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Obama and Israel

Obama’s Middle East Policy: A Unified Field Theory

December 6th 2011

Obama Admin Topics - Obama AIPAC
President Obama at an AIPAC convention

In the history of physics, the “unified field theory” was an attempt to bring together an understanding of all forms of energy in a single explanation. Albert Einstein tried and failed to discover this. I don’t know much about physics but I know about Middle East policy.

So here’s an effort to bring together all of Obama’s regional policy into a single analysis and explaining everything in 1100 words.

The first point  is that the Obama Administration’s behavior must be divided into two phases. They overlap and feature the same kind of thinking but they are also quite separate.

Phase One, from January 2009 until December 2010 was characterized by an emphasis on Israel-Palestinian peacemaking.  Obama’s Administration believed that it was possible to make rapid progress toward peace and also thought that this was essential to achieve anything else in the Middle East.

To achieve peace, they thought, required mainly putting pressure on Israel for more concessions and winning support from Arab states and Muslims by proving that the United States was more sympathetic to them than any previous presidency. Read more ..

Obama and Israel

Panetta Blames the Victim, but Obama Should Back Away from That Stance

December 6th 2011

Jewish Organizations - Abraham Foxman
Abraham H. Foxman

The notion that Israel is primarily responsible for deteriorating relations with Turkey, Egypt, and the Palestinians, as claimed by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in his speech to the 2011 Saban Forum, is more than simply inaccurate. It is disturbing and potentially dangerous.

While bad at any time, his finding fault with Israel at a time of great instability and uncertainty in the region is particularly distressing. More than ever, Israel stands out as an island of stability and friendship with the United States.

The defense secretary's comments need a clear repudiation from the White House. Letting the secretary's views stand as is could serve to bolster those in the region who seek to return to days when Israel truly was isolated. Rather than scoring points for this administration in the Muslim world, it will reinforce their perception of American weakness for not sticking with a friend and will embolden enemies of Israel to increase their hostility toward the Jewish state.

Mr. Panetta's analysis of developments in the region is quite strange. That Israel is facing difficulties with Turkey, Egypt and the Palestinians is, of course, a fact. Why that is so bears no resemblance to what the defense secretary said.

In the case of the Palestinians, it is Israel that has called for negotiations time and again, only to be rejected by the Palestinians. Read more ..

Iran's Nukes

Enforce Existing Laws against Iran: Obama's new get-tough policy is weaker than Current Measures

December 6th 2011

Iran - Iran nuke reactor 3
Iran's Nuclear Reactor

In recent years, the United States has imposed punishing sanctions on Iran's financial sector. Last week, the U.S. Treasury Department announced new measures intended to hamper Iran's ability to raise and move funds internationally. Several Western allies have followed suit in an attempt to tighten the noose around the Islamic Republic and curb its ability to achieve nuclearization. Yet a close analysis of Treasury's action demonstrates that the new sanctions regime is far weaker than existing laws and falls short of the moves that members of Congress are demanding. What is needed is not new measures, but better implementation of existing statues.

Despite four rounds of sanctions by the United Nations and a concerted effort by many Western allies, a large number of banks around the world continue to do business with Iranian financial institutions that are complicit in supporting terrorist groups and spreading nuclear weapons. The Central Bank of Iran (CBI), for example, still has unfettered access to the international financial sector, even though it has been accused of helping fund Iran's nuclear weapons program, facilitating money transfers to terrorist organizations, and proliferating weapons of mass destruction. Read more ..

Obama and Israel

First Panetta, now Ambassador Gutman--Listen to Obama Representatives, Not to Obama Promises

December 4th 2011

Israel Topics - Obama and Netanyau
President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu

First it was Leon Panetta, and now it’s Howard Gutman. President Barack Obama, who just last week told Jewish groups that he was proud that the U.S. considered Israel America’s “best ally,” now faces a torrent of administration appointees making it quite clear that for this administration, Israel is to be blamed for all of its failure in Middle East policy-making.
As readers of PJ Media already know after reading Barry Rubin’s recent post, Leon Panetta told  the Saban Center in Washington, D.C., on Friday that Israel is responsible for its isolation in the world, that it hence must take bold action of a diplomatic nature to restore stability in the region, and that it must “get to the damn table.” When he was asked what the repercussions might be of a military strike against Iran, the secretary answered that if Israel struck the U.S. might be blamed and “could possibly be the target of retaliation from Iran.”
The clear implication is that Panetta thought it should not be done, and although he said all options are always on the table re Iran, any  Mullah worth his salt would take his words to mean the U.S. secretary of Defense was advising against such tough military action by Israel. Panetta concluded with these words of warning: Read more ..

American History

What Ended the Great Depression

December 4th 2011

America Themes - USANRA

What ended the Great Depression?  Contrary to the popular view, the New Deal did not, at least depending on who you ask.  Some conservative economists believe the New Deal possibly extended its length.  What everybody agrees ended the Great Depression was World War II marked the end of the Great Depression.   Liberal economists point to the vast increase in government spending during the war as a reason for the end of the Depression.  (Of course, organized labor had its own plans for the recovery, and some economists still dispute the centrality of the war in ending the Depression.)

One may ask how on earth a war could bring economic prosperity to a nation.  War is a machination for destruction, not production.  Common results of war include the bombing of buildings and infrastructure, the loss of human lives and an emphasis on the production of war materiel rather than products that actually enhance a person’s status and happiness—like refrigerators, clothes, food, radios and medical advancements. Read more ..

Ecuador on Edge

Ecuador's Media Caught in the Crossfire between a Popular President and Defenders of Free Speech

December 4th 2011

Ecuador Topics - el-universo-protesta

Throughout its history, free speech in Ecuador has been under constant threat by the government. After the country’s democratic life resumed in 1979, León Febres Cordero soon became one of the presidents who most abused his power to intimidate the media. Since then, there has not been a lack of heads of state who have done the same - among them Sixto Durán Ballén, Gustavo Noboa, Abdalá Bucaram, and Lucio Gutiérrez. Such leaders had been intent on closing down radio and television networks, while accusing the journalists of corruption, or encouraging the public to burn copies of newspapers. An example of the press war between the presidential palace and the media dates back to November 2003 when then President Lucio Gutiérrez accused El Comercio of being “satirical." Read more ..

The Way We Are

Self-esteem is Critical to Sustaining Wealth

December 2nd 2011

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

While reflecting on my childhood recently, I realized that self-esteem has a phenomenal impact on one's ability to become an entrepreneur. In order to do something new, one must believe in oneself, and that is very difficult with low self-esteem. It is critical that every child be brought up in an encouraging environment. I remember my father once said, "if we only tell them (referring to us, their children) negative things, and then the world reinforces that, how will they ever develop confidence?"

Self-esteem is the knowledge that you are a capable human being, able to learn from mistakes and turn them into triumphs. When you step out into the world, you must be able to converse and act with confidence in business and with friends. Home is one of the best places to start. Everyone needs encouragement and a sense that they are doing something right; without this feeling, it is easy to fall into the habit of self-doubt and pity.

In starting a business, you must have the self-esteem necessary to defend your ideas while listening to accomplished people contradicting you. The story of Famous Amos illustrates the confidence and lack of self-pity necessary to succeed in business. Famous Amos not only had his company stolen, but the rights to his own name as well—but he went on to create a new company; Uncle No Name cookies. In the face of his defeat he did not complain nor make excuses, he simply made up his mind that he would do well again, and he did. Read more ..

The Arab Fall

Fundamentalists by any other name would be as frightening

December 2nd 2011

Islamic Topics - Moslem Brotherhood
Muslim Brotherhood

In Egypt it is called the "Freedom and Justice Party." In Tunisia, it is called the "Renaissance Party."  They are benign sounding names. But in both cases they are political arms of the Muslim Brotherhood.

A couple of weeks ago, I warned that events in the Muslim world which we naively saw as the result of a yearning for freedom and democracy were in fact the product and brainchild of the Muslim Brotherhood. I would venture to say that the Brotherhood has plotted the overthrow of the existing governments for years even as many of its leaders were in exile. The events in Tunisia provided the opportunity for the Brotherhood "to unleash the Kraken" everywhere else.  And I suspect that they had their people well placed to start revolution all over the Middle East map.

Now we hear talk about the moderate Islamists, even about a moderate Brotherhood. And the Brotherhood, understanding us better than we understand them, salted and peppered their rhetoric to play into that Western delusion. In fact, the Brotherhood is not even on the State Department's terrorist list. There are two reasons for that. One reason is that the Brotherhood is a religious organization and the other is that the Brotherhood had renounced terrorism in the 1970s. Yet, they were the impetus for Hamas and al Qaeda. Read more ..

Military on Edge

Are We Entering Another Interwar Period?

November 30th 2011

Military - Korean War Memorial, OlympiaWA
Korean War Memorial, Olympia, Washington

“A nation that does not prepare for all forms of war should then renounce the use of war in national policy. A people that does not prepare to fight should then be morally prepared to surrender.”

– T.R. Fehrenbach, in his classic study of the Korean War, This Kind of War: A Study in Unpreparedness

Our nation has been in five big fights in my lifetime, and many more smaller ones. In four of those big fights, we were either totally unprepared or we had prepared for a completely different kind of fight than the one in which we found ourselves. Desert Storm was the only exception.

Military professionals and historians know this and are perpetually repeating to each other the cliché about preparing for the next war instead of the last one. Knowing, however, that we have been wrong four out of five times, it is a curious phenomenon how frequently we then hear the assertion, often in the next breath, that “the next one” will take a very specific and predictable form, such as insurgency or counter-terrorism. To make such assertions is to ignore the lessons of history. The operative lesson is that no one can state with certainty what form “the next one” will take. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Spare the Victory Dance

November 30th 2011

Terrorism - Osama bin Laden

Aproaching the 10-year anniversary of September 11th, senior U.S. officials have all but declared victory over al-Qaeda. Former top spy and newly-installed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta claimed this summer that the United States was “within reach of strategically defeating al-Qaeda.” Indeed, a recent Washington Post headline declared: “Officials: Al-Qaeda Close to Collapse.”

Killing Osama bin Laden undoubtedly was a major milestone. Counterterrorism officials trumpet that the al-Qaeda reins are now held by Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is commonly seen as uninspiring and divisive. “I have yet to see a debriefing of a suspect in a significant terrorism plot who said, ‘I was inspired by the videotapes of Ayman al-Zawahiri,’” a former intelligence deputy recently remarked.

Yet analysis that places personalities above ideas is deeply flawed. It provides Americans a false sense of security, blinding them to the significant terrorism challenges we face.

Consider Bin Laden’s vision. According to the Congressional Research Service, Bin Laden and his associates “have sought to serve as the vanguard of a religious movement that inspires Muslims and other individuals aspiring to join a jihadi movement to help defend and purify Islam through violent means. Read more ..

Israel on Edge

The Assault on Jewish Jerusalem

November 27th 2011

Israel Topics - A map

The ongoing pressures exerted against construction in Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem like Gilo reflect intensified global efforts to redivide the city.

Like many aspects of the Israeli-Arab conflict, the issue of Jerusalem is being reviewed in a vacuum without relationship to the reality on the ground. It also overlooks the abominable restrictions on freedom of worship in the eastern part of the city between 1948 and 1967 when the city was occupied by Jordan. Jewish holy sites, including the 2000 year-old Jewish cemetery at the Mount of Olives were desecrated, with tombstones used to build latrines.

In the Old City, all 58 synagogues were razed to the ground, including the ancient Hurva synagogue. Read more ..

The West on Edge

A Trans-Atlantic Partnership

November 25th 2011

UN Topics - US-EU handshake

At precisely the same moment on Tuesday, October 4, parliamentary hearings started on each side of the Atlantic on the very same issue. Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, began his testimony on the economic outlook to the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress, just as his counterpart in Europe, Jean-Claude Trichet, then president of the European Central Bank, started his regular evidence session with the Economic and Monetary Committee of the European Parliament.

The reality revealed by this episode is that, in the face of a serious economic crisis affecting both our continents, lawmakers in America and Europe are in fact working more and more to a common—and hopefully increasingly converging—political agenda. On many issues—whether it be financial market regulation, farm reform, climate change, transport security, cyber crime or energy scarcity—we are very often grappling with similar problems in a world where, sadly, our individual influence is shrinking.

We have strongly argued for the completion of the transatlantic market—by removing tariff and nontariff barriers to trade and promoting regulatory convergence—just as we recently endorsed the Transatlantic Jobs and Growth Initiative. We look forward to momentum being carried forward on this front at the upcoming European Union-U.S. Summit. Read more ..

US Economy on Edge

Government Regulation does not Hinder Job Creation, says the Government

November 23rd 2011

Economy - Job Board

Do regulations kill jobs? Not according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D–NV). In a floor speech November 15, Reid argued that the idea that regulations cost jobs was a “myth,” claiming that according to the Labor Department, “only a tiny fraction of layoffs have anything at all to do with tighter regulation.” In fact, he said, “last year, only three-tenths of 1 percent of people who lost their jobs were let go principally because of government regulation or intervention.”

Reid is not the only one to cite these numbers. They have been widely cited in media outlets ranging from The New York Times and The Washington Post to Mother Jones as proof that regulation is not a contributing cause of America’s stubbornly high jobless rate.  However, the statistics are of doubtful accuracy and have little to do with the primary cause of joblessness in the U.S. economy today: the lack of job creation.  Read more ..

The Food Edge

Shocking Ingredient in Bread That’s Problematic for Jews and Muslims

November 22nd 2011

Food - Bread

You may be eating a dead person’s hair in your commercially-baked bread. Watch out for L-cysteine if you’re queasy.

It’s name is inconspicuous enough, not something that would make the average consumer squirm as they read the ingredients label on a loaf of bread. The problem isn’t what L-cysteine does – it’s a non-essential amino acid used by many commercial bakers to condition the dough – but where it comes from: human hair. According to NaturalNews.com, much of it is from China, a country with a less than glowing track record for food contaminants.

According to the author, synthetic L-cysteine is sometimes used, while natural sources include human hair, chicken and duck feathers, cow horns and petroleum byproducts. “The hair is dissolved in acid and L-cysteine is isolated through a chemical process, then packaged and shipped off to commercial bread producers.” Read more ..

Iran's Nukes

Only Threat of Military Action Will Stop Iran

November 22nd 2011

Iran - Iran Nuclear Equipment

Military action is a last resort. But for nuclear diplomacy to succeed, Tehran must believe that if it tries to build a bomb, the United States will undertake military action to disrupt such an effort.

Iran's near-term nuclear intentions are unclear. The recent International Atomic Energy Agency report supports the conclusion that at the very least, Tehran seeks an option to build a bomb. Believing that its nuclear program would be attacked if it sought to exercise this option might deter it from doing so, or at least cause it to defer such a decision.

The recent alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington should be a wake-up call. It indicates that 30 years of Iranian terrorist attacks on American interests, without a U.S. military response, has convinced Tehran that it can continue to act with impunity -- even on U.S. soil. Unless Washington alters Tehran's risk calculus, the United States may be targeted again. Iran may even conclude that it can also build a bomb with relative impunity.

Advocates of containment -- the much-touted alternative to diplomacy or to preventive military action -- often present it as a low-cost, low-risk policy option. They frequently gloss over the fact that to work, it must be backed up with a credible threat of force; that the costs of a nuclear deterrence failure in a proliferated Middle East may be measured in millions of lives lost; and that the likelihood of a nuclear deterrence failure is not trivial, given the propensity of an embattled and increasingly insular and hard-line regime in Tehran to miscalculate and overreach. Read more ..

Health Care on Edge

Keeping an Eye on Insurance Rates in the Golden State

November 20th 2011

Politics - CA State House

If there is one organization that insurers despise and fear more than any other, it surely must be Consumer Watchdog.

Since its founding in 1985, Los Angeles-based Consumer Watchdog has dogged insurers relentlessly and played a key role numerous times in forcing them to change business practices and price their policies more fairly. I first heard of the organization in 1996 when I was still an insurance industry spokesman. Consumer Watchdog seemingly came out of nowhere to take the lead in trying to put a halt to a new practice in the insurance industry: requiring women to be discharged from the hospital within a day after delivering a baby or undergoing a mastectomy. Largely because of Consumer Watchdog’s efforts, insurers had to rewrite their discharge policies.

The organization’s first major attack on the insurance industry—a ballot initiative in California (Proposition 103) require auto insurers to seek prior approval from regulators before increasing rates—has saved drivers in the Golden State more than $62 billion over the past two decades, according to an analysis by the Consumer Federation of America. Read more ..

Israel on Edge

Shared Security, Greater Stability--The U.S., Israel, and The QME

November 20th 2011

Israeli Military - Israeli Jets Parked

While the Obama administration has pursued Middle East policies that could be characterized as being sometimes indifferent to Israel's precarious security situation, relations between our Department of Defense and the Israel Defense Forces are as good today, if not better,  than they have ever been. Both countries reap the benefits that flow from their strategic cooperation and the provision of advanced U.S. defense systems. Above all, they significantly contribute to Israeli deterrence which leads directly to greater regional stability. 

Such stability allows Israel to prosper despite its neighbors' hostility. That Israel is the only true, pluralistic democracy in the critical arc from Egypt eastward through the Gulf States and north through Syria and Iran is a fact that should not be lost on those who favor dealing with "dictators who can deliver." 


The 2012 Vote

Obama and the Supercommittee: the Time to Lead is Now

November 19th 2011

Obama Admin Topics - Barack Obama Israel speech

President Obama looks better for reelection today than any Republican could have possibly imagined as recently as six months ago. Recent polling shows him ahead of all Republican candidates in the pivotal swing state of Ohio, and he leads or is in a dead heat in the national polls against every GOP candidate, including Mitt Romney - this despite his low grades on handling the economy and the continued unemployment rate of 9 percent. 

Yet Obama still has one major stylistic liability that threatens his reelection: the perception of passive or belated leadership, or both. 

Now, with only a few days left to the deadline for the supercommittee to report on recommendations for at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions, it is time for Obama to lead in breaking the stalemate - specifically, to suggest he can support the latest Republican proposal by supercommittee members, i.e., to raise $300 million by closing tax loopholes. Read more ..

Iran's Nukes

Stronger Words but no Strong Action Yet on Iran's Nukes

November 16th 2011

Iran - Iranian chador pageant

Now that the International Atomic Energy Aency (IAEA) has issued its report confirming what most of us already knew for quite sometime - namely that Iran was developing a nuclear weapon - what has changed?

So far, nothing has changed except the credibility of Iran's denial of its intentions for seeking nuclear capability. Not even that is wholly true because all the while Iran was claiming that she was not seeking to weaponize her nuclear program she also threatened to use her prospective capabilities against Israel.

Now, all of a sudden, all eyes are on Israel. There is a lot of speculation as to whether Israel will or will not take unilateral military action against Iran.

But this is not exclusively an Israeli problem. It is a worldwide problem. Every nation needs to be concerned particularly Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. Read more ..

Iran's Nukes

Reaching the Point of No Return for Iran's Nuclear Threat to the World

November 14th 2011

Iran - Iran Long-Range Missile

Iran’s Nuclear Challenge Reaching Point of No Return
The current stalemate over Iran invites comparisons with Iraq in the months leading up to the 2003 war, but there is a critical difference between the two situations.

On Sept. 25, 2009, a grim-faced President Obama stood before the phalanx of journalists covering the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh to share a sensational piece of intelligence. Flanked by the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, and the then British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, Obama disclosed that Iran had been operating a clandestine uranium enrichment plant near the town of Fordow, in the country’s north.

The discovery of the Fordow facility—buried 300 feet beneath the region’s mountainous terrain, under the control of the regime’s much-feared Revolutionary Guard—did not sway Iran from the official line that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. Accordingly, Obama delivered a warning to Tehran. If Iran’s leaders continued to ignore the growing series of UN Security Council resolutions demanding the reigning in of their nuclear ambitions, they would be held “accountable.” Read more ..

Campus Hate

Israel and Academic Freedom

November 13th 2011

Campus - Kent State
Entrance to the Campus at Kent State

Cary Nelson, president of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), one of the most prominent organizations supporting college and university professors, has forcefully and inappropriately spoken out in support of uncivil discourse. In an ironic twist, this development stands in stark contradiction to what organizations such as the American Association of Universities have stated:

In order to fulfill their responsibilities to academic freedom and intellectual development, universities must provide a forum in which individuals and groups can advocate their views, the Association of American Universities wrote in January. In a statement on the "responsibility of universities at a time of international tension and domestic protest," the organization of research universities said that such institutions must ensure an environment for civil discourse that is free of violence and intimidation; protect the rights of all members of campus communities to pursue learning, teaching, scholarship, and research; and actively promote informed dialogue and analytical thought. Read more ..

Campus Hate

Invoking ‘Academic Freedom’ to Silence Others

November 11th 2011

Israel Topics - Students Protest Israel
Students at U.C. Irvine Protesting a Lecture by Israel Ambassador Michael Oren

Academic freedom, like democracy, is one of those things everyone supports because it can mean anything to anyone. In this sense, it is the opposite of anti-Semitism, which everyone opposes because it can be defined so narrowly that it means virtually nothing at all. What’s interesting is when the two concepts collide.

This is precisely what happened, for example, on Oct. 28 at Kent State University. Guest speaker Ishmael Khaldi, a former Israeli consul official, got a rough welcome when he visited to discuss his experience as an Israeli Bedouin. Professor Julio Pino, a Kent State historian, asked Khaldi hostile questions before leaving the hall shouting, “Death to Israel!” Read more ..

Inside Latin America

All Good Things come to an End for Ecuador's Rafael Correa

November 11th 2011

Ecuador Topics - Rafael Correa
Rafael Correa

In the next twenty months, Rafael Correa’s second and final presidential term that began in 2009, will come to a close. The story of the young and impetuous president who has weathered an attempted coup, endless criticism from a divided but increasingly boisterous opposition, and a relentless battle with the media, already has begun to be recorded in the country’s chronicles. Over the course of his time in office, Correa undeniably has nurtured a foreign policy that has isolated Ecuador from international markets and distanced the nation from Washington, which happens to be its main trading partner. Nevertheless, not unimportantly, the Obama White House continues to see Ecuador as a key player in the fight against narco-trafficking.

Investments in education, health, and infrastructure have reflected some of Correa’s major achievements, but his government’s unbridled spending habits have left the country short of foreign exchange and vulnerable to the effects of the global economic recession. Additionally, cracks have started to appear within his party structure due to ideological differences dividing the nation. Though the possibility of a destabilization of Ecuador’s democratic institutions seems remote at this time, both Correa and his polity could use a dose of tolerance. They both must learn the important lesson of disagreeing with one another while firmly upholding the tenets of democracy. Read more ..

The Edge of Justice

Americans born in Israel's Capital City are Prohibited from listing Israel as their Country of Birth on Passports

November 11th 2011

Israel Topics - Jerusalem Capital of Israel
Protest in New York for U.S. to Recognize Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel

Where is Jerusalem located? What seems like a simple matter of geography is actually a thorny diplomatic issue, one the U.S. State Department has aggressively avoided answering on official U.S. forms since the early 1990s. On passports and birth certificates, Americans born in Jerusalem are prohibited from adding "Israel" after the city name. Instead, Israel's capital is listed without a nation attached to it, a purposeful ambiguity meant to suggest that Foggy Bottom doesn't favor the Israelis or the Palestinians. Jerusalem's ultimate status will be resolved in a final peace agreement at some later date-or by the Supreme Court, which is hearing arguments today in the case of Menachem Binyamin Zivotofsky v. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Read more ..

Edge of Justice

Interpol Boss Ronald Noble Sees Red over Red Notices

November 11th 2011

Crime Topics - Ronald K Noble of Interpol
Interpol Sec. Gen. Ronald K. Noble

While concerns grow that Red Notices are not only being issued in violation of human rights, but also that corrupt police forces extend their reach with them, Interpol Chief, Ronald Noble, is angrily dismissive when probed.

Since Interpol's chequered beginnings between 1923 and World War II, it has grown into an organization that envelopes the world and is now the second largest international organization after the United Nations. In addition to its headquarters in Lyon, France, Interpol has regional bureaus in Abidjan, Nairobi, Buenos Aires and San Salvador, liaison offices in Bangkok and New York, and National Central Bureaus (NCBs) in 190 member countries. Furthermore, presently under construction in Singapore is Interpol's state-of-the-art Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI), which Secretary General Ronald K. Noble (of Waco Siege, Texas fame) describes as "an initiative that will increase Interpol's operational reach around the globe." Read more ..

The Arab Fall

Welcome to the Islamist Middle East and It’s Not Going to Be Moderate

November 8th 2011

Iraq - Revolutionary Guards

Ladies and gentlemen, liberals and conservatives, Obama-lovers and Obama-haters, no matter what your race, creed, gender, national origin, or level of unpaid college loans, two things should be clear to all of you:

First, to describe the Obama administration’s Middle East policy as a disaster - I cannot think of a bigger, deadlier mess created by any U.S. foreign policy in the last century - is an understatement.

Second, the dominant analysis used by the media, academia, and the talking heads on television has proven dangerously wrong. This includes the ideas that revolutionary Islamism doesn’t exist, cannot be talked about, is not a threat, and that extreme radicals are really moderates. Read more ..

Arab Winter

Reading the Tea Leaves following Tunisia's Islamist Electoral Victory

November 7th 2011

Pres Zine el-Abidine Ben-Ali in the trash
Discarded portrait of former President Ben-Ali (credit: Magharebia)

While the world is looking at the demise of Colonel Gaddafi and dreaming of a Libyan democracy perhaps a far more significant event is taking place somewhat unnoticed next door in Tunisia.

Tunisia, which was the first country to have an uprising in a series of government overthrows that ironically became known as "the Arab Spring," has just engaged in another first. It held the first post "Arab Spring" elections in the Muslim world.

The elections took place on October 27. And there was a large and enthusiastic voter turnout.

Are there any lessons to be learned from the Tunisian elections? You bet there are, if we are willing to read the tea leaves. The winner in this election was the Ennahda Party, a formerly banned Islamist party that rapidly came to life after the overthrow of President Ben Ali.

The titular head of the party, Rachad Ghannouchi, claims he wants an Islamist democracy in Tunisia. Whatever that means. Read more ..

The Weapon's Edge

Panetta Warns Congress on Defense Spending

November 6th 2011

Military - KC-135, A-10s, and F-16s

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta warned Congress that it would be "catastrophic" if the defense budget were to be reduced any further than the already agreed upon $450 billion in cuts to be made over the next ten years. Catastrophic is a strong word. Secretary Panetta is not known for hyperbole so we better take his warning seriously. It is always easier to balance the budget on the back of defense, because most people do not feel immediately impacted by cuts in defense. People are fearful, however, that they will not be able to make ends meet. They are concerned as to whether they will have jobs. They are directly impacted by proposed and actual cuts to social security, to Medicare, and to education. They will feel the burden of tax increases. Read more ..

America's Economic Recovery

Avoiding America’s Lost Decades

November 4th 2011

Japan - Japan money

The warning bells were sounded in early 2009: The U.S. government had to act swiftly and forcefully to avoid repeating Japan’s painful experience of sustained economic stagnation. The Obama Administration’s policies have failed to this point, and Japanese-style long-term stagnation may well ensue unless a fundamental course correction and decisive steps are taken. The two most important steps are to halt the federal government’s regulatory onslaught and to put the federal budget on a credible path toward balance by cutting spending quickly and steadily.

It is hard to exaggerate the shift in Japan’s fortunes over the past two decades. The Japanese economic miracle lasted over 40 years and saw the country climb out of true devastation from World War II to have the globe’s second-largest economy, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP). Many observers thought it was only a matter of time before Japan replaced the United States as the world’s leading economy. Read more ..

The Iranian Threat

Ecuador Defies the World to Deepen Relations with Iran

November 3rd 2011

Iran - Ecuador's Rafael Correa and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa clasps hand

with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

In an act of defying United States, European Union, and even United Nation’s policy, Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa pledged on October 26 to continue to build financial, trade and industrial ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Fars News, the Islamic Regime’s official news agency, published Correa’s remarks, and offered words on the Regime’s success in wooing further Latin American states such as Brazil, Venezuela, Cuba and Bolivia. Iran began building ties with Venezuelan Dictator Hugo Chavez soon after he came to power. Since then, he has been instrumental in supporting Iran’s relatively unchallenged campaign to further infiltrate Latin America.

Industrial, military and economic cooperation between resource-rich Latin America and uranium-hungry Iran raises many eyebrows and sparks even more concerns; the sanctions imposed on the Islamic Regime’s banks and energy sector by the U.S, the E.U. and the U.N. are effectively being skirted by our hemispherical neighbors. Read more ..

America and Turkey

Don’t Let Turkey Veto Effective Missile Defense

November 2nd 2011

Israeli Military - X band radar

This year, in a major breakthrough, Israeli Iron Dome batteries successfully intercepted scores of rockets and missiles fired from Gaza. Its 85 percent success rate has been a major deterrent of Gazan rocket fire and has propelled heated interest in the system by NATO countries and South Korea. These successes, moreover, could not have been possible without the U.S.-provided $235 million, which Israel is using to ramp up the deployment of batteries on its southern and, perhaps, northern borders. As Congressman Steve Rothman said earlier this year, “We gave them $3 billion, they have to use 75 percent of it to buy our stuff, and then they give us improvements on all the stuff we sell them, plus all the intelligence network.” “Such a bargain for the U.S.,” he added.

That “bargain,” however, is being challenged by Turkey’s opposition to cooperation with Israel under Washington’s missile defense umbrella. Turkey's regional realignment is threatening to insert itself directly into the deep and extensive defense cooperation between the U.S. and Israel. As the United States attempts to integrate its diverse missile defense programs into a single, regional network - called the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) - Ankara’s supposed refusal to liaise with Jerusalem could inhibit the protection of NATO countries and Israel from Iran’s ballistic missile arsenal. Read more ..

Edge of Terrorism

Muslim Brotherhood Influence Grows as Arab Fall becomes a Chill

November 1st 2011

Islamic Topics - Nihad Awad - left, Ibrahim Hooper - right CAIR
CAIR director Nihad Awad (l) and spokesman Ibrahim Hooper (r)

Disturbing reports are coming out of Washington, D.C.

These reports reveal the depth of the below-the-surface coordination between the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), Hamas, Hezbollah, the Iranian regime and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, Libya and Jordan. This bloc of regimes and organizations is now becoming the greatest Islamist radical lobby ever to penetrate and infiltrate the White House, Congress, the State Department and the main decision making centers of the U.S. government. All of this is happening at a time when the US government is going through its most strategically dangerous period in modern times because of its need to confront the Iranian Mullahs regime, which is expanding in the Middle East, as well as penetrating the United States, via powerful and influential allies.

It looks like the near future will uncover many surprises after the fall of the Gaddafi regime, as we realize more and more that the popular revolts in the Arab world - and the Obama Administration’s position towards them - were determined by political battles between various pressure groups in Washington. Moreover, pressures by these lobbying groups have left an impact on the region's events, the last of which was the canceling of the visit of Maronite Patriarch Rahi to Washington. A number of Arab and Western news agencies have leaked that one of “those who sought to cancel this visit was Dalia Mujahid, a top advisor on Islamic and Arab affairs at the State Department, who is of Egyptian origin. And that”, said the reports, “came at the request of the high command of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, who wish to see the US Administration support the Islamist Sunni current.” Read more ..

The Arab Fall

Let us Extend a Hand to Those Imperiled by Radical Islam

October 30th 2011

Arab Topics - Golan Hts protesters 062011

Earlier this year, the world was abuzz with news of the “Arab Spring.” As protesters took to the streets in great numbers, and as one oppressive Arab regime after another fell, it seemed to many that a new branch of liberty was flowering in this troubled part of the world.

There were others, however, who sounded a note of skepticism. Since there is no longstanding tradition of democracy in Arab countries, they cautioned, there was little reason to believe that the removal of oppressive dictators would result in the establishment of democratic forms of government.

Sadly, it seems the skeptics were right. Power vacuums that have been created in Arab countries where regimes have changed in recent months have not been filled by those seeking greater democracy and pluralism. They have been filled — or are in the process of being filled — by adherents of the intolerant, hateful ideology of radical Islam. It happened again earlier this week, when the interim leader in Libya, which recently lost its tyrannical ruler with the death of the murderous Muammar Gaddafi, promised that post-Gaddafi Libya will be ruled by the dictates of strict Islamic law. Read more ..

Libya after Gadhafi

Libya Mission A Success … Go Home

October 28th 2011

Libya - Gadhafi statue gets kicked

Another chapter of the Arab Spring concluded with Gadhafi’s death. The US played a significant financial role in tumbling his regime. We lost no troops and avoided political turmoil by putting no boots on the ground. There are important lessons that can be learned, such as the use of counterterrorism exercises and technology as opposed to flesh and blood to win wars. We should study and learn how to enhance our ability to effect regime change without risking the lives of military personnel. Gadhafi is like many other dictators, including Saddam Hussein, he needed to be removed for the sake of the people. Hopefully, our future military exercises will be based on such humanitarian principles and not on political expediency or the agendas of our foreign allies. Read more ..

Religious Tolerance

Cardinal Kurt Koch comes to New York to Mend Fences with Jewish Community

October 25th 2011

Christian Topics - Catholic Jewish meeting

Cardinal Kurt Koch, the Vatican’s key representative to Jews, is making his first visit to New York, home to the largest Jewish community outside of Israel. The cardinal, appointed president of the Vatican’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews in 2010, has an opportunity, together with Jewish leaders, to reflect on the state of Catholic-Jewish relations and aspirations for the future.

While in New York, Cardinal Koch will meet with, among others, the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations, or IJCIC. This coalition of Jewish organizations, recognized by the Vatican as the official consultative Jewish body for the advancement of Catholic-Jewish relations, was created in the aftermath of Nostra Aetate. That document of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II, 1962-1965) changed the course of Catholic-Jewish history with its revolutionary statements rejecting the deicide charge against the Jews, decrying anti-Semitism and affirming the validity of God’s ongoing covenant with the Jewish people. In the post-Shoah era, the Church had begun to come to terms with its role in facilitating anti-Jewish animus that created a climate receptive to the horrors of the Holocaust. Read more ..

The 2012 Vote

Rising Cain

October 23rd 2011

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

Dr. Bill Bennett, at the Family Research Council’s Values Voters summit recently, said, “if you voted for Obama to prove that you’re not a racist, you should vote against him to prove you’re not an idiot. There’s one candidate for whom you can vote to prove both.”

Herman Cain has not played the race card, and that is to his credit. He has campaigned on a career unlike anyone else’s having succeeded in at least three different fields: computer science, business administration, and now politics, as he very likely will be the Republican nominee for President of the United States. He accomplished all this despite having been born in poverty in the American South.

If biography got Obama and Deval Patrick elected, then surely Cain warrants the same success. But Cain has not taken this easy way out; nor have his supporters focused on his race; in fact, Cain has insisted on making his campaign primarily about his 9-9-9 tax reforms. This is admirable. But something very strange—that is, if we are to believe the liberal media—has happened.

The Tea Party has abandoned Rick Perry for Herman Cain.

What is allegedly strange about this is that the Tea Party—we are told—is racist, or at least unconsciously so. Read more ..

The US and Iran

Deter, Don't Dismiss, the Iranian Threat

October 20th 2011

Iran - Ahmadinejad Nuke

Mustering an effective response to Iran's assassination plot is critical for U.S. national security as well as our already damaged credibility in the Middle East.

Iran's alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington was brazen, sloppy, but, regrettably, entirely plausible. While its tactics vary, the Iranian regime has engaged in direct terrorist attacks in the past, and recent events in the Middle East and changes to Iran's own military command and control structure have raised the likelihood of such attacks. The Obama Administration will be careful to avoid a war of escalation with the regime, but should resist the temptation to confine its response to sanctions.

On its face, the details of the Iranian plot seem amateurish and provoke deep skepticism. An Iranian-American who claims his cousin is a "big general" in Iran makes contact with what he thinks is a Mexican drug gang to blow up a Washington restaurant in a frantic effort to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, heedless of the innocents who will surely perish or the risk of US retaliation. This hardly seems to fit the modus operandi of the Quds Force, the external operations arm of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The Quds Force has recently tended to operate below the radar, through trusted proxies such as Hezbollah, and while its activities are global, it concentrates its most nefarious activities in Iran's immediate environs, most notably Iraq. Read more ..

Iran on Edge

Iran’s Global Strategic Goal is Rationally MAD

October 19th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Walid Phares new

My first book, The Iranian Islamic Revolution, published way back in 1986, dealt with the historicity of the 1979 Khomeinist Revolution in Iran. In it, I exposed the Khomeinist regime’s long-term ambitions and revisionist account of events that led to the Shah’s overthrow and Ayatollah Khomeini’s ascent to power in the alleged Islamic “Republic” of Iran. From my observatory in Beirut where Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRG) were growing into a force to be reckoned with in the region and beyond, I absorbed and digested the thinking and logic of Tehran’s strategists. Boiled down, that strategy involved sending as many mixed signals in as many directions as possible so as to confuse opposing forces and make them tentative. This would allow the Khomeinists to pursue their global ambitions with minimal opposition.

First, Tehran formed an alliance with the Assad regime in Syria. Next, Hezbollah was established in Lebanon and later, in 2003, penetrated Iraq’s Shia communities. Now, Tehran is about to achieve its most important goal since the inception of the Islamist regime— a strategic intercontinental ballistic missile arsenal capable of delivering nuclear and other lethal warheads. Military historians will undoubtedly debate the ins and outs of the Iran’s long trek to join the nuclear club. What they will find is a Western world that was fooled for decades. It remains to be seen whether the West’s current leaders will be able to stop this final phase in Iran’s jihadist strategy. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

DC Assassination Plot Related to Increasing Iranian Presence in Western Hemisphere

October 18th 2011

Venezuela Topics - Chavez and Ahmadinejad

Until Chavez assumed power, Iran’s presence in the Western Hemisphere was not as strong as it is today. Its proxy, Hezbollah, had presence and even committed a number of atrocities in Latin America such as the attacks on Israeli and Jewish targets in Buenos Aires. However, its presence increased manifold since Chavez and his Bolivarian revolution began to spread throughout the hemisphere.

Not surprisingly the Iranians have tried to carry out another act of terrorism by attempting to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States with the help of a Mexican criminal group. Iran intended to carry out this attack by using an American citizen of Iranian origins who contacted a member of a well-known Mexican gang and drug cartel called “The Zetas.” It was also disclosed that during their exchanges, they discussed attacks on Saudi and Israeli embassies in Washington and Buenos Aires. Read more ..

Economic Recovery on Edge

When a House Is Not a Home: Falling Home Values Continue to Strain American Families

October 17th 2011

Contributors / Staff - Armstrong_Williams

Legendary crooner Luther Vandross’s silken voice once enraptured audiences with the song “A House Is Not A Home.” The core metaphor in the song is that while a chair is still a chair when no one’s sitting there, a house is not a home when there’s no one there (to kiss goodnight). With the chilly headwinds of the financial collapse of 2008 still blowing strongly through the housing market, affecting employment, wages and retirement savings, more and more Americans are delaying important decisions around dating, marriage and retirement. For them, the house they live is increasingly not the home they thought it would be for them.

In fact, since 2000 there has been a precipitous 10 percent decline in the marriage rate among 25–34 year olds. In 2009, the marriage rate among that age group dropped below 50 percent for the first time in our nation’s history. There are of course many factors that account for the falling marriage rate, which after all, has trended down long before the housing debacle set in: increasing education, increase of non-married cohabitation, declining real wages, and the declining moral fabric of America. But such a large drop in recent years points to the effect that the run up in housing prices had on first time home buyers, and the economic effects of the housing fallout on employment. Read more ..

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