Saturday, November 11, 2006

We Need to Get Out of Iraq NOW!

George Dvorsky recently wrote: "Leaving Iraq at this particular point in time would be a catastrophe. The country currently sits on the brink of civil war, with Shias and Sunnis ready to pounce at each other's throats. There is a better than excellent chance that a full-out civil war would erupt followed by the fall of the current regime should the US presence be removed. A fundamentalist regime along the lines of Iran would likely follow suit, a problem that the US would have to eventually deal with at any rate."

I used to believe and publicly argue the same thing until I recently was made aware that the current situation in Iraq is worse than civil war - the world is witnessing at least four major internal conflicts in Iraq:

1) A Shiite-Sunni civil war in Baghdad and the central part of Iraq.
2) Intra-Shiite conflict in the south.
3) Sunni Arab insurgency in the West.
4) Arab-Kurdish violence in the North.

Futhermore, as Robert Parry explains: "U.S. intelligence has intercepted communiques from al-Qaeda leaders to Zarqawi in 2005 that actually reveal their alarm at the possibility of a prompt U.S. military withdrawal and their goal of "prolonging the war" by keeping the Americans bogged down in Iraq.

In a Dec. 11, 2005, letter, a senior al-Qaeda leader known as "Atiyah" lectured Zarqawi on the need to take the long view and build ties with elements of the Sunni-led Iraqi insurgency that had little in common with al-Qaeda except hatred of the Americans.

"The most important thing is that the jihad continues with steadfastness and firm rooting, and that it grows in terms of supporters, strength, clarity of justification, and visible proof each day," Atiyah wrote. "Indeed, prolonging the war is in our interest. " [Emphasis added.]

The "Atiyah letter," which was discovered by U.S. authorities at the time of Zarqawi's death on June 7, 2006, and was translated by the U.S. military's Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, also stressed the vulnerability of al-Qaeda's position in Iraq.

"Know that we, like all mujahaddin, are still weak," Atiyah told Zarqawi. "We have not yet reached a level of stability. We have no alternative but to not squander any element of the foundations of strength or any helper or supporter."

Atiyah's worries reiterated concerns expressed by bin Laden's deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri in another intercepted letter from July 7, 2005. In that letter, Zawahiri fretted that a rapid U.S. pullout could cause al-Qaeda's operation in Iraq to collapse because foreign jihadists, who flocked to Iraq to fight Americans, would give up the fight and go home.

"The mujahaddin must not have their mission end with the expulsion of the Americans from Iraq, and then lay down their weapons, and silence the fighting zeal," wrote Zawahiri, according to a text released by the U.S. Director of National Intelligence.

To avert mass desertions, Zawahiri suggests that Zarqawi talk up the "idea" of a "caliphate" along the eastern Mediterranean.

What al-Qaeda leaders seem to fear most is that a U.S. military withdrawal would contribute to a disintegration of their fragile position in Iraq, between the expected desertions of the foreign fighters and the targeting of al-Qaeda's remaining forces by Iraqis determined to rid their country of violent outsiders. In that sense, the longer the United States remains in Iraq, the deeper al-Qaeda can put down roots and the more it can harden its new recruits through indoctrination and training. These intercepted letters also fit with last April's conclusion by U.S. intelligence agencies that the U.S. occupation of Iraq has proved to be a "cause celebre" that has spread Islamic radicalism around the globe."

Bottom line: We need to get the out of Iraq NOW!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Oh Happy Day!

From Arianna Huffington's piece on the AlterNet:

"In a stinging rebuke entitled "GOP Must Go," the editors of The American Conservative wrote: "There may be little Americans can do to atone for this presidency, which will stain our country's reputation for a long time. But the process of recovering our good name must begin somewhere, and the logical place is in the voting booth this Nov. 7. If we are fortunate, we can produce a result that is seen -- in Washington, in Peoria, and in world capitals from Prague to Kuala Lumpur -- as a repudiation of George W. Bush and the war of aggression he launched against Iraq" -- a war the magazine describes as "a war we are now losing and cannot win, one that has done far more to strengthen Islamist terrorists than anything they could possibly have done for themselves."

When The American Conservative starts sounding like The Nation, you know that we have entered rarely charted political waters.

This is why the coming narrative battle promises to be as profound as it is passionate. And why 2006 could prove to be the most transformative election in a generation -- no matter the final outcome."

The most transformative? I wouldn't go that far, Arianna. Although I'm estactic about the results of the United States general elections of 2006, the Democrats in power is simply the Titanic being stirred slighty more to the left but still heading towards the iceberg...

Monday, November 06, 2006

Saving Democracy With Web 2.0

"At BarCamp, SuperHappyDevHouse, NetSquared and other hacker get-togethers, scores of entrepreneurs and engineers arrive eager to collaborate, make information easier to share and use, and mobilize groups for effective action. Though it may not be obvious, the road marks in this amorphous thing called Web 2.0 are political: grassroots participation, forging new connections, and empowering from the ground up. The ideal democratic process is participatory and the Web 2.0 phenomenon is about democratizing digital technology. There's never been a better time to tap that technological ethic to re-democratize our democracy. Many Americans believe that our political system is broken, and that money is to blame. Legislators are beholden to donations from special interest groups. Regulators pass through a revolving door to take jobs in the very industries they used to regulate. Big campaign donors somehow land big government contracts, despite arcane public bidding processes. New data-sharing technology can enable citizens to follow the money in comprehensive and compelling ways, and vote accordingly." (Read more in Wired News)

A Wild, and Gay, Kingdom!

"For eons, na­ture has been pranc­ing, flut­ter­ing and al­to­geth­er teem­ing with gay an­i­mals, pro­claim the or­ga­niz­ers of the first mu­se­um ex­hi­bi­tion on ani­mal ho­mo­sex­u­ali­ty. Scientists have found ho­mo­sex­u­ality in near­ly 1,500 spe­cies, said zo­ol­o­gist Pet­ter Boeck­man of the Nor­we­gian Nat­u­ral His­to­ry Mu­se­um at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Os­lo, an ex­hi­bi­tion co-or­g­an­iz­er. The show, en­ti­tled "A­gainst Na­ture's Or­der?" is to run through next sum­mer at the mu­se­um. Boeck­man said the project, draw­ing on sev­er­al years of re­search by an ar­ray of bi­ol­o­gists, proves gay sex is in fact part of na­ture's or­der. His ar­gu­ments ech­o the claim of gay rights ad­vo­cates world­wide that in hu­mans, too, ho­mo­sex­u­ality is nat­u­ral." (Read more on

How Progressives Can Win in the Long Run

"For nearly 30 years, ultraconservatives have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in young people and built an infrastructure that initiates young people into the radical right movement through campus activism, leadership training and career development. Their investments have paid off. The radical right wing now controls the executive and legislative branches of government, and it's only one seat away from complete dominance of the Supreme Court.

If progressives want to achieve the same sort of political success that the radical right has enjoyed for the past two decades, we're going to have to do more than focus on the next round of elections and pay lip service to engaging young people. We must make a serious, long-term investment in our next generation of progressive leaders. Young people provide a vital infusion of ideas, energy and passion to the progressive movement right now, and their commitment to continued activism and leadership is critical to building a progressive future." (Read more in WireTap Magazine)