Sunday, June 03, 2007

ISU and the ID professor.

At Iowa State University, their has been a bit of stir over tenure. One Guillermo Gonzalez tried for it, and was rejected. He didn't take it well. I have known plenty of professors that have been none to happy to face a seeming wall of tenure. It is rough.

But this is all made rougher as Gonzalez is an avowed ID'er, good old creationist. So he feels this is being held against him. And he feels this is wrong.

He has gotten plenty of support. Religious types are ready to go into a furor at the merest thought of the nasty secular colleges beating on poor pious profs. The Discovery Institute and its ilk are eager to lay blame on academia as being closed minded and cabal like, denying their discoveries.

Seen here:

I like the little sign above his head: he's being burned at the stake because he "believes in God"! I assure you that the fact that someone goes to church does not play any role in tenure decisions, nor does the penalty for failure to get tenure involve immolation, or even singeing. The reality is that Guillermo Gonzalez is being politely shown the door because he "believes in pernicious pseudoscience," and more pragmatically, because he didn't bring in enough grant money.

Christians are always too eager to jump on the cross or into the lions den. And they see martyrs everywhere. With suspect vision like this, can their be any trust is visions of Marys Jesii, and angels?

So what happen?

He is a assistant professor of physics and astronomy. But also an Intelligent Design advocate. He spent time researching it. He spent time writing on it. And when tenure was denied him he believed it was the sole reason he is left behind.

What does the school say?

President of ISU, Gregory Geoffroy:

Geoffroy said he considered refereed publications, Gonzalez’s level of success in attracting research funding and grants, the amount of telescope observing time he had been granted, the number of graduate students he had supervised, and the overall evidence of his future career promise in the field of astronomy.


The Des Moines Register reported Thursday that university records showed that Gonzalez had raised significantly less research and grant money than his peers in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Iowa State has sponsored $22,661 in outside grant money for Gonzalez since July 2001, records show. In that same time period, Gonzalez’s peers in physics and astronomy secured an average of $1.3 million by the time they were granted tenure.

He was a professor who was not making the cut, in comparison to his peers. I have seen that. Smart, friendly, diligent teachers, but they didn't publish much or go distances that were asked of them to be considered and accepted into a tenure post.

It must be embarrassing for him to have this flung out there, so publicly.

More from ISU's president:

The president of Iowa State University has rejected Guillermo Gonzalez's appeal for tenure, citing the fact that "he simply did not show the trajectory of excellence that we expect." That, alas, is the result I expected, and that everyone involved should have expected.

He spent a large amount of time researching and focusing on pseudoscience. He used his time to write on it. He obsesses over it.

Then when tenure comes, that is what he has to show for his time and the schools dollar.

Less in the range of astronomical research, less in getting his and the schools name out in the field through publishing...He wasn't cutting it. It happens every year.

If he had wasted his time on proving astrology, and was writing about it in Astrology Monthly, he would be in the same spot. Same if he loved poetry and spent all his time on that.

He brought next to nothing in, and produced little in his field. That means no tenure, no matter where you are in this country...maybe not at Liberty University.

Apparently being a Secular Progressive is an illness, and contagious/

If you have kept up on Bill O'Reilly's rants, you know with his more recent books started a tirade about Secular Progressives, or SP. They are the route of all problems. They are neither religious or conservative enough. Much like listening to Ann Coulter list how every problem of the 20th century came about because of Democrats, listening to O'Reilly rant on this is surreal.
Crooks and Liars, video available:
Talking about trying to fit an agenda into a story, Bill O'Reilly really takes the cake on this one. He blames Mr. Speaker's coming back to the States with TB and possibly spreading a disease on the populace because he must be a member of the "SP" club. In O'Reilly's world Andrew Speaker's action boils down to this:

O'Reilly: Traditional values people put others on a par with themselves. That's the Judeo-Christian tenet. Love your neighbor as yourself. Secular Progressives put themselves above all others. That philosophy says "Me first, then I'll worry about you."


I guess all those Iraq war supporters are SP's too. They really couldn't give a damn about the innocent Iraqi people that have had their lives destroyed by this occupation. And how did Bush handle the victims of Katrina? ...
Bill O'Reilly just doesn't get it.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Victory is on order.

An incredibly disturbing story from ABC News. Basically, General Petraeus has already decided that the surge in Iraq will be such a resounding success come September that we're going to keep the surge troops there another four months beyond when we were told they were needed. Did you get that? The mission is such a success that it's going to take twice as long. Now that's a man who knows how to spin.

But it's even better than that. We been told forever that it would just impossible to tell if the surge is working until September or even later because, you know, the surge troops wouldn't even all be in Iraq until July. Now, per ABC, Petraeus is telling people he already knows what he's going to report in September - that the surge has been a huge success. Which is a bit odd, since the last of the surge troops only just arrived in Iraq a day or two ago (yeah, they lied about July). Yet now we suddenly already know how successful we'll by September even though we were told that September would likely be too early to tell. It's all one big joke for Petraeus and Bush. Not to mention, I love that Petraeus and Bush basically misled the entire Congress last week. Congress just gave him $100 billion for Iraq based on the latest, best briefings on what was going on. Unless Petraeus told Congress last week that he already had determined that the surge would be a success in September, he misled them. He held back information that they needed to know in order to properly fund this war.

Oh but it gets better. Petraeus is already making plan to keep a sizable number of troops in Iraq for another five to ten years. And he says he wants us to "draw down" the number of troops to 130,000 by the end of 2008. Draw down? You mean, get us back to the number of troops we had in Iraq before this summer's surge. Some draw down.

So basically, Petraeus and Bush are not planning on doing squat with Iraq until after the presidential election. Isn't that convenient for the Republican presidential and congressional candidates. I'm sure it's just a coincidence - it's not like Petraeus would be actively scheming on how to throw a US election.

I'm sure this will work just as well as Bush declaring MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Pharmacies making the decision

Feministing, on events in Montana:

Well this is just lovely. A pharmacy in Montana, Snyder Drug, has come under new ownership and now has a new policy of denying women birth control.


The new owners have ties to the anti-choice community and now own two pharmacies in Great Falls. My organization is in the process of working with local activists in Great Falls to do more research into their policy and what they are telling consumers about birth control, what other drugs they dispense (Viagra anyone?), see what other pharmacies in Great Falls are refusing to fill birth control or EC prescriptions, and come up with an action plan.


HPV vaccine questions


After successfully triggering a backlash against the movement for universal HPV vaccination, right wingers are working hard on the health-scare angle. The conservative group Judicial Watch has made public the FDA's records on adverse reactions to the HPV vaccine:

Three deaths were related to the vaccine. One physician's assistant reported that a female patient "died of a blood clot three hours after getting the Gardasil vaccine." Two other reports, on girls 12 and 19, reported deaths relating to heart problems and/or blood clotting.

As of May 11, 2007, the 1,637 adverse vaccination reactions reported to the FDA via the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) included 371 serious reactions. Of the 42 women who received the vaccine while pregnant, 18 experienced side effects ranging from spontaneous abortion to fetal abnormities.
Yikes, right? Well, maybe some stuff to be concerned about, and some not. After all, 77% of the "adverse reactions" were typical vaccination side effects -- itching, dizziness, etc. Kaiser reports:

CDC, FDA and Merck have said that the adverse events likely were unrelated to the vaccine and were caused by underlying health problems or other factors, the Journal reports. According to CDC, two of the three women who died were taking oral contraceptives and died of blood clots, which are associated with oral contraceptives. The third, a 12-year-old girl, had heart disease and died of a heart inflammation triggered by the flu.
I read the same reports the Judicial Watch people did. One of the women died of a blood clot two weeks after receiving the vaccine. And the 12-year-old also had chicken pox and Hepatitis A vaccines on the same day. Granted, I'm not a medical professional. But nothing I read made me feel uneasy about getting the vaccine. This isn't exactly like three women and girls have received the shot and then dropped dead on the spot -- it seems like they had other health issues. I have yet to read an
evaluation from an apolitical medical professional who believes these reports are an indication that the vaccine is dangerous.

All vaccines carry a certain level of risk. All come with warnings that if you have certain conditions you should probably choose not to be vaccinated. During 2003 and the first half of 2004, there were eight reported deaths related to the chicken pox vaccine. Three deaths in the past year -- which may or may not be attributable to the HPV vaccine -- doesn't exactly seem like a "catalog of horrors" to me.

That said, the deaths potentially caused by oral-contraceptive-related blood clots are troubling. I'm guessing that a lot of women in the "catch-up" age range for HPV vaccination -- ages 18 to 26 -- are on the Pill or other hormonal contraception. And it sounds like you should just hold off on the vaccine if you're pregnant.

This is a good time to issue a reminder about conservative hypocrisy on this issue. It's a right-wing group that's ringing alarm bells over reactions to the vaccine. But for years, uber-conservative groups sounded some of the loudest warnings about the dangers of HPV. (From the American Family Association, in 2003: "HPV, a Bigger Killer, Takes Back Seat to Agenda-Driven Issue of AIDS.") But of course they wouldn't celebrate a vaccine gaining wide acceptance, because HPV is of great use to the abstinence movement. It's one of the few STI's that condoms don't effectively protect against, meaning HPV-related cervical cancer was proof of the "grim cost of sexual promiscuity" and "100 percent preventable with proper sexual behavior." So now that there's a vaccine for HPV, they have to catalog the "horrors!" of the adverse reactions in order to keep up their "SEX KILLS" talking point.
Is this an unknown side effect? Or another mercury in vaccines? I hope we now soon.

TB or, it's TB.

We have all been witness to the scare of drug resistant TB "on the loose." You need to say that is it is out there, just not here.

A troubling security aspect to this is how he got back here. He drove across the border, his passport randomly checked. That meant the flag on him was seen. But the guard doing the scan, who saw an order to hold and isolate, just figured that he didn't look sick, so didn't bother to act.

I'd complain some, but it seems the guard must have just followed his president's example.

Effect Measure has a look at the risk at issues of TB spreading on a plane.

It was only last week we posted about XDR-TB. Yesterday CDC warned passengers on two international flights -- Air France 385, Atlanta to Paris on May 12 and Czech Air 104, Prague to Canada on May 24 -- they may have been infected by another passenger who had Extensively Drug Resistant TB (XDR-TB). Reportedly authorities could not reveal which row the male passenger sat in as this would violate medical confidentiality laws (HIPAA). So anyone on the plane could think themselves at risk, although it was probably only those in the same row and several rows front and aft of the passenger who were really at risk. And the cabin crew, of course.

It's natural to think of an airplane as the ideal place to contract an infectious disease. After all, you are strapped in a seat in a narrow cylinder for hours at a time, next to people from diverse geographic origins, breathing recirculated air. If this isn't the perfect recipe for spreading an infectious disease, it is hard to think of what might be better. But in fact there is precious little evidence that airplane rides are a lottery ticket for a respiratory infection, as noted in a 2005 Commentary that accompanied Mangili and Gendreau's review of the subject (Commentary: Lancet. 2005 Mar 12-18;365(9463):917-9).

It turns out that while an airplane provides the smallest volume of air per person of any public space, the movement of air is transverse, i.e., from side to side, not along the length of the airplane. The air descends from the top of the cabin to the middle, sweeping in two circles on either side. Thus the people in the middle section of a wide body jet get the freshest air, with passengers seated to either side getting the air sweeping past the more medial seat mates. The poor soul on the window gets the air from everyone else in the row on their side of the plane (see figure 1 in Mangili and Gendreau). So the seat of the index case is probably critical, although this pattern is "on average." There is enough turbulence in cabin air to allow currents to go several rows front and aft. While it is true about 50% of the cabin air is recirculated, in all but the smallest regional jets it is passed through HEPA filters first. This was certainly true for the transatlantic planes in the current case.

There are a number of reports in the literature of infectious diseases contracted via airplane travel, including measles, influenza, TB and SARS. But not many. In general secondary cases were within a few rows of the index case, but in one notable instance, Air China flight 112 in 2003, SARS cases occurred in passengers seven rows in front and five rows behind the index case.

The paucity of cases in the literature might mean passenger to passenger transmission happens rarely, or it might merely be a reflection of the difficulty of detecting a disease cluster when all the contacts disperse widely upon reaching their destination. Since TB is largely a large droplet transmission, the belief that transmission is limited to those two rows in front and behind is probably justified.

Probably. But meanwhile the passengers have to be found, evaluated for infection and their contacts, likewise. Welcome to My World. Or should I say, Welcome to Our World. Because we are surely in it together.

They also look at the question of isolation and quarantine.

I'm not a lawyer and I don't play one on TV. But I think I know the difference between quarantine and isolation, and the widespread media reports that the Georgia resident with XDR-TB was the first person "quarantined" by the US government since 1963 didn't make sense. Quarantine means to segregate and possibly confine people who have been exposed to a contagious disease and therefore may become infectious themselves and spread it to others. But they are not sick. People who are segregated from the public and whose movement is restricted are under isolation, not quarantine. The Georgia resident has clearly been isolated, first in an isolation ward in a New York hospital and currently at Grady Memorial in Atlanta. Both isolation and quarantine are meant to stop the spread of contagious disease and are authorized under federal law: 42 U.S.C. Section 264.

As I understand it (and I would be glad to have any clarifications or corrections from a real lawyer), the law authorizes the government to isolate or quarantine a person or persons, the diseases and other details to be further set out in regulations or Executive Orders. The regulations are in the Code of Federal Regulations at 42 C.F.R., Parts 70 and 71. (cites and links courtesy CDC Public Health Law News).

Infectious tuberculosis is designated one of the diseases for which federal isolation and quarantine are authorized through Executive Order 13295. The other diseases are SARS, Cholera; Diphtheria; Plague; Smallpox; Yellow Fever; and Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers (Lassa, Marburg, Ebola, Crimean-Congo, South American, and others not yet isolated or named). The stipulation of infectious tuberculosis stems from the fact that most people infected with the tubercle bacillus never become sick or contagious. When I was in medical training it was more the rule than the exception for health care workers to convert from negative to positive skin test early on. I, myself, have been a positive reactor for more than 50 years. It is also very common to see scars from old TB lesions in the lungs of people who never knew they were infected and were never sick (latent TB). You are infectious if the TB organism can be found in your sputum, but often people are treated if they have a recent positive skin or blood test and a history suggestive of recent infection, e.g., they have been in contact with an infectious case. Thus positive reactors amongst the passengers in this case would likely be considered for immediate treatment, although the treatment regimen would have to be carefully considered as this is said to be an XDR organism.

According to CDC, this is the first time any of the regulations or Executive Order have been used for TB. The realization this was XDR-TB and the patient was traveling came to a head on a holiday weekend, compounding the matter. There is still a lot to learn about this episode and it is likely new procedures will be put in place as a result. We will learn in time if outright blunders were made, but we already know much needs to be done to make this system work in a timely way. We also want it to work in a way that doesn't make the protections themselves a problem.

An immediate reaction was that this individual should have been locked up -- forcibly detained, as a matter of policy. Let's assume he was highly infectious (possible, but not likely, in this case) and that you might have crossed paths with him on his travels. Maybe a bus, the same plane, the same airplane concourse. Of course if you are a good citizen, once you realized it you would turn yourself in (you would, wouldn't you?). At that point, should you be forcibly detained and tested? If not, why not? If you test positive -- which many people do, as I noted above -- should you then be locked up? After all, we now have a good argument that if he infected you, you have XDR TB. Of course it will take about six to eight weeks to find out, so we'll have to lock you up for a couple of months. Then if you are infected, treatment is a couple of years. Keep you locked up? If not, what makes you different?

More generally, what about anyone diagnosed with tuberculosis? Last year there were almost 14,000 TB diagnoses in the US. Since we don't know if one of those diagnosed might be drug resistant (although we know some will be), and by the time we find out, they will have infected others, should we lock them up too? All 14,000? If someone who has XDR TB is so dangerous they must be locked up, then isn't this what we must do? Or should we only lock up people who have been diagnosed with XDR TB -- something that happens only after they have been around and possibly infected others for months.

I don't know what the answer is. But "lock 'em up" isn't likely to be any better for TB than for HIV.
And on NPR today they had an interesting piece done by a woman who had tested positive for TB and the attitude she still faces. It was interesting as it was not active TB, but inactive. So she had come in contact with it at some point in her life. So the test was positive for her. She took antibiotics to kill any remnant in her body, and continues to get tested to be sure it never arises.

It struck we as I have had a similar experience. When I did all the test before entering college, I took that test. I got the injection under the skin, and I got the bump. So I was told I had an inactive bit in me. I got a prescription for the meds and to this day it is something I think and wonder about. When I get congested or have a little trouble breathing, could it be...?

In a sense it makes me think more of health care. Particularly getting some form of universal coverage started. At this time, I am working as a contracted part timer. That means I have no coverage, I haven't for a long while, including through a gall bladder removal. I also have a none too big bank account, and a car that needs to be fixed soon. Going in for a non emergency test is out of the question. And when you think of the large part of the population in the same straits, and worse...It should worry you.

One guy slipped over the border. But what about the masses inside already, untested and unknowing?

The Surgeon General

Things have not looked so rosey in reviewing the president's choice for the new Surgeon General.

Effect Measure sheds some light on James Holsinger.
It's not as if the Surgeon General was such an important post. The SG's mission is mainly to educate the public and advise the President. No big deal, really. And in fact the past SGs might as well have been invisible. Hell, they were invisible. No use of the position as a bully pulpit to educate the public about good health. Now President Bush has nominated a new Surgeon General to replace the Acting SG who replaced the previous one who did almost nothing his whole tenure except issue a report on the dangers of second hand smoke and shortly thereafter found his appointment not renewed. So who's the new guy? Will he educate the public and the President about good health and bad health? Unlikely. But he clearly has some pretty definite views on Right and Wrong. He's got it Straight, all right.

Meet Dr. James Holsinger, currently Health Director in Kentucky, former Chief Medical Director of the VA and, not incidentally, president of the United Methodist Church's high court, its Judicial Council. He's has a medical doctor and PhD (anatomy) from Duke and, of course, his most important qualification for a health post in the Bush administration, a theologian. Not an amateur one. A real one. He has a master's degree in biblical studies from Asbury Theological Seminary. So he's religious. Very religious. Bible studies. That doesn't mean it will affect his policy views as Surgeon General. The Bush administration wouldn't stand for that:

President Bush's choice for surgeon general likely will face questions about his stands on AIDS, sex education and abortion during the confirmation process, various political and religious activists say.

The nominee, Kentucky cardiologist Dr. James Holsinger, serves as president of the United Methodist Church's high court, its Judicial Council, and has made his negative views on homosexuality known for nearly two decades.

In the early 1990s, Holsinger resigned from the denomination's Committee to Study Homosexuality because he believed the committee "would follow liberal lines," according to Time magazine. At the time, he warned that acceptance of homosexuality would drive away millions of churchgoers.

As a member of the Judicial Council, he voted with the majority in 2005 that a Virginia pastor could deny church membership to an openly gay man. (Frank Lockwood, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette religions editor)
Oh, yeah, I forgot about this, the case of the Lesbian pastor in Washington state exonerated by a church panel. The new SG, despite being overruled, is a man of principle:

"Fair process has been accorded Rev. Karen T. Dammann and the result is she is found to be a self-avowed practicing homosexual. The application of the Discipline to the finding of the trial court means Rev. Karen T. Dammann is not in good standing and cannot be appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church," Holsinger and three other Judical Council members said in a dissenting opinion. (another Lockwood piece)
Well, I suppose we should also mention the 1996 Methodist conference, when 15 Bishops issued a statement registering their personal pain against proscriptions against homosexuality. Dr. Holsinger thought they really spoiled the party:
"We believe it is time to break the silence and state where we are on this issue that is hurting and silencing countless faithful Christians," the bishops' statement asserted. At the same time, the 11 active and four retired bishops affirmed their commitment to "continue our responsibility" to the church's order and Book of Discipline.


The Rev. J. Philip Wogaman, pastor of Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, told United Methodist News Service he believes the "prophetic" statement of the 15 "will, in the long run, do much good."

Jim Holsinger, Lexington, Ky., said "the careful orchestration" of the conference by the 15 bishops "cast a gray pall across the" conference, "which did not lift, even after its adjournment." (more Lockwood)
At least unlike other Bush appointees, this one won't fall easily to lobbyists:
When surgeon general nominee Dr. James Holsinger was serving on the board of the Confessing Movement of the United Methodist Church, the board issued a statement accusing the "radical homosexual/lesbian lobby" and those who support homosexuality of precipitating "a crisis in the United Methodist Church." (another Lockwood piece)
Maybe Bush's nomination had nothing to do with Holsinger's anti-gay religious views. There is certainly some evidence to indicate other factors were involved:
The doctor and his wife, Barbara, have given more than $21,000 to Republican causes over the past decade, including $4,000 to President Bush's 2004 re-election campaign. (Lockwood)
I wouldn't want to judge him hastily.
Effect measure has offered up a supplemental on Holsinger.

George Will. Your party is over there.

Booman Tribune:

George Will- idiot:
Conservatism's recovery of its intellectual equilibrium requires a confident explanation of why America has two parties and why the conservative one is preferable. Today's political argument involves perennial themes that give it more seriousness than many participants understand. The argument, like Western political philosophy generally, is about the meaning of, and the proper adjustment of the tension between, two important political goals -- freedom and equality.

Today conservatives tend to favor freedom, and consequently are inclined to be somewhat sanguine about inequalities of outcomes. Liberals are more concerned with equality, understood, they insist, primarily as equality of opportunity, not of outcome.

Today conservatives tend not to favor freedom. They favor illegal warrantless wiretaps, FBI National Security letters, the suspension of habeas corpus, kangaroo courts, torture facilities, voter suppression, limitations on free speech, abuse of eminent domain, restrictions on women's health alternatives, restrictions on permissible scientific enquiry, government intrusion into personal medical decisions, mandatory sentencing, the war on drugs, de facto conscription thru stop-loss programs, and more.

Liberals oppose almost all of this. What George Will is missing is that the conservatives turned out to be frauds.

It is galling to hear his claims.

Where was he standing from liberty when it was being curtailed? Behind the administration, cheering them on and taking shots at those who questioned the acts.

When minorities are being denied rights where is he? Leading the fight for CONSERVATISM. Maintaining the old order, and sticking to the talking points.

The War on Giulianni, by Republicans, begins

From Tom Edsall at the Huff Post:
The early success of Rudy Giuliani's presidential bid has provoked a groundswell of opposition from disparate forces including conservative Catholics, remnants of Pat Buchanan's presidential campaigns and regional political operatives seeking to break into the Republican firmament....

The new organizations are relying on two fundraising models, both of which were highly successful in previous attacks. One is the drive in 2005 to force White House counsel Harriet Miers to withdraw her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. That campaign, spearheaded by conservatives opposed to Miers, raised an estimated $2 million. The other is the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign in 2004, which began with a modest budget but ended up raising millions in an effort to destroy John Kerry's reputation as a war hero....

Paul Nagy, the group's top-gun in New Hampshire, believes nominating Giuliani would be disastrous for the American conservative movement. Along with other activists, Nagy signed a letter seeking additional signatories to the anti-Rudy declaration. The letter states: "Rudy Giuliani is an unacceptable Republican nominee for President of the United States. He is pro-abortion, pro-partial birth abortion, pro-registration of handguns, and pro-homosexual rights. He is the most liberal Republican candidate for President in our nation's history."
It's sad that the fringe extremists running the Republican party have made "conservative" a virtue and "liberal" a vice. Why shouldn't a far-right Republican be viewed just as out of touch, out of the mainstream of GOP thought, as a far-left Republican? (And in fact, while a conservative Republican inhabits the fringe of American thought, the liberal Republican is near dead-center in the middle.) The far-right of the GOP fights back, they dominate the message, and that's why conservative Republicans are "good" while liberal Republicans are "bad." By contrast, the far-left of the GOP is typically made up of a bunch of wimps (e.g., Christine Todd Whitman, Olympia Snowe, and other paragons of mediocrity).
It is kind of sad to see.

But...what do you expect in the Republican party of today?

They were eventually going to start eating their own.

US in Iraq

Informed Comment:

The Korean Model
Bush is now talking about a "South Korea" model for Iraq. He likely got this nonsense from John Gaddis at Yale, who I heard talking it last November at the Chicago Humanities Fair.

So what confuses me is the terms of the comparison. Who is playing the role of the Communists and of North Korea? Is it the Sunni Arabs of Iraq? But they are divided into Iraqi/Arab nationalists and Salafi Sunni revivalists. (The secular Arab nationalists are the vast majority according to recent polling). So they are not a united force. They are fighting with one another in al-Anbar. And, the Arab nationalists and the religious Sunnis cannot both play the role of the Communists. Some Arab nationalists are allied with the United States (Egypt, Tunisia, etc.) Others are not (Syria). Some religious Sunnis are allied with the US (Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan). Others are not. So where is the analogy to International Communism? Who is China and who is the Soviet Union? Is it Syria and Iran? But both are ruled by Shiites, not Sunnis!

But let us say that the Sunni Arabs are North Korea. Who is South Korea? Is it the Shiites of Iraq? But they are allied with Iran (isn't it playing the role of China?) And the vast majority of them don't want US troops in Iraq according to polls. There is zero chance that the Shiites of Iraq will put up with a long term presence of US bases in their areas of Iraq. The British base in Basra takes heavy fire all the time.

The only place in Iraq that looks at all like South Korea is maybe Kurdistan. But it is also allied with Iran behind the scenes, and it is in a troubling way giving asylum to Turkish-Kurdish terror groups that are infliction harm on the US's NATO ally, Turkey.

Even as we speak, in Iraq's north, Turkish military forces and now 20 tanks are massing on the Iraqi border, apparently poised for "hot pursuit" of Kurdish guerrillas of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), who have safe harbor in Iraqi Kurdistan but go over to Turkey and blow things up. There is some danger that the US will be in the middle of all this, though it is allied with both the Kurds and the Turks. Last week US fighter jets based in Iraq made an unauthorized incursion into Turkish air space that the Turks are protesting.

Do we really want to be in the middle of that?

(But see the next, translated, item, below).

So, no, Iraq isn't like Korea in any obvious way, and in fact the analogy strikes me as frankly ridiculous.
Expanding into Kurdistan
Although it is expected that today responsibility for security will be handed over to the Kurdistan authorities, exclusive military sources have told Hawlati that the US forces intend to open three huge US military bases in the Arbil, Duhok, and Al-Sulaymaniyah areas. Meanwhile, senior peshmerga forces' officials expressed their pleasure at such a move.

More on our future in Iraq



So why the move to permanent bases in Iraq? For years, I have been reluctant to embrace the oil theory of American policymaking in the Middle East. I’ve subscribed to the notion that oil is only part of a complex set of strategic, political and moral issues animating American interests. I still believe that in the short term. Bush and the few remaining supporters of his policy are motivated by more than oil. They want to avoid a failed state in the middle of a volatile region.

But what does that aim have to do with permanent bases? The only two reasons to station troops in the Middle East for half a century are protecting oil supplies (reflecting a pessimistic view of energy independence) outside the normal channels of trade and diplomacy, and projecting raw military power. These are the imperial aims of an empire. During the cold war, charges of U.S. imperialism in Korea and Vietnam were false. Those wars were about superpower struggles. This time, the “I word" is not a left-wing epithet but a straightforward description of policy aims—yet another difference from those two older wars in Asia.