Friday, December 31, 2004

Predictions I

Here are some random predictions for 2005. Might be more later, if El Jefe feels up to it, or She Who Must Be Obeyed doesn't shoot me for sitting here typing all this stuff.
It will be discovered that Iran is much further along in its nuclear ambitions than is currently imagined. 50/50 chance Iran will declare it is a nuclear power in the next twelve months, and/or will test some kind of explosive nuclear device. At the same time, the Islamic Republic, which would probably not survive a fair election on the question of its continued existence, will become increasingly unpopular. The likelihood of Iran’s publicly going nuclear increases as the Islamic government becomes increasingly disliked. The nuclear program, popular with Iranians of all political persuasions as a symbol of national power and pride, provides the regime with cover to crack down on dissidents.

The North Korean absolute, quasi-religious monarchy masquerading as a communist state will become more unstable. The rash of high-ranking defections from embassies and trips abroad will continue. Rumors of disaffection will continue to seep-out, and if the rumors keep involving the military, look for big-time trouble for the Dear Leader. One warning sign of trouble for the regime might be show trials of dissidents or a very public execution/disgrace of a high ranking official. A coup attempt against Kim Jong-il is possible.

Russia completes its turn away from democratization. For the mid-term, Russia will evolve into something like the Republic of Korea during the Park Chung-Hee era. (1963-79). The Army; FSB (KGB’s domestic replacement); and SVR (KGB foreign intelligence replacement) combine acquires more political power because (1) Putin’s Russia is more interested in rebuilding its position as a great power than it is in democratization.; (2) Putin has already decided against Yeltsin’s policy of alliance with the post-Soviet oligarchs; (3) as under the USSR, these institutions work better than any other institutions in society.

Capitalism and economic growth will be fostered so long as they are seen to promote Russia’s position as a great power. Liberty, however is considered disruptive. Despite alarmism in the press about a return to Soviet days, Putin probably has more in common ideologically with some of the ministers of the last Tsar than with the Bolsheviks.

China and Russia will, for the moment, engage in close military cooperation, but without much warmth on either side. The relationship prospers because the parties need each other. Russia wants to maintain its arms industry, and China wants access to Russian military technology. But the Russians fear a future sandwiched between a powerful China and the EU. Condi Rice, make a phone call.

Dow Jones Index Value, 30 December, 2005: 12,482.01. This assumes no major terrorist attack in the last six months of the coming year on US soil. Growth appear to have resumed, but both the trade deficits and the public debt are worrisome. These factors and the value of the Euro will possibly drive more investors across the Atlantic.

Terrorist Attacks: We have not heard from Al Qaeda. It would be in this organization’s interest to get on the board. It loses support and interest among the Islamic disaffected if it does not. Al Qaeda’s likely actions are hard to predict because it is unclear to what extent they have been damaged by US efforts to date. A 9/11 scale attack is possible, but the likelihood of such cannot be reliably predicted. What can be predicted, however, is a series of smaller, easier to organize, attacks. El Jefe therefore predicts attacks by suicide bombers in the US in 2005.

Iraqi elections are a mixed bag. Iraqi elections will go forward as scheduled, but with minimum Sunni participation. The Kurds will participate, but they have their own agenda. The result will be a Shiite-dominated government not inclined to be inclusive, or charitable to Sunni concerns.

The struggle in Iraq will more and more assume the character of a Sunni-Shiite civil war, as the Shiites build themselves a military force, and the US fading into the background but in effect aiding the new government in what amounts to wholesale repression of the Sunnis. The Kurds will take this opportunity to exit Iraq, stage left, to quasi or real independence. Assuming the situation with Iran allows, US withdrawals from Iraq will begin by summer.

Saddam will be dead by June. Trials of Saddam will proceed as soon as possible in the spring, with obvious results. To some extent these will be fair, but they will also be show performances by the new Iraqi government. Saddam’s death will be essential to the new regime, both as revenge on behalf of those who suffered from his rule, and as a demonstration that he has no power, so this event will be organized as soon as possible.

Pakistan will become increasingly unstable. As the US winds down its efforts in Iraq, it can be expected to turn more attention to finishing Al Qaeda in the Afghan mountains, and in the Pakistani border regions. The US will lean on Pakistan to take a more active role here. Al Qaeda’s friends in ISI (Pakistani intelligence) and in Pakistan’s military aren’t going to like this. President Musharraf better beef-up his security.

Osama Bin Laden will be either caught or killed in 2005. You can fight city hall, but not forever. The US simply has too much in the way of money and resources to bring to this hunt, and eventually this weight is going to tell. Every day that passes sees Osama’s chances of evading apprehension grow fainter. Either the Americans get lucky, Osama makes a mistake, or the CIA finally buys the right Judas.

Osama’s chances of being taken alive, incidentally, are minimal, if his captors have been instructed properly. It would be impossible for the US authorities to keep the lawyers and media from turning Osama into a circus event, and he would be unlikely to divulge much information without interrogation techniques that, for obvious reasons, could not be applied to this individual. As for the psychological value of capturing him alive: his body will be propaganda enough. Whatever happens to Osama though, Islamic terrorism is going to be with us for years.

Saudi Arabia headed into rough water. Despite recent successes by the Saudi Arabia security forces, Saudi Arabia is a desperately ill society. All evidence indicates that Al Qaeda and other forces opposed to the regime have the police and intelligence organs penetrated. This is pretty serious in a police state. Sometime soon, that whole country is going to blow sky-high.

Fidel Castro will die. Okay, maybe this is wishful thinking. Still, needed some good news on here someplace.

Britney Spears will get divorced. Or is it married ? Whatever she is now, she’ll change status. Maybe a couple of times.


Today's New York Times has an article about the Kurdish provinces of Iraq, (Dohuk, Erbil, and Sulaimaniya), which are already independent in all but name, and are trying to stay that way. No Iraqi flags in sight, according to the times, but the Kurdish red, white and green with a sun in the middle is everywhere. The residents already call the place Kurdistan.
Much of the rest of Iraq, the Sunni portions anyway, is in chaos, but Kurdistan is doing quite well, thank you. The Times article says there's a building boom in Erbil (or Irbil), the capital, goods are in the shops, and investment is flowing in. The Kurdish diaspora is sending home cash from Europe and America, and the Kurds stand to come into some already appropriated US aid money that the Sunni areas of Iraq have opted not to accept (too many officials are terrified of being blown up if they use that money).
Erbil is old -- it is at or near this place, on 1 October 331 BC, where Persian Shah Darius III chose to make Persia's all-out effort to destroy the invading arimes of King Alexander III of Macedon (a.k.a. "Alexander the Great"). Shah Darius failed, his armies utterly defeated in what is known as the Battle of Gaugamela, leaving the heartland of the Persian Empire open to the invader, costing him his throne and his life.
Modern Kurdistan is well-policed and has a functioning, mostly democratic, government (it calls itself a "regional" government). Kurdistan also has the only units in the "Iraqi" armed forces which American generals have been able to consider at all dependable -- at least 80,000 under arms, tolerably well disciplined and equipped. Kurdistan enjoys relative prosperity and power mostly because the Kurds have been free of Saddam's regime (and Iraqi control) since their successful rebellion in 1991. The no-fly zone in northern Iraq, and American diplomatic and military pressure, (and a sometimes not-so-covert military presence) prevented Saddam from re-asserting control.
The 64 dollar question is what happens now. Under the temporary Iraqi constitution, given to Iraq by America, Kurdistan has "autonomy" which amounts to veto power over the applicability of Iraqi laws to them. The Kurds are afraid of what will happen after all-Iraq elections on 30 January. The Kurds assume that if they don't like the permanent constitution produced by the new Iraqi government -- they can veto that too. The other Iraqis, particularly the Sunnis, don't like that one bit.
What the Kurds really want, of course, is independence. None of the neighbors would like that, the Turkish and Iranians both have large Kurdish minority populations who might get dangerous ideas. The American State Department wouldn't like it either -- the US government, and governments in general, are instinctively against anything smacking of secessionism or changes in national boundries.
El Jefe hopes the Kurds go for it, and that somehow the cards, for once, break in their favor. Gypped out of a country in 1921 (sold out by the British), oppressed by Turks, Arabs and Persians forever, sold out by the US and the Shah of Iran in the 70's -- the Kurds finally got a break in 1991, and have been the only regional player that has fully and completely assisted the Americans in the effort to topple Saddam and his Baathist tyranny. They've earned their reward, and deserve the opportunity to make a go of nationhood.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Are the Bad Guys Reading Tom Clancy ?

The Associated Press reports tonight (via Yahoo News Asia, and the Drudge Report) that the FBI is investigating a Monday incident where “a mysterious laser beam that was directed into the cockpit of a commercial jet traveling at more than 8,500 feet.” The beam appeared when the plane was about 15 miles from Hopkins International Airport at Cleveland, Ohio and stayed with the plane for several seconds, as if the aircraft were being tracked...
The pilot safely landed the aircraft, and air-traffic controllers determined by radar that the laser beam came from a nearby residential area.
The story says that in a similar incident, also on Monday, two other aircraft reported green laser lights shined into their cockpits. Also, in September, a pilot for Delta Air Lines reported an eye injury from a laser beam projected into his cockpit during an approach to Salt Lake City, about five miles from the airport. This aircraft also landed safely.
The whole story may be found here:

It is unclear what is going on – whether pranks are involved, stray lasers from construction projects, laser light shows; or something more sinister. The injury to the Delta pilot in September, the fact that several incidents occurred on Monday, at places far from each other, and the indications that the laser was tracking the Cleveland aircraft certainly argues for a sinister interpretation.
Are there Bad Guys out there someplace reading Tom Clancy, the adventure novelist ? This is not a joke. In Chapter 39 of Debt of Honor, one of Mr. Clancy’s excellent Jack Ryan novels, (El Jefe recommends them all highly) published in 1994, Clancy’s two ace CIA agents “Ding” Chavez and John Clark use an extremely powerful light, somewhat like a laser, to cause a couple of Japanese military aircraft (modified Boeing 767’s), to crash by using their light to blind the pilots during their final landing approach. The resemblance to these incidents is not exact, but is still pretty eerie.
It gets stranger. This same book, published in 1994, neatly anticipates September 11. In another chapter, a fanatical suicide pilot crashes a Boeing 747 into the US Capitol Building in Washington DC. The Capitol is believed by the 9/11 Commission to have been a possible target for the fourth September 11 aircraft, United Airlines Flight 93, that crashed in Pennsylvania when its passengers tried to thwart the hijackers.
One of the functions of intelligence organizations is figuring out plausible ways for the Bad Guys to hurt us, so that we can better protect ourselves. Seems like the Good Guys at CIA could do worse than put together a Threat Team someplace made up, at least in part, of people who read Clancy novels and similar such things.
This is not a joke either. Several historians of World War II, among them John Toland, as well as John Prados, (author of Combined Fleet Decoded: The Secret History of American Intelligence and the Japanese Navy in World War II -- El Jefe considers this work among the finest one-volume general histories of the Pacific War available), tell the story of Hector C. Bywater, a journalist and naval writer of the 1920’s and 30’s. Bywater, in 1925, published a novel entitled The Great Pacific War, concerning a then hypothetical future war between America and Japan. Bywater’s novel opens with an attack on the US fleet at Pearl Harbor – with additional attacks on US positions in Guam and the Philippines. This is exactly the strategy Japan followed in 1941.
At the time Bywater’s book was published, and received serious attention from the critics, the architect of the Pearl Harbor attack, Isoroku Yamamoto was just beginning his tour as Japanese naval attaché in Washington, D.C. Some authors even believe that Yamamoto met Bywater. Toland says the Japanese Naval Staff even adopted Bywater's book--a novel, remember-- as part of the curriculum at their Naval War College.
Truth sometimes starts as fiction, which can make fiction downright spooky.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004


The Washington Post is going to run a perfectly asinine story in its Wednesday edition (already available on the Internet) which states that "domestic criticism of Bush [has] continued to rise" because Bush has remained on his Christmas/New Years vacation in Crawford rather than rushing back to Washington to vapor for the press corps about the tsunami disaster in south Asia.
The "domestic criticism" is evidently from the press corps, which has made "repeated inquiries" about the President's "public absence."
This is how the media shows bias and manufactures news. This is one of those "questions are being raised" kind of stories when the media confuses its own concerns with that of the country at large. You can always spot this phenomenon when the media lapses into passive voice or third person. Questions aren't being raised by anybody but the press. The media and the rest of the Beltway/New York chattering classes, which as a group really believe that "We are the World" think that the "domestic criticism" which is a function of the press corps' own "repeated inquiries," somehow constitutes a real story.
Just what is it that President Bush can do from Washington that he cannot do from Crawford ? We live in a wired age. There is nobody that Bush cannot call or contact or otherwise lobby about aiding tsunami victims just as easily from Crawford as from Washington. Of course, the real issue has nothing to do with what President Bush and the United States actually do. Both the dollar and the actual value of American relief for the disaster will, in the end, no doubt be larger than anybody else's. Because the chattering classes deal primarily in emotion and feelings, what is wanted, of course, is for Bush to emote on cue, or better for them -- not to emote on cue so that they can work themselves into a lather criticizing him for it.
The cynical among us might think that the real intent of this story is to divert attention from a media/chattering class sacred-cow boo-boo -- namely United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland's remark Monday that the 15 million dollars initially earmarked by the US for relief was "stingy." Given prevailing fiscal circumstances in Washington (a massive deficit produced largely by a prosecution of just wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the general benefit, in which the UN as an organization has all but sided with America's enemies), 15 million dollars is anything but stingy. Mr. Egeland (who yesterday retracted his slander) should shut his foul mouth.
El Jefe hopes the President has the gumption to tell the press corps where to go and what to do with themselves when they get there. Alas, this will not be. No doubt in the end, the newspapers and the commentariat will get their wish, and the President will go tearing back to Washington on Air Force One, and put on the mournful face for the journalists, and spoon-feed them their stories in the comfort of the White House Press Room -- God forbid the east coast reporters having to travel to some benighted place like Crawford.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Christmas Eve

El Jefe will be blogging unpredictably over the next several days, during the Christmas holiday. Before departing the Imperial Palace for his smaller, more intimate Palace by the Sea, he attended a special military parade by his elite security detachment, the Wiseguys: taking the salute of thousands of heavily armed Goombas parading by, carrying their vintage Chicago Pianos, wearing their Al Capone outfits and fanatically cheering their beloved Boss of Bosses.
After the parade, and an exchange of telephone greetings with Bush, Putin, whoever is Prime Minister of Italy this week, all the Great and Good, and all the other Dons in their territories, and a huge multi-course meal with LOTS of several different types of wine, El Jefe, the Heir, his wife, his mistresses, various hangers-on, the taste-testers, the heads of El Jefe's major government departments: (Off-Track Betting, Wine Drinking, Knick-Knack Collecting, etc), the diplomatic corps and everybody and everything including Bugs Bunny and Aunt Sally, cruised off to enjoy Christmas.
On a more serious note, Merry Christmas to everyone, and keep the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan in your thoughts and prayers this Christmas.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Delta-4 Launch

Some space news -- this interests El Jefe so it's worth a comment.
On Tuesday, the Air-Force’s new Delta-4 heavy booster appears to have had a disappointing test flight. Given the problems with the Space Shuttle, the Air Force is really going to be depending on the Delta-4, and probably the Atlas-5 to reliably launch its communications and intelligence satellites.

Tuesday launch’s, according to an article yesterday at Spaceflight Now, by Justin Ray, was evidently a disappointment. The strap-on boosters shut down and separated a full eight seconds early, causing the second stage to burn longer to place the Delta-4’s cargo into a parking orbit. Consequently, the Spaceflight Now article says, on the final orbital insertion burn, the second stage ran out of fuel before completing the burn, which would affect the orbit of the cargo.

The cargo in this case is two experimental “nanosatelites” with the cutesy nicknames “Ralphie” and "Sparkie.” Ralphie and Sparkie, constructed by a group of universities to study space photography, micropropulsion and communications, were originally supposed to orbit aboard the space shuttle in 2003 – but were left sitting when the Shuttles were grounded. However, the Air Force, wanting to test the Delta-4, put up $141 million and gave Ralphie and Sparkie a lift.

This story is interesting for a couple of reasons. Although the launch was apparently less than nominal, the Boeing officials interviewed for the Spaceflight Now story did not seem too put out about the problem, a spokesman saying that Boeing had “a very, very happy customer.” If I were the Big Rocketman for the Air Force, and I was planning to use this thing next year to put up, among other things, a missile warning satellite and a highly classified National Reconnaissance Office spy satellite (maybe one of the mysterious MISTY low-observable photorecon sats, or a PROWLER low-observable signals intelligence sat ?) – then I’d be pretty hopping mad about Mr. Boeing’s tinker-toy not working right. A premature shut-down like that is a really serious problem...or is it ?
Bear in mind we live in this great open fishbowl of a society where the government has to make public the team playbook, plus the family cookbook and almost all the recipes for secret sauce AND killer Cosmos out where the Bad Guys can read it. Sane people would make sure missile test data, let alone details of launches, remained as secret as possible. Not us though. That's so we can console ourselves that we live in a free country while the rest of the world reads our recipe books and tries to figure out how to pureé us.

Given these circumstances, one of the few disguises the Good Guys have is the Shell Game. Things ain't always what they seem. Were Ralphie and Sparkie alone or did they have company ? Either the Boeing guy is just doing his public relations thing, or maybe the early cutoff ain’t really a problem, but just a good story…

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Winter Games

In the obvious factoid department, Reuters tells us today that most births occur in August and September (do the math) and that home pregnancy test kit sales skyrocket in the early part of the new year.
Duh. It's cold, the nights are long, and everybody wants to be happy-happy. Must be a slow news week at Reuters.

22 December 1944: NUTS !

60 years ago American soldiers were, as today, fighting and dying to, among other things, protect the freedom and liberty of Europeans. Hitler’s last gasp Ardennes offensive, better known to Americans as the “Battle of the Bulge” was underway, and had surrounded the US 101st Airborne Division and attached units in the Belgian town of Bastogne.

The Germans were in a hurry, and needed the Bastogne road junction to develop their attack. The local German commander, General der Panzertruppen Heinrich Baron von Luettwitz, (XLVII Panzer Corps), decided there was nothing to lose by asking the Americans, formally, via parlementaires under white flags, for their surrender.

It fell to Brigadier-General Anthony C. McAuliffe (1889-1975), acting commander of the 101st Airborne, to scornfully reject the German demand, uttering a derisive reply which went into the newspapers and history books as “NUTS !” Veterans have reported McAuliffe, off the cuff, gave the Germans an even stronger four-letter f-word reply. In any case, when a formal reply for the Germans was prepared, the result was the immortal "NUTS !" Despite the language and idiom barrier, the Germans soon got the message. Bastogne did not surrender then, or ever, and was the rock on which the German offensive foundered.
Pause a moment in your day and remember the soldiers of Bastogne. Keep the heirs and successors to their tradition and fame: our soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, in your thoughts and prayers this Christmas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Man of the Year

As by now all the world knows, Time magazine picked President George W. Bush as its 2004 Man of the Year. Well, okay, since 1999, Time, (which has been giving out this title since 1927), made the obligatory salaam to political correctness, changed the designation to "Person of the Year." PC does not reign in these parts, however. The title is given to the man, woman, idea, etc that "for better or worse, has most influenced events in the preceeding year."
El Jefe has no quibble with Time's selection of President Bush, clearly the obvious choice this year -- if only because Time did not choose him last year, when the decisions that will define his term, and probably the first quarter of this century, were made. Last year's selection was "The American Soldier" -- and El Jefe does not quibble with that choice either, because the soldiers, sailors and airmen deserve and need all the plaudits they can get.
Shortly before the election, the Dallas Morning News rightly called President Bush’s first term “the most eventful and consequential four year served by any US president since Franklin D. Roosevelt’s third term.” His decision to prosecute and stick with the war in Iraq, despite great potential political cost to himself, clearly shows Bush is a leader, and if, as El Jefe confidently expects, the war is ultimately a success, it will mark him as one of the great Presidents.
If President Bush has done nothing else, the liberation of Iraq has reinforced the concept that America is still a sovereign nation-state, not to be dictated to by international bureaucrats, that America will do what is necessary to protect itself and its friends, and will not and cannot be tied down by all the petty threads with which the Chiracs, the Schroeders and the Kofi Annans of the world wish to bind it.
Some of us love President Bush best because of the enemies he has made – anybody whom Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, George Soros, Ramsey Clark, the folks at, and the other cravens who want to truckle to the terrorists, the friends of the terrorists, and the UN and oil-up to the French, the Germans and the other foreigners must be a person worth supporting. The rebuke administered on 2 November by the American people to these creatures and their foreign friends is a big step on the road towards winning this war.

To be sure, there are reasons not to uncritically admire President Bush. His inability and unwillingness (and that of the Republican Party) to control domestic spending is cause for concern, as is the pinchbeck approach to financing the war. El Jefe hopes and expects that in his second term, President Bush will become “Mr. Veto” and stop runaway spending, curb entitlements, and put the financing of the war and the necessary military and intelligence expansion on a sound basis.
Time's choice of President Bush is more sensible than some of its recent choices. For example, as much as El Jefe admires and likes Rudolph Giuliani, and hates Osama Bin Laden -- picking Mayor Giuliani over the Mad Mullah in 2001 just does not seem defensible by Time's own criteria. Remember it's the person "for better or worse" has most influenced events that year. Time was much, and wrongly, criticized for picking another Mad Mullah -- Ayatollah Khomeini, as Man of the Year in 1979, and since that time seems to have shied away from picking negative or controversial choices. Also, the selection of President Bush in 2000, despite the crazy election that year, seems open to criticism. Perhaps the Supreme Court would have been a better selection.
Far more interesting, however, than quibbling about past choices, is speculating on who might be next. . .which involves a certain amount of speculation about what the approaching New Year will bring.
So. . .El Jefe's early bet for Time's 2005 Man (or Person, if you prefer) of the Year is. . .
Kim Jong-il.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Castro and Chavez

Chester, over at the exceptionally good "Adventures of Chester" blog (see the URL below) has a note to himself today to "Keep [an] eye on Castro and Chavez." Chester links to an Agence France-Presse story noting that the Bearded One's armed forces have just finished the "Bastion 2004" exercise, involving 100,000 troops, and which are billed as the biggest Cuban exercises in twenty years.
El Bombastico's thugish brother, Raul, barks: "The only way to stop aggression is to make it abundantly clear that, in this case, Cuba will become from one end to the other an enormous wasp's nest that no aggressor, however powerful, will be able to overcome." Hopefully Fidel and Raul get stung by wasps or trip over a giant can of Raid sometime very soon.
All this was going on while Fidel played host to his new stooge, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. Hmmm, stooge is unfair, because the two tin-pots have a mutual backscratching arrangement: Fidel gives Chavez arms, secret police and dictatorship organizational support -- Hugo takes Cuba's joke currency for real oil.
Chester links to another interesting article about Chavez's Venezuela. Chavez seems to be throwing himself right into his fascist dictator role, purchasing MiGs, visiting Iran, and persecuting Jews. Check out Chester's Blog and the interesting articles he links to:
Chester is reserving comment on whatever it is that troubles him about Latin America's most prominent dime-store Mussolinis, saying that he is going to keep an eye on them.
El Jefe is less reticent, and agrees that they both need to be watched. Castro has been talking up invasion scares ever since his fellow criminal and bosom-pal Saddam's regime fell. Who knows ? Perhaps the old murderer really does fear US soldiers tearing down his pictures and toppling his statues, and seeing that he gets to know the inside of his own jails. Nice thought anyway.
More probably, Fidel of the exquisitely tailored green fatigues is aware that he's 78, and is trying to ensure brownnoser brother Raul inherits and the regime continues via sabre rattling and ceaseless calls for mobilization. The higher level of army and police activity may help to convince dissenters to be quiet, and put a damper on hopes that Fidel might someday be dragged from a hole by US Marines or anybody else as he prepares to meet God, Lenin or whoever commies meet when they take the Big Sleep. Not to worry though: the Castro regime will not outlast Fidel by more than fifteen minutes.
As for Chavez, that's a bad business. Chavez is as big a menace to the US as Salvador Allende and is probably the Castro of tomorrow. Venezuela is of great strategic importance to the US, inasmuch as it and Mexico are the sources of most US oil imports. Consequently, Mr. Chavez is going to be big trouble.
A great pity the coup attempt of 2002 did not succeed. The attempt itself was positively farcical – the plotters’ designated president was certainly no Augusto Pinochet, but rather the head of the local equivalent of the Chamber of Commerce. Not the stuff of which successful usurpers are made. The would-be rulers had the Tyrant in their clutches – and still managed to lose. What can you do with incompentents like this ? Clearly, none of these people read their Machiavelli, or even The Godfather. Too, too bad, because there will probably not be another chance, and Venezuela will pay for the plotters stupidity for generations.
Chavez has now purged the army, and he is hard at work on the press, the bureaucracy, and his other opponents, and will no doubt, in the fullness of time impoverish, exile, imprison or kill as much of the former ruling class as possible. At any rate, his dragnet should terrorize enough of the oligarchy to ensure this class never dares oppose him again.
Chavez seems to have a secret police organization, (DGIP), up and running, which he will probably expand rapidly. It's always easy to staff a dictatorship, especially a left-wing one. For a Man of the People, building the Brave New World, there are always lots of disciples and opportunists eager to organize and operate a secret police: plenty of young university graduates, all afire with leftist zeal, looking for power and careers, and who will have no scruples about breaking some skulls to build paradise; together with a leavening of technocrats (investment bankers in another life ?) looking to work their passage with the new regime. Not to mention sycophantic journalists for the controlled press, and all the lawyers who want to be judges, tame-union bosses and bureaucrats -- none of them quite top drawer, but all willing to write, say or do anything for invitations to the good parties, a shot at the nice house seized from the old regime big-shot fled to Miami, or the new Mercedes.
If Chavez wishes to be the new Castro, he should have his police working on framing and blaming the former ruling class for all the economic disruption their destruction and exile is going to cause Venezuela. (The economy is collapsing already). Perhaps soon, he will have some show trials of prominent persons, such as major media opponents of the regime -- with a few rich oligarchs thrown in. His supporters in the streets will enjoy it -- always psychologically satisfying to see the rich get theirs, and those not tried will keep their heads down, grateful it's not them in the dock. Chavez is only 50, so his so-called "Bolivarian Republic" is, unfortunately, apt to be with us for a long time to come.

Friday, December 10, 2004

What's in a Name ?

El Jefe’s subject in this post is names. Specifically, the names of cities, mostly in Europe. Winston Churchill is supposed to have said that woe attends those who rename their cities, and El Jefe is definitely in agreement with Sir Winston on this point. If El Jefe’s American readers doubt their good fortune in living on this continent, they should find an old atlas and consider all the name changes of cities and places between say, 1918 and the present. There is a city in Poland called Wroclaw that used to be in Germany, where it was called Breslau. Just the difference of a word and a dotted line on a map, but representing endless misery and oceans of blood.

In any event, El Jefe must warn his readers that from time to time he is wont to use what some would call archaic proper names for cities and rivers, generally in Europe, but in other places too. All these names have stories of their own.

Sometimes, El Jefe’s somewhat reactionary tendencies even make him a prophet. For example, El Jefe, his whole life, always disdained referring to that beautiful city in Russia, on the Neva River, by the name it bore during Soviet days. To El Jefe this city was always St. Petersburg, and one day God smiled, and the name of the hateful butcher, along with the odious regime he built and its bloody rag, came down, and St Petersburg finally got its name back for real. Similarly, El Jefe could never bring himself to besmirch the cities of Tver, Simbirsk, Yekaterinburg and other places with their Soviet-era, Bolshevik big-shot names, which often, to El Jefe appeared to positively reek of blood. Thankfully, those names have mostly gone away too, with exceptions (mostly East Prussian cities such as poor Königsberg, still called Kalningrad).

Again, El Jefe is not entirely consistent – he tends to think of Volgograd as Stalingrad, and not Tsaritsyn, because of the World War II battle there. To El Jefe, that name evokes not murderer Stalin, but the brave Soviet soldiers who died keeping it out of the hands of the beastly Nazis.

El Jefe’s reasons are not always consistent, or even logical. Sometimes it’s just plain mule-headedness. El Jefe likes Poles and Poland….but, (probably thanks to his interest in Napoleonic and German military history) he reflexively still thinks of Breslau (not Wroclaw), Posen (not Poznan), Bromberg (not Bydgoszcz), Allenstein, (not Olstyn), Oppeln (not Opole), etc.

As an aside, re-naming was not only a bad habit of extreme left-wing regimes, or new ethnic masters, but a staple of some extreme right-wing regimes also. The Nazis were among the worst offenders – among other things renaming Lodz, Poland “Litzmannstadt,” and Gdynia (now part of Gdansk, Poland) – “Gotenhafen” rather than its older German name of Gdingen. Thankfully, none of that lasted.

The Germans did a little name restoring a few years ago when the Wall came down, again moving things back El Jefe’s way, and getting rid of the names of Communist icons and luminaries. Chemnitz is no longer sullied with the title “Karl-Marx-Stadt” and Guben likewise was able to give a well-deserved ditching to “Wilhelm-Pieck-Stadt.” Speaking of commies, El Jefe hopes he lives long enough to see Saigon be Saigon again.

And yes, El Jefe, disagrees with the song on this subject and still thinks of Istambul as Constantinople.

What is the US doing in Ukraine ?

The usually prescient Robert Kagan published an interesting piece in Sunday's Washington Post. Mr. Kagan argues that the cooperation of the US and EU in the recent Ukrainian election imbroglio constitutes "one of those rare hinges of history whenlooming disaster was turned into glittering opportunity." Unfortunately, Mr. Kagan is carried away by his enthusiasm for this "flagrant act of transatlantic cooperation" and allows his faith in a "postmodern" era dominated by soft power to blind him to the very real disadvantages the present US policy toward the EU and Russia in general and the Ukraine in particular is courting in the realm of old fashioned hard power.

Mr. Kagan's article demonstrates yet again that the great limitation of logic is that logical conclusions are only as strong as their underlying premises - and some of Mr. Kagan's premises are extremely suspect. According to Mr. Kagan, Europe is "...not a global player in the traditional geopolitical sense of projecting power and influence far beyond its borders. Few Europeans even aspire to such a role."

Of course they do not, at present, because the EU, like America prior to 1914, is effectively a free-rider, with defense of its worldwide interests currently subsidized by the United States just as defense of US interests was effectively subsidized by Britain prior to 1914. Why would Europe be interested in projecting geopolitical power, if it can avoid it ? Armies and fleets are expensive. But the US can no longer afford, and will increasingly be unwilling to carry the burden for the Europeans. If Europe is interested in survival, then like it or not, it is going to rejoin the "traditional" geopolitical game, and it will probably do so in ways that the United States will not appreciate.

Kagan himself points to one of the reasons the peaceable European kingdom will not continue, namely the "...unruly tangle of potentially catastrophic problems" on Europe's borders, an "arc of crisis if ever there was one." This arc of crisis will interact with another geopolitical fact -- the collision between US and European economic and geopolitical interests in the Middle East and elsewhere.

The European political resistance from 2002 through the present to the deposition of Saddam Hussein and the replacement of the Baath regime in Iraq, as well as the steady trickle of revelations concerning the benefits the European powers (particularly France) extracted from Saddam under the UN’s Oil-for-Food should make clear that European and American geopolitical interests are rapidly diverging. America and Europe increasingly covet access to the same mineral resources and will have increasingly different views over, inter alia, military power, economic resources, access to capital, debt and how much to accommodate Muslim fundamentalism.

All of the above means that Europe and its constituent states, (particularly Germany and France) will develop their own military capability, that this will happen sooner rather than later, and will be deployed in ways that will cause us concern. Under these circumstances, stability on the EU’s eastern borders means that more European attention may be devoted to pursuing differences with the United States. It follows that such stability (at least, stability in Europe’s favor) is not necessarily to the interest of the United States.

These considerations should be kept in mind when considering the unfolding drama in the Ukraine. As El Jefe has said elsewhere, we should view the difficulties of Ukrainian democrats with sympathy. However, geopolitically speaking, there are ample reasons not to throw the weight of the United States behind any of the various factions vying for power in Kiev.

We have heard plenty about what is at stake for Ukraine. But have we adequately considered the situation from the Russians’ point of view ? It’s 475 miles from Kiev to Moscow – 300 from the Ukrainian border to Moscow. (Houston to New Orleans is about 320, Houston to Pensacola, 489). Just imagine how Americans would feel if the United States had lost the whole Pacific Northwest within the last fifteen years and then had to suffer the Russians telling them they felt the anti-US party in a Pacific Northwest election was more democratic. This is pretty much where the Russians are today.

Do you begin to see why the Russians are concerned ? Keep thinking. If the more anti-Russian, pro-Western party in Ukraine -- Viktor Yushchenko’s -- wins the just announced new election, Ukraine will clearly become more pro-European Union. It’s possible that Ukraine, oriented in such a way, could be invited to join NATO. Certainly, the Ukrainians would want to be under the NATO umbrella, to better prevent Russian meddling in future elections. And yes, El Jefe knows there is “no way” Ukraine would join NATO – just like there was “no way” the Warsaw Pact would collapse; “no way” the Soviet Union would collapse; and, more importantly from the Russians point of view “no way” the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) would join NATO. The Russians were given assurances on this last point – but assurances/smurances, here we are, and Stalin’s little stolen Balts of 1940 are now in NATO. (Tallinn, Estonia to St. Petersburg, 215 miles).

Speaking of “no way,” there is no way the Russian security establishment can be convinced a hostile Ukraine is not a dire and mortal threat to their country. Should they be convinced otherwise ? As pointed out above, if Yushchenko wins the new election that’s coming, the odds are pretty fair that Ukraine winds up in NATO. If that happens, German panzers could be legally sitting within 300 miles of Moscow. Nobody in Russia has forgotten the last time that happened. Sixteen million Russian dead in the “Great Patriotic War” started by a surprise attack from a country that was supposedly a friend and quasi-ally. Are the Russians that wrong to be suspicious, or bending over backwards to see that a pro-Russian faction wins the election ?

Going back to my analogy above, if the US was where Russia is today, perhaps the US would have to be quiet, and take its lumps, but if I were a citizen of the US in that position, or of a Russia now watching foreigners settle affairs on its borders, I would certainly hope that at some day or time in the future, my government could and would do what was necessary to reverse that situation. This leads straight to trouble: the necessity of submitting to such humiliations, however necessary in the short run, gives fanatic nationalists their audience in the long run. (Hitler, Tojo, Mussolini...)

In any case, no Russian government, to the extent it can avoid doing so, is going to sit still for having Ukraine jerked permanently and completely out of the Russian orbit. The Russians are not helpless, but since the national game is chess, the immediate response may be indirect. The Russians can make plenty of trouble for the US in central Asia, in Afghanistan, in Iran (helping the mullahs get their nuke ?) and in Iraq. (See El Jefe’s Tuesday post on Putin’s statements on the Iraq election).

There is another possibility. The last time the Russians felt cornered and alone, they made themselves a temporary pact with the Devil – the Hitler/Stalin Pact of 1940. This freed the Germans to concentrate on fighting the western powers. Of course, this later left Hitler free to attack the Russians as soon as his hands were free in the west.
If the Russians truly feel there is no stopping the Europeans from consolidating their position in Eastern Europe, perhaps the Russians will try to put together some (hopefully for them) more successful variant of the 1940 deal. The Russians may well try to achieve some kind of free-trade/resource/mutual defense pact with the EU. The US will love that – because the EU will then be free to pursue its quarrels with the Americans without problems on its eastern flank. We will be alone in the world, sandwiched between powerful rivals in Europe and China, with the doubtful help of Japan and India.

El Jefe thinks the Americans need to work with Russia. There are so many places where US and Russian interests coincide: Islamic terrorism, peace and quiet in Afghanistan, keeping the EU from becoming too strong, giving China something to pay attention to besides getting rich at our mutual expense, tamping down nuclear proliferation. American capital and Russian resources could lead to mutually beneficial economic relations – and this would be better in the long run for the Russians than arrangements with Europe, simply because the Americans will have more of an interest in a powerful and independent Russia then the EU is likely to have.

Don’t get El Jefe wrong. El Jefe is a red-stater, card-carrying conservative. El Jefe hasn't been smoking liberal weed, and is not going mushy. What bothers El Jefe is his impression that nobody in Washington or the American press, in the midst of bleating about free and fair elections, appears to be even THINKING about these considerations.
Part of this is left-over Cold War inertia – the foreign policy establishment both wants to and is used to working with Europeans; and the Republican portion of that establishment is reflexively hostile to Russia. Also, it probably does not help that the American foreign policy apparatus is without a clear leader: Secretary of State Powell is leaving, and Condelezza Rice has not yet assumed control. Truly however, this is not much of an excuse, because this situation is so critically important, probably more so even than the struggle with Al Qaeda. Osama Bin Laden will be captured or killed and, one way or another, the Middle East is going to be put in order, possibly sooner than we imagine. But the geopolitical direction of these great political units: the EU, the US and Russia, is going to affect the balance of power in the world and everything else on this planet for generations.

To conclude, El Jefe thinks the present American policy towards Russia, especially over Ukraine and the “near abroad” is LUNACY. Instead of antagonizing the Russians, the US desperately needs to find ways to work with Moscow, or at least to back off.

Thursday, December 9, 2004


It occurs to El Jefe that his millions of devoted fans, vassals and loyal supporters in many nations round the world would benefit from an account of some of El Jefe’s recent activities. The most important event in recent days has doubtless been T and E’s big year-end party this last weekend, which El Jefe was pleased to grace with his Presence. El Jefe LOVES parties.

T historically loves to entertain and always throws a good party, and the latest big bash was no exception. The party, mostly in T's and E's back yard, around their beautiful new pool, had a 1960’s theme, (T knocked herself out decorating), and the guests were expected to dress accordingly. El Jefe’s went as a hippie attired in a very blonde wig and a tie-dye shirt (both located by spouse), along with some of his 60’s-70’s political buttons, a homemade protest sign, a few beaded necklaces, and the Heir’s toy guitar. (El Jefe had a nice assortment of Republican and Democratic buttons, which should confuse everybody who thinks they've got El Jefe all politically figured out). Before departing the Palace for the party, El Jefe previewed his costume for the High Patronesses of the Kingdom of Chaos, cats FLINKY and MILO, who looked at El Jefe as if they were certain he was from another planet.

El Jefe, who always really wanted to be a rock-star, (or at any rate, to live like one), was told by several folks that he resembled Gregg Allman, so this made his evening. El Jefe’s spouse, She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed, wore, inter alia, a Texas Aggie shirt with a very 1960’s looking smiley-face on it. T's party security, an off-duty Texas DPS officer, gave SWMBObeyed's rolling-paper looking things stuffed in her hat a very dubious look.

There was lots of dancing, which El Jefe likes, plenty of interesting people and dancers, with some really cool costumes. El Jefe managed to indulge in a cigar, not to mention a bit of red wine, although, for some reason, not enough to cause a fat head the next day. In any case, El Jefe certainly had a good time, and thanks T and E for including him.

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Kofi Annan and What Ails the UN

Fellow bloggers Glenn Reynolds over at Instapundit (http :// and Wretchard at Belmont Club ( both call attention to a most interesting development in UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s fight for his political life – namely, that the Democratic Leadership Council has called for Mr. Annan to go. According to Wretchard, the DLC’s reasoning is essentially that “Kofi must go so the UN can stay.” Both Reynolds’s and Wretchard’s pieces are worth reading, and El Jefe suggests you give them a look.

El Jefe is of two minds about whether Mr. Annan should go. Mr. Annan, because of the Oil-For-Food scandal and problems with the UN permanent employees, seems to be mired in trouble up to his very well-educated neck. Anything which puts the United Nations, by its very nature an anti-American organization, in the soup is Jim Crackin Dandy to El Jefe. This is not a moral pronouncement on the United Nations, but simple recognition that the UN is primarily of benefit to middle-weight and weak states that seek to reign in great powers such as the United States. If Mr. Annan is in trouble, keep him at the UN. God forbid that somebody might be found to make the thing work.

It is quite enough that the US largely pays for the United Nations; but it is absurd that we should actually have to pay attention to it. Seen by the Left and other feeble-minded souls as some sort of world conscience, the United Nations in reality has nothing whatever to do with real world opinion. The United Nations should better be termed the “United Dictators.” Four fifths of the countries on the globe that send representatives to the United Nations are tin-pot dictatorships of one sort or another. At most, the United Nations reflects the opinions of these same dictators, as well as the international chattering classes (a large proportion of whom live on the US east coast) who are reflexively against ANY action of an American government, let alone one led by a Republican.

Since the early 1990s, the European Union, Russia and China have steadily turned the UN Security Council into a body for pursuit of their own national and supra-national interests under the guise of multilaterialism. Example: the attitude of France, Russia, China together with various other members of the European Union towards Iraq economic sanctions since 1991, and the failure of these same powers to support the US in maintaining the arms inspection regime. Of course, this is largely because of the huge financial and political investment these same powers had in the Saddam government, but it (and the related Oil-for-Food scandal) is an altogether typical example of the games played at the UN.

For El Jefe, former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali has always personified the UN's lack of contact with the real world. Dr. Boutros-Ghali is from one of the few aristocratic families to amount to anything in post-Nasser Egypt. An upper class Egyptian foreign ministry bureaucrat, Dr. Boutros-Ghali is one of the best educated persons in the world, speaks excellent French and English, has a splendid art collection, is a lover of western poetry, (as well as the famous Alexandrine Constantine Cavafy) and orders his beautifully-tailored suits in Paris. Dr. Boutros-Ghali is more European and International than Egyptian, and has about as much connection with what really matters in Egypt as does El Jefe. In past years, he lived mostly in Paris, Egypt not being very safe for him. The present Secretary General, Kofi Annan, has about as much real connection with Ghana, or the real world, as Dr. Boutros-Ghali does with Egypt.

In the real world, the UN is basically a whore which is cynically used and discarded at need by the world's tin-pot dictators and other assorted potentates, who cloak themselves in the disguise of the UN to further their own agendas – usually involving corruption and self-service like the Oil-for-Food scandal. All these machinations are customarily disguised in self-righteous platitudes and sloganeering about “imperialism,” “racism,” “Zionism” or whatever the in-vogue PC expression may be. Although a few suckers of the leftist persuasion actually buy the window dressing, the reason for the UN is to keep us marks from squealing when our pockets are picked.

It is hard for El Jefe and most other sentient beings to avoid the suspicion that the post Cold War interest of so many countries and well-meaning individuals in the UN and in the development of “international law” and “multilateral” solutions to everything down to jaywalking is more about the Lilliputians frantically seeking ways to tie down Gulliver (that would be the United States) than it is about the development of law. There is nothing wrong with the French, the Russians, and the Chinese, etc. seeking to do so, it is, after all, in their national interests to reduce US power. However, it is not at all in Gulliver’s interest to be so bound. What mystifies El Jefe is why so many Americans seem eager to help the Lilliputians.

El Jefe, fundamentally, mistrusts the whole direction that international law (or “the Law of Nations”) has taken since about 1945, and possibly since 1918, and thinks that it has been a blind alley. Instead of the governments of nation-states -- each individually accountable to their own electorates -- representing their interests vis-a-vis each other bilaterally, the proponents of the UN/League of Nations type organizations want to give our sovereignty to amorphous bodies of unaccountable bureaucrats and lawyers, who are utterly unaccountable to anyone but other faceless lawyers, dictators and bureaucrats, and who certainly have no truck with the concerns of American taxpayers. For these reasons, anything that puts a spoke in the UN’s wheel is fine with El Jefe.

Mary Frances Berry, Exeunt

Mary Frances Berry, former Chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, whose term on that body legally expired at midnight on Sunday, "resigned" today, along with Vice-Chairman Cruz Reynoso.
In fact, Ms. Berry and Mr. Reynoso had nothing left to resign, as their appointments both expired on Sunday. However, both these individuals, despite the plain terms of their appointments, and in the face of opinions to the contrary by the Congressional Research Service and the US Court of Appeals, insisted that their terms continued through 21 January 2005. Evidently, they decided to give up the farce when it became apparent that President Bush wasn't having any of it: he appointed their successors yesterday.
The Civil Rights Commission, its management practices (or lack thereof) the subject of severe criticism by both the Office of Personnel Management and the Government Accountability Office, has spent the past four years conducting low-level guerrilla warfare against the Bush administration. A typical example was the decision to keep a controversial report on the Bush administration's civil rights record on the commission's website during the election -- despite the fact that half the commission's members dissented and were highly critical of the report. The Commission, far from engaging in any substantive work, has under Ms. Berry's leadership become little more than a pulpit from which to pillory conservatives in general and the Bush administration in particular.
If the White House is, as it should be, looking for places to trim the budget -- a good place to start would be with the abolition of the Civil Rights Commission.

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Sauce for the Goose

Faithful readers might recall that in an earlier post, your host, El Jefe Maximo, doubted the wisdom of US fishing in the Ukraine's troubled electoral waters, chiefly because such a course would antagonize the Russians without a commensurate return. (See 29 November 2004 post).
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the situation in the Ukraine, and however laudable the objectives of the US in seeking a fair election there, other powers also have foreign policy objectives and the means to pursue them. It gives El Jefe no pleasure to note the appearance of the first fruits of the US decision to speak up on behalf of Ukraine: Agence France-Presse (never adverse to chortling at American difficulties) reports today that Russian President Vladimir Putin, while receiving Iraqi Prime-Minister Iyad Allawi today at the Kremlin, stated that he "cannot imagine" how genuinely free and fair elections could be held in Iraq next month, given that Iraq is under "total occupation" by foreign troops.
Short of avoiding trouble with China over Taiwan, and making sure North Korea does not boil over, the US has no more important foreign policy objective at the moment than driving a wedge between the Russians on the one hand, and the Germans and French on the other. Compared to that, the Ukraine is a secondary issue. At the risk of repetition, El Jefe thinks the US is acting most unwisely as to the Ukraine.
As Al Capone might have said: "If he gonna mess with me, I'm gonna mess with him."

Thursday, December 2, 2004

Lost Opportunity

According to the AP, 200 masked men and women of the “First Suicide Commando Unit” of the “Headquarters for Commemorating Martyrs of the Global Islamic Movement" held an organizational meeting today at a Tehran, Iran cemetery to pledge their willingness to carry out murder-suicide bomb attacks against Americans and Israelis.
El Jefe memo to Jihad marketing: do something about the names of these groups ! Shell out some cash and get somebody to come up with some catchier names. “Headquarters for Commemorating Martyrs of the Global Islamic Movement" just don't look good on a business card. At least abbreviate.
Anyway, the HCMGIM spokesman, some worthy named Ali Mohammadi, promised: “Sooner or later we will bury all blasphemous occupiers of Islamic lands.”
Burial. Now there’s a thought. Okay, the meeting’s at a cemetery, 200 or so of them together all in a bunch, and they wanna die, right ? Hmmmm, too bad we couldn’t have obliged them with an air strike or four from, maybe, some guys over Iraq who got “lost” or something ? I mean, another one of those win-win deals El Jefe sometimes talks about. They wanna be dead, we want them dead, and they’re conveniently lined up for us at the cemetery. Saves transportation and disposal, and the Iranians get lots of cleared land in Tehran for urban renewal projects. Just one of those deals we missed. Why oh why can’t things ever be convenient ?

European Dinosaurs !

According to Reuters, scientists have found “well-preserved fossils of a new dinosaur species that lived 225 million years ago in southern Brazil but had its closest relatives in what is now Europe.” Holy Boneyard, Batman !

Well, this is such old news. Your host, El Jefe Maximo, working from the comfort of his superbly-equipped laboratories (pronounced "lab-bore-atories" in the proper stuffy English butler manner), deep in his vast Palace by the sea, has already found and catalogued several interesting species of European dinosaurs. What’s more, El Jefe’s Eurosaurs are actually living fossils !

First there is the Jacqueus Chiracus, member of the Frenchus Poodleus class of dinosaurs. It runs around croaking or yapping with its distinctive bark while the adults are trying to get work done. “Non !, Non !, Non !” it bleats incessantly. Despite the loud shrillness of its bark, it scuttles away in terror when one turns round and says “Boo !”– running under the table wailing “UN Veto !” in terror.

Then there is Guardian Newspaperous. Looks a lot like Karl Marx’s and Lenin’s love child, but despite its efforts to cultivate the enfant terrible look, it’s getting a bit long in the tooth. Waves a big red flag and vapors about American imperialism a lot. Growls when Tony Blair’s name is mentioned. Puts itself and everyone around it to sleep by crooning The Internationale to itself at the slightest opportunity.

Don’t forget Spanishus Socialistus Partius. People who cause loud bangs in its habitat can make it do whatever they want.

A rapidly proliferating species of Eurosaur is Eurocratius Maximus. This large pest is even more virulent then its American cousin, FederalBureaucratis Maximus. Vomits forms in quintuplicate and can often be found prowling around the premises of English greengrocers, ensuring that they price in Euros, not Pounds. A bitter foe of Boeing, but its favorite prey is American agricultural exporters.

Certainly the shrillest and loudest of the European dinosaurs is Lefty Pacifistus. This beast is found in America also. Can be found any place there’s a good anti-American demonstration. Avoids bathing when possible, and is normally trailed by a large cloud of marijuana smoke. Fed with liberal portions of (very brief) political tracts and Noam Chomsky publications, which it delights in prating about incessently. Among the most interesting creatures in the animal kingdom because of their complete lack of a spine. Will put up with absolutely anything for one more day of uninterrupted enjoyment of the welfare state. Completely deaf to victims of Saddam’s, Castro’s or Kim Jong-il’s jails.

Of course there is Biggus Germanus, most recently the Schroederus variety. Works ten minutes of every day, then takes the rest of the day off. Takes 50 week vacations. Because of some unpleasantness a few years ago, has significant anxiety about being liked by all the other Eurosaurs. For this reason, Biggus Germanus looks up to the Jacqueus Chiracus, and Frenchus Poodleus both which like to pat its head patronizingly and call it “Igor.” However, when and if aroused, Biggus Germanus could make a meal of Frenchus Poodleus faster then you can say “Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys.” El Jefe and other observers of the species wouldn’t bet against this possibility.

Finally there is Muslim Immigrantus. Sadly, this is probably the only Eurosaur that’s not a complete fossil. The population of this species of Eurosaur is growing exponentially, and at a much faster rate than all of the other Eurosaurs. Insists that its habitat be arranged exactly to its specifications. Occasionally eats Lefty Pacifistus, but as long as Muslim Immigrantus mouths the appropriate anti-American/Western diatribe beforehand, this is permitted. This Eurosaur is getting better and better at growling “jump” and getting all the other Eurosaurs to ask “how high ?”

El Jefe hopes you’ve enjoyed his tour d’horizon of the exciting Eurosaur discoveries in the El Jefe labs. Don’t look for this on NPR anytime soon.

Crawling to the Foreigners

According to the BBC, US “constitutional rights lawyers” have filed a criminal complaint against Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and other Defense Department officials for so-called abuses of Iraqi rebel detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The other defendants include Lieutenant-General Ricardo Sanchez (US Army - former commander in Iraq), and former Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet. The story can be found here:

Despite the seriousness of the subject matter, this whole business has its ludicrous aspects. This complaint was filed with the German Federal Prosecutor by something called the "Center for Constitutional Rights" in New York. The Germans prosecuting Americans for human rights violations ! That’s too rich for words. Must be a run on black pots and kettles in Deutschland. Even assuming the Germans pursue the case, (which is not a slam-dunk) the matter is an exercise in futility because (whatever the Germans claim) the German courts have no jurisdiction, and cannot put their paws on Mr. Rumsfeld and company without landing Germany in some hot, hot water.

More seriously, the very idea of Americans acting to procure prosecution of US public officials in foreign courts sticks in El Jefe’s craw. The BBC story says that the “Center for Constitutional Rights” deemed American investigations into Abu Ghraib “inadequate.” The "Center for Constitutional Rights" evidently distrusts American constitutional processes, because they then went forum-shopping and chose Germany because the Germans have legislation purporting to allow such prosecutions across national boundaries. The idea that Americans would connive with foreigners at orchestrating what would amount to public humiliation of the US government, not to mention propaganda for its enemies, is both astonishing and disgusting to El Jefe.

2 December 1804

I ascend the throne to which the . . . votes of the
Senate, the People and the Army have called me, my heart full of the destinies
of a Nation which I, from the midst of camps, first proclamed great.
Napoléon I, 1 December 1804. (From R.M. Johnson, P.J.
Haythornthwaite, eds, In the Words of Napoleon, Greenhill, 2002).
Today is the anniversary of the coronation of Napoléon I, Emperor of the French, King of Italy, in Paris. Born a Corsican, and derided as such always by his foes, the nobody officer cadet from Ajaccio, laughed at by his fellows for his Italian-accented French, rose out of the chaos of the French Revolution all the way to the throne, which he ascended 200 years ago today at a coronation in Notre Dame Cathedral officiated over by Pope Pius VII. The very next year, 1805, 199 years ago today, the Emperor won his greatest military victory, at Austerlitz, (in what is now the Czech Republic) defeating the combined armies of Russia and Austria.
The Emperor ended the corruption, chaos and brigandage of the French Revolution and restored order. Napoléon correctly divined that the French missed the monarchy destroyed by the Revolution, and restored it, to popular acclaim, in the person of himself. His choice of the title: "Emperor of the French" drew on both the legacy of the Holy Roman Empire, and the earlier Rome of the Caesars which Napoléon and many of his contemporaries so greatly admired.
Napoléon is justly famous as a soldier, but he was a far greater ruler than he was a general. The Emperor proved to be one of the greatest lawgivers in history, and the modern French state is his creation. Napoléon's laws and administrative system still govern France today, and have had worldwide influence, as far afield as the United States and Japan. Napoléon was a great builder, and filled the country with universities, libraries, roads and other useful public works. The French educational system, and those of several other European countries were his creations. After the fall of his regime in 1815, his successors found things in such good order that little actually changed, beyond the names on the office doors.
In today's more republican and pacifist times he is often blamed (wrongly, El Jefe believes) for the bloody wars of his era, but he did not start most of them, although he certainly took advantage of the opportuninties they presented for the aggrandizement of his empire.
Greatest general of his age, and possibly ever, the Emperor was finally defeated; outnumbered and crushed by a coalition which included all the great powers of Europe. Napoléon's metoric political and military career, and all of the monumental change which came in its train, was effectively finished by the time he was 45. Like Julius Caesar, the historical personality he most resembles, Napoléon transcended mere mortal existence and passed into legend.

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

PC Yes, Army No

Harvard Law School has announced that it will return to its policy of barring military recruiters from its campus, in the wake of a Federal court decision allowing schools to do so without risking their Federal funds.

Harvard objects to the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell policy” regarding overt gays and lesbians in the armed forces.

Quite aside from the merits of this particular case, Harvard’s decision to be pro-PC rather than pro-military is precisely what one would expect from a northeastern university, and should be seen as a win-win situation for everyone. On Planet Harvard, the military is probably viewed as hopelessly Neanderthal and déclassé by most students, to say nothing of the faculty. Meanwhile, the rest of the world can be grateful that there will be fewer Harvard graduates in uniform wanting to play international lawyer and discuss everything in committee while the soldiers try to keep Osama and pals from blowing us all up.

Monday, November 29, 2004

El Jefe's Return, Ukraine

But yes ! El Jefe has returned to his capital (Houston, known by the enlightened as Ciudad de El Jefe Maximo). Greeted by the High Patronesses MILO and FLINKY, the diplomatic corps, an honor guard from his elite security force of goombas (the Wiseguys) and literally millions of fanatically loyal subjects, El Jefe has returned from visiting the Mother-In-Law and stands ready to give his wisdom to the world once more. MILO and FLINKY thank T for taking care of them in the absence of El Jefe, She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed and the Heir.
On to less significant subjects. El Jefe is disturbed by the disputed election in the Ukraine, and thinks this has potential to develop into an even sticker mess than it is already. The current Prime Minister, Mr. Victor Yanukovych, backed by the current Ukrainian President, Mr. Leonid Kuchma, and by the Russian government, is claiming victory over a more liberal, pro western candidate, Mr. Viktor Yushchenko, in elections held on 21 November. Exit polls had predicted Mr. Yushchenko would win, and U.S. and European observers say that widespread fraud appears to have taken place.
A Yushchenko government would be more oriented towards Europe, a Yanukovych government towards Ukraine's powerful neighbor, Russia, to which Ukraine used to belong. There is a real regional split in support for the two candidates, the western parts of the country supporting Yushchenko, the more Russified regions east of the Dnipro River (which oldsters like me still call the Dnieper) supporting Yankovych.
El Jefe is, of course, abstractly more sympathetic to Mr. Yushchenko. The US Government has already rebuked the Ukraine authorities, saying the recent election "does not meet international standards." However, El Jefe wishes both the Government and the American public opinion makers (i.e. the media), which seem to be solidly behind Mr. Yushchenko, would slow down, be quiet, and let the Ukrainians work out their own problems.
Is El Jefe the only one who thinks that the US has quite enough on its plate at present ? Yes, in a perfect world, the Ukrainians would conduct completely free and fair elections, without interference from powerful neighbors, which would produce results all could live with. However, this has not happened, and the US can indicate its displeasure as loudly as it wishes, but the utterances of the State Department will not change anything unless the real players (the Russians, the various Ukrainian factions and the Europeans) want it to. Even if matters are arranged to Washington's taste, the price may be more, long run, than the US can afford.
More than rebuilding ties with France, Germany or NATO, the US desperately needs good relations with Russia. Russia and the US have too many common interests: tamping down Islamic fundamentalism and irredentism and keeping an eye on China and the EU for starters. Present US difficulties with the Europeans have less to do with distaste for President Bush and his Iraq policies then with fundamentally changed strategic conditions, and antagonizing the Russians over matters America has only a limited ability to affect is most unwise. It also follows that expanding the EU sphere of influence is not necessarily beneficial to American interests.
The Ukrainians wish to stay out of the Russian orbit, which is natural. Similarly, it is only natural for the Russians to fish in troubled waters and try to reel Ukraine back into their sphere of influence, where Ukraine has dwelled for hundreds of years. The wisdom, much less the practicality, of Russia's wish to resurrect its empire certainly seems dubious, but it is nevertheless a fact. We should wish the Ukrainians well, but in no way harm our own interests by becoming involved in a mess which primarily concerns the Ukrainians, the Russians and the Europeans, but not us. America should be, as John Quincy Adams put it, the friend of liberty everywhere, but the guardians only of our own.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The Dream Palace, Holidays, Summit Snafu

Another beautiful day at El Jefe’s humble palace by the sea. El Jefe snoozed on the verandah, scenic overlook or whatever, newspaper forgotten by his side. The headlines read, in very large type: El Jefe Proclaimed World Poobah ! Bush, The Pope, Britney Spears Pledge Support. Behind him, at a respectful distance, a detachment of goombas from El Jefe’s elite personal security unit, the Wiseguys, hovered protectively; Marco, Rocco and Fredo menacingly eyeing all who came too near. The scantily-clad Traci Lords look-alike (object of admiring looks from the aforementioned goombas) was shaking El Jefe, saying “wake up, Jeffe baby, wake up !”
Alas, El Jefe is jolted awake, abruptly pulled back into the real world of working for a living and dealing with various relatives for Thanksgiving by the screech of the alarm. Yes the holidays are closing in, it seems. Can’t we just skip them ?
Turning to the real news, your host El Jefe is most disturbed by a pair of incidents in Chile which have roiled President Bush’s visit to Latin America. On Saturday, Chilean security personnel blocked the entry of President Bush’s security detachment during a photo opportunity at a cultural center. President Bush had to intervene and literally pull his bodyguard into the event.
The second incident was more serious. Chilean President Lagos cancelled a 200 person state dinner on Sunday at the official state residence, La Moneda, because the Chileans were unwilling to accept US security demands. The invited guests included the elite of Chilean society, including judges, members of the cabinet and Congress, and cultural figures. Among other things, the Chilean guests were all supposed to pass through American operated metal detectors, in the Chilean presidential palace.
This is not how to win friends and influence states. The incident with the bodyguard sounds like a garden variety snafu, but the fiasco of the state dinner is absolutely inexcusable. I wonder how American guests and officials would feel, having the White House and its security arrangements taken over by foreigners for a state dinner, however well intentioned they might be ?
State visits, and their accompanying dinners, are generally planned for months in advance. The details of all such events are supposed to be worked out, in detail, beforehand. Between them, the Executive Office of the President, the Secret Service, and the State Department should have been able to come to mutually acceptable security arrangements with the Chileans.
The larger problem is perhaps philosophical. The Secret Service, understandably, wants to ensure the welfare of the President and his family at any price. Consequently, it probably kept its precise plans to ensure that safety secret from the event planners until the last possible moment. However, the Secret Service is also supposed to, albeit somewhat indirectly, protect the national interests of the United States. When there is a conflict between absolute physical security for public officials, and US state interests, one would hope and expect that national interests would be paramount. If we want to ensure that the President is absolutely secure, and we want to leave foreigners and other less than trustworthy persons out of ensuring that security, then the President should not travel.
Now this whole incident sounds like insider baseball, and to an extent it is, but it has done real damage to the interests of the United States. Chile is about the best friend the US has in Latin America. Their government was glad to see our President, and wanted to work closely with him. And now we have just insulted their President, their ruling elite and their security establishment by treating them like doormats in their own house. Those kind of slights are not soon forgotten.

Charles André Marie Joseph deGaulle (1890-1970)

All my life I have cherished a certain idea of France, that is
inspired by feeling as well as by reason. . . My instinct tells me that
providence created her for triumphs and disasters. If, in spite of
this, France behaves in a mediocre fashion, I feel that there has been
an error, due to the mistakes of the French [people] rather than the
character of the nation. The positive side of my mind is convinced that France
is true to herself only when she stands in the first rank; that only great
enterprises can neutralize the ferment of disunity which her people carry in
their veins... France cannot be France for me without grandeur. France is
not France unless she is great...

Charles de Gaulle, War Memoirs (Vol. I, "The Call").

Today is the anniversary of the birth of Charles deGaulle, surely the greatest Frenchman since Napoléon I, one of the true giants of the Second World War, and a poltical figure greatly admired by El Jefe.
Vindicator of the national honour in the darkest hour of modern French history, DeGaulle cannot be easily categorized as liberal or conservative, in the sense that the terms are understood. His basic political outlook is best summed up by the quotation above; the one constant in his military and political life, through two world wars, a depression, and the national trauma of de-colonization -- was that his whole life was at the service of the grandeur, as he understood it, of France.
DeGaulle was always marked out for great things, although when his hour struck, it was in a way he could never have imagined. As a young army officer in the First World War, DeGaulle was providentially spared the fate of so many of his contemporaries, avoiding death in the trenches by being wounded and captured in March 1916. Despite the failure of his five attempts to escape, and a spell in solitary confinement, he turned his captivity to advantage, learning much about his German enemies, and, probably, himself, that would stand him in good stead later.
After the First World War, deGaulle returned to the army, gaining renown as an proponent of armoured warfare. He was an early advocate of a mechanized army similar to that built by the Germans, and had his advice been heeded sooner, perhaps the dreadful collapse of the French armies in May-June 1940, before another German invasion, would not have occurred.
The 1940 collapse, of course, was the hour of both deGaulle (by now a junior member of the French cabinet) and his mentor, Henri Phillippe Pétain. DeGaulle, the tank general/junior government minister, and Marshal Pétain the old World War I hero of Verdun, reacted to the disaster differently. Pétain, nearing senility, was called out of rustication as Ambassador to Spain to lead a defeatist regime that accepted an armistice with Germany and hoped for collaboration with the Third Reich.
However, Pétain's long-time protege, deGaulle, all his life a loyal, conservative, obedient army officer, saw the matter differently, and took it on himself to flout the law, ignore the lawful orders of his superiors and revolt against the legitimate, more or less democratically constituted Pétain government. DeGaulle fled to London and announced his intention to carry on the war for France, despite France, with or without France. On 18 June 1940, deGaulle made "L'Appel" -- the call -- to fight on, from a radio studio in London: "Is our defeat final ? No ! . . . the cause of France is not lost."
In June 1940, the great majority of the French population were tired of the war and wanted peace, at any price. The people supported the Pétain regime and most viewed deGaulle as a dangerous rebel. There is no question whatever that deGaulle's call to fight on was unpopular, and in defiance of public opinion, not to mention illegal.
The audacity of deGaulle's stand is obscured today by the truly towering figure that deGaulle became later. DeGaulle, that day in June, was a political nobody. An undersecretary of state for war in a government that had been legally replaced, a just-promoted Brigadier-General, penniless, in flight from his homeland just ahead of warrants of arrest, deGaulle had no official standing whatever to call for continued resistance. Court-martialed and condemned to death in absentia by the French Army, and ignored by French officialdom, the only assets of deGaulle's France Libre, early on, were his own determination, a few fanatically loyal adherents, and the sometimes uncertain patronage of that other great maverick, Winston Churchill.
By 1944 of course, it was Pétain's pro-German regime that was the farce, and deGaulle's exile provisional government that had the support of the bulk of French public opinion. DeGaulle's public standing increased despite his erstwhile allies Roosevelt and Churchill, who thought to use the France Libre movement for their own purposes and planned to undercut deGaulle by establishing an allied-run occupation regime in liberated France. DeGaulle also had to contend with communist elements in the resistance, who had their own plans for liberated France. All these schemes were scuttled when Paris fell that August, and that city's inhabitants gave deGaulle a tumultuous welcome: his walk down the Champs-Elysées truly one of the finest triumphs any man could ever receive.
The magnitude of this man's achievements cannot be understated. DeGaulle took a ragtag band of penniless rebels and adventurers, and somehow built an army, and made a real government. He accepted the help of America and Britain, but managed to avoid being their stooge. He dodged a take-over, under circumstances made to order for it, by the strongest Communist Party in western Europe. Finally, deGaulle re-established the French Republic and obtained for this beaten, bankrupt, disarmed and humilitated country a seat in the councils of the great powers, and at the peace table. Because of deGaulle, France got a UN veto as good as that of the US or the Soviet Union. All of this was based on little more than force of personality.
Predictably, deGaulle soon fell out with the polticians, and retreated to private life after the war. Recalled to power in 1958, to deal with a political impasse over the revolt in Algeria, deGaulle assumed quasi-dictatorial powers, and ultimately established the Fifth Republic. His constitution governs France today. DeGaulle put down an attempted military coup in 1962, dodged an assassination attempt, and successfully managed France's withdrawal from Algeria. Finally, in that year of chaos, 1968, President deGaulle survived left-wing student and union demonstrations in Paris that threatened to topple the Fifth Republic by calling successfully for a bigger demonstration by France's "silent majority" in his favor. DeGaulle died peacefully at home in 1970. His memoirs are considered a literary masterpiece in both English and French.
DeGaulle's legions of detractors criticise his alleged authoritarian personality, and compare him with his contemporary, the Spanish dictator Franco. This is unfair. Franco's chief concern was always Franco, deGaulle's was always France. But deGaulle was concerned always with France as a nation, as a historical construct, and did not necessarily view the interests of France the nation as identical with those of the current French people. As it turned out, deGaulle's view of the situation was usually right, and 20th Century French and European history largely vindicated him.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Elevator Music

This morning, for about the one-billionth time this month, it occurred to your host, El Jefe Maximo, that people are verrry complicated.

The occasion for this thought was the elevator in El Jefe’s office building. Ever watched your fellow passengers in an elevator ? Of course you have, although it’s Bad Form to be caught doing it, (and like Captain Hook, El Jefe believes that Bad Form must be avoided above all things). However, in the building known by all Right-Thinking-People as the El Jefe Tower, (where, when he is not busy determining the destinies of men and nations, or otherwise making trouble, El Jefe goes for his day job), luck and good interior design are with the covert people-watcher, because the elevators walls are composed of some reflective substance that basically serves as a mirror. So one can observe without seeming to observe…

The Behavioral Scientists and other people who study what makes humans tick say that much if not most human communication is non-verbal. To El Jefe, this is why elevator rides are sometimes interesting. The passengers on an elevator are usually strangers or near-strangers forced into close proximity, and they are constantly communicating even when nothing is verbalized. Like all human activities, there are unwritten protocols for Big Building Elevator Riding. El Jefe guarantees that in some university someplace, there’s a doctorial thesis being written, or which has been written, involving Human Behavior and Interaction in Elevators.

Usually, persons who do not know each other do not converse, verbally at least, much in the mornings, although the rules are more relaxed in the afternoons. Probably the most important rules involve allocation of personal space. Very bad form to stand too close to the other riders. When a new person enters, without anything being said, all passengers carefully reposition. Similarly, when a person exits, the remaining riders adjust positions again. Of course, all of this is blindingly obvious, duh level stuff (these behaviors have been learned since childhood), but never consciously thought of. If human-looking Martians arrived, however, this would all probably drive them wacko.

The most diverting feature of Big Building Elevator Riding is figuring out Who’s Leaving Next. Play this game sometime. Without anything being said, when the elevator is closing in on its next stop, one can always tell who is next to leave. The departing rider almost invariably gives a non-verbal clue: eye movements, a minute shifting of the passenger’s briefcase, coffee cup or newspaper, a hand or head movement, shuffling of a foot, whatever. Of course, there are exceptions, and El Jefe finds such persons, who have superhuman control over their body language, most interesting of all. El Jefe should never like to play poker with them !

El Jefe’s point (and he does have one), is that body language and non-verbal cues very much operate even in something so casual as riding an elevator between floors in a building. How much smarter, more insightful and probably happier we would all be if we knew how to read these clues in other situations.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Rebuilding Fallujah

Caesar’s clemency, as he knew, was familiar to all, and he did not fear that
severer action on his part might seem due to natural cruelty; at the same time
he could not see any successful issue to his plans if more of the enemy in
different districts engaged in designs of this sort
[rebellion]. He
therefore considered that the rest must be deterred by an exemplary punishment;
and so, while granting them their lives, he cut off the hands of all who had
borne arms, to testify the more openly the penalty of

Gaius Julius Caesar, De Bellum Gallico, Book VIII.44.

The United States and Iraqi Governments have announced plans to spend 100 million in US taxpayer dollars to repair damage from the late battle in Fallujah. Presumably, the funds are coming from the $18.4 billion Congress approved for Iraqi war reconstruction.

El Jefe understands the sound military and political reasoning behind spending large sums on needful public works and relief in the context of pacification and quelling insurrection, for the purpose of establishing and supporting a friendly government. Moreover, El Jefe fully supports hefty appropriations, larger even then those currently planned, for same. Nevertheless, El Jefe is of the opinion that spending such sums on Falljuah is worse than a crime, and is in fact a mistake. By all means, spend aid money in Iraq, but, with certain exceptions, not one penny ought to be spent in Falljuah, or anyplace else in the Sunni Triangle. Send the money to places (Shia or Kurdish) where the population is apt to be more grateful.

The avowed intention of the US military authorities and the Iraqi government to spend millions on Fallujah shows that these decision-makers are hopelessly naïve, and that they do not understand the nature of the current rebellion, because they do not take the Sunni Arab rebels seriously.

$100 million dollars on reconstruction of Fallujah is a stupid investment. No sum of money will ever reconcile Sunni Arabs to the overthrow of the Baathist state and the new dispensation in Iraq. The 25-30 percent of the Iraqi population that is Sunni Arab lorded-it over the remaining Shiite, Kurdish and Turkoman Iraqis from independence on. The fall of Saddam is a true disaster to Sunni Arabs, because it means the end of the Sunni monopoly on power, and a new Iraq dominated largely by the 60 percent of the population that is Shiite. From the Sunni Arab point of view, the only way to avoid retribution for 70 years of exploitation of the remainder of the population is by driving out the Americans and strangling the new Iraq in its crib. The Sunnis know full well that if Saddam’s victims consolidate their power, that there will be a reckoning.

Perhaps El Jefe is hard on the Sunnis, and in particular on the good citizens of Fallujah. True, he finds it hard to be kind to people who hacked American contractors to death and burned their bodies for television. Remember also the slaughterhouses for hostages, the bodies of the pro-American Iraqis, and the dead aid workers. Still, El Jefe is not as ruthless as some would be. El Jefe has been reading lots about the Romans lately – a people who knew more about dealing with rebels than Americans could even dream of learning. If the Romans were faced with Fallujah, they’d have killed everybody in the place, burnt it to the ground, leveled the ruins, and sowed the earth with salt. A little harsh for El Jefe, who is more amiable, but I bet that would end the nonsense in the Sunni Triangle.

Take the rebels seriously. They deserve that much. Yes, they are our enemies, and terrorist-bandit-thug murderers, but by their own lights they are patriots too. This war is everything to them, it is about power and existence; literally whether life as they have always known it is to be or not to be. The rebels are not children to be bought off with American aid money. They will gladly accept our cash today and gleefully return to shooting our soldiers and marines tomorrow. The rebels must be broken: that is convinced that their only choices are death or submission.

For now, spend the aid money elsewhere. A few more Fallujahs, and perhaps the Sunni population will get a clue, forget their stupid and murderous rebellion, and began to bargain with the Americans to protect them from the Shiites. Only then can we safely put aside the sword, and show clemency by sharing our food and ploughshares.