Monday, January 15, 2007

Back to the States after an untimely delay and stay in the hopital in Guatemala City. No, no gun shots (although I did seek out MS-13...) but a pretty nasty infection. Anyway, to celebrate the New Year, here's my good friend Jamie's (no, not me) first post at The Plank. Congrats.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

I'll be back after a short trip to Guatemala. Happy New Years!

Friday, December 29, 2006

What this war in Somalia has reminded us, if nothing else, is that the doctrine of jihad is alive and well far outside of the Arab world and the 'Stans. Here for interesting information on the mostly forgotten, but increasingly nasty, jihad in Thailand.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

I'm a bit behind when it comes to bling culture, but my limited research indicates that rappers have moved from bragging about their cars to bragging about their planes. Am I mistaken? What's next? Spaceships?

"I say I got a benz so you said me too
You hangin out the window so they can see you
But you ain't hangin out the window when you in that G2
Or that G3 or G4 like we do"

- Clipse

Also, isn't it a bad idea to stick your head out the window of an airplane?
Some interesting stories of the week that Ford's death has covered up in the media...

1. Hamas threatens to attack the U.S. (!)

2. Ahmadinejad wries a letter to the Pope. (!) I think someone should collect these letters and publish them in comic book format...

3. Prince Harry is on his way to Iraq. (!)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Great Christmas Present

This would have been a good one: a US Army skateboard. Real hip.

Monday, December 25, 2006


The NRA's comic book.
So you don't mistake Machiavelli's thoughts for my own, here are two touching pieces on the lives of ordinary Iraqis caught up in this war. I would also recommend checking out some of the very good blogs out there written by Iraqis. For now, here and here.

Machiavelli and the Kagans

Merry Christmas!

A thought I had while struggling through last night (I just had surgery on my left shoulder and spend my time either in great pain or delirious on painkillers): it seems to me that the Kagans' (father and son Fred) mission vis a vis this war has been to revitalize Machiavelli's distinction between the feared and the hated prince: the ruler must strive to be feared, but avoid being hated at all costs--a fine line to walk. Our refusal to make this distinction, however, has left us with a completely ineffectual security policy for Iraq: we are so afraid of being hated that we cannot effectively convince the insurgents we are adequately powerful and committed to destroy them. We need a bigger footprint in Iraq exactly to do so, while at the same time providing the necessary infrastructure and services to keep us from being despised.

I'm not attributing these thoughts directly to the Kagans, but in my percocet-induced haze last night this Machiavelli-model came to mind as a useful way to think about how they've seen this war from the beginning.

Sunday, December 24, 2006


Those pushing the idea of Somalia as the new Afghanistan are failing to take into account two important facts: first, the UIC's stated ambivalence to the ends of Al Qaeda and second, the Ethiopia factor: Ethiopia simply will not allow a full-blown Islamist state to emerge on its eastern border. With that said, I believe this war with Ethiopia, if the UIC emerges alive, will be enough to fully radicalize it into a Taliban-style faction, particularly if the U.S. openly supports Ethiopia. Indeed, it will be interesting to see how much this war, which is developing as I write, will become the new jihad of vogue, with foreign fighters streaming in to help the embattled Somalis. While Bin Laden did recently include Darfur on his list of sites of interest to the global jihadist, Al Qaeda--as far as I'm aware--hasn't had much of a presence in East Africa since Bin Laden's exile fronm Sudan in 1996. But if Bin Laden does help the UIC fight Ethiopia, it's likely that Al Qaeda will be granted some degree of operational freedom and security within Somalia in the years to come. Even more interesting, as I've commented in this space before, the UIC has been sending men to Lebanon to be trained by Hezbollah. The secular government at Baidoa obviously needs our support, but the extent to which this translates into outright support for Ethiopia must be carefully considered. If we do support Ethiopia (I don't think we have a choice) we must do so subtly. At best, this scenario promises an extremely bloody and nasty regional war in the Horn of Africa. At worst, it promises an extremely bloody and nasty regional war in the Horn of Africa with an isolated, bitter, and devastated Islamist Somalia emerging out of its ashes, mindful of how the U.S. helped contribute to its destruction.