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Random shots into the air...

Given the news about the earthquake in New Zealand, I'm happy to report the Castle's pet Kiwi, Murray, is fine.  However, he does wish us to pull some strings to get a Carrier Task Group out their way.  After all, we send one for all the other disasters in the Pacific, why shouldn't Murray get one?

Two - again in the news are the reports that Qaddafi is exercising the Maoist precept that power comes from the end of a gun, and it helps to have an Air Force, too.  National Review has several commentators arguing that we should establish a "No-Fly Zone" over Libya.  There are also commentators suggesting that if you do that, but don't shut down the ground fighting, you're just setting yourself up for failure.

Clearly, we're not going to be invading anything anytime soon.

What are your thoughts in injecting ourselves into a civil war?  You might have sussed my thoughts on the topic by my choice of words.

Sometimes, the fires are just so large (as in the virtual entirety of central and eastern North Africa) that the best option available is to just sit back and let it burn itself out.  No, we may well not like what emerges - but I'm pretty sure we don't have what it takes to shape that outcome outside of diplomacy.

It's going to be a very interesting decade, in that chinese curse sort of way.


Good to hear on Murray. Was first person I thought of when I saw the news come across my phone last night
We just HAD an interesting decade.  Hell, aside from our little vacation from history in the 90s, when hasn't a decade been interesting?

(And the more I read, the more I think if we had been more interested in certain areas in the 90s, the last decade might have been a good bit less interesting.)
Good news about Murray; not so good about the rest of the post. Realisticly there's no overt action we can take that wouldn't probably backfire on us. There is so much anti-American feeling in that part of the world that we would only reinforce it with any action.

Democracy, in and of itself, is not necessarily a pure good. The population's ethics and morals may be such that a vote to go to war would just end up no different than having a dictator ordering an attack on a neighboring country.
Heartless - perhaps true, the question now being... can we *afford* (almost literally) to be really interested in those areas this time around?
As much as I would like to ignore the entire Arab world, and let them all kill each other without our intervention, they seem to have an abundance of oil there that we are addicted to.

Therefore we must pay attention, and do what we can (diplomatically) to shape events, or rather markets, in that region to support our addiction.

Interesting times indeed, and not in a good way.

Anyone else remember back when Bush wanted to step up US oil production and every one objected saying it would take ten years before it did any good?  Looks like a lot better idea now, but we blew our opportunity.  Thank you, liberals for screwing our country again.
I'm going to continue to be a stubborn jerk about this.  It does not matter if the outcome of folks in the Mid East revolting against their dictatorships.  We should always, always be on the side of those struggling against dictators.  Always.  Without exception.  Remember "We hold these truths to be self evident"?  They either are, or we are damned as cowards afraid to live up to our founding ideals because we fear a lack of "stability" or a rise in fuel prices, or any foolish lefty-ism about "how dare we impose our standards of human rights to their culture. That's imperialism!"  Yes, I would be unhappy if the Islamic Brotherhood takes over in Egypt.  NO we can't deal with them politely, they're a jihadist organization bent on an Islamic Caliphate.  But by all that I hold holy, that's no excuse to leave them in subjugation to a dictator!  I am censoring myself very strongly right now.  I get all manner of worked up about this.
Nothing wrong with a strongly held opinion, Mike.  And I'll take this opportunity, in case things get hot, to remind people about the Rulez.  If you are going to attack, attack the message, not the messenger.  And no gratuitous potty-mouth.  Or would that be potty-fingers?
For MikeD:
Is Iran more of a democracy now than it was under the Shah?  Has it EVER been, since our fine leader Jimmeh "Rabbit Slayer" Cawtuh" forced the Shah out?  And when the Shah was in power, was the government brutal to ANYONE besides the fine people who are NOW in power?

My sources say "NO!" to ALL of the above.
 Can't Get Any Worse Department-Somali pirates reported to have killed the four American hostages. And why are our yardarms not......
I agree with MikeD.  We should always remain true to our ideals and values.  At least we can always look at ourselves in the mirror.

But we should also remember this:

The old adage that "democracies never war against each other" was only relevant when all democracies were basically Western.  The same won't be true when a radicalized Islamic society decides to live under Sharia and threaten us directly, not only our presence in the Middle East but even here in the US by encouraging and supplying domestic Islamic groups to wage campaigns of terror and sabotage in the Heartland.

In this scenario, we will have to reject the doctrine of "limited war" that we've been so fond of fighting lately in trying to limit civilian casualties and destruction by targeting only the "despotic" and "tryannical" regimes and leaders.

Democratic Muslim civilian populations in these adversary states will be fully complicit in the hostilities being waged against us, and we will need to defeat .... and kill ..... them along with their military and gov't forces to defend ourselves and restore peace.

Brutal, but that's the price of war ...... and jihad.
OFS - I'm given to understand we did send two pirates (in addition to two others dead from I don't know what cause) off to gather their raisins.

Note to self: Running bibles to Somalia - not the best idea, however noble it seems when you're chatting it up in the salon.

'Potty fingers'!?? are Not allowed in the surgical theater!  Seriously; piracy on the high seas used to be solved quickly and permanently, as did finding non uniformed enemy combatants on the battlefield.  Jus' sayin'

Telling, isn't it?  Christian martyrs die while peacefully delivering Bibles and professing their faith, while Muslim martyrs die bringing violence and mayhem, blowing themselves up to kill non-Muslims.
Oh, so things can not get  worse? I've got this ugly feeling that somebody is not reading your script. From what I have read, 2 Iranian warships have gone through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean, not a pretty picture. I wonder what they're up to? Site seeing?

Everybody keeps using the word, “interesting”, would somebody “*please*” define that term?
Grumpy: I suspect they are using the word "interesting" in the way it is used in an old Chinese curse - May you live in interesting times.  Boring times aren't "interesting" but I'd rather live in a boring era, I suspect.

By the way, from my reading of history, there's really only two ways lasting democracies can form.  One is that the people free themselves (like we did here in the US).  The second is the country gets pounded into the ground and society is destroyed utterly (as we did to Germany and Japan in World War II).  Half-measures don't work, and we shouldn't get involved unless we're willing to go all in.
 Had an instructor at NIOTC refer to various Sov Bloc AP devices as "Interesting."
Jack - of course, with Heartless' interesting decade just passed, we're really lacking an all to put in...
A word to those demonstrating for "democracy" -- have a plan, other than just "Out with the dictator!"

Because if the dictator goes, and you don't have a plan, your revolution will be hijacked by those who *do*.

Egyptian Google-guy didn't even get to play Kerensky for a single day before the Brotherhood moved into the power vacuum...
On Libya...stay out.  Seif al Islam Gaddaffi, possibly the only one who is close to sane in his family, had it correct that when the war ends (and they are gone), Libya is going to split into the east and west camps (I'm looking at history, looks like Berbers v. other tribes), one is going to be more arab Islamist and the other is going to be not as Islamist. 

At the end of the day, the east side will be the "not as Islamist" and they largely want the piece of pie they think should of been theirs since that's where the oil is.  So we will have somebody to negotiate with, at least in terms of doing business, and they will have a reason to secure that supply.  I think hoping that Libya even remotely resembles Egypt is waaaaay out of the picture.

On having the right policy...I am with MikeD on the most part.  That advocacy of freedom and democracy as our "far vision" foreign policy for the security of the free world should never slip from the fore front of our beliefs.  I am aslo of the belief at this time, considering how AQ operates as a non-state actor and their terminal beliefs about the evils of democracy, that the MB and other Islamists participating in a DEMOCRACY is good news.  Now they have something to lose, something to bargain for.  When all a jihadist has is the desire for the after life, it is much harder to negotiate (or, if necessary, bomb them) an end to war. 

In terms of the long view, we should be welcoming democracies into the fold even if some of their internal make up is aggravating.  Seriously, we let France stay in.  Lord knows they have done plenty to try to offset our own power and have some whacky internals, but we have not forsaken them.

Please, as Bill points out, democracy advocates without a plan get hi-jacked.  That is what happened in Iran.  And, they may call themselves a democratic republic, but a democratic republic doesn't have to kill all its opposition or throw them in prison for eternity to exist. There isn't one thing democratic about Iran. 

In terms of democracies going to war, that is a potential, but one would have believe that is the primary goal of the populace at that moment (surely, we have gone to war plenty).  However, countries like Egypt are going to be very pre-occupied with surviving economically to do anything of the sort in the short term and Egypt actually has a good reason to remain "peaceful".  The youth want to be able to speak freely, get a good education and have some future prospects that are not already determined by their relationship or lack thereof with the ruling party. 

Their only problem is that they are not organized into strong political party(s).  That does leave room for the MB, but the MB leadership is old and the people in the streets are mostly young.  I think they are going to have a mitigating effect on the MB's plans.  The real issue is going to be the prevalance of socialists who are going to want to institute a million public programs and tax the crud out of anyone making more than poverty level.  That is going to be Egypt's real struggle.

John - that's my point.  If we take a half-measure approach, we'll end up killing a lot of our own for no good reason.  If we're willing to sacrifice like we did in World War II, we would have some sort of "all" to put in, but we're not willing to make that sacrifice (and in this case, I'm not sure it's in our interests to do so anyway).
My post was eaten by the Castle gnomes apparently.

I'm with MikeD on the policy aspect.  We cannot go wrong with putting our forward policy in line with our basic principles of freedom and democracy.  That is how we maintained the moral high ground against the USSR and that is what we claim against the theological nut jobs from AQ.  To not say it and not push it where we can (where it makes sense) is really a failure on the part of the CINC and various government apparatus to insure the future security of our nation.

Further, it does give those other groups with a tendency to hi-jack things an "in" when we don't support the others more fully.

As far as the nut jobs in the MB getting a piece of the democracy cake?  YES PLEASE!  1) the whole point of democracy is the market place of ideas where freedom tends to negate the worst ideas 2) the AQ hates the idea of democratic Islam, it's halal or whatever.  It's a stick in their eye and, better yet, turns the entire debate of Islam's internal back unto the people who created it; let them fight it out 3) now they have something to lose.  The worst part about all these folks is that they are "non state actors".  The jihadist has already decided he has nothing to gain but the eternal life, the Muslim democratic politician wants to survive to the next election and get a piece of the pie.  Nothing tends to modify like the demands of the populace who are hungry for food, education and jobs right now.

On Iran...not a democracy.  We can say that because we are and, no matter what a nation calls itself, we can accurately judge it by some real standard.  So, populations may rise and something that looks like democracy may come, but, if we are holding the moral high ground, we can call it like it is.  Further, we can stick that in their eye over and over again so it is important that our forward foreign policy does stand on our principles.  We have history to tell us that it does work, even if we make some nasty alliances in the short run.

However, from this perspective, freedom and democracy are on the march, not retreating so it doesn't seem that hard really to determine that the right move is in supporting it lest we find ourselves out in the cold and irrelevant in the future.
Oops!  Sorry for the double post.  I'm sure I make good points in both of them.  Somewhere.
"Is Iran more of a democracy now than it was under the Shah? Has it EVER been, since our fine leader Jimmeh "Rabbit Slayer" Cawtuh" forced the Shah out? And when the Shah was in power, was the government brutal to ANYONE besides the fine people who are NOW in power?"

Mark:  Absolutely Iran is no more a democracy now than under the Shah.  And I partially fault the Realpolitik practiced during the Cold War.  I understand that we were more concerned with keeping the world out from under the heel of Soviet tyranny, and I'm not about to say that was a bad decision.  Turned out better for the world than most of us expected.

But at the same time, we no longer have the excuse of the Soviets and preventing mutually assured destruction of the human race to prop up and even voice the least support for dictators.  We made awful choices back then.  I won't second guess the actions of the men and women who won the Cold War.  But we do not live in that world now.  And we need to make amends where we can.

I'm not saying invade Libya to oust Quadaffi for the protestors.  I'm not saying we station troops in Cairo to assure a peaceful transition.  I am saying we don't abandon those who are struggling for their freedom the way we did the Iranians last year.  And I saw too many on both the Right and Left propose that we support Mubarak against his own people (even if only verbally).  Those on the Right for fear that the Islamic Brotherhood might rise to power in Egypt.  Those on the Left because of that stupid "Imperialism" BS they love to spout.

One of the most foolish things I heard during the writing of the Iraqi Constitution (by the Iraqis) was that "OMG!  They're officially recognizing Sharia law!  Is this what we sent our troops to fight for?"  Actually, yes.  It's exactly what they fought for.  For the Iraqi people to be able to decide how they wanted to govern themselves.  Not so that we could establish Iraq as a US protectorate.  And the really stupid thing?  That comment was made by someone on the anti-war Left.  They accused us of "conquering" the Iraqi people during the war, then were six kinds of mad that we didn't do exactly what they were accusing us of doing.  I've never wanted to slap someone so badly.

I submit that it is more in our interest to support people yearning for freedom (and possibly, just maybe, earning some goodwill from them) rather than make mealy-mouthed declarations about freedom while supporting the tyrannical boot on their necks.  YES, they might choose a form of government we don't approve of.  YES, they might even form a regime that doesn't act in our best interests.  TOO DADGUM BAD!  I will always be on the side of those wanting freedom over those in favor of tyranny.  I don't expect anyone to love me for it, but at least I can like the guy in the mirror that way.

Well, I wrote this big long thing about freedom and why we should support it, but it looks like it got et.  Just imagine it was big and passionate and ended with William Wallace shouting "FREEDOM!" without any intestines and you'll get the gist of it.
YAY!  It didn't got et!

It was shy.  I hadda go convince it to go public.

I have to agree with MikeD, while we may not like the outcome of the democratic process in a place like Egypt it is much better than the alternative.  What I find interesting is how so many in the media are framing what happened in Egypt as being purely about democracy, it wasn't just that, not to sound like a libtard but a lot of the anger was about lack of economic opportunity and personal advancement throught hard work. But like so many revolutions throughout history the triggering factor was the price of bread, proving once again that those who do not learn from history aare doomed to repeat it.
Hi John,

This is quite a crowd that you have lurking in the shadows, good friends, bed enemies. I had written out a long comment, but I had read what had been written and just canceled it.   This crowd has written everything that I would or could have said and done it very well. I haven't been doing all that great for less couple of days. But the high point was reading the comments here, all of you have said it all. THANK YOU, Grumpy.  
 When Iran overthrew the Shah there was no intention of making it a Democracy. The few that thought Khomanei was going to establish one were very quickly disabused of that notion. Even give the Shah's faults (and he was liberalizing) Iran has suffered terribly for their stupidity of overthrowing the man.

The US is not a democracy, and was never meant to be one. Athens tried Democracy and it didn't work. Mob rule never does (just watch Madison Madness for a good example of Democracy in action). The US was established as a Republic, and the diferrences are so vast and unsubtle to make a Democrat's head spin supersonically.

The difference is the position of the law relative to the body politic. Lex is Rex is the central concept of a Republic. We are seeing the result of lawlessness at all levels of government. Madison Madness is what you get when Law means little to a substantial number of people. Obama is another symtom of the problem.

At the heart of it is immorality. There is a good reason that the New Testament, in it's original language, uses the word "Lawlessness" for iniquity. An immoral people can not govern themselves because they are lawless. The statement of John Adams about the constitution is being proven on a daily basis by the leftists in this country. We, of course, have seen it in other parts of the world think it couldn't happen here. Well, it's here and will remain unless the people suddenly see the wisdom of what the founders told us.

I must disagree with Grumpy in that there are at least a few points still to be made.

First, I feel obliged to point out that MikeD seems to have a limited grasp of the economics of the situation. Our current DoD budget is about double that of pre-9/11. Not only that, but the majority of our combat forces have already been committed to southwest Asia for the foreseeable future. There is, in fact, no more "slack" which would allow us to chastise Qaddafi and company.

That's not considering the fact that we are looking at a doubled DoD budget in the middle of one of the worst economic crises in at least a generation. Where does MikeD believe the military power to punish Libya will come from? I hope he hasn't fallen into the ancient myth that air power conquers all, and that we could bomb Libya into submission without any ground troops. That shibboleth died with the production of the post-WW2 analysis which exposed the fact that "strategic" bombing was ultimately an exercise in futility in terms of destroying Germany's ability to wage war. If the air-suppression-only option fails to deter further civilian shootings, what does MikeD suggest as an alternative approach? Aside from "Whoops, our bad, we'll take our planes home now, Mmmkay?"

Not only that, there's the question of global scope. If the injustice of the internal affairs of Libya are within the realm of our national interests, what about the Sudan, or West Africa, Liberia, or the Congo? What about Burma, or (for that matter) China?

Once one posits that injustice in other countries should be addressed by the United States, the first corollary is: where do we stop? At what point do we say "this is not within the sovereign domain of this country?" How do we draw the boundary, and what are the standards?

That's not to mention the issue I touched upon above, relating to the massive cost to this country in acting as the "world policeman" in a time of extraordinary economic challenge.

There is an older American tradition, which follows the concept that a country has no friends, but only interests.  There are arguable exceptions to this statement -pretty much the entire Anglosphere- but said exceptions define our limits. In fact, I will cite an older standard to which we should adhere today: "We are the friend of liberty everywhere, but guardian only of our own."