Monday, January 23, 2006

كلّك قاعدة ينتسب إلى نا

Right, prediction time for all you amateur foreign affairs wonks (if you are actually a foreign affairs expert - push off. we don't want yer kind here with yer fancy-speak tryin' to steal our womenfolk).

What's going to happen in the Middle East in the short to medium (say 5-10 years)?

The reason I ask is the two people getting the most screen-time figuratively both seemed to have failed at their stated aims.
  • George W Bush - Democracy isn't flowering - and if it did the DEA would probably confiscate it.
  • Osma Bin Laden - The invasion and subsequent insurgency in Iraq have not lit the touch-paper of Arab muslim rebellion, overturning all those corrupt running dogs of the decadent Western Imperialists and driving the Israelis into the sea (we in New Zealand prefer to drive Israelis to the sea, you know, have a gawk at the view, light up a bbq and maybe have a swim).
I mean, if those two can't ignite region-wide change, who or what can?

I guess the most fertile areas for change are (in no particular order) Iraq, Iran, and Palestine. My feelings on each:
  • Iraq: I can see it going two ways. Option 1 is a fractious nation that ends up splitting within 5 years into 3 seperate entities in a bloody civil war. Worst case scenario is a full-on proxy war influenced by Saudi Arabia (for the Sunni), Iran (for the Shia) and Turkey (against the Kurds); which way the Americans go is anyone's guess. Option 2 is a fractitious democracy that is overthrown by a military coup - Baathism by any other name, and possibly supporting overtly one or other religious group (it is hard to see a secular group taking power at this stage in the game, which is a shame). Worst case scenario is another Algeria ... or maybe we could have option 3, which is a happy and peaceful federation with occasional Quebec tendencies.
  • Iran: Latest intelligence reports say that Iran could have delieverable nuclear weapons within 3 years, which means either a.) they already have the bomb, and have used it in various small wars already; or b.) Iran doesn't actually exist at all, and the CIA has been mistakenly been using the Star Wars edition Risk board all the time. Actually, up until a short time ago Iran had been quietly tip-toeing towards being a progressive democratic state ... but shit happens and the local equivalent of pCms are back in charge. Anyway, I think the nuclear question will keep dragging on for a long time. The US domestically has no stomach for further action in the area in the short-term, and realistically the window for military action is only open as long as the Iranians don't have Teh Bomb. The Israelis on the other hand ... they're a mad bunch of crackers at the best of time; they're also a smart bunch of mad crackers, so anything is possible - except another airstrike. Too far, too many targets, too much hostile airspace ... unless they stock up on Predator drones and launch covertly from one of Iran's Northern neighbours. No, if the Israelis are involved you can be sure the plan will be so clever you could pin a tail on it and call it a persian squirrel.
  • Palestine: More of the same. Sharon was no Nixon, and he didn't quite make it to China. The Israeli/Palestinian issue has been going on for so long you could turn it into a theme-park and charge admission. I'm beginning to think they deserve each other ...
On to less serious questions ... take a look at this blog, Radio Free Taikonaut. Scope out the picture of the author and tell me this:

Isn't that James K. Baxter, back from the dead and prepared to punish us for our sins?

You bet your ass it is.

Unfortunately, if you inquire about him sending you a free taikonaut he tends to get a bit shirty.

ps 25 points if you can translate the title of this post. Another 10 points if know what it is a reference to, 30 points if you can explain the hidden double meaning, and 75 points if you refrain from calling me something we'll both regret for being such a nerd.


Herr Taikonaut said...


Apathy Jack said...

Predictions for the middle east:

Iraq: Smoking crater with an American flag sticking out of it.

Iran: Smoking crater with an American flag sticking out of it.

Palestine: Smoking crater with an American flag sticking out of it.

As for the translation, I'm betting it has something to do with goats in rubber...

Herr Dummkopf von Kranken-Brainen said...

... and one of these days they'll get confused and America will be a smoking flag with an American Flag sticking out of it. Hell, Monty Python predicted that 30 years ago.

And you guys are no where near on the translation (I'm assuming taikonaut's crytic comment was about that - otherwise, Jack, I think he's calling you a loser). It's so much more crappy and derivative than either of your suggestions.

Herr Taikonaut said...


you nerd.

Rich said...

Iraq: US troops still there in numbers 10 years from now, maintaining a government in nominal power. Outside Kurdistan and various fortresses, country under the control of various Shiite and Sunni warlords. US government still claiming much success and hoping to withdraw troops by late 2016.

Iran: Sporadic US bombing raids between 2007 and 2009 do not prevent the succesful test of an Iranian nuclear bomb in 2010. In 2015, Iran is still a religious dictatorship and is believed to have a number of nuclear weapons deliverable by aircraft, missile and conventional means against Middle East targets. Has threatened repeatedly to use these if attacks but so far has not needed to.

Palestine: Same as now.

Elsewhere: Periodic Islamist attacks against western cities, including a Saudi 747 crashed by its pilot into the Olympic opening ceremony, killing 20,000 and a "dirty bomb" in New York, killing no-one but forcing the evacuation of downtown Manhattan for over two years. In Australia, after several small bombs in Sydney and trailing in the polls, John Howard declares a national emergency, suspends parliament indefinitely and initiates rule by decree.

Herr Dummkopf von Kranken-Brainen said...

I have to disagree with you on Iraq. Right now they are desperately looking for a victory condition to be fulfilled and then they will rapidly pull out (perfection would be if the UN took over, but odds of that seem slim). I wouldn't rule out a few military bases in strategic areas to provide support for the "fledgling democracy" but no large scale remaining occupation. If Iraq does collapse into roughly federated factions expect the US to support whoever has the oil ...

I can't see any "manned cruise missiles" being successful anytime soon; suicide by 747 will remain a possibility tho. Suicide bombers/dirty bombers are still the most effective weapon with the least cost or risk of interception.

Anonymous said...

All your base are belong to us.

Zero Wing.

And you are, indeed, a nerd.


Herr Dummkopf von Kranken-Brainen said...

35 points to Hewligan. Wikipedia gives you the breakdown here:

Personally I am still waiting for the day G W Bush or Osama starts a new war with the classic rallying cry: "For great justice!"

But anyway, the hidden double meaning was of course contained in the word "base". Osama bin laden is the leader of al Qaeda, which translate as "the foundation" or "the base". Alright so it's not so much hidden has obscure and meaningless, but at least I got to keep 30 points in reserve.