Friday, May 27, 2011

This Contrarian Speaks His Mind!

I would not ordinarily post this but several nights ago I happened to be with someone who is involved in real estate and quite successful. His view is the real estate depression, we are in, will last for the next decade and the foreclosure situation, to date, is just the tip of the iceberg. Time will tell - always does.(See 1 and 1a below.)
Update from Stratfor's Friedman regarding the significance of the recent Visegrad 4 alliance. In Friedman's mind it reflects concern over growing Russian military power, the financial concerns hitting Europe and the Euro and NATO's demonstrated incohesiveness in Libya. (See 2 below.)
If you want to see something prophetic and amazing this is a video you must click on and before reaching me it was acknowledged and seen by some of the most behind the scenes influential people in our nation.

The video below is absolutely extraordinary. It features Ben Nitay (now
known as Bibi Netanyahu), with Morris Abrams and Fouad Ajami in supporting
roles. Each person plays themselves . . . and the video is from 1978.

Watch it. It is astounding.

Videographically yours,


Bibi suggests what I have always maintained, ie. Palestinians rejected their own state in 1947, and have expected a U.S. president and European leaders to give them what they renounced 64 years ago.

Virtually every Arab nation has refused to take Palestinians in as citizens. Palestinians were told by these same Arab/Muslim nations in 1947, 'let us finish off Israel and you can have it all.' Well that did not happen, so now Palestinians are depending upon a sympathetic U.S. president and his European allies to get Palestinians what they rejected in 1947 when the U.N. offered them a state and additional territory they lost after initiating several misbegotten wars.

That said, I realize you cannot go back to 1947, particularly since Israel is being isolated by nations tired of messing with the Israeli-Palestinian issue notwithstanding, the questionable moral significance of their position. Furthermore, Europeans have a U.S. president willing to cut Netanyahu off at the knees regardless of Obama's soothing reconfigured comments subsequent to those he initially made.

Neither, however, can you go back to 1967 borders as long as Fatah and Hamas conduct themselves as enemies of the very nation they refuse to negotiate with and have sworn to eliminate.

The Palestinians can and will have a state once they renounce terror, allow Israel to exprience them as their peaceful neighbor and Palestinians begin to act like rational human beings. That is not likely to happen until other wars have occurred, in my dour view.

That is something difficult, perhaps, for our Nobel President to swallow but eventually reality will determine the shape of events and not our dreamy, hungry messiah president's wishful thinking.
In honor of Governor Schwarzenegger, a new 11th commandment has been added to the Bible.

11. "Thou Shalt Not Share Thy Rod With Thy Staff"
I am a great believer in demographics which are more predictable than economic forecasts. If you buy into this view then this article should prove fascinating - truly fascinating.

The problem is that though the very orthodox procreate at a high rate they are also averse to serving in the military so I question the author's demographic conclusions.(See 3 below.)
The unraveling of Egypt's relationship with Israel and eventually the west is gathering momentum as is Obama's press for direct negotiations which lack moral underpinnings.

Meanwhile, Fareed Zakaria, like Jimmy Carter has done time and again, gets into the act of mucking up things with his own bias which seems to be guiding Obama's thinking.(See 4, 4a, 4b and 4c below.)

Also click on PJTV.Com and watch the Special: The Women of PJTV Swoon for Bibi Netanyahu

Katie Pavlich, Kristen Soltis and Amy Holmes look at Bibi Netanyahu's visit to Washington, DC.

Their discussion focuses on what is being billed as a home run for Bibi before Congress.
From a 'crank?' not happy about Obama's traveling. When in trouble travel is a must for politicians. In Obama's case he also seems to relish the trappings of the office as does his wife.(See 5 below.)
In a very lengthy article, Michael Oren, Israel's Amb. to the U.S. and an accomplished author, explains why America needs Israel as an ally.

Oren, in doing his ambassadorial job effectively, explains why the Israeli tail is important to the American dog and in his usual excellent fashion Oren gives the reader some cogent facts that need understanding.

Caroline Glick, not a particular fan of Netanyahu, also weighs in with her thoughts and comes up with some praise.(See 6 and 6a below.)
Gates to America and Obama - you cannot have it both ways. (See 7 below.)
I have been a contrarian virtually since birth. Sometimes it has served me well and sometimes I have been overly pessimistic but I believe Israel, which is under siege and being isolated, will come out on top because Israel's cause is just. That is not to say everything Israelis have done has been correct or even in their own best interest but I believe nature is a powerful force and that nature follows a moral gyroscope of balance between good and evil.

Secondly, I believe the Naysayers want everyone to think the next election is set and Obama winds hands down. No doubt Obama occupies the driver seat, as do most incumbents, but he is vulnerable on a variety of fronts.

Obama's record of achievements or lack thereof, is one vulnerability but another significant vulnerability, in my opinion, lies with the media and press' obeisance. Most Americans understand Obama is their anointed lap dog and deep down inside and I believe they resent the fact that the press and media are so biased. Otherwise explain Fox's popularity and the decline in the three networks and New York Time's readership.

American's, by and large, are fair minded and do not cotton to being hoodwinked and played for fools. They have been fooled once. I suspect they are not willing to allow it a second time.

That said, Republicans must select a credible team and this team must run a solid campaign unlike McCain. I believe in Romney, Pawlenty and Cain they have the makings of such. (See 8 below.)
A Happy and Meaningful Memorial Day!
1)Bond Expert Gundlach: Housing Collapse to Spark Second Financial Meltdown
By Dan Weil

The housing meltdown hasn’t ended yet, and it could ultimately spark another financial crisis, says renowned bond fund manager Jeffrey Gundlach, CEO of DoubleLine Capital.

“The housing market is dropping . . . and about to go to a new low," he tells CNBC. "I think we're looking at some type of echo in the credit crisis coming up here. That's what I'm afraid of."

He notes that the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index is approaching a new trough. The index measuring prices in 20 major cities dropped 3.3 percent in February from a year earlier, the biggest decline since November 2009.

At 139.27, the index has almost reached its six-year low of 139.26 set in April 2009 and Gundlach isn’t the only one worried about that development.

“There is very little, if any, good news about housing,” David Blitzer, chairman of the Case-Shiller index committee at S&P, said in a statement accompanying the latest report. “The 20-city composite is within a hair’s breadth of a double-dip.”

Another ominous sign: the ABX Index of subprime mortgage securities has slid about 20 percent in the past few months, with most of the drop coming in the last three months, Gundlach says.

In addition to falling prices, the amount of time it takes to sell a foreclosed property has ballooned to 26 months, Gundlach says. That means it will take longer to get out of the mess, he and others point out.

“Housing will continue to lag the recovery until foreclosures abate,” Sal Guatieri, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, tells Bloomberg.

The amount of non-performing mortgage loans remain huge, Gundlach says, with Bank of America, for example, holding $200 billion of bad loans. “If we start talking about recovery rates that are low on $200 billion, you start to say 'Uh-oh.'”

Foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday that sales of homes in some stage of foreclosure declined in the first three months of the year, but they still accounted for 28 percent of all home sales — a share nearly six times higher than what it would be in a healthy housing market.

Foreclosure sales, which include homes purchased after they received a notice of default or were repossessed by lenders, hit the highest share of overall sales in a year during the first quarter.

"It's an astronomically high number," Rick Sharga, a senior vice president at RealtyTrac, told the Associated Press. "In a normal market, you're looking at the percentage of homes sold in foreclosure to be below 5 percent."

The pace at which homes are entering the foreclosure process has slowed in recent months amid bank and court delays. But distressed properties remain a fixture of a housing market still searching for a sustained recovery. The properties, often in need of repair, typically sell at a discount, weakening prices for other types of homes.

Meanwhile, housing starts fell 11 percent in April from March, and building permits slid 4 percent.

"Housing starts are a continuation of the disappointing data that clouds any U.S. recovery,” Douglas Borthwick, managing director of Faros Trading in Stamford, Ct., told Reuters.

“Fed Chairman Bernanke has often discussed the use of QE2 in stimulating housing. However, the number shows that simply is not working, nor would raising rates help. Continued weak housing data, in hand with an anemic job market, leaves the U.S. still searching for 'green shoots.'”

The Obama administration isn’t much more optimistic. It’s “going to take a long time” to fix the housing debacle, as private financing needs to take over from government-sponsored agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said recently at the Council of Foreign Relations, Bloomberg reports.

“We’re just at the beginning of trying to figure out how to fix that mess.”

1a)Guaranteeing a Double Dip Recession
By Frank Gutting

In late 2007 America entered into what has been called, "the Great Recession." In late 2008, the housing market crashed, stocks fell, credit froze, and mass hysteria took root on Main Street, Wall street, and in Washington. The "wizards of smart assured us that the solution to this great problem was more government spending, easy money, low interest rates, and massive government involvement in the economy. Four years later, America is experiencing a weak and anemic recovery fueled, and threatened, by those very policies.

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, overall prices have increased on average .5% per month, for the last five months. The slow and anemic growth in our economy, the lack of jobs being created, and poor numbers in vital markets, like housing, suggest that the rise in prices is not the result of higher demand but a decline in buying power from a falling dollar. This is further evidenced by the extraordinary rise in commodities like gold, oil, and food. Over the last 12 months, energy prices have risen 32% and Gold has risen 27%, while average wages increased by less than 1%. These numbers reflect a dangerous trend that the Federal Reserve would normally want to reverse or, at the very least, slow for fear of rampant runaway inflation; but that is not the case today. Indeed, the rise in prices was the desired result of the Federal Reserve to avoid what it considers to be more dangerous, deflation. The problem with high inflation, and the solution to high inflation, is that it will cause another recession.

The sharp rise in prices means the ability of each consumer to purchase goods or services is reduced proportionately. Your reduced buying power translates into reduced tourism, reduced spending on luxury items, fewer restaurant visits, less travel, and, for most Americans, less savings and investing. Businesses will try to lower prices by cutting cost, through: reducing wages and benefits, reducing investments, and/or reducing the size of its workforce. Normally this would result in a short term recession, followed by a fairly quick recovery. Today, that is not the case. Prices are not rising as a result of higher demand and thus will not fall with lower demand. If left unchecked, higher prices will drive consumers out of the economy and force businesses to close; another recession.

Ironically, the only solution to inflation is recession. The Federal Reserve has caused prices to rise by flooding the markets with cash by buying treasuries, known as quantitative easing. Furthermore, it has lowered the interest rate it charges banks, the federal funds rate, to historic lows just above 0%. To cure inflation, the Federal Reserve would simply do the opposite, sell treasuries and raise interest rates. Once again, they have a problem. Raising interest rates will make it even harder for businesses and consumers to get loans for cars, housing, or expanding a growing business. Consumers and businesses alike will be forced to cut back on spending as the cost of borrowing rises. These cut backs will cause the economy to shrink and America will enter another recession.

The last time America experienced this was in the early 1980s, when interest rates hit double digits and unemployment peaked at 10%. Today, with cheap and easy money, unemployment is hovering around 9%. When the Federal Reserve reins in the extra cash and raises interest rates, unemployment will surely jump to heights we have not seen since the Great Depression. America is about to get a first hand lesson on the failures of Keynesian economics and government intervention.
2) Visegrad: A New European Military Force
By George Friedman

With the Palestinians demonstrating and the International Monetary Fund in turmoil, it would seem odd to focus this week on something called the Visegrad Group. But this is not a frivolous choice. What the Visegrad Group decided to do last week will, I think, resonate for years, long after the alleged attempted rape by Dominique Strauss-Kahn is forgotten and long before the Israeli-Palestinian issue is resolved. The obscurity of the decision to most people outside the region should not be allowed to obscure its importance.

The region is Europe — more precisely, the states that had been dominated by the Soviet Union. The Visegrad Group, or V4, consists of four countries — Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary — and is named after two 14th century meetings held in Visegrad Castle in present-day Hungary of leaders of the medieval kingdoms of Poland, Hungary and Bohemia. The group was reconstituted in 1991 in post-Cold War Europe as the Visegrad Three (at that time, Slovakia and the Czech Republic were one). The goal was to create a regional framework after the fall of communism. This week the group took an interesting new turn.

On May 12, the Visegrad Group announced the formation of a “battlegroup” under the command of Poland. The battlegroup would be in place by 2016 as an independent force and would not be part of NATO command. In addition, starting in 2013, the four countries would begin military exercises together under the auspices of the NATO Response Force.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the primary focus of all of the Visegrad nations had been membership in the European Union and NATO. Their evaluation of their strategic position was threefold. First, they felt that the Russian threat had declined if not dissipated following the fall of the Soviet Union. Second, they felt that their economic future was with the European Union. Third, they believed that membership in NATO, with strong U.S. involvement, would protect their strategic interests. Of late, their analysis has clearly been shifting.

First, Russia has changed dramatically since the Yeltsin years. It has increased its power in the former Soviet sphere of influence substantially, and in 2008 it carried out an effective campaign against Georgia. Since then it has also extended its influence in other former Soviet states. The Visegrad members’ underlying fear of Russia, built on powerful historical recollection, has become more intense. They are both the front line to the former Soviet Union and the countries that have the least confidence that the Cold War is simply an old memory.

Second, the infatuation with Europe, while not gone, has frayed. The ongoing economic crisis, now focused again on Greece, has raised two questions: whether Europe as an entity is viable and whether the reforms proposed to stabilize Europe represent a solution for them or primarily for the Germans. It is not, by any means, that they have given up the desire to be Europeans, nor that they have completely lost faith in the European Union as an institution and an idea. Nevertheless, it would be unreasonable to expect that these countries would not be uneasy about the direction that Europe was taking. If one wants evidence, look no further than the unease with which Warsaw and Prague are deflecting questions about the eventual date of their entry into the eurozone. Both are the strongest economies in Central Europe, and neither is enthusiastic about the euro.

Finally, there are severe questions as to whether NATO provides a genuine umbrella of security to the region and its members. The NATO Strategic Concept, which was drawn up in November 2010, generated substantial concern on two scores. First, there was the question of the degree of American commitment to the region, considering that the document sought to expand the alliance’s role in non-European theaters of operation. For example, the Americans pledged a total of one brigade to the defense of Poland in the event of a conflict, far below what Poland thought necessary to protect the North European Plain. Second, the general weakness of European militaries meant that, willingness aside, the ability of the Europeans to participate in defending the region was questionable. Certainly, events in Libya, where NATO had neither a singular political will nor the military participation of most of its members, had to raise doubts. It was not so much the wisdom of going to war but the inability to create a coherent strategy and deploy adequate resources that raised questions of whether NATO would be any more effective in protecting the Visegrad nations.

There is another consideration. Germany’s commitment to both NATO and the EU has been fraying. The Germans and the French split on the Libya question, with Germany finally conceding politically but unwilling to send forces. Libya might well be remembered less for the fate of Moammar Gadhafi than for the fact that this was the first significant strategic break between Germany and France in decades. German national strategy has been to remain closely aligned with France in order to create European solidarity and to avoid Franco-German tensions that had roiled Europe since 1871. This had been a centerpiece of German foreign policy, and it was suspended, at least temporarily.

The Germans obviously are struggling to shore up the European Union and questioning precisely how far they are prepared to go in doing so. There are strong political forces in Germany questioning the value of the EU to Germany, and with every new wave of financial crises requiring German money, that sentiment becomes stronger. In the meantime, German relations with Russia have become more important to Germany. Apart from German dependence on Russian energy, Germany has investment opportunities in Russia. The relationship with Russia is becoming more attractive to Germany at the same time that the relationship to NATO and the EU has become more problematic.

For all of the Visegrad countries, any sense of a growing German alienation from Europe and of a growing German-Russian economic relationship generates warning bells. Before the Belarusian elections there was hope in Poland that pro-Western elements would defeat the least unreformed regime in the former Soviet Union. This didn’t happen. Moreover, pro-Western elements have done nothing to solidify in Moldova or break the now pro-Russian government in Ukraine. Uncertainty about European institutions and NATO, coupled with uncertainty about Germany’s attention, has caused a strategic reconsideration — not to abandon NATO or the EU, of course, nor to confront the Russians, but to prepare for all eventualities.

It is in this context that the decision to form a Visegradian battlegroup must be viewed. Such an independent force, a concept generated by the European Union as a European defense plan, has not generated much enthusiasm or been widely implemented. The only truly robust example of an effective battlegroup is the Nordic Battlegroup, but then that is not surprising. The Nordic countries share the same concerns as the Visegrad countries — the future course of Russian power, the cohesiveness of Europe and the commitment of the United States.

In the past, the Visegrad countries would have been loath to undertake anything that felt like a unilateral defense policy. Therefore, the decision to do this is significant in and of itself. It represents a sense of how these countries evaluate the status of NATO, the U.S. attention span, European coherence and Russian power. It is not the battlegroup itself that is significant but the strategic decision of these powers to form a sub-alliance, if you will, and begin taking responsibility for their own national security. It is not what they expected or wanted to do, but it is significant that they felt compelled to begin moving in this direction.

Just as significant is the willingness of Poland to lead this military formation and to take the lead in the grouping as a whole. Poland is the largest of these countries by far and in the least advantageous geographical position. The Poles are trapped between the Germans and the Russians. Historically, when Germany gets close to Russia, Poland tends to suffer. It is not at that extreme point yet, but the Poles do understand the possibilities. In July, the Poles will be assuming the EU presidency in one of the union’s six-month rotations. The Poles have made clear that one of their main priorities will be Europe’s military power. Obviously, little can happen in Europe in six months, but this clearly indicates where Poland’s focus is.

The militarization of the V4 runs counter to its original intent but is in keeping with the geopolitical trends in the region. Some will say this is over-reading on my part or an overreaction on the part of the V4, but it is neither. For the V4, the battlegroup is a modest response to emerging patterns in the region, which STRATFOR had outlined in its 2011 Annual Forecast. As for my reading, I regard the new patterns not as a minor diversion from the main pattern but as a definitive break in the patterns of the post-Cold War world. In my view, the post-Cold War world ended in 2008, with the financial crisis and the Russo-Georgian war. We are in a new era, as yet unnamed, and we are seeing the first breaks in the post-Cold War pattern.

I have argued in previous articles and books that there is a divergent interest between the European countries on the periphery of Russia and those farther west, particularly Germany. For the countries on the periphery, there is a perpetual sense of insecurity, generated not only by Russian power compared to their own but also by uncertainty as to whether the rest of Europe would be prepared to defend them in the event of Russian actions. The V4 and the other countries south of them are not as sanguine about Russian intentions as others farther away are. Perhaps they should be, but geopolitical realities drive consciousness and insecurity and distrust defines this region.

I had also argued that an alliance only of the four northernmost countries is insufficient. I used the concept “Intermarium,” which had first been raised after World War I by a Polish leader, Joseph Pilsudski, who understood that Germany and the Soviet Union would not be permanently weak and that Poland and the countries liberated from the Hapsburg Empire would have to be able to defend themselves and not have to rely on France or Britain.

Pilsudski proposed an alliance stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea and encompassing the countries to the west of the Carpathians — Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. In some formulations, this would include Yugoslavia, Finland and the Baltics. The point was that Poland had to have allies, that no one could predict German and Soviet strength and intentions, and that the French and English were too far away to help. The only help Poland could have would be an alliance of geography — countries with no choice.

It follows from this that the logical evolution here is the extension of the Visegrad coalition. At the May 12 defense ministers’ meeting, there was discussion of inviting Ukraine to join in. Twenty or even 10 years ago, that would have been a viable option. Ukraine had room to maneuver. But the very thing that makes the V4 battlegroup necessary — Russian power — limits what Ukraine can do. The Russians are prepared to give Ukraine substantial freedom to maneuver, but that does not include a military alliance with the Visegrad countries.

An alliance with Ukraine would provide significant strategic depth. It is unlikely to happen. That means that the alliance must stretch south, to include Romania and Bulgaria. The low-level tension between Hungary and Romania over the status of Hungarians in Romania makes that difficult, but if the Hungarians can live with the Slovaks, they can live with the Romanians. Ultimately, the interesting question is whether Turkey can be persuaded to participate in this, but that is a question far removed from Turkish thinking now. History will have to evolve quite a bit for this to take place. For now, the question is Romania and Bulgaria.

But the decision of the V4 to even propose a battlegroup commanded by Poles is one of those small events that I think will be regarded as a significant turning point. However we might try to trivialize it and place it in a familiar context, it doesn’t fit. It represents a new level of concern over an evolving reality — the power of Russia, the weakness of Europe and the fragmentation of NATO. This is the last thing the Visegrad countries wanted to do, but they have now done the last thing they wanted to do. That is what is significant.

Events in the Middle East and Europe’s economy are significant and of immediate importance. However, sometimes it is necessary to recognize things that are not significant yet but will be in 10 years. I believe this is one of those events. It is a punctuation mark in European history.
3) Israel as Middle Eastern hegemon
By Spengler

Like the vanishing point in a perspective painting, long-term projections help us order our perceptions of what we see in front of us today. Here's one to think about, fresh from the just-released update of the United Nations' population forecasts: At constant fertility, Israel will have more young people by the end of this century than either Turkey or Iran, and more than German, Italy or Spain.

Population aged 15 to 24 years, Israel vs selected countries

Source: United Nations Population Division

With a total fertility rate of three children per woman, Israel's total
population will rise to 24 million by the end of the present century. Iran's fertility is around 1.7 and falling, while the fertility for ethnic Turks is only 1.5(the Kurdish minority has a fertility rate of around 4.5).

Not that the size of land armies matters much in an era of high-tech warfare, but if present trends continue, Israel will be able to field the largest land army in the Middle East. That startling data point, though, should alert analysts to a more relevant problem: among the military powers in the Middle East, Israel will be the only one with a viable population structure by the middle of this century.

That is why it is in America's interest to keep Israel as an ally. Israel is not only the strongest power in the region; in a generation or two it will be the only power in the region, the last man standing among ruined neighbors. The demographic time bomb in the region is not the Palestinian Arabs on the West Bank, as the Israeli peace party wrongly believed, but rather Israel itself.

The right way to read this projection is backwards: Israelis love children and have lots of them because they are happy, optimistic and prosperous. Most of Israel's population increase comes from so-called "secular" Israelis, who have 2.6 children on average, more than any other people in the industrial world. The ultra-Orthodox have seven or eight, bringing total fertility to three children.

Europeans, Turks and Iranians, by contrast, have very few children because they are grumpy, alienated and pessimistic. It's not so much the projection of the demographic future cranked out by the United Nations computers that counts, but rather the implicit vision of the future in the minds of today's prospective parents.

People who can't be bothered to have children presumably have a very dim view of days to come. Reams have been written, to be sure, about Europe's demographic tailspin. Less has been said about Persian pessimism and Anatolian anomie.

Paradoxically, this makes Israel's present position dangerous, for its enemies understand that they have a very brief window in which to encircle the Jewish superpower. The collapse of Egypt and possibly that of Syria shortens this window. Nothing short of American support for a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state on the 1949 armistice lines followed by economic sanctions against Israel, though, is likely to make a difference, and this seems unlikely.

Israel already is a high-tech superpower. Israeli leads the Group of 7 industrial nations in patent applications. As Professor Reuven Brenner of McGill University wrote in the January 2010 issue of First Things:

Today Israel's venture capital industry still raises more funds than any other venue except the United States. In 2006 alone, 402 Israeli hi-tech companies raised over $1.62 billion - the highest amount in the past five years. That same year, Israel had 80 active venture capital funds and over $10 billion under management, invested in over 1,000 Israeli start-ups.

Maintaining the stunning progress of the past decade will be a challenge, because Israel's high-tech sector received a one-time boost from Russian emigration. As Brenner observes:

Of the million Russians who moved to Israel during the 1980s and 1990s, more than 55 percent had post-secondary education, and more than half held academic and managerial positions in their former country ... This made Israel the world leader in the scientist and engineer workforce, followed by the United States with 80 and Germany with 55 scientists and engineers per 10,000 members of its labor force.

Israel's prowess in the arts matches its accomplishments in technology and business. Israel has become something of a superpower in that most characteristically Western art form, classical music. In a July 21, 2010, survey of Israeli music for the webzine Tablet, I wrote, "Israelis take to classical music - the art form that most clearly creates a sense of the future - like no other people on earth, to the point that music has become part of Israel's character, an embodiment of the national genius for balancing hope and fear."

Israel has one the largest local audience for chamber music recitals of any country in the world, and its leading musicians occupy top slots around the world - for example Guy Braunstein, concertmaster (principal violin) of the Berlin Philharmonic.

This, I believe, explains the implacable hostility of Israel's neighbors, as well as the Europeans. It is the unquenchable envy of the dying towards the living. Having failed at Christianity, and afterward failed at neo-pagan nationalism, Europe has reconciled itself to a quiet passage into oblivion.

Israel's success is a horrible reminder of European failure; its bumptious nationalism grates against Europe's determination to forget its own ugly embrace of nationalism; and its implicitly religious raison d'etre provokes post-Christian rage. Above all, it offends Europe that Israel brims with life. Some of Europe's great nations may not survive the present century. At constant fertility, Israel will have more citizens than any of the Eastern European countries where large numbers of Jews resided prior to the Holocaust.

Total population, Israel vs selected Eastern European countries (constant fertility scenario)

Source: United Nations Population Division

In the constant fertility scenario, Israel will end the century at a median age of 32, while Poland will have a median age of 57. That is an inherently impossible outcome, because in that case most of Poland's population would be elderly dependents. To support them, the remaining young people would have to emigrate and work overseas (perhaps in Israel).

The Muslim world, meanwhile, is turning grey at an unprecedented rate. Turkey's and Iran's median age will surpass the 40-year mark by mid-century, assuming constant fertility, while Israel's will stabilize in the mid-30s. Europe will become an impoverished geriatric ward.

Median age in years (constant fertility assumption)

Source: United Nations Population Division

The implications of these trends have not escaped the leaders of the affected countries. "If we continue the existing trend, 2038 will mark disaster for us," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned in May 2010 (see The heart of TurknessAsia Times Online, March 23, 2011).

I do not know whether Erdogan chose the year 2038 by statistical projection, or whether he consulted the Muslim counterpart of Harold Camping, but it will do as well as any. Iran's President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, meanwhile, has warned repeatedly of "national extinction" if the country's low birth rate persists.

What happens to Egypt and Syria in this scenario is of small importance. Neither country will come out of the present crisis in any condition to fight, if they come out of it at all. Egypt's social structure - with two-fifths of the country immured in extreme rural poverty, and another quarter starving on thin subsidies in Cairo and Alexandria - simply is not viable.

It needed only one swift kick to shatter, and that came from the doubling of food prices. The rebellion that deposed Hosni Mubarak made things much worse; the collapse of tourism and other sources of foreign exchange, the jump in import prices, and flight capital have left Egypt without the funds to cover half its annual import bill. The country will be broke by year-end, despite US President Barack Obama's aid package (The hunger to come in Egypt Asia Times Online, May 10, 2011).

Development economists have known for years that a disaster was in the works. A 2009 World Bank report on Arab food security warned, "Arab countries are very vulnerable to fluctuations in international commodity markets because they are heavily dependent on imported food. Arab countries are the largest importers of cereal in the world. Most import at least 50 percent of the food calories they consume." The trouble is that the Arab regimes made things worse rather than better.

Egypt's rulers of the past 60 years intentionally transformed what once was the breadbasket of the Mediterranean into a starvation trap. They did so through tragedy, not oversight. Keeping a large part of one's people illiterate on subsistence farms is the surest method of social control.

Crop yields in Egypt are a fifth of the best American levels, and by design, for no Egyptian government wished to add more displaced peasants to the 17 million people now crowded into Cairo. Syrian President Basher al-Assad made a few tentative steps in this direction, and got a 100,000 landless farmers living in tent cities around Damascus (Food and Syria's failure Asia Times Online March 29, 2011).

Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar Sadat and Mubarak did not invent the system. Post-revolutionary Russia imprisoned its peasants on collective farms; as the Mexican historian Enrique Krauze showed (in his 1992 book TextosHereticos), post-revolutionary Mexico emulated the Stalinist model of social control and imposed its own system of collective farms during the 1930s.

Mexico eventually dumped a fifth of its population on its northern neighbor, mainly rural people from the impoverished south. The remaining Mexican poor provided an inexhaustible source of foot-soldiers for the drug cartels with which the Mexican government is fighting a low-intensity civil war.

Egypt, the most populous Arab country, postponed these problems for three generations. It is governable only by military rule, de facto or de jure, because the military is the only institution that can take peasants straight from the farm and assimilate them into a disciplined social structure.

There is no civil society underneath the military. The collapse of Mubarak's military dictatorship came about when food price inflation revealed its incapacity to meet the population's basic needs. But the collapse of military rule and the flight of the army-linked oligarchy that milked the Egyptian economy for 60 years is a near-term disaster.

In place of the orderly corruption over which Mubarak presided, there is a scramble on the part of half-organized political groups to get control of the country's shrinking supply of basic goods. Civic violence likely will claim more lives than hunger.

Refugees from Libya and Tunisia have swamped the refugee camps on the closest Italian island, and hundreds have drowned in small boats attempting to cross the Mediterranean. By the end of this year, tourists on the Greek islands may see thousands of small boats carrying hungry Egyptians seeking help. Europe's sympathy for the Arab side may vanish under an inundation of refugees.

Events are most likely to overtake diplomacy. The sort of economic and demographic imbalances implied by the projections shown above reflect back into the present. Chaos in Egypt, Syria and other Arab countries probably will pre-empt the present focus on Israel and the Palestinians. It would not be surprising if the Palestinians were to mount another Intifada, or Egypt and Syria were to initiate one last war against Israel. It might be their last opportunity.

But I rate the probably of another war at well under 50%. The internal problems of Egypt and Syria are more likely to make war too difficult to wage.
4)Egypt to open Rafah crossing permanently

CAIRO – Egypt's decision Wednesday to end its blockade of Gaza by opening the only crossing to the Hamas-ruled Palestinian territory this weekend could ease the isolation of 1.4 million Palestinians there. It also puts the new Egyptian regime at odds with Israel, which insists on careful monitoring of people and goods entering Gaza for security reasons.

The Rafah crossing will be open permanently starting Saturday, Egypt's official Middle East News Agency announced. That would provide Gaza Palestinians their first open border to the world in four years, since Egypt and Israel slammed their crossings shut after the Islamic militant Hamas overran the Gaza Strip in 2007.

During the closure, Egypt sometimes opened its border to allow Palestinians through for special reasons such as education or medical treatment. But with Israel severely restricting movement of Palestinians through its Erez crossing in northern Gaza, residents there were virtual prisoners.

MENA's statement said the old rules will be reinstated, allowing Palestinians with passports to cross into Egypt every day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. except for Fridays and holidays.

Entry into Gaza was more complicated. Palestinians ran their side of the crossing. European monitors had a role at the crossing, and they have been waiting to resume that function. Also, Israel was supposed to have a monitoring role from afar, theoretically to stop weapons and militants from entering Gaza.

Mohammed Awad, the Hamas minister of foreign affairs, said he "highly appreciates the decision by the Egyptian brothers to ease the process of travel at Rafah terminal. This reflects the deep relation between us and Egypt, and it will contribute to ease the lives of the Palestinians in Gaza."

Col. Ayoub Abu Shaer, Gaza director of the Rafah terminal, said the two sides have been discussing the changes in recent weeks. Under the proposal, women would be able to leave Gaza without restrictions, while men between the ages of 18 and 40 would have to obtain visas for Egypt at the border.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor refused to comment.

Benoit Cusin, a representative of the European observers, said they have not received instructions from Israel or the Palestinians. "We are ready when they are," he said.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the crossing was already open some of the time. "The U.S. supports efforts to meet the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people in Gaza," he told The Associated Press. "Efforts should also ensure that the transfer of weapons or other materiel and financial support for terrorism is blocked."

The decision reflected a change in Egypt's attitude toward Israel since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in February.

The military council running the country until parliamentary and presidential elections is less concerned about its relations with Israel and has shown more interest in the Palestinians.

Last month, the Egyptian regime successfully brokered a reconciliation between Hamas and rival Fatah, which runs the West Bank government. The two had been at odds since the brief 2007 conflict, when Hamas expelled Fatah forces from Gaza. Repeated efforts by the previous Egyptian government to heal the rift failed.

MENA said the decision to open the Rafah crossing was part of efforts "to end the status of the Palestinian division and achieve national reconciliation." Before the Gaza conflict, the Palestinian Authority under President Mahmoud Abbas ran the Palestinian side of the Gaza crossing, and Israel always objected to Hamas having a role there.

Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Elaraby told the Arabic satellite channel Al-Jazeera last month that the closure of Rafah crossing was about to end, calling the decision to close it "a disgusting matter."

Egypt was the first Arab nation to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979. There have been polls that indicate many Egyptians would favor canceling the treaty. But that subject is not high on the agenda of Egypt's new rulers who are concerned with internal crises, including unemployment and weeding out corruption.

Besides trapping more than a million Palestinians in Gaza, the Rafah border closure has been largely ineffective.

Gazans have circumvented the blockade by operating hundreds of smuggling tunnels under the nine-mile (15-kilometer) Gaza-Egypt border. The tunnels have been used to bring in all manner of products, as well as people. Israel charges Hamas has used the tunnels to import weapons, including rockets that can reach main population centers in Israel's center.

The tunnel industry is a semi-official Gaza enterprise, with Hamas collecting taxes on goods smuggled in.

Over the past year, the tunnels — and the blockade itself — have lessened in significance as Israel eased its import restrictions, banning weapons and materials it feels could be used for military purposes by Hamas, including many types of construction materials. Israel cut back on its restrictions following world outcry from Israel's violent interception of a flotilla heading for Gaza on May 31, 2010, when nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed.

Israel has complained often about Egypt's inability to stop the smuggling.

In recent months, Palestinian militants in Gaza have fired rockets at Israeli cities, indicating that that have graduated from the homemade, wobbly short-range projectiles to factory-made, longer-range rockets. Israel charges that Iran is among the suppliers, and weapons merchants have been secreting the rockets and other ordnance through Egypt's Sinai desert to the tunnels, and then into Gaza.

Rafah is impractical as a cargo crossing, however, because goods would have to be transported across the 130 mile- (210 kilometer-) wide Sinai desert in Egypt. It also means a long, hot bus trip for Palestinians crossing into Egypt through Rafah.

4a)White House is set for Obama-Netanyahu-Abbas summit. Israel is downbeat

The White House is going full steam ahead with preparations for an early summit between US President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas for restartng the peace process, Washington sources report exclusively. Sources in Jerusalem and Ramallah confirm they too are getting set for the occasion. A high-ranking US official told stated: "Till now, we have had the curtain-raiser and opening positions: Now we are going for the real show - negotiations."

He was referring to the Middle East six-speech marathon launched by the US president May 19, countered by the Israeli prime minster and swinging back and forth up until Thursday, May 26 when Obama reiterated his concept of the Middle East peace track in London.

While many circles have accused the Israeli prime minister of taking a hard line on peace in Washington, Obama is reportedly congratulating himself on what was generally perceived as a debate between the two leaders but which he feels extracted from Israel three major concessions:

1. Netanyahu is the first Israeli prime minister to offer to leave settlements outside borders in a prospective accord establishing a Palestinian state. A high US official credited successful diplomatic cooperation between Obama and Netanyahu with obtaining this concession.

He noted the Netanyahu government is off the hook of having to evacuate settlements, which would have been politically impossible after the traumas still lingering from Israel's 2005 pullout from the Gaza Strip and destruction of settlements there.
In the view of the US official, the prime minister is now able to give roughly 120,000 settlers outside certain pre-determined areas the option of relocating across the lines in pre-1967 Israel or remaining on the West Bank under sovereign Palestinian rule.

The US official elaborated on the president's conception of the "mutual swaps of land": These swaps need not entail the evacuation of large populations or numerous settlements but rather create Israeli and Palestinian pockets that would remain in situ in each other's territories under the "sovereign symbols" of the opposite party, Israeli or Palestinian.

More crises obviously lie ahead for Washington and Israel as they hammer out the exact nature and scope of these arrangements. But the moment the Israeli leader accepted the principle of settlements outside borders, the door swung open for restarting peace talks.

The US official noted Palestinian leader had positively ruled out any Israeli settlements remaining under Palestinian rule. The White House was treating his position as negotiable.

2. If the Obama administration can bring the Israelis and Palestinians to agree on the nature of the "symbols of sovereignty" in the swapped pockets, it will have come up with the formula of joint sovereignty for solving the core issue of Jerusalem, said the official. Neither side would have to give up its sovereign rights in the city, and it would also be possible to introduce an international presence in defined areas.

3. After examining the ways in which the concept of 1967 borders was interpreted, the US official found no major differences between Obama and Netanyahu.
While the Israeli prime minister insists those lines are indefensible, Obama says they are the basis for negotiating changes that meet Israel's security requirements. Both Israel and the Palestinians will be free to demand changes in the 1967 boundaries.

The official pointed out that although the Israeli and Palestinian leaders assert the differences between them are too wide to bridge, both are busy preparing for the triple summit at the White House.

State Department sources believe, considering the Palestinian refusal for almost two years to sit down and talk to Israel, see this as the key to unlocking Mahmoud Abbas' resistance to the peace track.

The White House has been working behind the scenes to ensure that the ministers give him the green light for the three-way summit to go ahead.

Those officials stress that the start of negotiations is the best way to stop Abbas turning to the UN in September for recognition of a Palestinian state within 1967 borders.

Sources in Jerusalem confirmed the preparations for the triple summit, but were absolutely sure that the US official was overdoing the optimism in order to squeeze Israel for more concessions.

They said the US president had loaded his Middle East speech of May 19 with pro-Palestinian arguments and laid down two propositions that Israel cannot accept.
--- No Israeli military presence would remain across the new agreed borders between Israel and the Palestinians, i.e. Israel would be denied security provisions;
--- As part of the land swap, Israel would have to give up territory – or, in other words, withdraw not just to the 1967 lines but further west and give up chunks of pre-1967 sovereign land.

If Obama sticks to this position, Israeli sources stressed, the negotiations will end very soon after they begin and the distrust between Israel and Washington will only deepen.

4b)Islamic Spring, American Winter, Jewish State
By Anurag Maheshwari

President Obama's approach to Arab-Israeli peace process on May 19 was ill-conceived and shortsighted. The conspicuous absence of a broader moral, demographic, and strategic calculus in Obama's call for Israel to recede within its 1967 borders is beyond belief.

There are many Christian/post-Christian states, dozens of resurgent Islamic states, and three Hindu majority states, but only one Jewish majority state. It is intriguing why Obama has asked Israel whose population density is almost 1,000/sq-mi and a territory less than 10,000 sq-mi to cede any land or stop its expansion in Jerusalem.

Israel is surrounded by a hostile multitude of 600 million Arabs, Turks, Persians, and Punjabis with birth rates between 1.9-5.1 children/woman, cumulatively higher than Jewish birth rates at 3 children/woman. The contemporary Middle-East neither has the relaxed attitudes of Scandinavians, nor the non-threatening birth rates of Japan.

Except Iran, not a single Islamic country has sub-replacement birth rates. In matters of existential nature, demography is destiny. To put it bluntly, this is a numbers game and Israel is outnumbered 100:1.

Israel's technologically advanced military-industrial complex, its several-hundred state of the art nuclear missiles, its highly talented and driven scientific manpower, and its ability to provide a high quality and prosperous life to its citizens must not be perturbed by unilateral territorial demands. The Arab league possesses 5.3 million sq-mi of territory, more than 500 times that of Israel, so in principle there is enough land for all Palestinians.

Even if there is complete Israeli-Palestinian population transfer as part of a comprehensive peace process, the destitute millions outside Israel's borders will persistently seek entry through Africa or Arabian Peninsula in search of a better life. This is not just a narrow and internal Israeli-Palestinian demographic problem; this is a much broader Israeli-Islamic strategic and demographic conundrum.

The turbulence in the Middle-East has been fueled by a confluence of massive population explosion, an ideology of Koranic-literalism, harsh despotism, humiliating American military occupations and rising food prices. This means the momentum for further radicalization and mass-mobilization of hostile populations is high.

Israel's post-2011 future will remain imperiled even if the calamitous Obama-Brzezinski framework of 1967 borders is implemented. In the immediate future it is likely that Israel's center-right Knesset under Benjamin Netanyahu's premiership will respond assertively and negatively to this irksome and unwelcome approach.

The long term security of the Jewish state will be decidedly better if Washington DC ceases to interfere in Israel's sovereign affairs and refrains from constantly dictating to them the rules and rims of engagement with the Arabs.

There is absolutely no indication, let alone a lasting guarantee that if Israel recedes within its 1967 borders, its existence itself will not be still a festering wound in the radicalized hearts of tens of millions in the Islamic world.

Due to endless and draining American military occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan alongside hundreds of military bases littered all over Eurasia, a paradox of security has emerged. As Americans sink deeper and deeper into an epic quagmire, the overall security environment in the Islamic-World and Pacific Asia becomes even more crushingly tenuous. Moreover, simmering memories of humiliation and countless civilian deaths are building a poisonous spirit of revenge deep in the Islamic psyche.

Iraqi occupation has not only senselessly destabilized the Shia-Sunni-Kurd triumvirate; it has deeply and perhaps irreversibly alienated Turkey, Israel's once only solid Islamic ally.

In Turkey's smoldering eyes, the restive, stateless Iraqi-Kurds are determined to carve out an independent destiny, and the lion's share of real-estate will come from Turkey whose 20% Kurdish minorities zealously want to politically unite with their ethno-linguistic kin. Iran and Syria also have peripheral and restive Kurdish minorities who are waiting to participate in the birth-pangs of a new nation.

American presence in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan has also made a historically resentful Iran even more malignant, as it sees itself surrounded from east, west, and south by American troops and Navy. Iran is therefore determined to feed Washington DC's self-destructive strategy by aiding de-stabilization of both Iraq and Af-Pak, while rapidly improving relations with Turkey in strategic, commercial, and cultural spheres and making repeated overtures towards the Arabs.

This growing Turko-Iranian entente has a natural and enduring quality since one-third of Iran's population is Turkic, and both sides share nine centuries of evolving Turko-Persian cultural-political intercourse since the time of the Seljuk Empire despite the previous five centuries of Shia-Sunni divide.

Furthermore, the enormous proliferation of well-funded madrassas in drone-saturated and nuclear-armed Pakistan is fomenting exceedingly hostile designs in millions of young minds from all over the globe. This lasting multi-generational hostility in an arc of instability from the Mediterranean to Mumbai is bringing Arabs, Turks, Iranians, and Pakistanis to a boiling political crescendo, whose timing will depend on the manifest and unforeseen forces of nature.

Israel's principal ally America is aging, fragmenting, and declining with a looming entitlement Armageddon of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid bankruptcy; rising price inflation; falling or stagnant incomes for the middle class; crumbling infrastructure; and a dwindling worker to retiree ratio -- from 16.5:1 in 1950 to 3:1today and 2.2:1 in 2030.

In such perilous circumstances, the Obama administration has so completely miscalculated its priorities that it will further accelerate the American decline even as China patiently but rapidly builds its capacities and seems poised to topple America as the leading economic power sometime in 2015-2016. By many measures such as metals, cement, and most recently energy consumption, it already has.

This combination of the Arab spring, China's rise, and the American nightmare has only one feasible solution. The US should dissolve all its overseas land-based commitments and expeditiously withdraw from Eurasia to re-align its ambitions in wake of its rapidly diminishing capacities. The US should re-orient its resources judiciously for rebuilding and rejuvenating its infrastructure and society, while forging new multi-lateral partnerships to jointly stabilize the Middle-East via an island-based strategy similar to one accepted by the fading post-1945 British Empire.

The US can affordably and discreetly maintain two island military bases in the Mediterranean on Cyprus, as well as in the Persian Gulf on Bahrain -- headquarters of the 5th fleet, avoiding unwarranted visibility. It will help guarantee a striking proximity to Israel while monitoring every Middle Eastern activity through sophisticated sea, space, and island based surveillance in addition to human intelligence. This will sharpen awareness of the internal Middle Eastern environment, save diminishing resources and reduce response time.

In addition, American sea and air power with over 90,000 sailors and Marines, a dozen aircraft-carriers, and hundreds of sea/air based nuclear missiles will safeguard overwhelming strategic hegemony in the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, and Pacific Asia.

Meanwhile 1.2 Billion Indians, growing economically at 8-10% per annum, are perhaps the only natural strategic ally for Israel and US in Southern Eurasia as economically vibrant Turkey gradually but irreversibly drifts apart from the West and struggles to assert its neo-Ottoman stature in the Arab-World.

The thriving and occasionally vacillating Indo-Israeli partnership -- due to imperfectly aligned strategic objectives -- should be strengthened within an institutional framework which could be christened Mediterranean-Arabian-Treaty-Organization (MATO), focused on regions neighboring Mediterranean and Arabian Sea.

Core Members of MATO could be the US, Israel, Cyprus, Bahrain, and India. The European Union (EU)- and Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) could participate as auxiliary members. These structural-functional steps should be supplemented with generous non-governmental charity efforts to promote one-child policy and women's education, health, and rights programs in the Sunni world to sharply arrest the ongoing and unsustainable baby boom.

India's full participation in this security structure will be constrained by its expanding need and dependency on energy resources from the Middle East as well as its 170 million-strong Muslim minority. This energy problem will have to be addressed either by a sharply expanding Russian role in the supplier mix, or some unexpected development, including a vast expansion of Thorium based nuclear power.

Obama or perhaps a more gifted Presidential successor can draw a new sustainable strategic doctrine for a diminished America under the umbrella of MATO, which will have EU-Russia securing their South, India containing its West and North, and Israel in conjunction with US Navy monitoring the East-West Axis of the emerging Islamic Spring.

I believe that in not too distant future there will be a drive towards political unification of the Arab-World as well as some security alliance in the Turko-Persian world. To what extent this geopolitical consolidation influences Pakistan's foreign policy trajectory is not easy to predict at this time.

A doctrine of containment which shuns democracy-by-gun with boots-on-the-ground impulse and relies on exploiting internal religious and ethno-linguistic contradictions in Middle East under the aegis of MATO in combination with uncontested sea and air deterrence is the only plausible approach to avoid cataclysmic financial and social crises in America and Europe.

Such an approach will salvage and secure America's socio-economic future and Israel's realm. MATO will forge solid and enduring partnerships which will carry immense strategic heft by utilizing India's enormous manpower and its prime peninsular location as a vast springboard into the Arabian Sea and Indian-Ocean.

This strategy will be global in its scope and outcomes and immensely superior compared to Obama-Brzezinski doctrine which advocates a reduced 1967 Israel. Israel should not be nudged towards making another covenant with death itself.

4c)CNN's Zakaria: Couldn't He Just Call Netanyahu a Slut?
By William Tate

Just when you thought the Obama-Kool-Aid-swilling media couldn't sink any further into their foul muck, along comes ersatz expert-on-everything and Obama sycophant Fareed Zakaria. Attempting to defend Obama's imperious effort to force Israel back inside its indefensible pre-1967 borders, Zakaria has tried to link Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu with a central figure in one of the most vicious anti-Jewish, anti-Israeli regimes in history.

Zakaria compared Netanyahu to former Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko in an opinion piece in the Washington Post this week, claiming petulantly that Netanyahu has become, like Gromyko, "'Doctor Nyet,' a man who will be bypassed in history."

Beyond proving that Zakaria has a tin ear, his column proves beyond all doubt that anyone who criticizes, or even disagrees with, Obama -- even in the interest of protecting their own country -- will be savaged by the media beyond any sense of decency, let alone fairness.

It is an attack that is vile, vituperative, and -- as we shall see -- viciously personal. And all because Netanyahu didn't roll over for Obama on a matter vital to his nation's security. (As an aside, one can't help wonder why Netanyahu didn't just tell Obama, much like Obama infamously told Republicans in 2009: We won. Get over it.)

Zakaria compared the Prime Minister of Israel to a man who played a key role in a regime that implemented anti-Israeli policies abroad and an anti-Jewish agenda at home, a regime that actively and systematically persecuted Jews. And Gromyko was the architect of a foreign policy that forced Israel, the world's lone Jewish state and the Middle East's only democracy, into two bloody wars for its very existence.

Gromyko served as Soviet Foreign Minister for most of the Cold War, including during the Six Day War in 1967, in which Israel won the more-defensible territories which Obama would now have it relinquish. Records released since then show that Gromyko's foreign policy helped instigate that battle for Israel's survival.

According to a June, 2000 report in the UK's Guardian newspaper:

The Soviet Union had played a central role in escalating tension in the Middle East and had falsely accused Israel of massing forces on the Syrian border... In memoirs published recently, Nikita Khrushchev said the USSR's military command persuaded its political leadership to support these steps, knowing they were aimed at starting a war to destroy Israel.

As Foreign Minister, Gromyko was a principal member of that political leadership.

And the records also revealed that, when it appeared Israel was poised to win a total victory over the Soviet's Middle Eastern client states, Gromyko's USSR was, itself, prepared to intervene militarily. By way of the hotline between the two superpowers, Gromyko warned then-US President Lyndon Johnson:

A very crucial moment has now arrived which forces us, if military actions are not stopped in the next few hours, to adopt an independent decision. We are ready to do this. However, these actions may bring us into a clash which will lead to a grave catastrophe ... we purpose [sic] that you demand from Israel that it unconditionally cease military action... we purpose to warn Israel that if this is not fulfilled, necessary actions will be taken, including military...

(Then Defense Secretary Robert) McNamara recalled: "In effect it said: Mr. President, if you want war, you'll get war."

After Kosygin's menacing message was received, the US under-secretary of state, Nicholas Katzenbach, was dispatched from the Situation Room to 'call in the Israeli ambassador and put pressure on the Israelis to accept a ceasefire'. The Israelis, presumably informed of the Soviet threat, did - after completing their conquest of the Golan.

By most accounts, the Soviet regime, in which Gromyko served so prominently, intensified its internal campaign against Jews after the humiliating rout of its Arab allies.

The hard-won 1967 borders proved vital to the Jewish state's survival when Israel was caught off-guard by a multiple-front, coordinated attack by Syria and Egypt: the 1973 Yom Kippur war.

It was a sneak attack of which Gromyko, and the Soviet Union, were aware -- if not actively involved in the planning -- beforehand.

In his book, The Yom Kippur War: The Epic Encounter That Transformed the Middle East, Abraham Rabinovich wrote that the Soviets, and Gromyko, had armed Egypt and Syria with the modern arms necessary to wage war on Israel. Gromyko was even aware of the timing of the surprise assault. Two days before Syria and Egypt attacked, Gromyko summoned his top aides. "What they were about to hear, he said, must be kept completely confidential. Egypt and Syria were to open war on Israel on Saturday at 2 P.M."

Rabinovich noted that Gromyko "was skeptical of the Arabs' chances but acknowledged that a surprise attack might improve their odds."

Overlooking the historical and policy implications of Zakaria's contemptuous comparison, there is the personal aspect as well. Yonatan Netanyahu, "one of Israel's most celebrated heroes," was born in New York City in 1946. He died thirty years later, on the Fourth of July. At the time of his death he was a commander of the elite Israeli commando unit, Sayeret Maktal -- more or less the equivalent of our Navy SEALs. The best of the very best. He was killed during the Entebbe raid, in which the unit he headed rescued 103 hostages held aboard an Air France passenger plane in Uganda.

The Soviet Union, under the foreign policy directed by Gromyko, was the principal supplier of arms to Uganda and its dictator, Idi Amin.

The bullet which killed Yonatan Netanyahu was most likely provided to his killer through the largesse of Andrei Gromyko. The same man to whom Zakaria now compares Yonatan's younger brother, Binyamin.

Perhaps Zakaria just hadn't thought of calling Binyamin Netanyahu, the elected leader of a sovereign nation and a stalwart US ally, a talk show slut.

With Zakaria's column, it becomes clear that Barack Obama's mainstream media will stoop to any low, no matter how vile or disgraceful or personal, to protect their guy.

Just writing about Zakaria's comments leaves a bad taste in one's mouth. And it's not Obama Kool-Aid.
5)This is from Mark Knoller of CBS.

The pilots and crew of Air Force One are flying more hours than a rookie on a beer run. They are tired of it too, and are adding more crew to Air Force-1, - I know this for a fact because I'm one of the instructors that trains the crews Our company (Atlas Air) has had the Air Force-1 and E-4 contract for over two years and I've been doing it for about 8 months now.

Last year (2010) Obama flew in Air Force One 172 times, almost every other day.
White House officials have been telling reporters in recent days that the Democrat doesn't intend to hang around the White House quite so much in 2011. They explain he wants to get out more around the country because, as everyone knows, that midterm election shellacking on Nov. 2 had nothing to do with his health care bill, over-spending or other policies, and everything to do with Obama's not adequately explaining himself to his countrymen and women.

And with only 673 days remaining in Obama's never ending presidential campaign, the incumbent's travel pace will not likely slacken.

At an Air Force-estimated cost of $181,757 per flight HOUR (not to mention the additional travel costs of Marine One, Secret Service, logistics and local police overtime), that's a lot of frequent flier dollars going into Obama's carbon footprint.

We are privy to some of these numbers thanks to CBS' Mark Knoller, a bearded national treasure trove of presidential stats. According to Knoller's copious notes, during the last year, Obama made 65 domestic trips over 104 days, and six trips to eight countries over 22 days. Not counting six vacation trips over 32 days.

He took 196 helicopter trips, signed 203 pieces of legislation and squeezed in 29 rounds of left-handed golf.

Obama last year gave 491 speeches, remarks or statements. That's more talking than goes on in some entire families, at least from fatherly mouths.

In fact, even including the 24 days of 2010 that we never saw Obama in public, his speaking works out to about one official utterance every 11 waking hours. Aides indicate the "Real Good Talker" believes we need more.
6)The Ultimate Ally
The "realists" are wrong: America needs Israel now more than ever.

What is the definition of an American ally? On an ideological level, an ally
is a country that shares America's values, reflects its founding spirit, and
resonates with its people's beliefs. Tactically, an ally stands with the
United States through multiple conflicts and promotes its global vision.
From its location at one strategic crossroads, an ally enhances American
intelligence and defense capabilities, and provides ports and training for
U.S. forces. Its army is formidable and unequivocally loyal to its
democratic government. An ally helps secure America's borders and assists in
saving American lives on and off the battlefield. And an ally stimulates the
U.S. economy through trade, technological innovation, and job creation.

Few countries fit this description, but Israel is certainly one of them. As
U.S. President Barack Obama told a White House gathering, "The United States
has no better friend in the world than Israel," a statement reflecting the
positions of Democrats and Republicans alike. The importance of the
U.S.-Israel alliance has been upheld by successive American administrations
and consistently endorsed by lawmakers and military leaders. It should be
unimpeachable. But for some it is not.

Rather than viewing Israel as a vital American asset, an increasingly vocal
group of foreign-policy analysts insists that support for the Jewish state,
including more than $3 billion in annual military aid, is a liability.
Advocates of this "realist" school claim that the United States derives
little strategic benefit from its association with Israel. The alliance,
they assert, arises mainly from lobbyists who place Israel's interests
before America's, rather than from a clearheaded assessment of national
needs. Realists regard the relationship one-dimensionally -- America gives
Israel aid and arms -- and view it as the primary source of Muslim anger at
the United States. American and Israeli policies toward the peace process,
the realists say, are irreconcilable and incompatible with relations between
true allies.

By definition, realists seek a foreign policy immune to public sentiment and
special interest groups. In this rarefied view, the preferences of the
majority of the American people are immaterial or, worse, self-defeating.
This would certainly be the case with the U.S.-Israel alliance, which
remains outstandingly popular among Americans. Indeed, a Gallup survey this
February showed that two out of three Americans sympathize with Israel.
Overall, since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan -- and in spite of Israel's responses to the second intifada and
rocket attacks from Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2008 -- support for Israel
in the United States has risen, not declined.

The surveys prove that most Americans do not accept the argument that U.S.
support for Israel provokes Islamic radicals or do not especially care even
if it does. In a Senate hearing last year, Gen. David Petraeus, then head of
U.S. Central Command, testified that the Arab-Israeli conflict "challenges …
our ability to advance our interests." Critics of the U.S.-Israel
relationship seized on the remark as evidence of the alliance's prohibitive
costs -- an interpretation Petraeus strenuously rejected -- but the incident
wrought no change in popular opinion. In fact, a CNN survey taken later that
week showed that eight out of 10 Americans still regarded Israel as an
allied or friendly state.

That kind of popular foundation for the Israeli-American alliance is all the
more important at a time of great upheaval in the Middle East. As Iran's
malign influence spreads and Turkey turns away from the West, Israel's
strategic value in the region, both to the United States and to pro-Western
Arab governments, will surely increase. Following Hezbollah's recent
takeover of Lebanon and the political turmoil in Egypt, Jordan, and the
Persian Gulf, Israel is the only Middle Eastern country that is certain to
remain stable and unequivocally pro-American. In Israel alone, the United
States will not have to choose between upholding its democratic principles
and pursuing its vital interests.

And yet, for all their urgency, the close ties between the United States and
Israel are hardly new. Their roots extend further than Israel's creation 63
years ago -- rather, they took hold with the Pilgrims' arrival in North

THE FORBEARS WHO LANDED on Plymouth Rock in 1620 considered themselves the
founders of a "New Israel." Committed to studying Hebrew and bridging the
Old and New Canaans -- the Holy Land and America -- they pledged to restore
the Jews to their ancestral homeland. Far from peripheral, this
"restorationist" movement flourished in colonial America and widely
influenced the Founders: Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin wanted the
likeness of Moses leading the children of Israel to serve as the Great Seal
of the newly independent United States. John Adams wrote that he "really
wish[ed] the Jews again in Judea an independent nation." Abraham Lincoln
similarly backed the "noble dream" of a re-created Jewish state, as did
Woodrow Wilson, a descendant of Presbyterian ministers, who declared, "To
think that I … should be able to help restore the Holy Land to its people."

America's commitment to the Zionist movement to create a Jewish state deeply
influenced Harry S. Truman. A fervid Baptist and past member of the
restorationist American Christian Palestine Committee, Truman made the
United States the first nation to recognize Israel on May 14, 1948. None of
the predictions of his realist advisors -- that recognition would trigger an
Arab oil embargo, Europe would fall to the Soviet Union, and Israel would
turn communist -- became a reality.

The spiritual attachment to the reborn Jewish state has continued to
resonate in America, the nation with the highest frequency of church
attendance in the industrialized world. Many Americans have also been drawn
to the Zionist story of pioneering, hearing in it echoes of their own
national narrative. Theodore Roosevelt, who fancied himself a frontiersman,
urged that "the Jews be given control of Palestine" and that "a Zionist
state around Jerusalem" be created. In a similar vein, Rev. John Haynes
Holmes, on talking with Palestinian Jews in 1929, "could think of nothing
but the early English settlers who came to the bleak shores of
Massachusetts.… Here is the same heroism dedicated to the same ends."

Israel emerged not only as a Jewish and pioneering state, but also as a
democracy. In urging Truman to recognize Israel in 1948, White House counsel
Clark Clifford argued that "in an area as unstable as the Middle East … it
is important to the long-range security of our country … that a nation
committed to the democratic system be established, one on which we can
rely." The fact that Israelis cherished the same values enshrined in the
U.S. Constitution -- free speech and assembly, respect for individual
rights, an independent judiciary -- created another layer of affinity with
Americans. John F. Kennedy said Israel "carries the shield of democracy and
honors the sword of freedom," and Bill Clinton likened Israel to America,
"an oasis of liberty, a home to the oppressed and persecuted."

While grappling with the challenges posed by its large Arab minority and,
since the Six-Day War, the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel
has remained the Middle East's only functional democracy. In a region in
which some countries deem homosexuality a capital offense, Israel has hosted
gay pride parades and provides shelter for Palestinian homosexuals. And in
contrast to the Middle Eastern leaders who hold themselves above the law, a
former Israeli president was recently convicted of sexual offenses, the
verdict handed down by three judges -- two women and an Arab. Withstanding
pressures that have crushed many liberal societies, Israel is one of a
handful of states that has never experienced interregna of nondemocratic

Americans intrinsically value these facts -- and that appreciation is
reciprocated in Israel. As there are streets in the United States named for
David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir, so, too, can one find Washington and
Lincoln streets in Israel. Alone in the Middle East, Israel hosts memorials
for Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. and two exact replicas of the Liberty

STILL, ACCEPTING THE DISPASSIONATE definition of America's interests, can
Israel realistically be considered an ally? Has it traditionally stood by
the United States on issues of world importance and in periods of crisis? Is
American support for Israel based on calculated estimates of national
interests, or is it the product of pressure from richly funded lobbies?

Israel has always sided with the United States on major global issues. At
the United Nations and in other international institutions, the two
countries' voting patterns are virtually identical, as are their policies on
human rights and international law. Beginning with the Korean conflict and
throughout the Cold War, Israel backed America's military engagements, and
it has maintained that support in the struggle with radical Islam. In times
of danger, especially, Israel has responded to America's needs. Acceding to
Richard M. Nixon's request to intervene to save Jordan from Syrian invasion
in 1970, Israel mobilized its army, and in 1991, in spite of missile attacks
from Iraq, Israel honored George H.W. Bush's request not to retaliate.

Israel is not, of course, situated in some geographical backwater, but at
the junction of paramount American interests. Its prominence on the eastern
Mediterranean littoral, at the nexus of North Africa and Southwest Asia, has
enabled the United States to minimize its military deployments in the area.
In the Persian Gulf, by contrast, the absence of a dependable and sturdy
ally like Israel has impelled the United States to commit hundreds of
thousands of troops and trillions of dollars. Secretary of State Alexander
M. Haig's observation 30 years ago still resonates today: "Israel is the
largest American aircraft carrier in the world that cannot be sunk, does not
carry even one American soldier, and is located in a critical region for
American national security."

The strategic synergy between the United States and Israel melds into
tactical realities. U.S. troops train with their Israel Defense Forces (IDF)
counterparts in aerial combat and special operations. U.S. Navy ships
routinely dock in Haifa, Air Force planes refuel at Israeli bases, and the
Marines will soon use an Israeli laser to pinpoint targets. In addition to
pre-positioning $800 million of arms and medical equipment in Israel, the
United States guarantees by law its commitment to preserving Israel's
"qualitative military edge," enabling the Jewish state to defend itself, by
itself, against Middle Eastern adversaries. As Assistant Secretary of State
Andrew Shapiro put it, "Israel is a vital ally and a cornerstone of our
regional security commitments," and, accordingly, the two countries have
developed the world's most advanced anti-ballistic missiles. Together with
the X-band radar station in the Negev -- manned by the first American troops
deployed permanently on Israeli soil -- these systems can protect friendly
nations from Iranian rockets.

In the intelligence field, in particular, the cooperation between Israel and
the United States is vast. According to Maj. Gen. George J. Keegan Jr.,
former head of U.S. Air Force intelligence, America's military defense
capability "owes more to the Israeli intelligence input than it does to any
single source of intelligence," the worth of which input, he estimated,
exceeds "five CIAs." Israeli and American intelligence agencies continuously
exchange information, analyses, and operational experience in
counterterrorism and counterproliferation. The U.S. Department of Homeland
Security and its Israeli counterpart also share technical know-how in
defending ports and terminals from terrorist attacks, countering
unconventional weapons and cyberthreats, and combating the drug trade. On
the battlefield, Israeli armament protects Bradley and Stryker units from
rocket-propelled grenades, while Israeli-made drones and reconnaissance
devices surveil hostile territory. U.S. fighter aircraft and helicopters
incorporate Israeli concepts and components, as do modern-class U.S.
warships. The IDF has furnished U.S. forces with its expertise in the
detection and neutralization of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the
largest cause of American casualties.

Israel not only enhances America's defenses -- it also saves American lives.
A kibbutz-based company in the Galilee has provided armor for more than
20,000 U.S. military vehicles. "Two days ago, my patrol was ambushed by
insurgents using 7.62mm PKM Machineguns," David C. Cox, a platoon sergeant
in Iraq, wrote the manufacturers. "None of the rounds penetrated the armor
of the vehicle, including one that would have impacted with my head." Marine
gunner Joshua Smith, whose Israeli-armored vehicle tripped an IED near
Marja, Afghanistan, described how his unit "walked away smiling, laughing,
and lived to fight another day." Military medical experts from both
countries also meet annually to discuss advances in combat care. One such
breakthrough was a coagulating bandage, the brainchild of a Jerusalem
start-up company, a million of which have been supplied to U.S. forces (and
even applied by a Tucson SWAT team medic to stanch the life-threatening head
wound of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords).

In return for its aid to Israel, the United States receives not only an
armed but an innovative ally, enhancing America's military edge. That
contribution is real and requires no lobbyists to fabricate it. While
organizations such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)
press Israel's case in government and in popular forums, they represent
American citizens who view the alliance with Israel as a national American
interest. By contrast, the lobbyists for the Arab states and their domestic
oil industries represent foreign interests. The hundreds of millions of
dollars they have spent on lobbying and public relations campaigns and
donations to influential universities such as Harvard and Georgetown have
vastly exceeded the budgets of Israel's advocates in Washington.

Pro-Israel groups neither determine America's course in the Middle East nor
derail it. Responding to the realists' charge that a so-called Israel Lobby
exerts undue influence over American policies, White House Middle East
special advisor Dennis Ross wrote in this magazine that "never in the time
that I led the American negotiations on the Middle East peace process did we
take a step because 'the lobby' wanted us to. Nor did we shy away from one
because 'the lobby' opposed it." A 30-year veteran of Middle East diplomacy,
Ross concluded that pro-Israel groups "don't distort U.S. policy or
undermine American interests."

Understandably, the most sober assessment of American interests is conducted
by the U.S. military. The alliance with Israel, Joint Chiefs of Staff
Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen told Congress in March, "is of extraordinary
value." Israel, according to America's highest-ranking officer, is
"absolutely critical" to U.S. national security.

ISRAEL IS AMONG THE FEW COUNTRIES in the world -- and the only Middle
Eastern state -- to consistently stand alongside the United States on
strategic issues. But the U.S.-Israel relationship is far from
one-dimensional. The two countries also cooperate in a broad range of
nonmilitary fields -- humanitarian, commercial, and scientific.

Close coordination with the United States enabled Israeli medical teams to
arrive first on the scene in earthquake-devastated Haiti. They similarly
assisted the victims of Turkish and Indonesian quakes and of famines in
Somalia, Mauritania, and Kenya. Together with the U.S. Agency for
International Development, Israel's Agency for International Development
Cooperation has trained more than 200,000 people from Africa, South America,
and Asia in fields as diverse as agrobusiness and ophthalmology. Since 1985,
American and Israeli scientists have jointly consulted for developing
countries on public health and women's issues.

Israel also assists the American people by stimulating trade, spurring
technological innovation, and creating jobs. Despite a population of just
7.7 million people, Israel is America's 20th-largest customer in the world,
surpassing Russia and Spain. Warren Buffett's first foreign investment was a
$4 billion stake in Iscar, an Israeli tool manufacturer. "I believe in the
Israeli market and the Israeli economy," Buffett explained. Between 2000 and
2009, direct U.S. investment in Israel totaled $77.2 billion, while Israelis
invested $51.4 billion in the United States. More than 25 years ago,
America's very first free trade agreement was signed -- with Israel.

Google, Microsoft, IBM, Intel, AOL, and Motorola are just some of the
high-tech companies with major research and development operations in
Israel. In addition to providing software and hardware for most American
computers and mobile phones, Israel also pioneered the USB flash drive, the
ingestible microcamera, advances in drip irrigation, and the portable MRI.
Through Better Place, the world's first comprehensive electric-car system,
Israel is poised to help Obama achieve his goal of placing 1 million
electric vehicles on America's roads by 2015. "It's no exaggeration to say
that the kind of innovation going on in Israel is critical to the future of
the technology business," observed Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates on a 2005
visit to Israel. After the United States and China, Israel is the most
represented country on the Nasdaq stock exchange.

And at a time when American corporations are outsourcing to Asia, Israel is
outsourcing to the United States: Tens of thousands of Americans are
employed by Teva, the world's leading generic-drug producer, and by dozens
of Israeli high-tech, textile, and defense plants throughout the United
States. The nearly 6,000 projects mounted by three U.S.-Israel foundations
have generated myriad American jobs, as does the $3 billion in American
military aid to Israel, $2.25 billion of which is spent in the United

realists still insist that it stokes Muslim rage and renders Americans more
vulnerable to terrorism. To substantiate their claim, the realists quote
Osama bin Laden as well as the state-controlled Middle Eastern media. But
bin Laden initially justified his attacks on America's profligacy and only
later, after his setbacks in Afghanistan, linked them to Israel. An
influential Saudi Wahhabi book published online describes the United States
as "the source of evil, moral corruption, oppression, despotism, and
aggression … in the world" and makes no mention of Israel. Neither do
recently published diplomatic papers from the Middle East or most of the
demonstrations that have convulsed the region.

The official U.S. documents released by WikiLeaks show that Arab rulers are
not preoccupied with Israel but with the perils posed by Iran. One report
recounted Saudi King Abdullah urging the United States to "cut off the head
of the snake" -- Iran -- and to attack the country's nuclear facilities at
once. Bahrain's king warned that "the danger of letting [the Iranian nuclear
program] go on is greater than the danger of stopping it." The word "Israel"
does not appear.

Middle Eastern populations, meanwhile, have shown that they, too, are less
concerned with Israel than with urgent issues at home. When able to express
themselves freely, they have preferred to focus on political rights and
economic opportunity. Conspicuously absent from the protests that swept the
region in 2011 were burning Israeli -- or American -- flags or any reference
to the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Although emerging Arab governments might in the future -- as in the past --
seek to gain legitimacy by harnessing anti-Israeli sentiment, the claim that
American support for the Jewish state axiomatically translates into
anti-Americanism in the Middle East is no longer sustainable.


Israel is America's staunchest ally in the Middle East, but even the warmest
friendships are never disagreement-free. This was certainly the case with
the Anglo-American relationship during World War II, modern history's most
celebrated alliance, but one that was riven by disputes over military
planning and postwar arrangements.

The United States and Israel could not, therefore, realistically be expected
to concur on all of the Middle East's labyrinthine issues. Ronald Reagan,
for example, condemned Israel's attack on an Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981,
and Israel objected to his sale of advanced jets to Saudi Arabia.

The realists say that the gaps between Israeli and American policies on the
peace process are unbridgeable. The United States, they maintain, is
committed to creating a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, with
East Jerusalem as its capital. Israel allegedly opposes these goals and
thwarts them by building in those areas.

But historically, progress in the peace process has been directly related to
the strengthening of America's alliance with Israel. That bond convinced
Arab rulers that they had no conventional military option against Israel and
fortified Israelis to make the concessions necessary for peace. American
security assurances -- including guarantees of continued oil supplies from
Sinai and the replacement of evacuated air bases -- enabled Israel to
withdraw from an area three times its size and to conclude the 1979 peace
treaty with Egypt.

The realists ignore or dismiss this linkage, as they do Israel's record of
seeking peace. In the euphoric aftermath of the Six-Day War, Israeli leaders
offered to create a West Bank Palestinian state, but Palestinian leaders
rejected the plan. Israel in 2000 offered the Palestinians sovereignty over
virtually the entire West Bank, all of Gaza, and part of Jerusalem, but the
Palestinians refused the deal and instead killed more than 1,000 Israelis in
terrorist attacks. In 2005, Israel provided the Palestinians with the chance
to create a peaceful prototype in Gaza, but it quickly devolved into a
launching pad for thousands of rockets. In spite of these traumas, a
significant majority of Israelis -- 66 percent, when recently asked by the
Tel Aviv University Peace Index -- still favor the two-state solution,
testifying to their commitment to peace.

Settlements, meanwhile, have never been the impediment to peace. They did
not preclude the signing of the Egyptian and Jordanian treaties or 16 years
of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Israel uprooted all 21 settlements in
Gaza and received war, not peace. Later, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
froze West Bank construction for an unprecedented 10 months, but the
Palestinians still refused to negotiate. Internal Palestinian documents
published recently by Al Jazeera reveal that Palestinian negotiators in 2008
were willing to concede the bulk of the Israeli communities in the West
Bank, as well as most of the Jewish neighborhoods built over the 1967 line
in Jerusalem, as part of a peace arrangement. Israeli leaders were ready to
sign; the Palestinians again walked away.

Blind to Israel's record of peacemaking, the realists also overlook the
broad confluence of American and Israeli policies toward the process. Both
insist that there is no alternative to direct negotiations and no solution
to the conflict other than two states for two peoples. They understand that
the Palestinian state, situated opposite Israel's narrowest and most
populous area, will have to be demilitarized and that Israel will require
detailed security guarantees. And they agree that any peace treaty must
provide for mutual recognition between the nation-states of the Jewish and
Palestinian peoples, signifying an end to all claims.

American and Israeli positions also dovetail on the most monumental -- and
potentially divisive -- Middle Eastern issue: Iran. A nuclear-armed Iran,
both countries hold, will imperil every pro-Western Middle Eastern state and
ignite a nuclear arms race in an inherently unstable region. The United
States and Israel have promoted international sanctions designed to prevent
Iran from developing nuclear weapons, while keeping all options on the
table. Americans know that, at a time of transformation in the Middle East
balance of power, Israel remains the region's only credible foil to Iran.

Ultimately, the litmus test of any alliance is not whether the partners
agree on every issue, but rather the ways they deal with discord. During
World War II, the United States and Britain bridged their differences and
achieved victory. America and Israel have similarly worked through their
differences and are together striving for a different triumph -- peace.

WHO ARE AMERICA'S ALLIES in the world today? Which countries are both
capable and willing to advance American interests? A truly realist
assessment would strive to answer these questions and fairly weigh Israel's

In the Middle East, every Arab or non-Arab Muslim country has at times
vacillated in its support of the United States or adopted anti-American
positions. Some regimes have also placed oil embargoes on Americans and
bankrolled their enemies. Although democratic governments may yet emerge in
some Middle Eastern states, autocracy, monarchy, and dictatorship remain the
region's norm. And even elected representatives can be profoundly hostile to
the United States, as in Iran, Lebanon, and Gaza.

Elsewhere in the world, new powers are arising, but few are likely to act as
American allies in the realist sense. Others will be robust competitors.
America's European allies, meanwhile, are further restricting the conditions
under which their forces fight and drastically slashing defense budgets.
British military sources estimate that troop numbers will soon be reduced to
80,000, leaving Britain with its smallest army since the 1820s. With similar
cuts expected in Germany, Italy, and France, the United States will become
harder-pressed to rely on European support during crises."[W]e won't be able
to defend the security on which our democratic societies … depend," NATO
Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has warned. "We risk a Europe
increasingly adrift from the United States."

Israel is the only Middle Eastern state never to oppose America on major
international issues. Its fundamental interests, like its values, are
America's. For the price of annual military aid equaling roughly half the
cost of one Zumwalt-class destroyer, the United States helps maintain the
military might of one of the few nations actively contributing to America's
defense. It reinforces the only country capable of deterring Hamas and
Hezbollah and impeding the spread of Iranian hegemony. According to
published sources, the Israel Defense Forces is larger than the French and
British armies combined. The IDF is superbly trained and, when summoned,
capable of mobilizing within hours.

These benefits of the U.S.-Israel relationship are of incalculable value to
the United States, far outweighing any price. Americans know that Israelis
have always stood by them, ready to share technology, intelligence, and
innovation -- ready to aid them in conflict and to make the painful
sacrifices for peace. Israel may be one of a handful of countries that fully
fits the definition of ally, but its willingness to support the United
States unwaveringly makes it the partner par excellence, America's ultimate

Michael Oren is Israel's ambassador to the United States and author, most
recently, of Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East: 1776 to
the Present.

6a)The lessons of Netanyahu's triumph

By Caroline B. Glick

Subversive leaders in democracies do not tell their citizens where they wish to lead their societies. They hide their goals from their citizens because they understand that their citizens do not share their goals. Then once they achieve their unspoken goals, they present their people with a fait accompli and announce that only they are competent to shepherd their societies through the radical shift they undertook behind the public's back

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was hoping to avoid his clash with US President Barack Obama this past week in Washington. Four days before his showdown at the White House with the American leader, Netanyahu addressed the Knesset. His speech was the most dovish he had ever given. In it, he set out the parameters of the land concessions he is willing to make to the Palestinians, in the event they ever decide that they are interested in negotiating a final peace.

Among other things, Netanyahu spoke for the first time about "settlement blocs," and so signaled that he would be willing to evacuate the more isolated Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. He also spoke of a long term military presence in the Jordan Valley rather than Israeli sovereignty along the militarily vital plain.

Both strategically and ideologically, Netanyahu's speech constituted a massive concession to Obama. The premier had good reason to believe that his speech would preempt any US demand for further Israeli concessions during his visit to Washington.

Alas, it was not to be.

Instead of welcoming Netanyahu's unprecedented concessions, Obama dismissed them as insufficient as he blindsided Netanyahu on Thursday with his speech at the State Department. There, just hours before Netanyahu was scheduled to fly off to meet him in the Oval Office, Obama adopted the Palestinian negotiating position by calling for Israel to accept that future negotiations will be based on the indefensible — indeed suicidal — 1949 armistice lines.

So, just as he was about to board his plane, Netanyahu realized that his mission in the US capital had changed. His job wasn't to go along to get along. His job was to stop Obama from driving Israel's relations with the US off a cliff.

Netanyahu was no longer going to Washington to explain where Israel will stand aside. He was going to Washington to explain what Israel stands for. Obama threw down the gauntlet. Netanyahu needed to pick it up by rallying both the Israeli people to his side and rallying the American people to Israel's side. Both goals, he realized could only be accomplished by presenting his vision of what Israel is and what it stands for.

And Netanyahu did his job. He did his job brilliantly.

Israel today is the target of an ever escalating campaign to demonize and delegitimize it. Just this week we learned that a dozen towns in Scotland have decided to ban Israeli books from their public libraries. One Scottish town as decided to post signs calling for its residents to boycott Israeli products and put a distinguishing mark, (yellow star, perhaps?), on all Israeli products sold in local stores to warn residents away from them.

Israelis shake their heads and wonder, what did we do to the Scots?

In San Francisco, there is a proposition on the ballot for the fall elections to ban circumcision. The proposition would make it a criminal offense to carry out the oldest Jewish religious ritual. Offenders will be punished by up to a year in prison and a fine of up to a thousand dollars.

Israelis shake their heads and wonder, what did we do to the people of San Francisco?

It seems that everywhere we look we are told that we have no right to exist. From Ramallah to Gaza, to Egypt, to Scotland, Norway, and San Francisco we are told that we are evil and had better give up the store. And then Obama took to the stage on Thursday and told us that we have to surrender our ability to defend ourselves in order to make room for a Palestinian state run by terrorists committed to our destruction.

But then Netanyahu arrived in Washington and said, "Enough already, we've had quite enough of this dangerous nonsense."

And we felt things we haven't felt for a long time. We felt empowered. We felt we had a voice. We felt proud. We felt we had a leader. We felt relieved.

The American people, whose overwhelming support for Israel was demonstrated by their representatives in both houses of the Congress on Tuesday, also felt empowered, proud and relieved. Because not only did Netanyahu eloquently remind them of why they stand with Israel, he reminded them of why everyone who truly loves freedom stands with America.

It is true that the American lawmakers who interrupted Netanyahu's remarks dozens of times to applaud wanted to use his presence in their chamber to send a message of solidarity to the people of Israel. But during the course of his speech, it became apparent that it wasn't just their desire to show solidarity that made them stand and applaud so many times. Netanyahu managed to relieve them as well.

Since he assumed office, Obama has been travelling the world apologizing for America's world leadership. He has been lecturing the American people about the need to subordinate America's national interests to global organizations like the United Nations which are controlled by dictatorships that despise them.

Suddenly, here was an allied leader reminding them of why America is a great nation that leads the world by right, not by historical coincidence.

It is not coincidental that many American and Israeli observers have described Netanyahu's speech as "Churchillian." Winston Churchill's leadership was a classic example of democratic leadership. And Netanyahu is Churchill's most fervent pupil. The democratic leadership model requires a leader to set out his vision of where his country must go and convince the public to follow him. That is what Churchill did. And that is what Netanyahu did this week. And like Churchill in June 1940, Netanyahu's success this week was dazzling.

Just how dazzling was make clear by a Haaretz poll of the Israeli public conducted after Netanyahu's speech before the Congress. The poll found that Netanyahu's approval ratings increased an astounding 13 percent from 38 to 51 percent in one week. Two thirds of the Israelis who watched his speech said it made them proud.

As for the US response, the fact that leading Democrats on Capitol Hill, House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid felt it necessary to distance themselves from Obama's statements about Israel's final borders makes clear that Netanyahu successfully rallied the American public to Israel's side.

This point was also brought home with Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Cong. Debbie Wasserman Schultz's interesting request to Republicans during their joint meeting with Netanyahu. In front of the Israeli leader, Wasserman Schultz asked her Republican counterparts not to use support for Israel as a campaign issue. Her request makes clear that following Netanyahu's brilliant triumph in Washington, Democrats realize that the President's poor treatment of Israel is an issue that will harm them politically if the Republicans decide to make it an issue in next year's elections.

While the democratic model of leadership is certainly the model that the founders of most democratic societies have in mind when they establish their democratic orders, it is not the only leadership model that guides leaders in democratic societies. This week, as Netanyahu demonstrated the strength of the democratic leadership model, two other leadership models were also on prominent display. The first was demonstrated by Obama. The second was exhibited by opposition leader Tzipi Livni.

Obama's leadership model is the model of subversive leadership. Subversive leaders in democracies do not tell their citizens where they wish to lead their societies. They hide their goals from their citizens because they understand that their citizens do not share their goals. Then once they achieve their unspoken goals, they present their people with a fait accompli and announce that only they are competent to shepherd their societies through the radical shift they undertook behind the public's back.

Prior to Obama, the clearest example of subversive leadership was Shimon Peres. As foreign minister under the late Yitzhak Rabin, Peres negotiated his deal with the PLO behind the public's back, and behind Rabin's back -- and against their clear opposition. Then he presented the deal that no one supported as a fait accompli.

And as the architect of the deal that put the PLO terror forces on the outskirts of Israel's major cities, Peres argued that only he could be trusted to implement the deal he had crafted. Eighteen years and two thousand Israeli terror victims later, Israel still hasn't figured out how to extricate itself from his subversive legacy. And he is president.

Today, Obama recognizes that the American public doesn't share his antipathy towards Israel, and so as he adopts policies antithetical to Israel's security, he waxes poetic about his commitment to Israel's security. So far his policies have led to the near disintegration of Israel's peace with Egypt, the establishment of a Fatah-Hamas unity government in the Palestinian Authority, and to Iran's steady, all but unimpeded progress towards the atom bomb.

As for Livni, her model is leadership from behind. Although Obama's advisors claimed that this is his model of leadership, it actually is Livni's model. A leader who leads from behind is a follower. She sees where her voters are and she goes there.

In Livni's case, her supporters are on the Left and their main spokesman is the media. Both the Left and the media oppose everything that Netanyahu does and everything he is. And so, as Livni sees things, her job as the head of the opposition is to give voice to their views.

As Netanyahu stared Obama down in the Oval Office and reminded Israelis and Americans alike why we have a special relationship, Livni was telling audiences in Washington and Israel that Netanyahu is a warmonger who will lead us to devastation if we don't elect her to replace him soon. With Obama adopting the Palestinians' negotiating positions and with Fatah embracing Hamas rather than honestly admitting that all hope for peace is dead for the duration, Livni said that Netanyahu is leading us to war by defending the country.

Netanyahu's extraordinary leadership this week has shown that when used well, the democratic model of leadership trumps all other models. He also showed us that he has the capacity to be the leader of our times.

In the coming weeks and months, the threats to Israel will surely only increase. And with these escalating threats will come also the escalating need for strong and certain leadership.

Netanyahu should realize what his astounding success means for him as well as for Israel. The people of Israel and our many friends around the world will continue to stand behind him proudly if he continues to lead us as well and wonderfully as he did this week. And we will admire him. And we will thank him.

JWR contributor Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East Fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where her column appears.

7)The Gates Farewell Warning
America can be a superpower or a welfare state, but not both.

Robert Gates, who steps down next month after four-plus years at the Pentagon, is making his retirement lap a tutorial on America's defense spending and security needs. His message is welcome, especially on Memorial Day, and even if he couldn't always heed it in his time as Secretary of Defense.

In a series of farewell speeches, Mr. Gates has warned against cuts to weapon programs and troop levels that would make America vulnerable in "a complex and unpredictable security environment," as he said Sunday at Notre Dame. On Tuesday at the American Enterprise Institute, Mr. Gates noted that the U.S. went on "a procurement holiday" in the 1990s, when the Clinton Administration decided to cash in the Cold War peace dividend. The past decade showed that history (and war) didn't end in 1989.

"It is vitally important to protect the military modernization accounts," he said, and push ahead with new capabilities, from an air refueling tanker fleet to ballistic missile submarines.

America's role as a global leader depends on its ability to project power. In historical terms, the U.S. spends relatively little on defense today, even after the post-9/11 buildup. This year's $530 billion budget accounts for 3.5% of GDP, 4.5% when the costs of the Afghan and Iraq wars are included. The U.S. spent, on average, 7.5% of GDP on defense throughout the Cold War, and 6.2% at the height of the Reagan buildup in 1986.

In a series of farewell speeches, Mr. Gates has warned against cuts to weapon programs and troop levels.
.But on coming into office, the Obama Administration put the Pentagon on a fiscal diet—even as it foisted new European-sized entitlements on America, starting with $2.6 trillion for ObamaCare. The White House proposed a $553 billion defense budget for 2012, $13 billion below what it projected last year. Through 2016, the Pentagon will see virtually zero growth in spending and will have to whittle down the Army and Marine Corps by 47,000 troops. The White House originally wanted deeper savings of up to $150 billion.

Mr. Gates deserves credit for fighting off the worst White House instincts, but his biggest defeat was not getting a share of the stimulus. Instead he has cut or killed some $350 billion worth of weapon programs. He told his four service chiefs last August to find $100 billion in savings. The White House pocketed that and asked for another $78 billion. Last year, Mr. Gates said that the Pentagon needs 2%-3% real budget growth merely to sustain what it's doing now, but it could make do with 1%. The White House gave him 0%.

In the Gates term, resources were focused on the demands of today's wars over hypothetical conflicts of tomorrow. This approach made sense at the start of his tenure in 2007, when the U.S. was in a hard fight in Iraq. Yet this has distracted from budgeting to address the rise of China and perhaps of regional powers like a nuclear Iran that will shape the security future. The decision to stop producing the F-22 fighter and to kill several promising missile defense programs may come back to haunt the U.S.

Mr. Gates knows well that America won't balance its budget by squeezing the Pentagon. "If you cut the defense budget by 10%, which would be catastrophic in terms of force structure, that's $55 billion out of a $1.4 trillion deficit," he told the Journal's CEO Council conference last November. "We are not the problem."

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...So what is? Mr. Gates acknowledged it only in passing this week, but the reality is that the entitlement state is crowding out national defense. Over two decades ago, liberal historian Paul Kennedy claimed that "imperial overstretch" had brought first the Romans, then the British and now Americans down to size. He was wrong then, but what's really happening now is "entitlement overstretch," to quote military analyst Andrew Krepinevich.

The American entitlement state was born with the New Deal, got fat with the Great Society of the 1960s and hit another growth spurt in the first two years of the Obama era. The big three entitlements—Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, plus other retirement and disability expenses—accounted for 4.9% of GDP by 1970, eclipsed defense spending in 1976 and stood at 9.8% as of last year. Under current projections, entitlements will eat up 10.8% of GDP by 2020, while defense spending goes down to 2.7%. On current trends, those entitlements will consume all tax revenues by 2052, estimates Mackenzie Eaglen of the Heritage Foundation.

Europe went down this yellow brick road decades ago and today spends just 1.7% of GDP on defense. The Europeans get a free security ride from America, but who will the U.S. turn to for protection—China?

As Reagan knew, America's global power begins at home, with a strong economy able to generate wealth. The push for defense cuts reflects the reality of a weak recovery and a national debt that has doubled in the last two years. But the Obama Administration made a conscious decision to squeeze defense while pouring money on everything else.

"More perhaps than any other Secretary of Defense, I have been a strong advocate of soft power—of the critical importance of diplomacy and development as fundamental components of our foreign policy and national security," Mr. Gates said at Notre Dame. "But make no mistake, the ultimate guarantee against the success of aggressors, dictators and terrorists in the 21st century, as in the 20th, is hard power—the size, strength and global reach of the United States military."

That's a crucial message for Republican deficit hawks, and especially for a Commander in Chief who inherited the capability to capture Osama bin Laden half way around the world but is on track to leave America militarily weaker than he found it.
8)For GOP, nowhere to go but up

In the hot-house world of presidential politics, these are the best of times for Democrats and the worst of times for Republicans. Still, the times that count come in November of 2012, a year and a half away — an eternity in politics.

Democrats are riding high with an engaging, charismatic president whom the vast majority of Americans instinctively like even as many grow uncomfortable with his policies.

President Barack Obama basks in the glow of having notched his commander-in-chief gun with Osama bin Laden. He’s on track to end unpopular wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He will claim he saved the American auto industry with his bailouts of GM and Chrysler.

For Republicans, disarray is the word most often used to describe their plight. No franchise front-runner captivates the party faithful. Quite the contrary, the rank and file are unhappy with the choices they see. Pundits, usually of the liberal persuasion but not without reason, see a chasm between the socially conservative and the fiscally conservative branches of the party with the potential to drain enthusiasm for the eventual nominee if one side is too disappointed. Democrats salivate at the possibility that anti-abortion absolutists or no-compromise Tea Partiers in the Iowa caucuses could give an early boost to the front ranks to an unelectable candidate such as Sarah Palin or Atlanta businessman Herman Cain.

Yet, if these are the worst of times for the GOP, then its fortunes have no place to go but up. In fact, one could argue the rebound has started. The flash-in-the-pan, ego-driven “Saturday Night Live” skit that was Donald Trump’s faux campaign drained the birther nonsense from the public stage. Newt Gingrich did the party a favor by imploding in the first week of his candidacy. Libertarian idol Ron Paul has taken the plunge again but is in danger of becoming the next Harold Stassen.

The spotlight is shifting to former governors with records of coping at the state level with fiscal issues not unlike those threatening the nation’s long-term economic health.

Tim Pawlenty, who declared his candidacy this week, won two terms in blue state Minnesota and earned plaudits for wrestling with a Democratic legislature to cut spending, lower taxes and achieve education and health-care reforms. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney raised a dazzling $10 million in one day, demonstrating that Obama is not the only one with fund-raising prowess. Jon Huntsman, the former governor of Utah, is a fresh face in national politics who impresses many voters with his gravitas in discussing the key issues of the day.

And there’s still time for other candidates to jump in if GOP voters continue to register dissatisfaction with their choices. High on the list is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a YouTube sensation thanks to his willingness to confront public employee unions demanding a gold credit card from the taxpayers. The conservative commentariat sees U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as a leader on fiscal issues who can explain in plain language the entitlement iceberg facing the nation while Democrats recklessly steer the Titanic ship of state full steam ahead. Christie and Ryan thus far are firmly resisting a draft, but who knows what may happen in this unpredictable political season?

For all his popularity, Obama has failed to create an economic environment fertile to job growth. He has no solution to falling home values. His reflex to wring more taxes from job creators and investors condemns more Americans to long-term unemployment. His dreams of green energy block exploitation of America’s fossil fuel wealth that could be the basis for economic rebound. Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress entangle business and finance in a vast web of new regulation. And he is spending the nation into bankruptcy.

By Election Day, the voters may decide the times require a different kind of president.

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