This was supposedly written by a Georgia Legislator whom I happen to know. It speaks to many of the peeves most of us have and it made me think about the message of Saxby Chambliss' re-election. (See 1 below.)
Not to take anything away from Saxby's sterling re-election, particulalrly since I voted for him and sent him a congratulatory e mail, I respectfully believe his victory is being mis-interpreted.
To begin with, Saxby was opposed by a white candidate and thus black voters had less incentive to go vote as they did when Obama ran.
Second, Saxby credits Palin with energizing the Party's base. That may be true, but Republicans statistically enjoy a shrinking base. They have lost, for the moment, the Hispanics and lost the black vote about 100 years ago. Whites will soon be a miinority so not only is the Republican base shrinking but also the nation's base of caucasians is ebbing.
Third, Saxby is correct in surmising it is sensible for Republicans to return to being rational conservatives in the truest sense of the word but doing so by emphasizing narrow social issues is more likely to turn off the uncommitted middle than capture them.
Republicans might get somewhere if they embraced and fight tirelessly and with zeal for five basic "changes" as follows:
a) True tax simplification. Whether it be a "Fair Tax" or a two tier tax with three specified deductions (interest on one home, charitable and a per person exemption not to exceed say $30,000/family) is not the issue. The key objective is to allow taxpayers to file on a post card.
b) Eliminate entire departments, agencies and rules and regulations that add to cost, make us less competitive and foster loss of jobs. I would start with ending The Department of Education and Energy.
c) Tell the U.N. we will contribute to those programs that are effective and no others.
d) Allow anyone who is eligible to immigrate to our nation as we did back in the early 1900's and for those in our nation illegally allow them to apply for citizenship within a prescribed period of time. Those who remain illegally should be deported and/or jailedwhen found and never allowed to become legal citizens.
e) Demand that states re-introduce a rigorous curriculum and insist that schools teach children to reason, to read, to write, to speak English and to do math and, above all, fight for school choice. Public education does not have to prepare everyone for college but it must prepare our youth for life, for earning a living, learning a vocation or job skill, become productive citizens so they can pursue happiness, stay out of prison and pay off the enormoous debt burden we are leaving them.
It should go without saying, the primal purpose of government is protective so a strong defense aligned with a rational foreign policy is a given!
Anoher interpretation - a truly pure election on a philosophical basis and a desire to trip up Reid. (See 2 below.)
What could Rice expect if Indian intelligence sources are correct? (See 3 below.)
Could not agree more. Neither can we spend nor should we try and buy our way out of our economic mess. (See 4 below.)spend
Saban Center discussion on Iran will be attended by heavy hitters seeking to influence Obama regarding negotiations with Iran, Middle East Foreign Policy, etc..
A report prepared by Richard N. Haass and Martin S. Indyk, Brookings Institution Press 2008 c. 288pp. (www.brookings.edu/press/Books/2008/restoringthebalance.aspx )- A Time for Diplomatic Renewal Toward a New U.S. Strategy in the Middle East, has some concerned that it will become the driving force behind Obama's Mid East policies and initiatives.
Amazing how the possible future of the world often and simply hinges on the outcome of an intellectual fight among a selected few. Some even try to shape the future by having a book banned. (See 5 and 5a below.)
Meanwhile, Israel prepares various option scenarios because it has no other choice. (See 6 below.)
Victor Davis Hanson writes about the implications of Mumbai. (See 7 below.)
Syria and Israel continue their background discussions through Turkey even in the face of the American ambassador at IAEA comments that all data indicate that alleged Syrian reactor bombed by Israel in 2007 was not configured for energy production, ill-suited for research purposes. (See 8 below.)
1)We the sensible people of the United States, in an attempt to help everyone
get along, restore some semblance of justice, avoid more riots, keep our
nation safe, promote positive behavior, and secure the blessings of
debt-free liberty to ourselves and our great-great-great-grandchildren,
hereby try one more time to ordain and establish some common sense
guidelines for the terminally whiny, guilt ridden, delusional, and other
liberal bed-wetters. We hold these truths to be self evident: that a whole
lot of people are confused by the Bill of Rights and are so dim they require
a Bill of NON-Rights.'
ARTICLE I: You do not have the right to a new car, big screen TV, or any
other form of wealth. More power to you if you can legally acquire them, but
no one is guaranteeing anything.
ARTICLE II: You do not have the right to never be offended. This country is
based on freedom, and that means freedom for everyone -- not just you! You
may leave the room, turn the channel, express a different opinion, etc.; but
the world is full of idiots, and probably always will be.
ARTICLE III: You do not have the right to be free from harm. If you stick a
screwdriver in your eye, learn to be more careful; do not expect the tool
manufacturer to make you and all your relatives independently wealthy.
ARTICLE IV: You do not have the right to free food and housing. Americans
are the most charitable people to be found, and will gladly help anyone in
need, but we are quickly growing weary of subsidizing generation after
generation of professional couch potatoes who achieve nothing more than the
creation of another generation of professional couch potatoes. (This one is
my pet peeve...get an education and go to work....don't expect everyone else
to take care of you!)
ARTICLE V: You do not have the right to free health care. That would be
nice, but from the looks of public housing, we're just not interested in
public health care.
ARTICLE VI: You do not have the right to physically harm other people. If
you kidnap, rape, intentionally maim, or kill someone, don't be surprised if
the rest of us want to see you fry in the electric chair.
ARTICLE VII: You do not have the right to the possessions of others. If you
rob, cheat, or coerce away the goods or services of other citizens, don't be
surprised if the rest of us get together and lock you away in a place where
you still won't have the right to a big screen color TV or a life of
ARTICLE VIII: You do not have the right to a job. All of us sure want you to
have a job, and will gladly help you along in hard times, but we expect you
to take advantage of the educational and vocational training
laid before you to make yourself useful. (AMEN!)
ARTICLE IX: You do not have the right to happiness. Being an American means
that you have the right to PURSUE happiness, which by the way, is a lot
easier if you are un-encumbered by an over abundance of idiotic laws created
by those of you who were confused by the Bill of Rights.
ARTICLE X: This is an English speaking country. We don't care where you are
from, English is our language. Learn it or go back to wherever you came
ARTICLE XI: You do not have the right to change our country's history or
heritage. This country was founded on the belief in one true God. And yet,
you are given the freedom to believe in any religion, any faith, or no faith
at all; with no fear of persecution. The phrase IN GOD WE TRUST is part of
our heritage and history, and if you are uncomfortable with it, TOUGH!
2) Saxby's Win: 08's Most Intellectually Pure Contest
By C. Edmund Wright
For all of the talk about "bi-partisanship," the Georgia Senate run-off was nothing if not blatantly partisan. It was, simply, ALL about the party, and by extention, was the most intellectually sound and pure election in all of the 2008 cycle.
Six years ago, Republican Saxby Chambliss routed incumbent Max Cleland by running a partisan and aggressive campaign that "infuriated Democrats" at the time. Since then, Chambliss has often wandered off the conservative partisan plantation and infuriated mainly his own base. He even got chastised for a "reach across the aisle" energy vote in an appearance on the Rush Limbaugh show when oil was over 100 bucks a barrel. (If you heard the interview, you probably remain undecided as to whether Chambliss even realized he was being mocked.)
This philosophical meandering had the conservative base less than thrilled with Saxby to the point that a libertarian candidate polled strongly and kept Chambliss from winning 50% plus one on election day in November.
This rightward bleeding, plus Obama mania and the attached voter drives, had him in a run-off against a charismatically challenged and unknown state legislator named Jim Martin.
As we know, it has been trendy for years for voters to claim an aggressive lack of party affiliation and to proclaim that one "votes for the man (or woman) and not the party." It sounds so darned enlightened and open minded. When turnout is high, many who fit this category vote.
But with respects to the Congress this makes almost no sense. After all, a vote for any single Democrat in 2008 was effectively a vote for one of only two people: Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi. These are the people who are mainly empowered when there are more D's than R's in the Senate and House. Chances are, for any law that might actually affect your life, the D or the R mean much more than the name of your reps.
With this in mind, what happened this week in Georgia is not so much that Saxby Chambliss beat Jim Martin -- as it is that Harry Reid lost to the Republican Party - or perhaps he lost to the fear of a Democrat super majority. Martin was irrelevant. (OK, his photo op appearance with Ludacris was relevant, but not in a good way.) Chambliss was not the issue. He was a Republican speedbump versus the prospects of a Harry Reid legislative super highway.
Sadly, one of the fruits of a government school system run amok and a leftist MSM is that only a small percentage of the voters in the country realize the critical party dynamic in congress. Well fine. Only a small percentage of voters turned out for Chambliss v. Martin. Coincidence? I think not. For all of Chambliss' flaws to the conservative base, he was suddenly critical due to the senate math to these same voters.
In this particular election, money and effort from all across the country poured into Georgia on behalf of Chambliss. Websites and national pundits like Dick Morris (via the the National Republican Trust PAC) hyped the need for conservatives and Republicans everywhere to donate to the Georgia cause. And all of the pleas were about one thing: keeping Harry Reid and Barack Obama from getting a "filibuster proof" Senate. Period.
There was no mention in any of these ads about Martin. There was nothing mentioned about the need to keep the wonderful Chambliss in office. As is the case with the still on-going Minnesota contest, pleas for help were all about keeping the total of Democrats in the senate to less than 60 at any cost.
And frankly, this is brilliant and appropriate. This makes the Georgia run-off the most intelligently pure contest in the nation. This race was ultimately decided on what is really important. It was decided on what the national impact would be, which had everything to do with party affiliation. Period.
There is nothing about Chambliss, Martin, Norm Coleman or Al Franken that will have an impact equal to the enormous effect of Reid having or not having 60 Democrats --counting Joe Lieberman -- to work with. There is an extremely liberal President-elect and a very left wing Speaker of the House with a huge House majority and no procedures like cloture votes to stem the liberal tide.
The only "firewall" against an all out leftward legislative lurch is the Senate where an organized minority of 41 or more can stall the wishes of the other 59 . And the small percentage of Georgians who turned out for this run-off, be they liberal or conservative, seemed to understand that as the key issue in this campaign.
There were precious few of the now famous "Obama voters" from the John Ziegler video (and reinforcing Zogby Polls he commissioned) who were clueless about who Harry Reid is, not to mention how many Senators there are. Folks who think Sarah Palin said she could "see Russia from my house" and has "campaigned in 57 states" did not bother to show up in large numbers.
In short, the ignorant stayed home. And so did the "I vote for the man, not the party" crowd. This was all about party. It was more like a cross-primary election.
All of which led to a really good election. For years we have been bombarded with the ideas that being undecided or non-partisan is necessarily a good thing and that every living being (and then some) should vote. I have always disagreed. With so much at stake in elections, especially this one, I cringe when I realize informed votes will be cancelled by many who remain cluelessly undecided and misinformed and arrogantly non-partisan. Call me close minded, but I happen to think knowing how many Senators exists and how the Senate works is a low bar requisite for voting in a Senatorial election.
I also think partisanship is a good thing. So did our founders, by the way, as long as it was based on principles.
The genius of the American people -- if such a thing really exists -- will only manifest itself when the few interested and enlightened from both sides of the philosophical spectrum participate. Much like Chambliss v. Martin 2008, where folks voted for party. They will be free from the vote dilution of the uninformed and the distractions of the dishonest attempts to fool the same.
Perhaps we should start encouraging people not really interested to stay home on election day. I suspect more races would turn out like the run-off in Georgia did. Now THAT would be "change I can believe in."
3 )Rice fails to damp Indian-Pakistan tensions which rise amid fresh terror threat
Sources report in their talks in New Delhi and Islamabad Wednesday, Dec. 3, US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and top US soldier, Adm. Mike Mullen, failed to tamp down the rising military tensions between India and Pakistan. Their talks were clouded by the threat of a second round of terror, this one directed against three Indian international airports, Delhi Bangalore and Chennai, by infiltrators of Pakistani or Afghan origin. Last week, Lashkar e-Taiba Islamists held Mumbai to siege for three days and killed more than 170 people. The Indian investigation points to two Lashkar leaders, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Yusuf Muzammil, as masterminds of that outrage.
The intelligence of a second round of attacks which may include the hijacking of aircraft at the three targeted airports, was handed to prime minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday, Dec. 3, by the Indian spy agency RAW. Special forces backed by armored vehicles and explosives detecting devices including sniffer dogs were posted at those airports.
According to counter-terror sources, Indian intelligence has been warned of a third round of attacks scheduled for the coming festival season against resorts like Goa and Puna which are frequented by foreign tourists and trekkers. Once again, Americans, Britons and Israelis will be singled out.
When Condoleezza Rice urged Indian officials to exercise military restraint against Pakistan they showed her this intelligence. Since Islamabad did not rein in the terrorists who cross the border at will, India had no choice, they said, but to send its army across to hit them in their Pakistani lairs.
Rice then traveled to Islamabad for a last-ditch appeal for urgent Pakistani "cooperation" by rounding up the suspects behind the Mumbai atrocity. But the new president Asif Zardari lacks the clout to deliver.
Security measures have also been tightened across India for the Dec. 6 anniversary of the destruction of the medieval Ayodhya mosque in 1992.
4) Keynesian borrowing won't solve our economic problems
By Raymond Richman, Howard Richman, and Jesse Richman
Washington's response to the recession has been ever-expanding borrowing for stimulus packages and bailouts:
(1) $150 billion in February;
(2) $850 billion in October, and, coming soon;
(3) Obama's $800 billion stimulus package.
These packages are implementations of Keynesian economics which advocates increased government borrowing during recessions. But government borrowing has severe long-term costs. The late Milton Friedman, founder of the fiscally conservative alternative known as monetarism, often pointed out: "There ain't no free lunch!"
For one thing, borrowing from abroad artificially strengthens the dollar, which causes American producers to lose market share both at home and in world markets. In fact, the first two stimulus packages may have actually made the U.S. recession worse, not better.
But the biggest costs of government borrowing are borne when the government has to make payments on its increased debt. The rapid pace of Washington's borrowing, at present, is greatly increasing the possibility that a rise in interest rates could force the U.S. government to either repudiate or inflate away its debt.
The central idea of monetarism is that governments are too short-term in their thinking unless they are bound by sensible long-term rules. Monetarists have always advocated the first two rules below. We would add the third:
1. Balanced Monetary Growth. Governments should maintain a steadily growing money supply, sufficient to prevent deflation, but not so fast as to cause inflation.
2. Balanced Budgets. Governments should maintain relatively balanced budgets so as not crowd-out private investment or leave a huge government debt to future generations.
3. Balanced Trade. Governments should insure that foreign trade is relatively balanced so as not to lose production jobs or leave a huge national debt to future generations.
Monetarism, even without the balanced trade rule, has been a successful economic philosophy. The Federal Reserve applied the balanced monetary growth rule during the 1980s and 1990s, keeping the U.S. economy relatively free from inflation. Similarly, President Clinton and the Republican Congress applied the balanced budget rule in the mid 1990s, producing a long period of steady economic growth.
The new balanced trade rule is necessary in order to respond to modern mercantilism, the economic policy that maximizes exports and minimizes imports in order to gain market share from trading partners. The latest evidence is the increase in China's subsidies to exporters which has not yet evoked a response from the U.S. government even though China exports four times as much as it imports from the United States and promised to forego export subsidies when it joined the WTO.
China and the other mercantilist governments have been perpetuating and increasing the U.S. trade deficits by buying U.S. financial assets with the dollars earned from their trade surpluses with the United States. For over a decade, American banks passed along the flow of foreign savings to American consumers, offering ever-riskier loans in order to get a high return. But when American consumers could no longer afford the payments, banks went bankrupt and the resulting hole in worldwide demand is causing the worldwide recession.
If the U.S. government switched to balanced trade monetarism, the U.S. could quickly recover since there would be plenty of demand for American products if foreigners bought as much from the U.S. as the U.S. buys from them.
One definition of insanity is trying the same thing again and again, but expecting a different result. Washington seems to be stuck on borrowing foreign savings. But borrowing from abroad exacerbated this recession, has already bankrupted many U.S. banks, and is starting to bankrupt U.S. manufacturers, including Detroit automakers. It's time to stop the borrowing by bringing trade into balance!
5)Think-tank comments on Iran worry Israel: Restoring the Balance A Middle East Strategy for
By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER and HERB KEINON
Israeli officials expressed concern Wednesday about some recommendations in a report top American experts have prepared on Middle East policy for the Obama administration, including expanding engagement with Iran and possible responses should Teheran acquire nuclear capabilities.
The report, drafted by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Brookings
Institution, will be a major focus of the latter's Saban Center for Middle
East Policy forum this weekend for top US and Israeli officials, as
Washington heavy hitters try to play a role in shaping the policies of the
Foreign Ministry officials weren't thrilled about the report's
recommendations, but downplayed its significance.
"We have nothing to be afraid of," one official said, refuting those who
expressed fear that this report would become Obama's diplomatic road map.
"Obama is surrounding himself with people who we know - from Hillary
Clinton, to Rahm Emanuel, to James Jones. There is no reason to panic.
"It could be that the new administration's policy will be different from the
Bush administration's; in fact, it will be a little different. But that
doesn't mean it will be against Israel."
The official remarked that the report would likely be passed around by Obama
subordinates, along with many other similar documents being prepared over
the transition period. It was unrealistic, he said, to think Obama is going
to internalize this report's findings and make them his own policies.
Still, the Saban gathering draws together international figures of the
highest order and leading thinkers and experts on Middle East issues. US
President George W. Bush is set to give his valedictory speech on the region
at the weekend event, being held in Washington.
Despite Bush's presence, the report is blunt in assessing that current US
policies toward Iran have "failed." Instead, the report calls for direct
engagement with Iran, to begin at a low level as soon as possible.
Though it acknowledges that diplomacy is not a cure-all, it considers
diplomacy more likely than other options - including a military attack and
regime change - to productively manage Iran's nuclear ambitions.
A separate chapter on Iran estimates that the country won't be capable of
producing a credible nuclear weapons option for another two to three years,
during which increased sanctions alongside engaged diplomacy are advocated.
But, it adds, "If diplomacy or force fails to prevent Iran from acquiring
nuclear weapons, a declared US nuclear umbrella for the region or parts of
it should be a key mechanism for deterring Iran, reassuring Israel, and
incorporating our other allies into an effective regional balance."
Martin Indyk, who heads the Saban Center and co-wrote the report's
introductory section - though he didn't author the chapters dealing with
specific countries - explained the latter recommendation as potentially
helping to synchronize the American and Israeli time frames on Iran.
Speaking to the press after the report was unveiled on Tuesday, Indyk said
that the US and Israel have different deadlines for dealing with the threat
of a nuclear Iran, because Israel sees the issue as an existential one while
the US sees room to maneuver, even if Tehran did acquire some nuclear
By the US providing security guarantees, such as a nuclear umbrella, he
argued, it could reassure Jerusalem and "buy more time" for diplomacy to
Indyk also backed US support for Israeli-Syrian negotiations that are
already under way through a third party, Turkey.
He suggested that they could strengthen the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian
peace process, since a price for an agreement would be Syria cutting its
ties to radical Islamic parties and Iran, whose influence the Fatah-led
Palestinian Authority also wants to see diminish as part of its effort to
In its chapter on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the report contends that
Hamas needs to be brought back into a Palestinian national unity government
to try to reshape its current role as a spoiler.
The report doesn't push the US to recognize Hamas, but suggests mediation by
the Arab countries between the rival Palestinian parties.
Indyk also said the current Annapolis process could continue to provide a
good framework for moving forward on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
Richard Haass, president of CFR and the co-author of the introduction,
agreed that there were positive aspects of Bush's policies that shouldn't be
thrown out in the new administration's haste to turn the page.
"It's important that the administration not start with an ABB approach -
anything but Bush," he said.
5a) To Ban a Book
By Winfield Myers
Political correctness is at its most parodic precisely when it seems beyond parody. The latest bit of history to support this adage is the Middle East studies establishment's reception of Sherry Jones's novel The Jewel of Medina (Jewel), a life of Aisha, the favorite wife of Muhammad. As Robert Spencer writes in his review of Jewel for the Winter 2009 issue of the Middle East Quarterly, Jones set out to "be a bridge-builder" who chose her historical sources selectively to ensure that her work would present a flattering picture of her subjects.
Enter Denise Spellberg, who teaches Islamic history at the University of Texas. She heard of Jewel pre-publication because Jones, in her naiveté, asked her then-publisher Ballantine, an imprint of Random House, to obtain an endorsement from Spellberg to splay across the back of the dust jacket. Spellberg is author of Politics, Gender, and the Islamic Past: The Legacy of Aisha bint Abi Bakr, which Jones cites as one of her sources. She is, in addition, a typical practitioner of the blatant bias toward things Muslim and, more particularly, Arab that has become almost ubiquitous among practitioners of Middle East studies. Put simply but accurately, this means that things Arab/Muslim = good; things American/Western = bad. Under this regime, dispassionate, fair-minded research that takes a critical look at the Middle East is more likely to be rewarded with professional ostracism than advancement.
The results of Spellberg's fantasy-laden reading of the publisher's galleys of Jewel is by now familiar: she threw a Texas-sized tantrum and effectively persuaded Random House (the publisher of her forthcoming Thomas Jefferson's Qur'an) to withdraw publication of the book. According to the Wall Street Journal, which broke the story, Spellberg made a "frantic" phone call to Muslim friend Shahed Amanullah, who owns the popular site altmuslim. After telling him the novel "made fun of Muslims and their history" and asking him to sound the alarm, word spread rapidly that Random House was on the verge of publishing a book on Islam that would spark worldwide violence akin to what occurred in the aftermath of the publication of the Danish cartoons of Muhammad and Salmon Rushdie's Satanic Verses.
Here is a sample of what Spellberg has said about Jewel:
A very ugly, stupid piece of work.
A declaration of war...explosive stuff...a national security issue.
I don't have a problem with historical fiction. I do have a problem with the deliberate misinterpretation of history. You can't play with a sacred history and turn it into soft core pornography.
(Via Jane Garrett of Random House): [Spellberg] thinks it will be far more controversial than the satanic verses [sic] and the Danish cartoons. Does not know if the author and Ballantine folks are clueless or calculating, but thinks the book should be withdrawn ASAP.
Compare those dire warnings to what Robert Spencer found in his reading:
But whoever reads The Jewel of Medina, after suffering through stilted Hollywood historical epic dialogue larded with Arabic tidbits for authenticity's sake, will wonder what the fuss was all about. True to her word, Jones offers a portrait of Muhammad that is so flattering as to be worthy of British religion writer Karen Armstrong, who compared Muhammad to Gandhi.
Jones, says Spencer, saves her harsh judgment for Muhammad's enemies:
In keeping with this approach, Jones paints Muhammad's enemies with lurid comic-book strokes as evil, treacherous, and repulsive. The Jews of the Qaynuqa tribe, whom Muhammad eventually exiled, lurk sinisterly in doorways and play evil pranks upon Muhammad's wives. Abu Sufyan, the Quraysh leader who fought Muhammad and the Muslims in the battles of Badr, Uhud, and the Trench, abducts and murders a friend of Aisha; Jones describes his sweat glistening "like beads of grease in every fold and crease of fat" while his accomplice's "pocked face seemed to writhe with hatred."
Spencer does find one instance in which, by having Aisha fall in love with Safwan ibn al-Muattal and express initial disappointment at her marriage to Muhammad, Jones ensures that "feathers will be ruffled." But enough to justify violence? That, Spencer says, "is doubtful in the extreme."
Spencer's review further demonstrates that Spellberg's solicitousness of things Muslim caused her to grossly overstate the risk involved in publishing Jewel. The British publishing house Gibson Square Books canceled publication of the book in the UK after the home of its head was firebombed. While it's impossible to say for sure that no violence would have accompanied its publication in the UK had Spellberg never launched her hysteria-laden campaign against the book, it's beyond dispute that Beaufort Books in the U.S. went ahead with publication, and to date no violence has occurred. Thanks to Robert Spencer's careful review, we can better understand why: Jewel is more "soft history" than "soft pornography."
6) IDF preparing options for Iran strike
By Yaakov Katz
The IDF is drawing up options for a strike on Iranian nuclear facilities that do not include coordination with the United States.
While its preference is to coordinate with the US, defense officials have said Israel is preparing a wide range of options for such an operation.
"It is always better to coordinate," one top Defense Ministry official explained last week. "But we are also preparing options that do not include coordination."
Israeli officials have said it would be difficult, but not impossible, to launch a strike against Iran without receiving codes from the US Air Force, which controls Iraqi airspace. Israel also asked for the codes in 1991 during the First Gulf War, but the US refused.
"There are a wide range of risks one takes when embarking on such an operation," a top Israeli official said.
Several news reports have claimed recently that US President George W. Bush has refused to give Israel a green light for an attack on Iranian facilities. One such report, published in September in Britain's Guardian newspaper, claimed that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert requested a green light to attack Iran in May but was refused by Bush.
In September, a Defense News article on an early warning radar system the US recently sent to Israel quoted a US government source who said the X-band deployment and other bilateral alliance-bolstering activities send parallel messages: "First, we want to put Iran on notice that we're bolstering our capabilities throughout the region, and especially in Israel. But just as important, we're telling the Israelis, 'Calm down, behave. We're doing all we can to stand by your side and strengthen defenses, because at this time, we don't want you rushing into the military option.'"
The "US European Command (EUCOM) has deployed to Israel a high-powered X-band radar and the supporting people and equipment needed for coordinated defense against Iranian missile attack, marking the first permanent US military presence on Israeli soil," Defense News wrote. The radar will shave several precious minutes off Israel's reaction time to an Iranian missile launch.
In a related article at about the same time, TIME magazine raised the possibility that through the deployment of the radar, America wants to keep an eye on Israeli airspace, so that the US is not surprised if and when the IAF is sent to bomb Iran, a scenario Washington wants to avoid.
The US army sent 120 EUCOM personnel to Israel's Nevatim Air Base southeast of Beersheba to man the new radar.
Last week, Iran's nuclear chief Gholam Reza Aghazadeh revealed that the country was operating more than 5,000 centrifuges at its uranium enrichment plant in Natanz and would continue to install centrifuges and enrich uranium to produce nuclear fuel for the country's future nuclear power plants.
"At this point, more than 5,000 centrifuges are operating in Natanz," said Aghazadeh, who is also the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. This represents a significant increase from the 4,000 Iran had said were up and running in August at the plant.
The Islamic republic has said it plans to move toward large-scale uranium enrichment that will ultimately involve 54,000 centrifuges.
Israeli officials said last week that the drop in oil prices and the continued sanctions on Iran were having an effect, although they had yet to stop Teheran's nuclear program. The officials said that while Iran was making technological advancements, it would not have the necessary amount of highly-enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb until late 2009.
"There is still time and there is no need to rush into an operation right now," another Israeli official said. "The regime there is already falling apart and will likely no longer be in power 10 years from now."
The IAF was preparing for a wide range of options, OC Air Force Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan recently said, adding that all it would take to launch an operation was a decision by the political echelon.
"The air force is a very robust and flexible force," he told Der Spiegel. "We are ready to do whatever is demanded of us."
On Monday, Teheran dismissed the possibility of an Israeli strike, saying it didn't take Israel seriously.
"We think that regional and international developments and the complicated situation faced by Israel itself will not allow it to launch military strikes against other countries," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi told reporters in Teheran, according to the Press TV Web site. "Israel makes threats to promote its psychological and media warfare," he said.
7) Back to the Old 9/11 Days
By Victor Davis Hanson
For three days, Islamist gunmen nearly shut down Mumbai, the financial center of India. The terrorists -- Pakistani militants, according to Indian authorities -- murdered almost 200 innocents and left hundreds of others wounded, giving reprieve only to hostages they thought were Muslims.
The timing of their assault seemed aimed for maximum shock value here in the U.S. -- during the transference of American presidential power and amid a long U.S. holiday in which millions of Americans were glued to televised news.
The macabre killing spree was apparently part of a larger, though failed, effort to shoot or blow up a planned 5,000 civilians -- especially Americans, Brits and Jews. The jihadists may have hoped that India would heed Islamist warnings to loosen its connections to Western finance and commerce, and pay better attention to Muslim grievances.
There are a number of things to take away from the Mumbai atrocities.
First was the welcome re-emergence of concerned discussion of the dangers of global Islamist violence. George Bush apparently was not fabricating a global terrorist bogeyman -- as was sometimes alleged over the last years of calm -- when he sought support for his war in Iraq and domestic security measures.
In fact, caricatured efforts like the Patriot Act, the FISA accords, the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, the fostering of Middle East constitutional government, and the killing of violent insurgents abroad in Afghanistan and Iraq might seem once again understandable in the context of preventing another major violent terrorist attack of the sort we just saw at Mumbai.
Second, in the fashion of the old post-9/11 apologists, we were lectured once again that global terrorism is not necessarily an Islamic phenomenon. Supposedly the poverty and mistreatment of India's Muslim minority, not jihadist ideology and hatred, better explain India's incessant sectarian violence. That theory of victimhood is no more convincing now than it was in 2001.
Transnational terrorism still remains mostly Islamist in nature. Very few impoverished Hindu, Christian or Sikh terrorists go abroad to murder civilians. Nor are the wretched poor of Brazil or Haiti organizing mass-murdering assaults against foreigners and Western iconic targets in their cities.
Third, the serial excuses of Pakistan are also beginning to wear thin. Hundreds of Indians have been killed by Pakistani terrorists, who have routinely attacked both foreigners and Christians in their own country. It is now over seven years since more than 3,000 innocent Americans were murdered on orders from terrorists now all but certainly in sanctuary in Pakistan -- and whom we are still told cannot be extradited.
So despite billions of dollars in American military and financial assistance given to Pakistan, nothing really changes. When pressed to explain the apparent role of the Pakistani military or intelligence services in turning a blind eye to jihadists, the government -- whether a Pervez Musharraf in uniform or now civilian President Asif Ali Zardari (formerly known as "Mr. Ten Percent" for allegations of graft) -- still politely offers a variety of clichés.
The Pakistani borderlands are beyond the government's control. Pressuring the existing government for either more order or more democracy will lead only to worse alternatives -- such as a takeover by fundamentalist clerics, authoritarian generals, or weak democrats whose plebiscites will ensure rule by popular fanatics. No Pakistani leader of any stripe ever quite takes responsibility of the government for the mayhem committed by its own citizens or foreigners on its soil.
Instead, there always seems an implied threat that it would be unwise to push too far a volatile Pakistan that possesses nuclear weapons, or whose fanaticism makes it immune from classical laws of nuclear deterrence, or whose poverty and mismanagement ensure that it simply cannot be expected to meet international norms of behavior.
Fourth, the problem of Pakistan and the Islamist terrorism that so frequently emanates from its soil will now be President-elect Obama's to deal with. He will have to decide whether George Bush's anti-terrorism architecture shredded the Constitution and should be repealed, or helped to keep us safe from attack for seven years, and thus should be maintained, if not strengthened.
Obama once advocated open intrusions into Pakistan in hot pursuit of terrorists, and will have to adjudicate whether such actions will more likely enrage nuclear Pakistan or finally eliminate the followers of Osama bin Laden. At the same time, Obama also must ponder whether he should continue our subsidized "alliance" with Pakistan.
Just as I didn't envy George Bush's lose/lose dilemma in dealing with Pakistan and global Islamic terrorism, so too I can only sympathize with President-elect Obama, who faces the same dismal choices.
8) Report: Syria waiting for Israel for talks
By Roee Nahmias
Al-Hayat newspaper reveals Turks planned to have Jerusalem, Damascus answer each other's questions regarding borders, security before going to direct talks. Syria reportedly responds while Israel gives no reply
Damascus is waiting for responses to six questions sent to Israel through Turkish mediation regarding the future of the Golan Heights, the London-based Arabic-language al-Hayat newspaper reported on Thursday.
According to the report, Turkey proposed a plan to both parties that would help the talks progress. According the plan, Israel would present Syria with six questions regarding security matters and the Syrians would pose six questions to Israel regarding borders.
Syria reportedly gave its six responses to the Turkish mediators, but requested not to have them given to Israel until Israel provided its responses to Syria's questions.
It was also reported that Syria would not agree to move on to direct talks until the answers were given.
A source close to the talks said France got the impression that both Israel and Syria were interested in moving forward with negotiations, but at this point, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would have a hard time doing so due to the general elections period.
Meanwhile, Damascus on Wednesday congratulated Hilary Clinton on her appointment as American secretary of state, and a Syrian source told al-Watan newspaper that this appointment showed US President-elect Barack Obama's aspirations towards a just peace in the Middle East.
Last month, Syrian President Bashar Assad accused Israel of being insincere in its statements of ambition for peace with its Arab neighbors.
"For Israel, peace is a tactical act and not a strategic choice," said Assad, "Israel should give proof of its desire for peace, since it is the Israelis who occupied our land."