The latest silly article on Iran…

Aside

Possibly one of the most ridiculous articles I’ve read in a while: Why Iran’s Top Leaders Believe That The End Of Days Has Come | Fox News.

Yeah, I know. “Fox News”, right? But one of the reasons Iran is so mysterious is because US and other western leaders don’t know what the regime’s leadership is thinking, much less that they’re obsessed with the “end times.”

Eastward bound…

This is the second of my posts from Turkey, made after I arrived in Ankara. Prior to my arrival, I met with Turan Ceylan, the manager of the Inter-Continental Hotel in Istanbul. He’s a Kurdish success story, one of many in Istanbul where many Kurds have settled after the PKK troubles in the southeast during the 1980s and 1990s. I didn’t get much to get out of the interview, except that he is pro-EU (he’s a businessman) and he believes that discrimination against Kurds is blown way out of proportion by Western press (which is easy for him to say; he comes from a rich family that runs one of the largest construction firms in Turkey.)

This was an attitude I discovered among many middle-class Istanbul residents. Aydin Kudu, my original fixer before he suffered a hip injury, had me over for dinner and during the post-prandial tea, he and Raia, his girlfriend and sometimes partner-guide, said the same thing: There is no discrimination in Turkey; Kurds can do whatever they like, as long as they don’t break any laws.

On one level, they have a point. At least one president of Turkey, Turgut Ozal, has claimed Kurdish ancestry and Istanbul has seen a number of Kurds other than Ceylan rise to success in the businessworld. But there is a great deal of unknown truth in the statement that “Kurds can do whatever they like, as long as they don’t break any laws.” But until recently, it was illegal to be Kurdish. It was illegal to teach or sing in Kurdish. Yes, Kurds could succeed in Turkey, but only if they assimilated and acted Turkish. And even then, if someone’s ID card listed them as hailing from the southeast, they would often be greeted with suspicion and had a harder time finding jobs in the more cosmopolitan western part of the country.

At any rate, this gave me much to think about. So after a couple of days, I took a bus from Taksim in Istanbul where Aykut Uzun, my fixer, met me. After five hours on the road in Turkey, I was glad to see him.

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Update on House Vote

The Hastert-Gephardt proposal (H.J.R 114) passed the House today on a 296-113 vote. The Senate also voted 75-25 to limit debate, meaning its vote on the war resolution could come as early as tomorrow. This is disappointing as the Spratt amendment was a common-sense approach to this whole killin’ Iraqis business. (For a glimpse of alternatives, Here’s a PDF that compares the various House and Senate proposals.)
All of this may be moot, however because sources on Capital Hill are saying that Bush doesn’t want war at all! That come Nov. 5, Bush will suddently start talking about how the United Nations is a useful body after all, and that inspectors will be allowed to do their job. I’m told Bush doesn’t want to be looking at an occupied Iraq two years from now when we have guerilla fighting in Baghdad suburbs, a massive drain on the national economy and a stable oil supply only because United States occupation forces keep Kurds, Shi’ites and Sunni Arabs (not to mention Turkomen and Iranians) from each others’ throats. Add to that a daily trickle of body bags as one or two GIs die every couple of days. That wouldn’t be very fun to run on, would it? Especially since Bush avoided the horrors of a long, drawn out guerilla war once before!
This would be a fascinating example of dog-wagging. At least President Clinton actually tossed some cruise missles around when he was accused of doing it to distract the nation from him “doing it.” In Bush’s case, however war with Iraq will have been talked up, the Middle East destabilized, the UN insulted and our reputation trashed with allies—all for short-term election gains. (Well, not all for short-term gains. No doubt there are plenty of true believers who think that Saddam should be blowed up real good, but trying to divine the influence of people like Karl Rove, Dick Cheney et al., is akin to Kremlinology.) A post-election change in rhetoric would prove the influence of “General Rove.”

Not so fast, Mr. President

There is a time when politicians should be applauded. This is one of those times. Reps. Spratt of North Carolina and Rep. Vic Snyder, D-Ark., will introduce into the House debate on war with Iraq this alternate resolution. (It’s a PDF to be downloaded.)
In essence it allows military action but only after the UNSC has been allowed to do everything it can, including muscular and intrusive inspections. If the UNSC fails in its duties, the President must come back to Congress and ask for authorization for war against Iraq. (It actually says “military force” instead of war, but still.)
In the case of shooting, “the President should endeavor to form a coalition of allies as broadly based as practicable to support and participate with United States Armed Forces, and should also seek multilateral cooperation and assistance, specifically including Arab and Islamic countries, in the post-conflict reconstruction of Iraq.”
And this:

In the event that the United Nations Security Council does not adopt a resolution as described in section 3, or in the event that such a resolution is adopted but does not sanction the use of force sufficient to compel Iraq’s compliance, and if the President determines that use of the United States Armed Forces is necessary for such compliance, the President should seek authorization from Congress to use military force to compel such compliance.

Clear enough? In essence, come back to us, Mr. President, when you’ve got some proof. Proof that Iraq is the clear and present danger you say it is, and proof that the UNSC is an impotent organization that can’t do its job. Only then do you get the guns.
The House rules committee has allowed this resolution in, so the whole House may vote on it. It likely won’t pass, but it’s a saner voice than what we’re hearing from the White House.
I don’t know Spratt or Snyder or other other sponsors of this resolution, but I suspect that I should. Thank you, gentlemen.