Friday, April 11, 2003

IRRATIONAL FEARS: Clayton Cramer notes an interesting claim: Primate Cloning Can't Work. The linked article explains some of the science behind the assertion. Even if all the science holds true, of course, that just makes human cloning harder, not impossible.

I don't think too much about cloning. Even if a technique for cloning humans could be perfected, it would still be much more expensive than having kids the old-fashioned way, and it wouldn't be nearly as entertaining I'm sure. Except to mad scientists, I guess. I would certainly have objections if celebrities started growing headless clones of themselves to harvest organs from, but that type of thing is far enough away that I'm content to leave it for my grandkids. Worrying about cloning is like worrying about an alien invasion: they're both theoretically possible, but the science involved is so astronomical (no pun intended) that what's the point?

Another silly fear: malignant artificial intelligences that take over humanity. It makes for a decent movie, but it's not even theoretically plausible yet, and I'm not sure it ever will be. I'm getting my PhD in AI, and the state of the art is qualitatively distant from any sort of human-like intelligence.

How about Grey Goo? This is the fear the nanorobots will take apart all the atoms of the earth and use them to build more and more copies of themselves, thus reducing everything on our planet, and the planet itself, to a uniformly smooth grey goo. However, that scenario is impossible, due to the same laws of physics that protect us from alien invasion.

Other threats, such as asteroids and plagues, are becoming less and less dangerous as our technology improves. Frankly, the biggest danger left appears to be the possiblity of a nuclear holocaust initiated by some terrorist organization. Fortunately, we're making some headway in that realm as well.
POST-WAR IRAQ: Rachel Lucas wrote yesterday about the "Arab street's" mystification with the stunning US victory over Saddam's Extra Super Duper Elite Republican Guards and their astonishment that the Iraqi Information Minister had been lying about the true state of the war. It's a good piece, and you should go read it... I've written on the subject before, as have others.

Near the end of her post, Miss Lucas quotes Egyptian President Mubarak saying that the US should withdraw its troops immediately, and responds with:
Yeah, right. If our troops withdrew now, approximately two seconds later we'd be accused of "abandonment." Doesn't anyone else remember what happened in 1991 when we left too soon? Sheesh. We'll help them get organized, we'll fix their food and water problems, we'll make sure all the baddies are gone, and then we'll leave. Simple as that.

I hate to disagree, but I highly doubt that our troops will be leaving Iraq any time soon; we will probably have US military bases in Iraq for decades, just as we have had in Germany and Japan. In fact, establishing permanent military bases in Iraq should be one of our highest priorities. This doesn't mean that we will occupy Iraq and control its government for decades, but our troops will not simply leave once the baddies are gone as Miss Lucas postulates.
AMERICAN MEDIA, COMPLICITY 2: On the same topic as my previous post, Eugene Volokh links to an interview with Eason Jordan from last fall in which he says of Iraq, "we work very hard to report forthrightly, to report fairly and to report accurately and if we ever determine we cannot do that, then we would not want to be there.... We'd very much like to be there if there's a second war; but -- we are not going to make journalistic compromises in an effort to make that happen...."

So... again, I don't know what to make of it. I'm not sure how I should feel. My initial reaction of disgust is heightened by these earlier lies. Maybe there's some alternative way to see the situation, but it appears to me that Eason Jordan sacrificed his morality on the altar of journalistic access.

Read posted by Michael Williams at

AMERICAN MEDIA, COMPLICITY: I don't know what to make of this op-ed by Eason Jordan, CNN's chief news executive.
ATLANTA — Over the last dozen years I made 13 trips to Baghdad to lobby the government to keep CNN's Baghdad bureau open and to arrange interviews with Iraqi leaders. Each time I visited, I became more distressed by what I saw and heard — awful things that could not be reported because doing so would have jeopardized the lives of Iraqis, particularly those on our Baghdad staff. ...

Then there were the events that were not unreported but that nonetheless still haunt me. A 31-year-old Kuwaiti woman, Asrar Qabandi, was captured by Iraqi secret police occupying her country in 1990 for "crimes," one of which included speaking with CNN on the phone. They beat her daily for two months, forcing her father to watch. In January 1991, on the eve of the American-led offensive, they smashed her skull and tore her body apart limb by limb. A plastic bag containing her body parts was left on the doorstep of her family's home.

I felt awful having these stories bottled up inside me. Now that Saddam Hussein's regime is gone, I suspect we will hear many, many more gut-wrenching tales from Iraqis about the decades of torment. At last, these stories can be told freely.

I have no doubt that Jordan felt awful after hearing these stories, but I can't help but imagine that the woman who had her skull crushed and her limbs torn off felt even worse. If he and other journalists had this much detailed information about the atrocities happening in Iraq, why has big media been (for the most part) so dead-set against the war? Even aside from that -- let's say that you believe that CNN really has been unbiased -- why is neutrality in the face of such evil seen as virtuous by so many in the media? It's not virtuous, it's morally reprehensible for any person to sit passively in the face of such brutality; such acquiescence flirts dangerously with complicity.

Jordan is correct in thinking that he could not have maintained a CNN bureau in Baghdad without allowing these monstrous acts to slip by, and so I'm forced to wonder how it could have been worth it. The alternative would have been to relinquish CNN's government contacts, pull out, and then actually report the truth of what they had seen. The problem is that the moral bankruptcy of most journalists prizes access to sources, no matter what the cost.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

WOMEN AT WAR: I have written before, twice, on the topic of allowing women to particpate in front line combat. Via Instapundit I see a discussion on Slate on the same issue, written by women who were actually in the military. An excerpt from the first day of the conversation:
So, our question is, should the Army and Marines be forced to change policies that prohibit women from taking combat jobs in their infantry and artillery units? The question was brought up ad nauseam after Gulf War I (since we'd entered a period of peace and prosperity and had time to address nonessential concerns), and if we're lucky enough to have bought ourselves more peace and prosperity I think we're gonna hear it again.

But I sure hope not. The only people who truly want to see women in combat are some TV producers who think it's a "sexy" issue and approximately 500 cranks assembled on college campuses and in NGOs around the Beltway.

The national argument might be worth having if there was some vast, seething body of women longing to personally stick it to the enemy, but Debra, we both know there is not. I have friends and acquaintances up and down the rank structure and from every service—tough, bright, feisty gals all—and I have never met, and they have never met, a woman who burns to join the ground-pounders. (Several large-scale surveys back me up on this.)

The truth is, there are only about 200 women a year who could meet the physical standards required, and even fewer who would select this MOS (military job). So, we'd have a lot of tsores over a few people. And if we launch a legal battle on the subject, we'll open ourselves up to a Supreme Court ruling that might require a female draft for combat positions—and that would be a real debacle.

There's tons more, so go read it if you're interested.
CALIFORNIA CCW: Getting a concealed weapon permit in California is nearly impossible, unless you happen to be a celebrity or a crony of a major political figure. For example, Senators Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein routinely advocate stricter gun control laws, and yet both of them have permits to carry a concealed weapon for themselves. Law-abiding citizens with no criminal record cannot legally carry guns in California, but actors like Sean Penn can, despite his violent criminal history. It's disgusting and disgraceful.
INSOLUBLE STRAWMEN: I like this term, and I think it serves to describe many of the arguments made against the use of profiling for law enforcement. Regardless of the type of profiling (be it based on race, gender, religion, country of origin, &c.), the objections to it are generally similar in form: they construct an unresolvable conflict between the goal of the profiling and the basis for the objection, and they set up this conflict using arguments that are predicated on the goal of the profiling (namely security) already being met.

As a concrete example, take this article by David Chang in the Daily Bruin titled "National Insecurity".
Performing arts organizations have always had to jump through hoops just to convince government agencies to allow international artists to enter the United States. With the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and the current conflict with Iraq etched in the nation's psyche, the process of booking international artists has turned into an episode of "Mission: Impossible." ...

"There's a list of countries where males, not females, coming into the country have to do face to face interviews," UCLA Live Director David Sefton said. "The FBI are involved in the visa-granting process for the first time in history. That fortress-of-America thing has become much more of a factor. The whole so-called Homeland Security Initiative has really made it more difficult to bring in artists from a whole list of countries, including Pakistan, who is supposed to be on our side, and Cuba, who to my knowledge hasn't expressed an opinion one way or the other." ...

Mitoma [a festival organizer] is deeply apprehensive about the culture of fear and mistrust the nation seems to be creating. Not only are international artists hesitant about coming to the United States, but organizers are also shying away from enormous obstacles the government has placed in front of them. ... "The irony and pain is that it's a time of great need, and this U.S. government's policy has locked the doors, thrown away the key, and said, 'We're not sympathetic, and we have to defend the national security,'" Mitoma said.

Part of the problem with the article, of course, is that the author doesn't have a comment by an actual government entity but rather quotes an opponent of Homeland Security who attributes a certain attitude to the government. The article states that artists from suspect countries have always had to "jump through hoops" to get visas, but are these hoops any different than those required for non-artists? The underlying assumption of the whole article is that strict visa requirements for artists are not necessary for protecting the country, but no solution is proposed because the problem is not solvable.

There are two possibilities, neither of which is practical. First, eliminate the new visa rules and allow everyone from these now-suspect countries to enter based on the previous standards. This is unacceptable for security reasons, and will clearly not be implemented. Second, create a set of special rules that allow artists to bypass the strict visa requirements that apply to other people. Aside from the security issues that might raise (terrorists disguising themselves as artists, or other abuses of the special system), I can't see this as being politically acceptable to the left. It is, in fact, a type of job-profiling that by its very nature should violate the same morality that causes some people to be upset by other forms of profiling.

David Chang does highlight an important side effect of heightened national security, but he does so in a way that denegrates the security measures put in place by the government without offering a viable alternative. In fact, no alternative exists that would satisfy security concerns as well as the morality that decries the original profiling. The fact that some international artists now have more difficulty performing in the United States is important, but the direct and implied criticism of the government is unwarrented and based on an insoluble strawman.
BOMBS UNDER BAGHDAD: I've heard lots of rumors about extensive tunnel systems that may exist under the city of Baghdad. The most credible of these rumors have come from Iraq's ex-chief nuclear scientist, by Hussein Shahristani, who defected to the United States during Operation Desert Storm (or "Gulf War 1" for those of you who like the boring media names). I'd also read such rumors on Debka, but that's not exactly a reliable news source.

If you're interested in reading more about the tunnels check out these two articles that my friend Joey sent me:
- Closing In on Baghdad Will Push War Underground in WaPo
- Tunnels of Baghdad may be the war's last frontier in The Christian Science Monitor

One note: the CSM article claims that US night-vision technology would not help us in the tunnels because there is too little light for the goggles to magnify. This is true, but the goggles can also be combined with infrared lights that can illuminate the scene for the soldiers without giving away their positions.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

REGULATION THROUGH TORT: As everyone undoubtedly knows, various trial lawyers and liberal groups have been filing lawsuits against the tobacco industry on behalf of people who have injured or killed themselves by smoking. Unfortunately for the tobacco corporations, very few people rallied to protect them against these egregious lawsuits despite the fact that their actions should be protected and that their various "victims" should be held responsible for their own choices. Like others, I don't really like smoking, and so even though I do believe that the companies had a right to sell their product as they did, I found it hard to muster much sympathy for them.

However, the fact that the public let these lawsuits slip past (and even encouraged them) has led to more lawsuits of similar form. Some of the most absurd are recent actions to sue gun manufacturers when someone uses their product in an illegal manner and injures or kills another person. As it stands, if I shoot you you have a cause of action to sue me in civil court for damages. Under this new theory, you also have a cause of action to sue whoever sold me the gun, whoever manufactured the gun, and perhaps every company in the gun industry as a whole. This is akin to geting hit by someone driving an Explorer, and then deciding to sue Ford for building the vehicle that hit you.

To eliminate these potential lawsuits, and perhaps break the momentum of this new culpability theory in general, the House passed a bill (H.R. 1036) today whose purpose is:
To prohibit civil liability actions from being brought or continued against manufacturers, distributors, dealers, or importers of firearms or ammunition for damages resulting from the misuse of their products by others.

It passed 285 - 140, and should pass the Senate as well (although by a narrower margin). Via CNSNews.
GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER, CANADA: Canada and the United States share thousands of miles of unmonitored border, and so this National Post article leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. American immigration controls certainly leave a lot to be desired as well, but sometimes it seems like Canada isn't even trying to keep dangerous people out.
Tens of thousands of people who were ordered out of the country, including many convicted criminals, may still be in Canada because federal officials have failed to ensure their removal. ...

Removal orders are issued to people ruled inadmissible to Canada because they are not legitimate refugees, possess a criminal record, lack a valid visa or were caught working without a permit. About 8,100 people were deported last year.

[Auditor General] Fraser said the gap between the number of removal orders issued and the number of confirmed departures has grown by about 36,000 in the past six years. It does not mean this number of people remain illegally at large in Canada; some may have left without reporting their departure.

So, if I understand these numbers correctly, 8,100 people were actually deported last year, out of the (36,000 + 8,100) = 44,100 people who were ordered to leave. That's not exactly impressive. The article goes on to list some other outstanding problems that Canada has in enforcing its lax immigration laws, so read the rest if you're interested.

As I said, the US isn't exactly doing a fantastic job in this area either, and it's largely due to political pandering by Republicans and Democrats. No one wants to appear to be racist or even anti-immigration, and that's how anyone who attempts to enforce our existing laws is painted. God-forbid that any measures should be taken to stem the tide of illegal immigrants from Mexico into California, where almost all of the population growth over the past decade has been due to this influx.
POST-WAR IRAQ: I've written a few pieces about post-war Iraq (who hasn't?) and in the end the main difficulty facing the Iraqi people is that their economy is stagnant, and bloated with monopolized oil wealth. Part of the solution to this problem is for the new Iraqi government to divest itself of its oil holdings, and to put them into the hands of private corporations. Expanding on this idea, John Micklethwaite and Adrian Wooldridge argue over at Opinion Journal that corporations are indeed the economic revolution needed throughout the Arab world.
Companies, and lots of them, are exactly what Iraq (and indeed the whole of Arabia) needs. Developing private-sector corporations is the key to unlocking Iraq's economic potential. This will also help unleash a powerful liberal force in a society that has tasted too little freedom. ...

Yet the Arab world--just like that other erstwhile commercial pioneer, China--failed to develop private-sector companies in the same way that the West did. The decisive break came in the mid-19th century, when Victorian Britain passed a series of Companies Acts making it easy to establish limited-liability private-sector companies. Capital that had been trapped in fragile family partnerships (like Dickens's Dombey & Son) or stodgy state-approved monopolies was suddenly free to roam. In the West and Japan (the only Asian country to embrace the form), these new "Ltds," "Incs" and so on revolutionized productivity, showered consumers with a relentless series of innovations and drove the first great age of globalization.

The Arab world's failure to adopt this revolution meant that it fell ever further behind the West. Islamic inheritance law--dividing estates among sons--made it difficult for partnerships to grow to a size where they needed outside capital. The state still dominated the economy. When the Arabs did try to catch up with the West, inspired by "the lion of Egypt," Gamal Abdel Nasser, they chose to imitate the centrally planned economies of the communist world, further marginalizing private companies. Nasser, a devoted reader of Le Monde and Britain's New Statesman, would have been better off studying the Harvard Business Review.
POP MUSIC: The Diablogger has a post up wherein he metions an incredibly catchy song by Avril Levine (although he doesn't know her name, or the name of the song). That pretty much sums up pop music, doesn't it? Some of Avril's music can move in and set up camp in your head, but it's as if someone took the best hooks and resolutions from the past 20 years and shoved them onto three or four tracks. As I wrote in his comments section, pop is the background noise of life. It's shallow, meaningless, and largely fungible... but you know we'd all miss it if it were suddenly gone. And besides, Avril's pretty cute.
QUOTES FROM THE GROUND: I enjoy reading quotes from soldiers on the ground. Most of the time, the political and military spokespeople guard their words carefully and try not to say interesting things, but anyone who has been in combat (which I haven't) or knows soldiers who have (which I do) understands that the emotions and thoughts on the battlefield aren't quite so tightly controlled. So, I love the headline of this article: 'We shoot them down like the morons they are': US general.
Hundreds of Muslim fighters, many of them non-Iraqis, were putting up a stronger fight for Baghdad than Iraq's Republican Guard or the regular army, a top United States military officer said yesterday.

"They stand, they fight, sometimes they run when we engage them," Brigadier-General John Kelly said.

"But often they run into our machine guns and we shoot them down like the morons they are."

General Kelly, assistant commander of the about 20,000-strong 1st Marine Division, said US intelligence indicated that there might be anywhere between 500 and 5000 of the fighters, whom he described as terrorists.

"They appear willing to die. We are trying our best to help them out in that endeavour," he said.

I found this article via Instapundit.
ELECTION 2004: I woke up this morning and turned on Fox News Channel while I was lifting weights, and I saw the most amazing scene in Baghdad. Hundreds of Iraqis crowding around a huge statue of Saddam and cheering as it was pulled down. When the statue hit the ground the crowd surged against it, beating it and throwing rocks. A few seconds later a man was sitting on the statue's head and other people were pulling him around, laughing and cheering. The station then cut to another scene of Iraqis riding around the city in the ubiquitous white pick-ups waving American flags in jubilation. I'm sure everyone who has turned on the TV has seen these same images by now.

So what's that got to do with the 2004 election? The second thing I thought of when I saw these scenes (after wiping a tear from my eye) was that they will make irrefutable ads for Bush against any of his potential Democrat opponents. I'm no political strategist, but I have played Karl Rove on TV, and I can see the ads already: over a backdrop of cheering Iraqis, toppling statues, and waving American flags, we see a small image of Democrat X complaining about Bush's "unilateralism" and threatening that the war will be a huge failure.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

THE FUTURE OF LAW ENFORCEMENT: This CNN article describes a strange (and to me unsettling) movement in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to randomly take DNA samples from huge quantities of men as part of an effort to catch a local serial killer. So far,
More than 1,000 men have been swabbed, picked to "volunteer" for the tests based on tips or information generated in the investigation. Defense attorneys in Baton Rouge have said some of their clients have agreed to the testing to avoid speculation they could be the killer.

[Representative] Welch wants as many men as possible swabbed. She said she's paying to have DNA samples taken from her husband and son to clear them although no one has suggested they are involved.

This is disturbing to me for many reasons. The only thing preventing this sort of wide-spread DNA testing for every difficult-to-solve crime is the fact that DNA testing is expensive and takes a significant amount of time. There are only a limited amount resources available to do this testing, and so it isn't feasible to test every single man every time there's a rape. (Wouldn't that be sexual profiling, anyway?) However, it's only a matter of time until police have handheld DNA equipment that can compare fluid samples and return matches in minutes or seconds... what then?

Will police be enabled to pressure everyone they come across into submitting to a DNA test or risk speculation that they are guilty? Or will everyone simply be required to submit DNA to a central database? How long until there are machines that scour the streets for dried spit, compare the DNA to the database, and then mail you a ticket? It might sound ridiculous, but I get the very strong impression that this is exactly the world that some people want to create.
NYAH NYAH: I love that so many of the groups that I dislike have lined up on the wrong side of the War on Terror: Battle for Iraq issue. The Democrats primarily have lost a ton of ground, as have the UN, France, Germany, anti-war hippies, communists, and all other manner of bottom-feeding fantasylanders. It's beautiful to me that so many of them were so incredibly wrong about this issue; now that our military has used [gasp] force to eliminate Saddam as a threat to the world and to his own people, these groups just have to sit there and eat crow like it's going out of style.

Maybe I'm petty, but so be it. Nyah nyah, I told you so.

Monday, April 07, 2003

EDUCATION DILEMMA: Clayton Cramer has a couple of posts up about "full inclusion" and the costs of our public education system.

- Things We Dare Not Say
- California Schools Going Down the Potty
POST-WAR IRAQ: One of the most bizarre things to me is that the Arab world has some of the least trustworthy "news" outlets conceivable, and yet the "Arab street" seems to believe everything they're fed. You may think "No way, everyone knows the Iraqi Information Minister is lying" but that's apparently not the case:
A captured Iraqi colonel being held in one of the hangars [at the recently captured Baghdad Airport] listened in astonishment as his information minister praised Republican Guard soldiers for recapturing the airport.

He looked at his captors and, as he realised that what he had heard was palpably untrue, his eye filled with tears. Turning to a translator, he asked: "How long have they been lying like this?"

Installing a truly free press in Iraq will be one of the most significant accomplishments in the region in the past few centuries. As biased as they are, I can't wait for some major US publications to set up shop in Baghdad and show them how it's done. The NYT and WaPo Baghdad Bureaus will stoke the fires of freedom that our military has already lit.
EXERCISE IN FUTILITY: I posted previously and mentioned a picture of soldiers being baptized in the Kuwaiti desert. The photo has been taken down by the Herald Sun, unfortunately. On the VC, Eugene mentions an article that says the following:
CAMP BUSHMASTER, Iraq - In this dry desert world near Najaf, where the Army V Corps combat support system sprawls across miles of scabrous dust, there's an oasis of sorts: a 500-gallon pool of pristine, cool water.

It belongs to Army chaplain Josh Llano of Houston, who sees the water shortage - which has kept thousands of filthy soldiers from bathing for weeks - as an opportunity.

"It's simple. They want water. I have it, as long as they agree to get baptized," he said.

And agree they do. Every day, soldiers take the plunge for the Lord and come up clean for the first time in weeks.

"They do appear physically and spiritually cleansed," Llano said.

First, though, the soldiers have to go to one of Llano's hour-and-a-half sermons in his dirt-floor tent. Then the baptism takes an hour of quoting from the Bible.

"Regardless of their motives," Llano said, "I get the chance to take them closer to the Lord."

Good grief, this is absurd on so many levels, I don't even know where to begin. Obviously, Llano's assertion that "regardless of their motives" they are brought closer to God is ridiculous. Our motives are some of the most important things to God (see Matthew 5:21-30), and dunking someone in water without a real profession of faith is worse than pointless. It must be clear to just about everyone that coercing people into making religious declarations has no spiritual benefit for the subject, and fosters significantly negative opinions of the religion among observers.

I'm a bit skeptical of the veracity of this article, just because it seems so nonsensical. Why does this guy have 500 gallons of water all to himself? It must be a lot more than that, because it would get dirty pretty quickly once you start dunking dirty marines in it. I don't know much about military chaplains, but if this story is true I hope that most of them are more highly trained, better informed, more spiritually mature, and psychologically deeper than Josh Llano.
RACIAL DIVERSITY: Eric Muller is guest-blogging over at the Volokh Conspiracy, and has written a post that touches on the issue of racial diversity and affirmative action. I've emailed him a couple of questions regarding his position, and thought I'd post them here:
... Near the end of your post you write that "my own personal experience of teaching for four years at a racially homogeneous law school (the University of Wyoming) and now at a racially integrated one UNC) tells me that racial diversity does in fact contribute importantly to full and rigorous discussion and debate in a law school classroom."

1. In your mind, then, is affirmative action justified solely on your perception that it contributes to fuller and more rigorous discussion and debate? That is, is it immaterial to you that many (most?) affirmative action programs have been built around the belief that some groups have been unfairly discriminated against in the past, and are thus unable to compete on a level playing field?

2. Would you support other preferential admission systems that could also arguably improve the quality of the discussion and debate at a school? For instance, preferences based on religion or political affiliation could be justified under this criteria at least as easily as preferences based on skin color. Similarly, would you support hiring policies that gave preference to applicatants who are members of under-represented political groups or religions?
DOES IRAQ HAVE WMD? 2: I didn't follow the news very much over the weekend, and I didn't really get online at all other than to check my email. I'm pleased to read this morning on both WaPo and Fox News that our soldiers believe they have found some indications of chemical weapons. Specifically, sarin gas. Both reports have similar information:
Meanwhile, U.S. biological and chemical weapons experts believe they may have found an Iraqi storage site for weapons of mass destruction, a U.S. officer told Reuters.

"Our detectors have indicated something," Major Ros Coffman, a public affairs officer with the U.S. 3rd Infantry, said of the site just south of Hindiyah. "We're talking about finding a site of possible WMD storage. This is an initial report, but it could be a smoking gun."

U.S. forces near Baghdad found around 20 medium-range missiles equipped with chemical weapons, National Public Radio reported.

The rockets, BM-21 missiles, were equipped with sarin and mustard gas and were "ready to fire," NPR said, attributing the report to a top official with the 1st Marine Division.

It's also worth pointing out that there are many signs that Iraq moved a great deal of its WMD weaponry to Syria before we invaded, and I'm sure that this is one of the possibilities that our military will be looking into.

If this speculation turns out to be true, will we send troops into Syria to fetch the weapons back to Iraq? Possibly, but it's more likely that we will pressure Syria under the table to return the stuff. Once Iraq is stablized Syria will need to maintain much more cooperative ties to the US than it does now, and I imagine that our officials will tell Syria that there's no better time time to get started than the present. Syria gets a lot of oil via pipelines from Iraq (as does Turkey), and well, war can disrupt oil shipments for significant periods of time... if you know what I mean....