May 30, 2011

Amazing. We're winning a "soft war" and we don't even know we're fighting it...

In Censorship Move, Iran Plans Its Own, Private Internet - WSJ.com:

Iran is taking steps toward an aggressive new form of censorship: a so-called national Internet that could, in effect, disconnect Iranian cyberspace from the rest of the world....

...The unusual initiative appears part of a broader effort to confront what the regime now considers a major threat: an online invasion of Western ideas, culture and influence, primarily originating from the U.S. In recent speeches, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other top officials have called this emerging conflict the "soft war."...

...Few think that Iran could completely cut its links to the wider Internet. But it could move toward a dual-Internet structure used in a few other countries with repressive regimes.

Myanmar said last October that public Internet connections would run through a separate system controlled and monitored by a new government company, accessing theoretically just Myanmar content. It's introducing alternatives to popular websites including an email service, called Ymail, as a replacement for Google Inc.'s Gmail.

Cuba, too, has what amounts to two Internets--one that connects to the outside world for tourists and government officials, and the other a closed and monitored network, with limited access, for public use. North Korea is taking its first tentative steps into cyberspace with a similar dual network, though with far fewer people on a much more rudimentary system....

Nothing says "loser" like trying to keep information out. Here's a couple of tips, amigos. If you are trying to preserve something, it's dead. Like the French language. Things have to sell themselves. You have to have something desirable to offer in the marketplace of ideas.

I sympathize keenly with the losers. (The old cultures, I mean. Not to tinpot tyrants in places like Cuba.) I'm kind of a loser myself, since the art and ideas and culture I love and somewhat dwell in has been swept away by newer tides. [Link, link, link]. But I'm also "reality-based," and have no illusions about telling the tide not to roll over me...

Posted by John Weidner at 7:52 AM

July 26, 2009

Is this insane, or what?

Clinton says Iran's nuclear pursuit is futile -- Reuters:

...WASHINGTON, July 26 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Sunday that Iran would not be allowed to have a nuclear weapon and major powers were united to prevent that from happening.

"Your (Iran's) pursuit is futile," she told NBC's "Meet the Press" program, adding that Iran did not have the right to develop a nuclear weapon.

Her comments come after Clinton annoyed ally Israel last week by saying the United States would cope with a nuclear Iran by arming its allies in the Gulf and extending a "defense umbrella" over the region... (my emphasis)

Is there something worse than allowing a mad tyrannical theocracy with dreams of regional domination to build nuclear weapons? YES. Making threats against them and then backing down! Even our brain-dead pacifists should be able to understand that.

SO, what does "would not be allowed" mean here? What are we going to DO? Can one even imagine Barack Obama acting with Churchillian firmness to lead the free world in disarming Iran—even if it requires military force? I sure can't. If he can do it I'll take back all those things I said about him...

And "major powers are united?" Since when? Which powers? If Hillary has accomplished that, I'll bow down and reverence her as one of the great diplomats of all time. But it sure sounds like BS to me.

Not to mention calamitous folly...

Posted by John Weidner at 4:11 PM

June 25, 2009

"State-sanctioned terror against its own..."

Victor Davis Hanson, Sorta Sums It All Up:

From today's news: "Reacting to Obama's comment Tuesday that he is 'appalled and outraged' by crackdowns in Iran, Ahmadinejad said, 'Mr Obama made a mistake to say those things . . . our question is why he fell into this trap and said things that previously Bush used to say.'"

This revelation of theocratic hurt, surprise, and hubris actually explains a lot: Iran — given the six months (or longer?) of Obama's both backdoor and overt efforts to normalize relations — believes (a) that it has an understanding now with the Obama administration that normal relations with the U.S. trump all other American concerns, and more or less gives the regime a green light to do what it wishes — hence Ahmadinejad's shock at Obama's belated and unexpected criticism; (b) this was quite different from the past administration, which made it clear the U.S. was nauseated by Iran's nefarious activities and didn't care much to normalize unless and until it reentered the family of nations and ceased being a terrorist state (at home and abroad); (c) Iran doesn't much care what the U.S. has said, now or in the past, and apparently assumes that Obama acted out of his accustomed character ("a mistake") and will soon "express ... regret." I suppose all our videos, apologies, and global addresses to the Muslim world at least achieved an Iranian admission that America now has acted out its new character and is beginning to resemble its old character, which translates into something like "Bush was tough on us, you aren't — so what's going on with this 'appalled' stuff?"

Meanwhile, as the mullahs begin the long, drawn-out work of hunting down and doing away with dissidents in the wee hours of the night, how can an American president be seen with, talk to, or reach out toward a police state in the systematic process of state-sanctioned terror against its own?...

Good question...

Posted by John Weidner at 12:06 PM

June 22, 2009

Events have destroyed our excuses...

Spengler:

Now that it is obvious that engaging Iran was a delusional misstep, President Obama should denounce the Iranian regime as a rogue state that employs terrorism against its own people as well as overseas. It is time for a Reaganesque statement. The administration should say, in so many words,"

"The clerical regime in Tehran has revealed its moral bankruptcy by using terrorism against its own people;

"The sponsorship of terrorism by Iran in Lebanon through Hezbollah, in Gaza and the West Bank through Hamas, and in Iraq through various entities is intolerable, and America will exact heavy penalties should it continue;"...

Nice try, Spengler old chap. You are right, but no dice. Obama can't be Reaganesque, because that implies believing in something enough to fight for it.*(See note)

"America will exact heavy penalties should it continue." What does that mean? The truth is that we are already at war with Iran. But we have been and still are desperately eager to pretend we are not. Why? Because we don't want to test whether we believe in ourselves enough to fight. (Iraq was a much easier test, since we opposed a much more obviously fascist regime, and then opposed terrorists who slaughtered people en masse. Even so we came close to failing.)

And our big excuse for not risking open conflict with Iran has been that the Iranian regime holds elections, and therefore it is wiser to wait, and let the democratic processes work. It made some sense, but was mostly wishful thinking.

Well, that excuse is now gone. But the hunger to deny reality is still as active as ever.

*Note: If Mr Spengler read Random Jottings, he would have a better understanding of what's really happening in our world. The key is that "liberals" like Obama are—most of them—not liberals anymore. Their "faith" has drained away, and they are believe in nothing. They are nihilists. And to the nihilist, belief is an intolerable affront and irritation. This explains a thousand different things we see around us. For example, the way "liberals" are not unwilling to commit American forces in places where we have no strategic interest. Such as the Balkans. Why do no "pacifists" or activists protest our ongoing military commitment in Bosnia? Because it does not imply belief that America is worth fighting for.

Posted by John Weidner at 9:41 AM

June 21, 2009

40-day cycles... It's not over yet

In Iran, One Woman's Death May Have Many Consequences - TIME:

...Although it is not yet clear who shot "Neda" (a soldier? pro-government militant? an accidental misfiring?), her death may have changed everything. For the cycles of mourning in Shiite Islam actually provide a schedule for political combat — a way to generate or revive momentum. Shiite Muslims mourn their dead on the third, seventh and 40th days after a death, and these commemorations are a pivotal part of Iran's rich history. During the revolution, the pattern of confrontations between the shah's security forces and the revolutionaries often played out in 40-day cycles...

The first clashes in January 1978 produced two deaths that were then commemorated on the 40th day in mass gatherings, which in turn produced new confrontations with security forces — and new deaths. Those deaths then generated another 40-day period of mourning, new clashes, and further deaths. The cycle continued throughout most of the year until the shah's ouster in January 1979.

The same cycle has already become an undercurrent in Iran's current crisis. The largest demonstration, on Thursday of last week, was called by opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi to commemorate the deaths of protesters three days after they were killed.

Shiite mourning is not simply a time to react with sadness. Particularly in times of conflict, it is also an opportunity for renewal. The commemorations for "Neda" and the others killed this weekend are still to come. And the 40th day events are usually the largest and most important.

"Neda" is already being hailed as a martyr, a second important concept in Shiism. With the reported deaths of 19 people Saturday, martyrdom also provides a potent force that could further deepen public anger at Iran's regime.....

PS: Here's an old post of mine on the warm welcome Iranians gave to some American wrestlers in 2003. That was also the year of many demonstrations and clashes. An abortive uprising. My guess is that the current situation is much more broad-based. Not just students.

Posted by John Weidner at 6:04 PM

June 20, 2009

Wasn't something like this... Predicted?

This is from a few days ago, but still right on target...Kathryn Jean Lopez - The Corner on National Review Online:

...Reading items like the piece you excerpted from the New Republic reminds me of the strategic opportunities that Obama has squandered by demonizing Bush and the Iraq war for years.

Imagine how powerful it would be for Obama (or, more likely, a surrogate) to be able to stand up and say to the Iranian protesters, "Under the USA, your neighbor Iraq held free and fair elections. The government of Iran went out of its way to demonize the US and undermine those elections. We are now seeing the results of that mindset come home to Iran as you are denied a voice by your government in your own elections. The US government stands behind all who seek free and fair elections."

Of course, he can't say that with any legitimacy because he has spent years putting down Bush and Iraq. This is a classic example of why partisan bickering needs to be toned down; it hamstrings the new Administration. So frustrating to watch....

I'm remembering all the chomskies who scoffed and sneered when people like me said that liberating Iraq could lead to the start of a wave of democracy across the Middle East. Of course you cowardly dogs will pretend it never happened, but I remember. I was right, and my pal George W Bush was right.

Remember this?
Note, Condoleeza Rice to the President, "Iraq is soverign."

Posted by John Weidner at 8:00 AM

June 19, 2009

"An electric and contagious effect"

Sometimes it happens in the Blogosphere that one observes the back-and-forth of a debate over some article or statement, without having read the original piece. That's me in the case with this piece by Charles Krauthammer, Obama Misses the Point With Iran Response. I've seen many approving mentions, and noticed various Lefty bloggers squirming! [Link, link.]

Well, I just read it, and it's too cool. Scathing!

...The latter [fall of the Islamic Republic] is improbable but, for the first time in 30 years, not impossible. Imagine the repercussions. It would mark a decisive blow to Islamist radicalism, of which Iran today is not just standard-bearer and model, but financier and arms supplier. It would do to Islamism what the collapse of the Soviet Union did to communism -- leave it forever spent and discredited.

In the region, it would launch a second Arab spring. The first in 2005 -- the expulsion of Syria from Lebanon, the first elections in Iraq and early liberalization in the Gulf states and Egypt -- was aborted by a fierce counterattack from the forces of repression and reaction, led and funded by Iran.

Now, with Hezbollah having lost elections in Lebanon and with Iraq establishing the institutions of a young democracy, the fall of the Islamist dictatorship in Iran would have an electric and contagious effect. The exception -- Iraq and Lebanon -- becomes the rule. Democracy becomes the wave. Syria becomes isolated; Hezbollah and Hamas, patronless. The entire trajectory of the region is reversed.

All hangs in the balance. The Khamenei regime is deciding whether to do a Tiananmen. And what side is the Obama administration taking? None. Except for the desire that this "vigorous debate" (press secretary Robert Gibbs's disgraceful euphemism) over election "irregularities" not stand in the way of U.S.-Iranian engagement on nuclear weapons.

Even from the narrow perspective of the nuclear issue, the administration's geopolitical calculus is absurd. There is zero chance that any such talks will denuclearize Iran. On Monday, President Ahmadinejad declared yet again that the nuclear "file is shut, forever." The only hope for a resolution of the nuclear question is regime change, which (if the successor regime were as moderate as pre-Khomeini Iran) might either stop the program, or make it manageable and nonthreatening.

That's our fundamental interest. And our fundamental values demand that America stand with demonstrators opposing a regime that is the antithesis of all we believe.

And where is our president? Afraid of "meddling." Afraid to take sides between the head-breaking, women-shackling exporters of terror -- and the people in the street yearning to breathe free. This from a president who fancies himself the restorer of America's moral standing in the world.
Posted by John Weidner at 7:31 AM

June 17, 2009

Test case: Becoming liberal damages the cognitive functions...

The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan:

Will The Neocons Never Learn? Here's Wehner:
How President Obama deals with this matter — whether he takes actions that show tangible support for the forces of liberation or whether he sits passively by as events unfold, nervous to offend cruel regimes — will tell us a lot about him and his core commitments.
Oh, yes, obviously Obama wants the uprising to fail. Jesus, these people are shameless....

That's not even remotely an argument. Just a sneer. Wehner's point is just common sense: what Obama does will tell us a lot about him. Well, duh! Sullivan twists this into a straw-man in a way that is pathetic.

And my memory is that Sullivan never argued poorly when he was a conservative. [link, link, link, link (on neo-cons)]

I've seen this before. Someone moves to the liberal side of the aisle, and becomes stupid. And slippery and imprecise. It is very interesting, or would be if one could study the phenomenon dispassionately, instead of wondering when the self-induced lobotomies will let enough water into the Titanic called Western Civilization to send her to the bottom...

Posted by John Weidner at 12:56 PM

"Our hearts are with people who yearn for universal freedom"

This is from the Transcript of an interview of Victor Davis Hanson, by Hugh Hewitt:

...HH: Okay, stepping back from the American response to a more historical long view, how often to such popular uprisings succeed, and how often, Victor Davis Hanson, are they simply rather bloodily suppressed?

VDH: Well, it depends, because they all have one predictable pattern, and that is at a critical point, the regime has to determine, whether it was the Papadopoulos government in Greece, or whether it was the Shah of Iran, or whether Pinochet in Chile, whether they want to use a necessary level of violence. And if that critical moment passes, then things get out of control. So I imagine the next 48 hours that theocracy, they're going to have to decide whether it wants to kill X number of people. And if it doesn't, things will start to, I think, get out of hand. And so it would be very important for us as Americans to lend them support and condemn the theocracy as much as we can. Europe, it's funny, we have become to the left of Europe, so Europe is out there, the EU has already been condemned by Ahmadinejad's government, but we haven't. It's very strange what's going on. I can't remember a time since Jimmy Carter where the United States was far to the left, and far less a proponent of human rights and democracy than Europe was...

I remember Jeanne Kirkpatrick and the Kirkpatrick Doctrine. She wrote that "authoritarian" dictatorships were fundamentally different from revolutionary totalitarian regimes, and that the former could evolve towards democracy. The Left howled, but I think history has proved her right. The question now is, which sort of regime is Iran?

Our policy towards Iran has been incoherent, and still is, but I suspect that that's simply because nobody knows which type of regime we are dealing with. We may find out very soon.

...HH: I asked the question last hour, I'll ask it of you, what WWWD, what would W. do? What do you think George Bush would have done by now?

VDH: Well, he would have given a statement like he did in Iraq, and like he said about Iran earlier. He would have said our hearts are with people who yearn for universal freedom, and then say it's not predicated on any particular culture. It's something we all share. And he would have come out, I think, pretty strongly. But you know, once you've apologized to a dictatorship, and you've said that we don't meddle in the affairs of a dictatorship, and we're sorry for what happened in the past, then you've sort of self-censored yourself. And that's what Obama's done, that he's already predicated that he wouldn't make, exercise moral judgment, and he wouldn't meddle. He only meddles in democracies. So if it's a democracy like Iraq, or it's Uribe in Colombia, or if it's Israel, then he will meddle and dictate and tell them what he thinks of them, but not an autocracy....
Posted by John Weidner at 8:54 AM