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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Outlook for 2007: Potential nuclear 9 11

I think we are going to find that Saddam’s death irrelevant. Because he’s been replaced by a bigger force – Al Qaida and Islamism.

Forces larger than Saddam were unleashed when Bush & Co changed focus from Afghanistan to Iraq. Yes, our leaders finally got rid of Saddam, -- and ironically produced yet another one as a result of this war. The sad irony is that we may be getting only a new Saddam after spending hundreds of billions and over 3,000 American lives.

The name “Al Sadr” was shouted by Saddam’s death witnesses at his hanging. The sad irony is that Moquata Al Sadr is a Shiite killer and thug no different than Saddam, the Sunni killer and thug.

In Afghanistan, Osama had little to work with (land of rocks, few people, not much to blow up). When the war on Iraq began, it opened a new opportunity for Al Qaida (home of Babylon, epicenter of the Middle East and 26 million people divided into three groups who hate each other, and lots of stuff to blow up). Despite reports to the contrary about Saddam and Al Qaida, Saddam hated Osama bin laden and vice versa. Bin laden was a religious nut; Saddam was the non-religious nut. When the U.S. knocked out Saddam, it opened the door to Iraq’s wealth for Osama’s supporters that he didn’t have in Afghanistan.

So the violence in Iraq is now nothing about Saddam. His execution will do little to change things. It is about control and Sunni vs Shiite vs Kurd.

Worse, Al Sadr has Iran as a backer. Since Iran is headed by an extremist this does not bode well for 2007 and America in Iraq.

The timing of executing only Saddam --and not his two associates who were also sentenced to death -- on a Muslim religious holy day associated with Martyrs looked odd. It looked like hasty, frontier justice. Executing him and the only two after the holidays would have worked better and avoided another instance of cultural fumbling.

Iraq has now killed more Americans than 9 11. Yet it appears a greater danger has been generated as a result of the war, and from the continued silly mistakes made in running it…

We are heading for a nuclear 9 11 if our leadership doesn’t wake up and make some key changes soon. And the biggest threat isn’t even in the Middle East.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saddam's Execution

"The Iraqi prime minister's office released a statement that said Saddam's execution was a "strong lesson" to ruthless leaders who commit crimes against their own people."

Let's hope so. But I don't think his death will slow the killing in Iraq. I don't see Kim Jung Il shaking in his boots. Dictators are becoming extinct - even Iran and Venezuela elect their leaders. And don't forget, the U.S. actively supported Saddam in the 80's in his war against Iran.

Note Saddam's last words, shouted from the gallows: "Before the rope was put around his neck, Saddam shouted: 'God is great. The nation will be victorious and Palestine is Arab."

That reference to Palestine points out an uncomfortable truth - the issues facing Iraq are regional. Finding a solution to the Palestinian issue is vital to reduce future terrorism and war.

Saddam's departure won't change the core problem that has created instability in the Middle East. It won't reduce the violence until we actively engage in finding solutions to the Palestinian issue.

For the past six years there has been little engagement by American leadership. Unless that changes, Saddam could have the last laugh...

Friday, December 29, 2006

James Brown v. Gerald Ford funerals

It's interesting to observe the difference as James Brown is honored at the same time as President Ford. Apparently Mr. Brown will have at least three changes in attire. That is something new. What is standard is his fans doing the "second line" - the New Orleans celebration of a life with upbeat (usually jazz) music that is last part of a funeral.

Mr. Ford will lie in State after a private ceremony for his family, and probably wearing the same suit. Two giants, so different in life and their rituals after death, but both sharing a history of having had a positive impact on millions.

In southern Texas today we are getting a series of rains coming up from the Gulf. I prefer rain to the 4 feet of snow that just hit Denver. I grew up on a farm in snow, milking cows. It (snow and milking cows) is something best seen in pictures. I can drive in the rain but on ice a car is like a pair of skies with no brakes...whoa! And I prefer my milk fresh off a shelf at the grocery store...

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Will Killing Saddam Make Things Better?

December 28, 2006

We are back from New Orleans. Despite this being my anniversary at dinner tonight I found myself wondering if rushing to kill Saddam really make things better in Iraq? Will an appellate ruling made before Saddam’s trial transcript arrived for review make Iraqi justice better? It almost looks like they are trying to set a speed record.

I didn’t like him or trust him. But my gut says that killing Saddam in a rush won’t solve anything, and may even make him a “martyr” and leave us open to charges of hasty justice. Why not try him for some of his other crimes before carrying out a snap execution?

I think the most interesting thing was Saddam’s letter calling for peaceful co-existence and discouraging attacks on foreign (e.g. U.S.) troops.

As it stands, Saddam will be tried, convicted and executed before former CD 22 Rep.Tom DeLay’s first appeal is even heard on one of three criminal charges. What is that going to say to the Muslim world? Our criminals sit on death row for years. I hear reports that Saddam could be executed within 48 hours. It would appear Iraq does not have the American legal system.

I’m not sure that an execution of Saddam now will even send a warning to the world’s dictators, who face no such fate for crimes no less serious.

Bottom line: It is a judgment that needs to be made by the Iraqis, not Americans, but the timing and rush to execute may make things worse.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Gerald Ford: Role Model for Future Presidents

Gerald Ford

I got the news about former President Gerald Ford’s passing while in New Orleans. After driving through the 9th ward and checking the recovery effort, we got the news that John Edwards was also in the 9th ward – and will declare his candidacy for President for 2008 tomorrow.

I remember Mr. Ford taking over from President Nixon after Watergate and the tense college campuses and protests at the time. I was a university student at UT (pursuing a BBA) then. Ford’s taking over the Presidency was an immediate improvement in the atmosphere in Washington and the country when it happened. Nixon had created a strange atmosphere that split the country. He was paranoid and closed; Ford was honest and open.

I think that whoever is elected in 2008 will produce a similar change in atmosphere. We’ve been long on fear and short on hope. We’ve been long on preaching to the choir and short on making wise decisions with our budgets and international relationships. (For example, it turns out the Saudi’s –not Saddam--are the source of radical Islam that is mass producing Osama bin ladens.

Mr. Edwards is but one of many who will enter the 2008 contest—Democrat and Republican-- with ideas for our future. People are hungry for fresh leadership. Too bad our laws prevent Arnold schwarzznegger from running for President. He’s taking a leadership position on global warming, etc.

The battle of (Presidential candidate) ideas is starting early. The next administration inherits staggering deficits, global economic challenges from China to India and a Middle East being consumed by radical Islam. Anything could happen.

With the Bush administration being so lame duck and offering nothing new to pay attention to, I expect the public will be increasingly focused on surveying the upcoming Presidential beauty contestants and their talents in question is what they will do with New Orleans, an important oil/shipping port for the U.S.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Secret of An Nil

I happened to catch a CBS News report last night about a neighborhood in Baghdad that has been spared the bloody violence sweeping the rest of the city. It’s called An Nil, a mixed area of Sunni, Sunni and Christian. They have lived together for decades and became friends as well as neighbors. They are protecting each other now.

That’s the secret. Only by people of different groups living next to each other – instead of segregating each group – will this insanity stop. Otherwise we more senseless killing will continue ad nauseum.

It’s not unlike the same weird thinking that had Protestant’s and Catholics shooting each other in Ireland until a few years ago. There is nothing worse than people proving the superiority of their religion by killing other people. They lived separately and isolated lives. Hate breeds in such environments.

The policy being discussed by some U.S. officials to favor only the Shiites because they are the (80%) majority will be a disaster if implemented. It will fuel the separation and the “ethnic cleansing” already going on. The minority Christians, Muslim Sunnis and Kurds will suffer. I don't think it represents the American model of diverse groups each having a voice in government.

The An Nil neighborhood is a model of what needs to be replicated on a country-wide basis if there is to be success in Iraq.

An Nil also happens to describe what makes America a success. In my neighborhood and neighborhoods across this country all ethnic groups, including Muslim and Christian, peacefully coexist as neighbors. We need to encourage MORE of it, not less. Without it, more troops won't change anything.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Riding the Stick Pony

It appears that the people of Iran have given their extremists a “thumping” and voted against Ahmadinejad’s hard-line cronies, favoring moderate conservatives instead.

This is a good sign. It shows that even Iranians are tired of extremists running the government and messing with them.

By the way, why are we negotiating with North Korea but refusing to do the same with Iran and Syria?

Last night my wife took me to “Fajita Flats” in Stafford for my birthday (a mere 57). They put on my head the largest hat I’ve ever seen – it must have been four foot across. At least they didn’t make me ride the “stick pony” around the place as they did with a friend of ours from church. LOL. You know what a stick pony is right? The pony's head is on the wooden stick.

I read that Mr. DeLay has said in his blog that he predicts the next President in 2008 will be….Hillary Clinton. Wow. It’s rare for me to agree with him, but I think he’s calling that one right. We’ll see. The sight of her as President would be shocking enough to the women-hating extremists like Ahmadinejad that he may end up riding the 'stick pony' if the Iranian people don't beat her to it...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Chinese Underworld and U.S. Immigration – Iran and the Holocaust

I was watching a TV program on the people smuggling operation run by Chinese criminal gangs, like the Triads. The peope smugglers are called Snakeheads. Charging $40,000 to smuggle desperate Chinese into America where the worst place is still better than the best place in their village, it fosters an entire criminal enterprise exploiting these people in our own country. They don’t just dump them. They spend years in America paying off the Asian smugglers who brought them here. Imagine their market - 800 million poor Chinese.

The groups change constantly. It occurred to me that our system guarantees gangs like this business, because there are very few ways for people to come legally and work. Yet we don't want to have 800 million people move here either.

Other global smugglers promise women jobs and force them into prostitution instead. Children are forced into the global sex trade.

American agencies need to work closer with their counterparts in Asia, Europe and around the world to fix this. We need a new approach to international legal enforcement –and immigration-- to put these crooks out of business.

Without it, the global trade in human cargo will continue. Little is being done.

On Iran and the Holocaust - The sight of Iran's Ahmadinejad hosting a conference with David Duke for the absurd purpose of delaring that the WWII Holocaust is a "myth" shows the danger of letting any country be run by a religion and its extremists. It would be funny if it weren't so serious. It also proves that extremists come in all colors, and so does prejudice. None of it is good.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Global Threat: Muslim vs. Muslim War

A new report says that a majority of Americans support the Baker Report’s recommendations on Iraq. “Fifty-seven percent believe Washington should reach out to its adversaries Iran and Syria in an effort to stabilize Iraq. And 61 percent believe Washington should launch a new and sustained effort to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Apparently the President is not one of them. While Al Qaeda is a tiny fraction of the trouble in Iraq, he wants to focus on them. Killings by Sunni and Shiite extremists are the bigger threat to security. However, Mr. Bush doesn’t want to talk to Syria and Iran even when the fire is getting out of control. This is not a good sign.

Neither is the fact that we have the beginnings of a medieval Muslim vs. Muslim regional conflict beginning to take shape – Sunnis versus Shiites in Lebanon, Iraq, etc. The Saudi Sunnis are adding fuel to the fire by sending money to the Iraq Sunni insurgents. Hezbollah is ready to take over Lebanon. Most of us could not tell the difference between Shiite and Sunni (frankly, they all look the same), but it’s a big deal to them. It’s the same blind ignorance that fed the Catholic vs. Protestant mindless killing in Ireland. But with 1.2 billion Muslims in the world, it could be much a bigger problem.

This could even bring in the Islamic part of Russia into this spreading war and ignite separatist moves by Kurds in Iraq, Turkey and Iran, etc.

Meanwhile, the President seems to be tossing the Baker Report into the trash cam. If so, Iraq could become the flash point for a Muslim on Muslim war that won’t give Israel, the U.S. or anyone any security.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Baker Report on Iraq

The Baker Report says that the situation in Iraq is grave and getting worse. Yesterday I got a call from a local TV station and today I went in to Fox to talk about the Baker/Hamilton findings.

They always hit you with questions you have no time to prepare for. One thing I recall saying was that we still have very few intelligence specialists. I saw a recent video where the heads of our government agencies in charge of intelligence could not tell the difference between Sunnis and Shiites, etc. How comforting to know our intelligence chiefs are clueless on the Middle East four years after 9 11. We need a Manhattan project on intelligence, since we have so little of it running our government agencies.

If the President does not follow the Baker report recommendations, then the Pandora ’s Box in Iraq that was unleashed by this administration will produce even more horror on a larger level, even globally.

Our government’s policy so far has been an airplane crash. All we can do now is to try to salvage what we can and move on…I have a suggestion. Maybe Bush should invite Iran's Ahmadinejad to a girly show to start the negotiations! If they end up at the Moulin Rouge in Paris, anything is possible!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Richest 2% Own HALF the Wealth

It's been reported that the richest 2% now control ONE-HALF of the world's wealth. If this trend continues in the U.S., the Middle Class that is the backbone of this country will be destroyed - and our economy will become like a third world country (yes, like Mexico, etc.). And check this out: While the "average wealth" in the U.S. is about $144,000 in Japan it is $181,000!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Fresh Start With Bolton Departure at UN

The President has an opportunity to make a fresh start with the resignation of John Bolton from the UN post. He was the wrong person, at the wrong time, with the wrong approach. He needed a Dale Carnegie Course. He basically told everyone else they had bad breath and big faults while not admitting our own. That’s not exactly the way to win friends and influence people.

This is a chance for the President to “move up” and appoint someone who can turn things around, like the replacement of Mr. Rumsfeld with Mr. Gates. We need someone with the skills and personality to forge a better relationship with the international community at a time when it can only go up.

In the past that person would be someone like former Sec. of State James Baker. I doubt he’d want this job, but we need someone like him as UN Ambassador – a realist who can talk to a diverse crowd. It was Baker who helped the first Pres. Bush assemble the broadest coalition ever assembled during the first Gulf War. Let’s hope the President picks someone of Mr. Baker’s caliber instead of another narrow ideologue who irritates people and does further damage to America's image.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Kidnappings in Mexico and Our Drug Policies

I just published an article on the kidnappings of Americans in Mexico - and how it is tied to our failed drug policies that generate billions for criminals. The problem is getting worse, not better. This article provides more background on the problem.

Now for something completely different. Check out this piece on a 2,000 year old computer. Wonder who the original Bill Gates was?