Monday, November 30, 2009

Journalist Ga Ga

And here I am referring to the old-style Gaga, not the later, derivative, Ga Ga (89 million views? Really? What is Yerbolat doing wrong?).

Now that Obama has made a decision on the New American Way in Afghanistan, everyone gets to say something about it. It's probably not a coincidence that that everyone's favorite hot new blog, The Security Crank, came out just a couple weeks before news started leaking.

For as long as there's been a Central Asian blogosphere, blogs have been discrediting self-proclaimed experts. Things have really picked up recently, however, with Mssrs. Hamm, Bleuer, Musafirbek, and the decidedly-not-French Gunslinger all publishing pieces with varying strengths of dismay. I'm sure they're not the only ones, but I'm sure you get the point.

It's a mixed blessing, to be sure. It's always fun to put a burn into writing, and it isn't like these are excessive inanities like on Fire Joe Morgan...policy, trade, and (lest we forget) human lives are being balanced based on what's written in the New York Times. So we best be sure they write it right.

It's not too bold to say that us here in the stanosphere get upset that, for all of our studying we've done on the region, the policy makers would seemingly rather get some headliners. The Crank had a point:
Celebrity matters more than knowledge in thinktankistan.
But as traditional journalism continues to die, blogs become more powerful. Nowhere can this be seen better than over at neweurasia, where they continue to revolutionize newsmedia in Central Asia. If you take a glance over to the Cyber Chaikana, you can see that the writers over there are writing over the droll and dreck that grey journalism (newspapers, television, anything involving startup costs and government supervision) puts out. They're creating a new media outlet to overtake the old. And if you've ever read a newspaper or watched the news in Central Asia, you know they're doing a darn good job.

Stateside, things get a bit more interesting. Our grey journalism may not be under state control, but grey journalists still need to be paid, which means that they need to toe the company line, make advertisers money, and keep their sources happy (and, in some cases, alive). So it is interesting to see when establishment people like Exum and Farrall (I know, not stateside, Australia is representin' in CA) set up blogs...they all of the sudden can cite to blogistan, write colloquialy, and give unburnished opinions. They create a bridge from the old grey writing to the new-look news.

We're scary as Hell because we write for free (mostly). We can write what we want, how we want without responding to editors (mostly). We can scoop sources, we can give analysis, we can write scathing responses to bad sources and bad analysis, all beyond government reach. That's pretty cool. And sure, grey journalism is going to be around for a long while, but it may already be tipping towards a Gazetebashi model.

I got attracted to Registan and the general stanosphere by the cutting writing knocking the old media to size (this comes to mind, particularly, but I've been reading for way longer than that). The blogging allows for all-access to analysis pretty handily, and I wonder if, after all of our teeth-gnashing, we may have a bigger say on the policy we mock than we may think.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

There Will Be Noun.

Four-part entry, all from Al Jazeera English. They're my favorite mainstream newssource because they actually cover the fun parts of the world from Morocco to Indonesia. And, yeah, they have biases, but they're a lot more up front and honest about their biases than most folks, I think. Anyways, onto the fun.

There Will Be Blood:
According to the FSB, someone bombed a train between St. Petersburg and Moscow. They blame Kavkaz Ingushetians which, I mean, they would. But someone is going to get their teeth knocked in courtesy of OMON, and I just hope it isn't me. As a wise person (I think this one, but I'm not sure) once told me, "Thank whatever God you believe in every day that you were not born in Cechnya [or anywhere else in the North Caucasus]." No matter how pretty it may be.

There Will Be Khash:
AlJ also has a nice puff-piece on how wonderful Armenia-Turkey relations could be, and how awesome the AKP is, and all of that. Not newsworthy in the least (I've already written basically the same thing), but if this means there could be an Armenian restaurant to rival Kurdish Ciya Sofrasi in Istanbul by the time I move back, I'll be happy.

There Will Be a Reckoning:
Zardari's Amnesty expired in Pakistan. Zardari is the widower of everyone's favorite Anglophone, Benazir Bhutto, which makes this relavent to us stateside. But yeah, if the judiciary in Pakistan has recovered enough from the Lawyer's Uprising under Musharraf, this could be interesting. Pakistan is already going through lots of turmoil, so I'd imagine the US wants him to stay in power and to keep the status quo in queue. Let's see how the rule of law deals with that.

There Will Be Grandstanding:
Really Switzerland? Four mosques is four too many for your country? That's what the People's Party says (probable motto: not all the people, just the right ones), and yeah, it's probably just Al Jazeera getting upset over nothing. But meanwhile, how cool-looking is that Swiss Chalet style mosque in the picture? And what does Hakan Yakin think of "İsviçre'de hiç camiler yakında olmaz?"

Apologies for that probably not being gramatically correct, but on that note, happy Thanksgiving/Turkey day, Eid Bayrami Mubarak, and have a good weekend, y'all. As always, check out Registan for my big-boy posting.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


It sounds great.
"Cultivation is uncomplicated....The plant can grow in wastelands and grows on almost any terrain, even on gravelly, sandy and saline soils. It can thrive in poor and stony soils, although new research suggests that the plant's ability to adapt to these poor soils is not as extensive as had been previously stated."

And as for its utility?
"When jatropha seeds are crushed, the resulting jatropha oil can be processed to produce a high-quality biodiesel that can be used in a standard diesel car, while the residue (press cake) can also be processed and used as biomass feedstock to power electricity plants or used as fertilizer (it contains nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium)."

So there is a plant that can grow nearly anywhere, and its seeds can be crushed to make biodiesel, and make it a lot easier than any other biofuel can be made.

My first reaction when I heard about jatropha was that it would be great for Afghanistan. With the economy where it is, something as high-margin as jatropha oil and derivatives would be a tremendous boon. The Afghan Embassy in Canada agrees (c. 2006, at least), and there's plenty of related programs, though in Mozambique and Mali. India is really heading research on jatropha as a way to turn the Thar Desert into something at least economically viable. The project over at Tree Oil India gets the Oil Drum folks excited, and they're always cynical.

So what's the catch? This (click for bigger):

Basically, the plant is thirsty as all get-out. And sure, it can grow on arid wasteland, and that's what folks say in press releases, but if one wants to scale up to any sort of industrial level, there'll be a huge need for water. A 20,000:1 water:biodiesel ratio probably isn't doable without creating monstrous, Soviet-esque, damming and irrigation projects. As such, China may be going big.

So it's an interesting option, planting biodiesel trees that can create a self-sufficient energy infrastructure. In Afghanistan, it sounds somewhat similar to the Micro-Hydro Plant theory. This is what once I said about MHP:
If anything, real, tangible, urban areas could potentially be the result of free (or subsidized) electricity. The past 8 years of war have showed that urban areas are a lot easier for ISAF to handle than the rural areas.

Do I think the same thing could happen because of Jatropha? Well, probably to a different extent, but sure. It could happen. I used to think corruption was the major roadblock for any sort of organic infrastructure and urban growth strategy. And it's not like corruption disappeared, but I think there's a bigger roadblock now.

The Ink-Spot strategy has lots of proponents, and far be it from me to Know Afghanistan Better than Steve Coll (because I unequivocally do not, and he's a really nice guy besides) but my biggest criticism of ink-spots is that it puts the agricultural heart of the Afghan economy in the hands of the not-ISAF. It makes the urban areas that are relying on aid even more reliant on aid because they're cut off from their hinterlands. The ink-spot strategy leaves any sort of possibility of real growth and state-building off the table in favor of a solely military solution. A solution that will become more and more difficult as the ISAF's opposition (call 'em Taliban, call 'em Haqqani, call 'em whatever) can build up a legitimate state structure in lieu of Karzai's government.

So I present this Jatropha exploration as a damning of the ink-spot strategy more than as a legitimate opportunity for growth. It's dead on arrival, along with any other attempt to build agricultural growth, or even just a non-poppy economy.

But suppose it wasn't. Suppose jatropha caught on, and swept the nation, from Herat to Afghanistan. This is a plant that leeches nutrients from the already-barren soil its planted on, and chugs water like an ironman. Large-scale industrial planting would probably destroy the land within a generation, if not less.

Say you could guarantee 20 years of economic growth, a self-sufficient Afghan government, a rise of industrial capacity, and general economic stability and urbanization of Afghanistan. Would you take that if it would mean that after those 2 decades, you would have to create a whole new economy from scratch? If it would mean that you would sacrifice the next generation's stability to guarantee this one's? It's basically a question of whether you think Taliban-esque terrorism is a blip or here to stay, and what the future of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan may be, to say nothing of Iran and Pakistan. But it's something to chew on, I suppose. Even if every problem was solved besides the military solution and the social solutions, are those accomplishable or intractable in the context of Central Asia?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

More up at Registan

I cleaned out my "to be posted" file here, but they're all better written and with comments talking about how stupid I am over at Registan. So when in doubt, read the ones over there.

Yerbolat and his minions of Kazakh wrestlers and attack dogs command you.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Berdimuhamedow, the Red President?

The story is a bit old, but that doesn't make it any less interesting. In Turkmenistan, what amount to a whole class of college students is being forbade from studying abroad in some capacity. The EurasiaNet article states that students looking to study elsewhere in the Former Soviet Union, rather than just anywhere in Europe or wherever, are the ones that are getting their visas frustrated.

I've been following this story at the same time that I've been reading The Well-Protected Domains, a book by Selim Deringil on how Abdulhamid II, the "Red Sultan" attempted to instill a sense of nationalism in the then-collapsing Ottoman Empire at the end of the 19th Century. It is fascinating stuff if you're an Ottoman nerd, and besides, Deringil was one of my favorite professors I've ever had.

But I digress, The Well-Protected Domains spends a bulk of its pages on the battle of education in the Ottoman Empire. The state was trying to bring Yezidis, Shi'a, and all the other non-Hanefi Muslims into the fold, and used scholarships to the major Istanbul schools to incentivize an Ottoman Education. At the same time, the state worked as hard as they could, usually through diplomatic channels, to keep the Francophone and otherwise missionary schools at a minimum and at a disadvantage from Ottoman schooling. They felt that schools outside the Ottoman state education system were a threat to the system (and were probably right, when you see that Ataturk had a Donme education in Salonika and all sorts of revolutionary folks when to Galatasaray).

It is an interesting parallel from late-era Ottoman lands to current-day Turkmenistan. Berdimuhamedow is the head of a state that probably could use some legitimacy from sources besides its natural gas and a flaming crater that could reasonably be posited as the entrance to Hell. For him to follow in Niyazov's statist legacy, he'll likely want a bureaucratic class that is educated the "right way" to some extent, at least. Turkmen educated in Kazakhstan may have allegiances that fall outside of Turkmenistan's celebrated neutrality, which would, of course, alter the course of the pipes shipping out gas. However much gas there may be.

I'd hate to build a reputation as "The Education Guy" over here, because that really isn't my academic focus (since my bio, like the rest of the new writers, hasn't been posted yet, I feel I ought to say that I'm getting a law degree stateside right now looking at natural resource law). All the same, education is a huge part of state-building and nation-building, and it has been since the rise of nationalism in the 19th Century. The Turkmen government wants to build a country from its natural gas reserves, which is certainly commendable. It just makes one wonder which blueprint they're looking at sometimes.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The AK will turn hardcore the Clay Aiken

That boy shakin', I'm throwin' 'em Troy Aikman

Great song for today...Fred the Godson references Howie Mandel, Clay Aiken, and Troy Aikman within the first few lines. Not quite as impressive as dropping Lane Kiffin, but still.

I'm running around a bit this weekend, what with school catching up to me and all, so I just wanted to note a few things. I'll try not to get too political/angry, and let you make your own decision. We'll see how that works out.

Most fascinatingly, Peter Galbraith made his own oil deal with the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq. Galbraith is ostensibly a private citizen, but he's been in a buncha think tanks, he was the first ambassador to Croatia the US had, and he carries around this "friend of the Kurds" label. He's been a big proponent of the Federalization of Iraq: splitting it into Shi'a, Sunni, and Kurdish districts. A lot could be said about this on either direction, sure, but it's important to note that it Federalization is not the US Policy in Iraq. All the same, he made his own oil deal with a Norwegian company that will bring Kurdish oil out through Turkey independent of what the rest of the Iraqi oil industry does. He apparently gets 5% (~$115 million). As the Times says:
As the scope of Mr. Galbraith’s financial interests in Kurdistan become clear, they have the potential to inflame some of Iraqis’ deepest fears, including conspiracy theories that the true reason for the American invasion of their country was to take its oil. It may not help that outside Kurdistan, Mr. Galbraith’s influential view that Iraq should be broken up along ethnic lines is considered offensive to many Iraqis’ nationalism.

In short, he circumvented the US government and US war effort and made a deal that benefits him personally at the detriment of US interests. I'm really not against this, it's perfectly fine with me, I cannot make that clear enough. And quotes like the following are legit:
“I believe my work with DNO (and other companies) helped create the Kurdistan oil industry which helps provide Kurdistan an economic base for the autonomy its people almost unanimously desire.” [quoth Galbraith] “So, while I may have had interests, I see no conflict,”
But this is certainly a big deal. I was expecting more anger about it. Fox News is surprisingly not even reporting when I was expecting red-mist rage. I'm not even sure what to make of that.

In other news, there's purportedly a USMil trained tiger mauling people in Afghanistan. (h/t to Ghosts of Alexander. The real story behind his article is actually really interesting, if not exactly new news). Is this a good time for the Bear Cavalry image? Yes, of course it is:

And then, going stateside, the US is looking to seize a few mosques because they're tenuously related with a bank that's tenuously related with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The article mentions that seizing religious buildings is always a bad idea. I couldn't agree more, I'm hoping it's just an alarmist article because you really don't want to mess with that if you're a democratic government, I think. But hey, if you can do things with closed mosques half as cool as closed malls, I'm down:
...deconstruct the moribund mall, they advised, and reconstruct it as a shopping center-cum-ecotourist attraction, its stores squatting, half-submerged, in the nearby wetlands remediation project.
And finally, the reason for the opening lyric, a happy belated birthday to Mr. Kalashnikov. According to Alex Visotzky, who has the blog I want to have, you used to be able to buy an AK-47 in Sierra Leone for $10. The dude basically took away the state's monopoly on large-scale gun violence with his invention, so here's a toast to bringing us in to war in the 21st century!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Had a bundle of struggle from birth to my present day

No comp, we paint a darker picture, in your sector,
Perfect verbal architecture, sparking lectures
Lyrics infectious, ____ your Lexus
If you ain't giving God your praise then it's useless

Le Francais over at Ink Spots usually have some good insights on things I know nothing about. This time, I actually know something about. Gulliver is talking about how an alarmist!!! report says that 75% of Americans 18-24 are unfit for military service. This is arguably true or false, I don't know, and that's not my point. But this line caught my eye.
Really I just wanted to say that I think it's pretty freakin' weird to be talking about early childhood education, parenting guidance, mental and nutrition services, and so on as matters of national security.
He kind of hits on one of the main points I want to make on this blog. Education, parenting, and mental/nutrition services ARE issues of national security. When the state isn't able to provide access to these things, then it becomes a failed state.

I'm not suggesting that the US is a failed state, but I am wondering why things that are problems here are not seen, necessarily, as problems THERE. I just listened to a lecture by Nazif Shahrani that I stole from Ghosts of Alexander on the standard "How America screwed up the fight in Afghanistan" bit. Except it's not a standard bit. One of the things that he said that stuck out to me the most was that 9/11 was viewed as a military problem, not a justice problem, not an economic problem, not a cultural problem. Just a military one. I think the one thing that can be taken away from the War on Terror is that it is so much more (and so much less) than a War that "war" really isn't the most honest term.

Afghanistan is a failed state. Pakistan is getting there. Similar things could be said about Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, to varying degrees. None of these countries are able to supply the education and social services that their people need. This isn't a problem that can be solved by USMil or USAID, it needs a wholly different way of looking at the problem.

Shahrani hammers home that focusing on the locality is key when building up a state. He would, being an anthropologist and all, but I wholly agree with him, and am working on a post about this later. But the reason I link to BLDGBlog and DesignObserver is because I am genuinely curious to what results would come out of asking architecture and design students, "What would you do in order to build stability in Afghanistan?" I'm sure some wholly unique and entirely useful ideas could come out of that, ideas that political and military types wouldn't necessarily think of.

It's why Greg Mortenson represents an entirely different way of looking at the same issues that ISAF do. And of course, he's a bit pie-in-the-sky at times and the NGO industry is a whole other ball of wax to be dealt with (starting with their security constrictions, as I'm sure people in the field can talk about more than I), but it's at least different. And plus, he reads Registan.

If people are looking for unique, different, ideas on how to solve the problems ailing Central Asia, and Afghanistan in particular, they ought to look outside of what the military or political structures can offer. Good ideas have come out of those sectors, of course. But that doesn't mean that good ideas can't come out of anywhere else.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

We all just stand in the moonshoes of giants

New post up on Registan...Dylan-tastic and a big more 101 level. Receiving rave review:
  • "Awesome Post." - highwaychickens
Thanks as always for those folks letting me ride on their coattails...comment over there if it strikes you (and you won't write embarrassing things about the author). Also, if you're logged into Facebook and know more Cyrillic than me, please note how fascinating the internet can be. Is the world wide web the Dar al-Harb or the Dar al-Islam? Discuss. Meanwhile, I'll be practicing my dance moves.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Look Out Kid, It's Something You Did

Let's try something different today. A big part of some folks' frustration with getting involved in Central Asian happenings is that they have a difficult time jumping in to the deep-end of the subject matter that gets covered here. To remedy that, I'm going to try to explain some trends in energy policies within Central Asia...using lyrics of Bob Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues.

The Man in the Coon Skin Cap / In the big pen / wants eleven dollar bills / you only got ten
Any of the large energy projects that are going to, by definition, require a whole lot of investment. None of the stans would be able to drum up enough capital by their own governments alone. They are all just branded as more-or-less inept, blundering, kelptocracies by people who are ignorant of the area. And this won't change without the opportunities that real investment will afford. But the IMF-esque sources of money tend to come with the sorts of conditions that can cripple a developing country. Check that link...note how the astute writer notes that Central Asia is between South Asia and East Asia. Unfortunately, the IMF has really put the screws to the folks they want to help. In their 2009 projection, they note that "In contrast [to the rest of the countries], Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan are projected to register robust growth in 2009..." So the three countries with the least IMF support are the ones weathering the global depression the most. Hmm. Fortunately, China, India, and Iran would be more than ready to fund projects that the IMF won't.
Maggie comes fleet foot / Face full of black soot / Talkin' that the heat put / Plants in the bed but
China's pollution is pretty much the stuff of legends at this point. Any project they get a part of in Central Asia will likely be gargantuan, but it'll also lead to who-knows-what sort of consequences. I'm actually returning from an energy conference where one of the keynote speakers praised that "China is a country run by engineers while America is a country run by lawyers." That statement can be parsed in many ways, but it does sort of explain some of the more awkward parts of China's Central Asian policies. Who knows what would happen if policies like that started happening in the Fergana Valley. But as glaciers melt and the Fergana becomes that much more fertile, especially relative to the rest of Central Asia), it could become the Next Big Economic Region.

You don't need a weather man / To know which way the wind blows
OK, this is sort of a stretch, lyrics-wise, but Central Asia is home to some of the flattest stretches of the flattest land on Earth. As such, it makes a pretty good sandbox for emerging wind-power technology. Mongolia has gotten a pretty decent start, but its a country with low energy can support those sort of possibilities. It will be really interesting to see what happens with Uzbekistan's experimentation with wind power. It's another country that is a pretty big energy importer (as well as water importer) for the region that badly needs to diversify. Wind power is too expensive to be practical now, but I'm open to anyone who could prognosticate the future of wind power in Uzbekistan better than I. Again, depending on the practicality of wind power, it could become just as important as hydropower is for Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Any frame of energy independence for the steppe states would seem to change future relations between the water importers and exporters as related to dam-building.

Lookin' for a new fool / Don't follow leaders / Watch the parkin' meters
Carbon Sequestration is the new big thing in the energy world. Or at least was at the energy conference, which was led by Big Coal...sequestration allows them to keep doing what they are doing without any changes, just burying stuff and hoping it will go away (just plants are not enough to sequester the sort of CO2 being thrown up there). But even experts are skeptical about it, mostly because nobody has any clue whatsoever at what the long-term effects are of shoving noxious gasses far underneath the surface. Central Asia is a long way from US Voters, though, and projects like this get serious consideration...because what's the Tien Shan from New York? If the opportunity comes to get a sweetheart deal from some corporation in exchange for the opportunity to do carbon sequestration in the Kazakh or Turkmen gas fields, I would be skeptical, to say the least. Unless this turns out wonderfully or something.

The pump don't work / 'Cause the vandals took the handles
It's not related to Central Asia per se, but it's worth quoting John Robb's fuzzy math at length:
ROI (return on investment) for Nigeria's MEND. Four years of attacks that disrupted one million barrels a day of production (on average) = ~ 1.4 billion barrels disrupted. Direct costs at an average price of ~$70 a barrel and a $20 extraction cost to Nigerian kleptocrats and their corporate allies = $70 billion. Impact of the loss of 1 m barrels a day on the world, assuming a ~$10 premium due to the loss and ~80m barrels a day of global output = $800 m a day or $1.17 trillion. Loss of global economic output due to the premium = ~.5% of $50 trillion global GDP = $0.75 trillion. Total cost = ~$2 trillion. Cost of attacks = ~$1 m. ROI = 200 million %.
ROI = Rate of Investment. MEND essentially costs the global economy $200,000,000 for every $1 they spend.

So hopefully that's some stuff to chew on, and it should be enough fuel for many blog posts down the road. But one of my favorite quotes about historiography is Philip Roth's "The terror of the unforeseen is what the science of history hides, turning a disaster into an epic."

The study of Central Asia is just so fascinating because there are so many open-ended questions that could be answered in a hundred different ways. The young people (myself included) of all educational, ethnic, national, or whatever backgrouns who are getting in on the bottom floor now have the opportunity to do incredible things in the region.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Advice Makes the Sound of Loud Bombs

Well here is one of the first Gazistan Exclusives that I'm going to write.

In what is, to me, one of the more improbably awesome developments of internet technology, a Taliban Historiographer has been exchanging e-mails publicly with a Counter-terrorist expert. The whole thing is just fascinating. And the historiographer has a sense of humor.
In any case her focus on academic research will give us a bit of comfort and space so we can work safely in the field (terrorism). Therefore I thought it would be a good to distract her with these dialogues so the rest of the gang can do the work.

The whole thing is just fascinating...only the first letter from Abu Walid al Masri is up, but it's long and worth a read...more will be coming, I'm sure (there are three other ones to read if you want to test your Arabic).

So to recap, one of the best minds on The Other Side, an Arab who came to Afghanistan in the '70s to fight the Soviets and has hung out ever since to aid in issueing fatwas or otherwise doing what he can to create Islamis rule in Afghanistan is corresponding with Leah Farrall, an Australian CT expert who is writing a Ph.D. thesis when she's not living a Tom Clancy dream.

I have to say...A-Yo Technology! Neither of these people could possibly ever dream of contacting each other through traditional, diplomatic or otherwise official, means. But if you have a blog, you have a mailbox. It's a pretty phoenomenal development, two people who are the finest in their diametrically opposed fields having a civil discussion.

al Masri's post is worth a read, just to see what The Other Side has to say about us. I mean, yeah, it has your standard Holocaust denials and 9/11 conspiracy theories. That's part and parcel of the message. But there were a few things I thought were particularly fascinating.
  • The use of "beauty" is definitely eye-catching, used for both Farrall and Lynndie England. That's the sort of thing that'll grab eyes, and I'm honestly not sure what to make of it...I'm assuming it's just a weird translation, but I'm open to suggestions.
  • Greater Khorasan? Really? I haven't heard that term in forever. I'm assuming it alludes to a goal of moving out from Afghanistan in the future. I'm sure he has some opinions on Balochistan Azadi and lots of other stuff. Something to keep an eye out for.
  • al Masri doesn't care about my opinion, quite obviously. He' very clear that he's trying to win over the Arab media, and that he won't get too worked up over the American media. That's probably a wise move on his part, but it's interesting to see how upset he is at Arabic media purportedly just translating "Western" news. His goal is to win over the Arabs (maybe Iranians, too, but I kinda doubt it). Maybe some Indonesians and Malays too, I don't know. But it definitely represents an actual strategy: win over the Arabs to start a bigger insurrection. Get Iraq back into hellhole status, hope that the Saudis don't outlast their oil, all of those sorts of things. The response has to be a lot more than al-Arabiya and military, right?
So please read that, and probably everything else Farrah has at her disposal. Be on the cutting age of the debate and all that. But yeah, how about the connecting of dichotomous opposites? Can a blogger do more than Obama? This has lots of really, really, interesting New Media consequences that are a whole other blog post.