Friday, June 20, 2008

Will Bush Give the Order to Invade Iran?

According a June 13, 2008 document published by the UN Security Council, Iran has restarted the construction of an IR-40 heavy water reactor.  Such a reactor is necessary to generate plutonium.  Making plutonium is necessary for creating a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on one of Iran’s missiles.  (Uranium bombs are big an heavy, plutonium bombs are compact).


The week before this report was published, Bush met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. After the meeting, Olmert had the following things to say, “We reached agreement on the need to take care of the Iranian threat.  I left with a lot less question marks [than I had entered with] regarding the means, the timetable restrictions and America's resoluteness to deal with the problem.  George Bush understands the severity of the Iranian threat and the need to vanquish it, and intends to act on the matter before the end of his term in the White House” …."The Iranian problem requires urgent attention, and I see no reason to delay this just because there will be a new President in the White House seven and a half months from now."


One thing worth pointing out, since this is rarely mentioned, is the location of Iran relative to Afghanistan and Iraq—it’s directly between the two countries.  Said another way, Iran is positioned directly between two territories that are fully occupied by the United States armed forces. 


What are the chances that the US will have their forces deployed on both sides of Iran again in the next 50 to 100 years if we pull out of the current conflict now?  Now imagine you were running military strategy in the Pentagon.  Changes are you would have a point of view that Iran is a long term threat since they don’t like us and they are strategically located near most of the world’s major oil fields.  You’d then look at the current placement of US armed forces and then checked the polls to see that Obama is highly favored in the election to win based on a promise to pull out the troops.  If you had a strategy to spread democracy in the Middle East and secure US interests (ie oil), and you had Iran thumbing their nose at UN resolutions to stop working on Nuclear weapons, what are the chances you’d recommend a military strike against Iran while Bush is still in power?  How hard is this politically?  Consider the situation in Iraq before we invaded.  In that case, there was no evidence of WMDs and Hussein was even saying that they didn’t have WMDs.  Despite lack of evidence or admission, we invaded anyway.  Contrast that to today, were there is both evidence and self admission of a nuclear program.   


For all our sakes, I hope that this scenario is obvious to the leadership in Iran and they would recognize the inevitable logic that they are about to be attacked, and choose a diplomatic solution before it’s too late.




Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Auctions on eBay: A Dying Breed: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance

Auctions on eBay: A Dying Breed: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance

Given that I plugged eBay a while back for having Microsoft like economics, I've elicited a lot of feedback from folks. While eBay had the chance to be the next Microsoft, I fear their management will go down in history as killing the goose that laid the golden egg. Instead of executing on international growth and expanding the platform with new innovations, eBay has grown through continued price gouging of their core customers. They have, in fact, behaved like most economists fear a monopolist would.
However, we don't need the government to fix things with anti-trust lawsuits. Free markets are taking care of the problem, as competitors capitalize on the opportunity created when eBay prices at the marginal point of indifference. Had eBay left prices alone, they would never have been exposed to such risks, but greed appears to have gotten the better of wisdom.