Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Good Week that Ends a Bad Year

For the first time in what feels like ages there is finally some good news for the forces of good in the world. Yes, each of these four events requires follow up and will produce ample cause to worry in the future. Nevertheless, we’ve been moving backwards for so long (since April 2004 I’d say) that it feels like a major cause of celebration just to see us going in the right direction again, regardless of how limited that shift may in fact be. Sort of like the United States after Antietam and Guadalcanal, or the British after El Alamein and Mafeking (throw a rare one in for you). The four pieces of news are:

Saddam’s execution. This finally closes a dark chapter in Iraqi, Arab, and world history. No longer can the Sunnis hope and the Shiites/Kurds fear that the Democrats will reinstall Saddam "to make Iraq a better place to live". This has an unknown level of practicality since we have no idea if or how the Iraqi people will react to the releasing of Saddam's ever present grip on their lives. Nonetheless it is a moral victory that will at least remind the other brutal tyrants of the region that it can happen to them (even though we’ve given them every reason not to fear it).

Somalia. The
Ethiopian military has thoroughly defeated the Islamic Courts Union in only a week’s time (I do declare they deserve a fourth cheer). Ethiopia has reminded us what a professional military can do to Islamist rabble militias when it is fully unleashed. Hopefully Washington and Jerusalem were watching and took notes. Whichever rotten government takes hold in Somalia next now knows not to work with the Islamists, unless they desire the same fate. Ethiopia has also placed itself in a postion to heavily influence the next government in the right direction since it owes its existence to Ethiopia. If Ethiopia takes advantage of this they can further teach the US and Israel the art of power politics we've forgotten.

Iran. According to The Wall Street Journal, Washington is beginning a campaign to push for tough non-UN economic sanctions on Iran. This follows the UN imposing a series of wrist slapping sanctions on Iran itself. I’m not sure why this new sanctions push would be any more successful than the last ones, but Washington is doing something for a change even if it is pathetically tiny. I shutter to think that I would consider this good news, but the Iran crises is being managed so badly by Washington that I’ll take what I can get these days.

Japan. This news story states that Japan recently researched the steps needed to develop nuclear weapons. If true this would mean Japan is finally throwing off the last vestiges of post-World War II de-normalization. A normal Japan is one of the most, if not the most, important requirements for a stable free world in the 21st Century (old post about it). The sooner they become “normal” the better, and from the looks of it we may not have long to wait. If confirmed and followed up on this would qualify as the best news of the year, but being unconfirmed it'll have to go at the bottom of the best news of the last week of 2006, one of its few good weeks.


  1. Good riddance to bad rubbish I say on Saddam. Thats great news to hear about Ethiopia, someone out there will still take the fight the terrorists. I've given up on Iran though the story about Japan is interesting. All the money we've spent protecting them and buying their cars so they can put Ford and GM out of business its about time they do something to help us.

  2. Thanks to both for the comments. I agree on everything except Ford and GM there Phil. They brought most of their problems upon themselves by, amongst many other things, not breaking their unions and only profitably producing SUV's and trucks. Anyhow, that's a story that would deserve its own post. Thanks Orhan, glad to ehar you like the blog.

  3. First, about the Saddam execution, do you really think other brutal tyrants of the region think this can happen to them? Haven’t we given them enough of a reason to not fear it, at least with our present political leadership?

    I’m just curious about why you think the next government that takes hold in Somalia will be rotten? If Ethiopia will be able to heavily influence it might it become a democracy or close to it? I’m curious, what government do you think will develop here? This is an interesting topic and I hope you continue to follow it and keep us updated on it.

    Do you know what these new sanctions on Iran might be? Are they really “tough”, or are they going to be more of a waste of time for us and more time for Iran to increase it’s power and hold over the world?

    I wonder if any of the rest of the world has a problem with Japan developing nuclear weapons. Also, does Japan’s Constitution allow for them to develop nuclear weapons? I know they have a strict policy against it since nuclear weapons were used against them, but it is unconstitutional for them? If so, is their amendment process complicated?

    Anyway, this has become a very long comment. I didn’t expect it to be so long. Good post as always. I do happen to think this year has been a pretty good year besides the not so great political and news worthy events that have happened. I hope your year otherwise was as good. By the way, have a happy New Year, and I hope you spend it with someone you love!

  4. Cool a long comment, thanks again.

    On Saddam, yeah the other tyrants don't have much cause to fear a repeat of Saddam's demise. However, they have seen that it can happen. Not useful at the moment, maybe it will be again in the future.

    I don't know enough about Somalia's political situation to have much of an idea about what to expect next. As far as I know Somalia is a loose clan based country that we were trying to organize into some sort of tribal confederacy. Whatever government comes next will in some way represent that so there's not much hope for good government, just not an Islamist government. Ethiopia's role would be to back the decent clans and remind the others what opposition to the new government means.

    The Wall Street Journal said they would be some sort of economic embargo of Iran by countries that trade with it (i.e. Europe). If done it would quickly collapse what economy the Iranians have and would force Ahmadinejad to make one of two moves, start the war as the aggressor or be overthrown (or give up the nuclear weapons but that isn't happening).

    I'm not sure if Japan has an explicit constitutional ban against nuclear weapons or if it falls under the general ban against offensive weapons. Japan has until now simply ignored that ban when they needed to (almost every weapon is basically "offensive"). If it needs to be changed it would be done with a vote in the Diet and then by the people. The Diet wouldn't be an issue since the ruling LDP has more than enough to get it through, I'm not sure about the Japanese people. That anyone in power in Japan sees the need for nuclear weapons is what's important, it will trickle down to the populace with time and if not there are ways around them I'm sure.

    As for the rest of the world, China in particular would oppose Japanese nuclear weapons, for the very reason Japan needs them (they limit China's power and influence in East Asia). The rest of East Asia will publicly denounce Japan but privately welcome the limiting effect on China. Iran and the left in the West will definitely use it as an argument for allowing everyone in the world to go nuclear, as always ignoring the terrible impact of their ideas and the reasons some countries can have nukes and others can't. Again, it’s not so much that Japan will or won't get nukes soon that's important, it's that Japan has moved far enough along in normalization that they are even considering ending the no-nuke policy. Most importantly is what other limiters they will get away with, small military, no power projection, small role on the world stage, etc.

    Thanks again and Happy New Years.