Friday, July 19, 2002

ZoNotes: Why Do You Have to Go And Make Things So Complicated?

At one point actor Billy Bob Thornton was the luckiest man in civilization as we knew it, the husband of Angelina Jolie. Indeed, now he must be the gutsiest, bravest, or least appreciative man in civilization as we know it, for Ms. Jolie has filed for divorce.

The Longest 2 Hours
Iberian Notes breaks down the Spanish decision to wrest back Perejil Island from the clutches of the Moroccan occupation force. Apparently the leadership in Rabat was preparing to implement the diplomatic equivalent of rubbing it in the Spaniards' faces -- inviting foreign media to the small island. Using a combination of aviation, sea, and special operations forces elements, the Spaniards recovered the island without even firing a shot. There is a taste of Chinese strategist Sun Tzu here. The Spaniards, by locking down firm European Union support and securing U.S. noninterference, were able to make a demonstrated and focused application of force to nullify the minor Moroccan presence before the killing phase began. The quick and bloodless occupation by Spanish elite troops also helped Madrid in another way -- its decisive use of its own forces prevented any deterioration in Brussels, which, given the EU's appeasement-slanted diplomatic stance would have taken place if the dispute had dragged on.

The Island of Mr. Moussaoui
He may have dismissed formal legal representation, but alleged 9.11 plotter Zacarias Moussaoui is a cynically effective gambler. His "stunning" admission that he is a member of Al Qaeda and his doubly "eye-popping" attempt to enter a guilty plea to avoid the death penalty illustrates a few things in my opinion. First, I think even the doubters have to understand that Moussaoui is a member of Al Qaeda. Following the terrorist organization's instruction manual in textbook fashion, the 20th hijacker is exploiting the benevolence of the American justice system by engaging in seemingly nonsensical fashion. Secondly, the Moussaoui rambunction helps us understand why we should make use of secret military tribunals. It would deprive terrorists like Moussaoui of a platform to air his outrageous assertions. Plus, the gambit has ensured Moussaoui another week to stall and perhaps even implement a deal with government prosecutors. Judge Leonie M. Brinkema is engaged in a chess match with Moussaoui, but he is deliberately not using his game pieces -- defense attorneys, and not employing a competent legal strategy -- pleading not guilty. This extra week should be interesting, not only from the standpoint of the maniac-as-lawyer, but for the Feds. What do they do now?

"The last thing one hears before war is silence."

Thursday, July 18, 2002

ZoNotes: God Save The Queen...and Tiger Woods, too

First, the important British stuff, the British Open:
At the proudly yet briefly controversial all-male club in Muirfield, Tiger Woods shoots a 1-under par 70, 2 shots off the lead, where 5 other golfers sit at 3-under.

I really need to visit this country that I'm talking about, otherwise I will just talk talk talk and never go over there. London
Ah, what of the electorally sound yet politically cantankerous Labour Party? It seems indeed that the much balleyhooed Third Way politics that propelled Tony Blair to the Office of the PM was a chimera, designed to lull Britons into a state of sweet ignorance. The Red leanings of Old Labour still ring in the streets of London, where mayor Ken Livingstone had taxed and bullied his way to infamy during his tenure as London's first citizen. Unfortunately for Londoners, you get what you vote for. Livingstone's adventures in socialism will cost London productivity and opportunity. Perhaps Londoners should look to Ireland, a darling of free market liberalism and strident vitality.

Continental Breakfast?
British foreign policy is an exercise in balancing between the uneven "special relationship" with the United States and the thorny delicacy of relations with continental Europe, specifically the European Union. Prime Minister Blair has displayed more depth in his foreign activity, standing as a stalwart ally to the United States during the Afghanistan phase of the war on terrorism. At the same time, he has attemped to craft a middleman's role between Washington and Brussels. Blair is doing some yeoman's work here, carrying our water in the salons of Europe in regards to Israel policy and potential operations against Saddam Hussein's Iraq. On the other hand, in public Blair is forced to cater to Old Labour's unrepentantly dovish tendencies.
The catch here is that Blair can't expect to do this forever. Labour officials grumble about the "servile" nature of Blair's alliance management, as the British are getting little in return for their loyalty to Washington. Conversely, the feebly assembled Conservative opposition led by Ian Duncan Smith could argue that Britain has not been hawkish enough. The prospects of a Labour revolt are unlikely given that such a split could mean the return of a Conservative PM.
The British should play an important allied role in any operation against Iraq. The Brits help administer the Iraq no-fly zones, and reliable units from the Royal Marines, Air Force, Army(especially SAS teams) would be a welcome addition to any armed force preparing for an incursion.
At some point the antidemocratic commissioners in the EU will expect No. 10 Downing Street to align with them in a unified European foreign policy (or, what passes for one). If you think Britain's stature is diminished now, just wait until it becomes one of the pliant schoolchildren for the Brussels headmaster.

Whither Brittania?
In a way, even Blair's strong posturing stands on a 3-legged stool, as even now Britain contemplates surrendering territory it never lost in battle. The rage of late is the plan to administer "joint sovereignty" over the Rock, Gibraltar, with Spain. What is disturbing about the discussion is that it is being conducted over the heads of Gibraltar Britons who would prefer to have the Union Jack fly over the island. Consider Labour's historical capitulation -- only 20 years ago, the Conservative bedrock Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher sent the armed forces all the way to the South Atlantic to wrest the Falklands back from the Argentine invasion. The Royal Navy in particular suffered a terrible price during the liberation of the Falklands, but it was a price worth taking. The Brits not only did the military work, their UN delegation performed masterfully during the crisis, effectively silencing the Argentine diplomatic position. Now, we have the Foreign Office willfully dismembering the remaining portions of British geography and busting the noses of the citizens of the Rock. Granted, Spain is a fellow NATO ally, and the Iberians always have a home at ZoNotes, but it is the overbearing arrogance of the current regime in London that strikes me as repulsive. Plus, as Aaron Ammerman (F'00) asked, what is joint sovereignty supposed to mean in the first place?
If you are an admiral in Buenos Aires or a Falklander, what exactly should you be thinking right now? If you're the former, you wish that there was a Labour regime willing to bargain away everything from the foundation to the decoration. If you are the latter, then you're probably expecting the Foreign Office to mortgage away your land.

"Even the mighty need somewhere to sleep."

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Wave the Union Jack!!
Tomorrow ZoNotes goes all-England, all-the-time!! I will be providing helpful primers on our NATO allies' fighting capabilities, political intrigue, and Third Way interlocutions! God Save the Queen!

The Head Slap of Civilizations
Huntingtonians unite! Spanish forces evicted 6 Moroccan soldiers who had occupied the erstwhile strategically insignificant island of Perejil, sparking a "heightening" of the crisis between Madrid and Rabat. Sure, Perejil is a speck in the great expanse of the Iberian sphere of influence, but this episode shows the playing of a dynamic that starts much larger wars between much more powerful antagonists. Sovereignty matters. The island is disputed, but the Spanish had claimed possession since 1668. The modern equivalent of the Spanish Armada has positioned itself off the coast of Perejil in order to put fortitude behind Prime Minister Aznar's rhetoric. Personally I hope Madrid wins out on this one, because it is reassuring to see a European state ramp up the firepower to protect what it deems vital.

Today's Wordplay comes via Aaron Ammerman (F'00):
"Only two things are infinite: the universe and
human stupidity; and I'm not
sure about the universe."
-Albert Einstein

ZoNotes: I Can't Dance...

Today I have a morning seminar on customer service, so be ready for another noon-ish posting.



Tuesday, July 16, 2002

GU Law and Order
This morning I interviewed in the stately McDonough Hall of Georgetown Law Center for the Publications Coordinator position. Basically, I would be working to help coordinate the publication of GU Law's 9 law journals and weekly paper. It would be in terms of responsibility a great step upwards from my current position. I should know by the end of the week whether or not an offer is forthcoming.

Popcorn Residuals
Today I'm posting film reviews by ZoNoters Simon Torres (F'00) and Aaron Ammerman (F'00), who talk about Road to Perdition and Reign of Fire:
"Luckily, you can still go see Road to Perdition, a beautiful, nicely-paced and understated movie. With so much acting firepower, you expect the film to jump off the screen. It does not. While some might take issue with this, I thought the opposite. The movie went where the acting and the story took it, at a steady and thorough pace, telling a compelling and heartfelt story while never hitting the audience over the head with over-the-top performances and unnecessary special effects. Tom Hanks gives the quietest, most subdued performance to date; it might also be his strongest portrayal of a character as well. His character isn't laced with the same pervasive morality and do-goodiness that his turn in Private Ryan offered; instead, he was just a guy who did bad things but was trying to right a wrong, nothing more, nothing less. Jude Law flashed glimpses of a villian that can curdle milk, but both he and Paul Newman might be underused in the movie, its only flaw. By far and away, though, the best performance of the movie might belong to the little boy who plays Hanks' character's son. An amazing turn for a newcomer. Unlike other historical-era pictures of late, this movie doesn't exist to solely win an Oscar. Hanks, Newman and director Sam Mendes have already done that. Instead, it simply seeks to tell a story. Being put on the Oscar short list might just be a bonus."

"Reign of Fire is the movie of this summer. Why is
it such a great movie, other than for justifying
Matthew McConaughey's career?

Reign of Fire is more than a just a story of man's
battle against the awesome powers that oppose him
each and every day... It's the true story of
U.S.-European relations.

Christian Bale plays Joe European. He is
traumatized as a young boy and never quite "gets" violence.
Handsome American stranger rolls into town (BFV?)
and tells the genteel Europeans that they need not
fear, period. With courage and creativity, the
Americans have found a way to ensure the survival of

Joe European says "no, fighting is wrong. dragons
have rights too. violence only begets more
violence." nevertheless he invites the Americans in,
briefly, hoping that they'll defend the village and
then go away quietly.. of course, Americans were not
born to guard fortresses: Americans are born to
hunt down and slaughter Evil wherever it might be

Europeans prefer to sit in the basement and whine
about all the glory that accrues to the man in the

A little victory perks up the Euros; America needs
to remind them that life is not about little
victories, life is a campaign that must be fought until
the enemy is dead. The Euros don't get it. They
will drink and feast for the moment.

One of the Euros gets it though. He announces that
he will volunteer to join the Americans. What
happens to him when he does? He is excommunicated from
his village- told to leave, cut off from society, a
la being shot in the head by an aminal-loving
dutchperson... that's the inevitable end of any Euro
that sprouts a pair in the early 20th century.

The problem is, America's job is much easier in
this world when we have the support of those with
talents to bear on the current situation, those with
the knowledge of the local area or the pertinent

Only when the Euro rises to the heritage of his
forefathers though, when he picks up something tipped
with magnesium-shelled C-4 and shoots it at a bad
guy, does he have any chance of getting the girl.

There's a lesson here. I have a feeling that this
movie will not resound across the Pond...hopefully
though, American stocks will recover on battle-axe

"Try not to emphasize what you can't do."
ZoNotes: Job Hunter, Version 2.0

A more complete ZoNotes will be available this afternoon when I come back from an interview at Georgetown Law Center. I'll fill you guys in on the details then.



Monday, July 15, 2002

Guess what? Blogger's foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog stuck between Eagle Pass and Piedras Negras...
ZoNotes: Somebody's Gonna Hurt Someone, Before the Night is Through...

Cinematic Afterburn
This weekend, given the choice between Tom Hanks' Road to Perdition and the testosterone-laden Matthew McConaughey vehicle Reign of Fire, I chose the latter for its dragon-slaying eccentrics. ZoNoter Sandy Martinez hated the movie, but I liked it because it was a great way to salt away a Saturday afternoon. Gratuitous fake violence and gutsy dragonslaying are always winners in my book. You never lose with guns, babes, and big angry flying reptiles from hell.

Origins of an Army
I'm currently reading Martin Van Creveld's history of the Israeli Defense Force, The Sword and the Olive. The early chapters do a great job of describing the general disorder and extreme violence during the period of the British administration of the Palestine Mandate. The British kept maintaining stability by promising both the Jews and the Arabs in the region homelands and states when the Crown was decidedly unable to do anything of the sort. Right now I'm reading the segments on World War II and its impact on the British in Southwest Asia.

Rough Justice
A Pakistani judge ruled that 4 men accused of murdering former Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl indeed are guilty. Of the quartet, only Sheik Omar Saeed will face the death penalty, with the others receiving 25-year sentences. Interestingly, the case was tried in Pakistan's special antiterrorist courts, whose results are usually overturned on appeal. So, while it is a minor victory of sorts that there was a guilty verdict issued, it still must withstand the inevitable appeal.

Today's wordplay is courtesy of Sean Mullaney (B'00):
"The United States of America is the greatest
nation on Earth, and that does
not depend upon what the meaning of the word 'is'