Thursday, July 31, 2008

All because we can! Long Hot Summer!

Victor Davis Hanson writes: "What if Iraq Works?" (See 1 below.)

It could come too late to do McCain any good because most Americans have been brainwashed by nay-Sayers, the media and press that GW is incapable of doing anything right, the war was in the wrong place and the basis for going to war was false, ie no WMD were found.

Though GW quickly lost the media battle, the Iraq War stool always rested on far more than a single leg ,ie. ridding a nation of a tyrant named Sadaam who, by attacking his neighbors,and gassing his own people, had caused instability in a region already drowning in discord and hate. Furthermore, Sadaam consistently disregarded 16 U.N. Resolutions, continued to shoot missiles at our aircraft and was actively pursuing the development of WMD. Finally, Sadaam was engaged in financing terrorism and permitted terrorists to train on his soil though not the ones engaged in 9/11.

Going to war against Iraq was not a mindless act unsupported by false provocations. The aftermath of our military defeat of those Iraqi forces who stood and fought did not go as planned. That it revealed woeful gaps in our post war preparation cannot be denied. Four years later, however, GW seems to have the train on track, the surge and our training efforts of Iraq's military seems to be paying off. Consequently, the Iraq government is slowly but steadily finding its sea legs and our ability to consider a troop draw down becomes a clearer and justifiable reality.

Obama went to New Orleans to accuse McCain of being a racist and to remind his constituents of Katrina. The dollar is low enough but with Obama's face on it, it could sink even further.(See 2 below.)

Since Obama has returned from his whirlwind tour of Europe his ratings seem to have ebbed and are now tilted downward. Could it be because of some of the comments he has made or others have made on his behalf? Today Obama told us to inflate our tires and tune our car engines as two ways to solve our energy problem. Shades of Carter, who said we should fiddle with our thermostats. Seems to me, had Clinton permitted drilling in Anwar and offshore and reduced red tape with respect to nuclear power, when he was president, that would have been a sounder approach. Bush also tried and got stiffed by a Congress beholden to various Green and Union antagonists. Obama opposes drilling and also seems to have reservations about nuclear power.

Obama and his defender-protectors now assert McCain has gone negative by associating Obama with two popular blonde airheads. The ad is obviously effective because it got under Obama's thin skin, received a lot of coverage and most importantly, of all, reminded voters Obama has a thin resume as well.

Finally, now that the hoopla over Obama's trip to Europe and the coverage it received has begun to fade, I venture to say it has done more to hurt than help. Being an old "fogy," Obama's appearance in Berlin reminded me of Woodstock and everything questionable Woodstock represented - free spirited straggly-unkempt youth, listening to brainless music loud enough to burst one's ear drums, engaging in narcotics, nudity and anti-establishment behaviour. Fun for the participants but for "fogy" straight guys, like myself, Woodstock came across as a bit over the hill and abberant.

Obama can rant and rage about McCain having nothing of substance to offer except negative attacks and, in some respects, he is right. Alas, political campaigns often go negative. In Obama's case there is a good bit of fodder that begs exploration and if that means going a bit negative Obama's whining will not earn him much sympathy as long as McCain's "attacks" remain generally in bound, are clever and hit home.

On the other hand, when Obama brings up his own race and color and tries to off load and project his own sensitivity and/or insecurity on McCain, I daresay, it will backfire on Obama. After all, Obama is the wunderkind who proposes sitting down with the likes of thuggish terrorists and negotiating peace, tranquility and non-nuclear calm and he goes ballistic over an ad! Get real man!

Obama's true plight began with Rev. Wright, then proceeded with Michelle's comments, was followed quickly by Obama's indicted Chicago developer friend, association with a Chicago terrorist and more recently a gutter lyricist rapper. On substantive issues we have the debate over Iraq and the surge, his paper thin voting record, a host of proposed legislation which would raise taxes, increase spending, grow government all with the intent of achieving government dispensed fairness - whatever the hell that means. Obama parades this under the rubric of "change" and all because "we can."

I just caught a snippet of Obama attacking Exxon for making the largest profit in its history. I thought that was what corporations were supposed to do - make money, employ people, produce goods and services people want to buy. That is called Capitalism. The government's oversight role is to assure the public corporations are doing so in a responsible and legal manner. Am I missing something or under a microscope is Obama looking more like a socialist and petulant populist ant?

Get prepared for a long hot summer of charge and counter charge with some inanities thrown in for good measure.

Were I an Israeli, Mofaz and Netanyahu would be my choices to lead Israel. (See 3 and 3a below.)

We have sinned so a vote for me will assuage you of your sins -sayeth the messiah? (See 4 below.)

I have always maintained if you want dis-unity bring Arabs together for a unity meeting. My friend Toameh discusses Fatah and Hamas. (See 5 below.)

Crolin Glick reviews Kadima's legacy and has little to say that is positive. Why should she. Olmert was a disaster and what is worse, the way he resigned will simply drag Israel through more uncertainty. (See 6 below.)

Have a great weekend and remember to inflate your tires.


1) What If Iraq Works?
By Victor Davis Hanson

There is a growing confidence among officers, diplomats and politicians that a constitutional Iraq is going to make it. We don't hear much anymore of trisecting the country, much less pulling all American troops out in defeat.

Critics of the war now argue that a victory in Iraq was not worth the costs, not that victory was always impossible. The worst terrorist leaders, like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Muqtada al-Sadr, are either dead or in hiding.

The 2007 surge, the Anbar Awakening of tribal sheiks against al-Qaida, the change to counterinsurgency tactics, the vast increase in the size and competence of the Iraqi Security Forces, the sheer number of enemy jihadists killed between 2003-8, the unexpected political savvy of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the magnetic leadership of Gen. David Petraeus have all contributed to a radically improved Iraq.

Pundits and politicians -- especially presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama -- are readjusting their positions to reflect the new undeniable realities on the ground in Iraq:

The additional five combat brigades of the surge sent to Iraq in 2007 are already redeployed out of the country. American soldiers are incrementally turning province after province over to the Iraqi Security Forces, and planning careful but steady withdrawals for 2009.

Violence is way down. American military fatalities in Iraq for July, as of Tuesday, were the lowest monthly losses since May 2003. The Iraq theater may soon mirror other deployments in the Balkans, Europe and Asia, in which casualties are largely non-combat-related.

Since overseas troops have to be billeted, fed and equipped somewhere -- whether in Germany, Okinawa or Iraq -- the material costs of deployment in Iraq may soon likewise approximate those of other theaters. Anger over the costs of the "war" could soon be simply part of a wider debate over the need for, and expense of, maintaining a large number of American troops anywhere abroad.

For over four years, war critics insisted that we took our eye off Afghanistan, empowered Iran, allowed other rogue nations to run amuck and soured our allies while we were mired in an unnecessary war. But how true is all that?

The continuing violence in Afghanistan can be largely attributed to Pakistan, whose tribal wild lands serve as a safe haven for Taliban operations across the border. To the extent the war in Iraq has affected Afghanistan, it may well prove to have been positive for the U.S.: Many Afghan and Pakistani jihadists have been killed in Iraq, the war has discredited al-Qaida, and the U.S. military has gained crucial expertise on tribal counterinsurgency.

Iran in the short-term may have been strengthened by a weakened Iraq, U.S. losses and acrimony over the war. Yet a constitutional Iraq of free Sunnis and Shiites may soon prove as destabilizing to Iran as Iranian subversion once was to Iraq. Nearby American troops, freed from daily fighting in Iraq, should appear to Iran as seasoned rather than exhausted. If Iraq is deemed successful rather than a quagmire, it is also likely that our allies in Europe and the surrounding region will be more likely to pressure Iran.

These shifting realities may explain both the shrill pronouncements emanating from a worried Iran and its desire for diplomatic talks with American representatives.

Other rogue nations -- North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba (not to mention al-Qaida itself) -- also do not, for all their bluster, think that or act like an impotent U.S military is mired in defeat in Iraq.

Meanwhile, surrounding Arab countries may soon strengthen ties with Iraq. After all, military success creates friends as much as defeat loses them. In the past, Iraq's neighbors worried either about Saddam Hussein's aggression or subsequent Shiite/Sunni sectarianism. Now a constitutional Iraq offers them some reassurance that neither Iraqi conventional nor terrorist forces will attack.

None of this means that a secure future for Iraq is certain. After all, there are no constitutional oil-producing states in the Middle East. Instead, we usually see two pathologies: either a state like Iran where petrodollars are recycled to fund terrorist groups and centrifuges, or the Gulf autocracies where vast profits result in artificial islands, indoor ski runs and radical Islamic propaganda.

Iraq could still degenerate into one of those models. But for now, Iraq -- with an elected government and free press -- is not investing its wealth in subsidizing terrorists outside its borders, spreading abroad fundamentalist madrassas, building centrifuges or allowing a few thousand royal first cousins to squander its oil profits.

Iraq for the last 20 years was the worst place in the Middle East. The irony is that it may now have the most promising future in the entire region.
Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and author, most recently, of "A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War."


WASHINGTON - Barack Obama committed the worst blunder of his campaign by wrongly accusing President Bush, John McCain and other Republicans of trying to make voters fear him because he's not "like all those other presidents on the dollar bills."

This racial calumny is completely unfair, diminishes his own campaign, and certainly is the worst possible way to win over those blue-collar white Democrats in Ohio and Pennsylvania who picked Hillary Rodham Clinton over him in the primary.

And it's certainly not how he's gotten this far.

Whether Obama wins the White House in November or not, he will have enthralled the world, revolutionized modern American politics, and secured his place in history.

Defying every smug prediction, Obama raised more money, inspired more volunteers and executed a near-flawless campaign to become his party's nominee.

His base is broad, fervent and generous.

Throughout the campaign, race has never been the central, driving issue. If it were, Obama would still be just an inexperienced freshman senator from Illinois with a strange name and a wildly liberal voting record.

Obama emerged victorious from the snowy-white fields of Iowa not simply because he is Black, or even in spite of being black. He emerged victorious because he refused to allow his race to be the issue that defined him.

The only race card he has played up to now is the one that totally neutralizes the issue - the one that makes his race nearly invisible.

In his speech on race in Philadelphia earlier this year, he talked of the goodness he sees in people - even in whites who are routinely browbeaten by knee-jerk liberals and race hustlers in search of a quick political buck.

Barack Obama should return to these soaring ideals and quit this whining and fantasizing about Republicans making fun of him because he doesn't look like

3) Mofaz on Iran: We won't let a second Holocaust happen

"Israel will not let a second Holocaust happen," Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz said Friday in regard to Iran's nuclear weapons program, which he said poses an existential threat to the state of Israel.

Mofaz's statements came during a speech at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy Friday, in which he also called for further diplomatic efforts including sanctions, saying "we believe that the main direction must be diplomacy," before adding that "all options are on the table" for bringing an end to the program.

Mofaz was quick to point out that Israel's problem is not with the Iranian people, and told listeners of his childhood in Iran.

"I was born in Iran and I came to Israel at the age of 9. The Iranians are a very kind people, but they live under an extremist regime...This does not come from the Iranian people, but from the Iranian leadership."

Mofaz also told listeners about Israel Radio's Farsi-language show which is broadcast in Iran. Mofaz offered an anecdote from one of the times he was on the program and spoke to Iranian callers.

"I had an opportunity to speak with an Iranian taxi driver and one of the questions he asked me was 'why dont you [Israel] come rescue us from this regime?' So now you understand the difference between the Iranian people and the regime."

He added that the extremism of Iran's regime poses a threat not only to Israel, but also to "the United States, Europe, and the world as a whole."

"My opinion and my goal will be to continue to speak to the Syrians without preconditions," Mofaz said in a speech Friday.

"The way is - peace for peace."

Mofaz's speech came a day after a meeting Thursday with senior U.S. officials in Washington, in which he raised "strong concerns" over the administration's recent diplomatic overtures to Iran, which are occuring as the country pursues its nuclear weapons program.

According to his spokeswoman, Mofaz told U.S. leaders to be "firm" with Iran over its contentious nuclear program.

In a shift of policy, U.S. diplomat Nicholas Burns joined envoys from other world powers for a July 19 meeting with an Iranian delegate at which his country was given two weeks to answer calls to curb uranium enrichment or face more sanctions.

The turnaround raised eyebrows in Israel, which has long looked to its U.S. ally to lead efforts to isolate Iran.

Since the multi-party talks in Geneva, Iran has said it would press ahead with its nuclear plans. Israel has increased the stakes in the diplomatic standoff by hinting it could resort to military strikes against its arch-foe's nuclear sites.

Mofaz was hosted by Burns on Thursday for routine bilateral consultations known as the "strategic dialogue."

Mofaz's spokeswoman, Talia Somech, said he used the forum, as well as separate meetings with U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, to raise Israel's objections to the direct U.S.-Iranian talks.

"It wasn't a matter of leveling outrage, but of voicing Israel's strong concerns," she said.

"He (Mofaz) urged the Americans to set firm conditions, such as a refusal to allow the Iranians to enrich uranium on their turf, and to be clear that the deadline must be preserved. The Iranians are simply looking for cracks to exploit."

The West accuses Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian program. Iran denies it, and has stirred regional war jitters by vowing to retaliate for any attack by targeting Israel and U.S. assets in the Gulf.

The State Department issued a statement after the Mofaz-Burns meeting that said nothing about the possibility of using force against Iran.

"The United States and Israel share deep concern about Iran's nuclear program, and the two delegations discussed steps to strengthen diplomatic efforts and financial measures to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability," the statement said.

It gave no details of the measures discussed.

"We also reaffirmed our strong mutual determination to counter Iran's support for terrorism," said the statement, which the State Department said was being issued by both the United States and Israel.

Israel, which is believed to have the Middle East's only atomic arsenal, says a nuclear-armed Iran could threaten its existence.

Mofaz, a former defense minister, is considered a possible successor to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who plans to quit after his party chooses a new leader in September.

Elaborating on a now standard Israeli call, Mofaz said during his Washington talks that "all options against Iran should not only be on table, but prepared," Somech said.

3a) With hawks flying high in Israel, Iran builds bombs at its peril
By Con Coughlin

Has Israel just taken a step closer to bombing Iran? That will certainly be the main subject of discussion in Jerusalem this weekend as Israelis digest the surprise announcement by their prime minister, Ehud Olmert, that he is to stand down in September.
# Read more from Con Coughlin

I got to know Mr Olmert when he was mayor of Jerusalem in the 1990s, and he struck me as the last person who would ever fall on his sword. A determined, self-confident man then entrenched firmly in the Right-wing, rejectionist faction of the Likud party, Mr Olmert relished a political fight with his rivals - Israeli or Palestinian - and invariably came out on top.

The sprawling, concrete Israeli conurbations that now surround the world's holiest city bear testimony to Mr Olmert's undeniable skill in opposing the wishes not just of Israeli peaceniks and Palestinian nationalists, but of the entire international community that sought to prevent further Jewish expansion in Jerusalem until a final peace settlement could be agreed between the warring parties.

It was an irony, then, that Mr Olmert was elected Israeli prime minister - his lifelong ambition - in early 2006 to complete the tortuous peace process that began when Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo Accords on the White House lawn in 1993.

The arch-hawk had transformed himself into a man of peace, as had his political mentor Ariel Sharon, Israel's famous warrior politician, who stunned his detractors by initiating the country's unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2005.

But almost from the moment he entered the prime minister's office in Jerusalem, Mr Olmert has been dogged by controversy.

Fighting your way to the top of Israeli politics is a dirty business, and Mr Olmert is not the first - and will not be the last - senior politician to find himself caught up in a corruption scandal. But where Mr Olmert differs from the others is in the magnitude of the allegations levelled against him.

The most recent of the scandals has been the most damaging, not least because the evidence appears to be so incriminating. Morris Talansky, an American businessman, has told Israeli prosecutors that he gave Mr Olmert cash-stuffed envelopes amounting to $150,000 over 15 years to fund his lavish lifestyle.

Mr Talansky's testimony before the Jerusalem district court has been as entertaining as it has been unedifying for the prime minister: "He loved expensive cigars. I know he loved pens, watches."

Since Mr Talansky gave his testimony in May, Mr Olmert's popularity has plummeted to such a level that his survival in office seemed untenable, and his fate would most likely have been sealed at the special Kadima convention scheduled for September. By indicating his decision to stand down now, Mr Olmert is merely accepting the inevitable.

His decision will be greeted with relief in Israel's political establishment, not least because all the litigation pouring into the prime minister's office meant the government machine was in effect working in a power vacuum.

"Olmert got to the position where he was so weak it was impossible for him to approve anything," said a senior Israeli government official. "Now that he is gone, the decision-making process will start functioning again."

One of the main victims of Mr Olmert's difficulties has been the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which have stalled and now seem unlikely to achieve US President George W Bush's ambitious target of securing a settlement by the end of the year.

But the issue which demands top priority, and which is of deepest concern to Israel's political establishment, is Iran's uranium-enrichment programme.

Only this week, Tehran announced that it had successfully installed double the number of centrifuges operating at its controversial Natanz enrichment facility, and most Western intelligence agencies now believe Iran has the capability to produce fissile material for a nuclear weapon.

Tzipi Livni, Israel's foreign minister, is the most likely candidate to replace Mr Olmert. She recently lamented to her senior aides that, should it became necessary for Israel to launch military action against Iran to prevent it developing nuclear weapons, there would be no one in Jerusalem to authorise it.

Besides Mrs Livni, the only other probable contender is Shaul Mofaz, the former defence minister. If anything, Mr Mofaz is more hawkish than Mrs Livni, and has frequently called for Israel to launch pre-emptive air strikes against Iran's nuclear programme to prevent what he calls a "second holocaust" against the Jewish people.

His extreme standpoint is, however, likely to preclude his bid for the premiership, and so Mrs Livni remains the hot favourite.

As foreign minister, she has followed closely the tortuous negotiation process led by the Europeans to persuade Iran to halt its uranium-enrichment programme, and has concluded that the Iranians are only interested in stringing out the process for as long as possible so that they can carry on with developing their nuclear programme.

She recently told an Israeli cabinet meeting: "The Iranians have no intention of halting their nuclear programme." That will certainly not be the case if Mrs Livni, who is said to have previously worked for Israel's Mossad intelligence service, becomes prime minister.

And if the Iranians have any sense, they should take note of the important changes taking place in Jerusalem.

4) Barack Obama and Defining Anti-Americanism Downwards
By Selwyn Duke

If Barack Obama sought to win the votes of Germans, he need seek no more. Of course, his new image was all the rage in the Old World long before he gave his July 24 speech in Berlin. Senator Sweetness and Light is the man the Europeans want as our leader.

Although Obama certainly has a stateside cult following as well, one reason Americans' enthusiasm pales in comparison may be that we - at least some of us, anyway - can decipher his words better than foreign-language speakers. As to this, there is a certain segment of the Berlin speech I'd call your attention to:

"I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we've struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We've made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions."

It might be pointed out to Senator Obama that if he finds a perfect country, he should be sure not to go there.

For then it will cease to be so.

But allow me to lend further perspective. Imagine that you gave a speech in which you "honored" your mother and said:

"I know my mother has not perfected herself. At times, she has struggled to keep the promise of fairness for all of her children. She has made her share of mistakes, and there are times when her actions around the town have not lived up to her best intentions."

Wouldn't this strike you as odd? My first thought would be, wow, you really must not think very highly of your mother. After all, since we're all sinners, it goes without saying that no one is perfect. So why would you feel compelled to state the obvious about her?

It could only be because you consider her unusually flawed, so much so that she falls outside the boundaries of normal human frailty; thus, a disclaimer is necessary before homage can be paid. It's the kind of thing you do when you're embarrassed by someone - or something - you're obligated to praise, when you feel the object of the compliments is, relative to others, unworthy of unqualified laudation and that rendering such would tarnish you. It's kind of like if you needed to defend a brother on death row or who had been convicted of rape; since he was guilty of heinous acts, you'd feel compelled to issue an "I know he has fallen from grace, but . . ." statement. It is the most a good person can muster when talking about a bad one.

And Obama's "but" came right after his disclaimer, as he said:

"But I also know how much I love America."

Note that he didn't actually reveal how much.

Lest I be thought a hypocrite, I agree with G.K. Chesterton's sentiment, "‘My country, right or wrong,' is a thing that no patriot would think of saying. It is like saying, ‘My mother, drunk or sober.'" I've often lamented America's intoxication with sin, issuing indictments of various aspects of our declining culture. Yet the difference is context.

It's one thing to point out what our country could do to become superior to its former self, but quite another to preface such counsel with the implication that it's inferior to every other nation. In the first instance you're talking about making a relatively good thing better; in the second you're talking about why a relatively bad thing might at least deserve some scraps from the table of man.

Of course, honesty is a virtue. So if Obama really believes America is that bad, shouldn't his words reflect that? Yes, without a doubt, but being honestly wrong is not a virtue. Remember that Obama was speaking in the nation that birthed the Holocaust, a Maginot-line away from that which spawned the Napoleonic Wars, not too far from the land of the Stalinist purges, and just across the North Sea from an empire that colonized much of the Earth. In this drunk-on-power world, Senator Obama, do you really believe your motherland is an embarrassment?

Getting back to mothers, mine often instructed, "Don't wash your dirty laundry in public." I mention this because Obama also rendered more explicit criticism of his beloved nation, asking:

"Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law?"

This is, of course, an allusion to our military's use of waterboarding during coerced interrogation. And, to be fair, I don't say good people cannot oppose it. Journalist Christopher Hitchens actually volunteered to undergo the procedure and emerged firm in the conviction that it is, in fact, torture. This warrants consideration as Hitchens, for all his militant-atheist zealotry and faults, has been nothing but honest regarding the war against Islamism.

Yet, as per my mother's injunction, there is a time and a place for criticizing family - this includes national family. Obama can argue against waterboarding, but it should be done in-house, not overseas in front of a throng of screaming, anti-American foreigners.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Obama's implication that America is uniquely damnable is that he was oblivious to it. Sure, you may say that few would connect those dots, but that is what makes the remark so telling. It's one of those unthinking comments that give you deeper insight into a person's heart and mind.

To fully grasp this, understand where Obama is coming from. This is an individual who sat in pews for 20 years and imbibed the preaching of a man who disgorges sentiments such as "G*****n America!" and calls her the "US of KKKA!" Wouldn't it strain credulity to say that such a politician doesn't have a negative view of his country? Even Oprah Winfrey, not a woman known to wrap herself in the flag and belt out "The Star-Spangled Banner," left Reverend Jeremiah Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ after being assailed with such vitriol.

They say that how a son treats his mother speaks volumes about his character. We should bear this in mind when evaluating Barack Obama, this son of America who is lauded by Europeans. There are people who just wouldn't issue the "my country has not perfected itself" disclaimer, and then there are those who would. In the cases of those who utter it instinctively - the son of America and his brethren - it's an example of a very common phenomenon: Defining anti-Americanism downwards.

To the left, America is the black sheep of the world, that brother who raped the Earth and only escapes death row because he is also the law. To leftists, a statement like Obama's is patriotic - thoughtful, honest, introspective patriotism. Self-flagellation is a sign of enlightenment (although, leftists never actually whip themselves, only the "country," which is the bane of humanity because of regrettably-live conservatives and thankfully-dead white males). It is the "Of course, we're not perfect" meme. It has become Bolshevik boilerplate.

In other words, leftists have lowered the bar for patriotism and raised it for anti-Americanism. The bile of a Reverend Wright, well, it is anti-American (but understandable and excusable); it is a bridge too far. But their confession-of-sin disclaimers are no-brainers because the United States really is a bad country, and they're positively charitable when they follow-up with mention of her few redeeming qualities. It's the most a good person can muster when talking about a bad homeland.

The question is whether any of this will hurt a candidate who racks up style points like Yves Saint Laurent. Many citizens don't even care what Obama actually says, never mind what must be inferred. Even pollster Frank Luntz asserted that we have to give him credit for capturing the imaginations of 250,000 people in Berlin. Perhaps, but it occurs to me that he isn't the first ambitious orator to capture the imaginations of a quarter-million Berliners.

Style can be blinding, but I suspect that Americans who actually pay attention to substance won't be quite as taken with Obama's rhetoric as Otto the Old Worlder.

5) Palestinian Affairs: Where there's smoke...

The latest standoff between Hamas and Fatah is yet another reminder of the severe power struggle that has been raging in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for more than two years.

The recent crisis, which erupted after a mysterious explosion of a vehicle killed five Hamas men who were picnicking on the beach in Gaza City last Friday, shows that the two parties are far from ending their bloody dispute.

Hamas leaders continue to insist that Fatah was behind the explosion. And though they have yet to provide concrete evidence to back up the charges, Hamas leaders were quick to order an unprecedented clampdown on Fatah, arresting more than 160 of its members and closing dozens of institutions run by Fatah supporters and members in four days.

The only "evidence" that Hamas has been able to provide thus far is a clip from the Fatah-controlled Palestine TV, in which "revolutionary" music accompanies the pictures of the explosion in Gaza City. The clip, which also includes songs in praise of Fatah, is reminiscent of Fatah broadcasts that were intended to celebrate armed attacks on Israel.

Hamas leaders in Gaza say they have no doubt that top Fatah officials ordered the attack on the Hamas vehicle. They claim that in the past, their security forces managed to thwart similar attacks that were masterminded by a group of Fatah officials in the West Bank.

One of these Fatah officials, according to the Hamas leaders, is Tayeb Abdel Rahim, a top aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who allegedly dispatched a young Fatah activist to kill Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh last year.

Another Fatah operative whose name has been frequently mentioned as a suspect is Muhammed Dahlan, the former Fatah security commander who currently spends most of his time in Cairo.

"There is a group of traitors in Fatah who work for the Zionists and Americans," said a senior Hamas official. "These are the same figures who fled the Gaza Strip last year. They want to destroy Hamas at any cost."

This tension on the ground has been accompanied by a war of words that is continuing to poison the atmosphere between Hamas and Fatah. For the first time, Hamas this week began referring to Fatah's leaders as "sons of pigs and monkeys," a label that had thus far been reserved for Jews. This is in addition to other terms, such as "Zionist agents," "prostitutes" and "mentally retarded."

Fatah, for its part, has also pulled up some of the words it used once against Israel. Fatah spokesmen are now referring to Hamas as an "occupation force" in the Gaza Strip. Hamas leaders are being depicted as "terrorists," "oppressors," "scum of the earth" and "sex perverts."

Fatah responded to the Hamas crackdown by arresting about 100 Hamas supporters and members in the West Bank. These measures coincided with an IDF crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank, a factor that played into the hands of Hamas.

Hamas spokesmen rushed to accuse Abbas and his prime minister, Salaam Fayad, of collaboration with Israel to close down charities, schools, kindergartens and other Hamas-affiliated institutions in the West Bank. The spokesmen claimed that, in some cases, IDF troops and Abbas's security forces carried out joint raids on villages in the West Bank in search of Hamas members.

Hamas is now calling on the Palestinians in the West Bank to launch an intifada against Abbas and the PA. The threats have prompted several top PA officials to take precautionary measures, while others have moved their families to Amman or Cairo.

Despite the crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank, there are still no signs that Abbas and his Fatah party are in full control. True, Hamas does not have a military presence in the West Bank, but there's no ignoring the movement's political power there. Ironically, the IDF and Fatah measures against Hamas figures and institutions have served as a boomerang, earning the Islamic movement more sympathy among West Bank Palestinians.

ABBAS'S REPUTATION among his people suffered a severe setback this week, when Haaretz reported that he was threatening to dismantle the PA if Israel freed jailed Hamas ministers and legislators. The report, which has been strongly denied by Abbas, is now being used by Abbas's rivals as further proof that the man is a "traitor."

Abbas's standing may soon suffer another blow as he finds it difficult to pay salaries to more than 150,000 public servants in the PA. The PA, according to its own spokesmen, is on the verge of bankruptcy, due to the failure of donor countries to live up their promises. As a result, the PA's deficit has grown over the past seven months from $1.6b. to $2b.

The confrontation with Hamas and the financial crisis do not bode well for Abbas, who is also facing increasing challenges from within Fatah. Abbas's term in office will expire in January 2009, and, according to his aides, he has no intention of stepping down. In fact, Abbas claims that the PA constitution, which was ostensibly amended a few years ago, allows him to remain in power for another year.

But Hamas has already declared that it won't recognize Abbas as president of the PA beyond January 2009. Hamas officials have even made it clear that they will remove Abbas's pictures from all government institutions in the Gaza Strip after that date.

In any case, it would be impossible to hold presidential elections in the wake of the increased tensions between Hamas and Fatah, and the continued split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

So what's going to happen in January? Hamas says that, according to the PA constitution, the acting speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council - who is a Hamas official - will take over as president for a transitional period until new elections are held. Fatah, on the other hand, says that it would support Abbas if he decides to stay in power for another year.

However, not all Fatah members are willing to accept such a scenario. Representatives of the "young guard" in Fatah have made it known that they would revolt against any attempt to block the emergence of a new leadership. Jailed Fatah operative Marwan Barghouti, who has recently been very critical of the way Abbas and the veteran Fatah leadership are handling the affairs of the Palestinians, has expressed his desire to run in the next presidential election.

Whatever path Hamas and Fatah choose, it's clear that the two parties are headed toward further schism and conflict.

Hamas's actions in Gaza demonstrate that the movement has decided to eliminate any Fatah presence there. Similarly, Abbas's forces are now waging a battle to "cleanse" the West Bank of Hamas.

The separation between the West Bank and Gaza is likely to grow, as the two sides continue to trade accusations and target each other. Yet, whereas there are no signs that the Hamas grip on Gaza has been weakened as a result of the power struggle, there are many indications that Abbas and Fatah are losing their credibility and power on the streets of the West Bank.

6) Column One: Kadima's legacy of nothingness

After the dust settled on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's surprise announcement Wednesday evening that he will resign from office after Kadima's leadership primary on September 17, the main question is, What possessed him to act as he did?

Olmert did not actually resign from office in the normal sense of the term. That is, he's not planning to leave office any time soon. What Olmert did was force Israel into a long period of governmental instability.

According to the elections law, when a prime minister announces his resignation, his government is immediately transformed into a transition government that will remain in power until either Olmert's successor forms a governing coalition or until the winner of the next general election forms a governing coalition. If Olmert's successor forms a new governing coalition after the September 17 primary, Israelis won't go to the polls until March 2010. But if Olmert's replacement as Kadima head is unable to form a coalition, Israel will have a general election by March 2009 at the latest. In the latter scenario, Olmert's transition government will remain in power until the winners of that election form a governing coalition. And that could take up to three more months.

So far from leaving office anytime soon, Olmert will remain in power at least three more months, and perhaps for as long as 10 months.

Olmert's non-resignation resignation speech was filled with protestations of patriotism. But it is hard to see how his announcement served the national interest. If Olmert had wanted to do what is best for the country, then he would have announced that his resignation was effective immediately. This would have set the course for a general election in November.

In the interim, and in light of the intensifying security crisis with Iran, a caretaker government could have been formed that would have encompassed all willing Zionist parties represented in the Knesset. If such a government were formed, Israel could have attacked Iran's nuclear installations with the full backing of the Knesset and the people. The political cost of such a vital operation would have been borne equally by all of Israel's political leaders and so, in a sense, it would have been borne by no one. Under such circumstances, Israel's political leaders would have been able to concern themselves only with Israel's survival as they made their best decisions on how to prevent the ayatollahs from acquiring nuclear weapons.

But rather than enable Israel to unite in the face of a threat to its existence, Olmert opted for continued instability, continued uncertainly and a continuation of the polarized status quo that leaves him in office and leaves Israel strategically hamstrung at the hands of a governing coalition that the nation does not want and does not trust. And this situation could easily last for nearly a year.

There are two possible explanations for Olmert's behavior. First, it is possible, as some commentators have noted, that by announcing his decision not to seek reelection in Kadima's leadership primary - and lose overwhelmingly by all accounts - Olmert may be trying to convince the police investigators to allow him to leave office in his own car and not in the back of a paddy wagon.

There is a precedent for such a move. The late president Ezer Weizman resigned from office in 2000 in exchange for an end to the criminal probe against him. And the probe against Weizman - which centered on cash transfers in excess of $540,000 that he received over an extended period from Edward Sarousi, a French businessman - was similar to the sixth of seven ongoing probes against Olmert, where he is being investigated for cash transfers he received from US businessman Morris Talansky.

The other possibility is that Olmert is playing his familiar game of buying time. Buying time has been the enduring theme of his tenure in office.

After Olmert led Israel to defeat in the Second Lebanon War two years ago, he staved off calls for his resignation by appointing the Winograd Committee to study his failures. Eight months later, the Winograd Committee issued its interim report where it concluded that Olmert had failed in his stewardship of the country during the war. In the face of the public outcry that followed, Olmert bought himself another eight months by insisting on waiting until the committee issued its final report.

As the criminal probes against him rose to the top of the national agenda in late April with the revelation that Olmert had accepted cash-stuffed envelops from Talansky for a decade, Olmert bought himself another four months by pledging to resign if indicted. And now, of course, he has bought himself at least three more months, and perhaps up to 11 months more in power. And who knows what unanticipated crisis or windfall may intervene in the meantime and add another few months to his lifespan as prime minister?

In his handling of all of these crises, the good of the country has not been Olmert's primary concern. Indeed, it is far from clear that he ever considered the impact his actions would have on Israel at all. Rather, from crisis to crisis, from one stalling tactic to the next, Olmert has been guided by his single-minded desire to remain in office. And this is not surprising.

OLMERT'S PATENT lack of shame is not the only reason that Israel's best interests haven't factored into Olmert's calculations. By placing his personal interests above the national interest, Olmert was loyally reflecting the character of his party. Winning and maintaining power for power's sake, irrespective of the national interest and ideological principles, were the purposes for which Kadima was founded by Ariel Sharon.

Sharon founded Kadima as a self-consciously post-ideological party. And as Kadima's first elected prime minister, Olmert is Israel's first post-ideological premier.

Olmert and Kadima are the direct consequences of Sharon's decision to turn his back on his party, and on the ideology that brought him into office in 2003 in favor of clinging to power for power's sake. To remain in office amidst two serious criminal probes, Sharon betrayed his ideological camp and Israel's national security interests. This he did by implementing the discredited radical leftist policy championed by Israel's media and legal fraternity of withdrawing all Israeli military personnel and civilians from the Gaza Strip and transferring control of the area to Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror control.

Sharon, Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and their political consultants presented Kadima's rejection of ideology as its chief selling point. By not being committed to either left-wing or right-wing ideals, they assured us that Kadima would always do the right thing for the country.

But the opposite occurred. Without the benefit of ideology to guide them, Kadima's leaders have been led by nothing more than their personal interests. And their primary interest is not to do what is best for the country irrespective of ideology. Their primary interest is to maintain and expand their power for as long as possible.

To maintain and expand their power, Kadima's leaders from Olmert to the party's last backbencher have sought to align their policies with the nation's shifting moods. The nation's mood swings from left to right are always followed by sharp changes in Kadima's policies.

With the nation in a left leaning mood in the run-up to the last election, Kadima announced its plan to give Judea and Samaria to terrorists from Fatah and Hamas. Distinguishing their party from the radical left, which shares their plan, Kadima's leaders explained that they sought to place Israel's major urban centers in Palestinian rocket range not in the interest of peace - as the leftist ideologues would have it - but in the interest of the hardnosed "demographic" aim of putting all the country's Jews in one concentrated area.

Before the nation had an opportunity to fully understand what Kadima's "convergence" plan entailed, Israel's body politic shifted to the right in June 2006 after the Palestinians attacked an IDF post near Gaza and kidnapped Cpl. Gilad Schalit. Two weeks later it shifted further to the right when Hizbullah carried out a nearly identical attack along the border with Lebanon and supposedly abducted reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser.

Noticing the public's rightward shift, Olmert and his colleagues followed immediately. When Olmert launched the Second Lebanon War, he sounded downright Churchillian as he promised the nation nothing less than the total defeat of Hizbullah and the return of our hostage servicemen.

But then, when Olmert's bombast was confronted with the hard reality of war, he lost interest in being a right-winger. And so he fought the war like a radical leftist and accepted humiliating defeat. Ever since then, Kadima has tacked to the right and then to the left with no guiding rationale other than the morning's headlines, the weekend's opinion polls, and the threats of its right-wing and left-wing coalition partners.

In the meantime, the actual threats arrayed against Israel as a whole have become more acute and more fateful. But Olmert and his colleagues can't be bothered to deal with them. They are too busy. Deciding who you are each day anew on the basis of the morning radio broadcasts is a time-consuming venture. And their solitary aim remains constant throughout. They just want to stay in power for another day, another week or with a little luck, for a few more months.

THIS IS the sad and desperate face of post-ideological politics. While as prime ministers, left-wing leaders such as Defense Minister Ehud Barak and President Shimon Peres could only make mistakes in one direction, post-ideological leaders like Olmert and his colleagues in Kadima can and do make mistakes in all directions.

From 1977 when Likud first rose to power until 2006 when Kadima formed the government, all of Israel's elections revolved around contrasting ideologies. For 29 years, voters were required to choose which side of the ideological divide they preferred. And making choices isn't easy. Both sides seem to have something to offer.

Then Kadima entered the political stage dead on center and offered voters a way to avoid making a decision. It professed to be all things to all people.

But of course, no one and no political party can be all things to all people. And since Kadima's leaders won't choose whose side they are on for longer than opinion polls stay constant, their party has been nothing to all people.

Here it bears noting that Olmert's slow, meandering exit from office against the backdrop of growing dangers is a fitting end to this sad chapter in Israel's history. For when a government of nothings is running the show, nothing takes precedent over all things - even the most important things.

It can only be hoped that when the next election takes place, voters will have learned the lesson of Kadima. Whether we choose the right ideological camp or the wrong one to lead us, we cannot evade our responsibility to make a choice.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Stiff the children - deny them solid education!

It is known Sec. Gates is utterly opposed to any pre-emptive attack on Iran and probably would resign if so ordered by GW so the ability of Israel to defend itself hangs in the air as Iran draws closer to having a bomb.

Israel fears having to rely on the judgment and veracity of Obama as well they should. One president's disavowal of his word is enough for this tiny nation in the space of a decade. (See 1 below.)

Syria's Ambassador plays the lyre or liar. Israel is the only nation that always has to give back what it took in wars it never started and which was always historically belonged to it anyway.

Israel has to decide, in order to have a "cold" peace, it has to constantly salami itself. (See 2 below.)

What Lola wants, Olmert says, Lola will probably not get - Jerusalem's status is the sticking point. Once again, Israel is the only nation that cannot even determine where to locate its capital because Palestinians now make their own claim on a city they, historically, never even considered theirs and the world must approve. (See 3 below.)

Kyle Shiver de-constructs Obama while J.R. Dunn writes about Obama's hubris. (See 4 and 4 a below.)

Will he won't he, yes and no - Olmert keeps his views on resignation an enigma. (See 5 below.)

Ahmadinejad purrs like a cat about Iran wanting an accommodation with West. The feelers are out as GW's time in office winds down along with his gut level and Iran keeps building centrifuges. (See 6 below.)

Daniel Pipes comments. (See 7 below.)

Education fraud - black leadership just keeps stiffing their own children. Obama sides with the unions. McCain seeks change. Interesting flip flop. (See 8 below.)


1) No date with Gates fixed ahead of Barak trip to Washington

Israel’s defense minister Ehud Barak is due to land with both feet at the heart of the controversy with the US defense secretary Robert Gates over the wisdom of a pre-emptive attack on Iran’s nuclear weapons projects before it is too late.

American coordination with any Israeli strike plan would be contingent on Gates’ review and approval. However, Washington sources report, as Barak prepared to fly out, the Israeli defense ministry spokesman said he would be meeting vice president Dick Cheney, secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, senior military officials and members of Congress. Gates’ name was not on the agenda.

A senior adviser to minister Barak, Amos Gilad, said in a radio interview Sunday, “This is a very important visit. Israel cannot tolerate living under an Iranian nuclear threat. For the moment our priority is the diplomatic track, but Israel has to be prepared to use all options.”

Military sources note Gates also avoided meeting Israel’s chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, although he spent all last week in Washington on a working visit at the invitation of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen.

Jerusalem has not commented on these omissions, but the message has registered that Gates is so adamantly opposed to any military action against Iran, that he has decided not even to look at any Israeli plans of action.

The latest issue of Parameters, the US Army War College quarterly, carries an article in which the US defense secretary writes a war with Iran would be “disastrous on a number of levels.” It is the last thing we need, he wrote, despite the fact that Iran “supports terrorism,” is “a destabilizing force through the Middle East and Southwest Asia and in my judgment, is hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons.”

Another cause of Israel’s concern is the Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama’s praise for Gates’ position on Iran.

Firing on all cylinders, Israel’s transport minister Shaul Mofaz, a former defense minister involved in U.S.-Israeli strategic relations, is expected in Washington on July 30. He too will meet Cheney and Rice. His spokesman told AFP:

"The main subject under discussion will be the threat posed by the Iranian nuclear program to the entire region.”

2) Syria envoy to U.S.: Israel has chance for peace with all Arabs

Syria is interested in securing a peace agreement with Israel that would see a normalization of ties and end to the longstanding state of war between the two countries, Damascus' envoy to the U.S. has said.

"The negotiations are a historic opportunity for Israel to make peace, not just with Syria and Lebanon, but with the whole Arab world," Ambassador Imad Moustapha said, according to an interview broadcast on Army Radio on Monday.

Moustapha, an associate of Syrian President Bashar Assad, said that Israel must understand that such a peace can not be achieved unless it withdraws from the disputed Golan Heights, which it conquered in the 1967 Six-Day War.

"Israel must accept Syria's legitimate demand and understand that it will not achieve peace on the northern border as long as it is holding the Golan Heights," Moustapha was quoted as saying. "We offer the big thing ? let's sit together, make peace and finish once and for all this state of war. What could be better than that?"

Moustapha was speaking in an interview with the Pro-Israel Americans for Peace Now, a U.S.-affiliate of the Peace Now Movement.

The ambassador is not privy to the negotiations between Syria and Israel, but sources in Jerusalem said his closeness with Assad lends significance to his declarations.

In response to the statements, Peace Now Secretary General Yariv Oppenheimer called on Israel to complete negotiations with Syria while the current Knesset is still in office.

"The government of Israel has an obligation not to miss this chance for peace with Israel, and to present a full peace agreement to the public," Oppenheimer told Army Radio.

3) Olmert: No chance for deal with Palestinians on Jerusalem this year
By Avi Issacharoff and Barak Ravid

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Monday that it was unlikely Israel and the Palestinians would reach their goal of a peace accord by the end of 2008, considering the volatile status of Jerusalem.

"I don't believe that understandings that will include Jerusalem can be reached this year. But on the other core issues, the gaps are not dramatic," he told members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, according to an official present at the meeting. "There is no practical chance of reaching an overall understanding on Jerusalem."

"Whoever thinks its possible to live with 270,000 Arabs in Jerusalem must take into account that there will be more bulldozers, more tractors, and more cars carrying out [terror] attacks," Olmert said.

In lieu of a deal on Jerusalem, the official said, Olmert proposed a joint Israeli-Palestinian "mechanism" to continue negotiations on the future of the city in next year.

Meanwhile, Palestinian sources said that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is pressuring Israel and the Palestinian Authority to try to agree on a document of understandings by September, ahead of the United Nations General Assembly.

The sources said Rice wants to be able to present the document during the General Assembly to show progress in the talks.

The document would include agreed-on points particularly on borders, an issue where, according to an American diplomat, the gap is not significant. According to Palestinian sources, the gap regarding a right of return for Palestinian refugees has also narrowed.

The United States is pressing for an agreement by which Palestinian refugees will have the right of return to what were the Palestinian territories before 1967, except for a yet-unclear small number of family reunifications. The PA says the U.S. will not take a dramatic step of a "Camp David" nature before the end of President George W. Bush's term in office.

A senior government official in Jerusalem confirmed that Rice wants to use the UN General Assembly to present a document summarizing the progress of the last nine months. "Rice brings up the idea in various diplomatic forums, both in the administration," he said.

The Israeli and PA teams, headed by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Ahmed Qureia, are set to arrive in Washington on Wednesday to continue negotiations. Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz were to join the Israeli delegation.

A three-way meeting with Rice is expected where she will be updated on the status of the talks. The United States and the PA have long been interested in holding such talks, but Israel says the meeting is routine.

According to the Israeli official, the main issue the Americans will bring up in the meeting is the document they hope to present at the General Assembly. But he added that "neither we nor the Palestinians want a deadline that can't be met. That will only hurt the talks and the good progress that has been achieved so far."

The official said gaps remain on most issues and confirmed that the parties are closest on borders. The debate now is over the percentage of land Israel will annex and the kind of compensation the PA will get in exchange. Olmert has told associates that the gap stands at a mere 2 to 3 percent.

The question of refugees is still open and the matter of Jerusalem has not even come up for discussion yet. Livni and Qureia meet at least once a week. Their advisers, Tal Becker and Saeb Erekat, also meet to work on draft agreements, and committees of experts are continuing their talks.

Livni and Qureia agree that talks should reach a point where they can survive changes of government on all sides, including in the United States. As opposed to Olmert and Abbas, who reiterate their desire to reach an agreement in 2008, Livni and Qureia are discussing ways to continue the talks through 2009. One idea is to use the November Moscow Conference on the Middle East to announce talks in 2009.

4) Deconstructing Obama
By Kyle-Anne Shiver

Deconstruction, I'm told, is still all the rage on college campuses throughout the Land. Part of the broader movement of postmodernism which has attempted to tear down the old certainties upon which Western Culture is founded.

The academics' pet theory of the past 30 years has touched numerous facets of our society. These thorny deconstructionists have managed to convince many an American college student to sacrifice his God-given common sense and Judeo/Christian values on the altar of presumed white male privilege, from which these students are admonished they now must actively disengage. After all, say the deconstructionists and their postmodernist, post-colonialist allies, every single good in Western civilization has been irrevocably tainted by the despicable, ill-gotten-gain methods of those nasty, imperialist, white, male, chauvinist-pig founders, warriors, inventors, builders, landowners, writers, jurists et al. How dare we, as modern day white Westerners, reap the ill-gotten benefits of such a despicable, greedy, imperialistic lot.

Deconstructionists have attempted to remake society around a new set of power relations. In their philosophical re-do, they imperiously take the advantage away from white males and hand it over, lock, stock and barrel to all non-white males and females of all varieties. And presto-change-o the world is still unfair, but it is unfair in a different direction. A more "fair" form of unfairness, or so say the deconstructionists.

Sadly, we have all seen the results of deconstructionist machinations in our schools, our workplaces, our literature, our legal system and just about every other place one dares to look. Why, the deconstructionists have deconstructed just about everything Western, save the old kitchen sink. In some spheres, the results of this attempt at re-ordering our society is called "affirmative action." In others, it's called a "quota system." Then there is the omnipresent "sensitivity training," what communists blithely refer to as "reeducation camp."

Unfortunately, we now must assume, after 30 years of this theory's preeminence, that those of us who do not ascribe to deconstructionist tenets, must actually deconstruct much of what we used to be able to take for granted.

University degrees are no longer objectively standardized, bona fide credentials; they are subjective instruments that could mean just about anything. Job titles are no longer a guarantee of accomplishment; they could just as easily be token positions. And on and on and on this list could go, but there isn't time here.

Perhaps nowhere outside academia itself have the deconstructionists had more powerful sway than within the once-august body that calls itself the Democratic Party. I have, myself, for years now refused to bestow the adjective, democratic, upon the Democrat Party. It has been so thoroughly infiltrated since the early 70s by leftist deconstructionists that it has become a thoroughly undemocratic institution, giving heaps of advantage to everyone other than white males, and has thusly reduced itself to a committee dictatorially run by a rainbow proletariat. The dictatorship of the minorities. How democratic is that?

Because the deconstructionists have thoroughly taken over the Democratic Party in America, it is now incumbent upon us, the citizenry, to deconstruct the candidate they are promoting for President, the not-even-through-his-first-term Senator, Barack Obama.

Deconstructing the Democratic Party Brand

Sadly, we can no longer assume that anyone promoted by the Democratic Party has been properly vetted for disqualifying scandalous behavior, or even on the most fundamental level of actually possessing barely minimal qualifications for public office.

As many have noted during this protracted Democrat primary race, the rules for nominating a Presidential candidate under this Party's label are mystifying in their complexity. Prior to 1968, the Democrats used, by and large, the same winner-take-all formula for primaries that the Republican Party still uses.

This formula is not unlike the wisdom of our Electoral College, which ingeniously allows for majority votes to count by localities and states. It's simple, uncomplicated, clean-cut. Under this old, tried-and-true system the majority rules and life goes on without a whole heap of fuss, which has allowed this Republic of ours to transfer power without bloodshed, uninterrupted for going on three centuries.

Of course, as anyone with a lick of political, historical knowledge already knows, the Democratic Party's system had for the last few decades taken a low-road, backroom approach to party politics that favored insiders and machine bosses over the will of ordinary voters. Their system was already primed for the comeuppance it got in 1968.

The Democratic National Convention of 1968 was a quite raucous and bloody affair, with mobs of young leftist agitators rioting in the streets of Chicago, demanding their way. These home-grown Marxist revolutionaries, many of whom went on to become domestic terrorists and bombers and universal nihilists of all variety, didn't get their way that year. But they did make enough of a dent in the bastions of Democratic Party authority to rewrite the nominating rules around what they considered more egalitarian principles. What resulted from the radical changes to the nominating process is the convoluted mess that formed the basis for this year's slugfest between two affirmative-action candidates.

To be sure, a great many journalists have already tiptoed through this affirmative-action mine field upon which I am about to brazenly march, but so far their dainty ruminations have had scanty effect upon polling numbers.

Actually, that may be a bit understated, since it seems nearly miraculous that the Republican candidate, John McCain, is within shouting distance of the Democrat after a full eight years of leftist press bombardment aimed at the Republican brand, effectively polarizing a sitting Republican President. I personally believe McCain's strong showing so far is owed not to racism, as has been suggested, but due to the obvious affirmative-action nature of the Democrats' candidate, Barack Obama.

The truth is that neither of the Democrat front-runners for the nomination this year would have ever been considered for the highest office in the Land had they not received the benefit of 30 years' worth of postmodernist/deconstructionist machinations that gave them undue advantage owing to their presumed mantle of past grievances on account of race and gender.

One woman who unabashedly leapfrogged her way into the Senate on the back of a still-sitting President, her husband. And the other frontrunner, Obama, has absolutely nothing on his resume but stints in academia, political organizing, a do-nothing state senate gig, and the office of a Senator, which he has shamefully used as nothing more than a launch pad for his audacious attempted catapult into the White House.

By offering us two nominees and a presumed candidate whose demographic background outweighs considerations of experience and merit, the Democratic Party is undermining, deconstructing really, its own brand, traditionally built on the pose of championing the little guy.

Deconstructing Obama

We, the citizenry, are being asked at this juncture to literally turn our time-tested demand for a presidential resume check completely on its ear. We are asked to give advantages to Barack Obama on account of his racial mix that we would never give to a white male, and as some have surmised even to a white female, in the same position.

We are being asked to deconstruct the most powerful political position in the world.

One of the pet "methods" of deconstruction, I'm told, is the critique of binary oppositions. It's proposed by deconstructionists that there are classic dualities in Western thought, which give privileged position to one term over the other, the favored position always going to the meaning most associated with the phallus. Puh-lease.

But, okay, let's play along. A few of the most oft noted binary oppositions in Western thought are: fullness over emptiness, meaning over meaninglessness, identity over difference and life over death.

And, yes, as a mere product of my wholly Western thought, I do tend quite naturally to give a positive weight to fullness over emptiness, meaning over meaninglessness, identity over difference and life over death. Mere common sense would seem to dictate these positive connotations, in my own mind, whether one is Western, Eastern or anything else.

But according to the deconstructionists, if I want to throw my full support to candidate Obama, then I must literally force myself to go completely athwart these Western tendencies, and opt to reverse them.

I must accept that Obama's nearly empty resume for the Presidency is actually better than McCain's full resume.

I must accept that Obama's meaningless, non-defined rhetoric is actually better than McCain's meaningful, painstakingly defined rhetoric and plans.

I must accept that Obama's difference, in terms of his racial makeup is actually better than McCain's common identity with my own. Whatever happened to Martin Luther King's insistence on a colorblind society?

So far, Obama's only plans worth noting are to disarm America and turn over vast amounts of our wealth to refortify failing dictatorships in third-world countries. If accomplished, this will amount to nothing less than handing over our sovereignty and liberty in favor of bondage to international consensus.

I must accept that Obama's death plan for America, the Land that I love, is actually better than McCain's life plan to preserve and protect our liberty.

I might as well go a bit further with the deconstructionists and throw in another purely Western assumption. Liberty over bondage. Yes, it's true. Color me prejudiced to the core of my being.

I actually will prefer to my dying day, with the last breath I draw, as God is my witness, liberty over bondage.

I'm hopelessly, irretrievably, to the marrow of my bones, an American. And I will not give my one vote, earned by the precious sacrifice of millions before me, to a deconstructionist, affirmative-action candidate.

The Presidency of the United States of America is not now, nor should it ever be, an entitlement.

Whatever precautions you take so the photograph will look like this or that, there comes a moment when the photograph surprises you. It is the other's gaze that wins out and decides.
- Jacques Derrida, Father of Deconstructionist Theory

4a) The Operative Term is 'Hubris'
By J.R. Dunn

Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.
- Euripides

He has a seat on his campaign aircraft marked "president". He has taken a shot at creating his own presidential seal, complete with Latin motto. He has laid claim to personal control over the world's oceans and seas. He has repeatedly attempted to dictate how and on what level he, his ideas, and his activities may be discussed. He has encouraged a portrayal of himself as a messianic figure, including a portrait of himself as Christ, complete with halo. He is even now completing a triumphant grand tour of the old world, during which he attempted to shanghai an ancient monument for personal use without consulting the host government.

The operative term here is "hubris". A word of Attic Greek origin, hubris was a major concept animating classical Greek thought. Hubris is overweening pride, an arrogance so profound and so visible as to affront the gods themselves. Hubris was a quality often identified with Greek tragic heroes. The hero allowed simple human pride in his accomplishments and station to burgeon to offensive proportions, at which point the wheels of fate began rolling. The ending was never good -- the valiant Ajax stabs himself to death at a lonely spot, the kingly Oedipus is transformed into a howling, self-blinded wreck.

Barack Obama embodies hubris in chemically pure form. Not that he's a tragic hero, or a hero of any sort, to anyone apart from his deluded legions of college freshmen. Beyond cleaning Hillary's clock, he has no accomplishments to speak of, and as for his station... A glance at Trent Lott, Robert Byrd, and Ted Kennedy clearly reveals that "U.S. senator" is not a position of particular pride.

But even if he hasn't founded cities, destroyed monsters, or led men into battle, Obama does share one quality with the heroes of the ancient world: an absolute conviction that he is superior to the ordinary run of humanity. Like them, Obama believes himself a man of destiny, and like them, Obama will go over the edge.

The only question is whether he gets to take the country with him.

He's nearly blown himself up several times previously. In the case of Jeremiah Wright, he felt himself so far above the controversy that he failed to so much as acknowledge it until it had already boiled over, leaving him no choice but to repudiate his longtime mentor. More recently he went so far as to accuse one of the oldest and most liberal publications in the country of impiety. There is no other word for it -- the entire case against The New Yorker was based on the premise that Barack Obama, of all living individuals, is beyond the reach of satire due to the sacredness of his person, a claim never, to my knowledge, made in a previous American election.

Over the past week, he has thrust himself into negotiations with a crucial American client, a client even now involved in the final stages of a lengthy and debilitating war, for the sole purpose of bolstering his campaign. Again, it's impossible to think of a previous candidate who ever behaved in this fashion.

All these incidents -- and plenty of others that could be mentioned -- mark the steps taken toward catastrophe. Obama is edging closer and closer to his climactic moment.

The American public appears to grasp this. Despite his robotic legion of followers, despite the hysterical adulation of the media, despite John McCain being cut off from customary media outlets, doubts about Obama appear to be dominant. The Real Clear Politics average of polls shows him holding only a 5 point lead over McCain after a week of spectacular, loving media coverage abroad. If we factor in the hypothesized Bradley-Wilder effect -- that 5 to 10% of those polled are prevaricating in favor of Obama to avoid implications of racism -- means that Obama is in fact running even or behind.

His organization has to be aware of this. So, in some sense, must Obama himself. But blindness is also a characteristic of the classical tragic figure. The campaign should be moving slowly and carefully, identifying its weaknesses and seeking ways to address them, concentrating on increasing that (perhaps illusory) single-digit lead. Instead, Obama continues his charade, awarding himself foreign triumphs, posing as a figure of world-historical stature, as if the election, perhaps even the inauguration, were merely a ritual. In his own mind, Obama is already president, behaving as he believes a president should, while the voters look on in bewilderment and growing disquiet.

This country has had its share of arrogance and pride in the White House. A man must believe himself a special breed to aim that high in the first place. The Roosevelts, Woodrow Wilson and Jimmy Carter come immediately to mind. But none of them -- partially excepting Wilson -- ever gave in to hubris. Teddy Roosevelt waited until he was out of office to go off, wrecking the 1912 election in the process. FDR, throughout his Augustan three-plus terms as president, never quite crossed the line. (This is in keeping with the rest of his record -- it is in his negative attributes (that he was not a tyrant, that he did not take personal advantage, that he was not vindictive) -- that FDR shines most brightly.) Carter collapsed in the face of the challenges awaiting him, becoming the most abject of modern presidents.

Only Wilson who let his vanity and arrogance run away with him, overcome with the messianic conviction that it was he, and only he, who could lead the world into a new age by means of his League of Nations. Instead he simply assured the outbreak of a war whose viciousness and destruction put all others in the shade. And didn't Wilson end up much like a figure of classic tragedy himself? A ghostly, bearded invalid haunting the corridors of the White House, never seen in public, dependent on his wife to assure that his wishes were carried out?

Wilson can stand as a warning, if not to Obama, then to the rest of us. Obama is too proud and too blind. He will continue in his solipsistic dance until the machinery of fate intervenes.

What form it will take is impossible to say. These situations build up grain by grain until a critical mass is at last reached. Obama is piling up those grains daily, with each display of aloofness, refusal to obey established protocol, and assumption of powers that do not yet belong to him. The final straw could be the most trivial of incidents, blown up all out of proportion to its importance simply due to its being the end of a series (recall one recent political powerhouse whose destruction was encompassed by a complaint over his seat on an airplane - an airplane he shouldn't have been aboard in the first place).

What we can be sure of is that Obama will not avoid the final reckoning. The last, and strangest, characteristic of the victim of hubris is that he appears to welcome his fate, almost embracing it, cooperating in his own downfall. So it will be with Barack Obama. But he must not be allowed to take the country with him.

5)Channel 1: Olmert weighs quitting after primary [with loophole]
By Gil Hoffman

If 61 MKs will sign in blood that they will support the forming of a new
government then Olmert might step down. Otherwise, Olmert will remain in
his seat even after the primaries - unless he is indicted.

Will 61 MKs be willing to take the chance that sometime between Olmert's
resignation and the vote to form a new government - even if it a matter of
hours - something happens and the coalition falls apart so elections are
held and they lose their monthly meal ticket?

It doesn't require much of an imagination to come up with the spin that
Olmert is willing to endure criticism etc. in order to prevent Satan (aka
Netanyahu) from becoming prime minister in early elections.]

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is seriously considering quitting the premiership
following the mid-September Kadima leadership race if the winner can form a
new government, Channel 1 diplomatic correspondent Ayala Hasson reported

Olmert told Hebrew newspapers in stories published Friday that he had not
even started thinking about whether he should run in the primary, let alone
about what to do if someone else won. But in the interviews, in which he
lashed out at law enforcement authorities, he made clear that he understood
that his political fate had already been decided in the court of public

Kadima's election committee, headed by retired judge Dan Arbel, will meet
this week to choose a date for the primary between September 14 and 18. The
committee will also set a deadline a month before that for candidates to
join the race.

Should Olmert decide not to run, he would already be considered a lame duck,
even though he could remain prime minister until after a spring 2009 general
election if the winner of the Kadima race in September is unable to form a
new government.

A Dahaf Institute poll of Kadima registered members published in Friday's
Yediot Aharonot found that Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz had bridged
the gap in his primary race against Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and now
only trailed her by 2 percent in a head-to-head race.

According to the poll of 500 Kadima members, Livni would receive 47%, Mofaz
45% and the remaining 8% declined to answer. The poll had a 4.5% margin of

In a four-candidate race, Livni would win 38% of the vote, Mofaz 33%, Public
Security Minister Avi Dichter 13% and Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit 8%.
Livni went down by 3% and Mofaz up the same amount since a poll was taken by
the same company two weeks ago. If no candidate receives 40% of the vote, it
would set up a runoff between the two top finishers.

The poll disproved hopeful statements by Livni's associates last week that
Olmert's fierce attack on her would help her gain support.

Channel 2 reported last Monday that Olmert called her a "backstabbing liar"
and warned that she was the least qualified candidate in the race.

Mofaz's associates said the poll results proved that Kadima members were
starting to realize that "the complex security challenges required a prime
minister with security experience and abilities and that's what Mofaz will
bring to the Prime Minister's Office."

But they also stressed that "there is a long race ahead and we will not rest
on our laurels."

Hasson reported that due to the closeness of the race, top Kadima officials
who were close to Olmert would not endorse a candidate. She included in that
category ministers Haim Ramon and Ronnie Bar-On, Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik
and Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Tzahi Hanegbi.

But Hanegbi said he had not decided yet whether to make an endorsement.

"I am waiting for Olmert's decision one way or another about whether he will
run," Hanegbi said. "If he decides not to run, I might decide not to support
anyone, but I haven't decided yet."

6) Iran seeks 'common ground' with Wes

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Monday that Iran would seek common ground with the United States and five other world powers that have proposed incentives for Teheran to freeze its nuclear enrichment program.
Iranian President Mahmoud...

Speaking to NBC News less than a week before a deadline for its response to the incentives package, Ahmadinejad said progress would depend on the sincerity of the apparent US shift in its approach to Teheran.

After meeting Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalilin in Geneva on July 19 Western officials said that Teheran had two weeks to respond to an offer of holding off on further UN sanctions if Iran freezes its nuclear program. The two-week deadline expires on Saturday.

NBC also said Ahmadinejad believes the oil market is overvalued in part because of manipulation. "They submitted a package and we responded by submitting our own package," Ahmadinejad said. "It's very natural. In the first steps, we are going to negotiate over the common ground as they exist inside the two packages. If the two parties succeed in agreeing over the common ground, that will help us to work on our differences as well, to reach an agreement."

NBC also quoted Ahmadinejad as saying Iran was not seeking nuclear arms and that such weapons were outdated.

Iran has said it would not freeze enrichment to start preliminary talks nor would it suspend enrichment to start formal negotiations on the incentives package offered by the six powers - the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.

In a policy shift, a US diplomat attended the Geneva talks, which Iran has characterized as a success for Iran.

On Monday, Ahmadinejad told NBC: "The main question here is whether this approach is a continuation of the old approach or is it a totally new approach.

"If this is the continuation of the old process, the Iranian people need to defend their right, its interests as well," he said. "But if the approach changes, we will be facing a new situation and the response by the Iranian people will be a positive one."

7) May an American Comment on Israel?
By Daniel Pipes

May I, an American citizen living in the United States, comment publicly on Israeli decision making?

Yoram Schweitzer wants me not to judge decisions made by the Israeli government.
I recently criticized the Israeli government for its exchange with Hizbullah in "Samir Kuntar and the Last Laugh" (The Jerusalem Post, July 21); to this, the eminent counter-terrorism expert at Tel Aviv University, Yoram Schweitzer challenged the appropriateness of my offering views on this subject. In "Not That Bad a Deal" (July 24) he explained to Jerusalem Post readers how the "contents and tone" of my analysis "patronizing and insulting, overlooking as they do the fact that the government and public have the right to decide for themselves …, and to shoulder the resulting price." He also criticizes me for offering an opinion on Israeli issues from my "secure haven thousands of miles away."

Schweitzer does not spell out the logic behind his resentment, but it rings familiar: Unless a person lives in Israel, the argument goes, pays its taxes, puts himself at risk in its streets, and has children in its armed forces, he should not second-guess Israeli decision making. This approach, broadly speaking, stands behind the positions taken by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and other prominent Jewish institutions.

I respect that position without accepting its discipline. Responding to what foreign governments do is my meat and potatoes as a U.S. foreign policy analyst who spent time in the State and Defense departments and as a board member of the U.S. Institute of Peace, and who as a columnist has for nearly a decade unburdened himself of opinions. A quick bibliographic review finds me judging many governments, including the British, Canadian, Danish, French, German, Iranian, Nepalese, Saudi, South Korean, Syrian, and Turkish.

Obviously, I do not have children serving in the armed forces of all these countries, but I assess their developments to help guide my readers' thinking. No one from these others countries, it bears noting, ever asked me to withhold comment on their internal affairs. And Schweitzer himself proffers advice to others; in July 2005, for example, he instructed Muslim leaders in Europe to be "more forceful in their rejection of the radical Islamic element." Independent analysts all do this.

So, Schweitzer and I may comment on developments around the world, but, when it comes to Israel, my mind should empty of thoughts, my tongue fall silent, and my keyboard go still? Hardly.

On a more profound level, I protest the whole concept of privileged information – that one's location, age, ethnicity, academic degrees, experience, or some other quality validates one's views. The recent book by Christopher Cerf and Victor S. Navasky titled I Wish I Hadn't Said that: The Experts Speak - and Get it Wrong! humorously memorializes and exposes this conceit. Living in a country does not necessarily make one wiser about it.

Ehud Barak, the most highly decorated soldier in Israeli history, made mistakes.
During the Camp David II summit meeting of 2000, when Ehud Barak headed the government of Israel and I disagreed with his policies, more than once, my critique was answered with a how-dare-you indignation: "Barak is the most decorated soldier in Israeli history – and who are you?" Yet, analysts now generally agree that Camp David II had disastrous results for Israel, precipitating the Palestinian violence that began two months later.

It is a mistake to reject information, ideas, or analysis on the basis of credentials. Correct and important thoughts can come from any provenance – even from thousands of miles away.

In that spirit, here are two responses concerning Schweitzer's take on the Samir al-Kuntar incident. Schweitzer argues that "to fail to do the utmost to rescue any citizen or soldier who falls into enemy hands would shatter one of the basic precepts of Israeli society." I agree that rescuing soldiers or their remains is an operationally useful and morally noble priority, but "utmost" has it has limits. For example, a government should not hand live citizens to terrorists in return for soldiers' corpses. In like manner, the Olmert government's actions last week went much too far.

Another specific: Schweitzer claims that, "relatively speaking, the recent exchange with Hizbullah came at a cheap price. It is debatable whether Kuntar's release granted any kind of moral victory to Hizbullah." If that deal was cheap, I dread to imagine how an expensive one would look. And with Kuntar's arrival in Lebanon shutting down the government in giddy national celebration, denying Hizbullah a victory amounts to willful blindness.

8) The Greatest Scandal

The profound failure of inner-city public schools to teach children may be the nation's greatest scandal. The differences between the two Presidential candidates on this could hardly be more stark. John McCain is calling for alternatives to the system; Barack Obama wants the kids to stay within that system. We think the facts support Senator McCain.

"Parents ask only for schools that are safe, teachers who are competent and diplomas that open doors of opportunity," said Mr. McCain in remarks recently to the NAACP. "When a public system fails, repeatedly, to meet these minimal objectives, parents ask only for a choice in the education of their children." Some parents may opt for a better public school or a charter school; others for a private school. The point, said the Senator, is that "no entrenched bureaucracy or union should deny parents that choice and children that opportunity."

Mr. McCain cited the Washington, D.C., Opportunity Scholarship Program, a federally financed school-choice program for disadvantaged kids signed into law by President Bush in 2004. Qualifying families in the District of Columbia receive up to $7,500 a year to attend private K-12 schools. To qualify, a child must live in a family with a household income below 185% of the poverty level. Some 1,900 children participate; 99% are black or Hispanic. Average annual income is just over $22,000 for a family of four.

A recent Department of Education report found nearly 90% of participants in the D.C. program have higher reading scores than peers who didn't receive a scholarship. There are five applicants for every opening.

Mr. McCain could have mentioned EdisonLearning, a private company that took over 20 of Philadelphia's 45 lowest performing district schools in 2002 to create a new management model for public schools. The most recent state test-score data show that student performance at Philadelphia public schools managed by Edison and other outside providers has improved by nearly twice the amount as the schools run by the district.

The number of students performing at grade level or higher in reading at the schools managed by private providers increased by 6.1% overall compared to 3.3% in district-managed schools. In math, the results for Edison and other outside managers was 4.6% and 6.0%, respectively, compared to 3.1% in the district-run schools.

The state of California just announced that one in three students in the Los Angeles public school system drops out before graduating. Among black and Latino students in L.A. district schools, the numbers are 42% and 30%. In the past five years, the number of dropouts has grown by more than 80%. The number of high school graduates has gone up only 9%.

The silver linings in these dismal clouds are L.A.'s charter high schools. Writing in the Los Angeles Daily News last week, Caprice Young, who heads the California Charter Schools Association, noted that "every charter high school in Los Angeles Unified last year reported a dropout rate significantly lower than not only the school district's average, but the state's as well."

On recent evidence, the Democrat Party's policy on these alternatives is simply massive opposition.

Congressional Democrats have refused to reauthorize the D.C. voucher program and are threatening to kill it. Last month, Philadelphia's school reform commission voted to seize six schools from outside managers, including four from Edison. In L.A., local school board members oppose the expansion of charters even though seven in 10 charters in the district outperform their neighborhood peers.

It's well known that the force calling the Democratic tune here is the teachers unions. Earlier this month, Senator Obama accepted the endorsement of the National Education Association, the largest teachers union. Speaking recently before the American Federation of Teachers, he described the alternative efforts as "tired rhetoric about vouchers and school choice."

Mr. Obama told an interviewer recently that he opposes school choice because, "although it might benefit some kids at the top, what you're going to do is leave a lot of kids at the bottom." The Illinois Senator has it exactly backward. Those at the top don't need voucher programs and they already exercise school choice. They can afford exclusive private schools, or they can afford to live in a neighborhood with decent public schools. The point of providing educational options is to extend this freedom to the "kids at the bottom."

A visitor to Mr. Obama's Web site finds plenty of information about his plans to fix public education in this country. Everyone knows this is a long, hard slog, but Mr. Obama and his wife aren't waiting. Their daughters attend the private University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, where annual tuition ranges from $15,528 for kindergarten to $20,445 for high school.

When the day arrives that these two candidates face off, we hope Senator McCain comes prepared to press his opponent hard on change, hope and choice in the schools.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Is Obama Laying an AfghanistanTrap For Himself?

A few thousand more centrifuges here and few more thousand there and soon you have a nuclear bomb. But what is critical is this must unfold while everyone sits around a table and talk about what they will do to stop it. That is called quiet diplomacy. Next, go to the U.N. to show you are capable of walking the extra mile. Then comes empty threats and that is called patient but ruffled diplomacy. Finally comes war and that is called failed diplomacy.

This is a primer all state department officials must learn in order to advance up the promotional ladder so they can become advisors to presidents, secretaries of state, deputy secretaries and/or ambassadors.

It is a feel good game we have learned well and it permits us to assuage our consciences of moral guilt because we can tell ourselves we took the high road at every step. It is the same PC logic that drives us to stop interrogating terrorists all the while flagellating ourselves over our harsh and inhumane treatment practices. Oh well!

I would like to discuss my understanding of Obama's strategy with respect to Iraq and Afghanistan and pose these few questions:

First, I believe he has set a deadline of 16 months for withdrawing troops from Iraq and Maliki agrees. Obama also realizes we will have to leave some level of a contingent force in Iraq - lets say 25 to 50,000 troops.

Second, his judgment tells him the "real" war is in Afghanistan so he wants to transfer a certain number of troops there, sooner rather than later.

Third, he has neither defined what winning in Afghanistan means nor has he given any "time line" for when our or NATO's troops will be withdrawn. Perhaps he will do that at some later date. Setting a time line seems a political must to me.

Fourth, he once said he would pursue al Qaeda into Pakistan but when he was reminded Pakistan was an ally, of sorts, and a sovereign nation to boot, he backed off that hasty thought. Sort of like when said Jerusalem would be Israel's capital as soon as he became president and then retracted those words the next day.

Fifth, the terrain in Afghanistan is far different than in Iraq and favors the radicals. Thus, winning in Afghanistan, without an ability to pursue cross border, makes winning far more difficult if not impossible. Therefore, we could be fighting in Afghanistan for a very long time and with less defined results. Is it fair to allow Obama to fight in Afghanistan without specifying a time line?

Sixth, how long will the far left and nay-Sayers allow Obama to engage in Afghanistan? Will they give him a pass as long as he is engaged in his own war? And what about those pesky time lines?

In essence, Obama seems to be proposing doing in Afghanistan what he attacks GW for having done in Iraq. Could this young puppy of a would be president be laying a trap for himself? Obviously Obama will be able to fall back on his vast military experience and sound judgment so he should be able to avoid GW's pitfalls. If not, Obama can always return to flip flopping. (See 2 below.)

David Bueche writes Obama, the post modern candidate, may also be laying other traps for himself.

If we elect Obama I believe we will wake up the next morning and say to ourselves:"We actually did what?" and in less than six months we will be drowning in the river of second thoughts.(See 3 below.)

A debate regarding East Jerusalem's Isaeli Arab terrorists who have begun attacking using bulldozers etc. (See 4 below.)

Jonathan Tobin discusses the throwback influence of The Grand Mufti, his embrace of Hitler and its influence on the Arab world which persists to this day. (See 5 below.)

Michael Rubin comments about Obama's Berln trip and speech and concludes leadership runs deeper than rhetoric. (See 6 below.)


1)Ahmadinejad says Iran now has 6,000 centrifuges

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Saturday, Iran now possesses 6,000 centrifuges, machines used to enrich uranium, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

"Islamic Iran today possesses 6,000 centrifuges," Fars quoted Ahmadinejad as telling university professors in the northeastern city of Mashhad.

The new figure is double the 3,000 centrifuges Iran had previously said it was operating in its uranium enrichment plant in Natanz.

In April, Ahmadinejad said Iran had begun installing 6,000 centrifuges at Natanz. His reported comments Saturday provided the first public assertion that Iran has reached that goal.

The announcement is another act of defiance in the face of demands by the United States and other world powers for Iran to halt its enrichment work, which Washington and its allies fear Iran is intent on using to develop weapons.

However, Ahmadinejad said those nations - the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany - have tempered their demands, asking Iran not to freeze enrichment but rather not to expand its current program beyond 6,000 centrifuges, state-run radio reported.

"Today, they have consented that the existing 5,000 or 6,000 centrifuges not be increased and that operation of this number of centrifuges is not a problem," state radio quoted Ahmadinejad as saying on Saturday.

In its negotiation with Iran, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany have offered a package of technological, economic and political incentives in return for Iran's cooperation.

A report by the UN's nuclear monitoring agency that was delivered to the Security Council in May said Iran had 3,500 centrifuges, though a senior UN official said at the time that Iran's goal of 6,000 machines running by the summer was pretty much plausible.

Uranium can be used as nuclear reactor fuel or as the core for atomic warheads, depending on the degree of enrichment. Iran says it is interested in enrichment only for its nuclear power program.

The workhorse of Iran's enrichment program is the P-1 centrifuge, which is run in cascades of 164 machines. But Iranian officials confirmed in February that they had started using the IR-2 centrifuge that can churn out enriched uranium at more than double the rate.

A total of 3,000 centrifuges is the commonly accepted figure for a nuclear enrichment program that is past the experimental stage and can be used as a platform for a full industrial-scale program that could churn out enough enriched material for dozens of nuclear weapons.

Iran says it plans to move toward large-scale uranium enrichment that ultimately will involve 54,000 centrifuges.

2) Obama the irony man
By Walter Russell Mead

Reinhold Niebuhr's observation that U.S. history is often ironic has rarely seemed as relevant as it does today.

First, there is the spectacle of the war in Iraq. At the beginning, most observers thought the war would be short and sweet, and many Democrats supported it, despite their qualms, because they believed it was political suicide to oppose it. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton was one Democrat who supported the authorization to use force against Saddam Hussein, a vote widely hailed at the time as showing her as tough and realistic. Ironically, her stance on the war gave Barack Obama the opportunity he needed to deny Clinton the Democratic presidential nomination.

The fighting dragged on, the Bush administration floundered without a strategy, and the conflict became deeply unpopular. Expert opinion swung around to the view that the war was hopelessly lost. But at just that moment, with the debate turning to how we could best live with defeat and disaster, Gen. David Petraeus' surge strategy helped turn the war around. It's not over by any means, and the security gains are reversible, but the 18-month troop surge has put the U.S. on the road to a win in Iraq.

But the irony is we have a presidential contest between Obama, whose entire primary candidacy was driven by his unshakable position as the toughest and most pessimistic critic of the war, and John McCain, an unrepentant supporter of the war who called for the surge at a time when the rest of the establishment was running for cover.

Yet during Obama's visit to Iraq last week, it was the presumptive Democratic nominee who was enjoying a love fest with embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, who told the world -- including U.S. voters -- that Obama's timetable was on the right track and that the quicker U.S. forces got out of Iraq, the better.

The net result, ironically, is that the antiwar candidate who predicted failure is benefiting most from the war's success. Thanks to the surge he opposed, the policy Obama championed -- a relatively swift and steady withdrawal of U.S. combat forces over 16 months, conditions permitting -- no longer looks dangerous, irresponsible or an invitation to defeat.

Military progress in Iraq is transforming the international situation in other ways and creating more ironies. The Bush administration was unwilling to negotiate with Iran when the U.S. seemed permanently stuck in an Iraq that would only grow worse. But as the situation there improves, the U.S. has a stronger hand -- and with its coalition of Western allies still holding together, the administration has gingerly initiated nuclear talks with Tehran.

For Obama, this is a godsend. Once savaged for his calls to negotiate with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's nuke-seeking, Holocaust-denying, threat-spewing government, he can now point to the Bush administration's example.

But, ironically, Obama is using his new maneuvering room to toughen his stand rather than soften it. In Afghanistan and possibly Pakistan, he wants to send in more troops, take a harder line with Islamabad and crush the elusive Taliban beneath his heel. He says the administration hasn't fought hard enough and has been too willing, out of a misguided deference for allied opinion, to let countries such as Pakistan push us around. Meanwhile, those soft and dithering Europeans need to do more. More troops. More ambitious goals. Deeper commitment. Oh -- and by the way -- our goal must be to build democracy in the Mideast, starting with Afghanistan.

In Israel, Obama went to great pains to tell anxious Israelis that his commitment to Israel's security is "unshakable" and that Tel Aviv would have no stronger or more reliable ally than an Obama administration. Like President Bush, Obama has promised Israel that he would never ask it to make concessions that endanger its security.

Obama also appears to have cleared up the ambiguity in his stance on Iran. The world community, he told the Israelis, "must prevent" the mullahs from getting a nuclear bomb. Presumably, that means if negotiations fail to stop Iran from enriching uranium, and sanctions don't do the trick either, the world community will have to explore other options.

Obama's pilgrimage abroad points to a larger truth: In the midst of a bitter political year, a loose bipartisan consensus on the Mideast may be emerging. And, irony of ironies, the consensus, seemingly embraced by Obama, seems closer to Bush's views than to those of the antiwar activists who propelled the Illinois senator to the nomination.

Here's what that consensus says:

On the war on terrorism: The terror threat is real, and we can't prevail by just fighting defense. Ultimately, we have to take this war home to the people who made it, and that means the caves of Afghanistan -- and any place in Pakistan that the Pakistanis cannot secure on their own. The military budget will grow; the U.S. presence in Central Asia will increase, at least for now. This is similar to what a Bush White House would do in a third term.

On Iraq: Bush screwed up the war in many ways. But we cannot afford to let hostile forces control this strategic country, nor can we allow Iraq to sink into genocidal strife. We will not leave Iraq like we left Vietnam. Here too Obama's current stance is, in practical terms, very close to Bush's.

On Israel/Palestine: Continuity is the theme once again. Although the U.S. must bring new energy and determination to resolve this dispute, we can't and won't throw Israel under the bus. Israel's confidence in U.S. foreign policy remains a vital asset; to lose it would diminish the chances for peace.

On Iran: Intensive multilateral diplomacy, including direct U.S.-Iranian talks when appropriate, is our preferred strategy to keep Tehran from building a bomb. We are willing, even eager, to live in peace with a non-nuclear Iran. The next president will have to pursue negotiations while considering all the options -- a policy that represents, at most, a small evolutionary change from the current Bush position.

Not everyone will like this consensus. But, overall, the U.S. seems to be edging toward it. If the policies flowing from this consensus work (always a big "if" in the Middle East), Iraq could be the first in a string of U.S. successes in the region. That, surely, would be the biggest irony of all: a stable U.S. presence in the Middle East based on a meeting of the minds between Obama and Bush.

Walter Russell Mead, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, is the author of "God and Gold: Britain, America and the Making of the Modern World."

3) Obama the Postmodern Candidate
By David Bueche

Barack Obama has earned his place in history as the first postmodern candidate for president. He belongs to the deconstructionist school; his "texts" have no fixed meaning. He is able to take varying positions and claim consistency.

Senator Obama gave a lengthy interview earlier this week to ABC News in which he expounded on his ever-evolving position on the troop surge in Iraq.

Before discussing, a little context is in order. Here's a rundown of previous statements on the topic:

January 10, 2007, on MSNBC:

"I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse."

Also from January 2007:

"We cannot impose a military solution on what has effectively become a civil war. And until we acknowledge that reality, uh, we can send 15,000 more troops; 20,000 more troops; 30,000 more troops. Uh, I don't know any, uh, expert on the region or any military officer that I've spoken to, uh, privately that believes that that is gonna make a substantial difference on the situation on the ground."

May 25th, 2007:

"And what I know is that what our troops deserve is not just rhetoric, they deserve a new plan. Governor Romney and Senator McCain clearly believe that the course that we're on in Iraq is working, I do not."

July, 2007:

"Here's what we know. The surge has not worked. And they said today, 'Well, even in September, we're going to need more time.' So we're going to kick this can all the way down to the next president, under the president's plan."

September 13th, 2007:

"After putting an additional 30,000 troops in, far longer & more troops than the president had initially said, we have gone from a horrendous situation of violence in Iraq to the same intolerable levels of violence that we had back in June of 2006. So, essentially, after all this we're back where we were 15 months ago. And what has not happened is any movement with respect to the sort of political accommodations among the various factions, the Shia, the Sunni, and Kurds that were the rationale for surge and that ultimately is going to be what stabilizes Iraq. So, I think it is fair to say that the president has simply tried to gain another six months to continue on the same course that he's been on for several years now. It is a course that will not succeed."

November 11, 2007:

"Finally, in 2006-2007, we started to see that, even after an election, George Bush continued to want to pursue a course that didn't withdraw troops from Iraq but actually doubled them and initiated a surge and at that stage I said very clearly, not only have we not seen improvements, but we're actually worsening, potentially, a situation there."

In early 2008, as statistical proof of The Surge's incredible success became indisputable, Mr. Obama abruptly reverses his assessment of the situation and his recollection of his own recent history:

January 5, 2008:

"I had no doubt, and I said when I opposed the surge, that given how wonderfully our troops perform, if we place 30,000 more troops in there, then we would see an improvement in the security situation and we would see a reduction in the violence."

And now we've evolved to this:

July 21, 2008:

When asked if - knowing what he knows now - would Mr. Obama support the Troop Surge. He replied, "No." When asked to articulate he added

"These kinds of hypotheticals are very difficult," he said. "Hindsight is 20/20. But I think that what I am absolutely convinced of is, at that time, we had to change the political debate because the view of the Bush administration at that time was one that I just disagreed with, and one that I continue to disagree with -- is to look narrowly at Iraq and not focus on these broader issues."

A few things are clear from this review of the candidate's own words:

Mr. Obama is on a nodding acquaintance with the concept of "truth."

It appears that everything he says and does must be viewed "in context" and that the framing of that context is the sole province of Barack Obama. Take the whole Reverend Wright issue for example. Over the course of six weeks we were told that he had no idea these things were said; he had a vague idea they were said; he knew they were said but could no more disown them than his occasionally racist grandmother; he had been personally disrespected and was through with Jeremiah Wright. Quite a bit of "context" to get from his initial statements to the end point a mere month and a half later...

Mr. Obama is entirely unwilling to admit he's ever wrong about anything.

Once again, the eerily prophetic, (no pun intended), experience with Reverend Wright and Trinity United is instructive. Absent from this extended public discussion was any admission that he had exercised poor judgment, reached faulty conclusions, learned a lesson etc. As we discovered when he disowned the very man that "he could no more disown" -- Barack lives in the eternal now, and at this point in time, this is what he thinks. End of story, end of discussion.

Mr. Obama will shamelessly say just about anything required to get elected.

Documented above

The Media are at best useless, at worse, complicit.

This sort of post-modern, contextual concept of truth, although horrifying to many of us, is actually quite in vogue on the Left. A deconstructed, evolving narrative - far from being seen as evasive or dissembling - is seen as a "higher truth" that the flyover folks in Kansas and Nebraska obviously don't get. The fact that Mr. Obama blatantly contradicts his own factual assertions is immaterial to the fact that he "gets it".

This late in the game, no one really knows where he stands on anything.

The beauty of shamelessly appropriating all sides of an issue is that you're never really wrong. The problem is -- should Mr. Obama get elected - he will have to pick one side. You can't simultaneously support and abandon Iraq. You can't prohibit the Iranians from acquiring nuclear weapons but refuse to consider using force to stop them. You can't have it both ways -- ask George Bush, I'm sure he could give you an earful on the topic of hard choices.

If Barack Obama becomes the 44th President there will quickly come a day when he realizes that, although his buddies in media and academia really love this postmodern journey he's on, the rest of world looks to the President of the United States for fixed principles, clear convictions, and a well-grounded view of reality. Given what we've seen to date it's far from clear that Mr. Obama is intellectually or psychologically disposed to meet the challenge.

4)Ramon: E. J'lem Arab areas should not be part of Israel

After a brief mention of the Hebron operation in which a Hamas terrorist involved in February's suicide bombing in Dimona was killed, the cabinet on Sunday turned its attention to the recent terror attacks in the capital perpetrated by east Jerusalem residents.

Vice Premier Haim Ramon said it was in Israel's interest to rid itself of east Jerusalem's Arab neighborhoods and "Whoever thinks the problem of Jerusalem and terror are specific, and that destroying one house or another will help, is burying his head in the sand. The main question is, does the government want Jebl Mukaber or Sur Bahir as part of Israel or not," he exclaimed, referring to the hometowns of the Merkaz Harav killer and first bulldozer terrorist.

Ramon went on to say that the Ariel Sharon-led Likud government made a courageous step by erecting a security barrier west of Shuafat and the village of Akab, but made an error in failing to do the same with Jebl Mukaber and Sur Bahir.

"Whoever wants there to be a fence east of Sur Bahir is deciding that Jerusalem will live permanently with terror and murderers, terror that will come from the 175,000 Palestinians who have no attachment to Israel," said Ramon. "It is in Israel's interest to rid itself of these neighborhoods and villages, that were never Jerusalem, and that endanger the Jewish and Zionist nature of the city."

Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Yuval Diskin said that the increasing involvement of east Jerusalem residents in terror attacks was worrying and that a deterrence was needed.

He urged the cabinet to press legal authorities to speed up the decision on whether to demolish terrorists' east Jerusalem homes and to cancel the attackers' families social benefits.

Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz said that the issues of demolishing and sealing terrorists' homes as well as expelling attackers' families were now on the agenda.

"There is an increasing tendency indicating that Jerusalem is turning into a terrorist hotbed and this obligates a different policy," Mofaz told the cabinet. "We must discuss demolishing homes, sealing them and expulsions. A plan of action is needed that will provide a fitting response to the threat."

During the same meeting, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni spoke of the shaky Gaza cease-fire, telling the cabinet that "Israel needs to respond to truce violations, fire against fire."

"Israel's response needs to give the message that we won't accept fire, regardless of which organization it comes from," she went on.

Livni added that opening the Rafah crossing would strengthen Hamas and as such must be connected to the issue of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, in conjunction with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' forces.

At the start of the meeting, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert praised security forces for the Hebron operation that killed Shihab Na'atsha, a senior Hamas terrorist involved in February's suicide bombing in Dimona.

"Due to the nature of the activity, I won't go into detail, but this was a very successful operation. I send the thanks of the cabinet and of the Israeli public to the members of the security services and to the Israel Police elite units that assisted," said the prime minister.

Hamas vowed to avenge Na'atsha's death, threatening retaliation "at the time and place we choose."

In a statement released by the group, it said the response would be both "swift and painful."

Also at the meeting, Olmert had a dig at Barak following the defense minister's criticism over the weekend of the premier's attack on law enforcement authorities.

When newly-appointed Immigrant Absorption Minister Eli Aflalo joined the meeting, the other ministers moved up to make space for him. The reshuffle moved Barak along a seat and meant he was no longer sitting directly opposite the prime minister.

"What happened, I am used to the defense minister looking me in the eyes," Olmert said.

Barak responded that he was now looking at Livni and Mofaz, two of the candidates for September's Kadima primary and, therefore, two of the contenders to replace Olmert as prime minister.

"From the distance you will probably be from them, it will be difficult for you to see them at all," Olmert then quipped, referring to Labor's poor showing in the polls and Barak's apparently slim chances of becoming prime minister.

5)The Mufti of Jerusalem's Nazi ideology lives on among contemporary Islamists
By Jonathan Tobin

Although some deprecate the use of the term "Islamo-Fascist," a study of the life of the Mufti shows that the combination of these disparate ideas into one ideology of hate is no Western invention

It is axiomatic that a knowledge of history is a prerequisite for understanding the present. But the question is: How much weight should we give to controversial figures from the past when deciding how to think about current conflicts?

According to the authors of a new book about Haj Amin al-Husseini (1893-1974), the grand mufti of Jerusalem, who played a key role in fomenting and exacerbating the struggle between Jews and Arabs during much of the 20th century, the answer is quite a lot.

The book, "Icon of Evil: Hitler's Mufti and the Rise of Radical Islam", by David G. Dalin and John F. Rothman, makes the case that you can draw a direct line from al-Husseini to not only the Palestine Liberation Organization and Hamas — groups that took up his battle against Zionism — but to Iran, Al Qaeda and the 9/11 conspirators.

That's a searing indictment that both supporters of Israel and its foes ought to examine closely. And if this book fails to deliver the definitive account of the Mufti's life in English that students of this period of history have been waiting for, it nevertheless shines a spotlight on a figure who deserves far greater attention than he has received in recent decades.

Husseini was a member of an elite landed-clan of Palestinian Arabs who retain their status to this day (Yasser Arafat was a cousin). In the aftermath of World War I, he rose to prominence as a fanatical opponent of both the British and the Jews.

Ironically, it was a British Jew, Sir Herbert Samuel, who appointed Husseini to the post of mufti, the putative Muslim religious leader of Jerusalem.

Samuel became the first high commissioner of the territory in 1920. Palestine had been given to Britain as a mandate by the League of Nations in order for them to make good on their 1917 Balfour Declaration promise to create a Jewish national home in the country.

While many in the British government were openly hostile to Zionism, Samuels was not. But he was concerned about being seen as evenhanded between Jews and Arabs. So when there was a vacancy in the office of mufti, Samuels appointed the hard-line Husseini.

This was a decision the Jews would rue for decades as Husseini used his post as a platform to promote hatred against the Zionists, who were transforming the country from a barren backwater into what would become the modern State of Israel. Husseini incited the riots of 1929 in which hundreds of Jews were slaughtered by Muslim pogromists and did his best to better that record during the Arab Revolt of 1936-39.

Though the Mufti's gangs were defeated, his work paid dividends in 1939 when the British, as eager to appease Arabs and Muslims on the eve of World War II as they were the Germans, issued a White Paper that placed severe limits on Jewish immigration and land sales, effectively closing the door to a Jewish state.

But Husseini did not seize this opening and instead continued his Anglophobic campaign after the war began. Eventually, he wound up in wartime Berlin where he was received by Adolf Hitler and housed in luxury by the Nazi state as an honored collaborator of its elite killers. Husseini made propaganda broadcasts for the Germans and recruited Bosnians to serve in a special Muslim SS brigade that was responsible for the murder of more than 12,000 Bosnian Jews. As such, he played a personal role in the Holocaust.

After the war, Husseini evaded prosecution as a war criminal and, as the birth of the Jewish state loomed, he sought to take command of the Arab drive to destroy it. In that he failed, as Palestinians loyal to the Mufti were routed by the Jews. When the Arab states invaded the country on May 15, 1948, the Mufti was left on the sidelines of the conflict where he fumed impotently for the rest of his life in exile in Damascus and Cairo.

Unfortunately, Dalin and Rothman's book is hampered by a lack of original research, leaving the authors to make sometimes uninformed guesses about the Mufti's inner life that leave us with more questions about his personality than answers. Instead, at times, they rely on egregious speculation that adds little of value to the existing literature on the subject.

In this vein, they go overboard in a chapter devoted to a "what if" scenario in which their protagonist fantasizes about the mass slaughter of Palestinian Jewry had Hitler prioritized the conquest of the Middle East rather than that of Russia. Counterfactual fantasy history can be amusing, but it has no place in what promised to be a serious biography. It is especially annoying when, as in this case, the authors spin tales about what could not have happened as opposed to what might have occurred.

In this case, the notion that Hitler would have passed on invading Russia requires us to ignore everything we know about this mass murderer's most important goals: the destruction of communism and lebensraum for German colonists in the East. Their tale of the Wehrmacht being transferred en masse to North Africa instead of to Russia, also requires the British Navy, whose control of the Mediterranean restricted Hitler's ability to reinforce Manfred Rommel's Afrika Korps, to disappear.

While there's no doubt that everything we know about the Mufti shows us that he would have liked to preside over a Palestinian Auschwitz, such speculation about this nightmare obscures more important issues that require no digression into fantasy.

What is important about the Mufti is that he is a human bridge between early stages of a Palestinian nationalism, and the Muslim Brotherhood movement and its current Islamist identity in the form of Hamas, Al Qaeda and Iranian-backed Hezbollah. The authors rightly see his kinsman's Arafat's career in terrorism and rejection of peace as being inspired by the Mufti's example. And though some observers like to pretend that Islamism is a recent aberration in Palestinian culture and politics, Husseini's life is a testament to the fact that religious fanaticism has always been integral to its character.

Despite its flaws, Dalin and Rothman's book is on target when it concludes that Husseini was a seminal figure not only in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, but in the culture of the Muslim world.

Though contemporary Palestinian Arabs bear no guilt for the crimes of the Nazis because the Mufti was one, it is both fair and reasonable to assess the influence that his philosophy had on the movement he spawned. Fatah, Hamas and the Palestinian media, as well as that of the rest of the region, show that the Mufti's bloodthirsty Nazi-like hate for Jews is alive and well today not only in Gaza and Ramallah, but throughout the Islamic sphere.

Although some deprecate the use of the term "Islamo-Fascist," a study of the life of the Mufti shows that the combination of these disparate ideas into one ideology of hate is no Western invention. Amin al-Husseini, Nazi collaborator and Palestinian religious and political leader, may have been among the first Islamo-Fascists. The tragedy of the Middle East and the Palestinians is that he was far from the last.

6) Obama in Berlin
by Michael Rubin

Obama's words are inspirational, but if anything will be learned from the Bush administration, it is that leadership must run deeper than rhetoric. Berlin's freedom was won with blood and treasure. It was secured neither with withdrawals nor unilateral disarmament.

Consistency matters. Obama has yet to recognize that grand strategy cannot be as ephemeral as public opinion. Polls measure short-term desires, not long-term wisdom. After the devastation of World War I, Britons wanted no more war. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returned from Munich convinced he had fulfilled their wishes, but his diplomacy only emboldened his enemies. The American public punished Harry S. Truman for sending troops to die in Korea. Today he is remembered as among the greatest presidents, and deservedly so, as any juxtaposition between North and South Korea attests.

We must work with our allies, but we also must recognize that multilateralism comes with a price. Coalitions can dilute effectiveness. The European concept of multilateralism is Washington's obeisance to European positions. Western Europe exists in a bubble of stability and affluence, unable to fathom how dangerous extremist ideology in Tehran and Pyongyang can be. Multilateral organizations are not the answer; at best, they are ineffective soap boxes, at worst cesspools of venality. Rose petals and well-digging have never stopped bombs, racism or genocide. A strong military has.

Obama says, "Let us remember this history." Let us hope he first learns it. Leadership is about more than rhetoric.