Two updates in two weeks, and we still have more articles harvested from the fields of the Internet that update our old ideas:
Oh, Iraq, will the question of your civil-war-ness ever be conclusively answered? Between 55 and 60 people were killed in bombings across Iraq last Thursday. Yes, we can compare the violence to the peak of 2007-2008, and say, “My, how it has dropped.” However, Iraq remains fantastically violent, something most Americans cannot comprehend. See “The Other Things That Happened Two Weeks Ago” for our previous thoughts on the topic, most of which still apply.
Of course, when Iraqi violence spikes, so does the (much needed) debate over its meaning. The general consensus between Thomas Ricks, Joel Wing of Musings on Iraq and Michael Knights of The Washington Institute is that Iraq is more violent than Afghanistan, just not for US troops. Joel Wing, though, believes that Iraq is not heading towards a civil war. Michael Knights believes the opposite.
On Violence, however, predicts nothing. Especially when it comes to violence, which may or may not indicate whether Iraq enters a civil war. Michael C does tend to agree, though, with Joel Brinkley, writing in Politico, that the most important features of the post-America Iraq are simmering sectarian tensions and a budding police state.
(As an added benefit, US news outlets continue to refer to “Al Qaeda in Iraq” as part of the Islamic State of Iraq, who took credit for the bombings. Michael C wrote about his issues with the confusion around using the phrase “al Qaeda” in, “Getting Orwellian: Al Qaeda in Iraq”.)
Finally, some conservatives still want troops in Iraq. (Shaking my head.) Seriously guys?
Update to “A New International Criminal Court”
“The Piece de Resistance: A New International Criminal Court” might be the best idea Michael C ever created. In full disclosure, he isn’t the first person to link the ICC to terrorism. A quick google search reveals several journal articles or blogs on that topic. The ICC itself is vague on whether its mandate covers terrorism. The one key difference, though, is that we believe--since the U.S. is no longer a signatory to that treaty (the U.S. had signed on, then withdrew their signature)--that we need a completely new organization with gobs of funding from the U.S.
Stationing More Troops Abroad?
In “Trimming the Overseas Military Budget”, we argued that instead of stationing more troops abroad, our government should station less. In a severe recession, we shouldn’t funnel millions of dollars overseas to support Europe and other countries, especially since the U.S. doesn’t really need troops stationed overseas from a strategic standpoint.
Nevertheless, the Obama administration, in a show of strength in their “pivot to Asia”, has decided to station more marines in Australia. On the one hand, at least we aren’t sending more troops to fight the Russians; on the other, we don’t need any marines in Australia. If the Pentagon truly cared about trimming their budget, they would dramatically decrease the number of troops stationed abroad.
A Discovery on International Relations Liberalism
I cannot in good faith call this an update, since the original article and book came out seven years ago. Nevertheless, while researching another topic, I stumbled upon this article by Ian Bremmer in The Washington Post called “The World is J-Curved”. In short, getting to an open-democratic society from a closed-totalitarian one is chaotic. In other words, when democratizing a totalitarian nation expect bloodshed and violence. This article seems even more relevant now than it was in 2005, especially considering the Arab Spring.
Updates and Discoveries on Intelligence is Evidence
In our post, “Why Intel Goes Bad: We Want Bad Intel”, I identified “shaken baby syndrome” as another instance of the justice department over-zealously prosecuting innocent people relying on faulty evidence. Last November, the Supreme Court refused to rule on this important issue, and basically sent a grandmother back to prison for a crime she probably didn’t commit.
Next, we have two more examples of “Intelligence Gone Bad” in regards to terrorism. Both cases took place in Pakistan and show the limits of intelligence collection in that lawless region. First, in an example of a discovery not an update, I found this Jane Mayer article that describes the search for and execution of Baitullah Mehsud. It required fourteen months, countless strikes, and over two hundred non-Baitullah Mehsud dead people to finally get the right guy.
The next case of “Intelligence Gone Bad” is that of Tariq Aziz in Pakistan. After meeting with human rights groups outside of Waziristan, Tariq pledged to bring back proof that US drone strikes kill civilians. A few weeks later, a drone strike killed him.
MolleIndustria is Back At It Again
Last year, we published a review of MolleIndustria’s Oiligarchy for the video game journal Kill Screen. (The original post seems to have disappeared, and we’re trying to find it.) In short, my review went like this: this game is propaganda, propaganda is bad, thus the game is bad.
Well, MolleIndustria just released a game about drone strikes. Expect a review soon.