Sunday, June 21, 2009

Gates Preps For Potential N. Korean Missile

While the most recent North Korean missile launch was notable for less for its aeronautics than its ability to broadcast underwater (the missile fell into the sea shortly after launch-despite N. Korean claims to the contrary), Defense Secretary Gates is giving the Norks the benefit of the doubt that they may achieve something closer to success in their next (rumored) launch.

The initial Japanese media reports that the N. Korean government has plans to test a ballistic missile was not a surprise, but its intended flight path-in the direction of Hawaii-was. 

Despite the lack-luster track record of N. Korean ballistic missiles, Gates is taking the threat seriously and has decided to deploy the experimental missile shield radar to Hawaii

Gates decided against deploying the missile shield during the March N. Korean missile test, despite some reports that he might due so for monitoring purposes. At least part of the evident reasoning was that it was in dry-dock for maintenance. The March missile's aquatic ambitions bore out Gate's decision.

Now however, the radar is out of the shop and while it is unlikely there has been no great advancement in N. Korean missile tech to point to any major concerns, the opportunity of another test plus the N. Korean threats certainly warrants a watchful eye.

The folks over at Arms Control Wonk have some great information on history of N. Korean tests, and will also be keeping a close eye on events (likely including some deep-in-the-details trajectory analysis).

- Murphy

Good Sources on Iranian Protests

The web has been a great source of stories, photos and video documenting the protests that have upturned modern Iranian society. The one issue is narrowing down the volume of information.

Here are a few good sources to start:

The Field: Al Giordano Reports America  - Giordano provides a mix of analysis with up-to-date reports. He has even gotten the early word on some important events, such as the unions declaring solidarity with the protestors.

Daily Dish by Andrew Sullivan  - Commentator Andrew Sullivan has been keeping tabs on a variety of Twitter feeds and YouTube channels and reposting them on his website.

- Murphy

Saturday, June 20, 2009

New Sources on Iran

- Murphy

The Twittering of Iran

The many tools of the internet have begun to demonstrate they are actually worth a least a portion of the praise heaped upon them by those who promise kittens and flowers and peace, if only everyone had high speed internet access available.

Even the lowly Twitter-which is actually an appropriate adjective to describe some of the most avowed acolytes of the tool-has shown itself to be a veritable life-line for many inside and outside of Iran.

Thanks to the distributed nature of its architecture, there is no single point for the Iranian regime to clamp down on, as when the blocked access to Facebook after students flocked to Mir Hossein Musavi's page (the former prime minister challenging Ahmadinejad for the Presidency). Their only recourse is to shut down entire networks, which it did to the text-messaging network on the day of the election.

While we are likely to quickly regret the proliferation of the term "Twitter revolution" there is little doubt that it and the proliferation of quick and comprehensive (text, voice, video) communication available through the modern networks has helped coordinate the efforts of the Iranian protestors as well as spread the word to the wider world.

Let's let the Iranians decide what to call their efforts. After all,  despite the integral role of pamphleteers in fomenting and organizing the American rebellion, no one called the War of Independence the "Pamphleteer Revolution".

- Murphy

Unions Add Their Weight in Iranian Protest

The Autobus Workers Union has joined with the Auto Workers Union in criticizing the ruling government's brutal crackdown of the students, shopworkers, businesspeople and parents who have taken to the streets in the wake of what many believe to have been a rigged election.

In a stunning rebuke to the threats issued by Supreme Leader Ali Khomeini that the violence that meets the protesters will be of their own making, thousands have taken to the streets u. In doing so they will have to dodge the batons of the Iranian police and the bullets of the Basij-a brute squad made up of irregulars and thugs who form the steel toe of the ruling class.

In addition to the world-wide rebuke that would follow a violent suppression of the protests (which the already blighted regime may swat aside), the efforts of the industrial workers and others to cause slowdowns or even strikes may turn a protest into a full-blown revolution.

The people of Iran who have taken to the streets did not do so to overthrow the government, they merely wanted to see what little legitimacy existed return to the elective process. 

Mousavi, the man who challenged the sitting President Ahmadinejad, is known to be a hard-liner himself. In  his previous role as prime minister in the 1980's. Mousavi is believed to have given the approval to obtain the centrifuges used for uranium enrichment.

In the Iranian sphere, reformer is a relative term.

Yet the regime may have taken its game to far, tossing aside any pretense of self-rule. Thus, those who saw their country's future diminish under the Ahmadinejad presidency-the young, the reformist, the realists-saw the specter of their fate in the regime's meat-paw manipulation of the election.

- Murphy