Archive for February, 2007

To Avoid a U.S. Invasion
Or: How Iran Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

Reposted from December, 2004.

On November 26 Iran refused to cease uranium enrichment contrary to an agreement reached between Iran and the European Union. According to the New York Times, this supports the Bush Administration’s notion that Iran has secret ambitions to build a nuclear weapon. Actually, this would imply that Iran has overt ambitions to build a nuclear weapon.

Can one blame Iran for nuclear ambition? Considering the protectorate ideology of the cold war, whereas one must have nuclear weapons in order to discourage nuclear attack, Iran’s future as a political entity could depend upon nuclear capability. The argument can, and has, been made that the United States’ threat of military confrontation will provide Iran with incentive to comply with international demands of disarmament. However, Iran’s ambitions have been cultivated by rhetoric from the Bush Administration, notably their inclusion in the “Axis of Evil,” along with Iraq and North Korea. While eventually laughed off in our own country, abroad such language remains a damaging indication of our government’s intentions, as Abu Ghraib remains a festering indication of U.S. behavior at war.

According to George W. Bush in his infamous 2002 State of the Union address, Iran “pursues these weapons” of mass destruction and poses “a grave and growing danger.” Bush also asserted in this speech that Iraq actively “plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade.” The meaning of this was clear: the administration was more and more adamant for military confrontation with Iraq.

Seeking to avoid an invasion, Iraq submitted itself to apparently very successful inspections, yet Bush would not allow this to avert his war plans. Iraq openly demonstrated no interest in developing weaponry, but was still invaded. The occupation eventually demonstrated the truth, the incompleteness of the Bush administration’s understanding. A U.S. initiated October report found that Iraq ceased all WMD ambitions by 1996.

The second country of the “Axis of Evil,” North Korea, took a different approach. In the months following Bush’s address, it became increasingly clear that North Korea did, indeed, possess a nuclear weapons program and perhaps nuclear weapons. North Korean diplomats did little to discourage this thinking, boasting of bombs before the international community was certain they existed. It now seems certain that North Korea has several atomic weapons. To date, North Korea has yet to be invaded, and all foreign policy directed from the United States has been geared toward diplomacy.

Recent evidence suggests that Iran operates a nuclear weapons program as well. Predictably, the European Union has begun seeking a diplomatic solution, and the United States has referenced the “military option.” However, is this the first talk of the military option regarding Iran? Iran probably interpreted “Axis of Evil” to mean that invasion was already being discussed, and considers atomic weaponry insurance.

It’s really not a surprising, nor illogical, attitude. Given the administration’s apparent contempt for diplomacy, Iran is uncertain whether compromise can be effective. Based upon the rhetoric, they scramble to construct a strategy to avoid an American invasion. Iraq has been invaded, North Korea has not. Iran may have had nuclear ambitions regardless, but accelerated their efforts due to a growing threat from the U.S.

An angry man is standing in a crowded square, and the police are closing in on him. Will he last longer with or without a gun?

The United States has created another arms race, one in which the other side is hopelessly behind. Worse, the opposition is forbidden to compete by international law. While the U.S. agenda of disarmament and terrorist containment was often hailed as noble in the flood of international sympathy after September 11, the U.S. has squandered its credibility invading Iraq. Accusations of dangerous weaponry will never carry the same weight, and will fall on deaf ears. Instead of peaceful disarmament, U.S. foreign policy has provoked accused states
to work towards armed defense.

10 Favorite Albums

Sunday, February 18th, 2007

Someone on the WebcomicList forums asked everybody to name their 10 favorite albums of all time. I had a little trouble with the order, and limiting them to just ten, so in no particular order, here’s the albums I’ve bought over the years that probably will never go away so long as I still breathe.

Miles Davis – Kind of Blue – I actually only really listened to this album the first time about two years ago, but it prompted a Miles obsession that resulted in me owning every work he ever produced. Amazing artist that changed everything.

Johnny Cash – Live from San Quentin – The witty banter, engrossing stories, and deep spiritual politics is mesmerizing.

Beatles – The White Album – an old favorite. Could be Abbey Road, except for the first half. This album is perfect.

Nas – Illmatic – NY State of Mind. Halftime. Life’s a Bitch and Then You Die. 10 tracks that never miss once.

Jay-Z – Reasonable Doubt – Same deal except Jay-Z.

Wu Tang Clan – Enter the 36th Chambers This album introduced the world to the RZA, the GZA, Ghostface Killah, Method Man, Old Dirty Bastard and a bunch of other legendary rappers. And none of them ever made a better album than this. The raw energy has never been duplicated, this shit changed everything.

A Tribe Called Quest – The Low End Theory The first hip-hop album I ever loved, I owe a debt of gratitude to Tip and Phife for showing me what music could really be.

Vince Guaraldi Trio – A Charlie Brown Christmas – I loved this album when I was a kid, and rediscovered Guaraldi when I got into jazz. Nothing else could have complimented those cartoons so perfectly, and the music holds up on its own quite well. Only for Christmas time, but when I hear it I enjoy it. (Unlike every other Christmas song which I just tune out).

Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On? – I’ve only owned this album for a few months, but I don’t know how I ever lived without it. Gaye is just so personal and so enlightening. I’d listen to him for just the lyrics even if he wasn’t blessed with that incredibly perfect voice.

The Coup – Steal This Album – Maybe the greatest political album ever written, the Coup get tragically little attention. Excellently funky hip-hop with equally excellent intelligent lyrics.

The Roots – Do You Want More? – Best fusion of jazz and hip-hop ever made. People will try and tell you that Things Fall Apart is the Root’s masterpiece because of the lyrical sophistication. While it is the better album lyrically, its only incrementally, and the music on Do You Want More? is more experimental than anything else the Roots have ever done.

Sublime – 40 Oz. to Freedom – I don’t know why this album hasn’t gone away, but it lingers. It’s really wonderful stuff on so many levels.

David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars – this shit is so great, and it mostly has to do with an acid trip I took once. But whatever, it’s still excellent music and a really compelling concept.

Honorable mentions: Pink Floyd – The Wall, Mos Def – Black on Both Sides, The Notorious B.I.G. – Ready to Die