Sunday, May 31, 2009

Cat In Guatemala

I met a Lady on Twitter called, Cat.

She is, among other things, one Hell of a writer.
She is also extraordinarily involved with helping others.
She is in Guatemala now, bringing Medical services to the poor.
This is her latest article 

Please check out her blog, it will be worth it!

I'm working on some articles, and I have some Barry Rubin stuff coming up.
Come back, Chaverim!!

Michael Blackburn, Sr.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mr. Netanyahu Goes to Washington direct terms the supposedly “hardline” Netanyahu and allegedly “Israel-hating” (albeit certainly not Israel-loving) Obama may get along better than predicted.

By Barry Rubin
First Posted on  RubinReports

There’s no question that the Obama administration is less warm toward Israel than those of Clinton, Reagan, or George W. Bush’s first six years. But is it worse than the late George W. or all the Bush I and Jimmy Carter administrations? We’re about to find out.

The bottom line is that the basis of the relationship is still secure, in no small part because each side wants—and can get—something from the other. Israel says: You want us to cooperate on Palestinians? You cooperate on Iran! The United States says the same thing, albeit in reverse. And each side understands this is what they both want to do.

Many have made big claims to the contrary without much hard evidence, based on Obama’s cool-toward-Israel background and his eagerness to engage radical forces; wishful thinking in anti-Israel media; hatred of Obama in some pro-Israel circles; and misunderstanding Israeli government positions through error or malice. 

Often, the Obama administration is blamed or credited with breaking new ground when it’s simply repeating predecessors’ positions. A U.S. government favoring a two-state solution (it’s a pity the Palestinians don’t also do so), opposing settlements, or proclaiming it will solve the conflict real fast isn’t new. The widespread claim that the administration threatened Israel’s nuclear arsenal is also wrong, based on a general statement that all countries should join the Non-Proliferation Treaty which was actually aimed at justifying a current U.S. nuclear deal with India.

Posturing and pretending is a far bigger factor than real pressure against Israel. U.S. officials supposedly said progress on Iranian nuclear weapons depends on progress in the peace process. This is simply a way to leverage minimal Israeli cooperation on the peace process. After all, will the administration try harder or less hard on Iran depending on whether the peace process advances? Obviously not. And neither Israel nor the Palestinians will give more concessions to each other if Iran’s nuclear program slows down. 

The other thing going on here is the administration’s search for easy victories. U.S. officials will say: “That hardline Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wanted to build dozens of settlements while refusing to talk to Palestinians or accept a two-state solution, but we sure showed him how to behave!” When in fact, Netanyahu would have done precisely the same things without any supposed pressure. 

Of course, when the administration tries to get the Arab states or Palestinian leadership to do anything, that’s when its problems begin. And nothing whatsoever of great significance will happen in the peace process.

Still, the administration will be able to tell the American public: “We said we’d succeed in making advances and we’ve done so!”

Yes, that’s how politics and diplomacy works.

Basically, the administration wants Netanyahu to act as prime minister about the same as Tsipi Livni or Ehud Barak, leader of the two other main parties, would. Any “pressure” will not be to make big concessions but rather not to raise demands too high. 

Netanyahu and his team are not foolish or—as a group—extremist. Their program, though somewhat tougher than that of their predecessor, is not all that different and is certainly something the U.S. government can accept. 

There’s been much nonsense about Netanyahu government positions. He’s not going to annex territory or stop negotiating, or condition talks on accepting Israel as a Jewish state or eliminating Iran’s nuclear weapons’ program. He won’t attack Iran next week or reject the magical words: “two-state solution.”

What he will do—backed by Defense Minister and Labor party leader Barak—is to assert that Israel will only make concessions if it receiveds concessions. For example, the Road Map, which Netanyahu endorses and both the administration and EU reveres, puts obligations on the PA which Israel wants to see met.

Contrary to breathless insistence on imminent success, the Obama administration doesn’t believe it’s going to get a comprehensive solution soon. Nor is it going to bash Israel, break completely with historic U.S. policy, or go soft on Hamas.

Does this mean there are no problems regarding Obama administration policy in the Middle East? No and here’s a long list of them:

--U.S. policy toward Iran is too soft and unintentionally encourages Tehran to be more aggressive. Efforts at engagement with the Islamist regime will slow down any application of tougher sanctions and increases the likelihood that one day Israel will have to choose between attacking or watching Iran get nuclear weapons. If Israel were to attack, it could not expect support by the Obama administration (but the same was basically true, though slightly less so, for the Bush administration).

--U.S. policy toward Syria is leading Damascus to believe it can get away with murder continue sponsoring terrorism at no cost, and extending its power over Lebanon.

--The Obama administration isn’t energetic enough on helping moderates in Lebanon which means that Syria and Iran may well control the government there after the June eletion. If the radicals win in Lebanon, U.S. policy might deal with a government in which Hizballah is a leading member, though administration officials insist this won’t happen.

--Being less warm toward Israel overall the Obama administration will be less forthcoming on some key military equipment and less likely to brief and coordinate with Israeli leaders. (Though this administration which talks so much about multilateralism doesn’t seem to be doing these things with Britain either.) 

--When facing a major Middle East crisis which affects Israeli interests directly or indirectly, can the Obama administration be depended on to have the understanding, determination, and toughness to handle it well?

--Given the cooler attitude to Israel, there can all manner of minor pinpricks and frictions which may have no lasting or major impact but will create short-term difficulties. The correct description is more likely to be "rude" rather than "hostile."

Despite all these genuine issues, however, in direct terms the supposedly “hardline” Netanyahu and allegedly “Israel-hating” (albeit certainly not Israel-loving) Obama may get along better than predicted.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

President Obama: You've Paid for the Report, Now Read It

By Barry Rubin *
May 2, 2009

The U.S. State Department has produced excellent research and analysis in its "Country Reports on Terrorism 2008" report just released.
Now the only problem is to ensure the Obama administration reads and absorbs the contents.
What can this report teach U.S. policymakers?
Regarding Iran, their government has massive evidence of its continuing role as "the most significant state sponsor of terrorism." Why is Iran doing this? According to the State Department, "To advance its key national security and foreign policy interests, which include regime survival, regional dominance, opposition to Arab-Israeli peace, and countering Western influence, particularly in the Middle East." That's right, and it's not going to change, especially once Iran has nuclear weapons.
Not only does Tehran use the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (the institution most supportive of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) "to clandestinely cultivate and support" Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hizballah; plus radical Islamist groups in Afghanistan, the Balkans, and in Iraq against U.S. forces.
As for Syria, events highlighted its "ties to the world's most notorious terrorists," including the death of Hizballah Operations Chief Imad Mugniyah, killed while under Syrian government protection. "Among other atrocities, Mugniyah was wanted for the 1983 bombings of the Marine barracks and U.S. Embassy in Beirut, which killed over 350." Moreover, as the report shows, Syria has been tightening its alliance with Iran and continued financing terrorism.
While U.S. efforts reduced their numbers, terrorists destabilizing Iraq continued coming in "predominantly through Syria," and "receiving weapons and training from Iran."
Here's the bottom line: Not only do Syria and Iran believe that destabilizing the region, bullying or controlling their neighbors, and expelling U.S. influence is in their interest but they're also directly involved in trying to kill Americans.
What about Hizballah, the Lebanese Shia terrorist group? The report has no illusions:
Hizballah "receives training, weapons, and explosives, as well as political, diplomatic, and organizational aid from Iran, and diplomatic, political, and logistical support from Syria....The group generally follows the religious guidance of...Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Hizballah is closely allied with Iran and often acts at its behest, though it also acts independently....The group has helped Syria advance its political objectives in the region."
It has been involved, "In numerous anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli terrorist attacks," including, "The suicide truck bombings of the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, and the U.S. Embassy annex in Beirut in 1984, and the 1985 hijacking of TWA flight 847, during which a U.S. Navy diver was murdered."
Now, "Hizballah has provided training to select Iraqi Shia militants, including the construction and use of shaped charge IEDs that can penetrate heavily-armored vehicles...."
So Hizballah is an ally of Iran and Syria, involved in killing and kidnapping Americans. Should U.S. policy, then, not actively oppose Hizballah taking over Lebanon? And if Hizballah is part of the Lebanese government after the June elections shouldn't the United States reject dealings and stop all aid to that regime? Regarding Israel, the report says that in response to, "regular and indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza." Citing Israeli figures, the report notes, "Palestinian terrorist groups fired approximately 1,750 rockets and 1,528 mortars into Israel in 2008," double the previous year's total. "On December 18, HAMAS leadership announced the end of the ceasefire," during which it had been firing without cease. Thereafter rockets of longer range and in larger quantities were shot at Israel, disrupting life in the country's south. And this was the reason why Israel had no choice but to launch a major military operation in the Gaza Strip.
In looking at other terrorist threats, the report lists positive and negative developments. On the plus side, al-Qaida has "lost ground" in general and especially in Iraq ("significant defections, lost key mobilization areas, suffered disruption of support infrastructure and funding....").
But, on the minus side, al-Qaida is trying to launch operations in North Africa, its local affiliate is waging war in Somalia, and the group operates freely in Pakistan areas across the border from Afghanistan. The Taliban's threat is also increasing. Europe, too, is becoming an area of serious concern as radicalization continues there among "immigrant populations, youth and alienated minorities...." I think that means Muslims. "Terrorists and extremists [are] manipulating the grievances of alienated youth or immigrant populations, and then cynically exploiting those grievances to subvert legitimate authority and create unrest."
How, according to the report, should terrorism be fought in the West? "Treat immigrant and youth populations not as a threat to be defended against, but as a target of enemy subversion to be protected and supported." There's a brief but interesting brief discussion on how to do this.
On one hand, "community leaders [must] take responsibility for the actions of members within their communities and act to counteract extremist propaganda and subversion." That seems to suggest that Muslim leaders who insist their communities have nothing to do with extremism, violence, and hate-mongering actually combat these things rather than spend all their energy attacking anyone who suggests otherwise.
The other is that government must find partners in "credible organizations/people who can do what governments cannot." That's fine. But are they talking about working with true moderates or being fooled by the local affiliates and cheerleaders for Iran, Syria, Hizballah, Hamas, or the Muslim Brotherhood?
Let President Obama read this report. I can't think of any more effective way for challenging the idea that apologies or dialogues with the sponsors and perpetrators of terrorism is going to change their behavior.

Gloria Center IDC Hezliya
Global Research in International Affairs

American Jews Unwavering in Support of Obama

American Jews are unwavering in their support of the new president, according to a new Gallup poll.
Tracking polls conducted through Obama's first 100 days in office show that 79 percent of Jews approve of Obama's performance so far, about the same percentage that voted for him last November.
Liberal Jews showed overwhelming support for the Democratic president, with 96% approving of his job performance. Among those who described themselves as moderate, 77% approved of Obama.
Jewish conservatives split evenly, with 45% approving of Obama and 45% disapproving.

Obama Enjoys Support of Most Israelis

60% of Israelis have a favorable opinion of Obama, although many say its too early to decide whether or not his policies will be helpful to Israel, according to BESA Center-ADL.
Although some have expressed concern about the Administration's policy of engagement, most agree that the Bush Policies basically failed and made the world a more dangerous place.
"We strengthen America when America's image is stronger around the world," Rahm Emanuel said Monday night in speaking to the nearly 400 ADL delegates gathered from across the country for the League's National Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. "Our image in the world is different today because of the leadership of the President."
Like former President Bush, President Obama is calling for the two-state solution, and according to a recent survey by the Jewish lobby group J Street, 76 percent of American Jews support a two-state solution. Participants at the most recent AIPAC conference are being told to urge their elected representatives to press the Obama administration for that goal.
Most Americans also support the Obama administration, with only the far right and allied hate groups sounding alarm.
Here is a sample of some of the reactions from the far right political spectrum:

"Tragedy" for America: White supremacist and former Klansman David Duke announced on an Internet radio show on election night that, "I believe tonight is a night of tragedy and sadness for our people in many ways … the country is not recognizable any more."
• Predicting a "Race War:" While some racists announced that they would leave the United States, others suggested that Obama's election win would provide a catalyst that would move whites to become active racists. Some predicted the election would prove a boon to racist recruitment efforts. Still others suggested they were planning on arming themselves with guns and ammunition to defend themselves in a coming "race war."
• Calls to Violence: While making no direct threats against the president-elect, some white supremacists expressed a hope that Obama would be killed or die while in office. One racist referred to a recent alleged plot by neo-Nazi skinheads to kill Obama and minorities, expressing a hope that someone else would carry out an assassination attempt: "… hopefully he'll get assassinated before he gets into office. Just don't be (expletive) idiots about it like those skinheads were," wrote "Trellen R." An anonymous poster on white supremacist Hal Turner's blog went further: "Someone will kill him! And I will celebrate! It's just a matter of time."

• Blaming Jews: Not surprisingly, many white supremacists are blaming Jews, suggesting that Jews control U.S. government and media and promote multiculturalism. Others suggested Jews exercised control over the Obama campaign and the Democratic Party.
Although it is true that President Bush was a failure, and left America and the world a more dangerous, economically unstable world, signs are that the situation is improving, and even most undecided Americans say, "Wait and see." before condemning the Administration.

The Chomsky Hoax

The Chomsky Hoax
Exposing the Dishonesty of Noam Chomsky