A policy grounded in La La Land 0

Middle East sources are claiming – without providing evidence as yet – that Obama has envoys negotiating directly with Ahmadinejad and the mullahs for co-operation in dealing with the increasingly perilous situation in Pakistan. Iran’s permission is being sought, they say, for American troops to move through Iran. A novel idea that would be – to depend on the goodwill of your worst enemies and give them a possible stranglehold on your forces!

The governing Democrats are too taken up with grave and urgent matters at home, such as censoring Rush Limbaugh, keeping a close watch on vets in case they develop terrorist tendencies, and trying to get members of the Bush administration prosecuted in revenge for President Clinton’s impeachment, to bother with Iran and the Taliban becoming nuclear powers. But it seems there is one foreign issue that Obama and his Secretary of State seriously want to resolve: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Caroline Glick, in her article that we quote from below, seems to be of the opinion that Obama is warning Israel that he’ll let Iran go nuclear unless Prime Minister Netanyahu agrees to dance yet again the old ‘two-state hop’ with one or another Palestinian terrorist leader. But Netanyahu himself is of a contrary opinion – that a settlement with the Palestinians will only become possible if Iran is neutralized first. So intent are Obama and Hillary Clinton on realizing the unrealizable goal of a Palestinian state (which the Palestinians themselves don’t want), they seem not to have noticed that even the Arab states are much more troubled by Iran developing a nuclear war capability than they are by the Palestinian issue. The Obama administration also seems not to be aware that a nuclear Iran is a danger not only to Israel but also to America and the whole world.

It is a strange situation when Egypt and Jordan feel it necessary to defend Israel against American criticism. But this is the situation in which we find ourselves today. Last Friday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee that Arab support for Israel’s bid to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is contingent on its agreeing to support the rapid establishment of a Palestinian state. In her words, "For Israel to get the kind of strong support it’s looking for vis-a-vis Iran, it can’t stay on the sidelines with respect to the Palestinians and the peace efforts." As far as Clinton is concerned, the two, "go hand-in-hand."

But just around the time that Clinton was making this statement, Jordan’s King Abdullah II was telling The Washington Post that he is satisfied with the Netanyahu government’s position on the Palestinians. In his words, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has "sent a message that he’s committed to peace with the Arabs. All the words I heard were the right words."

As for Egypt, in spite of the media’s hysteria that Egypt won’t deal with the Netanyahu government and the Obama administration’s warning that Israel can only expect Egypt to support its position that Iran must be denied nuclear weapons if it gives Jerusalem to the PLO, last week’s visit by Egypt’s intelligence chief Omar Suleiman clearly demonstrated that Egypt wishes to work with the government on a whole host of issues. Coming as it did on the heels of Egypt’s revelation that Iranian-controlled Hizbullah agents were arrested for planning strategic attacks against it, Suleiman’s visit was a clear sign that Egypt is as keen as Israel to neutralize Iranian power in the region by preventing it from acquiring nuclear weapons.

And Egypt and Jordan are not alone in supporting Israel’s commitment to preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power. American and other Western sources who have visited the Persian Gulf in recent months report that leaders of the Gulf states from Bahrain – which Iran refers to as its 14th province – to Saudi Arabia to Kuwait and, of course, to Iraq – are praying for Israel to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities and only complain that it has waited so long to attack them

UNFORTUNATELY … as the Arabs line up behind Israel, the Obama administration is operating under the delusion that the Iranians will be convinced to give up their nuclear program [only] if Israel destroys its communities in Judea and Samaria. According to reports published last week in Yediot Aharonot and Haaretz, President Barack Obama’s in-house post-Zionist, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, told an American Jewish leader that for Israel to receive the administration’s support for preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, it must not only say that it supports establishing a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem and Gaza, it must begin expelling its citizens from their homes and communities in Judea and Samaria to prove its good faith.

With just months separating Iran from either joining the nuclear club or from being barred entry to the clubhouse, the Obama administration’s apparent obsession with Judea and Samaria tells us that unlike Israel and the Arab world, its Middle East policies are based on a willful denial of reality…

IF IRAN acquires nuclear weapons, the Obama administration can throw its hopes for Middle East peace out the window. Today, even without nuclear weapons, Iran is the major force behind the continued Palestinian war against Israel. Iran exerts complete control over Hamas and Islamic Jihad and partial control over Fatah. In and of itself, Iran’s current control over Palestinian terror groups suffices to expose the Obama administration’s plan to force Israel to destroy its communities in Judea and Samaria as misguided in the extreme. With Iran calling the shots for the Palestinians, it is clear that any land Israel vacates will fall under Iranian control. That is, every concession the US forces Israel to make will redound directly to Iran’s benefit. This is why Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s claim that it will be impossible to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians without first neutralizing Iran rings so true

GLOBALLY OF COURSE, a nuclear-armed Iran would be well positioned to take over the world’s oil markets. With Saudi Arabia’s main oil installations located in the predominantly Shi’ite eastern provinces, it would be able to credibly threaten to destroy Saudi oil installations and so assert control over them. With Iran’s strategic alliance with Venezuela, once it controls Saudi oil fields, it hard to see how it would not become the undisputed ruler of the oil economy.

Certainly Europe would put up no resistance. Today, with much of Europe already within range of Iran’s ballistic missiles, with Iranian-controlled terror cells fanned out throughout the continent and with Europe dependent on Persian Gulf oil, there is little doubt of the direction its foreign policy would take in the event that Iran becomes a nuclear power. Obviously any thought of economic sanctions would disappear as European energy giants lined up to develop Iranian gas fields, and European banks clamored to finance the projects.

Finally, there is America. With Israel either barely surviving or destroyed, with the Arab world and Europe bowing before the mullahs, with much of Central and South America fully integrated into the Iranian axis, America would arguably find itself at greater risk of economic destruction and catastrophic attack than at any time in its history since the War of 1812. An EMP attack that could potentially send the US back to the pre-industrial age would become a real possibility. An Iranian controlled oil economy, financed by euros, would threaten to displace the dollar and the US economy as the backbone of the global economy. The US’s military options – particularly given Obama’s stated intention to all but end US missile defense programs and scrap much of its already aging nuclear arsenal – would be more apparent than real.

Yet what Clinton’s statements before Congress, Emmanuel’s statements to that American Jewish leader and Obama’s unremitting pandering to Teheran and its Syrian and Turkish allies all make clear is that none of these reasonable scenarios has made a dent in the administration’s thinking. As far as the Obama White House is concerned, Iran will be talked out of its plans for regional and global domination the minute that Israel agrees to give its land to the Palestinians. The fact that no evidence exists that could possibly support this assertion is irrelevant.

On Sunday, Washington Post columnist Jim Hoagland claimed that Obama will not publish his administration’s policy on Iran until after he meets with Netanyahu at the White House on May 18. It will be during that meeting, Hoagland wrote, that Obama will seek to convince Netanyahu that there is no reason to attack Iran. The fact that Obama could even raise such an argument, when by Israel’s calculations Iran will either become a nuclear power or be denied nuclear weapons within the next 180 days, shows that his arguments are based on a denial of the danger a nuclear Iran poses to Israel and to global security as a whole.

It is true that you can’t help but get a funny feeling when you see the Arabs defending Israel from American criticism. But with the Obama administration’s Middle East policy firmly grounded in La La Land, what choice do they have? They understand that today all that stands between them and enslavement to the mullahs is the Israel Air Force and Binyamin Netanyahu’s courage.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Friday, May 1, 2009

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Dogs on the hill 0

Newsmax.TV’s Ashley Martella cited the announcement that the Defense Department is going to release many pictures showing alleged abuse by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and asked [Former Senator, TV star and presidential candidate] Fred Thompson what purpose that might serve.

“None, other than to serve as propaganda tools for our worst enemies,” Thompson said. “This was set in motion when the president first decided to release CIA memos on interrogation techniques used on terrorist suspects … There was no purpose in doing that except to make him look good internationally and to the left wing here at home … It did a lot of damage. In one stroke of a pen he declassified top-secret documents that people would otherwise go to jail for releasing. It gave al-Qaida and the Taliban a blueprint as to the outer limits of our interrogation techniques. We have to remember that [the techniques were used] in the aftermath of 9/11. Congress was briefed on these techniques. Some of them asked if they were really going far enough to get what they needed to get, and it was approved at high levels in the administration. They carefully crafted them as best they could to not go too far, and to provide safeguards when they were carrying out these admittedly rough techniques on these people who had this vital information.

“So now we’re really talking about a war crimes tribunal, which this country has never done. We’ve never brought to criminal court prior administrations in this country. Harry Truman could have been accused of war crimes, I suppose, for dropping the bombs. President Obama authorized the killing of those three [pirates] in the Indian Ocean not too long ago. Prosecuting these people under these circumstances is something you hear about in banana republics and third-world countries, not the United States of America. The president’s opened up a terrible Pandora’s Box and there’s going to be a price to pay before this thing is ended.”

Martella asked if the Obama administration was acquiescing to its far-left base when it released the CIA memos on interrogation techniques.

“I think in this case, in all probability, they thought that they could cater to their left wing, appease their demands, by releasing these memos and then it might not go any further,” Thompson said. “Because surely they were able to see that this was bad for them the way it’s going to be bad for the country. This is going to have ramifications that are far-reaching. They thought they could put the genie back in the bottle after they opened it, and of course appeasement never works that way.

“There was a firestorm. The attorney general’s received 250 names in a petition to urge the appointment of a special prosecutor for this. The left-wing blogs went nuts. They started running television ads and so forth. And then after promising that there would be no prosecutions, [Obama] acquiesced and now opened the door for that. So I think it’s a case of naivete, ineptitude and unbelievable arrogance and lack of experience.

“We elected someone who didn’t have two minutes’ worth of experience with regard to matters concerning national security. Now he’s cast in this position and he’s making decisions that are going to have far-reaching ramifications not only abroad, and not only with our enemies, but in dividing our country even further here at home in ways I don’t think we’ve ever been divided before. We’re going to have members of Congress testifying against each other if they go down this road.”

Martella noted that Rep. Peter King of New York has said that if Democrats do go ahead and attempt to prosecute Bush administration CIA interrogation lawyers, the Republicans should “go to war” with them.

“That just gives you an example of the atmosphere on Capitol Hill today,” Thompson observed. People are angry. People are upset. You’ve got people on the left, you’ve got the Democrats talking about truth commissions, talking about investigations and Congressional hearings and urging prosecution. They’re fighting among each other on the Democratic side as to just how they should go and how far they should go.

"Some of these Democrats are the same people who were briefed on these techniques back in 2002,” Thompson said, “including Nancy Pelosi, who’s not telling the truth now, who’s trying to parse words and trying to get around the fact that she knew what was going on, as others did back when this happened. That creates a new level of animosity like I’ve never seen before, and I served in the Senate for eight years. The dogs of war have been loosed in this country and I don’t know what is going to happen before we see the end of it. But none of it’s going to be good.” 

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Monday, April 27, 2009

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The five pillars 0

 … of Islam? Well, that’s the reference but …  Obama has five pillars on which to rebuild the US economy. 

In yet another ‘major speech’ – he likes to make them as often as possible among flags and cameras, becoming ever more like all the other dear leaders of the peoples who have centrally-planned economies –  he declared yesterday (in small but central part): 

We must build our house upon a rock.  We must lay a new foundation for growth and prosperity – a foundation that will move us from an era of borrow and spend to one where we save and invest; where we consume less at home and send more exports abroad.

It’s a foundation built upon five pillars that will grow our economy and make this new century another American century:  new rules for Wall Street that will reward drive and innovation; new investments in education that will make our workforce more skilled and competitive; new investments in renewable energy and technology that will create new jobs and industries; new investments in health care that will cut costs for families and businesses; and new savings in our federal budget that will bring down the debt for future generations.  That is the new foundation we must build.  That must be our future – and my Administration’s policies are designed to achieve that future. 

So the First Pillar is a continuing interference in, and tighter control of the economy by the federal government 

The Second Pillar is reinforced leftist indoctrination in the schools under stricter federal government authority 

The Third Pillar is the provision of insecure and very expensive energy, its uses ever more regulated by the government so that lives become poorer and harder

The Fourth Pillar is the establishment of nationalized healthcare, being a huge extension of the welfare state and the augmentation of  governmental power of decision over the life and death of every individual  

The Fifth Pillar is a fantasy, a pretense, a fairy story that future federal budgets will get smaller and the monstrous deficits  will be ‘halved’ in a blink of the dear leader’s eye.  

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Thursday, April 16, 2009

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Eloquence 2

From the (pretty far left) Guardian

Nick Robinson: "A question for you both, if I may. The prime minister has repeatedly blamed the United States of America for causing this crisis. France and Germany both blame Britain and America for causing this crisis. Who is right? And isn’t the debate about that at the heart of the debate about what to do now?" Brown immediately swivels to leave Obama in pole position. There is a four-second delay before Obama starts speaking [THANKS FOR NOTHING, GORDY BABY. REMIND ME TO HANG YOU OUT TO DRY ONE DAY.] Barack Obama: "I, I, would say that, er … pause [I HAVEN’T A CLUE] … if you look at … pause[WHO IS THIS NICK ROBINSON JERK?] … the, the sources of this crisis … pause [JUST KEEP GOING, BUDDY] … the United States certainly has some accounting to do with respect to … pause [I’M IN WAY TOO DEEP HERE] … a regulatory system that was inadequate to the massive changes that have taken place in the global financial system … pause, close eyes [THIS IS GOING TO GO DOWN LIKE A CROCK OF SHIT BACK HOME. HELP]. I think what is also true is that … pause[I WANT NICK ROBINSON TO DISAPPEAR] … here in Great Britain …pause [SHIT, GORDY’S THE HOST, DON’T LAND HIM IN IT] … here in continental Europe … pause [DAMN IT, BLAME EVERYONE.] … around the world. We were seeing the same mismatch between the regulatory regimes that were in place and er … pause [I’VE LOST MY TRAIN OF THOUGHT AGAIN] … the highly integrated, er, global capital markets that have emerged … pause [I’M REALLY WINGING IT NOW]. So at this point, I’m less interested in … pause [YOU] … identifying blame than fixing the problem. I think we’ve taken some very aggressive steps in the United States to do so, n
ot just responding to the immediate crisis, ensuring banks are adequately capitalised, er, dealing with the enormous, er … pause [WHY DIDN’T I QUIT WHILE I WAS AHEAD?] … drop-off in demand and contraction that has taken place. More importantly, for the long term, making sure that we’ve got a set of, er, er, regulations that are up to the task, er, and that includes, er, a number that will be discussed at this summit. I think there’s a lot of convergence between all the parties involved about the need, for example, to focus not on the legal form that a particular financial product takes or the institution it emerges from, but rather what’s the risk involved, what’s the function of this product and how do we regulate that adequately, much more effective coordination, er, between countries so we can, er, anticipate the risks that are involved there. Dealing with the, er, problem of derivatives markets, making sure we have set up systems, er, that can reduce some of the risks there. So, I actually think … pause[FANTASTIC. I’VE LOST EVERYONE, INCLUDING MYSELF] … there’s enormous consensus that has emerged in terms of what we need to do now and, er … pause [I’M OUTTA HERE. TIME FOR THE USUAL CLOSING BOLLOCKS] … I’m a great believer in looking forwards than looking backwards.

Posted under Uncategorized by Jillian Becker on Saturday, April 4, 2009

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The jolly chums in whose hands our future resides 0

 

Do they inspire our confidence? One of them seems to have some gravitas.
 
Picture from Drudge Report.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Friday, April 3, 2009

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A storm in the teacup of the right 0

One of our editors, C. Gee, comments:

 Is it unAmerican to want Obama to fail?

 There is a storm in the teacup of the right blogosphere. Charles Johnson of LGF, whom we greatly admire and usually agree with, opines that Republicans are wrong to say they want Obama – who has called himself  ‘The Ones we have been waiting for’ –  to fail, as the vast middle of the nation will hear this as wanting America to fail. These people, apparently, do not want any American president to fail.

Well, it is time the vast middle of the nation opened its ears and really listened to what is being said. If they had done that during 2008, they would not have voted in a president that wants America to fail. The vast middles may have liked The Ones’ positive message of hope and change. But his actual policies are already undermining this nation, preparing the way for the international socialist utopia. 

The left wanted Bush to fail, because they wanted America to fail. They still do. Wanting The Ones to fail is not tit-for-tat, or descending to the Left’s level. It is a  principled political stance, whether articulated or not.

We want The Ones to fail so that America can survive and protect what is left of civilization in this increasingly nasty world. And it is senselessly prissy to draw a distinction between saying we want The Ones to fail and saying we want his policies to fail. The Ones has no political existence other than in his policies.

Some pills should not be sugar-coated, some messages should not be massaged.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Thursday, March 26, 2009

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Diktat 0

 From Investor’s Business Daily:

Rep. Barney Frank, the Democrat who sits atop Congress’ efforts to deal with the financial crisis, has enough chutzpah for 100 politicians — which is saying a lot.

In comments before testimony from both Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Fed chief Ben Bernanke Tuesday, Frank said he wants to regulate pay on Wall Street — even for companies that aren’t getting bailouts.

And he called retention bonuses — a time-honored practice on Wall Street and elsewhere in America in which key employees are compensated for their enormous value — "extortion" and "bribes."

Frank, one of the chief architects of the housing mess that’s brought us so low, isn’t satisfied merely with pretending he and his Democratic pals aren’t to blame for all this. No, exploiting voter anger over the now-infamous AIG bonuses, he also wants to dictate to American capitalism what it can earn and what it can’t.

This is the kind of thing that normally happens in Third World countries ruled by tinhorn dictators, or in fascist states, where the democratic rule of law has collapsed. Not the U.S.

Yet, that’s where we find ourselves today, isn’t it? Democrats in Congress, who steadfastly rejected virtually all efforts to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as they went on the wildest, most irresponsible lending binge in the history of finance, now pose themselves as the saviors of fallen capitalism.

The hypocrisy is nothing short of stunning.

Take Frank. As we’ve written before, he spearheaded congressional Democrats’ efforts in 1992, 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2005 to block reform of Fannie and Freddie.

Those two "government-sponsored enterprises" were the nexus of this crisis, holding $5.4 trillion of the $12 trillion in U.S. mortgages, while originating or funding 90% of the subprime market.

Their failures presaged the subsequent financial meltdown from which we’re still trying to regain our economic footing.

Then there’s Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, another posturing moralist in the flap over AIG bonuses. He turns out to have inserted the bonuses into the bailout legislation in the first place.

An innocent move? Please note Dodd was No. 1 on the list of recipients of AIG’s political contributions. Also that his wife was a former director of IPC Holdings, a company controlled by AIG.

We wish all this tinkering with the private sector was limited to Congress. But it isn’t. The Treasury wants what the Washington Post called Tuesday "unprecedented powers to initiate the seizure of non-bank financial companies, such as large insurers, investment firms and hedge funds, whose collapse would damage the broader economy."

Citing the AIG precedent, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs defended this radical move, saying on CNN, "We need resolution authority to go in and be able to change contracts, be able to change the business model, unwind what doesn’t work."

Breathtaking. Coupled with the vast expansion of government spending over the next 10 years, this is socialism, pure and simple.

Yes, we know it’s unfashionable to use the "S" word. But we’re willing to be unhip in the service of the truth.

It’s a frightening thing to see a once mighty, and free, capitalist economy placed under the heel of an incompetent government. But that’s precisely what’s happening now.

Executive pay, the focus of much public fury right now, is only the start. Your pay will be next, rest assured. So hold on to your wallets, sure, but also hold on even tighter to something even more precious that now seems at risk: your freedom.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, March 25, 2009

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The budding American dictatorship 4

 From Investor’s Business Daily:

Rep. Barney Frank, the Democrat who sits atop Congress’ efforts to deal with the financial crisis, has enough chutzpah for 100 politicians — which is saying a lot.

In comments before testimony from both Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Fed chief Ben Bernanke Tuesday, Frank said he wants to regulate pay on Wall Street — even for companies that aren’t getting bailouts.

And he called retention bonuses — a time-honored practice on Wall Street and elsewhere in America in which key employees are compensated for their enormous value — "extortion" and "bribes."

Frank, one of the chief architects of the housing mess that’s brought us so low, isn’t satisfied merely with pretending he and his Democratic pals aren’t to blame for all this. No, exploiting voter anger over the now-infamous AIG bonuses, he also wants to dictate to American capitalism what it can earn and what it can’t.

This is the kind of thing that normally happens in Third World countries ruled by tinhorn dictators, or in fascist states, where the democratic rule of law has collapsed. Not the U.S.

Yet, that’s where we find ourselves today, isn’t it? Democrats in Congress, who steadfastly rejected virtually all efforts to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as they went on the wildest, most irresponsible lending binge in the history of finance, now pose themselves as the saviors of fallen capitalism.

The hypocrisy is nothing short of stunning.

Take Frank. As we’ve written before, he spearheaded congressional Democrats’ efforts in 1992, 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2005 to block reform of Fannie and Freddie.

Those two "government-sponsored enterprises" were the nexus of this crisis, holding $5.4 trillion of the $12 trillion in U.S. mortgages, while originating or funding 90% of the subprime market.

Their failures presaged the subsequent financial meltdown from which we’re still trying to regain our economic footing.

Then there’s Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, another posturing moralist in the flap over AIG bonuses. He turns out to have inserted the bonuses into the bailout legislation in the first place.

An innocent move? Please note Dodd was No. 1 on the list of recipients of AIG’s political contributions. Also that his wife was a former director of IPC Holdings, a company controlled by AIG.

We wish all this tinkering with the private sector was limited to Congress. But it isn’t. The Treasury wants what the Washington Post called Tuesday "unprecedented powers to initiate the seizure of non-bank financial companies, such as large insurers, investment firms and hedge funds, whose collapse would damage the broader economy."

Citing the AIG precedent, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs defended this radical move, saying on CNN, "We need resolution authority to go in and be able to change contracts, be able to change the business model, unwind what doesn’t work."

Breathtaking. Coupled with the vast expansion of government spending over the next 10 years, this is socialism, pure and simple.

Yes, we know it’s unfashionable to use the "S" word. But we’re willing to be unhip in the service of the truth.

It’s a frightening thing to see a once mighty, and free, capitalist economy placed under the heel of an incompetent government. But that’s precisely what’s happening now.

Executive pay, the focus of much public fury right now, is only the start. Your pay will be next, rest assured. So hold on to your wallets, sure, but also hold on even tighter to something even more precious that now seems at risk: your freedom.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, March 25, 2009

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World-changing events 2

 On March 29, local elections will be held in Turkey. If the current government wins these municipal races, especially in Ankara and Istanbul, the country will be encouraged to go even further down the road toward Islamic extremism. Whatever happens internally (where the nature of Turkish society forces it to go more slowly), Ankara’s foreign policy is increasingly aligned with that of the radicals in the region – not only Hamas but also Syria and Iran.

Turkey’s many friends are hoping that moderation and its traditional political virtues win out. But what’s happening there may well be the most important political event in the Middle East since the Iranian revolution 30 years ago. Think of what it means if, in whole or even in part, Turkey goes from the Western to the radical camp; clearly this is a world-changing event.

Then on June 7 come the Lebanese elections. Given the vast amounts of money they have spent, their use of violent intimidation and demoralization due to the Western abandonment of the moderates, it is likely that Iran’s Syrian clients will take over Lebanon’s government. This does not mean domination by Hizbullah but by four allied forces: pro-Syrian Sunni politicians; Michel Aoun’s Christian forces; and the two Shi’ite groups, Hizbullah and Amal.

Already, Lebanon’s president and former armed forces’ commander Michel Suleiman is very close to the Iran-Syrian orbit. This doesn’t mean that Lebanon will be annexed or militarily reoccupied by Syria, or that Lebanon will become an Islamist state internally. But it does mean that Lebanon will become a reliable ally of what Syrian President Bashar Assad calls "the resistance front."

In the region, these two developments will be perceived as two big victories for Teheran, and a sign that the Islamist-radical side is the wave of the future.

And what is the United States doing to fight, stop or manage this visible crisis?

Nothing.

Finally, on June 12, presidential elections will take place in Iran itself. The likelihood is the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, either fairly or through manipulation of the ballot. The Iranian ruling establishment, which might have been persuaded to endorse a less extreme candidate if there had been enough Western pressure to make the incumbent look bad, has backed an openly aggressive anti-Semite.

Even though Ahmadinejad is not the real ruler of Iran, he and his allies are working to make him so. And of course his reelection means not only that Iran is waging a campaign to get nuclear weapons, it will mean that it is moving at the fastest possible speed, with the least likelihood of compromising and the most probability of using such a weapon (or forcing Israel to act militarily to stop the process). By years’ end, or shortly after, Iran might have an atom bomb.

In short, 2009 is looking like a year of massive defeat for the US and its friends in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Washington is blind to this trend, pursuing a futile attempt to conciliate its enemies, losing time and not adopting the policies desperately needed.

The only point in this article by Barry Rubin – all of which is worth reading – with which we take issue is his assumption that the new US administration is merely blind or mistaken in pursuing policies that will strengthen the ‘Islamist-radical side’.

How long will it take, how much more of the same must Obama and the Democrats do, before the understanding breaks over the US electorate and the Western world in general that they mean to strengthen the (up until now) Islamic enemy, weaken the West, diminish individual freedom, and make the population dependent on government. The end of prosperity is the beginning. Next comes the end of liberty. Finally, the enemy wins.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, February 24, 2009

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The Holy-Land That Needs Hobbes 0

Last September, Mithal al-Alusi, an Iraqi Sunni MP, arrived in Israel to attend an annual counter-terrorism conference. He forcefully cried, “In Israel, there is no occupation; there is liberalism,” to the sound of roaring applause from Israelis and foreign diplomats. Upon his return to Iraq, the National Assembly of Iraq voted to remove his parliamentary immunities and banned him from travelling. He was arrested and threatened with the death penalty. This was not his first visit; in 2004 he made a public visit to Israel. Consequently, five months later, both his sons were murdered. He was sacked from his job at the De-Baathification Commission and was expelled from the Iraqi National Congress.

Al-Alusi recognises that Iraq and Israel share similar challenges, namely the murderous Iranian-funded terrorism that has taken so many lives in both countries. Al-Alusi has lauded Israel as a beacon of hope and liberalism. The Israeli elections on Tuesday were crucially important because it is vital that the future Israeli government seeks to uphold the equality and the civil liberties for all its citizens – Muslim, Christian, Jewish and Druze – that she has attempted to keep implemented since her foundation sixty years ago. She must continue to be the model of a liberal democracy in the despotism-riddled Middle East, despite the very opposite image peddled by the Western Left, the media and the Islamists. It is easy for much of the West to forget that Israel has many Arab politicians, several serving in the cabinet.

The Israeli exit polls show that Kadima, the current ruling party, has won the most seats. But Israel suffers the proportional representation system that is used so widely across Europe; this means that a Kadima politician may not necessarily take the position of Prime Minister. What will happen? And what are the implications for Israel, the region and the world?
Last Tuesday’s election was a year earlier than necessary because the current Prime Minister Olmert resigned after continuous public pressure and police investigations into tales of corruption, and the new leader of Kadima, Tzipi Livni, was unable to form a new coalition.

The Knesset is a unicameral parliament. Its 120 members, known as MKs, are elected to four-year terms in a secret ballot whereat the public will vote for a party and not an individual MK. Seats are allocated in proportion to the number of votes each party receives beyond a threshold of two percent. The 120 seats are apportioned through party-list proportional representation using the d’Hondt method – a widely used system that employs a highest averages method. Once the official results are published, the President of Israel gives the task of forming a majority coalition to an MK whom he believes to have the best chance of succeeding. That MK is then given up to 42 days to negotiate a working coalition with other parties and present his government to the Knesset for a vote of confidence. If the government is approved, the MK then becomes Prime Minister.

The numbers and distribution of Knesset seats in the February elections are as follows: Kadima 28; Likud 27; Yisrael Beitenu 15; Labor 13; Shas 11; United Torah Judaism 5; Hadash 4; United Arab List-Ta’al 4; National Union 4; Meretz 3; Habayit Hayehudi 3; Balad 3.

The politics of Israel is an extraordinary maelstrom of differing ideals, religions and methods. Muslim voters have supported right-wing Zionist parties and religious Jews have voted for Arab parties. In the disorder of the system there is hope and wonderment at the extraordinary examples of different cultures and religions campaigning peacefully and democratically together to sustain hope and achieve peace; a possibility that cannot be found elsewhere in the Middle East.

There are a huge number of different parties that represent all walks of life, but this election showed huge gains for the Right. The Centrist Kadima was a party that sprang out of a squabbling Likud because of disagreement over the disengagement plan from Gaza. Kadima’s win was a surprise to many – especially the pollsters, who had projected Likud to top the results. Kadima’s decision to withdraw from Gaza was highly criticized at the time and now there is little success to show for it – Gaza has become a terrorist state with regular pogroms against its own people and regular attacks against the civilians of Israel. Kadima’s leadership has been weak in times of war, and its dithering in Lebanon is arguably accountable for the deaths of Israeli soldiers. The decision to release Samir Kuntar – a Lebanese terrorist who beat a little blonde four-year-old Jewish girl to death by smashing apart her head with a rock – provoked huge condemnation and dismay from the media and the public. Kadima has been regarded as an ineffectual, weak government – a feeble image that the Israelis have known hostile Arab states to prey upon. Thus Kadima’s decision finally to respond to the constant barrage of rocket fire from Gaza caused some surprise among the government’s detractors. The attempt to destroy Hamas’ weapon caches in December – Operation Cast Lead – may have changed the minds of many Israelis. The operation certainly sapped Likud’s criticism and its accusations of Kadima’s apparent apathy to the vicious attacks by Hamas.

Despite Kadima winning the largest number of seats, it does not have the support from the other large parties and given the current stances of Likud, Yisrael Beitenu and Shas, it is highly unlikely that Tzipi Livni will be able to secure a working coalition. In this case, President Shimon Peres may ask Benjamin Netanyahu of Likud to form a coalition from the Right-wing parties that dominate the election results.
The large gains by the right can be explained by the realisation among Israelis that their doves have been met with rockets and that their concessions have been met with violence. In 2001, the then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians all of Gaza and 97% of the West Bank with border compensations to make up for the other 3%. Furthermore, Jerusalem would be a shared capital for both countries. When the Palestinians shot down this offer, so fell the appeal of the Left. Further failures to respond properly to terrorist attacks resulted in more support manifesting for the Right. The South of Israel, especially around towns such as Sderot, which has endured thousands of rockets and mortar attacks, almost entirely voted for the Right. The residents want military action to end the indiscriminate attacks on their town – rockets are fired when school is starting or finishing and the children are out on the streets. Suliman Qadia – a Palestinian from Gaza from where the Israeli intelligence service, Shin Bet, helped him escape, said of Hamas: “Nothing else will work, we just need to go into Gaza, full force, and pound them, erase them completely, until it’s over. That’s the only language they understand and believe me – I know what I’m talking about. After all, I lived with them.”

The Northern Arab town Haifa and Tel-Aviv voted for the Left and Centrists; in the South the persistent attacks and a demand for their end necessitated an almost entirely Right-wing stronghold. In other words, the rockets voted.

Obama’s Presidency is also a cause for concern among Israelis. There is a real fear that he would not act to stop a nuclear-armed Iran. In response to an American President perceived as Left-wing, a more hawkish Prime Minister feels like a necessary choice to many Israeli voters.

The reason Likud could not strongly capitalise on the Left’s decline was the belief that Netanyahu’s previous term as Prime Minister in the late nineties was considered by-and-large a failure – he had made similar profitless concessions to the Palestinians that Kadima has made. Netanyahu has also failed to provide a direction for Israel that differs from Kadima’s. Thus, many Israelis that wished to respond to the Palestinian attacks – not to turn the other cheek but to clench their fists – voted for the further-Right parties, such as Shas or Beitenu.

Among the political parties there is a great deal of squabbling. The main issue that divides them so, is of course the path to peace with the Palestinians. There are those that would appease and there are those that would defend themselves at all cost. What is clear however is that Proportional Representation (PR) is disastrous for Israel. This tiny country is at war, and has been so for the last sixty years. It cannot afford to have chaos in the government at a time when order has never been so important. It can be argued that PR does help to unify the country – every party represents all Israelis regardless and so there is no chance of segregation through politics and race. But what of the small Bedouin tribe who needs representation in Knesset and has no MK to do so? Israel needs strength, equality and democracy, and PR does not sustain these values effectively.

One prospect is certain – whoever becomes Prime Minister will have to use a coalition of Right-wing parties. This would suggest – unless the Iranian elections in June provide a reformist candidate that would halt their nuclear programme – that a future Israeli government will take military action against Iran. Hezbollah’s steadily growing supply of rockets in the South of Lebanon and the large-scale Syrian troop movements to the border with Israel, suggests it is possible that a large conflict may break out across the region, a danger exacerbated by Iran’s increased missile capability and promises of retaliation. When Israel’s security is directly threatened, there is little argument among her political parties. Even the far-left parties supported Israel’s recent defensive campaign against Hamas, and in the face of Iran, there is strong unity. Military action is seen as a last resort but recognized as a very possible outcome.

Furthermore, the build-up on the Right would mean that the destruction of the Jewish West Bank settlements would seem unlikely as a means of concession. The idea of displacing almost half a million Jewish settlers is unthinkable to the Right, especially after the ruinous withdrawal from the Gaza Strip that just brought more attacks and death to Southern Israel.

The truth is that Israel’s future has never been so uncertain. There is much speculation as to from whom and from which parties a coalition will be formed. Some American commentators have suggested Lieberman of Yisrael Beitenu will be given the foreign office portfolio, and there are even rumours that Livni and Netanyahu might share the position of Prime Minister. It is impossible to know or understand what bargaining and comprising is going on by the political parties behind the scenes. And in some ways, the choice of government may not matter. In foreign affairs, the actions of Israel can only be dictated by the hostile states surrounding it. Every government must protect its people, and Israel’s actions – while perhaps varying in strength – will be unchanged no matter what current party is in power. In times of war, Israel does not want an attempt at government, but definite ordered rule – an effective government is needed.

The results of the elections have reacted little to domestic affairs but largely to the changing world. Reasons such as Obama’s Presidency, a Turkish government that is arguably no longer secular, the Iranian elections in June, the undeniable attempts by Hamas to destroy Israel and her people, are all reasons for many Israeli voters to have demanded a stronger, more hawkish government. But uncertain times have bred uncertain results – now Israel must bring order out of the chaos if she wishes to succeed and survive.

Posted under Commentary by on Monday, February 16, 2009

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