December 2006

A frequent reader, Ed Beauford – who styles himself as an analyst with a Norfolk-based think-tank, the Joseph A. Mahon Center for Strategic Studies, about which I have been unable to divine much – has sent me a provocative email with a modest proposal for solving the Iraq problem. I’m not sure what to make of it, so I’ll let you be the judge:

The experience of the American and British governments in Iraq over the past three years has unfortunately definitively demonstrated two principles of modern geopolitical organization. These principles can be described as follows:

  • Pluralistic, multicultural democratic institutions of government are inherently incapable of reproducing themselves within other sovereign lands. They are like mules – crossbred, figurally disproportionate, and ultimately sterile.
  • Pluralistic, multicultural democratic governments are inherently incapable of achieving lasting revolutionary change through conventional warfare. For every dollar spent on warfare, such institutions will spend two hours on the moral and ethical implications of that dollar. Moreover, such institutions are fundamentally different from the regimes of history’s great conquerors. When Genghis Khan rolled through most of Asia in the 13th century, he occupied and dominated his conquests, with no thought of handing over the keys to the vanquished. Within democratic circles where dissenting voices have the power to influence policy, “occupation” is a nasty word, and “domination” is unthinkable — except through puppet institutions that are ultimately toothless because they are restricted by democratic principles imposed on them by the democratic institutions that have created them. Such limitations show the folly of warfare conducted by democratic nations in the 21st century.

Where governments take aggressive action and ultimately fail, the result is typically described as “chaos.” The analogy adopted by the Iraq Study Group in its recently released report is that the situation in Iraq is “grave and deteriorating.” The facts that underlie such assessments are that individuals in Iraq, banding together and taking aggressive action under the auspices of tribal factions, have filled the power vacuums created by the failure of governmental action.

The unspoken conclusion of almost every partisan voice in the American landscape — whether they support increased troops, a reduction of troop levels combined with diplomatic maneuvers, or a complete pullout of Coalition forces — is that tribal activity in Iraq is currently more powerful than the military activity by governments in the region. The seductive principle one may fashion from all of the foregoing is that tribal activity is inherently more influential than governmental activity, and is therefore the most influential force that can be imagined within the Iraqi situation.

Experience elsewhere throughout the last century, however, supports a different conclusion. When government fails, tribal activity certainly does follow to fill the power vacuum in almost every instance. However, corporate activity — defined here as the activity of multinational corporations whose primary purpose is the achievement of higher profits — has shown itself to be the most powerful force in human affairs in the 20th and 21st centuries, subduing and marshalling tribal behavior through the utterly irresistable effects of its marketing and, in effect, forcing governments “to go along to get along” with its aims. Corporations thrive within the alleged “chaos” of the marketplace.

The U.S. government is spending approximately $6 billion per month on the Iraq situation. Such figures are not unfamiliar to oil companies such as ExxonMobil, which spend billions of dollars per year on exploration projects. The Central Intelligence Agency estimates that there are 112,500,000,000 BBL of proved oil reserves in Iraq. That makes Iraq the fourth most oil-rich nation in the world, behind Saudi Arabia, Canada and Iran. Iraqi oil, combined with the “chaos” of tribal activity, provides a unique opportunity for a forward-thinking multinational corporation to rise to the occasion.

It is time for a multinational corporation (an “MC”) to stage a coup inside Iraq, wresting control of the situation from both the ineffectual coalition of U.S., UK and “Iraqi nationalists,” as well as from the factional leaders of the Sunnis, the Shiites and the Kurds.

For a cost comparable to that of the U.S. effort in Iraq, an MC can hire a force of 600,000 trained mercenaries, and arm them and protect them better that the U.S. has proven itself capable of doing, without the necessity of hacking through a partisan political debate over the reinstitution of a draft. It can use this force to secure the borders of Iraq, cutting off all supply lines to the insurgents and pointing big guns at Iraq’s neighbors – Syria, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Attempts to breach the sovereignty of an MC-controlled Iraq may be met with a swift corporate military response. At the same time, corporate money can be applied in ways to prevent interference – by giving Iran, for example, a favored partner for its own oil development plans. Once the borders are secured, an MC can use its hiring and firing capabilities to bring a measure of prosperity to warring factions, as well as holding up the prospect that there is something to lose by continued in-fighting.

Force and ruthlessness are the MC’s greatest tools, however. An MC can go into the Iraq situation with the express objective of conquest, at the cost of death, in an effort to control oil reserves. This means that waging war on factional leaders – in effect, taking them out – will not be restricted by the moral and ethical considerations that hamper democratic governments.

The real solution in Iraq will never come from the “Iraqis.” Without the strength of an autocrat such as Saddam Hussein, there is no Iraqi nation-state – there are merely tribes of angry neighbors, elbowing each other endlessly. An MC can act as an autocrat within the region, without subjecting itself to the paralyzing wrath of the international diplomatic community.


“Each of you and future generations of Americans, as well as future generations of Iraqis and Afghans, will be able to look on these past years as a time of enormous challenge and historic consequence.”

See full article, at the Washington Post here.

And, so, Donald Rumsfeld marches off into the bleak, no-man’s land of history yet to be written — waiting only to be portrayed by Christian Slater, some 20-25 years from now, in an HBO mini-series based on Bob Woodward’s Bush administration trilogy.

Here’s how we will remember him here at the Cocktail Hour — as a great American poet:

The Unknown
As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don’t know
We don’t know.

—Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing, quoted from Hart Seely’s ‘The Poetry of D.H. Rumsfeld.’

An Israeli businessman has offered $1 billion dollars to Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniye if he reaches a peace agreement with his Israeli counterpart.

Billionaire Israeli businessman Avi Shaked, whose great fortune came from running internet gambling sites, told the Reuters news agency that he wanted the killing to stop.

“My offer is to both leaders: please sit down, start negotiations and try to reach an agreement.”

The Internet tycoon said that he was ready to hand over the money through a consortium of international financiers he has lined up if a deal was made.

Full piece here.

Private Saudi citizens are giving millions of dollars to Sunni insurgents in Iraq and much of the money is used to buy weapons, including shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles, according to key Iraqi officials and others familiar with the flow of cash. Saudi government officials deny that any money from their country is being sent to Iraqis fighting the government and the U.S.-led coalition.

But the U.S. Iraq Study Group report said Saudis are a source of funding for Sunni Arab insurgents. Several truck drivers interviewed by The Associated Press described carrying boxes of cash from Saudi Arabia into Iraq, money they said was headed for insurgents.

Full article here.  Perhaps Messrs. Baker and Hamilton ought to invite the Saudis to the Iraq discussion table along with the Iranians and the Syrians — if President Bush ever decides he wants an Iraq discussion table.

Earlier this week, Sam Brownback, a Republican senator from Kansas, announced the formation of an exploratory committee to consider his candidacy for president in 2008. Never heard of him? Here’s a little background on him:

Who would Jesus vote for? Meet Sam Brownback. Nobody in this little church just off Times Square in Manhattan thinks of themselves as political. They’re spiritual — actors and athletes and pretty young things who believe that every word of the Bible is inerrant dictation from God. They look down from the balcony of the Morning Star, swaying and smiling at the screen that tells them how to sing along. Nail-pierced hands, a wounded side. This is love, this is love! But on this evening in January, politics and all its worldly machinations have entered their church. Sitting in the darkness of the front row is Sam Brownback, the Republican senator from Kansas. And hunched over on the stage in a red leather chair is an old man named Harald Bredesen, who has come to anoint Brownback as the Christian right’s next candidate for president.

. . . “I am a seeker,” he says. Brownback believes that every spiritual path has its own unique scent, and he wants to inhale them all. When he ran for the House he was a Methodist. By the time he ran for the Senate he was an evangelical. Now he has become a Catholic. He was baptized not in a church but in a chapel tucked between lobbyists’ offices on K Street that is run by Opus Dei, the secretive lay order founded by a Catholic priest who advocated “holy coercion” and considered Spanish dictator Francisco Franco an ideal of worldly power. Brownback also studies Torah with an orthodox rabbi from Brooklyn. “Deep,” says the rabbi, Nosson Scherman. Lately, Brownback has been reading the Koran, but he doesn’t like what he’s finding. “There’s some difficult material in it with regard to the Christian and the Jew,” he tells a Christian radio program, voice husky with regret.

. . . The nation’s leading evangelicals have already lined up behind Brownback, a feat in itself. A decade ago, evangelical support for a Catholic would have been unthinkable. Many evangelicals viewed the Pope as the Antichrist and the Roman Catholic Church as the Whore of Babylon. But Brownback is the beneficiary of a strategy known as co-belligerency — a united front between conservative Catholics and evangelicals in the culture war. Pat Robertson has tapped the “outstanding senator from Kansas” as his man for president. David Barton, the Christian right’s all-but-official presidential historian, calls Brownback “uncompromising” — the highest praise in a movement that considers intransigence next to godliness. And James Dobson, the movement’s strongest chieftain, can find no fault in Brownback. “He has fulfilled every expectation,” Dobson says. Even Jesse Helms, now in retirement in North Carolina, recognizes a kindred spirit. “The most effective senators are those who are truest to themselves,” Helms says. “Senator Brownback is becoming known as that sort of individual.”

Full article here.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, who flaunts his ideological fervour, has been accused of undermining Iran’s Islamic revolution after television footage appeared to show him watching a female song and dance show. The famously austere Mr Ahmadinejad has been criticised by his own allies after attending the lavish opening ceremony of the Asian games in Qatar, a sporting competition involving 13,000 athletes from 39 countries. The ceremony featured Indian and Egyptian dancers and female vocalists. Many were not wearing veils.

Women are forbidden to sing and dance before a male audience under Iran’s Islamic legal code. Officials are expected to excuse themselves from such engagements when abroad but TV pictures showed Mr Ahmadinejad sitting with President Bashar Assad of Syria and Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian prime minister, during last Friday’s ceremony in Doha.

Religious fundamentalists, usually Mr Ahmadinejad’s keenest supporters, are asking why he attended a ceremony that violated his own government’s strict interpretation of Shia Islam.

The Baztab website, considered close to Mohsen Rezaee, a former revolutionary guard commander with links to powerful sections of Iran’s political hierarchy, said Mr Ahmadinejad’s presence had offended Shias in Iran and elsewhere. “The failure of Ahmadinejad to object and his constant presence has damaged the image of Iran’s Islamic revolution and its commitment to Islamic rules in contrast with the Arab countries in the Gulf,” it said.

Full article here.

Former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson is considering a run for president in 2008, a move that should spark alarm among those familiar with Thompson’s calls for widespread RFID chipping of Americans. The authors of “Spychips,” Dr. Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre, who closely monitor the RFID industry, caution that his position on the Board of the VeriChip Corporation and his stock options in the company make Thompson one of the most dangerous figures in American politics today. As head of Health and Human Services, Thompson oversaw the scandal-ridden FDA when it approved the VeriChip as a medical device. Shortly after leaving his cabinet post, he joined the board of the VeriChip Corporation and wasted no time in using his clout to promote the company’s glass encapsulated RFID tags. These tags are injected into human flesh to uniquely number and identify people. In public appearances, Thompson has suggested implanting the microchips into Americans to link to their electronic medical records. “It’s very beneficial and it’s going to be extremely helpful and it’s a giant step forward to getting what we call an electronic medical record for all Americans,” he told CBS MarketWatch in July 2005. He also suggested implanting military personnel with the chips to replace dog tags.

Full article here. As we know from past posts, microchips are a bit of a red flag for the apocalyptic crowd:

“He causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” The Mark of the Beast will likely be a microchip implant that operates like an ATM or credit card. Remember, everyone who receives the Mark of the Beast will be cast into hell, so don’t take the mark!
(Rev 13:16-18)

(Via If the leading advocate for implanting microchips in humans is a third-tier Republican presidential candidate, I think I can sleep soundly this evening.

« Previous PageNext Page »