Sunday, January 29, 2006

The root of all ...

The Council of Foreign Relations describes the Palestinian Authority's financial system this way:

Where does the PA government get its funding?

From a combination of overseas assistance and tax collection, Abuznaid says. He estimates that taxes—from businesses in the territories, as well as a customs tax collected by Israel and then paid to the Palestinians—account for about 40 percent of the PA budget. Donations from abroad make up the rest. The PA has run into budget trouble lately, running a massive deficit and sparking the wrath of European donors by adding thousands of people to the security service instead of cutting costs. Experts say Fatah padded its payroll with young militants to win their votes ahead of the polls, and expect the PA will be unable to pay all their salaries after the elections. Since November 2005, the European Union has withheld $42 million in aid payments to the PA as punishment for missed fiscal targets.

Sixty percent of the PA's funds come from foreign donors. American Future, quoting the Times of London,  has a breakdown of donor contributions to the Palestinian Authority

Source Amount in $millions
Arab League 197
United States 368
European Union 338
Britain 43
Italy 40
Sweden 32
Germany 27
Spain 17
  $1,062

 

How well have these monies been spent? EUFunding.Org has copies of two reports commissioned by the European Parliament in 2003 which examined whether funds provided by the EU were used in a legal and responsible manner. This ought to give some indication of how well donor money is spent in general. The site describes the conclusions reached.

There are two versions, and members were asked yesterday to vote on the report they support. One version, the "majority opinion", is authored by Wynn and Theato, the two budgetary chairmen [Wynn and Theato report]; the second, by the Foreign Affairs Chairman, Laschet [Laschet report]. As it turned out, Laschet's version has the support of many of the proponents of the original petition. "Irreconcilable differences" make it impossible for a single report to be published. The vote on which report to publish could not have been closer: seven for the Wynn/Theato version against six for Laschet.

Apparently 60% of all payrolls were disbursed in cash and not by bank transfer, making it difficult to rule out the possibility that vast sums have been used for purposes other than intended. Nor is it clear whether these monies have been largely used to benefit the ordinary Palestinian people and not to line the pockets of the PA officials.

Commentary

The Chicago Tribune is reporting tensions between the defeated Fatah and the newly elected Hamas.

Young fighters and police affiliated with the defeated Fatah movement staged angry protests Saturday, firing rifles into the air outside the Palestinian presidential compound in Ramallah and marching on the parliament buildings in Gaza and the West Bank. Hundreds of Fatah members marched outside the presidential compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah, with some firing automatic rifles skyward. They demanded the resignation of Fatah's Central Committee and rejected any alliance with Hamas in the new government. "No partnership with Hamas," they chanted.

Part of the problem may be rivalry over who will control the money. The fact that a large proportion of the Palestinian Authority's money comes from external sources can create what can be called the Simple Plan effect, after a book written in 1994 about a group of friends who stumble onto four million dollars and eventually wind up killing each other for its possession. Roger Stern of Johns Hopkins University writing at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has a more sophisticated version of the Simple Plan effect applied to regional politics. He argues that monopoly rents arising from the huge difference between the lifting cost of oil and the cartel price has created a vast inflow of money from the rest of the world which has destabilized the Middle East. Stern writes that warfare in the Middle East is:

warfare for monopoly proceeds. In such war, the aggressor’s goal is not to deny supply but to gain more of it to sell, as in Iraq’s invasions of Iran and Kuwait. Although this logic escaped U.S. policymakers, it was plain to one economist:

If the [Hussein] regime survives [the coming 1991 Gulf War], without a large U.S. presence . . . the whole region and a far more effective oil monopoly is his. Higher revenues will buy more arms, which will lead to more conquest and hence higher revenues. As he occupies one neighbor after another, he will absorb their wealth and gain territory for launching further attacks. (ref. 22, pp. 537–548 Adelman, M. A. (1993) The Economics of Petroleum Supply MIT Press, Cambridge, MA)

Adelman’s insight is that oil market power, not oil per se, creates instability in the Persian Gulf. More simply, each firmstate’s monopoly proceeds are a potential war prize to another.

The Congo too has been cursed by wealth which is there for the taking, because it is independent of whether the society which surrounds it is devastated. Global Security writes:

It has long been established that the exploitation of these resources, including coltan, gold, and diamonds in eastern Congo, and diamonds, copper, cobalt, and timber in central DRC, contributed to and exacerbated the conflict in the DRC. Concerned with reports of pillaging of resources by the foreign forces, the UN Security Council mandated an independent panel to investigate these allegations. The panel has produced a series of reports, detailing the circumstances of this exploitation.

But whereas the Congo is wracked by a war over its natural riches, the struggle for donor funds in Palestine is a perverse scavenger's brawl over the begging bowl of the Palestinian people. Perhaps never before has a government stood to gain more from the misery of its people (60% foreign aid) than their prosperity (40% taxes). It creates a perverse set of incentives and one wonders whether 'in such wars, the goal is not to diminish misery but to gain more of it to sell ...'. Just wondering.

53 Comments:

Blogger Barry Meislin said...

While I have no intention of denigrating the very palpable financial incentives (bonuses, actually) involved in keeping Palestinians chronically miserable, it must be stressed that the most important reason to keep them miserable is political: one gets to pin all the blame on Israel and her supporters. Again and again and again.

That's right. Palestinian misery is the gift that keeps on giving.

Who in their right mind would want to ruin a good thing?

1/29/2006 04:36:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

You have an incentives problem in societies when the source of its wealth is independent of the welfare of its people. Not just Palestine. There are a number of countries today which are largely dependent on exptriate remittances. Mexico for example; as are other Third World countries. In many of these countries the mechanism for taxing these exptriate remittances is the only thing that works. You then have a mechanism that works like this: the more wretchedly a country is run, the more its citizens escape abroad; the more the country's government earns by taxing remittances. The so-called country becomes a huge hostage-taking operation where relatives of overseas workers are held to keep the remittances flowing inward. If that incentive is true of Mexico, why not Palestine?

1/29/2006 04:45:00 AM  
Blogger The Anti-Jihadist said...

How much money is Israel providing to this mess? There's also assistance besides money that can and is being provided by the infidels. I have read in other sources that, for example, all of Gaza's electrical power comes from Israel. But pay no attention to that, so long as Israel exists, there will be always a plausible excuse for all kinds of Arab malfeasance.

All this Jizya money amounts to a situation rather remarkably like providing free almost limitless drugs to a drug addict (or a whole bunch of them, perhaps is more like it). Lots of vested interests--Islamists, international leftists, and others cut from the same cloth--would like to see nothing interrupt the largess.

1/29/2006 04:47:00 AM  
Blogger Clioman said...

It's obvious that the solution is to turn off the external money supply. It's equally obvious that will require political will...and that appears to be the one resource the West is running out of faster than oil.

1/29/2006 05:25:00 AM  
Blogger Meme chose said...

The Saudis sell us what we need to drive our cars, and the Palestinians sell us what we need to inflate our vanity.

If the average Westerner could distinguish thugs from victims in third world countries the Palestinian scam would not work, but most third world thugs learned a long time ago to operate behind a media-friendly mask.

Westerners can't see thuggish behavior between 'little brown people' because they have forgotten what a lack of freedom is. I notice that Poland, as a counter-example, did not feature prominently on the list of donors to the Palestinian Authority.

1/29/2006 05:53:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

"Part of the problem may be rivalry over who will control the money."

Gee, Wretchard, I'm not one to roll on the floor, clutching at my sides in peals of violent, gut-busting laughter, but when I read your sentence above, I wondered 'What was your first clue?'

PART of the problem?

1/29/2006 06:22:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Note that those stalwarts in the War on Terror, he U.S. and G.B., together give more than twice as much as the Arabs who profess to pity the Palestinians so much.

I read recently that cira 1970 25% of all the poor people in the world were in Africa. After decades of increasingly lavish international charity we have got that down to something over 50% of the world's poor people being in Africa.

This is due to exactly the processes that Wretchard describes. As one analyst put it, in many African contries the government is focused on how to split up the incoming money and how to get more of it. They have given up managing their own resources.

I wonder what the stats on the poor in Palestine are? Did we start out at 100% poverty and with billions of dollars of input manage to get it up even higher?

1/29/2006 06:31:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

Oooh! RWE, your cutting, incisive sarcasm is not without socially redeeming content!

I am amazed at how 'help', well-meaning and in many cases sacrificially given, has corrupted so many, so quickly in such disparate societies...

Stop HELPING! Kick their crutches away and let them stumble, skin their collective knees, and turn to their own people, in righteous dedication to THE PEOPLES' Welfare!

Cold Turkey! Tough love, be cruel to be kind. And no, I append NO 'sarcasm' tag. I've SEEN addicts, and they are a pitiful, sad bunch indeed!

1/29/2006 06:45:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

http://www.city-journal.org/html/13_2_oh_to_be.html

theodore dalrymple saw this close up decades ago.

1/29/2006 07:02:00 AM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

If you reward a behaviour you will produce more of the same. The world has been rewarding the Palestinians all these years for... what?

I think it's past time to wonder if we've been getting our money's worth.

1/29/2006 07:21:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

If you kick the crutchs away from the Palistinians, where will they fall?

The idea that without the outside support they will begin to dance a jig is amusing.

They would revert to what they know best. With little concern for the Welfare of the folk. Allah will reward them, later.

All that has occurred with the election of Hamas is the creation of another more ever more tinder, flashpoint in the Mohammedan Wars.

Those that want to see the Palistinian issue outside that box are mistaken.

The loss of US & EU funding will be felt by the "little guy" the women and children. Iran will maintain the funds needed for conflict, that much we can bank on.

Cut the cash is the same as lighting the fuse. I do not oppose cutting the cash flow.

I'd welcome the Regional War that will entail.
We would be done with the Mohammedan Wars for my Grandchildren's life time, which according to Mr Bush, is the Whole Point of the matter.

1/29/2006 07:28:00 AM  
Blogger whit said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/29/2006 07:28:00 AM  
Blogger nonomous said...

Wretchard,

The Palistinian donations are bribes to the Saudi and Iranian dictators. In return for a handout, the US and EU expect lower oil prices.

1/29/2006 07:31:00 AM  
Blogger nonomous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/29/2006 07:48:00 AM  
Blogger nonomous said...

meme chose said:

"If the average Westerner could distinguish thugs from victims in third world countries the Palestinian scam would not work, but most third world thugs learned a long time ago to operate behind a media-friendly mask."

I think this is an excellent insight.

Things are changing, though. The blogosphere is one of many technologies changing the way events in far off lands come to one's attention. The MSM is not making an issue of the Hamas election. In my local Sunday paper, the story ran on page 15. The blogs are allowing reality to leak into western consciousness, anyway.

1/29/2006 07:57:00 AM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

dr, yes, cutting the cash flow is the same as lighting the fuse. Except, the fuse has already been lit.

But I'm not so sure the conflict between Hamas and Fatah will necessarily result in a regional war. The leadership in Syria, Iran, Jordan, Egypt et al are certainly craven in their manipulation of the "Palestinian cause", but at the end of the day they don't really give two hoots about "Palestine". [Scare quotes can be both instructive and fun!]

I'm not sure the conflict between Hamas and Fatah will necessarily metastasize into a larger conflagration, but who really knows? There certainly is enough loose tinder lying around. But a small fire now might well prevent a much larger fire later.

And nonomous, regarding those "donations" as bribes in expectation of lower oil prices. Again, one has to wonder if we've been getting good value for the dollar.

1/29/2006 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

It looks like we’ve been funding terrorists more than Saddam! Only now that the Palestinian people, thanks to democracy, have expressed openly their willingness to support terrorism pure and simple, can we still lie to ourselves?

Apparently we are preparing to do just that. When the President and others ask Hamas to renounce terrorism and Israel’s destruction, we are doing nothing more than asking them to lie. We do this so we can pretend that we are not supporting terrorism.

I’ve just written to the President and my representatives to tell them to stop all funds to Palestinians now and in the future. Not one more cent to terrorists.

1/29/2006 08:17:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Hamas will be, IMO, successgul in merging the armed camps. They will use the Iranian's cash to do this.

The will not be, IMO, internal Palistinian strife for long. Notice that Hamas ordered it's people off the streets, so as to avoid confrontations with Fatah.

Most of the Fatah gunsuls are looking for Cash & Adventure. Hamas will be able to deliver on those needs.

Let the Isrealis cut off the Water or Power. The images on CNN & even FOX will play right into the Mullah's Plan. Before a single Persian is killed as Collateral Damage.

It seems that while the Mohammedans are playing Chess, US is on the Porch playin' checkers.

We won't win 'til there is a fist fight. As trish linked to last thread, we arn't even trying to "Win", just manage & contain.

That's no way to fight a War
It is not Peace
Just Failure to Achieve Victory,
or even expect it, within DECADES.

That is as defeatist as a Vice President could be.

1/29/2006 08:27:00 AM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

d r, agreed, the Iranians are going to fund Hamas--and just maybe in doing so they will succeed in wiping a certain mid-Eastern country off the map. Just not necessarily the one they intended.

Building that wall, disengaging from Gaza... it's all looking pretty prescient now.

1/29/2006 08:52:00 AM  
Blogger Reocon said...

whit 3:50

I was curious to see a defense of Bush’s paradoxical willingness to negotiate with Sunni terrorists in Iraq while refusing negotiations with Hamas because they, like the Sunni parties, posses an "armed wing". Your answer seems to raise even more contradictions for me, and if you like, I would find some clarification helpful:

whit said... (1/27 3:50)

“I could parse your statement and say that the answer to your question lies in your statement. Hamas is an Islamist terror organization. The Sunnis are a political group which could be and have been brought into the political process. That’s not to say the Sunnis are freedom loving democrats and all is well but I suspect they are more pragmatic than Hamas; someone that could be negotiated with.”

But Hamas too, has been “brought into the political process”, being granted the privelege to compete in Palestinian elections beforehand despite their armed wing, practice of terrorism and vow to annihilate Israel. I believe that was a mistake and the United States should have strongly pushed to exclude Hamas before the elections. They are not worthy of democratic politics, if indeed, democratic politics could ever work in the non-state of Palestine. (Perhaps Golda Meir was right and the “Palestinians” are not even a coherent people?) Would we now allow the Taliban to run in Afganistan and only attempt to exclude them from international recognition if they won power? That is the logical extension of our slow reaction to Hamas. The Sunni parties in Iraq contain all manner of Baathists, neo-Baathists, Jihadis and Al-Qaeda collaborators. I don’t see on what basis you want to grant them negotiating status without heavy concessions and renunciations of their most vile tenets and allies. Of course they are no where near doing this as they play their double game of politics and insurgency.

whit asked:
“Would you be willing to say that fewer soldiers have been killed than would have been if we acted otherwise?”

Of course. The variations of “acted otherwise” are too numerous to elucidate in this space. If you give me a specific policy option I might be able to hazard a slightly more educated guess.

whit:
“I don’t have any illusion that talk or negotiation will work with the Palestinians particularly Fatah or Hamas. I think that the President having rightly come to the conclusion, that the Arafat and Company were “scam artists” decided to let the Israelis call the shots. I think his statements regarding Hamas were not only honest but also meant as a sign of solidarity with the Israelis. So I admit that the two positions appear contradictory but I think it would be a terrible mistake to lock in a rigid, dogmatic policy in this part of the world. But in regard to to terrorists, we should be unequivocal.”

This strikes me as you yourself acknowledge: contradictory. I look at the Sunni leadership in Iraq, sly dogs like Saleh Mutlak, and see more Arafat-style “scam artists”. Perhaps you could let us know what insurgency-affiliated Sunni politician in Iraq you regard as a worthy negotiator? What I do agree with, as per your last statement, is that if we are going to be rhetorically rigid and claim integrity, we should be unequivocal in our rejection of terrorism. That goes for Hamas as well as Sunni insurgents and Moqtada al-Sadr, whose Mahdi Army has slain over 140 American soldiers. Won’t you join me in rejecting this bloody terrorist from any recognition of legitimacy instead of welcoming him into the halls of power?

1/29/2006 08:54:00 AM  
Blogger Ozymandias said...

The CIA factbook provides some interesting information on the Gaza Strip http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/gz.html

Their GDP is based on agriculture (9%), Industry (28%), and services (63%). The earn $270 million annually largely from export of agricultural products and tourist trinkets to Israel and Egypt. The unemployment rate is about 30%, the poverty rate about 80%. The receive $2 billion in foreign aid annually (not clear if this includes the West Bank).

Their natural resources consist of natural gas and arable land. Yet their environment is breaking down: desertification, soil degradation, depletion and contamination of underground water resources.

That is the situation with a current population of 1.4 million.

The fertility rate per woman is 5.91, which supports a population growth rate of 3.77% (doubling the population in just 19 years). That rate will increase dramatically, given 48.5% of the population is under 15 years old, which means another 300,000 uteruses coming on line in the next few years.

Adding more people is only going to accelerate the drawdown of their environmental endowment, increase competition for dwindling resources, and intensify the Malthusian nightmare.

This situation cannot long endure. Western aid will not solve anything – it will only allow pressures to build to ridiculous levels before the inevitable explosion. Better the explosion comes sooner rather than later, as it will be cheaper in treasure and blood. Better that a racecar driver losing control on a curve steer into the wall now rather than smack into it head on a few hundred feet down the track.

1/29/2006 09:04:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

no argument there, ss.

But it will make the Jenin incident look tame by comparison.
The Israelis would be engaged in real innercity combat, which means leveling the city.

While some Religious sites may be spared destruction, there are not many such sites in the Gaza, are there?

Then what do the Egyptians and Jordanians do? Does the "Street" rise up against the 'Moderates'?

What does Hezzbollah do as the balloon goes up?

We always assume that US and the EU have the inititive on the Iranian Chaleenge. Always about OUR timetable. What WE are going to do, UN, Sanctions, etc.

All the while the Mohammedans are not sitting on their hands. We may joke about Syrians & Iranians holding hands, while in Reality the Joke is on US.

Iraq is a "one of" occurance, however, we would NEVER have to maintain Oil Field Security in a Hostile Enviorment.
Not in Iran, KSA, Nigeria, Venezuela, Columbia or Mexico.

Could never ever happen, again.

1/29/2006 09:04:00 AM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

...if we are going to be rhetorically rigid and claim integrity, we should be unequivocal in our rejection of terrorism. That goes for Hamas as well as Sunni insurgents and Moqtada al-Sadr, whose Mahdi Army has slain over 140 American soldiers.

Ah, now we're getting somewhere. I'm willing to listen. Can anyone explain to me why al-Sadr (complicit in these and at least one other murder) is not now dead or rotting in a jail cell? Are we that afraid of the much vaunted Mahdi Army? And if so, what does that say about our--or our nominal allies--chances in Iraq once the Iranians let slip the dogs of war?

Maybe it's time for some unfortunate accident to befall this particular holy man before he becomes a real problem.

But I guess that would run counter to our values.

1/29/2006 09:28:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

ss,
We only kill our Enemies when we are at War.
Since we do not kill our Enemies it is easy to see, we are not at War.
We are Managing a Conflict.

That is why Osama and aQ get a Pass in Pakistan, it would be to hard to manage a real Conflict there.

re: Pakistan and the WoT.
When a Country is a War and over 1,500 armed Enemy parade in the street of an Enemy enclave, that would have be, was in WWII, a legitimate Target. Not so in the WoT.
The Enemy is allowed to congregate and Parade with out fear of a US Strike. Wouldn't happen if the US was at War, one where Victory was the Objective.

1/29/2006 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

I mean those fellas definately support the Terrorists, most could have been Terrorists.

They fit Mr Bush's target parameters, why were they not targeted?
Well, could it be 'cause we are not at War, with Terroists or their supporters.
Definately not in Iraq where we negotiate with and subsidize the Terrorists.
Not in Pakistan, where the Enemy's armed troops Parade in the Streets.
Not in Palistine where we sent hundreds of millions of dollars to known Terrorists, as did the Israelis.

Not much of a War, more and more it looks like a staged Conflict.
Street theater on a World Wide Scale.
No casualties, to speak of. An occasional made for TV Explosion. Parades & Celebrations.

"Triumphs" without need of Victories.

1/29/2006 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Aristides said...


“Now, cognition is categorization, so I don't begrudge you your reflex. However, be careful you don't succumb to confirmation bias, which a flight to categorization can bring about.”

If so, then perhaps your cognition is blurred between two categories: Bush-style “democratic globalism” in which simple elections and liberal nostrums (infrastructure, social programs) will lift any society out of the muck and onto the Olympian plane of advanced industrial democracy; and Charles Krauthammer’s “democratic realism” in which democracy is a good to be promoted across the globe, but only where applicable. You claim to support the utopian drive of the former, but in your analysis and many objections (wondering of Palestine is even “viable”) your politics appear quite clearly in the latter. I support neither policy but am philosophically repelled by the messianic reach and ignorance of the President’s globalism.

Aristides:
“This indicates that you have not fully immersed yourself in the principles of evolution. Evolution, of course, doesn't stop, except in the case of extinction, which I don't think is the point you were making. Ecosystems can be said to reach equilibrium, but they are anything but static, and in the long-term unstable anyway. Therefore, there is no path for others to follow, since all paths are chaotic. Only if a society had the exact same starting conditions would they take the same path as ours (highly unlikely, to say the least).”

We have reached a strange impasse in this exchange in which we are imputing a faith in a political evolutionary telos to each other. I am an anti-Marxist, I do not believe that evolution stops at a specific governmental form, whether proletarian dictatorship or liberal democracy. You claim you do not either, and yet you (attempt) to defend democratic globalism which does indeed believe in a politico-evolutionary “end of history”. Again, if you are not willing to put other nations on the bed of Procrustes in order to reach our shape, then you are an odd apologist for the President’s policies.

Aristides:
“In other words, my arguments for democratic globalism (your phrase) are about as "conservative" as you can get. I have read the empirical arguments laid down by our founders, I have traced their ancestry, and my journey backwards led me to the same conclusions they got. In a sense, I peer-reviewed their political philosophy, and I concur with their analysis. Democratic accountability is the only viable species in the genus of government--a genus, let's not forget, that is a necessary, and lamentable, evil.”

Well then, it sounds as if you’ve put a lot of thought into these matters. As you must know, democratic globalism (see past issues of the National Interest and the Weekly Standard) can trace its recent history to Clinton’s 1994 State of the Union address to Woodrow Wilson and even Leon Trotsky (see Isaac Deutscher’s “The Prophet Armed”). What has your peer review of these texts and philosophies revealed about their applicability to failed states?

Aristides:
“Of course, I could at this time point to the similarities in principle between democracy and evolution (and the market, for that matter), and how the success of the former might be best explained with the lexicon of the latter, but I won't. Your attention is probably waning.

Au contraire, my attention is piqued. I love to read about what the youth of today are thinking. Please go on. What do you see as the evolutionary or democratic or market driven solutions to the Mid-East? What sort of social engineering do you see as necessary to reach these states, in whatever lexicon you choose.

“Reocon: You support democratic globalism but are not confident about the "viability" of Palestine?

Aristides:
I don't think the two are contradictory. I support the principles of democracy, and I'm not even sure about the long-term viability of my own culture, or, for that matter, my newly-minted assumptions. Who knows, some other event could be right around the corner that could once again disassemble my world-view. I doubt it, but if it came I wouldn't resist.”

If a nation-state, say Palestine is not politically or economically viable, then of what use is democracy in making it so? As the political scientists Mansfield and Snyder have written, elections in failed states frequently bring about more fragmentation and bloody chaos. I point out again that your sophisticated caveats make you a poor adherent of the President’s simplistic faith. The President has no doubts about the viability of his culture, indeed that is why he seeks to export it as elixir. You sound much more cautious and uncertain . . . systematic doubt maybe the first step at uncovering new truths.

Aristides:
“Death has a terrible gravity; the history of life is a striving towards escape velocity (which may be nearer than we expect). This makes me think that, if we allow it, societies will evolve to be more life-affirming, in both their internal and external posture, or they will die.”

If we “allow it”? What if these societies are so traumatized that, with our by your leave, they elect for death? What if in free and fair elections whole regions of the globe (Pakistan, Anbar, Munich, Tehran, Gaza) vote for nihilism? Or, what if their conception of life, liberty and freedom are radically different from ours? I once heard Paul Wolfowitz assure an audience that the Shi’a in Iraq would never vote for the theocratic parties (which they did) because 51% of Shi’a were women, implying that they would not submit to Sharia. Wrong. Wolfowtiz could not understand the yearnings of Shi’a women any better than Karen Hughes.

Aristides:
“Democracy incorporates the reality of time (change), and accounts for it, so it is successful. It is successful here, and if it is built to last, it will be successful elsewhere.”

Does not Iran’s political system account for the “reality of time”, their reality? Are not the standards of success in life, in love, in liberty culturally coded? Why did so many in the West think that Hamas would never win popular power?

1/29/2006 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

If we are to believe Steve @ threatswatch.org, and I do, then
his link to the NY Sun is informative.

" ... In its continuing efforts to infiltrate and carry out terror attacks in Israel, Hezbollah created “Unit 1800,” a secret wing of the organization that has recruited Palestinians to collect intelligence information. The unit is reportedly taking control over Hamas, Fatah, and other Palestinian terror groups. Most recently Hezbollah has established a “forward command” post in Gaza that serves as a link between terrorists in the West Bank and Hezbollah’s leadership in Lebanon.

Although Iran’s war against Israel started 27 years ago, its efforts over the past several years indicate stepped up attempts to take over Palestinian organizations that are directly involved in the conflict. Through its investments in the activities of various Palestinian terror organizations, Iran seeks to increase its legitimacy among Palestinians. From there it hopes to gain an increasing foothold within the Palestinian Authority, and ultimately take control from within. ..."


As I said not long ago, Lebanon will again become Home for the Palistinians. The Battle of Lebanon is far from over.

Regional War, the Stage is set.

1/29/2006 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

wretchard said...
There are a number of countries today which are largely dependent on exptriate remittances. Mexico for example; as are other Third World countries.

...............
Consider too that the price of oil has doubled so the billions that Mexico receives annually from oil has doubled in recent years and yet still their people pour over the US border.
////////////
The reasons that the US allows this stupid state of affairs is because of the immoral and treasonous complicity of American elites going right up to the president himself-- and of course the imbeciles at the top of the democratic party--against the wishes of their respective rank and file. The top pubbies are looking for cheap labor and the top dems are looking for cheap votes. There's more to it than that. Both parties at their top have bought into the passport elite crowd's call for one world government which inflicts on the people of the USA unlimited liablities in return for nothing.

1/29/2006 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

it all started here: 1959, israel wants to irrigate using the sea of Galilee, the arabs respond by wanting to CUT of WATER to Israel. (let c4 bitch about israel stealing water on the west bank, the question is why the arabs have cut off water from upstream rivers nonstop since 1964...)

So the PLO is formed to eliminate the state of israel in 1964....

1964, no west bank or gaza or jerusalem

1964

http://www.mideastweb.org/israelscnotes.htm

The second Arab summit conference, held in Alexandria on Sept. 13, 1964, declared the goal of eliminating Israel, and made concrete decisions regarding unification of army commands, increased size of armed forces and diversion of the waters of the Jordan before they reached the Sea of Galilee, in Syria and Lebanon. The defined the national cause as that of liberating Palestine from Zionist imperialism and pursuing a plan of joint Arab action.

The Alexandria decisions are without parallel. They stand in naked conflict with the Charter of the United Nations and with every accepted principle governing relations between States. Moreover, they clash with international efforts to seek ways of relaxing tension, of settling disputes by pacific means, and of attaining permanent world peace

then 1967

Khartoum summit: the three Arab no's against Israel

Resolution adopted at the Arab Summit Conference in Khartoum, 1 September 1967.

no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it, and insistence on the rights of the Palestinian people in their own country.

and then fatah....

and now hamas....

and we pay for these clowns

1/29/2006 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

pork rinds for allah said...

it all started here: 1959, israel wants to irrigate using the sea of Galilee, the arabs respond by wanting to CUT of WATER to Israel. (let c4 bitch about israel stealing water on the west bank, the question is why the arabs have cut off water from upstream rivers nonstop since 1964...)
///////////////////////
This part of it anyway is going to run to some pretty astounding solutions in the next couple years. The advances in nanotech in just the last six months presage a time within the next five years when the price of desalinised water will drop to levels close to those in the temperate countries of the world.

1/29/2006 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger sammy small said...

Back before the 90's when everything was aligned with either the U.S. team or the Soviet team, things were so much more predictable. There was a sense of keeping things in balance (the old policy of stability) with foreign aid serving a somewhat different purpose.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union and the era of the peace dividend, it's since become a worldwide free-for-all, and every man for themselves. Hence the rise in political snubs of the U.S. It's high time to re-evaluate the purpose of shelling out aid. In It could be a whole new and more valid strategy, and funding the Palis would be a good place to start.

1/29/2006 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger nonomous said...

The disposition of forces within the west bank is interesting, but only a distraction to the larger issue Wretchard raises today: From a global perspective, what is the best way to manage the remaining cheap oil? There is plenty of tar sands and shale oil, but these have 'lifting costs' in excess of the current price of oil. The 'cheap oil' which comes out of the ground for free will last only a few decades at current consumption rates. Whoever has the best infrastructure for high energy prices wins in the long run.

What investments does a wise government make today?

1/29/2006 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Reocon,

I find it surprising that you would have so little faith in the applicability of our principles: rule of law, individual and property rights, democratic accountability, education, etc.

You still have not answered the key question. If the standard is the alternative, what is the alternative to democracy?

Let it rot?

If you do not believe the peoples of the world worthy of democracy, the rule of law, and individual rights, what would you prescribe for those you obviously consider to be lesser beings?

I know, I know. Let them eat cake. If they get uppity? Kill them.

1/29/2006 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Most of your questions can be answered by pointing out this obvious fact: evolution is unstoppable; the only way a society can survive is by harnessing it.

Hence democracy: a forum for evolution. Hence the market economy. Hence freedom of speech. Hence your neurological patterns. Hence...

If you don't account for political and memetic evolution in your political system, these inevitabilities of nature will, in the end, render it obsolete.

Why do you persist in ascribing Fukuyama's "end of history" to my position? I think it's becoming a distraction for you.

1/29/2006 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Amazing information Wretch, the table really puts the pecking order of largesse into perspective. I had no idea the United States was by and large the biggest donor to the Palestinian Authority. This while Jihadis’ worldwide condemn the U.S. for its’ associations with Israel. Amazing.

In a May 2005 report from the USINFO report the government claims significant successes in reducing financial aid to terrorist groups such as Hamas. The report goes on to finger Syria as a major conduit of cash contributions. I wonder of this amount, how much of the ‘Arab League’s’ contributions show up as cash.

“Terrorist organizations such as al-Qaida and HAMAS are finding it increasingly difficult to raise and move money around the globe, a top U.S. Treasury Department official says.

In May 4 congressional testimony, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey said Bush administration efforts to find and destroy terrorist funding networks are forcing terror groups out of formal financial systems and into "riskier" conduits such as cash smuggling.

"We have indications that terrorist groups like al-Qaida and Hamas are feeling the pressure and are hurting for money," Levey said in prepared testimony for two panels of the House of Representatives. "This progress is a direct result of the Bush administration's unrelenting efforts."

Levey said challenges remain on a number of fronts, notably the continued flow through Syria of money and other forms of support for terrorist groups in Iraq.”

A regional ruler, Muhammad bin Saud, joined forces with an Islamic reformer, Muhammad Abd Al-Wahhab, to create a new political entity.
In 1932, these regions were unified as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The discovery of oil in March 1938 transformed the country economically, and has given the kingdom great legitimacy over the years.

Perhaps it was the will of God that Muhammad bin Saud and the radical Islamic reformer, Muhammad Abd Al-Wahhab created a new political entity that was unified in 1932 as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Only 6 years later, in 1938, oil was discovered in the newly united country, the rest as they say is history.

The Palestinian cause has become a proxy for Arab states, a penance for their failure to remove Israel militarily. As long as the Palestinians suffer, the blood debt is being paid.
The Arabs can ‘tithe’ the radical elements, such as Hamas, and assuage their own shortcomings, while appeasing an otherwise disappointed god. Perhaps this why Al Qaeda has moved into the region, to hold their hand out demand their portion of the blood money that is being paid.

1/29/2006 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

With the Palestinians, and also with Africa, the spoils are thickly spread on top, and barely visible on the bottom. If power also aggregates at the top, the situation is untenable. You will get war, led by those who seek both power and wealth.

But what if power was held by the people, on loan to those at the top, and subject to perennial foreclosure hearings? I think you would see a different dynamic emerge over time.

Factional envy and punitive elections would, in my opinion, eventually lead to two things: greater palliatives for the people, and more subtle and sophisticated corruption.

This would be a tremendous improvement. Which is why I'm bullish on the sovereignty of the people.

1/29/2006 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

It's not for money these boys fight.
The wiser, older heads will plot and scheme for the Bounty to be gained.
Younger men, the foot soldiers in Mohammed's War of Conquest need not for money.
Just Salvation and Release.

The old line Stalinists have being purged from the Region, now described by the WaPo as "secularists", these Fatah men have seen their Power diminish as Jihad took sway.

Then in the NY Times there is this little piece, ranking 9-11 amongst the other Incidents in US History.

Assumes that 9-11 stands alone it History, not a First Shot in a Greater War.

The writer is, I think, quite serious and as it is in the NY Times may soon become " Mainstream" thinking.

" ... My first question: where does Sept. 11 rank in the grand sweep of American history as a threat to national security? By my calculations it does not make the top tier of the list, which requires the threat to pose a serious challenge to the survival of the American republic.

Here is my version of the top tier: the War for Independence, where defeat meant no United States of America; the War of 1812, when the national capital was burned to the ground; the Civil War, which threatened the survival of the Union; World War II, which represented a totalitarian threat to democracy and capitalism; the cold war, most specifically the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, which made nuclear annihilation a distinct possibility.

Sept. 11 does not rise to that level of threat because, while it places lives and lifestyles at risk, it does not threaten the survival of the American republic, even though the terrorists would like us to believe so. ... "

It goes on like this for a few more hundred words.

1/29/2006 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger speaker-to-animals said...

It creates a perverse set of incentives and one wonders whether 'in such wars, the goal is not to diminish misery but to gain more of it to sell ...'. Just wondering.
exactly, Sir.
and that is why the UN can never work either. Misery is their industry. If they eliminate misery, they are all out of jobs.

1/29/2006 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger Fellow Peacekeeper said...

Its not unique, the situation in Kosovo was similar. Until recently there the budget % was actually greater if you counted the indirect taxing of money spent locally by international forces ... of course expenditure there was subject to outside control.

1/29/2006 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger trish said...

OT. And a very intersting read:

Composition of ‘brigade combat teams’ at issue
STUDY FINDS ARMY TRANSFORMATION PLAN WEAKENS COMBAT CAPABILITY


www.d-n-i.net/grossman/army_transformation.htm

1/29/2006 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger Pete Speer said...

Where did it all start? With the Balfour declaration designed to lure the United States into World War I through influencing the media.

What was the major sticking point? The instence of the leaders in establishing Israel as a religious as opposed to a secular state. A state of Palestine should have included both Jewish and Islamic peoples. It could have been artfully designed in 1946, but a decision was made to manufacture a Palestinian diaspora to accommodate all religionists who wanted to come home. They came home in their hearts but mostly lived elsewhere.

The result was that the Kookists and the Gush were able to convince the Israeli government to let them violate the UN resolution and create the settlements. Political support for the Labor party was supposed to come forth in this deal, but they voted for Likud instead.

A Palestine with lands separated by Israel looks much like the original Pakistan and it is not viable. In fact, the capital city for both Israel and Palestine must coexist in Jerusalem.

In our discussions of the Middle east, we must not forget and in fact encourage the divisions between Shia and Sunni as well as the division of sects within Sunni. But just as important are the differences within Shia -- the Arabs versus the Persians. al-Sistani, the senior Shia Mullah in Iraq has no love for the Mullahs in Tehran. It was through his influence that we have a coalition government evolving in Baghdad. It is through Shia teachings that the secular and the religious society can coexist. The Sunni Islamist extremists and their imams focus on the absoute primacy of the religious sector.

In Iran, the leading Persian mullahs have the ultimate authority and the President exists at their sufferance. Rule in Iran is complicated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which acts within much looser bonds. It is the IRG who act as the arms smugglers and provide support to the insurgents.

The key to our policy is to take no action which will bring Shia and Sunni, Persian and Arab back together under a single flag of Islam.

The role of hezbollah is the wild card. Concentrated in southern Lebanon, these Shia, mainly displaced, people have resumed a small time existence. For a period of time they were actively militant. Howeevr, terrorist activities which could be traced to them have decreased significantly. In spite of the rhetoric coming from Tehran lately the direct activities attributable to Hezbollah are few if any.

Hamas was a creature of Iraq and Syria. Hamas may be receiving help drom Iran, but such aid is more likely to have gone through Damascus and originated in other middle eastern countries. I understand that al Fatah was Saudi supported.

Where do we go from here?

Since our government does not condone paying bribes to foreign officials, (we prefer to call it aid) and since the Iranians and the Sudis have money available, Palestine does not need our aid.

They do need electricity and water, which are presently (I understand) coming from Israel. They also need work, and jobs are located in Israel. It is clear that they need other infrastructure as well. But mostly they need work. The longer the unemployment, the drier the wood, the more inflammible it becomes.

1/29/2006 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

To be more succinct, the monies reflected in the Western contributions are but the tip of the ice burg and tend to provide cover for the cash contributions that are pouring in from wealthy Islamic nations, namely the KSA and Iran. It is clear that much of the money is coming through the conduit of Syria, which gives credence to the notion that Iran is major contributor the conflict. It seems inevitable that the whole region would be consumed into conflagration. If this is the case, it seems equally inevitable that the region will pull in larger global actors, namely those who are dependant on foreign oil reserves. That would pretty much mean China and the United States. It is difficult to imagine a world war being waged without securing Mid East oil. Any player in this conflict could not expect to survive without the necessary fuel for the war machine. This leaves the prospect of a use it or lose it scenario with nuclear weaponry. Having given that gloomy assessment, I still think that it is in the best interests of the West to engage this process before we have maneuvered ourselves into a position that we will never win.

1/29/2006 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Aristides said...

“Reocon,
I find it surprising that you would have so little faith in the applicability of our principles: rule of law, individual and property rights, democratic accountability, education, etc.”

No, not at all, you misunderstand me here. I do find the rule of law, property rights and democratic accountability as applicable, applicable to MY CULTURE. The Samburu of Kenya are a primitive tribe of Masai-related cattle herders that practice communitarianism. Why should I try to oppose property rights on a culture without property? Why should I try to impose democracy on a state without a demos? I don’t see a common people in Iraq (and I’m unsure of Palestine), or a common national identity that can bring together Kurd, Shiite and Sunni, hence no real hope for a national democracy.

Aristides:
“You still have not answered the key question. If the standard is the alternative, what is the alternative to democracy?”

The alternatives are as boundless as there are forms of indigenous societal organization. Some are tolerable, some repellent, but democracies are a chosen few blessed by their own histories. To arrogantly try to replicate that history on nations that are incapable is historicism.


Aristides:
“If you do not believe the peoples of the world worthy of democracy, the rule of law, and individual rights, what would you prescribe for those you obviously consider to be lesser beings? I know, I know. Let them eat cake. If they get uppity? Kill them.”

Not lesser necessarily, simply different, and I don’t know about “uppity” but if they threaten then discipline first, kill when necessary. Above all, be clear in your commitments and communications. None of this exception for the bastards in Iraqi Sunni parties while we shun Hamas. Screw them both for what they are: terrorists. Why do you want to grant the Sunni democratic rights while they proclaim jihad and the legitimacy of an insurgency that is killing Americans? They are not my culture and I trust they are not of yours.


Aristides said...

“ Most of your questions can be answered by pointing out this obvious fact: evolution is unstoppable; the only way a society can survive is by harnessing it.
Hence democracy: a forum for evolution. Hence the market economy. Hence freedom of speech. Hence your neurological patterns. Hence...”

But again, after much vacillation and self provided counter-example, you once more seem to be positing an evolutionary form that arrives at democracy. Other systems evolve as well, sometimes to new forms, sometimes to extinction. Iranian theocratic parliamentarianism is as foul as it is schizoid, but it is not static. It has its own evolution and maybe it will someday reach a recognizable form of democracy, or maybe it won’t, but I doubt we can force its path by mere elections and social programs. They already have those.


Aristides:
“Why do you persist in ascribing Fukuyama's "end of history" to my position? I think it's becoming a distraction for you.”

A vulgar form of Fukuyam’s “end of history” is the very fundament of democratic globalism, which posits that liberal capitalistic democracy is the default state of every society. All you have to do is hit the reset button and voila! That is the monstrous faith through which the Bush administration viewed the “easy” transformation of Iraq and their equally panglossian notions for Palestine. This neoconservative system without the benefit of real people received glib assurance from such charlatans as Kanan Makiya, Fouad Ajami and Bernard Lewis that a large, secular, middle class would welcome our bourgeois revolution in Iraq. A pious middle class and a large lumpen Shiite mass were nowhere on the administration’s demographic radar, though, oddly enough, they certainly were for G.H. W. Bush (41). The results speak for themselves and if you don’t get it then take a hard look at the parties constituting the United Iraqi Alliace. Shiite Islamists. Again, not my culture, not my values, not MY political system.
If you deny this view of the “end of history” as I think you should, then why defend the Bush policy that runs off it? Step up to your conclusions about the lack of a “viable” Palestinian state and admit that mere democracy is not the solution for all the troubles in the world.

1/29/2006 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

pete: Where did it all start? With the Balfour declaration ......What was the major sticking point? The instence of the leaders in establishing Israel as a religious as opposed to a secular state.

nonsense...

The Balfour Declaration was a letter dated November 2, 1917 from British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour, to Lord Rothschild (Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild), a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation, a private Zionist organization. The letter stated the position, agreed to at a British Cabinet meeting on October 31, 1917, that the British government supported Zionist plans for a Jewish "national home" in Palestine, with the condition that nothing should be done which might prejudice the rights of existing communities there.

the letter:

Foreign Office
November 2nd, 1917

Dear Lord Rothschild,

I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet.

"His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."

I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

Yours sincerely, Arthur James Balfour

both sources from wikipedia...

pete: A state of Palestine should have included both Jewish and Islamic peoples.

actually israel DOES have both jewish and islamic peoples, its the islamic areas of the middle east that have ethnically cleansed it'sself of Jews....


pete: It could have been artfully designed in 1946, but a decision was made to manufacture a Palestinian diaspora to accommodate all religionists who wanted to come home. They came home in their hearts but mostly lived elsewhere.

not sure whom you are speaking of? the early jewish home in Palestine was open to all jews, just as all "palestinian arabs" are welcomed to live in the west bank and gaza which leads into your next statement...

Pete: The result was that the Kookists and the Gush were able to convince the Israeli government to let them violate the UN resolution and create the settlements.

this is AFTER 1967... the arabs control the west bank and gaza and jerusalem from 1948 - 1967 with no state being created for the palestinian ararbs, and why should jews not be allowed to make towns and villages in historic jewish areas? are you a bigot?

1/29/2006 01:16:00 PM  
Blogger Bat One said...

In all this discussion of de-funding the Palestinian government (the PA) it might be well to review the decision in Efrat Ungar, et. al. v. Palestinian Authority, Palestinian Liberation Organization, et. al., in which both the Federal District Court, and the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, held that the Palestinian Authority is NOT a legally recognized government, and does NOT enjoy sovereign immunity. The Court of Appeals was very direct, stating,

“After careful consideration of the relevant legal authorities and perscrutation of an amplitudinous record, we conclude that this case is justiciable; that the defendants have not established an entitlement to sovereign immunity… Consequently, we affirm the judgment below.”

And further,

“Finally, the (district) court reiterated its earlier rejection of the defendants’ claim of immunity from service of process and added that the PA, as a governmental entity, was not a sovereign state immune from suit under ATA.”

And,

“Their (the defendants’) unhappiness is understandable, but legally irrelevant.”

“The mere fact that the United Nations conceived an aspirational plan for Palestinian statehood does not establish the existence of a state.”

And finally,

“… the defendants have not carried their burden of showing that Palestine satisfied the requirements for statehood under the applicable principles of international law at any point in time. In view of the unmistakable legislative command that sovereign immunity shall only be accorded to states… the defendants sovereign immunity defense must fail.”

Several months ago, the US Supreme Court rejected the PLA/PLO appeal without comment, thus affirming the PLA’s formal legal status in the US.

Incidentally, it may well be that one of the reasons that the Palestinian Authority is in such dire financial straits, as reported, is the fact of the Ungar decision and judgments imposed. The amount of the judgment against the PLA was for $116,421,048 and the recommended judgment against the PLO was for $116,415,468. All US assets have of both entities have apparently been attached, including the various bank accounts used to funnel US funds to the PA.

Finally, it is in no small way gratifying to read through the Ungar case and recall that counsel for the defendants, and the author of this truly horrific legal strategy, was none other than former Attorney General and current left wing celebrity lawyer, Ramsey Clark. Mr. Clark may be an engaging guest at an upper Eastside cocktail party, but as a lawyer at court he is clearly an unmitigated disaster. His current celebrity client, Saddam, and Mr. Clark fully deserve each other.

1/29/2006 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger whit said...

Reocon: 8:54
Disclaimer: Take all of this with a pinch of salt. Anything I say is purely speculative (duh) and I am not even pretending to really have a clue.
But Hamas too, has been “brought into the political process”, being granted the privelege to compete in Palestinian elections beforehand despite their armed wing, practice of terrorism and vow to annihilate Israel. I believe that was a mistake and the United States should have strongly pushed to exclude Hamas before the elections.
I think Hamas winning the election is wonderful! We couldn’t have bought this kind of adverse publicity for the Palestinians. Who knew about the venomous Hamas Charter before this? Ever since Arafat was allowed to return from exile, the Palestinians has been conducting a charade. Maybe now, the sympatheziers will see the true nature of the Palestinians. US/Israeli interference would have been counter productive. Iran is doing a good job of panicking the fence sitters and I suspect Hamas will fall right in line.
Would we now allow the Taliban to run in Afganistan and only attempt to exclude them from international recognition if they won power? That is the logical extension of our slow reaction to Hamas.
No, we invaded Afghanistan to depose and defeat the Taliban not try to bring them into a civilized state . We have been at war with ever since.
The Sunni parties in Iraq contain all manner of Baathists, neo-Baathists, Jihadis and Al-Qaeda collaborators. I don’t see on what basis you want to grant them negotiating status without heavy concessions and renunciations of their most vile tenets and allies.
Had we defeated the nation and crushed the fighting spirit of Iraqis, we would be in a position to call those shots. We do not have a Governor of Iraq such as MacArthur in Japan and leave many of those decisions to the Iraqis. It is the Iraqis who will have to sort it all out. Our policy is to install a viable, functioning democratic government which can provide for its own security and hopefully prove a lasting ally (with a lot of oil) in the middle of the Arab world.

Perhaps you could let us know what insurgency-affiliated Sunni politician in Iraq you regard as a worthy negotiator?
That’s not my decision. It’s Iraq, not America. As Rat says, the war is over. We stay at Iraq’s pleasure. Sadr is Iraq’s problem. I don’t know why we didn’t take him out when we had the opportunity but it’s my understanding that Sistani probably didn’t want us to because it would have been counterproductive and more costly in the long run. As far as the US dealing with Sadr in the future, I agree with you and wouldn’t dot it.

1/29/2006 02:50:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Hamas’ surprise victory:

A Palestinian government led by Hamas and the government of Israel will end up in negotiations one of these days.

This is not the end of the road.

Hamas' Surprise

1/29/2006 04:40:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

sam,

I don't think it's the "end of the road". The Road Goes Ever On. Nor do I entirely discount the possibility that Hamas may negotiate with Israel, but I think that's unlikely because it has developed a constituency based around the platform of destroying Israel. Just as the Democratic Party will find it hard to turn around and advocate overturning Roe vs Wade, Hamas will find it tough to shake hands with the dreaded Yehud.

Still, weirder things have happened. I think people are waiting on the next big event, the elections in Israel, to figure out their next step. Until then, they'll just kill a few guys and burn a few buildings to mark the time.

1/29/2006 04:57:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

Rat (or anyone who might be interested):

The Anthony Cordesman CSIS presentation is archived at CSPAN.

Halfway down the CSPAN homepage is a Video Search box. Search 'Anthony Cordesman' and then click on the first of three search results, which is his 'Iraq: Security and Development' presentation of June, 2005.

The "containment" remark, IIRC, comes during the Q & A, but I found the whole thing informative.

1/29/2006 06:06:00 PM  
Blogger buck smith said...

As an american taxpayer, I cannot think of many things I would want to fund less thant he PLO to the tune of $300+ million. I really have the same feeling about our payments to Israel and Egypt. The whole idea of the US paying people in the Middle East to be nice to each other is stupid, preposterous and futile. If Egypt wants to attack Israel, My feeling is "please put all your jihadis up front."

1/29/2006 07:16:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

At least Hamas is open about its evil intentions:

As with Joel Stein, you're always better off knowing what people honestly think. For decades, the Middle East's dictators justified themselves to Washington as a restraint on the baser urges of their citizens, but in the end they only incubated worse pathologies.

Western subsidy of Arafatistan is merely the latest example. Democracy in the Middle East is not always pretty, but it's better than the West's sillier illusions.

Hamas Open

1/29/2006 11:06:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

"But it will make the Jenin incident look tame by comparison."

There WAS no "Jenin incident", no massacre, just a couple years of fabulous spin by Jordyptian exiles and their apologists.

If you're describing Jordyptian exiles getting killed by Israelis, find another yardstick, because there was no 'Jenin incident', except in the minds of a few Jew-haters and useful idiots around the world, Sir.

1/30/2006 01:40:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

Pete Speer: "Where did it all start? With the Balfour declaration designed to lure the United States into World War I ..."

Possibly, but more starkly it started with the signing, March 21, 1844, of the Edict of Toleration, forced on the Caliphate by Western (Christian) nations, ending the Diaspora and allowing the repatriation of the Holy Land by Jews everywhere.

THAT is where 'it' started, and THAT year is when the Abomination of Desolation prophecy ran out (457BC plus 2,300 years = 1844) and THAT was the year that the Gospel was taken first to every nation...

And THAT was the year the Promised One came, May 23, 1844. That is when 'IT' all began, Sir.

1/30/2006 01:55:00 AM  

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