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2006 February 22 — Why Now?
On-line Opinion Magazine…OK, it's a blog
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Civil War?

You can read CNN or the BBC about the bombing of the Al-Askariya “Golden Mosque” in Samarra, but Juan Cole recommends Attack deepens Iraq’s divide by Dan Murphy, staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor.

Of course, Professor Cole is the go-to commentator on these events, and Riverbend of Baghdad Burning provides the reaction of an average Iraqi.

When reading about these events it helps to understand that there isn’t a single Islamic religion anymore than there’s a single Christian religion. Wikipedia’s Divisions of Islam is as good as a starting point as anything.

Osama bin Laden is a Wahhabi Sunni and Yemeni Arab born in Saudi Arabia.
The Taliban are Deobandi Sunnis and generally Afghani Pashtuns.
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is a Salafi Sunni and Jordanian Arab.
The Syrian Baathist Party is primarily composed of Alawi Shi’ites.
In Lebanon, Reagan picked a fight with the Druze.

The differences are important. The Salafi don’t accept the Shi’ia as Muslims, and al-Zarqawi is probably behind the bombing.

So, it starts. Shi’ia are starting to expand the attacks on Sunnis that has already been occurring in and around Baghdad as payback for what happened under Saddam. The Kurds are pushing back in the North.

It is well past time for the US to leave, because these people are going to have to work this out for themselves. You can’t act as the peacekeeper in a war you started.

February 22, 2006   Comments Off on Civil War?

Port Whine

First and foremost: port facilities in the United States should be operated by American companies. The ports are points of entry into the country and they should be administered in the same manner as any point of entry.

Property stolen in the United States is exported and illegal substances of all kinds are imported through those ports. People have been, and probably continue to be shipped into the United States in containers.

As Michael says, this shouldn’t be about the fact that this a company owned by an Arab government, it should be about any foreign company operating American points of entry.

We have seen no increase in the security of chemical facilities, nuclear facilities, or ports since 9/11. It just hasn’t happened. There has been no real increase in the capabilities of first responders or border security despite massive funding increases.

The Coast Guard hasn’t been strengthened, Customs is no better, and we all know about the weaknesses in the Border Patrol. Appointing friends, Julie Myers, to important positions in the Department of Homeland Security, the head of Immigration Customs and Enforcement, does not show a serious attitude on the part of this administration.

Let’s ignore the ties to the UAE of Neil and Marvin Bush. Let’s ignore the money that the Secretary of the Treasury, John Snow, made when his old company, CSX, was bought by the UAE company. Let’s ignore the appointment by this administration of the head of the company’s European and Latin American operations, David Sanborn, to head the US Maritime Administration. Let’s ignore the hit on Osama bin Laden that was called off because it could have resulted in wounding or killing a significant number of the members of the ruling families of UAE.

Let’s just ignore all of those issues and focus on one thing: does this improve the security of American ports? I’m not interested in when whether ports are less secure or just as secure, I want them more secure. I can’t see how this can be viewed as an increase in port security.

I would note that many of the officials who were supposed to be on the panel that reviewed this, now claim to be unaware of the approval. Since the board and its meetings are secret, no one can tell us who approved it.

When I heard today that my Congresscritter, Jeff Miller [R-FL(1)], has been deluged by calls and e-mails opposing this action, including from the Kiwanas [what’s with that?], I knew that Bush has lost his base, because the first district of Florida is his rabid base.

February 22, 2006   Comments Off on Port Whine