Freeday! Everything's a bit better sliding into the weekend.
And it's Father's Day this weekend! Hope you Adventurers haven't forgotten. At the very least, give your dad a call, and thank him for not turning your childhood into a reality show and then divorcing your mom on national television (yes, a Jon & Kate Plus 8 Father's Day joke. I'm that lame.).
Anyway, my own dad, The Admiral, is scheduled to be in town this weekend, so hopefully I'll get to have some good food with him and drink a beer or something like that.
And Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made an announcement at Tehran University on Friday in which he strongly denied any fraud or wrongdoing in the Iranian elections, criticized public street protests, and urged people with complaints to pursue them through proper legal channels. He accused enemies of Iran- the U.S., England, and Israel- of undermining the Iranian political process and of trying to cast doubt upon a decisive victory by Ahmadinejad. Khamenei went on to say that if the "political elite" wanted to continue to break the law and take "wrong measures", they would be held accountable for the bloodshed and the rioting.
So, for the Iranians, I guess this is where the rubber really meets the road. The Ayatollah is supposed to be the ultimate governmental authority in Iran, as well as the country's leading religious figure. He claims to derive his power from Islamic law, and therefore, by implication, from God. For many of these Iranians, I would guess that defying Khamenei feels like defiance of not only a political leader, but defiance of a powerful religious leader as well (it would be a little like a bunch of strong Catholics having to decide whether or not to disobey the Pope).
In essence, for the people of Iran to continue to defy Khamenei at this point would be to reject not only the credibility of the elections, but credibility of the entire system of Iranian government (i.e., if the Supreme Leader declares the election to be fair and valid and the people still reject that assertion, they are basically saying that they don't trust in either his religious or political judgment and don't respect his authority. Given that he's their foremost leader and holds a position higher than that of their president, this is sort of a big thing. ).
I think that this proclamation by the Ayatollah is probably the precursor to a major government crackdown on the protests and public opposition to the election.
It'll be interesting to see how this thing unfolds in the days ahead. I fear that there may be more widespread violence.
I heard a reporter on CNN last night discussing rumors that significant numbers of Iranian military personnel and police were planning to ignore any orders they receive which would require them to use force against the Iranian people. But those were just rumors. I guess we'll see.
Anyway, I'm still not really sold on the fact that Moussavi is such a great guy, but I certainly sympathize with the Iranians who just want to see fair elections and know that their voice has been heard. For what it's worth, my support goes out to them.
I don't care.
In the midst of all of this Iranian election coverage, there hasn't been much talk about rising tensions with North Korea. Apparently the U.S. military is tracking a North Korean ship which is believed to be carrying missiles, missile parts, or nuclear material. All of this stuff is in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions (which apparently carry about as much weight as the "commands" that I issue to Cassidy at the dog park). The U.N. really hasn't given the U.S. the authority to forcibly board vessels for inspection purposes, so right now we're just sort of tailing the boat and watching. A few people have speculated that we may try to get our allies to deny the North Korean vessel the right to refuel their ships in their harbors.
The North Koreans are a pesky group, and it's not really clear what we should (or can) do about them. They've got a pretty big military, and they could quickly do some serious damage to South Korea if any sort of conflict were to break out. On the other hand, letting them continue to develop their nuclear program seems a bit dangerous.
Anyway, the whole North Korea thing seems at least as troubling as this Iran thing, but it's getting a lot less attention at the moment.
Between Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan, and Iraq (not to mention the occasional Somali pirate attack and the fairly recent military activity of the Russians in Georgia), we sure seem to have a lot on our plate from a national defense/international security standpoint. I'm glad that I'm too old and worn out for the draft, because I could see a real need to grow the size of our military in the coming years. If another one of these hotspots blows up into another full blown conflict, we could have wars going on in three or more countries at the same time (say, hypothetically, Iraq starts to destabilize as we try to draw down our troops and we end up having to keep people there, the battle against Al Qaeda and the Taliban continues to intensify in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and then we have to deploy troops to deal with possible nuclear threats from Iran or North Korea). Anyway, it just feels like there's a lot of instability going on right now, and it feels like we're already stretched pretty thin with our current military commitments.
To spin even farther off the deep end and increasingly into future-gazing hypothetical land, I think that we're just beginning to see the type of problems that we're going to have as more and more countries develop nuclear programs and develop nuclear technologies (and they will- the money is there and the know-how is there, so it's just a matter of time). North Korea and Iran have been developing nuclear programs for a while and Pakistan (who's central government seems a bit unstable and who's population has recently been suffering from a lot of internal political strife) already has nuclear weapons.
I wonder who's next? Venezuela's Hugo Chavez seems like the sort of guy who would really enjoy some nukes if he could get his hands on them. Basically, I see the whole issue of foreign nuclear programs the same way I see gun ownership in the U.S.. Everyone wants to claim the right to have them, and although while some nations seem to handle nuclear power responsibly (France, for example), the problem is that ownership of these weapons often appeals to neurotic little guys with Napoleon complexes who feel like they're not being taken seriously and who have something to prove.
Anyway, as technology leaps forward in ways that outpace the world's ability to responsibly handle it, I foresee a day when there are a whole lot of nations around the globe who possess various weapons of mass destruction, any one of which could set off a cataclysmic disaster. (I'm not just talking about nukes, here. Apparently biological and chemical weapons can be much cheaper and easier to produce, and can produce effects which are almost as catastrophic.)
As advancing technology makes it easier and easier to produce such weapons, we're really going to have our hands full if we're going to try to police these things on a global scale.
In fact, I'm pretty convinced it won't work. We can't do it- at least not alone.
The U.N. is going to have to bet a lot more powerful and effective in addressing these threats if there's going to be much hope of containing them. The divisiveness, infighting, bickering, and protection of self interest within the U.N. security council has to come to an end in order to address global threats in solidarity with an internationally united front.
Sadly, I don't think the members of the U.N. are going to really get serious about this until something pretty bad happens that clearly illustrates the need for cooperation. It's a shame, but the only thing that's probably going to get the U.N. move beyond toothless resolutions (their specialty) will probably be some kind of awful attack and the subsequent media images of irradiated or infected civilian populations.
Anyway, I didn't mean to get so heavy on a perfectly pleasant Friday, but this North Korea situation and the ineffectiveness of the U.N. in dealing with it (as with many of the conflicts they address) just kind of got me thinking about all of this.
Uggh. I've managed to sort of bum myself out a bit.
So.... how about those Astros?!? Oh wait, that's even more depressing.... (last again, Astros? Give me a break!!!)
Well, maybe more later. Have a good weekend. Happy Father's Day to all of you fathers, and happy, uh, weekend to the rest of you!