Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The War in Iran

Ok, so now that we have the Iranians saying that they are producing atomic fuel, Seymour Hersh reporting on US administration plans to bomb it, and President George Bush panning the reports as "wild speculation", we can be pretty sure hostilities will begin by the end of the summer (God willing).

All signs seem to be pointing towards a war, like they did before the Iraq "shock and awe" campaign back in 2003. Americans and Iranians have a long history, and their very public split during and after 1979's revolution has left bitter recriminations, unresolved issues, and hard feelings.

It is often said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. The Greeks under Alexander, swept into Mesopotamia from the west, then invaded Persia, and also what is now Afghanistan. Soon after the conquests of the former two, Alexander was dead and his great empire promptly broke up into four pieces.

The US has overwhelming aerial and technical superiority and should surely be able to defeat Iran in time. However, unlike Iraq, Iran is in a much stronger strategic position. Compared to Iraq, Iran has more than twice the population, three times the land mass, and a much more capable military than Iraq at the beginning of Enduring Freedom.

We must remember that Iraq, which once possessed the most potent military in the middle east except Israel, was bombed into submission after the first Gulf War. Iran was not. The Iranians also enjoy a considerable degree of technical and diplomatic support from Russia and China. The Iranians produce their own versions of relatively advanced Russian designs including strategic missiles, torpedoes, anti-aircraft and anti-tank munitions. They are proficient in the design and deployment of shaped-charges, experienced from their time working with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Furthermore, the American situation is much weaker than before. Bogged down in Iraq, the insurgency has killed almost 2,500 US servicemen, and wounded tens of thousands. On the other side, American and other NATO troops are trying to keep a lid on the tenacious Taliban. The debt load is weakening the American position in relations to large creditor nations such as China. When war breaks out in Iran, who really believes that Iran won't try to destabilize its American occupied neighbours? Is it beyond reason to envision thousands of Iranian missliles raining down on US bases in the region?

The reality is, Iran has never, and would probably never be a threat to its neighbours, even Israel. Despite the bluster of Ahmadinejad, Iran would not attack Israel even if it possessed nukes, fearing the fatal repercussions of an all out Jewish assault. The Iranians want nothing more than the security of their regime and influence in the region, their own backyard. A nuclear deterent would ensure those aims. Hostile sunni arab realities and Israeli defence systems precludes anything more.

Of course, the Americans are loath to allow Iran these strategic comforts. The administration will fan the flames of anti-Iranian hysteria in order to soften what little world opposition there is to an attack on Iran. The US president, an evangelical Christian who never has to face the American electorate again, will undoubtedly view an attack on Iran as a no-lose proposition, vital to ensuring the permanent security of his Israeli ally. Regime change in Tehran would considerably lessen the strength of the "Islamofascists" who seem to be souring the "democratic" enterprise in Iraq and Palestine.

The Russians aim to recover some of their geopolitical influence, lost as their economy collapsed, partly due to the costly war with Islamist fighters in Afghanistan backed by the CIA in the 80's. Acceding to American demands is not on their agenda. They will attempt to use Iran now, as the US used the mujahideen. The Chinese have a large, energy hungry, and high growth rate economy. The Chinese would like to appear as good global citizens but at the same time, have their own interests in Iranian oil, and regional domination (ie. US-backed Taiwan). The UN security council, composed of these two countries, will not back international action as a result. America will have to force together another posse like they did the "coalition of the willing," in the previous ongoing war.

The President, then, should take pause before embarking on this very serious course of action. He should consider that plans such as having his friend Ariel Sharon firmly in power whilst the puppet PA parliament disarmed the militant groups in Israel, Iraq standing as a newly democratic and gratefully pro-Western regional entity have not gone according to plan.

The fact is, only God knows the future. Human history shows us that plans and intentions, even espoused by the worlds most powerful leaders, seem to end up being just that. It could be that America, intending to wage war to protect its allies, ensure its security, and destroy its enemies may never be able to accomplish its goals. History will tell us the answer but I fear that for the lives of the people killed and maimed, those history lessons would come too late as a useful guide.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Michelle Malkin

I wanted to talk about all of the talk about invading Iran, but thought I'd rather post an irreverent little blog entry about my favorite neocon, Michelle Malkin. She's active, entertaining, outrageous, virulently Islamophobic, and perplexingly xenophobic. She reminds me of of Ann Coulter, except that she wouldn't quite fit in with a band of neo-nazi's (like Ann would) and doesn't have that huge Adam's apple (I know its bad to insult others, God forgive me).

She probably would fit in with a band of Mexicans or Philipinos, members of immigrant groups that she bashes consistently on her website, day-in, day-out. She's like an Asian Uncle Tom. Her defence of the white establishment is so unashamedly vehement and irrational I find myself wondering if it wouldn't be better that her last name was Buchanan? I wonder what the odds are that she has a white husband to go along with her little white kids?

Come to think of it, she reminds me of the white supremacist character from the wildly popular skit from the Dave Chappelle (he's Muslim by-the-way) show whose blindness prevents him from realizing the fact that he's actually black.

Some of her immutable laws:
  • Always attack the victim (for example, she will always look for examples of whites being victim to blacks even though blacks have suffered through slavery, the Jim Crow era, southern lynchamania, the KKK, the civil rights war, police brutality, Katrina, etc.)
  • Side with her enemies, as long as they are enemies of Muslims (She says she is not a fan of South Park, until the show starts panning the Muslims, then she starts having second thoughts. She seems to be against the secular, snooty, America-hating, Bush-bashing Europeans like the French and Danish. As soon as they start banning headscarves and lampooning the Prophet, she's all for them).
  • Advocate free speech democracy, attack those who speak freely (Seymour Hersh writes an article about what all the neocons have been salivating about for years, the planning for the attack on the Islamic Republic of Iran, she says Hersh is blowing America's cover)
  • Mudsling, insult, incite (Calls people "moonbats, scumbags" and God knows what else. Attacks anyone who has the gall to suggest we should not attack Iraq, Iran, Syria, or any other Muslim country she has a pathological hatred for. She will attack a Muslim for bending the truth about the Muhammad cartoons, but won't say bad word about the incessant lying from the Bush administration).
I'd love to write a blog dedicated to all things Michelle and entitle it "antiMalkin." But alas, I sadly possess neither the time or the hatred to pull it off. I'll just have to be satisfied getting by with a chuckle after skimming her daily doses of hysterics and bluster, commenting occasionally on this blog and waiting for the day she finally mellows out.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Christian Heresy or Muslim Truth?

More heretical writings have been in the news recently about Christianity:
One of the authors who failed last week to win a plagiarism case against Dan Brown's international bestseller The Da Vinci Code has written a new book just in time for Easter that questions the basic tenets of the Christian faith.

Michael Baigent's The Jesus Papers tries to strip Jesus of his divinity by claiming he wrote a letter to a Jewish court denying he was the son of God.

It also suggests there is evidence Jesus survived the crucifixion and that his death was faked as a cover to allow him to escape his enemies. Roman procurator Pontius Pilate is said to have aided and abetted the "mock execution" because Jesus had told the Jews to pay their Roman taxes.

In court, Baigent and another author, Richard Leigh, claimed Brown had stolen the ideas for The Da Vinci Code from them. They have been left with a $4.8million legal bill.

In the Qur'an, we are told that Jesus was not the son of God and was not crucified:
O people of the scripture, do not transgress the limits of your religion, and do not say about GOD except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was a messenger of GOD, and His word that He had sent to Mary, and a revelation from Him. Therefore, you shall believe in GOD and His messengers. You shall not say, "Trinity." You shall refrain from this for your own good. GOD is only one god. Be He glorified; He is much too glorious to have a son. To Him belongs everything in the heavens and everything on earth. GOD suffices as Lord and Master. (Quran 4:171)

The Messiah, son of Mary, is no more than a messenger like the messengers before him, and his mother was a saint. Both of them used to eat the food. Note how we explain the revelations for them, and note how they still deviate! (Quran 5:75)

GOD will say, "O Jesus, son of Mary, did you say to the people, `Make me and my mother idols beside GOD?' " He will say, "Be You glorified. I could not utter what was not right. Had I said it, You already would have known it. You know my thoughts, and I do not know Your thoughts. You know all the secrets.

"I told them only what You commanded me to say, that: `You shall worship GOD, my Lord and your Lord.' I was a witness among them for as long as I lived with them. When You terminated my life on earth, You became the Watcher over them. You witness all things. (Quran 5:116-117)

The Qur'an is very clear on this issue: Jesus is not God's son. In the previous post, I've shown from the Qur'an that Jesus wasn't crucified.

Of course there are many Christians who don't believe in the divine authorship of the Qur'an or the prophethood of Muhammad. To them, Islam is a false religion or a heretical construct. The fact is, unlike the Gnostics, Islam's following is quite substantial, a millenia after the death of its founder and, somehow fatefully, seems in direct conflict with the followers of the Church.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Gospel of Judas

The Gospel of Judas find seems to have further twisted the Christian world into a knot, especially in light of the Da Vinci Code, and other "heretical" works that have been troubling Christianity for some time.

This newly discovered Gospel purports to show that, not only was Judas not the villain portrayed in the standard New Testament Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, it suggests that Jesus himself asked Judas to betray him to the authorities:
"Jesus said to Judas, 'Look, you have been told everything. You will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me.' "
In interpreting this quote, most seem to assume that 'the man that clothes me' is a weird, gnostic reference to Jesus himself. But, suppose the man that Jesus is referring to is not himself? Suppose it is someone else, perhaps a man who "clothes" Jesus.

Of course, the logic of someone else being sacrificed in Jesus place would seriously undermine the belief system of the world's 1.6 billion Christians. If Jesus didn't die for my sins, who did? Did anyone die for my sins, or am I responsible?

I'm sure many Christians think that a substitute for the sacrifice of Jesus is beyond belief. However, the Judeo-Christian history is replete with God using subsititutions all the way back to the time when Abraham slaughtered a lamb instead of his son Isaac.

The Islamic perspective is that Jesus did not die on the cross at all, was substituted, escaped, and was brought to heaven (An obscure gnostic sect also held this belief):
...They said, “We killed the Messiah Jesus, son of Mary, the messenger of God." They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, but the likeness of him was put on another man (and they killed that man)... (Qur'an, 4:157)
The parenthesis in the above quote is an interpretation, and the Qur'an does not explicitly say that another man was substituted in place of Jesus. However, the substitution theory gains legitimacy as we fill in the blanks with quotes such as those found in Judas' recently discovered Gospel.

The Opening

In the name of God, the infinitely Compassionate and Merciful.
Praise be to God, Lord of all the worlds.
The Compassionate, the Merciful. Ruler on the Day of Reckoning.
You alone do we worship, and You alone do we ask for help.
Guide us on the straight path,
the path of those who have received your grace;
not the path of those who have brought down wrath, nor of those who wander astray.