Monday Highlights

Well, back in Georgia. Probably still very busy. Go-Live tomorrow morning.

  1. Getting cooperation in foreign affairs, a tale of two Presidents.
  2. On that topic, here’s a rumination on a possible theme, Bush made a mistake in Iraq (and highlights the error) compounded and made worse by Mr Obama.
  3. But don’t lose this point.
  4. When goverment forgets what rights mean and who’s working for whom.
  5. Why identity isn’t substance or property, but ontology and relationship.
  6. Missing repentance in a list.
  7. Recent Lerner lie lost the left. Probably only the loons remain on that fence-post.
  8. Some meta-linking but that billboard (and response) is a hoot.
  9. Anyone surprised?
  10. Explody stuff.
  11. One way to explain the popularity of climate alarmism.
  12. What is ISIS?
  13. On not quitting.
  14. A scholastic experiment.


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  1. Boonton says:

    Re #12

    From what I’ve heard Iraq is basically 60% Shi’ite, 20% Sunni and 20% Kurdish. The Kurds have the north and teh central gov’t has generally had a hands off relationship with them and as a result they are doing very well.

    Iraq’s gov’t is dominated by the Shi’ite majority and it’s had a heavy hand with the Sunnis both because it is dominated by the majority group and because of it’s policy to centralize power (except for the Kurds). Maybe part of that is payback since Saddam’s regime was Sunni dominated.

    As a result among Sunni’s the central gov’t is not liked at all and Sunnis would want either a different central gov’t or a central gov’t that gave them more independence like the Kurdish model. ISIS, of course, is very fanatical promising to kill non-Sunni’s, attack Shi’ite holy places etc. But I suspect many less dramatic Sunni groups are content to let ISIS run their course, maybe scaring the central gov’t into being more intelligent. They probably know that in the long run ISIS lacks both the manpower and intelligence to actually run a country.

    This all argues for minimalism in US policy towards Iraq. It sounds like the Sunnis have legitimate gripes against the central gov’t (and the fact that the army wouldn’t/couldn’t even bother trying to fight ISIS is a legitimate gripe all Iraqis should have with it). ISIS are ‘bad people’ here so they shouldn’t be welcomed as liberators of anyone but nor should the US leap at the chance to do Iraq yet again.

    I don’t think Iraq is quote so divisible, though. As silly as it sounds the national borders of Iraq might not have made any sense in 1920 but they do today. I doubt you could build a Sunni state out of pieces of Iraq and Syria anymore than you could build a Kurdish one out of Iraq and Turkey without opening up a lot more trouble.

    Iraq’s two stability points would either be a viciously strong central gov’t that could dominate the entire country or a very weak central gov’t that gives great autonomy to local states.

  2. Mark says:


    Iraq’s two stability points would either be a viciously strong central gov’t that could dominate the entire country or a very weak central gov’t that gives great autonomy to local states.

    Seems all you need is a national identity, you know looking at history. All countries that are stable with a diverse population didn’t have just those two stable points. Just sayin (take the US for example).

  3. Boonton says:

    Seems all you need is a national identity

    The US started out with a weaker central gov’t that became stronger over time. One reading of that is that the US began as very diverse (Articles of Confederation) and over time the national identity increased which allowed for a stronger central gov’t.

    If you start out with a weak national identity and a strong central gov’t that’s only really dedicated to 60% or so of the population you invite insurgencies.

  4. Mark says:

    “Weak national identity” + “strong central” ??? which describes neither country in question.

  5. Boonton says:

    Describes Iraq under Saddam and it seems what the current gov’t of Iraq has tried to do.

  6. Mark says:

    You seem to forget that Saddam had to gas Kurds because they were doing what you said doesn’t happen in strong regimes. It seems you consider strong regime” those with a willingness to kill and torture their own citizens. Is that your definition? Seems to me that’s exactly backwards … that the regimes that are required (or resort) to torture and kill its own are those which are not strong. A strong regime says “jump” and its citizens ask “how high” without the regime requiring the whip.

  7. Boonton says:

    Put a strong regime together with a weak national identity and you get Saddam gassing the Kurds or Assad leveling Hama.

    A weak regime combined with a weak national identity might be the Ottoman Empire circa WWI where they didn’t want to station their Arab troops in, say Aquaba because they assumed they would turn themselves and their weapons over to the other side so only Turkish troops were trusted in such locations.

  8. Mark says:

    Your definition of “weak” vs “strong” is upside down.

  9. Mark says:

    An actual reconstruction would have left when Iraq was as good or better than this.

  10. Boonton says:

    Yet that’s what Iraq did more or less on it’s own in the decades after WWI, not with a program of directed investment from the US.