Tear Down That Wall!

January 24, 2008 at 10:16 am | Posted in America, Israel | Leave a comment


(courtesy of Newsweek and Abid Katib / Getty Images)

I don’t think that Israel and America realize how badly they are losing the PR battle against the Palestinians and their allies. The more they squeeze Gaza, the more Israel and America lose. It’s a real damn shame, isn’t it?

Various Items

December 15, 2007 at 6:52 am | Posted in America, American politics, Barry Bonds, baseball, Bush Administration, CIA, Civil War, Congress, conservatives, corruption, Democrats, Ethiopia, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iran, Iraq, Israel, King George, Middle East, mukasey, Musharraf, Pakistan, Peace, Republicans, secret combinations, Somalia, Terrorism, Thoughts, War, World Events | Leave a comment

There are a few items in the news today that I feel are important.

Justice Department Seeks Delay in CIA Tapes

Surprise, surprise. The Bush Administration Justice Department does not wish for Congress to really know what was going on at the CIA when they destroyed evidence. What do you think, Mr. Chuck Shumer? Ms. Diane Feinstein? Was Mukasey worth this? Did you really think he would allow you into the deepest darkest corners of the Bush administration? Serious, high crimes have been committed by the Bush administration, ordered from Bush himself. Do you really think he would let you in?

Do Congressional Democrats realize just how frustrating they have been at allowing the Bush administration and the minority Republicans to thrash them so many times? Do Congressional Democrats realize just how frustrating it is for citizens to see them capitulate at the mere THREAT of filibuster. LET THEM FILIBUSTER ALREADY! Let them do it guys! Let’s see Republicans talk themselves to death! Let them truly be obstructionist. Why do you give them such political victories, by both giving in to their demands without making them sweat for it, and letting them take the public relations coup?

I think we need new Democratic leadership. Y’all are cowards. Yes, you Mr. Harry Reid. Yes you, Ms. Nancy Pelosi. What do Bush and the Republicans have on you? Why do you bend over for them? STOP IT!

Musharraf Lifts Pakistan’s State of Emergency.

Heh, one wonders why. Let’s see, the reason given for the state of emergency two months ago was a threat to the state of Pakistan by Al-Qaeda. Now that the state of emergency was removed, can anyone point to any reduced threat from Al-Qaeda? Any evidence? Are they still a threat to Pakistan? Hmmm.

Maybe the real reason had to do with Pakistan’s Supreme Court, which was about to rule against Musharraf. Let’s see. Musharraf declares emergency, martial law, basically. He removes justices from the Supreme Court he didn’t like, and places ones on there that would rule in his favor. He arrests some thousands of lawyers—a true threat to the viability of the state, no doubt—-but, well…nothing really drastic done against the stated threat, Al-Qaeda. Huh.

So, who, besides Musharraf, can even consider the upcoming elections as anything but fair?

Ethiopians said to push civilians into rebel war.

This piece of news is important because Ethiopia entered into Somalia at our request. We again farmed out what we should have done to someone else. Now that someone else, in this case, Ethiopia, is stretched too thin. Because many of its troops are in Somalia, Ethiopia does not have enough to deal with the rebels in a really dry region between Somalia and Eritrea. This is bad because it is undermining the strength of a fairly stable country on Africa’s horn. Meanwhile, over in Somalia, the Islamic militants increase their power.

Huh, I wonder if Bush will pull a Bush senior move and send soldiers into Somalia just before he gets out of office forcing his Democratic successor to handle his mess.

Sealed off by Israel, Gaza a beggar state

I don’t get Israel. I don’t think they realize the enormity of the problem in Gaza, and that by continuing to starve them out, it will only be worse for them. 1.5 million people is a hell of a lot of people. I’m sure Israel would love it for them not to be there anymore, but there is no way for that to happen.

It is really sad. A peace conference photo-op was done at Annapolis just a few weeks ago, but notably absent are the conflicting parties. Where was Hamas? Where was Hesbollah? Where was Iran? Interestingly, where was Iraq? How can you make peace with your enemy if you do not invite them to a peace conference?

Voters offer mixed responses on Clemens’ HOF chances

On baseball here. The Mitchell Report has certainly increased baseball talk, here in mid-winter. I’ll be fascinated to see what happens in the Spring. But I wanted to quote from Ray Ratto, who is quoted in this piece. I think he makes some very interesting points in regards to baseball, the Hall of Fame, numbers, and more importantly, the business itself.

“I would vote for Bonds on the first ballot, as I would vote for Clemens, because the Hall of Fame isn’t church,” Ratto said. “It’s the history of baseball, and this is part of the history of baseball. I can assure you that Bud Selig will be voted into the Hall of Fame, and he is the commissioner whose name will be linked with the steroid era by first ignoring it, then profiting from it, and finally blaming others for it.

“I know that Cap Anson is in the Hall of Fame, and he was instrumental in the creation of the color line, which is way worse than PEDs. So this discussion ends up being an excuse for people with no institutional memory or understanding to claim a moral superiority they’re not really equipped to display.”

I always liked Ray Ratto. I grew up in the Bay Area and read his opinions frequently. I think he says it best here. Firstly that the Hall of Fame already includes cheaters, as well as racists and womanizers. It isn’t church. We don’t need to deify these players.

More important is his point about how the business of baseball profited from these past 12 years of steroid and human growth hormone abuse. I remember seeing a comment from a reader on CNN.com who said that Barry Bonds was being used. This commentator wrote when Barry was indicted by the grand jury on perjury. Barry Bonds may be done playing baseball for good. But that is a point rarely made.

Barry Bonds was indeed used. Bud Selig was silent because Barry Bonds brought in money. Look at just this last year’s revenue, over $6 billion dollars, according to sources. $6 billion dollars. That’s almost as good as America’s most popular sport—where enhancement drugs are also abused—football. On what did those baseball owners profit? On juiced up players of course. How much revenue did the San Francisco Giants get from the year 2000-2007? Shall we look at what profit Peter Magowan made during that time? How about Steinbrenner and the Yankees?

Baseball millionaire owners profited from their players getting juiced. And who gets blamed now? The players of course. Rape them for all they’ve got and then throw them to the trash compactor when you’re through with them. Who is the public face of the San Francisco Giants? Barry Bonds of course. Who is the money behind the San Francisco Giants? Peter Magowan. Who will pay for the juiced player? Barry Bonds of course. Who will profit from the juiced player? Peter Magowan.

Remember that.

Mitchell Report can’t be good for baseball’s short term business

Read for yourself:

George Mitchell’s steroids report hasn’t just rocked the game of baseball. It figures to shake the business of baseball, too.

As an industry, MLB has been even hotter than Josh Beckett in October. It posted record revenues of $6 billion this year. Baseball has more than doubled its take of a decade ago and is closing fast on the NFL as the top-grossing league in sports.

The Mitchell Report, though, could jeopardize that run. Maybe Commissioner Bud Selig just couldn’t stand too much prosperity. He ordered up the Mitchell Report and re-focused attention on a problem that, in many fans’ eyes, had faded as a concern.

Just remember who profited on baseball’s steroids. Not the players who get the fans’ wrath. Oh no. People like Bud Selig. I wish we had our priorities straight, here in America.

Why This Dismal Annapolis Meeting Will Fail (UPDATED)

November 27, 2007 at 11:50 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, condoleezza rice, conservatives, corruption, Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Peace, War | 2 Comments

I noted in a previous post that Condoleezza Rice is a bumbling ignorant fool when it comes to the Middle East. She is attempting to somehow wrap up a peace deal between Israel and Palestinians before the end of her boss’s term. This is solely a selfish move, as she is more concerned about her legacy (war war war) than about peace. She has had ample opportunities to force her ideologically driven boss to make the right decisions, but every time, she failed. Well she finally convinced him to throw her a bone, and, as you’ll see, that’s what he did, throw her a bone.

President Bush, who’s largely ignored the risky business of Middle East peacemaking throughout his nearly seven years in office, will take center stage Tuesday at the international peace conference he’s hosting in Annapolis, Md.

He won’t remain there for long, however. Bush plans to head back to the White House after delivering his opening speech to the diplomats and dignitaries at the U.S. Naval Academy, and while surprises are always possible, White House aides said he wasn’t planning to offer new American proposals to resolve the conflict.

Nor is Bush expected to jump into extended post-Annapolis negotiations or head off to the Middle East to pursue peace in the waning days of his tenure.

He’s not going to really participate, get into the nitty gritty details. This may be a good thing, seeing how terrible a leader and diplomat he is.

It’s not only that he won’t really participate, but that he has completely ignored the REAL parties at conflict in the Middle East. Like, for example, orthodox Jews, who are none too happy about making peace with Palestinians. In fact, they, along with their counterparts in Palestine, Hamas, are counter-rallying against this meeting.

In a show of defiance against the U.S.-sponsored peace conference in Annapolis, thousands of Hamas supporters rallied in the streets of the Gaza Strip Tuesday and a second armed Palestinian movement vowed to intensify its attacks on Israel, saying “the only dialogue with the enemy with be with rifles and rockets.”

The demonstration that filled Gaza City’s wide central avenue came a day after thousands of Israelis, also opposed to fresh negotiations to create a Palestinian state, marched from the Western Wall, the holiest place Jews can pray, to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s residence near this city’s center.

Among them were leaders of at least one party that is part of Olmert’s governing coalition, a sign of the political tremors likely to follow the inauguration of the first Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in nearly seven years.

Israeli and Palestinian rejectionists — the term used to describe those who deny the other’s right to a state nearly six-decades after Israel’s founding — have hampered past negotiations and worked to undermine efforts to implement the few agreements that have been reached.

But the hawks on both sides hold particular power at the moment given the political weakness of Olmert, who is under criminal investigation, ill with prostate cancer, and still criticized for waging a poorly conceived war in Lebanon last year, and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president whose electorate is violently divided.

The biggest problem, of course, is that no one bothered to invite Iran to this meeting. Why not? Because the Bush administration is ideologically driven, rather than peace-driven. If the Bush administration truly cared about peace in the Middle East, they would be visiting Tehran, not rattling their sabers at Tehran.

More than four dozen governments, international organizations and financial institutions will be represented when Middle East talks open in Annapolis today. But it is the uninvited guests — Iran and its allies Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and other militant factions — that may have the biggest impact on the peace talks.

Containing Iran and its regional influence is the ambitious challenge for all the attendees except Syria, a goal officials from many participating nations contend is as important as producing peace in the Middle East.

“Iran will be the 5,000-pound elephant in the room, even though it’s not present,” said former U.S. peace negotiator Aaron David Miller. “It’s in everyone’s calculation and motivation . . . [plus] the impact of Hamas and the role it can play in wreaking havoc with whatever happens in Annapolis. . . . The balance of power is not in favor of peacemakers but in favor of the troublemakers.”

And that there is the key to why this meeting will not accomplish anything. Think back to when Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton got Israel and two of her neighbors to sign peace treaties. Jimmy Carter focused on Egypt and Israel, and Bill Clinton focused on Jordan and Israel. In order for there to be peace between two nations, BOTH nations must be there for conferences that might spell out actions. Iran is nowhere to be found because no one invited Iran. That spells major trouble.

That also sends a signal to Iran that the United States considers Iran’s regime’s days numbered, not worthy enough to consider inviting to a meeting about peace. Think about that for a while.

(UPDATE)

I just have to add these great comics on this meeting:


(Courtesy of Ann Telnaes)


(Courtesy of Mike Luckovich)

The Bumbling Condoleezza Rice in Non-Action

November 25, 2007 at 9:29 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, condoleezza rice, Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Middle East, Peace, War | 2 Comments

Elizabeth Bumiller is writing a biography about Condoleezza Rice and released an excerpt to the New York Times highlighting an aspect of Ms. Rice’s…well, non-action over the last seven years on peace between Israel and Palestinians. Ms. Bumiller perfectly highlights that Ms. Rice was at the forefront of all the bad decisions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She also points out that Ms. Rice pushed Israel to not be so harsh on the Palestinians just before the war in Iraq. After all, we can’t have our coalition be severely hampered by a sideshow.

Then we get to the best part. This is where Ms. Rice shows how inept, how ignorant, and how much of a bumbling fool she really is in regards to the Middle East.

When Ms. Rice became secretary of state in the second term, she told Mr. Bush in a long conversation at Camp David the weekend after the 2004 election that her priority would have to be progress in the Middle East. It was a turning point in more ways than one; Mr. Arafat died a few days later. Although Ms. Rice said in an interview that she had set no conditions when she took the job, her aides said that she had known that her relationship with the president would give her far greater influence to push an agenda, including peacemaking in the Middle East, than Mr. Powell’s.

You’d think that would be enough, but, well…

Accordingly, Ms. Rice spent much of 2005 working on the Gaza withdrawal that she thought would contribute to stability. Instead, it was seen as so emboldening the radicals that in early 2006 Hamas won a landslide victory in Palestinian elections over Mr. Abbas and his governing party, Fatah.

If one paid close attention to what was happening in Israel/Palestine from 2001-2006, one would have surmised that Israel was purposefully pushing Palestinians toward radicalism. For instance, a suicide bomber would blow himself and ten people up in Haifa. Hamas or Islamic Jihad would claim responsibility. What was Israel’s reaction? Why, they would bomb a Fatah police station! What? Huh? Now, why the hell would they do that, when Fatah was trying to rein in groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad? Why would Israel purposefully undermine the very organization that could lead Palestinians toward moderation and possibly peace? See, bombing a Fatah police station sends a particular message to Palestinians. The message is: Israelis don’t really want peace. Stick with the extremists. They are your only hope of survival against the Israelis.

Enter the bumbling Ms. Rice. She continued this foolish stupid policy, completely ignored Arafat and Fatah, and tried to get Abbas elected and in power. But then when Abbas did win, she offered him nothing. This sent another message to Palestinians. The same one: Israel and the West don’t want peace. Stick with the extremists. They are your only hope of survival against the Israelis and the West. See, by raising up Abbas, and then short-shrifting him, Ms. Rice set up the following event:

Ms. Rice, who had heralded the election as a symbol of the new stirrings of democracy in the Middle East, was so blindsided by the victory that she was startled when she saw a crawl of words on her television screen while exercising on her elliptical trainer the morning after the election: “In wake of Hamas victory, Palestinian cabinet resigns.”

“I thought, ‘Well, that’s not right,’” Ms. Rice recalled. When the crawl continued, she got off the elliptical trainer and called the State Department.

“I said, ‘What happened in the Palestinian elections?’” Ms. Rice recalled. “And they said, ‘Oh, Hamas won.’ And I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, Hamas won?’

She and the Israelis under Sharon set the stage for Hamas to win and then she is surprised that they won. Either she is acting or she is a complete bumbling ignorant fool. I’m going with the latter.

It then gets even worse. Hezbollah, in Lebanon, in a brazen attack, kills several Israeli soldiers and captures two. This set off a wild summer in 2006. What did Ms. Rice do that summer?

Ms. Rice’s credibility was further damaged when she delayed calling for a cease-fire as Israel plunged into a two-front war in Lebanon and Gaza that summer. By the end of 2006, with the peace efforts in shambles and the administration’s time running out, Ms. Rice began to pick up the pieces.

Ms. Bumiller, as a biographer, is being kind to Ms. Rice. She does not mention Ms. Rice’s most unfortunate words:

But I have no interest in diplomacy for the sake of returning Lebanon and Israel to the status quo ante. I think it would be a mistake.

What we’re seeing here, in a sense, is the growing — the birth pangs of a new Middle East.

RICE: And whatever we do, we have to be certain that we are pushing forward to the new Middle East, not going back to the old one.

The birth pangs of a new Middle East?

This is how ignorant and lame Ms. Rice is on the Middle East. Not only was she wrong about Hamas, not only was she wrong about Hezbollah, but both have increased their positions of strength and influence since she got “involved.” Israel lost its aura of invincibility by “losing” to a ragtag group of terrorists. Oh and Israel still has yet to get back its two soldiers.

Just keep all this in mind when Ms. Rice attempts any future “talks on peace” in the Middle East. She is more worried right now about her “legacy” than actually about making peace in the Middle East.

If she truly would want to make peace in the Middle East, her first visit as of right now, should be to Tehran.

Condoleezza Rice Ponders On Her Future and Legacy

September 1, 2007 at 5:52 pm | Posted in American politics, condoleezza rice, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Syria | 2 Comments

In an interview with the New York Times, Ms. Rice talks about her future (even though she still has 18 months of work), and bemoans that her legacy will forever be tainted by failure. Well, duh, Ms. Rice. It might be because of, well, what you did:

In the Palestinian territories, she engineered a political boycott of the militant Islamist group Hamas after it won legislative elections, which she had pushed for, in 2006. In Pakistan, while continuing to express support for elections, she has scrambled for ways to keep Gen. Pervez Musharraf, a military dictator who took power in a 1999 coup, in office. And she made little mention of democracy during a visit to Egypt and Saudi Arabia in July, and did not meet with any political dissidents, citing time pressures and a full schedule.

So you tell Palestinians that they must elect leaders and then when the Palestinians do exactly what you tell them, you boycott their chosen leaders. It doesn’t make your legacy look good, Ms. Rice.

What would help your legacy, Ms. Rice, is to talk to those you don’t like, the Iranians, the Syrians, and elected Palestinian officials, including those of Hamas. How do you even expect to make peace between Israel and Palestinians if you totally ignore millions of Palestinians? That just doesn’t make any sense.

The War in Iraq, Detrimental to American Families

August 1, 2007 at 8:41 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, family values, Foreign Policy, Iran, Iraq, Israel, King George, Middle East, secret combinations, violence, War, War on Terror | Leave a comment

Here may be a great reason for the multitude of Mormons still supportive of this war to think twice about it. The families, especially the children of soldiers who go off to Iraq are irreprably harmed.

Rates of neglect and abuse of the children of servicemen and women rose 42% within the family when the enlisted parent was deployed on a combat mission, according to a new study led by senior health analyst Deborah Gibbs of RTI International, a research institute in North Carolina. Previous studies have shown an association between combat-related deployments and higher levels of stress in the family, and it is this stress that is thought to play a major role in the maltreatment of children by the parent who stays home.

The current study is the first to take a comprehensive look at how deployment affects child neglect and emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Backed by funding from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, the researchers harvested data from the U.S. Army Central Registry of 1,771 families worldwide with at least one instance of child neglect or abuse between Sept. 2001 and Dec. 2004, a period during which many soldiers were deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. The results show that a staggering 1,858 parents had maltreated their children during that period — boys and girls in equal numbers, with an average age of 6. Nearly 10% of those parents neglected or abused their children on more than one day. The number of times a parent was deployed, however, whether once or twice, did not significantly affect the rate of maltreatment — researchers speculate that by the time of a soldier’s second tour of duty, the homebound parent has developed at least few coping strategies.

The study suggests that Mom is the one taking it out on the kids. During the deployment of her soldier-husband, rates of child maltreatment tripled; neglect quadrupled; and physical abuse nearly doubled. “Female spouses are the ones that stay at home when soldiers are deployed,” says Gibbs. “They deal with the stress of single parenting, worrying about a spouse and holding down a job as well. We recognize that military families do an amazing job at getting though these situations that are tougher than many of us could ever imagine.” Abusive women were more likely to be Caucasian than Hispanic or black, suggesting that there may be differences in the way white mothers cope with stress compared with black or Hispanic moms; the study’s authors write that the racial difference may have to do with the mother’s employment status or her willingness to ask for outside help. In contrast, male spouses showed no increase in maltreatment when their wives were deployed.

The study controlled for characteristics often linked to child maltreatment — such as substance abuse, socioeconomic status and age of the children —making it evident that deployment was the determining factor.

So let us review the costs of this war and see if they do not indeed outweigh the supposed benefits

1. Our good, professional, all-volunteer force is being decimated and spent, making it more difficult to be fully ready for any bigger event on the horizon.

2. Their families are suffering at a staggering rate back home, with abuse and maltreatment.

3. The financial costs of this war are being put on a credit card for future generations to pay while we sit back and consume like good baby boomers.

4. Iraq is a veritable hell-hole. Thousands of Iraqis die violently a month. They have to rely on militias to get some semblance of security because the Americans are certainly not providing proper security.

5. There is no political resolution on the horizon in Iraq. The Iraqi Parliament is on vacation for the month of August.

6. Regional countries are beginning to be assertive in controlling the broken country to their own selfish needs. Turks are attacking Kurds in the north. Saudis are funding their Sunni brothers in the insurgency. Shi’ite Iranians are supporting the Shi’ites in the south.

7. The war has done absolutely nothing to stop Al-Qaeda regain its strength while they sit comfortably with friends in Pakistan.

8. The Taliban in Afghanistan are learning techniques used by insurgents in Iraq so as to further undermine and destabilize the country we should have already bagged years ago. Instead, Afghanistan is falling further and further in the direction of Iraq.

9. Iran is not feeling any real heat and continuing on their desired path towards nuclear technology.

10. Israel certainly does not feel any safer than it did before 2003.

I’m sure there are many more. Now, I ask those few who read my blog, what have been the benefits of our invasion of Iraq that have outweighed these costs? I ask it in this fashion, because there of course have been obvious benefits to the invasion, one being that Saddam is gone. But tell me, does his removal outweigh these costs?

Failed States, the Legacy of the Bush Administration and Republicans

June 19, 2007 at 9:20 am | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Christianity, condoleezza rice, conservatives, corruption, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Hezbollah, Iran, Iraq, Israel, King George, Middle East, Military, nationalism, neo-conservatives, Pakistan, Religion, Republicans, Revising History, secret combinations, Somalia, Syria, Thoughts, violence, War, War on Terror, World Events | Leave a comment

Republicans and the Christian Right should be well familiar with this particular verse from the Bible, Matthew 7:15-20:

15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

By their fruits, ye shall know them. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit. A corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. Any Christian knows this parable. What does this mean for our world today? Let’s look at the fruits of the Bush administration and the Republican party.

Iraq

A failed state. The Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy magazine have released their annual report of the world’s failed states. Iraq is the second worst failed state in the world, only two points better in the rankings than the world’s worst failed state, The Sudan. We’re now well over four years into our war in Iraq. Let’s put that in perspective. World War II, if started on March 20, 2003, would have ended last December or so. What is worse about this is that unlike The Sudan, America has pumped billions of dollars into Iraq with so little to show for it.

That is not to say that all failing states suffer from international neglect. Iraq and Afghanistan, the two main fronts in the global war on terror, both suffered over the past year. Their experiences show that billions of dollars in development and security aid may be futile unless accompanied by a functioning government, trustworthy leaders, and realistic plans to keep the peace and develop the economy. Just as there are many paths to success, there are many paths to failure for states on the edge.

So I ask you, Americans, and especially Christian conservatives, what do these fruits tell you about the tree from which they come? Now some of you may say, the tree really is terrorism. The answer to that is, no. The tree is America. We entered Iraq with the supposed intent to recreate the Middle East, and Iraq itself. After four years, what are the fruits of our labors? An utterly failed state. Jesus said, evil fruit cannot come from good trees.

By their fruits, ye shall know them.

Afghanistan

Recently a US airstrike killed seven children along with many others. More than one hundred die in three days of heavy fighting. The Taliban (living over in neighboring Pakistan) continue to plague the Americans now SIX YEARS after we attacked them. Six years. And they are still around? Afghanistan is ranked as the 8th worst failed state in the world, behind only The Sudan, Iraq, and a bunch of African states.

By their fruits, ye shall know them.

Pakistan

The Bush administration continues to support the highly corrupt and repressive military dictator, Musharraf, regardless of how much he punishes reformers in Pakistan. Pakistan is ranked as the 12th worst failed state in the world. Only Haiti, Central African Republic and Guinea separate Pakistan from her neighbor Afghanistan.

By their fruits, ye shall know them.

Lebanon

Poor, poor Lebanon, the world’s pawn, played by all parties against her own will. Israelis bomb her to the stone age. Hezbollah is a parasitic virus, destroying the country from within. Syria assassinates her leaders. The United States sacrifices her democracy on the altar of supposed Israeli preference (though if the United States were smart, they would have reined in Israel last summer, because it is in Israel’s best interest to have a stable country to her north. Now because of their idiotic bombing campaign, Lebanon is failing). Lebanon is ranked as the 28th worst failed state in the world.

Palestine

Not a state (and apparently not ever going to be a state), this is probably the worst of Bush’s failures. Is it really in the best interest of our ally, Israel, to have a failed non-state as her neighbor? Is it really in Israel’s best interest to have 1.4 million starving raving lunatics in a 25 mile strip of land right on her border? Is this Condoleezza Rice’s idea of “birth pangs?”

Why are these failed states so important to the world? The Foreign Policy magazine states it well in their introduction:

It is an accepted axiom of the modern age that distance no longer matters. Sectarian carnage can sway stock markets on the other side of the planet. Anarchic cities that host open-air arms bazaars imperil the security of the world’s superpower. A hermit leader’s erratic behavior not only makes life miserable for the impoverished millions he rules but also upends the world’s nuclear nonproliferation regime. The threats of weak states, in other words, ripple far beyond their borders and endanger the development and security of nations that are their political and economic opposites.

These are the fruits of the Republican philosophy to the world. These are the fruits of neo-conservatives. These are not the fruits of good trees. These must be cast into the fire, metaphorically speaking. We must do what needs to be done with these kinds of philosophies, let them pass the way of the dodo bird, to be a relic of history, never to be seen again. At least, if Americans want a better world.

On Speaking Out Against A War

May 1, 2007 at 6:53 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Democracy, freedom, Hezbollah, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Military, violence, War | Leave a comment

(UPDATED)

Glenn Greenwald highlights the stark difference between two democracies that were recently in wars (or still in one) and how the people reacted to the wars, especially when they went bad.

Israel fought against Hezbollah last summer. It was a grand failure. Israelis immediately began speaking out against the war, and no one called them traitors or anti-Israel.

America has been in Iraq for over four years now, and throughout the ENTIRE PROCESS anyone who spoke out against the war was branded a traitor, a terrorist lover, an anti-American.

Mature societies do not make decisions by wondering what the Bad People want and then automatically doing the opposite. That is the mindset of a child. Had that perspective prevailed in Israel, they never would have issued this report, and likely would never have withdrawn from Lebanon at all — because: “hey, Hezbollah wants withdrawal from Lebanon and will be ’emboldened’ by it and happy about this Commission report and therefore we can’t do any of that. We have to stay and fight and stifle criticisms of the war, otherwise Hezbollah will be happy.”

But Israel recognized it did not have the luxury of concealing its errors or continuing to fight a misguided war, notwithstanding what Hezbollah might say about that. As the Commission put it: “No-one underestimates the need to study what happened in the past, including the imposition of personal responsibility. The past is the key for learning lessons for the future. . . One Israeli society greatest sources of strength is its being a free, open and creative (sic).”

He concludes with this scathing rebuke of our conservative Americans:

All of that stands in such stark contrast to the shrinking though still-substantial faction in this country who see war as a fun and sterile video game that never requires them to pay any price — no matter how profoundly the war fails. That is what enables them to cheer on those wars for years without end, to urge still new and more destructive ones, and to childishly insist that there is something noble and compulsory about keeping quiet, loyally cheering on the Leader’s war, and pretending that things are going great and we are on the verge of success.

Indeed, while the Israelis who were actually at risk from the Lebanon war wanted it to end, the crazed (and safe) neoconservative warmongers in the U.S. were furious when the war ended. And — needless to say — they ran around accusing everyone responsible for the war’s end of appeasement and cowardice and all of their other inane war-cheering platitudes that have driven this country so tragically off-course.

Only people who have adolescent views of war — only people for whom war is a distant, cartoon concept and not a reality, the primary purpose of which is to endow themselves with personal sensations of strength, power and purpose in the most risk-free manner possible — have the luxury of indulging such fantasies. That is why the Israelis do not and cannot, whereas America’s right-wing pretend warriors embrace those fantasies with increasing vigor and desperation as the failure of their wars become more inescapable.

I really can’t add anything to Mr. Greenwald’s eloquent writings. Those of us who thought this was a fool’s adventure from the start were always wondering why our patriotism was questioned. Our loyalty is not to a man. It is to the country. As such if a man makes a bad decision, the truly patriotic person SPEAKS OUT!

(Update)

Gary Kamiya writes in Salon about the same claims of defeatism from the desperate crowd.

War supporters are counting on a certain level of John Wayne war-movie immaturity on the part of the American people, a Technicolor conviction that America is ordained to be, must be, eternally victorious. But Americans are more grown-up than that. They know America, like every other country, sometimes loses. Many of them lived through Vietnam, and they know that the sky did not fall. They are quite capable of weighing the pros and cons of the Iraq war and making a rational cost-benefit calculation about whether it’s worth continuing to fight. They understand the concept of a tactical retreat, of cutting your losses, of losing a battle but winning the war.

Bush is talking like Churchill, but it’s an empty act. He’s a defeated man, searching for others to blame for his defeat. He’s stalling, hoping for a miracle that will save him and his bungled war. But the end is coming. The only question is how many more people will have to die before it does.

He is a defeated man, searching for others to blame for his defeat. Nothing more profound can be said about Bush.

New Report Blasts Olmert Over Lebanon War

April 30, 2007 at 9:59 am | Posted in American politics, Hezbollah, Israel, Military, violence, War | 4 Comments

No surprise, but an internal Israeli report excoriates Ehud Olmert for his “severe failure in the lack of judgment, responsibility and caution” in the war over Lebanon last summer. Israel lost about 200 civilians and soldiers, while over 1000 Lebanese civilians died. Yet Israel failed to destroy Hezbollah, and failed to acquire the kidnapped soldiers. (In fact, Israel is now negotiating with Hezbollah on the release of those two soldiers—something they should have done in the first place).

One thing this report does not delve into, because it is an internal Israeli report, is just how the Bush administration prodded Olmert to attack Lebanon and Hezbollah. I mean, who here remembers Condoleezza Rice’s most infamous moment, the birth pangs comment:

“What we’re seeing here, in a sense, is the growing — the birth pangs of a new Middle East. And whatever we do, we have to be certain that we are pushing forward to the new Middle East, not going back to the old one. “

One has to wonder just how much pressure the Bush administration put on the Olmert administration to keep at it. I mean who remembers Bill Kristol, the king of the neo-con robbers stating:

Why is this Arab-Israeli war different from all other Arab-Israeli wars? Because it’s not an Arab-Israeli war. Most of Israel’s traditional Arab enemies have checked out of the current conflict. The governments of Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia are, to say the least, indifferent to the fate of Hamas and Hezbollah. The Palestine Liberation Organization (Fatah) isn’t a player. The prime mover behind the terrorist groups who have started this war is a non-Arab state, Iran, which wasn’t involved in any of Israel’s previous wars.

What’s happening in the Middle East, then, isn’t just another chapter in the Arab-Israeli conflict. What’s happening is an Islamist-Israeli war. You might even say this is part of the Islamist war on the West — but is India part of the West? Better to say that what’s under attack is liberal democratic civilization, whose leading representative right now happens to be the United States.

Note how much he has to go to stretch the logic. He concludes by saying:

This is our war, too.

Unfortunately, Mr. Kristol was doing what he could to incite violence, because well, this was not our war. This wasn’t even supposed to be a war. This wasn’t the first time (nor will it be the last) that soldiers get kidnapped by Hezbollah to deal out an exchange. This has been happening since 1982. Was such a violent response warranted by the Israelis upon the Lebanese? Well, just look at the results. Hezbollah is still around and they still have the soldiers. Israel is now negotiating to get the soldiers back non-violently. Huh, peaceful methods actually work better than violence. How ’bout that.

Finally, why is someone like Bill Kristol still so trusted on the Middle East? I mean how many times must he get it wrong before he’s finally discredited enough?

An Iranian Defection

March 8, 2007 at 1:07 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Cheney, Iran, Israel, War | 3 Comments

Well, well, well, look at that, a former Iranian deputy minister, who commanded the Revolutionary Guard has defected to the United States.

A former Iranian deputy defense minister who once commanded the Revolutionary Guard has left his country and is cooperating with Western intelligence agencies, providing information on Hezbollah and Iran’s ties to the organization, according to a senior U.S. official.

Ali Rez Asgari disappeared last month during a visit to Turkey. Iranian officials suggested yesterday that he may have been kidnapped by Israel or the United States. The U.S. official said Asgari is willingly cooperating. He did not divulge Asgari’s whereabouts or specify who is questioning him, but made clear that the information Asgari is offering is fully available to U.S. intelligence.

The key important point about Ali Rez Asgari is that he did not work for Ahmadinejad. He worked for Khatami, the previous Iranian president, a moderate, and as such, Mr. Asgari probably left Iran because he did not like what Ahmadinejad was doing to his country. Now, Khatami, the moderate, was the one who attempted to make peace with the United States back in 2003, an offer rudely and stupidly rebuffed by the idiot Cheney.

We can only hope that this new twist leads to a peaceful resolution between the United States, Israel, and Iran. There’s no need for war.

Why Conservative Christians REALLY “support” Israel

March 7, 2007 at 7:59 am | Posted in Christianity, conservatives, Iran, Israel, Middle East, War | 14 Comments

Pastor John Hagee on just how the Rapture and Armageddon will play out

Bottom line, they “support” Israel because they know that the destruction of Israel will bring about their own “Rapture.”

Hagee seems intent on a catastrophic war that will trigger “The Rapture” :

Russia with Arab allies will plot and plan Israel’s destruction. That’s happening right now. It has been happening for 10 years. Iran’s nuclear weapons have been produced with Russian scientists. The Islamic Arabs are using the Roadmap to Peace to get all of the land of Israel they can get. And when Israel finally says, `Enough!’ you’re going to see the beginning of the implementation of Ezekial’s war in 38:39. The critical point is the church is raptured before this war begins. I am telling you that makes this message one of the most thrilling prophetic messages you’ve ever heard in your life. You could get raptured out of this building before I get through finished preaching. We are that close to the coming of the Son of Man. – Pastor John Hagee, from a September 18, 2006 interview in WHYY’s “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross

What John Hagee leaves out of his “thrilling” apocalyptic narrative, is that he believes, subsequent to the “Rapture”, that most Jews in Israel, who by definition are not a part of the ones who will get “raptured” to Heaven, will die in the apocalyptic conflict Hagee and his fellow apocalyptic Christian zionists yearn for. IN “Jerusalem Countdown”, Hagee does not specify what percentage of world Jewry would be killed in the apocalyptic global conflict he has described as “thrilling”, but he gives a general sense. In reference to passages from the Bibles Book Of Isaiah 10:22, 22, Hagee writes :

“Who is this remnant [those who will survive] ?

First, it’s obvious that all of that remnant is Jewish…..

God promises that by his sovereign grace a “remnant” would be saved by the grace of God, a group of survivors who have the opportunity to receive Messiah, who is a rabbi known to the world as Jesus Christ.” ( Jerusalem Countdown, paperback edition, pages 192 and 194 )

Many Christian Premillenial Dispensationalists — the theological persuasion Pastor John Hagee belongs to — believe that the majority of the Jews currently living in Israel will be killed in the period of warfare that follows the “Rapture,” when “believing” Christians ( fundamentalist Christians, that is ) are bodily transported up to safety in heaven. The standard interpretation is that 2/3 or more of Israeli Jews will be slaughtered during this period but that a righteous “remnant”, who have realized the error of their ways and converted to Christianity, will survive what Christian Zionists often call the “final Holocaust” or the “second Holocaust.” Writings and statements made by CUFI board members Jerry Falwell and George Morrison sum up such views:

Millions of Jews will be slaughtered at this time but a remnant will escape and God will supernaturally hide them for Himself for the last three and a half years of the Tribulation, some feel in the rose-red city of Petra. I don’t know how, but God will keep them because the Jews and the Chosen People of God.” ( CUFI Executive Board Member Jerry Falwell, in a December 2, 1984 sermon)

As recounted by Terje Langeland, reporting for the Colorado Springs Independent in 2003, one of Pastor John Hagee’s CUFI board members, George Morrison, expresses his sense of how Israeli and Israeli Jews will fare in the apocalytpic scenario Hagee and others long for:

“Morrison, whose casual, folksy manner belies his apocalyptic beliefs, already sees signs that the End is approaching. The European Union, he says, might be the alliance of nations that according to prophecy will join the Arabs to wage war against Israel during the final days.

“Great wars will begin to take place” Morrison says in a matter-of-fact voice. “Those wars are going to involve nukes.”

The extent of the destruction will prompt Jesus to return in order to stop it, Morrison believes. Unfortunately, he says, many Jews will be killed.

“It’s another Holocaust, if you will” Morrison says. ”

When talking to many Jews and Israelis, Hagee seems stress the need to protect Israel and promises his group’s unwavering support for what Hagee calls God’s historic covenant with Jews to whom, Hagee believes, God gave the historical lands of Israel for perpetuity.

When talking to the Christian Zionists of CUFI, however, Hagee speaks of other matters : the need for an apocalyptic war in the Mideast that will trigger the “Rapture” of fundamentalist Christians into Heaven but also kill, Hagee believes, most Jews now living. That “necessary” war ( necessary to trigger the “Rapture”: of Christians, that is ) may even lead, Hagee speculates in “Jerusalem Countdown”, to massive nuclear strikes that will destroy America’s East and West coasts and kill hundreds of millions and which would amount to, Hagee feels, divine punishment visited, via ICBM, on liberal Americans for insufficient support for the sort of far right, even fringe, Israeli politics Hagee promotes.

They were giddy and gleeful last summer when Israel bombed Lebanon. They thought that that was going to bring about their Rapture. They’re giddy about Israel’s threat of attacking Iran. They’re giddy about a possible attack against Israel by any number of nations. They’re giddy about nuclear bombs going off on America’s coasts (because of course liberals live on the coastlines and conservatives live in the heartland). Why are they giddy? Because it will bring about THEIR salvation.

Israel to Strike Iran

February 24, 2007 at 12:56 pm | Posted in American politics, Iran, Israel, Middle East, War | 5 Comments

Israel is getting permission from America to fly over Iraq in order to strike at Iran. Be ready everybody. It is coming. Don’t be fooled by the rhetoric. It doesn’t have to happen, but it will.

Here is how it will happen.

Olmert has the political capital to strike Iran. Bush does not. Bush has attempted (and will continue attempting) to bait Iran into striking at Americans, but Iran is not biting. Olmert, on the other hand, has the political capital to strike at Iran, because Israel is within range of Iran’s missiles. So Olmert strikes Iran. Bombs many sites, kills hundreds if not thousands of Iranians. Iran, naturally, declares war on Israel. They may explicitly say their war is solely with Israel or they may include the United States in their declaration. It matters not, because for Iran to reach Israel, they must fly over Iraqi airspace, and there is no way in hell America will give Iran permission to lob anything into Israel over Iraqi space. Thus, America will use that as one of the excuses to bring themselves into the conflict as well. The other excuse is that Israel is our friend and Iran is a much stronger enemy than Israel has faced to this point. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a secret pact, akin to Germany and Japan that if one nation is attacked the other can declare war if they chose to.

So what will happen? Iran will be preoccupied with American forces in Iraq while Israel has all the excuse to try again and defeat Hezbollah, and maybe even go into Syria (hence why America is telling Israel to not even dare consider Asad’s offer to talk).

So, Americans, have you seen enough fighting yet? Have you seen enough blood spilled yet? Have you seen enough destruction? Because you’re about to get an extra helping or two. Heck some American cities might be attacked too…you never know when war is expanded to multiple countries what the consequences are….

The United States Does Not Want Peace In the Middle East

February 23, 2007 at 7:20 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, condoleezza rice, Israel, Middle East, Peace, Syria, War | 3 Comments

Israel has been considering Syria’s overtures of peace (because peace is in Israel’s best interest), but the United States has told Israel, don’t even think about it!

The United States demanded that Israel desist from even exploratory contacts with Syria, of the sort that would test whether Damascus is serious in its declared intentions to hold peace talks with Israel.

In meetings with Israeli officials recently, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was forceful in expressing Washington’s view on the matter.

The American argument is that even “exploratory talks” would be considered a prize in Damascus, whose policy and actions continue to undermine Lebanon’s sovereignty and the functioning of its government, while it also continues to stir unrest in Iraq, to the detriment of the U.S. presence there…..

….When Israeli officials asked Secretary Rice about the possibility of exploring the seriousness of Syria in its calls for peace talks, her response was unequivocal: Don’t even think about it.

So the question is, does the United States really want peace in the Middle East? I’m sure supporters of Bush will spin this by saying, “you can’t reward bad behavior,” blah blah blah and so on, but is the United States the parent of the world? Is that really its role? It really sounds silly when you hear this from an American. Seriously. And it certainly doesn’t do anything to turn a possible enemy into a probable friend (or at least at peace).

If the United States doesn’t want Israel to even consider an exploratory attempt at communicating with Syria, it shows that deep down there is some other plan the United States has for Syria, and it is not peace.

Finally Some American Realism!

February 18, 2007 at 6:39 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, Hezbollah, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Military, neo-conservatives, North Korea, Osama Bin Laden, Pakistan, Republicans, Rumsfeld, Vietnam, violence, War, War on Terror, World Events | Leave a comment

This is the second time I recommend an interview on the Hugh Hewitt show, but he’s getting people on there who are unafraid to tell it how it is. This time, he has Retired General William Odom who said it like it is and smacks Mr. Hewitt’s attempts to smear him back to the stone age. I’m glad to see some smart talk finding its way again on the conservative side. It’s been a while. Perhaps someday soon conservatives will realize the poison they’ve been drinking at the well of neo-conservatism.

After the bump, I’ve got some of the better sections of the interview. Upon reading these quotes, note that you are reading the words of a man who is not afraid. Note the use of fearmongering in Mr. Hewitt’s questions. Instead of following the bait, General Odom paints the clear picture of reality. Continue Reading Finally Some American Realism!…

The Unintended Consequences of the Israeli-Hezbollah War

January 23, 2007 at 1:23 pm | Posted in condoleezza rice, Hezbollah, Israel, Lebanon | 5 Comments

Israel launched a destructive war on Lebanon, in an attempt to weaken Hezbollah and return the soldiers Hezbollah captured in a brazen attack. However, Israel’s 34 day war went so poorly that while Hezbollah-run cities were demolished, Hezbollah’s standing both in Lebanon and in the Arab world skyrocketed. And now, today, Hezbollah demonstrated strongly against the Lebanese government, further weakening Lebanon’s democratic government.

Is this the “birth pangs” Ms. Rice was talking about last summer would come of supporting Israel’s bombardment of Lebanon?

Just What Has Condoleezza Rice Done?

December 29, 2006 at 3:34 pm | Posted in American politics, condoleezza rice, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, North Korea, Somalia, War on Terror, World Events | 2 Comments

A new article delves into this question: just what has Condoleezza Rice done as Secretary of State? Is it her intervention that stopped the Israel-Lebanon War? Has she accomplished anything in stopping Iran’s pursuit of nuclear technology? Has she done anything to stop North Korea’s belligerence? Has she done anything to solve The Sudan genocide? Has she done anything to stop this war between Somalia and Ethiopia? Has she gotten the insurgency in Iraq to come to a political table and participate in governing Iraq? Just what exactly has Condoleezza Rice done as Secretary of State?

Moreover, just what did Condoleezza Rice do as National Security Adviser?

And was she this inept as Provost of Stanford?

Let me tell you, we’re lucky that we have such few conflicts to deal with right now…

He Could Not Understand, He Had Seen A Vision

December 12, 2006 at 9:47 pm | Posted in American politics, Christianity, Democracy, Democrats, Evangelicals, freedom, Iran, Iraq, Israel, King George, Muslim, Peace, Religion, Republicans, Rumsfeld, Torture, violence, War, War on Terror | Leave a comment

I have written a poem that I would like to share with my political readers. Please follow the link and tell me what you think.

He Could Not Understand, He Had Seen A Vision

You’ve Got to Be Kidding Me!

December 11, 2006 at 3:23 pm | Posted in American politics, Congress, Democrats, Iran, Iraq, Israel, King George, Military, Osama Bin Laden, Pakistan, Republicans, War on Terror | Leave a comment

Our government needs to use Google to gather information about Iran and their nuclear program. You’ve got to be kidding me! Meanwhile John Walker Lindh can walk right up to Osama Bin Laden and join his group, a soft white boy from NoCal. Dude!

And on a similar note, a diarist on DailyKos provides a questionnaire that should be required of all new incoming Congressmen, especially the House Intelligence Committee head. Wouldn’t you think it is important of them to know this if they are to create laws on this?

Meanwhile, in Pakistan the Taliban are creating a mini-state……

They Still Don’t Know The Enemy

December 9, 2006 at 8:51 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Congress, Democrats, Iran, Iraq, Israel, King George, Lebanon, Republicans, Syria | 2 Comments

Jeff Stein writes in the CQ that leaders of Congress still do not know the enemy. The incoming House Intelligence Chair, Mr. Reyes (a Democrat) much like the Republican leader he asked earlier this year, did not know the fundamental differences between Shi’ites and Sunnis. Such as which sect Al-Qaida belongs to, and Hezbollah:

Now the five-term Texas Democrat, 62, is facing similar unpleasant surprises about the enemy, this time as the incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

That’s because, like a number of his colleagues and top counterterrorism officials that I’ve interviewed over the past several months, Reyes can’t answer some fundamental questions about the powerful forces arrayed against us in the Middle East.

It begs the question, of course: How can the Intelligence Committee do effective oversight of U.S. spy agencies when its leaders don’t know basics about the battlefield?

To his credit, Reyes, a kindly, thoughtful man who also sits on the Armed Service Committee, does see the undertows drawing the region into chaos.

For example, he knows that the 1,400- year-old split in Islam between Sunnis and Shiites not only fuels the militias and death squads in Iraq, it drives the competition for supremacy across the Middle East between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia.

That’s more than two key Republicans on the Intelligence Committee knew when I interviewed them last summer. Rep. Jo Ann Davis, R-Va., and Terry Everett, R-Ala., both back for another term, were flummoxed by such basic questions, as were several top counterterrorism officials at the FBI.

I thought it only right now to pose the same questions to a Democrat, especially one who will take charge of the Intelligence panel come January. The former border patrol agent also sits on the Armed Services Committee.

Reyes stumbled when I asked him a simple question about al Qaeda at the end of a 40-minute interview in his office last week. Members of the Intelligence Committee, mind you, are paid $165,200 a year to know more than basic facts about our foes in the Middle East.

We warmed up with a long discussion about intelligence issues and Iraq. And then we veered into terrorism’s major players.

To me, it’s like asking about Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland: Who’s on what side?

The dialogue went like this:

Al Qaeda is what, I asked, Sunni or Shia?

“Al Qaeda, they have both,” Reyes said. “You’re talking about predominately?”

“Sure,” I said, not knowing what else to say.

“Predominantly — probably Shiite,” he ventured.

He couldn’t have been more wrong.

Al Qaeda is profoundly Sunni. If a Shiite showed up at an al Qaeda club house, they’d slice off his head and use it for a soccer ball.

That’s because the extremist Sunnis who make up a l Qaeda consider all Shiites to be heretics.

Al Qaeda’s Sunni roots account for its very existence. Osama bin Laden and his followers believe the Saudi Royal family besmirched the true faith through their corruption and alliance with the United States, particularly allowing U.S. troops on Saudi soil.

It’s been five years since these Muslim extremists flew hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center.

Is it too much to ask that our intelligence overseers know who they are?
Civil War

And Hezbollah? I asked him. What are they?

“Hezbollah. Uh, Hezbollah…”

He laughed again, shifting in his seat.

“Why do you ask me these questions at five o’clock? Can I answer in Spanish? Do you speak Spanish?”

“Pocito,” I said—a little.

“Pocito?! “ He laughed again.

“Go ahead,” I said, talk to me about Sunnis and Shia in Spanish.

Reyes: “Well, I, uh….”

I apologized for putting him “on the spot a little.” But I reminded him that the people who have killed thousands of Americans on U.S. soil and in the Middle East have been front page news for a long time now.

It’s been 23 years since a Hezbollah suicide bomber killed over 200 U.S. military personnel in Beirut, mostly Marines.

Hezbollah, a creature of Iran, is close to taking over in Lebanon. Reports say they are helping train Iraqi Shiites to kill Sunnis in the spiralling civil war.

“Yeah,” Reyes said, rightly observing, “but . . . it’s not like the Hatfields and the McCoys. It’s a heck of a lot more complex.

“And I agree with you — we ought to expend some effort into understanding them. But speaking only for myself, it’s hard to keep things in perspective and in the categories.”

Reyes is not alone.

The best argument for needing to understand who’s what in the Middle East is probably the mistaken invasion itself, despite the preponderance of expert opinion that it was a terrible idea — including that of Bush’s father and his advisers. On the day in 2003 when Iraqi mobs toppled the statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad, Bush was said to be unaware of the possibility that a Sunni-Shia civil war could fill the power vacuum, according to a reliable source with good White House connections.

If President Bush and some of his closest associates, not to mention top counterterrorism officials, have demonstrated their own ignorance about who the players are in the Middle East, why should we expect the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee to get it right?

Trent Lott, the veteran Republican senator from Mississippi, said only last September that “It’s hard for Americans, all of us, including me, to understand what’s wrong with these people.”

“Why do they kill people of other religions because of religion?” wondered Lott, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, after a meeting with Bush.

“Why do they hate the Israelis and despise their right to exist? Why do they hate each other? Why do Sunnis kill Shiites? How do they tell the difference?

“They all look the same to me,” Lott said.

He’s doing a little better than the Republicans did Mr. Stein asked earlier this year, but still unacceptable. Shouldn’t we know a little more about our enemies than we do? I mean, the more we know about them the easier it will be to discover their weaknesses and defeat them. Sun Tzu was a smart man.

Bush Links Nuke Program to Talks With Iran

December 7, 2006 at 8:49 pm | Posted in American politics, Iran, Iraq, Israel, King George | 2 Comments

Well, so much for Baker’s report and recommendations. Bush, showing that he doesn’t really appreciate outside recommendations, tells the Iranians that to come and sit at the negotiating table with the United States, they must give up their nukes, contrary to the recommendation of the ISG.

“We have made it clear to the Iranians that there is a possible change in U.S. policy, a policy that’s been in place for 27 years,” said Bush. “And that is that, if they would like to engage the United States, that they’ve got to verifiably suspend their [nuclear] enrichment program.”

Now…why would Iran ever want to do that when that is the best deterrent against attacks by both the United States and Israel? I think the Iranians would rather have a destabilized neighboring Iraq than to give up their nukes. Does Bush not realize this? Apparently he doesn’t.

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