Tuesday, February 27, 2007

What goes around comes around but who remembers?

What goes around comes around but by then no one remembers. (See 1 below.)

Several interesting editorial in today's WSJ. David Malpass' "Budget Strain" warns extending existing rates is called a tax cut and then permanent new taxes are attached to these so called cuts. It is the perfidious underhanded magic act of the current Congress.

Then Brett Stephens, in his op ed entitled "Allies," recounts how baseless the word has come to mean. With weak allies who needs enemies? Countries that make-up NATO have constructed a paper tiger.

Relationships according to Bokhari. (See 2 below.)

Iran is progressing and Democrats in Congress are listening to Murtha.


1) By Ed Koch (Former Mayor of NY)

A few days ago, The New York Times published a truly frightening article
on insurgent battlefield tactics in Iraq. The article reported that
"Insurgents are likely to continue combining car bombs with chlorine gas
and other chemicals to launch attacks similar to three in recent weeks
that spewed chlorine and sickened scores of Iraqi, the military warned

Chlorine gas was first used as a weapon by Germany in World War One.
France and Britain responded with poison gas of their own. Their lungs
destroyed, tens of thousands of soldiers on both sides choked to death.
Thousands more were wounded. Gas attacks were so horrible that neither
side used poison gas in World War Two.

But between 1980 and 1988, Saddam Hussein used poison gas against Iraqi
Kurds and against the Iranian army. Iraqi insurgents and al-Qaeda
terrorists have not hesitated to employ the worst tactics of terror,
using car bombs in marketplaces killing and injuring thousands of
innocent Iraqi civilians, as well as torturing and beheading civilians,
American and Iraqi, in their efforts to drive the U.S. out of Iraq. Now
they are using chlorine gas. Are they practicing tactics to use against
us here at home?

When the U.S. leaves Iraq, as the Democrats promise they will force
President Bush to do, will we face the prospect of emboldened Jihadists,
with the cry of "God is Great" on their lips, blowing Americans up here
in the States? If terrorists explode radioactive bombs and tank trucks
of chlorine gas in American cities, or worse still, full-fledged nuclear
weapons, what will our reaction be? Will we be like the English and
Spanish who, when their commuter trains were blown up in London and
Madrid, rolled over and surrendered to terrorist demands?

In response to terror attacks on its soil, Spain withdrew its troops
from Iraq and changed its government. Britain's Labor Party repudiated
its leader, Prime Minister Tony Blair, ordering him to resign by next
September, as well as beginning the reduction of its military forces in
Iraq. Those forces, once totaling 40,000, are now less than 8,000 and
scheduled to largely be withdrawn between now and 2008. Both President
Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice referred to these announced
British withdrawals as planned, acceptable to the U.S. and a victory
over the insurgents and terrorists. That statement, had it been uttered
by Pinocchio, would have lengthened his nose.

Will the next President, Democrat or Republican, respond by withdrawing
our troops in abject fear and sue for peace? What will peace cost?
Perhaps conversion to Islam. Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and
the leaders of al-Qaeda, bin Laden and al-Zawahiri, have publicly stated
all our sins will be forgiven if we convert and urged President Bush to
lead the way with his personal conversion.

Of course, many of those in and out of Congress who have led the
struggle to bring our troops home will laugh at the thought that
conversion of the governmental leaders of the U.S. or the payment of
tribute by the U.S. will ever come to pass. There were many who believed
they could tame Hitler who laid his plans out in detail in Mein Kampf
before the beginning of the projected 1,000 year reign of the Third
Reich -- a Third Reich brought to an end, through the combined efforts
of the U.S., Great Britain and the U.S.S.R. But the cost was horrendous.
More than 400,000 American service men and women died, along with
382,000 British soldiers and ten million Russian soldiers. Millions of
civilians were killed around the world.

And yet, despite all the horror and carnage of the past, we don't appear
to be learning from history. We don't seem to remember that appeasement
never works. It didn't work at Munich in 1938 with Chamberlain's
infamous statement that we had achieved "peace in our time" with Hitler.
It won't work now. Promises that it will leave Iraq have not bought
peace for Britain. British authorities now say the danger of terror
attacks inside Britain is greater than ever, with thousands of
home-grown Jihadists ready to attack.

Why won't we take those who threaten us at their word? Why do we
continue to make excuses for their threatening behavior until finally we
be forced to act because they have exploded the dirty bomb or the
real nuclear bomb in our homeland?

There will come a time when it may be too late to simply respond to an
attack. As a result of such an attack on our homeland, we may be so
physically injured and suffered so many casualties as to cause us to
consider surrender. We may by then have lost our national will as to>make it too difficult for us to muster the moral and physical strength>needed to defend ourselves. Remember the refrain, primarily in Europe
during the Cold War, "better Red than dead?"

Am I painting a too grim a picture? I don't think so. Wake up, America!
This war is not only taking place in Iraq. The struggle is for the
future of the world. Our enemies intend to conquer us, and they say so
openly. The time to resist is now.

2)The Relationship between the Taliban and Pakistan's Domestic Stability
By Kamran Bokhari

While returning from East Asia on Feb. 26, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney made a surprise stopover in Islamabad, where he met with Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. The same day, British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett also met with Musharraf, urging him to control the Taliban traffic along the Afghan-Pakistani border. Meanwhile, reports surfaced that U.S. President George W. Bush has sent a strong message to Musharraf, warning him that the Democratic-controlled Congress could cut aid to Pakistan unless Islamabad aggressively cracks down on jihadist activity in the country.

Beckett's was the latest in a long series of calls from senior U.S. officials and those representing Washington's NATO allies for the Musharraf government to do more in the fight against jihadists. Given that the war in Iraq has gone badly for the United States, the Bush administration is under great pressure domestically to show progress in Afghanistan (and by extension Pakistan). Similarly, their military involvement in Afghanistan is a major domestic issue for many European states.

Though political concerns at home are contributing to the U.S./Western pressure on Islamabad to get tougher on the jihadist problem, Pakistan's inability to oblige its Western allies is also a function of its own domestic political concerns. There also is a certain level of unwillingness on Islamabad's part because its interest in maintaining relations with Washington goes beyond having status as an ally in the war on terrorism. The United States and the Europeans understand the concerns of the Pakistanis and do not want to rock the Musharrafian boat, especially when the country is headed into presidential and parliamentary elections beginning as early as September.

That said, the West is not willing to continue with business as usual, which has led to the strengthening of the jihadist forces in Afghanistan and allowed al Qaeda to continue its global operations -- albeit at a reduced pace. From viewpoint of the United States and its NATO allies, the Pakistanis could be doing a lot more without triggering political instability on the home front.

The Pakistanis, on the other hand, say they are fed up with being asked to do more, arguing that using force alone is undermining their own domestic security -- which could indeed start churning up a tide of political instability. Musharraf is caught between the external pressure to assume a more robust attitude with regards to counterterrorism, and dealing with terrorism from within.

On both counts, Islamabad has a point. Following the U.S. airstrike on a madrassa in the northern part of the tribal belt in late October 2006, jihadists have unleashed an unprecedented wave of suicide attacks across the country against government and Western targets. Other than a few bombings against Western targets and assassination attempts against Musharraf, jihadists had not attacked inside Pakistan. In fact, until this recent wave of suicide attacks, jihadists in Pakistan were using the country as a launchpad for attacks against third parties.

This nascent jihadist insurgency does not have widespread support within the country and, given the militants' limited capabilities, is a problem Pakistani security forces can handle. The real obstacles to Musharraf's ability to wage a successful crackdown have to do with domestic political stability in light of the coming elections.

At present, Musharraf's domestic position is secure, in that no political force (party or even a coalition of parties) exists that can remove him from office through mass unrest. The fact that the political structure that emerged from the 2002 elections is managing to reach the end of its term clearly underscores his ability to maintain power. This, to a great degree, is the result of Musharraf being a military ruler.

Despite the military-dominated political order, however, the current civil-military government is not completely exempt from public accountability, especially if it expects to garner votes. On the contrary, the civilian setup that Musharraf is relying on to sustain his hold on power and to keep his political opponents at bay is a complex system crafted with great difficulty. Musharraf has kept this system afloat by forging alliances and creating and sustaining divisions among the opposition parties.

Both the president and the parliamentary component of his regime will have to pass the test of elections. Musharraf has told Stratfor he wants to remain president for another five years to reach the goals he has outlined for himself. For this he needs to have the current ruling coalition led by the Pakistan Muslim League (PML), at a bare minimum, retain its majority in the parliament and its current standing in the provincial legislatures. Accomplishing this task could guarantee his re-election as president.

But Musharraf is uncertain whether the next round of parliamentary elections -- set for January 2008 -- will produce the desired results, which is why he has moved to hold the presidential election in September. This way he can be certain of his own re-election as president in the event that his allies are not able to retain their majority in the federal and provincial legislatures.

Musharraf's opponents, however, are up in arms over his bid to seek a second term from the same electoral college. So the question is, can the opposition pull together the much-discussed grand alliance to force Musharraf's hand? Here is where terrorism and counterterrorism play a pivotal role in shaping events. Attacks in the country, along with the government's counterterrorism efforts, can create a dynamic that his opponents can exploit to generate public unrest. Certain forces already are taking advantage of the suicide attacks as an opportunity to target rival political forces in the hope of stirring political unrest ahead of the elections.

The purpose of the jihadist suicide bombing campaign is to create enough political problems for the Musharraf government to force Islamabad's attention away from counterterrorism operations. The situation in Afghanistan and the threat from the wider jihadist movement, however, has Musharraf under pressure to stay focused on counterterrorism. Thus, he needs to be able to figure out a way to satisfy international demands with regards to counterterrorism and keep his opponents from undercutting stability.

While Musharraf is reluctant to take on the risks associated with going after the Afghan Taliban, he is also deeply worried about the Talibanization of certain parts of his own country. In particular, the jihadists' influence is growing in the Pashtun-dominated areas in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and northwestern Balochistan.

Musharraf also wants to be able to roll back the power of the six-party Islamist political coalition, Mutahiddah Majlis-i-Amal (MMA). The MMA not only controls the NWFP government and is part of the coalition government with the pro-Musharraf PML in Balochistan, but also is the largest opposition bloc in the national parliament. The Islamists, who historically were divided and never gained more than a handful of seats in any previous election, contested the 2002 elections on a single platform and exploited the anti-American sentiment among the Pashtuns and others in the country in the wake of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001.

Another key reason behind the MMA's extraordinary showing at the polls was the fact that the mainstream opposition parties -- the Pakistani People's Party-Parliamentarians (PPP-P) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) -- were marginalized because of certain electoral and constitutional engineering aimed at preventing the two groups from making significant gains in the elections. Furthermore, the Musharraf government engineered a significant number of post-election defections of parliament members from the PPP-P. The PPP-P emerged as the largest opposition party in parliament in the last elections. The defections, however, decreased the number of seats it controlled -- and the MMA, which was in third place, emerged as the largest opposition bloc.

Since the last elections, Musharraf has seen how the military's historical relationship with Islamist and jihadist forces has cost the country -- and not just in terms of external pressure. It also has allowed these forces to emerge as a threat on the domestic front. Though the jihadists have staged a few suicide bombings in response to counterterrorism operations by Pakistani and U.S. forces, the MMA can exploit this issue in the elections, potentially consolidating its hold in the Pashtun areas and even enhancing it.

This would explain why Musharraf sees the coming parliamentary elections as a decisive battle between the forces of extremism and moderation. Though Musharraf might have clearly identified the battle line, he faces problems in gathering the forces of moderation to defeat the radicals.

The quandary has to do with the fact that two critical moderate political forces -- the PPP-P and the PML-N -- are not ready to do business with him. These two parties, which together form the secular opposition bloc called the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD), are not willing to accept a president in military uniform.

That he is the president as well as the military chief is not only the source of Musharraf's power; it is also the biggest sore point with regard to his future as leader of the country. Musharraf realizes that at some point he needs to step down as chief of the army staff. But from his point of view, how does he do so without incurring a loss of sovereignty? One way to do this, perhaps, is to change the political system from a parliamentary to a presidential one.

Considering that the constitution says the country should have a parliamentary form of government, he needs to be able to balance the powers of the parliament with those of the presidency. This can be done by amending the constitution in keeping with a negotiated power-sharing mechanism. This way Musharraf could retain control over power by serving as a balance between the military establishment and the civilians. But for this to materialize, he and his allies must get over the hurdle of the twin elections. In this respect, there are two possible outcomes.

1. Musharraf is able to get re-elected in September without any backlash from the public, meaning he is able to keep not just the ARD and MMA apart, but also to sustain internal divisions within the two alliances. Additionally, his civilian allies at a bare minimum retain more or less the same number of seats in the incumbent legislatures. Given the divided state of the Pakistani electorate, achieving this objective is not impossible.

2. Should an outcry occur over vote-rigging -- one big enough for the opposition to exploit -- then Musharraf would be in trouble, both and home and abroad. The Bush administration, for instance, would not want to come out in support of him in the wake of mass cries of fraud. In such a situation, things could spiral out of hand and he could be forced to step down. In the event of major public protests, even his generals could be forced to call on him to step down or strike a compromise with the opposition.

Musharraf would want to avoid at all costs the latter outcome, which means his government cannot afford to allow the opposition to exploit the issue of electoral fraud. This is why it is even more important that he not engage in actions that will make it even more difficult for him and his allies to get re-elected.

This complex domestic political situation raises the question of whether the United States and its allies can delay their demand for Islamabad to take more action until after the electoral storm for Musharraf has passed. In many ways it is a timing issue because NATO is looking at the coming spring offensive from the Taliban and needs Pakistani cooperation to act. Musharraf and Washington, therefore, likely will work out a formula whereby the jihadists can be dealt with without creating problems for Musharraf in the elections. This is because, from Washington's point of view, long-term success in the war against the jihadists depends on political continuity in Islamabad.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Nunn: A Voice Worth Listening To!

I have invited Sam Nunn to appear at our Speaker Series next year. Whether he will accept is another matter. Read the article on Nunn's efforts and then watch this (HTTP://WWW.TerrorismAwareness.ORG/Files/IslamicMeinKampf-Final.SWF)(See 1 below.)

Sam spoke for me in Richmond at a small gathering of investors in 1967. One of the attendees asked him what was his greatest concern when he awoke each morning. Back then even Sam said: "Nuclear Proliferation."

The IDF keeps uncovering Palestinian terrorist bomb making facilities. (See 2 below.)

Meshaal minces no words and his comments should open the eyes of those who believe you can appease Hamas with half measures or rational discourse. It is not worth wasting a cup of spittle on terrorist fanatics and religious zealots. (See 3 below.)

The pros and cons of sanctions but according to Kfir they will not work regarding Iran. (See 4 below.)


1) The Stuff Sam Nunn’s Nightmares Are Made Of

By now we can too readily imagine the horror of terrorists exploding a nuclear weapon in a major American city: the gutted skyscrapers, the melted cars, the charred bodies. For Sam Nunn, however, a new terror begins the day after. That’s when the world asks whether another bomb is out there. “If a nuclear bomb went off in Moscow or New York City or Jerusalem, any number of groups would claim they have another,” Nunn told me recently. These groups would make steep demands as intelligence officials scrambled to determine which claims were real. Panic would prevail. Even after the detonation of a small, crude weapon that inflicted less damage than the bomb at Hiroshima, Nunn suggested, “the psychological damage would be incalculable. It would be a slow, step-by-step process to regain confidence. And the question will be, Why didn’t we take steps to prevent this? We will have a whole list of things we wish we’d done.”

Nunn thinks of those things every time he picks up a newspaper. When, for instance, he reads about the arrest of a Russian man who, in a sting operation, tried to sell weapons-grade uranium — a reminder of a possible black market in nuclear materials and of the poor security at facilities in the former Soviet Union. Or when he sees news about Iran’s efforts to build a nuclear bomb, which could set off a wave of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and thus significantly raise the possibility that terrorists will someday acquire a bomb. And despite the apparent diplomatic breakthrough with North Korea earlier this month, in which the North Koreans agreed to begin dismantling their nuclear facilities in return for fuel and other aid, Nunn, who finds the deal encouraging, remains concerned since North Korea’s unpredictable, cash-starved dictatorship still retains perhaps half a dozen nuclear bombs, and the ingredients to make more.

A decade after leaving the United States Senate, where he spent years as chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Nunn posed one, overriding question about his list of things we’ll wish we had done if a doomsday should ever come: “Why aren’t we doing them now?” In a sense, his own answer has been to help found and run the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a Washington-based foundation largely bankrolled by Nunn’s friends Ted Turner and Warren Buffett. In what may be the most ambitious example of private dollars subsidizing national security, the N.T.I. is trying to fill in the gaps where government is failing to reduce nuclear threats. In other words, to do the things now that we would otherwise wish we had done.

The war in Iraq has understandably consumed America’s foreign-policy energies. But it occludes what Nunn and many others, on both the right and left, regard as a deepening worldwide nuclear crisis. Despite its willingness to confront North Korea, the U.S., Nunn insists, still does not fully grasp the nuclear dangers it faces. “We are at a tipping point,” he says. “And we are headed in the wrong direction.” As he sees it, the trouble is, in a defense establishment that once war-gamed the end of the world a thousand different ways, there has been a shortage of thinking about what the right direction looks like or how to take it. It is a situation that has led Nunn, who once extolled nuclear weapons as a guarantor of American safety, to reassess decades of hawkish cold-war thinking, to reconsider his most fundamental beliefs about whether the country would be safer in a world with any nuclear weapons at all.

Sam Nunn’s nuclear nightmare begins with a character like Oleg Khinsagov. Last month, the International Atomic Energy Agency revealed that officials in the former Soviet republic of Georgia had arrested Khinsagov, a 50-year-old Russian fish and sausage trader, for attempting to sell 100 grams of highly enriched uranium to a Muslim buyer who, Khinsagov had been told, represented “a serious organization.” The price: $1 million. Khinsagov, who was caught in a sting operation, had nowhere near enough material for a bomb, but he claimed to have far more at his apartment. (Whether he actually did is unclear.) An American laboratory analysis indicates that the material most likely originated at a Russian nuclear facility.

To some, Khinsagov’s arrest was a success story, a sign that recent efforts to crack down on nuclear smuggling are producing results. Nunn is not so sanguine. He says that nuclear smugglers who get caught — the international agency counts 18 confirmed cases involving highly enriched uranium and plutonium since 1993 — are usually unsophisticated amateurs. “It’s the ones we don’t see that worry me,” he says.

It is a worry that he shares with Ted Turner, the billionaire philanthropist and founder of CNN whose donation of $250 million in Time Warner stock enabled the Nuclear Threat Initiative to open for business in 2001. Turner long dreaded a nuclear holocaust, but he assumed the threat had fizzled out with the end of the cold war. “I was getting ready to celebrate the millennium in 2000 because it looked like humanity was going to make it,” he told me, when we spoke last month. “And if we could do that, maybe we could make it to 3000. I figured that we had nuclear disarmament.” And then he saw a report on “60 Minutes” about lax security in the former Soviet Union. There were 20,000 warheads and stockpiles of uranium and plutonium capable of making another 40,000 or more warheads scattered across 11 time zones, whose safety too often depended on lackadaisical guards, shabby locks and defective security cameras. There was another related problem: large quantities of uranium that could be used to make bombs were being stored at some 130 civilian nuclear reactors around the world, often under even more slipshod security. A small group of terrorists might break into such a facility and if they had basic engineering and chemistry skills could probably forge a crude nuclear bomb out of a grapefruit-size 30-pound lump of highly enriched uranium (to say nothing of a much simpler radioactive “dirty” bomb).

Turner considered establishing an organization to revive the dormant nuclear-disarmament movement. But foreign-policy specialists he met with persuaded him to focus on more realistic, incremental change. A mutual friend connected Turner with Nunn, who was then practicing law at an Atlanta firm. According to one person familiar with N.T.I.’s founding, who does not want to be named because he works with N.T.I. and does not have permission to speak on its behalf, “There was this very prolonged dance where people were trying to come up with ideas that were exciting enough for Turner but sensible enough for Nunn,” who was uncomfortable with Turner’s passion for disarmament, a movement Nunn had long considered irresponsible.

Nunn and Turner found common ground, however, in a narrower mission: responding to the threat of “loose nukes,” or the possibility that nuclear weapons and materials might be smuggled out of the former Soviet Union and find their way into malevolent hands. They settled on having the Nuclear Threat Initiative spend millions of dollars on everything from annual reports written by Harvard academics on the loose-nukes problem to filming a docudrama about a nuclear-terrorism crisis. Above all, the foundation would finance direct-action programs to secure nuclear materials around the world, in coordination with the U.S. and foreign governments.

It was one such program that led Nunn and Turner to a warehouse in Ust-Kamenogorsk, an industrial city in eastern Kazakhstan, in October 2005. They were there to size up an effort, paid for in part by N.T.I., to “blend down” 6,400 pounds of highly enriched uranium — enough to make dozens of bombs — into a form that couldn’t be used in weapons. The uranium was spent fuel from a decommissioned nuclear power plant situated near the Iranian border. A few years earlier, he had made the following offer to Kazakhstan’s president: N.T.I. would provide its expertise to relocate and then blend down the uranium, and it would pay half of the $2 million cost to do so. By the time Nunn and Turner toured the Ulba Metallurgical Plant, the project was close to completion. A portion of the uranium had not yet been blended down, however, and it lay stored in 20 or so tubes in a corner of the warehouse. Nunn and Turner stood and gazed solemnly at it. “Here was the potential, right there in that little corner, in the hands of the wrong people, to wipe out cities around the world.” Nunn says. “That’s a pretty stark realization.”

N.T.I. intervened in Kazakhstan, Nunn explains, because the U.S. government did not act first. It’s not the only such example: in mid-2002, more than 100 pounds of highly enriched uranium — stored in portable canisters that emit little radiation — was lying at the Vinca Institute of Nuclear Sciences, a civilian research reactor in Belgrade. The security there would have been no match for even a small terrorist squad. And Islamic militants operated in the region. Clearly Vinca was a high-priority problem. Yet even though the first American plans to rescue the material were drawn up during the Clinton administration, no action had been taken a year after Sept. 11. The obstacle was bureaucratic: in return for giving up the uranium, the Serbian government demanded help cleaning up Vinca’s spent reactor fuel. That qualified as an environmental cleanup, however, which the U.S. lacked the authority to pay for. So N.T.I. stepped in and covered the $5 million cleanup fee. It wasn’t until August 2002 that a motorcade of technicians and machine-gun-toting commandos finally transferred the uranium from the Vinca Institute to a cargo plane that flew it to Russia to be blended down.

“If there’s anything that most Americans would think the government would happily chip in for, it’s getting highly enriched uranium out of a place where it could fall into terrorist hands,” says Matthew Bunn, a former nuclear-arms official in the Clinton administration who is now at Harvard and whose work is partly financed by N.T.I. “Yet” — in Vinca — “the government could not get this done without N.T.I.’s money.”

A small-town lawyer and politician who won an underdog campaign in Georgia in 1972, Nunn quickly made his name in Washington as a defense-policy wonk. Thanks to an intimidating expertise on defense affairs and a bespectacled air of judicious authority, Nunn was “looked upon with awe” by colleagues in both parties, says Pete V. Domenici, the Republican senator from New Mexico. Such was his authority, in fact, that he comfortably rebuffed offers from George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton to serve as secretary of defense, knowing that he wielded even more power from his longtime perch as chairman of Senate Armed Services. Nunn used that influence to consistently pro-military ends. During the 1970s, he fought with liberal Democrats seeking to cut defense budgets and ultimately forced Jimmy Carter to accept substantial increases in defense spending. Nunn also strongly defended the value and morality of nuclear weapons. The nuclear-freeze movement, in his mind, was na├»vely utopian. “We had to have a nuclear deterrent,” he says today. “Not only that, but a first-use policy,” which refers to the U.S.’s stated willingness in certain circumstances to strike first with nuclear weapons.

Nunn considered a run for president in 1988, and his name surfaced again after Michael Dukakis’s crushing defeat in November of that year, which further persuaded centrist Democrats that they needed a Southern moderate as a candidate. But that talk ground to a halt after Nunn opposed the first gulf war. He urged at the time that sanctions and diplomacy be given more time and, in January 1991, voted against the Senate’s war resolution. A sign went up on a Georgia highway calling him “Saddam’s Best Friend,” and some suggested that he was cynically appealing to liberal Democratic primary voters. As it happened, however, opposing such a short and easy war probably ruined Nunn’s shot at the White House. In Washington, his vote was considered a colossal political blunder. “He got a lot of political flak,” says his friend Al From, the chairman of the moderate Democratic Leadership Council. “It probably hastened his decision to retire from politics.” (Nunn’s vote “profoundly influenced the next generation of senators that confronted plans for the second invasion” 11 years later, says a former Clinton defense official who advises Congressional Democrats. White House officials even invoked Nunn’s “mistake” as they lobbied Congress to vote for war.)

By the mid-1990s, the cold war was over and the stature of defense gurus diminished. Moreover, politics on Capitol Hill were changing. The rise of fierce, Gingrich-style cultural politics made life uneasy for all Southern Democrats. In 1993, Nunn resisted Bill Clinton’s attempt to allow gays to serve openly in the military, prompting a gay-rights spokesman to brand him a “Jesse Helms Democrat.” Washington was growing far less hospitable to a moderate with little taste for the blood sport of partisan politics. “The premium is on stirring up your base,” he says now. When Nunn announced his retirement in 1995, even the Republican Strom Thurmond urged him to stick around. Nunn was just 58 when he left the Senate. For more than 20 years, his life had been defined by the cold war and the fight against Communism. That cause was over.

Nunn first became alarmed by the threat of loose nukes during his last Senate term. A year after the Soviet Union began to collapse in 1990, he passed legislation with his friend Richard Lugar, the Republican from Indiana, that dedicated hundreds of millions of dollars annually in the Pentagon budget to the dismantling of surplus Soviet nuclear weapons, upgrading security at nuclear sites in the former Soviet Union and finding jobs for its nuclear scientists lest they be tempted to work for terrorists or would-be nuclear powers. Since 1991, the Cooperative Threat Reduction program — or simply Nunn-Lugar, as it is generally known — has spent more than $10 billion on its mission, and it is considered a triumph of forward-looking lawmaking.

Even so, huge quantities of weapons and material remain in what Nunn considers perilously unsafe conditions. Only about half of the buildings containing nuclear material in the former Soviet Union have undergone post-1990 security upgrades to install things like perimeter fences, cameras and radiation-monitors to prevent theft. And 134 tons of excess plutonium, which the Russians are willing to destroy, are just sitting in storage. Progress in addressing these problems has been stymied in part by conservatives in the last Republican Congress who bristled at the notion of sending American tax dollars to a Russian military that, they said, should pay for its own fences and cameras. Cooler relations between Russia and the United States have stalled matters further. Russian military officials are less willing to let Americans poke around their nuclear sites and assess security conditions. And the uncompromising diplomacy of the Bush administration has played a role too. American and Russian officials recently fought over arcane rules that would govern a program to dispose of that 134 tons of excess plutonium. The lead United States negotiator demanded extremely broad guarantees for U.S. contractors involved in the work, including freedom from liability even in the event of intentional spillage of nuclear material. The standoff delayed the program for more than a year, until Bush and Vladimir Putin finally hammered out a solution at a summit last fall.

One of the few points of agreement between George Bush and John Kerry during the presidential campaign in 2004 was that preventing a terrorist nuclear attack is among America’s very highest priorities. But many critics on both the left and right argue that the Bush administration has lacked a sense of urgency toward the threat of loose nukes. Kenneth Adelman, a former Reagan-era arms-control official and a Pentagon adviser under George W. Bush, recently recalled a private meeting with Donald Rumsfeld days after his swearing in as defense secretary. “He was very skeptical of the Nunn-Lugar program,” Adelman told me. “That wasn’t the kind of thing he thought the Department of Defense should be doing. He had it in his head that it was a wimpy thing to have the Pentagon involved in.”

Some Bush allies maintain that the real blame lies with Russia’s increasingly belligerent leader. “I believe there are still many installations where the security of materials is still not to the high level that we would hope,” John Wolf, who served as assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation in Bush’s first term, told me. “Somebody ought to look into Mr. Putin’s eyes and down to his soul and say, ‘You’re putting the fate of the world at risk by your unwillingness to take action.’ ”

Last September, Nunn and N.T.I.’s president, a former Energy Department official in the Clinton administration named Charles Curtis, flew to Vienna to meet with Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. ElBaradei admires Nunn, whom he calls “a shining example” in the fight against a potential nuclear catastrophe — presumably not least because N.T.I. has given ElBaradei’s agency more than $1 million to upgrade its monitoring of nuclear material worldwide. Part of the reason for Nunn’s visit was to discuss a major new N.T.I. proposal: the creation of an international nuclear fuel bank.

This was the foundation’s response to an unsettling wave of countries showing interest in new or expanded nuclear capabilities. Several nations, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco and Algeria, say they might want to develop civilian nuclear power. Meanwhile, South Africa, Brazil, Canada, Argentina and Australia all talk of creating home-grown uranium-enrichment programs — ostensibly for power but potentially also for military ends. “What I see is a new wave of countries not necessarily trying to develop nuclear weapons but nuclear-weapons capability — the ability to process or enrich plutonium or uranium,” ElBaradei told me recently. “And I know, and you know, that if a country is capable of doing that, they are virtually a nuclear-weapon state.”

The idea behind an international fuel bank is to make it possible for nations to generate nuclear power without developing a nuclear-weapons capability. Iran, for instance, has rejected offers from Russia to manage its uranium supply on the alleged grounds that it doesn’t want to be dependent on Russia’s political whims for its energy needs. The fuel bank would render such complaints obsolete and make transparent who is using energy programs as a cover for military ambitions. If a country has access to a reliable fuel supply, why would it need its own enrichment program?

For Nunn, this is the logical next phase in the fight against loose nukes: preventing the creation of new nukes that could become loose someday. ElBaradei has predicted that as many as 30 or 40 countries could begin trying to develop nuclear capability in coming years. And while traditional policies of deterrence may keep future nuclear states in check, every new bomb factory necessarily means there is more dangerous nuclear material in the world. “I see the two going together,” Nunn says. “The more countries that have this fissile material, the more likely the risk of a diversion or theft of fissile material becomes.”

America was lucky to survive the cold war, Nunn told an audience in Washington last month. “I don’t believe if you get another 7, 8, 10 countries with a nuclear weapon that you’re going to be so lucky.”

It is very likely that North Korea’s success in building weapons and Iran’s steady progress toward that goal have only encouraged other nations to get into the nuclear game. But, Nunn believes, the United States, mired in Iraq and strained in its relations with former allies, has never had less leverage to counter them. Nunn says that the current Iraq war (which he also opposed) has distracted U.S. officials, undermined the credibility of any U.S. military threat it might bring to bear on North Korean or Iran and “dealt a severe blow to the leadership credibility we need in the world.”

In this view, American credibility is an essential part of persuading other nations to stop or reverse their nuclear programs. One way to enhance American credibility, according to this line of thinking, is for the United States to decrease its own nuclear stockpile. Yet the Bush administration has not only not moved to significantly reduce that stockpile, it is also exploring new nuclear technologies (like bunker-buster mini-nukes). “I think we have very badly failed to meet our responsibilities,” Brent Scowcroft, George H. W. Bush’s national security adviser and Nunn’s friend, told me. “I think it is the sort of neoconish notion that it is our job to dominate the world and that the way you dominate it is by pushing ahead on new nuclear stuff.”

Nunn complains that the Bush White House also subordinates nonproliferation to other goals. As an example, he cites the deal the administration cut with India last year. It created a legal exemption allowing American companies to conduct trade with India’s nuclear-power industry even though India is not a party to the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty. Nunn publicly called for Congress to impose conditions on the deal — specifically, a provision requiring that India halt production of new fissile material for weapons. A worldwide treaty barring the creation of all new fissile material is near the top of Nunn’s wish list, and he saw the deal with India as a fine opportunity. But in the end, the Bush administration, which is eager to cultivate India as a regional ally, got its way. “We missed that opportunity,” Nunn says. “We should not have entered into that agreement.”

The Bush administration is not without its achievements or its defenders. Persuading Libya to abandon a nascent nuclear program in 2003 is one of its least-heralded triumphs. The recent deal with North Korea, if it holds up, could be another success story. The Global Threat Reduction Initiative, a program set up by the Energy Department to remove nuclear material from civilian nuclear reactors around the world, has been widely commended. (Nunn, who is not prone to boasting, says people “at very high levels” have told him that the example set by the Vinca operation in Serbia was a crucial impetus behind the creation of the new program.) Meanwhile, conservatives note that the sorts of international treaties embraced by Nunn but spurned by Bush have historically failed to blunt the nuclear ambitions of states like India and Pakistan and, now, possibly Iran. Hence American power and the deterrent threat of brute force remain the best way to confront the dangers of proliferation. “If you want to discourage countries from acquiring nuclear weapons,” Richard Perle, the former Reagan arms-control official, says, “make it clear that once they get a nuclear weapon, it is something they can’t use directly because we will annihilate them.”

Nunn, for one, remains unconvinced. The North Korea deal, he says, came about after the Bush administration shifted tactics from its confrontational, axis-of-evil posture to intensive multilateral diplomacy. While Nunn says he applauds the administration for changing direction on North Korea — “You have to talk to countries unless you’re going to leave yourself with one resort, which is military force,” he says — Perle’s vision of deterrence is ineffective if a nuclear weapon is stolen or transferred from a state to a terrorist group with no fixed address to incinerate. It is potential threats like these that have led Nunn to shift his focus from locking up loose nukes to grander ideas, like the international fuel bank.

At the same time, he has had to enlist new allies. Ted Turner’s initial donation of $250 million to the Nuclear Threat Initiative came in the form of Time Warner stock, which lost 70 percent of its value before N.T.I. sold it off. N.T.I. might have gone under by now had Nunn not enlisted another wealthy angel, Warren Buffett. Nunn has known Buffett for years through his service on the Coca-Cola corporate board — Nunn estimates he spends 30 to 50 percent of his time serving on several corporate boards, including those of Coca-Cola, Dell and Chevron — and Buffett has long been concerned about the risk of nuclear terrorism.

“One thing you learn in the insurance business is that anything that can happen will happen,” Buffett told me. “Whether it’s the levees in New Orleans or the San Francisco earthquake, things that are very improbable do happen.” Buffett once gave Nunn a formula that the latter likes to repeat: assuming a 10 percent chance of a nuclear attack in any given year, the odds of surviving 50 years without an attack are less than 1 percent. If the odds of an attack can be reduced to 1 percent per year, however, the chances of making it 50 years without a nuclear detonation improve to better than even. Buffett also told Nunn that if he ever had “a big idea” for reducing the chances of nuclear terrorism, he should call. After Nunn proposed the fuel-bank project, Buffett backed the effort with a pledge of $50 million — on the condition that at least one government contributes $100 million in cash or nuclear fuel within two years. Buffett is now N.T.I.’s chief underwriter, promising to donate $7 million annually to the foundation through 2009. (Fund-raising generates the rest of N.T.I.’s money.) “I told Sam we’re not going to have something as important as his effort disappear because of the actions of a stock,” Buffett says. “As long as Sam’s involved, I’ll be involved. I promise you that.”

For his part, ElBaradei is ecstatic that Buffett stepped forward. But he also regards it as a damning reflection on the seriousness with which the world is taking nuclear proliferation. “It’s discouraging, to say the least, for my organization to go and pass the hat to seek funding for these problems when everyone agrees that this is the No. 1 security threat,” ElBaradei says. “Governments are not putting money where their mouths are.”

Last month, Nunn wrote an op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal with former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Schultz and former Secretary of Defense William Perry that sent waves through the foreign-policy establishment. Its title was “A World Free of Nuclear Weapons.” The article declared that, after the cold war, “reliance on nuclear weapons for [deterrence] is becoming increasingly hazardous and decreasingly effective.” Deterring terrorist groups has become nearly impossible, and the peacekeeping value of nuclear weapons is more and more outweighed by the risk of their possible use. Therefore, the authors wrote, it is time to pursue the goal of “a world free of nuclear weapons.” To seek abolition, in other words.

The language used in the op-ed — for example, the claim that abolition is “consistent with America’s moral heritage” — struck some as an echo of 1980s liberal critiques that treated nuclear deterrence as a moral abomination. “Many people said this was a leftist view, a pacifist view of the world, to come and say we need to move to a new abolition of nuclear weapons,” ElBaradei told me shortly after the piece was published. On the other hand, Nunn’s byline on the article seems to have buoyed those who have long called for weapons reductions. “Here is a man who was known as the leading Democratic hawk in the Senate saying we have got to recapture this vision of eliminating nuclear weapons,” Joseph Cirincione, a nuclear-proliferation expert at the liberal Center for American Progress, says. “Not just reducing nuclear dangers but eliminating these weapons. It was a shot in the arm to everyone who’s been trying to correct the disastrous policies of the last six years.”

Nunn says that some people were stunned by his new stance. “How could you endorse this?” he has been asked. Ronald Reagan believed passionately in the principle of disarmament, but few in Washington’s foreign-policy establishment have ever shared that view. Brent Scowcroft, for one, calls abolition “a fantasy. But even if you could do it, that’s dangerous. I just think that we have invented nuclear weapons, and we cannot disinvent them. And a world where everybody gets rid of their nuclear weapons means that anybody that cheats can become a superpower in a short period of time. And I just think that’s a very dangerous world.”

Nunn acknowledges this danger and admits that any realistic disarmament plan would have to allow the U.S. to quickly reconstitute weapons if a threat emerged. But he has come to believe the greater danger is continuing on our current path. “I think we have to turn it around,” he told me a few weeks ago. “You literally can’t get there” — to a safer world, that is — “from here.”

Nunn concedes that any path to complete disarmament would be long and slow. He says that the U.S. could begin by finally starting to make substantial cuts in its nuclear forces, and by ratifying a 1996 international nuclear-test-ban treaty that Congress has refused to ratify, and by working to halt the production of new fissile material everywhere. But only a sweeping vision of a world free from the bomb can start such a process, Nunn says. “I don’t believe the steps are possible without the vision.”

It has been a long journey to this point. Twenty years ago, he says, the Wall Street Journal article “would not have been possible. I would not have been in that mood at that stage, and I said so.” Today, in fact, Nunn finds himself unexpectedly aligned with the original abolitionist vision that he only recently urged Ted Turner to de-emphasize. It is a vision many Democrats say Nunn could bring into a future Democratic administration, possibly as secretary of state or defense. (In a recent speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, Hillary Clinton cited Nunn and the N.T.I. as her inspiration for a bill to create a White House nuclear-terrorism adviser.)

But Nunn knows it could be another 20 years — probably more — before such a vision can be realized, if at all. “You can probably only get to the achievement with the next generation,” he says. “Probably none of the people who signed that will be able to see it through. But the world has to see that direction. Perhaps then a younger generation will see that the goal is achievable.

Correction: February 24, 2007

An article on Page 50 of The Times Magazine this weekend, about Sam Nunn, head of the Nuclear Threat Initiative and former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, misstates the name of a company on whose board he serves. It is Chevron, not ChevronTexaco.

2) IDF troops uncover second explosives lab in Nablus raid
By Amos Harel and and Avi Issacharoff

An Israel Defense Forces patrol operating in the West Bank city of Nablus on Sunday uncovered an explosives laboratory containing six bombs and a Lau missile stolen from the IDF.

This is the second explosives factory the IDF has found broad operation against terrorist organizations in the city. Two IDF soldiers were lightly injured Sunday morning during the raid, Israel Radio reported.

The operation, which began on Saturday in the city's casbah, targets several organizations with military capability that the IDF believes may improve. The soldiers were injured in the casbah, the radio said, and officials said several Palestinians were also lightly injury.

Elite Nahal and Golani battalions are participating in the operation along with two additional infantry battalions.

Witnesses said dozens of IDF jeeps and armored vehicles raided the city center.

They said troops placed about 50,000 people under curfew in the center of Nablus and closed the main entrance to the city.

Schools and a university in the city announced that they had canceled studies due to the curfew.

The army also took over local television and radio stations, ordering people to remain indoors and warning residents that the clampdown would remain in effect for several days, Palestinian residents said.

On Saturday, the IDF uncovered an explosives lab in the city. Among the items found were pipe bombs, gas balloons and materials for producing explosive charges. Sappers detonated the explosive devices.

The army also said soldiers had been shot at in several places and returned fire.

Palestinian officials condemned the raid, saying it threatened Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' efforts to restart peace talks with Israel.

"We condemn this military incursion," said Saeb Erekat, a confidante to Abbas. "This will undermine the efforts that are being made to sustain the cease-fire with Israel."

In the Gaza Strip, Hamas officials said the Israeli raid was undermining the Palestinian unity efforts.

"We question why these military campaigns are increasing now, said Ghazi Hamad," spokesman for the Hamas-led government. "This indicates the Israeli government is trying to turn what was agreed upon in Mecca into a failure."

The Israeli forces began moving into Nablus at about 3 a.m. and continued to move in for several hours, Palestinian witnesses said. They said about 80 military vehicles, along with several bulldozers, were in the city.

The bulldozers erected huge piles of rubble to block movement on main roads, witnesses said. The main entrance to the city also was closed.

Witnesses said Soldiers moved from door to door in Nablus' Old City, or casbah, entering homes in search of suspects.

At one point, nervous soldiers forced a Palestinian youth to lead a small group of soldiers up some stairs and into a home ahead of the forces. The soldiers then took the youth, along with several young Palestinian men, into a military vehicle.

The army had no immediate comment on Sunday's incident, which was filmed by AP Television News.

While the operation largely shut down Nablus, sporadic clashes were reported. Soldiers were pelted with stones and cement blocks, and exchanged fire with Palestinian gunmen, the army said, adding that two soldiers were lightly wounded by a Palestinian bomb.

The army responded to the protests with rubber bullets and stun grenades, witnesses said. In one incident, soldiers entered a cemetery to search for Palestinians who had pelted their vehicle with stones.

Palestinian medical officials said four Palestinians were wounded by rubber bullets during Sunday's unrest.

3)Head of the Hamas political bureau, Khalid Mash'al, has declared that the key to any solution to the Palestinian issue is Israeli recognition of Palestinian rights; to withdraw from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and comply with Palestinian demands.

Speaking to the London based daily, Al Sharq Al Awsat, during his visit to
Egypt; Mash'al added that the Saudi king is trying to preserve Palestinian

Mash'al expects the Mecca agreement to be successful for a period of time,
as long as the Saudis and Egyptians are supporting it. He said that the deal
did not cover or achieve everything. He denied that there is a Saudi
initiative to improve relations between Hamas and Jordan.

The paper asked Mash'al about the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas,
meeting with Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, he said "we don't care
what the Israelis say, we made an agreement in Mecca and we will stick to
it, despite the challenges we are going to face." Mash'al added "Israel
should recognize Palestinian rights and withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza

Mash'al also said "we have agreed in Mecca that external negotiations should
be the responsibility of the Palestine Liberation Organisation chairman
[Abbas] and when he is offered any settlements he should present them to the
legislative institutions."

When Mash'al was asked about his expectations of the Quartet (the United
Nations, United States, European Union and Russia) meeting with United
States secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, he said "regardless of what the
USA wants, I believe that there is a level of understanding among the Arabs
and the Palestinians, this will give us the margin to move and become closer
to national goals. The Arabs will be supporting the Palestinians and that
satisfies me, as this will form an Arab unity which can protect the

With regard to the differences between Fatah and Hamas and to the political
partnership he said "this subject will be dealt with seriously, we will
discuss it and I believe that we will overcome any obstacles, there are many
steps that we are going to take to reach a real partnership in the

About the internal fighting he said "we have made some mistakes and we
courageously admit that, but these are limited and were committed as
reactions, we don't feel proud of this and hope that it will be omitted from
history, we are steadfastly against the shedding of Palestinian blood."

When asked about the United States categorising of Arab nations as
'moderate' and 'extremist' he said "our relationship with the Arab countries
does not reflect this, we have maintained good relations with the Arab
countries, regardless of how the USA portrays or classifies them."

With regards to the aid embargo on the Palestinian authority, he said "the
Arabs can break it, at least partially, even if the US refuses to lift it,
but we notice that there are cracks in the position of the Quartet and
Russia takes a positive position, I am sure that the siege can be partially

Mash'al concluded by saying "the Mecca deal will succeed and continue, it
will be successful for a period of time because of the objective
circumstances. I am convinced that the deal did not achieve all of our
ambitions but at least it ended the internal fighting."

4) Imposing Sanctions: The Iran quandary

The findings by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran has continued to develop its uranium enrichment program, despite Security Council Resolution 1737, raises the possibility of further sanctions being imposed on Iran.

Such action, though welcomed, is unlikely to stop Teehran's march towards membership in the nuclear family, as Iran has already shown that it can and will ignore international norms and standards. Economic sanctions refer to the deliberate withdrawal or threat of withdrawal of trade and financial relations with a country in an effort to alter its behavior/policies.

The first recorded example of economic sanctions was the Megarian Decree in 433 BC. The Athenian Assembly imposed a trade embargo on Megara for supporting the Corinthians, Athens enemies. In response, the Megarans turned to Sparta, which issued an ultimatum to Athens to withdraw the embargo. When the Athenians refused, a devastating war (Peloponnesian War) ensued.


Since the Megarian Decree and with the growing desire to avoid warfare economic sanctions have been used to encourage democracy, respect for human rights, end civil war, stop drug trafficking, fight terrorism, combat weapon proliferation and promote nuclear disarmament. In terms of UN sanctions, the Security Council operating under 41 may impose "measures not involving the use of armed force" to support the implementation of its decisions. These measures may include "complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations." To work, sanctions require four major commitments: patience, cooperation, enforcement and respect. Unfortunately, these elements are rarely present in international politics.

In the case of Iran, Russia and China offer the biggest hindrance to the imposition of an effective economic sanction. Their reluctance to support a comprehensive sanction regime arises from purely pure national interests to a desire to assert their position on the global map. Iran is a major energy supplier to China, and as to Russia, the two countries have good trade relations.

On the international scene, since the end of the Cold War, Russia has sought to curve a new place under the sun for itself, by challenging American hegemony as seen recently with President Putin's declaration that America's approach to global relations is "very dangerous."

For China, its foreign policy centers on energy as it strives for economic growth. These considerations are bound to impact on negotiations relating to the language in the new resolution, the imposition of sanctions and the monitoring process.

Determining whether sanctions work is a difficult and contentious. A rare example of successful usage of sanctions is the case of South Africa, which endured sanctions from 1962 until 1992, which slowly suffocated the South African economy. This eventually led the business community to pressure the National Party to abandon the apartheid system that it instituted in 1948.

There are, however, numerous examples where sanctions have failed either because they were ignored (Somalia) or because the regime found means to circumvent the sanctions (Saddam Hussein, oil for food program.)

Imposing further sanctions on Iran would only serve the Ahmadinejad regime. It would allow the Iranian president to claim that Western-imposed sanctions are the cause of Iran's economic failings and not the clerics.

Democratic presidential candidate and former US ambassador to the UN Bill Richardson has hit the nail on the head when he said that Iran would not end its nuclear program just because it is threatened. The sad truth is that the current situation is a direct result of the criminal negligence of national and international leaders who for decades failed to deal with the Iranian regime, and therefore imposing sanctions now on Iran would be tantamount to closing the barn after the horses bolted.

World leaders must therefore unite for two reasons, firstly, international cooperation may facilitate an agreement where Iran voluntarily surrenders its nuclear program (as seen with North Korea and Libya) and more importantly they must work together to ensure that the twenty-first century will not go down in the annals of history as the century of nuclear proliferation.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Hillary Needs Two Lipsticks - She is So Two Faced!

Fred Burton discusses withdrawal, its implications and reminds the reader radical Islamists always expected we would fold our cards. (See 1 below.)

Cheap labor turns out to be "cheep" labor because Congress is chicken! (See 2 below.)

According to Senator Biden, who would be better biding his time, Obama also cleans up well! (See 3 below.)

Michelle Malkin reminds us that Sen. Clinton's husband balanced the budget, in some measure, with cuts in military preparedness of which she now opines. Hillary is so two faced and disingenuous she carries two lipsticks. (See 4 below.)

1) Iraq: Jihadist Perspectives on a U.S. Withdrawal
By Fred Burton

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a nonbinding resolution to express disapproval of the president's plan to send more troops to Iraq. Republicans in the Senate prevented a similar resolution from coming to the floor for a vote the next day. The congressional actions come during a period of vigorous debate about U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan -- a debate that is being heavily fueled as presidential hopefuls from both parties begin to position themselves for the 2008 election.

Naturally, this internal debate and media coverage have focused on the American perspective -- and, more specifically, on public opinion polls. But often missing in that discussion is the fact that Afghanistan and Iraq were not entered into as self-contained discrete wars, but as fronts in the wider U.S.-jihadist war. Therefore, though the Bush administration's troop strategy, the positioning of the Democrats and the anti-war statements of potential presidential contenders are by no measure unimportant, the intense focus on these issues means that another important perspective on the war -- that of the jihadists -- frequently goes unmentioned.

Al Qaeda leaders and the jihadist movement in general always have taken a long view of the war, and discussion of a U.S. withdrawal from either Iraq or Afghanistan has long been anticipated. In planning the 9/11 attacks, al Qaeda leaders clearly expected that the United States, once drawn into a war, eventually would weaken and lose heart. A study of al Qaeda's philosophy, mindset and planning -- conveyed through the words and actions of its leadership -- is a reminder of just how the current U.S. political debate fits into the jihadist timeline and strategy.

It also is an indicator that a U.S. withdrawal from Muslim lands is not al Qaeda's ultimate requirement for ending attacks against the United States or American interests abroad.

Perceptions of American Resolve

Long before the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, Osama bin Laden clearly stated that, in the jihadists' opinion, the United States was not prepared to fight a war of attrition.

Prior to 9/11, bin Laden's public statements conveyed his dim view of the U.S. military's capabilities and resolve, as well as of the willingness of the U.S. government (and to a larger extent, the American people) to take casualties in a sustained war. In a 1997 interview with Peter Arnett, bin Laden said, "We learned from those who fought [in Somalia] that they were surprised to see the low spiritual morale of the American fighters in comparison with the experience they had with the Russian fighters. The Americans ran away from those fighters who fought and killed them, while the latter were still there. If the U.S. still thinks and brags that it still has this kind of power even after all these successive defeats in Vietnam, Beirut, Aden, and Somalia, then let them go back to those who are awaiting its return."

It is widely believed that the U.S. withdrawal from Lebanon, following the 1983 Marine barracks bombing, and from Somalia in 1993 were important precedents in driving the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. The jihadists believed that if they killed enough Americans, U.S. forces would leave Saudi Arabia.

Bin Laden's opinion of U.S. resolve was not shaken by the "shock and awe" campaign that was unleashed in Afghanistan and, later, Iraq. In a February 2003 message, he said, "We can conclude that America is a superpower, with enormous military strength and vast economic power, but that all this is built on foundations of straw. So it is possible to target those foundations and focus on their weakest points which, even if you strike only one-tenth of them, then the whole edifice will totter and sway, and relinquish its unjust leadership of the world."

Bin Laden and other jihadist strategists often have stressed that the U.S. economy is one of the foundations to be attacked. However, another significant -- and in their view, vulnerable -- target is morale. In an October 2002 statement, marking the first anniversary of the Afghanistan invasion, bin Laden discussed the importance of "the media people and writers who have remarkable impact and a big role in directing the battle, and breaking the enemy's morale, and heightening the Ummah's morale."

He also noted that the Americans had failed to achieve their objectives in Afghanistan, saying, "The invading American forces in Afghanistan have now started to sink in the Afghani mud, with all of their equipment and personnel. The weird irony of the matter is that the Crusader forces, which came to protect the governing system in Kabul from the attacks of the mujahideen, have now come to need the protection of the regime's forces, having been dealt continuous blows by the mujahideen, so who protects who? The international and American forces had come to ensure the security [but] have become the biggest burden to security!!"

Orders given by Mullah Omar and his tactical commanders to Taliban fighters in Afghanistan also reflect this mindset. They are told not to go toe-to-toe with coalition forces in battle, but rather to increase the costs of doing battle in order to hasten the withdrawal of Western forces.

An al Qaeda military strategist and propagandist, Abu Ubeid al-Qurashi, expounded on this concept in an article titled "Fourth-Generation Wars," carried by the organization's biweekly Internet magazine, Al Ansar, in February 2002:

"Fourth-generation warfare, the experts said, is a new type of war in which fighting will be mostly scattered. The battle will not be limited to destroying military targets and regular forces, but will include societies, and will seek to destroy popular support for the fighters within the enemy's society. In these wars, the experts stated in their article, 'television news may become a more powerful operational weapon than armored divisions.' They also noted that 'the distinction between war and peace will be blurred to the vanishing point.'"

Al-Qurashi went on to extol jihadist successes in fourth-generation warfare, in settings ranging from Afghanistan to Somalia. He also noted that, like the Soviet Union, the United States was not well-suited to fight that type of war. And he predicted that al Qaeda's ideal structure for, and historical proficiency in, fourth-generation warfare ultimately would secure its victory -- despite the fact that jihadists were outgunned by the Americans in both types and quantities of weapons. Al-Qurashi said that while the U.S. military was designed and equipped with the concept of deterrence in mind -- that is, to deter attacks against the United States -- the guiding principle was not applicable in the struggle against a nonstate actor like al Qaeda.

"While the principle of deterrence works well between countries, it does not work at all for an organization with no permanent bases and with no capital in Western banks that does not rely on aid from particular countries. As a result, it is completely independent in its decisions, and it seeks conflict from the outset. How can such people, who strive for death more than anything else, be deterred?" he wrote.

In contrast, al Qaeda's leaders persistently have exhorted their followers to fight a war of attrition similar to that successfully waged by the mujahideen against the Soviets in Afghanistan. In bin Laden's words, "We don't articulate and we don't quit."

One principle that has been emphasized in many statements by bin Laden and others is that the jihadists love death the way Americans love life -- a concept originally stated by Abu Bakr, a companion of the Prophet Muhammad, as he led an army into battle against the Persians.

A Four-Part Strategy

The United States' military response to the 9/11 attacks was the reaction al Qaeda wanted and expected. The statements of al Qaeda leaders have made it clear that the jihadists' goal was to make sure these became protracted, painful and costly wars.

Ayman al-Zawahiri put it this way in August 2003, as the insurgency in Iraq was beginning to take hold: "We are saying to America one thing: What you saw with your eyes so far are only initial skirmishes; as for the real battle, it hasn't even started yet."

Now, whether al Qaeda or the jihadist movement actually retains the capability to achieve its long-term goals is a matter for vigorous debate, and one we have explored at other times. For purposes of this analysis, however, it is useful to examine just what those long-term goals, to which al-Zawahiri obviously was alluding, actually are.

Internal al Qaeda documents indicate that a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan is but one of the stages factored into the movement's long-term planning. One of the most telling documents was a July 2005 letter from al-Zawahiri to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq, outlining a four-step strategy for establishing a caliphate in the "heart of the Islamic world." (The authenticity of the al-Zawahiri letter has been questioned by some, but our own analysis has led Stratfor to conclude it was bona fide.)

The steps he outlined were:
1) Expel the Americans from Iraq.
2) Establish an Islamic authority or emirate in Iraq.
3) Extend the jihad wave to secular countries neighboring Iraq.
4) Initiate a clash with Israel.

Al-Zawahiri said he was proposing the four-step strategy in order to "stress something extremely important" to al-Zarqawi, "and it is that the mujahideen must not have their mission end with the expulsion of the Americans from Iraq, and then lay down their weapons, and silence the fighting zeal." He clearly wanted the jihadists to press on toward bigger objectives following the U.S. withdrawal.

In the letter, he cautioned: "Things may develop faster than we imagine. The aftermath of the collapse of American power in Vietnam -- and how they ran and left their agents -- is noteworthy. Because of that, we must be ready starting now, before events overtake us, and before we are surprised by the conspiracies of the Americans and the United Nations and their plans to fill the void behind them. We must take the initiative and impose a fait accompli upon our enemies, instead of the enemy imposing one on us, wherein our lot would be to merely resist their schemes."

It follows from this that a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would be construed by the jihadists as an opportunity to establish an important base or sanctuary -- and then to consolidate their gains and continue their "jihad wave" to other parts of the region. With that in mind, jihadist attacks against "Jews and Crusaders" could be expected to continue even after a U.S. departure from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Ultimate Objective

Al Qaeda's grievances with the United States have been well documented by Stratfor and numerous others since the 9/11 attacks: Bin Laden was outraged by the presence of U.S. military forces in Saudi Arabia following the 1991 Gulf War, and by what he sees as an unholy alliance between Western powers and "apostate" secular regimes in the Islamic world. Historical conflicts between Muslim and Christian entities also have been referenced as a precedent for what bin Laden describes as "aggressive intervention against Muslims in the whole world" -- meaning the U.N. embargo against Iraq, the existence of Israel and U.S. support for said "apostate" regimes.

In a February 1998 statement, bin Laden declared that "The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military -- is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the Al Aqsa mosque and the holy mosque from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim.

An important point is that al Qaeda defines terms like the "lands of Islam" as territory that includes present-day Israel, India and Spain. While Israel is clearly more significant to Muslims than other areas, given the importance of Jerusalem and the Al Aqsa mosque to Islam, Spain -- which was the Caliphate of al-Andalus from 711 to 1492 -- is also in the crosshairs. An equally important point is that the political shift in Madrid (which followed a 2004 commuter train attack in the capital) and the government's decision to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq have not removed Spain from the jihadists' target list. In a July 2006 message -- in which he threatened revenge for the Israeli aggression against Lebanon and the Palestinians -- al-Zawahiri said, "The war with Israel ... is a jihad for the sake of God ... a jihad that seeks to liberate Palestine, the whole of Palestine, and to liberate every land which (once belonged to) Islam, from Andalus to Iraq."

In other words, at least as long as the state of Israel exists -- and the "apostate" governments in places like Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Morocco and Kuwait remain in power, with U.S. support -- the jihadists will continue to complain about U.S. "aggression against Islam." And, insofar as they are able, they will carry on their war.

2) Subject: Cheap Labor:

Isn't that what the whole immigration issue is about?

Business doesn't want to pay a decent wage.

Consumers don't want expensive produce.

Government will tell you Americans don't want the jobs.

But the bottom line is cheap labor.

The phrase "cheap labor" is a myth, a farce, a lie...an oxymoron.

There is no such thing as "cheap labor." Take, for example, an illegal alien with a wife and five children. He takes a job for $5.00 or $6.00/hour.

At that wage, with six dependents, he pays no income tax, yet at the end of the year, if he files an Income Tax Return, he gets an "earned income credit" of up to $3,200 free.

He qualifies for Section 8 housing and subsidized rent

He qualifies for food stamps.

He qualifies for free (no deductible, no co-pay) health care .

His children get free breakfasts and lunches at school.

He requires bilingual teachers and books .

He qualifies for relief from high energy bills.

If they are or become, aged, blind or disabled, they qualify for Social Security!

Once qualified for Social Security they can qualify for Medicare.

All of this is at the taxpayer's expense.

He doesn't worry about car insurance, life insurance, or homeowners insurance.

Taxpayers provide Spanish language signs, bulletins and printed material.

He and his family receive the equivalent of $20.00 to $30.00/hour in benefits.

Working Americans are lucky to have $5.00 or $6.00/hour left after paying their bills and his.

The American taxpayer's also pay for increased crime, graffiti and trash clean up.

Cheap labor?
I DON'T think so!
Wake up people!

Kind of scary, isn't it when you think about it?

3) Obama, enjoy the honeymoon while it lasts: Media loves to build up candidates, loves to tear them down more.
by Steve Adubato

There is a sort of love affair, if not an intense infatuation, going on between Barack Obama and the mainstream media. This guy comes right out of central casting for presidential candidates. He is young, charismatic, dynamic, charming, speaks in sound bites, and, according to the photo in People magazine, looks better than his opponents in a bathing suit.

We in the media love to cover the horse race. Each presidential campaign starts earlier than the one before it. The 2008 campaign will be more like an ultra-marathon than a 5K or 10K race. It will be about endurance and discipline, about conditioning and the ability to manage the media under the most difficult of circumstances.
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In many ways, Barack Obama is the Howard Dean of 2008 — only with a pleasant personality and lacking the volatility that caused Dean to implode when he came in third in Iowa in 2004. I first realized how media-savvy Obama is when I saw him on “Oprah.” He was relaxed and conversational. He was chumming it up with Oprah, and the crowd filled mostly with women loved it. He was self-effacing and as substantive as he needed to be. No serious policy talk here. Obama knew his audience. They wanted to know him as a person; as a husband; as a father; and as a black man running for president with a very realistic chance of winning.

Obama’s media appeal became even clearer when his wife, Michelle, joined him and Oprah on the set. Michelle and Barack Obama appear to be a media dream couple. She, too, is classy, looks great on camera and appears to know just what to say. She, too, is self-deprecating, but poked fun at her husband while still being respectful.

The media’s love affair with Barack Obama is also based on another factor — race. While Obama’s mother was white, he clearly identifies himself as a black politician. And while it is still early, it appears that most white reporters are not that comfortable aggressively challenging Obama. I’m not saying that Obama won’t be challenged aggressively down the road, but for now, the media “honeymoon” is in full swing. A prime example is this headline in The New York Times on Feb. 20: “The ‘Hot’ Ticket in Hollywood: An Evening with Obama."

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“Saturday Night Live’s” Darrell Hammond and other white comedians who poke fun at politicians for a living recently told Newsweek magazine that Obama is very difficult to rip apart. Hammond said that Obama was smart and articulate. (Which is not funny.) Many white comedians said that it was risky to poke fun at a black candidate for fear it may be seen as racist. Frankly, it is harder for white comedians to make fun of black politicians than it is for black comedians, like Chris Rock or Tracy Morgan, to make fun of George Bush, John Kerry or even Hillary Clinton. I’m convinced the same principle holds true for many white journalists when it comes to aggressively challenging or criticizing Obama. They have little or no experience doing it, and many are not sure of how it will play.

There is a double standard when it comes to current media coverage of Obama. One can only hope that changes soon, because to treat him differently from the other serious presidential candidates does represent a racist attitude.

Interestingly, Obama was critical of some in the media for coverage of him focusing on “softer” topics while he wanted to talk substantive issues. Chill out, Senator, and count your blessings. If People magazine wants to show you in a bathing suit and talk about your pecs, consider yourself lucky. And if you are that worried about the coverage of you as a “rock star” with loads of personality, stop doing interviews with Oprah or personality-driven magazines. Exactly how did you and your wife get on the February cover of Ebony? Was that because of your position on Iraq or because the two of you are very photogenic and have an even more interesting personal story to tell?
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To his credit, when Obama screwed up recently by saying the 3,000-plus American lives that were lost in Iraq were “wasted,” he immediately apologized. He minimized the damage and potential fallout, both in the media and with voters. Apologizing was a very smart move, something Hillary Clinton still hasn’t figured out when it comes to her 2002 Iraq vote.

This relationship between Obama and the media is going to be a fascinating one to watch, because unlike Jesse Jackson and even Al Sharpton, Obama has huge crossover appeal and could in fact be our next president. I only hope that we in the media start treating him like that and press him harder on the substantive issues that matter most to American citizens.

My advice to Obama is to enjoy the honeymoon while it lasts, because when it does end, history shows that it can get pretty ugly. The media loves to build national candidates up, but we love even more to tear them down. Barack Obama’s fascinating story continues.

4) Hillary's Phony Coat of Armor
By Michelle Malkin

Look out: Hillary Clinton is pulling the armor cloak from her rhetorical closet again. As long as she pairs it with a skirt, Italian designer Donatella Versace approves. But for any leading presidential candidate with a shred of integrity, this political wardrobe malfunction goes in the "fashion don't" column.

In her latest campaign video, Hillary attacks the Bush administration for sending soldiers off to battle unprotected: "Promises just aren't enough anymore. After almost four years, longer than we were in WWII, our troops still don't have all the body armor and armored vehicles and other equipment they need. It's a disgrace."

Whenever leftists need to show they really, really do care more about the troops than their political opponents, they pull out this armor card. A Rumsfeld-bashing reporter bragged about coaching a soldier into spotlighting the armor gap two years ago. And last year, ignoring rank-and-file soldiers' own observations about the trade-offs between weight and mobility, Hillary excoriated the Bush administration as "incompetent" for not weighing down the troops with extra body armor. Now, the Army is being pummeled again by vultures and opportunists with no clue about the complexities of military logistics.

The Democrats' latest talking point involves a reported shortage of armored Humvees in Iraq. The armchair generals of The New York Times editorial board waxed indignantly about the story last week -- lambasting the "Army, the National Guard and the Marine Corps" for being "caught constantly behind the curve" on armor upgrades. The Times' editorial titled their anti-Bush tirade, "Not supporting the troops." The meme has penetrated from Hillary and Ted Kennedy down to every last, lowest-level Democratic strategist looking to burnish pro-military credibility.

But the Army reminds its critics that it began the War on Terror "with equipment shortages totaling $56 billion from previous decades. In the last several years, the Army has transformed itself more than any other military in history and rapidly acquires ever-improving equipment on a scale not seen since World War II." In Iraq alone, officials report, "the Army has gone from a low of 400 up-armored Humvees to nearly 15,000 up-armored Humvees patrolling neighborhoods, protecting troops and mitigating risk from most types of enemy munitions. As of this date, the Army has produced enough Frag Kit No. 5 Retrofit kits to outfit every Humvee in Afghanistan and Iraq. Thousands of these kits are being flown into theater every month and they are being installed in theater, 24 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure Soldiers have the best protection available."

Capt. Aaron Kaufman of the Dagger Brigade at Forward Operating Base Justice, the unit my Hot Air partner Bryan Preston and I embedded with in Baghdad last month, told me: "This is simply another red herring. All of the trucks that leave the FOBs either possess interim FRAG-5 armor kits or the Objective Kits. . . . Every truck we have is baseline an M1114 or M1151 up-armored HMMWV, not a modified M998 or M1025 (standard HMMWV, no armor). The same type of reporter writes these articles, one you can refer [to] as a Green Zone Sniper. I have personally been impressed with how quickly the Army gets newly developed equipment and technology to the soldiers in the fight."

Capt. Matt Schoenfeldt, who serves as a gunner in Iraq's Diyala province, also sent me his reaction:

"I would first like to point out that this is just one more attempt by the liberals to take an extremely complicated situation, look at one small aspect of the story, and then invent the story that they [want] to tell. We have over 70,000 M1114 Up-Armored HMMWVs in theater right now. With that said, it is remarkable that we would be able to retro-fit this number of vehicles with armor in this short time period while still conducting 24-hour combat operations. . . . In addition to the upgrades to all of these 70,000-plus M1114s, the Army has upgraded every vehicle that travels out in sector; from ballistic glass for Track Commanders on Tanks and Bradleys, to armored doors and glass for support vehicles, and everything in between. There is not a single vehicle that goes out in sector that has not been upgraded for threats specific to Iraq.

"The armored upgrade program is a tremendously successful program and has saved thousands of lives. This story on the armor upgrades has been taken by the media and other uneducated members, and painted a very successful and impressive program as a failure. It is an appalling lack of fact-checking by the media and others that should be informed on the issue."

T.F. Boggs, a sergeant in the Army Reserves who recently returned from his second deployment to Iraq, summed it up: "We have come so far since the early days of the war that the armor issue is a joke. Only those who don't have a clue about the reality of the war in Iraq make it an issue."

Put another way: The empress has no clothes.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Truman Had Low Poll Numbers but He Was Decisive!

Iran's interior minister accused US, British and Israeli intelligence as being behind the attack on a bus in Iran 's capital of Bulchistan near the border with Pakistan and Afghanistan. The attacked bus was carrying members of the National Revolutionary Guards. Eleven were killed and 30 injured.

Lately, more attacks against Iranians inside Iran are beginning to give the government some jitters. There are those in the West who believe the interior ministers accusation is a prelude to justify an Iranian revenge attack. There are a growing number of DC'ites who believe GW is setting about to provoke an overstep by Iran and thus orchestrate a public outcry for the attack they claim GW is planning on Iran. This could also be a ploy, as I have stated before, by this who want to cut him off at the pass and thus, preclude anything they fear he might be planning.

Sec. Rice ended her tri-lateral meeting pledging she will return. No doubt she had to make some kind of re-assuring statement but the conference between Abbas, Olmert and Rice was the flop it was predicted to be. Olmert cannot, and should not, negotiate with a unity government committed to his nation's destruction. There are those who argue he should, because it props up Abbas. Why prop up Abbas? What has he accomplished? He is weak, willing to buy into Hamas's defiance in order to sell the EU on financing his own plight. Abbas is now leaving for Europe to do just that.

The Saudis gutted TRM by blessing a unity government which contravenes everything the Quartet insists upon, ie no more terror, acceptance of previous agreements and recognition of the State of Israel. Though the Saudis deny it they backed up the Mecca meeting with a significant financing package if the unity government holds.

In time, the third attempt at a unity government will assuredly fall apart because Hamas is not going to agree to anything necessary to provide the cover Abbas needs and Fatah is not likely to want to become subjugated to the rule of Hamas any more than they already have.

I suspect the Palestinians will be back to killing each other and blame Israeli intransigence. That is the pattern from which Hamas and Fatah seem incapable of extracting themselves. (See 1 below.)

Meanwhile, the Jordanian Times reports Syria and Iran profess they have strengthened their relationship. (See 2 below.)

Jeff Jacoby chimes in and writes why there is no justification for a Palestinian state and Jacoby fills in what the media failed to report. (See 3 below.)

What Admiral Fallon has to say will become increasingly important as he assumes his new post. Richard Halloran reports on Fallon's thoughts. (See 4 below.)

I have just returned from seeing "Letters From Iwo Jima." Great movie and again proves how tragic war is. But we are at war and GW has done a poor job of convincing us we are at war. He cannot make a speech and then fade away. He let the media define him because no WMD were found and Sadaam was allegedly not linked to terrorism. Sadaam was himself a WMD and he financed terrorists with laundered UN money. We are at war, a war that is more difficult than any we have fought because our might alone is not going to carry the day. You win wars. You do not allow yourself to be defeated.

I have said, and I repeat, the American people understand war and are willing to accept casualties but only if they are convinced we are winning and/or are committed to win. So when they see us failing to do what is necessary to win they become easy pickings for the cut and run crowd - for those who forced our defeat in Viet Nam.

That said, I believe the Democrats and their candidates are digging a hole for themselves with their whining and bring the troops home defeatist strategy. Truman had low poll ratings but he was steadfast in his purpose and history ultimately gave his presidency high marks. Truman was decisive but he too was a poor communicator. I never will forget those thick glasses, which magnified his eyes, and those hands that went up and down, in a hackneyed style, as he talked.

GW does not have a great deal of time to get his train back on track and unless he is decisive and convincing the Democrats will continue to derail him at every turn and do it with nothing but negativism. That will be sad for all concerned.

Israel lost 117 soldiers in the Lebanon War which lasted a few months. On a population equivalency with our country that is over 5500 lives and yet the Israelis were totally behind the government until they became convinced Olmert did not know what he was doing.

Democrats have been allowed to preach, virtually unchallenged, we can afford to lose in Iraq and suffer no serious consequences. In fact, their argument goes, that we will save the billions we are spending on the war and the lives we are losing. If voters buy that argument the ultimate price will be astronomic because a nuclear Iran linked with a nuclear N Korea will put our very freedoms at risk.

The same was said about Hitler, that he did not mean what he said, that he would not be foolish enough to believe he could conquer Europe. After all the French had the Maginot Line. Hitler conquered Europe in less than 6 months and had he not pulled back from finishing Britain and making the mistake of attacking Russia we might now be studying Mein Kampf in our school rooms.


1) Top Hamas official: US 'sowing sedition'

A senior Hamas official on Monday accused the United States of "sowing sedition" among the Palestinians, hours after US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice held a rare summit with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Moussa Abu Marzouk, Hamas's deputy political leader, told a Palestinian rally at the Yarmouk refugee camp near this Syrian capital that US policy was based on "sowing sedition among the peoples and states of the region through dividing the Middle East into two camps: A moderate camp and a non-moderate one."

Monday's three-way summit - initially billed as a new peace push - produced few results amid concerns over an emerging Palestinian unity government led by Hamas.

Rice said following the two-hour meeting in Jerusalem that the two sides exchanged views of the political future and agreed to hold another summit.

On Sunday, Rice said in the West Bank city of Ramallah that she wouldn't judge the new Palestinian government until it has been formed.

Abu Marzouk, who lives in exile in Syria, thanked Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, for resisting what he called "US pressures" exerted by Rice during her visit.

"These pressures exerted by Rice on Abu Mazen during Sunday's and Monday's meetings to abandon the agreement [with Hamas] and promising him support, and his resisting these pressures deserve appreciation," Abu Marzouk told the rally.

The international community has demanded that any Palestinian government recognize Israel, accept previous peace deals and renounce violence, but the coalition government deal, forged earlier this month in Saudi Arabia, only pledges to "respect" past peace agreements.

Abu Marzouk praised the power-sharing government agreement designed to stop fighting between Hamas and Abbas's more moderate Fatah party. The agreement allows the government to be based on "partnership, rather than domination of one party on power," he said.

On Sunday, Abu Marzouk called on the US administration and the international community to deal positively and reasonably with a Palestinian national unity government.

2) Syria on Sunday denied any rift between Damascus and Iran during a visit to Tehran by Syrian President Bashar Assad, who accused the "enemies" of Islamic countries of trying to sow discord.... some Arab diplomats have said Syria feels betrayed by Iran because of a joint Iranian-Saudi Arabian effort to clamp down on sectarian tensions in Iraq and violence in Lebanon. Syria has largely alienated many of its traditional Arab allies but has had close ties to Iran for years.
Arab observers have said there are also newfound tensions between majority
Shiite Iran and majority Sunni Syria over their differing interests in Iraq.
Such 'differing interests' don't affect their mutual support of
Hizbullah in Lebanon.

"The creation of a rift among Muslims is their latest weapon, which is more
dangerous than their previous plans," Assad was quoted as saying on the
Iranian state television's website... the Syrian president also accused the
US and Israel of having "ominous aims". During his visit, Assad met Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and top
nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani.

Ahmadinejad described Assad's visit as fruitful and called for greater
cooperation between their countries."Current situations in the region,
especially in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Afghanistan, have doubled the
need for cooperation and coordination between Iran and Syria, particularly
to confront plots by enemies," ... .

The Baath newspaper of Syria's ruling Baath Party ...In a published
editorial ... Baath wrote, "Though their visions are not identical on
everything, they however agree on two basic issues, Iraqi unity and the
departure of the occupation forces, and the support of the political process
in Iraq."...During the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, Syria was the only Arab
country to support Iran.. . . the elite Revolutionary Guards will launch
their second war games in a month on 19 Feb....The Revolutionary Guards is
an elite military corps with more than 200,000 members and its own naval and
air forces.It oversees vital interests such as oil and natural gas
installations and the nation's missile arsenal.

3) Has any population ever been less suited for statehood than the Palestinians?
By Jeff Jacoby

The tong war between Fatah and Hamas was raging last month when Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas addressed a Fatah rally in Ramallah. "The priority for me is preserving national unity and preventing internal fighting," he told the crowd on Jan. 11. "Shooting at your brother is forbidden."

But Abbas made clear it was only intra-Palestinian bloodshed he opposed. Attacking Jews was still OK.

"We should put our internal fighting aside and raise our rifles only against the Israeli occupation," he said, according to a World Net Daily report. In a nod to his Arab rivals, he praised arch-terrorist Ahmed Yassin, the co-founder of Hamas who was killed by Israel in 2004. For good measure, he threw in some anti-Semitic boilerplate: "The sons of Israel are mentioned as those who are corrupting humanity on earth."

Most media accounts of the Fatah rally mentioned only Abbas's "unity" remarks, leaving out the gamier stuff about raising rifles against the humanity-corrupters (AP headline: "Abbas calls for respect at Fatah rally"). In similar fashion, news reports have rarely pointed out that in the Gaza Strip, where the Fatah-Hamas street battles have taken place, the "occupation" ended in August 2005, when Israel razed 21 Jewish settlements and expelled every Jew from the territory. For all intents and purposes, there has been a sovereign Palestinian state in Gaza for the past 18 months. The anarchy and violence, the kidnappings, the myriad of armed gangs — that is the authentic face of Palestinian statehood. Take a good look.

"In the State of Palestine," writes columnist Caroline Glick in the Jan. 30 JWR, "two-year-olds are killed and no one cares. Children are woken up in the middle of the night and murdered in front of their parents. Worshipers in mosques are gunned down by terrorists who attend competing mosques. . . . In the State of Palestine, women are stripped naked and forced to march in the streets to humiliate their husbands. Ambulances are stopped on the way to hospitals and the wounded are shot in cold blood."

The wonder is not that the Palestinian Authority seethes with violence and instability; there are other places too where bloodshed is the daily fare. The wonder is not that the Palestinians, who receive copious amounts of international aid — more than $1.2 billion last year from Western governments alone — channel so much of their resources and energy into weapons and warfare. The wonder is that so many voices still push for a Palestinian state.

But has any population ever been less suited for statehood than the Palestinians? From the terrorists they choose as leaders to the jihad promoted in their schools, their culture is drenched in violence and hatred. Each time the world has offered them sovereignty — an offer that the Kurds or the Chechens or the Tibetans would leap at — the Palestinians have opted instead for bloodshed and rejectionism.

"What do you want more," a frustrated Shimon Peres once asked Yasser Arafat, "a Palestinian state or a Palestinian struggle?" Over and over, Palestinians have chosen the "struggle." The very essence of Palestinian national identity is a hunger for Israel's destruction. Both the Fatah and Hamas charters call for the obliteration of the Jewish state through bloodshed. A two-state solution — Israel and Palestine living peacefully side-by-side — is emphatically not what the Palestinians seek. No amount of Israeli concessions or American wheedling or Quartet cajoling is likely to change that.

So why does the Bush administration continue to pretend otherwise?

"There is simply no reason to avoid the subject of how we get to a Palestinian state," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice blithely asserted Feb. 2, even as the best reason to do so — the Palestinians' unfitness for self-government — was on display in Gaza's streets. Last week Abbas agreed to form a "unity" government with Hamas, making any prospect of peace with Israel more remote. Yet next week Rice will host a summit meeting with Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and there will be a fresh flood of empty words about peace and statehood.

James Woolsey, who served as director of central intelligence under President Clinton, said recently that it would take "many decades" before Palestinian society is civilized enough for statehood. Even some Palestinians might agree. "Everyone here is disgusted by what's happening in the Gaza Strip," Shireen Atiyeh, 30, a Palestinian Authority government worker, told the Jerusalem Post. "We are telling the world that we don't deserve a state. . . Today I'm ashamed to say that I'm a Palestinian."

When will it be time to consider statehood for Palestine? When it is led by people like her.

4) Adm. Fallon Reflects on Leaving Pacific
By Richard Halloran

When Admiral William Fallon turns over the helm of the Pacific Command to Admiral Timothy Keating next month, he will leave behind what he says are "a lot of things that are works in progress."

"I leave this job with great reluctance and with no small sense of loss," he said in an interview. He noted in particular the relationships cultivated throughout the Asia-Pacific region in the two years he has commanded US forces from the west coast of North America to the east coast of Africa. He had planned to stay in this assignment for another year.

The admiral goes from the Pacific Command's relatively stable area of responsibility to take charge of the Central Command, with headquarters in Tampa, Florida, where he will be responsible for all US forces in the Middle East, including those in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and the Persian Gulf. In that turbulent region, the odds for success may be stacked against him.

Fallon acknowledged the thorny issues that will confront him in his new post where he plans to travel as much as he did in Pacific Command, meeting everyone from heads of government to soldiers who pull triggers. "Those nations have a slew of problems," he said. "There are not so many nations as in Pacific Command but they have more problems and problems that are more difficult to deal with."

Among the works in progress the admiral noted:

China With the backing of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Fallon has nurtured a gradual expansion of military exchanges with China. Those contacts are intended to assure the Chinese that the US is not planning to attack them but also to caution them not to miscalculate US military power.

An intriguing question: In his new assignment, will the admiral, who has visited China three times, seek help from China in Iraq or Afghanistan or in the war on terror? He declined to speculate on specifics. He noted that tensions between China and Taiwan had been reduced and that Pacific Command had been "working with Taiwan to build a credible defense."

Terror and Piracy In the southern Philippines, Fallon said, US special operations forces had achieved some success in helping the Filipino armed forces in their fight against Muslim terrorists known as Abu Sayyaf.

In the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea, Indonesian, Malaysian, and Singaporean forces have reduced piracy and, so far, prevented a tie-up between pirates and terrorists. "They are doing it," Fallon said, "and we are helping in the background."

Contingency Plans The admiral said he had ordered the command's contingency plans, such as sending reinforcements to South Korea to fend off a North Korean invasion, to be overhauled and tested "to make sure we can do it."

Fallon said he had placed renewed emphasis on what military planners call "Phase Zero," which is to engage both friendly nations and potential adversaries in an effort to head off open conflict. "We did this so we would not have to employ the kinetic parts of the plan--not have to shoot'em up."

Posturing US Forces As part of the Global Posture Review initiated by former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Fallon surveyed US forces in the Asia-Pacific region to see whether they "were in locations and of the size appropriate for today and tomorrow."

This included a strategic review with Japan that led to plans for establishing a headquarters for a US Army corps there and moving 8000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam, a new pivot point for US forces in this region. In addition, submarines and bombers are being based in Guam. A sixth aircraft carrier may be added to the Pacific fleet. A reduction of US troops in South Korea has begun and Fallon said "there will be additional changes in the future."

The admiral did a final assessment of Asian and Pacific nations having security arrangements with the US. Japan: "Reaffirmed commitment." Singapore: "Wonderful relations." Indonesia: "Renewed relations." India: "New partner." Australia: "Staunch ally."

Admiral Fallon said he had sent a team to brief Admiral Keating in Colorado where he heads the Northern Command responsible for US homeland security. Keating has served in Pacific Command in Hawaii and led an aircraft carrier group based in Japan. At one time, he commanded the Naval Strike Warfare Center in Nevada, perhaps best known as the site of the Navy's "Top Gun" competition.