Friday, May 25, 2007

Iraq: Exploiting a single narrative

Austin Bay participated in a Q&A with Dr. David Kilcullen, senior counter-insurgency advisor to General David Petraeus in Iraq. Austin Bay points us to an article the good Dr. wrote in 2006 explaining that a good counter-insurgency involves "exploiting a single narrative" to counter the enemy's "narrative". Austin asks the pertinent question:

I asked Kilcullen: “What is the single narrative (or alternative narrative) in Iraq? And this is a two-part question. Could you gives us an example of a narrative in a Baghdad neighborhood?”

Kilcullen responded:

That’s been one of the weaknesses in this business over time. I think it is something that is improving now. We have to make certain the story, the message people are getting from Iraqi government institutions is same as message from the US (sources). One of our problems we found is how difficult it is for Americans to generate a message Iraqis find convincing. (That’s why) we need to work with Iraqis, and we are in the supporting role.

(At the moment) the Iraqi government is putting out this message to the people: that you don’t need militias to protect you against terrorists. The government can do that. Gain trust in the government to protect you and move from a dependency on militias.


The single narrative the US has pursued is that as they (Iraqis) stand up, we stand down. That message is not particularly comforting to Iraqis. The single big message (the Iraqi government and coalition are sending) now is that we are protecting the population and trying to achieve sustainable stability. We are improving security and doing it to create a sustainable space so Iraqis can do it themselves.

Emphasis mine.

Sadr back in Iraq

Via Bill Roggio:

Sadr is believed to have slipped back into Iraq one week ago. While Sadr's spokesmen have long claimed Sadr never left Iraq, the pretense has now been dropped.

Sadr spoke to over 6,000 followers at a in mosque Kufa, and he railed against the U.S. presence in Iraq. "No, no for Satan. No, no for America. No, no for the occupation. No, no for Israel," Sadr chanted at the opening of his sermon. "We demand the withdrawal of the occupation forces, or the creation of a timetable for such a withdrawal... I call upon the Iraqi government not to extend the occupation even for a single day."

Sadr fled Iraq on January 14, after General Petraeus assumed command of Multinational Forces Iraq and announced the Baghdad Security Plan would be taking effect. Sadr immediately left Iraq and sheltered in Iran, and was guarded by Iran's Qods Force, according to reports.

At least the Mahdi army is a fragment of what it used to be. Now if we can just do something about Sadr.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Banning handguns - so they won't be stolen?

Alphecca makes the obvious point:

By this logic, we could prevent all crimes of theft by simply banning the temptations: Jewelry, laptops, DVD players, cars, wristwatches, prescription pain killers, and so on. Brilliant! As a bonus, by banning private automobile ownership, traffic infractions and drunk driving deaths will drop like a stone.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Shakespeare vanishing from American colleges

That's the result of a study done by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. Via the Chicago Sun-Times who notes some of the classes being offered by our fine Universities:

At most of America's top colleges, Shakespeare is simply an elective -- one among many. That puts him on a par with literature courses on "Nags, Bitches and Shrews" at Dartmouth; Los Angeles, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Baywatch at Northwestern; baseball at Emory, and "Cool Theory," at Duke, where students devote themselves to the study of a single word of American slang.

Hat tip to Minding the Campus for the article.

Germany attacks Ireland's low corporate tax system as "unfair competition"

From the Irish Examiner:

Ireland has the second-lowest corporation tax rate in the EU at 12.5%, which is credited for creating the celtic tiger, attracting massive foreign investment and jobs. Germany has the highest at 38.6%. In 2004 over €33 billion flooded into the country, almost the same as went to Germany.

German minister Peer Steinbruck warned that Ireland and other low tax countries in Eastern Europe were involved in what he called cutthroat competition that was not sustainable in the long run.

“Corporate tax laws such as those in Ireland are being exploited by German companies that set up subsidiaries there, borrow money from them and then write off the interest against their profits in Germany,” he complained.

The German government is adopting a two pronged attack — first in pushing the European Commission to develop an EU-wide harmonised tax base and secondly by reopening the EU’s Code of Conduct on unfair tax competition.

Mr Steinbruck’s deputy, Axel Nawrath, said they would push the finance ministers of the other member states for a new code of conduct once the German presidency ended at the end of June.

“This is something that must be addressed by the group dealing with the code of conduct. Germany is very adamant about this,” he said.

Politicians from all parties, Internal Markets Commissioner Charlie McCreevy and business interests have all warned that the plan to harmonise the corporate tax base must be killed.

Big hat tip to Daniel J. Mitchell at Cato@Liberty who comments:

The bad news is that Germany is attacking Ireland. The good news is that the Germans now attack with words and bureaucratic schemes rather than Panzers and Stukas. But the attack - based on German complaints that Ireland’s low tax rates are “unfair” - is nonetheless despicable. Instead of attacking Ireland, the Germans should learn from the Irish Miracle and cut tax rates and reduce the burden of government.

Seeking failure: In Centrist California, Republican Party moves further right.

The Republican Party in California seems intent to doom itself to failure, in this long, but absolute must-read, from Bill Bradley:

The Republican Party in California is in a very odd position. Even as it has a governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has won two landslide elections in a row and boasts a 62% job approval rating for his centrist approach, the party leadership has moved to the far right.

Unlike most Republican voters, according to many polls, these new leaders not only oppose any increase in the minimum wage, but the existence of the minimum wage. “The minimum wage is socialism,” says Fleischman.

They oppose Schwarzenegger’s environmental programs, in particular his drive to curtail greenhouse gas emissions and, in most cases, deny that the greenhouse effect exists. Again, in stark contrast to the views of most Republican voters.

When vitriolic right-wing columnist Ann Coulter called Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards a “faggot” at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, these worthies did not join the chorus of criticism that included all the mainstream Republican presidential candidates.

Asked about that, Fleischman said: “That’s a national issue. We focus on state issues.” Yet his publication featured glowing reports from the conference and he and his bloggers regularly opine about all sorts of national issues.

When Schwarzenegger called Rush Limbaugh “irrelevant” during an appearance on the Today Show, prompting a brief war of words with the gasbag ideologue, the Flash Report sided with Limbaugh over the Republican governor, dubbing the right-wing radio talk show host “America’s Anchorman.”

After a period in which party leadership embraced appeals to independent voters, the fastest growing segment of voters in the state, key to Schwarzenegger’s two victories, the new party leadership wants to ignore them, banning them from participating in next year’s early presidential primary.

“I will order that the primary ballot go to independent voters,” vowed Nehring in a meeting with political reporters after taking over as state party chairman in February. But he didn’t have the authority to do that under party rules, and has not moved to change the rules.

“I don’t know how you function as a modern political party in California without reaching out to independent voters,” says former party chairman Sundheim. He has pushed for their inclusion in the presidential primary.

But the vicars of the far right will have none of it. The bloggers crusade relentlessly against it. As Fleischman puts it: “Only Republicans should decide who our candidates are. If they want to vote in our primary, they should become Republicans.”

It’s an attitude that Democrats adore. “We want independents to vote in our primary,” says strategist Roger Salazar. “Let those guys have their little conservative clubhouse if they want.”

Emphasis mine. Bill Bradley then mentions the wide gap between the far right Republican Party leadership and Republican voters on the issues of global warming and the environment:

As the far right party leaders carp about Schwarzenegger, they are frequent fliers in the face of the views of actual Republican voters. Nowhere is this more evident than on the global warming issue.


Schwarzenegger’s environmental polices are overwhelmingly supported by Republican voters, 63% to 19%, in polling late last year by the widely respected Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). Schwarzenegger’s own private polls, of course, show much the same thing.

A PPIC poll over the summer showed 62% support among Republicans for unilateral state action, independent of the federal government, to control greenhouse gases leading to climate change and global warming. Only 33% were opposed.

71% of Republicans backed the already existing state law to require automakers to to sharply curtail tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases in upcoming models of motor vehicles. 82% of Republicans back the government spending more money to develop alternative energy sources for motor vehicle fuels.

82% of Republicans want the government to spend more money on developing developing renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, and biofuels.

On the specifics of the Schwarzenegger plan on greenhouse gases, 65% of Republicans favor the rollback of greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. 69% of Republicans favor the mandatory emission limits being applied to electric power, oil, and natural gas facilities.

Part of the reason for the Democrats continued victories in California is due to the ineptness of their opposition.