Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Call Me An Alarmist - But Show Me Where I am Wrong!

The ULTIMATE in women's body piercing!

Biggest turn on for guys!

Men all over the country are urging their wives and sweethearts to get this 'chic' procedure.

The going rate on the East Coast now exceeds $10,000. However, many men feel it is worth it.

The fix is in: This was an article in the St. Petersburg , Fl. Times. The
Business Section asked readers for ideas on: "How Would You Fix the

This guy obviously cannot multiply but you have to admit he is clever. I just hope Obama does not get the letter because he might do what it suggests. (See 1 below.)
Far too many conservatives believe they can beat Obama. I agree with John Bolton on just about everything he says but he could not beat Obama and should not even think of running.

It is obvious that Obama and the Pentagon have bought into The State Department's theory that bombing Iran would unite the nation. They have no more proof of that than they do that not bombing Iran will bring peace.

That said, John Bolton is right about our bombing Iran but that still does not mean he should run for the presidency. He would not get any of the Spanish and black vote and therefore could not win.

There are two more reasons: a) I doubt he could raise the hundreds of millions that it would take and b) He would have to cut off his mustache. (See 2 below.)
Wikileaks has not bothered Israel. In fact the leaked documents confirms what Israel has been stating. (See 3 below.)
Daniel Pipes suggests Turkey and Iran may be about to switch positions. (See 4 below.)
Call me loopy but I believe we are fast moving towards the day when the dollar will no longer be considered the world's reserve currency. It is coming about because we have engaged in profligate spending, are no longer able to meet our debt obligations without printing money and thus, creditor nations will be forced to reconsider accepting dollars in payment.

If I am right, our standard of living will drop like a stone, inflation will rise like a feather and we will be lucky if we stave off rioting. Commodity prices already have been rising - food, gold, silver, cotton to name a few. When oil producing nations cease accepting dollars in payment of oil gasoline prices could soar and our economy would be badly crippled.

The meeting of Obama and the Republican/Democrat leadership yesterday did not address any of these matters in a serious way and time is not our ally. It was largely a photo-op sham.The participants could not even start early in the morning like most business executives when there is a crisis to be resolved.

I hope I am wrong but fear I am not. Our debt pigeon is coming home to roost and the government is helpless to stop it from happening and in fact continues to add logs by printing more and more money. Perhaps this is what Obama seeks because it would end American exceptional-ism as we know it but it will not result in the transfer of wealth but rather the redistribution of misery.

40 million Americans are now on food stamps, several states are technically bankrupt and most all state budgets are ballooning out of control as well. Fannie and Freddie continue to hemorrhage billions and yes, the Fed and Treasury keep printing money thinking that we can pay off our debt by creating more debt. Creditor nations will remain suckers for only so long.

Increasing taxes is not the way to go, cutting spending is but even that has ominous consequences though it is the right but painful medicine. Abnegation is always resisted - riots in Britain , Greece etc. attest to that.

Call me an alarmist but before you do show me where I am wrong.(See 5 and 5a below.)
1) Dear Mr. President,

Please find below my suggestion for fixing America 's economy. Instead of
giving billions of dollars to companies that will squander the money on
lavish parties and unearned bonuses, use the following plan.
You can call it the "Patriotic Retirement Plan":

There are about 40 million people over 50 in the work force. Pay them $1
million apiece severance with no taxes due on it, for early retirement with
the following stipulations:

1) They MUST retire. Forty million job openings - Unemployment fixed.

2) They MUST buy a new AMERICAN Car. Forty million cars ordered - Auto
Industry fixed.

3) They MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage - Housing Crisis

It can't get any easier than that!!

P.S. If more money is needed, have all members in Congress pay their taxes..

Mr. President, while you're at it, make Congress retire on Social Security
and Medicare. I'll bet both programs would be fixed pronto!
2)Bolton: Military strike only way to stop Iran nukes

In interview with 'Post,' former US ambassador to UN during the Bush administration says he is mulling GOP presidential run to reassert strong American foreign policy; "This is a very weak administration," he contends.

John Bolton is mulling a run for president because he believes the US needs to recover its international standing and be more assertive, including being willing to bomb Iran and scrap the two-state solution.

“Both our friends and our adversaries alike have assessed this as a very weak administration, uncomfortable with asserting American interests or defending them, particularly through the use of force internationally,” Bolton told The Jerusalem Post in an interview Tuesday.

“To raise national security back into the center of the debate – which is where I think it belongs – it could well take a presidential candidacy, because that is what helps focus people’s attention on these issues and that’s why I’m thinking of doing it.”

The former under secretary of state for arms control and US ambassador to the UN during the George W. Bush administration, Bolton identified proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and international terrorism as the top challenges facing America, along with the threat of nuclear Iran.

Bolton, who would seek the Republican nomination should he run, rejected the idea that sanctions could eventually affect Iran’s nuclear ambitions as some in the US and even Israel have suggested.

“The most likely outcome with respect to Iran is that it gets nuclear weapons and very, very soon,” he said. “Given that diplomacy has failed, given that sanctions have failed, the only alternative to an Iran with nuclear weapons is a limited military strike against the nuclear weapons program.”

Though he said he doesn’t prefer such action, he believes it’s better than the alternatives. And he dismissed the argument that a focused strike would cause regional instability, pointing to Wikileaks’ dissemination of diplomatic cables this week showing Arab support for an attack.

“A preemptive military strike against Iran’s nuclear program would not cause chaos in the Middle East because the Arab states don’t want Iran to have nuclear weapons any more than Israel does,” he said.

Bolton noted, however, that taking coordinated action could be harder because of the leaks and the concerns allies abroad will now have about working with America. But he assessed it would be a temporary rather than long-term setback.

Bolton does not believe two-state solution is working

He also said the revealed Arab support also punctures the Obama administration’s contention that progress on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process was needed to help rally the Arab world’s help on Iran.

When it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Bolton doesn’t think the current effort to forge a two-state solution is working.

“I think the entire model of the two-state solution has failed,” he declared. “There’s nobody on the Palestinian side that you can trust who will make the hard commitments necessary to achieve peace or who will be able to carry them out into the future.”

Instead, he proposed a “three-state solution” which would include the admittedly unpopular moves of returning Gaza to Egypt and the Palestinian areas of the West Bank back to Jordan.

According to Bolton, the current US-Israel negotiations to extend the settlement freeze in return for 20 F-35 fighter planes also makes for unwise conditioning.

“That’s a destructive kind of relationship for both countries,” he warned.

Still, he said it wouldn’t be difficult to reset relations with Israel under a new White House.

“I don’t think that would be hard,” he estimated. “Frankly, I’m not aware of any potential Republican candidate for president who couldn’t do a better job on this issue than Obama.”

Whether he could be a successful Republican candidate, however, is another question.

Bolton acknowledges that he’s never run for elected office let alone the presidency and would need to consult with his family and give serious thought to the obstacles before making a decision.

Political expert Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution, however, gave Bolton no chance of being successful in getting the nomination.

“He has little visibility and no support except among a very small group of neoconservative interventionists,” he said. “Moreover, he has no experience in elective politics and has an abrasive personality not well-suited to retail politicking.”

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, called Bolton “the longest of long shots” for the Republican nomination, adding that he’s “enough of a realist to know that.”

Instead of running to win office, Sabato saw Bolton as launching a campaign in order to raise the profile of certain issues.

“If you want to get some of the issues that you believe need to be discussed on the table, you run for president,” he explained.

“This could be a campaign that is dominated overwhelmingly by economic and other domestic issues,” Sabato continued, noting Bolton’s interest in ensuring that foreign affairs are also addressed.

Bolton himself admitted his interest in highlighting international and security priorities, saying, “I’ve been concerned for the past two years that there has not been adequate attention to foreign policy and national security issues.”

But he emphasized that if he enters the race it will be a sincere bid.

“If I get in this, I get in it to win,” he said.
3)Israel greets WikiLeaks cables as vindication of its Iran policy
By Joshua Mitnick

The latest "document dump" is a coup for Jewish State, giving proof that her Arab neighbors, even those that are sworn enemies, share concerns

Wikileaks' publication of US diplomatic cables could have sparked a fresh controversy between Israel and its most important ally after a year of strained relations.

But instead, Wikileaks' release of the documents on Sunday has proved to be something of a public relations coup for Israel: on-the-record confirmation that its Arab neighbors are just as frightened as the Jewish state by a nuclear Iran. The cables confirmed previous anonymous reports that Israel has quiet partners in the region pushing the US to take bolder steps to stop what they consider an existential threat.

"I don't see any damage. Quite the opposite,'' said Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, in an interview with Israel Radio. "Maybe there's an indirect benefit that the truth is coming out, that the entire Middle East, including Arab states, are very fearful from the Iranian nuclear threat, and are calling on the West to be much more aggressive toward Iran.''

Analysts and officials pointed to candid assessments from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt that Iran posed the biggest strategic threat to regional stability. The assessments even stressed the need for considering conventional attacks on Tehran before its nuclear program becomes operational. Other officials pointed to a US diplomatic report in which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad is compared to Adolf Hitler.

The revelation of regional support for Israel's hard-line approach to Iran was seen as such a boon that Sever Plocker, a columnist for the daily Yediot Ahronot newspaper, quipped, "If the WikiLeaks site did not exist, Israel would have to invent it.''

"The massive leak of American diplomatic telegrams indicates a single picture, sharp and clear," he added. "The entire world, not just Israel, is panicked over the Iranian nuclear program.''

New details about Israel's Iran strategy and relations with Arab neighbors — such as Mossad chief Meir Dagan's plan for regime change in Iran, and repeated Israeli warnings about Tehran's looming nuclear weapons program — were played down by analysts and officials as unsurprising.

But beyond the momentary public relations dividend, one Israeli veteran of diplomacy said the widespread fear of Iran among America's Arab allies does not bode well for the Obama administration's foreign policy — particularly its efforts to engage Iran diplomatically.

"When Obama decided on negotiating with Iran, he was doing exactly the opposite of what the American allies are thinking,'' says Shlomo Avineri, a political science professor at Hebrew University and a former director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. "Obama has made all of his friends nervous, and the Iranians are spitting in his face."

Other observers said the publication of classified US communiques weakens the international standing of Israel's most important ally — a trend that could hamper Arab-Israeli peace mediation efforts and ultimately weaken Israel, which relies heavily on the diplomatic and military weight of the United States.

"The superpower looks weakened,'' says Alon Liel, a former director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. "The fact that the US doesn't look good especially in the Middle East … lowers the chances for Israel to become an integral part of the region.'
4)Islamist Turkey vs. Secular Iran?
By Daniel Pipes
The Washington Times

Early in the sixteenth century, as the Ottoman and Safavid empires fought for control of the Middle East, Selim the Grim ruling from Istanbul indulged his artistic side by composing distinguished poetry in Persian, then the Middle East's language of high culture. Simultaneously, Ismail I ruling from Isfahan wrote poetry in Turkish, his ancestral language.

Selim the Grim (r. 1512-20) wrote poetry under the name Mahlas Selimi; his arch-rival Ismail I (r. 1501-24) wrote poetry as Khata'i.

This juxtaposition comes to mind as the populations of Turkey and Iran now engage in another exchange. As the secular Turkey founded by Atatürk threatens to disappear under a wave of Islamism, the Islamist Iranian state founded by Khomeini apparently teeters, on the brink of secularism. Turks wish to live like Iranians, ironically, and Iranians like Turks.

Turkey and Iran are large, influential, and relatively advanced Muslim-majority countries, historically central, strategically placed, and widely watched; as they cross paths, I predicted back in 1994, racing in opposite directions, their destinies will affect not just the future of the Middle East but potentially the entire Muslim world.

That is now happening. Let's review each country's evolution:

Turkey: Atatürk nearly removed Islam from public life in the period 1923-38. Over the decades, however, Islamists fought back and by the 1970s they formed part of a ruling coalition; in 1996-97, they even headed a government. Islamists took power following the strange elections of 2002, when winning a third of the vote secured them two-thirds of the parliamentary seats. Ruling with caution and competence, they got nearly half the vote in 2007, at which point their gloves came off and the bullying began, from a wildly excessive fine levied against a media critic to hare-brained conspiracy theories against the armed forces. Islamists won 58 percent of the vote in a September referendum and appear set to win the next parliamentary election, due by June 2011.

Atatürk excluded Islam from Turkey's public life and Khomeini made it central in Iran's.

Should Islamists win the next election, that will likely establish the premise for them to remain enduringly in power, during which they will bend the country to fit their will, instituting Islamic law (the Sharia), and building an Islamic order resembling Khomeini's idealized polity.

Iran: Khomeini did the opposite of Atatürk, making Islam politically dominant during his reign, 1979-89, but it soon thereafter began to falter, with discordant factions emerging, the economy failing, and the populace distancing itself from the regime's extremist rule. By the 1990s, foreign observers expected the regime soon to fail. Despite their populace's growing disillusionment, the increased sway of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps and the coming to power of hardened veterans of the Iran-Iraq war, as symbolized by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, imbued it with a second wind.

This reassertion of Islamist goals also increased the people's alienation from the regime, including a turn away from Islamic practices and toward secularism. The country's growing pathologies, including rampant drug-taking, pornography, and prostitution point to the depths of its problems. Alienation sparked anti-regime demonstrations in the aftermath of fraudulent elections in June 2009. The repression that followed spurred yet more anger at the authorities.

A race is underway. Except it is not an even competition, given that Islamists currently rule in both capitals, Ankara and Tehran.

Erdoğan and Ahmadinejad, in sync at last.

Looking ahead, Iran represents the Middle East's greatest danger and its greatest hope. Its nuclear buildup, terrorism, ideological aggressiveness, and formation of a "resistance bloc" present a truly global threat, ranging from jumping the price of oil and gas to an electro-magnetic pulse attack on the United States. But if these dangers can be navigated, controlled, and subdued, Iran has a unique potential to lead Muslims out of the dark night of Islamism toward a more modern, moderate, and good neighborly form of Islam. As in 1979, that achievement will likely affect Muslims far and wide.

Contrarily, while the Turkish government presents few immediate dangers, its more subtle application of Islamism's hideous principles makes it loom large as future threat. Long after Khomeini and Osama bin Laden are forgotten, I venture, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his colleagues will be remembered as the inventors of a more lasting and insidious form of Islamism.

Thus may today's most urgent Middle Eastern problem country become tomorrow's leader of sanity and creativity while the West's most stalwart Muslim ally over five decades turn into the greatest source of hostility and reaction. Extrapolation is a mug's game, the wheel turns, and history springs surprises.

Mr. Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.

Nov. 30, 2010 updates: Two points that did not fit in the main body of my column

(1) Ankara and Tehran work together ever closely these days but I predict that they will soon be rivals for Islamist leadership. Historical pride, sectarian ambition, and geo-strategic competition all suggest that the current moment of harmony will not last long Look for the Turks to dispute Iranian leadership in such arenas as commercial prowess, military power, and religious potency.

(2) I sketched out this rivalry in a 1994 article in the National Interest, "[Turkey vs. Iran and] Islam's Intramural Struggle," in which I noted "a long, deep, and difficult fight" likely brewing "between two of the great countries of the Middle East, Turkey and Iran." Turks , I wrote, "seem not yet to realize what the mullahs know: that fundamentalist Islam will rise or fall depending on what Turks do, and that Iran and Turkey are therefore engaged in a mortal combat. Will Turks wake up in time to hold their own? Much hinges on the result."
5)Slurpee Summit full of empty calories
By Dana Milbank

A large 7-Eleven Slurpee has upward of 550 calories, 142 grams of carbohydrates, and 0 grams of protein.

So it is appropriate that the first meeting between President Obama and Republican leaders since the election would be called the "Slurpee Summit" - a thing of no nutritional value. The name, embraced by Obama, refers to his line during the campaign about how Republicans stood on the sidelines, "sipping Slurpees," while Democrats pushed the economy out of a ditch.

The Slurpee Summit on Tuesday produced precisely what everybody knew it would: nothing but an agreement to keep talking about areas of disagreement. Indeed, the two sides couldn't even agree on logistics for the empty-calorie summit.

First, Republicans requested a postponement of the meeting, which was supposed to have been two weeks ago. Then on Tuesday, the two sides engaged in an elaborate competition for media attention following the 10:30 a.m. meeting.

Republicans made plans to speak to TV cameras in the White House driveway immediately after the session, but then the White House announced that Obama would be making a televised statement at 12:20. Republican leaders, in response, announced a news conference on Capitol Hill for 12:30. Obama then delayed his 12:20 statement, and, before Republicans could complete their news conference, he began his dueling statement - forcing the cable networks to ditch the GOP event.

Not that either side had much to say. "There's a reason why we have Democrats and Republicans," incoming House speaker John Boehner said at his news conference. "We believe in different things."

"We have two parties for a reason," Obama said a few minutes later. "There are real philosophical differences."

For the duration of the lame-duck Congress, it appears that those differences will prevent much of substance from getting done. There's hope for an agreement on funds to keep the government running - temporarily. There's hope for an accord on extending the Bush tax cuts - temporarily. Actions beyond the Band-Aid variety - immigration, energy, tackling the federal deficit - will have to wait.

Writing in Tuesday's Post, Boehner and Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell made clear they weren't going to the White House to negotiate. "Republicans heard the voters loud and clear," they wrote, claiming they would be giving Americans "a voice at that table" in the Roosevelt Room.

The problem with that is Americans are essentially asking for Slurpees: In the abstract, they want a balanced budget, but they reject the hard choices needed to get there. The November Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll found that 70 percent of Americans are uncomfortable with cuts to Medicare, Social Security and defense spending, while 59 percent are uncomfortable with increasing taxes. What Americans need aren't lawmakers who satisfy their cravings for empty calories but leaders who convince them to eat the roughage.

Such leadership was not in evidence at the Slurpee Summit. On the eve of the meeting, incoming House majority leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), told Politico that Obama should heed a two-word message from the voters: "Stop it." In case anybody missed that taunt, Cantor's office distributed the article in an e-mail with the subject line "Stop It."

The White House, in turn, did its best to make sure the visiting Republican leaders wouldn't get a chance at the spotlight. Photographers and TV cameras were not admitted to the room for the customary "spray" - a few seconds to shoot photos or roll tape. And the "stakeout" location in the West Wing driveway - the spot where White House visitors address the cameras - was rendered inhospitable by a fleet of backhoes and cement trucks working on a construction project.

Still, network crews dutifully manned the stakeout location for more than two hours before it began to dawn on them that the lawmakers had given them the slip.

This Story
Slurpee Summit full of empty calories
Stephen Stromberg: What's with Obama and summits?
"Did you see them leaving?"

"Let's go home."

"Is it over?"

"Looks like it."

"It was over before it started."

It certainly was. Boehner, in his news conference, wasn't unduly optimistic as he explained: "We had a very nice meeting today. Of course, we've had a lot of very nice meetings. The question is, can we find the common ground?"

That was about the time Obama began his competing statement, which included a lament about the "hyperpartisan climate" in which "both sides come to the table. They read their talking points. Then they head out to the microphones, trying to win the news cycle instead of solving problems." Obama called that "a game that we can't afford."

The statement might have carried more weight if Obama hadn't just preempted his opponents' news conference.

5a)Is the Great Bond Bull Market finally coming to an end?
By Mark Hulbert

Countless commentators (myself included) in recent months have concluded that it has, though in retrospect we’ve at best been premature — if not outright wrong.

But there is the distinct possibility that this time may be different: The tide appears to be turning in the huge flow of funds into bond mutual funds and ETFs.

That fund inflow — better described as a tsunami — has been widely noted over the past couple of years, of course, during which investors exhibited an insatiable appetite for bond funds, consistently transferring more money into those funds than they withdrew.

In fact, according to TrimTabs Investment Research, a quantitative research firm, the sustained period of fund inflows into bond funds began nearly two years ago, in mid-December of 2008. The only other occasion in recent stock market history that even comes close to matching this, according to Vincent Deluard, Executive Vice President at Trim Tabs, is the sustained period of fund flows into stock mutual funds in the late 1990s leading up to the bursting of the Internet bubble.

That’s an ominous parallel, of course.

But especially now, given that the string of weekly inflows into bond funds has finally been broken. That string, for those of you keeping score, was for 99 straight weeks.

It came to an end in the week ending Nov. 17. For that week, Trim Tabs estimates that $4.3 billion was pulled out of open-end bond funds in the U.S. Though the pace of this outflow did not continue in the week ending Nov. 24, it didn’t reverse itself either: Though TrimTabs estimates that there was a tiny inflow of $207 million into open-end bond bunds in that week, it was more than counterbalanced by a $592 million outflow from bond-oriented exchange-traded funds.

What makes the bond market particularly vulnerable to this nascent turning of the tide is that it wouldn’t take much to turn it into an avalanche just as big as the previous inflow. In an interview, Deluard pointed out that it’s been 26 years since the bond market suffered a “really severe correction. That means that the vast majority of investors in bond funds have never lived through a decline of that severity. This in turn means that, should a decline begin to gather steam, these inexperienced investors could easily panic and dump much of their bond fund holdings in very short order.”

That would cause the bond market to fall even faster, of course.

To be sure, a two-week outflow doesn’t in and of itself reverse 99 weeks of inflows. Nevertheless, given how precarious the situation is, what with huge inflows from inexperienced investors who could easily panic, it certainly appears as though the bond market is at a tipping point. If so, it won’t take much to precipitate a huge rout in the bond market.

“They don’t ring a bell at market tops,” goes the old Wall Street saw. Nevertheless, if indeed a major bond bear market has begun, the outflows over the last two weeks might eventually be seen in retrospect as very close to just such a bell.

Friday, November 26, 2010

When Passivity Fails Retreat To Realism!

Are Republicans racists because they currently attract white voters by 'allegedly' claiming they want to balance the nation's books and defend the dollar's erosion, challenge students to a more rigorous education, defend our nation against all enemies foreign and domestic and protect our borders from illegal intrusion?

I am not suggesting Republicans will actually stand by these professed principles
but should they and this is deemed racially appealing only to white voters then I would rather see Republicans go down the drain because they embraced our nation's roots for surely our nation will go down the drain if we continue to pursue Obama's current policies - both foreign and domestic.

Either way, we seem destined for decline because our growing non-Caucasian numbers are poorly educated and far more interested in dependency. Furthermore, do not underestimate the negative impact of domestic radical Islamists. Though their numbers are currently small they are learning how to subvert our democracy using the very tools that make us a democracy. (See 1 and 1a below.)
Lebanon continues to slide into Iran's orbit as Obama's foreign policy stitches come undone.

When passivity fails retreat to realism.

Our Middle East policy towards Iran resembles a mud slide heading towards disaster.

Every time we and Europe dithered, obviously it made the consequences of strong action against Iran more unlikely. Now we have placed ourselves in an untenable position that will cost us dearly - likely starting with the loss of the entire Middle East. (See 2, 2a, 2b and 2c below.)
A further way to engage in mud slide policy is redefine aberrant and/or illegal behaviour or embrace the new reality by lowering your standards. (See 3 below.)
A day late and a dollar short? (See 4 below.)
Has China renounced its policy of caution? (See 5 below.)
What all of the above seems to boil down to, unless sanctions work and the current Iranian regime is overthrown, is Obama is prepared to allow Iran to gain nuclear status. He certainly has no intention of doing anything against N Korea other than parading some ships far off China's shores and he is not going to accomplish much by way of securing Afghanistan despite contrary claims.

Obama will continue to work for a Palestinian state and demand concessions from Israel.

His administration will continue to frisk and x ray American air travelers, allow civilian trials of terrorists and press forward on government usurpation of our health care.

Additionally he will continue to run up huge deficits, blame Republicans for intransigence and keep playing cards from his populist deck.

While all of this is happening I suspect unemployment will remain relatively high and quite high considering the length of the recovery phase, The Fed will work their magic seeking to drive interest rates down as well as the dollar with it unless the Euro collapses and allows the dollar to get off the hook.

Russia's economy is likely to strengthen and their boldness will increase as well.

The only problem with this scenario is that it is a linear extrapolation of the current picture and usually something unforeseen comes along to knock any forecast into a cocked hat.

Stay tuned, I suspect the worst may yet lie ahead.
1)The GOP and Race
By Ron Lipsman

An op-ed piece in the November 10 issue of the Wall Street Journal entitled "The GOP‘s Racial Challenge" has been troubling me since I read it. The author, Zolton Hajnal, a faculty member at the University of California, San Diego, makes a veiled charge that the Republican Party's strategy for winning elections is inherently racist. But let's allow Professor Hajnal to speak for himself.

Lost in the GOP's euphoria over its landslide midterm victory is the fact that the Republican Party has almost become a whites-only party. Its strategy may win seats now, but it will lose over the long run.

Republicans won big in 2010 primarily because they won big among white voters ...

The problem for Republicans is two-fold. First, whites may currently be the majority but they are a declining demographic. The proportion of all voters who are white has already declined to 75% today from 94% in 1960. By 2050, whites are no longer expected to be a majority of the U.S. population.

Second, Republicans are alienating racial and ethnic minorities - the voters who will ultimately replace the white majority and who [sic] they need to stay in power. In every national election in the past few decades, Democrats have dominated the nonwhite vote...

Republicans thus face a real dilemma. They may be able to gain over the short term by continuing their current strategy of ignoring or attacking minorities. But that is short-sighted.

Over the long term - as white voters become a smaller and smaller fraction of the electorate ... any campaign that appeals primarily to whites will be doomed.

Hajnal's charge is "veiled" because he doesn't come right out and accuse the Republicans of adopting a blatantly racist strategy. But his implication is clear -- even though he never identifies any specific Republican policy or platform that should appeal solely to whites while alienating blacks, Latinos, or Asians. It's almost as if just being a Republican puts anti-minority strands into one's DNA, and according to Hajnal, Republicans had better shed that strand if they wish to remain electorally viable. The charge is a canard -- and reprehensible. I am surprised that the WSJ published the piece.

Furthermore, Hajnal has, apparently without realizing it, advanced an opinion that is demeaning and condescending to America's non-white citizens. For exactly what were the policies and platforms that garnered victory for so many Republican candidates in the just-concluded election? The Democrats (from Obama down) won't acknowledge them -- likely because they do not comprehend the election's meaning -- but the Republican positions that the electorate found appealing were the following:

•Government spending is out of control; the gargantuan federal deficit is a mortal threat to our economy -- indeed, to the Republic -- and it must be brought under control.
•Governmental intervention in the people's lives -- via excessive regulation, high taxes, and radical (judicial and bureaucratic) social engineering -- is far beyond acceptable and must be reversed.
•Government bailouts, union favoritism, crony capitalism, and creeping socialism are also threats to our society and must cease.
•The denigration of America's role in the world (e.g., the denial of American exceptionalism) by the president and other Democratic leaders is unacceptable, fundamentally contrary to the people's belief in America as a force for good in the world, and insulting to our history.
Now what in heaven's name does any of that have to do with the race or ethnicity of an individual who subscribes to -- or refutes -- those views? Nothing! If it is indeed true that such views are adopted by a higher percentage of whites than by any non-white community, then that would be sorry testimony to the fact that too many of our minority citizens would have succumbed -- through generations of brainwashing -- to the siren songs of government handouts, victim advocacy, and a laissez-faire culture. One of the minority communities that has succumbed is the Jewish community (78% for Obama in 2008). (Full disclosure: I am a member of that community, although I like to think that I have been inoculated.) The last time I looked, most of the Jews in America were white.

Contrary to Hajnal's assertion, the GOP has no racial challenge. The challenge belongs to America's minority communities and to the remnant in America who have an appreciation for the United States' historic greatness and a devotion to maintaining the freedom that allowed that greatness to emerge. The challenge for the latter is to expand their appreciation and devotion to all segments of the American populace; the challenge for the former is to shed the blinders that have kept them tethered to a statist, collectivist philosophy and to recognize that, while very far from perfect, the GOP has a much better chance than the Democrats of restoring the American commitment to personal freedom, free enterprise, traditional culture, and economic prosperity.

1a)Ending Tax Demagoguery
By Andrew Foy, MD

The argument continues in Washington over whether or not to extend the Bush tax cuts to Americans making over $250K per year. Besides maligning these earners as "the rich" and making the same tired appeal to identity politics, the Democrats' position is that extending tax cuts for this income class would leave hundreds of billions of dollars of unrealized taxable income on the table over the next decade. The Republicans' position is to block all tax increases, including those on high earners, so as not to hamper our fragile economic recovery. While this position has merit, it is receiving a lukewarm response from the public. Instead, Republicans who rode the tide of Tea Party sentiment into Washington should stand on first principles in opposing tax hikes on the minority at the behest of the majority by appealing to a sense of national unity as well as America's founding principles of "liberty and justice for all."

In The Federalist No. 10, Madison warned:

The apportionment of taxes on the various descriptions of property is an act which seems to require the most exact impartiality; yet, there is perhaps no legislative act in which greater opportunity and temptation are given to a predominant party, to trample on the rules of justice.

The preservation of justice requires that all citizens be treated equally under the law and protected from the arbitrary action of government. "To break the principle of equal treatment under the law," writes Friedrich Hayek, "inevitably opens the floodgates to arbitrariness." According to Thomas Sowell, "once you buy the argument that some segment of the citizenry should lose their rights, just because they are envied or resented you are putting your own rights in jeopardy -- quite aside from undermining any moral basis for respecting anybody's rights. You are opening the floodgates to arbitrary power. And once you open the floodgates, you can't tell the water where to go."

The most practical taxation policy consistent with the preservation of individual rights and equal justice is one where all citizens are taxed at the same percentage rate. However, the present debate revolves around raising taxes on one group, who already pay a higher tax rate, to spare another. Nothing could be more arbitrary. Therefore, Republicans should take control of this issue and force Democrats to acknowledge that if the deficit situation is so bad that it requires immediate action, then in the name of fairness and equal justice, one of three things must happen: government spending must be cut dramatically, taxes must be raised dramatically across the board, or we must employ some combination of the two -- but only if it involves across the board tax increases. Only then can the country begin to have a serious discussion on whether our current level of spending is justified. However, to allow spending to go on at its current level by paying for it on the backs of the minority is a slippery and dangerous slope -- one that almost assures that government spending will continue to spiral out of control with disastrous consequences.

In 2009, total federal and local government spending in the United States totaled $6,143.7B ($55K per worker), or 43% of GDP -- approximately 20% larger than most estimates of the optimum size of government, or the size of government that maximizes economic growth. As the figure shows, the size of the United States government has been growing consistently over the last seventy years, a trend that has spanned both Republican and Democrat regimes.

Figure 1. Total government spending (including Federal, State, and Local) as a percentage of GDP from 1909 - 2009

Overall government spending in the United States has not been this high, as a percentage of economic output, since World War Two. However, unlike that period where spending was driven by massive wartime outlays that decreased quickly after the war ended, the current spending is being driven by structural entitlement programs that show no prospects for decline. How to address the problem of government spending in the face of ballooning federal deficits that threaten America's financial solvency will be the major policy issue over the next decade.

In response, we should expect the left to offer more of the same solutions -- to appeal to identify politics by advocating tax increases on "the rich," who will be continually redefined down in a fruitless quest to find more tax revenue as the great mass of citizens in society shrug. Republicans, on the other hand, should stand for America's constitutional principles of liberty and equality for all citizens as problems on the horizon undoubtedly test our nation's resolve. Whether we can go on as a constitutional republic or instead sink to the level of just another democratic social welfare state, where the rights of the individual are sacrificed to the whims of the majority, will depend on how we respond to this all-important fiscal policy issue. The Republicans must draw a line in the sand now based on first principles -- and not some naïvely wonkish appeal to imagined economic growth -- because the current debate over extending the Bush tax cuts is only a prelude to a much larger battle to come.
2)Hariri walks into the Iranian web abandoned by US, Israel, Saudi Arabia

Lebanese PM and Iranian President Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri begins a suicidal trip to the Iranian capital Saturday, Nov. 27, to the accompaniment of falling Western holdings across the Middle East, military analysts report. Finding the US, Israel and the Arab world unwilling to rescue him from Syria and Iran he, like Samson in Philistine captivity, decided to take them with him when he is crushed by Hizballah.

During his two-day stay in Tehran, a month after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad turned up in Beirut, Hariri will give more ground – as he did in his cap-in-hand interviews with Syrian President Bashar Assad. But he has no illusions he can save himself from being pushed out by a puppet regime.

Nothing Hariri can do now will stop Hizballah seizing control of Beirut and other strategic regions of the country including the Lebanese-Syrian border crossings in early December to prevent the Special Lebanese Tribunal indicting the Shiite radicals for complicity in his father's assassination five years ago.

The Lebanese prime minister's uncharacteristic verbal onslaughts on Israel will not help him - any more than his declared refusal, as an Arab League member, to join the radical axis led by Tehran Hizballah and Turkey or sign a military treaty that would violate UN sanctions against Iran.

Military sources point out that Lebanon's membership of the Arab Leaguehas no bearing on whether or not it falls into the clutches of Iran, Hizballah and fellow-member Syria, because the League is politically and militarily toothless. In fact, some of its members believe non-Arab Iran and Turkey should be invited to join and the body expanded into a Muslim League for a concerted fight against Israel.

The anti-Israel element dominated Turkish Prime Minister Reccep Erdogan's call in Beirut, Wednesday, Nov. 13 for the establishment of a global Islamic bloc. Ankara, he said, would not stand aside in any new conflicts between Lebanon and Israel, or Israel and the Palestinian Hamas government of the Gaza Strip.

It was the first time that Erdogan had explicitly committed Turkey's armed forces to intervening in a war against Israel and its Defense Forces.

Although this pledge and other hostile steps consistently chip away at Israel's military supremacy, Washington and Jerusalem have not found the words to say or the action to pursue in response. They seem to be treating a succession of setbacks inflicted by Middle East radicals as occurring far away on a distant planet.

Their limpness will lead to three potential consequences:

1. The Obama administration is letting things slide in Lebanon because it cannot cope with that crisis while deciding what to do about the Korean clash of arms. There, too, Washington is showing military weakness and turning to China for help. But on Dec. 5, when the six powers and Iran sit down for nuclear talks, the Americans will find a delegation representing a regime much empowered by Its success in dominating Lebanon instead of debilitated by sanctions as expected.

2. Israel has mislaid its teeth most of all because of the breach between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the Obama administration on the terms for reviving talks with the Palestinians. It widens every time he says he is waiting for a letter of guarantee from Washington before he asks the cabinet to approve a three-month freeze on West Bank settlement construction - knowing full well the administration does not plan sending one any time soon.

Secondly, the Israeli public is too caught up in lurid disclosures of sex and corruption scandals in high places to pay attention to much else. Departing Military Intelligence Chief Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin's comment about Israel's deterrent strength Nov. 23, in the past tense would normally have made news headlines. Not these days.

Yadlin was not the first to voice concern about Israel's shrinking military edge over its enemies. Uzi Rubin, one of the heads of Israel's missile industry and a father of the Arrow missile interceptor, has warned: "The enemy has achieved aerial supremacy without even having aircraft." He spoke of Syria and Hizballah being allowed to pile up 1,500 surface missiles with guidance systems which are pointed at Tel Aviv.

3. Saudi Arabia, which stepped up as a responsible moderate Arab force capable of saving Western influence in Lebanon, opted out of this role when King Abdullah left the scene and travelled to New York for surgery.

It now turns out that the Saudi ploy led by the king's son Prince Abdulaziz Bin Abdullah for defusing the Lebanese crisis by enlisting Syria was cynically exploited by Damascus, Tehran and Hizballah. It gave them extra time to perfect their conspiracy for bringing Lebanon to heel.

Finding himself defending Lebanon alone at the barricades, Hariri threw in the sponge and decided to fly to Tehran and bow to his fate.

2a) U.S. military chief: Engagement on Iran must be realistic

U.S. Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Mullen prefers dialogue with Iran, believing that a military strike would only delay, not halt, its nuclear plans.
By Reuters

The United States needs to be realistic about its efforts to engage Iran, whose leaders are lying about Tehran's nuclear program and are on a path to building nuclear weapons, the top U.S. military officer said.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in comments released on Friday that the U.S. military has been thinking about military options on Iran "for a significant period of time" but added that diplomacy remained the focus of U.S. efforts.

"I still think it's important we focus on the dialogue, we focus on the engagement, but also do it in a realistic way that looks at whether Iran is actually going to tell the truth, actually engage and actually do anything," Mullen said in an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria due to air on Sunday.

Iran has agreed to meet with a representative of the six big powers over its uranium enrichment drive, but diplomats and analysts see little chance of a breakthrough in the long-running dispute.

Still, U.S. officials, including Mullen, have warned that a military strike will only delay, not halt, Iran's nuclear program and say convincing Tehran to abandon its nuclear program is the only viable long-term solution.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates went further last week, warning a strike would also unite the divided country and saying sanctions were biting harder than expected.

The West believes that Iran aims to use its uranium enrichment program to build atomic weapons, which Iran denies. Both Israel and the United States have said all options remain on the table to deal with its nuclear ambitions, a position Mullen reaffirmed to CNN.

Asked whether he believed Tehran's vows that its nuclear program was for peaceful purposes, Mullen said: "I don't believe it for a second."

"In fact, the information and intelligence that I've seen speak very specifically to the contrary," he said.

"Iran is still very much on a path to be able to develop nuclear weapons, including weaponizing them, putting them on a missile and being able to use them."

2b)Iran: Bushehr nuclear power plant has been fueled up
'We hope the Bushehr power plant will be connected to the country's national power grid within the next one or two months,' says Iranian vice president.
By The Associated Press

Iran's nuclear chief said Saturday the country's first nuclear power plant has been loaded up with fuel required for it to go on line, an incremental step bringing Iran closer to nuclear-generated electricity.

Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi said it will take another month or two before the 1,000-megawatt light-water reactor at Bushehr begins pumping electricity to Iranian cities.

Bushehr is not part of Iran's nuclear program that is a serious concern to the West, which suspects Tehran of trying to produce an atomic bomb. Iran has been slapped with four rounds of UN sanctions because of its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a potential pathway to weapons making that is the source of the contention with the West.

Iran denies the charges, saying its nuclear program is geared toward generating electricity and nuclear medical radioisotopes needed to treat patients.

"We sealed the lid of the reactor without any propaganda and fuss," Salehi was quoted as saying by the Fars semi-official news agency. "All fuel assemblies have been loaded into the core of the reactor."

The fueling up started in August. Now that it's completed, Salehi said all that remains to be done is to wait for the water inside the reactor's core to gradually reach a desired temperature, after which a series of tests need to be carried out.

"We hope the Bushehr power plant will be connected to the country's national power grid within the next one or two months," Salehi added.

Iran began loading the Russian-built Bushehr with low-enriched uranium fuel in August. At the time, Salehi said the fueling up would take place over two weeks and that the plant could produce electricity by late November.

However, last month he announced a delay in Bushehr's start up, saying it was the result of a small leak in a storage pool where the plant's fuel was being held - and not a computer worm that was found on the laptops of several plant employees.

Iranian officials say they have vigorously battled the Stuxnet computer worm, which they suspect is part of a covert plot by the West to damage Iran's nuclear program.

Salehi again insisted this week that the computer worm has not affected Iran's nuclear program.

2c) The Mideast's next generation of politicians
By David Ignatius

A political succession is beginning in the Middle East in which a generation of generally pro-American leaders is giving way to a group whose attitudes and loyalties are less certain. This transition comes at a time when U.S. power in the region is perceived to be weakening.

The process of change can be seen, in different forms, in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iraq - traditionally the three most powerful nations in the Arab world. All three are vexed by the machinations of a revolutionary Iran and by al-Qaeda militants, both of which encourage opposition to the ruling elites.

The first transition has already begun in Saudi Arabia, the wealthiest and historically the most pro-American of the Arab regimes. The headlines last week were about King Abdullah's visit to the United States for treatment of a slipped disc, and the return to Saudi Arabia of Crown Prince Sultan, the defense minister. It was a sign of change that the travels of these aging royals were announced in the normally secretive kingdom.

But the real Saudi news was that Abdullah's son Miteb has been appointed head of the National Guard, one of the country's top military positions. That marked a transfer of power to what's known as the "third generation," the grandsons of the founding King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud. An earlier hint was the appointment of Prince Mansour bin Miteb, the son of the minister of municipalities, to succeed his father.

Saudi analysts say these changes appear to be establishing a pattern for succession: that sons will succeed fathers in the Cabinet positions assigned in a long-ago power-sharing deal. A likely instance would be the appointment of Mohammed bin Nayef, the highly regarded Saudi chief of counterterrorism, to succeed his father, Prince Nayef, as minister of the interior when Nayef moves up to become the next crown prince.

This succession scheme provides a measure of order, but it masks the tensions that are present within the royal family over which way the kingdom should lean, in regional and global conflicts.

The succession in Egypt turns on the age and health of President Hosni Mubarak, who has led the country since the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981. Mubarak has proved to be a solid bulwark against Muslim fundamentalists - at the cost of Egypt's stillborn democratic reforms. The transition paradigm in this region is exemplified by the expectation that Mubarak will be succeeded by his son Gamal. With tight controls on the opposition, the Mubaraks' National Democratic Party is expected to win easily in the parliamentary elections starting Sunday.

This father-to-son process was also evident in Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad succeeded his father, Hafez. It took the young president several years to consolidate control, but he has done so cleverly and ruthlessly, and he is now one of the stronger Arab leaders of his generation - someone who regularly thumbs his nose at the United States and gets away with it.

A less fortunate son is Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri, whose father, Rafiq, was assassinated shortly after leaving that job in 2005. The coming month - when a U.N. investigative tribunal is expected to indict members of the powerful Syrian-backed Hezbollah militia for Rafiq's murder - will test whether a son's need for vengeance can surmount regional realpolitik. In this Shakespearean drama, don't bet on Hamlet.

Iraq is also in the midst of a political transition, and that's the hardest to predict. In this case, the ailing parent who's about to depart the scene is not a person but a nation - the United States. Since invading Iraq in 2003 and shattering its old power structure, U.S. forces there have been in loco parentis. But that's ending, with the formation of a coalition government headed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Vice President Biden explained to a small group of journalists last week at the White House how he helped midwife the new government. But though it includes all the major political factions, it's as fragile as Iraqi politics itself. And Biden said explicitly, in answer to a question, that if this weak center doesn't hold and the country slips back into civil war, the United States isn't coming to the rescue.

What's ahead? As the coalition deal was being reached, Iranian operatives are said by an Arab intelligence source to have circulated an order to kill former prime minister Ayad Allawi and other members of his Iraqiya Party. But don't expect Uncle Sam to solve the problem. You're on your own, kids.
3)Is Illegal Immigration Moral?
By Victor Davis Hanson

We know illegal immigration is no longer really unlawful, but is it moral?

Usually Americans debate the fiscal costs of illegal immigration. Supporters of open borders rightly remind us that illegal immigrants pay sales taxes. Often their payroll-tax contributions are not later tapped by Social Security payouts.

Opponents counter that illegal immigrants are more likely to end up on state assistance, are less likely to report cash income, and cost the state more through the duplicate issuing of services and documents in both English and Spanish. Such to-and-fro talking points are endless.

So is the debate over beneficiaries of illegal immigration. Are profit-minded employers villains who want cheap labor in lieu of hiring more expensive Americans? Or is the culprit a cynical Mexican government that counts on billions of dollars in remittances from its expatriate poor that it otherwise ignored?

Or is the engine that drives illegal immigration the American middle class? Why should millions of suburbanites assume that, like 18th-century French aristocrats, they should have imported labor to clean their homes, manicure their lawns and watch over their kids?

Or is the catalyst the self-interested professional Latino lobby in politics and academia that sees a steady stream of impoverished Latin American nationals as a permanent victimized constituency, empowering and showcasing elite self-appointed spokesmen such as themselves?

Or is the real advocate the Democratic Party that wishes to remake the electoral map of the American Southwest by ensuring larger future pools of natural supporters? Again, the debate over who benefits and why is never-ending.

But what is often left out of the equation is the moral dimension of illegal immigration. We see the issue too often reduced to caricature, involving a noble, impoverished victim without much free will and subject to cosmic forces of sinister oppression. But everyone makes free choices that affect others. So ponder the ethics of a guest arriving in a host country knowingly against its sovereign protocols and laws.

First, there is the larger effect on the sanctity of a legal system. If a guest ignores the law -- and thereby often must keep breaking more laws -- should citizens also have the right to similarly pick and choose which statutes they find worthy of honoring and which are too bothersome? Once it is deemed moral for the impoverished to cross a border without a passport, could not the same arguments of social justice be used for the poor of any status not to report earned income or even file a 1040 form?

Second, what is the effect of mass illegal immigration on impoverished U.S. citizens? Does anyone care? When 10 million to 15 million aliens are here illegally, where is the leverage for the American working poor to bargain with employers? If it is deemed ethical to grant in-state tuition discounts to illegal-immigrant students, is it equally ethical to charge three times as much for out-of-state, financially needy American students -- whose federal government usually offers billions to subsidize state colleges and universities? If foreign nationals are afforded more entitlements, are there fewer for U.S. citizens?

Third, consider the moral ramifications on legal immigration -- the traditional great strength of the American nation. What are we to tell the legal immigrant from Oaxaca who got a green card at some cost and trouble, or who, once legally in the United States, went through the lengthy and expensive process of acquiring citizenship? Was he a dupe to dutifully follow our laws?

And given the current precedent, if a million soon-to-be-impoverished Greeks, 2 million fleeing North Koreans, or 5 million starving Somalis were to enter the United States illegally and en masse, could anyone object to their unlawful entry and residence? If so, on what legal, practical or moral grounds?

Fourth, examine the morality of remittances. It is deemed noble to send billions of dollars back to families and friends struggling in Latin America. But how is such a considerable loss of income made up? Are American taxpayers supposed to step in to subsidize increased social services so that illegal immigrants can afford to send billions of dollars back across the border? What is the morality of that equation in times of recession? Shouldn't illegal immigrants at least try to buy health insurance before sending cash back to Mexico?

The debate over illegal immigration is too often confined to costs and benefits. But ultimately it is a complicated moral issue -- and one often ignored by all too many moralists.

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."
4)Editor's Notes: Running out of time

Sanctions on Iran are starting to bite, but not hard enough yet to force the regime to rethink its nuclear drive. Where does that leave Israel?

In July 2007, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ordered the dissolution of the Management and Planning Organization of Iran, a 60-year-old, largely independent government body that had been responsible for much of the country’s economic oversight.

The MPO used to prepare the national budget, draw up longterm development plans and oversee their implementation.

It worked on a province-byprovince basis and was, according to expert accounts, a highly competent system of national economic management.

Ahmadinejad tore it down the better to directly control his country’s economy. He set up his own budgetary planning body and centralized additional economic powers under his authority.

The result has been dismal – Neanderthal management, as it was summed up to me by one of several experts with whom I’ve spoken in recent days.

While Ahmadinejad is still emphatically secondary to Iran’s supreme spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in terms of overall power, he is undoubtedly a key economic player, and his policies are lousy.

His insistence on maintaining an overvalued rial, apparently for reasons of national prestige, is harming exports.

His low interest rate policies have caused heavy damage to the nation’s banking system.

Unemployment is officially hovering in the 13 percent range and inflation at about 10%, though unofficial estimates suggest the true figures in both cases may be twice as bad. Unsustainably high subsidies mean, for instance, that Iran is among the cheapest places on earth to fill up your car with gas – just five or six dollars a tank. And because those levels of subsidy simply cannot be maintained, the president is replacing them with cash handouts, which in turn are proving ever-more expensive and hard to sustain.

All this is unfolding in a climate of intensifying, though far from hermetic, international sanctions. No Western oil companies are active in Iran, there is inadequate technical assistance to maintain extraction, and oil and gas production are down. Financial sanctions have sent the cost of doing business soaring, and exports are being hit.

What is striking about Ahmadinejad’s economic leadership, according to the various experts with whom I’ve spoken, is that he is not strategically confronting those sanctions, not managing the resources at his disposal to most effectively minimize their impact.

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates made headlines 10 days ago when, in a direct riposte to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s demands for a “credible threat of military action” to back up the sanctions effort, he argued that military strikes could only offer a “short-term solution” that would merely render Iran’s nuclear drive “deeper and more covert.”

Less noticed here was Gates’s assessment that the sanctions have “bitten much harder” than the Iranian leadership had anticipated and his striking revelation that “We even have some evidence that Khamenei now is beginning to wonder if Ahmadinejad is lying to him about the impact of the sanctions on the economy, and whether he is getting the straight scoop in terms of how much trouble the economy really is in.”

The experts I’ve spoken to all agree that the sanctions are indeed starting to hurt. Recent measures are said to have significantly affected the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the all-powerful military conglomerate which, via its various tentacles, reportedly controls as much as a third of the Iranian economy. As well as overseeing the nuclear program, missile defense and national security, the IRGC is also responsible for building the oil industry’s infrastructure, for mining activities vital to the nuclear program, telecommunications, even farming, employing a vast work force.

And its room for economic and commercial maneuver is said to be increasingly constrained.

Israel is understood to have been impressed by the extent of EU sanctions enforcement.

Russia’s decision not to go through with the sale of S-300 missile defense systems is also recognized as a significant shift.

When a regime that uses cash to grease the wheels and stay in power is facing dwindling financial reserves and is presiding over an inefficient, mismanaged economy, the consequences are clear. It has to rely increasingly on coercion. And it is losing popularity.

As yet, however, the international squeeze is far from universal and the sanctions are not devastating.

There is concern at China’s capacity to fill any vacuum and meet any need created by other countries’ suspension of commercial partnerships. There is dismay that India is still providing a highly significant proportion of Iran’s refined oil requirements.

And there is widespread agreement, uniting Israel and the other key international players pushing the sanctions effort, that for all the economic distress, there is absolutely no sign at present of Iran changing course.

To the central question, Will Iran abandon its nuclear weapons drive as a result of sanctions?, the answer for now is an emphatic no. To the subordinate question, Will Iran slow or suspend its nuclear weapons drive as a result of sanctions?, the answer for now is sadly no as well.

As Netanyahu told the Jewish Federations’ General Assembly in New Orleans, “We have yet to see any signs that the tyrants of Teheran are reconsidering their pursuit of nuclear weapons.”

IT GETS worse.

Fiendish computer viruses might be wreaking all kinds of havoc within the Iranian nuclear program. Centrifuge operations might be stalling intermittently. Bizarre accidents might continue to occur.

Nevertheless, should the Iranians choose to do so, the experts believe that, within six months, they could “break out” and become a member of the nuclear club. That is not to say that, within six months, they could definitely weaponize – fashion a nuclear warhead and fit it to an effective delivery system.

Rather, they could enrich their stocks of low-enriched uranium to create a nuclear device and test it – a test that would be immediately picked up by international monitors and hailed by Iran as proof that it had now gone beyond the point of no return.

Will Iran choose to do so? Nobody claims to have a definitive answer to that question.

But there is widespread dismay at Iran’s apparent sense of emboldenment, and I encountered no little criticism of the role of the United States – under both president George W. Bush and President Barack Obama – in encouraging that Iranian confidence.

Time and again, I was told that the Iranian regime is pragmatic. That it is not suicidal.

That among the prime motivations for its nuclear quest is the desire to ensure that it will not be vulnerable to what happened in Iraq – to its speedy demise at the hands of outside interventionist forces. That when it truly feared the US was heading its way, between 2003 and 2005, it froze its nuclear program.

But Iran has watched trifling North Korea – throwing its weight around again this week – ignore warnings of international hellfire and expose the US as a paper tiger. And it delighted in the fact that Obama recognized Ahmadinejad’s election victory 17 months ago, essentially legitimizing a regime that the US hadn’t recognized for the previous three decades, and doing so precisely when the Iranian people were staging their most determined effort to date to break free of it.

The bottom line: Two years ago, the Iranians were wondering whether the US and/or Israel might seek to intervene militarily to stop them. Now, they believe that the US is out of the equation.

Israel thinks so too. The view here is that opposition in the US to a military strike at Iran extends far beyond the Democratic administration and deep into Republican ranks as well. The US doesn’t want to attack, I was told, and that includes much of the political Right. Gates’s thinking – that military intervention would only unify the Iranian people behind their currently unpopular government and its nuclear quest, and that it could not cause a long-term collapse of the program – is supplement by the wider regional argument that it will bring Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims closer together in opposition to the West, legitimize Iran’s claims that the West cannot be trusted and must be confronted, and spark much-intensified nuclear weapons programs throughout the Middle East.

The US wants to build deterrence, I was told. The US wants to replicate the conditions of mutual assured destruction that kept America and the Soviet Union just the right side of sanity during the Cold War. The trouble is, this is not the Cold War, and the Islamists are not the Communists.

SO WHERE does that leave Israel? The short answer is ambivalent. The slightly longer answer is extraordinarily worried, and ambivalent.

Israel mistrusts the Iranians more than the Americans do, maybe because it understands them better. It still believes in the potential for sanctions to force at least a suspension of the nuclear program if the regime feels its hold on power is disintegrating. But it knows that, as things stand, Iran is closing in on the bomb faster than the sanctions are forcing a rethink.

Israel regards a nuclear Iran, under this regime, as a monumental threat, a catastrophe, a devastating change. An Iran unbound would be an extreme danger to us, to the region, to the world. Iran regards itself as one of the world’s great nations, and certainly as the rightful leader of the Islamic world, and a nuclear capacity would give the regime far greater capacity to advance its ambitions.

With its own oil reserves depleting, it would also be more capable of imposing itself on weaker oil-producing neighbors; its evident interest in muscling-in on Bahrain is a mild harbinger of what might follow.

Netanyahu has placed Israel at the forefront of the international chorus of alarm, in contrast to Ariel Sharon, who preferred to work behind-the-scenes in alerting the international community to the scale of the danger.

Netanyahu has drawn parallels between the ayatollahs and the Nazis, and rightly notes that we did not gather the majority of the Jewish nation to this historic sliver of land after the horrors of the Holocaust only to be rendered vulnerable again, 70 years later, to another regime’s genocidal ambitions.

And yet there are many highly influential voices in Israel that urge a return to the lower profile. Let’s put ourselves in the background again, they say. Don’t lead the global struggle, or we’ll turn ourselves into the first target.

Some of these men of influence claim, like Gates, to detect cracks in the regime, including between Khamenei and Ahmadinejad.

They see the first faint signs that Iranian public thinking on the nuclear issue is becoming more nuanced as the economy sinks. There is still overwhelming support for Iran’s right to nuclear energy, but not necessarily, if this is the economic cost, for its need for nuclear weaponry.

These Israeli voices argue that, since the regime seeks the bomb primarily to ensure its survival rather than primarily to destroy Israel, then – however implausible this sounds – the challenge for the international community, in the upside down world of diplomacy, is to construct a framework in which the regime would feel that by backing down on nukes it would be “enhancing its survivability.”

As things stand, to get into regime’s head, it regards defying international will as giving it more power and leverage, while capitulating to pressure would likely presage more demands, more concessions and ultimately its demise. This echoes the Gates approach: “The only long-term solution to avoiding an Iranian nuclear-weapons capability is for the Iranians to decide it’s not in their interest.”

FOR NOW, the widely (though not universally) held assessment here is that the regime would likely not fire at Israel if it got the bomb, and would not supply a non-state actor either, for fear of bringing the entire international community violently down upon its head. And while the preparation of all necessary potential military measures is deemed essential, Israeli military intervention is not currently regarded as advisable.

The Washington-based Politico website reported on Wednesday, indeed, that “Some Israeli officials say the country’s fingers are off the hair-trigger that would launch a strike on the Iranian nuclear program” and referred to “the apparent willingness of the Israelis to postpone a demand for confrontation by months – at least.”

Echoing former US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s somewhat incoherent talk of things we know, things we don’t know, things we know we don’t know, and things we don’t know we don’t know, Israel thinks it doesn’t know where a not-insignificant proportion of the Iranian nuclear program is located. And Israel worries that there are other facilities that it doesn’t know it doesn’t know about.

In a best-case scenario, if Israel destroyed the majority of the Iranian nuclear program – the part it knows it knows about – Iran has the expertise and the capacity to rebuild, and would be back where it is today in three to five years.

Politico quoted Yossi Kuperwasser, the deputy director-general of Moshe Ya’alon’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, to underline the contention that Israeli fingers are off the hair-trigger for now: “Everybody understands that you have to give some time for the sanctions to bear their full fruit.”

Indeed Ya’alon himself, along with fellow septet ministers Dan Meridor and Ehud Barak, not to mention Netanyahu, have all publicly indicated that they support giving sanctions more time, while The Jerusalem Post reported last month that Avigdor Lieberman’s Foreign Ministry is even preparing policy options for the “day after” Iran passes the nuclear threshold, in a “first admission that the government is giving serious thought to adjusting to a reality where Israel is no longer, according to foreign sources, the sole nuclear power in the region.”

For his part, the current chief of staff, Lt.- Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, it is believed, cautions against military intervention as things stand.

Whatever their thinking, it is a safe bet that the entire Israeli leadership would be mightily relieved if they were spared the fateful decision. If, that is, the sanctions regime were ratcheted up further and more widely imposed, if the Iranian economy nosedived further, and if the Iranian regime – or a desperate Iranian public – concluded that the country was being devastated by its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
5) China Confronts the World
By Jonathan Fenby

After he launched China on to a market-led course in 1978, Deng Xiaoping counseled caution in international relations. China should, he advised, keep a low profile while enriching itself and not alarm the countries whose markets for its exports would replace deficient domestic demand.

Hu Jintao and his leadership colleagues must have decided that the time has come to shed such caution. China not only adopts a higher global profile, but is increasingly ready to take positions that earn the world's disapproval, be it on the valuation of its currency or its support for regimes in Sudan, Iran and Burma. And now that more muscular approach by Beijing confronts the Obama administration's drive to reassert Washington's interest in Asia.

This could provide a testing experience for both sides of the so-called G2, a concept that has never really taken off if only because of the rocky path of Sino-US relations since President Barack Obama's visit to the People's Republic a year ago. The flashpoints are evident. Hillary Clinton's assertion that freedom of navigation in the South China Sea runs straight up against China's claim to sovereignty over the waters to its south. Washington's growing closeness to India, including backing New Delhi's claim to a permanent seat on the UN Security Council is not to Beijing's taste. The US-Japan relationship remains a constant source of concern for China. The same goes for US-South Korean links. US arms sales to Taiwan rile Chinese leaders who insist that the island is part of the People's Republic.

During three months just spent in Beijing, I was struck repeatedly by the sharp tone adopted towards the US not only by ideologues and media propagandists, but by senior economists who insist that failure of American economic policy is responsible for the world's ills. The fact that the US Federal Reserve's new bout of quantitative easing, or QE2, went down like a lead balloon at the G20 summit in Seoul showed that China is not short of allies.

A researcher with a think tank attached to the Commerce Ministry, Mei Xinyu, summed up the dismissive Chinese view of the US in China Daily this month: "The US' top financial officials need to shift their people's attention from the country's struggling economy to cover up their incompetence and blame China for everything that is going wrong in their country."

Moving into conspiracy theory, the op-ed article concluded that, by attacking China, finance officials in Washington foster speculative opportunities for Wall Street firms which then offer them big jobs after they leave government office.

Ahead of the G20 meeting, China rejected the US plan as harking back to the days of planned economies - nice irony coming from the last major state ruled by a Communist Party, one that just unveiled its latest Five-Year Plan. At a Beijing conference, the governor of China's Central Bank, Zhou Xiaochuan, spoke of being ready to deal with the wash of money unleashed by QE2 as if he were a doctor preparing for a troublesome affliction.

Vice-Minister of Finance Zhu Guangyao used a pre-G20 briefing to say that China would query renewed US quantitative easing in Seoul, adding, "We hope the US can realize its responsibility and duty on the revival of the global economy." China's line of currency defense goes as follows: If one adds the 3 percent appreciation China is ready to allow and its consumer price index, exceeding 4 percent at a time of zero inflation in the West, the real appreciation is significant and as much as can be expected while the nation faces manifold domestic challenges.

Cooperation over global warming seems at a dead end. China still values investments by companies such as Intel, yet promotion of domestic companies in its stimulus package and an increasingly tough regulatory climate for foreign firms complicate a business relationship that has flourished since the 1980s. As the mainland moves up the technological and value chain under its next Five-Year Plan, trade tensions are set to rise.

China trade was once all about cheap exports. But if Chinese development goes to plan, import substitution for big-ticket items will become the order of the day. In a little noticed development this month, China unveiled a prototype of a 150-seat airliner due to go into service by 2016, complicating Boeing's sales to the world's second biggest market for commercial aircraft, not to mention the impact on Airbus.

On the other side of the Pacific, tougher rhetoric from the White House and Treasury as the US finds itself under political pressure at home and increasingly bereft of economic allies abroad does not point to a benign future with Washington and Beijing working together for the benefit of the world at large. Speaking at a European Central bank conference in Frankfurt on November 19, US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke hit back at Chinese criticism, noting that "currency undervaluation by surplus countries is inhibiting needed international adjustment and creating spillover effects that would not exist if exchange rates better reflected market fundamentals."

Hu's visit to Washington in January will be the touchstone. In an interview with The Australian newspaper, Secretary of State Clinton said that China's current policies in the region were designed to test other nations and insisted that Beijing should abide by international law. The problem is that the law is extremely vague on key points of conflict, notably the sovereignty of rocky islands that may sit on top of large energy reserves.

The US-China spat has greater resonance because of the way Washington backed Japan in the row over the detained Chinese trawler and the flurry over China's decision to halt exports of rare-earth minerals to Japan. A survey by the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun published in mid-November found that 87 percent considered China to be untrustworthy and that 90 percent thought relations between the two countries were bad. A simultaneous poll by China's Oriental Outlook Weekly, run by the state news agency, found similar figures on views of Japan held by Chinese. On top of this Vietnam, with US approval, declared its port at Cam Ranh Bay open for foreign naval ships and, to Beijing's displeasure, hosted the US aircraft carrier George Washington.

If the relationship continues its downward spiral, Hu's visit risks turning into a confrontation. If only for domestic political reasons, Obama may well feel he must show that he can stand up to China for instance, by slapping duties on selected imports, resisting Beijing's maritime claims goods or holding China to account on its environmental record. Hu, due to stand down as Chinese leader in late 2012, has no wish to leave office remembered as the man who caved in to the US.

Such a stand-off is dangerous for both countries - and the world. It could lead to damaging protectionism. Depicting China as an enemy may be an attractive electoral gambit for an administration that feels need to display its muscles. Beijing will respond in kind. High-level and dispassionate statesmanship is required, with each party giving some ground and trying to scale down the currency rhetoric while engaging in serious discussion on common approaches to environmental measures. Whether either party has the wherewithal remains in question. On their performances so far, one can only remain pessimistic.

Jonathan Fenby is China director of the research service Trusted Sources and author of the Penguin History of Modern China.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Always With Good Intentions! Peace Thru Weakness!

Sent to me in response to my last memo entitled: Obama- "Chamberlain Without The Umbrella and/or Nero Without The Violin!"

The writer makes a compelling point. (See 1 below.)
Our government is out to kill us one way or the other? But always with good intentions. (See 2 and 2a below.)
Have the Brit's opted out using Stuxnet and why not visit it upon N Korea? (See 3below.)
As I noted in a previous memo, The IAF is capable of doing the job in Iran but not on a sustained basis as could the U.S. Now it is reported the IDF has also been moving forward and improving its ability to defeat its various enemies.

However, in a world of PC midgets being strong and capable of defending yourself and even destroying those who would attack or seek to destroy you carries dangerous implications and often rejection.

Peace through weakness is the new motto of the likes of Obama.

David Freund seems to be reading my own mind. However, having the ability and refusing to use it, in my opinion, will make Obama even weaker in the eyes of the world if that is possible. So what we have is a lame duck president eating turkey today.

Meanwhile,Israel continues to believe in David!(See 4, 4a and 4b below.)
Turkey the emerging Islamic power. (See 5 below.)
If it can dawn on the likes of this NYT's op ed writer that passivity invites risk perhaps one day reality will also dawn on the dolts in our State Department. (See 6 and 6a below.)
This writer believes GW lied to himself though he also believes GW sincerely wanted to protect our nation from harm and does not question GW's love of country. (See 7 below.)
You may find this expose of Obama's background of interest. Then again you may not. You decide.

Go to PJTV.Com and then look up the PJTV Special: Barack Obama, Radical In Chief (Part 2)--Socialist in Training: Obama's Early Years

Richard Pollock continues his interview with Stanley Kurtz, author of "Radical In Chief." Hear about Obama's mentors and his link to socialist scholars and socialist community organizers.

The more you learn about Obama's background, education and methods the more, perhaps, you will begin to understand why the change he seeks is anathema to our country's well being and is in contradiction to our nation's history.

But if you believe wealth creation is bad and over concentrated, if you believe people are entitled to everything they want and government is the agency best suited to transfer the earned wealth and creative production of others then you should feel comfortable with Obama. Obama's policies and the direction he seeks, if allowed to continue unabated, should actually make you downright giddy.

Hope you had an enjoyable Thanksgiving with family!

1)Some people have the vocabulary to sum up things in a way you can understand them This quote came from the Czech Republic. Someone over there has it figured out. We have a lot of work to do!!!

"The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency.It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails America. Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince.

The Republic can survive a Barack Obama, who is, after all, merely a fool.It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their president."
2)Dr. Blaylock: Body Scanners More Dangerous Than Feds Admit
By Dr. Russell Blaylock

Dr. Russell Blaylock is a nationally recognized board-certified neurosurgeon, health practitioner, author, lecturer, and editor of The Blaylock Wellness Report.

The growing outrage over the Transportation Security Administration�s new policy of backscatter scanning of airline passengers and �enhanced pat-downs� brings to mind these wise words from President Ronald Reagan: �The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: �I�m from the government and I�m here to help you.��

So, what is all the concern really about � will these radiation scanners increase your risk of cancer or other diseases? A group of scientists and professors from the University of California at San Francisco voiced their concern to Obama�s science and technology adviser John Holdren in a well-stated letter back in April.

The group included experts in radiation biology, biophysics, and imaging, who expressed �serious concerns� about the �dangerously high� dose of radiation to the skin.

Radiation increases cancer risk by damaging the DNA and various components within the cells. Much of the damage is caused by high concentrations of free radicals generated by the radiation. Most scientists think that the most damaging radiation types are those that have high penetration, such as gamma-rays, but in fact, some of the most damaging radiation barely penetrates the skin.

One of the main concerns is that most of the energy from the airport scanners is concentrated on the surface of the skin and a few millimeters into the skin. Some very radiation-sensitive tissues are close to the skin � such as the testes, eyes, and circulating blood cells in the skin.

This is why defenders using such analogies as the dose being �1,000-times less than a chest X-ray� and �far less than what passengers are exposed to in-flight� are deceptive. Radiation damage depends on the volume of tissue exposed. Chest X-rays and gamma-radiation from outer space is diffused over the entire body so that the dose to the skin is extremely small. Of note, outer space radiation does increase cancer rates in passengers, pilots, and flight attendants.

We also know that certain groups of people are at a much higher risk than others. These include babies, small children, pregnant women, the elderly, people with impaired immunity (those with HIV infection, cancer patients, people with immune deficiency diseases, and people with abnormal DNA repair mechanism, just to name a few).

As we grow older, our DNA accumulates a considerable amount of unrepaired damage, and under such circumstances even low doses of radiation can trigger the development of skin cancers, including the deadly melanoma. I would also be concerned about exposing the eyes, since this could increase one�s risk of developing cataracts.

About 5 percent of the population have undiagnosed abnormal DNA repair mechanism. When exposed to radiation, this can put them at a cancer risk hundreds of times greater than normal people.

It also has been determined that when skin is next to certain metals, such as gold, the radiation dose is magnified 100-fold higher. What if you have a mole next to your gold jewelry? Will the radiation convert it to a melanoma? Deficiencies in certain vitamins can dramatically increase your sensitivity to radiation carcinogenesis, as can certain prescription medications.

As for the assurances we have been given by such organization as the American College of Radiology, we must keep in mind that they assured us that the CT scans were safe and that the radiation was equal to one chest X-ray. Forty years later we learn that the dose is extremely high, it is thought to have caused cancer in a significant number of people, and the dose is actually equal to 1,000 chest X-rays.

Based on these assurances, tens of thousands of children have been exposed to radiation doses from CT scanners, which will ruin the children's lives. I have two friends who were high-ranking Environmental Protection Agency scientists, and they assure me that in government safety agencies, politics most often override the scientists� real concerns about such issues.

This government shares House Speaker Nancy Pelosi�s view when she urged passage of the Obamacare bill sight unseen � �Let�s just pass the bill, and we will find out what is in it later.�

When the real effects of these scanners on health become known, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and the rest of the gang who insist the scanners are safe will be long gone.

2a)Dependency and the Destruction of American Virtues
By Daniel Fitzgerald

My oldest son, Keith (not his real name), is an adult. He lives with our family at home, and he probably will for the rest of his life.

As a child, Keith was extraordinary. He was extremely verbal at an early age, immensely creative, and astonishingly literate.

Keith's senior year in high school was remarkable for the range of activities in which he was engaged and the energy that he invested in them. He was an active member of our church youth group, showed promising acting talent as he participated in a drama club, earned a brown belt in karate, and completed his third Easter week mission trip with our church. He was working steadily, paying for his car, gas, cell phone service, and auto insurance. My son received the "employee of the month" award the first month at his job. He excelled in Latin and linguistics, the latter being a hobby that he pursued vigorously. He had many friends who loved him. Other than a few rough spots that we chalked up to normal teen rebellion, my son's future seemed bright.

Keith naturally scored high on his SAT, and college offers started pouring in. He chose a small Christian liberal arts college close to home from which he received a generous scholarship. The school was forming a classics program, and the department head saw our son as a cornerstone of the newly developing major. Four years ago, we tearfully sent him off to the campus dorms, anticipating good things ahead.

And then the nightmare began.

We later learned that major life changes, even positive ones, could trigger the onset of a psychological breakdown in people predisposed to mental illnesses. We also learned that such disorders often have a genetic component. On my side of the family was depression, going back at least to my grandmother. On my wife's side, bipolar disorder was suspected in her grandfather and an aunt.

This is not a story about my son, but rather about how our society responds to affliction, so I'll keep this brief. It took almost a year to get the correct diagnosis, but finally, after going to mental health professionals who did more harm than good, a psychiatrist determined that Keith had bipolar disorder, complicated by extreme chronic anxiety and obsessive-compulsive tendencies. By the time our son received his diagnosis, his college career was destroyed, he had lost his job, and he was penniless and in legal trouble.

Keith now takes medication to control his hallucinations, two drugs to keep him from slipping into catatonic depression, another to keep the destructive mania at bay, and occasionally a fifth that is supposed to help his anxiety. However, despite the symptoms being more or less under control, our son is still not able to function. He hasn't worked for years and has flunked out of the local city college.

What has been interesting is people's response to our problem. Before he was properly diagnosed, the first psychologist Keith saw immediately wanted to help our son obtain government disability payments. Without even giving Keith a correct diagnosis, the doctor almost reflexively thought that the solution to my son's problems was to go on the government dole. After three sessions, we stopped seeing him.

My wife and I attended some educational support groups, sponsored by a mental health advocacy organization, in hopes of finding some answers. People there were amazed that we hadn't applied for Social Security or disability payments for our son. When we responded that we thought we would be able to handle things financially, they shook their heads and told us that we'd change our minds eventually, and they actually implied that we were being negligent in not seeking such aid.

Keith was dropped from our health insurance when he left school, so we embarked on what some told us was an impossible mission: finding insurance for a young man with a preexisting mental condition. It was difficult. But thanks to the free-market system, we were grateful to discover an HMO that accepted Keith and has provided him with excellent psychiatric care. The premiums are affordable for now; I can't imagine what will happen if and when ObamaCare kicks in.

It occurred to me in the midst of this painful journey that people today automatically default to the government for answers. My wife and I are not wealthy, but for the time being, we have the means to provide for our son. We are his parents. Now that we know he can't handle adult responsibilities, we firmly believe that it is incumbent upon us, not other taxpayers, to support him. We are well aware that without us, he would be homeless, wandering the streets and obeying the dictates of his diseased mind. But it is our responsibility, not that of our neighbors, to see to it that he has a home, support, and supervision of his medical needs.

At the support group, I found it disturbing that everyone there seemed to believe that demanding more housing, food stamps, and mental health and medical services from the government was the answer to the problems of their ill relatives. I don't mean to pass judgment on these people; perhaps they had tried everything else and had no other recourse. However, there is something terribly wrong in our culture when we begin to view the incompetent and substandard services provided by government agencies as the only reasonable solution.

This is just one example of the massive shift in thinking that has plagued our society for many years. It started with the New Deal and has been accelerating since the 1960s. Instead of a nation of people reliant upon our own resources, our families, and our local communities, we look to Big Brother to meet our needs. Instead of taking care of our own, we depend on a cold, unfeeling, and bureaucratic government to provide us or our dependents with food, money, housing, medical care, jobs, and any number of other services.

I believe that this change in the American character is fundamental. It is what prompted people to vote for Obama, the man who has brought an aggressive projection of government intrusion into our lives that is both tyrannical and subversive. This degradation of character has made crybabies out of college students, who protest tuition hikes at taxpayer-funded universities because they feel they are owed an education. It has eroded self-reliance so much that union members demand job guarantees, as well as unreasonable and unsustainable benefits which lead to the destruction of businesses and local economies. It has corrupted people to the point that they feel entitled to any number of things that were once their own responsibility to provide. Instead of being a shameful last resort, the government is, for huge numbers of people, the first place they look to when they have a need.

We have paid dearly for this, and we will suffer for it greatly in the future. This kind of dependence enervates a nation, leading to passivity and to spiritual and economic bankruptcy.
3)Brits declare war on Stuxnet. Americans say: Use it on North Korea

The Stuxnet virus which has crippled Iran's nuclear program has suddenly become the object of a British MI6 Secret Service campaign to convince the British and American public that it is the enemy of the West and sold on the black market to terrorists, intelligence sources report. Thursday morning, Nov. 25, Sky TV news led with a story claiming Stuxnet could attack any physical target dependent on computers. An unnamed Information Technology expert was quoted as saying enigmatically: "We have hard evidence that the virus is in the hands of bad guys – we can't say any more than that but these people are highly motivated and highly skilled with a lot of money behind them."

No one in the broadcast identified the "bad guys," disclosed where they operated or when they sold the virus to terrorists. Neither were their targets specified, even by a row of computer and cyber-terrorism experts who appeared later on British television, all emphasizing how dangerous the virus was.

Intelligence sources note none of the British reporters and experts found it necessary to mention that wherever Stuxnet was discovered outside Iran, such as India, China and Indonesia, it was dormant. Computer experts in those countries recommended leaving it in place as it was harmless for computer programs and did not interfere with their operations. The fact is that the only place Stuxnet is alive and harmful is Iran – a fact ignored in the British reports.

Indeed, for the first time in the six months since Stuxnet partially disabled Iran's nuclear reactor at Bushehr, Iran has found its first Western sympathizer, one who is willing to help defeat the malignant virus.

The British campaign against Stuxnet was launched two days after Yukiya Amano, Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA, reported that Iran had briefly shut down its uranium enrichment plant in Natanz, apparently because of a Stuxnet assault on thousands of centrifuges. According to Iranian sources, the plant had to be closed for six days, from November 16-22.

Sources also reported the virus raided Iranian military computer systems, forcing the cancellation of parts of its large-scale air defense drill in the second week of November. Some of the systems used in the exercise started emitting wildly inaccurate data.

The Hate Stuxnet campaign London launched Thursday carried three messages to Tehran:

1. We were not complicit in the malworm's invasion of your systems.

2. We share your view that Stuxnet is very dangerous and must be fought and are prepared to cooperate in a joint program to destroy it.

3. Britain will not line up behind the United States' position in the nuclear talks to be resumed on Dec. 5 between Iran and the Six Powers (the five Permanent UN Security Council members + Germany). It will take a different position.
In the United States, meanwhile, debkafile's Washington sources report that Stuxnet's reappearance against Iran's nuclear program is hailed. A number of American IT experts and journals specializing in cyber war have maintained of late that if the malworm is so successful against Iran, why not use it to disable North Korea's nuclear program, especially the 2,000 centrifuges revealed on Nov. 20 to be operating at a new enrichment facility?

The popular American publication WIRED carried a headline on Monday, November 22, asking, "Could Stuxnet Mess With North Korea's New Uranium Plant?" The article noted that some of the equipment North Korea was using for uranium enrichment was identical to Iranian apparatus and therefore perfect targets for the use of Stuxnet by American cyber experts.
4)Balance of Power: IDF stronger than ever
By Guy Bechor

Alexander the Great, the man who conquered the ancient world, said that those who develop new combat methods or who possess new arms will be triumphant. Indeed, at this time Israel is creating strategic military advantage that is unprecedented in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

A series of innovations at sea, in the air and on the ground that the enemy does not possess – and will not possess – is completely changing the balance of power in the Middle East. With these innovations, the IDF is turning into an unquestionably powerful and deterring army.

This year and next year, we’ll be receiving two more German-made Dolphin submarines, which together with the Israeli technological developments installed in them are no doubt among the world’s most advanced subs. This will bring the number of advanced submarines possessed by the Navy to five; according to foreign reports, these subs can fire ballistic (and potentially nuclear) missiles.

According to foreign reports, this is the most effective nuclear deterrent power we have vis-à-vis Iran.

Only five other states possess ballistic submarines with nuclear potential: The United States, Russia, China, France, and Britain. Upon the arrival of the two new subs in Israel, we’ll be the world’s third-strongest power on this front, ahead of China, France, and Britain.

The submarines are mobile and elusive, they cannot be eliminated easily, and they can get very close to their target. For those reasons, France decided to completely annul its ground-based nuclear missile arsenal and make do with nuclear power in the air and at sea. The territorial element, which was always problematic in Israel, is resolved through the subs.

Germany took part in funding all the Dolphin submarines thus far: It bore all the production costs of the first and second subs, half of the third’s, and one-third of the fourth and fifth ones, according to German media reports.

Israel’s tank revolution
Meanwhile, President Obama promised Israel another 20 stealth F-35 aircraft in connection with the freeze. In any case, Israel will receive the first 20 such planes, paid for with US military aid funds. The advantage of these aircraft, which cost $2.7 billion, is that they cannot be detected by enemy radar and can land and take off vertically. The planes will only arrive in four years, yet at that time the Air Force would be able to fly through the Middle East undetected.

According to reports this month, the IDF is also starting to receive the new anti-missile defense system for its advanced tanks. For the time being, the advanced Merkava 4 tanks had been reinforced with the system, and the intention is to gradually equip all IDF tanks with it. This innovative system, which is made by Israel’s armament authority Rafael and was developed in Israel, is the only one of its kind in the world. Its quality is attested to by the fact that the US wants to purchase it for its troops in Afghanistan.

So why is it a strategic revolution and not just another weapons system? Because it may eliminate the superiority of states like Syria and groups like Hezbollah in respect to anti-tank missiles. Hezbollah premised its entire combat doctrine following the Second Lebanon War on thousands of anti-tank missiles. It did not bother acquiring any tanks because of this missile tactic. Yet should these missiles be neutralized, Hezbollah shall remain vulnerable in the face of the advancing Israeli armored corps. The same is true for Syria and its outdated tanks.

And so, the strategic balance in the region is completely changing, and the enemy clearly understands the implications of a new regional war.

4a)Bombing Iran Would Save Obama's Presidency
By Michael Freund

These are tough times for Barack Obama. Barely three weeks have passed since his party received a "shellacking," as he put it, in the midterm elections, denying him unfettered control over Congress and putting his domestic agenda in doubt.

Obama's approval ratings have been sinking faster than Paris Hilton's acting career, and the president is even finding himself to be the object of mockery on late-night television.

As Jay Leno recently noted on The Tonight Show: "In an upcoming interview with Barbara Walters, Sarah Palin says she believes she can beat Obama in 2012. The way things are going right now, [her daughter] Bristol Palin could beat Obama in 2012."

Naturally enough, the newly-weakened president has turned his attention overseas, seeking to squeeze out something - anything! - that might resemble a victory and burnish his image. But even that isn't going all too well. Weakness invites antagonism, and America's foes - and even many of its allies - have wasted little time "dissing" the leader of the free world.

Consider the following: At the recent G-20 summit in South Korea, Obama tried to get America's European partners to press China to change its monetary policy. What should have been an easy sell quickly backfired when leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel turned around and instead berated the president because of the slumping US dollar. Pundits and politicians alike labeled it an astonishing rebuke.

Then, while still in Seoul, Obama was rebuffed by the South Korean government, which refused to sign a much-anticipated free-trade agreement with the US, marking yet another humiliating turn of events.

Other ostensible American pals have also joined in the fun, feeling free to lecture Washington at will. Take, for example, Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Despite owing his job and personal safety to the 100,000 American troops in his country, he felt no compunction about confronting the president and denouncing US policy at the NATO summit in Lisbon last week.

The wily Karzai knows a thing or two about political maneuvering, and saw an easy opportunity to score some points back home at a hapless Obama's expense.

Back in the Middle East, the Obama administration took it on the chin as well, when PA President Mahmoud Abbas rejected an American proposal to restart peace talks with Israel. Egypt, too, got into the act by slapping down the American administration. Cairo rebuffed pleas from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and even Obama himself to allow international monitors into the country to certify that the upcoming parliamentary balloting is free and fair.

Needless to say, this has not gone unnoticed by America's enemies, who are having a field day at Obama's expense.

Just last week, in a provocative and highly unusual move, North Korea allowed an American scientist to tour one of its top-secret nuclear facilities, taunting the US as it continues to expand its atomic weapons program with impunity. It was as if the North Korean regime was sending a message directly to Washington: You don't scare us.

It seems no one on the international stage is really taking Obama all that seriously anymore. All the shine and glitter have worn off.

As tempting as it may be to rejoice in Obama's difficulties - and it is quite inviting - this is no reason to celebrate.

If you believe, as I do, that America is a force for good in the world, a country that upholds the highest values of freedom, democracy and human rights, then any decline in American influence and power is hardly a welcome development.

If anything, it does not bode well for global stability, and opens the door to all kinds of mischief by the bad guys out there.

But it is not too late for Washington to turn things around. There is one dramatic step that Obama can take that would have a transformative effect, not only on his standing in public opinion but on the world itself: Take aggressive action to stop Iran's nuclear program.

The greatest threat to global peace and security today is the possibility of the ayatollahs going atomic. The thought of the would-be Hitler of Persia getting his hands on a nuclear weapon is one that should send shivers down the spine of every Israeli and every Westerner. It would be a game-changer in every sense of the term, upsetting the strategic balance in the Middle East and giving Iran the unprecedented ability to intimidate and coerce its neighbors.

Instead of investing so much energy and resources in trying to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, Obama would do himself and the world an enormous favor if he would turn his sights toward Teheran. Imposing punishing sanctions and using military force if necessary to stop the Iranian nuclear program would rally the American public behind his administration and underscore the fact that US deterrence is alive and well. In one fell swoop, Obama could restore America to its rightful place on the world stage, while striking an important blow against nuclear proliferation.

Sure, there would be a price to pay, as Muslims around the world would react with fury. But the fundamental truth of international affairs is that it is better to be respected than liked. And right now, America is neither.

Sounds like a pipe dream? Probably. The president has thus far pursued a policy of "engagement" with the Iranians, hoping to avoid a showdown. But this has produced little in the way of results.

So if Obama wants to save his presidency, his reputation and the Western world, his road to salvation may just lie in aiming the crosshairs at a belligerent Teheran.

Containing Iran, and bombing it if necessary, would have a dramatic impact not only on America's strategic standing, but on his own place in history.

4b)President Obama looks like a lame duck on the world stage as US global leadership goes AWOL
By Nile Gardiner World Last updated: November 24th, 2010

President Bush may not have not have won the Nobel Peace Prize and was hugely unpopular at the dictator-friendly United Nations, but he was mightily feared by America’s enemies. Many a tyrant shuddered after US tanks rolled into Baghdad and removed one of the most odious psychopaths on the face of the earth from power. Even the supposedly unbeatable al-Qaeda wilted in the face of the surge in Iraq, suffering huge losses and humiliation at the hands of US forces.

George W. Bush believed in American exceptionalism and wasn’t afraid to show it. He also believed that human rights and the spread of liberty and freedom across the world really mattered, and would be an integral part of American foreign policy.

It is frankly hard to decipher what the current US administration believes in with regard to its foreign policy, except the language of appeasement and a belief in American decline as a global power. With the exception of Afghanistan, where the brilliant General Petraeus has recently been wiping the floor with the Taliban, the Obama administration is floundering in a sea of confusion on the world stage. And even in Afghanistan, military successes on the battlefield are being undermined by a destructive, artificial exit strategy set in path by the White House, which hands the long-term advantage to the enemy.

The latest provocation by North Korea, with artillery fired at the South and the killing of two South Korean marines, comes at a time when American leadership has gone AWOL on the world stage, and the White House looks weaker than it has been in decades. It is hardly surprising that America’s enemies look increasingly bullish in the face of a president who makes Jimmy Carter look like General Patton.

And things look hardly better on the Iranian front, where the brutal and barbaric Islamist regime inches closer towards becoming a nuclear-armed state, which threatens the security of Israel and the future of the Middle East. In the meantime, the White House is expending a great deal of energy on signing a monumentally flawed new START Treaty with Moscow which actively undermines US interests, increases the strategic power of Russia, and significantly undercuts Washington’s ability to deploy a global missile defence system.

In an increasingly dangerous world, Barack Obama has adopted a meek, deer in the headlights approach. While America’s foes grow stronger, the United States appears weaker and more vulnerable. At the same time, US alliances with Great Britain, Israel, Japan, and Central and Eastern Europe have all taken a hit from a White House that has been more concerned with apologising to US adversaries than strengthening friendships with key allies.

Barack Obama looks increasingly like a lame duck president, not only at home but also abroad, as his administration faces an array of complex and highly threatening challenges. The United States remains the world’s only superpower, but its status is being dramatically undercut by a striking lack of leadership in Washington. The Obama administration’s “smart power” approach has been anything but, and the latest aggression emanating from Pyongyang is a stark reminder that America cannot afford to be letting its guard down, and needs to stand up to its enemies rather than appease them.
5)Why Turkey will emerge as leader of the Muslim world

The AKP is setting the stage for a total recalibration of Turkey’s global compass.

Turkey is not thought of as the Muslim country par excellence, but it is perhaps the most Muslim nation in the world. Due to its unique birth during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, as a state forged exclusively by and for Muslims through blood and war, Turkey is a Muslim nation by origin – a feature shared perhaps only with partitioncreated Pakistan.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s secularization in the 1920s veneered the country’s core identity with a Kemalist, nationalistic overlay. However, a recent perfect storm has undone Ataturk’s legacy: Whereas the events of September 11 have, unfortunately, oriented Muslim-Western relations toward perpetual conflict, the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Ankara has helped reexpose the country’s core identity. When the AKP came to power in 2002, many expected that the party’s promise to de-Kemalize Turkey by blending Islam and politics would not only create a stronger Turkey, but would prove Islam’s compatibility with the West. The result, however, has been the reverse.

The AKP has eschewed Ataturk’s vision of Turkey as part of the West, preferring a Manichean “us [Muslims] vs them” worldview. Hence, in the post- September 11 world, stripped of its Kemalist identity, Turkey’s self-appointed role is that of “leader of the Muslim world.” The country is, in fact, well-suited for this position: It has the largest economy and most powerful military of any Muslim nation. After years of successful de-Kemalization, the only obstacle that remains is convincing its Muslim brethren to anoint it as their sultan.

Turkey was created as an exclusive Muslim homeland through war, blood and tears. Unbeknownst to many outsiders, modern Turkey emerged not as a state of ethnic Turks, but of Ottoman Muslims who faced expulsion and extermination in Russia and the Balkan states. Almost half of Turkey’s 73 million citizens descend from such survivors of religious persecution. During the Ottoman Empire’s long territorial decline, millions of Turkish and non-Turkish Muslims living in Europe, Russia and the Caucasus fled persecution and sought refuge in modern-day Turkey.

With the empire’s collapse at the end of World War I, Ottoman Muslims joined ethnic Turks to defend their home against Allied, Armenian and Greek occupations. They succeeded, making Turkey a purely Muslim nation that had been born out of conflict with Christians. Religion’s saliency as ethnicity lasted into the post- Ottoman period: When modern Greece and Turkey exchanged their minority populations in 1924, Turkish- speaking Orthodox Christians from Anatolia were exchanged with Greek-speaking Muslims from Crete.

All Muslims became Turks.

Although Ataturk emphasized the unifying power of Turkish nationalism over religious identity, Turkishness never replaced Islam; rather, both identities overlapped. Ataturk managed to overlay the country’s deep Muslim identity with secular nationalism, but Turkey retained its Muslim core.

Turning to the post-September 11 world, states created on exclusively national-religious grounds are vulnerable to a Huntingtonian, bifurcated “us [Muslims] versus them” worldview.

Until the AKP, Turkey was successfully driven by large pro-Western and secular elites, and there was not much to worry about in this regard.

However, the AKP has replaced these elites with those sympathetic to the us versus them eschatology.

AKP leader and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, along with his government, believe in Huntington’s clash of civilizations – only they choose to oppose the West. The AKP’s vision is shaped by Turkey’s philosopher- king, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who summarizes this position in his opus Strategic Depth, in which he writes that “Turkey’s traditionally good ties with the West... are a form of alienation” and that the AKP will correct the course of history, which has disenfranchised Muslims since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

Undoubtedly, the AKP’s us versus them vision would not have had the same powerful resonance had the group come to power before September 11. Because those attacks defined a politically-charged “Muslim world,” the AKP’s worldview has found fertile ground and has changed not only Turkey itself, but also the nation’s role in foreign policy.

To this end, the AKP took advantage of Turkish anger with the US war in Iraq, casting it as an attack on all Muslims, Turks included. This reinforced its bipolar vision. Recently, while visiting Pakistan (of all places), Erdogan claimed that “the United States backs common enemies of Turkey and Pakistan, and that the time has come to unmask them and act together.” He later denied making these comments, which were reported in Pakistan’s prominent English-language dailies.

The AKP’s foreign-policy vision is not simply dualistic, but rather premised on Islam’s à la carte morals and selective outrage, and therein lies the real danger. One case in point is to compare the AKP’s differing stances toward Emir Kusturica and Omar al- Bashir. The former, a Bosnian film director who stood with the Yugoslav National Army as it slaughtered Bosnians in the 1990s, was recently driven out of Turkey by AKP-led protests, resulting in threats against his life – a victory for the victims of genocide in Bosnia. The latter, the Sudanese president indicted for genocide in the International Court of Justice, was gracefully hosted by the AKP in Turkey. Erdogan has said, “I know Bashir; he cannot commit genocide because Muslims do not commit genocide.”

This is the gist of the AKP’s à la carte foreign-policy vision: that Muslims are superior to others, their crimes can be ignored and anyone who stands against Muslim causes deserves to be punished.

The reason this vision will transform Turkey is because the country changes in tandem with its elites. Ever since the modernizing days of the Ottoman sultans, political makeover has been induced from above, and today the AKP is poised to continue this trend, as it is replete with pro-AKP and Islamist billionaires, media, think tanks, universities, TV networks, pundits and scholars – a full-fledged Islamist elite. Furthermore, individuals financially and ideologically associated with the AKP now hold prominent posts in the high courts since the September 12 referendum, which empowered the party to appoint a majority of the top judges without a confirmation process. In other words, the AKP now not only governs, but also controls Turkey.

Like their close neighbors, the Russians, Turks have moved in lockstep with the powerful political, social and foreign-policy choices that their dominant elites have ushered in. Beginning with the sultans’ efforts to westernize the Ottoman Empire in the 1770s, and continuing with Ataturk’s reforms and the multiparty democracy experiment that started in 1946, Turkish elites have cast their lot with the West. Unsurprisingly, the Turks adopted a pro-Western foreign policy, embraced secular democracy at home and marched steadily toward European Union membership.

Now, with the AKP introducing new currents throughout Turkish society, this is changing. In foreign policy, the dominant wind is solidarity with Islamist and anti-Western countries and movements. After eight years of AKP rule – an unusually long period in Turkish terms: if the AKP wins the June 2011 elections, it will have become the longest-ruling party in Turkey’s multiparty democratic history – the Turks are acquiescing to the AKP and its us versus them mind-set.

According to a recent poll by TESEV, an Istanbul-based NGO, the number of people identifying themselves as Muslim increased by 10 percent between 2002 and 2007, and almost half of them described themselves as Islamist. In effect, the AKP’s steady mobilization of Turkish Muslim identity along with its close financial and ideological affinity with the nation’s new Islamist elites is setting the stage for a total recalibration of Turkey’s international compass.

The writer is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and coauthor (with Scott Carpenter) of Nuanced Gestures: Regenerating the US-Turkey Partnership (2010).
6)North Korea Will Never Play Nice

WHILE it is cowardly and foolish not to resist an act of aggression, the best way to deal with a provocation is to ignore it — or so we are taught. By refusing to be provoked, one frustrates and therefore “beats” the provoker; generations of bullied children have been consoled with this logic. And so it is that the South Korean and American governments usually refer to North Korea’s acts of aggression as “provocations.”

The North’s artillery attack on a populated South Korean island is now getting the same treatment, with the South’s president, Lee Myung-bak, vowing that Pyongyang will be “held responsible” and that “additional provocative acts” will be punished “several times over.”

There is no reason that North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong-il, should take those words seriously. Mr. Lee made similar noises in March, when the North was accused of killing 46 South Korean sailors by torpedoing a naval vessel, the Cheonan, and what was the result? A pacifist South Korean electorate punished Mr. Lee’s party in regional elections, and the attack faded from the headlines.

The North’s attack on Yeonpyeong Island has been more shocking to South Koreans, but not much more. At my local train station the morning after the attack, a grinning crowd watched coverage of the Asian Games in China on a giant TV screen. The same ethno-nationalism that makes South Koreans such avid followers of international sports also dilutes their indignation at their Northern brethren. South Korea’s left-wing press, which tends to shape young opinion, is describing the shelling of the island as the inevitable product of “misunderstandings” resulting from a lack of dialogue.

Sadly, South Korea’s subdued response to such incidents makes them more likely to happen again. This poses a serious problem for the United States; we have already been drawn into one war on the peninsula because our ally seemed unlikely to defend itself.

Unfortunately, Washington shares to a certain degree the South Korean tendency to play down North Korean “provocations.” In our usage, the word reflects the America-centric perception that everything Kim Jong-il does is aimed at eliciting a reaction from Washington. His actions are trivialized accordingly, to the extent that our top policymakers have publicly compared him to a squalling, attention-hungry child.

Not surprisingly, then, the artillery attack on Yeonpyeong is seen by many Americans as an effort to force us to make concessions, to reopen negotiations, and so on. Thus we can pretend that simply by leaving sanctions in place, we are really hanging tough, even pursuing a “hard-line” policy.

The provocation view of North Korea’s actions also prevents us from seeing them in context. Since a first naval skirmish in the Yellow Sea near Yeonpyeong in 1999, there has been a steady escalation in North Korea’s efforts to destabilize the peninsula. In 2002, another naval skirmish killed at least four South Korean sailors; in 2006 the North conducted an underground nuclear test; in 2009 it launched missiles over the Sea of Japan, had another nuclear test and declared the Korean War armistice invalid; and in March the Cheonan was sunk.

This behavior is fully in keeping with the ultramilitaristic ideology of a regime that remains publicly committed to uniting the peninsula by force: “Reunification is at the ends of our bayonets,” as the omnipresent slogan in the North goes.

North Korea cannot hope to win an all-out war, but it may well believe that by incrementally escalating its aggression it can bully the South into giving up — or at least sharing power in a confederation.

The provocation view of North Korean behavior also distorts our understanding of the domestic situation. Analysts tend to focus too much on the succession issue; they interpret the attack on the island as an effort to bolster the reputation of Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-il’s son and anointed successor. Their conclusion is that North Korea will play nice once the young man is firmly in power.

In fact, as both its adversaries and supporters should realize, the North can never play nice. Just as our own economy-first governments must ensure growth to stay in power, a military-first regime must deliver a steady stream of victories or lose all reason to exist.

There is no easy solution to the North Korea problem, but to begin to solve it, we must realize that its behavior is aggressive, not provocative, and that its aggression is ideologically built in. Pyongyang is thus virtually predestined to push Seoul and Washington too far, thereby bringing about its own ruin.

The Chinese should take note of this, since their rationalization for continuing to support North Korea derives from the vain hope that they can prop it up indefinitely. The military-first state is going to collapse at some stage; let’s do what we can to make that happen sooner rather than later.

B. R. Myers, the director of the international studies department at Dongseo University, is the author of “The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves — and Why It Matters.”

6a).Why We're Always Fooled by North Korea
The analysts who predicted North Korea's latest nuclear breakthrough were denigrated and ignored..

According to Siegfried Hecker, the former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, North Korea is working on two new nuclear facilities, a light water power reactor in early stages of construction, and a "modern, clean centrifuge plant" for uranium enrichment. Mr. Hecker visited the facility over the weekend and says it appears nearly complete.

The centrifuge plant is particularly significant because it could produce more than enough highly enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon every year—and it may not be the North's only such facility. North Korea's artillery bombardment of the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong on Tuesday makes it doubly clear that Pyongyang intends to leverage its new nuclear breakthrough for maximum concessions from the international community.

This nuclear revelation is not an intelligence failure. Over the past decade, intelligence analysts have consistently predicted North Korea's path to nuclear weapons and noted the increasing evidence of its missile and nuclear proliferation. The failure has been that of policy makers and pundits who denigrated the analysis, ignored it, or clung to the fallacy that North Korea would abide by a denuclearization deal.

In 1994, Clinton administration negotiators acknowledged that North Korea might be experimenting with uranium enrichment, but they chose to focus on an agreement called the Agreed Framework freezing the North's plutonium production at the Yongbyon facility. Intelligence agencies followed the uranium trail, but policy makers ignored it. As North Korea's most senior defector, Hwang Jang Yop, told us in 2004, the regime negotiated the Agreed Framework with every intention of "confronting the U.S. with a nuclear deterrent" before the reactors were complete and inspections became necessary.

In 2002, the Bush administration received compelling intelligence about active North Korean efforts to procure the equipment and materials necessary for a highly enriched uranium (HEU) facility. The experts had put together multiple-source information like a Rosetta Stone in an amazing piece of sleuthing. The exact state of the program was still unclear, but estimates were that it could be up and running within the decade. This was right on target, as we now know.

The North's clandestine HEU program was a blatant violation of the Agreed Framework, and in response the Bush administration suspended shipments of heavy fuel oil to North Korea. Critics immediately accused President Bush—not Kim Jong Il—of destroying the nuclear deal, even though the evidence demonstrated that the North had been assembling the HEU program since at least the 1990s.

By 2007, North Korea tested a nuclear device and the six-party talks were bogged down. U.S. negotiators were keen to shoehorn the talks back into the original Agreed Framework, with its focus on freezing the Yongbyon reactor, but the intelligence on the HEU program stood in the way. Negotiators set the issue aside, publicly and privately questioning the original assessment.

The New York Times and others aided this effort by reporting that the top U.S. intelligence expert on North Korea had "downgraded" his assessment on the North's HEU program in testimony to Congress in February 2007. In fact, he was simply reporting that the U.S. knew less about it—not surprising given that Pyongyang was alerted to our insights and could better hide its efforts.

Meanwhile, North Korean negotiators warned our delegation in Beijing in March 2003 that unless the U.S. ended its "hostile policy," Pyongyang was prepared to "demonstrate its deterrent," "expand its deterrent" and "transfer its deterrent." True to its word, Pyongyang did all three.

When stories leaked that the two of us were sent in February 2005 to inform Japan, Korea and China that uranium hexafluoride likely originating in North Korea had shown up in Libya, we were accused by outside experts and sources in the State Department of exaggerating the intelligence. After the CIA publicly noted North Korean complicity in a Syrian reactor construction project that Israel bombed in September 2007, the U.S. negotiating team successfully argued within the U.S. government to set aside the proliferation issue in order to focus on obtaining North Korean agreement on "verification protocols" to account for the plutonium at Yongbyon.

As a result, U.S. sanctions were lifted and North Korean illicit funds that had been frozen in a bank in Macao were returned, but no protocols were signed. Instead, North Korea conducted a second nuclear test. Meantime, evidence mounted that Myanmar was next in line seeking nuclear capabilities from Pyongyang.

It should be obvious by now that Pyongyang seeks acknowledgment as a nuclear state and intends to continue leveraging its proliferation threat to enjoy perpetual concessions from the U.S. North Korean officials have told outsiders that if America is concerned about proliferation, we should negotiate an "arms control agreement" with the North as mutual nuclear weapons states.

This would validate Pyongyang's weapons status and leave the door open for repeated escalation of the North's own weapons programs or proliferation, as U.S. credibility and deterrence steadily eroded. The existence of a highly enriched uranium facility makes this dynamic even more dangerous.

The Obama administration has said that the bombardment of Yeonpyeong is not a crisis, which is probably wise if the aim is to avoid granting the North even more leverage. On the other hand, it would be a colossal mistake to return to negotiations as if provocations are merely the price of doing business with Pyongyang. The focus right now should be on containment, interdiction and pressure. The inability to do so on a sustained basis until now was a failure of policy, not intelligence.

Mr. Green served as a senior official on the National Security Council Staff from 2001-05 and is now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Mr. Tobey served from 2006-09 as a deputy administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration and is now a senior fellow at Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
7)Bush Lied - To Himself
By Matt and Pat Archbold

I just watched Matt Lauer interview George W. Bush on NBC promoting his new book on his Presidency.

By way of a minor preamble, let me state that the interview did little to change my overall impression of the man, but it did change it some. I have for a time believed that he is generally a good man who cares deeply about his country. He did what he thought was best but he made some bad decisions. But I have always thought that even his bad decisions were made for, what he thought, were good reasons.

His decisions on war and peace, spending, and bailouts are all legitimate matters for disagreement. I agreed with some and disagreed with others but I have always thought he came by his decisions, even the bad ones, honestly.

With all that said, I was struck by what I can only classify as a moment of dishonesty. I don’t think that President Bush lied to Matt Lauer or the American people, I think he lied to himself.

The topic, it should come as no surprise, is the water-boarding of three suspected terrorists at Gitmo. I do not intend to debate the morality of water-boarding here, my point lies elsewhere.

When asked whether water-boarding was torture President Bush answered “My lawyers said no. The lawyers said it was legal.”

The lawyers? It was legal?

I believe that George W. Bush wanted nothing more than to protect this country, but I believe he lied to himself to do it. President Bush knows full well that there are plenty of things that are legal in this country that are intrinsically immoral. Abortion comes to mind.

President Bush knows full well that the legality of such an act is not the right question when trying to determine the “right thing” to do. President Bush denied that he pressured the lawyers to get the answer he wanted and I think I believe him. But it doesn’t matter. He pressured himself to accept an answer which he probably knew was wrong.

Why do I say he probably knew it was wrong, because in the next sentence he made a point that they only water-boarded three people. You don’t say that unless you know its wrong. If you think a legal opinion gives you moral carte blanche, then why not water-board them all?

I think that George W. Bush so much wanted to “protect” this country from another attack that he lied to do it. But he didn’t lie to us, he lied to himself.