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Short Take — Libyan Embassy Crisis

The attack on the Libyan embassy and continued demonstrations at other embassies is deeply significant. First, this:

I largely agree with Barry Rubin here. I am getting very steamed off by the administration’s response to this incident and the almost non nonchalant way they’re glossing over the death of a US ambassador. Don’t buy the ‘This stupid film caused it’ line. These people were looking for any kind of justification and to step into the trap of attacking free speech would only play into their hands.

This incident in Libya should have provoked the wrath of God from the US. And I don’t mean war per say – We should have been demanding protection and threatening to withdraw all support from affected countries immediately if they hemmed and hawed. Instead – we prattle, apologize, blow in the wind. It makes our country look weak and uncaring, and gives our friends even more reasons to doubt out word.

The killing of Americans – or any westerner, for that matter – should not be allowed to become a trivial act. If we fail to respond decisively to the death of an ambassador and several diplomats – an act throughout history traditionally regarded as an act of war – we simply undermine ourselves. 

I’ll break things down in more detail another day. But a few more thoughts –

It is likely that Iranian intelligence / Hezbollah was behind this attack, or Al Qaeda. Whatever party orchestrated what was absolutely a deliberate, planned out, targeted assassination is attempting to stoke a regional war, and as we all know with politics – it could be for any number of reasons.

I’m also deeply frustrated that the western press is so eager to baby and excuse religious bigotry when it come from radical Islam. There is a hard line in the sand when it comes to freedom of speech and expression, and people who wish to live in a modern world have to learn to take blows and suck it up just like everybody else does. Christianity and most modern mainstream religions regularly get ridiculed. Fundamentalist Islam should not get a pass just because they get violent.

This has just been an awful week news wise. A wonderful lead in to the election season!

Great Kickstarter Project – Planetary Annihilation

Go. Click. Now.

Longtime audience members know just how much of a strategy game nut I am. I like the hardcore, slowpaced, immersive sort of game that has juust the right mix of micromanagement and real time action, like Supreme Commander or Medieval Total War 2.

With the latest update brought out in the last week of this kickstarter project, this game has gone from potentially great to potentially AWESOME.

I know this isn’t politics – I’m still a gamer at heart, folks! Think of this as a fun little distraction, and even if you don’t chip anything in – something to look forward too since the base game has already been confirmed.

I like the idea of crowdsourcing, and the thumb it sticks in the eyes of massive game publishers. It’ll be great to see what a talented group of game developer pros can do with the gift of utter freedom!

Regarding Iran and Foreign Policy Options

Well isn’t this right timely?

PJMedia did a posting on possible options with dealing with Iran. Some of them sound a lot like my suggestions, and largely I agree with the things posited in this piece.

For those who need a reminder, I discussed this earlier in a caller clarification article.

Discuss! Or not. It’s up to you. I’ll likely bring this up on Friday’s show (8:30pm. Sorry Canada, time constraints demand it.)

BREAKING: Kim Jong Il of North Korea – DEAD

Thank you Drudge!

And Pajamas Media!

The best timestamp I can put on this is ~7:30pm Pacific Time

Normally this would warrant a Short Notice Skeptic Conservative Podcast in the veins of the fabled “Bin Laden is Dead” show, done 2 hours after the event took place.

Instead, I encourage all of you to listen in to Flyoverterritory’s Show for tonight, as he might break it down later on in the broadcast.

What does Kim’s death mean? It could mean a lot of things! It certainly puts a death clock on the North Korean regime.

I’ll break this down here as the night goes on – After the jump below. Newbies should look here! Anyone should ask questions regarding North Korea via comment here and they will be addressed!

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Quick Thoughts on NATO Strike in Pakistan

Howdy folks! We have some interesting breaking news as of today, the 26th – before I get into my rough analysis of the situation, please consider browsing my archives! While they are a little messy and don’t properly walk back and forth (from post to post) they’re there, I put work into them, and I’d love to have your thoughts! A few suggestions before the jump:

Also after the jump and at the end of the analysis, a few production notes. That’s incentive for you people to click the darned read more button! ;p

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Obama’s Inauguration: Monologue

I just finished watching the inauguration of our new president.

Talk about a complex swirling of emotions. For me, and many of the people I know, Bush has been our president for almost half of our lives. Many of us have been frustrated, and angered by his performance, and his approval ratings at the end of his presidency were amongst the lowest in history. America is frustrated, and desperate for some change in Obama. Personally, I am not happy with Bush for many reasons – mainly with the early conduct of the Iraq war, and his major expansion of government. However, I am forever grateful to the man for doing an outstanding job of watching over the nation. When faced with a world-changing attack on September 11th, he reacted exactly as we should have – and ever since that day, our soil has been untouched. Say what you will about Bush, but he cared about our safety, more so then almost anything else – and that’s what I believe history will remember him for.

It is during his last days that a president is often the most hated. Some of our most popular presidents of yesterday were despised by the common man under their rule, and as people today sneer at Bush, and call him ‘the worst ever’, I simply invite you to look at Calvin Coolidge, James Buchanan, or Warren G. Harding. It always could be worse.

I watched Marine One rise from the capitol steps with mixed feelings – this is a huge shift for this country. It’s not quite the end of an era – more like a change in focus – or an attempt to change the focus of the country. It was odd, watching the man who presided over a tumultuous period in our history finally leave, and hand his power to his successor peacefully, the way it should be. I knew it was coming, but it never quite hits you when it actually happens. When Obama finished his oath, people were cheering – but it seemed somewhat muted, as if people were remembering that we are stepping forward into hard times. And indeed, we are – the world is a much scarier place now then it seemed a decade ago.

I remain cautiously optimistic about Obama, and will continue to be as I judge his actions over the term, or terms, of his presidency, until he gives me good reason to believe otherwise. Many of you have high hopes, and others fears – and I expect he will surprise us all with what he ultimately does. Many folks love Obama right now – and this is a proud moment for our nation indeed, this is the time to be celebratory. But be wary – In times like these, inevitably, he will make choices that will be very unpopular. We must remember that there is still a great deal of frustration and fear in this country – frustration at the political process, frustration with corruption, anger towards people such as Bernie Madoff, and those in power who always seem to somehow get away with ripping off their fellow man.

Washington is still the same as it always has been, if Pelosi and Harry Reid have been any indication, as we saw with their political gamesmanship with Burris and Blagojevich. Don’t be surprised if we see a lot of spars between Obama and the Democratic leadership – already, lines are being drawn in the sand, rhetoric being thrown back and forth. Extremist elements in the democratic party are thirsty to use the power they have been handed by a disgruntled nation, and Obama’s biggest challenge will be to keep these elements in check.

The ceremony itself was fairly nice – the musical performance with Perlman, Yo-yo ma, and others was a treat – especially when it rang with echoes of Aaron Copeland, while the poet laurette and the 2nd pastor were a bit odd. What sticks with me however, was the National Anthem sung by the navy chanters. Call me sentimental, but when done properly – with dignity – it never fails to fill me with emotion. Obama’s speech was also pretty well done, and inspiring – while I listened with some skepticism, I was still impressed. Say what you will about him, but the man gives great speeches – like Bush used to when he was first elected.

So, my hat goes off to my – our new president. He finally has it – the day I never thought I’d be seeing has come and gone. I wish him the best, for all of our sakes. I do not agree with Obama on many things, and many of you know this – but I am an American, and Obama is my president. That simple fact will not change over the next four years, barring extraordinary circumstances. But I will also do my best to hold him accountable for what he does in office. And I encourage all of you to do the same, Left, right, no matter your ideology. I’m not asking you to be paranoid, or angry, or doubtful of everything he does – simply hold him to a high standard, make him EARN your trust and your faith in his actions. I think America has really stepped up to the plate in the past few months – as a whole, I believe we are more well informed, more interested in current events, and generally more actively involved in politics. This is a very positive thing – and it is exactly what we need to have continue so we can really make some progress in battling the corruption of the political class of this nation. Good luck Obama.

Keep an eye on this:

EDIT 6/10/13: Light polishing

Digg: US Military Report Warns ‘sudden collapse’ of Mexico

An alarming story for some of you, I’m sure – but something that has been looming on the political horizon for some years. The drug and gang violence in Mexico has become crippling – staggering. Police chiefs and officers in Mexico have been increasingly targeted for assassination, kidnappings, and torture. There have been reports over the past few weeks warning of the possibility of this violence and lawlessness spilling over the border – and it very well could. Need I remind you of the border tunnels the authorities continue to find and dismantle, and the US Anti Kidnapping expert who got kidnapped and vanished off the face of the earth?

Don’t let yourself be too surprised by this ‘sudden’ development. Mexico is in serious trouble, and has been for decades. It’s just that very recently, it has taken a turn for the worse. More and more bodies are turning up everyday in the country – most of them showing signs of brutal torture, and missing their heads. I will write more about this later, but for now, I can say that it’s likely we will start assisting the government of Mexico with anti-gang efforts, and at some point we may send in military or SWAT reinforcements to bolster the Mexican police and army. And in the worst case scenario, if the government utterly collapses, we will have no choice but to send in the military to quiet things down. We cannot tolerate an entire nation of anarchy on our doorstep. Not to mention that if the current bloodshed is any indication, the violence exacted against rival gangs, and the people of Mexico, would escalate to horrific levels, possibly to the point of all out civil war. The implications of such an action on our part could be serious – but ultimately beneficial. Time will tell as it always does. Stay tuned for more.

Israel Vs. Hamas: Analysis

The Skeptic Conservative is having a fun time at college – Classes have started off well, and his new years resolutions include fun things like making this Blog successful, staying in shape – the usual stuff. This will be a busy week for me, but I’m going to hold myself to publishing at least an article a day – we’ll see how long I can keep it up! As always, write – comment – anything! It will make me a happy blogger, and happy bloggers write more.

The war between Israel and Hamas has been going on for over two weeks, with the end drawing near. We’ve seen it dominate the headlines and the debate on the internet, and we have seen a vehement reaction against almost everything Israel has done – which, I suppose, shouldn’t surprise anyone. Briefly, lets take a look at Israel’s actual goals in this conflict:

1) Stop the current rocket barrage

Call them bottle rockets, call them toys, crude instruments being thrown at a massive, technologically superior enemy – the fact remains that these weapons kill, and they disrupt daily life in Israel. It seems many people are fond of romanticizing these rockets, but reality doesn’t quite support them. It has been documented that rather then being simple bottle rockets, these are unguided explosive devices packed with shrapnel. Some are also more sophisticated rockets smuggled in under the Egyptian border, courtesy of Iran. Because of this, whenever they are noticed, all life stops in Israel for a few brief minutes as everyone takes cover and waits for the impact. The damage of this weapon is psychological, and to a lesser extent economical, and anyone who doesn’t realize how someone may be forever changed by a rocket exploding meters behind them and nearly killing them is being blind to the facts. The rockets can’t be allowed to continue, it endangers Israeli civilians too much.

2) Prevent future rocket barrages

This is something I am afraid that Israel may not do good on – but I sincerely hope they are serious this time. The classic problem with Hamas that every time Israel has ceded territory, the rocket barrages have not stopped. There are several ways this can be done – first, Israel could live up to their “Reputation” of being genocidal maniacs and flatten the entire Gazan strip with heavy artillery and carpet bombs. Of course, they aren’t going to do that because they value human life. The other way – and what it seems they’re doing – Is to more painstakingly secure the entire country, obliterate Hamas, and stabilize the country before they leave. That way, quality of life can improve, the Palestinians can realize that Israeli’s really don’t want to kill them all, and they can live without fear of Hamas killing squads executing those seen sympathizing with the Zionists. This cannot last for too long – but it has to happen at some point for the peace process to move forward.

3)Destabilize and De-legitimize Hamas

Sure, Hamas was a popularly elected government – but it is an illegitimate one and the Palestinians made a poor choice in selecting them. Democracy is good – but in this case it failed because an extremist organization was able to seize power in the immediate aftermath of a bloody civil war. The Palestinians were half forced, half incited to vote the way they did, making them the ultimate victims. Hamas has no incentives to make peace in the region since their stated mission is to destroy and conquer Israel, so they simply must be toppled. They do not truly represent the people and their interests, since they do not value their lives.

4) Put a good face on the war

Israel is simply trying to hard here. Before you chew me out, listen – We have already seen that the media is not interested in supporting Israel in the least. Despite showing tremendous restraint in response to Hamas, every case of friendly fire and collateral damage have been blown out of proportion. Israel needs to continue as they have, without fear – if they continue to be righteous, and ESPECIALLY if they help rebuild Gaza, the world will favor them in the long run. For now, no matter what they do, they will be condemned. I’m not saying they should completely shun the press – but they should not let the media and their headlines dictate their policies. It is weakness, and it is exactly what Hamas is seeking.

Hamas’ Goals

Hamas’ simple goals can be summed as follows:

1) Conquer Israel

It should be obvious to people that Hamas has a dedicated vendetta against the existence of Israel the state. It is blatantly, boldly stated in their charter that their ultimate goal is the destruction of Israel. They want to violently reclaim Israel’s territory, and most of all they want Jerusalem. They are not interested in coexistence with moderates, much less Jews. It is simply not possible to make peace with such a group unless you can convince them to change their views with diplomatic means, and as necessary, military means.

2) Maximize Civilian Casualties

Hamas does not value human life. They have demonstrated this time and time again in their struggle with Israel – using human shields is now a common tactic with them. Why shouldn’t they? The media loves to ignore, or sidestep, the fact that Hamas goes out of it’s way to put civilians in harm’s way. Rockets are fired from neighborhoods, Hamas operations are conducted in hospitals, all to guarantee that as rocket positions are destroyed, civilians are caught in the cross fire. Hamas also doesn’t hesitate to kill civilians who oppose their agenda. They even broadcast television shows that seek to brainwash children into hating Israel, Jews, and advocating their violent overthrow. To Hamas, the Palestinian people are useful tools to further their agenda, and nothing more. They do not value their lives much beyond that.

3) Wage Propaganda War Against Israel

This is the number one tactic of Hamas in it’s fight against Israel. Almost all of their public actions are carefully planned and carried out in a way to make Israel look bad. They cater to the West’s disgust of war by making sure Israel is forced to attack “civilian” targets, that women and children are killed, and that civilians get caught in the cross fire. To the mainstream, it seems that they can do no wrong – and they are cast as the David in David vs. Goliath. They also use the internet rather effectively – a tactic that saw widespread use with Al Qaeda in Iraq. They hate the West – but they will not hesitate to exploit the West’s weaknesses in order to fight them.

4) Continue the fight at all costs

Hamas has continually violated cease fires, truces, etc. during this prolonged struggle with Israel. Despite numerous concessions made by Israel, Hamas and their allies have continued the fight. In periods of peace, they smuggle in weapons, consolidate their power and then they begin to provoke Israel into striking back, and ‘breaking’ the truce. You would have to be a careful observer of television news to notice that Hamas had been firing rockets all summer long, despite the truce that had been put in place in July. Hamas cannot be assumed to act in good faith because of this.

In Sum:

Above all else, it is highly essential for you, who are mostly people in the western world, to realize that we are looking at a completely different culture then ours. Hamas takes itself very seriously – they know they are combating a technologically superior enemy that could squash them like a bug, but they are not afraid to go to the horrific lengths that we would not consider. I can almost guarantee that if somehow, Hamas had the strength and military might of Israel, they would not hesitate to massacre the entire nation, annihilate all signs of their presence, and build it over with symbols of their own culture. Hamas practices a branch of Islam that preaches violence, and spreading their religion by the sword. This is a fundamental facet of the ideology we find ourselves battling in Iraq and Afghanistan – to them it is a religious, cultural struggle. It is a sad and unfortunate thing that this branch of Islam has not undergone a reformation like Christianity has – but we must continue to oppose and battle this ideology of hate and oppression. But consider what I am saying carefully – I am deliberately singling out Extreme Islam, not moderate Islam. This struggle – this culture war, is sadly becoming one of the most key struggles in our history, and we must stand strong against it.

EDIT 6/10/13: Light polishing

Monologue: Israel vs Hamas

First of all, before I dive into the rhetoric, let me begin by saying I hope everybody had a fantastic holiday season and New Years.

As I relaxed during my vacation, things heated up considerably between Israel and Palestine. We saw a week of air strikes followed by a massive ground invasion of the Gaza strip. As ‘official’ casualties stand, 4 Israeli’s are dead and roughly 400 Palestinians are dead, most of them Hamas members. This is obviously a huge story, and represents several things for Israel. The events have been and will be discussed to death – and people continue to endlessly argue about the why, the how, the what of how evil/cruel/ruthless either side is. Truth be told, we will not know the real answers until this is over. But, Israel is entirely justified in their actions, and are going about this as carefully and powerfully as they should be.

It’s important to look upon these events with a sense of perspective – Israel and Hamas greatly mistrust each other. They have been fighting for years, and both sides have dirt on their hands. However, Hamas has proven itself over and over again to be a ruthless regime that cares little for the good of their people. As part of their charter, their stated goal is to annihilate Israel, to keep up the fight until they have taken back all of ‘their’ land. As part of the truce that expired, we saw continuous rocket fire over the entire sumer. Hardly the stance of a country that wants to make peace. Hamas leaders, in the past, and especially when this past ‘truce’ was ratified, have openly, even proudly stated that any peace achieved would be used to gather strength and to prepare for fighting Israel. It is easy for many of us to underestimate such statements, dismiss them out of hand – but they take themselves seriously. They use any and all means to battle, as we see when they masterfully employ propaganda to further their goals. When they were given Gaza, they made sure that infrastructure was destroyed in order to perpetuate Palestinian’s constant state of misery – this misery and poverty makes them very susceptible to being manipulated and used as tools in a far greater agenda.  We also cannot forget the fact that Hamas is openly backed and supported by Iran – an accepted enemy and rival of Israel.

The government of Hamas is not interested in peace. They oppress their countrymen, and have forced Israel to act as harsh as they have the past year. The borders are closed for a reason – Weapon smuggling is rampant, and UN refugee camps have been used as centers for inciting hatred, violence, producing suicide bombers, and building weapons. Israel has every reason to want to control the flow over their borders, because they have been abused in the past. Egypt keeps their border closed as well – they do not want to get involved, and have other motives – which results in no supplies getting through except through smuggling tunnels. Egypt, like much of the arab world, sees the Palestinians as a useful thorn in the side of Israel. There are many reasons for this – there’s plenty of bad blood with Israel over past, lost wars, and with all the attention focused on Israel, they can maintain their oppressive regimes with little scrutiny. They will protest, trumpet loudly about the evils of the zionists – but they will only go so far, and we have seen them waffle and waver this past week.

Hamas must be toppled, and Israel has to step up to the plate and assist the Gazan state in rebuilding infrastructure and restoring normalcy to the area. Israel has already stated that their sole goal is to destroy Hamas, they have no intention of long term occupation. Gaza now belongs to the Palestinians, and it will stay that way. I urge all of you foaming at the mouth to condemn Israel to watch, wait, and observe events closely these next few weeks – roughly a week ago, Israel opened a border crossing, and we have seen them specifically target Hamas military targets. Civilian deaths result, despite the precision weaponry, because Hamas deploys in population centers. But, as Israel fills the region, and kicks Hamas out (Hamas has no chance of winning this fight, something I will discuss soon) we will likely see an outpouring of aid into the area.

I hope that I’m right, and I hope that this conflict is resolved as soon as possible. Not only is it dangerous for Israeli’s and Palestinians, it’s crucial to remember that as long as this conflict goes on, the world’s eyes will be averted from all else. Now is the perfect time for malevolent forces and regimes the world over to make bold moves and further their goals, and they’ve already begun.

A good overview of the overall situation, and yes, I read this AFTER I wrote this post. (Courtesy of a fellow digger)  ((Unfortunately dead link, goes to main page))

EDIT 6/10/13: Removed old announcements, dead link warning