A different take than what you get from the Liberal press and media.
Because it generally fails whenever it undertakes an endeavor it is no wonder the public has little confidence in government solutions and/or programs.
Bias has also caused the public to become disaffected with and distrusting of the press and media.
Two important institutions no longer are respected. This is not a positive condition. (See 1 below.)
Idol worshipers. Another dangerous trend. Are the sappy going to impose on our nation a "Messiah." (See 2 below.)
I did not catch Al Gore on "60 Minutes" and maybe you did not either. This is a review of what one person thinks. Al seems on cloud 9 now - a polluted one at that! (See 3 below.)
With friends like Egypt, who needs enemies. (See 4 below.)
Uzi Landau understands clearly the pusillanimous message Olmert has embraced. (See 5 below.)
Peres refutes prospects of a Syrian War and Israel's Vice Premier believes Hezballah learned a valuable lesson in the Lebanese War. Yes, Uzi, that Israel was unprepared and incompetently led. (See 6 and 7 below.)
Daniel Pipes, contends Europeans may be at the tipping point with respect to embracing and/or pacifying Sharia and Muslims in their midst.
Have Europeans begun to come to their senses?(See 8 below.)
Dennis Ross, one of the best and most clear eyed diplomats we have, writes about Pakistan. He believes the strategy Petraeus, has used in Iraq might work in Pakistan, in terms of building alliances among the people. Ross is advisor to Obama and would make a great Secretary of State should Obama become president.
If Obama becomes president and is intelligent and "insecure" enough to surround himself with the very best and most rational advisors and Cabinet he might be able to overcome his inexperience assuming he will also listen. In this category, I am told, McCain has problems because he is headstrong and more likely to go with his instinct instead of advice.(See 9 below.)
Most charts I observe, regarding market sectors, appear unfavorable and with negative earning surprises likely I find it hard to believe the market has further upside.
Have a nice weekend.
Out of town til Wednesday.
1) In the Company of Heroes
By Kyle-Anne Shiver
"The foundation of all mental illness is the unwillingness to experience legitimate suffering."
- Carl Jung
Last weekend, I was profoundly privileged to be in the VFW Post in Nashville, Tennessee with a roomful of the some of the most intelligent, reasonable and sane human beings I have ever encountered. These men seemed to shun the term "hero."
Yet, what other word could possibly suffice?
From Hollywood's anti-war movies to the New York Times' pitiful anti-vet screeds, to the major networks' portrayals of whacked-out homeless vets to the Winter Soldiers , the American public is bombarded on a daily basis with the notion that suffering for a just cause is not only a needless expenditure of treasure, but a disgraceful evil that should never be borne by good people.
But anyone with a decent upbringing and a grain of common sense, who listens to representatives from Vets for Freedom and Vets for Victory, as I did last weekend, clearly knows that Carl Jung had it right. These hero vets of VFF and V4V know intimately and soundly, the difference between legitimate and illegitimate suffering.
These men, these genuine heroes, are the personification of sanity walking tall.
And having listened to these heroes explain with poise, eloquence and clarity the cause of our war against the forces of terror, I have never been more proud to call myself an American.
Nor have I ever felt such shame for the mainstream media's insane and childish portrayal of America to the rest of the world. Unfortunately, the mainstream media has the big megaphone and theirs is the voice the world hears.
Using the Smaller Megaphone, One Town at a Time
Making appearances in 19 American cities in less than a month, the National Heroes Tour, sponsored by the Vets for Freedom and the Vets for Victory, some of our bravest and finest men and women, all veterans of the Iraq and/or the Afghanistan Wars are using their smaller megaphone to reach the hearts and minds of our citizenry.
Their message is simple:
We are fighting for a noble cause and our suffering is both legitimate and worthy.
These men and women have completed their military missions abroad in the war on terror, but they well understand that no democracy can ever hope to win a war in the just cause of freedom and human rights, without gaining the will of her people in support of the mission.
Now these honorable vets sacrifice, once again, the comforts of hearth and home to traverse America, and educate us, the public, about the vital necessity of victory, not only for those of us alive now, but for our progeny.
They call us simply to do our duty for God and Country, and to not sacrifice the precious liberties we have inherited on the altars of our own sloth and pleasure.
Captain Pete Hegseth makes the choice as easy as pie.
Captain Pete Hegseth, the Executive Director of Vets for Freedom, is no John Wayne or George Patton. I never thought I'd live to see a man I thought was better than John and Capt. Pete HegsethGeorge, but I believe I have.
Pete Hegseth is not the older generation's type of female-worship hero. He's smooth, not rough. He's softer spoken and more calmly reasoned, rather than brash or erratic. But, wow -- does he ever walk boldly, and carry well the big stick of reason.
Hegseth, a graduate of Princeton, seems to be living proof of the fact that education is what one makes of it. As a Sophomore, Hegseth joined the ROTC, which upon his graduation, resulted in a contract for a tour of active duty. He served that first tour at Guantanamo.
When I asked him whether he thought we ought to close that detention center, he left no wiggle room in his forthright answer.
"We've got enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay now, that if released, want nothing more than to go kill Americans and to continue to fight for Jihad," he told me with nary a hint of equivocation. "There's no doubt that we need a facility to hold enemy combatants, and it should not be in the United States of America...so why not Guantanamo Bay?"
Captain Hegseth then added that making the decision about the exact location for holding detainees "is a bit above my pay-grade," but his answer, firmly grounded in the common sense of a man who has seen the cost of Jihad on civilian innocents, certainly seemed more than reasonable to me. And I can only hope that our politicians can be persuaded to see the issue as clearly.
When I asked Captain Hegseth about the mid-March Winter Soldier gathering in D.C., he used that prized Princeton degree to exhibit a bit of extraordinary critical thinking. Immediately, he pointed out the two most salient facts regarding malcontented vets using the big megaphone of the media:
One, those vets represent only a tiny, tiny minority of the more than 1.5 million U.S. veterans of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars.
Two, the major coverage of the Winter Soldier event was by international media outlets.
"Now what that does," Captain Hegseth says, "is give the entire world the impression that members of the United States military are going around committing atrocities against innocent civilians."
"So, you've got a kid in the Middle East," the Captain reasons, "trying to decide if he wants to join the terror Jihad...he sees this portrayal, is ignorant of the real facts, and decides to join the terrorists and go kill Americans."
Doesn't sound like rocket science to me.
Logically, the Captain continues to the just admonition to all of us:
"When making public statements about the war and our military, you've got to consider the unintended consequences of those statements."
And what would those "unintended consequences" naturally be?
"This material (defamatory statements) is used against us by our enemies. It's played on Al Jazeera. So, now these folks in Iran and Iraq and Libya and Syria, they're watching it (Winter Soldiers) on TV, and they're hearing talk of American soldiers killing innocent women and children, and they're saying, ‘let's go kill American soldiers.'"
Summing up, then, this may not be the conscious intention of the Winter Soldiers speaking out for the world, but it happens nevertheless.
And those Americans who end up dead as a result, are just as dead as if their deaths were absolutely intentional.
Steve Russell, the man who founded and heads up the organization, Veterans for Victory (V4V), would have my vote in a minute. Like General Petraeus, he exudes a calm and LtC (ret) Steve Russellreasoned intelligence and the kind of firmly formed moral character that leaves no room for doubters or naysayers.
Lieutenant Colonel (RET), Steve Russell, speaks; everyone within earshot listens and learns.
This man gives no quarter to verbal mincing, nor any room for equivocation.
When he speaks of our war against the forces of terror, he makes no bones about what is truly at stake. In the mold of President Ronald Reagan, he declares evenly and without emotion, "The battleground over what is good and what is evil has not changed since the beginning of time, and a people ought never be ashamed to stand up and fight for good against evil."
Left unsaid, but clearly felt by listeners, was the flip side. Those who refuse to "bear legitimate suffering" (Jung) in the cause of fighting evil, ought to be the ones who are ashamed.
As the commander of the brigade that was responsible for formulating and carrying out the plan that led to the capture of Iraq's dictator of death, LtC Russell tells it like it is:
"The day we captured Saddam Hussein was the proudest day of my life."
And from the mouth of this extraordinarily strong, yet humble man, husband and father of five children, one knows without doubt that this means something very substantial. Not just to the men and women who engineered the capture, and not only to the liberated peoples of Iraq, but to every American man, woman and child, who can know, that because of Steve Russell and his men, we each had a part in this historically significant step in the cause of liberty and human rights.
When I heard LtC Russell make this statement last weekend to a roomful of other veterans, my own heart swelled noticeably, and I was forced to ponder the sanity of those who, even in public, could question the ultimate rightness of this action by the American people.
LtC Russell has garnered the Bronze Star with Valor, and was nominated to receive this auspicious honor by his own men. After returning from Iraq, he turned down a promotion and war college appointment to found Veterans for Victory. He settled his family in Oklahoma and now takes to the road and the podium, still fighting the good fight for America, so that "the public opinion front won't be our exposed flank in the war on terror."
In the same vein as America's finest patriots, from our own revolutionary days tNational Heroes Touro this day and hour, these veterans proudly proclaim that liberty, our own and others', is worth the fight.
Worth the cost.
Worth their own lives.
Then surely, it's worth our own simple votes and voices from the safety of home.
2) Obama, the Pardoner, and his Tale
By Geoffrey P. Hunt
What are we to make of the extraordinary fervor of some of the supporters of Barack Obama? Stumbling upon a website called Is Barack Obama the Messiah? that chronicles the worship of Barack Obama as the second coming, I actually did a cartoon double take. The art work assembled there is stunning. Some is the stuff of Monty Python or Saturday Night Live, except that it is serious, it would seem.
Some of it is perhaps a result of what might be called educated stupidity. Orwell remarked on a separate issue,
"One would have to be a member of the intelligentsia to believe such things...no ordinary man could be such a fool."
There is also an element of the teenage infatuation obvious to anybody who remembers how Ed Sullivan was swept off his own stage by The Beatles.
But Obama as Messiah does have an authentic following among the gullible chattering class. Obama BelieveLeading the genuflecting MSM elites is Hardball's Chris Matthews, now reduced to a pathetic and grotesque perpetual adoration.
Conversions often are accompanied by compelling witness, but not in Matthews' case. It was only a few months ago, as a Clinton shrill just before a string of inconvenient Obama victories, Matthews kept badgering a Texas State Senator, "What has Obama ever accomplished?" It's still a good question, not yet been answered, but suddenly is no longer important. While Matthews is but a parody of an earnest star-struck co-op student would-be investigative journalist, he often resembles the medieval herald-jester, calculating the political winds before delivering an entreaty, a roast or a riddle.
This sort of thing is nothing new. In fact, in some of foundational literature of the English Language, the character type of Matthews is depicted among the commoners in Chaucer's time, totally captivated by the eloquent speechifying of professional frauds, the pardoners, the most entrepreneurial of itinerant relic-hawkers.
While The Wife of Bath's Tale and The Miller's Tale are full of ribald humor, The Pardoner's Tale has that searing sarcasm so close to the truth that the Pardoner shakes off any embarrassment to boldly promote his own sleight-of-hand oratorical gymnastics. But at the same time Chaucer excoriates the sinners-willing victims of another scam-as they knowingly look past the forgeries and the hyperbole, easily parting with their silver and their self-respect, desperate for salvation but satisfied by entertainment value alone.
And by his flatteries and prevarication
Made monkeys of the priest and congregation
But still to do him justice first and last
In church he was a noble ecclesiast.
How well he read a lesson or told a story!
But best of all he sang an Offertory,
For well knew that when that song was sung
He'd have to preach and tune his honey-tongue
And (well he could) win silver from the crowd.
That's why he sang so merrily and loud.
From the General Prologue, The Canterbury Tales, Translation Neville Coghill, 1951
It is the modern day commoners -- Obama apologists, sponsors and supporters -- who are willing to overlook Obama's disingenuous character, willing to embrace his phony Obama feverexhortations for unity and willing to underwrite his distortions, half-truths and outright fabrications. These are the enablers for Obama, the Pardoner. Obama the Pardoner sells his own 21st century brand of indulgences, promising equal outcomes, harmony with all people economic redistribution and perhaps the most profound blessing -- absolving white man’s guilt by placing a black man in the White House -- in exchange for a credit card authorization and a primary vote.
Much literary analysis of The Pardoner's Tale has been devoted to the cognitive dissonance of a prototypical pardoner's audience, willing dupes sincerely believing in a transcendent deliverer knowing the warrant is false and the relics just another bag of pig knuckles. Equally compelling is the study of the Pardoner as moral arbiter among the compromised. The Pardoner, imprisoned by his own hypocrisy, knowing that his penitents are fully aware of his deceptions, nonetheless takes the high ground because for the moment at least he is smarter than anyone around him,. After all, it's only his wallet that gets fatter:
If there be one among you that is willing
To have my absolution for a shilling
Devoutly given come! And do not harden
Your hearts but kneel in humbleness for pardon;
Or else, receive my pardon as we go.You can renew it every town or so
Always provided that you still renew
Each time, and in good money, what is due.
It is an honour to you to have found
A pardoner with his credentials sound
Who can absolve you as you ply the spur
In any accident that may occur
From The Pardoner's Tale, The Canterbury Tales,Translation Neville Coghill, 1951
Chaucer's pilgrims reach their moment of truth at the end of The Pardoner's Tale when the Pardoner beckons the innkeeper to be the "first to pay and kiss my holy relics right away... Come on, unbuckle your purse." The innkeeper will have none of it: "not I" replies the Host, "and may the curse of Christ descend upon me if I do."
The Rev Jeremiah Wright's unrepentant blasphemy and hate-filled racism is real enough. Obama would like us to believe it is nothing more than a see-through bag of fake relics and forged papal bulls. Obama's calculated cynicsm and patronizing disrespect of even his most fervent believers when he says Rev Wright has been falsely caricatured would make even the Pardoner gasp. How many Democrats will take a cue from Chaucer's Host to declare, "Enough!"
3) Al Gore's Global Warming Therapy
By Marc Sheppard
On the surface, Sunday's 60 Minutes puff piece did little more than cheer the pending roll out of Al Gore's all-out 300 million dollar green media blitz. But on a deeper level, it also provided disturbing new insight into just what drives this man's unwavering and unfounded obsession.
Having dispensed with her CBS-requisite softball questions and genuflection to Mr. and Mrs. ex-vice-president, interviewer Leslie Stahl soon steered the conversation to an obviously painful topic. Gore appeared rather surprised when asked whether he had gone through "the seven stages of anger and grief" after he "lost the presidency when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of George Bush."
Failing to parry the dogged insistence that he must have felt anger, fury and rage, Al hesitantly admitted that he "strongly disagreed with the [court's] decision," and yeah, he "probably went through all that."
And although both Gores appeared somewhat unsettled by the topic, Stahl's voice over pushed even deeper:
"His friends said they were worried about him and his state of mind, especially after he gained a lot of weight and grew a beard."
If you'll pardon the lay pop-psychology, it sounded as though Al may have had some coping issues to iron out. So then -- just what brought the self-proclaimed once "next president of the United States" out of his dark funk?
According to wife Tipper, "Al's survival after his defeat in 2000 depended on his immersing himself in the climate cause." [emphasis added] Somehow, CBS didn't find this peculiar statement worthy of further exploration. I do -- as it may suggest that the "PR Agent for the Planet" became so in an effort to lift himself from the throes of depression.
More from Tipper:
"I mean, I think that if you look at anyone who kind of went through what, what he went through and see what he's been able to do. I'm just really proud of the way that he has not given up. That he lifted himself and our family, you know, back up as well."
Of course, he did so "by turning his old slides that were gathering dust in the basement into that mega-hit documentary."
The same "mega-hit documentary" that became the quintessential bible of the Big Green Scare Machine's Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) cause, despite having the majority of its claims either disputed or outright disproved. And, on the subject of those who dare question the anthropogenic contribution to global warming, Al Gore told Stahl:
"I think that those people are in such a tiny, tiny minority now with their point of view. They're almost like the ones who still believe that the moon landing was staged in a movie lot in Arizona and those who believe the earth is flat. That demeans them a little bit, but it's not that far off,"
About this, Gore may have mistaken one group as two. In reality, the nutty International Flat Earth Research Society did challenge pictures of the obviously spherical Earth taken from the moon. Toward that end, they concocted this wild story that the Apollo moon landing had been "faked in Hollywood studios" and that science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke (who recently died and will be greatly missed) had written the script.
But referring to the thousands of scientists questioning AGW as a "tiny, tiny minority" while comparing them to a truly diminutive group of space-cadets who believe we live upon a disk-shaped planet is, itself, a bit nutty.
As is traveling the globe -- 60 Minutes featured him in India -- training others to "spread the word" by continuing to present his error-filled slide show to others still. In fact, watching this arrogant cult-like geometric indoctrination method eerily brings to mind the "auditing" techniques the Church of Scientology employs in spreading its own brand of fantastic dogma.
In essence, then, we're dealing with a psyche that blamed at least Republicans and perhaps the world for having suffered the humiliation of a perceived power theft. While friends and family fretted over his response to that blow, he retreated to his basement to prove his mettle by resuscitating a lightly sleeping obsession. And when he reemerged, he did so reinvented -- as a self-appointed savior of the planet armed with little more than an unsubstantiated PowerPoint presentation and an accordingly unreasonable mission.
A 1604 novel by Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes told of another man who descended into fantastic delusions of grandeur as a victim of his own frustrated obsessions. Enraptured by tales of chivalry, Alonso Quixano fancied himself a knight errant and, sporting an old suit of armor, dubbed himself "Don Quixote de la Mancha" before embarking on an imaginary mission to save the downtrodden.
But while Quixote's delusions were mostly benign, Don Gore de la Tierra's are not. The "word" his misguided mission spreads has facilitated policies of potential calamity far exceeding the actual problem their implementation is meant to remedy. From economy starving Kyoto-style cap-and-trade treaties to population starving ethanol mandates, unintended consequences invariably turn such quixotic green solutions into sheer disaster.
Time and time again.
In one famous Cervantes scene, the delusional warrior encounters a group of windmills and mistakes them for "hulking giants," which he proceeds to do battle with. Of course, Gore sees industry and capitalism as his imaginary adversaries and windmills not as the problem but rather one of many needless solutions.
But his mission to engage the "hulking giant" which is the planet's chaotic climate system leaves little doubt which character is the more delusional.
And, needless to say -- the scope and communicable nature of such fantasy make him infinitely more dangerous.
4)Israeli defense officials: Egypt probably allowed trained terrorists to enter Gaza through Rafa crossing
Less than 24 hours after defense officials warned that terrorists might have
crossed through Rafah, Givati Brigade soldiers killed three armed
Palestinians in Khan Yunis on Thursday.
Troops have been operating in the central Gaza Strip since Wednesday night,
conducting sweeps for weapons.
According to the IDF, the soldiers encountered the gunmen during the
operations and opened fire.
In the West Bank, IDF troops arrested six Palestinian terror suspects in
operations overnight Wednesday. The detainees were transferred for security
Earlier Wednesday, senior defense officials warned that Palestinian
terrorists could have used Egypt's opening of the Rafah crossing on Tuesday
as an opportunity to cross back into Gaza after undergoing terror training
Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah terminal on Egypt-Gaza border for a
single day to, they said, allow some 350 Egyptians stuck in Gaza Strip for
the past two months to return home.
According Egyptian officials, the stranded Egyptians crossed into Gaza when
Hamas blew up parts of the border wall in January, letting hundreds of
thousands of Palestinians cross into Egypt to shop for food and commodities
before the barrier was resealed. In addition to the Egyptians, Palestinian
trucks and vehicles were allowed to return to Gaza, the Egyptian official
Israeli defense officials said that since the border was resealed, Egypt has
allowed a "trickle" of people to cross through Rafah on a weekly basis. They
said it was likely that the trickle included terrorists who were leaving for
training or returning.
"It is likely that there are terrorists who are using the opening as an
opportunity to travel abroad or to return to Gaza," a defense official said.
"They are probably returning not empty-handed, but with money and maybe even
At the same time, defense officials acknowledged a recent increase in
Egyptian efforts to stop the smuggling of weapons into Gaza via tunnels
under the Philadelphi Corridor. In April, new US-made tunnel detection
systems are scheduled to be deployed along the Philadelphi Corridor and to
be used by the Egyptian forces to locate and destroy the tunnels.
On Wednesday, an Egyptian security official claimed that forces had found a
tunnel just a few meters away from the Egypt-Gaza border. The official said
that the tunnel appeared to have been used to smuggle weapons and contraband
between Egypt and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
The IDF has been highly critical of Egypt over the past year due to Israeli
claims that Cairo was not doing enough to stop the smuggling across the
Philadelphi Corridor, along which it had deployed 750 policemen following
Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in the summer of 2005.
According to a senior defense official, Egypt began significantly increasing
its efforts to stop the smuggling from Gaza following the firing of
Grad-model Katyusha rockets into Ashkelon last month.
5)Uzi Landau warns fortification efforts carry destructive message suggesting Israel will stand for citizens living under fire
I was on a solidarity trip to Sderot and the Gaza vicinity communities, when
in one of the Qassam ridden kibbutzim I met Assaf - a local resident and a
father of four. Two of his daughters, he said, were currently serving in the
IDF, so when the Color Red alert sounds, he knows they are safe.
He listens to hear where the sounds of the exploding Qassam rockets come
from - that way he knows which of his sons in the kibbutz to call and check
The homes in his kibbutz are not fortified and he would like to see them be
made so, at least for time being. He would rather see the problem solved in
a different way, but that - he knows - is up to the politicians. For now -
and as long as the rockets keep falling - they should have their homes
Onwards we go, to the Black Arrow Monument, dedicated to the heroic acts of
the paratroopers in the 1950s; dedicated even more to the proactive policy
dictated by David Ben Gurion for the young, nearly borderless, Israel, with
its flaccid population and its barely existing army. The best defense is a
good offence, the land must be processed to an inch of the border and we
will not tolerate any attacks on Jews.
The determined Israel did not stand for any kind of attack on its citizens
knew one thing for sure - it is not shelters that will protect Israeli
citizens, but rather the fierce, all-out war against terror.
Looking down from the Nabia Meri Observation Point, with Gaza, Beit Lahiya
and Beit Hanoun laid out below us, we saw the smoking tails of two rockets
making their way to Israel. One landed on their side. The other disappeared
in the skies. Later we learned it landed in a kindergarten in one of the
kibbutzim in Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council.
I can understand Assaf. The State has to provide him and his family with
basic security; and if it can't - it must supply them with the proper
fortification. But no sensible person can comprehend the gap between young
Israel's aggressive policy and the weakness demonstrated by the strong,
well-established Israel, 60 years later.
The truth, as big a paradox as it may sound to Assaf and his counterparts,
is clear: A policy calling for fortification poses a risk for Israel's
safety. With the exception of strategic facilities the likes of hospitals
and schools, townships should not be fortified.
Fortification carries a destructive message, suggesting Israel is willing to
stand for its citizens to be living under fire, cementing in world view a
reality legitimizing terror organizations targeting civilians as a starting
point for any negotiation.
Wanted: A conclusive end
We've brought this predicament on ourselves. From the moment we allowed
populated area to be hit without launching an immediate response, making it
abundantly clear we will not stand for it, the following has happened: Our
enemies have concluded hurting Jews is allowed; our friends - and naturally
our foes - around the world have come to the same conclusion; and worst of
all - so have we.
Our own failure to respond has made us accustomed to the targeting of
civilian populations, especially away from Tel Aviv. What other way is there
to explain our measly response to the hundreds of Qassam rockets fired on
the Gaza vicinity communities in the two-and-a-half years since the Gaza
Ariel Sharon made them a dramatic promise at the time: If even one rocket is
fired, he said, Gaza will tremble and the world will understand. The only
thing trembling so far, are kindergarten walls.
Olmert was right. We cannot fortify ourselves senseless. But he cannot
reiterate that without providing kindergarten children with the proper
defense and for the kindergarten walls to stop trembling he cannot avoid the
decision to enter Gaza. Not because we want to, but because we have no other
choice. We learned that lesson six years ago, when Operation Defensive
Shield was forces on us, after months of upholding a "strength in restraint"
policy and dozens of bloody terror attacks.
The terror ceased only when we raided its hubs in Jenin and Nablus. The only
reason it is still emanating form Gaza is that we were hesitant to go in;
and the more hesitant we are, the more resolved Hamas and Hizbullah get.
They see Sderot as a test-case and unless crushed there, the next war will
see the tens of thousands of missiles they have - and the thousands more
they will undoubtedly get - launched at our larger cities right off the bat.
But a mass offence is not enough. Thing must have a conclusive end. Our
response must be so disproportional the enemy would realize it's just not
worth the effort. A conclusive end is a must simply because anyone firing on
Sderot and Ashkelon already knows Ashdod, Rishon Lezion and Tel Aviv are
Our victory in the Gaza Strip must be overwhelming not only for Assaf and
his neighbors, for the grocers in Sderot, or for the Dichter family in
They must be defeated so that kindergarten walls in Tel Aviv will never
6) Peres denies escalation with Syria
"We have no intention at all of attacking Syria - Israel is not looking to go to war, and I hear that Syria says the same," said President Shimon Peres Thursday, "but there are some sources who have interests in heating up the [northern border] area."
The president, speaking whilst on a visit in Arad, stated that in his estimation, the sensation of the eve of a war in the north is a sensation only, and it will pass soon.
Also responding to security forces state of high alert along the northern border, Deputy Prime Minster Haim Ramon said Thursday morning that "Israel has no intention of attacking Syria.
Speaking to Israel Radio, he added that "the anxiety of the last few days is surprising, and has no basis."
"Whilst the government is always looking to negotiate with Syria," said Ramon, "unfortunately Syria is stuck deep in the evil axis of connections with Hizbullah."
Also Thursday, Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security Bureau head Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, confirmed that despite reports of Syrian reserves being called up, the northern front is not facing a new eruption of war.
"Syria isn't interested in attacking Israel, and vice versa," he said.
Gilad added that "the overseas publication of the fact that three Syrian divisions were called up is incorrect."
7) Ramon: No retaliation for Mugniyah due to Lebanon war
By Roni Safer
Vice premier states Hizbullah wary of avenging assassination of its commander Imad Mugniyah because of Israel’s unpredictable actions during the Second Lebanon War
The war made all the difference. Vice Premier Haim Ramon said Thursday during a meeting with prominent Tel Aviv executives that “Hizbullah is wary of avenging the assassination of its commander Imad Mugniyah because they discovered during the Second Lebanon War that they cannot predict Israel’s response to their actions.”
Revenge for Mugniyah could ignite conflict in north / Ron Ben-Yishai
Expecting retaliatory attack by Hizbullah for Imad Mugniyah's killing, regional players – including Israel, Iran and Syria – boost preparations for possible military confrontation on Israeli-Lebanese border
In addressing the looming "cold escalation" on Israel’s northern front, Ramon noted that “Israel’s ability to negotiate with Syria is very limited, if at all existent, at the moment. It is very difficult to withdraw Syria from the axis of extremism, because the Golan Heights are not sufficient incentive for Syria to sacrifice its alliance with Iran and the control that it harbors over Lebanon.”
“The (Golan) Heights are not a sufficient prize for Syria at the moment,” noted the vice premier. “Damascus has made a strategic choice and would much rather preserve its alliance with Hizbullah and with Iran than make peace with Israel. Syria and Iran share a very close political bond and not only at the regional level.”
Ramon also spoke of the peace process with the Palestinians, and stated that “Israel is running out of time in respect to the Palestinian problem. If we do not resolve this conflict soon—preferably via a two-state solution—then Israel will find itself struggling to preserve its legitimacy as a Jewish, democratic state during the next decade. We do not have much time left to reach a peace accord with the Palestinians.”
Accord approved by the citizenry
The vice premier maintained that he was “privy to public concerns that there is no real Palestinian leadership at the moment that can take charge at a grassroots level.” “For that reason,” maintained Ramon,” “ it in unwise to take any action at ground level vis-a-vie the Palestinians at the moment.”
Ramon noted that “Israel must first forge an outline for future negotiations by means of a declaration of principles, and only then sign a full-fledged peace accord once proper security provisions are put in place. If Israel does sign a declaration of principles, the state must also hold elections so that its citizens can approve this declaration and elect the political party that they deem most fit to spearhead negotiations with the Palestinians.”
Referring to the Evacuation-Compensation Law, Ramon stated that the State of Israel must compensate those settlers living west of the security fence and wish to move into Israeli territory. “Implementing this law will clearly indicate that we are fighting for those 8%-10% of settlers that live westward of the security fence and whom we want to return to Israeli sovereignty.
The vice premier also addressed the Palestinian refugee problem and noted that the right of return for Palestinian refugees would relate only to a future Palestinian state.
8) Will Europe Resist Islamization?
by Daniel Pipes
Some analysts of Islam in Western Europe argue that the continent cannot escape its Eurabian fate; that the trend lines of the past half-century will continue until Muslims become a majority population and Islamic law (the Shari‘a) reigns.
I disagree, arguing that there is another route the continent might take, one of resistance to Islamification and a reassertion of traditional ways. Indigenous Europeans – who make up 95 percent of the population – can insist on their historic customs and mores. Were they to do so, nothing would be in their way and no one could stop them.
Indeed, Europeans are visibly showing signs of impatience with creeping Shari‘a. The legislation in France that prohibits hijabs from public school classrooms signals the reluctance to accept Islamic ways, as are related efforts to ban burqas, mosques, and minarets. Throughout Western Europe, anti-immigrant parties are generally increasing in popularity.
That resistance took a new turn last week, with two dramatic events. First, on March 22, Pope Benedict XVI himself baptized, confirmed, and gave the Eucharist to Magdi Allam, 56, a prominent Egyptian-born Muslim long living in Italy, where he is a top editor at the Corriere della Sera newspaper and a well-known author. Allam took the middle name Cristiano. The ceremony converting him to the Catholic religion could not have been higher profile, occurring at a nighttime service at St. Peter's Basilica on the eve of Easter Sunday, with exhaustive coverage from the Vatican and many other television stations.
Allam followed up his conversion with a stinging statement in which he argued that beyond "the phenomenon of Islamic extremism and terrorism that has appeared on a global level, the root of evil is inherent in an Islam that is physiologically violent and historically conflictive." In other words, the problem is not just Islamism but Islam itself. One commentator, "Spengler" of Asia Times, goes so far as to say that Allam "presents an existential threat to Muslim life" because he "agrees with his former co-religionists in repudiating the degraded culture of the modern West, and offers them something quite different: a religion founded upon love."
Second, on March 27, Geert Wilders, 44, released his long-awaited, 15-minute film, Fitna, which consists of some of the most bellicose verses of the Koran, followed by actions in accord with those verses carried out by Islamists in recent years. The obvious implication is that Islamists are simply acting in accord with their scriptures. In Allam's words, Wilders also argues that "the root of evil is inherent" in Islam.
Unlike Allam and Wilders, I do distinguish between Islam and Islamism, but I believe it imperative that their ideas get a fair hearing, without vituperation or punishment. An honest debate over Islam must take place.
If Allam's conversion was a surprise and Wilders' film had a three-month run-up, in both cases, the aggressive, violent reactions that met prior criticisms of Islam did not take place. According to the Los Angeles Times, the Dutch police contacted imams to gauge reactions at the city's mosques and found, according to police spokesman Arnold Aben, "it's quieter than usual here today. Sort of like a holiday." In Pakistan, a rally against the film attracted only some dozens of protestors.
This relatively constrained reaction points to the fact that Muslim threats sufficed to enforce censorship. Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende denounced Fitna and, after 3.6 million visitors had viewed it on the British website LiveLeak.com, the company announced that "Following threats to our staff of a very serious nature, … Liveleak has been left with no other choice but to remove Fitna from our servers." (Two days later, however, LiveLeak again posted the film.)
Three similarities bear noting: both Allam (author of a book titled Viva Israele) and Wilders (whose film emphasizes Muslim violence against Jews) stand up for Israel and the Jews; Muslim threats against their lives have forced both for years to live under state-provided round-the-clock police protection; and, more profoundly, the two share a passion for European civilization.
Indeed, Allam and Wilders may represent the vanguard of a Christian/liberal reassertion of European values. It is too soon to predict, but these staunch individuals could provide a crucial boost for those intent on maintaining the continent's historic identity.
9) The New Republic: The Pakistan Paradox
by Dennis Ross
President Musharraf and his U.S.-supported anti-terror policies have been roundly rejected by Pakistanis. How can U.S. diplomats get on the right side of history--and ramp up our assault on Al Qaeda?
On the day that Pakistan saw a new prime minister sworn into office, one of Pakistan's leading newspapers, The News, led with the headline, "Hands Off Please, Uncle Sam." The article was a response to the arrival of two senior American envoys, Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and Assistant Secretary Richard Boucher. They were hoping to foster ties to a new government, true, but their more immediate mission was to convince the new prime minister to preserve President Pervez Musharraf's policies of partnering with the U.S. in the war on terror.
One can hardly blame the Bush Administration for being concerned about developments in Pakistan. It is a nuclear-armed country; it is the front in the war on terror; it will largely determine the fate of Afghanistan, particularly as the Taliban has been able to recoup by operating with relative ease across its border; segments of its intelligence and security services have Islamist sympathies; and the leaders who have emerged from the elections, Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, have made it clear that they intend to deal with terror by talking to extremist groups in the tribal border areas, while also opposing American bombing in those areas.
In the last several months, we have seen that President Musharraf has lost the vast majority of the Pakistani public. His declaration of emergency law and disbanding of the Pakistani Supreme Court last fall was the last straw for a public that had already grown disillusioned with Musharraf's effort to hold onto power regardless of the costs to the country. The parliamentary elections in February became a referendum on his rule--and he lost unmistakably. The Bush Administration and the president personally have been seen by Pakistanis, fairly or not, as being more committed to Musharraf than to Pakistan and the rule of law.
To make matters worse, Pakistanis increasingly believe that they are paying the price for our war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Pakistanis are interpreting the increasing terror attacks in the country as a direct response to the recent uptick in our bombing of Al Qaeda targets in the border areas. All of this means that a negative reaction to the arrival of senior U.S. envoys should not have been unexpected. Pakistanis believe that they are carrying out a democratic coup, sweeping away the illegitimate underpinnings of the Musharraf presidency, and are not about to take kindly to American efforts to shore up Musharraf or preserve his policies.
They want change--not just with Musharraf himself, but also with his policies for dealing with terror. The question for the U.S. is whether we can live with the change, and at the same time, manage it so that Al Qaeda and the Taliban not only don't benefit, but also lose their sanctuary in Pakistan.
The irony of the Pakistan election is that Musharraf was not the only big loser. So were the religious parties that had dominated the Frontier Province over the last five years. The religious parties were among the most conservative in Pakistan and unmistakably sympathetic to Islamist forces. Rather than opposing Al Qaeda and the Taliban, they seemed emotionally connected to them. Musharraf often appeared to act with the sensibilities of these parties in mind.
Hence another irony: Musharraf, our partner in the war on terror, was not so energetic in going after Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the border areas. On the contrary, he and his intelligence services seemed to turn a blind eye to the Taliban's reconstituting itself, as it recruited new members and planned attacks into Afghanistan from across the border in Pakistan. Repeatedly, Afghani President Hamid Karzai complained of Pakistani complicity with the Taliban along the border. Increasingly, U.S. officials over the last several years have gone to Pakistan to push Musharraf to do more to root out the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
Last year, the U.S. intelligence community concluded that Al Qaeda had largely recovered its strength in no small part because it was able to operate much more freely in the Waziristan region of Pakistan. A 2006 deal Musharraf had struck with the tribes in North and South Waziristan backfired and contributed to the strengthening of both Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
One more irony: The big winner in the elections in the tribal areas was the Awami National Party (A.N.P.), which has long accused Musharraf and the Pakistani intelligence services of duplicity in its dealings with Islamist groups. The A.N.P. opposes talks with Al Qaeda and foreign militants because, as Afrasiab Khattak, the secretary general of the A.N.P., has said, "We don't have a common language with them." But the party does favor an approach that emphasizes dialogue with the local tribes, economic development and assistance to the area, and the use of the police rather than the military (except in limited circumstances) to bring peace to the provinces. If anything, Nawaz Sharif has been more outspoken about how to deal with terror, calling for talking rather than the use of force.
With these not entirely favorable conditions in mind, how should the U.S. proceed? Deputy Secretary Negroponte was no doubt right when he said before leaving Karachi last week that "Security measures are obviously necessary when one is dealing with irreconcilable elements who want to destroy our very way of life. I don't know see how you can talk with those kinds of people."
But what about the model we have now been using in Anbar province in Iraq? The Sunnis in the "Sons of Iraq" and the "Awakening Councils" have become our partner in fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq. Al Qaeda produced a backlash among the Sunnis and we have seen the benefit of supporting these groups. Is it possible to cultivate a similar realignment in Pakistan? Could the A.N.P. approach be one that we should support in a similar fashion?
One thing is for sure: There has been a change in Pakistan, and it is being driven by those who are emphasizing democratic processes and the rule of law. We should be on the right side of this. What's more, we have little choice. Pakistanis are moving in a direction that we cannot stop but should try to channel. That is common sense and good statecraft.
But as the Pakistanis make their decisions, they should also know that we have interests and stakes and will not be indifferent to what they do. Surely, for their own interests, they don't want those who employ terror and who are responsible for killing Benazir Bhutto to further entrench themselves. Separating the tribal groups from Al Qaeda and the Taliban is a strategy that could work if orchestrated effectively.
To be sure, the new Pakistani leadership might be tempted to cut a deal with Al Qaeda and the Taliban that would see them stop their attacks in Pakistan by permitting them to operate and plan attacks at our expense. We need to prevent that, and we probably can, if we are clear about our interests and needs. We should say that we will help provide financial and other means for their new strategy, assuming it is transparent. We should also repeat what Senator Barack Obama said last summer: If we get actionable intelligence about terror acts being prepared in these provinces of Pakistan and the Pakistanis won't act, we will.
Statecraft involves conditioning attitudes in private even with those who we hope will be our partners. Making clear we will respect Pakistani interests and needs is one part of statecraft; so is making sure there are no illusions about our interests.