Thursday, October 11, 2007

Nobel Prize for hysteria and unscientific proof! Reid get's his ears pinned!

I have just returned from a back roads trip to The Outer Banks area of N.C. Beautiful region. Lots of history, scenery and excellent sea food. Some of what I am posting is, admittedly, old news.

Al Gore won the Nobel prize in a new category - "Scary Unscientific Verbiage." His name now resides alongside Yasser Arafat and Jimmy Carter who were given the award for their peace contributions commitment to intellectual honesty.

There is no doubt humans impact the environment. Rachel Carson helped get rid of DDT. Consequently, multitudes die needlessly from Malaria. Bill and Linda Gates are spending millions of their Capitalistic earnings trying to solve the problem.

Because of the impact of widespread media stories we rush to conclusions disregarding proven and tested scientific fact. Trial lawyers sue drug and industrial companies for alleged sins only to find retroactively many of the assertions by lawyers were, in fact, based on spurious science and questionable testimony of "expert" witnesses. Meanwhile trial lawyers become winers as they pocket millions in fees.

Media hype and single issue do-gooders' rantings and accusation supplant science. Corporations cave because associated costs are not worth the defense effort, figuring who would listen anyway. In reaching this point of trial by public hysteria we will be worse off down the road because irrational behaviour dictates the path and who knows where that ultimately leads?

Compliments to Al Gore because he has had an impact on awareness but the consequences of the response are likely to do more harm than good as we discovered responding to Rachel Carson's concerns.

Ne'eman points out the ludicrous position Olmert and Israel could be engineered into regarding Rice's forthcoming Annapolis meeting. (See 1 below.)

Peter Zeihan discusses the significance of Russia's role in Iran as we seek to block Iran's ultimate goal of become a hegemony enjoying increased, if not dominant influence in that region of the world. He outlines what Russia's ultimate goal is and how it hopes it can achieve some re-balancing. (See 2 below.)

Intrigue with respect to Israel's raid on Syria continues. (See 3 below.)

Rush scores over the Democrat's Digby O'Dell! Sen. Reid looks like the buffoon he is as a result of being boxed around the ears! The article, cited below, parrots Rush's claim, ie. Reid engaged in a clumsy attempt to curtail free speech and it backfired.

When it comes to believing in "free" markets Democrats distrust the collective thinking of the unfettered, preferring instead the imposition of government thinking and solutions. Liberals profess they are for the "little man" and they are as long as the "little man" submits to their control achieved through entitlements and other " government gifts." (See 4 below.)

Wes Pruden points out the folly of Sec. Rice's Annapolis meeting but there is always the possibility the world will tire and eventually press Israel and a weakened and appeasing Olmert will cave. (See 5 below.)

After Putin's visit to Iran, Olmert felt compelled to get a reading on Putin's intentions so he flew to Moscow and Olmert got a briefing that allayed his concerns. The problem is Putin uses Iran and Israel as pawns in his attempt to get the U.S. to bend and GW, seeking a diplomatic victory as his term in office draws near, may need to put pressure on Israel in order to get from Putin what GW needs. (See 6 below.)


1) Back To The Future: Annapolis 2007
By Yisrael Ne'eman

It is hard to believe that in preparation for the Annapolis peace conference the Palestinians are successfully picking up where they left off after the Camp David 2000 (and Taba 2001) peace initiative failure starring then Israeli PM Ehud Barak, the late Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasir Arafat and then US President Bill Clinton. The Palestinians could have had a thriving state by now but they insist that every last one of their demands be met. They are dictating terms of a final accord, not negotiating compromises. Last time Arafat & Co. threatened and implemented a violent response because Israel did not accept 100% of their stated conditions. The same threat is being made again.

Today the PA chairman or president, Fatah's Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is supposedly in a much weaker position than Arafat was seven years ago. Then Arafat controlled the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and the Gaza Strip. As of June Gaza was overrun by the Islamist extremist Hamas and Jihad factions in a military overthrow of a freely elected Palestinian government and parliament (even if Hamas was and is the dominant political party). As often mentioned, should Israel leave the West Bank, it would be just a matter of weeks before Hamas would complete their rout of the secular Fatah and expel them completely from all the Palestinian areas. Paradoxically, it is the pathetic weakness of Abbas and his emergency Fatah government which gives him strength.

He is considered too weak to make concessions and therefore Palestinian demands concerning a full Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders (with the possibility of a land swap of a few percentages of the total) have gained credibility even with the Americans. Jerusalem will be divided with Arab neighborhoods going to a Palestinian state (seen as reasonable by many Israeli Jews) but it is far from sure that the Jewish Quarter and Western Wall will remain in Israel since the Palestinians demand the Old City for themselves, or at best the world community is speaking about some sort of international arrangement for the entire "holy basin" of Jewish, Christian and Moslem holy sites (Temple Mount included). Lack of defensible borders will have a definite impact on Israeli security should such a massive withdrawal be implemented. And it does not matter what "security arrangements" will be agreed upon by the Palestinians, they will be violated as they were in the 1990s. Arafat initiated an overall low intensity conflict in September 2000 (known as the Second Intifada) to force Israel into further concessions. And can anyone trust either the Palestinians or the international community to ensure security and free access to all the holy sites?

Over the past seven years the Israeli denial of Palestinian refugee return appeared to be the only issue where common sense (and Israeli policy in this case) was making inroads. Compensation in one form or another was being discussed in the international community. But here we managed to shoot ourselves in both feet when Vice Premier Haim Ramon decided to discuss refugee return with Abbas during the pre-Annapolis preparations, raising Palestinian expectations of a reversal of American foreign policy as expressed by Pres. Bush's letter to PM Ariel Sharon in April 2004. Later Congress joined the president and came out completely against any Palestinian refugee return to Israel proper. Even European and Arab countries began to accept this perspective.

Abbas has made clear he will not take responsibility for any agreement with Israel but rather will send it to a referendum by "the people." Very interesting since they voted a landslide victory for Hamas in the January 2006 elections and in Gaza supported the violent overthrow of the hybrid Abbas led but Hamas dominated government.

So with whom is Israel negotiating? Not Abbas and Fatah, but the Hamas. Unless Israel self-destructs there will be no Palestinian agreement. The international community is "strengthening" Abbas and Fatah by forcing Israel to make concessions. Their weakness is Hamas' strength. Any Palestinian can figure out the necessity of supporting Hamas to pressure Israel to give in to Abbas/Fatah demands.

As this charade continues, it appears that Yossi Beilin of the left wing Meretz faction may have a point when insisting that Israel deal directly with the Hamas. After all, who needs the facade of the Abbas scarecrow? Better Hamas should be completely intransigent out of choice than we should be railroaded into an agreement (by choice of course) detrimental to Israel's security in the name of strengthening a phantom partner who will be unable to enforce any security clauses.

Middle Eastern logic exists, whether the Jews can figure it out or not.

2) The Russia Problem
By Peter Zeihan

For the past several days, high-level Russian and American policymakers, including U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Russian President Vladimir Putin's right-hand man, Sergei Ivanov, have been meeting in Moscow to discuss the grand scope of U.S.-Russian relations. These talks would be of critical importance to both countries under any circumstances, as they center on the network of treaties that have governed Europe since the closing days of the Cold War.

Against the backdrop of the Iraq war, however, they have taken on far greater significance. Both Russia and the United States are attempting to rewire the security paradigms of key regions, with Washington taking aim at the Middle East and Russia more concerned about its former imperial territory. The two countries' visions are mutually incompatible, and American preoccupation with Iraq is allowing Moscow to overturn the geopolitics of its backyard.

The Iraqi Preoccupation

After years of organizational chaos, the United States has simplified its plan for Iraq: Prevent Iran from becoming a regional hegemon. Once-lofty thoughts of forging a democracy in general or supporting a particular government were abandoned in Washington well before the congressional testimony of Gen. David Petraeus. Reconstruction is on the back burner and even oil is now an afterthought at best. The entirety of American policy has been stripped down to a single thought: Iran.

That thought is now broadly held throughout not only the Bush administration but also the American intelligence and defense communities. It is not an unreasonable position. An American exodus from Iraq would allow Iran to leverage its allies in Iraq's Shiite South to eventually gain control of most of Iraq. Iran's influence also extends to significant Shiite communities on the Persian Gulf's western oil-rich shore. Without U.S. forces blocking the Iranians, the military incompetence of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar could be perceived by the Iranians as an invitation to conquer that shore. That would land roughly 20 million barrels per day of global oil output -- about one-quarter of the global total -- under Tehran's control. Rhetoric aside, an outcome such as this would push any U.S. president into a broad regional war to prevent a hostile power from shutting off the global economic pulse.

So the United States, for better or worse, is in Iraq for the long haul. This requires some strategy for dealing with the other power with the most influence in the country, Iran. This, in turn, leaves the United States with two options: It can simply attempt to run Iraq as a protectorate forever, a singularly unappealing option, or it can attempt to strike a deal with Iran on the issue of Iraq -- and find some way to share influence.

Since the release of the Petraeus report in September, seeking terms with Iran has become the Bush administration's unofficial goal, but the White House does not want substantive negotiations until the stage is appropriately set. This requires that Washington build a diplomatic cordon around Iran -- intensifying Tehran's sense of isolation -- and steadily ratchet up the financial pressure. Increasing bellicose rhetoric from European capitals and the lengthening list of major banks that are refusing to deal with Iran are the nuts and bolts of this strategy.

Not surprisingly, Iran views all this from a starkly different angle. Persia has historically been faced with a threat of invasion from its western border -- with the most recent threat manifesting in a devastating 1980-1988 war that resulted in a million deaths. The primary goal of Persia's foreign policy stretching back a millennium has been far simpler than anything the United States has cooked up: Destroy Mesopotamia. In 2003, the United States was courteous enough to handle that for Iran.

Now, Iran's goals have expanded and it seeks to leverage the destruction of its only meaningful regional foe to become a regional hegemon. This requires leveraging its Iraqi assets to bleed the Americans to the point that they leave. But Iran is not immune to pressure. Tehran realizes that it might have overplayed its hand internationally, and it certainly recognizes that U.S. efforts to put it in a noose are bearing some fruit. What Iran needs is its own sponsor -- and that brings to the Middle East a power that has not been present there for quite some time: Russia.

Option One: Parity

The Russian geography is problematic. It lacks oceans to give Russia strategic distance from its foes and it boasts no geographic barriers separating it from Europe, the Middle East or East Asia. Russian history is a chronicle of Russia's steps to establish buffers -- and of those buffers being overwhelmed. The end of the Cold War marked the transition from Russia's largest-ever buffer to its smallest in centuries. Put simply, Russia is terrified of being overwhelmed -- militarily, economically, politically and culturally -- and its policies are geared toward re-establishing as large a buffer as possible.

As such, Russia needs to do one of two things. The first is to re-establish parity. As long as the United States thinks of Russia as an inferior power, American power will continue to erode Russian security. Maintain parity and that erosion will at least be reduced. Putin does not see this parity coming from a conflict, however. While Russia is far stronger now -- and still rising -- than it was following the 1998 ruble crash, Putin knows full well that the Soviet Union fell in part to an arms race. Attaining parity via the resources of a much weaker Russia simply is not an option.

So parity would need to come via the pen, not the sword. A series of three treaties ended the Cold War and created a status of legal parity between the United States and Russia. The first, the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE), restricts how much conventional defense equipment each state in NATO and the former Warsaw Pact, and their successors, can deploy. The second, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), places a ceiling on the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles that the United States and Russia can possess. The third, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), eliminates entirely land-based short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles with ranges of 300 to 3,400 miles, as well as all ground-launched cruise missiles from NATO and Russian arsenals.

The constellation of forces these treaties allow do not provide what Russia now perceives its security needs to be. The CFE was all fine and dandy in the world in which it was first negotiated, but since then every Warsaw Pact state -- once on the Russian side of the balance sheet -- has joined NATO. The "parity" that was hardwired into the European system in 1990 is now lopsided against the Russians.

START I is by far the Russians' favorite treaty, since it clearly treats the Americans and Russians as bona fide equals. But in the Russian mind, it has a fateful flaw: It expires in 2009, and there is about zero support in the United States for renewing it. The thinking in Washington is that treaties were a conflict management tool of the 20th century, and as American power -- constrained by Iraq as it is -- continues to expand globally, there is no reason to enter into a treaty that limits American options. This philosophical change is reflected on both sides of the American political aisle: Neither the Bush nor Clinton administrations have negotiated a new full disarmament treaty.

Finally, the INF is the worst of all worlds for Russia. Intermediate-range missiles are far cheaper than intercontinental ones. If it does come down to an arms race, Russia will be forced to turn to such systems if it is not to be left far behind an American buildup.

Russia needs all three treaties to be revamped. It wants the CFE altered to reflect an expanded NATO. It wants START I extended (and preferably deepened) to limit long-term American options. It wants the INF explicitly linked to the other two treaties so that Russian options can expand in a pinch -- or simply discarded in favor of a more robust START I.

The problem with the first option is that it assumes the Americans are somewhat sympathetic to Russian concerns. They are not.

Recall that the dominant concern in the post-Cold War Kremlin is that the United States will nibble along the Russian periphery until Moscow itself falls. The fear is as deeply held as it is accurate. Only three states have ever threatened the United States: The first, the United Kingdom, was lashed into U.S. global defense policy; the second, Mexico, was conquered outright; and the third was defeated in the Cold War. The addition of the Warsaw Pact and the Baltic states to NATO, the basing of operations in Central Asia and, most important, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine have made it clear to Moscow that the United States plays for keeps.

The Americans see it as in their best interest to slowly grind Russia into dust. Those among our readers who can identify with "duck and cover" can probably relate to the logic of that stance. So, for option one to work, Russia needs to have leverage elsewhere. That elsewhere is in Iran.

Via the U.N. Security Council, Russian cooperation can ensure Iran's diplomatic isolation. Russia's past cooperation on Iran's Bushehr nuclear power facility holds the possibility of a Kremlin condemnation of Iran's nuclear ambitions. A denial of Russian weapons transfers to Iran would hugely empower ongoing U.S. efforts to militarily curtail Iranian ambitions. Put simply, Russia has the ability to throw Iran under the American bus -- but it will not do it for free. In exchange, it wants those treaties amended in its favor, and it wants American deference on security questions in the former Soviet Union.

The Moscow talks of the past week were about addressing all of Russian concerns about the European security structure, both within and beyond the context of the treaties, with the offer of cooperation on Iran as the trade-off. After days of talks, the Americans refused to budge on any meaningful point.

Option Two: Imposition

Russia has no horse in the Iraq war. Moscow had feared that its inability to leverage France and Germany to block the war in the first place would allow the United States to springboard to other geopolitical victories. Instead, the Russians are quite pleased to see the American nose bloodied. They also are happy to see Iran engrossed in events to its west. When Iran and Russia strengthen -- as both are currently -- they inevitably begin to clash as their growing spheres of influence overlap in the Caucasus and Central Asia. In many ways, Russia is now enjoying the best of all worlds: Its Cold War archrival is deeply occupied in a conflict with one of Moscow's own regional competitors.

In the long run, however, the Russians have little doubt that the Americans will eventually prevail. Iran lacks the ability to project meaningful power beyond the Persian Gulf, while the Russians know from personal experience how good the Americans are at using political, economic, military and alliance policy to grind down opponents. The only question in the Russian mind pertains to time frame.

If the United States is not willing to rejigger the European-Russian security framework, then Moscow intends to take advantage of a distracted United States to impose a new reality upon NATO. The United States has dedicated all of its military ground strength to Iraq, leaving no wiggle room should a crisis erupt anywhere else in the world. Should Russia create a crisis, there is nothing the United States can do to stop it.

So crisis-making is about to become Russia's newest growth industry. The Kremlin has a very long list of possibilities, which includes:

* Destabilizing the government of Ukraine: The Sept. 30 elections threaten to result in the re-creation of the Orange Revolution that so terrifies Moscow. With the United States largely out of the picture, the Russians will spare no effort to ensure that Ukraine remains as dysfunctional as possible.

* Azerbaijan is emerging as a critical energy transit state for Central Asian petroleum, as well as an energy producer in its own right. But those exports are wholly dependent upon Moscow's willingness not to cause problems for Baku.

* The extremely anti-Russian policies of the former Soviet state of Georgia continue to be a thorn in Russia's side. Russia has the ability to force a territorial breakup or to outright overturn the Georgian government using anything from a hit squad to an armored division.

* EU states obviously have mixed feelings about Russia's newfound aggression and confidence, but the three Baltic states in league with Poland have successfully hijacked EU foreign policy with regard to Russia, effectively turning a broadly cooperative relationship hostile. A small military crisis with the Balts would not only do much to consolidate popular support for the Kremlin but also would demonstrate U.S. impotence in riding to the aid of American allies.

Such actions not only would push Russian influence back to the former borders of the Soviet Union but also could overturn the belief within the U.S. alliance structure that the Americans are reliable -- that they will rush to their allies' aid at any time and any place. That belief ultimately was the heart of the U.S. containment strategy during the Cold War. Damage that belief and the global security picture changes dramatically. Barring a Russian-American deal on treaties, inflicting that damage is once again a full-fledged goal of the Kremlin. The only question is whether the American preoccupation in Iraq will last long enough for the Russians to do what they think they need to do.

Luckily for the Russians, they can impact the time frame of American preoccupation with Iraq. Just as the Russians have the ability to throw the Iranians under the bus, they also have the ability to empower the Iranians to stand firm.

On Oct. 16, Putin became the first Russian leader since Leonid Brezhnev to visit Iran, and in negotiations with the Iranian leadership he laid out just how his country could help. Formally, the summit was a meeting of the five leaders of the Caspian Sea states, but in reality the meeting was a Russian-Iranian effort to demonstrate to the Americans that Iran does not stand alone.

A good part of the summit involved clearly identifying differences with American policy. The right of states to nuclear energy was affirmed, the existence of energy infrastructure that undermines U.S. geopolitical goals was supported and a joint statement pledged the five states to refuse to allow "third parties" from using their territory to attack "the Caspian Five." The last is a clear bullying of Azerbaijan to maintain distance from American security plans.

But the real meat is in bilateral talks between Putin and his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the two sides are sussing out how Russia's ample military experience can be applied to Iran's U.S. problem. Some of the many, many possibilities include:

* Kilo-class submarines: The Iranians already have two and the acoustics in the Persian Gulf are notoriously bad for tracking submarines. Any U.S. military effort against Iran would necessitate carrier battle groups in the Persian Gulf.

* Russia fields the Bal-E, a ground-launched Russian version of the Harpoon anti-ship missile. Such batteries could threaten any U.S. surface ship in the Gulf. A cheaper option could simply involve the installation of Russian coastal artillery systems.

* Russia and India have developed the BrahMos anti-ship cruise missile, which has the uniquely deadly feature of being able to be launched from land, ship, submarine or air. While primarily designed to target surface vessels, it also can act as a more traditional -- and versatile -- cruise missile and target land targets.

* Flanker fighters are a Russian design (Su-27/Su-30) that compares very favorably to frontline U.S. fighter jets. Much to the U.S. Defense Department's chagrin, Indian pilots in Flankers have knocked down some U.S. pilots in training scenarios.

* The S-300 anti-aircraft system is still among the best in the world, and despite eviscerated budgets, the Russians have managed to operationalize several upgrades since the end of the Cold War. It boasts both a far longer range and far more accuracy than the Tor-M1 and Pantsyr systems on which Iran currently depends.

Such options only scratch the surface of what the Russians have on order, and the above only discusses items of use in a direct Iranian-U.S. military conflict. Russia also could provide Iran with an endless supply of less flashy equipment to contribute to intensifying Iranian efforts to destabilize Iraq itself.

For now, the specifics of Russian transfers to Iran are tightly held, but they will not be for long. Russia has as much of an interest in getting free advertising for its weapons systems as Iran has in demonstrating just how high a price it will charge the United States for any attack.

But there is one additional reason this will not be a stealth relationship.

The Kremlin wants Washington to be fully aware of every detail of how Russian sales are making the U.S. Army's job harder, so that the Americans have all the information they need to make appropriate decisions as regards Russia's role. Moscow is not doing this because it is vindictive; this is simply how the Russians do business, and they are open to a new deal.

Russia has neither love for the Iranians nor a preference as to whether Moscow reforges its empire or has that empire handed back. So should the United States change its mind and seek an accommodation, Putin stands perfect ready to betray the Iranians' confidence.

For a price.

3)The nuclear watchdog is checking US spy satellite images of Syrian site hit by Israeli warplanes on Sept. 6 for signs of secret nuclear activity

Diplomatic sources reported US intelligence agencies sent satellite images to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. Its experts have found nothing to substantiate the claim that the site hit was a secret nuclear facility.

Intelligence sources report the credibility of data Israel presented to Washington before the air strike continues to be questioned in some Washington quarters. They contend, even if the target was a nuclear facility under construction, it would not have posed a threat for years. One purpose of this argument is to belittle Israel’s intelligence findings and detract from questions about how other agencies and the nuclear watchdog missed them. Another is to put the Bush administration on the spot for approving the Israeli air attack in order to deter it from a military strike against Iran.

Two days after President George W. Bush said an Iranian nuclear bomb could lead to World War III, The Washington Post reported Syria had begun dismantling the remains of a bombed site near the Euphrates River in an attempt to prevent it coming under international scrutiny. It bears the “signature,” said the paper, “of a small but substantial nuclear reactor, one similar in structure to North Korea’s facilities.”

The WP adds: The bombed facility is different from the one Syria displayed to journalists last week to support its claim that Israel bombed an empty building.

Intelligence sources have reported from "Day One" of the bombing the structure Israel bombed was located between the Euphrates and Lake Assad and that the Syrians misled correspondents by showing them a site at Deir al-Azur. Military sources also refuted Damascus’ claim Israeli bombers had ejected unmarked fuel tanks over Turkey. They were dropped by the Turkish air force, as Syrian president Bashar Assad was informed during his visit to Ankara this week. The genuine Israel fuel tanks with Hebrew markings were shown this week by Al Arabiya TV.

The “no comment” line to which the US and Israel are sticking is having the desired effects, which are:

1. To keep Syria in the dark about the amount of intelligence garnered by the US and Israel on its nuclear activities.

2. To entangle the Assad regime in its own untruths, which are spun in an effort to conceal the location that was struck and disguise its true nature. The Syrian version is crumbling piece by piece each time another authentic element is published, at the heavy cost to Assad’s prestige at home and abroad.

4) The Media's Dilemma
By Thomas Lifson

Rush Limbaugh’s political jiu-jitsu masterstroke came to a climax, when the ebay auction for the letter sent by 41 Senate Democrats to the CEO of his syndicator Clear Channel ended. The bid had already toppped two million dollars, with the purchase price to be donated to the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, benefiting the education of children of deceased Marines and federal law enforcement personnel. Because Rush Limbaugh has offered to match the purchase price, the total donation exceeded four million dollars.

The Mainstream Media have virtually blacked out the story, but now that the auction is over and a highly impressive sum as been paid, will they continue to ignore it? After all, the auction of a grilled cheese sandwich claimed to display the image of the Virgin Mary fetched only $28,000 and received widespread publicity in the US and overseas. Someone paying several million bucks for a contemporary letter is pretty big news, even without the charity angle. And this is no food product bearing a resemblance to sacred art, this is a historic document signed by 80% of the majority caucus of what is commonly alleged to be the world’s greatest deliberative body.

Rush Limbaugh outsmarted the Democratic Leadership of the Senate and cornered the media. If the media does not cover the auction results, they will look ridiculous. The letter is easy enough to explain that it will inevitably be discussed at water coolers, sports events, churches, parties, and other get-togethers. But if the media does cover it, they must include some explanation for the high price, and that will make Reid and the Democrats look silly or worse. Capitalizing on their rhetoric, the letter is to be delivered in an attaché case made by a company carrying the name Halliburton.

In case your media diet does not include talk radio and the conservative commentariat, the backstory is fairly simple, which makes the auction all the harder to ignore.

The blowback from the “General Betray Us” left the Democrats and their Soros-funded allies smarting, and they were anxious to demonstrate to their own supporters that conservatives behave reprehensively. Accordingly Media Matters (which Hillary bragged she “helped start” took out of context a phrase Rush Limbaugh spoke, “phony soldiers” and alleged he had smeared good patriotic American soldiers and veterans who disagree with him.

In an effort to promote the fabricated media storm and perhaps force change on Rush, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid got 40 other Senate Democrats to sign a letter to Mark P. Mays, CEO of the syndicator of Rush’s show, calling on him to publicly repudiate Rush and to ask Mr. Limbaugh to apologize.

Instead of cowering, Mr. Mays turned the letter over to Rush, who came up with the brilliant plan to make the Democrats regret their hasty attempt to intimidate a private citizen who is their critic. Invoking the majesty of the United States Senate to intimidate a private citizen demonstrates a remarkable degree of self-absorption. A simple thought experiment:

What if Newt Gingrich, while he was Speaker, had enlisted 80% of the House majority as signatories of a letter to the CEO of General Electric asking Jack Welch to apologize for a sin of NBC News? Do you think Maureen Dowd, Frank Rich and Paul Krugman would have ignored it? How about CBS and ABC? There was no Media Matters back then, but fax machines were in widespread use. How long would it take for everyone to be pointing out that broadcasting is a regulated industry, and that the evil politicians were muzzling the free press?

Reid & Company never for a moment imagined anyone would characterize their act as bullying a free press and possibly even raising First Amendment issues. Because Clear Channel hold many radio licenses from the federal government, it is very vulnerable to pressure from the government, and the words “chilling effect” do not seem outrageously out of place in evaluating the intended consequence of the Senate Majority Leader’s letter. Interviewed on Hannity & Colmes Thursday evening, Rush called the letter “neo-Stalinist.”

The letter is, in fact, an important historical document, representing an attempt to silence the single most prominent private citizen critic of the Democratic Party, written on official stationery of the Majority Leader of the United States Senate and bearing the signatures of the vast majority of his caucus, including the front-runner and other candidates for the Party’s presidential nomination. Should the purchaser be so-minded, it may someday be donated to the Smithsonian Institution, National Archives or some other nonprofit library or archive.

The mainstream media have taken a beating in viewership and readership and in credibility the past two decades that Rush Limbaugh has been on the air, and the Democrats are perpetually outraged that he dominates the entire medium of talk radio, while no liberal host has ever been able to mount a halfway comparable performance on the public airwaves.

Arrogance combined with the emotion of hate leads to dangerous mistakes. Reid and the media which gave initial credence to the Media Matters-generated smear of Rush have stepped in something whose smell may linger in the history of American politics.

5) Off we go again, to process peace
By Wesley Pruden

One of these days an attempt to make lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians will succeed, but it might be on the day after that roomful of monkeys with typewriters finish the manuscript of "War and Peace."

Condoleezza Rice is in Jerusalem this morning, trying to "spark the region" with the news that the United States will set up an international peace conference next month in Annapolis. It's all about a legacy for George W. Bush. Organizing a Palestinian state is essential, she said, and it has the highest Bush priority.

"Frankly, it's time for the establishment of a Palestinian state," the secretary of state told reporters after four hours with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinians, now without a state. "The United States sees the establishment of a Palestinian state, a two-state solution, as absolutely essential to the future, not just for the Palestinians and Israelis, but also the Middle East and indeed for American interests."

The dilemma, diplomatically unspoken, is that the Palestinians — and their regional enablers — don't actually want a two-state solution. They want a one-state solution, and if they stall, delay and dodge long enough, the rest of the world will grow weary with intransigence and tell the Israelis to shut up already and let the barbarians, who send women and children to blow themselves up along with whoever may be unlucky enough to be standing nearby, take it all.

Civilized men and women, both of the West and of whoever among the Palestinians who yearn for something better than they have, must keep trying. We can hope, as Miss Rice predicts, that there's "going to be a serious and substantive conference that will advance the cause of the establishment of a Palestinian state. We frankly have better things to do than invite people to Annapolis for a photo op." But the rest of us are entitled to think that a photo op, with the pols standing around looking for a cucumber sandwich and trying to look useful, is all that Miss Rice will accomplish in Annapolis.

Negotiators for both Israel and the Palestinians already disagree on what they want to talk about, much like the famous argument between Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho about the shape of the table at those long-ago "peace" talks to strike an end to the Vietnam War. The parties finally agreed on the table and an agreement that enabled Mr. Kissinger and Le Duc Tho to fly to Oslo to pick up their Nobel Peace Prizes. Then the Communists took South Vietnam. (Nobel laureates get to keep their peace prizes; there is no money-back guarantee.)

But Israel can't afford to make sucker deals. The Palestinians want a detailed laundry list of goodies, with delivery dates carved in a hard wood if not in stone, and iron-clad solutions to "core issues," agreed on now. The Israelis want a measured approach, with what the diplomats call "confidence-building steps" before anyone carves anything in wood or stone. The laundry list, agreed on now, would give the game to the Palestinians. They could behave as they have in the past, stalling, delaying and dodging, confident that the rest of the world will blame the Jews for the Palestinians not living up to the bargain.

Who can blame the Israelis for smelling a mouse, if not a rat? Condi Rice first told the reporters yesterday that there won't be an attempt to solve everything in Annapolis, "but it does need to be a serious and substantive and concrete document that demonstrates there is a way forward." She later "clarified" her remarks. She did not mean that the Annapolis conference should give the Palestinians everything they want.

Mr. Abbas emerged from his talkathon with Miss Rice with a list of what the Palestinians want in exchange for a promise to quit killing Jews: restored borders, settled refugees and a piece of East Jerusalem, which would become the capital of the Palestinian state. That's a lot to ask from a man who doesn't believe in Christmas and Santa Claus.

6) Olmert: I returned from Moscow reassured
By Ronny Sofer

Prime minister concludes visit to Russia on positive note. 'I am very satisfied with my meeting with the Russian president,' he says. Olmert's associates explain he got the impression that Putin administration is not interested in seeing Iran turn into nuclear super-power.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Friday that he was very satisfied with his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Olmert and his small entourage returned to Israel on Friday morning following a one-day visit to Moscow.

Snap Visit

Putin to Olmert: We know how worried you are over Iran. Russian leader tries to allay Israel's concerns about Islamic Republic's nuclear program, tells Israeli PM during Moscow meeting that he is 'ready to share results' of recent visit to Tehran

Full story

"There is someone to talk to in Moscow, and there are things to talk about. The last word on the Iranian nuclear issue has yet to be said," one of the entourage members noted.

The prime minister met with the Russian president for three hours on Thursday, a day after the latter's return from a meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran.

Putin invited Olmert to move from the discussion room to his private office, where they met from 5 pm till 8 pm.

"The Russians were very good hosts, and the president warmly welcomed the prime minister," an entourage member said. "The prime minister believes that a great part of the diplomatic work is being done through interpersonal meetings between heads of state.

"This is the network he has created worldwide, and this serves the State of Israel and people of Israel. He can arrive almost anywhere, and in the Kremlin, where he has an excellent relationship with President Putin, he was welcomed in a wonderful manner."

One of the issues the two leaders discussed, according to Olmert's aides, was the Iranian nuclear program.

Olmert briefed Putin on the information Israel possesses about Iran's intentions, including its uranium enrichment activities ahead of the creation of a nuclear bomb.

Aides to Olmert said that he was under the impression that the public Russian rhetoric was different than the reality as Putin sees it.

"What is clear is that the Russians have their own agenda. They view themselves as a super-power, and do not wish to be the passenger sitting beside the American driver. They want to lead processes.

"At the end of the day, however, the Putin administration is not interested in seeing Iran turn into a nuclear super-power, and that is the important thing," said an entourage member.

"The evidence is that nuclear fuel is not being supplied to Bushehr yet, and the question is why. I assume the answer is clear," he continued. "In international diplomacy not everything is seen on the surface. There is a lot of activity down underneath.

"Although the Russians made some commitments to the Iranians, such as the fuel to Bushehr, things are not happening, at least in the meantime. The Russians made it clear to the prime minister that Russia does not want to make things worse for Israel."

Moscow sitting on the fence

Members of the prime minister's entourage rejected claims that Russia had made a decision to abstain from voting on toughening the sanctions imposed on Iran by the UN Security Council.

"They are sitting on the fence. As far as we know, they have yet to make a deicison on the matter and wish to wait and see how this would suit their policy."

Olmert told Putin that he was skeptical over Iran's claims that its nuclear program is for peaceful uses only. The two leaders also discussed Russia's arms deals with Syria, which are threatening Israel's security.

The prime minister made it clear to the Russian president that these deals could harm the military balance in the Middle East. According to the entourage members, Putin promised once again not to harm Israel's security interests.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Unike Adlai, Hillary has a hole in her soul!

I caught a news blurb recently about candidate shoe wear. Unlike Adlai, Hillary has a hole in her soul.

After his comment about getting the assistance of "The Legal Aid Society" to help make decisions , Romney has a bigger one in his head.

Reid and Pelosi have cleverly and purposefully gone off the charts to stimulate the left while demonizing the right in hope of censoring free debate. Rush can handle himself and all of this may ultimately backfire. Nevertheless, political debate has sunk to new lows while the Dow rises to new highs. Could there be a correlation?

Abbas remains duplicitous and Olmert indifferent. (See 1 below.)

Netanyahu makes a sensible and realistic speech. It is one thing to talk the talk, can he walk the walk if ever given the opportunity? (See 2 below.)

Syria will not go to Annapolis. Would one have thought otherwise. Annapolis is the home of The Naval Academy and Syria and Assad have already sunk about as low as it can get. (See 3 below.)

Russia driven by own self-interest and Russian expert says Israel is unrealistic in thinking otherwise. Russia see's the decline in America's unipolar influence and Iran is far down the list of its concerns. (See 4 below.)

Former Clerk for Justice Thomas wonders out loud why so many in the media remain full of angst over him. (See 5 below.)

Long article asks the question: "Should Muslims Integrate in The West?" (See 6 below.)

Plan on driving around Outer Bank area in N.C. for next two weeks so no memos.


1)Undercover border police kill Palestinian Fatah suicide bomber on his way to central Israel from West Bank town of Jenin - 8th time in a month

Military sources report the bomber was Mustapha Mohammed Abu Srur, 21, of the Fatah al Aqsa Brigades. He was already driving in his accomplice’s car on their way to pick up his explosive bomb belt and continue to target, when they were surrounded by undercover Israeli troops. The bomber who was armed was shot dead and his partner captured and questioned.

At the Israeli cabinet session Sunday, Shin Bet director Yuval Diskin reported that seven Palestinian suicide missions inside Israel had been foiled in the past month. Eleven wanted terrorists were rounded up Wednesday night.

Sources reveal a worrying escalation. It signals the across-the-board determination of all the Palestinians groups, including Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah and his rival Hamas, Jihad Islami and the “Fronts,” to revive mass killings in Israel’s cities by West Bank suiciders. The approaching international conference in Annapolis has pushed the Palestinian terrorists into greater efforts to execute mass-casualty strikes in Israel to demonstrate “the armed conflict” continues undeterred by any peace talks.

Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas has responded by hardening the line he takes with him to the conference. As presented Wednesday, the new line is all or nothing: If the Palestinians cannot have every inch of the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem for their state, the “armed conflict” will continue.

This pattern is a replay of Yasser Arafat’s tactics in the years 2000-2004 – talking “peace” while ordering his terrorist bombers to redouble their suicide offensive to squeeze Israel. Abbas does not need to issue orders. Hamas and Jihad Islami are more than willing to derail the international conference in Maryland and step up their violence. However, no branch of the Palestinian government in Ramallah is lifting a preventative finger.

Jerusalem sources report Israel’s security and army chiefs have warned prime minister Ehud Olmert a dangerous situation is boiling up and called for his urgent attention. He responded now was not the time and he would get back to the problem in a few days.

They also gave him due notice of the hardening of Abbas’ approach to negotiations with Israel. It was indicated by the appointment of Ahmed Qureia (Abu Ala), prime minister under Arafat and an old hand in beating Israel down by bazaar tactics, to lead the Palestinian negotiating team. Olmert was advised to ginger up the Israeli team which, aside from Maj. Gen (ret) Amos Gilead, consists of officials and lawyers who have no experience in the wiles of hard bargaining with Palestinians.

Whereas Abbas has assembled a top team for the conference, the Israeli side appears unready and short of firm positions, well-chosen arguments and effective rhetoric. Israel will find itself standing practically alone, with the scales weighted against its team by participants who are predominantly hostile and sympathetic to radical Palestinian positions. Palestinian propagandists are already pressing their international advantage with aggressive campaigns to prepare the ground for the hard crunch at Annapolis.

2) Netanyahu Speech - Opening Session Winter 2007

We want to forge a genuine peace - a peace that can be made only with a
genuine partner and which will be based on the following principles.
1. Defensible borders and not the indefensible 1967 lines - the Jordan River
will be Israel's eastern border.
2. A united Jerusalem, not a divided one.
3. Israeli sovereignty over the holy sites, safeguarding the freedom of
worship for all religions, and not the transfer of control over these sites
to Islamic extremists.
4. Cooperation with Jordan and Egypt over final status questions.
5. Complete dismantling of all terror infrastructure.
6. Resolution of the refugee issue by dismantling the refugee camps and
rehabilitating their inhabitants - and not by bringing even a single refugee
into Israel.

Attached and below is Mr. Netanyahu's speech given this past Mondayat the Knesset's opening session. Sent by Ari Harow, Senior Advisor Benjamin Netanyahu

Israel can suceed!

We can succeed in every field - in building a prosperous economy, in
developing advanced technology, in fostering excellence in education, in
creating a strong society, in combating crime and violence and in so much

Some of these efforts are already underway. The free market reforms we
implemented filled the state coffers with billions of shekels that can now
be directed toward helping those who are truly needy.

With courageous leaders who can make tough decisions and implement
fundamental reforms, we can finish the job.

But first and foremost, we need a government that knows how to neutralize
the serious threats that confront us.

The primary objective for our national defense has been and remains to
prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

This is an objective that I reiterated at the start of the current Knesset's
session, and for many years my colleagues and I have emphasized in the
clearest terms its paramount importance.

But the countdown to a nuclear Iran continues and time is running out.

With what little time remains, we must redouble our efforts to influence
world leaders and international public opinion to act with determination
against Iran, including through much tougher and more painful economic

Of course, we must be prepared to practice what we preach. That is why I
intend, during this session, to bring for a second and third reading a bill
that will prevent any indirect Israeli investment in Iran - similar to the
bills that I have supported in leading American states.

We must use all means - economic and others - to ensure that an Iranian
nuclear threat does not materialize.

As I have said time and again, when it comes to this existential issue,
there is no opposition and no coalition. All of us are united in our desire
to thwart the Iranian threat.

That is why we have difficulty understanding why the government is using one
hand to repel the Iranian nuclear threat while using the other to bring the
Iranian terror threat closer.

On the one hand, the government wants to fight the nuclear tentacle of the
Iranian octopus; on the other hand its diplomatic plan opens the door to
other tentacles of that same octopus.

The hasty unilateral withdrawal from south Lebanon created the first Iranian
base in the north, from which the Iranian proxy Hezbollah threatens Haifa
and the Galilee.

The unilateral withdrawal from Gaza created a second Iranian base in the
south - Hamastan - from which Iranian financed terror groups attack Sderot,
Ashkelon and the Western Negev.

As time passes, it becomes increasingly clear that this threat is spreading
ever wider, reaching more and more parts of the country, including yesterday's
rocketing near Netivot.

And now the government plans a further withdrawal in Judea and Samaria
a move that will inevitably create in the center of the country a third
Iranian base that will threaten Jerusalem and the entire coastal plain.

These three tentacles of the Iranian Octopus will thus envelop Israel from
every side!

I would like to believe that the government is truly convinced that its plan
will bring peace, but in fact it will bring the opposite result.

According to the government's plan, Israel will withdraw to the 1967 lines,
hand over half of Jerusalem to the Palestinians and relinquish Israeli
control over the holy sites in the city.

Let there be no confusion - this is the plan. All attempts to disguise it
are futile.

If the plan sounds familiar, it should. This is the exact plan offered by
the Barak government at Camp David in 2000. As the saying goes, it's the
same lady and she didn't even bother to change her dress.

And what will be the results?

First: Israel leaves, Hamas enters.

Without an Israeli military presence, Hamas will again easily overcome the
Palestinian Authority, just as it did after the Gaza disengagement.

Second, handing over half of Jerusalem to Hamas will make life unbearable in
the city's other half.

How will people live in Jerusalem's Jewish neighborhoods - Neve Yaakov,
Pisgat Zeev, Ramot, the Jewish Quarter in the Old City - when Hamas controls
the houses across the street?

These communities will turn into Jewish enclaves in a Hamas sea.

Their inhabitants will abandon them, and the Old City's vital center will be
emptied of Jews once again.

Third, giving away Judea and Samaria will give Hamas and other Islamic
extremists control over the territories dominating the coastal plain.

From there, they will be able to fire missiles directly at Israel's dense
urban centers, Ben Gurion Airport, and Tel Aviv itself.

Just ask the residents of Sderot, Ashkelon, and as of yesterday, Netivot.
Ask the residents of Nahariyah, Haifa and the Galilee.

This is not how you make peace. This is how you strengthen terror and bring
it nearer.

Before the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, Mr. Olmert said:
"After the initial increase, there will be a significant reduction in
terror. there will be industrial parks." (Yediot Ahronot 12/05/03)

And Mr. Olmert continued:
"We will take the necessary steps to ensure that the Philadelphi Corridor
will not turn into a weapons smuggling pipeline that will endanger Israel."
(NRG 07/27/05)

On the day of the unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon, before three soldiers
were kidnapped on Har Dov and thousands of missles were fired on our towns
and cities, Mr. Barak said:
"Who would dare fire on our soldiers or communities? (Yediot Ahronot

Who will try to harm us after we leave Lebanon? They will have no
opportunity, reason, or excuse." (Ha'aretz 05/25/2000)

How many times is it possible to repeat the same blunder, to proceed with
the same blindness!

With the same blindness that led to a security collapse north and south, the
government is now preparing the next withdrawal that will bring about an
even greater collapse - and this time in the center of the country where
most of our citizens live.

The government concedes everything in advance. It erodes Israel's positions
in any future negotiation - and gets nothing in return.

This is not how you negotiate! This is not how you make peace!

But the government contends that by offering these far reaching concessions,
it is strengthening the moderates and weakening the extremists. The
opposite is true.

When the government agrees in advance to withdraw from all the
territories, the terrorists need only increase their pressure on us so that
we will leave sooner. In doing so, the government's policy strengthens

And what about the claim that relinquishing Israeli control over the holy
sites will bring about an end to the conflict?

On the contrary. This will increase the scope and intensity of conflict to
unprecedented levels.

As long as Israel remains sovereign over the holy sites, it maintains peace
and tranquility there and guarantees freedom of worship for the three

And how does Israel maintain this quiet? Every Friday during the Temple
Mount prayers, the peace is protected by Israel's police, army and security

But if we remove our forces, terrorists from around the world, including
Al-Qaeda, will flock to Jerusalem.

We would be giving our greatest enemies the most explosive square mile in
the world: The Temple Mount which overlooks the Western Wall, the Church of
the Holy Sepulcher and the Al Aqsa Mosque.

It is not difficult to imagine what they could do after we leave, and the
chain reaction their actions could trigger.

Such a concession will not bring about an end to the conflict but its
perpetuation. And who knows where that could lead!

Instead of the government's blind policy, Israel needs a different policy,
one that is based on an accurate assessment of reality.

We want to forge a genuine peace - a peace that can be made only with a
genuine partner and which will be based on the following principles.
1. Defensible borders and not the indefensible 1967 lines - the Jordan River
will be Israel's eastern border.
2. A united Jerusalem, not a divided one.
3. Israeli sovereignty over the holy sites, safeguarding the freedom of
worship for all religions, and not the transfer of control over these sites
to Islamic extremists.
4. Cooperation with Jordan and Egypt over final status questions.
5. Complete dismantling of all terror infrastructure.
6. Resolution of the refugee issue by dismantling the refugee camps and
rehabilitating their inhabitants - and not by bringing even a single refugee
into Israel.

Real peace will come when a Palestinian leader arises who is ready and able
to lead his people to peace - just as Anwar Sadat did when he made peace
with Prime Minister Menachem Begin and King Hussein did when he made peace
with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Indeed, Prime Minister Olmert quoted Menachem Begin who made peace with
Sadat. But there is one problem. Abbas is no Sadat. Perhaps he is a
partner for talking, but he is no partner for doing.

There is no one in Israel who does not want peace. We have proved this time
and again. Likud led governments and all Israeli governments have sought
peace. But today the burden of proof is on the Palestinians, not on Israel.

Today we must insist on keeping our security in the IDF's hands. Our
destiny must remain in our hands and in our hands alone.

In the meantime, we can and should encourage Palestinian economic
development in Judea and Samaria -- and by that I mean economic development
for the Palestinian population and not for lining the pockets of a corrupt
Palestinian bureaucracy.

Most Israeli citizens know that this is the right way forward. Some of the
coalition members know this as well.

They heard the Vice-Premier say yesterday that in Annapolis, the division of
Jerusalem will be discussed.

I ask you, my friends in Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu: What are you doing
there? What are you doing in this government?

Do you really agree with a policy that would have Hamas rule over
neighborhoods in Jerusalem? Do you really agree with a policy that would
have them sitting on the hilltops overlooking Kfar Saba, Raanana and Tel

You are not preventing the danger by sitting in the government. On the
contrary, you are giving legitimacy to a dangerous initiative and allowing
it to happen.

No one has the moral right to frivolously and irresponsibly concede the most
precious assets of the Jewish nation.

"The shofar blows on the Temple Mount" For two thousand years generations of
Jews prayed for our return to this sacred site, and now they are going to
concede it?!

In an emotional moment 40 years ago, General Motta Gur said, "The Temple
Mount is in our hands." Well, it must stay in our hands, and so too must all
of Jerusalem!

After two thousand years, after the devastation of the Holocaust, we
returned and built our country, we liberated our ancient capital while
sacrificing the best of our sons.

Throughout this historic process, we drew great strength from a firm belief
in the justice of our cause.

If the government has stopped believing in the justice of our cause, if it
is weary of standing up to our enemies - it must do one thing: go to the
people and set a date for elections.

If you are tired, step aside. There are those who will carry the burden.
There are those who will restore faith and hope to the nation.

3) Syria refuses to participate in Middle East peace conference

Syrian President Bashar Assad announced on Thursday that his country would not participate in the Middle East peace conference in Annapolis next month, Army Radio reported.

Speaking to Tunisian media, Assad said the conference had no chance of achieving Syria's goals.

Regarding the IAF raid in Syria on September 6, Assad said that Israel's silence proved the failure of Israeli and US intelligence. He said the two were attempting to cover up their actions in a cloud of mystery.

Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia have yet to confirm their participation in the conference, which is scheduled for November.

Last month, Arab diplomats based in Cairo told The Jerusalem Post that the majority of Arab leaders believe that the conference is just a "waste of time."

Meanwhile, Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that "any efforts to deal with core issues at the conference in Annapolis will bring about the dissolution of the government."

At a meeting with Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair, Lieberman said: "The solution must include Arab Israelis as the basis for an arrangement of land and population transfer."

He said that the international community must concentrate its efforts on improving security for Israel, and improving the economy for the Palestinians.

4) Expert: We missed opportunity to enlist Russians against Iran
By Roi Mandel

Russian expert says Israel was wrong in believing it could pressure Russia on Iran via US; 'Russia has its own interests'

The damage caused by a lack of direct dialogue with Russia regarding the Iranian nuclear issue is beyond repair, Yaakov Kidmi, former head of the Russian Jewry liaison office Nativ said Thursday.

His comments were made in response to Russian President Vladmir Putin's refusal to tighten sanctions on Iran because of a lack of evidence that the Middle Eastern state is developing nuclear weapons.

Kidmi explained some politicians in Israel wrongly believed it was possible to pressure Russia to toughen its stance on Iran through the US. "Apparently they did not understand that Russia has its own interests," Kidmi continued.

The Russian expert believes that Moscow does not feel very threatened by the prospect of a nuclear Iran. "Russia today has three strategic nuclear threats – the US, China and Europe, the Iranians are not at the top of this list," Kidmi explained.

According to the consultant, "the Russians are of the opinion that the era of the uni-polar world is coming to an end and the US will no longer be able to dictate policy to countries all over the world."

Russia worried of puppet government in Iran

At this point in time, it is not in Russia's interest to weaken Iran and encourage the prospect of an American-allied regime taking power there, the former Nativ head said. An American puppet government in Iran is a lot worse for the Russians than the symbolic US presence in Georgia, Kidmi continued.

According to Dr Baruch Gorvich, a Russian expert from the University of Haifa, this is the first time that Putin has said outright that he will not support tougher sanctions against Iran. "Putin is using the example of what occurred in Iraq when all the accusations of possession of unconventional weapons proved to be false," the expert said.

"It is in Russia's interest to continue its relationship with Iran and they are exploiting the lack of intelligence on Iran's nuclear program to their benefit," Gorvich said.

5) Why are the media so angry at Clarence Thomas?
By Helgi Walker

MEDIA REACTION to the release last week of "My Grandfather's Son" by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has been noteworthy in two respects: First, while the general coverage across the country had been even-handed and fair, some journalists feel compelled to express their views of the book and the justice in terms that are so negative and personalized that they seem to belie a deep anger toward the man and what he stands for; second, others in the press are being chastised by their peers for not being critical enough of the book. The irony is that the man who some regrettably still feel the need to tear down 16 years after his confirmation is among the staunchest defenders on the Supreme Court of a fulsome understanding of the First Amendment - thus protecting their right to voice their opinions, however mean-spirited.

What are the principles expressed in the book that are so worthy of vitriol and cannot be acknowledged as legitimate? As a former law clerk to Thomas, I have heard these principles from him for many years: All people are created equal, with inherent worth and dignity; freedom includes freedom of thought; hard work and education are important elements of success; aim for self-reliance so that you can help not just yourself but others too; stand up for what you believe in; never give up in adversity, keep trying to put one foot in front of the other; and great things are possible in this nation. I have never understood what was so "dangerous" about these ideas. Indeed, most Americans would have little quarrel with these propositions.

It must not, then, be the ideas themselves that Thomas's critics find so objectionable. Perhaps it is that he dares to contradict their own notions of who he should be, what he should think, and what kind of life he should lead. Indeed, the coverage at issue is not composed of arguments against the ideas expressed in the book but of the classic argumentum ad hominen -- "arguments against the man." As the book shows, the thread that weaves through all of the diverse experiences in the justice's life - from Roman Catholic seminarian in the 1960s, to Black Student Union member in the 1970s, to chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the 1980s, and now to originalist jurist - is his insistence on independence. During all these times of his life, he refused to be controlled by the relevant establishment or indeed by any person.

Rather than attempting to psychoanalyze the justice - who in the book declares his own humanity with a grace and vulnerability that people of all walks of life can relate to, explaining that he has simply tried to do his best, step by sometimes-unsure step - these critics, including columnists from the New York Times, might well consider their own selves. When they call him "a justice with issues," as a Washington Post website columnist did last week, one might reasonably wonder what their issues are. What are they so angry about? That Justice Thomas won't kowtow to them? That he was confirmed to the Supreme Court despite their best efforts to stop him? That he, along with four other members of the Court, ruled that Florida violated the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection in the 2000 presidential election?

Meanwhile, the justice goes on with the work of the Court, as he has for the last 16 years. For those interested in his professional endeavors, his opinions are printed in the United States Report. These opinions are, as even legal scholars who do not share the justice's jurisprudential views have acknowledged, thorough, well-written, and soundly researched. They reflect Thomas's willingness to debate legal issues with his colleagues on the Court, as well as his unfailing courtesy toward those colleagues when they disagree.

Finally, these opinions lay out one of the most robust theories of the First Amendment in modern American jurisprudence. Justice Thomas protects our rights to form our own opinions, to hold them as part of who we are, and to express them in the marketplace of ideas. His theory of the First Amendment is premised on the principles that, in the end, the people will choose the ideas they consider to be the best ones, and that in a democracy the truth will will out from the fulcrum of vigorous substantive discussion.

Those who criticize the justice personally in such uncivil tones benefit from this just like the rest of us. But they are apparently not interested in the law or the justice's work on the Court, only (and sadly, still) in ad hominem politics.

6) Should Muslims Integrate into the West?
by Uriya Shavi

The veil has become the center of a European fight over how to balance expressions of Muslim identity with the Western idea of citizenship.[1] How can states achieve a balance between republicanism and minority rights? Can majorities in liberal, Western nation-states, force a dress code upon minorities? While Muslim societies have debated various garments and coverings for women through the twentieth century,[2] the issues are broader. Often, Muslim commentators in the West couch their arguments in the Western discourse of the balance between individual rights and public interest.[3] However, the personal freedom versus integration debate is only one context of the polemic; another is the dichotomy between two types of nationality and between two sources of legitimacy. Here, Muslim scholarship on migration sheds more light than Western political theory.
Immigration to Expand the Muslim Nation

Muslim jurists since the ninth century have considered Muslim residence in non-Muslim societies to be dangerous. Not only might residence abroad weaken faith and practice, they argued, but migration to non-Muslim areas might also strengthen non-Muslims in their wars against Islam. However, the pronouncement was not absolute. Some scholars legitimized living among the infidels so long as Muslims living outside Islamic lands had no alternative, were helpful to the Muslim cause, and were able to practice their religion. Here the Islamic concept of nationhood comes into play. While Muhammad established a nation with territorial dimensions, to belong to it, one only had to become Muslim in faith and practice. Thus, throughout the Middle Ages, Muslims who lived under Christian rule could still be considered part of the Muslim nation.[4]

Throughout the Ottoman period, contacts between Muslim societies and the West were largely limited to trade, diplomacy, and occasional pilgrimage. While migration from Islamic lands to Western countries became more common after the nineteenth century, it was only when the European demand for manual labor grew after World War II that the phenomenon grew in earnest.

Renewed migration led Muslim jurists to reexamine religious attitudes toward Muslims living in non-Muslim societies. For the past thirty years, some jurists have sought to define the identity and duties of these emigrants. Through new institutions dedicated to migration and, more recently, using the Internet and satellite television, they both publish literature dedicated to the subject and answer queries from Muslims in the West, a process that facilitates a center-periphery relationship. Most influential among them is Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Egyptian-born and Qatar-based Sunni jurist who heads the European Council for Fatwa and Research, a body established in London on March 29, 1997, to address in uniformity questions relating to Muslim migration.[5] He also hosts a weekly question-and-answer program on Al-Jazeera, watched by millions of Muslim immigrants, and heads the supervising committee of, one of the world's largest Muslim Internet portals, which claims to receive a million hits daily.[6]

Regardless of sect, legal school, nationality, or political status, Muslim jurists from Arab countries have reached similar conclusions as to the proper status and role of Muslim emigrants to the West. To ban or ignore mass Muslim migration to the West would only alienate immigrants, they found. Muslim jurists concentrated instead on constructing a legal-religious framework to maintain emigrants' Muslim identities while using the diaspora in the service of Islam.

Their judgment called upon Muslim immigrants in the West to place religious identity above national and ethnic identities and to promote the interests of a global Muslim nation. The jurists' consensus involved five points: First, a greater Islamic nation exists of which Muslims are members wherever they live. Second, while living in a non-Muslim society is undesirable, it might be legal on an individual basis if the immigrant acts as a model Muslim. Third, it is the duty of a Muslim in the West to reaffirm his religious identity and to distance himself from anything contrary to Islam. Hence, he should help establish and patronize mosques, Muslim schools, cultural centers, and shops. Fourth, Muslims in the West should champion the cause of the Muslim nation in the political as well as the religious sphere, for there should be no distinction between the two. Lastly, Muslims in the West should spread Islam in the declining, spiritual void of Western societies.

Such a consensus developed for several reasons. The political atmosphere proved fertile ground for renewed religiosity. The decline of pan-Arabism in the 1970s and the Islamic Revolution in Iran at the end of that decade suggested that political Islam rather than pan-Arabism could appeal not only to Muslims in the Middle East but also to Muslims in the West.

Fear of Westernization also catalyzed the process. In the early 1980s, scholars, especially in Saudi Arabia, developed a paradigm of "Western cultural attack." They believed that Europe and the United States sought to use textbooks and television, among other tools, to weaken Islam and Christianize Islamic countries. Some clerics suggested that Muslims should counterattack and recruit Muslim immigrants to undermine Western societies from within, using the same means that they believed Western societies employed to undermine Muslim societies.[7] Muslim immigrants, they believed, could be a powerful weapon in the struggle between the West and Islam.

Here, the political theories of Sayyid Qutb, an Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood activist executed by the Egyptian government in 1966, had resonance. Qutb argued that contemporary Muslim societies were as misguided as their pre-Islamic predecessors and that a pioneering group of devout Muslims should immigrate to prepare from afar for the reinstitution of a true Islamic reign.[8] Qutb's ideas narrowed the distinction between contemporary Muslim and non-Muslim societies and legitimized residence outside majority Muslim countries. These ideas bestowed an honorable aura upon migration. Though few jurists followed his ideas to the letter, he influenced many.

Such theories also played well in contemporary Middle Eastern politics. Most Arab governments are despotic.[9] While authoritarian regimes worked to suppress the Islamist challenge at home, they did not hesitate to assist Islamists in the exportation of their ideas. This was particularly the case with Saudi Arabia, which dedicated billions of dollars to the establishment of Islamist educational institutions, cultural centers, mosques, and media.[10]

Why did some Muslims in the West seek—and eagerly adopt—a reaffirmation of their Muslim identity? In the early 1980s, many Muslims who had immigrated to the West as laborers in the years after World War II recognized that their residence was not as temporary as they had once intended. As their financial situation improved and their political consciousness developed, they began to ponder their identity and roots. When doing so, many of them noticed they were surrounded by large communities of other Muslims; while in absolute numbers Muslims consisted of only a small percentage of the Western societies they immigrated to, most resided in industrial areas, amplifying an illusion of mass.[11] This introspection coincided with the Western embrace of multiculturalism, which challenged nation states' traditional quest for homogeneity and unity.[12] However, at the very time when immigrants from Muslim societies were encouraged to explore their origins, the oil embargo and later the Islamic revolution, terrorism, and the Rushdie fatwa sparked increasing anti-Islamic sentiment in the West. Together, these factors led some Muslim immigrants to identify themselves by their religion, which they considered under attack, rather than by ethnic or linguistic affiliation.

Cultural factors also encouraged religious revival. Most Muslim immigrants, even those who did not regularly practice their faith, came from conservative backgrounds. They promoted the sanctity of the family and a distinction between gender roles, stipulated obedience to parents, did not tolerate premarital sex or homosexuality, and demanded modesty in the public sphere. As the second generation of these migrants matured, growing Western liberalism challenged these values. Muslims in the West encountered the feminist revolution, the sexual revolution, gay rights, and the collapse of parental authority. To settle their anxieties about the breakdown of authority and morals, some parents sought to reaffirm the Muslim identities of their families. Religion provided an appealing moral response that ethnic heritage could not. However, religiosity was not only imposed by parents. For some of the younger generation, the first-class status they enjoyed in Islam compared favorably to the marginalization many felt within European societies.[13]
Theorizing Muslim Immigrants' Roles and Identity

As Muslim Arabs established themselves in Europe, Islamic jurists developed a legal framework to accommodate them. However wary they might be of the temptations facing Muslims in the West,[14] jurists, aware that migrants are in the West to stay, have retroactively bestowed legitimacy upon all types of migration—whether its purpose is labor, commerce, political refuge or studies.[15] Even ‘Abd al-‘Aziz bin Baz, a strict Saudi scholar who from the 1980s until his death in 1999 was the highest religious authority in the kingdom, left the door for migration open because of its benefits for da'wa (proselytizing).[16] Still, legitimacy was not without commitment. Most theologians conditioned their consent strict demands for Muslims in the West to maintain their religiosity.

Many jurists believe Muslim migrants to the West have only two paths to follow: reaffirmation of Muslim identity or its complete abandonment. Such an understanding places a burden upon immigrants' shoulders: While religious leaders acknowledge migrants' membership in the Muslim nation, scholars insist emigrants should comprehend the gravity of their situation and work to amend it. To reside in the West, a Muslim must make sure his and his family's identity are strictly maintained and the Shari‘a remains the comprehensive source regulating all aspects of their lives.

Reaffirmation of Muslim identity involves three duties: First, it mandates unity among Muslims. In his book Islam Behind its Boundaries, Muhammad al-Ghazali, a renowned Egyptian jurist who was in charge of da'wa for Egypt's ministry of awkaf (religious endowments), wrote that "loyalty [should be] to Islam, not to race. The brotherhood of Muslims is the first connection, even if places and times have distanced."[17] Qaradawi agreed. He wrote:

With Muslims being a minority in those non-Muslim countries, they ought to unite together as one man. Referring to this the Prophet (Peace and Blessing be upon him) is reported to have said: "A believer to his fellow believing brother is like a building whose bricks cement each other." Hence, Muslims in those countries have to unite and reject any form of division that is capable of turning them an easy prey for others.[18]

Success in resisting temptation and seduction for himself, his spouse, and his offspring conditions the legality of any immigrant's residence in a non-Muslim society. Qaradawi continues, "I told brothers and sisters living in the West that if they find it extremely difficult to bring up their children as Muslims, they should return to their countries of origin."[19] To defend the family from assimilation does not mean seclusion from all that is Western but rather living according to Islamic jurisprudence. The process is ongoing. Parents newly settled in the West, for example, have sent queries to Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, one of the leading Shi‘i authorities in the Arab world, about the permissibility of allowing their children to watch Western television, to which he ruled that parents should forbid shows which might weaken their children's minds but encourage their children to watch anything on Western television that could strengthen them.[20]

Theologians have also reached a broad consensus that to be able to screen the negative influences of residing among non-Muslims or infidels, Muslim immigrants to the West should dedicate themselves to an Islamic texture of life. This requires participation in Muslim organizations and associations. According to Ghazali, the cornerstone for such efforts should be the establishment of Muslim schools that maintain immigrants' "relation to their heritage, traditions and rituals as if all that changed in their lives is their location." He also calls for the establishment of mosques and clubs to bring Muslims together in order to encourage Muslim men to marry Muslim women and not infidels.[21] The recommendations of Fadlallah are similar.[22]

Migration therefore is a privilege only for the strong in faith. For example, Fadlallah instructs an Iraqi who left his homeland for higher studies in a Western country fourteen years earlier and subsequently sought political asylum that if migration does not cause him to deviate from Islam, then he might stay abroad, but if he fears his religiosity might weaken, he must return to his homeland.[23] In response to another inquiry, Fadlallah offers the principal of comparison: The immigrant should examine whether his presence in a new location causes him to suffer more or less hardship in terms of practicing his faith.[24] A similar principal of comparison is invoked in a ruling of the European Council for Fatwa and Research in response to a query by a Muslim residing in Brussels.[25]

Most Muslim thinkers further advance the debate over migration with consideration of proselytizing. In his doctoral dissertation at Morocco's King Muhammad University, for example, Muhammad al-Qadi al-‘Umrani argues that when the criteria legalizing migration is met, it should be encouraged for da'wa (proselytizing).[26] Shi‘i scholars Yusuf Najib and Muhsin ‘Atawi also validate migration on these grounds.[27]

Rather than be a threat, migration under the right circumstances can be an opportunity to advance the divine plan for a world where there are no nations but the Muslim nation and no political parties but God's. Ghazali urges migrants to be "pioneers" in spreading religion,[28] and Qaradawi argues, "Muslims in the West should be sincere callers to their religion. They should keep up in mind that calling others to Islam is not only restricted to scholars and sheikhs, but it goes far to encompass every committed Muslim."[29] According to Khalid Muhammad al-Aswar, an Egyptian author, Muslim immigrants constitute the new frontier settlements of Islam, defending its values and its interests.[30] He compares the Muslim to the moon: When not shining in one land, it shines in another.[31] Here, Fadlallah also agrees. "We expect you [immigrants] over there to be the callers for Islam, so that new positions will open for us and so that you open for Islam new prospects,"[32] he instructs. Yusuf and ‘Atawi suggest it is the duty of Muslim immigrants to enlighten the world with Muhammad's prophecy.[33]

Here, the popular literature encourages proselytizing. Some Arabic newspapers report mass conversions of Christians to Islam. For example, Asharq al-Awsat related the story of a young woman named Debbie Rogers who converted with thirty of her friends.[34] A 1997 Egyptian book published stories of recent Western conversions to Islam and suggested mass migration is taking place in Europe despite the "Zionist-inspired" campaign against Islam.[35] And, one of the world's most popular Internet sites for Muslims, offers stories of new converts alongside guides for proselytizing.[36]
Dual Loyalty?

If Muslim jurists insist Muslim immigrants avoid assimilation and reserve loyalty to the Islamic nation, should Western governments regard Muslim immigrants as disloyal? Not according to the jurists. Both Fadlallah and Qaradawi, for example, emphasize obedience to laws of the receiving states and urge new immigrants to avoid acts that harm the security of those states.[37]

This is not a case of doublespeak. Islamist jurists do not view the Muslim nation and the West as equivalent structures. They interpret the secular, liberal nature of Western states as mere social mechanisms enabling Muslims to practice Islam to its fullness. ‘Umrani, for example, argues that if Muslims know how to hold on to their civilian and legal rights in societies that raise the "slogans of freedoms and rights for all people," then they should have no problem in adhering to the Islamic law.[38]

Yet, there is another, deeper aspect of Western society that allows Islamist jurists to regard immigrants' loyalty to Western nations as not damaging: They believe Western civilization to be marked by a moral and spiritual void and believe that Westerners will, therefore, gravitate toward Islam. ‘Umrani, for example, has no doubt that Westerners will sooner or later embrace Islam.[39] He sees the Western nation-state as a temporary entity while the Muslim nation is both eternal and universal.

However, dualism is only allowed because theologians do not consider it harmful to Islam. Islam and not the interests of the European nation-state remains the benchmark for any political action. Fadlallah, for example, argues that Muslims might serve in Western parliaments but only so long as they guard the interests of Muslims.[40] The European Council for Fatwa and Research evokes the same principle in response to a query about Muslims contending in municipal elections.[41] The role of the Muslim immigrant is to do his best to promote the interests of his nation—that is, the Muslim nation. Because Islam is blind to boundaries, jurists argue that promoting its cause is not limited to a specific community or country but to Muslims everywhere. Thus, Qaradawi argues, it is necessary to "adopt and champion the rights of the umma" be it in "Palestine, Kosovo, Chechnya," or any other place where Muslims fight for autonomy and statehood.[42]
Assimilationist Dissent

For mainstream Muslim jurists, Islam is not a culture, a religion, or a tradition, but rather an alternative type of nationality which claims jurisdiction over all aspects of human activities. A Muslim can also be a citizen of a Western nation state, yet the Western nation state is tolerated only because it is bound to dissolve and because its weaknesses may be of use to the Muslim cause.

Many Muslims do not accept such a view in practice, and some—within and outside the Muslim world—criticize it. Sa'id Lawindi, an Egyptian academic and journalist who resided in Paris for eighteen years, argues that Muslims in Europe should follow the model provided by European Jewry, acting Western in their relations with European society while living true to their religion at home.[43] ‘Amr Khalid, a Birmingham-based Egyptian television preacher who remains influential despite his lack of formal religious training, calls on Muslim immigrants to become an active and constructive part of their adopted non-Muslim societies. Though he sees Islam as the only solution for all aspects of life, the role he envisions for Muslim immigrants is that of improving the West's image of Islam rather than Islamizing Europe. He encourages integration and broad social initiative.[44]

Many European Muslims also reject or remain ignorant of the roles which jurists assign them. Even some practicing and devout Muslims, while believing in the concept of the Muslim nation and in Islam as the future for Europe, insist upon their independence from any particular contemporary religious authority and emphasize their duty towards the society in which they reside and not a larger Muslim nation. They may advocate coverings for women on one hand and yet seek integration on the other.[45]

Nevertheless, because Islamist jurists in the Arab world have considerable resources, they at times drown out or wear down more pro-assimilation voices. The collision between Western interpretations of personal freedom and some Islamist interpretations of Muslims' rights and duties is inevitable. For mainstream Muslim jurists, Islam trumps all aspects of human activities.

Herein lays the challenge. Many ethnic and religious minorities seek to establish an autonomous sphere within multicultural societies, but only Arab Muslim jurists consider such an autonomous sphere to constitute a substitute for the liberal state itself. Many ethnic and religious minorities attempt to speak for their countries of origin through the political systems of their adopted countries, but only Arab Muslim jurists regard their Muslim nation as overstretching the boundaries of all nation-states in its political demands.

How then should liberal nation-states, using the principals of liberalism and multiculturalism as their shield, deal with individuals who resist their very existence? How can Western societies distinguish between those Muslims who seek a place for their beliefs and traditions within a pluralistic framework and those who adhere to a school committed to the destruction of that framework? Perhaps a good point of departure would be to understand that it is not veils that matter, but the individuals and ideas that are behind them.

Uriya Shavit is currently a scholar of the Minerva Foundation, a subsidiary of the Max Planck Society, and author of the forthcoming Wars of Democracy: The West and the Arabs from the fall of Communism to the War in Iraq (Dayan Center, Tel Aviv). He thanks Ursula Apitzsch, Felicia Herrschaft, David Shavit, and Lance Weldy.

[1] John R. Bowen, Why the French Don't Like Headscarves: Islam, the State and Public Space (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007), pp. 13-4;, Oct. 5, 2006.
[2] Buthaina Sh'aban, "Mukadama," in Nazira Zin ad-Din, ed., Al-Sufur wal-Hijab [The unveiling and the veil], sec. ed. (Damascus: Al-Mada Publishing Company, 1998), pp. 7-33; Din, Al-Sufur wal-Hijab, pp. 154-86. The debate centers around Qur. 33:32, 53, and 59: 24:30.
[3] Muhammad as-Shaf'i, "Al Munqabat … wal Tawasul" [The fully veiled … and the progression], Asharq al-Awsat (London), Oct. 13, 2006; Fareena Alam, "Behind the Veil," Newsweek International, Nov. 27, 2006.
[4] Sami A. Aldeeb Abu Salieh, "The Islamic Conception of Migration," International Migration Review, Mar. 1996, pp. 37-57.
[5] Qararat wa-Fatawa al-Majlis al-Urubbi lil-Ifta wa al-Buhuth [Decisions and religious edicts of the European Council for Fatwa and Research] (Cairo: Dar al-Tawj'i wa al-Nashr al-Islamiya, 2002), pp. 5-10.
[6] Gary R. Bunt, Islam in the Digital Age: E-Jihad, Online Fatwas and Cyber Islamic Environment (London and Sterling, Va.: Pluto Press, 2003), pp. 147-60, 165.
[7] For an overview of the cultural attack debate, see Uriya Shavit, "Al-Qaeda's Saudi Origins," Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2006, pp. 3-13; Muhammad ‘Abd al-'Alim Marsi, Ath-Thakafa…wal-Ghazu ath-Thakafi fi Duwal al-Khalij al-'Arabia [The culture … and the cultural attack in the Arab gulf states] (Riyadh: Maktabat al-'Abikan, 1995), pp. 129-72.
[8] Sayyid Qutb, Ma'alim fi at-Tarik [Milestones], first ed. (Damascus: Dar Dismask, 1964), pp. 9-10, 21-3, 30-1; Muhammad Hafiz Diyab, Sayid Qutb: Al-Khitab wal-Idiolojiya [Sayid Qutb: The rhetoric and the ideology] (Beirut: Dar al-Tali'ah, 1988), pp. 90-8.
[9] Freedom in the World, 2006 (Washington, D.C.: Freedom House, 2007), p. 15.
[10] Khalid Muhammed al-Aswar, Al-Jaliyat al-Islamiya fi Uruba: Al-Manafidh, al-Mushkilat, al-Hulul [The Muslim diasporas: The origins, the problems, and the solutions] (Cairo: Dar al-I'tisam, 1998), p. 68; Hasan ‘Ali al-Ahdal, "Dawr Rabitat al-'Alam al-Islami fi Nashr at-thakafa al-Islamiya khrij al-'Alam al-Islami" [The role of the Muslim World League in spreading the Muslim culture outside the Muslim world], in Hawiyat al-Muslimun wa Thaqafatuhum fi Uruba (Rabat: Matba'at al-M'aarif al-Jadida, 1995), pp. 141-8.
[11] Muslims in the European Union: Discrimination and Islamophobia, The European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, Vienna, 2006, p. 22; ‘Abd al-Majid Bakr, Al-Aqaliyat al-Muslima fi Uruba (Saudi Arabia: Hayat al-Ighatha al-Islamiya al-'Alamiya, 1992.)
[12] Rogers Brubaker, "The Return of Assimilation? Changing Perspectives on Immigration and Its Sequels in France, Germany, and the United States," in Christian Joppke and Ewa Morawska, eds., Towards Assimilation and Citizenship: Immigrants in Liberal Nation-states (New York: Palgrave, 2003), p. 39.
[13] Bowen, Why the French Don't Like Headscarves, pp. 66-8.
[14] Muhammad al-Kadi al-‘Umrani, Fiqh al-Usra al-Muslima fi al-Muhajar [The Religious law of the migrating Muslim family] (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiya, 2001), part I, pp. 53-65; Najib Yusuf and Muhsin ‘Atawi, Dalil al-Muslim fi Bilad al-Ghurba [Reference of the Muslim in foreign countries] (Beirut: Dar at-Ta'aruf lil-Matbu'at, 1990), pp. 21-31.
[15] ‘Umrani, Fiqh al-Usra al-Muslima fi al-Muhajar, p. 29-127; Yusuf and ‘Atawi, Dalil al-Muslim fi Bilad al-Ghurba, pp. 31-2.
[16] ‘Abd al-'Aziz bin ‘Abd-Allah bin Baz, "Hukm as-Safr kharij ad-Duwal al-Islamiya" [The rule of traveling outside Muslim lands], accessed Mar. 29, 2007; idem, "Hukm as-Safr ila al-Kharij lil-Dirasa wa Ghyriha" [The rule of traveling abroad for study and other purposes], accessed Mar. 29, 2007; idem, "As-Safr ila al-Kharij" [Travel abroad], accessed Mar. 29, 2007.
[17] Muhammad al-Ghazali, Mustaqbal al-Islam kharij Ardihi: Kayf Nufakir u fihi? (Amman: Orient Public Relations, Publishing and Translation, 1984), p. 138.
[18] Yusuf al-Qaradawi, "Duties of Muslims Living in the West," Islam, May 7, 2006.
[19] Ibid.
[20] Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, Tahaduyat al-Muhajir, bayna al-Asala wal Mu'asara [The challenges of the immigrant between rootedness and modernity] (Beirut: Dar al-Malak, 2000), p. 125.
[21] Ghazali, Mustaqbal al-Islam kharij Ardihi, pp. 155-7.
[22] Fadlallah, Tahaduyat al-Muhajir, bayna al-Asala wal Mu'asara, pp. 87-8, 92-5.
[23] Ibid., p. 89.
[24] Ibid., pp. 75-86.
[25] Qararat wa-Fatawa, p. 30.
[26] ‘Umrani, Fiqh al-Usra al-Muslima fi al-Muhajar, pp. 29-127.
[27] Yusuf and ‘Atawi, Dalil al-Muslim fi Bilad al-Ghurba, pp. 31-2.
[28] Ghazali, Mustaqbal al-Islam kharij Ardihi, p. 104.
[29] Qaradawi, "Duties of Muslims Living in the West."
[30] Aswar, Al-Jaliyat al-Islamiya fi Uruba, pp. 7-8.
[31] Ibid., p. 313.
[32] Fadlallah, Tahaduyat al-Muhajir, bayna al-Asala wal Mu'asara, p. 82.
[33] Yusuf and ‘Atawi, Dalil al-Muslim fi Bilad al-Ghurba, p. 32.
[34] Mar. 18, 2001.
[35] Yasir Hussein, Al-Islam Mustaqbal Uruba (Cairo: Dar al-'Amin, 1997).
[36] "Amazing Interview with a 14-years Old New Muslimah," Islam Way Radio, accessed Mar. 29, 2007.
[37] Qaradawi, "Duties of Muslims Living in the West"; Fadlallah, Tahaduyat al-Muhajir, bayna al-Asala wal Mu'asara, p. 88
[38] ‘Umrani, Fiqh al-Usra al-Muslima fi al-Muhajar, p. 4.
[39] Ibid., p. 51
[40] Fadallah, Tahaduyat al-Muhajir, bayna al-Asala wal Mu'asara, p. 334.
[41] Qarart wa Fatawa, p. 95.
[42] Qaradawi, "Duties of Muslims Living in the West."
[43] Sa'id Lawindi, Fubiya al-Islam fi al-Gharb [The Islamophobia in the West] (Cairo: Dar al-Akhbar, 2006), pp. 136-7.
[44] Amr Khalid, "Between Integration and Introversion," accessed Mar. 29, 2007.
[45] Author interviews with eighteen Muslims, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, Nov. 2006-May 2007; author observations in mosques and centers.

Never knew he drank til I saw him sober and That's All Folks!

George Friedman provides an analysis of Blackwater and what it means to have civilians in such position(s.) (See 1 below.)

A supposed speech by a Marine General. I never know whether these e mails are authentic but it claims to be and was made to a small San Diego California group. Whether real or not it is worth reading. (See 2 below.)

The United States is one of the world's wealthiest, largest and most populated countries. That so, then lets take a kaleidoscope look at the major and most likely candidates seeking their party's nomination for President.


Gov. Richardson: Politician, diplomat and Governor of one of our nation's least populated states. New Mexico has many native Americans and Hispanics living there. Has not accomplished anything necessarily outstanding. Wants out of Iraq. Doesn't say much about Iran and N Korea but seems to want to do more talking.

Senator Clinton: Former wife of a president, a Senator, a lawyer. Has never run anything but her mouth, a stealth type candidate the media fears interviewing in a hardball fashion, very cautious campaigner and tends to say what her selected audience most wants to hear. Questionable marriage. High negative ratings. Wants out of Iraq but not always sure and is not happy with Iran and N Korea but other than rhetoric no espoused plan to deal with them.

Former Senator Edwards: A trial attorney, Senator and former V.P candidate on losing ticket. Never ran anything but his mouth as well. Made a lot of money suing people and entities and has turned populist so he can align himself with the poor and downtrodden from whence he claims he came. Solid marriage. For sure wants out of Iraq. Not much comment about Iran and N Korea but sure he wants to take shirts off rich and give to poor.

Sen. Barak: Politician, first serious black candidate, never ran anything, inexperience has begun showing on campaign trail, proven money raiser, plays charisma to the hilt an would like to be considered another Jack Kennedy. Solid marriage. Wants out of Iraq. Uncomfortable thinking about Iran and N Korea but not about showing voters he is serious so he took flag pin off his lapel.


Former Senator Thompson: Came late to campaign because wasn't sure he had the fire in his belly, media star, never ran anything, darling of the far right wing of his party and has non-threatening cancer. Recently married and very young son. Might stay in Iraq a little longer. Hasn't been around to say too much about N Korea and Iran but maybe his TV acting and scripted dialogue will give us some clues.

Former Mayor Giuliani: Prosecutor and Mayor of one of world's largest cities. Many of his Wall Street convictions overturned, presided over city during 9/11 and demonstrated take over leadership. Catholic married to a Jewess and somewhat testy relationship with sons from former marriage. Prostate cancer Too liberal for extreme right of Party. Would continue presence in Iraq. As a former prosecutor and victim of 9/11 takes a tough stance on Iran, N Korea and terrorism.

Former Governor Romney: If varied accomplishments mean anything to voters Romney wins hands down. Solved serious problems of Olympic operation, founded one of world's largest and most successful companies - Bain Capital and Consultants - Governor of liberal eastern state with Democrat Legislature and a Mormon. Solid marriage, seems to have fine children. Appears too qualified and party voters fear he might have more than one wife stashed somewhere. Would stay in Iraq until more accomplished. Not overly verbal about Iran and N Korea.

Former Gov. Huckabee: Extreme right of his party consider him very qualified because he was a former preacher, did a decent job as Governor of a small southeastern state known for past problems with integration. He speaking style folksy and makes a lot of sense but does not have the money to make the impact equal to his qualifications. Demonstrated self-control by losing a lot of weight. Would stay in Iraq until more positive results achieved. Seldom says much about Iran and N Korea.

Sen. John McCain: Feisty hawk, war hero, Viet-Nam POW,somewhat quirky on a host of other issues. Skin cancer. For sure would finish mission in Iraq, adamant about Iran and N Korea. Married, wife wealthy. Right Wing of party has a love hate relationship with the Senator.

Democrats seem to believe voters are so disaffected with GW and Republicans they will vote for anyone who breathes, is a Democrat who wants to get us out of Iraq post haste and, at the present time, seem willing to hold their noses and vote for Sen. Clinton because they love her husband Bill.

Republicans are dis-spirited and confused and have just about given up on all their candidates. Their candidates fear embracing GW will doom their chances so they mouth their "Support For The Troops."

As Bugs Bunny would say, "That's All Folks."

Has Syria begun to develop an "airburst" radiological missile capability and been assisted by N Korea? GW is seeking clarification and more proof from Israel. Sec's Rice and Gates remain suspicious of Israel's proof, V.P Cheney and his supporters are not. If Israel is correct then GW and the Administration will have to consider altering their thinking. (See 3 below.)

Abbas lays out the specifics with respect to what he wants by way of borders. (See 4 below.)

Putin says Russia has no proof that Iran is developing a bomb and that his nation has been co-operative with the U.N. regarding this issue. Russians never lie and most assuredly Putin does not. Of course I never knew Putin drank till I saw him sober, either. (see 5 below.)

Does Olmert have a saviour in Dichter? Some think so. (See 6 below.)


1) The Geopolitical Foundations of Blackwater
By George Friedman

For the past three weeks, Blackwater, a private security firm under contract to the U.S. State Department, has been under intense scrutiny over its operations in Iraq. The Blackwater controversy has highlighted the use of civilians for what appears to be combat or near-combat missions in Iraq. Moreover, it has raised two important questions: Who controls these private forces and to whom are they accountable?

The issue is neither unique to Blackwater nor to matters of combat. There have long been questions about the role of Halliburton and its former subsidiary, KBR, in providing support services to the military. The Iraq war has been fought with fewer active-duty troops than might have been expected, and a larger number of contractors relative to the number of troops. But how was the decision made in the first place to use U.S. nongovernmental personnel in a war zone? More important, how has that decision been implemented?

The United States has a long tradition of using private contractors in times of war. For example, it augmented its naval power in the early 19th century by contracting with privateers -- nongovernmental ships -- to carry out missions at sea. During the battle for Wake Island in 1941, U.S. contractors building an airstrip there were trapped by the Japanese fleet, and many fought alongside Marines and naval personnel. During the Civil War, civilians who accompanied the Union and Confederate armies carried out many of the supply functions. So, on one level, there is absolutely nothing new here. This has always been how the United States fights war.

Nevertheless, since before the fall of the Soviet Union, a systematic shift has been taking place in the way the U.S. force structure is designed. This shift, which is rooted both in military policy and in the geopolitical perception that future wars will be fought on a number of levels, made private security contractors such as KBR and Blackwater inevitable. The current situation is the result of three unique processes: the introduction of the professional volunteer military, the change in force structure after the Cold War, and finally the rethinking and redefinition of the term "noncombatant" following the decision to include women in the military, but bar them from direct combat roles.

The introduction of the professional volunteer military caused a rethinking of the role of the soldier, sailor, airman or Marine in the armed forces. Volunteers were part of the military because they chose to be. Unlike draftees, they had other options. During World War II and the first half of the Cold War, the military was built around draftees who were going to serve their required hitch and return to civilian life. Although many were not highly trained, they were quite suited for support roles, from KP to policing the grounds. After all, they already were on the payroll, and new hires were always possible.

In a volunteer army, the troops are expected to remain in the military much longer. Their training is more expensive -- thus their value is higher. Taking trained specialists who are serving at their own pleasure and forcing them to do menial labor over an extended period of time makes little sense either from a utilization or morale point of view. The concept emerged that the military's maintenance work should shift to civilians, and that in many cases the work should be outsourced to contractors. This tendency was reinforced during the Reagan administration, which, given its ideology, supported privatization as a way to make the volunteer army work. The result was a growth in the number of contractors taking over many of the duties that had been performed by soldiers during the years of conscription.

The second impetus was the end of the Cold War and a review carried out by then-Secretary of Defense Les Aspin under then-President Bill Clinton. The core argument was that it was irrational to maintain a standing military as large as had existed during the Cold War. Aspin argued for a more intensely technological military, one that would be less dependent on ground troops. The Air Force was key to this, while the Navy was downsized. The main consideration, however, was the structure of the standing Army -- especially when large-scale, high-intensity, long-term warfare no longer seemed a likely scenario.

The U.S. Army's active-duty component, in particular, was reduced. It was assumed that in time of war, components of the Reserves and National Guard would be mobilized, not so much to augment the standing military, but to carry out a range of specialized roles. For example, Civil Affairs, which has proven to be a critical specialization in Iraq and Afghanistan, was made a primary responsibility of the Reserves and National Guard, as were many engineering, military-intelligence and other specializations.

This plan was built around certain geopolitical assumptions. The first was that the United States would not be fighting peer powers. The second was that it had learned from Vietnam not to get involved in open-ended counterinsurgency operations, but to focus, as it did in Kuwait, on missions that were clearly defined and executable with a main force. The last was that wars would be short, use relatively few troops and be carried out in conjunction with allies. From this it followed that regular forces, augmented by Reserve/National Guard specialists called up for short terms, could carry out national strategic requirements.

The third impetus was the struggle to define military combat and noncombat roles. Given the nature of the volunteer force, women were badly needed, yet they were included in the armed forces under the assumption that they could carry out any function apart from direct combat assignments. This caused a forced -- and strained -- redefinition of these two roles. Intelligence officers called to interrogate a prisoner on the battlefield were thought not to be in a combat position. The same bomb, mortar or rocket fire that killed a soldier might hit them too, but since they technically were not charged with shooting back, they were not combat arms. Ironically, in Iraq, one of the most dangerous tasks is traveling on the roads, though moving supplies is not considered a combat mission.

Under the privatization concept, civilians could be hired to carry out noncombat functions. Under the redefinition of noncombat, the area open to contractors covered a lot of territory. Moreover, under the redefinition of the military in the 1990s, the size and structure of the Army in particular was changed so dramatically that it could not carry out most of its functions without the Reserve/Guard component -- and even with that component, the Army was not large enough. Contractors were needed.

Let us now add a fourth push: the CIA. During Vietnam, and again in Afghanistan and Iraq, a good part of the war was prosecuted by CIA personnel not in uniform and not answerable to the military chain of command. There are arguments on both sides for this, but the fact is that U.S. wars -- particularly highly politicized wars such as counterinsurgencies -- are fought with parallel armies, some reporting to the Defense Department, others to the CIA and other intelligence agencies. The battlefield is, if not flooded, at least full of civilians operating outside of the chain of command, and these civilian government employees are encouraged to hire Iraqi or other nationals, as well as to augment their own capabilities with private U.S. contractors.

Blackwater works for the State Department in a capacity defined as noncombat, protecting diplomats and other high-value personnel from assassination. The Army, bogged down in its own operations, lacks the manpower to perform this obviously valuable work. That means that Blackwater and other contract workers are charged with carrying weapons and moving around the battlefield, which is everywhere. They are heavily armed private soldiers carrying out missions that are combat in all but name -- and they are completely outside of the chain of command.

Moreover, in order to be effective, they have to engage in protective intelligence, looking for surveillance by enemy combatants and trying to foresee potential threats. We suspect the CIA could be helpful in this regard, but it would want information in return. In order to perform its job, then, Blackwater entered the economy of intelligence -- information as a commodity to be exchanged. It had to gather some intelligence in order to trade some. As a result, the distinction between combat and support completely broke down.

The important point is that the U.S. military went to war with the Army the country gave it. We recall no great objections to the downsizing of the military in the 1990s, and no criticisms of the concepts that lay behind the new force structure. The volunteer force, downsized because long-term conflicts were not going to occur, supported by the Reserve/Guard and backfilled by civilian contractors, was not a controversial issue. Only tiresome cranks made waves, challenging the idea that wars would be sparse and short. They objected to the redefinition of noncombat roles and said the downsized force would be insufficient for the 21st century.

Blackwater, KBR and all the rest are the direct result of the faulty geopolitical assumptions and the force structure decisions that followed. The primary responsibility rests with the American public, which made best-case assumptions in a worst-case world. Even without Iraq, civilian contractors would have proliferated on the battlefield. With Iraq, they became an enormous force. Perhaps the single greatest strategic error of the Bush administration was not fundamentally re-examining the assumptions about the U.S. Army on Sept. 12, 2001. Clearly Donald Rumsfeld was of the view that the Army was the problem, not the solution. He was not going to push for a larger force and, therefore, as the war expanded, for fewer civilian contractors.

The central problem regarding private security contractors on the battlefield is that their place in the chain of command is not defined. They report to the State Department, not to the Army and Marines that own the battlefield. But who do they take orders from and who defines their mission? Do they operate under the Uniform Code of Military Justice or under some other rule? They are warriors -- it is foolish to think otherwise -- but they do not wear the uniform. The problem with Blackwater stems from having multiple forces fighting for the same side on the same battlefield, with completely different chains of command. Indeed, it is not clear the extent to which the State Department has created a command structure for its contractors, whether it is capable of doing so, or whether the contractors have created their own chain of command.

Blackwater is the logical outcome of a set of erroneous geopolitical conclusions that predate these wars by more than a decade. The United States will be fighting multidivisional, open-ended wars in multiple theaters, and there will be counterinsurgencies. The force created in the 1990s is insufficient, and thus the definition of noncombat specialty has become meaningless. The Reserve/Guard component cannot fill the gap created by strategic errors. The hiring of contractors makes sense and has precedence. But the use of CIA personnel outside the military chain of command creates enough stress. To have private contractors reporting outside the chain of command to government entities not able to command them is the real problem.

A failure that is rooted in the national consensus of the 1990s was compounded by the Bush administration's failure to reshape the military for the realities of the wars it wished to fight. But the final failure was to follow the logic of the civilian contractors through to its end, but not include them in the unified chain of command. In war, the key question must be this: Who gives orders and who takes them? The battlefield is dangerous enough without that question left hanging.

2)I want to open by offering LtGen Mattis' apologies for missing this event. Until recently he certainly looked forward to being here, but an unexpected change in a three and four star executive offsite in Washington prevents him from joining you today. I am his recently joined deputy at the First Marine Expeditionary Force at Pendleton, and will have the honor of taking the next Marine rotation to Iraq early next year. I was also General Mattis' deputy once before when he commanded the 1st Marine Division on the march to Baghdad , Tikrit and beyond four years ago, and when we went back into Iraq in March 2004 relieving the 82nd Airborne in Al Anbar Province.
I am just two months out of the pentagon where I served as the Commandant's Legislative Advisor, and deputy advisor to the SECNAV, so I know the Congress and the Secretary's and Commandant's Hill agendas pretty well. I'll be glad to speak to amphibious ship requirements, V-22 Ospreys, VSTOL Joint Strike fighters, a Marine Corps growing by 27,000 or anything else for that matter during the Q+A.
I left Iraq three years ago last month. I returned a week ago after a two week visit of getting the lay of the land for my upcoming deployment. It is still a dangerous and foreboding land, but what I experienced personally was amazing and remarkable - we are winning, we are really winning. No one told me to say that, I saw it for myself. The higher command in Baghdad told us four years ago when we first took responsibility for the Al Anbar not to worry about victory, as no one-military or civilian-thought it possible. That thirty years from now when the rest of Iraq was a functioning democracy, Al Anbar would still be a festering cancer within...
Continued after the Jump.
...Our success, so we were told, would be in containing violence, not defeating the Al Qaeda and other foreign born terrorists that were deeply entrenched in the Province. The reality is that today the incidents of attack in Al Anbar-mostly by Al Qaeda-are down by over 80% in the last six months-that translates to dozens and dozens everyday then, to perhaps three or four today. Since the spring local inhabitants and their sheik leadership, are now joined with us at the shoulder in fighting the extremists that plague their country. Three weeks ago I went to a gathering of sheiks from the Province outside of Ramadi that numbered over 300 of the most influential men in the west. Three years ago my entire days and nights were devoted to tracking many of these same men down, and capturing or killing them, which is exactly what they were trying to do to me. However, by relentless pursuit by a bunch of fearless 19 year olds with guns who never flinched or gave an inch, while at the same time holding out the carrot of economic development, they have seen the light and know AQ can't win against such men. By staying in the fight, and remaining true to our word, and our honor, AQ today can't spend more than a few hours in Fallujah, Ramadi, or the Al Anbar in general, without being IDed by the locals and killed by the increasingly competent Iraqi Army, or by Marines.That's the way it is today in this war, but it is also the way it has been since the birth of our nation.
Since our Declaration of Independence 42 million Americans have claimed the honor of having served the nation in its military forces. Since that time over a million have lost their lives serving the colors, with millions more wounded. Since George Washington first took command of the Continentals besieging Boston, America's warriors have stepped forward and endured horrors unimaginable to most Americans, and saw it all with their young eyes so those safe at home would never have to. With all this service and loss of life, we as Americans can be proud of the kind of people we are as we have never retained a square foot of any country we have defeated. We possess no empire. No man or woman call us master, as we have never subjugated any society. On the contrary, billions across the planet -and billions more yet unborn-are today free and increasingly prosperous because America took a stand; but it has always fallen on the shoulders of our soldiers, sailors, airmen Coast Guardsmen, and Marines that the task fell to...and they have never wavered. Never, with the exception of World War II, has it been particularly crowded at the recruiting offices, and in recent years it's an increasingly slim slice of the American public who believe in this country enough to put life and limb on the line particularly in the Army and Marine Corps to serve without qualification, and without personal gain. Yet still for whatever reason they come-even though there is great pressure from our society to sit it out and not get involved.
The reality was that when many in this room grew up, and I know I am showing my age here, we were surrounded by men, real men, who had gladly worn the country's cloth in wars against fascism and communism. The earliest memories we had as kids back then were of comic books and paper backs that honored the sacrifices of the super heroes of those conflicts. It was a time when little boys could play guns, and weren't considered at risk to be psychopaths. To stand up when the national anthem was played or say the pledge of allegiance and a prayer to any God you worshiped before school, wasn't considered offensive to the sensitivities of the nation's selfproclaimed intellectual elite. Places like Guadalcanal, Coral Sea , Normandy , Iwo Jima, the Chosin Reservoir, and Hue City , were real to us then, and we knew without thinking that we owed the nation a debt.
We live in a very different world today, and we have indeed lost something of quality over the years. We don't always see that same selfless devotion to something bigger than self, which the lucky among us learned from past generations. Today, unfortunately, to most it's about quick gratification, and what's in it for me. Memorial and Veteran's Day are more about a day off to take advantage of the big sales at the malls, or fighting the traffic to get a long weekend at the seashore. But we should not forget that as we stand here today we are at war, and a new Greatest Generation is fighting a merciless enemy on our behalf in the terrible heat of Iraq , and mountains of Afghanistan . Like it or not America is engaged in - and winning - a war today against an enemy that is savage, offers no quarter, whose only objectives are to either kill every one of us here in our homeland, or enslave us with a sick form of extremism that serves no God or purpose that rational men and women can ever understand. Given the opportunity to do another 9/11, our vicious enemy would do it today, tomorrow, and everyday thereafter. In addition to killing thousands of innocent victims that day, they also killed hundreds of heroes: police, firefighters, and first responders of every sort that were not victims in their deaths, but the first fallen warriors of this generation's war. Given nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons-and the experts bet they will get them-these extremists would use these terror weapons against our cities, and smile. I don't know why they hate us, and I frankly don't care and they can all go to hell, but they do hate us and they are driven irrationally to our destruction. The best way to fight them is somewhere else, and for whatever reason they want to destroy our way of life I thank God we still have enough, just enough, young people in American today willing to take up the fight and defend us all.
This fight is today, not against some potential peer competitor that might emerge 30 years from now, and will be with us for another generation or more. Our enemy is on a 100 year campaign to victory, and believes without question that he is winning. We, on the other hand, look out two years at best and seem to be wavering and looking for a way to rationalize our way out. The problem is our enemy is not willing to let us go. Regardless of how much we wish this bad dream would go away, he will stay with us until he hurts us so badly we surrender, or we kill him first. To him this is not about jobs, economic opportunity, or solving social problems in the Middle East . It is about way of life, about everyman's and every woman's worth and equality in the eyes of the law, about the God given rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. He doesn't believe in these cherished concepts - we do. Our positions are irreconcilable.
The good news is our service members are as good today, as their fathers were in Vietnam , and their grandfathers were in Korea and World War II. In my two tours in Iraq as an infantry officer with the 1st Marine Division I never saw an American hesitate, or do anything other than lean into the fire and with no apparent fear of death or injury take the fight to our enemies. As anyone who has ever experienced combat knows, when it starts, when the explosions and tracers are everywhere and the calls for the Corpsman or medic are screamed from the throats of men who know they are dying - when seconds seem like hours and it all becomes slow motion and fast forward at the same time-everything in one's survival instinct says stop, get down, save yourself -yet they don't. When no one would call them cowards for cowering behind a wall or in a hole looking to their own self preservation, none of them do. It doesn't matter if it's an IED, a suicide bomber, mortar attack, fighting in an up stairs room of a house, or all of it at once; they talk, swagger, and, most importantly, fight today in the same way our young warriors have since the Revolution. They also know whose shoulders they stand on, and would die before anyone of them shamed any veteran of any service, living or dead.
You should see them. They have a look in their eye and a way of walking that marks them as warriors as good as any that have ever marched to the guns, but they are not born killers. They are, on the contrary, good and decent youngsters mostly from the neighborhoods of our cities, and small towns across America . Almost all are from "salt of the earth" working class homes, and more often than not are the sons and daughters of cops and firemen, factory workers and farmers. Kids who once delivered your papers, stocked shelves in the grocery store, played Little League, and served Mass on Sunday morning. They were athletes, as well as "couch potatoes," drove their cars and motorcycles too fast, and blasted their music a bit louder than they should. They are ordinary young people, performing remarkable acts of bravery and selfless acts of devotion to a cause bigger than themselves. They could have done something more self serving, but chose to serve knowing full well Iraq and Afghanistan was in their future. They did not avoid the most basic and cherished responsibility of a citizen, on the contrary they welcomed it. They did not fail in school and without prospects, as the chattering class believe is why they are in the military and fighting and dying for the nation, but rather are the best our nation has to offer and have put every one of us above their own self interest. They are all heroes, but they know and understand fear in a way that few Americans do. It is not as much the fear of death or maiming they think about, but, rather, they are most terrified of letting their buddies down...but they never do.
Ladies and Gentlemen I had a unique experience a few years ago when serving as the Assistant Division Commander, of the 1st Marine Division. We were just south of Iraq along the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border, and poised to launch an attack that would take us over the next three weeks 650 miles into the guts of Iraq , far beyond Baghdad and indeed to Saddam's hometown palace in Tikrit. When the artillery fires commenced just as the sun went down, and the evening sky above us was one endless formation of Marine, Navy and Air Force fighter aircraft speeding north to smash targets deep in Saddam's vitals, I was sitting taking it all in with my driver Cpl Dave Hardin from Dallas, and with a reporter from the Los Angeles Times. The reporter asked me a question that I'd never considered in my entire 36 years in the Marine Corps as both enlisted man and officer before the asking, but one I took up in my mind when he did. He pointed out the size and capability of the Iraqi forces in front of us that was many, many times bigger than we were in men, tanks, and artillery. He emphasized much to my discomfort the massive supplies of chemical weapons Saddam was thought to have, and the multiple means he had to rain their terrible kind of death upon us. He asked if I'd ever contemplated defeat. If it was even possible? My thoughts immediately took me back to trips I'd made to Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Inchon Korea , and Vietnam , and the conversations I'd had with veterans of those battles, mostly old men now. They tell of friends who made it, and many who didn't. About the good times, and the bad, but mostly about the good as is typical of our veterans. My response to the reporter was something like: "hell these are Marines. Men like them held Guadalcanal and took Iwo Jima, Baghdad ain't shit." This same sentiment could, and does, apply to any American serviceman or woman. We who serve, who are sent to fight wars and have nothing whatsoever to do with starting them, have never known defeat on the battlefield. When we have lost, we lost at home, and others declared defeat - not us.
America's Armed Forces today know the price of being the finest men and women this nation has to offer, and pay it they do everyday in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over four-thousand one hundred in all services have died in Iraq and Afghanistan , over a thousand of this number Marines, and Sailors serving with Marines - our precious Docs. And the sacrifice continues as Americans have gone to God since we all went to bed last night and slept free and protected. Their mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, wives and husbands, aunts, uncles, cousins and fiancés have only just learned of their deaths and begun to deal with the unimaginable pain that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Thousands more have suffered wounds since it all started, but like firefighters and cops who fall protecting us here in America, they are not victims as they knew what they were about, and were doing what they wanted to do.
Many of today's pundits and media commentators want to make them and their families out to be victims but they are wrong, and this only detracts from the decision these patriots made to step forward and protect the country that has given so much to all of us. We who are serving, and have served, will have none of that. Those with less of a sense of service to the nation never understand it when strong men and women stand tall and firm against the our enemies, just as they can't begin to understand the price paid so they and their families can sleep safe and free at night-the protected never do. What they are missing, what they will also never understand, is the sense of commitment, joy, and honor, of serving our country in its uniform, but every American veteran, and their loved ones who supported them and feared for them everyday, do.
It's been my distinct honor to have had the opportunity to be here today with you. Rest assured, my fellow citizens, the nation you are a part of, this young experiment in democracy called America started just over two centuries ago, will forever remain the "land of the free and home of the brave" so long as we never run out of tough young Americans willing to look beyond their own self interest and comfortable lives, and go into the darkest and most dangerous places on earth to hunt down, and kill, those who would do us harm.
Semper Fidelis!

3) Washington asks Jerusalem to clarify the Israeli dossier on North Korean-aided Syrian nuclear and missile activity presented by Turkish foreign minister to Assad

The New York Times reveals Turkish officials presented Damascus on Oct. 6, with an “Israeli dossier” on a Syrian nuclear program [which Israeli relayed to Washington before its Sept. 6 air strike]. However Assad “vigorously denied the intelligence and said that what the Israelis had hit was a “storage depot for strategic missiles.”

Turkish foreign minister Ali Babacan, who presented the Israeli dossier to president Bashar Assad, also delivered his reply to Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert in a one-on-one conversation in Jerusalem Oct. 7. Washington is now demanding Israel’s response to Assad’s claim. The purpose of relaying the “Israeli dossier” to Ankara in the first place was to demonstrate that Syrian nuclear activity aided by North Korea potentially menaced neighboring Turkey as well as US regional interests and Israel.

According to the NYT, the debate in the Bush administration is over whether the Israeli evidence points to a Syrian nuclear program that does indeed pose a significant threat to the Middle East and should therefore lead to critical changes in Bush administration policies for the Middle East and North Korea.

Vice President Cheney and other officials argue Israeli intelligence is credible and should cause the United States to reconsider diplomatic overtures to Syria and North Korea, whereas Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice does not believe the intelligence presented so far merits any change in American diplomatic approach. Defense Secretary Robert Gates was cautious about fully endorsing Israel’s warnings that Syria was on the way to a nuclear weapon.

Cheney’s faction is uneasy about the decision to proceed with the supply to North Korea of economic aid in return for disabling its nuclear reactor. They argue Israeli intelligence shows that North Korea cannot be trusted.

It has long been known that North Korean scientists have aided Damascus in developing sophisticated ballistic missile technology. There is little debate that North Koreans frequently visited the site in the Syrian desert Israel jets attacked Sept. 6.

A CIA veteran Bruce Riedel told the NYT: ”Israel would not have launched the strike in Syria if it believed Damascus was merely developing more sophisticated ballistic missiles or chemical weapons… Those red lines were crossed 20 years ago.”

Another former intelligence official said Syria is trying to develop an airburst capability for its ballistic missiles which would allow warheads to detonate in the air to disperse its contents more widely.

Military sources report this type of warhead is capable of damaging much broader areas than the conventional warhead. In particular, any radioactive materials it contained would scatter and contaminate wide, densely populated urban areas. Of late, US sources have voiced strong suspicions that Syria and Iran have acquired “dirty bombs.”

The question is whether North Korea has been helping Syria build missiles packed with radioactive materials and fitted with an airburst capability to boot.

4) Abbas lays out first precise demands for Palestinian borders

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday laid out his most specific demands for the borders of a future independent state, calling for a full Israeli withdrawal from all territories captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Abbas' claim comes as Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams are trying to hammer out a joint vision for a future peace deal in time for a U.S.-hosted conference next month.

With Israel seeking to retain parts of the West Bank and east Jerusalem, Abbas' comments appeared to set the stage for tough negotiations, which are expected to include complicated arrangements such as land swaps and shared control over holy sites.

In a television interview, Abbas said the Palestinians want to establish a state on 6,205 square kilometers of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It was the first time he has given a precise number for the amount of land he is seeking.

"We have 6,205 square kilometers in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip," Abbas told Palestine TV. "We want it as it is."

According to Palestinian negotiating documents obtained by The Associated Press, the Palestinian demands include all of the Gaza Strip, West Bank, east Jerusalem and small areas along the West Bank frontier that were considered no-man's land before the Six-Day War.

Abbas said his claim is backed by United Nations resolutions. "This is our vision for the Palestinian independent state with full sovereignty on its borders, water and resources."

Government spokeswoman Miri Eisin declined to comment, saying she did not want to prejudice negotiations. But the Palestinian demands appear to exceed anything that Israel would be willing to offer.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators held their first working meeting this week as they try to hammer out a joint declaration in time for next month's conference. The U.S. hopes the document will provide a launching ground for full-fledged negotiations on a final peace agreement.

Israel captured the territories in the Six-Day War and hopes in a final peace deal with the Palestinians to hold on to parts of the West Bank where settlement blocs are located. Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005.

Despite Abbas' tough public stance, aides to Abbas said he has agreed in recent talks with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to exchange West Bank land Israel wants to keep in a final peace deal with an equal amount of Israeli land. This would allow Israel to annex the West Bank area where the settlement blocs are located.

As part of the proposal, Abbas offered Olmert about 2 percent of the West Bank, the aides said. Olmert is seeking some 6-8 percent of the West Bank, but has said the exact amount of territory should be decided in future negotiations. The aides spoke on condition of anonymity since they were not authorized to discuss sensitive diplomatic matters with the media.

In exchange for the West Bank land, Israel is reportedly considering transferring to the Palestinians a strip of area between the Gaza Strip and West Bank to allow for a connection between them.

Abbas said the joint statement at the conference must deal with the main hurdles preventing a final peace agreement.

"The international conference must include the six major issues that are Jerusalem, refugees, borders, settlements, water and security," Abbas said.

5) Putin says Iran is not building a nuclear weapon.

We do not have data that says Iran is trying to produce nuclear weapons, Russian president says at news briefing with visiting French leader Nicolas Sarkozy. 'Therefore we proceed from a position that Iran has no such plans but we share the concern of our partners that all programs should be as transparent as possible,' he adds.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a news briefing with visiting French leader Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday that he has not seen any real evidence that Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon.

"We do not have data that says Iran is trying to produce nuclear weapons. We do not have such objective data," Putin says.

"Therefore we proceed from a position that Iran has no such plans but we share the concern of our partners that all programs should be as transparent as possible.

"We are sharing our partners' concern about making all Iranian programs transparent," Putin said.

"We agreed yesterday, and Mr. President confirmed it, that Iran is making certain steps toward international community to achieve that," he added.

Putin is to make his first visit to Iran early next week for a summit of Caspian Sea nations. Sarkozy said Putin's trip to Tehran could encourage Iran to be more cooperative.

"After the trip, there could be a will to cooperate - that is essential," he said.

Russia has opposed the US-push for tougher sanctions against Iran and called for more checks and inspections of Iranian facilities by an international nuclear watchdog.

"We have worked cooperatively with our partners at the United Nations Security Council, and we intend to continue such cooperative work in the future," Putin said.

6)Rescuing Olmert: It's hardly surprising that Dichter, who's familiar with rough interrogations, wants to save PM
By B. Michael

The prime minister's personal interrogation began this week. People with files were photographed Tuesday slipping through the gates of his home where they tried to determine whether they would leave with all the files in tact, or whether one or two would stick to Olmert as well.

Even prior to the launch of this investigation it brought to the surface one of the most foolish proposals ever made in Israeli politics. A proposal that – as it is well known - is replete with stupidity and blandness: Namely, to suspend the prime minister's investigation until the end of his term in office. "Similar to France," they added with universal knowledge, even though any kid that has ever read a newspaper knows all too well that France is undoubtedly a wonderful role model for bakery shops, but it is only barely a model for good governance.

The proposal has many patrons; one of them is a loyal and dedicated friend. The other is a loyal and dedicated appointee. The third is a loyal and dedicated enemy, and there are many other loyal and dedicated persons who were summoned to the rescue.

Among them was of course the minister of police (or by his official title, internal security minister) and former head of Shin Bet Avi Dichter. He too, the super-policeman, is proposing to offer the suspect a few more years of power, in which he can (if heaven forbid, there is a desire and a need) blur footprints, appoint useful appointees, build himself up from the waning memories of witnesses and carry out various other acts that any other person under investigation would have sold his soul to the devil for if only he too were allowed to do the same.

Minister Dichter of course drew a lot of fire from the opposition benches. They of course would like to see Olmert ousted from office as soon as possible. One of them, Knesset member Gilad Erdan, got so carried away in his anger, that he leveled the following at Avi Dichter:

"Dichter is better suited to command over police forces in dark regimes in a banana republic!"

Again and again my eyes scoured the words, and nonetheless, I was unable to understand why Knesset Member Gilad Erdan decided to give the details of Dichter's CV. Alternately, is it possible that Erdan is not quite familiar with the internal security minister's history? That he doesn't remember who the man is and where he came from? Oh, how embarrassing.

Squeal on everyone

Hence, it would be a good idea if one of Erdan's associates would politely take him aside and whisper in his ear that it wasn't by chance that he thought Dichter "was better suited to command over a police force in a dark regime in a banana republic."

He indeed filled such role. That's where he came from. Someone thought he was suitable. Although he didn't command a police force, but rather, the secret police. And no, it wasn't a republic, but rather, a military tyranny. And no, it wasn't bananas, but rather, olives. Yet the required skills are pretty similar.

On the other hand, thanks to Knesset Member Erdan, we can perhaps understand why Dichter was so perturbed and why he hurried to make his proposal: In his experienced mind's eye, he already envisioned the prime minister tied in a banana knot (a banana again…) to a wooden chair, his head buried in a stinking hood. Opposite him would be an Abu something or other, and he would be shaken profusely (of course only to extricate where the privatization ticking bomb is hidden).

In Dichter's imagination they hadn't let Olmert shut his eyes for hours. The investigators just completed detailing what they would do to members of his family. The toilet bowl is just a far-off dream. Approaching the door is Captain Abu-Truncheon, "the fear of those being interrogated." The suspect Olmert begins to "loosen his tongue": Yes he privatized the bank. Yes he founded an underground cell. Threw stones. Murdered Arlozorov. Gave uranium to Ahmadinejad. Yes, he will collaborate, he will squeal on everyone. He loves the Jews, just let them take Abu-Truncheon away.

These are after all the type of interrogations Avi Dichter is familiar with. Should we wonder why there are those who would want to rescue him from such a fate?