Saturday, January 20, 2007

Kuwati Gulf Cats

From time to time I walk along the Arabian Gulf, since my apartment is only a block from it. As I walk some 30-50 cats usally can be seen sunning themselves, searching for food in the rocks and trash cans, cleaning themshelves and just walking along the beach with me. The cats look to be in very good health and well feed. There are lots of calico and tiger stripped cats. Somehow they make me feel safe.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Iraq Study Group Recommendations

I have posted a link to the Iraq Sutdy Group Recommendations in an earlier post on this site. I have read them all and the study group report by James Baker and Lee Hamilton. My two cents is that the US needs to begin the withdrawal soon. We should provide logistics support, training, etc and most important we need to step up our diplomatic efforts. We need to stay the course from a diplomatic perspective, this is a long term project President Bush got us into but it is time to move most of the troops out and focus on a support role to the Iraqi government and miltiary.

Monday, January 15, 2007

From the White House

Fact Sheet: The New Way Forward in Iraq

The President's New Iraq Strategy Is Rooted In Six Fundamental Elements:
Let the Iraqis lead;
Help Iraqis protect the population;
Isolate extremists;
Create space for political progress;
Diversify political and economic efforts; and
Situate the strategy in a regional approach.

Iraq Could Not Be Graver – The War On Terror Cannot Be Won If We Fail In Iraq. Our enemies throughout the Middle East are trying to defeat us in Iraq. If we step back now, the problems in Iraq will become more lethal, and make our troops fight an uglier battle than we are seeing today.

Key Elements Of The New Approach: Security
Publicly acknowledge all parties are responsible for quelling sectarian violence.
Work with additional Coalition help to regain control of the capital and protect the Iraqi population.
Deliver necessary Iraqi forces for Baghdad and protect those forces from political interference.
Commit to intensify efforts to build balanced security forces throughout the nation that provide security even-handedly for all Iraqis.
Plan and fund eventual demobilization program for militias.

Agree that helping Iraqis to provide population security is necessary to enable accelerated transition and political progress.
Provide additional military and civilian resources to accomplish this mission.
Increase efforts to support tribes willing to help Iraqis fight Al Qaeda in Anbar.
Accelerate and expand the embed program while minimizing risk to participants.

Both Coalition And Iraqi:
Continue counter-terror operations against Al Qaeda and insurgent organizations.
Take more vigorous action against death squad networks.
Accelerate transition to Iraqi responsibility and increase Iraqi ownership.
Increase Iraqi security force capacity – both size and effectiveness – from 10 to 13 Army divisions, 36 to 41 Army Brigades, and 112 to 132 Army Battalions.
Establish a National Operations Center, National Counterterrorism Force, and National Strike Force.
Reform the Ministry of Interior to increase transparency and accountability and transform the National Police.

Key Elements Of The New Approach: Political
The Government of Iraq commits to:
Reform its cabinet to provide even-handed service delivery.
Act on promised reconciliation initiatives (oil law, de-Baathification law, Provincial elections).
Give Coalition and ISF authority to pursue ALL extremists.
All Iraqi leaders support reconciliation.
Moderate coalition emerges as strong base of support for unity government.

Support political moderates so they can take on the extremists.
Build and sustain strategic partnerships with moderate Shi'a, Sunnis, and Kurds.
Support the national compact and key elements of reconciliation with Iraqis in the lead.
Diversify U.S. efforts to foster political accommodation outside Baghdad (more flexibility for local commanders and civilian leaders).
Expand and increase the flexibility of the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) footprint.
Focus U.S. political, security, and economic resources at local level to open space for moderates, with initial priority to Baghdad and Anbar.

Both Coalition And Iraqi:
Partnership between Prime Minister Maliki, Iraqi moderates, and the United States where all parties are clear on expectations and responsibilities.
Strengthen the rule of law and combat corruption.
Build on security gains to foster local and national political accommodations.
Make Iraqi institutions even-handed, serving all of Iraq's communities on an impartial basis.

Key Elements Of The New Approach: Economic
Deliver economic resources and provide essential services to all areas and communities.
Enact hydrocarbons law to promote investment, national unity, and reconciliation.
Capitalize and execute jobs-producing programs.
Match U.S. efforts to create jobs with longer term sustainable Iraqi programs.
Focus more economic effort on relatively secure areas as a magnet for employment and growth.

Refocus efforts to help Iraqis build capacity in areas vital to success of the government (e.g. budget execution, key ministries).
Decentralize efforts to build Iraqi capacities outside the Green Zone.
Double the number of PRTs and civilians serving outside the Green Zone.
Establish PRT-capability within maneuver Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs).
Greater integration of economic strategy with military effort.
Joint civil-military plans devised by PRT and BCT.
Remove legal and bureaucratic barriers to maximize cooperation and flexibility.

Key Elements Of The New Approach: Regional
Vigorously engage Arab states.
Take the lead in establishing a regional forum to give support and help from the neighborhood.
Counter negative foreign activity in Iraq.
Increase efforts to counter PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party).

Intensify efforts to counter Iranian and Syrian influence inside Iraq.
Increase military presence in the region.
Strengthen defense ties with partner states in the region.
Encourage Arab state support to Government of Iraq.
Continue efforts to help manage relations between Iraq and Turkey.
Continue to seek the region's full support in the War on Terror.

Both Coalition And Iraqi:
Focus on the International Compact.
Retain active U.N. engagement in Iraq – particularly for election support and constitutional review.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Return to Kuwait

So I am still suffering from jet lag. Returned to Kuwait yesterday from back home. About 16 hours of flight time, 6 hours of layover and two airplanes and I'm back. Ofcourse I found out today that I will be heading off to Bahrain in a little over a week. No rest for the weary.
I started another Great Course today titled "The United States and the Middle East - 1914 to 9/11" which is very interesting. But one of the books I am reading now about the Middle East, "A Peace to End All Peace" tells the story of how the current configuration of the Middle East was mainly determined from 1914 to 1922 as a result of the British, French and Russian plans carried out during that period as result of the fall of the Ottoman Empire.
On the plane I began reading the Iraq Study Group Report which has some interesting and very relavant recommendations for the future of Iraq and the Middle East in general. The more I learn about the Middle East the more interesting it becomes and the more the daily news makes sense to me.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Al Warka Google Map

Al Warka' google map Great map of Uruk (aka Al Warka) that you can zoom in on to see where Uruk is in Iraq.

Uruk Background

Check here for some more info on Uruk to include some photos of the ancient Sumer site -

Uruk now Warka

"In the Early Dynastic I period the city of Uruk covered an area of 400 hectares and was surrounded by a city wall, which according to later accounts was built by Gilgamesh, Uruk's legendary king. Uruk remained an important religious center and its shrines were embellished by many of the later rulers of Mesopotamia.....The modern name of Uruk is Warka and it was recorded in the Bible as the town of Erech. In the Sumerian period it was called Unu..." Source

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Uruk, Mesopotamia

In the 5th Millennium B.C. the city of Uruk, 140 miles south of Baghdad was in fact the first city. Uruk's people where the first to live the urban lifestyle. Uruk was the first city think of that. The first time in human history that people come together and cooperated so that larger numbers of us could live side by side. Where one persons skills made it possible for anothr person to build specialized skills in another area. What happened over time so that now we want to kill each other rather than work together and build better cities?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


What makes us human? The ability to feel empathy for another human begin. To see life from the other persons perspective. What if we all took some time to see the world from the other persons point of view? To understand their world view. World views can be based on fact or faith, each valid, each resulting in very different perspectives. Each leading to very different courses of action. What makes us human? Empathy is on attribute to consider.

Monday, January 01, 2007

The Levant Region

The Levant is an imprecise geographical term historically referring to a large area in the Middle East south of the Taurus Mountains, bounded by the Mediterranean Sea on the west, and by the northern Arabian Desert and Upper Mesopotamia to the east. The Levant does not include the Caucasus Mountains, any part of the Arabian Peninsula proper, or Anatolia — although at times Cilicia may be included. The Sinai Peninsula may also be included, but may be excluded as a marginal area forming a land bridge between the Levant and northern Egypt. At times Levantine cultures and peoples dominated the region between the Sinai and the Nile river, but that region is usually excluded from the geographical Levant.

What Makes Us Human?

What makes us human? Philosophers have been asking this question for thousands of years. Written and spoken language, tool making and other capabilities have been offered as answers to this question, what makes us human? Recently evolutionary biologists have found a gene which seems to have evolved about 6,000 years ago, again we are back to the Fertile Cresent area. This gene seems to be responsible for our large brains and its growth. We all know that as a percentage of body mass humans have a large brain to body ratio. So all of this leads me back to what I have been saying for a long time, lets focus on what makes us the same, what makes us human, not on what makes us different. So what makes us human?
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