, rather than the value of international law.

The trend has been, in my opinion, for advocates to pursue international “law”, as some sort of 1st world charity project in the form of either limitations on action or prescriptions based on their own expertise and opinions, rather than a construct for a civil society. They seem truly mystified when it fails. In a different context, you can see some of the same things in the EU project. Top down, nanny-state regulatory planning, largely stemming from offices in Brussels, with little regard for the fact that the differences between natives of Dublin and Warsaw are almost surely much greater than the differences between a Manhattanite and an Alaskan.

Babak Makkinejad

hotrod:

Thank you for your comments.

I do not know much about the mission drift in the training of the Afghan police; all I knew was the evaluation of the police training delivered by Germans and British. My broader point was that the NATO mission in Afghanistan is functioning, to my knowledge, in a regional political vacuum. I think that is undesirbale but it was a deliberate choice by the so-called West.

condfusedponderer

hotrod,
not to blame you, but to vent my general distaste about the term 'soft power':

I think that term is silly and I dislike people seeing view anything through a power prism, much like an android would. I have, no kidding, seen US pop culture seen referred to as an 'asset' of US 'soft power'. So according to that view the US is using weaponised Britney Spears, McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, Hollywood, disaster aid and whatever else as 'assets' and means to pursue US interests. And don't forget that your house's fire insurance is US soft power too, in that adds to the resilience of the US as a society to withstand ... fire. You becoming friends with foreigners in their country are an asset for US soft power. Everything is power.

What's wrong about that generating goodwill among friends and that sober 'quid pro quo' helps, and that use or threat of force is a last resort? Is that new, or rather, so new as to justify a term of its own?! If that is new, how much else has been forgotten?

The term 'soft power' in itself gives testimony to an overly utilitarian world view. And I am aware that the term was (poorly) coined to betitle a counter thesis to the hard power obsession among the interventionists. That doesn't change anything about it's silliness.

/rant

Curious

"I cannot speculate about Pakistan and how her Armed Forces will behave under the scenario that you have outlined; ... But, even under your scenario, things will not be as bad as 1948 during and immediately after separation. Posted by: Babak Makkinejad | 31 December 2007 at 11:21 PM"

Last Tehran fuel shortage should show how in chaotic market situation things can get ugly quickly. And that's just one type of commodity instead of general economic crash. (look at Argentina, Korea, Indonesia, Mexico, Brasil, Soviet collapse. The extent of riot and the damage to sudden economic implosion.)

I am not sure how to compare it to 1948. My knee jerk answer would be the advance weaponries. (nuke) in the event of army collapsing. (But I seriously can't see it now.)

Anyway, so far from how the news unfolds, somebody seems to be at home doing their homework. (restore order, clamp down rumor, move the election date, international news control, etc.) The new year holiday also help reduce market panic.

" Moreover, Pakistan is not friendless; Saudi Arabia and China come to mind. In addition, she can get economic help from the other members of ECO. "

I think the prospect of Pakistan economic malaise should be in everybody's mind. It is very hard to fight religious radicals in down economy.

"About Al Qaeda: I sometines wonder if this is a repeat of the US Civil War on the planetary scale with OBL being John Brown and the real war still ahead of us."

In term of pure violent capabilities. I am not sure what the big deal is. (car bombs, hijacking plane, suicide attack, etc) major organized crime or armed militias have similar capabilities.

in term of domestic groups that has some similarities, I would say group like militias or motor cycle gangs. (eg. some military background, seductive ideology to surrounding populous, self sustaining organization capability. But they are not quite close in scope and violence size.)

The most dangerous aspect of Al qaeda I think that everybody miss. It's seductive to politicians. At the local level it attracts small time wannabe to quickly set into national stage. It's the same everywhere, some firebrand preacher talking to segment of society that are unhappy. Polarization of national opinion, riot. On higher up it attracts all sort of people to sustain the show. (scare mongering, feeding military/national security hysteria, etc.) Very profitable scapegoat.

If there are "brainware" side to solve al qaeda problem I would imagine the correct way would be:

a) comparative religion. (more mature view of religion from early on)

b) publish their propaganda manual and let people know how they operate.

c) education to create more open and tolerant society.


but hey.. too much common sense never works. There is no money in it.

Babak Makkinejad

Curious:

I wonder if broad sectors of Sunni Muslim populations agree with OBL's political agenda while disagreeing with his methods; just like the Abolitionists in the North with regards to John Brown.

You also have to factor in the sexual envy element in this case as well as in the US Civil War: in the US Civil War, Northerners were envious (in case of men) and horrified (in case of White women) of the (presumed) ability of the Southern men to purchase themselves slave girls. In the present case, we have all the bleeding hearts of the West who are equally envious of the presumed ability of Muslim men to marry more than one wife and thus all this concern about the status of Muslim women among them. We human beings are still largely animals for whom Eros is a huge presence in our lives.

Babak Makkinejad

David Habakkuk:

I tried to point out other analogues to John Brown in my reply to Curious.

Besides John Brown, one could also consider An Lushan, Chinese general of Iranian and Turkish descent who, as leader of a rebellion in 755, proclaimed himself emperor and unsuccessfully attempted to found a dynasty to replace the T'ang dynasty. Despite its failure, the rebellion precipitated far-reaching social and economic change and resulted in the collapse of the T’ang Dynasty.

I think, pursuant to the idea of lowering the temperature, there are certain concrete steps that can be taken by state actors. One would be to start immediate withdrawal of non-Muslim troops from Afghanistan and Iraq [regardless of how we have gotten to this point in that country]. Secondly, I think one has to treat Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and Darfur as primarily Muslim problems; i.e. the Muslim states must accept the burden of being primarily responsible for the Muslim areas of the world.

The Muslim states and polities have been whining for decades about their powerlessness in the international arena and how other states (read US) are running roughshod over their concerns. Well, I think it is about time to ask them to put their money where their mouths are. The Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), in which both Russia and India have observer status, could be recruited to advance this agenda. Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Nigeria, and Indonesia have both money and man-power. [Two of these states, Iran and Saudi Arabia, have laid claim to Islamic Leadership.] As De Gaulle said: “The only way to be a powerful country is to start acting like one.” – ditto for OIC.

To wit, I suggest replacement of US and NATO troops with Muslim troops from Muslim states funded by a combination of OIC, UN, US, and EU under UN flag. Furthermore, I suggest that the composition of Muslim troops in each case should exclude their neighbors.

I think this could be a way forward.

David Habakkuk

confusedponderer:

On your distaste for the term 'soft power' -- I most heartily agree.

I have similar feelings about the term 'social capital' used by economists.

In both cases, what I think is at issue is the propensity of people used to thinking in terms of a familiar set of concepts and categories to coin terms of art, which suggest that the terms in which they are comfortable thinking can be extended to areas in which they are imperfectly applicable.

Commonly, the term of art does not make it easier to think about these areas, but more difficult.

A more alarming aspect -- with 'political scientists' -- is that it suggests that many of them are only really happy thinking in terms of power. But although power is, always has been, and doubtless always will be a central fact in international relations, it is not the only fact.

From a recent article by Sir Rodric Braithwaite, formerly British Ambassador in Moscow and chairman of our Joint Intelligence Committee:

'Fairly or unfairly, for Russians our moral standing has been destroyed by the Kosovo war, Iraq and Guantanamo. They will listen no longer to our endless lectures. It is they, not we, who will decide how their domestic politics evolves. And it is they, not we, who will define Russian national interests - in Kosovo, Iran, or wherever. If we don't like it, tough; if we want to negotiate, fine.'

(for the complete article, see http://www.rodricbraithwaite.co.uk/da/59937)

Doubtless one could reformulate these remarks in terms of a decline in American 'soft power' -- but doing so would make thinking more difficult, not easier.

But questions to do with 'moral standing' do impact the world of hard power. See, for example, the account by Ray Takeyh and Nicholas Gvosdev of the developing Russo-Iranian entente, at http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/01/01/opinion/edtakeyh.php. They write that:

'Moscow no longer has any interest in making minor modifications to a policy largely predetermined in Washington. And the principal beneficiary of this changed perception may be Iran.'

Doubtless the reassertion of Russian national interests was always likely. But if the Clinton and Bush Administrations had displayed some concern to retain the extraordinary levels of trust many in Russia felt towards the United States in the early Nineties, Russians might now be defining their national interests in a way much more helpful to American policy goals, in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Babak Makkinejad

David Habakkuk:

In regards to Kosovo, I thought that was alwyas an EU project; they wanted US to go to war against a sovereign state in a war of choice.

Frankly, I do not understand why some key EU states criticized US for a similar war of choice in Iraq; US had given them their war of choice against Serbia, why couldn't they support US in her war of choice in Iraq?

Martin K

D. Habakkuk: Regarding "soft power", I prefer to use a dynamical analytical approach, analyzing windows of Opportunity (WO). In that context, you can clearly say that the US has lost a lot of leverage vs. Russia these last years, or more precizely that it has failed to capitalize on its WOs somewhat horribly these last eight years.

Its been years since I read up on philosophy of Power, but if we go around all the discussions I think we can agree that power is the ability of one actor to force change of behaviour contrary to optimal result in another? In that sense, we can say that the democratization and humanization of the communist satelitestates was an exercise in Soft Power, capitalized on by the EU in the WO it had there and then. By offering up a vision of benevolent relatively lawful buerocracy, EU has been able to "integrate" an enormous piece of landmass these last 15 years.

The US under Clinton seemed to understand this in a half-interested manner, but Bush has instead shifted US public image 180 degrees around. With a few notable exceptions (Aceh, Kashmir earthquake) the image of US has power has been Very Pointedly been one of fighting international cooperation. Now Russian people see this, and it makes the whole Disney propaganda-effort that provided the undertone for the eastern revolutions to ring somewhat hollow. The gulags, the "disappearances", the renditions all over Europe without Law: This has lead to the US being seen as a banditstate, one where the crazy people finally were allowed to take charge. This means that Putin will get away with anything, and all US critiscism will sound hollow and false.

As for Kosovo, I dont think we lost so much vs. Russia in that, because we didnt kill so many Serbians. Thats the difference, the Iraq & Afghanistan conflicts leave such bloody big handprints, while Kosovo was much smoother. Seen the film about finnish/russian negotiations with Milosevic?

Makkinejad: Well, Kosovo was partly a doctrinal experiment of testing the parameters inside that before mentioned WO as I read it. Russia was dependent on EU for getting new infrastructure going, now they have it and can play more hardball through controlling gas. My country, Norway, has the (partly) same soft power over britain funnily enough. Perhaps we should demand the Orkneys back.;-)

Babak Makkinejad

Martin K:

You stated: "...Kosovo was partly a doctrinal experiment". This is the crux of the matter for me - running experiments with people lives. I cannot accept it on moral grounds. On practical grounds, that is a recipe for endless war.

If you accept the doctrine of Window of Opportunity - going against the principles of the Peace of Westphalia, then I submit to you that the Germans under Hitler were great practitioners of that Art - and Norway, I suppose, was one of those opportunities.

parvati_roma

Babak Makkinejad wrote:

"In regards to Kosovo, I thought that was always an EU project; they wanted US to go to war against a sovereign state in a war of choice."

That's not how we saw it here: our impression was and is that it was the US, backed by the UK, that was egging the Albanians on and pushing for a big war campaign - to weaken Serbia, finish breaking up Yugoslavia, show off its bombers?? and wanted to do it using the NATO alliance - which the treaty foresaw as defensive-only, not offensive! - as a trial run in using European troops, particularly ground troops and military police, as its new "foreign legions". We were being flooded with refugees from the Balkans wars, were very worried about so much instability and mayhem right on our borders and had serious humanitarian concerns, but like most Europeans we'd have preferred a peacekeeping-type approach, UN-only and with agreement of both Serbian and Albanian parties. It was the US that pushed for a big confrontation and big military campaign, and wanted NATO (i.e. American leadership, European forces doing America's bidding under American command/coordination) involved at all costs ... also, I think, because it urgently needed to find some kind of post- ColdWar "role" for NATO which could somehow "justify" the continued presence of American troops and bases on European soil 10 years after the end of the Cold war?

For an understanding of the US's role and intentions in the Kosovo crisis:
Was a peaceful Kosovo Solution Rejected by U.S.?
See also Wikipedia on the Kosovo War, and in particular on the Rambouillet conference.

Babak Makkinejad

parvati roma:

Thank you for your comments.

I stand corrected.

Curious

I wonder if broad sectors of Sunni Muslim populations agree with OBL's political agenda while disagreeing with his methods; just like the Abolitionists in the North with regards to John Brown. -- Babak Makkinejad | 02 January 2008 at 10:18 AM "

I think that much is obvious. several reported polls indicate that. However, Al qaeda without killing and blowing up stuff isn't al qaeda. It's like dreaming about 'non fattening cheese'. It doesn't exist. The very point of Al Qaeda is implementation of terror attack.

Al qaed is not going to turn into legitimate political party like PLO, resistance group like Hezbollah or whatever else. They don't have root, therefore they don't have consistent cause except few religious jibe that quickly become irrelevant once hitting local politics.

" You also have to factor in the sexual envy ... We human beings are still largely animals for whom Eros is a huge presence in our lives. Babak Makkinejad | 02 January 2008 at 10:18 AM "

Probably there is, or probably not. But that sort of musing is so far fetch. It's hard to test it in real world. I am sure if you ask any random 16 yrs old boys, if he wants all girls in the world, he would have says ...'yes'.

But as explanation to global politics? too postmodern for me.

I'll take the old reliable "It's all about money and power" theory any day.


----------

I think Bruce Sterling sums up 2008 nicely for me. The current political situation is a dead end. It doesn't make any logical sense anymore and not sustainable.

http://www.well.com/conf/inkwell.vue/topics/317/Bruce-Sterling-State-of-the-Worl-page01.html#post4

I'm sure that, in the jehadi camps, there's a lot of backpatting this
holiday season over getting a Lion of the Resistance to liquidate
Benazir Bhutto. Still: wouldn't it have been vastly more effective to
assassinate, say, Angela Merkel the female Chancellor of Germany? Or
kill Putin, maybe? They used to think so big!

If Angela Merkel had been killed by a suicide bomber the Europeans
would be in fullscale antiterror lockdown right now. Whereas
destabilizing Pakistan is like.... it's doable, but what gives there?
Millions of pious Moslems die in a civil war in the birthplace of the
Taliban? And this advances the general cause of piety in what way,
exactly?

Pakistan could very easily smash to bloody pieces in 2008. If it
does, nobody anywhere is gonna try and stitch Pakistan back together.
Pakistan has a bigger population than Russia. It is just too big for
any of the other power-players to handle. So if it ignites, it'll
burn.

So they'll just blow up the local missile sites (if they can), and
then watch in grim disbelief.

Some people still think that there's an "Islamo-fascist tyranny"
somewhere that hates our freedoms and can organize Islam-dom into a
coherent fascist state... There's just no way. Al Qaeda and the
Taliban aren't true "fascists." Fascists can at least make trains run
on time. Even Communists were better-organized. The mujihadeen have
no organized army and no industrial policy and they don't know where to
find any. Because God was supposed to handle all that for them.
You're supposed to die nobly in a crowd of unwitting strangers, and
then God's supposed to make that all better. That's the big plan.

But when you blow up the china shop, God doesn't reassemble the plates
for you. Being faith-based doesn't trump reality.

It's pretty good news that Al Qaeda is getting tired and losing its
charisma. They've held center stage more than long enough.

Martin K

Makkinejad: Do misread me correctly, sir ;-) To say that I approve of a *Doctrine* of Windows of Opportunity is wrong, I am still shell-shocked with how fast international law has unravelled these last years. If I was to push the analysismodel a bit further, I would say that WO concerns "gamesituations" while International Law concerns game-parameters. Again, as EU has proved in its eastern expansion, Law is very strong in influencing populations. And, as the Eastern revolution showed, the moment of regimechange comes when the police lay down their uniforms. ( Digression: Sometimes I wish that the population of the US was the population of Argentine, lol.)

Regarding Kosovo, I tend to agree with parvati r. I remmeber the sudden decision to pull out the OSSE-observators as the trigger-event and that came after US pressure, did it not? (Correct me if I am wrong). It seemed like a NaTO-relevance maneuver. On the other hand, it was right, though deeply corrupt. It was also partly because of Srebrenica-shame on behalf of EU.

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