Tag Archives: Foreign Affairs

Israel Preparing ‘Christmas Surprise’ for Iran?

Israel Preparing ‘Christmas Surprise’ for Iran

First Published: 11/10/2011, 10:24 AM

With an International Atomic Energy Agency report to be issued this week that will state, officials said Wednesday, that Iran is clearly working towards developing a nuclear weapons program, speculation has turned to possible military actions by Israel or other western countries to prevent Tehran from getting “the bomb.” On Thursday, the British Daily Mail newspaper said that an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities could come as soon as December 25, the day the Christian world celebrates Christmas.

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the only feasible route is the direct one over Iraq. Both Turkey and Saudi Arabia have well-equipped air forces and though neither nation is a big fan of Iran, I don’t think their governments could allow Israel to fly unimpeded thru their airspace – too many repercussions within their own populations. Allowing the Israelis to fly over Iraq would tell the world that the US approved the attack on a Muslim nation with untold potential consequences for any US troops still in Iraq at the time, never mind other US interests in that nation – you know – oil. That could be one reason for Israel to wait until all US forces have withdrawn from Iraq.

The fear-mongering begins, although not for the first time as one will note when they read the date the map posted here, was published.

Israel Preparing to Strike Iran
Posted on 4 December 2008

Oil price to hit $175-$200 if Israel attacks Iran: analysts
Please note the contrast between the headline, the first paragraph and the second paragraph

Oil prices could surge to $175-200 per barrel if Israel attacks Iran’s nuclear facilities, leading to the closure of an important oil route, according to market observers. Tensions between the two arch foes have escalated after the International Atomic Energy Agency reported it had ‘credible’ evidence of Tehran’s nuclear weapons plan.In a survey of oil traders, Washington D.C.-based Rapidan Group said that participants expected an $11 rise in the price of a barrel in the immediate aftermath of an Israeli attack.
(…)
“Iran is the most important latent threat in the oil market,” Robert McNally, head of the Rapidan Group, told Platts Energy last week, partly because previous threats against Iran over the years have not materialised, and also as Arab Spring has stolen the limelight from Iran during the past ten months.

McNally noted that oil traders would not have ignored the alleged-Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador had there been a Republican U.S. President, rather than Democrat Barack Obama, despite his hawkish stance on Iran.

Interesting comment about oil-traders ‘ignoring’ the alleged Iranian plot because the President is Barack Obama. One might read that as saying the oil traders are ignoring it because they know Obama is more competent and more capable of handling the situation than any Republican – otherwise, why ignore it? There could be other reasons as a Forbes article notes

At least for the time being, viewing higher oil prices through the prism of armed conflict with Iran is incorrect.

The reason for the rise in oil price is not the geography of Iran but the geography of Cushing, Oklahoma.
(…)
Cushing is the price settlement point for West Texas Intermediate Sweet Crude Oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). This price benchmark is used for oil in the United States.

As the production for Canadian oil sands has increased, Cushing has become a major choke point. Cushing has turned out to be a colossal error in oil infrastructure planning.

Will speculators drive up the price of oil in anticipation of an Israeli attack? Probably

Map came from one of those THE END TIMES ARE APPROACHING!!! websites of the type so loved by folks like preacher John Hagee and his ilk.

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Charles Pierce thinks Mitt Romney is a “dumbass”

and so do I

Go and read Mr Pierce’s exquisite disembowelment of the Republican contender’s ‘take’ on foreign policy

My problem is not that Mitt Romney is a Mormon who wants to be commander-in-chief. My problem is that Mitt Romney is a chronic dumbass on military matters who wants to be commander-in-chief. It is a considerable difference.

Read more: Mitt’s Knocking on the Free World, and Not Like a President

You Can’t Just Be Against the President: says Jeb Bush

from PBS NewsHour

“I think the president means well, but his policies have failed, and to point that out — nothing wrong with that. That’s politics,”

Jeb Bush

So Jeb plays nice guy but in this talk with Cavuto on FoxNews, he makes the big statement that the eventual Republican nominee will run on – “The President’s policies have failed!” Nevermind what the CBO and numerous economists have said about those policies: Without the stimulus and other measures promoted by the President and his Administration, such as the payroll tax cut which the Republicans want to end, the American economy would be in far worse condition.

Two problems for the President – One, the economy was much closer to depression than anybody knew back in Jan 2009 and therefore the stimulus was less than conditions called for. Number Two, and perhaps more important, the President does not appear to like being confrontational. No matter what rightie pundits and pols say about Obama “constantly attacking” them and their ideas, reality says he has not fought back as strongly as the American public wanted to see in their President.

Graph of US GDP 2000 - 2010
Is this a graph of ‘failure’? Please note that following the dip in GDP due to the recession of 2008-2009, the economy’s growth is now paralleling its earlier track. Yes, I know that 2011 has shown a decrease but one might argue the decrease is due more to Republican obstructionism than the ‘failure’ of the Administration’s policies

Mr Bush is correct though, in saying that Republican candidates must present ‘real’ ideas to the American public if anyone of them is to have a chance at beating Barack Obama in the next election cycle. So far, the candidates seem to think that attacking every action the President takes while constantly referring to God and American exceptionalism are sufficient – I don’t think so.

Deeper in the PBS NewsHour article we see a fine example of the Republican noise machine making up something. Using the technique known as “quote mining”, commonly found in the fight over teaching the Theory of Evolution, where a few words spoken or written by an opponent are taken out of context, thereby completely changing the meaning of the speech or essay from which the words were extracted.

“…the vice president has also come under attack from some Republicans for comments he made at Sichuan University in Chengdu, China, which they say expressed support of China’s one-child policy.”

When one reads the complete statement by Biden, it is 180 degrees from “support of China’s one-child policy”

Biden: “But as I was talking to some of your leaders, you share a similar concern here in China. You have no safety net. Your policy has been one which I fully understand — I’m not second-guessing — of one child per family. The result being that you’re in a position where one wage earner will be taking care of four retired people. Not sustainable.”

The Vice President says he “understands” why China instituted the policy but he also says it’s, “Not sustainable” in a following sentence. Doesn’t look like he “supports” the idea at all.

Nice work Republican Noise Machine

Why is Joe Lieberman such a lying wanker?

On the Joe Scarborough show, when asked by Arianna Huffington to back up his claims about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, Lieberman said

“I’m basing it on the so-called Duelfer Report. Charles D-U-E-L-F-E-R conducted the most comprehensive report on behalf of our government.”

The only problem with that statement is that it is untrue, but then you already knew that, didn’t you?

Washington Post, Oct 6 2004

The government’s most definitive account of Iraq’s arms programs, to be released today, will show that Saddam Hussein posed a diminishing threat at the time the United States invaded and did not possess, or have concrete plans to develop, nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, U.S. officials said yesterday.

The officials said that the 1,000-page report by Charles A. Duelfer, the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq, concluded that Hussein had the desire but not the means to produce unconventional weapons that could threaten his neighbors or the West.
(…)
The officials said Duelfer, an experienced former United Nations weapons inspector, found that the state of Hussein’s weapons-development programs and knowledge base was less advanced in 2003, when the war began, than it was in 1998, when international inspectors left Iraq.

Glenn Greenwald takes him down rather nicely.

Why allow the small matter of a decade-long, brutal occupation that eradicated the lives of hundreds of thousands of human beings to negatively affect the reputation of a Washington official? To bring any of that up is so very uncivil and past-obsessed. Like torture, illegal eavesdropping, CIA black sites, the systematic denial of due process in a worldwide prison regime, and the ongoing Nobel-Peace-Prize-winning acts of war entailing things like this (all of which Lieberman also supported), the Iraq War is written off — flushed down the memory hole — as nothing more than one of those garden-variety “policy differences” about which reasonable, decent people disagree.

Pat Robertson is a poopy head

There’s the world inhabited by Pat Robertson and those deluded by his words

PAT ROBERTSON: And, you know, Kristi, something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, “We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.” True story. And so, the devil said, “OK, it’s a deal.”

And they kicked the French out. You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other. Desperately poor. That island of Hispaniola is one island. It’s cut down the middle. On the one side is Haiti; on the other side is the Dominican Republic. Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, et cetera. Haiti is in desperate poverty. Same island. They need to have and we need to pray for them a great turning to God. And out of this tragedy, I’m optimistic something good may come. But right now, we’re helping the suffering people, and the suffering is unimaginable.

not only is Robertson’s theology the stuff found in outhouses but so is his history – Napoleon III didn’t take the throne in France until 44 years after the slave revolt in Haiti was over and done.

and there’s the real world rational people live in

Economy – overview: Dominican Republic
Although the economy is growing at a respectable rate, high unemployment and underemployment remains an important challenge. The country suffers from marked income inequality; the poorest [b]half of the population receives less than one-fifth of GNP[/b], while the richest 10% enjoys nearly 40% of national income. – World Fact Book

There’s much talk about how Haiti just sucks up the charity and the country never seems to change or improve. Among the multiple reasons for the poverty in Haiti, would be control of the few resources by a tiny elite class, normal in third world nations and various requirements placed on Haiti by the multi-national agencies that supposedly are meant to help poor countries. One of the favourite talking points of the right has been ‘trade liberalisation’ policies – freer trade means increased prosperity. Well, not always

The Story of Haitian Rice

In 1994 the Haitian government entered into a new agreement with the IMF that contained a “medium-term structural adjustment strategy” which “included sweeping trade liberalization measures.” In 1995 when this agreement went into affect, Haiti’s tariffs on rice imports were cut dramatically from 35% to the current level of 3%. By comparison, the Common External Tariff on rice in the CARICOM (Caribbean Community) zone for rice in 1999 was 25%.

Haiti’s extremely low import tariff on rice is part of the trade liberalization policies which earned it a score of 1 on the IMF’s 1999 Index of Trade Restrictive ness, making Haiti the least trade restrictive country in the Caribbean. Yet, in the almost 10 years that have passed, Haiti has also remained the least developed country in the Caribbean despite its openness to trade, critics of trade liberalization have been quick to point out. Following the adoption of these policies local production of rice in Haiti dropped dramatically. Though most people engaged in the debate over trade liberalization in Haiti agree on this point, the different camps come to very different conclusions on what the collapse of rice production means for the Haitian people.

Rice import tariff reductions in Haiti has made it more difficult for local rice producers to compete with imports. An article published in 1999 after evaluating agricultural and food price policy in Haiti concluded that “reducing tariffs on both rice and corn, decreased retail and farm prices and increased consumption and imports.” This is also confirmed by the IMF which in a report 2001 states “Trade liberalization has contributed to a large increase in imports of rice. At the same time, domestic production has gone down substantially.”

Some argue that the resulting flood of relatively cheap rice imports originating mostly from the United States has had a negative impact on Haiti. The decline in the demand for Haitian rice has been devastating to an already desperate rural population. Rice farmers are some of the most vulnerable members of the population; the alternative employment options for farmers in Haiti are extremely limited.

Furthermore, competition between Haitian and American rice growers is not exactly fair. While US rice production is “subsidized through a variety of mechanisms”, the small, struggling domestic rice industry in Haiti receives no support from the government. Rice farmers do not receive export subsidies or other types of domestic support.

They are not “mistresses!”

The use of the descriptive term “mistress” for the girlfriends of various hypocritical politicians irks me. They are girlfriends, sex partners, casual screws but I have yet to read of any American politician with a true mistress. In Europe, they still have such people, a long time female partner who is supported by the male, often providing a home and total financial support that allows the woman to dress as one of the appropriate class.

So when I hear about Gov Sanford being impeached for spending time with his Argentine mistress when he was supposed to be governing or when Sen Ensign’s former sex partner is called ‘mistress’ – it just bugs me. Maybe because I used to hang with men who had real mistresses, partners who were often known to the man’s families – silly really, but it bugs me.

Mitterand's funeral with wife, mistress and children
At the funeral of François Mitterrand who was President of France from 1981 to 1995, Mme. Danielle Mitterand on the far left, his mistress Anne Pingeot(2nd from right) and illegitimate daughter Mazarine (in the centre)

photo found on http://iconicphotos.wordpress.com after a Google Images search

Historical reality vs. “What I know is true”

The following is from another forum where I post on a near daily basis. – News Forum, The Ledger

A gentleman who goes by the nym “Bugle” is a self-proclaimed Democrat posting opinions that mirror the Republican Party line. He has stated that he holds a PhD from the University of Florida but has not said in what field of study. Also has said he is a 20 year veteran of the American military, now retired with a small cattle ranch in central Florida.

Bugle’s original post

Slamb ,Sisters and others, Sadly such deluded thinking ,as yours ,has often led to tragedy. Many millions died in Europe because Chamberlain held similar views. Many Jewish(and other peoples) were slaughtered because ,early on, the leaders of the world “reasoned” with Hitler…that’s probably why Israel is so vigalant today. For most of the past century, most of the Eastern Europe lived under tyranical Communism because some tried to “talk Stalin aka Uncle Joe” into being a good guy. Many,many thousands of Cuban,Vietnamese,Eastern Europeans,Africans and others have lost their freedom and their lives because tyrants and madmen were allowed to gain the upper hand. Genocide and mass killings in Darfur,Rwanda,Bosnia and brutal regimes still exist in our times in goodly numbers. What troubles me most, is that the saftey and security of all of us is being put at risk by the naive and (no offense intended) *****ic thinking of deluded people. One can not, reason with rabid dogs or with bloody fanatics or power-seeking despots…to think otherwise ignores all of human history. In a world of public beheadings and mutillations, horrible suppression of women,murderous killing of innocents, and nuclear proliferation among rouge states …it seems like lunacy that anyone (other than fools or traitors) can actually entertain ideas that a strong defensive posture and homeland security measures are not essential. I fear your naive ideas even more than enemies that confront our nation….you are probably the greater threat. If the naive and deluded thinking of the left causes their side of the boat to sink… we all go down together.

All typos, spelling errors and the censoring of “idiotic” are in the original

My reply:
Bugle, you are showing your ignorance of history. You wrote, “Many millions died in Europe because Chamberlain held similar views.” and I have to disagree. It is your opinion that PM Neville Chamberlain held such views but his diaries and multiple histories of the period would indicate otherwise. By the late 1930s, Hitler’s aggressiveness was well known but owing to the trauma of WWI, the vast majority of people in the British Empire were not willing to go to war again. There were protests in Great Britain over increased taxation that was being used to build up England’s defences. By 1938, FIFTY PERCENT of revenues were going to the military. When Chamberlain went to Berlin in Sept 1938, he had recently received from the head of the C I D (Committee of Imperial Defence) that stated

“From the military point of view, time is in our favour…if war with Germany has to come, it would be better to fight her in say 6-12 months’ time than to accept the present challenge”

The Munich Accords were wildly popular in the Empire at the time, it wasn’t Chamberlain who wasn’t aware of the nature of the beast but the body politic, the public that did not want another war like the previous one.

Have you ever walked thru small villages in England or western Europe? They all have memorials to their WWI dead. You look at those with the names listed and just think about it. Maybe the village is only a couple thousand population and yet there may be 50 or 100 names there in the stone. An entire generation of young men was destroyed in four years – that is perhaps the major reason political leaders like Chamberlain were willing to make efforts to slow down but not attack Germany. If he had attempted a pre-emptive attack against Germany in Dec 1938, not that he could have because he didn’t have an airforce or an army strong enough, he would have been dragged out of his offices and lynched. Winston Churchill understood Chamberlain’s value as a political leader and kept him in government after Churchill became Prime Minister in 1940.

Bugle wrote, “For most of the past century, most of the Eastern Europe lived under tyranical Communism because some tried to “talk Stalin aka Uncle Joe into being a good guy.” To be petty I will start by saying 40 years is not “most of the past century”. I would also contend that Soviet Russia was able to take over most of Eastern Europe because the allied democratic nations were tired of fighting and wanted to concentrate on repairing their own countries in preference to starting another war after seven years of fighting; not because they tried to “talk” Stalin into being reasonable. In 1945, Soviet troops already occupied the nations that were to fall behind the ‘Iron Curtain’, removing those soldiers would have demanded an effort perhaps larger than that required to topple Hitler and Mussolini and Tojo. The world wasn’t capable at that time.

“Genocide and mass killings in Darfur,Rwanda,Bosnia and brutal regimes still exist in our times in goodly numbers. ” Of course bloody-minded psychopaths still exist but to bring up the three nations that you name poses a bit of a quandary for one who calls himself ‘conservative’ for it has been ‘librul’ activists who have lobbied most strongly for some type of action to take place in those nations. It was the neo-conservative President Clinton who failed to respond in Rwanda, perhaps because of the beating he had recently received in Congress and the media over the failures of the Somalia intervention (ordered by President George H W Bush) but it was the same President Clinton who ordered US forces -finally – to go into Bosnia despite Republican efforts to stop him. Neither Clinton or Pres George W Bush did anything to lessen or stop the atrocities in Darfur. All too many have noted that the region has nothing to offer to the US, no natural resources – unlike Iraq. So it has been the dreaded ‘Hollywood elites’s who have made pilgrimage to Darfur, using their celebrity to bring attention to the horrors being inflicted upon the people of southern Sudan.

And finally is the statement, “it seems like lunacy that anyone (other than fools or traitors) can actually entertain ideas that a strong defensive posture and homeland security measures are not essential. ” Why yes it does seem like lunacy when using your definitions of the terms “strong defensive posture” and “homeland security measures” would seem to include a willingness to abrogate several provisions of the Constitution of the United States, to allow for torture in violation not only of international accords (signed and ratified by the US, making them US law) but also multiple items in Federal laws. In fact, I would, and many others also, would argue that the policies of the past administration have not only lessened the security of Americans in their homes and lives but have demonstrably enhanced the dangers offered by groups around the world.

Many of those who today are attacking US and allied interests around the world are not ‘rabid dogs’ but are often motivated by feelings of nationalism, patriotism and religious fervour as strong an any an American may hold. Unfortunately, the truth is that any situation similar to what we live in today will attract humans who are, to define it properly, NUTS. If it can happen in the well-trained, highly-disciplined forces of the western world, then we must accept the fact that psychotic killers will be attracted to groups that will enable their blood-thirst. Then of course, amoral leaders who wouldn’t perform such atrocities themselves will use the ‘rabid dogs’. It is seldom that truly crazy people attain leadership and sometimes to achieve stability, we have to deal with those leaders who have used the crazies. That is the reality of the world we inhabit. It is not being naive to do so; what is naive is to think that your or my or anyone’s point of view is the only ‘safe’ way to behave.

Do you know why Osama bin Laden wanted to attack the US? It wasn’t because he “hated” freedom and democracy. In his earliest writings, after conversion to his rather warped style of Islam, he had two primary complaints: ONE – US military forces based in his ‘Holy Land’ and TWO – the apparent refusal of the US to listen to Arab complaints about Israel. Since then, of course he has created many more excuses for himself and his followers.

To reiterate, to be liberal is not to be naive. I would argue instead that the liberal prefers reality and knowledge-based actions not actions based on some macho ideal of manhood. “We’ll show ’em, who’s the real top dog!” “My way or the highway!” “You’re with us or aginst us!” Those ideas stopped working at about the high-school level. A willingness to talk to your enemies is often seen as weakness by those (supposedly) on your own side who are enamoured of the John Wayne image of America. Yes, we are the biggest dog in the pound. Yes, the US can pound the crap out of everyone. So, I ask, why such fear that so many who call themselves conservative, are apparently willing to destroy that which they claim they are defending when they advocate ‘pre-emptive invasion’, carpet-bombing a nation, total economic blockade, etc.? Why are they so unsure of themselves, and seemingly of this nation’s capabilities, that they refuse to talk to opponents? Why has paranoia induced them to call for torture and extra-judicial executions of suspects? What overwhelming power in the world makes them willing to live with a President who preferred dictatorship to democracy? Guess we’re lucky that he really doesn’t care to make a serious effort at any job he’s ever had.

You say you have a PhD. I have to ask – Weren’t you required to do research and think critically about your subjects before making statements in your field of study?

and his reply, which has made me mad enough to put him on “Ignore”

I choose not to join you in a trip down “Revisionism Road” and quibbling about minor little factoids while missing the obvious dangers presented by being weak or perceived as weak in a dangerous world. If you to choose to suspend reality and dwell in a world of leftist fantasy (even fantasy that you think has some “selected” factual support)….I do not choose to join you there. There are those around that deny that the Holicaust occurred and (like you) they even provide supporting facts in a effort to deceive. Yes,I’ve been to Europe and to Asia and I’ve seen the thousands of graves of those killed fighting despotism and the graves of innocent civilians as well….I have also seen the disasterous outcome that befell people left unprotected from the horrors of ruthless enemies. I stand by my previous posting and I suggest that it is you (not I) that are displaying ignorance in this matter.

Another commenter noted that it “Took you long enough” to ignore the gentleman who calls himself Bugle. We’ll see what his future responses might be but I think I’ll not be replying.