Monday, January 3, 2005

Iraq in 2005

Strategy Page has predictions for 2005 in Iraq:

Election security, will Iraqis refuse to come out and vote because they are scared?

No. The 80 percent of the population that is Kurdish and Shia Arab are eager, willing and able to vote. Some of the Sunni Arabs may be able to vote as well, in areas where the terrorists are not strong enough to scare people away from the polling places.

Election legitimacy, will the rest of the world believe that the elections are real?

Yes. With 80 percent of the population voting, and the 20 percent not voting prevented from doing so by terrorists within their community, it will be a legitimate vote. One group calling for a boycott does not invalidate a vote. This is not a new problem, terrorists often threaten democracy by trying to prevent people from voting.

Osama bin Laden called for Iraqis to not vote. Will he be obeyed and is he still a strong figure in Arab world?

No. Because of all the Iraqis killed by al Qaeda terror attacks in Iraq, bin Laden and al Qaeda are widely despised and hated. Moreover, bin Laden and his Taliban buddies openly tortured and killed Shias in Afghanistan, thus the 60 percent of Iraqis who are Shia see bin Laden as an enemy.

Is Abu Musab al Zarqawi now stronger and a bigger public figure than Osama bin Laden?

No. Zarqawi is "stronger" than bin Laden right now because he is bankrolled and protected by the Baath Party in Iraq (and the Baath Party in Syria as well, and possibly Shia Islamic radicals in Iran as well.) Zarqawi was a lower level al Qaeda leader in early 2003, living in Baghdad as a guest of Saddam. He's not a very bright guy, more mouth than anything else. Right now Baath is using him as a front man to attract suicidal volunteers, and to mask the Baath Party's sordid record of atrocities in Iraq. Bin Laden is trying to get other al Qaeda commanders into Iraq, but that is proving difficult, as these guys tend to get killed quickly. Some suspect Baath assassins are more responsible than US troops.

Go to the link and read their post for December 31st which gives an analysis of the state of the insurgency. They write:

How long will this last? Not much longer. Areas of Baath Party control continue to shrink. Baath Party control was allowed to expand in 2004 as the government attempted negotiations with Sunni Arab leadership. This didn't work, as the Sunni Arab leaders were terrified by Baath and al Qaeda terror. The battle of Fallujah, and offensive operations throughout Baath strongholds in central Iraq, sharply reduced the extent of "safe areas" for terrorists. The government has not given up on negotiations with Sunni Arab leaders, but has ordered a military offensive in the meantime. The Iraqis are determined to hold elections at the end of January, 2005, with, or without, Sunni Arab participation. The attitude seems to be, if the Sunni Arabs would rather fight, or cower in their homes, than vote, then so be it. Sunni Arabs have tyrannized Iraq for too long, and most Iraqis are ready for a change.

Let's hope they're right.

Intelligent Design and Falsifiability

Imago Dei has an interesting series of posts on the matter of whether Intelligent Design is a scientific or a metaphysical theory. The difference hinges on whether or not ID is falsifiable.

A theory is falsifiable, in the philosophical sense, if there is some conceivable set of observations which, if they occurred, would disconfirm the theory. If there is no imaginable observation which would ever count against the theory, then it is not falsifiable. This doesn't mean that one would ever make the observation, only that such an observation could be imagined. For example, the claim that there are an infinite number of other universes is unfalsifiable since there's no conceivable observation we could make which would prove it wrong. It may be true or it may be false, but it's not a scientific claim. Falsifiability is one of the criteria which distinguish scientific assertions from metaphysical claims.

As Imago Dei points out, ID's critics must think it falsifiable because many of them are trying hard to convince us that it's false. I had an amusing experience with this myself not long ago.

ID is falsifiable at least to the same extent as is the Darwinian assertion that natural selection is an unguided, purposeless process that is totally efficacious in itself to produce the grand diversity of life. Thus, if the latter claim is legitimately permitted in high school science classes, for example, then ID should likewise be permitted.

In a recent column for the local paper in which I supported the idea that ID was a legitimate topic for high school science classes, I made the point that if it could be demonstrated that a molecular machine like Michael Behe's bacterial flagellum could be shown to be constructed through mechanical means without intelligent input then, although ID might not be falsified in the strict sense (since it could still be argued that God had designed the mechanisms that led to the development of the structure), it would certainly be de facto discredited.

Someone wrote in to the paper and stated in rather snarky accents that in fact this had already been done and cited the web site to prove it.

Well, the writer's grandiose assurances were not justified by the information at the web site that he had commended to the paper's readers, but that wasn't the most important aspect of his reply. People who oppose having ID taught in science classes often do so on the premise that it's not science, and they buttress the opinion that it's not science by claiming that it's not testable, i.e. not falsifiable. My critic didn't seem to be aware that by asserting (wrongly) that a major ID claim had been shown to be false he was tacitly acknowledging that ID meets a crucial criterion of scientific theories. Without realizing it he was sawing off the branch upon which he sat.

Critics of ID are in a tough spot. They can't allege that ID is false without admitting that it's falsifiable, and they can't acknowledge that it's falsifiable without admitting that it's a valid topic for a science class.

The links at Imago Dei have much more on this controversy.

Preachers of Hate

Since 9/11 there has been a flood of books on the nature of Islamo-fascism and the crisis in the Middle East and elsewhere in the Muslim world. Readers interested in this subject, and we think everyone should be, need to sit down with Ken Timmerman's Preachers of Hate: Islam and the War on America.

Actually the title is a little misleading because Timmerman's main topic is the resurgence of anti-semitism in the Arab world, Europe, and in certain precincts in the United States. Unlike the twentieth century outbreak of this irrational and virulent disease, the more recent renascence is not confined to the uneducated, marginal, skinhead right. The real danger today is that in Europe and America it is a contagion infecting primarily the sophisticated and influential elites on the ideological Left.

The depth and intensity of anti-Jewish hatred that exists in the Arab world and elsewhere is stunning, and Timmerman presents us with all the evidence. He also does a masterful job of exposing the murders and corruption of Yasser Arafat (The book came out before Arafat's death) who had stolen millions of dollars from the Palestinian people and been directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Israelis. He explains, too, the genesis of al Qaida and Osama bin Laden's rise to influence and the motivations behind his ascendancy.

Along the way he unmasks some of the Islamo-fascist's American and European sympathizers, most notably Noam Chomsky on the Left and Grover Norquist on the Right. It may seem odd that the Left is so sympathetic to a fascist movement, but as Timmerman reminds us, Left and Right meet at the bottom, and the bottom is their mutual hatred for Jews in general and Israel in particular.

Despite being densely packed with facts and difficult Arab names the book is quite readable and in some places it's riveting. His description of a suicide bombing at a wedding reception in Israel is almost as fascinating as it is heart-rending.

The message that Timmerman illustrates and documents throughout the book is that modern radical Islam is not just at war with Israel. It is at war with the entire Western world. It is a war fueled by hatred for our values, our freedoms, our view of social justice, our belief in tolerance, our separation of church and state. It is a war that the Islamists will fight until Israel is destroyed, all Jews are dead, and all Americans and Europeans are either dead or converts to Islam. If you think this is too strong an indictment then you really must read Preachers of Hate.

Copies can be ordered through our favorite bookseller Hearts and Minds Bookstore.

Leaders Are Readers

Jollyblogger urges us to reflect upon the fact that, "Leaders are readers and readers are leaders."

He then goes on to quote from Hugh Hewitt's book In But Not Of, wherein Hewitt writes that:

If the prospect of reading - a lot - daunts you, then you are not serious about genuine influence. The people who run the world are readers and constantly in search of more information.

Leadership, Hewitt goes on to say later, "is not a specific talent. It is a package of skills and disciplines, one of which is intellectual curiosity. This curiosity is the first ingredient of leadership."

One of the reasons for the tepidness of so many Christian churches is the fact that many Pastors either have no time, or no inclination, or both, to read. With little of the best of what has been thought or written going into their minds during the week there is little that the Pastor can offer to his parishioners from the pulpit on Sunday morning. Consequently, a lot of sermons are insipid, uninteresting and uninspiring.

The same is true of public school administrators. It is astonishing how few of them read even fiction let alone non-fiction. Lacking engagement with the ideas of the culture they are often ill-positioned to lead a faculty, particularly those faculty who teach academic disciplines like literature, history, sociology, and science. This is perhaps the main reason that administrators are managers rather than educators.Or perhaps it is because they are managers rather than educators that they don't read.

In any event, it is as unfortunate for our schools as it is for our churches when the leadership does not take the trouble to immerse themselves in good books.

John O'Neill: Man of the Year

David Horowitz's Front Page Mag bestows its Man of the Year award on John O'Neill, the Swift Boat vet who led the fight to expose John Kerry as the poseur he is. In our opinion, if they weren't going to give the honor to George Bush then O'Neill is the next best choice. You can read their rationale for it here.

Iranian "Two Fer"

Iran claims that all its forces are committed to defending their nuclear facilities from an attack by the Israelis or the Americans:

Iran suspects that Israel may attack its nuclear sites because of fears that Tehran is developing nuclear weapons. Iran says it held at least 10 people for allegedly spying on atomic sites for Israel and the US in the past year.

"The air force has been ordered to protect the nuclear sites, using all its power," Gen Salimi told a government newspaper. "All our forces including land forces, anti-aircraft [and] radar tactics are protecting the nuclear sites and an attack on them will not be simple," he added.

Hmmm. Looks like an attack on their nuclear weapons production facilities could pretty much take out their military capability as well. We're not military strategists, but we wonder why Iran would offer its enemies such a tempting opportunity for a "two fer".

Perpetual Regression

It looks like nothing much has changed for the Palestinians. Mahmoud Abbas is just Yasser Arafat writ small. has this report:

Israel has demanded a crackdown on violent groups, which Mahmoud Abbas (the leading candidate to replace the late, unlamented terrorist murderer Yasser Arafat) has repeatedly rejected.

In an interview Saturday with The Associated Press, Abbas said Palestinians are beholden to the gunmen for their resistance against the Israeli occupation and have a duty to protect them from reprisals.

At a rally Sunday in a basketball stadium in the central Gaza town of Deir el-Balah, Abbas pledged before thousands of Palestinians, including hundreds of gunmen, not to abandon them.

"We say to our fighting brothers that are wanted by Israel, we will not rest until you can enjoy a life of security, peace, and dignity, so you can live in your country with total freedom," he said.

Abbas also promised to follow in Arafat's footsteps, saying he would not rest until an independent Palestinian state was established, Israeli settlements were dismantled and Palestinian refugees got their rights.

"The principles of Yasser Arafat, and his sayings, are his will and it is our duty to implement it," Abbas said.

Mahmoud Mashabat, head of the Jenin Martyrs' Brigades, a small, local militant group, embraced Abbas and kissed him.

After Abbas left, the gunmen began shooting in the air.

On Saturday, Abbas was warmly welcomed by dozens of Palestinian gunmen in the Rafah refugee camp, a frequent flashpoint of Israeli-Palestinian fighting. During that rally, he praised Palestinian fugitives wanted by Israel as heroes.

Look for the carnage to continue until the Israelis finally get tired of burying their children's body parts and either pull up stakes and leave or decide to eradicate the PLO and it's terrorist affiliates. Those are the only two realistic options for Israel. Peace with the Palestinians is achievable only through mass evacuation, total conquest, or total surrender. Nothing less will appease the Palestinians and anyone who thinks otherwise is not living in the real world. Unfortunately, the world is full of people who are not living in the real world.