Friday, January 27, 2012
In his post, Joshua Landis makes a few notes about the "heavy weapons" in Syria, and how the Free Syrian Army, or other armed groups, don't have them. My question is: what are these heavy weapons? Like warships, tanks, or simply anything punchyer than a machine gun? Because I would think that using something like a warship, for example, would take a level of organization that I'm not sure the opposition currently has. I mean, a lot of this heavy weapons equipment takes a full apparatus of people supporting the main units.
Regardless, I can't imagine the Assad regime falling by fully conventional means, unless it's from the outside. They're just too far ahead in organization of any other internal contender for power, and as Landis points out, the Assad's have spent the past 40 years practicing putting down Sunni dissidents.
I'd think the lousy economy and the fact that that Syria has the last "minoritarian regime" in the Levant would be the triggers to a popular revolt and Assad's ousting. That seems to be the call here.
Anyway . . . it's a great piece and I recommend reading it.
UPDATE: NYT has yet another piece on "Israel attacking Iran," and yet another checklist of "red lines" that the Iranian regime may cross. Check it out.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Next Monday my book, Surfing the Middle East, goes to the book designers . . . and then to the printers. It'll be available on March 1st on Amazon. Kindle version sooner. But in the meantime, here is my most recent blog for The Huffington Post:
The resurrection of Newt Gingrich?
Have you noticed? The Tea Baggers really have a thing for this guy. Newt's simple, blast 'em all strategy, fits brilliantly into their tough guy ego. They respect that. And they want a candidate who will body-slam the Washington establishment and stick it to the liberal media.
So stand by, folks. After the Republican "values voters" of South Carolina stunned us all by giving their state to Newt last week, we now have a primary that's a two horse race. It's Romney and Newt. And on January 31st, Florida Republicans will vote for the stud they think can outrun Obama.
Romney is the most obvious candidate: he's the sober businessman, who believes that his executive experience and four decades of monogamous marriage is something to campaign on in Reality TV America. Romney has the big money, PACs, vicious Super PACs, and an organized army of squeaky clean, on-the-ground missionaries who will take his message to the far corners of this God-fearing country.
Then there's Newt: the candidate who just recently became viable and surged in the polls -- but has minimal organization and funding. Is Newt a lean enough stallion to win the race against Romney? President Obama?
The answer is in the debates. Because on stage Newt's anything but "Newtered" in both balls and politics. And the Tea Baggers love him for it.
Unlike his Mormon competitor, (who Evangelical voters remain unsure about), Newt is becoming their guy. He may be about as morally corrupt a politician to ever run on the "values ticket".
Newt has masterfully turned his affairs and three marriages into an image of power. This is a man who does what he wants, gets away with it, and it's all laced with an aggression that speaks to down-on-their-luck voters, who vicariously feel empowered by his assault mentality. Newt is the "I've had it! F*** you!" candidate. And as recent polls show, the therapeutic value of watching this man debate should not be overlooked.
But morals and values? Give me a break. As Speaker of the House, Newt worked tirelessly to make sure that every little drop of Bill Clinton's libido made the nightly news.
After leaving government, Newt was hired by Fannie Mae as a "historian" to help lobby, or as Newt would say, "consult," their interests through the maze of D.C. From penis to politics, it is undeniable that Newt is the ultimate Washington insider.
So in this troubled economy, the score is simple: Tea Bagger Republicans don't really care how many wives or what kind of semi-corruption their candidate has been involved in. More than anything, they want a nominee who is going to pound Obama, and every little socialist-minded, fag-converting, abortion-loving thing they think he stands for. These Republicans don't see that in Romney. To them, monogamous marriage is just another way to say limp and losing to Obama.
But the Obama team need not worry: Newt has earned a reputation as a self-imploding, erratic, Captain Ahab (though, some in the "liberal media" insist he is really the "White Whale"). Nonetheless, this boat shall eventually sink.
So be it Romney or Newt who wins the Florida primary, I don't really care. I'm just damn proud to live in a country where slimy Newt Gingrich has out-polygamized his Mormon competitor.
And in Florida, he'll probably get rewarded for it too.