Saturday, March 12, 2011

Mikado, Tsunami and Obama Is Drowning!

Last night a group of us went to see " The Mikado" performed at The Asbury Methodist Church. The star of the program was my November Speaker, Jonathan Rabb, but the entire cast and orchestra were superb. They are having another special performance Monday at 7:30, all proceeds going to the victims of Japan's earthquake-tsunami. I urge those who love music, want a fabulous evening of excellent entertainment to go and support this worthy cause.

This is Broadway at its best yet, in our hometown!
This editorial speaks for itself. (See 1 below.)
Peggy Noonan is bright and writes well but she has also become somewhat of a turncoat. Perhaps justified but also perhaps more from a desire to go with the current tide of public opinion. I am not truly sure.

In any event, I am reading Rumsfeld's book, about 40% through, and am just at the point when he became Sec. of Defense again. This time under GW, so I cannot comment on Peggy's diatribe. I post her op ed as sop to those who hate Rumsfeld, blame him for everything under the sun yet, can find no fault with our current president.

As Noonan asserts maybe Rumsfeld did not find bin Laden but surely Obama is going to help lose whatever influence America had in the entire Middle East.

Which is worse? You decide!(See 2 below.)
This from a very bright and generous friend and also memo reader in response to Porter's article in the last memo: "I don't agree with the comments about the dollar. As countries like Brazil and China and India emerge, it is natural that the dollar should decline relative to their currencies and there is nothing we can do about it. It is just like Europe and Japan as they recovered after WW II. Trying to fight it is like trying to fight a tsunami. It is not going to happen. Instead we should recognize that the US is not ever going to be competitive in labor intensive industries ever again. Wishing or government policy won't make it so. We better keep looking to other things to hold ourselves up like being masters of trade or financial or technical acumen. That's what made the British succeed when they had no natural edge in anything else after the industrial revolution commenced.

All this notion of saving social security as it is, is nonsense. US citizens are going to have to work harder and longer to keep up with these emerging countries as they take advantage of learning things that we learned long ago like the benefits of personal liberty, the rule of law, consent of the people and private property. As they get these things from the people who exploited them up until now (not us, their own leaders who kept them down until now) they will naturally look more and more equal to us."
We all need an Eric from time to time. (See 3 below.)
What is happening in Japan is tragic but politically speaking the biggest Tsunami is taking place in The Middle East and it will take more than Caterpillar Tractors to repair.

Ironically I do not see peaceniks marching in protest against Qaddafi's wanton killing. I do not hear the U.N. raging or creating a Goldstone Committee. I do not see protest reporting from the New York, the 'nerds' from Norway or the 'sycophants' from Sweden screaming as if it were Israel or Israel's fault. Why is it their self-righteous behaviour is always reserved for Israel?

Shakespeare was right - '...there is something rotten in Europe.'

Nor do I hear anything from the domestic Left about Obama's double standards, ineptitude or lack of a cohesive strategy

All this should be a lesson for Netanyahu - whatever you do will never satisfy Israeli and/or your detractors. Netanyahu - defend your nation against the shrill voices and outrageous charges and demands. Tell the rest of the world to stuff it just as Obama did to Mubarak.

When it comes to Abbas and the Palestinians Israel has no legitimate peace partner to negotiate with because they still seek Israel's total annihilation through terror. It is the Arab way!(See 4, 4a, 4b, 4c and 4d below.)

Obama in over his head as reality washes over him. (See 5 below.)
1)The Obama Doctrine
Libya is what a world without U.S. leadership looks like. .

'This is the Obama conception of the U.S. role in the world—to work through multilateral organizations and bilateral relationships to make sure that the steps we are taking are amplified."

—White House National Security Council spokesman Ben Rhodes, March 10, 2011, as quoted in the Washington Post

"They bombed us with tanks, airplanes, missiles coming from every direction. . . . We need international support, at least a no-fly zone. Why is the world not supporting us?"

—Libyan rebel Mahmoud Abdel Hamid, March 10, 2011, as quoted in The Wall Street Journal

Whatever else one might say about President Obama's Libya policy, it has succeeded brilliantly in achieving its oft-stated goal of not leading the world. No one can any longer doubt the U.S. determination not to act before the Italians do, or until the Saudis approve, or without a U.N. resolution. This White House is forthright for followership.

That message also couldn't be clearer to Moammar Gadhafi and his sons, who are busy bombing and killing their way to victory against the Libyan opposition. As the U.S. defers to the world, the world can't decide what to do, and the vacuum is filled by a dictator and his hard men who have concluded that no one will stop them. "Hear it now. I have only two words for our brothers and sisters in the east: We're coming," said Gadhafi's son, Saif al-Islam, on Thursday.

Three weeks into the Libyan uprising, here are some of the live action highlights from what Mr. Obama likes to call "the international community":

• The United Nations Security Council has imposed an arms embargo, but with enough ambiguity that no one knows whether it applies only to Gadhafi or also to the opposition. Even the U.S. State Department and White House don't agree.

• The U.N. has referred events to the International Criminal Court for a war crimes investigation. Mr. Obama said yesterday this sent a message to Gadhafi that "the world is watching," as if Gadhafi didn't know. But it also sends a message that leaving Libya without bloodshed is not an option, because he and his sons will still be pursued for war crimes. Had Reagan pursued this strategy in the Philippines, Marcos might never have gone into exile.

• France has recognized the opposition National Council in Benghazi, though the U.S. is only now sending envoys to meet with the opposition for the first time. Dozens of Western reporters can get rebel leaders on the phone, an opposition delegation has visited French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris, but the U.S. is still trying to figure out who these people are. The American envoys better hurry because the rebels may soon be dead.

• The French want a no-fly zone, but the Italians and Germans object. NATO is having "a series of conversations about a wide range of options," as President Obama put it yesterday, but NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen emerged from a meeting of defense ministers in Brussels on Thursday saying that "We considered . . . initial options regarding a possible no-fly zone in case NATO were to receive a clear U.N. mandate" (our emphasis). The latter isn't likely because both China and Russia object, but no doubt NATO will keep conversing about the "range of options" next week.

• Even as opposition leaders were asking for help, U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the world on Thursday that Gadhafi is likely to win in the long-term. The Administration scrambled to say this was merely a factual judgment about the balance of military power, but the message couldn't be clearer to any of Gadhafi's generals who might consider defecting: Do so at your peril because you will join the losing side.

We could go on, but you get the idea. When the U.S. fails to lead, the world reverts to its default mode as a diplomatic Tower of Babel. Everyone discusses "options" and "contingencies" but no one has the will to act, while the predators march.

This was true in Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s until the U.S. shamed Europe and NATO into using force with or without a U.N. resolution. And it has been true in every case in which the world finally resisted tyrants or terrorists, from the Gulf War to Afghanistan to Iraq. When the U.S. chooses to act like everyone else, the result is Rwanda, Darfur and now Libya.

One difference in Libya is that the damage from a Gadhafi victory would not merely be humanitarian, though that would be awful enough. The only way Gadhafi can subdue Benghazi and the east now is with a door-to-door purge and systematic murder. The flow of refugees heading for Southern Europe would also not be small.

If Gadhafi survives after Mr. Obama has told him to go, the blow to U.S. prestige and world order would be enormous. Dictators will learn that the way to keep America from acting is to keep its diplomats and citizens around, while mowing down your opponents as the world debates contingencies. By the time the Babelers make a decision, it will be too late. This is a dangerous message to send at any time, but especially with a Middle East in the throes of revolution.

There is still time for Mr. Obama to salvage his Libya policy, though the costs of doing so are rising every day. Libya today is what a world without U.S. leadership looks like.
2)The Defense Secretary Who Let Bin Laden Get Away Memoirist Rumsfeld seems to forget why we went to Afghanistan


I like Donald Rumsfeld. I've always thought he was a hard-working, intelligent man. I respected his life in public service at the highest and most demanding levels. So it was with some surprise that I found myself flinging his book against a wall in hopes I would break its stupid little spine.

"Known and Unknown," his memoir of his tumultuous time in government, is so bad it's news even a month after its debut. It takes a long time to read because there are a lot of words, most of them boring. At first I thought this an unfortunate flaw, but I came to see it as strategy. He's going to overwhelm you with wordage, with dates and supposed data, he's going to bore you into submission, and at the end you're going to throw up your hands and shout, "I know Iraq and Afghanistan were not Don Rumsfeld's fault! I know this because I've now read his memos, which explain at great length why nothing is his fault."

Fault of course isn't the point. You'd expect such a book (all right—you'd hope) to be reflective, to be self-questioning and questioning of others, and to grapple with the ruin of U.S. foreign policy circa 2001-08. He was secretary of defense until 2006, in the innermost councils. He heard all the conversations. He was in on the decisions. You'd expect him to explain the overall, overarching strategic thinking that guided them. Since some of those decisions are in the process of turning out badly, and since he obviously loves his country, you'd expect him to critique and correct certain mindsets and assumptions so that later generations will learn. When he doesn't do this, when he merely asserts, defends and quotes his memos, you feel overwhelmed, again, by the terrible thought that there was no overall, overarching strategic thinking. There were only second-rate minds busily, consequentially at work

Second-rateness marks the book, which is an extended effort at blame deflection. Mr. Rumsfeld didn't ignore the generals, he listened to them too much. Not enough troops in Iraq? That would be Gen. Tommy Franks. Turkey's refusal to allow U.S. troop movements? Secretary of State Colin Powell. America's failure to find weapons of mass destruction? "Obviously the focus on WMD to the exclusion of almost all else was a public relations error." Yes, I'd say so. He warned early on in a memo he quotes that the administration was putting too much emphasis on WMD. But put it in context: "Recent history is abundant with examples of flawed intelligence that have affected key national security decisions and contingency planning."

A word on the use of memos in memoirs. Everyone in government now knows his memos can serve, years later, to illustrate his farsightedness and defend against charges of blindness, indifference, stupidity. So people in government send a lot of memos! "Memo to self: I'm deeply worried about Mideast crisis. Let's solve West Bank problem immediately." "Memo to Steve: I'm concerned about China. I'd like you to make sure it becomes democratic. Please move on this soonest, before lunch if you can." A man in the Bush administration once told me of a guy who used to change the name on memos when they turned out to be smart. He'd make himself the sender so that when future scholars pored over the presidential library, they'd discover what a genius he was.

Most memos prove nothing. It is disturbing that so many Bush-era memoirs rely so heavily on them.

But the terrible thing about the Rumsfeld book, and there is no polite way to say this, is the half-baked nature of the thinking within it. The quality of analysis and understanding of history is so mediocre, so insufficient to the moment.

Which gets me to the point at which I tried to break the book's spine.

If you asked most Americans why we went into Afghanistan in the weeks after 9/11, they would answer, with perfect common sense, that it was to get the bad guys—to find or kill Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda followers, to topple the Taliban government that had given them aid and support, to destroy terrorist networks and operations. New York at the time of the invasion, October 2001, was still, literally, smoking; the whole town still carried the acrid smell of Ground Zero. The scenes of that day were still vivid and sharp. New York still isn't over it and will never be over it, but what happened on 9/11 was fresh, and we wanted who did it to get caught.

America wanted—needed—to see U.S. troops pull Osama out of his cave by his beard and drag him in his urine-soaked robes into an American courtroom. Or, less good but still good, to find him, kill him, put his head in a Tiffany box with a bow, and hand-carry it to the president of the United States.

It wasn't lust for vengeance, it was lust for justice, and for more than justice. Getting Osama would have shown the world what happens when you do a thing like 9/11 to a nation like America. It would have shown al Qaeda and their would-be camp followers what kind of unstoppable ferocity they were up against. It would have reminded the world that we are one great people with one terrible swift sword.

The failure to find bin Laden was a seminal moment in the history of the war in Afghanistan. And it was a catastrophe. From that moment—the moment he escaped his apparent hideout in Tora Bora and went on to make his sneering speeches and send them out to the world—from that moment everything about the Afghanistan war became unclear, unfocused, murky and confused. The administration in Washington, emboldened by what it called its victory over the Taliban, decided to move on Iraq. Its focus shifted, it took its eye off the ball, and Afghanistan is now what it is.

You'd think, nearly a decade after the events of Tora Bora, that Mr. Rumsfeld would understand the extent of the error and the breadth of its implications. He does not. Needless to say, Tora Bora was the fault of someone else—Gen. Franks of course, and CIA Director George Tenet. "Franks had to determine whether attempting to apprehend one man on the run" was "worth the risks." Needless to say "there were numerous operational details." And of course, in a typical Rumsfeldian touch, he says he later learned CIA operatives on the ground had asked for help, but "I never received such a request from either Franks or Tenet and cannot imagine denying it if I had." I can.

Osama bin Laden was not "one man on the run." He is the man who did 9/11. He had just killed almost 3,000 people at the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon, in a field in Pennsylvania. He's the reason people held hands and jumped off the buildings. He's the reason the towers groaned to the ground.

It is the great scandal of the wars of the Bush era that the U.S. government failed to get him and bring him to justice. It is the shame of this book that Don Rumsfeld lacks the brains to see it, or the guts to admit it.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------3) As we Silver Surfers know, sometimes we have trouble with our computers.

I had a problem yesterday, so I called Eric, the 11 year old next door, whose bedroom looks like Mission Control and asked him to come over.

Eric clicked a couple of buttons and solved the problem.

As he was walking away, I called after him, 'So, what was wrong?

He replied, 'It was an ID ten T error.'

I didn't want to appear stupid, but nonetheless inquired,'An, ID ten T error? What's that? In case I need to fix it again.'

Eric grinned.... 'Haven't you ever heard of an ID ten T error before?

'No,' I replied.

'Write it down,' he said, 'and I think you'll figure it out.'

So I wrote down:


I used to like Eric, the little bastard..
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 4)The Value of American Promises
By James Lewis

Pax Americana has protected the world since 1945, when the Japanese Empire surrendered on the US Navy battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay. But just like the dollar, Pax Americana is a promissory note. It is the solemn word of America as a nation that it will come to the aid of friendly powers who are threatened by war and barbarism. Like the dollar, we back the security of the world with the "full faith and credit" of the United States.

Barack H. Obama has just shown what happens when the United States betrays its solemn promises to fearful countries in the world. When Obama brutally pushed Hosni Mubarak out of power, he also pushed over the biggest pillar of stability in the Middle East, the Israel-Egypt peace treaty.

That treaty is the only example of a working peace treaty in the history of the modern Middle East. There are no other examples, not a single one.

Obama brutally pushed Mubarak out of power, apparently on a mere whim. Nobody knows what will happen now, but all the suppressed frustration and rage in the Arab world suddenly exploded. Obama kind of liked that, and the Obama-backing media are celebrating it as a new springtime of democracy.

I sure hope that their wild guess is right, but it could just as well be Springtime for Hitler, or for Al Qaradawi, the hero of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, who just gave a speech to a million people in Al Tahrir Square that our media didn't tell you about. Al Qaradawi is not an enlightened person. He is a medieval throwback, who wants to become the Ayatollah Khomeini of the Sunni Muslims. If that happens, all bets are off.

In response to the Arab firestorm Obama quickly started to back tyrants like Muammar Al Qaddafi, just as he has been backing the throwback tyrants of Tehran.

Well, Obama the rookie has just found out that tyranny is better than chaos, as long as it is "organic," in his quaint, old-fashioned Marxist jargon. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney could have told him the right answer, but of course Bush and the history of America are irrelevant to this crowd.

People like Obama are educated by first wiping out whatever they might know about real history. Then they insert artificial historical grievances (e.g., American blacks are still slaves) and delusions of grandeur (viz., Obama, Chavez, Putin). That part is easy. Our post-modern colleges still brainwash students that way, because all of genuine human experience is irrelevant to their cult ideology. They don't educate, they cultify their students.

After the fall of Mubarak every country in the world wants to know if America's solemn promises are worthless. We guaranteed the Israel-Egypt peace treaty in 1979, and we still have peace keepers in the Sinai to ensure that it isn't broken. (Much.)

Is the US Navy still protecting the oceans and the trade bottlenecks of the world, the Persian Gulf, the Suez Canal, the Straits of Taiwan? Has the Soviet Union achieved its revenge, post-mortem, and will Russia suffer just as much as the rest of Europe as a direct consequence? China's prosperity depends on free trade, as do Japan and Germany, Saudi Arabia and Colombia.

Forget the dollar. Without a credible United States foreign policy the dollar will collapse. Investors want stability. The dollar will collapse as soon as America fails to protect world peace and trade, not to mention the global oxygen supply of prosperity and security, namely the unimpeded flow of oil, coal and gas.

The dollar isn't a piece of paper. Around the world people take it as a solid store of wealth and security. They tuck away dollars for the day their own regimes might collapse. That day now seems to be dawning in the Middle East. Just to rub the message in, Tehran sent two modern warships through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean, for the first time in thirty years.

Everybody knows what message those warships carry. Even liberals will get it when Tehran explodes its first bomb. North Korea is now believed to be getting nuclear pulse (EMP) bombs, which can knock out entire modern nations, and it is the biggest nuclear bargain basement in the world. What the Norks have today, Iran and Syria will have tomorrow.

Americans often wonder why the United States fights wars abroad. The ideological Left thinks it's because we're really evil, deep down, and many conservatives think it's because we are good. All of us feel the pain of shedding American blood on foreign soil, but the question "why are we doing it?" is never answered in the media. That is insidious.

The answer is right there in plain sight in our history books that were written before the Age of PC. Pax Americana came from the bitter experience of generations of Americans who fought in World War I and II, and in the two bloody proxy wars of the Cold War, Korea and Vietnam. The Americans and Europeans who created NATO and all the other guarantees for world security had seen battlefields and their aftermaths. They did not want to see them ever again. The only answer was to build a defensive wall as far out as possible, in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. They knew the cost of war, and they therefore built alliances with friendly powers who seemed to share the same values and experiences.

Pax Americana kept the peace for sixty years.

Until Obama.

Today it's all up for grabs again.

Our defensive alliances came from Wilson, FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson, who knew beyond a shadow of doubt what would happen if the United States wasn't there to patrol a very tough the tough beat. What happened was the Kaiser, Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Khomeini, and all the genocides and disasters of the 20th century.

Pax Americana plus modern science and technology have vastly improved peace, prosperity, health and well-being in the world since 1945.

That is utterly without precedent in history. Our former enemies like Russia and China are also thriving today, as a direct result of Pax Americana, and they know it. There is a very good reason why China invests in the United States: Over time, America has kept its value better than gold.

Gold is where fearful people go when they feel threatened. The rest of the time people put their money into stable industrial countries with solid economies and currencies. It used to be the British pound. Today it is the dollar. But those paper tokens are only worth the full faith and credit of the countries they represent.

Japan is hotly debating whether to go nuclear today, because it is directly threatened by missiles from North Korea and China. Japan no longer believes that the United States will come to its defense. Ditto Taiwan and South Korea. Israel long ago decided that in the final analysis it only has itself to depend on. France has the biggest nuclear power industry in the world, because the French are the least trusting people in the world. And since De Gaulle it has had its own nuclear force de frappe.

At this very moment heated debates are taking place all over the world. Our shaky allies feel scared because Obama is a "community dis-organizer." He is a revolutionary by instinct, an anarchist. He likes to see revolutions.

Now mind you, the industrial world has been far too dependent on the United States, so that Europe has eaten its own seed grain of military investment. It has drifted off into vain delusions. The whole European Union has a delusional ideology, conveniently forgetting what Europe's safety and security is based on. But today they are suddenly getting it again: Merkel, Sarkozy, and Cameron are trying to wake up their peoples from the sleepy delusions of the past.

Still, self-defense in a dangerous world is not cost free. Europe has relied on American guts and tenacity to defend it. So has Japan, and even Russia since the Soviet Union crumbled. All the delusional fantasies that sabotage our safety today (post-modernism, multicultism, the UN) came from Europe, when Europe's ideologues figured that Uncle Sam could be suckered forever, and that they could have their world imperialism cost-free. The result is "cultural Marxism," which runs our universities and media today.

That's what the UN and global warming fraud are about: Using American lives and treasure to pay for a fantasy world for European socialists. It's not going to work, and Europe just got the message from Barack Hussein Obama. Talk about ironies!

The Middle East is shivering because they're getting it, too. It's not hard for them to see danger, because they calculate their chances for survival every day. When they see those gray American battle fleets on the horizon in the Mediterranean, they know that things will be safe for another day. They may not love us, but their lives will be safe. The very second those fleets disappear so does their security. Today they understand it again, after Obama dumped Mubarak, even if they forgot it for the last few decades.

Libya is a perfect test case for Europe's seriousness about protecting its own neighborhood. They have said the right words, but they haven't backed their words with action. Qaddafi is teetering on the brink, and a vigorous military response from Europe would tip the balance.

Without such a demonstration of seriousness nobody will believes Europe, because they have no track record of putting lives on the line to ensure their own safety. Today they are back to dithering absurdity, when they had a chance to be taken seriously again.

Europe is as prosperous as America, it has the same industrial capacity. Through the fantasy of world socialism Europeans are again projecting an imperial ambition on the world. What Europe really needs is a test case that shows that it has finally learned the lessons of the 20th century, as shown by the United States of America.

America uses our fighting power when we must, not like Bismarck or Napoleon, who just needed to aggrandize their cramped egos. When we fight we do it well. As soon as enemies signal a willingness to make real peace, we want to settle. We see no benefit in war, just necessary pain, when there is no other way.

That should be the policy for every rational nation in the world. Putin's Russia should adopt it instead of trying to pretend that the Soviet Union still has a world-historical mission to rule all countries from Moscow. Right now Russia is helping to build up Tehran's nuclear power, even though the Muslims have fought Russia for more than a thousand years. Putin is plainly irrational about Iran, which is an hour's flight by civilian airliner from Russia. Having Iran next door is like putting nuclear missiles in Cuba: It's much too close for comfort.

China has also become a mercantile power, deriving its wealth from trade and productivity. The only way China can keep its peasants satisfied is by expanding its economy, and the only way to do that is to follow Japan on the road to commercial prosperity.

Right now Beijing is deciding whether to pursue its traditional imperial impulses, as it did in Tibet, or whether to follow the example of Japan. They are like Putin's Russia: Go the old way or the new way?

Russia now controls the natural gas supply to Germany, and Angela Merkel has explicitly negotiated with Moscow to keep it that way. This sounds like a dangerous move, but it makes sense if you remember the centuries of Hobbesian warfare Europe has had. Germany is giving Moscow control over its prosperity as a hostage to keep the Russians peaceful.

We are at a moment of quiet but deep historic realization. It may not be obvious to the media (but that means less than nothing). The real question is whether Europe is finally remembering its own bloody history, and whether it has the resolve to plan for a rational future, not UN-imperialism. The same questions are facing all the old nations in the world.

Imperialism, tyranny and war have been the common lot of humanity for all of written history. The United States, following Britain and the other mercantile powers of history, has found a better way. It does not wipe out war, but it makes it much rarer than ever before.

Today all the old imperialisms are growing prosperous from trade and industry. But they still harbor those old grandiosities -- you can see it all over Europe and Asia.

What is needed is a sane balance. In the next 24 months the world may see an Iranian nuclear bomb, the first time since World War II that a martyrdom ideology has had the capacity to trigger a world war. The civilized world must keep that from happening, or live with horrific consequences. If Putin wants to see Iranian missiles threatening Moscow, he should stay in the same fixed mental set he is pursuing right now. The same goes for the Arab world.

This is a time of fundamental decision, and Obama the rookie has accidentally blundered into a truth that all sane nations must cope with very soon.

With Obama, Pax Americana is more threatened than ever before, because Obama represents a generation that has no memory of the real past. The hour is late. Nuclear proliferation is here and now. Peace is not a matter of wishful fantasies like the Left keeps dreaming. Pax Americana is the way to peace, and the more people understand that, the better our chances for survival.

4a)The Middle East Uprising: An Interim Balance Sheet
By David Bukay

Popular protests and violence are spreading through the Middle East, leaving all Arab regimes in danger of severe destabilization. In the current situation, understanding the protesters' motives and methods has perhaps become secondary to addressing why so many Middle-Eastern governments now teeter on the edge of collapse.

One possible answer is because Arab leadership is patrimonial, being highly personalistic without much assistance from government institutions or the law, and the regimes are authoritarian, being highly dependent on the military and its goodwill. This situation is well-exhibited throughout Islamic history. The patrimonial leader is responsible for everything in all walks of life. All the decision-making processes and the political, economic, and social roles fall to a narrow elite, and the masses are barred from any political influence. That is why historically, as long as the military supported the ruler and the regime, reforms of any kind remained out of the people's reach. Nowadays, the people are no longer afraid of the regime -- in fact, the reverse is true.

To really grasp the current situation in the ME, one has to address four important conflicts that constitute the basics of ME diplomacy: state versus tribe and clan, personalistic ruler versus sociopolitical institutions, military versus other political groupings, and authoritarian rule versus democratic regime.

a) State versus tribe and the clan. An important and oft-revealed fact of Arab politics is that the state is a weak social-political institution as compared to the tribe and the clan. Therefore, in times of crisis, the people retreat from counting on the state in favor of a more reliable group. Primordialism, which characterizes Arab politics, knows no national patriotic identity. Institutionalized, legitimized, and durable political institutions do not exist; the tribal identity is still the source of all values and attitudes. This is why in times of crisis both the leadership and the people turn to the only source they can depend on -- their tribal loyalties.

b) Personalistic ruler versus institutions. While in democracies, the socio-political institutions are the most important -- and their institutionalization, effective strength, and durability are at the center -- in the Middle East, the ultimate authority is the patrimonial ruler. Middle-Eastern regimes operate by the use of force -- subordinating the people by intimidation, corrupt resource distribution, clientelistic policy, and nepotism. As long as the institutions are weak, the rulers continue to be the sole authority.

c) Military versus other groupings. In both contemporary and historical ME politics, the military is the most important political instrument. It appears in two configurations: as a direct military regime (like Egypt, Syria, Libya, and Algeria) or as the guardian and center of gravity of the monarchical regime (like Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Morocco). The important role of the military in the existence of the political regime is proven by the example of Iran in 1979. It was only when the military declared its neutrality that the regime collapsed in 48 hours. On the other hand, there is the example of Iraq after the Gulf War in 1991, when the Iraqi military fully supported Saddam Hussein and he confidently stayed in power -- notwithstanding the military defeat and despite President Bush's oft-made declarations that he "expect[ed] the Iraqi people to topple Saddam regime down."

In Tunisia, it was the military chief of staff's request to President Bin Ali to abdicate that triggered the "revolutionary" spirit in the Middle East. In Egypt, it was the coup d'état performed when Tantawi removed Mubarak from the presidency. To those acquainted with the ME military-regime situation, the declaration of the Egyptian military spokesperson on the third day of the uprising -- that the military fully supported the demonstrators promised not to act against them -- meant the end of Mubarak's rule. In Libya, there is a civil war, unlike in Tunisia and Egypt. The reason is exactly the split within the military and the high instances of desertion to support the rebels.

One can say almost as an axiom that as long as the military supports the personalistic leader, the latter's rule is safe, be it Saddam, Mubarak, Qadhdhafi or Kings Abdullah of Saudi-Arabia and Jordan. That is why the crucial question one should ask is the attitude of the military vis-à-vis any Middle-Eastern regime.

d) Authoritarian rule versus democratic regime. Again and again, one should take into account that the uprisings demonstrated in the ME may well lead not to democracy, but instead to stricter military rule or an Islamic regime. Democracy constitutes not only legal-institutional ingredients, but also the participation and involvement of all socioeconomic strata -- which includes a large layer of middle class, or at least 40 percent of the entire population. Democracy also requires a multidimensional process, as does a baby one raises, cultivates, and educates. Europe reached democracy after five centuries of authoritarianism and oppressive monarchical rule. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1989, but can we say that there is a democracy in Russia? In the ME, it might take even a longer period of time, depending on the orientation of the tribes and the religious establishment.

Western leadership perhaps has trouble staying focused on this issue. Two months ago, Mubarak and Qaddhafi were considered legitimate, respectable rulers. A few days later, they became abhorred, corrupt, tyrannical leaders, and Qaddhafi became a war criminal. However, when Western leaders claim that they support the opposition, do they know who the opposition actually is? Concerning Libya, perhaps it is not an organized opposition, but instead a bunch of anarchists with nothing in common except of opposing Qaddhafi. Are these revolutionaries from the military? Are they Islamists? Are they educated liberals and youths? Does Western leadership really ask what will happen in Libya after Qaddhafi's rule and who will run the country? The democratic world is amazed by the sights of violence, of how Qadhhafi fights his own people -- but this is exactly the tribal construction. If Qaddhafi loses, his tribal federation will be slaughtered by his opponents. Indeed, the stakes in Middle Eastern politics are so high that you either butcher or are butchered.

Moreover, perhaps it has slipped Western leaders' minds, but what is happening now in Libya occurs on a daily basis all over the ME. Saddam Hussein butchered at least a million of his own people, including thousands Kurds via chemical weapons. The 'Allawi regime in Syria massacred twenty thousand people in Hama in March 1982 and continues to oppress its own people. In Sudan, there has been genocide and ethnic cleansing for half a century, in which millions of blacks and Animists are butchered. Saudi Arabia is a model of religious oppression and coercive political repression. However, the Wahhabi regime is all but immune to any Western criticism, perhaps because of the petrodollar. Rumors of the next uprising are now centered on Saudi Arabia, considering Iranian incitements of the Shiite minority and al-Qaeda's support of any existing opposition to the current regime. Yet all signs show that the Saudi regime will enjoy Western leaders' enthusiastic support, including even military and political backing.

These are only few examples of the situation in the ME and the policies of the authoritarian Arab regimes there. However, Western leaders have proven consistently blind -- or perhaps their eyes are wide shut. Western foreign policy hypocritically focuses only on the so-called Palestinian issue -- as if this issue is solvable, and as if its solution will accomplish anything in the contemporary ME. No wonder Western leadership and foreign policy experts continue to get the Middle East wrong.

It does not matter what the Western disconnect comes from -- ignorance, folly, political correctness, whatever. But any and all of these shortcomings are permeating Western perceptions of the Middle East, as revealed in a Jerusalem Post article by Miguel De Corral, a research assistant among the Middle East faculty of the NATO Defense College in Rome (March 1, 2011: "Don't Ignore the Muslim Brotherhood"). For decades, De Corral declares, Western leaders have allied themselves with authoritarian regimes for the sake of stability while the people demand fundamental reforms. Regarding those reforms, De Corral continues, the implementation of Shari'ah in Egypt may alarm Western leaders, but this doesn't necessarily mean that said Shari'ah regime will be anti-Western. The West cannot simply ignore the Muslim Brotherhood and cast it as another radical group that wants global jihad. The Egyptian people have demanded democracy, and they will not accept another autocratic regime. We must take the risk of choosing democracy over stability.

Contrary to this opinion -- best defined as naïveté, but also including many cultural misconceptions -- the question is not stability versus democracy, and not ancient autocratic regimes versus reformists and democrats, but instead autocratic military regimes versus Islamic, autocratic, anti-democratic "world jihad" movements. This is the reality -- one cannot fly to a land of wishful thinking while the world flounders in chaos. Perhaps we should not "ignore the Muslim Brotherhood," but we should see it for what it is. At the end of the day, Islamism is the ardent enemy of democracy and freedom...and in the tumultuous Middle East, al-Qaeda waits around the corner.

4b)Abbas' double game: He tips Fatah to quietly endorse Itamar murders

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas received a stern ticking-off when he called Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Saturday, March 12, to condemn the savage murder Friday night by Palestinian terrorists of the parents and three small children of an Israeli family while they slept at their home at Itamar on the West Bank. The Prime Minister, knowing Abbas had quietly tipped Fatah heads to endorse the perpetrators, accused him of hypocrisy. Does Abbas want to stir up another Palestinian uprising?

4c)Israel's Future in the 'New Middle East'
By Louis René Beres

For Israel, the basic Jewish philosophic choice between life and death, between the "blessing" and the "curse," has always been clear. What remains problematic, of course, is precisely how to best ensure the former. And in these especially uncertain times of a "New Middle East," the strategic search for Jewish national survival has become even more complex and perilous.

From their very ingathered beginnings, and even before the United Nations conferral of sovereign statehood in 1948, Jews in Israel have faced war, terror and extinction. Now, Israel confronts existential destruction from two increasingly plausible sources: (1) the already-constituted and nuclearizing state of Iran; and
(2) the still-aspiring state of "Palestine." Together, largely in various unrecognized and even unimagined synergies, the interactive effects of these two mega-threats portend strong reason for very deep concern.

The fragile existential situation in an incrementally chaotic region is made more worrisome by U.S. President Barack Obama's misguided support for a "Two-State Solution," and, correspondingly, by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's formal acceptance of a Palestinian state that has been "demilitarized." The Palestinian side (Hamas, Fatah, it makes little difference) still seeks only a One-State solution (on all their maps, Israel is already drawn as a part of "Palestine"). As for a demilitarized Palestine, it could never actually happen.

This is true, in part, because any post-independence abrogation of earlier pre-state agreements to demilitarize by a now-sovereign Palestinian state could be entirely permissible under international law.

Iran is an established state with an expanding near-term potential to inflict nuclear harms upon Israel. The so-called "international community" has effectively done absolutely nothing to stop Iranian nuclearization. Metaphorically, the "sanctions" have represented little more than a mildly-pestering fly on the lumbering elephant's back.

The Palestinian Authority, with its Fatah "security forces" now expertly trained by the U.S. military in unstable Jordan (under American Lt. General Keith Dayton), maintains exterminatory plans for Israel. These unhidden plans are shared by the Hamas-led configuration of assorted terror groups that collaborates regularly and systematically with Iran, and that now draws renewed sustenance from its quickly-growing Muslim Brotherhood "parent" organization in Egypt. Still rapidly-developing Iranian-Syrian war plans against Israel from Lebanon that would involve Hezb'allah proxies could add yet another decisive synergistic threat to the explosive genocidal mix.

What shall Israel do in this more and more confusing regional maelstrom? If President Obama's openly expressed wish for "a world free of nuclear weapons" were ever realized, the survival issue would become moot. Fortunately, this presidential hope is not only foolish, but wholly unrealistic, and Israel will likely retain the critical deterrence benefit of its "bomb in the basement."

The extent of this particular benefit, however, may vary, inter alia, according to a number of important factors. These include Jerusalem's observable willingness to make limited disclosures of the country's usable and penetration-capable nuclear forces, and also the extent to which the Israeli government and military selectively reveal certain elements of Israel's nuclear targeting doctrine.

From the standpoint of successful deterrence, it will make a major difference if Israel's nuclear forces are recognizably counter value (targeted on enemy cities), or counterforce (targeted on enemy weapons, and related infrastructures). In turn, Israel's decisions on targeting policy may be affected, more or less, by current and ongoing regime transformations across the Middle East and North Africa.

"For what can be done against force, without force?" inquired the Roman statesman Cicero. The use of force in world politics is not inherently evil. On the contrary, in preventing nuclear and terrorist aggressions, force, though certainly not a panacea, is almost always indispensable.

All states have a fundamental ("peremptory," in the language of formal jurisprudence) right of self-defense. This right is explicit and unambiguous in both codified and customary international law. It can be found, in part, at Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, and also in multiple authoritative clarifications of anticipatory self-defense.

Israel has every legal right to forcibly confront the expected (and possibly mutually reinforcing) harms of both Iranian nuclear missile strikes, and Palestinian terror.

Albert Camus, recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957, would have us all be "neither victims nor executioners," living not in a world in which killing has disappeared ("we are not so crazy as that"), but one wherein killing has become illegitimate. This is a fine expectation, to be sure, but the celebrated French philosopher did not anticipate another evil force for whom utter extermination of "The Jews" was its declared object.

Credo quia absurdum. "I believe because it is absurd." Not even in a still-crazy world living under the shadow of Holocaust did Camus agree to consider such an utterly preposterous prospect.

Israel lacks the quaint luxury of French philosophy. Were the Jewish State to follow Camus' genteel reasoning, the result could be another boundless enlargement of Jewish suffering. Before and during the Holocaust, at least for those who still had an opportunity to flee, Jews were ordered: "Get out of Europe; go to Palestine." When they complied (those who could), the next order was: "Get out of Palestine."

My own Austrian-Jewish grandparents received "special handling" on the SS-killing grounds at Riga, Latvia. Had they somehow made it to Mandatory Palestine, their sons and grandsons, now Israelis, would likely have died in subsequent genocidal wars begun by Arab forces to get the Jews "out of Palestine."

Cicero understood. Failure to use force against a murderous evil imprints an indelible stain upon all that is good. A similar point can be found in the Talmud, which clarifies that by being merciful to the cruel, one becomes cruel to the merciful.

By declining the right to act as a lawful executioner in its struggle with annihilatory war and terror, Israel would be forced by Camus' stylized reasoning, and by neglect of its own authoritative scriptures, to embrace disappearance.

Why was Camus, who was thinking only in the broadest generic terms, so badly mistaken? The answer lies in the philosopher's unsupportable presumption of a natural reciprocity among both individual human beings and states in the primal matter of killing. We are asked to believe, by Camus, that as greater numbers of people agree not to become executioners, still greater numbers will follow upon the same brotherly course. In time, the neatly mathematical argument proceeds, the number of those who refuse to accept killing will become so great that there will be fewer and fewer victims.

Sounds nice. But Camus' presumed reciprocity simply does not exist. It can never exist, especially in the still-Jihad centered "New Middle East." Here, the unhidden Islamist desire to kill Jews (always "Jews," not Israelis) remains unimpressed by good intentions, or by Israel's disproportionate contributions to science, industry, medicine and learning. Here, in the basically unchanged "New Middle East," there are no identifiable Iranian or Palestinian plans for rational coexistence. Their only decipherable "remedies" are for an all-too- familiar Final Solution.

Exeunt omnes.

Martin Buber identifies the essence of every living community as "meeting." True community, says Buber, is an authentic "binding," not merely a "bundling together." In true community, each one commits his whole being in "God's dialogue with the world," and each stands firm and resolute throughout this dialogue.

But how should the dialogue be sustained with others who refuse to "bind" in the absence of murder? How can there ever be any conceivable solution to the genocidal enmity of Iran and "Palestine" to Israel so long as this enmity is presumably indispensable to their very lifeblood meanings in the world?

These are not easy questions to answer; moreover, they will never be answered by political leaders in Washington, Jerusalem or anywhere else.

The time for clichéd "wisdom" is over. In national self-defense and counter-terrorism, Jewish executioners require an honored place in the government and army of Israel. Without them, evil would triumph again and again.

For Iran and for an emergent "Palestine," murdered Jews are not so much a means to an end, as a prayed-for end in themselves. In this unheroic Islamist world, even while so much of the region is now seemingly struggling for "democracy," sacrificial killing of Jews by war and terror is still widely-presumed to be a religious mandate, and also a distinctly coveted path to personal immortality. It follows that any Israeli unwillingness to use all necessary defensive force could invite both individual and collective Jewish death.

Cicero understood. Legally and morally, killing is sometimes a sacred duty. Faced with undisguised sources of genuine evil, all civilized states sometimes have to rely upon the executioner. To deny the Israeli executioner his proper place at this eleventh-hour of danger would make a mockery of "Never Again." Just as importantly, it would open the floodgates of several new man-made human catastrophes.

In the best of all possible worlds, Buber's "binding" would supplant all "bundling." But we don't yet live in the best of all possible worlds, and there is absolutely nothing in the "New Middle East" to suggest any real chances for meaningful improvement. In their present condition, Jews in Israel must still remain utterly prepared to fight strenuously for Jewish survival.

Life is always better than death. Better the blessing than the curse.

Louis René Beres (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) lectures and publishes widely on issues concerning international relations and international law, especially war and terrorism. He is the author of some of the earliest major books on nuclear war and nuclear terror.

4d) Thousands turn out in Jerusalem for funerals of Itamar terror victims

Five members of Fogel family were stabbed to death on Friday night at their home on the West Bank settlement of Itamar; Vice PM eulogizes family, says the murders 'reminds us that the struggle is about our very existence.'
By Nir Hasson

Thousands of Israelis turned out at the Givat Shaul cemetery in Jerusalem on Sunday for the funerals of five members of the same family killed Friday night in a brutal attack in their home at the West Bank settlement of Itamar.

The Fogel family - father Udi, 37, mother Ruth, 36, 10-year-old Yoav, four-year-old Elad, and three-month-old Hadas - were all stabbed to death in their home. Two other children in the house at the time, were not hurt in the attack.

The funeral of five members of the Fogel family, who were murdered in a knife attack in the settlement of Itamar, March 13, 2011.

The family's 12-year-old daughter, who was at a youth group event, returned home at approximately midnight but could not gain access to the house. With the help of a neighbor, they managed to open the door and discovered the bodies of the five.

Vice Premier and Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Yaalon spoke during the funeral, saying the Itamar terror attack highlights an existential threat to Israel.

"This murder reminds everyone that the struggle and conflict is not about Israel's borders or about independence of a repressed nation but a struggle for our existence. Therefore, we cannot continue speaking about security while the essence is neglected – the essence which is Israel's right to its land," said Yaalon.

"Whoever gives up this right won't have security either. In this difficult hour we must rise from the rubble and do the most natural thing – continue building and developing Israel," Yaalon continued.

The victims of the Itamar settlement attack, 10-year-old Yoav Fogel, Udi Fogel, 37, four-year-old Elad Fogel, three-month old Hadas Fogel and Ruth Fogel, 36.

Motti Fogel, brother of Udi Fogel, eulogized his younger brother but warned that his death cannot be used as a tool in a national struggle.

"All of the slogans we hear are trying to efface the simple fact that you're dead, and nothing can efface that. This funeral has to be a private affair," Fogel said, adding: "A man dies to himself, to his children. Udi, you are no a national event. You're horrible death mustn't make your life into a tool."

"Udi, my young brother, you made me wake up today at 6:15 in the morning, and you know how hard that is for me. Everything I could say would be a cliché. If I could, I'd chase out everyone who came here and whisper to you, 'Udi, let's go play soccer.'"

Tzila, Udi's mother, also addressed the funeral crowd, saying: "We shall try to be strong, to strengthen the children and each other."

"They are martyrs murdered by vicious animals. We shall neither forger or forgive. Another victim and another victim, and everyone continues with their daily lives," Fogel said, adding: "When will the people rise up and tell the government: 'enough'? When will repay our enemies?"

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger also spoke during the funeral saying, "These murderers did not succeed in breaking us, they succeeded in uniting us. Today there is not left or right, there is no person that can remain apathetic."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet on Sunday that Palestinian Authority incitement against Israel was instrumental in causing the attack.

"We bare witness to horrific things," Netanyahu said. "A soccer game will soon be named after a suicide bomber who murdered dozens of people on Yafo Street in Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority grants scholarships to the families of murderers and names squares in their honor. This does not show the PA is educating toward peace."
5)Sayings of Chairman Maobama
By Michael Goodwin

First I did a double take. He said what? I read it again and the shock waves followed.

A beleaguered President Obama has told aides it would be so much easier to be the president of China, The New York Times reports.

There are two ways to read the remark, which is attributed to anonymous aides. One is that Obama resents the burden of global leadership that comes with the American presidency. The other is that he longs for an authoritarian system, where he need tolerate no dissent.

Under either or both interpretations, his confession carries a dose of self-pity that means Obama has hit a wall.

He is in over his head, and he knows it.

Even before the horror in Japan, the president faced a litany of nightmares. From Libya to Iran to Afghanistan to gas prices, unemployment and rising debt, Obama is surrounded by serious trouble.

His responses range from halfhearted to wrongheaded. Nothing is working. Unhappy voters already repudiated his first two years and might fire him when they get the chance. It is a moment that brings home the truth of the sign on Harry Truman's desk: "The buck stops here."

Yet my suspicion is that it's not the problems per se that have Obama envying a lower rung on the global ladder. It's that he regards them as endless distractions that keep getting in the way of his transformative agenda.

He is a man of the faculty lounge who wants a blank slate so he can remake the nation into a more perfect place, as he sees it. Remember, he greeted his election with the messiah-like claim that future generations would say, "This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal."

But damn it, the country and the world won't cooperate. Because he has no significant experience that would give him a framework for any other response, he is reduced to vaporous platitudes that dispirit allies and embolden adversaries.

He wants America to be less exceptional and more like every other nation. He's uncomfortable with our status as the No. 1 superpower, as he made clear with his apology tours and by submitting to the lowest common denominator in the United Nations.

He talks about wanting Moammar Khadafy to go but takes no action to make it happen and even signed on to an arms embargo that the State Department says bars our supplying the rebels.

As The Wall Street Journal wrote, the rising slaughter reveals "what the world without US leadership looks like."

Meanwhile, he punts on the budget mess, as if details are beneath him. On soaring gas prices, the purpose of his dreary Friday press conference, his policy seems to be peevishness that he must be bothered.

As the economy melted down in the fall of 2008 and in the days after he took office, he never changed goals. He promised a health-care takeover, "investments" in education, and a commitment to weaning America off oil and coal.

Come recession and war, he has done his utmost to deliver all three. He has broken the bank and damaged the jobs machine to get them.

Under different circumstances, that dogged persistence might be a virtue. But the problems are getting worse, not better, and yet he won't adapt. His stubborn refusal to face squarely the nation's concerns has created a vacuum at home similar to the one abroad.

And now he confides the Oval Office's crown of responsibility does not fit him. Much of the world shares the sentiment.

Albany in a deep sleep on corruption

With corruption in Albany so mind-numbingly common, New Yorkers can be forgiven if they tuned out the details of the latest federal bust. That would be a mistake, however, because the arrest of two Democratic lawmakers and six others is no ordinary event.

The case captures the essence of the "Government for Sale" culture. And taxpayers got screwed on every deal. State Sen. Carl Kruger and Assemblyman William Boyland Jr., both from Brooklyn, apparently never lifted a finger or cast a vote until they got a bribe.

They are charged with so routinely selling their offices that they seemed to have had no time for honest public service. The idea of not getting cash under the table probably seems naive to them.

And that's the point. They felt comfortable and safe taking millions from hospital executives, developers, lobbyists -- anybody who needed legislative action or taxpayer cash.

Prosecutors make their criminal enterprise sound like a full-time business, with government power and favors available to the highest bidder. And they are far from alone, as the growing roster of crooked pols demonstrates.

"Every single time we arrest a state senator or assemblyman, it should be a jarring wake-up call," said US Attorney Preet Bharara, who has emerged as the city's most important political crime-buster since Rudy Giuliani held the same office 25 years ago. "Instead, it seems that no matter how many times the alarm goes off, Albany just hits the snooze button."

Sadly, he's right. We can't say we weren't warned.

Patriot missile

Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich offers a novel defense for his infidelity and three marriages: his love for America.

In an interview with a Christian broadcaster, he said, "There's no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard, and things happened in my life that were not appropriate."

Confession is good for the soul, but it may not be good for a presidential campaign. If the heat in the House made him drop his pants, how would he handle the heat in the White House?

Fire up the grill, Mike

Troubled by allegations that his Department of Transportation fudged safety and use data to justify its bicycle lanes in Brooklyn, Mayor Bloomberg called Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan to City Hall for a grilling. He demanded a full explanation of the data and asked her directly if there is any truth to the serious charges in the lawsuit.

No, he didn't. But that's what he should have done. Until he stops her, suspicions about her integrity will stick to him as well.

Money gusher

If you, too, were wondering where all the federal stimulus money went, check out the latest list of overtime kings. Four of the top five are plumbers with the city Hous ing Authority, and they made about $120,000 each in OT, completing what the agency says was a backlog of work paid for with federal funds. That's on top of the plumbers' regular yearly salary of about $85,000. So those faucets are leaking money.

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