Let's settle this the old-fashioned way. I'm a callin' you out, you no-good, good for nothing snake-charmin' so and so.
At home, we had balloons, a little birthday cake with a big "5" candle and five little ones, and a few family presents. He blew out the candles with a shy smile and opened his presents with enthusiasm. His birthday take included a real Transformer, two toy guns that shoot foam balls, a basketball, a 100-piece puzzle, and mini-basketball and hoop for his room.
His birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese's is today. This will be his first birthday party with school friends. Personally, I find Chuck E. Cheese birthday parties way too noisy, but for a five-year-old boy, it's perfect.
He's been happy all weekend -- almost giddy -- and we, his family, are happy with him.
I cannot help but give thanks to the Archer every day.
Along similar lines, I commend to you Tempus Fuggeddaboutit.
Note: The following is a guest post by DemocracyRules.
Mainstream Muslims proclaim this to be true. It is a central part of Islamic belief that Allah is responsible for all the holy books of the Jews, the Christians and the Muslims. They state that Allah is God (Yahweh), and God (Yahweh) is Allah. I am not strongly religious, but I have a serious problem with this idea. As the years unfold after 9/11, we all learn more and more about Islam, and Islamists. I’m sorry, there is no way that I can believe that the ‘Allah’ who is supposed to bless Muslims as they slowly saw the heads off Christians, Jews, and others, is God. Nope, no-way, no-how.
“But,” you may say, “those are the Islamists talking, they do not represent the mainstream Muslim, and Allah is a god of peace.”
I’m sorry, I don’t buy that either, not for a minute. If Allah wrote the Koran, then he certainly is not the Christian God I learned about in Sunday School. The Koran is not only full of hate, and murder, and war against Jews and Christians, but it also is full of statements and stories which directly violate the Ten Commandments. Nowhere, in any Bible that I have ever seen, does it say, ‘BEHEAD ALL THOSE WHO OPPOSE ISLAM’.
ISLAM IS MOON WORSHIP
UNTIL Mohamed, most Middle Eastern peoples (except Jews and Christians) worshiped multiple deities, with disagreement over who was the highest god, or “Allah”. For at least 5000 years, the moon god was usually the “Allah”. Mohamed appears to have adapted this by eliminating all gods but the moon god, named it Allah, and asserted himself as His messenger. There seems to be no better explanation of why Islam displays the half-moon on mosques, flags, and myriad other places.
Most Muslim scholars acknowledge that the Koran is based on Bedouin values and culture. Mohamed said Islam descended from Judaism, and Christianity, and claimed these religions as a subset of Islam, but nothing actually proves this, or explains the huge discrepancies between the ideas about God and Allah. A fair comparison of the values, directives, teachings, and goals of Allah (as interpreted by Mohamed and his Bedouin disciples) seem to have very little to do with the God of the Old and New Testaments.
The Koran mainly concerns rules of conduct in tribal life in war and peace. Many troubling parts of the Koran advocate hate, murder, and revenge, particularly regarding the subjugation and/or genocide of other cultures, especially Jews and Christians. The golden rule, the heart of the other major religions, is not emphasized. Islam was spread almost entirely by war, and incredibly, Islamists actually seek to impose Bedouin culture on the West.
ISLAM VERSUS DEMOCRACY
Democracy consists of : (1) The people are governed by representatives who are elected by fair and frequent elections, with the President and Prime minister also elected, (2) Written laws which can be changed by elected representatives, (3) A final secular “Basic Law” (Constitution), on which all other laws are based, and it usually has a “Bill of Rights”, describing the essential rights and freedoms of all citizens, (4) Judges who ensure that the secular laws are applied fairly, and these judges are appointed or elected, and no politician can fire them, (5) A separation of Religion and Politics, so that neither can interfere with each other. Islam is against all five.
DEMOCRACIES have a right to insist that their citizens do not promulgate antisemitism or other hate. Islam needs to rethink how it will integrate itself into democracies. Other religions are constantly remaking and re-interpreting themselves, and so must Islam. I would like them to start by acknowledging that Allah is not God (Yahweh). If they don’t do it, Christians and Jews are certainly entitled to do it for them.
Note: The following is a guest post by DemocracyRules.
How Do We Stop Them and What If We Don’t?
This posting follows my previous one of “HOW TO STOP IRAN”
In Part 1, I asked, Do They Have the Motivation, the Means, and the Opportunity, to use nuclear weapons on other countries? I concluded that the best evidence shows they have the motivation and are developing the means. Ahmadinejad is constantly talking about it. At its simplest, the means would consist of (1) sufficient Highly Enriched Uranium, (HEU, 84% or better Uranium-235) (Iran has stockpiled 250 tons of the uranium gas needed to make HEU), (2) a gun-type mechanism to explode the HEU, and (3) some type of delivery device to detonate the bomb in a populated area. All these components would have to be quite reliable.
The obvious opportunity target would be Tel Aviv, Israel. It is a large city, a commercial center, accessible by several routes, including the sea. The bomb would kill at least hundreds of thousands of Israelis, and profoundly disrupt or disable the country. Jerusalem would be spared.
The most reliable time-line that I have been able to locate is from the Israeli Defence Forces, who estimate that Iran will have a weapon ready by 2010, three years from now. They do not specify the status of the delivery mechanism, and this is hard to estimate. A Tel-Aviv bomb could probably be transported into the sea-front by boat. Thus we have time, but not a lot of time to stop Iran.
As I pointed out in my previous post, Iran’s plan has a serious problem with the consequences of retaliation from Israel. If I was Iran, I would arrange for Al Qaida to take responsibility for the bomb, to confuse Israel and the International community. In any case, I have discounted the complexities of the retaliation from my reasoning here, because Iran is obviously not displaying good consequential thinking on most of their international initiatives. I conclude that obliterating even part of Israel is such an attractive prospect that Iran will proceed as soon as they can, irrespective of any retaliation.
Stopping Iran will require either non-violent means, or violent means.
This includes diplomacy, negotiations, incentives, sanctions, containment, embargoes, blockades, espionage/sabotage, and fomenting internal revolution. These should not be construed as peaceful methods. They are not primarily violent, but any of them could trigger violent responses from Iran. Blockades and sabotage are the most risky.
Many others have discussed these options at length. My attention focuses on the options that remain viable within the three year time window that’s left. Most of the non-violent options are now unworkable because of the limited time remaining. Diplomacy, negotiations, incentives, sanctions, and containment are long-term projects, and have all been tried with ingenious and unrelenting vigor. With ten more years they might work, but we probably don’t have that long.
This leaves embargoes, blockades, espionage/sabotage, and fomenting internal revolution. Embargoes cannot directly stop the progress to nuclear weapons, and could slow, but not stop the Iranian economy. Blockades mean the physical interdiction of ships and other export/import traffic. This would likely lead to violent confrontations, primarily in the Persian Gulf, and they are not likely to bring Iran to its knees within the next three years. Espionage and sabotage are not specific enough, and fomenting internal revolution would take too long, and produce uncertain outcomes.
One of the most surprising events is the continued strong commercial ties Iran retains with many businesses based in the liberal democracies. Daimler-Benz, Shell, and many more companies continue their robust business relationships with Iran. An immediate and complete cessation of these activities would help, but the liberal democracies involved in this are unwilling to stop this trade. By now it is probably too late anyway. We can blame the companies and countries later, but that’s not a very satisfying option.
Most people hate thinking about this, but given the problems with nonviolent options, we can expect more discussion of it in the next 36 months. Since Israel is the most threatened by Iran, we can expect that violent events will be either initiated by, or strongly influenced by Israel. The War on Terror allies can be relied upon to dither, digress, and disagree, but Israel will act sometime after January, 2008. Israel confronts a clear and present existential threat in the near future. The triggering event will probably be the assessment that Iran has exceeded the uranium enrichment target of 4% U-235 that is needed for reactor-grade HEU. When Iran broaches that level, it will be reasonably clear that they are going for 84% pure U-235, bomb-grade HEU.
This means that Condi, George Bush, the UN, the EU, Russia, and China, have about one year left to produce results by non-violent means.
There are many potentially effective methods to stop Iran by violent means. These include, among many others, bombing Iran’s only gasoline refinery, seizing Iran’s southern oil fields, or bombing Iranian leaders’ homes and hiding places in a lightning attack. None of these are likely to be done, because they would not be decisive. Liberal democracies strongly rely on dichotomous decision-making regarding war. They invariably try non-violent methods first, and cling to them vainly beyond all reasonable hope of success. They delay war until it’s absolutely necessary. At that point, half-measures of warfare are not feasible, because they do not solve the problem quickly enough.
This leaves us with one simple idea, which will be very complicated to carry out successfully. Israel will bomb the Iranian HEU production sites (mainly Nantez and Isfahan). Paradoxically, nuclear reactors are probably not on the list of essential targets. As I discussed last time, Iran is using centrifuges to make HEU, and reactors are not needed. Iran seems to have slowed their work on reactors.
In the last several years, Israel has been acquiring and developing the capability to conduct aerial bombings of Iranian HEU facilities. They are still working on the details. Most of Iran’s HEU facilities are concealed and/or buried, and the attack will probably require boots on the ground, at least by special forces. We can expect the use of bunker-buster bombs, which may be able to destroy some targets, if successive bombs are dropped repeatedly on exactly the same spots. We can also expect the use of hyperbaric (pressure-wave) bombs in and around Iranian military facilities.
Israel will probably also go for 'regime decapitation' (killing the leaders), given their good success with this strategy against Palestinian terrorists. This will probably involve GPS bombs and commando raids on leaders’ houses and hiding places.
If Israel is not satisfied that they have solved the problem at that point they may use EMF (Electro-Magnetic Force) weapons in and around Iranian military and nuclear facilities. These are a type of nuclear weapon, but are primarily designed to destroy electrical and electronic systems of every type, to disable an enemy. They are designed to minimize lethality for civilians, but hundreds or thousands of civilian casualties could still occur.
If Israel has to, they will use full nuclear weapons. As they have said many times, they would rather be alive, and hated by other nations, than loved, but dead.
Looking for Opportunity
In conflict planning, one thing often overlooked is the use of unexpected opportunity. In international relations, as in life, it is statistically certain that unexpected things will occur. Iran’s oligarchy could fall in a democratic revolution, the Mullahs could all die of flu, the US or its allies could develop new weapons to neutralize Iran. Since 9/11, the allies have capitalized on many serendipitous events. The neutralization of Libya, the democratization of Lebanon, catching the shoe bomber, the Canadian 17, the shampoo bombers, the Fort Dix Six, and killing the head of the Taliban military, this is just a short list of things we have turned to our advantage.
It is reasonable to expect that opportunities will present themselves regarding the Iran situation. By definition we cannot rely upon the unexpected, but we can look carefully for opportunities. The luckiest outcome will be if the Iranians turn out to be incompetent bomb-builders, and are unable to construct a usable nuclear weapon.
What If We Don’t Stop Iran?
What if Iran gets nuclear weapons before we are able to stop them? I have no idea what the allies will do, or should do. I have yet to see anyone propose a peaceful resolution to such an event. No one seems to know. Some claim that a nuclear Iran will not pose a risk, but that seems a fabulous fiction. It is precisely the absence of ideas which argues most strongly why such an outcome needs to be prevented. Every person in every liberal democracy should ask themselves the question: If we don’t stop Iran, what will we do?
More commentary on the box.net 'virtual hard-drive':
I cannot believe it! The alternative of increasing our military commitment in order to win the Iraq war decisively receives a grand total of one paragraph of attention in the Iraq Study Group's report. And here is the full text of that one paragraph:
Sustained increases in U.S. troop levels would not solve the fundamental cause of violence in Iraq, which is the absence of national reconciliation. A senior American general told us that adding U.S. troops might temporarily help limit violence in a highly localized area. However, past experience indicates that the violence would simply rekindle as soon as U.S. forces are moved to another area. As another American general told us, if the Iraqi government does not make political progress, “all the troops in the world will not provide security.” Meanwhile, America’s military capacity is stretched thin: we do not have the troops or equipment to make a substantial, sustained increase in our troop presence. Increased deployments to Iraq would also necessarily hamper our ability to provide adequate resources for our efforts in Afghanistan or respond to crises around the world.
This is the best the Iraq Study Group could come up with? As a college term paper, this would be pathetic. On this key point, there is not even a single source quoted on the record.
If we are going to allow our national policy to rise or fall on rejection of policy options that have received a few sentences of off-the-cuff consideration, we are in deeper trouble than I thought.
Not even discussed, as far as I can see, is the alternative of adding more military weaponry and might -- not just "troops" -- to the equation. This is the one thing we haven't really tried, as John Podhoretz pointed out yesterday in the New York Post.
What does it mean to say that no military solution will work unless Iraq finds "national reconcilliation" and has "political progress?" Iraq's problem is not lack of political progress -- it set up a government and elected representatives in a fair and open elections. Iraq's problem is that it is been attacked violently by terrorists who could not care less what the elections achieved. Iraq is being undermined not by lack of dialogue, but with IEDs and car bombs and rifles and swords. That is a terrorism problem and a military problem, and it has to be solved militarily. If America, with all of its massive military resources can't solve that military problem, how does it expect Iraq to do so by itself?
The single paragraph of the Iraq Study Group report that rejects the military option boils down to this: We have not yet committed enough resources to winning the Iraq war and to defending ourselves in general. That is why we are "stretched thin." That is why if we win in one place we can't prevent a resurgence in another. We have committed a lot or money and resources -- yes, we have -- but we have not committed what it takes to win.
It's as if the Iraq Study Group approached its task with the notion that all military options are off the table. The only logical option then, is to cut and run -- slowly, accompanied by a lot of empty talk with thugs and tyrants in the region, including the literally murderous regimes in Iran and Syria, to make ourselves feel better about our surrender.
If you need a reminder of why America must win, read the latest from Iran's madman president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (via Little Green Footballs):
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has warned Western leaders to follow the path of God [ed. Allah] or “vanish from the face of the earth”.
“These oppressive countries are angry with us ... a nation that on the other side of the globe has risen up and proved the shallowness of their power,” Ahmadinejad said in a speech in the northern town of Ramsar, the semi-official news agency Mehr reported Wednesday.
“They are angry with our nation. But we tell them ‘so be it and die from this anger’. Rest assured that if you do not respond to the divine call, you will die soon and vanish from the face of the earth,” he said.
The outspoken president also maintained Iran’s defiance over its controversial nuclear programme, saying it was on course to fully master nuclear technology.
“Thank to God’s help, we have gone all the way and are only one step away from the zenith. We hope to have the big nuclear celebration by the end of the year (March 2007),” Ahmadinejad said, echoing comments he has made on numerous occasions in recent months.
On further reflection, here is the actual Iraq Study Group report, boiled down to its essence:
Ace of Spades has more reaction (language warning) ("Baker Group: We Must Give More To Iran In Return For Its Complete Defeat Of US"). Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters analyzes the ISG report in more detail -- and finds it sorely lacking -- here ("It's Still Bad, Especially for Israel") and here ("These Are the Realists?")