Monday, June 30, 2008

Bill Gross' Prescription to Obama - Spend!

Obama once said words do matter and Paul Greenberg reminds him that knowledge of history also matters.

It would appear Obama is still psychologically challenged with past "haints" from his youth. Most who seek the power of the president are suspect in my own mind. Obama, perhaps more than most(See 1 and 2 below.)

Bill Gross, the bond guru, in an open letter to Obama suggested, should Obama become president, he raise the anticipated deficit to $1 trillion. In other words add another $500MM in order to stimulate beyond the current fiscal drag. Gross noted this make Obama vulnerable to political charges of profligacy. Nowhere does anyone suggest a curb on bloated spending because doing so is seen as possibly reinforcing the recession, I believe, we are soon to be in - so spend yourself out of a decline seems the path most likely to be taken. Of course the consequences of all of this, as Gross recognizes, is a weaker dollar and more inflation.

Spending your way out of trouble, of course, can result in lender demands making it more difficult and costly to raise money at lower interest rates. But that is tomorrow's worry and economic triage often dictates economic policy.

With interest rates rather low relative to inflation the government, I would think, would be wise to borrow now and replace existing higher interest debt thus reducing borrowing costs but speculating in the government bond market is not something most Treasury Secretaries ever consider.

Time and sensible policies are the best ally to cure our current economic ills but politicians cannot be seen as failing to respond to frantic demands for fear of being termed Hooverites so they will eventually do something akin to Gross' suggestion and ameliorate the near term making the longer term problems we face more intractable.

One thing for sure our standard of living is going to suffer more than it has.

As I have said before, a nation's people experiencing wrenching declines in their economic fortunes, prospects and their standard of living sinking are increasingly vulnerable to poor advice, wrongheaded responses. During an election year it becomes even probable as they may embrace candidates with hopeful but empty feel good messages and particularly when the opposition is not overly exciting and seemingly incapable of countering with an equally stylized, glitzy campaign.

Quite a sad situation we find ourselves in and then there is Afghanistan, Pakistan, N Korea, Iran and Islamic Fascism and assorted terrorists and once again the pressure to paste something together, for appearance sake, can drive a lame duck president to make additional poor policy choices. I submit sending food to N Korea, because they destroyed an old nuclear facility, is one in view of their continued tactics of delay and obfuscation. Unless N Korea comes clean we should not come with laden hands.

Political appearances undercut playing hard ball. Biting the bullet is always politically unappealing and with time growing short even more so. Thus,I suspect, GW may well default regarding Iran and toss the ball to Israel.

Comment from Marshall Goldman as he returned to Boston. (See 2 below.)

More comic opera from Olmert? (See 3 below.)

More factors driving Israel's decision making process vis a vis a possible attack on Iran and ABC report denied by our State Department (See 4 and 4a below.)

Is the UN ducking and weaving again regarding Hezballah build-up? (See 5 below.)


1)From Dreams of My Father: 'I ceased to advertise my mother's race at the age of 12 or 13, when I began to suspect that by doing so I was ingratiating myself to whites.'

From Dreams of My Father : 'I found a solace in nursing a pervasive sense of grievance and animosity against my mother's race.'

From Dreams of My Father: 'There was something about him that made me wary, a little too sure of himself, maybe. And white.'

From Dreams of My Father: 'It remained necessary to prove which side you were on, to show your loyalty to the black masses, to strike out and name names.'

From Dreams of My Father: 'I never emulate white men and brown men whose fates didn't speak to my own. It was into my father's image, the black man, son of Africa , that I'd packed all the attributes I sought in myself , the attributes of Martin and Malcolm, DuBois and Mandela.'

And FINALLY the Most Damming one of ALL of them!!!

From Audacity of Hope: 'I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.'

2) A President who is history deficient?
By Paul Greenberg

Barack Obama now has cited the Nuremberg trials after the Second World War as a model of the way Osama bin Laden should be tried in the (unlikely) event he's ever taken alive. He recommends Nuremberg as an example to follow because, he says, those trials embodied universal legal principles.

The Nuremberg trials a model of international law? Those stone-faced judges in Red Army uniforms peering down from the bench at Nuremberg, shoulder boards in place and guilty verdicts at the ready, must have been there as representatives of Comrade Stalin's well-known devotion to universally accepted legal principles.

This is not to say that the judges at Nuremberg couldn't demonstrate exquisite tact. For example, not a one noted the Soviets' responsibility for the Katyn Massacre, a war crime none dared accuse them of at the time.

In 1946, the Soviets were still Our Fighting Russian Allies. And so the mass execution of the Polish army's officer corps in the Katyn forest was pinned on the Nazis, who were conveniently at hand. What would one more war crime matter in a record already so monstrous?

Nor did any of the judges at Nuremberg make much of the infamous Nazi-Soviet Pact that precipitated the whole, bloody cataclysm that was the Second World War. That alliance between fellow dictators was simply tossed down the memory hole. It became a non-event.

At Nuremberg, the Soviet Union was invited to sit in judgment of its old partner in aggression — on a charge of waging aggressive war. To wit, the war of aggression that the Soviet Union joined with Nazi Germany to ignite in September of 1939. Barack Obama would have been on sounder ground if he had cited the proceedings at Nuremberg not as an example of justice but irony.

You have to wonder if anybody remembers any history any more. Barack Obama doesn't seem to. The unthinking simply assume, as Sen. Obama does, that Nuremberg was some kind of model of justice. Hey, the Nazi leaders were hanged, weren't they?

In the long tradition of politicized law, Nuremberg was as clear an example of victor's justice as any other show trial. Sen. Obama, however, seems to think it a dandy precedent. Mainly because of its propaganda value: He argues that a Nuremberg-style trial of Osama bin Laden would demonstrate the evil nature of our enemy to the whole world. The proceedings at Nuremberg did indeed preserve the outward forms of justice — while sacrificing its essence. The universal principle that Nuremberg represented was propaganda.

It would take someone who cared more about principle than popularity to point out that, whatever Nuremberg was, it wasn't an exercise in ideal justice. Someone like the late Robert A. Taft, who had a way of offending popular opinion for no better reason than adherence to principle.

In 1946, as he prepared to run for president yet again, Sen. Taft was invited to give a talk at little Kenyon College in Ohio. He used the occasion to say the obvious — that the court assembled at Nuremberg was anything but an exercise in universally accepted principles of law. "The trial of the vanquished by the victors," he warned, "cannot be impartial no matter how it is hedged about with the forms of justice."

Robert A. Taft was promptly rewarded for his honesty by being branded a Nazi sympathizer by his critics — on both sides of the aisle. Yet his warning against staging a trial to make a political point still holds. Or it would if anyone remembered it.

Instead, Nuremberg is now cited as an example to emulate by a presidential candidate who, whatever his faults, has demonstrated an almost unfailing ability to please the crowd.

It may be justified to take vengeance for the unspeakable wrongs inflicted on the world's innocents, but to do so under color of law isn't.

Given my druthers, I'd rather see Osama bin Laden hanged from a sour apple tree than have him languish indefinitely, like his confederates at Guantanamo, under the aegis of the Supreme Court of the United States. Not that his summary execution should be confused with enlightened jurisprudence. Like any act of vengeance, it would be the rawest form of justice, but at least it wouldn't be the exercise in hypocrisy that Nuremberg was.

However much various defendants at Nuremberg richly deserved hanging, or maybe drawing and quartering, to cite those trials as the embodiment of universal legal principles is ... well, an historical. We all know Sen. Obama is a young man, but there are times when he sounds as if he'd been born yesterday.

At his best, which is when he is speaking, Barack Obama is an impressive figure. This isn't some John Kerry or Hillary Clinton going down a list of talking points hoping that one will strike a chord. Sen. Obama usually responds directly to the question he's asked rather than riding off in all directions. He pays his interlocutor the courtesy of careful attention and a respectful answer. In that regard, he reminds one of Bill Clinton when that former president still had his touch, and could establish a personal bond with a questioner.

But once Barack Obama is no longer trading in some staple of his party's appeal — identity politics, say, or class warfare — and starts messing with history, he demonstrates only the most tenuous hold on his subject. And he winds up, again like Bill Clinton, sounding profoundly superficial.

2) As you can see, I am back in Boston - thanks for putting me up,
for arranging the talk and the plug for the book. It all
worked our very well and I got to Charleston and Atlanta with a
minimum of trouble-- the Atlanta talk should be on C-Span soon since
they taped it there.

I think you caught the essence of what I was trying to say-- so thanks again.

3) Israeli PM pays secret visit to Dimona nuclear center

The unusual publicity given to prime minister Ehud Olmert’s visit to Israel’s nuclear reactor at Dimona, in the southern Negev region, on July 1 - albeit after the fact - is a more than gentle hint to Iran of Israel’s determination to pre-empt a nuclear-armed Iran.

It further intensifies the ongoing war of words and signals flying between Tehran, Washington and Jerusalem in recent weeks over the nuclear issue. A rejoinder from the Islamic Republic may be expected.

4) The identity of Israel’s post-Olmert prime minister will determine its war options on Iran

Moscow has frozen SA-20B air defense system sales to Iran and Syria

According to military and intelligence sources, the overriding considerations that will determine if and when Israel attacks Iran are these: whether to strike before George W. Bush’s exit, whether Iran’s strategic ties with Syria and the Palestinian Hamas can be severed in advance and what prime minister is chosen to manage the war.

These are the determinants, rather than “the red lines” cited by senior Pentagon officials to ABC News Monday as triggers for an Israeli offensive, namely when Natanz nuclear facility produces enough weapons-grade uranium – some time in 2009 or this year - and when Iran acquires SA-20 air defense systems from Russia

Intelligence sources as negating those triggers:

1. Contrary to most reports, including those put out by Teheran, Iran is lagging behind its target date for producing a sufficiency of weapons-grade uranium. It is held up by the technical hitches dogging the smooth, continuous activation of its high-grade centrifuges.

2. Moscow has suspended all sales of sophisticated air defense systems to Iran and Syria alike – so that Israel has no cause for haste on that score.

3. That Iran is heading for a nuclear weapon is no longer in doubt. What Israel must decide very soon is whether to strike Iran’s production facilities before Bush leaves the White House or wait for his successor to move in, in 2009.

There is a preference in Jerusalem for a date straight after the America’s November 4 presidential election - except that military experts warn that weather and lunar conditions at that time of the year are unfavorable.

If Israel does opt for an attack, August and September would be better, they say - or else hold off until March-April 2009.

Israel’s political volatility is another major factor in the uncertainty surrounding an attack. Towards the end of September, the ruling Kadima party is committed to a leadership primary. The party’s choice of prime minister and the factors that determine how he (or she) reaches a decision on attacking Iran can only be guessed at.

4. A final consideration must be Israel’s ability to prevent Syria and Hamas opening war fronts at the time of Israel’s attack on Iran. In other words, the IDF needs to know it must contend with two fronts, Iran and the Lebanese Hizballah, not four.

Notwithstanding these major deterrents, the weight of opinion in Israel’s decision-making community at this time is in favor of an early military strike. There is an international consensus that Iran cannot be allowed to attain a nuclear bomb, but no sanctions or incentives are proving effective as preventatives. Therefore, it is felt, the sooner Israel pre-empts a nuclear-armed Iran, the better, because the longer it delays, the more dangerous the Islamic Republic’s retaliatory capabilities will become.

4a) State Dept. denies report Israel likely to attack Iran this year

The U.S. State Department on Tuesday criticized reported comments by a senior U.S. defense official who said there was an increasing likelihood Israel would attack Iran over its nuclear program.

The unidentified defense official told ABC News that it was increasingly likely Israel would attack Iran, and that Washington was concerned Iran would strike both the United States and Israel in retaliation.

State Department spokesman Tom Casey said in response to the report: "I have no information that would substantiate that, and I think it's rather foolish of people who often have no clue what they're talking about to assert things and not even have the courtesy to do so on the basis of their name."

Meanwhile Tuesday, an Israeli official said that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert secretly visited the site of Israel's main nuclear reactor, against the backdrop of speculation that Israel may soon attack Iran's nuclear facilities.

The official would not say what the purpose of Olmert's visit was.

Earlier Tuesday, ABC News quoted a U.S. defense official as saying that two "red lines" would prompt Israel to strike Iran. The first trigger would be once enough highly enriched uranium is produced at Iran's Natanz nuclear facility to create a nuclear bomb, which U.S. and Israeli assessments predict to occur will the end of this year or next.

"The red line is not when they get to that point, but before they get to that point," the official was quoted as saying. "We are in the window of vulnerability."

The second trigger, according to the official, would be linked to Iran's acquisition of the SA-20 air defense system it is purchasing from Russia.

The official said Israel may be likely to attack Iran before the system is put into place and Tehran's deterrence bolstered.

Washington is also concerned that Israel may carry out an attack before the next U.S. president is sworn in, according to the report.

The Israel Air Force carried out a mass drill over the Mediterranean last month, reported in the New York Times as a rehearsal for a possible attack on Iran.

A senior American defense official called the exercise "not a rehearsal, but basic, fundamental training" required for operation against Iran, ABC reported.

"The Israeli air force has already conducted the basic exercise necessary to tell their senior leadership, 'We have the fundamentals down.' Might they need some more training and rehearsals? Yes. But have they done the fundamentals? I think that is what we saw," the official told ABC News.

5) UN: Hizbullah isn't rearming
By Yitzhak Benhorin

WASHINGTON – Israel's claims that the Hizbullah is rearming and building new military infrastructure in the areas north and south of the Litani River have been found to be unsubstantiated, a United Nations report says.

The report, complied by the UN commission tasked with monitoring the implementation of UN Resolution 1701, which effectively ended the Second Lebanon War, did state that for the first time in the last few years, the UN forces inspecting the area were interrupted by gunmen.

The report made no mention of Hizbullah's systematic disruptions to the routine operation of UNIFIL forces present in Southern Lebanon.

Sources in UN headquarters said Tuesday that the members of the UN Security Council were aware of the real situation on the ground, but noted that the Security Council has to act in line with the reports submitted to it.

The UNIFIL forces stationed in Lebanon, under the command of Italy's Major-General Claudio Graziano, have yet to report any Hizbullah efforts to arm itself, thus preventing the UN Security Council from taking any action.

Moreover, several Security Council members are also part of the UNIFIL force currently deployed in Lebanon – and therefore are unable to rate their performance on the ground.

A UN source told Ynet in response to the report that several incidents which have taken place in recent weeks prove that southern Lebanon is not free of arms. The source said everyone is aware of this reality, yet the UN cannot admit that Israel's claims are true, as this would show the UN has failed.

Catch and release fish - not terrorists!

Is it a war of words or has something begun to happen internally in Iran? (See 1 and 1a below.)

Black on black. (See 2 below.)

Caroline Glick asks is Livni a lamb? Based on Glick's assessment and comments, Livni would make a great V P for Obama. Hezballah release does not sit well and is seen as another Hezballah victory.(See 3 and 3a and 3b below.)

And Qassams keep "acoming!" (See 4 below.)

Glowing prospect regarding Ahmadinejad. (See 5 below.)


Chantrill finds liberals mean spirited. People in general can be mean spirited. I don't think this trait is limited to political types.(see 3 below.)

1) US Fifth Fleet Chief: Iran will not be allowed to close Strait of Hormuz

At a media briefing in Bahrain Monday, June 30, US Vice-Admiral Kevin Cosgriff warned that the United States and its allies would not allow Iran to hamper shipping in the Gulf and close the Strait of Hormuz which carries oil from the world’s largest oil exporting region.

The US fleet commander was responding to a threat Saturday from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards commander, Ali Mohammed Jafari, that Tehran would impose controls on the Gulf and the strategic strait if Iran were attacked.

1a) Mysterious explosion at Iranian military facility

Iranian sources report that an explosion Monday, June 30, at Bidganeh near the town of Shahriar 40 kilometers east of Tehran occurred at a military installation, not a civilian building as Tehran claimed.

At first, the Iranian authorities reported 15 people were killed, correcting this later to no casualties. The precise function of the targeted facility is not known. While Iran claimed the blast was caused by a gas leak, Western military sources are skeptical and believe the authorities are trying to cover up some sort of sabotage.

2)Obama's Callous Indifference
By Peter Kirsanow
Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen declares that Barack Obama is " 'likable enough' -- in fact, so much so that he is the most charismatic presidential candidate I have seen since Robert F.Kennedy." Well, even though I've never spoken with Obama, I don't like him very much (I did testify with him [and a few others] once about a bill he'd sponsored on voter intimidation, but at the time he didn't impress me as unlikable, just a little intellectually lazy) .

This hasn't always been the case. Until early February, I tended to agree with all the news stories that contained the obligatory man-in-the-street quotes proclaiming him "decent," "likeable" and a "nice guy with a beautiful family."

According to the hagiography that passes for reporting about Obama, my attitude is rare. And, admittedly, unsophisticated. After all, I'm black so I shouldn't just like Obama, I should love and praise him. Sure, I'm conservative, but according to a recent AP story the Obama magic is so powerful that even black conservatives are in a swoon. But then, I'm also one of those bitter guys from flyover country.

I disagree with nearly all of Obama's positions, ranging from energy policy to the Iraq war. The National Journal's determination that he's the most liberal member of the Senate is a serious understatement. There may not be a more liberal elected official in all of Washington. But like most people, I like lots of folks with whom I have major policy disagreements. Put another way, if Barack Obama came up to me tomorrow, took my hand, looked me in the eye and said "when I'm president, I'll fight to win in Iraq, beat hell out of terrorists, appoint Supreme Court justices like Thomas and Roberts, cut taxes, secure the border, enact free market health care reform, honor our military and use the bully pulpit to prevent cultural decay,'' I'd still dislike him. Maybe more than I do now.

To be sure, Obama displays horrible judgment, surrounding himself with the likes of Wright, Pfleger and Ayers. He has a lot of close friends who seem to hate America. That's pretty unusual for the average person, but it's highly peculiar and troubling for someone running for Commander-in-Chief. It alarms me and makes me suspicious, but it's not why I dislike him.

Nor is it because he's an empty suit. He's gone further saying nothing than almost anyone in recent history. He's done nothing, yet he's poised to become the most powerful man on earth. He looks like he's never broken a sweat, furrowed a brow or dirtied a knee. That's not something to dislike. In today's culture it's something to admire-even envy.

These all may be reasons for voting against Obama, but they're not, to my mind, reasons for disliking him. No, I dislike Obama because of his personal qualities.

Wait a minute. Aren't we constantly regaled about all of his endearing qualities? He makes people faint and write songs about him. Hardened journalists get tingles up their legs just thinking about him.

Yet certain discrete actions can provide instant insights into a person's character. They can betray vivid flaws in a seemingly gleaming persona.

And they compel one to make judgments about the actor.

The acts may vary by degree, in turn prompting different degrees of reaction: the pillar of the community seen pilfering from the collection plate; the co-worker who uses a racial epithet behind a colleague's back. Indeed, people recoiled from the once popular Michael Vick when they found out he'd abused dogs.

I began to dislike Obama when I discovered that while in the Illinois state legislature in 2002, he voted against the Induced Birth Infant Liability Act. The bill was designed to extend the same medical care to babies who happen to survive an abortion attempt as is enjoyed by all babies born alive.

I couldn't believe anyone would vote against such a bill. In fact, when a similar measure-- the Born Alive Infant Protection Act-- was brought before the U.S. Senate, not one Senator voted against it. Even NARAL Pro-Choice America didn't oppose the bill.

Admittedly, I'm a bit of a curmudgeon. It's difficult for me to like someone who's eager to extend a panoply of constitutional rights to terrorists but who refuses to provide the most fundamental rights to a living, breathing infant.

Perhaps it's a failure to comprehend Obama's exquisite intellectual nuance. He rationalized his vote in language that evokes Dred Scott. Obama challenged the constitutionality of the bill,contending that conferring equal protection, i.e.,personhood, upon a "pre-viable fetus" would render the bill an unlawful anti-abortion statute.

At what point after birth does Obama call a baby a person and not a fetus? One day? Six months?

To be clear: I don't hate Obama as those suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome hate President Bush. I just have a hard time generating warm, fuzzy feelings for someone who voted against helping newborns struggling to live. But that's just me.

I suspect most people don't know about Obama's position on babies who survive abortion attempts and it's unlikely that they'll ever find out. The media seem more interested in reporting on the cultural implications of fist-bumps or the racial animus of those who question Obama's policies. I would wager, however, that if more people knew about Obama's disregard for babies who have the audacity to survive an abortion, there would be more scrutiny and less adulation.

3) Those Mean-Spirited Liberals
By Christopher Chantrill

Every now and again our learned scholars in the liberal university come up with a study, financed by taxpayers' money, that concludes what every liberal already knows. Conservatives are rigid and not very intelligent. In fact, as one study by two Berkeley professors claimed, the the "whiny, insecure kid in nursery school" probably grew up to be a conservative.

Of course two can play at that game, and so conservative Peter Schweizer took a look at the University of Chicago's General Social Survey and a few other generally available opinion surveys and came to the opposite conclusion in his book Makers and Takers. He found that conservatives are the good guys and liberals are the whiners.

Maybe he got different results because the General Social Survey covers the whole United States while the Berkeley professors only studied a single school in Berkeley, California.

Either way, Schweizer's findings make sense.

Liberals are more materialistic than conservatives, he finds. Of course they are. Believing in equality, differences in material things are very important to them. Not surprisingly, when they discover material differences in society, liberals are offended. There is a word for this feeling of offence: Envy. And so it is that liberals are more envious than conservatives.

Liberals celebrate anger. No, we are not just talking about Bush Derangement Syndrome. "Since the sixties, modern liberals have embraced anger as a sign of genuine commitment to the cause," writes Schweizer and their political rage leaks into their personal lives. The General Social Survey shows that liberals are more angry than conservatives and "three times more likely (17 percent to 6 percent) to have actually done something to get back at someone who had hurt or offended them in the past month."

Liberals are stingy with their money. Again, this is hardly surprising. Liberal political philosophy says: People Have Needs, and the government should provide. Thus liberals, when they actually spend money on anyone other than themselves, give money to the activist organizations that advocate for bigger government. Conservatives, on the other hand, give money to organizations that actually help people. Schweizer shows us that the headline liberals of recent memory-the Clintons, Gores, Kerrys, and Obamas-don't give much. But headline conservatives like Bush, Cheney, and Limbaugh do give, and give generously.

But then they would. Conservatives believe that people should help people, and governments should stick to the stuff that governments do best, defending society against enemies, foreign and domestic.

Liberals are less honest than conservatives. Peter Schweizer compares liberals and conservatives using the World Values Survey and the National Cultural Values Survey. Liberals admit that they don't value honesty as much as conservatives. They are more willing to sell "Aunt Betty a car with a bum transmission" than conservatives, and "twice as likely as conservatives to say it is okay to get welfare benefits they were not entitled to." Schweizer's poster boy for welfare cheat is billionaire George Soros, who once "tried to get a Jewish charity to give him money while also receiving public assistance."

Did you know that liberals are not just angrier but whinier than conservatives? Peter Schweizer samples liberal Whine Country using the Clintons, Bill and Hillary, as representative varietals.

But at least liberals are smarter than conservatives. Everyone knows that Calvin Coolidge was "weaned on a pickle," that Ike fumbled his syntax, that Reagan was an amiable dunce, and that President Bush is too dumb to be president. But navy veteran Sam Sewell found one liberal dumber than President Bush. Browsing presidential candidate John Kerry's website he happened upon the results of "an IQ-like qualifying test Kerry had taken in 1966." It showed that Kerry belonged in the 91st percentile on intelligence, a bit lower than President Bush in the 95th percentile.

Conservatives also rank better on political knowledge, according to Schweizer. Here's the result of a political knowledge test conducted in 2000. A high score is good.

Strong Republican 18.7
Independent-Republican 15.7
Strong Democrat 15.4
Independent-Democrat 14.2
Weak Republican 14.1
Weak Democrat 13.3
Independent 9.5

All this may be true, you will say. But how mean-spirited must Peter Schweizer be to drone on for 200 pages about "why conservatives work harder, feel happier, have closer families, take fewer drugs, give more generously, value honesty more, are less materialistic and envious, whine less... and even hug their children more than liberals?"

Conservatives had better hug their children more. They have more children to to hug than liberals. Forty-one percent more, to be exact.

3) Our World: Livni the leader, or Livni the lamb?

What is one to make of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni? Is she the next Golda
Meir? Is she a woman of steel who can stand before world leaders and demand
that they treat Israel with respect? Can she win a war? Can she - as Golda
did in the Yom Kippur War - keep her head when all about her are losing
theirs and blaming it on her?

On Sunday, Livni dutifully followed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in voting to
approve the terrorists-for-dead-hostages deal with Hizbullah. Despite the
government's best efforts to put a brave face on the decision, the deal with
Hizbullah is arguably the most humiliating step ever taken by a government
of Israel.

In exchange for the bodies of two dead soldiers - Eldad Regev and Ehud
Goldwasser - Israel has succumbed to all of Hizbullah's demands. It will
release six murderers from prison and send them to Lebanon for a hero's
welcome. It will give Hizbullah the bodies of 200 terrorists and so empty
Israel's Potters Field for terrorists. Moreover, it has pledged to close
Israel's graveyard for terrorists and so has committed future governments to
never keeping terrorists' bodies as bargaining cards for future swaps of
Israeli hostages. Israel has agreed to provide Hizbullah with information on
four missing Iranian "diplomats." And it has agreed to release an unknown
number of Palestinian terrorists from prison.

This deal will cement Iran's control of Lebanon through Hizbullah. It also
all but guarantees that any future Israeli soldiers taken hostage by
Hizbullah will be killed on the spot. Why care for hostages when you can
murder them and expect to receive the same payoff you would get if you kept
them alive?

Livni voted for this deal along with 21 of her fellow ministers. Unlike her
colleagues, who hide behind their surrogates and spokesmen, Livni is out in
front - lying to the public about the nature of her action.

Obviously cognizant of just how humiliating and strategically disastrous
this deal is for Israel, Livni is spinning her move in a naked attempt to
shirk her responsibility for having voted as she did.

After the government's vote, Livni told reporters that she will not support
implementing her own decision if the Palestinians Israel releases are
"central terrorist operatives." She will only agree to release terrorists
who are small-time operators. And if she is called upon to release senior
terrorists, she will not support moving ahead.

LIVNI'S STATEMENT is disturbing on many levels. First, it raises the
disconcerting prospect that the government never discussed the identity - or
number - of Palestinian terrorists it just agreed to release. Are we to
believe that Livni sat through a five-hour cabinet meeting and never once
asked who she was voting to release? Is it possible that Israel's Foreign
Minister never took it upon herself to be informed of the substance of her
decisions? Beyond that, how could she have voted to approve a deal that she
doesn't understand?

More than anything, Livni's statement is depressing for what it says about
her character - or lack thereof. By making this statement, Livni was
attempting to evade responsibility for her own actions. And these actions go
beyond her vote in favor of this execrable, morally atrocious and
strategically disastrous deal with Hizbullah. They consist of all her moves
as foreign minister since Regev and Goldwasser were abducted from their
position at the border with Lebanon on July 12, 2006.

From the earliest stages of Israel's war with Hizbullah two years ago, Livni
preached defeatism. Livni began calling for a negotiated cease-fire that
would leave Hizbullah in charge of South Lebanon just hours after Hizbullah
attacked Goldwasser's and Regev's unit and began bombing northern Israel
with rockets. She exhorted her colleagues that Israel had no prospects for
military victory. Livni did this even as it was clear that the only good
option Israel had was to fight for a military victory.

Had Israel defeated Iran's foreign legion in Lebanon on the battlefield, it
would have secured northern Israel and enabled the March 14 democracy
movement to fulfill its promise of transforming Lebanon into a multi-ethnic
democracy. Already on July 12, 2006, it was clear that an Israeli defeat
would pave the way for Hizbullah's takeover of the country.

Yet in the face of this known reality, Livni called for Israel to
capitulate. The policy she advocated involved Israel throwing itself at the
mercy of the UN and begging the Security Council to deploy forces to the
border to protect Israel. And in the end, Livni's defeatism was embraced by
Olmert and her fellow ministers and so Israel lost its first war.

On the ground, the international forces whose deployment along the border
was the centerpiece of Livni's policy are a joke. As was foreseen by her
critics both within the government and in the public discourse at the time,
UNIFIL is wholly ineffective because it has absolutely no interest in
fighting Hizbullah. As expected, it has done nothing to prevent Hizbullah's
rearmament. It has done nothing to protect the pro-democratic forces in
Lebanon from Hizbullah. Indeed, in Hizbullah's putsch last month, UNIFIL
forces behaved as if nothing was going on. Far from protecting Israel's
border, UNIFIL forces have acted as a buffer to enable Hizbullah to reassert
its control over the border unchallenged.

LIVNI OF course, has never acknowledged her own mistakes or share of
responsibility for this dismal state of affairs. And now, after voting to
cement Hizbullah's victory over Israel, far from accepting responsibility
for the situation she has been instrumental in fomenting, Livni makes
self-serving and patently false statements to reporters in an obvious
attempt to hide her own basic defeatism.

Livni's character and behavior are worth considering because the media has
all but anointed her Israel's next prime minister. Every article about
businessmen making cash payments to Olmert is accompanied by a fawning
profile of Livni. She is down to earth. She looks good in tailored pants
suits. She is hard working. She isn't a thief. And she plays the drums.

The media would have us believe that the mere fact that Livni is not under
police investigation renders her competent to lead the country. Obviously
this is ridiculous. The real question is not whether Livni is a crook, but
whether she is a leader. Is she?

OVER THE past three years, Livni has introduced and implemented a new
doctrine for Israeli foreign policy. Its central theme is Jewish
powerlessness. Livni has expressed this basic guiding notion in every major
foreign policy address she has given since late 2005. Most recently, she
repeated her view at a speech at Tel Aviv University's Institute for
National Security Studies on June 22.

There Livni explained that Israel's legitimacy as the Jewish state is
conditional. The Jewish people's right to sovereignty is completely
dependent on Israel's acceptance by the international community. And in her
mind, that acceptance is completely contingent on the push to establish a
Palestinian state.

As she put it, "Today, the existence of Israel is being delegitimized, not
just its physical survival, but also its existence as the national home for
the Jewish people... Only the fact that a profound international argument is
being waged because of the Palestinians' demand for their own national state
leads the world to perceive Israel's demand to be recognized as a national
home for the Jewish people as legitimate... That means that [the
Palestinians,] demand solidifies and reinforces the perception of the
existence of Israel as the national home of the Jewish people."

In other words, as Livni sees things, if Israel is not perceived as wholly
committed to Palestinian statehood - by the Arabs and the West alike - then
the world will never accept Israel and therefore, in her view, Israel's
right to exist will disintegrate.

Livni's doctrine is unacceptable for two basic reasons. First, it is
inherently bigoted against Jews. Livni's world view is built on the
assertion that unlike every other nation on earth, the Jewish nation has no
inherent, natural right to self-determination.

Moreover, from her perspective, Israel itself is completely powerless to
change the situation. It cannot defend itself in international arenas. It
can only bow to the prevailing winds and hope for the best. So in Livni's
view, the fact that Israel has already existed as the sovereign Jewish state
for 60 years has in no way changed the Jewish people's status. We are just
as vulnerable to the political machinations of others today as we were for
2000 years of stateless exile, and we are fated to always be powerless. By
her lights, our hard-won sovereignty is an empty shell that can never be

LIVNI'S DOCTRINE does not merely make clear that she is a deeply limited
thinker. It also exposes her as a follower. British Field Marshal Bernhard
Montgomery once said, "My definition of leadership is this: The capacity and
the will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which
inspires confidence." The essence of leadership is the ability to present
people a vision of a goal and then rally them to work with you towards
achieving it.

Livni's world view is completely antithetical to this basic central notion
of leadership. Far from rallying the people to a common purpose, she tells
us that there is no goal we can achieve. As far as she's concerned, our
state is nothing at all. Our power is nothing. Our collective will to
persevere is counter-productive. Our heritage has value only if outsiders
recognize it. Our rights are only as great as others' willingness to accept

Livni is not the first empty shell to be proclaimed by Israel's media as the
next great white hope. Others, such as former IDF chief of staff Lt. Gen.
(ret.) Amnon Lipkin-Shahak and former Labor party leader Amram Mitzna, have
also enjoyed that distinction. After years of media build-up, both men were
quickly exposed as followers once they were actually challenged to lead.

It can only be hoped that Livni will be similarly challenged and so exposed
before she is propelled to Israel's top spot. The nation can scarcely afford
to be led by another weak-kneed sheep.

3a) The Kuntar Letter: Terrorist Samir Kuntar vows to continue path of terror.
By Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook


Samir Kuntar is the Lebanese terrorist serving four life sentences in an Israeli jail for murdering a four-year-old Israeli girl, Eynat Haran. He crushed her head with his rifle butt after murdering her father, Dani, and two policemen. Eynat's two-year-old sister, Yael, also died in the terror attack. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah announced last week that Israel had agreed to release Kuntar in exchange for Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev (or their remains), the IDF reservists kidnapped in July 2006. Media reports indicate that such a deal is imminent.

The Kuntar letter:

After the killing of international terrorist Imad Mughniyeh in Syria three months ago, Kuntar wrote a letter to Nasrallah in which he glorified terrorists and martyrdom, and vowed to continue in the path of terror "until complete victory."

The following is the text of the Kuntar letter:

"My dear and honored commander and leader, The Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah,

Peace be unto you and our Shahids, and may Allah's mercy and blessing be upon you.

Peace be unto the men in the convoys of the righteous.

Peace be unto he who has [given and has] not taken anything other than the Shahadah (Martyrdom), the highest rank of honor before Allah.

Peace be unto the distinguished, glamorous convoys [of Shahids] who travel toward eternity, toward the men of glory, dignity and pride, toward those who have marked our path for hundreds of years.

Peace be unto the last to leave, the Hajj and leader, Imad Mughniyeh.

Peace be unto him, as he passes the message on to those who await his arrival, as he brings them stories of the glory and victories, news of steadfastness and loyalty of the men of the fulfilled promise [a reference to the operation in which the two Israeli soldiers were kidnapped which was called the 'Fulfilling the Promise',] news of "those who still wait [for Shahadah]; but they have never changed (their determination for Shahada)." [Quote from Quran, Sura 33:23.]

Peace be unto him, as he announces to the most honored among the Believers [previous Shahids] that the waiting convoys have chosen [they await the Shahadah] to draw their swords, and their swords are calling out: "We are far from degradation" [a Nasrallah's phrase].

May peace be unto you, Hajj Imad. My oath and pledge is that my place will be at the battlefront, which is soaked in the sweat of your giving, and the blood of the most beloved among men [Shahids], and that I shall continue down the path, until complete victory.

I give to you, Sir Abu Hadi [name for Hassan Nasrallah] and to all the Jihad Figthers, my congratulations and [my] renewed loyalty."

[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, February 19, 2008]

3b)Hizbullah won again:Swap with Hizbullah a victory for terror group, but it didn’t get everything it wanted
By Roee Nahmias

Following the approval of the swap with Hizbullah in Sunday’s government session, we can cautiously say that Hizbullah won again, although it won by points, rather than by knockout.

First, in the immediate future, Hizbullah and Nasrallah will deliver on what they promised – securing the release of Samir Kuntar, who killed the Haran family. However, this was not done in the way Hizbullah hoped. Initially, Nasrallah demanded the release of many Palestinian prisoners, as well as Arab-Israeli ones. He will not get most of it (Israel will only release a very small number of Palestinian prisoners.)

However, the principle has been maintained: Nasrallah looked into the cameras a few times and promised to Kuntar that he shall be released. The operation to abduct the IDF soldiers was called “the promise that was kept.” What can we say; this promise at least was indeed kept.

Another achievement is the price. We are talking about a relatively modest price for Israel, yet according to the prime minister’s statement at least, our two captives are no longer alive. Getting Kuntar in exchange for two dead soldiers is a pretty good bargain.

Thirdly, the question of “bargaining chips” – whether we like it or not, Nasrallah has methodically been able to take away the bargaining chips held by Israel. At this time Israel no longer holds any meaningful prisoners, and the Ron Arad affair will remain a mystery.

Fourthly, this is an achievement for Nasrallah’s approach. The way Hizbullah sees it, this is further evidence that their modus operandi is working. The first goal was to remove the IDF from south Lebanon – and it happened. Then came the issue of the prisoners – and this too has been achieved now. The next issue is the Shebaa Farms. Here too, Prime Minister Olmert recently declared that Israel is willing to discuss the issue in the framework of peace talks with Lebanon. Hizbullah ignored the second half of this sentence and went out to celebrate – “Israel’s withdrawal from the Shebaa Farms is a victory for the way of resistance,” they have been saying in the past two weeks.

Fifthly, this is a domestic Lebanese victory: While Nasrallah’s rivals have been struggling for a long time now, he boasts yet another victory. After he managed to enforce his will on Lebanon’s political establishment in the form of the “Doha Agreement” (or as it’s popularly known, the “capitulation agreement”) that gave him veto power on government decisions, he has another reason for celebration – he managed to enforce his will on Israel as well. Nasrallah gains a significant and morale-boosting achievement at a time when the political crisis in Lebanon is still alive and kicking.

Struggle to go on

Is the price we paid Hizbullah proper? This is a subject for debate within Israeli society, rather than Lebanese society. For Israel as well, the picture is not wholly dark. First of all, this is not the price Hizbullah demanded at the outset. Nasrallah is not the same confident Nasrallah he was before the war, but rather, a leader of an organization who is hiding somewhere in Lebanon and not moving around freely – moreover, it is doubtful whether Kuntar’s release would prompt any of Nasrallah’s rivals to support him. Still, in Shiite eyes in Lebanon this is a morale victory on Israel and this is no small matter.

And a final matter: Many in Israel, including myself, waited with great interest in the years 1999-2000 to see what Nasrallah will be doing if the IDF indeed withdraws from southern Lebanon. Will he end his armed struggle against Israel or will it continue, and what will be the excuse this time around? The answer came soon after: Several months before the IDF withdrew from southern Lebanon, Nasrallah started marking the next target: Liberating the Shebaa farms. This is the place to note that almost nobody in Lebanon heard about these “farms” and nobody thought of demanding them.

Nasrallah, after digging through the archives, managed to identify a plot of land that was shrouded in controversy from the days of the French Mandate. Ever since he came up with the idea, his television network was instructed to air countless broadcasts regarding the “occupied Lebanese territory,” even though it’s Syrian territory. For the time being, Syria is refusing to renounce it. A Syrian source even said so explicitly this week. This is not the issue. It is very possible that within a short period of time Nasrallah will accomplish his mission both on the issue of prisoners and, who knows, on the Shebaa Farms question.

So what will be the next step? Will he stop his armed struggle against Israel? When it comes to Nasrallah, predictions are dangers, but we can cautiously assume that abductions of soldiers will not be his top priority at this time. It would be a shame to jeopardize such successful statistics for him and risk a furious response from Israel.

Yet you can count on Nasrallah to find a new target for slamming Israel. Perhaps the Palestinian prisoners or Israel Air Force flights over Lebanon, or perhaps the “seven Lebanese village” in the north, which he already mentioned in the past. The struggle, regrettably, won’t end this time, for the simply reason that this is the Shiite militia’s raison d’etre.

4)Gaza crossings to remain closed Tuesday due to Qassam fire.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak has decided that Israel will not open the
crossings on the Gaza-Israel border Tuesday for the transfer of goods into
the Strip due to the firing of a Qassam rocket on the Negev earlier in the

5) 'Ahmadinejad was target of X-ray plot'

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the target of an 'X-ray plot' when he attended a UN-sponsored global food summit in Rome earlier this month, Iran's former ambassador to Italy, Abolfazl Zohrevand, claimed Monday.

"A day before Ahmadinejad's arrival in Rome, I checked and found out that the (security) X-ray machines installed gave off too powerful radiation. It measured over 900 instead of 300 as normal," Zohrevand told Iran's IRNA news agency.

"We changed the machine, thinking that it was faulty, but realized the rays were being remotely controlled," he said.

"Bearing in mind that rays of over 1,500 are extremely dangerous to human life, this makes us think there was a plot," Zohrevand continued.

Zohrevand didn't say which units he was using but radiation is usually measured in milligrams. He also didn't say whether Ahmadinejad was staying was a hotel or an official residence.

Zohrevand was removed from his position and ordered to return to Teheran, a website affiliated to Iran's Revolutionary Guards reported in June.

His dismissal came shortly after Ahmadinejad's trip to Rome in early June, during which he did not manage to meet with any members of the Italian government or the opposition.

Marshall Goldman speaks before packed audience.

War drums continue to beat as Iran hypes its population to win regime support. Should a real war begin and escalate they will need more graves than the below article indicates. (See 1 below.)

And yet Olmert hangs on and though by a thread it appears to be silken and thus strong as he comes us with a new and rational paradigm. Olmert gives his rationale for prisoner swap vote (See 2 and 3 below.)

An examination of whether foreign aid enthuses Palestinian violence. (See 4 below.)

John Bolton is not buying the euphoria over N Korea and neither am I. (See 5 below.)

Democrats keep digging their own political hole regarding energy but find no oil. Their fall back on acreage reserve nonsense and lack of drilling by oil companies, which I wrote about several memos ago, is now the lead editorial in today's Wall Street Journal and is exposed for what it is - a blanket cover for being on the wrong side of the issue.

If Democrats are so Green why do they litter our land with such garbage arguments? (See 6 below.)

I did not catch Gen. Clark's comments regarding McCain's qualification,or lack thereof, to be CIC but Michelle Malkin did. Obviously Gen. Clark is the idiot Malkin suggests but disparaging McCain as Clark did serves not only to highlight Clark's own stupidity but it resurrects the matter of Obama's questionable experience which is NADA! With friends like Clark, Obama would be better off with some other enemies. (See 7)

Last night, before an audience of 163 people, Marshall Goldman reviewed his thoughts regarding the New Russia as a Petrostate and Putin's efforts to bring it about.

In essence, Marshall pointed out, with respect to Putin, timing and luck proved to be everything. The rise in the price of oil occurred as Putin took over the helm of government and he has ridden the price wave ever since to a popularity level of 82%.

Putin did take action against "oligarchs" and others operatives, after privatization, who were stripping assets for their own personal gain from Russia's " National Champions." In this purging process, Putin replaced them with his own bureaucrats, friends and new "oligarchs" and even younger members of their families.

Putin has played the Russian resource chess game well and has tied more and more of Europe to Russia's gas wealth, sole pipeline connections and by using the wealth from GAZPROM's oil (now the second largest capitalized publicly traded company)Putin has elevated Russia to world player status.

Europe is increasingly tied to Russia through the umbilical cord called gas pipelines and Putin has, so far, been effective in blocking alternative routes. Germany is now 42% dependent on Russian gas though it never intended to go beyond 25% dependency and so the story for more and more European nations. Russia is also trying to extend it influence through joint ventures whose goal is to have ownership of connective links into European homes and factories etc.

Goldman reminded the audience, Russia was bankrupt only 10 years ago and now its coffers overflow with dollar, trade reserves and gold all because of its oil wealth. He also pointed out that nations with such dominant resource wealth find it difficult to develop other aspects of their economy. The rise in the Ruble, which once was called the "rubble," has a downside because it raises the price of Russian goods thus making their export less attractive.

Marshall discussed the Putin-Bush relationship and pointed out real chemistry exists between the two but of late Putin was filled with self-confidence and had become a bit more deprecating in his public comments as he felt his oil oats.

Where this all ends Goldman does not know but he did suggest co-operation between Russia and the U.S. had improved, in part because of Russian concern over Islamic Fascism. He also believed our new president would be wise to move quickly to try and establish a working relationship with Russia because of its growing influence and possession of its own nuclear arms.

Russia is now a country whose "National Champions" are virtually all state controlled, a nation with growing wealth whose people and leadership are overcoming the insecurity of being hammered and lectured to only ten years ago. Russia is on the move again.

As we drove home I mentioned to Marshall that I viewed America as a nation which once had exclusive occupation of a room that was now inhabited by at least four other emergents (Russia, China, Brazil and India) and that meant we had to share the oxygen. Marshall agreed and said how we played our cards was increasingly critical in terms of our own economic and social future. He thought the most hopeful sign was the problem of our energy dependency was now front and center and being a resourceful people his hope was we would now get serious. What I hear from the dunces in Conress is not encouraging so I ain't holding my breath.

"Putin Power and The New Russia - Petrostate:" by Marshall Goldman is a must read for those concerned with our nation and the world's future.


1)Iran sets up 31 martial districts, prepares 320,000 graves for war dead

Iran has divided the country up into 31 military sectors as part of its stepped up preparations for war, Iranian sources report. Sunday, June 29, Brig. Gen. Mir-Faisal Baqerzadeh, head of the Iranian Army’s Foundation for the Remembrance of the Holy Defense and MIAs, said the 320,000 graves were to be dug for enemy forces in case of an attack on Iranian territory.

“We don’t wish the families of enemy soldiers to experience what Americans had to go through in the aftermath of the Vietnam War,” said Baqerzadeh.

Our sources report that it was obvious to the average Iranian that the graves, concentrated in the border regions, were intended for prospective domestic victims of US and Israeli bombardments.

The plan to divide the country into 31 military districts was approved at a top-level consultation at the office of Supreme Ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last week.

Each sector will have its own command center headed by a Revolutionary Guards officer-in command, which in a war contingency will assume control of the district government and keep supplies of food, water, medicines running as well as emergency services for evacuations.

A military force attached to each command will be responsible for maintaining order and responding to problems.

According to military sources, Iran has in effect established a home front command controlled by the Revolutionary Guards and manned by the million- strong Basij volunteer militia, the Guards’ local reserve units. This arrangement guarantees the government regime in Tehran effective control of every part of the country in any war contingency.

2) Editorial:Time for a Miracle

Ehud Olmert’s stock with the Israeli public has fallen so low these days that virtually anything Olmert says or does is taken to be a cynical ploy to save his job. That’s a pity, because the Israeli prime minister has had some very good ideas of late.

One of his best ideas surfaced in a June 22 address to the governing board of the Jewish Agency for Israel. In the address, Olmert called for a “new paradigm” in Israeli relations with the Jewish Diaspora. The old paradigm is of plucky Israelis building a new nation from the ashes of the Holocaust, reclaiming the desert and offering refuge to millions of Jews fleeing oppression, all of it financed from afar by adoring American Jews. Today, Olmert told the agency leaders, none of those truths is self-evident. Israel is an economic powerhouse, the in-gathering of the downtrodden is largely done — and American Jews aren’t as adoring as they used to be.

It’s time, Olmert said, for the next great challenge: rescuing Jews in America and the West from assimilation, and restructuring the relationships between the world’s great Jewish communities. That can’t be done by one party acting alone; it will require a genuine partnership between Israel and the Jews of the Diaspora, not the one-sided we-give-you-take relationship of the past.

“For the past 60 years, Israel has been a project for the Jewish people,” Olmert said. “For the next 60 years, the Jewish people will need to be the joint project of Israel and Jewish communities around the world.” He sketched out a massive program to expand Israel travel programs, like Birthright, to dispatch Israeli teachers to far-flung communities and to nurture Jewish learning, culture and values in venues around the globe, including in Israel. Funding, Olmert said, should come jointly from the Israeli government and from Diaspora-federated philanthropies. The Jewish Agency — historically “the outstretched arm of the Jewish people in its central project” of building Israel — would coordinate worldwide implementation.

Olmert’s thesis is a surprising one, particularly coming from the mouth of an Israeli prime minister. After all, Jerusalem has pressing needs of its own. For all its might and resources, Israel is still fighting for survival. Diaspora Jews, many of them, still revel in the vicarious thrill of helping to build and defend the fledgling Jewish state, and they won’t take kindly to the puncturing of their myths. Israeli politicians’ eyes light up when they see all that cash coming in, and they love to rub shoulders with the big donors. Indeed, it’s not entirely clear that the federated philanthropies and the United Jewish Communities could raise the sums they do if building Israel and fighting its enemies were no longer the central message. True, most younger Jews don’t rally to the cause of Israel, but younger Jews don’t sustain the UJC, either.

That said, Olmert’s conclusions are unavoidable. The changes he describes have been building inexorably for decades. A handful of Israeli political leaders noticed the shift in the past and tried to address it — Yossi Beilin by organizing a high-level dialogue, and Benjamin Netanyahu by putting Israeli tax dollars into Birthright, the first time an Israeli government sent money to the Diaspora rather than the opposite. But these and similar initiatives nibbled at the margins. Olmert proposes a historic effort to alter the course of history through what amounts to a Marshall Plan for Jewish identity. He’s right to think in those terms, and the Jewish Agency, the one broadly accepted world Jewish body with massive resources and a global reach, is the right place to begin.

Skeptics say that Olmert no longer has time or sufficient authority to get a project of this magnitude rolling. That may be true, although Olmert has frequently surprised his detractors. It’s also said that Israel won’t be able to find the needed millions in its strapped budget, and that the Jewish Agency is too calcified to transform itself in the manner required. Again, very possibly true, but beside the point. Responsible observers have been predicting for years now that the world’s Jewish community is facing demographic and cultural disintegration in the coming decades, unless something like a miracle occurs. It’s time to start organizing that miracle.

3) Olmert: I voted for swap to prevent another Ron Arad
By Barak Ravid and Yossi Melman

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's decision to ultimately support the prisoner swap deal with Hezbollah stemmed from his desire to avert another Ron Arad-like saga.

"I didn't want a situation to arise like the one with Ron Arad, where for 20 years we are trying to figure out what happened to him," the premier said on Monday. "It was clear to me that if we didn't approve the deal, the result would be that we would lose touch with them for many years and we would not be able to bring the soldiers to Israel for burial."

Olmert said he believed there is a possibility that the government's move to begin the process of declaring abducted soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser dead spurred Hezbollah to consummate the deal more quickly.

The prime minister added that he was proud of the decision, which he knew would evoke many dissenting voices, a quality characteristic of the Israeli discourse.

"I hope we will know how to unite," Olmert said. "This is a resolute decision even if there are masses of people before us [in Lebanon] who are celebrating and dancing in the streets with joy. We know that there is only one state that knows how to mourn collectively the loss of one life, a state that has domestic solidarity, which doesn't exist in states that know how to spill blood but don't know how to fight for its life. I'm proud of this and so I am proud of the government's decision."

Olmert added that during the two years since the soldiers were abducted on July 12, 2006, the issue of their return has not left the table. "It is not a good decision. It is not a pleasant matter, it is a subject bound up with pain," he said. He also mentioned that one of the difficulties concerned is the release of Samir Kuntar, in accordance with the prisoner deal.

United Nations hostage negotiator Gerhard Konrad has delivered a message to Israel from Hezbollah saying that missing Israel Air Force navigator Arad is dead. Arad has been missing since his plane went down over Lebanon in 1986.

As part of the second stage of the prisoner swap agreement approved by the cabinet Sunday, Hezbollah will hand over a report, which is said to detail the organization's efforts to obtain information on Arad.

In exchange, Israel will give Hezbollah a report on the fate of four Iranian diplomats kidnapped and murdered during the Lebanon war in the 1980s. Israel has previously said it does not know what happened to the diplomats, who were arrested at a Christian Falange roadblock in 1982 and are believed to have been subsequently executed and buried at a site where construction later obliterated their graves.

Regev and Goldwasser are to be released in the prisoner exchange deal with Hezbollah approved by the cabinet on Sunday.

According to the outlines of the Hezbollah report, Arad ejected from his plane in 1986 and was taken captive by the Shi'ite militant group Amal. Konrad, who has seen the outline of the report but not the report itself, said his impression was that Hezbollah wanted to show it made a serious effort to find out what happened to Arad.

The report is said to contain numerous details on efforts Hezbollah made to ascertain Arad's fate, including the questioning of various individuals. However, Israel also wants the report to explain how Hezbollah concluded that Arad was dead and why it cannot provide proof of what happened to him or locate his remains.

If Konrad approves the reports, the third stage will ensue: Hezbollah will return Goldwasser and Regev or their remains if they are no longer alive, as Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said yesterday was the case "as far as is known." Hezbollah will also hand over the last of the remains of Israeli soldiers in Lebanon.

In exchange, Israel will deliver Kuntar to Hezbollah, along with four Hezbollah militants who were captured in the Second Lebanon War and the remains of a few dozen bodies, including those of eight Hezbollah militants. This phase will take place at Rosh Hanikra under Red Cross auspices.

Sources in Israel said the swap would probably take place by July 12, when Hezbollah is planning a victory ceremony to mark the second anniversary of the Second Lebanon War.

After five hours of tense debate, 22 ministers voted in favor of the deal and three-Finance Minister Roni Bar-On, Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann and Housing and Construction Minister Ze'ev Boim voted against it.

The signing of the deal will be only the first of four stages of the swap, the cabinet decided Sunday. If the signing takes place in Europe, Ofer Dekel, the Israel negotiator for the prisoner release, will head there in two or three days. Otherwise, Konrad will bring the signed document from Israel to Beirut, where it will be signed by Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, the chief military rabbi Brigadier General Avihai Ronsky is to begin coming to conclusions today on the question of declaring Regev and Goldwasser killed in action whose burial place is unknown.

In the final stage, within a month after the swap is made, Israel will release a number of Palestinian prisoners of its choosing. A government official said the list would include about 50 prisoners chosen by the Shin Bet security service. Cabinet members are set to discuss the list in the coming weeks.

At the cabinet meeting on Sunday, Mossad chief Meir Dagan objected to Dekel's statement that he and Konrad believed Hezbollah had no significant information about Arad. Dagan, who said Dekel "did not have the tools" to evaluate this because he lacked all the information, came out strongly against the deal, insisting that it would damage Israel by strengthening Hezbollah.

"Samir Kuntar is the bargaining chip for Ron Arad," said Dagan. "He is a symbol." However, Dagan conceded that leaving Kuntar in jail would not get Israel new information about Arad.

Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin also opposed the swap, noting that the Arad family had been promised that Kuntar would not be released except in exchange for information on the missing airman.

The ministers were said to have been particularly moved to vote for the deal by IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, who said: "I am the commander of all the soldiers ... of the living and the dead, and therefore I say to you the deal must be approved."

4) Does Foreign Aid Fuel Palestinian Violence?
By Steven Stotsky

On December 17, 2007, eighty-seven countries and international organizations met in Paris and pledged to provide $7.4 billion over three years to the Palestinian Authority[1] (PA), an amount far in excess of any previous level of U.S. or European aid to the Palestinians. The conference participants justified the aid as a means of providing "immediate support to the entire Palestinian population,"[2] and as a reward intended to strengthen those Palestinians who favor peaceful coexistence with Israel.[3]

In the midst of the effort in Paris to bestow unprecedented sums of foreign aid on the Palestinians, there was little discussion of the unintended consequences—often deadly ones—of previous aid regimens. The recent history of foreign assistance shows a distinct correlation between aid and violence. Perhaps aid itself does not cause violence, but there is strong evidence that it contributes to a culture of corruption, government malfeasance, and terrorism that has had lethal consequences for both Israelis and Palestinians over the past decade.

The Paris conference aid package continues fifteen years of international funding that has established the Palestinians as one of the world's leading per capita recipients of foreign support (see Table 1). Figures published by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development for 2005 show that Palestinians received $304 per person in foreign aid,[4] second only to the war-torn Republic of Congo among entities with populations larger than one million. Unlike the Congo, though, the Palestinians have received such subsidies for decades.
Table 1

Largest Recipients of Humanitarian Aid per Capita, 2005
(with populations exceeding one million)
Entity Aid per capita (US$)
Republic of Congo 362
West Bank and Gaza 304
Timor-Leste 189
Nicaragua 144
Serbia and Montenegro 140
Jordan 115
Macedonia 113
Source: Calculations based on data from
World Bank Development Indicators Data Base, 2005

Amidst the internal turmoil of 2006 and 2007, aid to the Palestinians increased by more than 50 percent,[5] and in July 2007 the Israeli government handed over $300-400 million in import taxes it had collected on behalf of the PA.[6] This revenue windfall came despite the 2005 warning by George Abed, head of the Palestinian Monetary Authority, that "if you poured in a lot of financing at this time, it would not have a big impact. It would not be very effective … It would be wasted."[7] International organizations and diplomats acknowledge Palestinian misuse and diversion of aid money,[8] but they remain reluctant to study the deeper implications of how such aid affects Palestinian political culture.

An examination of key measures of violence reveals a troublesome correlation between the number of homicides committed by Palestinians and the level of funding provided to the Palestinian Authority. As aid to the Palestinian government increased, there was a corresponding increase in the number of people, both Israeli and Palestinian, killed by Palestinians. The correlation between aid and homicide statistics does not mean that foreign aid causes violence, but it does raise a question about whether the flow of aid to the Palestinian government has helped fuel Palestinian violence and hindered efforts to restore calm.
Correlating Aid and Violence

Figures 1 and 2 (see below) illustrate how the number of homicides[9] and level of donor aid[10] correlate.

The graphs show that increased aid to the PA after the start of the second intifada in September 2000 precipitated an increase in the Palestinian murder rate of both Israelis and Palestinians in 2001 and 2002. After June, 2002, Israeli countermeasures against Palestinian terrorism, such as checkpoints and targeted killings of terrorist leaders, began to reduce the number of Israeli dead. By August 2003, the first portion of Israel's security barrier was in place, leading to a rapid decrease in Israeli fatalities. While Israel's new security measures reduced the number of Israeli victims, factional and societal violence increased the number of Palestinian victims. By counting both Palestinian and Israeli victims, the correlation between increased aid and violence continued into 2007.

The correlation between aid and terrorism murders becomes even stronger when the amount of aid given in one year is compared to the number of terrorist murders the following year (Figure 2). The lag between increased aid and increased homicides suggests a cause and effect association. However, when comparing the number of attempted terrorist attacks against Israelis with the level of aid, the correlation is stronger, without introducing any time lag (Figure 3).[11]

To investigate the possible linkage between aid and violence, it is useful to examine changes in how foreign aid was distributed during the second intifada.
Funding the Palestinian Authority

Prior to the outbreak of the second intifada, donors directed nearly all foreign aid to the Palestinians to economic and infrastructure development programs, so that by 1999 the Palestinian Authority could raise enough revenue through taxation and private borrowing to pay its bills. This era of relative self-sufficiency would not last long, however. The Palestinian terror campaign launched against Israel in 2000 disrupted the three main PA revenue sources—clearance taxes collected by Israel, taxes on wages earned by Palestinians working in Israel, and domestic tax revenue. Israel Defense Forces (IDF) measures against terrorists interfered with commerce in the West Bank and Gaza and led to a 40 percent decline in domestic tax revenues between 1999 and 2002.[12] At the same time, the Israeli government curtailed the number of Palestinians working within its borders, reducing a lucrative source of tax revenue for the PA.[13] The Israeli government also decided to withhold tax receipts it collected for the PA in response to the failure of Palestinian leaders to make a serious effort to halt terrorism.

The international community responded to the ensuing Palestinian financial crisis by replacing much of the lost revenue. Foreign donations to the Palestinians nearly doubled, from $482 million in 2000 to $929 million in 2001.[14] The changes in how the aid was distributed were even more dramatic: In 1999, no foreign aid went directly into the Palestinian Authority budget; by 2001, 58 percent of it went to the government budget and less than 20 percent to development programs.[15]

In a classic example of the creation of perverse incentives, the decision to fund the government budget made the Palestinian Authority less dependent on revenue derived from commerce, detaching the PA's solvency from the health of the economy. Thus, while the intifada sent the Palestinian economy into free fall, the PA's coffers swelled. The conditions were thus established that ensured the separation of Palestinian governance from responsibility for the economic health of the Palestinian people.

A comparison of the proportion of aid allocated to the government budget with the number of homicides yields a correlation similar to the previously discussed correlation of aid and homicides. (See Figures 4 and 5.)

By 2003, the ratio began to shift so that aid was more evenly distributed between the PA budget and development programs. However, the proportion of aid allocated to the government began to rise again in 2005, so that by January 2008, Palestinian economist Samir Barghouthi estimated that the Paris conference aid package would commit 70 percent of donations to paying the wages and pensions of Palestinian employees.[16] In other words, a higher proportion of aid will be allocated to the government and a lower proportion to development programs than even at the height of the terrorist violence of the intifada.

The new flow of funding to the Palestinian government will likely replicate the dynamics of the past decade: In 1999, the PA had 98,500 on its payroll; by 2002, the payroll had grown to nearly 125,000, and by 2007, it stood at 168,319.[17] Rising Palestinian government employment was reflected in the proportionate growth of the security services, which accounted for nearly half of all government wage earners. Security personnel on the PA payroll grew from 44,400 in 1999, to 53,600 in 2002, to 78,000 in mid-2006.[18] In addition, the Jordanian foreign ministry has confirmed plans to increase the Palestinian police force in the West Bank from 7,000 to 50,000 men, an increase that will create an unprecedented police presence and require an investment of several billion dollars beyond what was promised at the Paris conference.[19] These dramatic increases in the number of security personnel have never resulted in a reduction in terror attacks against Israelis—and as the history of the intifada shows, such attacks in fact increased from 1999 to 2002.
Palestinian Security Forces' Terrorist Ties

Not only did the security forces fail to prevent terrorist attacks, in many cases they colluded with terrorist groups and sometimes perpetrated attacks themselves. For example, on January 30, 2004, a Palestinian policeman belonging to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades boarded a crowded bus in Jerusalem and detonated a bomb strapped to his body, killing ten Israelis.[20] The Palestinians responded that they could not prevent terrorism because the Israeli military had destroyed their capacity to do so.[21]

In A Police Force without a State, Brynjar Lia, a Norwegian Defense Research Establishment analyst, suggests that the Palestinian leadership gave preference in police recruitment to those who had served prison terms in Israeli jails for terror-related offenses.[22] This, he argues, allowed terrorists to shape the police force "as a vehicle for achieving national independence [rather] than as a non-political law and order agency."[23] Fatah paramilitaries, he contends, "made themselves indispensable as popular forces in anti-Israeli riots and clashes."[24]

Lia offers a plausible path by which foreign aid ended up in the hands of terrorists. As early as 2003, the World Bank recognized there was a problem with how aid was used, noting in its annual report on the West Bank and Gaza that "donors should have spent more on oversight mechanisms in 2001 and early 2002, thereby, putting themselves in a better position to answer questions about the diversion of funds to support terrorism."[25] Still, the World Bank justified the redirection of funds for emergency aid in the belief that donors "had no choice if they wanted to keep alive the hope of reconciliation, since a collapse of the PA service structure and the further radical impoverishment of the population would have vitiated this."[26]

The Israeli government and military watched the diversion of funds but could not change donor practices. On June 5, 2002, the IDF published a document calculating that the Palestinian Authority only needed 55 to 65 percent of its budget to fund legitimate government activities and estimated that the Palestinian Authority siphoned off $100 million a year to fund terrorism.[27] The estimates of need versus budget are consistent with more recent news accounts.[28]

Documents captured during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002 detail security forces involvement in terrorist operations.[29] An Israeli document describing the interrogation of Fatah leader Nasser Aweis in 2002 revealed the links between Tanzim operatives and the PA national security apparatus and showed not only how Palestinian security officers instructed Tanzim operatives in bomb-making, but also how they regularly updated Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat.[30] Other documents detailed Palestinian Authority salary payments to terrorists in the employ of security service officials.[31]

The correlation between donor aid and violence becomes murky when examining the affiliations of the terrorists. Palestinian terrorism is conducted by a variety of organizations, many of which derive their support from foreign sources separate from Western government aid.[32] Islamist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which have carried out the majority of attacks against Israel,[33] have had an uneasy and frequently adversarial relationship with Fatah-dominated Palestinian governments. Groups directly linked to Fatah, such as Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and Tanzim, account for only about 20 percent of the suicide bombings against Israel. Suicide bombings have been responsible for more than half of all Israeli fatalities since 2000. These circumstances make it difficult to understand why the correlation between aid to the Palestinians and terror homicides appears so strong.

The organizational affiliations of terrorists, however, may be multiple. Despite their strong internal differences, Fatah and the Islamists enjoy a high degree of cooperation in terrorism against Israel.[34] The Palestinian Authority's Preventive Security Apparatus, for example, supported both Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Jenin.[35] Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and one or the other Islamist groups have carried out a number of joint operations.[36] These collaborative relationships continue. There remains ongoing concern that donor funds given to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas are subsidizing Hamas members on government ministry payrolls. And then there is the larger problem of the fungibility of money: Every dollar Hamas saves on having to fund jobs and programs unrelated to security is a dollar the organization can devote to terrorism. While collusion is clear, fully explaining the correlation requires better data on funds supplied covertly by Iran and sources within Saudi Arabia and better understanding of the role of tacit support from the Palestinian security services.

Perhaps U.S. and European officials still believe that supporting those suffering from the Palestinians' damaged economy outweighs the negative effect of the diversion of funds to terrorists. While international officials often say they seek to promote a more moderate political culture among Palestinians, the Hamas victory in the January 2006 elections suggests such hope may be misplaced. At the time, the Palestinian economy had begun to improve. Similarly, in 1998 and 1999, the two years immediately preceding the second intifada Palestinian gross domestic product increased by 7 and 6 percent respectively.[37] Perhaps the bitterness of conflict outweighed the moderating influence of the aid—or, perhaps, the theory that aid moderates is itself flawed.[38]
What Changed between 2000 and 2007?

The aid windfall promised at the Paris conference will seek to strengthen the Palestinians' West Bank leadership in the wake of Hamas' violent expulsion of Fatah from Gaza in June 2007.[39] Western officials regard the Palestinians' West Bank leadership as moderate[40] while Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is viewed as a technocrat who will ensure fiscal transparency in the PA. Nevertheless, the West Bank leadership retains armed militias incorporating terrorists. How much control Abbas and Fayyad have over these armed elements remains unclear. The commander of Israeli forces in the West Bank, Major General Gadi Shamni, recently told Israeli president Shimon Peres that "without the massive presence of the IDF in the West Bank, Hamas would take over the institutions and apparatuses of the Palestinian Authority within days." [41]

The aid windfall comes amid the PA's refusal to take responsibility for Palestinian rocket fire on Israeli towns. In 2006 and 2007, 1,719 rockets launched from Gaza hit Israeli territory.[42] On January 3, 2008, an upgraded 122 mm rocket fired from Gaza reached the major Israeli city of Ashkelon.[43] Nor has any Palestinian leader repudiated terrorism. Attacks by Fatah continue.[44] While the security barrier has curtailed terrorist attacks, the terrorist groups have not stopped trying.

Yet even some prominent Palestinians are troubled by the current determination to fund the Palestinian Authority. Abed of the Palestinian Monetary Authority, although supportive of financial assistance to the Palestinians, has spoken openly of the futility of providing donor aid, asserting that what is needed is investment. This view was echoed by James Prince, consultant to the Palestinian Investment Fund, who cautioned that "many of the donor programs have not only been ineffective, they have harmed the economy."[45]

Infusions of foreign funds into the Palestinian Authority budget from late 2000 through 2002 correlated with increased violence. Increased aid in 2005 and 2006 corresponded to increasing internal violence, which is consistent with the fact that money was still finding its way to militant groups to purchase weapons and pay the salaries of the expanding militias.

Although the correlation does not prove cause and effect or provide irrefutable evidence of a direct link, it seems likely that increased aid helps sustain Palestinian violence in several ways: by creating the opportunity to divert funds for militant activities; by insulating the Palestinian leadership from the fiscal consequences of the economic fallout from terrorism; and by creating a revenue surplus that allows the Palestinian government both to pay for salaries and programs and to funnel money to terrorists. As Western donors prepare to pour unprecedented amounts of money into the PA, more discussion is needed to explain what controls will be imposed to ensure that the aid is not diverted to terrorists or used to fund a broader conflict with Israel.

Steven Stotsky is a senior research analyst at the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).

[1] The New York Times, Dec. 18, 2007.
[2] Nicolas Sarkozy, president of France, speech to International Donors' Conference for the Palestinian State, France Diplomatie, French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Dec. 17, 2007.
[3] Condoleezza Rice, U.S. secretary of state, remarks at the International Donors' Conference for the Palestinian State, U.S. Department of State, Dec. 17, 2007.
[4] Calculations from World Bank Development Indicators Data Base, 2005 and Recipient Aid Charts, Development Cooperation Directorate, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Jan 1, 2006.
[5] USA Today, Dec. 17, 2007; The Washington Post, Oct. 31, 2007; International Middle East Media Center (West Bank and Gaza), Dec. 15, 2007.
[6] Reuters, July 1, 2007.
[7] The San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 4, 2005.
[8] West Bank and Gaza: Economic Performance and Reforms under Conflict Conditions (Washington, D.C.: International Monetary Fund [IMF], Sept. 2003), pp. 87-98.
[9] Anti-Israeli Terrorism, 2006: Data, Analysis and Trends, Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, Israel Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center (IICC), Gelilot, Mar. 2007, p. 62; The Status of Palestinian Citizens' Rights, 5th through 12th annual reports, The Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens' Rights (PICC), Ramallah, West Bank, 1999-2007; Associated Press, Oct. 6, 2005; "Palestinians Killed by Palestinians in the Occupied Territories," B'Tselem, Jerusalem, accessed Feb. 29, 2008; "OCHA-Opt Protection of Civilians," United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Dec. 2006; "OCHA-Opt Protection of Civilians," United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Aug. 2007; Reuters, June 8, 2007.
[10] Four Years: Intifada, Closures and Palestinian Economic Crisis (Washington, D.C.: World Bank, Oct. 2004), p. 6; "West Bank and Gaza: Fiscal Performance in 2006," International Monetary Fund, Washington, D.C., Mar. 2007, p. 4.
[11] Anti-Israeli Terrorism, 2006, IICC, p. 16.
[12] West Bank and Gaza: Economic Performance and Reforms, IMF, p. 71; Four Years: Intifada, World Bank, p. 20.
[13] West Bank and Gaza: Economic Performance and Reforms, IMF, pp. 34, 71.
[14] Four Years: Intifada, World Bank, p. 66.
[15] Ibid., pp. 65- 6.
[16] The Christian Science Monitor, Jan. 4, 2008.
[17] West Bank and Gaza: Economic Performance and Reforms, IMF, p. 92; "Two Years after London: Restarting the Palestinian Economic Recovery," World Bank, London, Sept. 24, 2007, p. 10; "West Bank and Gaza Update," World Bank Group, Gaza and West Bank Office, Mar. 2007, p. 10.
[18] West Bank and Gaza: Economic Performance and Reforms, IMF, p. 92; author's calculation from data in West Bank and Gaza: Recent Fiscal and Financial Developments, IMF, Washington, D.C., Oct. 2006, p. 7, ftnt. 8, p. 10, Table 3; James D. Wolfensohn, Quartet special envoy for disengagement, testimony to the Foreign Relations Committee, U.S. Senate, Mar. 15, 2006, p. 3.
[19] Reuters, Feb. 9, 2008; The Jordan Times (Amman), Feb. 27, 2008.
[20] CNN News, Jan. 30, 2004.
[21] Saeb Erekat, interview, CNN, Sept. 19, 2002.
[22] Brynjar Lia, A Police Force without a State: A History of the Palestinian Security Forces in the West Bank and Gaza (Reading, U.K.: Ithaca Press, 2006), p. 137.
[23] Ibid., pp. 429-31.
[24] Ibid., p. 432.
[25] Twenty-Seven Months, Intifada, Closure and Palestinian Economic Crisis (Washington, D.C.: World Bank, May. 2003), p. 88.
[26] Ibid., p. 52.
[27] "International Financial Aid to the Palestinian Authority Redirected to Terrorist Elements," Israel Defense Forces Military Intelligence, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), June 5, 2002; Rachel Ehrenfeld, "Eurocash," National Review Online, Dec. 10, 2003.
[28] The Christian Science Monitor, Jan. 4, 2008.
[29] "The Involvement of Arafat, PA Senior Officials and Apparatuses in Terrorism against Israel," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, May 6, 2002.
[30] "Senior Fatah Leaders Describe Arafat's Link to Terrorism," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, May 2, 2002.
[31] "Palestinian Authority Security Services Supplied Guidance, Weapons and Funds to Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades in Order to Perpetrate Terrorist Attacks," Embassy of Israel, Washington, D.C., Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, May 2002.
[32] Rachel Ehrenfeld and Sarah Zebaida, "EU and the PA Money Trail," National Review Online, Jan. 27, 2003; Jonathan D. Halevi, "What Drives Saudi Arabia to Persist in Terrorist Financing," Jerusalem Viewpoints, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Jerusalem, June 1, 2005.
[33] "Suicide and Other Bombing Attacks since the Declaration of Principles (Sept. 1993)," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, accessed Feb. 13, 2008.
[34] "The Involvement of Arafat," MFA, May 6, 2002.
[35] "Palestinian Authority Security Services," MFA, May 2002.
[36] "Documents Seized during Operation Defensive Shield Linking Yasser Arafat to Terrorist Activities," doc. no. 6, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Apr. 15, 2002, accessed Feb. 13, 2008; The New York Times, Jan. 14, 2005; "Suicide and Other Bombing Attacks in Israel," MFA, accessed Feb. 13, 2008.
[37] Four Years: Intifada, World Bank, p. 20; "Report No. 23820," An Evaluation of Bank Assistance, World Bank, Washington D.C., Mar. 7, 2002, p. 2, Table 1.1.
[38] Claude Berrebi, "Evidence about the Link between Education, Poverty and Terrorism among Palestinians," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, Rand Corporation, Jan. 2007; Alan B. Krueger and Jitka Maleckova, "Education, Poverty and Terrorism: Is There a Causal Connection," Journal of Economic Perspectives, Fall 2003; Jean Paul Azam and Alexandra Delacroix, "Aid and the Delegated Fight against Terrorism," Review of Development Economics, May 2006, pp. 330-44.
[39] Associated Press, Nov. 24, 2007.
[40] USA Today, June 19, 2007.
[41] The Jerusalem Post, Feb. 27, 2008.
[42] "Rocket Threat from Gaza," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dec. 16, 2007.
[43] "Katyusha Rocket Fired at Ashkelon," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jan. 3, 2008.
[44] The Jerusalem Post, Jan. 1, 2008.
[45] The San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 5, 2005.

5) OPINION:The Tragic End of Bush's North Korea Policy

Maskirovka – the Soviet dark art of denial, deception and disguise – is alive and well in Pyongyang, years after the Soviet Union disappeared. Unfortunately, the Bush administration appears not to have gotten the word.

With much fanfare and choreography, but little substance, the administration has accepted a North Korean "declaration" about its nuclear program that is narrowly limited, incomplete and almost certainly dishonest in material respects. In exchange, President Bush personally declared that North Korea is no longer a state sponsor of terrorism or an enemy of the United States. In a final flourish, North Korea has undertaken a reverse Potemkin Village act, destroying the antiquated cooling tower of the antiquated Yongbyon reactor. In the waning days of American presidencies, this theater is the stuff of legacy.

North Korea has consecutively broken every major agreement with the U.S. since the North's creation. The Bush administration provides no reason why this one will not be added to that long list except the audacity of hope. Where have we heard that recently? Barack Obama and John Kerry both announced support for the deal, and Mr. Obama said he intended to apply Bush's policy to other rogue states, thus confirming the early start of the Obama administration.

The Feb. 13, 2007, agreement states explicitly that North Korea was to provide "a complete declaration of all nuclear programs" within 60 days. This it manifestly did not do, either in timing or substance. The declaration, more than 14 months overdue, and which is not yet public, has long been forecast not to include information on weaponization, uranium enrichment, or proliferation activities such as cloning the Yongbyon reactor in Syria. Although the North provided less than it agreed 16 months ago, we compensated by giving up more than we agreed, which is typical of decades of U.S. negotiation with the North.

The extent to which Yongbyon's aggregate plutonium production has been weaponized and concealed is one critical unresolved issue. Moreover, analysis of the much-touted 18,000 pages of Yongbyon documentation previously turned over has uncovered significant gaps in information, especially concerning the reactor's early years of operation, that preclude making a truly accurate calculation. This is essentially the same problem that the International Atomic Energy Agency faced during its years of monitoring Yongbyon under the failed 1994 Agreed Framework, showing that the North is nothing if not consistent in its cover-up strategy.

Ironically, the documents themselves are contaminated with particles of highly enriched uranium, probably from that enrichment program North Korea still denies. This program's extent is crucial, because if it is production scope, the North will still have a route to fissile material no matter what Yongbyon's ultimate fate, proving yet again that leveling those aged facilities was a nonconcession.

Bush administration officials contend on this and other unresolved issues that they will insist on verification, but inside the government there is little or no planning on what that means precisely, let alone agreement on the details with North Korea. Given the North's record of maskirovka, the extent of open and intrusive verification we should demand would likely undermine the very foundations of the regime itself, which Kim Jong Il will obviously not accept.

The North's proliferation, such as the now-flattened Yongbyon twin in Syria, are important not only for what they prove about the North's ongoing duplicity, but for their potentially central place in the North's continuing nuclear weapons program. This is emphatically not, therefore, merely a matter of filling out the historical record, but rather an avenue of inquiry that focuses directly on the North's current capabilities and intentions. Pooh-poohing proliferation in this way, as the administration has done, is evidence of its desperation not to allow the deal to come unstuck.

The administration argues that these criticisms are unwarranted because it has always contemplated that the North's denuclearization would play out in phases. This is no answer at all. Instead, it graphically reveals one of the deal's central problems. There is no advantage to the U.S. in proceeding by phases. To the contrary, North Korea alone benefits by phasing, by stretching out a process that enables Kim Jong Il to stay in power and to maximize the political and economic benefits he can extract through each excruciatingly lengthy and painful phase.

Consider, moreover, the deal's corrosive impact on the very concept of the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. Removing North Korea from the list for political reasons unrelated to terrorism simply provides ammunition for those who argue that the existence of the list itself is purely political. Critically, since the North's nuclear and ballistic missile programs materially assisted Syria and Iran, two other states on the terrorism honor roll, it is hard to see what remains of President Bush's doctrine that those who support terrorists will be treated as terrorists.

Consider also the palpable damage our mishandling of the terrorism issues has caused to our alliance with Japan, whose citizens, along with many South Koreans, were abducted by Pyongyang's agents. One might quibble that this is not state sponsorship of terrorism, but rather direct state terrorism. (Perhaps we should create a new list for North Korea.) It is hardly a reason to remove Japan's most effective leverage to get a straight accounting from the North about its citizens. Of course, why should we expect North Korea to be any more honest on the abductee issue than on anything else?

The only good news is that there is little opportunity for the Bush administration to make any further concessions in its waning days in office. But for many erstwhile administration supporters, this is a moment of genuine political poignancy. Nothing can erase the ineffable sadness of an American presidency, like this one, in total intellectual collapse.

6) REVIEW & OUTLOOK:Obama's Dry Hole

"I want you to think about this," Barack Obama said in Las Vegas last week. "The oil companies have already been given 68 million acres of federal land, both onshore and offshore, to drill. They're allowed to drill it, and yet they haven't touched it – 68 million acres that have the potential to nearly double America's total oil production."

Wow, how come the oil companies didn't think of that?

Perhaps because the notion is obviously false – at least to anyone who knows how oil and gas exploration actually works. Predictably, however, Mr. Obama's claim is also the mantra of Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, John Kerry, Nick Rahall and others writing Congressional energy policy. As a public service, here's a remedial education.

Democrats are in a vise this summer, pinned on one side by voter anger over $4 gas and on the other by their ideological opposition to carbon-based energy – so, as always, the political first resort is to blame Big Oil. The allegation is that oil companies are "stockpiling" leases on federal lands to drive up gas prices. At least liberals are finally acknowledging the significance of supply and demand.

To deflect the GOP effort to relax the offshore-drilling ban – and thus boost supply while demand will remain strong – Democrats also say that most of the current leases are "nonproducing." The idea comes from a "special report" prepared by the Democratic staff of the House Resources Committee, chaired by Mr. Rahall. "If we extrapolate from today's production rates on federal lands and waters," the authors write, the oil companies could "nearly double total U.S. oil production" (their emphasis).

In other words, these whiz kids assume that every acre of every lease holds the same amount of oil and gas. Yet the existence of a lease does not guarantee that the geology holds recoverable resources. Brian Kennedy of the Institute for Energy Research quips that, using the same extrapolation, the 9.4 billion acres of the currently nonproducing moon should yield 654 million barrels of oil per day.

Nonetheless, the House still went through with a gesture called the "use it or lose it" bill, which passed on Thursday 223-195. It would be pointless even if it had a chance of becoming law. Oil companies acquire leases in the expectation that some of them contain sufficient oil and gas to cover the total costs. Yet it takes years to move through federal permitting, exploration and development. The U.S. Minerals Management Service notes that only one of three wells results in a discovery of oil that can be recovered economically. In deeper water, it's one of five. All this involves huge risks, capital investment – and time.

If anything, the Democrats ought to be dancing in the streets about "idle" leases. It means fewer rigs. The days of hit-or-miss wildcatting have been relegated to the past by new, more efficient technologies, such as seismic imaging, directional drilling (wells that are "steered" underground) and multilateral drilling (multiple underground offshoots from a single wellbore).

At the same time, finding new reservoirs has become far more complex. Except for a few very large fields discovered decades ago like Prudhoe Bay, most recent discoveries have been smaller, deeper and less concentrated. The U.S. needs a continuous supply of discoveries to replace declining wells.

Yet companies are not allowed to explore where the biggest prospects for oil and gas may exist – especially on the Outer Continental Shelf. Seven of the top 20 U.S. oil fields are now located in analogous deepwater areas (greater than 1,000 feet) in the Gulf of Mexico. In 2006, Chevron discovered what is likely to be the largest American oil find since Prudhoe, drilled in 7,000 feet of water and more than 20,000 feet under the sea floor. The Wilcox formation may have an upper end of 15 billion barrels of recoverable oil and should begin producing by 2014 – perhaps ushering in a new ultradeepwater frontier.

Likewise, in April, the U.S. Geological Survey revised its estimate for the Bakken Shale, underneath the badlands of North Dakota and Montana. The new assessment – as much as 4.3 billion barrels of oil – is a 25-fold increase over what the Survey believed in 1995. Such breakthroughs confirm that very large reserves exist, if only Congress would let business get at them.

All of which has Democrats sweating bullets. The leadership is desperate to avoid debating a Department of Interior spending bill, because they know Republicans will offer amendments lifting the drilling moratorium that may peel off some Democrats. Last week, Chairman David Obey shut down the Appropriations Committee rather than countenance more domestic energy production. Given Democratic energy illiteracy, this is a fight the GOP can win if it keeps up the pressure.

7) Confirmed: Wesley Clark is an idiot
By Michelle Malkin

If Gen. Wesley Clark had vice presidential aspirations, they went out the window yesterday when he opened his mouth and removed any lingering doubt about his idiocy. Here’s what he said in case you missed it doing something more important than watching windbags deflate on a Sunday morning:

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, a key military adviser for Barack Obama, dismissed John McCain’s war record as a qualification for readiness to be president.

Appearing on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Clark downplayed the plane crash that led to McCain’s captivity during the Vietnam War, and said the squadron McCain commanded “wasn’t a wartime squadron.”

“He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee. And he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn’t held executive responsibility,” Clark said.

And Barack Obama’s “executive responsibility” would be…what exactly? Oh, yeah. Conducting leadership training seminars for ACORN shakedown artists!

When asked by host Bob Schieffer how he came to describe McCain as “untested and untried,” Clark said it was “because in the matters of national security policy-making, it’s a matter of understanding risk. It’s a matter of gauging your opponents and it’s a matter of being held accountable. John McCain’s never done any of that in his official positions,” adding, “He hasn’t made the calls.”

When Schieffer noted Obama has not had wartime experiences, Clark said: “Well, I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president.”

Well, it beats riding in…bumper cars and pretending to be Superman.

McQ adds:

A squadron command doesn’t become “executive experience” only if the squadron is in a combat situation. It is either an executive experience or it’s not executive experience whether at war or during peace.

Does commanding NATO not count as executive experience if NATO isn’t at war? And btw, does getting fired from his NATO command negate Clark’s claim to executive experience?

…if the willingness to fight for your country, put your life on the line and suffer the brutality McCain suffered as a POW doesn’t make the cut as far as qualifications go, how far below that does a “community organizer” show up on the list of non-qualifications?