Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A Sodden Thought

It has seemed all along that a viable exit strategy in Iraq could not be found that would not leave the Shi'ites in full control of the country. Such an end result, I had assumed, would leave Iraq as an Iranian satellite. Given the endless fanatical hatred of the Islamic Republic for the Great Satan and the Little Satan (the US and Israel) this seemed like a bad idea.

But that may have been because I was not thinking broadly enough, outside the box as it were.

Consider the following scenario - The US announces a timetable for withdrawal (of the troops, not the airpower) - which makes the war effectively over politically as an issue in the US. The Shi'ite militias are incorporated into the government army and heavily armed with US money and assistance. The Shi'ites now outnumber and outgun the Sunnis. The Americans, as already appears, shift both political and military responsibility for the war to the Shi'ite government. As the Americans and British withdraw, the growing scale of the massacres cease to draw any more attention than even larger massacres in Africa do. The civil war grows in intensity even as Western press and public interest in it wane. After vast amounts of bloodshed, the Shi'ites win.

That outcome has been foreseen and dreaded for several years. American policy has pursued the will o' the wisp of a stable balanced Iraq ruled by a constitutional coalition.

It now appears possible that the US might be willing to foster rather than oppose that outcome if Iran could be neutralized. Would Iran be willing to make important concessions to the US and the UN in return for a recognized satellite status of a Shi'ite Iraq? Would Iran shelve its nuclear program and agree to stop funding terrorism in return for suzerainty over Iraq?

If that were true, Syrian control of Lebanon would likely be part of the package. The recent assassination of Pierre Gemayel, the leader of the Maronite Christians in Lebanon might be an early step in the resumption of Syrian control there.

A US-UK rapprochement with Iran and Syria might not be public. It would appear largely as an omission of inflammatory condemnations and threats from Teheran, a phased withdrawal of US-UK troops, the growth of Syrian influence in Lebanon and nothing serious being done about the murders of Pierre Gemayel and Rafik Hariri.

Would such a result benefit or harm Israel? To ask is to answer. Israel's interest is in stopping the Iranian nuclear program. Who governs Iraq is of scant interest so long as no more SCUD's are being launched from there.

The benefit to the US and UK would be that our soldiers would come home and out of harm's way. We might be safer from terrorist attacks. The benefit to the GOP and Labour governments would be that Iraq would not be an issue in 2008 and the next British elections.

Can Iran be trusted to honor its commitments under such a bargain? Presumably there would be ways to make trouble for them if they didn't. Ironically, one of our options might be covert assistance to the Iraqi Sunnis. That is what intelligence services are for. Also with the Army and Marines no longer tied down in Iraq, our military options against Iran, and even more so against Syria, would be greater.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Quiet Charm

of Senator Clinton
It is good to know who your friends are and the party just showed Leiberman that very thing. Their interest in welcoming him back to the fold comes more from the fact that he is the swing vote in the Senate than from any capacity for embarrassment. Without him they lose 50-50 and Cheney breaks the tie on every straight partisan issue. The party has a lot of fence mending and ass-kissing to do with Leiberman. The senator from New York was the very worst. She and Bill had Leiberman as a professor at Yale, became close friends, worked on his early campaigns together. After Lamont won the primary and Leiberman announced as an independent, Clinton showed her attractive personality by making campaign appearances for Lamont. She has the morals of a mafioso ordering a hit on a friend. As Meyer Lansky once said of the murder of an associate, "It was just business". We need better.

The Election, Again

One more, then I'll shut up
I keep hearing about how the Republicans lost or the Democrats won. But I think there is a limit to the effectiveness of campaigns and campaigning. Just as some drugs lose effectiveness with repeated use, so some campaign themes wear out with use. There are some changes in mood and perception that no amount of money and lies can fix. It may be that the parties are ships on changing currents. They set sails and change course as best they can, but when the current is strong it isn't up to them. It is not a completely empty phrase to say 'the people have spoken'.

Health Report

An Open Invitation to My 90th
Blood count, kidney and liver function, blood sugar, all normal. Cholesterol was 118, less than 200 recommended. Triglycerides (what the hell are they?) were 50, less than 200 recommended. HDL good cholesterol was 48, more than 45 recommended, and LDL bad cholesterol was 60, less than 130 recommended.

I highly recommend a life of diet and exercise. For everyone else there is Lipitor. It works splendidly for me. Truly better living through chemistry.

So I have started planning my 90th birthday celebration. I will probably be a drooling vegetable but my heart, liver, and kidneys will still be working.

Longevity, if I should be so lucky, would be a mixed blessing. I am an absurd old tory now. How much a dinosaur lingering into the cenezoic will I be in 2036?

The Prequel to Hamlet

is finished
if only in first draft. I have been struggling with this thing for more than twenty years and have been writing it on and off for thirteen months. I sequestered myself like a chipmonk in a deserted campground in the Sierra at Lassen National Park for a week and got 'er done. Promisingly, I got as much or more done in coffee shops in Shingletown, Susanville, and Chico as in the campground. I was in Starbucks when I wrote "FINIS" across the page at long, long, long last.

The Election

and the difficulty of being a maverick
It is so hard to be individual in a nation of 300 million individualists. Apparently lots of other people were not amused by Foley and Abramoff and wanted their Republican congressmen to look into other lines of work. It can easily be argued that the country did not move left so much as it rejected the GOP.

Indeed in Connecticut, in the one election where the boxes were labeled 'left' and 'not left', Joe Leiberman won handily.

I admit I did not grasp of the significance of the Abramoff scandal. I was not impressed with the revelations that they were crooks because it had never occurred to me that they weren't. That is a limitation caused by age. I remember my father explaining to me that in Chicago a crooked politician was one who would not stay bought.