Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Well, my lovely wife calmed me down a bit last night, so I'm not feeling as frustrated with things as I had been. So that's a good thing. For today, I wanted to bring attention to two stories that I find interesting and important.

British Terror Arrests

England is a quiant little country full of tradition, history, and..well...incompetence. As anyone who saw In the Name of the Father knows, the Brits don't exactly have the best reputation when it comes to arresting terror suspects that actually committed or planned terrorism. The latest news was fairly shocking, but now that the dust is settling, I've been wondering just how real the "threat" was.

Today, I have found a bit of an answer. Former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray has made some very interesting and compelling observations. I'll highlight two.

First, not all of the suspects had passports. I'll repeat, not all of the suspects had passports. How can we possibly believe the "test run" theory if they didn't have passports? It's fairly difficult to fly internationally without one and it's pretty difficult to procure one in a short time frame. So this latest development seems to cast doubt on the whole idea that an imminent attack was likely.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, is the issue of "outsourcing torture". By all accounts, the "inside" details of the terrorist plot came from Pakistan. The police there acquired this information by "interrogating" suspects - i.e. torturing them. The reliability of tortue induced confessions is extremely low and, shockingly, after a year of investigation and surviellance in the UK, the British authorities knew nothing of this alleged plot until told by the Pakistani authorities.

I'm not saying this won't go anywhere or that there wasn't due cause to arrest these folks. But given the post 9/11 arrest history (still no terror based convinctions by either the US or the UK), one has to wonder. Just how much credibility does either country have when they announce "terror arrests"?

Israel's Blank Check aka Test Case for Iran

I've been thinking a bit about this and it seemed like a good theory. Well, yesterday, theory became fact:

Israel asked the US for permission to invade Lebanon last summer and the US green-lighted it because they saw the exercise as a valuable test case for operations in Iran.

As reported in the New Yorker, Isreali officials have long desired to go back into southern Lebanon. After their withdrawl in 2000, Hezbollah only increased their capabilities, their professionalism, and their armaments. This was a legitimate thread to Israeli national security and they had a legitimate interest in acting to end the continual onslaught of terrorist activities. That much is clear.

Now, however, it seems certain that Israel was planning on this action long before the incident on July 12th. This was a plan they vetted to Dick Cheney and his support staff earlier in the summer. What is also clear is that Bush wanted to go after Hezbollah for quite some time and that it was quite easy for them to approve the plan. Better to have Israel do the dirty work than an overstretched US military.

What is surprising, however, is that the Bush administration still wants to go into Iran after the debacle that is Iraq. I guess it shouldn't suprise me too much given how myopic our President is, but the idea that going into Iran, guns blazing, could somehow lead to success greater than we've seen in Iraq just seems farcical at best, clear insanity at worst.

Iran is definitely a problem. They fund terrorism (Hezbollah, for example), they're developing nuclear capability, and they're a country hostile to US interests. We definitely need an Iran strategy that is effective and can generate results.

However, that doesn't mean that the only option on the table is military action. For some reason, this administration seems to only believe in brute force as a means of action. Perhaps opening diplomatic channels and talking directly to the Iraninan government (instead of through intermediaries that have their own agendas) would be a start. Maybe in '08.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you still not believe?

12:26 PM  

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