Friday, April 28, 2006

The First Amendment is not optional

One of my favorite watchdog groups is FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. They see their role as guarding the first amendment rights of students and faculty of institutions of higher education. Something which needs to be done. Speech codes and diversity mandates abound and seem to grow larger and more intrusive every year.

As they state on their website though. At public universities, restrictions on the first amendment are not policy decision, they are illegal. Something university administrators should remember.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Kurdish Question

For Turkey and Iran, the PKK, a Kurdish terrorist organization has been a issue for decades. Both are currently conducting operations against the PKK along the Iraqi border (and within Iraq on occasion). The maintanence of an Iraqi state is essential to peace in the region because an independent Kurdish state would not be acceptable to Turkey or Iran.

For more see California Yankee and the Strategy Page.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Private Military Companies and the Future of War

The Foreign Policy Research Institute has an article by Deborah Avant entitled Private Military Companies and the Future of War. She outlines the issues involved with the ever increasing use of private military companies. It is worth reading for an overview of the issues but she also proposes some solutions.

United 93

I have seen the trailer for the new film United 93, based on the events of 9/11, a number of times and it has left me conflicted. By all appearances, it is a well made film that shows great respect to the families of the victims. There is a part of me that feels that I should watch this film. That we should all watch it if for no other reason, than to remind us that behind all the ongoing blather about WMD's and leaks and Iraq, there was an immense tragedy that effected us all greatly. There really are people out to get us as Americans and that is something that we really do need to pay attention to.

On the other hand, in the days following 9/11, I came to a point where I had to severely restrict my intake of news and images just to maintain my own mental stability it was so troubling. When I watched the trailer for United 93, I am reminded of how I felt in those days (which is the point of the film) but I am not sure that seeing it would be good for me today.

This is a subject on which I will need to think some more. I suspect that my feelings about this film are not unusual.

As an added note: Andrew Sullivan says he will not see this film for many of the reasons I discussed.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Iraqi Government

Austin Bay has a essay on Strategy Page in which he outlines a very logical theory as to why the Iraqis have been taking so long to finalize their government. He suggests that Ayatollah Sistani has been quietly and patiently orchestrating an arrangement where Muqtada Sadr is continually marginalized and will eventually be rendered powerless.

Go read it. It makes sense and suggests a level of sophistication in Iraqi politics that the MSM can't seem to find.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Private Armies

I commented on Blackwater USA's offer of a brigade sized force for peacekeeping roles for any taker. The return of private military forces, which have been very negligable for the last couple of centuries at least, has been something that I have expected to see for a while now. I am a little surprised at how this has developed. I really expected major international corporations to develop these to provide for security for their facilities and personnel worldwide.

Though, outsourcing has been in fashion for a while, so why should Exxon develop their own military forces, when they can hire them from Blackwater when they need them.

And, yes, the initial discussion was to national governments and the UN, but if anyone does not think that Blackwater, or one of their competitors, won't take Exxon's contract they are delusional.

I must say that I am using Exxon as an example. It could just as easily be Motorola, Royal Dutch Shell, or Ford.