Monday, December 31, 2007

A Real Huckster

I never thought that it would be possible for a Republican to come close to the cynicism and hypocrisy regularly displayed by those on the left side of the aisle. Think Harry Reid's political decision to surrender to four al Qaeda suicide bombers in April.

But former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has just proved me wrong. The Huckster has descended to the bottom of the political basement and is, as we speak, digging furiously.

Huckabee's campaign drafted a series of ads attacking Mitt Romney, portraying Romney as being a flip-flopper on several critical issues. Fair enough.

But then Huckabee holds a press conference, playing the ads for the media even as he announces that he is going to take the high road and not release the ads. Thus, Huckabees ads get exposure through the national media while Huckabee simultaneously claims credit for taking the ethical and moral highground. This from the Washington Post:

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee gathered scores of reporters in a room to unveil an attack ad against rival Mitt Romney, then suddenly changed course and renounced the ad he had produced -- but not before playing it for the dozens of television cameras.

Huckabee said the ad -- which attacks Romney for being too dishonest to be president -- was sent to television and radio stations yesterday but will not be broadcast. He said he had made the decision 10 minutes before his news conference, surprising even his top staff. "I pulled the ad. I do not want it to be run at all," he said. The surprise move prompted incredulous questions from the journalists, who pressed Huckabee on whether he was trying to attack Romney in the press while at the same time getting credit for running a positive campaign. Huckabee called that a cynical view of what he described as a heartfelt decision to take the high road. . .

Read the entire article here. There is nothing cynical about questioning Huckabee's actions on this one. There is no other possible way to explain Huckabee's actions. If Huckabee had a true change of heart on this, he simply would have pulled the ads - no news conference, and under no circumstance playing the ads for the news media. Huckabee is playing us for idiots. His is an act of cynicism and hypocrisy that encapsulates the worst of American politics. Bottom line, anyone who votes for this deeply unprincipled man is making a tragic mistake.


Interesting News from Around the Web - 31 Dec. 07

The WSJ is reporting that Ron Paul might win the New Hampshire primary. This leads to the inescapable conclusion that the primary system is broken. New Hampshire is not representative of Republicans generally nor sanity apparently.

"Asked for his views on an alternative to the EU, Alan Sked, the founder of UKIP, famously noted that the alternative to suicide was simply not to commit suicide." Brits horrified at their country’s goose step march into that grand experiment in undemocratic socialism, the EU, are looking at an "anglosphere" alternative. Sounds about right to me.

And speaking of Britain, the country which gave us the model for our Second Amendment right of an individual to keep and bear arms with its Declaration of Rights of 1689 (which to my knowledge Britain has never repealed) does not even trust its constabulary to be armed. A female police officer was shot while investigating an armed robbery this morning in Lancashire and one of her assailants escaped.

And the Tories are as bad as the socialist Labour Party in the UK. They are still not making an unequivocal statement that they will allow the people of the UK a referendum on Treaty of Lisbon that establishes the EU as a state and Britain as a province. Labour’s Gordon Brown is refusing to allow a referendum. The Tory’s David Cameron is trying to hint that he will if elected without promising it. What a travesty.

Expected on January 1 in the binge drinking capital of the world - a lot of partying. Expected post January 1, a record number of abortions and STD’s.

"The Roman Catholic Church has vowed to "fight the Devil head-on" by training hundreds of priests as exorcists. Father Gabriele Amorth, 82, the Vatican's Exorcist in Chief, announced the initiative amid the Church's concerns about growing worldwide interest in Satanism and the occult."

Watch German multiculturalism in action. "A top member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives has said Germany has too many criminal young foreigners and that immigrants must stick to the rules of Germany's "Christian-Occidental" culture . . ." Both seem reasonable. But not to Der Speigel and the rest of Germany’s left.

Iran’s greatest fear appears to be from internal dissent. That is not surprising. The IRGC is addressing this by taking better control of the theocracy’s thugs, the Basij, and expanding the force.

Fatah’s armed wing calls for the assassination of Fatah’s Prime Minister Salaam Fayad for "collaboration" with Israel and the US. Someone remind me why we are giving a dollar in aid to Fatah? It certainly has brought no stability.


Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Council Has Spoken

This is likely to be rare. My choices for first and second place in both the Council and Non-Council categories won both first and second place.

In the Council categorty, first place went to a very thoughful post from the Bookworm Room, Judeo-Christian Doctrine and Moral Freedom. Second place saw a tie between Soccer Dad, whose post First Let the Lawyers Kill Us All tells the sordid tale of lawyers and war in Israel, and Done With Mirrors, whose post on Ron Paul examined the Republican candidate's take on U.S. history.

In the Non-Council category, first place went to a very insightful post, Fear by Silver Bullets. It won running away. Second place went to Laughter and Tears by Eternity Road.

See the full results here.


Interesting News From Around The Web

Walid Phares assesses the state of terrorism around the world. "In short, there are several "wars" on terror worldwide. . . . America is leading the widest campaign, but efforts around the globe are still dispersed, uncoordinated, and in many cases, contradictive."

At NRO, a symposium on Pakistan with a wide variety of views on Bhutto’s assassination and how we should interact with Pakistan, including this assessment from Victor David Hanson: "Pakistan is a nuclear dictatorship, with a thin Westernized elite sitting atop a vast medieval Islamist badlands that it cannot control."

Bhutto’s 19 y.o. son is expected to be named the successor as head of her political party. If he actually wins in the Pakistani election, this seems like it will lead to the sort of "palace intrigue" not seen since the days of Cardinal Richelieu.

More reflections on fallout from the Bhutto assassination here. And the Telegraph has an incisive article on the Frankenstein’s monster of terrorism nurtured by successive Pakistani governments, including Bhutto’s, that now threatens to overtake all of Pakistan. Former PM Sharif, an Islamist with Saudi support, is not what we want to see in charge of Pakistan. For some good background, see this Stephen Cohen article on the jihadi threat in Pakistan. And this from Tariq Ali on the Saudi connection to the madrassahs and terrorists in Pakistan.

Michael Ledeen examines more State Department pro-Iranian spin.

2007 was "a year that strode boldly into the stall of human events and took a wide stance astride the porcelain bowl of history." Read David Barry’s hilarious year in review.

A politically incorrect Aussie’s wish list for 2008.

Classical Values has some thoughts on our rather insane primary system that gives special weight to Iowa and New Hampshire.

A New Years Resolution for Congressional Republicans that all conservatives can get behind. End the earmarks.

And some late blogging of things I did not have time to get to earlier . . .

Hillary Clinton almost takes the cake for sublime idiocy. The last thing Pakistan needs at this point is further destabilization, but we have Hillary calling the current government illegitimate and demanding an international tribunal to investigate Bhutto’s assassination. While Obama does take the cake – finding that Bhutto’s assassination was caused by our prosecution of the Iraq war. If only we had surrendered earlier to al Qaeda, perhaps this would not have happened. Even the incredibly cynical John Edwards called that one a bit of idiocy.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Interesting News From Around the Web

An interview with an Iraqi Shiite cleric and politician who calls for secular rule, religious opposition to the Iranian concept of theocratic rule, and who says that "President Bush and America should be thanked for saving us from . . . Saddam Hussein. . ."

In Iraq, a series of raids target the Mahdi Army and, in a separate action, the capture of two men suspected of involvement in the May 12 kidnapping of three American soldiers during an insurgent attack against their checkpoint 12 miles south of Baghdad.

A sharp rise in inflation has provoked fierce criticism of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—not only from his reformist opponents, but also from senior conservatives who helped bring him to power but now say he is mismanaging the economy.

The story of Naomi Wolf and the incredible sophistry of our modern left.

EU propaganda - in reality, its what the EU does most effectively.

Iran expanded their terrorist activities in Iraq after the 2006 elections in America, but they have been beaten back by a combination of effective U.S. military action and an Iraq that does not buy into the Iranian theocratic model, despite the surge of mullah money and weapons into Iraq. The assertion the reduction in violence in Iraq is due in part to a conscious decision of the mad mullahs in Iran is counterfactual according to Michael Ledeen.

Der Spiegel has a timeline of "the most important political events and violent attacks in Pakistan since March 2007."

The Bhutto assassination, seen in light of the assassinations in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East, is an example of how radical Islamist, both Wahhabi / Salafi and Khomeinist Shia, register their vote in elections.

An analysis of Bhutto’s legacy and the ramifications of her assassination from the Jerusalem Post.

From Wafa Sultan: "The Quran states: ‘Allah hath purchased of the believers their persons and their goods, for theirs (in return) is the Garden (of Paradise ): They fight in His Cause, and slay and are slain" (9/111).’ I believe that Muslim clerics in the US have explained this verse in the same way that the clerics in Syria had explained it to me at young age. Growing up, I had always believed that suicide bombing was justified for the cause of being a martyr."

The UK resorts to bribing criminals to self deport themselves in an attempt to deal with a glut of foreign criminals that cannot be deported under the EU’s insane immigration and deportation laws.

How utterly screwed are British multiculturalists: . . . Amis recently put to his impeccably liberal audience at the ICA: 'Do you feel morally superior to the Taliban?' Only about a third raised a hand to say they did, a nice demonstration of relativist liberal guilt.

And there is this gem from the multiculturalists in Germany: "Many of us in the West are convinced that our presence in Afghanistan cannot be justified, that our troops should withdraw and that Afghanistan should be left to the Afghans. They ask themselves: Who are we to believe that it is inhumane to sell an 11-year-old girl? Who are we to impose our values so vehemently on the Afghans, on this [40 year old] man . . . [who purchased] this girl [and married her]?"


Benazir Bhutto Murdered in Pakistan

Pakistan, already a deeply troubled country facing a growing threat from the Deobandi and Salafi Islamists, just took a big turn for the worse. Harvard educated opposition leader and former PM Benazir Bhutto has been murdered in Rawalpindi. The precise details are still unclear. Initial reports are that she was shot in the throat and chest by a suicide bomber who then detonated himself.

It is not clear who was responsible for this attack, though the initial speculation is that the Deobandi and Salafi Islamists of the Taliban and al Qaeda are responsible. They had repeatedly threatened Bhutto's life over the past several months. Bhutto had been an effective opponent of the Islamists when she had previously held the position of Prime Minister of Pakistan. Further, she was campaigning for PM in the current election on a promise to crack down on the spread of these Islamists if elected. Bhutto herself had previously expressed the belief that her life was threatened by a combination of these Islamist groups and several individuals in the Pakistani government who supported these groups. Bhutto's death comes 12 days before national elections that she was widely expected to win.

Further details from the Washington Post here. See also NY Times; CNN, Fox News & the BBC

The Telegraph has a brief biography of PM Bhutto. And see this at CNN.

See this post from Bill Rogio on the past assassination attempts on Bhutto and background on the tenuous security situation in Pakistan.

What this means for Pakistan, democracy, islamic militancy and the world are all open questions at this point. The same can be said about the potential this event has for catapulting concerns with the war on terror back to prominence in the upcoming presidential primary votes. In any event, it seems clear that the world has become a more dangerous place and that it has lost both a strong proponent of democracy and a staunch opponent of the rising tide of Islamic militancy.


Trouble in Turkey

The Ottoman Turkish caliphate, based on the Sufi Islamic sect, established itself as the reigning force in the Islamic world after the Arab empires were decimated by the Mongol invasions in the 13th century. Before the start of WWI, the caliphate stretched over most of the Middle East and into Europe. After their defeat in WWI, the Ottoman empire was divided up by the European powers and, within Turkey itself, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk ended the caliphate and established a strictly secular state.

At one point, it seemed that Turkey might lead a revolution in the Islamic world. Unfortunately, misrule by the secular parties coupled with the growing influence of Wahhabi / Salafi Islam exported from Saudi Arabia has ended that potential. Coupled with that influence has been the rise of the AKP, a political party defined by religion that took power in Turkish elections several years ago. Credit must be given to the AKP for liberalizing and making capitalistic reforms to Turkey's economy. But it ends there. See the articles here and here, discussing many aspects of Islamicization in Turkish society that appear straight out of the Wahhabi / Salafi playbook. Besides all of the issues, under the AKP, Islmaists are threatening the independence of the judiciary, and have tried to stop the appointment of secular generals in the military to key positions. They have also tried to take over the university system, tried to legalize the wearing of head scarves in government buildings and schools, and claim that Turkey's overriding national identity is its religion.

Now today, Stephen Kinzer weighs in on how this is effecting Turkish society:

The brilliant young pianist and composer Fazil Say has dazzled audiences in concert halls around the world. Yet he has set off a firestorm in his native Turkey by saying he wants to leave the country because he finds the drift of politics there repugnant.

"Our dream is dying a little in Turkey," Say told a German newspaper reporter. "Wives of our cabinet ministers wear head scarves. The Islamists have won. We're 30%, they're 70%. I'm thinking about where else I could live."

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan quickly rebuked him, saying that "an artist who is born here should stay here". The deputy leader of Erdogan's party, Dengir Mir Mehmet Firat, was less concerned about Say's wish to move abroad. "I wouldn't cry if he did," Firat shrugged.

The sharp and often bitter debate over Say's comments reflects a growing concern within Turkey's intellectual elite. Some fear that their country, which has been militantly secular since it was founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1923, is drifting toward a form of religious rule. Others see this as part of a larger problem: growing intolerance that springs from a surge in ultra-nationalist passion.

Erdogan's government is widely popular and likely to govern for years to come. That is good, because this regime draws its strength from the people's will. It is also disturbing. Turkey's old political system, in which weak and corrupt factions were kept in line by generals, has been replaced by one in which a single party dominates all branches of government and is also increasingly powerful in private business. Many citizens deeply mistrust the new ruling group. They fear that by catering to pious Muslims and to the steadily increasing pool of nationalist voters, it may in the end prove even less democratic than the old military-dominated system.
"Yagmurdan kacarken doluya tutulmak," they lament. We have escaped the rain only to be pelted by hail.

. . . Turkey has entered a period of unprecedented change. The new regime's central challenge is to democratise the country without releasing atavistic forces that will pull it away from the traditions that have brought it so much success.

As for Fazil Say, he has refused to back away from his comments, and insists that Turkish society is changing in dangerous ways. "The people and the press don't want to notice it," he said in a statement. "But an artist is someone who feels the danger of darkness." . . .
Read the article here. As an aside, there is no way that Turkey should be allowed into the EU unless and until it adopts complete religious freedom, including the right of people to freely convert from Islam.


Micaheal Ledeen Iraq News Unreported

This thoughtful post from Michael Ledeen on the news from Iraq and the importance of reporting it - not only to inform debate in America, but to inform the larger populations of the world. What is occurring in Iraq is a great success that could potentially have extreme ramifications for the entire Middle East that today largely lives under the yoke of authoritarianism, oppression, and religious zealotry. It is a success being carefully nurtured by our soldiers in Iraq. And at this point, what it needs and deserves is honest acknowledgment and reporting:

Back in February, Reuters was publishing a daily roundup of "security developments" in Iraq. On a random day, February 8--it looked like this:
RAFIYAAT--Gunmen shot dead 14 men from the same Sunni Arab family in a massacre near the town of Balad, north of Baghdad, after storming two neighbouring homes and separating the men from the women and children, police said. A 15th man, shot six times, was in critical condition in hospital.

ISKANDARIYA--Mortar bombs killed seven people and wounded 10 . . .

BAGHDAD--Four U.S. Marines were killed in combat on Wednesday in two separate attacks in western Anbar province, . . .

FALLUJA--U.S. forces said they killed 13 insurgents in an air strike on two suspected foreign fighter safe houses near the town of Ameriya, near the western city of Falluja. Ahmed al-Ami, a doctor in Falluja hospital, said more than 30 bodies, including those of seven children, were brought in.

AZIZIYA--A car bomb in a vegetable market killed 17 people and wounded 27 in the town of Aziziya, . . .

MOSUL--Police found 16 bodies in Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city, during the past 24 hours. Among the dead were five policemen, police said.

BAGHDAD--Police found 20 bodies in Baghdad, all apparent victims of sectarian killings.

HADITHA--A suicide bomber attacked an Iraqi police checkpoint north of Haditha in Anbar province, killing seven policemen and wounding three, police said.

BAGHDAD--Gunmen attacked a joint Iraqi army-police checkpoint in central Baghdad, killing an army officer and a soldier and wounding three policemen and one soldier.

GARMA--Police found the bodies of three people with gunshot wounds in the head in the town of Garma, near Falluja, 50km (35 miles) west of Baghdad, police said.
There aren't many terrorist attacks in Anbar Province any more, because al-Qaeda has been defeated there.

There's more, but you get the idea. I stopped the mayhem at Garma because I came across a recent story from that town, from the Marine Corps News. I haven't seen it on al-Reuters, and don't expect to, but it seems to me an important story nonetheless. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and Ron Paul and the editorial board over at the New York Times should look at it too:
Dec. 12, 2007

GARMA, Iraq (Dec. 12, 2007)--Residents here celebrated a success for their livelihoods, with the grand reopening of a marketplace central to the city's economy, Dec. 1.

Marines with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 6, and other Coalition Forces joined Garma citizens and local dignitaries in the celebration of the market reopening, marking progress toward economic growth for the community.

"It's a sign of progress and hope for a new tomorrow," said Capt. Quintin D. Jones, commanding officer with Company L. "The mayor and I wanted to make an immediate impact in the area by making goods readily available, helping improve commerce. Now, the market can work as a crossroad for Garma to tie back into other cities."
One will get you five that there are many Garmas with similar stories. They are not hard to find, nor is it particularly dangerous for Western reporters to go there and have a look for themselves. There aren't many terrorist attacks in Anbar Province any more, because al-Qaeda has been defeated there, and the Marines are devoting a lot of their time--indeed most of their time, if some Marines I hear from are to be believed--to projects like the Garma market, developing wells, repairing broken electrical grids, and working on scores of microinvestment projects.

It isn't just Garma, or just Anbar Province, it's going on all over the country. Meanwhile, the critics of the war--I heard Biden carrying on about this just a couple of hours ago--intone that, yes, we may be making military progress, but there is still no political reconciliation. But they are wrong, too. Take, for example, this recent story from Taji, a locale best known for the several weapons programs conducted there during Saddam's time:

Sunni and Shia tribal sheiks, local government leaders, senior Iraqi Army officials and local Iraqi police officials from throughout the Taji area recently met at the Prayer Town Hall to continue reconciliation efforts and celebrate the "awakening"--a term used to describe a turning away from sectarianism and violence.

More than 200 attendees from the villages of Hor Al Bosh, Sheik Ahmer, Shat Al Taji, Falahat and other areas dined as they discussed issues affecting their villages and ways in which they can improve the quality of life for the people living there.

"They decided to have a Sawa (lunch) to bring both Sunni and Shia tribal leaders together for solidarity," said Anchorage, Alaska native Capt. Martin Wohlgemuth, commander for Troop D, 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, which is attached to the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment. "This is a continued extension of the Sunni and Shia partnership which has truly spread to every corner of North Taji."

"As the security situation continues to improve, Sunnis are able to travel to mainly Shia areas and the Shia can go to Sunni areas. In many cases, these are places they have never been before or never dared to go before," added Wohlgemuth, whose troops patrol in Assiriyah. "They are only able to do this because of reconciliation and forgiveness. This is a continued sign of progress."

Indeed it is.

Stories like these are enormously important for several different audiences. They are important for us, because we will shortly cast votes in an election that will probably define the course of the war in the next few years. They are important for our elected representatives, who insist on distorting the events in Iraq and elsewhere, and are pretending to "solve" problems that often do not exist. They are important for the peoples of the Middle East, who are lied to daily by their leaders, by their media, and by some of our media as well. They need to understand the defeat of al-Qaeda, and the emergence of an Iraq in which the old red lines between Sunni and Shiite are daily eroding, in favor of joint efforts, political debate, and hard work on behalf of their common country.

Meanwhile, the country's leading religious leaders seem on the verge of issuing an historic document: a fatwa condemning violence. The signatories would be two towering figures, one Sunni, one Shiite. The Sunni leader is Sheikh Ahmed al Kubaisi, whose Friday sermons from Dubai reach 20 million of the faithful. The Shiite will be Ayatollah Sayyid Ammar Abu Ragheef, chief of staff for Grand Ayatollah Ali al Sistani, whose influence extends from Iraq deep into Iran.

The fatwa will represent the culmination of years of dialogue with religious leaders behind the scenes in Iraq and throughout the region by Anglican Canon Andrew White, who works in Baghdad. Once the fatwa has been formalized, further meetings will be held among a wider circle of Iraqi clerics.

It may even be reported.
Read the entire article.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Nominations Are Up

The nominations are up at the Watcher's Council. Do enjoy them. And if you would like to submit a post for consideration by the Council, please visit the Watcher and take advantage of his offer of link whorage. The Council Nominations for the week are:

1. Wolf Howling A Tale of Two Iraqs & Two Wars
This is my look at the recent report on Iraq by LTG Barry McCaffrey, comparing it to his prior report and examining at least one aspect of how the recent report fits within the larger context of the 'global war on terror.'

2. Done With Mirrors Ron Paul
DWM examines Ron Paul's grasp of U.S. history and, in at least one critical aspect, his misapprehension of the same.

3. The Colossus of Rhodey The Arrogance
COR is looks at the double standards of our left, particularly in academia as concerns the outrageous Professor Corbett / AP History matter, and then contrasts the reaction of the left to the case brought in Canada against Mark Steyn by Muslim students.

4. The Glittering Eye Nuclear Weapons Policy in the 21st Century
TGE finds that those who argue for "nuclear free world" are unrealistic and that what we need is a realistic and effective policy of deterrence. This post is particularly timely in light of the proliferation we are beginning to see throughout the Middle East. While I agree with his concepts, I do not know how some of them would be effectively introduced, such as increasing the material costs of developing nuclear weapons.

5. Joshuapundit What Would Jesus Say To Those Who Defame His People?
Joshuapundit notes the annual stories decrying the decline in Arab Christians in the Holy Land, in particular going after a truly outrageous article by Ken Woodward that appeared in the WSJ blaming Israel for the problems being experienced by Arab Christians.

6. Bookworm Room Judeo-Christian Doctrine and Moral Freedom
This is an exceptional post examining the intersection of today's modern left and Islamism. That intersection is nihilism.

7. Rhymes With Right A Holiday Primer for Ron Paul Supporters
Ron Paul supporters are a unique and wildly eclectic breed that hold within their bosom the seeds of destruction for holiday parties. RWR provides them with some rules of ettiquete that will allow Ron Paul supporters to survive the holidays without being written off of all future guest lists.

8. Soccer Dad First Let the Lawyers Kill Us All
Overlawyering in Israel. I have always thought that Israel should have been far more aggressive against Hezbollah, though I did not understand the reason for their restraint. Now I know. One can see a very similar situation in U.S. intelligence agencies, but thankfully not yet in our military.

9. The Education Wonks George F. Will Gets Beyond NCLB
EW is concerned with the inevitable reauthorization of No Child Left Behind Act and the continuing expansion of the federal government into state and local matters of education.

10. Big Lizards Lame Duck Crushes Christmas Turkeys
A look at how that "lame duck" status is working out for George Bush and the majority party. BL makes one point that I particularly want to highlight. He believes that out of control spending by Republicans was responsible for their loss of seats in 2006, moreso than the Iraq War. I completely concur.

11. Cheat Seeking Missiles Cross About Huckabee's Cross Ad
CSM sees Huckabees use of a cross in his ads as an incredibly cynical act to leverage advertising. And as a Christian, he does not care for it.

12. Right Wing Nut House Huckadumb
Rick Moran is horrified that Huckabee may actually win the Republican nomination for a host of reasons in this post and others he has written. I think Huckabee might win in Iowa, but I hope some sanity comes quickly to the Republican party after that. A Huckabee nomination would be a disaster.

(Update: The non-council posts this week are incredibly strong. I strongly suggest taking a gander) Non-council nominations for the week are:

1. Saudi Libel Terrorism Must Be Stopped The Terror Finance Blog

2. Fear Silver Bullets

3. Pilger and His Public Oliver Kamm

4. Home For Christmas Villainous Company

5. Syrian and Iranian Axis Terrorize their Opposition Counterterrorism Blog

6. Iraq Portrait: How the Press Has Covered Events on the Ground Pew Research Center

7. Must Police Be Representative? Whom Do They Represent? Discriminations

8. Arabs in Israel The Volokh Conspiracy

9. "We Will Never Recognize... Reality" Dr. Sanity

10. Democrats' 2007 Report Card Human Events

11. Laughter and Tears Eternity Road

12. How the Democrats Must Love the Republican "Base" Classical Values

13. MMOs Bad for Planet? Dodgeblogium


Amir Taheri, The NIE On Iran's Nuclear Program, And "The Usual Suspects"

Amir Taheri, an Iranian born columnist, is frustrated with the NIE and how it is being used by the "usual suspects" to justify calls for unilateral talks with Iran. As he sees it, such talks with the Iran's theocracy would be every bit as counterproductive as were Chamberlin's attempt to buy "peace in our time" by his talks with Hitler in the 1930's:

Until a few days ago, Iran's nuclear ambitions appeared destined to become the hottest issue in the current American presidential campaign. A consensus, cutting across partisan divides, appeared to be taking shape that the Islamic Republic should be confronted forcefully, contained, and in time, forced to scale down its ambitions.

However, with the publication of the new American National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) claiming that Tehran had stopped the military aspect of its nuclear programme in 2003, most presidential candidates find it hard to sustain a tough position on the Islamic Republic.

This has enabled the usual suspects of appeasement to return from the woodworks to urge "a negotiated settlement."

In the past few days, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has broken her silence to call for negotiations with Tehran. One wonders why the administration to which she belonged failed to secure any concession s from Tehran through negotiations.

We have also had former United Nations' Secretary General Kofi Annan coming out of the purdah to call for negotiations.

In this, Annan has echoed former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Bzrezinski, who has called for a "grand bargain" with the Islamic Republic.

This new wave of negotiationism, to coin a phrase, is based on a mixture of false assumptions and bad faith.

The first false assumption is that the new NIE proves that the Islamic Republic has stopped the military aspect of its nuclear programme once and for all. . . .

The only visible sign of the decision to stop the programme was the suspension of uranium enrichment. That decision was reversed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad soon after he was sworn in, and uranium enrichment was resumed at a faster pace.

In other words, even if we accept the NIE's claim that the programme was stopped in 2003, something that we have no reason to do, there is no evidence that it has not been resumed.

There is, in fact, quite a bit of evidence to the contrary.

As already noted, the uranium enrichment project has been resumed and continues at much faster pace.

•According to official estimates in Tehran, allocations for the nuclear programme have risen by almost 40 per cent.

•The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports that all of Iran's known nuclear sites remain in full operation.

•The IAEA also reports that it has no access to a number of other industrial sites in Iran that may well be linked to the nuclear programme. In other words, we know what we don't know but don't know what we don't know.

The negotiationists forget that the EU3, Britain, Germany and France have been negotiating with the Islamic Republic on this issue for almost a decade. During his term as British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw visited Tehran more than any other capital outside Europe. Javier Solana, the EU's chief foreign policy official, has spent more time talking to envoys from Tehran than diplomats from any other nation. Tehran has also been engaged in negotiations with the five permanent members of the United Nations' Security Council plus Germany.

Not only do they ignore the history of negotiations with Tehran, the appeasers also refuse to state clearly what it is that should be negotiated. In other words, they put process in place of policy. Talking about what to do becomes a substitute for doing what needs to be done.

The Islamic Republic, of course, would love to talk to anybody for as long as it is not required to do anything it does not wish to do.

. . . The negotiationists do not say what it is that one should negotiate with President Ahmadinejad.

More than four years ago, the IAEA discovered that the Islamic Republic had been violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) for almost 18 years. Such a violation should have led to sanctions spelled out in the NPT itself. Instead, the IAEA decided to "negotiate" to prevent future violations. When those negotiations failed, the matter was taken to the UN Security Council which passed two resolutions demanding that the Islamic Republic stop uranium enrichment.

The Islamic Republic has ignored those resolutions and repeatedly stated that it would never abide by their key demand. In other words, the Islamic Republic is ready to negotiate, in fact would love to negotiate, provided the talks are about everything except the one thing that could be the object of credible negotiations.

The appeasers are indirectly calling on the UN Security Council to drop its one demand and enter into "unconditional negotiations" with the Islamic Republic. This means surrendering to Tehran and may or may not be a good option.

In that case the appeasers should shed their lexicon of obfuscation and admit that they are recommending unconditional surrender to the Islamic Republic.

Once they do that, they may have an even stronger point. They would be able to say that, since the major democracies have no stomach for a fight with a power, described by Mrs. Albright as " rogue regime" before her conversion to appeasement, it is better to surrender to it in the hope that it moderates its radical temperament.

Today's appeasers, however, appear to be less courageous or more disingenuous than their predecessors in the late 1930s. This is why they are giving appeasement a bad name while increasing the possibility of war by confirming Ahmadinejad's illusion that he can do whatever he likes without risking the survival of his regime.

Read the entire article here. Our intelligence agencies have done our nation a tremendous disservice. It will, inn the long run, likely cost us bitterly since it puts off any reckoning with the single most destabilizing force in this world. Every day that reckoning is put off will increase the cost we will pay and gold and blood. And if Iran achieves a nuclear arsenal, that cost we will pay will rise exponentially.


Europe Not Buying the US NIE Labeling Iran's Nuclear Program "Civilian"

This is rather an interesting turn of events. Europe has consistently embraced "soft power" to deal with Iran. But that was changing as the crescendo rose to do something about Iran’s ongoing nuclear weapon’s program that clearly presents an existential threat to Europe and the entire West. The push was on for at least one round of very biting sanctions to convince Iran to verifiably end their nuclear program as the last alternative to our use of overwhelming force. At least, the crescendo was rising until the internal coup by our intelligence agencies who drafted an NIE that labeled Iran’s ongoing nuclear enrichment as "civilian" and claimed that Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003.

I will admit that, given the past history of our European allies, I fully expected that they would use our NIE as an excuse to once again refuse to implement any meaningful sanctions that would bite into the extensive trade they have with Iran. Perhaps I was wrong, but I still have very deep doubts that are only marginally placated by the statements below. But if not else, readers should take note of just how ridiculously inexplicable it is to label Iran’s enrichment program "civilian:"

On December 13, 2007, Neil Crompton, Hans-Peter Hinrichsen, and Nicholas Roche addressed a Policy Forum at The Washington Institute. Mr. Crompton is a political counselor at the British embassy who served until recently as Iran coordinator and head of the Iraq Policy Unit at the British Foreign Office. Dr. Hinrichsen, first secretary for political affairs at the German embassy, has long worked on non-proliferation issues. Mr. Roche is a counselor at the French embassy who has focused extensively on the Iranian nonproliferation file. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.

NEIL CROMPTON: Much of the reporting in the United States about the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) has been misleading. The European and international concern about Iran's nuclear ambitions has never been about weaponization, but rather the other elements essential to having nuclear weapons, namely uranium enrichment and missiles. Iran is actively pursuing enrichment, which is the most complicated and time-consuming part of the nuclear program. Also, it proudly displays missiles that are too inaccurate to be useful with conventional warheads.

International concern over Iran's nuclear program is also not based on highly sensitive intelligence material. The concern reflects the activities surrounding the declared program, the fact that Iran concealed that program for eighteen years, and that Iran has not resolved significant questions about its past activities. There has been some speculation that the NIE will weaken pressure for sanctions. Actually, the NIE could have the opposite effect. There has been much concern in Europe that sanctions will inevitability lead to military action. However, now that the prospects of a military strike have been reduced, there might be more willingness in some countries to pursue more sanctions. . .

HANS-PETER HINRICHSEN: The NIE has not had a significant impact on Germany's policy towards Iran. German policy has never been based on Iran's hidden nuclear program, but on its large enrichment program and the heavy water reactor it is building. That reactor has no civilian use, and it is very instructive to look around the world to see who has such reactors and what have they have done with them. Considering Iranian behavior is one of the crucial factors when judging whether Iran's nuclear program is exclusively for civilian purposes. Ahmadinezhad's aggressive rhetoric towards Israel gives the international community basis to be concerned about whether Iran's intentions are peaceful -- a test set out by the UN Security Council resolutions.

There is a misconception that there is not enough communication with the Iranians, and a related misconception that the United States is not involved in discussions with the Iranians. In fact, Javier Solana has met repeatedly with the Iranians. He is inaccurately described in the American media as speaking for the Europeans. In fact, he is talking with Iran on behalf of the EU 3 + 3, that is, the United States, Russia, and China, plus Britain, France and Germany. He speaks for all six countries. The UN sanctions are reflective of world unity on this issue and a clear message needs to be sent to Tehran through another round of sanctions. The EU will take measures to reinforce and complement the UN sanctions so that they can be more effective, and will take care to ensure that its actions do not substitute for or undermine the sanctions. Sanctions on Iran have so far proven effective. They have induced Tehran to answer some of the open questions with the International Atomic Energy Agency because the sanctions have made business life difficult in Iran. For example, German exports to Iran dropped 7 percent in 2006 and 16 percent in 2007.

NICHOLAS ROCHE The NIE has made more noise in Washington than in Europe. France's strategy has always been based on certain simple facts, not intelligence judgments.

First, the Iranians have possessed a clandestine nuclear program for eighteen years, procuring technology from the A.Q. Khan network, which is not known for its expertise in electricity production. Second, the Iranians have developed an enrichment program with no foreseeable civilian use. It is worth emphasizing that the Iranians have not mastered the technology for producing fuel rods. Russia, which will provide the fuel for the Bushehr power reactor, will not under any circumstances provide Iran with the information it would need for Iran's fuel to be used in that reactor. This begs the questions, why is Iran enriching uranium, and what will it do with the material?

The appropriate course now is to continue the sanctions and to finalize a third UN resolution. Although at some point it may become necessary to reconsider this strategy, France does not see any particular "red line" that would force a change in approach. That said, there is always room for maneuvering on the current policy, such as on the modalities of negotiation. Enrichment suspension is the key element to regain confidence in Iran's peaceful intentions. There cannot be negotiations while Iran continues to advance its nuclear program. Without suspension, the ongoing Iranian program would give Iran the capability to build nuclear weapons very quickly.

Read the entire article. I do not believe that the European's embrace of soft power will force a change in the theocracy's actions. Then again, at least they are honest about the threat Iran poses. That puts them a step ahead of our intelligence agencies and those on the far left who are embracing the NIE as if it was carved on stone by fire coming from a burning bush.


Sending A Message To Kurdistan

One of the major hurdles to overcome in pacifying Iraq and creating a functioning democracy is to quell Kurdish seperatism and adventurism. LTG Barry McCaffery, in his most recent report, termed this the next likely cause for Iraqi civil war. And indeed, Kurdish insistence on setting up a seperate state could also bring Turkey into conflict as the Turks, rightly or wrongly, have long stated their refusal to countenance a seperate Kurdish state. There is little doubt that the U.S. decision to provide actionable intelligence to Turkey about PKK locations and the Turkish cross border raids taken in reliance on that intelligence are meant as a clear message to the Kurds. This today from al Jazeera:

Iraq's Kurdish regional leader has warned neighbouring Turkey that he is losing patience with the repeated bombing raids against rebel positions in the north of Iraq.

Massoud Barzani said on Monday that his people "cannot accept" the bombing raids and shelling, but acknowledged there was little he could do to stop them.

"We cannot accept this situation to continue," he said.

"We cannot accept our villages to be bombed and our people killed," he told reporters in the northern city of Sulaimaniyah, adding that the attacks violated Iraqi sovereignty.

On Sunday, Turkish fighter jets bombed Kurdish rebel targets inside Iraqi territory, in the fourth cross-border operation against the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, in one week.

Barzani refused to meet Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, when she made a surprise visit to Iraq on December 18.

However, George Bush, the US president, took the opportunity on Monday to promise Turkey his country would continue to help fight separatist Kurdish rebels.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, agreed with Bush to continue to share intelligence. Turkey maintains it has the right to pursue PKK fighters into Iraqi territory.

Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council at the White House, said the leaders discussed the "importance of the United States, Turkey and Iraq working together to confront" the rebels.

Both Washington and Baghdad have asked Turkey to show restraint, fearing a large-scale Turkish offensive might destabilise northern Iraq.

Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi president who is a Kurd, said Iraq's foreign minister had summoned the Turkish ambassador in Baghdad to complain, but said he did not want to exacerbate tensions between Iraq and its neighbour.
Read the entire article.


Cal Thomas Asks When Will We Debate the Religion of Global Warming

More global warming heresy, this time from Cal Thomas who notes the lack of any substantive response from them the global warming camp - whom he classifies as "secular fundamentalists" - to the Senate Minority Report dissenting from global warming dogma. What ad hominem response there has been is particularly ironic given the difference in funding for scientists who support global warming as well as the sources of their funding. Then again, as Thomas notes, hypocrisy is not a big concern for the members of the Church of Global Warming.

You don't have to be religious to qualify as a fundamentalist. You can be Al Gore, the messiah figure for the global warming cult, whose followers truly believe their gospel of imminent extermination in a Noah-like flood, if we don't immediately change our carbon polluting ways.

One of the traits of a cult is its refusal to consider any evidence that might disprove the faith. And so it is doubtful the global warming cultists will be moved by 400 scientists, many of whom, according to the Washington Times, "are current or former members of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that shares the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Mr. Gore for publicizing a climate crisis." In a report by Republican staff of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, these scientists cast doubt on a "scientific consensus" that global warming caused by humans endangers the planet.

Like most cultists, the true believers struck back, not by debating science, but by charging that a small number of the scientists mentioned in the report have taken money from the petroleum industry. A spokeswoman for Al Gore said 25 or 30 of the scientists may have received funding from Exxon Mobile Corp. Exxon Mobile spokesman Gantt H. Walton dismissed the accusation, saying, "the company is concerned about climate-change issues and does not pay scientists to bash global-warming theories."

The pro-global warming cultists enjoy a huge money advantage. Paleoclimate scientist Bob Carter, who has testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, noted in an EPW report how much money has been spent researching and promoting climate fears and so-called solutions: "In one of the more expensive ironies of history, the expenditure of more than $50 billion (US) on research into global warming since 1990 has failed to demonstrate any human-caused climate trend, let alone a dangerous one," he wrote on June 18, 2007. The $19 million spent on research that debunks the global warming faith pales in comparison.

. . . Oklahoma Senator James M. Inhofe, ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, said the report debunks Mr. Gore's claim that the "debate is over." In fact, the debate hasn't even begun because the global warming cultists won't debate. Despite numerous challenges, Al Gore has refused to debate the issue with any credible scientist who is a skeptic. Shouldn't the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize be willing to debate such an important issue? What does he have to fear? If his theory cannot stand up to scientific inquiry and skepticism, it needs to be exposed as a false religion and himself as a false prophet before he and his followers force us to change the way we live and alter the prosperous society that generations of Americans have built.

Gore and his disciples will still be living in their big houses, driving gas-guzzling cars and flying in private jets that leave carbon footprints as large as Bigfoot's, while most of us will be forced to drive tiny automobiles and live in huts resembling the Third World. But hypocrisy is just one of many traits displayed by secular fundamentalists like Gore.

Before adopting any faith, the agendas of the people attempting to impose it, along with the beliefs held by them and their disciples, should be considered. Gore and company are big government liberals who think government is the answer to all of our problems, including problems they create. In fact, as Ronald Reagan often said, in too many cases government is the problem. . .
Read the article here.


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Senate Minority Report On Global Warming

On December 20, 2007 the minority members of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee released a report, "U.S. Senate Report: Over 400 Prominent Scientists Disputed Man-Made Global Warming Claims in 2007; Senate Report Debunks "Consensus." Or as I like to think of it, Senator Inhofe's version of "Satanic Verses." As the report states in the introduction:

Over 400 prominent scientists from more than two dozen countries recently voiced significant objections to major aspects of the so-called "consensus" on man-made global warming. These scientists, many of whom are current and former participants in the UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), criticized the climate claims made by the UN IPCC and former Vice President Al Gore.

The new report issued by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee's office of the GOP Ranking Member details the views of the scientists, the overwhelming majority of whom spoke out in 2007.

Even some in the establishment media now appear to be taking notice of the growing number of skeptical scientists. In October, the Washington Post Staff Writer Juliet Eilperin conceded the obvious, writing that climate skeptics "appear to be expanding rather than shrinking." Many scientists from around the world have dubbed 2007 as the year man-made global warming fears "bite the dust." In addition, many scientists who are also progressive environmentalists believe climate fear promotion has "co-opted" the green movement.

This blockbuster Senate report lists the scientists by name, country of residence, and academic/institutional affiliation. It also features their own words, biographies, and weblinks to their peer reviewed studies and original source materials as gathered from public statements, various news outlets, and websites in 2007. This new "consensus busters" report is poised to redefine the debate.

Many of the scientists featured in this report consistently stated that numerous colleagues shared their views, but they will not speak out publicly for fear of retribution. Atmospheric scientist Dr. Nathan Paldor, Professor of Dynamical Meteorology and Physical Oceanography at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, author of almost 70 peer-reviewed studies, explains how many of his fellow scientists have been intimidated. . .

Do read the entire report.

On a personal note, I fully support actions that combine economic sense and environmentalism. The environmental movement has been grossly ill-served by those, such as the Goracle, who have hijacked the movement and turned it into a doomsday religion and those, such as the EU, who are using it as a vehicle for furthering socialism.


Germany's Islamic Problem

This from Der Spiegel on a recent study released by Germany’s Interior Ministry on a recent survey of the attitudes of its Muslim population. Muslim’s comprise 3,000,000 of Germany’s population of 82,000,000 and is the fastest growing group in Germany. It would appear that Germany is having a significant problem with integrating its Muslim population, a minority of which appears already to be radicalized:

A new study released by Germany's Interior Ministry has added new fuel to the debate about integration of Muslims in Germany, with the report warning about the danger of radicalization of Muslims.

According to the study, which was published Tuesday, around 40 percent of Muslims surveyed had a "fundamentalist orientation," which the authors defined as a strongly religious worldview and moral values.

. . . [T]he authors saw a potential threat in a small minority with Islamist leanings: Around 6 percent of those surveyed were classified as having "violent tendencies," while 14 percent of respondents had "anti-democratic" tendencies.

Around 12 percent of the Muslims in Germany identified with a religious-moral critique of the West and supported corporal punishment and the death penalty. The report also concluded that religious beliefs are becoming increasingly important for young people.

The study, which was carried out by Katrin Brettfeld and Peter Wetzels from the Institute for Criminology at the University of Hamburg, was commissioned by the Interior Ministry in an attempt to finding out the extent to which the Muslim community in Germany provides a breeding ground for extremist groups and potential terrorists. The authors interviewed 1,750 Muslims living in Germany for the study. Of that number, around 40 percent had German citizenship.

In the introduction to the report, Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble writes that the study leads to the "worrying conclusion that a serious potential for Islamist radicalization has developed in Germany." According to Schäuble, the lack of integration of immigrants into German society is leading to a "fundamental religious orientation."

The survey found that more than half of the respondents felt themselves excluded from German society and felt they were treated as foreigners. Around 20 percent had experienced some form of racism within the last 12 months.

Reacting to the study, Christine Haderthauer, general secretary of the conservative Bavarian party the Christian Social Union, said that her party "has always warned against the dangers of parallel societies. . .

. . . The Interior Ministry under Schäuble has sparked a series of controversies in recent months. Schäuble was the subject of heated criticism in July of this year when he appeared to suggest in a SPIEGEL interview that the targeted killing of terrorists might have to be considered. Schäuble's opponents have condemned him for attempting to constantly stretch the limits of what is acceptable under Germany's constitution in the fight against terror.

Other controversial positions Schäuble has promoted recently include taking terrorists into preventive custody, deploying the German army in domestic operations and searching suspects' computers online without their knowledge.

Read the story here. And there is this on Germany’s Demographics:
The German gov't is trying to encourage parents to have more kids by offering money as incentive, though this holds for both "old" and "new" Germans. The question is who would make better use of these incentives. If the purpose here is to encourage only "ethnic" Germans, I doubt this would work. Though Burhan Kesici, vice president of the Islam Federation in Berlin, is quoted below as saying that money is not an issue, it would certainly be an issue if it is offered.When a bureaucracy creates a criteria by which one is eligible to receive cash it has created a new job.Just 1.3 babies per German woman"

The German population is permanently shrinking while the foreign population is permanently growing," says Dr. Herwig Birg, a demographic expert who just retired as head of the Institute for Population Research and Social Politics at the University of Bielefeld and authored "The Demographic Time Change." "Germans will soon become a minority in major German cities [like Berlin] in the under 40 age group."A quick glance at birthrates in Germany highlights Birg's point. Immigrants in Germany -- those of Turkish origin make up the largest immigrant group in the country -- have about 1.9 children per woman. A modest rate given that demographic experts say a birth rate of 2.1 children per woman is necessary to maintain population stability. But it's productive compared to ethnic Germans. They only have a paltry 1.3 babies per woman. In other words, a dropping population isn't the only societal change currently going on in Germany.

Demographic statistics released in March by the Federal Statistics Office provided the most recent wake-up call. Only between 680,000 and 690,000 babies were born in Germany in 2005 -- the lowest number since World War II. And a quarter of the kids, according to a New York Times article, were born to women with immigration backgrounds.

Even more striking are some nuts and bolts statistics that have remained true in Germany since about the 1980s: Births here have registered somewhere in the mid 700,000s while deaths come in at around 850,000 according to Birg's research in his latest book "The Missing Generation." Meanwhile, net immigration into Germany adds up to about 200,000 per year. In other words, Germans are not only dying out, but they're slowly being replaced by non-Germans.

It's a trend that will likely only accelerate. According to projections from the Federal Office of Statistics, the country's population will shrink from its current 82 million to 70 million by 2050 assuming an annual influx of 200,000 immigrants. The population drop, combined with Germany's aging society, is likely to have dramatic effects on the country's social system and labor market . . .

Read the entire post here.


Monday, December 24, 2007

To All, A Merry Chrismas . . .


Interesting News From Around the Web - Chrismas Eve Edition

From across the pond, see this wonderful post on George Washington, the founding of our nation, and Christmas.

Saudi money is purchasing influence at Fox News. This is very bad news indeed.

And if they can’t buy the coverage they want, the Saudis are using libel tourism to silence free speech here in America. See this sad update to Rachel Ehrenfeld’s lawsuit to protect her free speech against Saudi assault.

President Sarkozy is about to take on France’s socialist labour laws. One can already hear loud pig-like squeals emanating from Paris - literally.

Robert Novak documents "accusations [that the CIA is a] rogue agency," consciously acting to undermine the President.

"I will not accept if nominated, and I will not serve if elected." General W. T. Sherman, 1864; General David Petraeus, 2007 (The Weekly Standard’s Man of the Year).

The odious Paul Krugman and his revisionist history of a racist Democratic Party.

More criticism of the recently passed energy bill. It certainly seems to have its problems.

Defining "jihad" and assessing its importance. A scholarly article by Menahem Milson, the Chairman of MEMRI.

See this post on one of the countless effects of centralizing power and control in the EU, this time in local bus service. It almost seems like a load of manure – oops, that’s a separate problem, courtesy of the EU concern with nitrate leaching. Do see the comments section from Chris Booker on that post. "Bah, humbug" would seem the only appropriate response to this raft of insane overregulation.

Omar Bakri sends his warm "radical Muslim" Christmas message across the pond. He probably need not be concerned. Aheminejad has stated that he intends to establish a global caliphate and that he expects Europe will become a Muslim continent within 12 years. Hey, let’s hold unilateral talks with these guys. I am sure there is something we can give them to fully placate them . . . Let me just get out my Neville Chamberlin "Peace In Our Time" State Department handbook. While we talk, perhaps Iran can start killing women without veils (not suitable for work).

A Clash of Civilization’s books at the Economist. Marketing and distributing the Bible and the Koran.

And finally, the real health benefits of dark chocolate. I solve the bitterness problem by stirring a big teaspoon full of unsweetened dark chocolate into coffee. Its wonderful. And on that note . . . . a Merry Christmas to all.


The State Department's Unilateral Foreign Policy

Until a few weeks ago, I was under the misapprehension that our State Dept. existed to further the foreign policy of the Executive Branch. The first major clue as to how wrong I was came with the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Through the disingenuous use of labels and some incredible sleight of hand in their very selective choice of inferences – see here - three State Department personnel who oversaw the writing of that NIE managed to turn what should have been an objective intelligence assessment into a policy document undercutting the President by positing:

1) Iran’s current nuclear enrichment is part of a "civilian" program - despite the fact that Iran has no possible use for the fuel its enriching;

2) Iran’s theocracy is rational by western standards; and

3) The use of force or threat of the same is not necessary to effect Iran’s decision making process. Talks with Iran, if accompanied by other diplomatic measures, is the appropriate way to proceed.

It was a successful coup that portrayed Iran as far less of a threat than that country actually is. And now we have our State Department acting similarly to portray the Iranian theocracy’s actions as peaceful and cooperative as regards Iraq. This is in contradiction of the facts on the ground. The only possible explanation is that this is an attempt to set the stage for unilateral talks with Iran.

What Iran has been doing for some time now is to duplicate in Iraq the same basic game plan that Iran has followed in Lebanon, Gaza and elsewhere. Iran develops a group of proxies - trains them, arms them, funds them - and then turns them loose to cause as much murder and mayhem as possible in the host country. Based on the models in Lebanon and Gaza, it can be assessed that the ultimate goal of Iran is to have their proxies become a political and military force in the host country beholden to Iran. Iran’s actions have been incredibly destabilizing – and deadly - in Iraq and throughout the greater Middle East. There is a phrase that appropriately describes Iran's actions in Iraq, though it does not appear to be in the State Dept. lexicon. That phrase is "acts of war."

According to General Petraeus in an interview on December 17, 2007:

. . . Q: Another factor that has seriously threatened the formation of a stable and secure Iraq is Iran. Lately Tehran seems to have decreased its interference in Iraq. Would you agree to that assessment?

P: There may be Iranian reduction in exporting violence to Iraq. I say "may" because it really is a may. There is not an apparent reduction in training because we have detained individuals in recent months and weeks who recently received training in Iran as late as late October or early November. . .

And from our Dept. of Defense assessment issued earlier this month:

. . . There has been no identified decrease in Iranian training and funding of illegal Shi’a militias in Iraq. Tehran’s support for Shi’a militant groups who attack Coalition and Iraq forces remains a significant impediment to progress towards stabilization. The Iranian Islamic Revolu-tionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) provides many of the explosives and ammunition used by these groups, to include Jaysh al-Mahdi (JAM). Although Sadr’s late August 2007 freeze on JAM activity is still in effect, some elements continue to attack Coalition forces with Iranian weapons. The GoI and the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq have made it clear to the Iranian Government that IRGC-QF’s lethal activities must cease.

But none of this is true according to the senior State Department official on Iraq, David Satterfield. He is claiming as fact the very dubious inference that Iran’s mullaocracy has somehow decided to put the hold on its deadly meddling in Iraq.

The Iranian government has decided "at the most senior levels" to rein in the violent Shiite militias it supports in Iraq, a move reflected in a sharp decrease in sophisticated roadside bomb attacks over the past several months, according to the State Department's top official on Iraq.

Tehran's decision does not necessarily mean the flow of those weapons from Iran has stopped, but the decline in their use and in overall attacks "has to be attributed to an Iranian policy decision," David M. Satterfield, Iraq coordinator and senior adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said in an interview.

. . . Satterfield agreed that Iran was not acting out of "altruism" but rather from "alarm at what was being done by the groups they were backing in terms of their own long-term interests."

At a news conference Friday, Rice sidestepped an opportunity to criticize Iran. The United States, she said, remains "open to better relations" with Iran, adding, "We don't have permanent enemies."

. . . But "we have seen such a consistent and sustained diminution in certain kinds of violence by certain kinds of folks that we can't explain it solely" by internal factors in Iraq, Satterfield said. "If you add those all together, your calculus doesn't come out unless you also add in that the Iranians at a command level must have said or done something, as well."

He declined to discuss specific evidence. "We are confident that decisions involving the strategy pursued by the IRGC are made at the most senior levels of the Iranian government," Satterfield said, referring to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. The administration has used that formulation in the past to insist that IRGC training and supplies for militias in Iraq were ordered by Tehran's highest clerical leaders.

Read the article here. As to Sec. of State Rice's statement that we have "no permanent enemies," that's a great soundbite, but highly naive. The Iranian theocracy defines the core of its legitimacy by its enmity to the U.S., and the theocracy has been at war with the U.S. since its inception in 1979. While wanting better relations with Iran is laudable, ignoring the history of our relations with Iran's theocracy will do absolutely nothing to advance those relations.

As mentioned in this blog previously, that decline in Iranian sponsored mayhem and murder can be attributed to the effects of the surge, including the targeting of IRGC agents inside Iraq, the targeting of Iran's "special groups" proxies, and the interdiction of Iran's supply channels. See this report by Bill Roggio specifically addressing this issue. All of that is ignored by our State Department who prefer, solely on the basis of a dubious inference, to paint Iran’s mullaocracy as peaceful and cooperative.

This is suicidal insanity. Whether we should hold unilateral talks with Iran is open to legitimate debate. But we have no chance of dealing with Iran, whether in such talks or by any other means, if our State Department is falsely portraying Iran's actions and intentions. It is akin to justifying the handling of rattle snakes by simply asserting that they are really not dangerous. If one wants to survive an encounter with such a snake, the first thing that must happen is to approach it with the full acknowledgment of its nature.

We now have multiple people at the highest level's of the State Department who have acted to utterly minimize the very real threat posed by Iran. The only conceivable purpose for these acts is to set the stage for unilateral talks. Our State Department is advancing its own unilateral foreign policy agenda. The first step to dealing effectively with Iran is to reign in an out-of-control State Department.


Saudi Bought Influence At Our Major Universities

Wahhabi / Salafi Islam, originating out of Saudi Arabia and exported around the world on the back of billions of Sauid petrodollars, is the ideology of Sunni terrorism. And one of the most pernicious effects of those Saudi petrodollars has been to massively fund Middle East studies programs at our major universities that, not surprisingly, turn out to be decidedly pro-Wahhabi and, indeed, quite often dissimulating about Islamic history and dogma.

For example, prior to and even after 9-11, our nation's most prestigious Saudi bought academic, John Esposito of Georgetown University, was teaching that jihad referred primarily to an internal struggle of Muslims rather than "holy war." The reality in the Middle East is decidedly different. And now, Esposito argues that terrorism should be officially dissasociated from Islam, irrespective of the fact that the impetus for terrorism is, in the vast majority of cases, Wahhabi / Salafi Islam. The Middle East Studies Association (MESA) is supposedly the top national organization for our Middle East academics, yet they do not allow membership to academics who are not pro-Wahhabi, such as our nation's premier orientalist, Professor Bernard Lewis.

This story below is about the issue of Saudi influence in our major universities. I missed it when it was first published, but will post now. Its from the Washington Times:

Two years ago this month, a Saudi prince caused a media splash — and raised eyebrows — when he donated $20 million each to Georgetown and Harvard universities to fund Islamic studies.

Although few details have been released about how the money has been spent, at Georgetown, the money helped pay for a recent symposium on Islamic-Western relations held in the university's Copley Formal Lounge. . .

Some call the Saudi gift Arab generosity and gratitude for the years American universities have educated the elite of the Arab world. Others say the sheer size of the donations amounts to buying influence and creating bastions of noncritical pro-Islamic scholarship within academia.

"There's a possibility these campuses aren't getting gifts, they're getting investments," said Clifford May, president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. "Departments on Middle Eastern studies tend to be dominated by professors tuned to the concerns of Arab and Muslim rulers. It's very difficult for scholars who don't follow this line to get jobs and tenure on college campuses.

"The relationship between these departments and the money that pours in is hard to establish, but like campaign finance reform, sometimes money is a bribe. Sometimes it's a tip."

The $40 million gift from the Saudi donor, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, was the latest in a tradition that started in the 1970s — Muslim donors pumping millions of dollars into American universities to fund Islamic studies, hire faculty specialists in Islam and fund books and seminars on the world's second-largest religion.

This summer, Harvard appointed its Islamic history professor, Roy Mottahedeh, to head its Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Islamic Studies Program. Harvard is hiring the first of four endowed chairs in the program and is using some of the $20 million to preserve a collection of Islamic documents.

On Nov. 3, the university hosted its first Islamic studies conference — named after Prince Alwaleed — on "Interpreting the Islamic Tradition in the Contemporary World."

Harvard would not provide additional details about the disbursement of the funds, nor would Mr. Mottahedeh respond to numerous requests for an interview.

At Georgetown, the money was funneled toward its Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, which was quickly renamed the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. The center, part of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, trains many of America"s diplomats.

The Alwaleed Center is tucked away in a small suite of offices in the Bunn Intercultural Center. Its reception area is decorated with blue and white Pakistani tile, a framed page from the Koran and mother-of-pearl depictions of a menorah, the Nativity and the Dome of the Rock. The center's aim, according to its mission statement, is to "improve relations between the Muslim world and the West and enhance understanding of Muslims in the West."

The center's director, John Esposito, a prolific writer and praised by many as being a national authority on the religion, was severely criticized by several scholars for downplaying the threat of Islamic terrorism in the 1990s when he was a foreign affairs analyst for the State Department.

Mr. Esposito, "more than any other academic, contributed to American complacency prior to 9/11," Martin Kramer, a fellow at the Olin Institute at Harvard, wrote in a Jan. 2, 2006, commentary on his blog,

"[He has] proved that he's still a magnet for Arab and Muslim money," Mr. Kramer wrote. "Prince Alwaleed apparently decided that while Esposito's reputation may be dented, the professor still has some value in him."

Mr. Esposito declined to be interviewed for this article but did defend himself in several e-mails. . .

Mr. Esposito said the number of programs sponsored by his center went from 27 last year to 22 this semester alone. The first of three new faculty, Ibrahim Kalin, a scholar on Sufiism and Islamic philosophy, is slated to come on board next fall.

A month before the gift was publicly announced, Mr. Esposito was one of four persons flanking Prince Alwaleed before a photographer at the George V hotel in Paris. It was then that the prince told Georgetown officials of their $20 million windfall — and that Mr. Esposito would oversee how the money was spent.

. . . Winfield Myers, director of Campus Watch, a watchdog group under the aegis of the Middle East Forum think tank, said it's too early to tell whether the prince is getting his money's worth. One sign of success is if a university can place its recent doctoral graduates in positions of influence.

"The prince knew very well Georgetown's in a milieu filled with lobbyists and opinion makers; thus any program of his will exert more influence there than at a university not in a power center like Washington," Mr. Meyers said. "The grant also gave Esposito a much bigger microphone. When you've got a $20 million institute, that amplifies your voice considerably."

The Saudi Embassy's press office did not respond to requests for comment on this article, and a spokeswoman for Prince Alwaleed said he was "too busy" to respond.

According to one Saudi press organization, the grants are meant to promote understanding and change America's perceptions of Islam in the most fertile place, the university campus.

"The tendency, in some quarters, to identify Islam with fanaticism or even terrorism persists and has not been completely erased from the popular mind in the West," observed a commentator in a March 1, 2002, article in Ain al-Yaqeen, a weekly controlled by the Saudi royal family.

To that end, it continued, the late Saudi King Fahd paid for a "number of academic chairs in some of the most respected universities in the developed world."

The practice started around 1976, when the Saudi government established a King Faisal Chair in Islamic Studies for $1 million at the University of Southern California.

In 1979, Saudi Aramco World magazine published a list of recent Middle Eastern gifts, including $200,000 from the Saudis to Duke University for a program in Islamic and Arabian development studies; $750,000 from the Libyan government for a chair of Arab culture at Georgetown University; and $250,000 from the United Arab Emirates for a visiting professorship of Arab history, also at Georgetown.

In 1986, Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi donated $5 million toward a sports center to be named after him at American University. Since then, grants for endowed chairs in Islamic studies and Middle Eastern studies centers have popped up at the University of California/Santa Barbara; Columbia University; Rice University; University of Arkansas; University of California in Los Angeles; and the University of California/Berkeley, among many others.

"Arab studies at Berkeley were totally revitalized by this money," said Emily Gottreich, vice chairman for UC/Berkeley's Center for Middle Eastern Studies. "We redefined what Arab studies is."

In 1998, the Sultan bin Abdulaziz al Saud Foundation announced a $5 million gift to fund visiting professors and scholars, research and outreach funds and new quarters for Berkeley's Arab and Islamic Studies Center.

"Our post-docs have gone on to important tenure-track academic jobs," Ms. Gottreich said, listing 11 institutions, including Oxford, DePaul, Fordham and Harvard universities. "There's a market out there for PhDs with expertise in the Middle East."

. . . There are 17 federally funded centers on American college campuses devoted solely to Middle Eastern studies centers and another 30 to 40 that do not receive federal aid, according to Amy Newhall, executive director of the Middle East Studies Association at the University of Arizona. Not counting several positions at Georgetown University, she estimated at least 10 chaired professorships currently funded by Saudis at major universities.

"With all the talk of the Israel lobby, no one talks about the Saudi lobby," Mr. Meyers said. "There is no counterweight to Saudi influence in American higher education."

Indeed, Ain-al-Yaqeen reported that King Fahd has spent "billions of Saudi riyals," around the world.

"In terms of Islamic institutions, the result is some 210 Islamic centers wholly or partly financed by Saudi Arabia, more than 1,500 mosques and 202 colleges and almost 2,000 schools for educating Muslim children in non-Islamic countries in Europe, North and South America, Australia and Asia," the paper reported.

. . . Mr. Kramer, also the author of "Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America," says American universities have allowed themselves to be purveyors of Saudi influence and opinion.

"Universities generate ideas, and [Prince Alwaleed] regards one idea — the 'clash of civilizations" — as positively dangerous to Arabs and Muslims," he wrote on his Web site, "So he has embarked on a grand giving spree, to create academic 'bridges" between Islam and the West, and specifically between the Arab world and the United States ...

"The mind boggles at the possibilities, when you think of the purchasing power of the world's fifth-richest man," Mr. Kramer continued. "Of course, this is why we can't ever expect to get the straight story on Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism and oil from people who operate within Middle Eastern studies. If you want a fabulously wealthy Saudi royal to drop out of the sky in his private jet and leave a few million, you had better watch what you say — which means you had better say nothing."

Prince Alwaleed, 52, — who slipped from the fifth richest person in 2005 to the 13th this year, according to Forbes magazine — is best known to some Americans as the man who offered $10 million to the victims of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. That money was rejected by Rudolph W. Giuliani, then the mayor, after the prince scolded the U.S. for favoring Israelis over Palestinians.

Prince Alwaleed found more welcoming recipients in academia.

In 2002, he donated $500,000 to the George Herbert Walker Bush Scholarship Fund, established by the Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. In 2006, he donated $10 million to the Weill Medical College of Cornell University.

He defends such gifts in interviews, saying that he has financed study programs about American culture overseas, including a $10 million gift to found a Center for American Studies at American University in Cairo and $5.2 million for a similar center at American University in Beirut.

Prince Alwaleed's Cairo and Beirut projects explain American culture, but according to their Web sites, offer no courses in Christianity — America's majority religion. Meanwhile, typical courses at the Georgetown center are "Islamic Theological Development" and "Islamic Religious Thought and Practice."

Zuhdi Jasser, a Phoenix physician and a Muslim who is chairman of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, says Islamic governments are looking for a free pass.

"Islamists such as the radical fundamentalists seen with the Saudi Wahhabis exploit American universal tolerance to provide a vehicle for the dissemination of their propaganda free of critique," he said in an e-mail. "It is important to emphasize — 'free of critique' ... it is the tolerance which permits that.

"But I would hope that we correct our response not by changing our tolerance but by intensely critiquing political Islam and its incompatibility with our pluralistic democracy. America"s laboratory of freedom and liberty should not change."

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