Sunday, January 30, 2005



I write this on the eve of the elections in Iraq. Unlike, many in the media, and I must say many of my friends, I’ve held the view that the elections will not end up the ‘disaster’ anticipated.

I only have a hunch, and I could be proved wrong, but I doubt it – I have too much faith in the common decency of the Iraq people and their inherent and obvious desire to make the quantum jump to representative democracy. It’s heartening to learn that 13 million people have registered for the election. Go guys.

While the elections serve to elect an effective representative body that will then go to work to develop constitutional and governance frameworks, it’s an important key step in the democratization project. Best of luck to Iraq. Let’s hope that it’s peaceful and orderly, and the Iraq people are allowed the decency to determine how they want to be governed and not lectured to via the indiscriminate targeting of car bombs and suicide bombings.

Henry Kissinger and George Shultz jointly co-wrote an article commenting on the Coalitions’ position in Iraq titled: “Don't rush the exit plan”.,5744,12070796%5E7583,00.html

The article covers a number of important themes and issues, including the relatively new concern about the potential for a civil war, primarily between the minority Sunnis and the majority Shia’s.

Kissinger and Shultz state that: “A pluralistic Shiva-led society would indeed be a happy outcome. But we must take care not to base policy on the wish becoming the father of the thought. If a democratic process is to unify Iraq peacefully, a great deal depends on how the Shiva majority defines majority rule. So far the subtle Shiva leaders, hardened by having survived decades of Saddam's tyranny, have taken pains not to clarify their goals.”

Certainly all parties to the elections are using it for internal political purposes. The Shias, in the main, and looking forward to the elections in order to maximize their voter turnout to translate into directly held seats in the new assembly. The Sunnis, ravaged by the ‘insurgents’ are traumatized into staying away. The Kurds – why are they so quiet. I guess they may be viewing their own status as at least an autonomous impendent region of a federally structured Iraq.

But at least, the battle that must come in the reallotment of political power – from Sunni to Kurd and Shia – is best placed to occur through a ballot box, and not the gun.

Is a civil war otherwise likely in Iraq. Its certainly appears to the best bet laid by the usual suspect of journalists. But I take the view, that the mainstream media are running this line because at the end of the day they 1. don’t really know enough about the subject, and 2. fear sells papers, and advertising space on commercial television.

But the real issue is that ultimately, Iraq in civil war is in no one’s interest: not Iran’s, Syria’s’, certainly not Jordan’s, the Saudi’s nor the Kuwaitis. Imagine the size of the political black hole that it would create. However, rather than being a negative, it way be a positive for the West. Imagine, as per know, Al-Qaeda sucked into Iraq participating in an enduring civil war, leaving the West relatively free from their tentacles! It sounds harsh I know, but the West would strategically be better off if this was the case, even with the relative threat to oil supplies. To preserve their geographic integrity the Saudi’s and the Kuwaitis would reinforce their own internal anti-Al Qaeda campaigns flushing out the threat, leaving oil supplies relatively secure.

The cost of the US’s participation in IRAQ and Afghanistan is set to fiscally escalate, with the US President set to ask Congress for an extra $80bUSD. See

The Sydney Morning Herald writes that: “If approved by Congress, the cost of the wars in Iraq - in which the bulk of the money has been spent - and Afghanistan, will exceed $US300 billion ($A390 billion) so far and more than $US100 billion for 2005. Congress agreed to another $US25 billion in new funding late last year. Administration officials said they seriously underestimated the cost of the Iraq war, which is now about half the cost in today's dollars of the decade-long Vietnam War.”

This additional outlay, will add minor, but nonetheless additional pressure to the US Government’s debt levels.

MMMM!: Did he really read it?
An interesting article in Slate, about a book that GW has claimed to be an important analysis of Middle East foreign affairs. The article goes on to prove (I have not read the book) that the book in question, The Case for Democracy by Natan Sharansky's book, is quite critical of the US President’s position. See the article for further details. If the analysis is correct, which I don’t doubt, the counter argument needs to be presented by GW (or his staffers/advisers) what was in the book that warranted a Presidential recommendation. I’m sure there must be something, or things!!!

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has updated its travel advice for the UK, urging Australian tourists to be alert to suspicious activities. Be alert in other words.

I’ve been to London many times for work and personal, and lived there for a year in 1991-1992, when the IRA were running about the place bombing military strategic targets like shopping centres and tube stations. But have DFAT gone overboard a little bit. The advice goes on to state: "Police have warned the public to be vigilant at cinemas, theatres, pubs and nightclubs and on all types of public transport, including the London Underground system and buses…Australians in the United Kingdom are advised to be alert to their own security… As you would in Australia, use common sense and be alert to suspicious activities."

Sensible stuff mum!

Bugger, where’s that fridge magnet when you need it. (For non-Australians email me for the punch line to this joke!) J

*From the Flock of Seagulls pop song.

Well IRAN continues to play silly buggers with the world, over its nuclear activities. What I don’t understand is that IRAN is only a bit better than a LDC – less developed country, sitting next door to the world’s largest oil reserves in the world. Why go nuclear guys???? Surely, its not just about legitimate use of the energy source for peaceful means. If it is, why so secret guys, why play the Europeans so tactically craftily? Where there is smoke there is fire – nuclear fire!!!

Any where are all the nuclear disbarment peaceniks from yesteryear – why aren’t they camped outside the embassies of Iran. Sorry, I forgot, it’s not politically correct to protest a third world, fascist regime, seeking to arm itself with thermonuclear weapons. After all, given that they are a third world, fascist regime, they wouldn’t listen.

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