What in the heck is going on with Evan McMullin? Tweeting that the President of the United States is a "domestic enemy" isn't that strange these days - we saw that frequently and from many sources over the last two Administrations. I'm talking about his overt Russophobia.
Is Russia still the heart of a lingering "evil empire?" When the USSR subjected everyone within it's very big but not very beautiful walls, that was an easy sell to a peace-loving western population. But today, they carry our astronauts to the International Space Station for goodness sake! The wall came down in nineteen-hundred and eighty nine. Remember?
And yet, today, Evan McMullin appeared on CNN's New Day this morning to tell Alisyn Camerota that Donald Trump wants to "weaken" the U.S. intelligence community because "he knows as long as he has the issues he has with Russia the intelligence community and he are not going to get along."
What are President Trump's "issues with Russia?" Well, there's the unsubstantiated claim of stealing the election. Each of us must discern whether or not to believe the various claims and counterclaims on that one. But one unambiguous conflict with the "intelligence community" is Trump's willingness for rapprochement with modern Russia.
Camerota asked Steve Hall, the former CIA Chief of Russia Operations about Trumpís press conference yesterday. Hall answered that,
"I don't think there is very much good news especially after we saw the press conference Donald Trump conducted yesterday ... he said things like it wouldn't be so bad if we had a good relationship with Russia."
The horror! The next we know, he'll be sending Rex Tillerson on a mission to "reset" U.S. relations with Russia. Who sets U.S. foreign policy, really... the C.I.A.? The Council on Foreign Relations? Senator John McCain? How about the elected Chief Executive and Commander in Chief of the armed forces? Seems I read that in some old dusty document once.
There's clearly something really big going on here, behind the scenes of geopolitics. Past presidents have apparently been willing to let the puppetmasters have their way, in complete secrecy. President Trump on the other hand has a penchant for, shall we say, speaking his mind? And for doing so it is boasted that Trump will "die in jail" as the Intelligence Community prepares to "go nuclear" on him.
What was that old Dwight D. Eisenhower quote? "Beware the military-industrial complex" or something like that? Well, the Sting lyric, "I hope the Russians love their children too" can perhaps be updated to "I hope American Spooks love their children too."
You know it's a red-letter day when this humble blogger links to The Nation, but I find a lot of anti-Leviathan love here. I've never heard of Patrick Lawrence but he self-identifies as a progressive and writes about 'The Perils of Russophobia.'
"Russian aggression" has to go down as one of the great, pernicious phrases of our time - requiring no further scrutiny whenever deployed. The Russians invaded Ukraine and then stole Crimea without prior provocation. Now they threaten to invade the Baltic states. They cultivate extreme-right nationalists in Europe so as to debilitate the European Union. The Russians are guilty of war crimes in Syria. They have just invaded us, too, corrupting our democratic process and throwing the 2016 election to Donald Trump and his houseful of "Kremlin lackeys."
This is the stuff of our reigning Russophobia. Let us try to identify what it is actually made of.
Every sentence in the above list has four attributes: (1) It is broadly accepted as fact just as written; (2) there is little confirmed, published evidence from impartial sources, if any, supporting it; (3) it is either one or another form of disinformation or misleads by way of omission - or both; and (4) it is a source of delusion. And in the matter of the last it is very weird. Our policy cliques do well enough deluding Americans to the effect that Russia now presents America with "an existential threat" - a thought Pentagon and NATO brass are making common currency, believe it or not - but they appear to think a nation deluded by their incessant repetitions is somehow a fine and sturdy thing.
I can be convinced that Iranian and North Korean nuclear ICBM's pose an "existential threat" but Russia has had them pointed at us for so long, and us at them, that nobody truly fears "mutual assured destruction" anymore. And what is a contemporary term for unsubstantiated delusional disinformation? "Fake news."
Holy smokes this judgement, Havlish, et al. v. bin Laden from Dec. 2011 is still not understood, or cited?? Apparently, the 9/11 Report noted suspicions on this, but no one followed up, except victims' families.
[Judge] Daniels agreed that Iran, Khamenei, former Iranian president Ali Rafsanjani, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, the Iranian Ministry of Information and Security (MOIS), Iranís terrorist proxy Hezbollah and various Iranian government departments, government-owned companies and the central bank, had all provided direct and material aid and support to al-Qaida in carrying out the 9/11 attacks.
[on the] website of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York under ďrulings of special interest.Ē
There is a website for this case, Iran911case.com but Webroot watchguard is telling me it's got cooties; this JP article is clear of nastiness. The families are owed $7B in damages... chump change for the amount of money held up for sanctions. A different judge upheld the ruling (Iran didn't answer) but ordering the seizure of a $500M manhattan tower block.
What in the world is the GOP doing not using this for leverage against the nuke deal?!? Oh, I see, they're still playing 50's era nice-nice politics.
McConnell believes by hammering home the point again on Tuesday he is making the partisan contrast between the two parties even brighter for voters in 2016.
Some things just can't wait, but losers never see that. Per Scott Johnson at PowerLine on the second attempt at the same cursed vote, filibuster .... prevent a resolution of disapproval:
I think this is for losers. It is demoralizing. It represents sheer futility. It is not only for losers, it aggravates the loss.
Good grief, McConnel can't even get a vote on a resolution of disapproval?!? The keystone cops need another captain. I think I'll post the JP article to Cory Gardener's website... heck, Tom Cotton too!!
I owe blog friend tg a link on this. I think he wrote this rather serious piece to quiet my lengthy comments on a Facebook post.
You'll want to read the whole thing, so I will provide backstory rather than excerpts. My friend and most serious follower of statecraft that I know is quite nonplussed about "the American Right" for having what he views as unsubstantiated reflexive enmity toward Iran over other powers in the region. Our swell allies, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Qatar, you know the list -- are certainly no more rights-respecting than Iran. I suggested they were less dangerous to the US and its interests, but he rebutted quite well.
He's a statecraft guy (you take that back!) and sees Iran a balance to ISIS, whom he considers a far greater threat.
He's got me pretty well convinced on everything but I hold my Israel card. If PM Netanyahu loved the Iran deal and was sending roses to Sec. Kerry, I guess I would be in. His opposition is enough to sway me double digits.
For those who'd like an additional reading assignment an a sunny Friday afternoon: I had also shared this Objectivist examination (Hat-tip Yaron Brook) of the Iran deal. Peter Schwartz captures my skepticism of international diplomacy and madmen's signatures on parchment.
Neither view matches what I see on Conservative websites.
Apologies all around, but I cannot see meaningful progress in foreign policy while President Obama is in office. It is not that he is some Kenyan, anti-Colonialist, Socialist plant. He is a bit of an Arabist in the mold of President Carter, a pacifist/appeaser in the mold of the Harvard Faculty Lounge, and he refuses to let foreign expenditures affect his domestic agenda: we'll have no less butter because of guns.
Blog patron-saint Natan Sharansky has a column in the WaPo today which cleaves to the real issue. "When did America forget that it's America?" Sharansky compares the moral certitude of our objection to Soviet totalitarianism to moral ambivalence against Iran:
I am afraid that the real reason for the U.S. stance is not its assessment, however incorrect, of the two sides' respective interests but rather a tragic loss of moral self-confidence. While negotiating with the Soviet Union, U.S. administrations of all stripes felt certain of the moral superiority of their political system over the Soviet one. They felt they were speaking in the name of their people and the free world as a whole, while the leaders of the Soviet regime could speak for no one but themselves and the declining number of true believers still loyal to their ideology.
But in today's postmodern world, when asserting the superiority of liberal democracy over other regimes seems like the quaint relic of a colonialist past, even the United States appears to have lost the courage of its convictions.
You cannot fix this with Corker-Menendez, or a letter to the Ayatollah.
Tom Cotton holds forth with Jeffery Goldberg and does exceptionally well. Goldberg clearly does not agree with almost anything said, but gives Cotton fair questions (some hammered in) and a free range to reply.
Tom Cotton strikes me as the most interesting Senate freshman for any number of reasons
he is quite obviously positioned to lead the most hawkish wing of the Republican Party. He is exceedingly bright, and blessed with a wonk's mindóI will readily admit that his knowledge of Middle East minutiae is impressive, even if I disagree with much of his analysis. And he is a superior standard-bearer for the confront-Iran-before-it's-too-late faction in the Senate because, as an Iraq combat veteran, he cannot be labeled a chickenhawk.
The best quote from the newly-minted Senator probably is: Itís unfair to Neville Chamberlain to compare him to Barack Obama
or I think that Americansóand this is not true just now, but over the yearsóare not fundamentally opposed to war. They're fundamentally opposed to losing wars
but perhaps most piercingly: I think Obama believes that if America was less of a leader in the world, the world would probably be a better and more stable place.
He does not shrink from any confrontation, like any good leader:
Q; would you not be engaged in this negotiation at all? Would you issue an ultimatum?
A: I thought that Yuval Steinitz had a good list of proposed changes to the president's proposal, and I don't think you can argue those changes are unrealistic, because all he did was take all the statements that President Obama and John Kerry and Wendy Sherman made at the very outset of these negotiations about stockpiles of enriched uranium, about the past military dimensions of this program, about inspections and so forth. The positions he lists are positions that our government previously held.
and, most interestingly (and at odd with some TS'ers, I believe?)
Q; The idea that you are telling a foreign adversary, ĎDon't trust in our presidentóthe man who's making our foreign policy?í Did that cause you to ask yourself, 'Maybe I am undermining the executive branch?'
A:No, in part because the letter didn't say that. The letter simply stated indisputable facts of constitutional law, and Iran's leaders needed to hear that message, and they needed to hear it from us. What we did was certainly more measured than what past senators had done, in conciliating with people like Manuel Noriega, Bashar al-Assad, or Leonid Brezhnev. The difference is we openly stood up to a dictator, and in a lot of those past precedents, Senate Democrats privately conciliated and coddled dictators.
Goldberg is also refreshingly honest about the workaday Liberal obsession that he clearly adheres to:
back in 2006. When you were there, did it ever cross your mind, ĎWe're in over our heads. What are we doing here?
The experience of Iraq taught me that once the kinetic piece starts, you just donít know for sure whatís going to happen. And I don't know that you can predict the response of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps
[me, eyes rolling] Oh me oh my, sure; let's not make them MAD!! Sen Cotton, like the pro he is, swats these down indifferently.
From Tom Gross' fascinating ME blog, he cites statements from a variety of sources:
But first, to answer a question JK posed a while back, WTF is BHO thinking?
1. JK, you are laboring under the assumption BHO thinks in a way remotely similar to you and me.
Forget Churchill Ė Obama isnít even measuring up to Neville Chamberlain. Chamberlain dealt from a position of weakness, one that Hitler continually exploited in the negotiations.... In sharp contrast, Mr. Obama is acting out of personal aggrandizement. Mr. Obama is dealing from a position of strength that he refuses to use. Instead of using the sanctions to pursue his original promise that Iran would not get the bomb, Mr. Obama has moved the goal post. [nb - this is just human; and it's exacerbated by the next point] Mr. Obama is surrounded by sycophants, second-rate intellectuals, and a media that remains compliant and uncritical in the face of repeated foreign policy disasters.
Note the last sentence (emphasis mine); not only is BHO's ego tied up with this, but so is a swarm of unelected hangers-on and the media types of whom Brian Williams is a sadly, very average example ... and don't even get me started on the HRC/Harry Reid mindset; I do therefore it must be good....
Now, more general observations:
If a deal on Iranís nuclear programme is clinched, it will be hailed as a diplomatic breakthrough. It will be nothing of the kind. If the framework agreement is signed on the basis of current drafts it will a reckless recasting of the Middle East. The deal is flawed and Ö naive.
Once upon a time, only the Chamberlain's of the world cared to spike the ball after completing a deal; in our 24/7 media world, far too many media-types (sorry, I need to hold the word reporters out for those who've proven to be a cut above the ordinary) think their prestige - and in some cases, their next book - is tied up with spiking it first.
And they are just the types that have projected the infallible image that the Lightweight-in-chief believes in himself, where in reality, he's a mediocre example of the faculty lounge gripes-a-lot type.
Clearing the way for Iran to get nuclear bombs may Ė probably will Ė be the most catastrophic decision in human history
I watched PM Netanyahu's speech twice yesterday. (Hey, we dropped cable -- it's free!)
I responded to a good friend of LOTR-F who sent an interesting link to Stratfor. You know I hate to waste 20 minutes of typing, so I offer it here as a clarification of my Prosperitarian stance:
Hey, David. Are you by any chance a fan of Dr. Deepak Lal, the UCLA Economics Professor?
He has a bunch of good books, but in "Reviving the Invisible Hand," he discusses the economic importance of what he calls Liberal International Economic Orders. His LIEOs comport roughly to Pax Britannica and Pax Americana.
The iPhone is a marvelous gadget and great example of Ricardian economics -- it uses parts from 42 countries. If the sphere of safety does not include those 42 countries, then the sphere of economics will be shrunk to match. And iPhones will cost more and the world will be poorer. (Some no good friends of mine have me reading Wealth of Nations; it's right there in front.)
I accept from liberty theory your suggestion that we stick to our knitting, and I completely concur with your reading of the founders that it is outside the purview of the American Experiment.
But -- my first and widest break from traditional libertarianism is my willingness to take an expansive enough view of "national interest" to support preserving the LIEO. I call myself a "Deepak Lal Libertarian," and on occasion the silly neologism "Properitarian."
I'm also a fan of William Easterly and have given up foolish ideas I used to hold about exporting Democracy and Nation-building. I'm humbled by the Bush years but not to the point of isolationism. I would stand fulsomely with Israel as the one rights-enforcing state in her region and I would suggest a nuclear Iran to be an existential threat to the LIEO.
I don't pretend these questions are easy, and I enjoyed the link you sent. Our country did a great thing in defeating Soviet Communism, I'll support the fight to contain or vanquish the theocracy in Iran.
No links to back up my assertions this time, although I looked. The video excerpt of National Security Advisor Susan Rice's speech to AIPAC most often posted is the one where she "proves" that her boss' bad deal with Iran is a good deal because she repeats the mantra "no deal is better than a bad deal."
In the same speech she said, and I have to paraphrase because I'm going from memory of seeing her say it on FNC yesterday morning - "We must judge Iran by its actions and not its words." By "words" we can consider those of Iran's president when he said, "And God willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world without the United States and Zionism." Setting aside for now the Islamic Republic of Iran's military exercise to sink a 1/100th scale model of a US aircraft carrier at the peak of "negotiations," this advice is quite sound. Many recent examples of deeds not matching words support Ms. Rice's statement. One such example is quite well known - "If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor."
Michael Doran magnificently and at great length argues that BHO has an iranian strategy, and is following it.
Lee Smith supports and greatly summarizes this, tracing what they think is the origin, namely the disastrous Iraq Study Group's report, led by the well-meaning (but doddering, I think) James Baker:
panel urged "Bush to take four major steps: withdraw American troops from Iraq; surge American troops in Afghanistan; reinvigorate the Arab-Israeli 'peace process;' and, last but far from least, launch a diplomatic engagement of the Islamic Republic"
Smith quotes Doran in saying "The Baker-Hamilton report became the blueprint for the foreign policy of the Obama administration" I don't have time to read it all, but it appears that Obama intends detente with Iran to be his Foreign Policy signature achievement. Figures a lazy faculty lounge lizard would grasp on all the wrong, but faddish ideas....
If this compelling argument is true, it again reinforces what the thinkers have long postulated about the Alinskyite players who are out of the lounges and trying to run the country: they certainly have beliefs, which they dare not disclose!
If, in Bushland, America had behaved like a sheriff, assembling a posse ("a coalition of the willing") to go in search of monsters, in Obamaworld America would disarm its rivals by ensnaring them in a web of cooperation. To rid the world of rogues and tyrants, one must embrace and soften them.
quoth Doran (my emphasis).
NOW, he is starting to make sense. Startling, and horrifying sense, but sensical nonetheless. Someone tell Boehner!
Hat tip: The Hugh Hewitt Show, on whose show Smith said that he informally collaborated with Doran, and pretty much agreed with wholeheartedly.
Ron Dermer gives an impressive speech in Florida, cited here and noting:
ďThe Prime Ministerís visit here is not intended to show any disrespect for President Obama,Ē he continued. ďIsrael deeply appreciates the strong support we have received from President Obama in many areas Ė the enhanced security cooperation, heightened intelligence sharing, generous military assistance and iron dome funding, and opposition to anti-Israel initiatives at the United Nations.Ē
perfect opening moves.... then to answer the WHY doe Bibi wish to address congress:
Th[at] is not just the right of the Prime Minister of Israel. It is his most sacred duty ó to do whatever he can to prevent Iran from ever developing nuclear weapons that can be aimed at Israel.Ē
along the way, saying we have learned from our history that the world becomes a more dangerous place for the Jewish people when the Jewish people are silent
An impressive stroke; wonder if the Manhattan Media noticed? Why do so many prominent Israeli's have just-across-Mayberry names? And while I'm on a postulating parade: who's the last ambassador we had that was worth a damn?
Not quite 8 pm Eastern yet. Still time for at least one more serious post of 2009...
Today Charles Krauthammer predicted that 2010 will be the year of Iran, and that one of three events will come to pass: Israel will launch a military attack against Iran's nuclear sites, Iran will succeed in developing the bomb, or a popular revolution will unseat the theocratic regime and effectively end the Iranian nuclear threat.
Adding weight to the third of these options was Tim Ghami of the Colorado Iranian American Community organization [no website found.] He was the guest of Tom Tancredo who guest hosted for Mike Rosen on Denver KOA radio this morning. In the last quarter of the third hour Tim said this:
What's important for the listeners to understand is that the Iranian people are capable of removing this government. They don't need a dollar, they don't need a soldier, they don't need anything. All they need is just the moral support. Exactly what the people are chanting on the street - President Obama, which side are you on? Are you on the side of the people or are you on the side of the government? Do you want to have a dialog with the Iranian people or do you want to have a dialog with the person who wants to wipe out Israel off the earth? Do you want to have a dialog and have a long-term relationship with the Iranian people or do you want to have a relationship with the person who is killing innocent citizens of the Iranian country?
Seems like a simple enough question to me.
Just prior to this Tim discussed the secular nature of the 95% muslim nation he grew up in prior to the Islamist revolution and described them as friendly to the west, the international community, and to freedom.
UPDATE: I also intended to excerpt the passage when they discussed Iran as the "root" of radical Islamic terrorism worldwide and how vital it is to Western interests [read: capitalist, individualist] that the theocracy be overthrown. Continue below...
Tancredo also asked Tim if instead of playing terrorist "whack-a-mole" it would be more effective to kill the roots of terrorism that are firmly established in Iran. "Now you're saying the root of terrorism is in Tehran, it is the leadership, but is that the root of the entire radical Islamic movement? ... If the government of Iran topples, if the mullahs are thrown out, if some democratic institutions are put into place, if they are non-sectarian and not even based on Sharia law - if all of that could happen how could we feel safer in that knowledge? Would it, in fact, end our fear of, or the threat of radical Islam?"
Ghami - "Yes it will. The reason for that is that we mentioned earlier that 80 percent of the international terrorism the Iranian regime is either directly or indirectly involved. We also must understand that for the first time, about 30 years ago, the Islamic fundamentalist force for the first time was able to capture a state and take over a government. Keep in mind that Iran is a wealthy nation, unlimited source of funds, natural resources, money and all of that. That the most evil global threat, a force that has targeted western civilization for the first time...
[Tancredo interrupts for emphasis.]
The leaders of the Iranian government in numerous occasion have said that they are the alternative to western civilization. And that's why, when you keep that in mind, that their activities would make sense in that context. They've spent millions of dollars sending funds to Palestine and Israel to make that area unstable. They're doing the same thing in Iraq. They're doing the same thing in Lebanon. Their entire motive is to cause instability for western civilization and of course they do that by oppressing the Iranian people which is the number one enemy to this regime."
The Refugee will not presume to usurp "Quote of the Day" priviledges, but thinks the one below is a worthy nominee. Fouad Ajami, writing in today's WSJ, pens an excellent piece on Obama's naivite and education about Iran.
Days into his presidency, it should be recalled, Mr. Obama had spoken of his desire to restore to America's relation with the Muslim world the respect and mutual interest that had existed 30 or 20 years earlier. It so happened that he was speaking, almost to the day, on the 30th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution -- and that the time span he was referring to, his golden age, covered the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the American standoff with Libya, the fall of Beirut to the forces of terror, and the downing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Liberal opinion would have howled had this history been offered by George W. Bush, but Barack Obama was granted a waiver.
A post by JK two days ago regarding the current events in Iran spawned a spirited debate and some excellent comments. The events are so important, however, that The Refugee decided to enter this post to bring the central issue to the fore. Bottom line, an internal Iranian regime change would be the most transformative global event since the fall of the Berlin wall. Without a bellicose Iran and its funding, the Syrian, Hezbollah, Hamas and maybe even al-Qaida dominos would fall. This is a seminal event, and as others have pointed out, Obama is voting "Present." This is neither hope, nor change nor leadership.
Blog Brother TG, rightly, critisized The Refugee's supporting data as anecdotal (positions from two Iranian ex-pats). This is true, though in defense The Refugee will take the opinions of two Iranians whose families still live there over a country full of pundits who apply analysis-by-projection to the situation. The core argument is whether or not the Iranian people want regime change or are satisified with the current theocracy.
Writing in today's WSJ, Afshin Ellian, another Iranian expat and European professor, has this to say:
This week's protests prove that the people of Iran -- the children of the revolution -- will accept the rule of the mullahs no more. The regime is no longer able to exercise sovereignty over the Iranian people without resorting to extreme violence.
Iran is now at a crossroads. Either the will of the people will be accepted and a peaceful transition to democracy will take place, or the regime will respond to these massive demonstrations by unleashing a bloodbath.
The essential question: Can a regime, despised by a huge majority of the population, transform itself into a democracy that recognizes the rule of law? Has such a transition ever taken place without bloodshed?
The Refugee will assert that the majority of Iranians do want a change and that this is an opportunity to save millions of lives and billions of dollars. The alternative is almost inevitable war with a nuclear Iran. Barack Obama needs to seize this opportunity. He has yet to make the transition from Candidate Obama to President Obama. Now is the time.
President Obama appears to be giving short shrift to Iran's newly resurgent pro-freedom and anti-theocracy uprising. Many of this blog's luminaries are debating the wisdom, or lack thereof, of that strategy. One question that is missing, however, is whether Obama actually prefers that Ahmadinejad stay in office. I don't have the answer but I'll offer two observations for readers to ponder.
In a telephone conversation with the Iranian president, Chavez said, "The victory of Dr. Ahmadinejad in the recent election is a win for all people in the world and free nations against global arrogance," Iran's Presidential Office reported.
Caracas - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez congratulated US president-elect Barack Obama Wednesday on his "historic" win and said the time had come for the two countries to establish new relations.
UPDATE: Reformatted 6/18 in an attempt to sharpen the point. (The openly socialist Chavez cheered the "against global arrogance" victory of Ahmadinejad and the "time to establish new relations" victory of Obama.) They are all, at least in Chavez' eyes, birds of a feather.
On the one hand we have democratically elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, reputed hardliner, who on Sunday abandoned his own long-held position and, to the immense disappointment of much of his political base, spoke of his willingness to accept a Palestinian state -- provided only that the Palestinians forswear military pursuits, resettle Palestinian refugees in their own territory, and recognize Israel as a Jewish state, just as the U.N. did at the country's founding.
On the other hand there's Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Holocaust-denier and nuclear aspirant, who on Friday was declared the winner of an election so transparently rigged that the only serious question is whether the regime even bothered to stuff the ballot boxes. Since then, scores of reformist politicians have been arrested or intimidated, rallies have been banned, and the possibility of an Iranian Tiananmen hangs in the air.
Question: Toward which of these two leaders does President Obama intend to play the heavy?
I guess we all know the answer. The whole Stephens piece is great.
Someday a future president may have to apologize to Iranians for Mr. Obama's nonfeasance, just as Mr. Obama apologized for the Eisenhower administration's meddling. But the better Eisenhower parallel is with Hungary in 1956. Then as now a popular uprising coalesced around a figure (Imre Nagy in Hungary; Mir Hossein Mousavi in Iran), who had once been a creature of the system. Then as now it was buoyed by inspiring American rhetoric about freedom and democracy coming over Voice of America airwaves.
In Iran today, a sham election has been met with an open revolt. This takes great courage. The world's free nations need the courage to do better than respond with the sham policy of making nice with an illegitimate regime. -- WSJ Ed Page
Some of you may remember The Heretic, a self-confessed liberal of Indian decent who opined on these pages prior to the last election. Well, The Heretic and The Refugee have been debating which is a bigger immediate threat: Iran or Pakistan. The Refugee picks Iran, while The Heretic has thrown his nod to Pakistan.
The Heretic questioned The Refugee's judgement with this reference (Times of India) to The Taliban taking control of the Bruner district, just 60 miles from Islamabad. The Refugee posed this question: "What would India do if the Taliban overthrew the Pakistani government?" The Heretic responded by saying that it's more important to know what the U.S. would do.
And, he's absolutely right. As the world's lone Super Power, it is important to know what Obama would do. So, The Refugee enlightened The Heretic and thought he would share the solution with Three Sourcers. However, he accepts no credit for prescience as any Three Sourcer could have done the same.
1. Condemn the aggression.
2. Blame George Bush.
3. Ask for calm.
4. Promise that we won't torture them.
5. Say that we need a "united front" against such aggression.
6. Go the United Nations for a resolution.
7. Dispatch the Sec of State to the region for high level "summits."
8. Accept rebuke from Russia and China (and possibly France).
9. Blame George Bush.
10. Accept that the UN will do absolutely nothing and declare it a victory.
11. Apologize for everything America has ever done, might have done, or been accused of doing.
12. Hold a press conference to lecture Americans about how we need to take the time to listen to the Taliban so that we can understand why they hate us and how this will surely change the dynamics of the "failed policies of the past."
13. Remove our troops from Afghanistan, because that's what made the Taliban mad in the first place and our presence is just a terrorist recruiting tool.
14. Blame George Bush.
15. Tell everyone how "green energy" is the solution.
16. Write another book entitled, "The Crimes of Your Fathers."
At least Bill Clinton had the testicles to blow up an aspirin factory.
UPDATE: Here's a great treatise on "The Obama Doctrine" by Ben Shapiro writing for Townhall, summarized as "Don't Blame Me." Worth the read. Hat tip: realclearpolitics.com
While some Iraqi's support those who throw shoes at a foreign head of state, and the one who gave them the ability to rear back, no less, the WSJ editoral page highlights growing, open dissent in Iran. Could it be that that bit of tinder we call Iraq is igniting the cause of freedom throughout the middle east? That may be wishful thinking, but a raging inferno starts with but a single spark. The editorial is not conducive to pulled quotes, but it's short so give it a read.
Even though the dialog in the video are meaningless to the Farsi-challenged among us, the pictures are worth a thousand words.
I'm ready to join the Black Helicopter crowd. First Larry Kudlow brings us the story of the World Bank's $900,000,000 loan to Iran. As America successfully gets business and some pensions to divest of Iranian holdings and start to apply financial pressure, the mostly-US-funded World Bank dives into the breach. A commenter says "It's good to know dictators in need have someone to turn to."
The World Bank will float them, and the UN will protect them. The Wall Street Journal Ed Page today criticizes the International Atomic Energy Agency (paid link):
For the past year, [IAEA head Mohammed] ElBaradei has been running an independent foreign policy from his IAEA perch. People tell him he is "doing God's work" -- or so he tells the New York Times. In August, he announced a nuclear agreement he had reached with Iran's mullahs, without consulting his political superiors at the agency. Even the Europeans protested that one.
The agreement made no reference to the U.N. Security Council's demand that Iran suspend its uranium enrichment program, a demand Mr. ElBaradei himself dismisses as moot. The agreement also allowed the Iranians to dribble out information on the dozen outstanding questions the IAEA has yet to resolve.
Mr. ElBaradei has coasted on the IAEA's reputation as the authoritative source of information on the world's nuclear secrets. Yet this is the same agency that was taken by surprise by nuclear projects in Libya, North Korea and Iraq in the 1980s. And now in Syria, which in September was voted co-chair of the IAEA's General Conference.
We're funding these outfits and spending millions to host them and staff our portion. I've said a hundred times that the UN could have stopped the Iraq war if not for Oil for Food. Now they are setting themselves up to ensure that no peaceful resolution or restrictions on Iran can be affected.
Where is the blogswarm that scuttled the Dubai ports deal? A legitimate, profitable, and honorable business deal is immolated by populist fury, but I don't hear anybody complaining that International Agencies we finance are financing war against us.
John Morgan, liberal progressive blogger is bent out of shape that Bobby Casey voted to ... well let him explain...
Senator Robert P. Casey is trying to explain his vote on the Lieberman/Kyl Amendment granting George W. Bush the authority to begin military combat operations against Iran. He sounds a lot like Hillary Clinton meaning our most esteemed representatives in Washington are completely susceptible to brainwashing and are utterly incapable of reading an actual text before voting.
The overwhelming majority of blogospheric traffic about this is on the left, and it's generally dripping with hysterics.
Meaning it's likely a mountain out of a molehill.
Indeed, despite doing a good job of posting the scary text of the bill, he does so without a) providing a link b) providing a few more paragraphs of context... probably because it would blow the outrage right out the door.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who triggered outrage in the West two years ago when he said Israel should be "wiped off the map", has often referred to the destruction of the Jewish state but says Iran is not a threat.
"With God's help, the countdown button for the destruction of the Zionist regime has been pushed by the hands of the children of Lebanon and Palestine," Ahmadinejad said in a speech.
"By God's will, we will witness the destruction of this regime in the near future," he said. He did not elaborate.
While the media and Europe might not be taking Mr Ahmadinejad seriously, you can be Israel and our "diplomats" who just visited with Iranians are.
But I have to ask... at what point does his rhetoric become cause for action? Because inaction would be national suicide.
For his part, British PM Blair is getting tough. "The Iranians should not be in any doubt over how seriously we take this act, which was unjustified and wrong." At the same time, an American lieutenant commander echoes a question that occured to me when I first heard of this: "Why didn't your guys defend themselves?"
"I don't want to second-guess the British after the fact, but our rules of engagement allow a little more latitude. Our boarding team's training is a little bit more towards self-preservation."
"The unique US Navy rules of engagement say we not only have a right to self-defence but also an obligation to self-defence."
"They had every right, in my mind, every justification to defend themselves rather than allow themselves to be taken. Our reaction was, 'Why didn't your guys defend themselves?"'
Asked whether the men under his command would have fired at the Iranians, Commander Horner said: "Agreed. Yes."
If they had a reputation for defending themselves, perhaps they would not have been the target of Iranian Revolutionary Guards' elaborate plot to manufacture an international crisis.
For Time's Man of the Year, now Person of the Year, is the figure who, for good or evil, dominates the news. Yet this year Time could not bring itself to name the obvious choice. Instead, it chose you and me, all of us citizens of the digital democracy who create on the Worldwide Web. Why the copout?
Perhaps it was Ahmadinejad's hosting of a conference of Holocaust skeptics, including David Duke, that caused Time to recoil. Perhaps it was fear that the face of the Iranian president on the cover of Time would repel the American people and be death for sales.
Surely that was the reasoning behind Time's refusal to name Osama bin Laden in 2001, choosing Rudy Giuliani instead, though history is unlikely to conclude that Rudy, his crowded hour notwithstanding, was the central figure of that annus horribilis.
Richard Stengel, editor of Time, as much as concedes he could not bring himself to choose by the traditional standard, if that meant choosing Ahmadinejad: "It just felt to me a little off selecting him."
Understandably. But the refusal to select Ahmadinejad reveals an unwillingness to confront hard truths. For putting his face on Time's cover would have done a useful service, jolting America to a painful realization. Not only George Bush, but the United States, its Arab allies and Israel, had a dreadful year, as Iran emerged as first beneficiary of a war fought by this country at a cost of 25,000 dead and wounded.
" . . . more than six people cannot agree on anything, three is better -- and one is perfect for a job that one can do. This is why parliamentary bodies all through history, when they accomplished anything, owed it to a few strong men who dominated the rest. Never fear, son, this Ad-Hoc Congress will do nothing . . . or if they do pass something through sheer fatigue, it will be so loaded with contradictions that it will have to be thrown out."
--Bernardo de la Paz, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, pg 162 [Robert A. Heinlein]
I've been waiting all week for someone to blog the celebrated Iraq Study Group report, for I have a comment I'd like to make about it. Alas, nobody has obliged on these pages. But with each passing day I've come to realize that the real blogging is taking place on the front pages of the major dailies. They took the slap dash 97 page report as their kernel and proceeded to concoct every sort of meaning from it in their headlines. Every one, that is, except for making the world safe for liberty. Well, here goes.
Let's start with part I, subpart D: Achieving Our Goals:
We agree with the goal of U.S. policy in Iraq, as stated by the President: an Iraq that can ďgovern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself.Ē In our view, this definition entails an Iraq with a broadly representative government that maintains its territorial integrity, is at peace with its neighbors, denies terrorism a sanctuary,
and doesnít brutalize its own people. Given the current situation in Iraq, achieving this goal will require much time and will depend primarily on the actions of the Iraqi people.
It is critically important to understand that, with Saddam gone, Iraq matters little in the present war between civilization and archaic totalitarianism. Re-read the passage above and replace "Iraq" with "America." An America that can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself. [...] Given the current situation in America, achieving this goal will require much time and will depend primarily on the actions of the American people."
And where America represents civilization in this war, the seat of archaic totalitarianism today is... anyone? anyone? Bueller? That's right: Iran. Now re-read the passage above replacing "Iraq" with "Iran." In our view, this definition entails an Iran with a broadly representative government that maintains its territorial integrity, is at peace with its neighbors, denies terrorism a sanctuary, and doesnít brutalize its own people.
Now, what actions of the American people can do anything to help Iraq "govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself?"
ďThe western powers created the Zionist regime in order to expand their control of the area. This regime massacres Palestinians everyday, but since this regime is against nature, we will soon witness its disappearance and destruction,Ē
"We will not tolerate the possession of nuclear weapons by Iran," Olmert told NBC television's "Today Show" program, ahead of talks with President George W. Bush on Iran's nuclear ambitions and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Asked whether his country was considering a preemptive strike targeting Tehran's nuclear facilities, Olmert answered: "I hope we don't have to reach that stage."
But the Israel leader said his first choice is a negotiated resolution.
"Every compromise that will stop Iran from acquiring nuclear capabilities, which will be acceptable to President Bush, would be acceptable to me."
Ahmadinejad isn't bluffing. When he pulls the trigger, some will say "I told you so," and some will say "we didn't think he was serious."
Unfortunately, there are too many of the latter in power around the world.
Olmert and Israel are in no position to bluff.
Expect this to flare up in the spring during another Israel / Lebanon / Hezbollah flare up.
Meant to be a response to the Danish cartoons of Islam's Prophet Muhammad that sparked rage among Muslims around the world, the exhibit appeared inspired by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's tirades calling for Israel to be destroyed.
Teheran has several times announced plans to host a conference to examine the scientific evidence supporting the Holocaust, dismissing it as exaggerated. Its most recent announcement came in September during Annan's visit to the Iranian capital, where he said he discussed the cartoon show with officials.
Just in case anyone ever tells you Iran isn't going to be a problem.
If President Bush continues to ask North Korea to "kneel," war "will be inevitable," and it would begin on the Korean Peninsula, North Korean Gen. Ri Chan Bok told "Good Morning America" anchor Diane Sawyer, in an exclusive interview inside North Korea.
If only we had a topical quotation from Hugo Chavez, Robert Mugabe or Fidel Castro, then we'd have a crazy trifecta.
A general who impliments policies of a government who's crazy to respect a religion that can't respect itself, or it's gays, or it's women, or religious minorities, or... or... or... ad nauseum.
The U.S. military spokesman says there has been a 22 percent jump in attacks during Ramadan and the drive to secure Baghdad has "not met our overall expectations."
The spike in violence during the Islamic holy month of fasting was "disheartening" and the Americans were working with Iraqi authorities to "refocus" security measures, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell said.
Note 1: Out of respect, weren't we supposed to scale back our military activities around Islamic holy days? I'm glad the other side got the message. As a reward, we should treat their prisoners nicely. Maybe they'll stop the beheadings.
The Iranian regime's intentions are clear. It calls for "wiping Israel off the map" and tells its followers to "imagine a world without America." It seeks to dominate the Middle East. By failing to hold Iran accountable for its brazen support of Hezbollah, the free world has undermined a central pillar in the war on terror and given the Iranian regime a huge weapon for achieving its ambitions. Now the mullahs know they can attack a democratic country with impunity.
Considering the apocalyptic fanaticism of Iran's leader, it is an open question whether the current regime in Tehran is capable of being deterred through the threat of mutually assured destruction. But given how the world has responded to Hezbollah, the point may be academic. For surely Iran would be better served by using proxies to wage a nuclear war against Israel. And if there is no accountability, why stop with Israel?
The road to a suitcase bomb in Tel Aviv, Paris or New York just got a whole lot shorter.
Iran's president launched a new phase in the Arak heavy-water reactor project on Saturday, saying Tehran would not give up its right to nuclear technology despite Western fears it aims to make atomic bombs.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was speaking just days before an August 31 deadline set by the U.N. Security Council for Iran to halt uranium enrichment -- the West's biggest worry in Iran's atomic program -- or face possible sanctions.
"No one can deprive a nation of its rights based on its capabilities," Ahmadinejad said in his speech to inaugurate the heavy water project.
I did not know that rights were capability based. I'll make sure to remember that next time Israel retaliates (invoking it's right of self-defense) in a way which makes the liberal comentariat complain that there is no proportionality.
Iran attacked and seized control of a Romanian oil rig working in its Persian Gulf waters this morning one week after the Iranian government accused the European drilling company of ``hijacking'' another rig.
An Iranian naval vessel fired on the rig owned by Romania's Grup Servicii Petroliere (GSP) in the Salman field and took control of its radio room at about 7:00 a.m. local time, Lulu Tabanesku, Grup's representative in the United Arab Emirates said in a phone interview from Dubai today.
``The Iranians fired at the rig's crane with machine guns,'' Tabanesku said. ``They are in control now and we can't contact the rig.'' The Romanian company has 26 workers on the platform, he said.
Iran, which holds the world's second-largest oil and gas reserves, is due to respond today to a European Union-led offer of incentives aimed at persuading it to halt uranium enrichment activities that are crucial to its nuclear program.
Why do we bother with these people? They're a perfect example of why diplomacy without muscle to back it up, is worthless.
Iran said on Sunday it would not suspend uranium enrichment, ruling out the main demand in a nuclear package backed by six world powers that aims to allay Western fears Tehran is seeking to build atomic bombs.
Iran says it will formally respond by Tuesday to proposals made by the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany. The six have offered incentives for Iran to suspend enrichment, a process that has both military and civilian uses.
Tehran, which insists its nuclear aims are purely civilian, shows no sign of accepting the package.
"We are not going to suspend (enrichment). The issue was that everything should come out of negotiations, but suspension of uranium enrichment is not on our agenda," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told a weekly news conference.
They're not going to stop.
At that point, why don't the diplomats hang it up?
I thought the DNC talking points after the renewal of combat in Lebanon included the line that "This is World War III." I surmised that they wanted to be able to claim that World War III began under Bush's leadership... that warmongery begets warfare.
I just listened to former supreme commander of NATO, General Wesley Clark in an interview with a local talk radio show. The first questions for the general were, "Who is our enemy and what is the name of the war we are currently in." Simple enough questions, right? Fat chance.
Clark said only Republicans like Newt Gingrich or (can't remember the other guy) call this "World War III" or "World War IV" respectively. Alternately, the General says we are not even engaged in a war. Instead, we have a "loose conglomeration of individuals trying to pursue their own ends." He admitted that they use terrorism as their method, but his solutions were all "law enforcement." The natural question then is, "Whose laws?"
The big picture of the Clark interview is that he can't see the big picture in human events. Doesn't he read the Australian newspapers? (Or he sees it but is forced to deny it because Bush named it first: Axis of Evil.) Those who deny any link between al Qaida and Iraq also deny any link between either of them and Hamas or Hezbollah. Or Iran.
In answer to the questions the General never answered:
OUr enemy is every nation, organization, or "loose conglomeration of individuals" who practice Islamofascism and attempt to impose it on others by force.
UPDATE: On last night's show, Bill O'Reilly said, and I paraphrase, "Regarding the war on terror, Americans can be divided into three camps: One says bomb the crap out of them, the second says it's all America's fault, and the third says I don't want to hear about it, let's go to the beach." Dagny and I are proud members of the "bomb the crap out of them" camp.
The lead editorial in today's Wall Street Journal(Free link) presciently correlates the current Israeli conflict with the Ghost of Iran future if Tehran's nuclear ambitions are not stopped.
The war between Hezbollah and Israel is a tragedy for its victims, but it could also be a clarifying moment if the world draws the proper lessons. To wit, this is a preview of what the Middle East will look like if Iran succeeds in going nuclear.
The threat of a nuclear Iran isn't primarily that the mullahs might actually use such a weapon if they got one. The more immediate threat is that Iran would use the weapon as a shield to pursue its hegemonic ambitions throughout the Middle East, promoting terrorist attacks on its enemies and intimidating anyone with the nerve to fight back. The Hamas-Hezbollah double assault on Israel is a portent of things to come unless the world gets serious about Iran's radicalism.
All the more reason to let the superior Israeli armed forces establish superiority and damage the arms turned against them.
The better and necessary response is to let Israel's counterattacks continue until Hezbollah's military power is substantially degraded. As for the G-8 and the U.N., they can be constructive by moving swiftly to impose sanctions on Iran for rejecting the generous offer to negotiate directly with the U.S. It's clear now that Tehran perceived that offer, which was promoted by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Undersecretary Nicholas Burns, as a show of weakness.
Iran is testing the world right now. And if there is to be any hope at all of a diplomatic solution to its nuclear program, the mullahs have to see that their military option won't be tolerated.
Pamela from Atlas Shrugs attended the Stand With Israel Rally in NYC today and gives a weblog report. She has great coverage on her site 'Atlas Shrugs' including some great photos of Hillary swallowing her bile when Elie Wiesel said, "Thank God Bush is in the White House."
Great stuff Pamela! Check it out.
UPDATE: Here's the Rush Limbaugh program transcript of Pamela's "breathless" call to the show on Monday. Man, she was on fire! (And if you look close on Pamela's post, you'll see that the very first trackback ping is: Three Sources!)
A timely example of such a fool is Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd, who said on Fox News Sunday this morning that, essentially, it's Bush's fault! Dodd attributes the military action in south Lebanon to diplomatic failure:
"It seems to be that you have to go beyond just understanding the friendship, which is important, but for Israel's benefit and our own, we have missed, I think over the last number of years, the ability to really engage in the kind of diplomatic efforts in the middle east. From 1967 up until the end of the Clinton administration, every administration has remained very, very engaged in the middle east. This administration unfortunately has seen the word diplomacy and negotiation as somehow a favor to your enemies. I think unfortunately we've allowed this time to elapse over the last several years, the resolution 1559 was adopted two years ago, and the administration's done nothing in my view to really insist that the Lebanese rid southern Lebanon of Hezbollah and so this time has gone through without really engaging in the process thus we find ourselves today, Israel certainly has the right to defend itself. What it's doing is absolutely necessary. If Lebanon and Syria will recognize that those soldiers need to be returned and also Hezbollah has to get out of southern Lebanon then I think you could bring a cease-fire about."
To be fair, it has been nearly five years since Islamofascists unilaterally slaughtered 3000 American civilians with airliners. But despite this, why is Dodd still endorsing the realpolitik appeasement cum stability strategy of the past thirty years? Does he genuinely believe that it will lead to regional and worldwide peace if we just give it another decade or three to work itself out?
I can't say whether it is a symptom or a cause of America's confusion in general, or Dodd's in particular, but there is clearly a filter in place between the events of the mideast and the front pages of America's news media. Compare some recent news excerpts in America to those in, notably, Australia:
AP (via Houston Chronicle)- 'Hezbollah rocket barrage kills 8 in Haifa' "Hezbollah's firing of at least 20 rockets at Haifa and 30 elsewhere came after Israel unleashed its fiercest bombardment yet of the Lebanese capital, starting after midnight Saturday."
And, in the most offensive of my three examples,
Chigago Tribune- '2 dead on Israeli warship; jets attack Lebanon anew' "A draft resolution under consideration, from Lebanese Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh, demanded the release of Lebanese captives and detainees in Israeli prisons, and supported Lebanon's right to "liberate them by all legitimate means."
Meanwhile, Israeli warplanes renewed attacks on Lebanon early Saturday, targeting bridges, fuel depots and gas stations in the east and south, security officials said."
""You wanted an open war and we are ready for an open war," Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said in a taped statement broadcast Friday. He vowed to strike even deeper into Israel with rockets."
The clear message to American voters: The "cycle of violence" continues and Hezbollah/Lebanon are defending their sovereignty from Israeli aggression.
In contrast, Australians read the following headlines:
The Australian- 'Militants' missile hits ship with Iranian troops' help' "Israel says the troops involved in firing the missile were from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, an elite corps of more than 200,000 fighters that is independent of the regular armed forces and controlled by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei."
"A military official said the group was also believed to have longer-range projectiles that could hit the Israeli commercial hub of Tel Aviv."
The Australian- 'Strikes to intensify in four-stage strategy' "In the first stage, which began shortly after the Hezbollah incursion across the border last Wednesday, Israeli warplanes attacked missile caches in south Lebanon and elsewhere, particularly those housing long-range missiles.
Fifty caches, some hidden underground and in private homes, were reportedly destroyed. It is unclear what percentage of the 13,000 missiles known to be in Hezbollah hands that accounts for."
"In the second stage, which began early on Friday, warplanes attacked the heart of Hezbollah power, shattering high-rise buildings in south Beirut housing the militia's command structure as well as the home of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who was reportedly trapped for a while in the underground command centre when the building above it collapsed."
"The third and fourth stages are still secret. However, the sources said the operation calls for each of the four stages to be more powerful than the previous one."
"Israeli officials say the international community will not force Israel to stop before its goals are achieved."
Sydney Morning Herald- 'With US backing, Israel determined to go for the kill' "Israel's goal is to either eliminate Hezbollah as a security threat, or altogether. The broader goal of the US is to strangle the axis of Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria and Iran, which the Bush Administration believes is pooling resources to change the strategic playing field in the Middle East.
Whatever the outrage on the Arab streets, Washington believes it has strong behind-the-scenes support among key Arab leaders also nervous about the populist militants - with a tacit agreement that the timing is right to strike."
"Israel and the US would like to hold out until Hezbollah is crippled. "It seems like we will go to the end now," said Israel's ambassador to the US, Daniel Ayalon. "We will not go part way and be held hostage again. We'll have to go for the kill - Hezbollah's neutralisation."
These stories give a far different perspective on the current munitions exchanges: Israel is under attack by Iran-sponsored terrorists embedded in a third nation, Lebanon. Hezbollah rockets target Israeli civilians while Israeli laser-guided bombs target, Hezbollah rockets. Contrary to the protestations and accusations of one Christopher Dodd, the Bush adminstration has clearly been working in concert with regional and world governments to lay the groundwork for Israel to help Lebanon exorcise Hezbollah from its cities and countryside without manic diplomatic attempts to protect the terrorists.
Dodd warns that, "This could spin out of control to such a degree that we have a major, major war in the middle east." The reality is that the cold phase of that war has been raging since at least 1979, with Iran's Islamic revolution. Iran has decided it is time to turn up the heat on this war and it certainly appears that Israel, the Bush adminstration and key western governments anticipated it, were prepared for it, and are in the process of winning it.
There is little reason for concern that Israel's defense forces will fail in this effort. The two areas of concern are that diplomatic failures will allow allies like France and Russia to reverse course and, more ominously, that Iran's threat that attacking Syria " ... will definitely face the Zionist regime with unimaginable damages" portends their possession and imminent detonation of a nuclear bomb. Let us hope that western intelligence and military authorities have this matter as well in hand as they appear to have Hezbollah's rockets.
It soon became clear that Mr. Clinton and his national security adviser, Sandy Berger, had no interest in confronting the fact that Iran had blown up the towers. This is astounding, considering that the Saudi Security Service had arrested six of the bombers after the attack. As FBI agents sifted through the remains of Building 131 in 115-degree heat, the bombers admitted they had been trained by the Iranian external security service (IRGC) in Lebanon's Beka Valley and received their passports at the Iranian Embassy in Damascus, Syria, along with $250,000 cash for the operation from IRGC Gen. Ahmad Sharifi.
We later learned that senior members of the Iranian government, including Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Intelligence and Security and the Spiritual Leader's office had selected Khobar as their target and commissioned the Saudi Hezbollah to carry out the operation. The Saudi police told us that FBI agents had to interview the bombers in custody in order to make our case. To make this happen, however, the U.S. president would need to make a personal request to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah.
So for 30 months, I wrote and rewrote the same set of simple talking points for the president, Mr. Berger, and others to press the FBI's request to go inside a Saudi prison and interview the Khobar bombers. And for 30 months nothing happened. The Saudis reported back to us that the president and Mr. Berger would either fail to raise the matter with the crown prince or raise it without making any request. On one such occasion, our commander in chief instead hit up Prince Abdullah for a contribution to his library. Mr. Berger never once, in the course of the five-year investigation which coincided with his tenure, even asked how the investigation was going.
William P. Kucewicz pens a guest editorial in the beloved WSJ today (Free link, click away!) In it, he is pretty upbeat about the opportunity for effective sanctions against Iran
Condoleezza Rice, in signaling a new U.S. willingness to negotiate with Iran, also warned that "international isolation and progressively stronger political and economic sanctions" would follow if Tehran defies its international obligations by continuing to develop nuclear weapons. Although the likelihood of those sanctions increased yesterday after the Iranian regime rejected the U.S. offer, it has been the threat of such sanctions, and the crippling effect an international embargo would have on Iran's economy and exchequer, that have always been the likely catalysts for any possible negotiation.
There's simply no getting around the fact that you can't eat petroleum. Iran's 132.5 trillion barrels in proved oil reserves--10.2% of the world total--are of little benefit unless they're earning money. A trade embargo would hit Iran especially hard, because its economy and government budget are inordinately dependent on petrodollars. Oil shipments account for about 25% of GDP, represent 90% of total export earnings and provide as much as 50% of fiscal receipts.
Were we not still in the wake of "Oil for Food," I'd hop onboard the sanguine-train. Oh, and if China and Russia weren't pandering to Iran and Sudan, I'd feel better. And if I couldn't buy Cuban cigars and coffee (their coffee rocks!) in Ireland.
The fact is, somebody will end-around any sanctions to buy cheap oil. This will create a humanitarian crisis, yet will further enrich connected folks. Certainly long enough to develop noo-cyoo-lur weapons.
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - To Iran's west lies a natural ally and perhaps its most potent weapon in the international fray over its nuclear program. While Iran and Iraq were arch enemies during the rule of Saddam Hussein, all signs point to an increasingly robust relationship now that Shiites have achieved a dominant role in the Iraqi leadership.
It's a bond that has yet to reach its potential - in large part because the U.S.-led invasion is responsible for Iraqi Shiites being at the top of the political heap for the first time in modern history. Iraqi Shiites are not looking the gift horse in the mouth.
But Iran and Iraq share a Shiite Muslim majority and deep cultural and historic ties, and Tehran's influence over its neighbor is growing. Iran will likely try to use Iraq as a battleground if the United States punishes Tehran economically or militarily, analysts say.
Many key positions in the Iraqi government now are occupied by men who took refuge in Iran to avoid oppression by the Saddam's former Sunni Muslim-dominated Baathist regime.
Iraq's powerful militias, meanwhile, have strong ties to Iran and have deeply infiltrated Iraqi security forces. They can be expected to side with Iran if the West should attack, said Paul Ingram of the British American Security Information Council.?"
"Iran has ties with Iraq which have not been mobilized as they could have been," Ingram said. "The militias based in Iraq received much of their training from Iran and they have not taken any instructions yet."
The Mahdi Army, loyal to firebrand anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and the Badr Brigade, the military wing of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, both have significant links to Iran....
If Iran is attacked, "Iraqi Shiites will not take this lightly. They will not sit and watch," said Diaa Rashwan, a Cairo-based analyst....
"The Shiite political class in Iraq believes that if they generally cooperate with the U.S. and Britain, eventually they will withdraw and leave the Shiites in power," asked Juan Cole, a Middle East political analyst at the University of Michigan. "So far things have worked out wonderfully. Why rock the boat?"
While the jihadists and Islamofascists plan and prepare, we slumber...
Since the American media is too busy attacking the American military and America, making a big deal about lies coming out of Guantanamo, we don't hear stories about real abuses which occur in prisons.
The UK Telegraph reports:
A leading Iranian pro-democracy and women's activist, who was jailed on trumped-up charges last year, has revealed how the clerical regime cynically deploys systemic sexual violence against female dissidents in the name of Islam.
Roya Tolouee, 40, was beaten up by Iranian intelligence agents and subjected to a horrific sexual assault when she refused to sign forced confessions. It was only when they threatened to burn her two children to death in front of her that she agreed to put her name to the documents.
Perhaps just as shocking as the physical abuse were the chilling words of the man who led the attack. "When I asked how he could do this to me, he said that he believed in only two things - Islam and the rule of the clerics," Miss Tolouee told The Sunday Telegraph last week in an interview in Washington after she fled Iran.
"But I know of no religious morality that can justify what they did to me, or other women. For these people, religion is only a tool for dictatorship and abuse. It is a regime of prejudice against women, against other regimes, against other ethnic groups, against anybody who thinks differently from them."
Miss Tolouee's account of her ordeal confirms recent reports from opposition groups that Iranian intelligence officials use sexual abuse against female prisoners as an interrogation technique and even rape young women before execution so that they cannot reach heaven as virgins.
Few women from the Islamic world are willing to discuss such matters, even with each other, but Miss Tolouee said that the regime routinely committed sexual attacks against female detainees.
Compare this story to flushing a Koran down the toilet (most to all of those stories were fabricated, or actually were perpetrated on one prisoner by another) -- and ask: why is the American media not all over this?? Their behavior, their silence on issues such as this Telegraph story, speaks volumes.
Now what is going to be left, if the American media has its way, and America is anhilated, while Iran still stands? Who will then win, and who will loose -- good or evil?
And remember the line "When I asked how he could do this to me, he said that he believed in only two things - " -- straight from the mouth of the "religion of peace..." Invocation of Islam to justify such atrocities is not isolated to this example...
The BBC also had an article about the riots in NW Iran. Since AlexC did not talk about the "inflamatory" cartoon in his post, I thought I'd have the honor:
Azeris said the cartoon, which was published earlier this month, compared them to cockroaches.
The cartoon was published in a state-owned newspaper.
It showed a succession of people attempting to talk to a cockroach in Persian.
Each time, the insect responded by saying, in Azeri: "What do you mean?"
Azeris are the largest ethnic minority in Iran, and the cartoon caused outrage among those who believed it suggested that all Azeris were stupid.
So as to show that they were not stupid, thousands of Azeris went into the streets and proved their worth by...acting stupid:
Reports from the cities of Ardebil, Naqadeh and Meshkin Shahr say Iranian security forces fired on demonstrators, killing at least five people.
Dozens of others were injured and hundreds arrested.
Thousands of people took to the streets in protest and, shortly afterwards, the newspaper was shut down and its editor arrested.
But that did not quell the anger. In the latest protests on Saturday, government buildings were targeted, and a number of banks and television stations burnt down.
Hey, Azeris!! Quit acting like barbarians, and write a letter to the editor or something!! Write a paper showing the achievements of your people, your great standardized test scores, the thoughts of your philosophic geniuses, the wonders of technology you have brought into the workld, the marvels of medicine of your doctors, or the great art your artists, ahead of their time and breaking new ground, have raised up to the world!!!
Or at least learn how to write and how to behave wth civility, and let the rest of us get on with our lives...
Four people were killed and 70 were injured in riots last week in the Azeri region northwest of here, according to local news reports, as tensions spread after the publication of a cartoon that has outraged Iran's Azeri population.
The deadly protests occurred last Thursday in the city of Naghadeh, and followed other demonstrations in Ardabil.
On Sunday, about 2,000 Azeris demonstrated in Tehran outside Parliament and were dispersed by the police, the reports said.
In a show of defiance that appears to have unnerved the government, demonstrators chanted in Turkish Azeri, as the language is known here for its close relation to Turkish, and demanded that it be taught in schools.
Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
I read your letter to US President George Bush. I'm surprised that no one tried to talk you out of this or now that the deed is done, tried to convince you to hide the letter in your drawer. If you really thought that these things had to be said to the Bush, you should have ensured that no body except Bush himself would have read the letter and avoided its publication.
Why did you do this my dear? Didn't it come to your mind that Iranians, Americans or other people on this planet may come to read your letter? Honestly, did you even think before writing or dictating this letter? Or did this come to your mind like your impulsive trips to government ministries. Did you just come up with the idea, pick up pen and a piece of paper and start writing to George Bush?
You, naughty little boy craving for attention!
You said you wrote to Bush to offer solutions for global problems. Itís a very good idea but have you noticed that the problem facing the world today is yourself? Do you know that many of the miseries of the free nations and states originate from a creature named Ahmadinejad? You are the problem, and you want to solve it yourself?
My dear son Mahmoud!
In your letter to George Bush you invite him to ponder about the contradictions in his goals and the message and wishes of Jesus Christ. Who told you these things, my dear son? Do you really believe that Bush wants to create what Christ envisioned. What makes you think that Bush and Americans wish Christ to rule the world? Even if some body told you this nonsense, why did you put it down on paper and disgrace everybody? All Westerners, including Americans, have for the past two hundred years been yelling that they do not want a religious government and that they believe in secularism and the separation of church from government. And you come and say that they want a religious governmentĒ Are you out of your mind? Find the person who told this nonsense and distance yourself from them. They see you as a naÔve person and thus tell you these things.
They want to make you look like an idiot and laugh at you. Why do you think Bush has anything to do with human rights or liberalism? Even if he is, what has that got to do with you? Are you a supporter of human rights? Why are you upset if he violates human rights? Don't you know that this just a toy in the hands of the superpowers? Why do you defend it then?
My dear fame-seeking Mahmoud!
Your letter to Bush you say there are prisoners in Guantanamo Bay who have not been tried. This is not your business. Aren't you the president of a country that has imprisoned political prisoners who have no access to a lawyer and a fair trial? Their families canít visit them, they are kept outside their own country and there is absolutely no international supervision over them. My dear friend, these issues are not your business. You are the president of a country that has put Shirin Ebadi, Abdolfatah Soltani and Akbar Ganji in prison. Isn't a philosopher Ramin Jahanbeglou in prison now? Do Iranian prisons have international observers? How could you claim that referendum is good for Israel when you cannot tolerate that idea for Iran? If prisoners in Guantanamo have no defense attorneys, at least American lawyers are not summoned by their judiciary everyday, like the ones in Iran are.
Ebrahim Nabavi is an acclaimed international satirist from Iran who regularly contributes to Rooz Online
Footnotes are available at MEMRI to explain who some of the people mentioned in the letter are.
Human rights groups are raising alarms over a new law passed by the Iranian parliament that would require the country's Jews and Christians to wear coloured badges to identify them and other religious minorities as non-Muslims.
"This is reminiscent of the Holocaust," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. "Iran is moving closer and closer to the ideology of the Nazis."
Iranian expatriates living in Canada yesterday confirmed reports that the Iranian parliament, called the Islamic Majlis, passed a law this week setting a dress code for all Iranians, requiring them to wear almost identical "standard Islamic garments."
The law, which must still be approved by Iran's "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenehi before being put into effect, also establishes special insignia to be worn by non-Muslims.
Iran's roughly 25,000 Jews would have to sew a yellow strip of cloth on the front of their clothes, while Christians would wear red badges and Zoroastrians would be forced to wear blue cloth.
I think this calls for another round of diplomacy.
How long till people start doing the calculus of "It's only 25,000 .... etc.... "
It's disgusting. Yet there are people willing to turn a blind eye this week. Last week, last month, last year, and I fear in the future as well.
Under threat of United Nations Security Council sanctions for its own nuclear program, Iran has been elected to a vice-chair position on the U.N. Disarmament Commission, whose mission includes deliberations on preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.
It happened on the same day that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad promised his people "good news" about the country's nuclear program.
The following day, Iran announced that it had managed to enrich uranium, a key ingredient in the production of a nuclear bomb.
You know what's great fun to do if you're on, say, a flight from Chicago to New York and you're getting a little bored? Why not play being President Ahmadinejad? Stand up and yell in a loud voice, "I've got a bomb!" Next thing you know the air marshal will be telling people, "It's OK, folks. Nothing to worry about. He hasn't got a bomb." And then the second marshal would say, "And even if he did have a bomb it's highly unlikely he'd ever use it." And then you threaten to kill the two Jews in row 12 and the stewardess says, "Relax, everyone. That's just a harmless rhetorical flourish." And then a group of passengers in rows 4 to 7 point out, "Yes, but it's entirely reasonable of him to have a bomb given the threatening behavior of the marshals and the cabin crew."
That's how it goes with the Iranians. The more they claim they've gone nuclear, the more U.S. intelligence experts -- oops, where are my quote marks? -- the more U.S. intelligence "experts" insist no, no, it won't be for another 10 years yet. The more they conclusively demonstrate their non-compliance with the IAEA, the more the international community warns sternly that, if it were proved that Iran were in non-compliance, that could have very grave consequences. But, fortunately, no matter how thoroughly the Iranians non-comply it's never quite non-compliant enough to rise to the level of grave consequences. You can't blame Ahmadinejad for thinking "our enemies cannot do a damned thing."
Ever since September 11, the subtext of this war could be summed up as something like, ďSuburban Jason, with his iPod, godlessness, and earring, loves to live too much to die, while Ali, raised as the 11th son of an impoverished but devout street-sweeper in Damascus, loves death too much to live.Ē The Iranians, like bin Laden, promulgate this mythical antithesis, which, like all caricatures, has elements of truth in it. But what the Iranians, like the al Qaedists, do not fully fathom, is that Jason, upon concluding that he would lose not only his iPod and earring, but his entire family and suburb as well, is capable of conjuring up things far more frightening than anything in the 8th-century brain of Mr. Ahmadinejad. Unfortunately, the barbarity of the nightmares at Antietam, Verdun, Dresden, and Hiroshima prove that well enough.
So far the Iranian president has posed as someone 90-percent crazy and 10-percent sane, hoping we would fear his overt madness and delicately appeal to his small reservoirs of reason. But he should understand that if his Western enemies appear 90-percent children of the Enlightenment, they are still effused with vestigial traces of the emotional and unpredictable. And military history shows that the irrational 10 percent of the Western mind is a lot scarier than anything Islamic fanaticism has to offer.
So, please, Mr. Ahmadinejad, cool the rhetoric fast ó before you needlessly push once reasonable people against the wall, and thus talk your way into a sky full of very angry and righteous jets.
Israel is saying that the US is not tough enough when it comes to Iran.
The United States has until now not done enough to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, a senior Defense Ministry official has told The Jerusalem Post while expressing hope that Wednesday's referral of the Iranian issue to the United Nations Security Council would prove to be effective.
"America needs to get its act together," the official said. "Until now the US administration has just been talking tough but the time has come for the Americans to begin to take tough action."
The only real way to stop Teheran's race to obtain the bomb apart from military action was through tough economic sanctions that caused the Iranian people to suffer. "Once the people understand that their government is bringing upon them a disaster will they realize that the [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad's regime needs to be replaced," the official said.
In other words, here's your chance to get the job done, or we will.
If Israel steps up and takes charge of the Iranian situation, the world will breathe a sigh of relief, but the Islamic world will rise up in rage.
It's hard to believe that the EU3 can be so stupid. It had to be on purpose.
In a speech to a closed meeting of leading Islamic clerics and academics, Hassan Rowhani, who headed talks with the so-called EU3 until last year, revealed how Teheran played for time and tried to dupe the West after its secret nuclear programme was uncovered by the Iranian opposition in 2002.
He boasted that while talks were taking place in Teheran, Iran was able to complete the installation of equipment for conversion of yellowcake - a key stage in the nuclear fuel process - at its Isfahan plant but at the same time convince European diplomats that nothing was afoot.
"From the outset, the Americans kept telling the Europeans, 'The Iranians are lying and deceiving you and they have not told you everything.' The Europeans used to respond, 'We trust them'," he said.
So what now?
I vote for another round of strongly worded condemnations laced with the threats of additional strongly worded condemnations.