So Who Is In Charge Of US Foreign Policy?
While everyone knows, ultimately it is the President of the United States, usually it is the Secretary of the State who carries the foreign policy ball for the president.Except when the newly seated US ambassador to the UN decides she’s the one speaking for the US:The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said on Monday the new administration would
 
For heaven sake, that’s what Americans are for!
Well Europe finally has the US president they want and how do they say "boy are we glad you’re the man?"France’s defence minister on Wednesday appeared to rule out any immediate reinforcement of French troops in Afghanistan if requested by Barack Obama, the new US president.Hervé Morin said deploying additional French forces to t
 
Venezuealan News
He tried a referendum to repeal presidential term-limits, but that was voted down. Now he’s gotten his rubber-stamp legislature to pass a constitutional amendment to end term-limits:The amendment, which applies to all elected officials, must be approved by a referendum within 30 days, a vote correspondents say is set to be close.Mr Chavez urged a change in the la
 
Those clouds are having a tough time parting
Oh noes!Dozens of Iranians burnt posters of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama in Tehran on Tuesday and waved Palestinian flags in support of Gaza, according to a witness and photographs. Iranian demonstrators have often burnt effigies or pictures of U.S. presidents in protests. This appeared to be the first time Obama’s picture had been defaced so publicly, a week b
 
Baffled Europeans? Nothing new there ...
Some things never change:The bitter gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine descended into near-chaos on Tuesday, leaving European Union diplomats baffled as promises to restart supplies fully were broken and Moscow suggested that the US had meddled in the affair.Really? They’re "baffled"? By what - Russia acting like Russia?
 
Blogger call with Benjamin Netanyahu
Today I sat in on a blogger call with former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Obviously I expected to hear Israel’s side of the story on the call and wasn’t disappointed. Mr. Netanyahu is a very able speaker and in the short 1/2 hour call, was able to cover a lot of ground and answer a number of questions.I had submitted a question by email earlier and that question was asked early in the call. The question asked what Netanyahu wo
 
Gaza, Hamas, Iran and Israel
If you ever doubted that Iran views the current conflict in Gaza as a proxy war, this report from an Egyptian official about the Iranian reaction to the cease-fire Egypt was trying to broker should help you resolve that doubt:The Egyptian official said that the two Iranian emissaries, Ali Larijani, Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, an
 
Always Root for the Underdog?
Ezra Klein on intentionality versus results: Chait makes a common claim, which is that all analysis of the Israel/Palestinian conflict has to begin from a place of intentionality. "Hamas has a problem with Israel because Hamas believes Israel has no right to exist," he writes. "Israel has a problem with Hamas
 
Israel-Palestine: Tell me how this ends
Megan McArdle dispenses some wisdom today about the seemingly never-ending Israel-Palestine conflict.After all the perceived wrongs of actions and reactions going back before living memory, nobody’s going to convince enough people on either side to just give it up, to end this conflict. When the justice of acts isn’t quickly settled to everyone&r
 
Other Palestinian reaction to the Gaza Attacks
Unlike apologists for Hamas here in the US, such as the Juicebox Mafia (I can’t help it, that name fits that crew about as well as any I’ve seen) even the Palestinians on the West Bank understand who is at fault for the violence in Gaza right now:
 
Not a very nice prediction for the upcoming Obama administration
This is not exactly the "change" most Americans are hoping for, that’s for sure.I would guess, by now, you’ve heard of the predictions a Russian Professor has made saying the United States will cease to exist as united states in the year 2010. Professor Panarin is a former KGB analyst and he claims to have gotten his forecast info from the FAPSI, the equivalent
 
I just don’t get the left’s argument
Ezra Klein quotes the New York Times:This is the paragraph that I can’t get out of my head:Hamas had in recent weeks let it be known that it doubted Israel would engage in a major military undertaking because of its coming elections. But in some ways the elections have made it impossible for officials like Mr. Barak n
 
Hamas attacks, Israel counter-attacks
Or at least that’s the way it seems to me. Hamas has been lobbing rockets into Israel for quite some time in defiance of a supposed cease fire. Israel finally responds targeting Hamas sites that it has identified by intelligence work for months. Even Hamas, who routinely places its weaponry in civilian areas and has injured and killed its own people with "friendly fire", admits that about 80% of those killed in the strike were Hamas fighters or officials. U
 
Ah Europe. I can just smell the smoke ...
As mentioned before, it is riot season in Europe again.Greek rioters are still having their way even though the event they’re purportedly protesting took place 13 days ago.Rioters ran rampant in Athens and dozens of other Greek cities. Scores of people have been injured, cars and public buildings have been firebombed and schools have been occupied. Pr
 
"It comes with the territory. Get used to it."
Matthew Kaminski throws a little cold water on the expectations of those who are sure that Obama will "restore our reputation in the world."One hates to spoil a good party, but here’s a bet that’s far safer these days than a U.S. Treasury bill: Even with Obama at the White House, they won’t really like us any more than before.
 
Testing Obama
Indications are that the Russians intend to test the Obama administration soon after the inauguration. John Rood, under secretary of state for arms control and international security, said that indications are the Russians are delaying any further talks about the missile shield in anticipation of dealing with Obama:“They have paused wit
 
Russia to join OPEC in cutting oil production
Russia just can’t help itself. After mumbling this or that about attempted conciliation with western democracies, it then does something like sending naval ships to Venezuela or Cuba, threatening Poland with annihilation if it bases US interceptor missiles on its land, invades Georgia, or, in its latest move, threatens to join OPEC.Whether or not it does so, it may as well be a part of the cartel as it has agreed to work in conjunction with OPEC to
 
Is it Riot Season in Europe already?
Where does the time go? A new year is ushered in, the economy melts down, you have a presidential election and the next thing you know is they’re rioting in Europe again.Naturally, the rioting is being driven by the ubiquitous European "youths". Of course they began in Greece over the police killing of a 15 year-old Greek youth. And they’ve spread:In Den
 
Good for Sarkozy
Sometimes things just need to be said. The French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, articulates the feelings of many around the globe as it concerns Iran’s leadership. Frankly I find it refreshing, especially given what the Iranians have said about other countries and their leaders:In the speech, given on 8 December on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human
 
Iran - So what’s happening there while we "transition?"
Iran has decided that Mr. Obama’s touted "carrot and stick" approach is just more of the same:Iran said Monday that it would not abandon its nuclear program and urged President-elect Barack Obama to change America’s “carrot-and-stick policy” toward Iran, the official IRNA news agency reported.Hassan Ghashghavi, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said that Iran, which has r
 
Russia near economic collapse?
Fifty dollar a barrel oil certainly isn’t helping the situation:The fall in oil prices from $147 this July to below $50 today has blown a gaping hole in the government’s budget calculations. It is now facing a $150bn shortfall in its spending plans - and will have to slash expenditure in 2009.Today Putin sought to assure hard-up
 
Israel v. Iran - coming soon?
My contention has been that an Obama win in the presidential race would see an Israeli attack on Iran before the inauguration on Jan. 20. That’s because Israel isn’t at all sure of how supportive of Israel an Obama administration would be.Paul Sheehan of the Sydney Morning Herald brings us this:
 
Venezuelan elections - Hugo’s Star Fading?
If you believe Sunday’s state and local elections will be free and fair election, then, according to some, Chavez could see a bit of a set-back:According to the latest polls, the government of Hugo Chavez, the outspoken anti-US president, may lose up to a third of the states – undermining any attempts to push forward a major constitutional reform ag
 
Hugo’s Socialist Paradise ...
Has a murder (crime) problem: Homicides have soared from fewer than 6,000 in Chávez’s first year in office to 13,156 last year, according to official government statistics collected and released by private research organizations. That amounts to a homicide rate of 48 killings per 100,000 people, among the highest in the world and more than
 
Taliban: Execution of Taliban murderers would be a "barbaric act"
There may not be a word in Dari or Pashto for "chutzpa", but the Taliban have it:Afghanistan’s Taliban, notorious for summary public executions, urged the United Nations on Thursday to press the Afghan government to stop executing prisoners on death row, citing concern about fair trials.Afghanistan resumed executions this week after a break of more than a ye
 
In Other Foreign Policy News
President-elect Obama had a 15 minute conversation with the President of Poland, Lech Kaczynski. Here’s how the Polish leader remembers it:Mr. Kaczynski issued a statement in the Polish-language section of his Web site saying the U.S. president-elect "emphasized the importance of the strategic partnership of Poland and the United State
 
Naivete Shows in First Foreign Policy Faux Pas
Well this ought to forge tighter relations between the incoming administration and Israel:Ahmad Yousuf, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh’s political advisor, said that during the recent US presidential race a secret meeting between senior Islamist group figures and advisors to President-elect Barack Obama was held in Gaza. "We were in contact with a number
 
The Putin in Sheep’s Clothing
The fog begins to lift and the plan to manipulate of "democracy" in Russia in Putin’s favor becomes more apparent:Russian President Dmitry Medvedev could resign from his post in 2009 to pave the way for Vladimir Putin to return to the Kremlin, Vedomosti newspaper reported on Thursday, citing an unidentified source close to the Kremlin.Medvedev W
 
To the rest of the world - get stuffed!
I can’t begin to put into word my disgust with this Sally Fields-ish "you like me, you really do" attitude of some Americans. I really don’t care one whit what the rest of the world thinks of me as an American as long as I’m satisfied with being one.And I’m well satisfied.I also want to make the point that the fickle and condescending (aren’t we good little boys and girls to have done something not even one Europ
 
Russia Congratulates Obama with a Threat (update)
Well that didn’t take long:In a wide-ranging attack on the United States as it elected a new president, the Russian leader Dmitri A. Medvedev warned on Wednesday that Moscow might deploy short-range missiles in the Baltic region to counter a perceived threat from a proposed American missile defense shield in eastern Europe.[...]
 
Spendthrift Amadinejad faces criticism
You may remember reports of Iran’s leaders gloating that the financial meltdown was God’s punishment being visited on the West (and specifically the US).What they apparently didn’t foresee while gloating was that the price of oil would drop like a rock, from its high of $147 a barrel, to its present $65 a barrel.And guess who is at the center of the criticism?Iran plunged this week into a bitter storm of political
 
The Khalidi Tape and the LA Times
The McCain campaign is accusing the LA Times of bias in its refusal to release a tape in its possession which covers a going away party in 2003 for Rashid Khalidi which Barack Obama attended and at which he apparently spoke. It is alleged the tape contains speeches by others containing anti-Israeli and antisemitic statements by other speakers, and praise for Khalidi by Obama.The  
He said, he said ...
On the one hand, you have the Israeli newspaper Harretz saying this:French President Nicolas Sarkozy is very critical of U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama’s positions on Iran, according to reports that have reached Israel’s government.Sarkozy has made his criticisms only in closed forums in France. But according to a senior Israeli government source,
 
Baby Milk Factory or Aspirin Factory? Does it matter?
American attack helicopters struck a target in Syria which the US military contends was a part of a network which moves Sunni foreign fighters into Iraq.Syria claims it was a farm building under construction and the US killed a farmer, his four sons, a married couple and another man.The target was about 5 miles (8km)  
From the mouth of Obama’s VP pick
Joe Biden makes the strongest case yet why not to elect Barack Obama:"Mark my words," the Democratic vice presidential nominee warned at the second of his two Seattle fundraisers Sunday. "It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We’re about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator pres
 
It ain’t paranoia if they’re out to get you ...
Oh, my."Infidel Birds Spy for Great Satan":Authorities in Iran nabbed two birds believed to be “spy pigeons” near the country’s contentious nuclear facility, the Agence France-Presse reported Monday.Both pigeons were caught near the city of Natanz, which is home to Iran’s uranium enrichment plant, AFP reported. Both had metal rings and invisible strings a
 
The war in Pakistan
I began to write "the war in Pakistan", changed it to "Afganistan" and then realized that in fact I was indeed writing about the war in Pakistan.There is a war going on there you know?Al Qaeda, in it’s usual fashion, managed to gain the attention of the new government of Pakistan by blowing up a Marriott Hotel there recently. Instead of being satisfied with being left esse
 
About those "preconditions"
Apparently Barack Obama would be pleased as punch to hold talks with Iran without any preconditions (and yes his denial concerning this point is pure BS), Iran wouldn’t:Vice President for Media Affairs Mehdi Kalhor said on Saturday that Iran has set two preconditions for holding talks with the United States of America.In an exclusive interview with I
 
That didn’t take long
I sometimes wonder why we bother."Friend" one said today:In a speech delivered to European leaders at a conference hosted by President Nicolas Sarkozy of France to discuss the international financial crisis, Mr Medvedev sought to show that the United States was at the root of all th
 
"May you live in interesting times"
The old Chinese saying certainly describes the situation in the world today, doesn’t it?The financial crisis, of course, has reached global proportions. And a very necessary ally, and very shaky democracy, is in trouble:Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves are so low that the country can only afford o
 
Iran forced US plane to land in Iran?
That’s what AFP is reporting:Iranian fighter jets have forced a US warplane to land in Iran after it entered its air space without permission, the Fars news agency said Tuesday. Developing...
 
Things to keep in mind
Whoever the next president might be, he will be faced not only with the financial crisis we’re now navigating (using the Titanic’s navigator), but in his area of authority - foreign policy - he has a volatile Middle East, and a restive Central and South America. Old and new players, with the same basic ideology, are again engaging in
 
Make ’em walk the plank
Apparently it is one thing for pirates to take over a cruise ship or some coastal freighter, but when they decide to hijack a ship with 33 T-72 tanks, they end up bringing more attention to themselves than they probably wanted:Somalia authorized foreign powers Wednesday to use force against pirates holding a ship loaded with tanks for $20 million ransom, rais
 
Fallout continues for Russia after Georgian invasion
Apparently Russia didn’t do as well as it has been touted to have done in the invasion of Georgia:What I learned in briefings from defense and diplomatic officials — many of them bright young people in their early 30s — is being confirmed by reports filtering out of Russia. Georgian Deputy Defense Minister Batu Kutelia told me that 1700
 
NoKo: "Keep us on the terror list - that’s fine with us"
North Korea continues to send conflicting signals to the rest of the world, seeming to want to join the family of nations one week and reverting to its usual bombast another: North Korea said Friday that it no longer wished to be removed from the United States’ terrorism blacklist, signaling that it is hardening its stance amid reports that its leader, Kim Jong-il, may be seriously ill.
 
Pigs and Lipstick - this time I’m talking about Chavez
I know what you’re thinking - aw, not that again. But I’m talking about a different pig with a load of lipstick.That would be Hugo Chavez’s "socialist paradise" in Venezuela.Apparently the old boy is feeling froggy. Now that his new buddy Russia is going to engage in naval ops in the Caribbean with his pop-gun navy he’s ready to again try to beard the lion.And the problems Evo Morales has fomented in Boliv
 
Running thoughts on the “Bush Doctrine” question
Considering how much reading I do, I surprise even myself to see how often I return to one author for wisdom: Philip Bobbitt. As soon as Charlie Gibson posed the “Bush Doctrine” question to Gov. Palin, my mind immediately turned to Bobbitt’s most recent book, Terror and Consent, in which Bobbitt lends some much-needed clarity to the subject. I wish I could excerpt all seven pages that discuss the Bush Doctrine specifically, but I’m going to have to get by
 
Let’s Be Clear About "World Opinion"
I was going to write something earlier today about the insipid little poll of world opinion concerning the upcoming Presidential Election. That post didn’t happen because I thought it would be too intemperate and contrary to my actual feelings about "world opinion." But then, some ponce has the temerity to wr
 
Scared Straight
Although Norway is nowhere near Georgia geographically, what has happened there has caused some in Norway to be concerned with Russia’s intentions in their neck of the woods:Several Norwegian opposition politicians say Russia’s intervention in the South Ossetia crisis shows that the country has Great Power aspirations, w
 
It is called "a show of force"
I told you yesterday about the 3 US ships headed toward the Georgian coast. There is also a Polish warship with them.Says our friend and spokesman for the Russian military, Gen Nogovitsyn:’NATO is enhancing its military pr
 
Developments in Georgia
While we await the announcement of Obama’s VP candidate (why in the world announce it on a Friday afternoon? I guess in time for the Sunday shows.), some new things are happening in and around Georgia.For one, Turkey okayed the passage of three American ships into the Black Sea:In anticipation of the Russian withdrawal that Russian President Medvedev assured the world
 
One thing Russia didn’t have to contend with previously
Given the points that Ralph Peters makes about the West and Russia, there is one new aspect of this old game that Russia didn’t previously have to concern itself with:Russia has seen foreign reserves decline, a sign that the market is more nervous about investing in the region since the recent conflict in Georgia.Central Bank figures show reserves were sharply dow
 
The pattern repeats
Ralph Peters takes a look at the Russo-Georgian confrontation and points out that in reality, this is nothing new. Russia, observing what has been going on with Iran and the West, did what it was sure it could get away with: The result? Russia won this war, energetically integrating the various elemen
 
Whoops, wrong example
Allahpundit nails Obama about something he said in Virgina recently.The quote:“We’ve got to send a clear message to Russia and unify our allies,” Obama told a crowd of supporters in Virginia. “They can’t charge into other countries. Of course it helps if we are leading by example on that point.”
 
Totten in Georgia
Michael Totten is in Georgia and brings us some reactions from the citizens there:Senator John McCain may have overstated things a bit when, shortly after the war started, he said, “We are all Georgians now.” But apparently even rank-and-file Russian soldiers view the Georgians and Americans as allies. Likewise, these simple Georgian country women seem to understand who their frien
 
Bluff or Belligerence?
Russia continues to up the ante in the Georgian affair:"This is the essence of it," Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy chief of the army general staff, told reporters at a briefing. He showed maps detailing the proposed Russian positions, one just outside the key city of Gori."The president ordered us to stop wh
 
The Russian side of the story
An amazing article in the Wall Street Journal by Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister entitled "America Must Choose Between Russia and Georgia".Just the title alone ups the ante and immediately pisses me off.First Lavrov spins the Russian version of things, neatly avoiding the provocation of South Ossetian insurgent forces. You&rsquo
 
Another Reason Why Democrats Can’t Be Trusted With Foreign Policy
Russia has made its move. Poland has suddenly agreed to base a US missile defense system in their country. That’s an extremely important counter-move. But the Dems in Congress don’t want to do anything until the system is "proven" (it is a system they’ve fought tooth and nail since it was envisioned b
 
Token movement or an actual withdrawal?
That is the question:A small column of Russian tanks and armored vehicles left the strategically key Georgian city of Gori on Tuesday and a Russian officer said they were heading back to South Ossetia and then Russia.The column, which also apparently included a mobile rocket-launcher, passed the village of Ruisi, outside Gori on the road to South Osset
 
Keeping an eye on Georgia
One of the questions I’ve been asking since the Russian invasion of Georgia is how the necessary buildup and staging of troops by Russia could have been missed by Georgia. As I’ve noted before, unless troops are prepared and staged to go on order, an army cannot react in the time the Russians did. That means there were signs and indicators that such a move was forthcoming.  
Ukraine reacts to Russian "peacekeeping"
Apparently the Ukraine has decided it doesn’t want to be Belarus or Georgia.Ukraine yesterday offered to create a joint missile defence network with the West amid fears that its port city of Sebastopol, home of the Russian Black Sea fleet, could become the next flashpoint between Russia and its former satellites.The Ukrainian offer, which mea
 
Russian Fairy Tales
Expanding on what McQ noted earlier, the Washington Post takes a sharp knife to Russian excuses for invading Georgia, and in particular shredding the genocide claims:Georgia committed genocide against the people of South Ossetia. This charge was initially leveled by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and has
 
So How’s that cease fire going so far?
If you ask the Georgian government, not so well. And the sovereignty thing? Fuggitaboudit:Georgia’s Foreign Ministry said late Saturday that Russian-backed separatists from the province of Abkhazia have seized a power plant and 13 villages in Georgia.A ministry statement said Russian army units and separatist militants shifted the border of breakaway Abkhazia t
 
Some things never change
Dale hit you with a bit of historical analysis yesterday from Sir Edward Creasy concerning Russia.I’ll follow that up with a short entry from the Sept. 16, 1924 edition of the Times of London:
 
Just Like old Times
Well, it looks as if Russia has dusted off some of the old hacks from TASS, and put them to work explaining the situation in Georgia.RUSSIANS were told over breakfast yesterday what really happened in Georgia: the conflict in South Ossetia was part of a plot by US Vice-President Dick Cheney to stop Barack Obama being elected president of the US.
 
Same story, different nation - same outcome?
Many acknowledge that the Iraqi "awakening", which began in Anbar province, was partially driven by al Qaeda brutality. Another aspect, of course, was AQ’s sometimes absurd, but brutally enforced dictums - such as women not being allowed to buy "male" vegetables such as cucumbers. But the callous and unflinching brutality and the murderous zeal in which it was carried out ostracized the Sunni community in Anbar from the al Qaeda terrorists there and caused the
 
Action, reaction
Well, one of the first bits of fall-out from the Russian invasion of Georgia has Poland inking a deal with the US to move defensive missile systems into that country:Poland and the United States struck a deal Thursday that will strengthen military ties and put an American missile interceptor base in Poland, a plan that has infuriated Moscow and
 
Two Questions And Observations
In what’s sure to be a vain attempt, I will try to live up to this site’s name with two questions and observations.Question #1: Does Russia’s recent incursion into Georgia have more to do with threatening the entire NATO alliance than just scuttling Georgia’s inclusion in it?Question #2: Did Russia do us a favor?Observation #1: There is much consensus that at least one of Russia&rsquo
 
Russia Wins
The Russians are sitting in the catbird seat and they know it. And they’re acting like the Russians usually do when they think they’re holding all the cards. Today the US and France issued a joint statement by US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and French President Nikolas Sarkozy."The United States of America stands strongly, and the president of
 
Krauthammer (and others) whiffs
Charles Krauthammer looks at the war in Georgia and decides while there’s not much we can do, there are some things we should do. What is to be done? Let’s be real. There’s nothing to be done militarily. What we can do is alter Putin’s cost-benefit calculations.We are not without resources. There are a range of
 
More Russo-Georgian war ...
The Heritage Foundation’s Ariel Cohen believes Russia has 5 strategic goals in mind with its invasion of Georgia: 1. Expulsion of Georgian troops and termination of Georgian sovereignty in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. 2. “Regime change” by bringing down President Mikheil Saakashvili and installing a more pro-Russian leadership in Tbi
 
Plan B for Iran
Haaretz entitles their piece "US Puts Brakes on Israeli Plan For Attack on Iran Nuclear Facilities". In reality, if Haaretz is to be believed, the US said "no" to some "military equipment and support" they feel they need to better attack the Iranian facilities. Those could perhaps be anything from refueling help to bunker busters.However, what Haaretz doesn’t say
 
Russo-Georgian War - a few observations
The first, via Ralph Peters, on a more tactical level. It has to do with the Russian response to the Ossetia "crisis". For all that US commentators and diplomats are still chattering about Russia’s "response" to Georgia’s actions, the Kremlin spent months planning and preparing this operation. Any soldier above the gr
 
Is Georgia Worth Going to War Over? (update)
Russian troops are apparently bent on destroying the Georgian military as they continue their thrust into Georgia. The mission of Russia now appears to be "regime change" and it compares the invasion of Georgia to the US invasion of Iraq:Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chafed at the criticism, likening Russia’s moves against Georgia to the U.S.-le
 
Moonbats, Rove, South Ossetia and Iran
For some, everything is a conspiracy to keep Democrats out of office (Because, you know, it couldn’t be about the message. That wouldn’t be enough to keep them out.).And if they have to twist a bit to make it fit, well, they don’t mind. Today from Blake Fleetwood, a HuffPo post entitled "What a Convenient Little W
 
The Bear resurgent
The Russian invasion of Georgia is more than just a military action, it is a statement to the world that Russia is back and seeking to regain its superpower status.In a carefully chosen military action, it is essentially thumbing its nose at the West and especially NATO. I say carefully chosen because unlike the Ukraine, for instance, there is very little if anything we can do of any immediacy to help Georgia right now. Mounting any sort of m
 
Georgia vs Finland
Zbigniew Brzezinski strikes a note from our discussion on tonights podcast and compares the invasion of Georgia with Stalin’s assault on Finland. If Georgia can hold up the military end of that analogy it would be quite impressive. I am not holding my breath.
 
So, does it go uphill or downhill from here?
Day one, the Olympiad in China begins and what grabs the headlines?A relative of the US men’s volleyball coach has been killed and another family member seriously injured in an attack in Beijing, the US Olympic Committee has said in a statement.The man killed was a US citizen and the injured victim was an American woman, Beijing
 
US Intelligence: ISI Helped Plan Attack
From the NYT:American intelligence agencies have concluded that members of Pakistan’s powerful spy service helped plan the deadly July 7 bombing of India’s embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, according to United States government officials.The conclusion was based on intercepted communications between Pakistani intelligence officers and militants who carried out the attack, the officials sa
 
The Lebanese Mouse
Is war the enemy of trade? Does trade lessen the chance of war? Or, despite the uncomfortable implications, does war lead to trade? The experience of Lebanon and Syria war suggests it can, and history is replete with examples, as Lebanon is invading Syria with capital and direct investment. Lee Garnett delves into the history of similar phenomena, ranging from Bastia
 
And if you believe this ...
I have a bridge you might be interested in purchasing.[Iranian President] Ahmadinejad stated that he sees “new behavior shown by the United States and the officials of the United States.” Those remarks are seen as a reference to recent talks between U.S. Undersecretary of State William Burns and diplomats from Iran and five other countri
 
What are you going to do?
You’re a totalitarian government who convinced the equally totalitarian IOC that it would be a good idea to hold their games in your country. And, sensing an excellent opportunity to burnish your image, you banish dissenters from your midst, put more strin
 
Just show up naked
The lede:An Obama campaign ban on green clothing during the candidate’s visits to Israel and Jordan has created wide puzzlement among observers of the Middle East.Most have sad "Whaaa? Never heard of such a thing."The Obama campaign says, "We just wanted to be respectful, because, you know, green is the color most associated with Islam".
 
Foreign Policy by Committee
Everyone ought to have advisers. Especially politicians. But how many is too many? When do you reach the point when it becomes apparent you have no real foreign policy and are casting about for help in developing one? Call me silly, but probably when it becomes news that your foreign policy
 
How To Fete A Child Killer
For the low, low price of two badly mutilated dead Israeli soldiers, Lebanon gets to shower a beloved holy warrior with wild praise as they treat him to a hero’s welcome. 
A Fair Exchange? (Updated)
You may recall that the spark leading to the Israel-Lebanon War of 2006 was the cross-border raid by Hezbollah militants resulting in the deaths of several Israeli soldiers and the abduction of two, Ehud
 
Iraq A Success; Afghanistan Not So Much
Michael Yon, the first person to declare that there was a civil war going in Iraq, thinks that the war is finally over:The war continues to abate in Iraq. Violence is still present, but, of course, Iraq was a relatively violent place long before Coalition forces moved in. I would go so far as to say that barring any major and unex
 
Christian Fundamentalist Beheads Muslim
On a BBC show called "Bonekickers" (HT: Gateway Pundit):A BBC drama has triggered a barrage of complaints after it showed gruesome images of a Muslim being beheaded.Bonekickers, about a group of archeological sleuths, depicted an
 
Iran: Tit for Tat
A couple of weeks ago, the Israelis put on a little demonstration over the Med as to how they’d probably conduct a bombing raid on Iran’s nuclear facilities.Today, Iran responded with a demonstration of its own:Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards test-fired nine long and medium range missiles Wednesday durin
 
D8 to the G8 - drop the biofuel mandates
While the G8 is meeting and discussing the world’s problems, the D8 is also meeting and having its say.The D8 is comprised of Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey. And what are they saying?Well for one thing, drop the biofuel mandates:Abdullah Badawi, the Malaysian prime minister
 
Diplomacy 101
A little case study in why it is very often easy to criticize if one ignores the bigger picture and refuses to understand that in the world of diplomacy, everything is connected (and remembered). This doesn’t mean I agree with the goal in this particular case, but this is instructive.President Bush said Sunday he does not feel the need to boycott the opening ce
 
Che finally does some good
A tip of the hat to the Columbian army and the successful ruse they used to free 15 hostages, to include a former Columbian presidential candidate and 3 Americans from the terrorist group FARC.Apparently the army members posed as aid workers and offered to fly the hostages to a meeting with a rebel leader.Defense Ministe
 
Iran suddenly open to nuclear negotiations
Iran wants to make nice -Iran’s senior diplomat said Tuesday that Tehran was seriously considering a new offer from six world powers to resolve the dispute over its nuclear program, and he praised the package as "constructive."The unusually positive remarks by Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki to a small group of reporters raised hope that a negotiated solution
 
Chinese cars, German courts and copycats
I don’t know if you remember an article in the last week or so which said the Chinese government was really going to pay much more attention to counterfeit merchandise being produced there. That was all brought on by concerns about official Olympic merchandise’s authenticity.So this article about a Chinese car in Germany ca
 
Would Israel, like the USSR, just disappear?
Matt Yglesais wonders:I can’t really tell what Kirchick is trying to get at here but it inspired Justin Logan to tell me something I didn’t know n
 
Israel: Routine training or a rehersal for Iran strike? (update)
One of the most important part of preparing for a military operation is, if time permits, rehearsing the plan.A New York Times report published Friday quoted U.S. officials as saying more than 100 Israeli F-16s and F-15s staged the maneuver over the eastern Mediterranean and Greece in the first week of June. It said the aircraft flew more than 900 miles, rou
 
Mugabe makes totalitarianism official
Apparently Robert Mugabe has dropped all pretense of living by democratic principles or giving up power in Zimbabwe:President Robert Mugabe vowed on Saturday that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change would never rule Zimbabwe, adding he was prepared to fight.At least 12 members of the party, including opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, were also arrested, the MDC
 
Iran taunts the West and hurts its own cause
As an indicator of how amenable Iran is to sanctions and incentives (and negotiations), they’ve now taken to taunting the West (and especially the US):Increasingly tough warnings from President Bush and his European allies have done nothing to temper Iran’s stance on its nucle
 
Cuba, Jr.
Our boy Hugo is at it again in Venezuela. He’s instituted, by decree, a sweeping new "intelligence law" which is modeled after laws in force in Cuba for decades.Why a decree and not pass it through the puppet legislature? Well if he had taken it to the legislature, there would have been a public debate, and, per the thinking wit
 
Still wanting to invade Myanmar
Why is it the left is always for the war we’re not fighting and always against the one we are fighting?The New Republic says we’ve committed "an unacceptable abdication of our moral responsibilities" by not putting together, militarily one assumes, some sort of "humanitarian intervention designed to resolve the situation" in Myanmar.
 
The NYT and Iran
From a NYT editorial today:Amid all of the White House’s saber-rattling, it is tempting to discount Iran’s genuine misbehavior. The latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency is a grim reminder that Tehran is pressing ahead with its nuclear program, and the United States and its allies don’t have a strategy fo
 
The "bomb Iran rumor" rekindled on Bush’s ME tour
The "Bush is going to attack Iran" meme is again resurfacing:[Israel’s] Army Radio had quoted a top official in Jerusalem claiming that a senior member in the entourage of President Bush, who concluded a trip to Israel last week, had said in a closed meeting here that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were of the opinion that m
 
Saving Burma from Itself?
George Packer is wondering if a military intervention to forcibly deliver relief supplies to Burma is needed.Forcing the regime to let the rest of the world save its people would have a devastating effect on morale. Burma’s leaders are so isolated and irrational that they actually believe their own propaganda about being the only group that can ho
 
Militarizing Venezuela and supporting terrorists?
Hugo goes shopping:Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will order $2 billion of Russian weapons, including submarines, during a visit to Moscow this month, Kommersant reported, without saying where it got the information.Venezuela, which has bought $4 billion of Russian arms in the last three years, will order four Project 636 diesel su
 
Turn about fair play?
Iran is miffed:Iranian officials accused the US and Britain of having links to a group responsible for a mosque explosion last month that killed 14 people and injured more than 200, the official news agency reported on Thursday.Immediately after the April 12 blast in the southern city of Shiraz, Iranian officials said it was caused by a homemade bomb.
 
Speaking truth to power ...
In a real sense, and at considerable risk for doing so:Former Iranian president Mohamad Khatami was under fire from hardliners on Monday after comments interpreted as accusing the country’s clerical leaders of supporting insurgents in the Middle East.The hardline Kayhan newspaper accused the reformist Khatami of tarnishi
 
Amadinejad explains why McCain will win
Our best friend in the Middle East, Iran’s Ahmadinejad, while whining to the UN about Hillary Clinton’s threat to obliterate the country, also gave his learned opinion about the US presidential race:On Tuesday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran told reporters during a trip to New Delhi, the Indian capital, that
 
Venezuela’s "21st-century socialism" continues apace (update)
Remember it isn’t that the theory is wrong, it’s just that the right people haven’t been in charge to make it work:Lawmakers loyal to President Hugo Chavez declared Sidor — Venezuela’s largest steel maker — a "public utility" on Tuesday, a legal prerequisite to expropriation.But the near-unanimous decision by
 
Would you rather be respected or loved?
Of course it depends on the situation, but for the most part I’d guess "respected" would be chosen over "loved".One of the more consistent complaints by some in the US is we’re not loved in the world anymore. Some go as far as to claim we’re hated.But according to the Australian, if Asia is any indication, America’s este
 
Zimbabwe’s vote: It is taking weeks to rig the results
But it appears as if Mugabe’s minions have finally figured it out how to steal the last election:President Robert Mugabe’s party won in the first of 23 constituencies to complete a recount of votes from last month’s general elections, Zimbabwe’s state media said on Wednesday.[...]The MDC was i
 
Jimmy Carter dissembles again (update)
Of course the only way he could conceivably make his trip worth something is if he came out of a meeting with Hamas claiming they were ready to recognize Israel’s right to exist. That is the most important sticking point in the peace process and has been for years.And that’s precisely what Carter did. He claimed that they woul
 
Useful idiots and legitimizing terrorists
I’m not sure how else you characterize the self-righteous Jimmy Carter actions:Hamas officials said Wednesday that Jimmy Carter’s meetings with leaders of the Palestinian militant group will boost its legitimacy despite criticism by Israel and the U.S. government of the former president’s personal peace mission.[...]
 
Defending Jimmy Carter
I’m not one to defend post-1980 President Carter very often, but I think he’s being unfairly maligned by quite a few people for this quote...Now the 2002 Nobel laureate is in reprise mode. "In a democracy, I realize you don’t need to talk to the top leader to know how the country feels," he said over the weekend, responding to a question from an Israeli journalist who
 
Venezuela: Health care crisis managed by Chavez
Zimbabwe’s younger twin continues to see conditions in all areas worsen. Now the problem is health care which Chavez has already nationalized. The results are pretty damning:Grimacing from contractions, expectant mother Castuca Marino had more on her mind than birth pangs. She was nervous about whether she and her newborn child would mak
 
China, Tibet, the Olympics and freedom
Matthew Forney writes an op/ed for the NYT in which he discusses the predominant view of the Chinese concerning Tibet:As is clear to anyone who lives here, most young ethnic Chinese strongly support their government’s suppression of the recent Tibetan uprising. One Chinese friend who has a deg
 
Carter manages to again insert himself where he doesn’t belong
Forcing himself back into the news again, the only guy recently, who makes George Bush look good:Former President Jimmy Carter said he feels "quite at ease" about meeting Hamas militants over the objections of Washington because the Palestinian group is essential to a future peace with Israel.Of course he feels "quite at ease" ... the man’s an idio
 
Chavez: Dropping in the polls? Steal property!
That, apparently, has what Hugo has settled upon as a way to boost his flagging poll numbers. Where he once enjoyed 65% approval ratings in 2005, he’s down in Bush territory now, with a paltry 37% of the nation happy with him.So he’s decided he’ll just go grab some property to boost that rating:Venezuelan armed f
 
Don’t like Korea and Germany? Try Kosovo and Bosnia then ...
Firedog Lake and a few other lefty blogs are having a bit of trouble trying to get their head around an apt analogy to justify a base in Iraq and seem to be pretty sure there isn’t one:McCain’s problem is not merely that his analogy t
 
Why PO your largest customer?
Frankly, you don’t have to be a Vanderbilt to figure out that’s probably not a good idea.Banging around the blogosphere today is this ad from Absolut vodka which is running in Mexico:Absolut is wholly owned by the Swedish government
 
What’s Persian for "schadenfreude"
Who’s out-Spitzering Eliot Spitzer?Why the police chief of Tehran, that’s who:Tehran’s police chief, Reza Zarei, has been arrested after he was found nude in a local brothel with six naked prostitutes, according to report on the Iranian Farda News.Farda News is a website said to be close to the mayor of Tehran and former ch
 
And now, for the weird story of the day
You just can’t make this stuff up:Grainy pornographic films made for officers of the People’s Army of former Communist East Germany have surfaced in the Stasi files in Berlin.Movies with titles like Glass Dreams, Private Werner’s Big Surprise and F***ing for the Fatherland were made by a secret unit set up within a barracks
 
Zimbabwe election results delayed
And most observers feel the delay has to do with the Mugabe government trying to figure out how best to cook the results:Zimbabwe’s opposition was level with President Robert Mugabe’s party and two of his ministers lost their seats on Monday as election results trickled out, but counting delays fuelled suspicions of rigging.The first official
 
Chavez endorses McCain
Why are you laughing?Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a socialist and fierce U.S. critic, warned on Tuesday that relations with Washington could worsen if Republican candidate John McCain wins this year’s presidential election.Chavez said he hopes the United States and Venezuela can work better together when his ideol
 
US 22nd most "stable and prosperous" nation. Or is it 24th?
So which countries are in the top 10?Well, including the UK at number 7:The top ten comprise also the Vatican, Sweden, Luxembourg, Monaco, Gibraltar, San Marino, Liechtenstein, the Netherlands and the Irish Republic.Good grief, we have malls bigger than most of those places.The source is J
 
Gen. McCaffery prognosticates
I found this over at Small War Journals where it was offered without comment. It’s from a presentation that Gen. Barry McCaffery (24th ID commander in Desert Storm and Clinton’s "Drug Czar" as I recall).I’m interested - do you agree with what he lays out here. And if you do, what should or shouldn’t we be doing to prepare ourselves to a
 
Chavez, FARC and Colombia
You probably remember the claim by Colombia earlier that our friend Hugo Chavez of Venezuela was fronting the terrorist organization FARC $300 million dollars. This information was allegedly found on laptop computers captured during a raid by Colombian military forces over the border into Ecuador. A high-level FARC leader was killed, Venezuela and Ecuador condemned the Colombian incursion and sent troops to their respective borders. Both Venezuela and Ecuador claim
 
North Korea on the verge?
It’s been predicted so many times it’s almost laughable, but if what is being reported now is true, "dear leader" may have some real problems on his hands:A dire food shortage across North Korea has become so acute it has started to affect the country’s elite in the capital, Pyongyang, reports say.Aid agency
 
Venezuela’s Orwellian descent into totalitarianism continues apace
Hugo is now attacking the last major broadcast outlet that is critical of his administration:President Hugo Chávez is trying to whip up public support to close down Globovision, the remaining Venezuelan television channel critical of his administration.Chávez has called Globovision "an enemy of the Venezuelan people," and fervent government supporters want the national tax
 
French may protest Tibet at Olympic opening ceremony
France, yes, that’s right, France is considering a small protest to demonstrate its dissatisfaction with China’s handling of the Tibet affair:Moves to punish China over its handling of violence in Tibet gained momentum Tuesday, with a novel suggestion for a mini-boycott of the Beijing Olympics by VIPs at the opening ceremony.Such a protest by world l
 
China: It’s all the Dalai Lama’s fault
The Dalai Lama says it’s all China’s fault.China:Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao accused supporters of the Dalai Lama on Tuesday of organizing violent clashes in Tibet in hopes of sabotaging the Beijing Olympics and bolstering their campaign for independence in the Himalayan territory.The Dalai Lama:
 
Tibet smolders after riots
Various reports have the death toll at as few as 10 and as many as 100.The protests, sparked by the anniversary of the failed 1959 uprising that sent Tibet’s Dalai Lama into exile, are the lat
 
French foreign minister - "magic" over for US
I’m not sure what he means by that, but let’s quickly examine it:Bernard Kouchner, the foreign minister of France and a longtime humanitarian, diplomatic and political activist on the international scene, says that whoever succeeds President George W. Bush may restore something of the United States’ battered image and standing overseas, but that "the magi
 
Ecuador calls for non-US OAS
We could call it the "Oranization of Some American States" or OSAS:Ecuador’s Pres. Correa asks Latin nations to form a new organization of American states without US to eliminate its regional interference.Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa said Latin America needs to establish an organization of American states (OAS) which is only comprised of
 
Mr. Huff-and-Puff now wants to cool things down
Hugo "send 10 battalions to the border" Chavez is now asking for a cooling off period after it was he who stirred up the hornet’s nest concerning a cross-border Colombian raid into Ecuador:Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called Friday for a cooling of tensions with Colombia and predicted a summit of Latin American presidents in this seaside capi
 
Fencing in the Palestinians
Egypt, like most other countries who have dealt with them, isn’t too keen on giving them increased access:Egypt is building a 10-foot-high concrete wall along its border with Gaza to prevent any new breaches after Palestinian militants blasted through the barrier in January to escape a blockade of their territory, an official said.The new wall replac
 
Better late than never ...
Daniel Ortega, President of Nicaragua, broke relations with Colombia today in a show of solidarity with the other tin-pot despots of the area:Ortega announced his decision publicly after meeting with Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, who is on a multination tour in the region to rally opposition to Colombia’s action, which killed the No. 2 commander of
 
Iran for Obama ...
Oh, wait, that can’t be true since all of the remaining presidential candidates are for "change". In fact, each and every one of them claim to be the only one who can actually bring it about. But still, Iran can hope, right?Iran’s foreign minister said Wednesday his country hopes the next U.S. president will be a leader who can
 
Hugo’s excellent adventure
Hugo Chavez is rattling sabers and denouncing his neighbor Colombia’s incursion into Ecuador to take out a FARC camp to which the terrorists have fled.And he’s incensed, incensed I tell you, that Colombia violated the sovereignty of Ecuador by doing so.Of course, he really has no comment on the 300 million in funding he’s alleg
 
Well here’s a surprise ...
Or not. Russia and China not backing a US sponsored UN resolution? Russia and China on Tuesday scuttled a Western attempt to introduce a resolution on Iran’s nuclear defiance at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency, diplomats said.The question now becomes - why? Just the usual intransigence the wann
 
The Middle East and the Obama factor
Barry Rubin of the Jerusalem Post fairly neatly distills the real concerns about a possible Obama presidency - and what it will mean in the foreign policy arena - by concentrating in his area of expertise, the Middle East:So let’s sort it out. The first issue must be whom you trust to deal with the Middle East. The quest
 
Chavez threatens Colombia
Colombia, apparently, struck at a narco-terrorist camp inside Ecuador after tracking FARC spokesman Paul Reyes and other leaders there. Reyes and 16 other terrorists were killed.Chavez reacted by sending troops to the Venezuela/Colombia border:President Hugo Chavez on Sunday ordered thousands of troops to the border with Colombia after Colombia’s military killed a top rebe
 
Gitmo is a travesty, but don’t send them here!
In a sort of human-rights version of NIMBY, members of the EU, who have roundly criticized the US for Guantanamo, have declined to allow detainees scheduled for release to settle there:European countries have been urged to allow detainees in Guantanamo Bay to settle on their soil.In a letter sent to the European Parliament this week, John Bellinger, legal adviser to the U
 
Who has been standing too close to fissile material?
Our boy Ahmadinejad, of course:President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared on Thursday that Iran was the world’s "number one" power, as he launched a bitter new assault on domestic critics he accused of siding with the enemy."Everybody has understood that Iran is the number one power in the world," Ahmadinejad said in a speech to families w
 
More of That Savvy, Democratic Party Diplomacy
It’s an article of faith among Democrats that their mastery of diplomacy will repair the fractured relations with oter nations caused by George W. Bush. If so, stuff like thisthis is no way to go about it."In Youngstown, Ohio, I talked to workers who have seen their plants shipped overseas as a consequence of bad trade deals like NAFTA, literally seeing e
 
Mugabe begs the Chinese to save him
According to the Scotsman:A desparate Robert Mugabe has asked China for a £25 billion loan to help repair Zimbabwe’s shattered economy.The state-controlled Herald newspaper said industry and trade minister Obert Mpofu had confirmed the request by the Zimbabwean government.Mr Mpofu said the grant would help the Zimbabwe authorities "to
 
Meanwhile in Cuba
Same party, different DJ:Fidel Castro announced his resignation as president of Cuba and commander in chief of Cuba’s military Tuesday, according to a letter published in the state-run newspaper, Granma.[...]In Miami, Florida, the news came as no surprise to Janisset Rivero, the executive director of Cuban Democratic Directorate, a group that work
 
Good News in Pakistan?
Possibly. While it is true that Pervez Musharraf has been an ally of the US (albeit, not the strongest of allies) and much of the world is going to view this as a defeat for the US, in reality the total transition from a military dictatorship to democratic rule is a good thing - if they can keep the Islamists out of the government:Pakistan appeared
 
Those Darn Chinese
Free trade is a wonderful thing. As David Ricardo pointed out nearly two centuries ago, when two nations trade freely, they both become richer. This has been proven throughout history.There is, however, one important concern with free trade, and an important reason not to engage in it, and that is national security. for free trade to work, neither of the trading nations can be allowed to use it to do harmful things to the other nation.Case
 
Kosovo declares independence (update)
The next potential world flashpoint just got hotter.Kosovo’s parliament has unanimously endorsed a declaration of independence from Serbia, in an historic session.The declaration, read by Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, said Kosovo would be a democratic country that respected the rights of all ethnic communities.The US and a number of EU countries are expec
 
Big Bad Hugo
When things get tough, Hugo sends his boys to see a US Senator for help:Venezuela’s ambassador to the U.S. has asked Sen. Richard Lugar to press Exxon Mobil Corp. to drop legal measures that have frozen $12 billion in assets worldwide."Through tactics that can only be compared with the very discredited strategy of pre-emptive war, Exxon Mobil has cle
 
There - now we all feel better...
This, of course, changes everything:In a historic vote that supporters said would open a new chapter in Australian race relations, lawmakers on Wednesday unanimously adopted Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s motion to apologize to Aborigines on behalf of all citizens."We apologize for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments a
 
Venezuela: Empty threats? [update]
Hugo Chavez is threatening to cut off oil shipments to the US over a law suit against his state oil company brought by Exxon Mobil Corp:President Hugo Chavez on Sunday threatened to cut off oil sales to the United States in an "economic war" if Exxon Mobil Corp. wins court judgments to seize billions of dollars in Venezuelan assets.Exxon Mobil has gone
 
Bin Laden and Taliban not so popular in Pakistan
Funny how that works, isn’t it?Sympathy for al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden and the Taliban has dropped sharply in Pakistan amid a wave of deadly violence, according to the results of a recent opinion poll.The survey, conducted last month for the U.S.-based Terror Free Tomorrow organization, also identified the party of assassinated opposition leader Benazir Bhutto as the co
 
UK: myths, reality and the reason ...
So we’re not alone with a percentage of the population which thinks the moon landing was faked and professional wrestling is real:Britons are losing their grip on reality, according to a poll out Monday which showed that nearly a quarter think Winston Churchill was a myth while the majority reckon Sherlock Holmes was real.The survey found t
 
Venezuela: not enough revenue from oil? Sell cocaine...
Hugo Chavez is definitely a socialist, but when it comes to revenue to prop up his faltering socialist paradise, he’s not so ideologically hidebound that he’ll pass up an easy and quick opportunity to generate revenue - regardless of the possible consequences:The varied testimonies I have heard reveal that the co-operation between Venezuela and the guerril
 
Venezula: Cash and carry sign of cash flow problems
Is Venezuela having a little cash flow crunch?Venezuela’s state-run oil company PDVSA is seeking a $1 billion up-front payment for several large shipments of fuel oil, El Universal newspaper reported on Saturday, in what may be a new sign of cash flow problems.Under the deal, Venezuela is selling the fuel relatively cheaply but wants payment next week, the n
 
Oil production directly tied to Chavez’s longevity
Or so you would think, given it is the oil money that is financing his ability to hold power by subsidizing all his socialist schemes. The question is, even in this era of high oil pricing, can he continue to finance his hold on power in the future? PowerLine has an interesting article about PDVSA, the state oil company and what has happened since it was taken over by Chavez:
 
See the new Russia? Same as the old Russia.
Gorby is not impressed with Putin or his election process in Russia - not that anyone is listening:Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, has criticised Russia’s electoral process and called for extensive reforms to a system that has secured power for the President, Vladimir Putin, and the Kremlin’s inner cir
 
Business as usual at the UN
Speaking of marginal organizations, the UN again demonstrates that it cannot be taken seriously.You remember the replacement of the "Commission on Human Rights" By the "Human Rights Council" in the UN?The council replaced what was widely viewed as a cancer on the United Nations — an ineffectual "Commission on Human Rights" that also h
 
Iran: Adjusting expectations
For those of you who think our problems with Iran stem solely from George Bush and all will be well the day after he leaves, you might want to readjust your expectations:Iran’s foreign minister on Friday urged the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council to "correct their past mistakes" and draw up a a resolution ending council involvement
 
Heinlein calls it again
Via Instapundit, there is this from Pravda:As 40 years have passed since Gagarin’s flight, new sensational details of this event were disclosed: Gagarin was not the first man to fly to space. Three Soviet pilots died in attempts to conquer space before Gagarin’s famous space flight, Mikhail Rudenko, senior engineer-experimente
 
An "election" does not a democracy make
And Cuba demonstrates that each time it has one.There is no mudslinging or million-dollar war chest. No party nominations, dirty tricks or battles for key endorsements.In fact, there’s no campaigning at all — and the most famous candidate, Fidel Castro, hasn’t been seen in public for almost 18 months.Still, more than 90 perc
 
So you want to be a millionaire?
Easy. Head to Zimbabwe.The central bank of the southern African country has a issued a 10million Zimbabwe dollar note. The move increases the denomination of the nation’s highest bank note more than tenfold.Even so, a hamburger in an ordinary cafe in Zimbabwe costs 15 million Zimbabwe dollars.

 
Hugo Chavez redefines "treason"
Not that anyone should be particularly surprised:With the country recently facing milk shortages, Chavez said "it’s treason" if farmers deny milk to Venezuelans while selling it across the border in Colombia or for gourmet cheeses."In that case the farm must be expropriated," Chavez said, adding that the government could also take over m
 
National security or the elimination of evil?
John Tierney makes good points and asks good questions...The officials promoting fear of terrorism in America can point mainly to the images of one day. The Sept. 11 attacks were said to be the start of a new age of international terrorism in America, but you wouldn’t know it from the six quiet years on the home front since then. Of course, that could change any day ... But as Joh
 
Exit polls claim Kenyan President lost election
Hmmm ... seems to me that exit polls here made the same claim about George Bush in 2004:An exit poll carried out on behalf of a U.S. government-backed foundation indicates that Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki was defeated in last month’s disputed election rather than being re-elected as he claims, according to officials with knowledge of the document.However:The head of the International Republican Institute — a nonpartisan dem
 
Scotland Yard: Al Qaeda killed Bhutto
That’s the conclusion of a team from SY who’ve investigated the Bhutto assassination:British officials have revealed that evidence amassed by Scotland Yard detectives points towards Al-Qaeda militants being responsible for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.Five experts in video evidence and forensic science have been in Pakistan for 10
 
Iran: Drowning History
You remember the Taliban using artillery to destroy the ancient Buddas carved into the hillsides there? Well now we have Iran engaged in flooding an ancient archaeological site in the supposed name of modernity. Opponents of the flooding seem to feel the reason has more to do with rewriting Persian history than a need for a modern dam:The Iranian ayatollahs are planning on destroying the tomb as part
 
Chavez, hostages and FARC
Quite a bit of press about the two hostages that Columbian terrorist group FARC released at the supposed behest of Venezuelan strong man, Hugo Chavez. The political price? Chavez arguing for taking FARC off the terrorist organization list:Venezuela President Hugo Chavez said political recognition of guerrilla groups by Colombia’s governm
 
Venezuela: First they came for the Jews
Jews living in Venzuela are becoming a bit concerned:Venezuelan Jews, long uneasy with the Chávez government’s alliances with Iran and other Middle Eastern countries that espouse anti-Israel views, are concerned that the government is sponsoring anti-Semitism in this hemisphere, a prominent journalist said Tuesday.’’The situation w
 
Invitation to disaster?
Maybe it’s just me, but this does not give me a warm and fuzzy feeling:4,000 PA "security men" will provide security for U.S. President George Bush’s visit to Ramallah Thursday. The PA gunmen will spread out in the roads leading to the place where Bush and PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas will meet.Of course "PA" stands for Palestinian Authority. And Geo
 
Countering the growing Bhutto myth
We’ve talked about it. Ralph Peters has covered it. Now William Dalrymple makes an attempt. I’m talking about this growing movement to make Benazir Bhu
 
Pakistan: A riddle wrapped in an enigma (update)
I think it would be fair to say for all the pontification and opinion coming from both the pundits and the presidential candidates, there is more we don’t know about Pakistan than we do. For instance, it appears Hillary Clinton was mistakenly under the impression the the upcoming elections in Pakistan were for the presidency instead of the parliament.An
 
Is Al Qaeda responsible for Bhutto’s death? (updated)
Check out the transcript of an allegedly intercepted phone conversation from senior al-Qaeda leader Baitullah Mehsud to another militant in Pakistan:Maulvi Sahib (MS): Asalaam Aleikum (Peace be with you)Baitullah Mehsud (BM): Waleikum Asalam (And also with you)MS: Chief, how are you?BM: I am fine.MS: Congra
 
Breaking - Pakistan: Bhutto killed at political rally (updated)
In an email alert at 7:44 am CBS reported:An explosion outside a rally for Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto has killed at least 20 people, witnesses said. Police said the bombing was a suicide attack. An aide to Bhutto says the politician is unharmed.But a following CNN email alert reports:Ex-Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has died, according to media reports.And the Washington Post is confirming her
 
Breaking away in Bolivia
Since the election of avowed socialist Evo Morales to the presidency of Bolivia, some have not been particularly happy with the direction he is trying to take the country. Yesterday, four of Bolivia’s states have announced they are autonomous and separated from the central government. As can be imagined, this has not been well received by the Morales government:
 
Students in Iran demonstrate for freedom
Some in Iran "get it" and are making themselves heard:Students defied a clampdown on protests in Iran yesterday by tearing down the gates of Tehran university.They chanted slogans against President Ahmadinejad and carried placards saying "Live free or die", "No war, no fascism" and "Women must decide their fate, not the state."
 
Chavez tried to steal the vote
Apparently there is more to the rumors that the military called Chavez’s hand concerning the recent referendum than just conjecture. Jorge Castañeda reports for Newsweek:Most of Latin America’s leaders breathed a sigh of relief earlier this week, after Venezuelan voters rejected President Hugo Chávez’s constitutional amendment referendum. In private they were undoubtedly reliev
 
Chavez blasts opponents and rumors
All sorts of rumors are swirling concerning the vote last Sunday in Venezuela. Some say that Chavez cut a deal with the military to announce a close finish rather than disclose the actual size of the loss. However an independent monitoring group, Electoral Eye, says their own samples of polling place returns showed it as close as announced. But the "Mr. Humble" act by C
 
Israel: "We have no doubt" that Iran is developing nukes
Needless to say the most recent NIE has cause a bit of an uproar. And while I won’t buy into to the conspiracy theories which claim a concerted effort to undermine this administration, I will say that the more I think about it the more I see a huge portion of CYA going on here.The Intel community has covered its rear - if the administration attacks Iran and nothing is discovered they can say "we told you so". If that attack were to uncover a cover
 
Is Iran really not close to a nuke or are our intelligence agencies really that bad?
For the life of me I’m not sure what to think anymore. We now have an National Intelligence Estimate which contradicts a former NIE and says that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains on hold.Is it? And why is this information suddenly a
 
Freedom’s flame still flickers in Venezuela
An amazing turnabout. Congratulations to the opposition to dictatorship in Venezuela:Voters in this country narrowly defeated a proposed overhaul to the constitution in a contentious referendum over granting President Hugo Chávez sweeping new powers, the Election Commission announce
 
Chavez’s preemptive strike
Mr. Bluster is blustering again. This time he wants to ensure the "vote" on Sunday is safe from prying eyes:President Hugo Chavez on Friday wrapped up his campaign to push through broad constitutional changes with a broadside attack against adversaries at home and abroad — including a threat to cut off oil exports to the United States.Chavez told a crowd gathered in the center of Caracas that if the referendum was approved and the resul
 
Hugo continues to make friends
Or not. Now he’s alienated his neighbor, Colombia:Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Monday that reconciliation is impossible with Colombia’s president as the two leaders traded stern warnings in an escalating diplomatic crisis that threatens trade ties between the South American neighbors.Chavez said Sunday he is putting relations "in the freezer" af
 
Abi Dhabi, CitiGroup and Economic Integration
Soren Dayton says this may be the "Defining news story of the cycle"...Citigroup Inc., the biggest U.S. bank by assets, will receive a $7.5 billion cash infusion from Abu Dhabi to replenish capital after record mortgage losses wiped out almost half its market value. … the state-owned Abu D
 
Venezuela: Let the maneuvering begin
Hugo Chavez has lost his lead, per a new poll, in the Venezuelan Constitutional reform referendum vote coming 8 days from now:Forty-nine percent of likely voters oppose Chavez’s proposed raft of constitutional changes to expand his powers, compared with 39 percent in favor, a survey by respected pollster Datanalisis showed.
 
Ahmadinejad On the Outs?
I have to say, this is an unexpected development.In a rare attack on Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a hardline newspaper has accused him of behaving immorally towards his political rivals.The Islamic Republic daily, close to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has said Mr Ahmadinejad’s behaviour is dangerous for Iran.Th
 
Applebaums and oranges
These are the columns which make me shake my head:Casualties are definitely down. Other places suddenly seem to need more urgent attention. News coverage is shrinking, as is public interest. All of which may help explain the breath of optimism one can now detect in Washington, and even in other places, about the war in Iraq. "It will all come ri
 
Hugo as Jesus
Perhaps he ought to give Howard Dean a call and discuss theology:Likening himself to Jesus Christ, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says that if he stops talking — as suggested at the weekend by an irate Spanish monarch — "the stones of Latin America will cry out."Chavez was speaking on his return from an I
 
A tale of two Palestines
So is it a "civil war" yet?Hamas says it has rounded up dozens of Fatah activists in Gaza, a day after a huge rally commemorating Yasser Arafat ended in gunfire killing seven people.Witnesses say security forces opened fire on unarmed crowds after the rally turned into a protest against the Hamas movement’s takeover of Gaza in June.Hamas says
 
US not preparing to strike Iran
I wonder if this will cool of the cottage industry which has popped up claiming an attack on Iran is imminent:The Pentagon is not preparing a pre-emptive attack on Iran in spite of an increase in bellicose rhetoric from Washington, according to senior officers.Admiral William Fallon, head of Central Command, which oversees military ope
 
Chavez blames violence on "fascist right"
Predictable. Absolutely predictable. Orwellian and predictable:President Hugo Chavez condemned Venezuela’s opposition on Friday for resorting to "fascist violence" in protesting constitutional changes that would greatly expand his power.But Chavez did not respond to accusations that his government is responsible for the upheaval.
 
Venzuela: Now the killing begins
I’m sure Sean Penn, Danny Glover and Cindy Sheehan will rush to Venezuela and side with, uh, wait a minute here - Hugo Chavez?Gunmen opened fire on students, killing at least one, as they were returning from a march Wednesday at which 80,000 people denounced President Hugo Chavez’s attempts to expand his power. At least
 
Iran: 3,000 centrifuges up and running
Of course this won’t be considered "saber rattling" by the loyal opposition:"We have now reached 3,000 machines," Ahmadinejad told thousands of Iranians gathered in Birjand, in eastern Iran, in a show of defiance of international demands to halt the program believed to be masking the country’s nuclear arms efforts.Ahmadinejad
 
Pakistan: First, kill all the lawyers ...
In Pakistan it appears to be a viable alternative (just kidding):Police officers armed with tear gas and clubs attacked thousands of protesting lawyers in the city of Lahore today and rounded up lawyers in other cities as the government of the Pakistani president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, faced the first si
 
Let’s see if we can unwrap this Pakistan situation (update)
In reality, it seems like an extreme way to deal with a Supreme Court Musharraf disagrees with:He accused the country’s Supreme Court of releasing 61 men who he said were under investigation for terrorist activities. “Judicial activism,” he said, had demoralized the security forces, hurt the fight against
 
Why "Constitution" doesn’t always mean what you think it means
In the US the word "Constitution" conjures an idea of stable, established law, a document which outlines the principles by which we live and something which has guided our lives for over 200 years.But in other parts of the world, "Constitution" is just another means of grabbing and consolidating power. As usual lately, Hugo Chavez and Venezuela present the lesson to be learned as
 
Piracy and Sharia law - incompatible?
Piracy is alive and well off the Horn of Africa:Somali pirates have hijacked a Japanese-owned chemical tanker in the latest such seizure in the Horn of Africa nation’s notoriously lawless waters, a regional maritime official and a piracy watchdog said on Monday.Andrew Mwangura, head of the East African Seafarers’ Assistance Programme, said shippin
 
Syrian Nuke Site? Now you see it, now you don’t...
Interesting satellite shots of the building the Israelis attacked in August and what the site looks like today:Satellite images from Aug. 10 and Oct. 24 by DigitalGlobeNew commercial sa
 
A Little Tri-lateral cooperation in the offing with Turkey?
Discussions between leaders in Iraq, Turkey and the US may keep a lid on the PKK problem in Iraqi Kurdistan:Iraq will help Turkey crack down on separatist Kurdish guerillas in the north of the country, the Foreign Minister, Hoshiyar Zebari, said yesterday after talks with his Turkish counterpart.
 
Turkey, "genocide" and the Democrats
Jim Gerahty, linking to a QandO article which claims the effort by Democrats to pass a nonbinding resolution condemning the Armenian genocide is, in realty an end-run to muck up the works in Iraq, asks:Is the aim of this to louse up our effort in Iraq? If the
 
Why Turkey? Why Now? (update)
I’ve heard some lame reasoning before but this ranks right up there as some of the worst:With tensions rising between the United States and Turkey over a resolution that labels the World War I-era massacre of Armenians by Turkish forces "genocide," many are asking why the House is debating the resolution now.It was 90 years ago this massacre happened.
 
Baghdad Bob moves to Damascus
You have to be amused by such blatant chutzpa:Foreign journalists perused the rows of corn and the groves of date palms pregnant with low-hanging fruit here this week, while agents of Syria’s ever present security services stood in the background, watching closely, almost nervou
 
The Israel, Syria, Iraq, Iran thing
This is important for two particular reasons.First, it appears we still have serious problems with strategic intelligence. That problem came to light concerning Syria, prior to the strike by Israel:The September Israeli airstrike on a suspected nuclear site in Syria had been in the works for months, ABC News has learned, and was delayed only at the strong urging of th
 
The agony of Zimbabwe
If you want to read a compelling first hand account of what is happening in Zimbabwe, may I recommend Cathy Buckle’s blog. If you have any interest in the ongoing agony of that country, it is a must read. No food, no electricity, reduced to cooking over an open fire, people like her continue to attempt to live through it.Milk is like gold in our town, as it is almost all ove
 
The gift that keeps on giving
Thanks Bollinger. Thanks Columbia:Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has extended an invitation to U.S. President George W. Bush to speak at an Iranian university if the American leader ever traveled to the Islamic Republic, state-run television reported Friday.As part of his controversial trip to New York, the hardline Iranian leader spoke Monday at Columbia University
 
Stalinism: the golden age
The impact of revisionist history seems to be evident in Russia these days:Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev warned Russians on Wednesday of the risk of a rebirth of Stalinism, saying their country was in danger of forgetting its tragic past.Funny how that works, huh? In this case it seems there are a good portion of Russians who pine f
 
Yeah, no propaganda value from the Columbia appearance
Like Pandora’s box, once opened, it can never be closed:Seven chancellors and presidents of Iranian universities and research centers, in a letter addressed to their counterpart in the US Colombia University, denounced Lee Bollinger’s insulting words against the Iranian nation and president and invited him to provide responses for 10 questions of the Iranian acad
 
My obligatory post on Ahmadinejad
Recall when Milton Friedman once went to Chile, and even met with Augusto Pinochet, to give economic advice? The Left was pretty upset about that, and it was used against Friedman for the rest of his life. Milton Friedman’s mistake, apparently, was having the conversation in Chile. If he’d simply invited General Pinochet to speak in America, things would have been peachy. For my part, I’m pretty comfortable with any opportunity to teach tyrants
 
Finland?
I wonder why they picked Finland:An American family with three small children has applied for political asylum in Finland, immigration officials said Friday.The five family members came to Finland on Tuesday from Germany, said Minna Serradj from the Directorate of Immigration."It’s very unusual for a U.S. citizen to apply for asylum," S
 
Bi-partisan condemnation and wreath laying
For once. Seems Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants to lay a wreath at ground zero when he visits New York. Reaction from both sides of the political spectrum has been swift and negative: "It is unacceptable for Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who refuses to renounce and end his own country’s support of terrorism, to visit the
 
Iran plans to bomb Israel
Yeah, good luck with that.The deputy commander of Iran’s air force said Wednesday that plans have been drawn up to bomb Israel if the Jewish state attacks Iran, according to the semiofficial Fars news agency.The announcement came amid rising tensions in the region with the United States calling for a new round of U.N. sanctions against Iran over it
 
WMD? How about Iran and Syria?
More proof that both have and are developing WMD other than nukes. From the Jerusalem Post:Proof of cooperation between Iran and Syria in the proliferation and development of weapons of mass destruction was brought to light Monday in Jane’s Defence Weekly, which reported that dozens of Iranian engineers and 15 Syrian of
 
Tensions heat up between Iran and the West
The Jerusalem Post reports:Six hundred Iranian Shihab-3 missiles are pointed at targets throughout Israel, and will be launched if either Iran or Syria are attacked, an Iranian website affiliated with the regime reported on Monday."Iran will shoot at Israel 600 missiles if it is attacked," the Iranian news website,
 
Iran, Russia and the Battle of the big bombs
Russia announced yesterday it had developed the mother of all conventional bombs.Au contrair says LTG James McInerney, back to the drawing board Ruskies. The U.S. has a 14-ton super bomb more destructive than the vacuum bomb just tested by Russia:McInerney said the U.S. has "a new massive ordnance penetrator that’s 30,000 pounds, that really penetrates ... Ahmadine
 
Israel: Sending messages
Hello Syria, have we gotten your attention yet:Citing anonymous Israeli sources, the Assennara newspaper said Israeli jets "bombed in northern Syria a Syrian-Iranian missile base financed by Iran ... It appears that the base was completely destroyed".Syria, on Tuesday, lodged a formal complaint with the UN over the "flagrant violation" of its a
 
Venezuela: The law of unintended consequences strikes again
Seems a guy as smart as Hugo Chavez would have figured out how this works by now. He is, after all, the guy who is sure he’s smart enough to make socialism work this time.But  
Iran: ready and willing to fill the "power vacuum" in Iraq
Iranian President Mahmoud "wipe Israel off the map" Ahmadinejad is feeling froggy apparently: "The political power of the occupiers is collapsing rapidly," Ahmadinejad said at a press conference in Tehran, referring to U.S. troops in Iraq. "Soon, we will see a huge power vacuum in the region. Of course, we are prepared to fill the gap, with the help of neighbors an
 
They’re depressed in France
Why?It’s official: France’s rainy, grey and generally cold summer has been the worst for the past 30 years, the weather service said Friday.July and August were wet across two-thirds of the country while the Mediterranean region was too dry, said Frederic Nathan, meteorologist at Meteo France.[...]Temperatures on the Atlantic coast have bee
 
Quds Force - a primer
Interesting article on the al Quds (Jeruselem) Force, a "small cadre of senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard leaders who can call on special Guard units if it needs boots on the ground activities". And, of course, we’re seeing those "activities" from this force in Iraq. This is one of the reasons the US is considering naming the IRG a terrorist organization:Accordi
 
A tale of two foreign policy articles
Fred Kaplan starts his Slate article on Rudy Giuliani’s Foreign Policy essay this week thusly:Rudy Giuliani’s essay in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, laying out his ideas for a new U.S. foreign policy, is one of the
 
Iranian Revolutionary Guard threatens to "punch" U.S.
The possibility of being declared a terrorist organization apparently has moved the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to issue a threat against the U.S.:Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards said they would not bow to pressure and threatened to "punch" the U.S., in their first response to Washington’s plan to list them as a terrorist
 
Russia is not our friend: Part umpteen
I’m not suggesting they’re an "enemy" but there what we’re seeing is certainly not the actions of an ally, and in today’s world, that’s how the term ’friend’ is used among nations.Why do I continue to say that? Because of actions like this:Vladimir Putin today ordered the Russian air force to resume the cold war prac
 
Chavez plans to move Venezuela more toward the Cuban model
The inevitable continues in Venezuela:President Hugo Chávez will unveil a project to change the Constitution on Wednesday that is expected to allow him to be re-elected indefinitely, a move that would enhance his authority to accelerate a socialist-inspired transformation of Venezuelan society.Remember, he is presently ruling by decree, h
 
Future U.S. foreign policy from two different ideological perspectives
Foreign Affairs has published articles from two presidential candidates outlining their foreign policy ideas if they are elected president. One comes from Rudy Giuliani and the other from John Edwards.To this point, I’ve only be
 
Pakistan answers Obama
And to say they weren’t impressed by the presidential candidate’s declaration that he’d act unilaterally with or without Pakistan’s permission if he had "actionable intelligence" about high value targets located in that country would be an understatement.Pakistan accused Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama of "she
 
Zimbabwe’s death rattle
The New York Times notes, in its opening paragraph, a lesson that many in this country would be wise to heed:Robert G. Mugabe has ruled over this battered nation, his every wish endorsed by Parliament and enforced by the police and soldiers, for more than 27 years. It appears, however, that not
 
But we’re against "unilaterally" invading other countries, aren’t we?
Obama apparently thinks this is both ’bold and fresh’:In a strikingly bold speech about terrorism scheduled for this morning, Democratic presidential candidate Illinois Sen. Barack Obama will call not only for a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, but a redeployment of troops into Afghanistan and even Pakistan — with or without the permission of Pakistan Pres
 
Russia: Paranoia, Xenephobia and a longing for "better days"
If you’ve been watching the news about Russia over the past few weeks, you’re seeing signs of the old Russian paranoia creeping in again coupled with a seeming desire to recapture some of the past "glory" the old USSR gave the nation. AP reports another indicator:President Vladimir Putin vowed Wednesday to strengthen Russia’s military capabili
 
The unwilingness to act forcefully in the face of genocide
That has what has thus far characterized the UN effort as it concerns Darfur:Britain and France dropped a threat of sanctions against Sudan in a proposed U.N. Security Council resolution that would authorize an expanded peacekeeping force in Darfur, according to a revised draft being circulated.Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said th
 
In a world of plenty ...
We still have people starving to death. In this case, as in most cases (see Zimbabwe) it is the fault of their government. If they’re dying in the summer, you can imagine what the toll will be this winter:About 430 North Koreans have died of hunger in a northern region of the impoverished communist country in the past month because of chronic food shorta
 
Embrace the tide
Want peace and happiness in the world? Support the spread of global capitalism:The planet is a happier place these days, at least in many parts of the world where incomes are low and life is tough ... but economies are improving. In particular, as economic growth has surged in much of Latin America, East Europe and Asia over the past five years, people are expressing greater
 
If you’re wondering what a theorcracy looks like .... (update)
In Iran, simply wearing a piece of clothing which is deemed "too short" in the eyes of the religious police can land you in jail: A girl in a short white manto whose long hair was tumbling out the front of her headscarf is taken by the police to one of the minibuses on Vanak Square in central Tehran — an unexpected and unhappy end to her shopping
 
The "Stopped Clock" rule
And Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has seen it come true for him:Zimbabwe’s embattled President Robert Mugabe thinks there is a conspiracy against him.LOL!If there isn’t, by George there ought to be.
 
Whither thou, UK?
Outspoken fomer ambassador to the UN John Bolton was interviewed by Sarah Baxter of the "TimesOnLine" recently. Whether or not you agree with Bolton on things, on one particular issue, I think he has a point. This is the ’question’ which has yet to be clearly answered by the new Brown administration and the UK:Bolton believes Britain must fa
 
So much for the French jokes - at least for a while
A very nice gesture:Volunteers form a human chain to honor fallen U.S. troops in World War Two and form the words "France Will Never Forget" as a symbol of the friendship between France and the U.S. in Omaha Beach, near the U.S. Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, western France, June 30, 2007. (REUTERS/Etienne de Malglaive/Pool) (HT: Gat
 
Pakistan: Think this through before acting
This is a situation where we need to really consider all the options and ramifications before we act:U.S. forces should go into Pakistan to rout al Qaeda from the safe haven it has found in the mountains on the border with Afghanistan, a co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group said. Former Rep. Lee Hamilton, who also served as the vice chairman of the 9/11 commissi
 
Chavez and Bush have something in common
At least according to the polls:Proposals for the unlimited reelection of President Hugo Chávez, the possibility of establishing a Cuba-like political system and the ’’violent’’ clash with Washington are rejected by most Venezuelans, according to a new poll unveiled Friday.The poll by Hinterlaces, a Caracas think tank that carries out surveys an
 
The Warmongering AmericaBlog
Peggy Noonan recently noted that it’s worthwhile to distinguish between people who are reflexively unhinged about President Bush, and those who genuinely disagree with him for considered and objective reasons. Both types exist.Well, this post from AmericaBlog is the kind of rank idiocy that,
 
That’s just nuts ...
A new spy ring along the Iranian border has apparently been broken up with massive arrests:Police in Iran are reported to have taken 14 squirrels into custody - because they are suspected of spying.The rodents were found near the Iranian border allegedly equipped with eavesdropping devices.The reports have come from the official Islamic Republic
 
Socialism is the answer ...
Or so claims Hugo Chavez, dictator of Venezuela. Amir Taheri gives us a progress report as to how that’s working out south of the border.Chavez now has unfettered access to Venezuela’s oil wealth to the tune of 180 billion in net oil revenues. He’s added 30 billion in borrowing, n
 
The myth of the U.S.’s world popularity decline
Tigerhawk takes a very interesting look at a dominant leftist myth that America has taken an horrible hit to its reputation and moral standing exclusively since George Bush has been in office (anyone with some understanding of history know that to be nonsense on a stick to begin with, but I digress). This is a favorite theme of Glenn Greenwald, et.
 
Hell on earth
I can’t imagine how else to describe the deteriorating conditions in Zimbabwe as inflation runs rampant and a clueless dictator takes out his failure on those trying to live through it:Plain-clothes police sought to enforce Zimbabwe’s new price controls by raiding shops yesterday as President Robert Mugabe’s regime waged a desperate str
 
The Case against Iran
Glenn Greenwald’s latest screed is pointed at the NYT’s Michael Gordon. Apparently he’s displeased Greenwald by being reliably "pro-surge", a cardinal sin to the reliably anti-surge Greenwald. After explicitly accusing Gordon of being a "stenographer" for the military in Iraq he
 
Nuclear Hugo?
One thing you can count on from Hugo Chavez- he will find a way to make the news: President Hugo Chávez yesterday hinted that Venezuela could try to become a nuclear power, during a visit to Russia apparently timed to antagonise the White House. Mr Chávez defended Iran’s right to pursue a nuclear programme and said it might be a good idea if Ven
 
Iran: Floating on oil and rationing gas
Amazingly, Mr. Holocaust Denier has managed to really mess up the Iranian economy [/sarcasm], and today Iran is experiencing some pretty flammable unrest:Angry Iranians have torched petrol stations in protests against the sudden imposition of fuel rationing in one of the world’s most oil rich nations.The rationing was announced on Tuesday on
 
Israel is selling popcorn
And sitting back to watch this unfold (OK, and probably quite content to do a few sub-rosa things to help it along):It is just 12 days since Hamas fighters staged their putsch in Gaza, routing Fatah security forces and forcing the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, to declare an emergency, sack the Hamas-led unity government and appoint a new one with
 
The Taliban’s Strategy: bleed on us
This BBC Interview with the Black Knight a Taliban spokesman is rich. [John Simpson] The Taliban led us to expect that there would be a big spring offensive, yet none has materialized. [Zabiyollah Mojahed] I absolutely reject the suggestion that we have been defeated. Our operation continues, and gathers momentum day by day. We kn
 
Still trying in Europe
When they couldn’t get the constitution passed, those wishing for a EU "superstate" to rival the US had to go back to the drawing board. And they did. Can’t pass a consitution? How about a treaty?
 
Is Zimbabwe in its final throes?
Got a couple of bucks US? You can be a millionaire in Zimbabwean dollars:The value of the Zimbabwean dollar suffered its worst crash in memory, dealers said Thursday, sparking a run on dollars and forcing stores to close early to put new prices on their meager stock.Black market exchange rates — fueled by the central bank buying at the illegal r
 
Carter is, quite simply, a whack job
The latest from the greatest foreign policy president in a century [/sarcasm]:The United States, Israel and the European Union must end their policy of favoring Fatah over Hamas, or they will doom the Palestinian people to deepening conflict between the rival movements, former US President Jimmy Carter said Tuesday.Carter, a No
 
Iran is the picture of dancing unicorns and pretty rainbows
The mullocracy has decided that freedom is for those outside Iran’s border:Iran is in the midst of a sweeping crackdown that both Iranians and U.S. analysts compare to a cultural revolution in its attempt to steer the oil-rich theocracy back to the rigid strictures of the 1979 revolution.[...]The move has quashed or
 
In Gaza, it looks like the radicals will win
Hamas is very close to taking control of the Gaza strip:Hamas fighters overran Fatah-allied Preventive Security headquarters in Gaza City on Thursday, a key target in their battle to control the entire Gaza Strip, witnesses and a security agency official said.The Security HQ, of course, provided a mother-lode of weapons an
 
Turkish incursion in Iraq: Did they or didn’t they?
Apparently, no one is sure.
 
Looking for a Father’s Day gift?
They don’t get any hotter than this: The book "Great Man and His Friends" (Vols.1 and 2) has been recently brought out by the Kum Song Youth Publishing House. President Kim Il Sung granted audiences to more than 70,000 foreigners in his lifetime, thus fully showing his admirable disposition as a peerlessly great man. The book contains some data on the external
 
Palestinian Self Rule
Or, better yet, can they handle it? "The situation in the Gaza Strip, and especially in the city of Gaza, is scary. Murders are committed by the dozen, using every [conceivable] weapon... The murder machine, fueled by every conceivable type of hatred, is hurtling in every direction, all the time, everywhere... in the mosques... in the schools... [There are] executions... Leaders
 
"Next!" Chavez targets Globovision, threatens CNN
It is getting just a touch harder for those who’ve supported Chavez to pretend what is happening there now has anything to do with freedom or democracy:Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Tuesday called opposition news channel Globovision an enemy of the state and said he would do what was needed to stop it from inciting violence, only day
 
The UN: Bringing Peace and Stability to a Troubled World
United Nations peacekeepers. The Blue Helmets. They’re always on the job. Although, what that job is sometimes seems to be a matter of interetation.Pakistani U.N. peacekeepers charged with disarming Congolese militia instead engaged in gold and weapons trafficking with militia members, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported.The
 
IBD Revisits Jimmy Carter’s foreign policy triumphs (updated)
I doubt this will cause the "Mouth of the South" to hush, but you can only hope (and yes, I know that was previously the sobriquet Ted Turner enjoyed, but, you know, Jimmy just deserves it more now). One of his triumphs detailed. Read the others as well: On taking office in 1977, Carter declared that advancing "human rights" wa
 
Is this the Lebanese awakening?
Al Qaeda is making friends everywhere:Artillery and machine gun fire echoed around a crowded Palestinian refugee camp Tuesday as the Lebanese government ordered the army to finish off the Fatah Islam militants holed up inside the refugee camp in the country’s north.Artillery and machine gun fire echoed around a crowded Palestinian refugee camp T
 
Islamophobia has assumed "xenophobic proportions" says OIC
Oh my:Foreign ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) yesterday expressed grave concern at the rising tide of discrimination and intolerance against Muslims, especially in Europe and North America. “It is something that has assumed xenophobic proportions,” they said in unison.[...]“The increasingly negative politi
 
Palestinians v. Palestinians: The fight for power
Meanwhile in the peaceful Palestinian enclave of Gaza:Negotiators from the rival Hamas and Fatah movements reached a new cease-fire deal Saturday, a senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said. The agreement was worked out in a meeting at the Egyptian Embassy in Gaza, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is
 
Cuba, pigs and lipstick
Kate Connally tries to put a happy face on her article on Cuba and how swimmingly it is going there since a 500 million dollar deal with Germany. But while you can put lipstick on a pig, in the end, it’s still a pig. Some examples in which the pig shines through:"We’ve been asked to send 808 pumps to help the country’s infrastructure get on its feet," he
 
Why the UN isn’t worth the powder to blow it to hell
Some things just never change:Zimbabwe won approval on Friday to head a key U.N. body charged with promoting economic progress and environmental protection despite protests from the U.S., European nations and human rights organizations.The 53-member Commission on Sustainable Development voted 26-21 with three abstentions on the new cha
 
French Socialist defeat: The aftermath
I was reading about the finger pointing going on among French socialists in the aftermath of their presidential defeat and saw this quote:”The left is not credible on so many issues, from the 35-hour working week to immigration and law and order,” says Dominique Reynié, professor at Sciences Po university.“It is the fault of the left collectively. Ever
 
The Venezuealan mess continues to grow
Let’s see, he’s nationalized the oil industry, threatened food producers and health care providers and now, apparently, it is the banks and steel industry’s turn:Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Thursday threatened to nationalize the country’s banks and largest steel producer, accusing them of unscrupulous practices.
 
Alan Dershowitz slams Jimmy Carter for taking Arab money
Alan Dershowitz claims that the reason Jimmy Carter is so supportive of the Palestinian cause (and seems to be inclined toward anti-semitism) is because he’s been accepting money from pretty disreputable sources:Recent disclosures of Carter’s extensive financial connections to Arab oil money, particularly from Saudi Arabia, had deeply shaken my belie
 
Ecuador headed down Venezuelan road?
Can’t get your way legally? Then just dismiss those constitutionally standing in your way. Like your equivalent of the Supreme Court: Ecuador’s popular president tightened his hold over all branches of government Tuesday, sending police to prevent the return of opposition lawmakers as his tentative majority in Congress dismissed all nine members of the nation’s
 
France: Nationalists and Socialists
So who will the French eventually pick? By their vote, in what is the French version of a primary, the two who will go to a run-off are pretty much political opposites. The "centerist" candidate Francois Bayrou was rejected by voters leaving the final two candidates as Nicolas Sarkozy, a right-wing conservative and Ségolène Royal, a socialist:In the face of vote
 
Foreign Affairs
From Germany:A German army instructor ordered a soldier to envision himself in the Bronx facing hostile African-Americans while firing his machine gun, a video that aired Saturday on national television showed.The Bronx borough president demanded an apology from the German military and said the clip "indicates that bias and assumptions and
 
Why is Darfur left to fester?
I read this and my first reaction was the same as yours. "You’ve got to be kidding". A federal Green party candidate in Vancouver-Kingsway is standing behind a controversial editorial he wrote more than four years ago in which he describes the falling of the World Trade Center twin towers as "beautiful."The editorial, e
 
Hostage behavior: acceptable or unacceptable? (updated)
It may be a little to early to say, since few details of the conditions under which the British hostages were held by their Iranian captors.However it isn’t too early to begin talking about some of the things being said on both sides of the question. Such as this:"They did exactly as they should have done from start to finish, and we ar
 
Iran & Britain: a lot of questions remain
The Telegraph, speaking of the 15 British sailors and Marines released by Iran says:Relief at the freeing of the British sailors and Marines in Iran is tempered with dismay at the humiliation to which they and the country they serve have been subjected.Frankly, I don’t know how you can spin it any other way. Especially w
 
Iran to set hostages free
Filed under the category "believe it when you see it", especially when the promise is made by Amadinejad:Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has pardoned 15 British military personnel being held in Iranian custody and vowed to set them free shortly."I declare that the people of Iran and the government of Iran — in full power to place on trial the militar
 
BDS Canadian-style (update)
Leave it to the Globe and Mail to figure out how to preemptively blame George Bush for any failure to gain the release of the British hostages being held by Iran:But Britain’s delicate diplomatic efforts were set back by U.S. President George W. Bush, who made a statement Saturday in which he characterized the imprisoned
 
What game are the Iranians playing?
This situation, in a purely clinical sense, becomes more and more interesting:The letter, signed by Leading Seaman Faye Turney, the only woman in the naval crew seized last Friday, was addressed to "representatives of the House of Commons". Although the letter was handwritten, it was stilted and lacked the personal tone of the first letter, sent to her family the day before
 
The Iranian Hostage situation (updated)
I haven’t really said anything about this because it was being covered pretty completely elsewhere. However, as much as the Bush administration gets derided for its mistakes in the foreign policy and diplomatic spheres, I can’t help but believe Iran is probably worse. I mean think about it. You’ve managed to alienate even your erstwhile friends with your intransigence over the nuclear question and are seeing increasing sanctions as a result, your
 
An interesting note
This little blurb from an Iranian news agency gives you an idea of the level of dissatisfaction with Iran’s President Ahmadinejad among some legislators:An Iranian MP who supports summoning Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for a discussion on his administration’s economic and foreign policy has told the conservative Iranian news agency Aftab that eight more MP
 
Let’s take a moment to remember how we ended up in Kosovo (update)
I’ve noted many times that I was against the war in the Balkans. I bring this up because many times the unthinking will claim that we’re just a bunch of war mongers and any war is a good war and just fine with us. Well that’s simply not true. There are those who will read what follows and think I’m the most cynical SOB ever to walk the face of the earth. But I wrote this  
More about the Iranian General
Apparently he could be an intelligence gold-mine. Of course no one is sure who or how he was turned, but it appears he is most likely in US custody. Various theories as to who is responsible (Mossad, CIA, etc) are making the rounds, but as I mentioned yesterday, the fact that his family was also spirited away indicates a defection and not a kidnapping.
 
Iran: this could get very interesting
Seems a very high ranking but retired general from Iran may have defected to the west - specifically the US:A retired Iranian general who went missing in Turkey last month has defected and sought asylum in the US, according to a well-connected Arabic newspaper published in London.The newspaper, al-Shark al-Awsat, cited "high-profile" sources say
 
Hugo and Hospitals
I know, another day another seizure. I mean, what, we all know where this is going, right? Well, I intend to chronicle it so when the inevitable end comes, we can look back, pull up the articles and study it in detail:President Hugo Chavez ordered the expropriation of a hospital managed by Venezuela’s Anti-Cancer Association on Monday, saying t
 
Venezuela: the brain drain begins in earnest
Well soon, Hugo Chavez will be the "smartest man" in Venezuela. Not necessarily because he has a high IQ (he’s a socialist for heaven sake, that gives you an indication of intelligence or lack thereof all by itself) but because anyone with any smarts at all will be gone:As Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez further tightens control of the South A
 
A Brief Gedankenexperiment
Since this blog has both left- and right-leaning readers, I thought it might be interesting to post a brief thought experiment, and get some feedback from it. I’d like to pose a hypothetical political issue, and get your take on it. There are no "right" answers. I’m just curious to see what everyone thinks.SITUATION:Twenty years ago, the nation of Kaplokis
 
Zimbabwe: "Let them eat cake..."
The eventual wages of authoritarianism, regardless of the flavor are to be found in the benighted country of Zimbabwe. While the ruling elite literally eat their cake, bread has disappeared from the shelves there:President Robert G. Mugabe of Zimbabwe turned 83 on Wednesday to the strains of the song “
 
Iran - Martyrdom is a multi-lane street
This is an interesting development. It seems martyrdom opportunities for Iranians are increasing:A car loaded with explosives blew up near a bus carrying members of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards in southeastern Iran, killing 18 of them, the state-run news agency reported today.The car stopped in front of the bus near Zahedan, the capital of
 
Austrian sniper rifles definatively link Iran to Iraq
Over and above the explosively formed armor penetrators that have been linked to Iran comes this news:Austrian sniper rifles that were exported to Iran have been discovered in the hands of Iraqi terrorists, Th
 
Ahmadinejad Derangement Syndrome?
Also known as ADS. Yup, apparently the approval ratings in Iran aren’t so great right now for our boy Ahmadinejad. OK, just kidding, but there is a bit of unrest in Iran and Ahmadinejad appears to be the reason:Iran’s leadership is facing mounting public unease and the seeds of mutiny in parliament over the combative nat
 
Venezuela: Socialism and chicken feet
The lesson this week in Venezuela is socialist policies like price controls beget chicken feet:Meat cuts vanished from Venezuelan supermarkets this week, leaving only unsavory bits like chicken feet, while costly artificial sweeteners have increasingly replaced sugar, and many staples sell far above government-fixed prices.President Hugo Chav
 
Zimbabwe’s continued descent into hell
If you’ve followed what has been going on in Zimbabwae under Robert Mugabe for the last few years you are aware of how that once prosperous African country has managed to become one of the biggest basket cases of a continent of basket cases.For close to seven years, Zimbabwe’s economy and quality of life have been
 
Making the case against Iran — or failing to
It is a case of good news/bad news:Bush administration officials acknowledged Friday that they had yet to compile evidence strong enough to back up publicly their claims that Iran is fomenting violence against U.S. troops in Iraq.Administration officials have long complained that Iran was supplying Shiite Muslim militants with lethal explo
 
"Fatherland, socialism or death! "
I wonder if she knows how to say that in German as it sure has echoes of a very dark but recent past.The words quoted are from Venezuelan National Assembly President Cilia Flores as she essentially declared Hugo Chavez dictator of Venezuela. Four articles of law, passed by the rubber stamp legislature, in a huge media show, gave Chavez the power to legislate
 
Turkey Offing Itself
Ralph Peters’ most recent column on Turkey is a bit of a downer. And for good reason. For an enthusiastic visitor to Turkey for three decades, it’s been heartbreaking to watch its society and economy come to life - only to fall prey to Islamist vampires.With Salafism - the Saudi brand of radical Islam - biting
 
Ahmadinejad’s star waning?
As we’ve been noting, not all is well in Iran, internally. As I suggested previously, I’m hopeful we’re in a position to exploit this unrest. In the meantime, another report that President Ahmadinejad may be losing influence has trickled out of Iran:Internal press
 
UN: More scandal from the third world debating club
There have been any number of stories of the basic ineptness of the UN. And those sorts of problems seem to have grown exponentially under the "leadership" of Secretary General Kofi Annan. Another such example which has to rank right up there with the worst of them is beginning to emerge:In the latest "dolla
 
Portrait of a Dictator (UPDATED)
Well, he’s very close to "legally" having himself declared dictator:Venezuela’s National Assembly has given initial approval to a bill granting the president the power to bypass congress and rule by decree for 18 months.President Hugo Chavez says he wants "revolutionary laws" to enact sweeping political, economic and social changes.He has s
 
Arms race in space ... (UPDATED)
China just changed the dynamic and raised the stakes in a very controversial demonstration of its apparent anti-satellite technology:The Chinese military used a ground-based missile to hit and destroy one of its aging satellites orbiting more than 500 miles in space last week — a high-stakes test demonstrating China’s ability to targ
 
Something we should exploit
Want to focus Iran’s attention away from Iraq? Then find a way, domestically, to foment unrest. A good look at what is happening in Iran shows that it may not be that difficult a job:Prices for vegetables have tripled in the past month, housing prices have doubled since last summer — and as costs have gone up, so has Iranians’ discontent wit
 
Diplomacy in the Gulf - Progress?
As announced by President Bush during his Iraq speech, Secretary of State Condi Rice is in the Gulf region doing some diplomatic heavy work. Lo and behold, a measure of success:After numerous meetings over the last year with the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, plus Egypt and Jordan, the Bush administration wins a breakthrough — of
 
Iran, China, Saudi Arabia and sanctions
Interesting story out of China, where an Israeli diplomatic mission just wrapped up a visit there. Said PM Ehud Olmert, it was satisfactory "beyond expectation". Why? Because Olmert found China more supportive of sanctions against Iran than it believed possible. And there’s a good but  
Oh yeah, I forgot ...
You heard about this right?US forces have stormed a building in the northern Iraqi town of Irbil and seized six people said to be Iranians, prompting a diplomatic incident.Iranian and Iraqi officials said the building was an Iranian consulate and the detainees its employees.Huh ... how about that? Iran’s reaction:However, Tehran said th
 
US Strikes Al Qaeda in Somolia
Breaking: A U.S. aerial gunship has attacked suspected al Qaeda targets in southern Somalia, a senior Pentagon official said Monday.The AC-130 flew its mission within the last 24 hours, the official told CNN. The operation was launched based on intelligence that al Qaeda operatives were in that location, but there was no immediate indication of how successful the strike had bee
 
It’s like watching a train wreck in slow motion (UPDATED)
You remember the post a little while ago about our boy Hugo Chavez, ruler of all Venezuela and champion of the poor and downtrodden, deciding that an opposition TV station’s license was up for renewal when it wasn’t? The purpose, of course, was to tell the TV station that it would be "legally" shut down because he wasn’t going to renew it on it’s new and recently fabricat
 
UN Security Council votes to sanction Iran
I have to admit this comes as a bit of a surprise to me as I expected some of the Security Council to resist sanctions, especially under "Chapter 7":The U.N. Security Council Saturday unanimously approved a resolution that would impose sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program, culminating two months of tough negotiations aimed at getting Tehran to suspend uran
 
Some Good News out of Iran
As you recall (ok, maybe you don’t) I mentioned the internal mood of Iran could probably be determined by watching the latest election in which the spiritual mentor of Iran’s president Ahmadinejad was running for a seat on the po
 
Carter’s Middle East blind spot
After reading an editorial in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution by Jimmy Carter, I sit here a little stunned at the thoughts expressed.Full disclosure, I’ve not read Carter’s latest book, so I’ll not attempt to pass judgement on that. Instead I prefer to concentrate on what he has written in this editorial.It begin
 
Something to watch in Iran
Michael Ledeen is reporting that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah ali Khamenei has been secretly rushed to a hospital in serious condition:Khamenei is known to be suffering from cancer, and taking considerable quantities of an opium-based pain killer. He has lost more than 17 pounds in the past ten months, and was told last spring that he was unlikely to see
 
The "Green Scare?"
I grew up in the days of the Red Scare, or to be more precise, the second Red Scare (the first taking place immediately after the 1919 Russian Revolution). The one I speak of took place in the ’50s and featured such names as Joseph McCarthy, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and Alger Hiss. The world was going Communist, the Reds were everywhere and we were whipped up into a patriotic frenzy about the threat. Or so it seemed. I sometimes wonder,
 
Bolton resigns
I’m not sure why this is breaking as such a big story in the blogosphere (or elsewhere frankly), since it was a dead issue as soon as the Democrats won the Senate and Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island said he wouldn’t support his permanent appointment.Suffice it to say, I’m disappointed because I think John Bolton was able, in the short time he was th
 
Noble Americans
I don’t know if you’ve taken the time to read Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s open letter to "the American People," but it is interesting. I think Investors Business Daily best reflects my reaction after skimming throu
 
Making NATO a peacekeeping force
Jacques Chirac says NATO should be adapted to a more European entity and international peacekeeping force:The Europeans have relied on their American allies for too long. They have to shoulder their share of the burden by making a national defence effort commensurate with their ambitions for Nato and also for the EU. This is a mark of the solidarity which links the
 
Would a summit help in the war on Islamists?
Janet Daley has an interesting article in The Guardian in which she discusses a wide range of issues pertaining to Islam, Europe and Islam’s radical factions. Noting the impending visit to Turkey by the Pope she uses the opportunity to touch on the emerging "foreign policy" changes she sees in the offing
 
Democratic Party Policy: "regime change and bombing campaigns"
Atrios:I wonder if it occurs to any of these people that maybe, just maybe, the repeated calls for regime change and bombing campaigns by prominent pundits and senior administration officials might you know, be perceived as a genuine threat by people in and around the Middle East.The Democratic Party  
Our Allies, The Saudis
Well, this is interesting:SAUDI ARABIA is threatening to suspend diplomatic ties with Britain unless Downing Street intervenes to block an investigation into a 60m “slush fund” allegedly set up for some members of its royal family.A senior Saudi diplomat in London has delivered an ultimatum to Tony Blair that unless the inquiry into an allegedly corrupt defence deal is dropped, dipl
 
The Whack Job south of the border chirps again
That amazing "democracy", known as the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, had a little something to say about the recent events. First from El Presidente Hugo "I smell sulfur" Chavez:In a speech Tuesday, Chávez criticized the decision of an Iraqi court to sentence former dictator Saddam Hussein to the death penalty. ’’If sentencing is to be
 
Everything seems to be going according to plan
Yes, the UN has once again managed to completely hamstring the "peace keeping" force deployed to Lebanon. The latest example? The naval blockade designed to prevent Hezbollah from being resupplied with weapons (from Syria):So what of the German navy’s mission in the eastern Mediterranean — a mission with the explicit goal of preventing su
 
Why North Korea is back to six-party talks
According to Josh Meyer its because we’ve applied pressure in a critical area and maintained it:For three years, the Bush administration has waged a campaign to choke off North Korea’s access to the world’s financial system, where U.S. officials say the nation launders money from criminal enterprises to fuel its
 
Something Europeans need to understand about US foreign policy
Robert Kagen, writing from Europe, says Europeans hope that a Democratic victory in the mid-terms will "finally shift the direction of American foreign policy in a more benign direction." As he properly notes, that’s rarely the effect of Congressional elections, especially since foreign policy is almost exclusively the purview of the executive branch
 
Of course its a democracy
Hugo Chavez is writing a new book entitled "How to effectively use the people’s petro dollars to assure your ’re-election’". You see ...Mr Chávez, 52, first elected in 1998, not only wants to win, but to do so with a massive majority to endorse what he calls a 21st-century socialist revolution.Right now he’s polling
 
Thumping the old strawman
Graham Allison, former assistant secretary of defense under President Bill Clinton, and present director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government writes a piece entitled "Deterring Kim Jong Il" for the Washington Post.He begins:In an interview aired last week,
 
Iraq may signal a return to "Realpolitik" abroad
Victor David Hanson points to the possibility of Iraq turning the clock back on our foreign policy:The Left thinks that the “fiasco” in Iraq will bring a repudiation of George Bush, and lead to its return to power. Perhaps. But more likely it will bring a return of realpolitik to American foreign policy, in which no action abroad is allowable (so much f
 
Al Hayat condemns Osama bin Laden
MEMRI alerts us to an interesting editorial from the Al Hayat, a Lebanese newspaper, contrasting the recent Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus and Osama bin Laden:There is a difference between an investor and a destroyer
 
(UPDATED) Speaking of Anniversaries
Today is the 50th Anniversary of the short-lived but inspiring Hungarian Revolution, when in October of 1956, Hungarians rebelled against Communist rule and, in a grass-roots effort, overthrew the regime.The USSR’s reaction was swift and brutal. On Nov. 2nd, 200,000 troops, 2,500 tanks and APCs entered Budapest and crushed the revolution. Hungarians pleaded with the West to intervene, all to no avail. It was pretty much over in 48 hours and Imre
 
Eurabia?
Two things caught my attention concerning Islam and Europe.One is a general discussion here about the use of the "veil" and how most European states are insisting that it isn’t consistent with European culture.In some places it has been outlawed, others banned, and for the most part it is not welcome, at least in areas of publi
 
I’m sorry, so sorry ...
Brenda Lee? Or Kim Jong-Il? North Korean leader Kim Jong Il expressed regret about his country’s nuclear test to a Chinese delegation and said Pyongyang would return to international nuclear talks if Washington backs off a campaign to financially isolate the country, a South Korean newspaper reported Friday."If the U.S. makes a concession to some degree, we will al
 
Big Dog Diplomacy
Apparently Hugo Chavez is getting a taste of the consequences of nipping at the Big Dog in the world of diplomacy:The US has stopped Spain selling 12 military aircraft to Venezuela by refusing to allow American military technology to be used in the planes.Venezuela planned to buy the aircraft from the Spanish company Eads-Casa but US d
 
China and North Korea
A strange relationship if ever there was one. Ideologically similar, but not. Ethnically similar, but not. Both ruled by authoritarians, but one begins to prosper while the other gets poorer.As many experts have made the point to mention, North Korea is not in China’s back pocket, regardless of the fact that China is the country which keeps North Korea afloat by providing food and fuel. And, of course, China has a very basic and pragmatic reason for wanting Nort
 
If you were worried about NoKo’s nukes ...
It may be that nukes, at least at the moment, are the least lethal weapon in North Korea’s arsenal:I’ve been writing and researching the subject of biological and chemical warfare on and off for six years. The extent of North Korea’s completely operational biochemical warfare program is widely known and frequently assessed by the U.S. and its
 
Placating Muslim Anger
Read this article through. All the way through. Note the premise in the first paragraph:While the U.S. debate over Iraq focuses mainly on the effects of the American military presence on Al Qaeda and its affiliates, the Bush administration has little appreciation for how its involvement in Iraq, as well as its staunch support of Israel, is radicalizing mai
 
North Korea: Radioactivity detected
Well that pretty much settles that:A preliminary analysis of air samples from North Korea shows "radioactive debris consistent with a North Korea nuclear test," according to a statement from the office of the top U.S. intelligence official.The statement, from the office of Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte, was sent to Capitol Hill but no
 
Sanctioning North Korea
China is getting all spaghetti-spined about the possibility of sanctions now. After initially saying they were ready to consider "punitive action", China now thinks we should understand that this shouldn’t be about "punishing" North Korea.Really? So how does one get across to an intransigent mule?Meanwhile Japan is asking for
 
The NoKo Blame Game shifts into high gear: Spin and reality
Apparently, as with just about every other issue that comes to the fore now, the Democrats and Republicans response to the North Korean bomb is to point fingers of blame at each other.John McCain, in a guest blog at Captain’s Quarters (way to go Cap’n Ed) says:I would remind Senator Hillary Clinton and other Democrats critical of Bush Administrati
 
China and Russia onboard for "punitive actions"
Fairly straight forward rhetoric from both Russia and China concerning North Korea:China, North Korea’s most important ally, on Tuesday joined other world powers in calling for a tough response to the reclusive communist state’s announcement of a nu
 
Four not-so-good North Korean Scenarios
Fred Kaplan of Slate tosses out four scenarios that are possible in the aftermath of NoKo’s alleged "nuclear test" (we have to assume here that it was indeed a nuke):First, Kim Jong-il could churn out more bombs and sell at least some of them to the highest bidders. North Korea is dreadfully short of resources; his scheme to counterfeit American money has run into roadblocks; nukes
 
(UPDATED) NoKo’s Nuke: Snap, Crackle, Thud
Or dud?Seems there’s a growing consensus that North Korea’s "nuke" may have been exactly that:U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that seismic readings show that the conventional high explosives used to create a chain reaction in a plutonium-based device went off, but that the blast’s readings were shy of a ty
 
North Korean bomb size
Seems to be some question as to the size of the NoKo bomb. Some reports say it was equivalent to 550 tons of TNT.Russia is saying between 5,000 and 15,000 tons of TNT.Obviously quite a difference.According to the  
This is a Fine Kettle of Fish
As of now, it looks like the North Koreans did it."U.S. and South Korean intelligence detected a seismic event Sunday at a suspected nuclear test site. North Korea has claimed it conducted an underground nuclear test," Snow said."A North Korean nuclear test would constitute a provocative act in defiance of the will of the international community and of o
 
North Korea and nuclear war with the US
There’s a fascinating article in the Asia Times by a gentleman named Kim Myong-chol. Kim is often cited as the "unofficial" spokesman for Kim Jong-il of North Korea. In a long article, Kim Myong-chol (hereafter known as Kim) relates what can only be described as North Korea’s "thinking" (meaning Kim Jong-il’s thinking) concerning the impending nuclear test, the fu
 
Iran: The Don Corleone Option
I have to admit I enjoyed this. It’s written, if you can believe it, by Ted Koppel. It concerns Iran and nuclear weapons. It is actually a pretty common sense suggestion. Unless we decide to unilaterally strike Iran (and there are still those who think that’s in the
 
NoKo announces pending nuke test
Meanwhile in Cloud Cuckooland:North Korea said Tuesday it will conduct a nuclear test in the face of what it claimed was "the U.S. extreme threat of a nuclear war," ratcheting up tensions amid international pressure to return to negotiations on its atomic program.The United States w
 
French confront Israelis tank to tank
Now France has essentially made it clear that it won’t confront Hezbollah:The French general commanding U.N. peacekeeping forces in Lebanon said Monday his troops would not intervene to disarm Hezbollah, even as French President Jacques Chirac said the militant group should not keep a military wing.But apparently Israel is  
The Brilliance of Mr. Chavez
The editors of the Washington Post add another brick to the edifice that is Hugo Chavez’s brilliance.Since Mr. Chavez took power seven years ago, Venezuela has mismanaged its oil so disastrously that production may have fallen by almost half, according to the estimates of outsiders, reducing global oil supply by
 
UN Speeches signal move to realign the world
The UN, at least during the tenure of soon to depart Kofi Annan, has become nothing more than a third-word debating club, long on meaningless resolutions and very short on any action.But this week’s meetings at the UN found significant demands being made of the world body by nonaligned nations. During the week members of the bloc of Nonaligned nations (G77) made their presence known with a direct attack on the power of the G8 nations (generally and
 
Who’s hot for a war with Iran?
You have to wonder. Today we have a breathless report by Dave Lindorff of "The Nation" which is complete with a former Air Force Colonel who taught at the National War College declaring that a planned naval deployment is "very important evidence" of war planning. Then, of course, there’s the clincher. "This is very serious," said Ray McGovern, a f
 
Will Chavez be taken more seriously now?
A little follow-up on Hugo Chavez. It should be remembered that while he’s long on complaining about the US being "afraid of the truth" it is Chavez who’s actually implemented law to shield himself from it:Chavez has said the United States is "afraid of truth, is afraid of independent voices," yet Chavez has suffocated
 
Democracy is hard
Hungary’s socialist government is finding that out the hard way right now. Police and protesters are clashing in Budapest over accusations that the governing coalition lied to win the April elections. While all this is "alleged", it’s not really. Apparently Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcasany was caught on tape admitting his government had "lied morning, evening and night" about the economy, painting a much rosier picture than they knew to be
 
Whoa! Hugo!? Was that you?
I love a good rant as well as the next guy but it seems the UN is becoming less "collegial" as time goes by. Unsatisfied by being roundly ignored in Bush’s wide-ranging speech of yesterday, Latin America’s clown prince, Hugo Chavez, took his pot-shot show against the US and George Bush to the podium of the UN.Yesterday, the devil came here. Right here. Right here. And it sme
 
Those Darn Germans II
You may remember my post a few days ago on the German electorate’s declining regard for democratic governance. Well, today, reader Chris B. drew my attention to this week’s state election in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The Nazis did well.In the end, the result was as bad as ever
 
Sweden: And the pendulum swings
Sweden on the brink of change:Asked why she will be supporting the conservative coalition that opinion polls suggest is on the brink of power, the office worker smiled: "Taxes. They’re way too high."It is a view that once sounded like high treason in a country whose love affair with the welfare state has kept the Social Democrats in power for 65 of the past 72 yea
 
Impending North Korean Nuke test
According to Russian sources, it appears North Korea is very close to conducting an underground test of a nuclear weapon. Says a Russian diplomat:"If North Korea conducts an underground nuclear test, it will face severe punishment," said one Russian diplomat."It would pose a very serious threat to world peace."Really?
 
Khatami’s visit
Publius Pundit is a bit upset, as are many on the right, that former Iranian president Khatami is being allowed in the country to speak:From the beginning, I noticed that there were two sides to this protest. The first is outrage that Khatami is in the United States and speaking about tolerance and a dialogue of civilizations when there is no dialogue of any kind within his own civilization.
 
Russia’s Strategic Military Planning
I talk alot about how planners in the Pentagon, or I should say, some planners, insist we should tailor our forces for a "near-peer" enemy and then adapt to other contingencies. Many argue that we should instead face reality and understand that the likelihood of the emergence of a ’near-peer’ enemy isn’t probable and instead tailor our forces to fight a real enemy (and, in fact, one we’ve been fighting for a decade). The near-peer of choice
 
Mexico: The Spirit of 1910?
Many observers of Mexico’s current election imbroglio are getting worried. Independent observers, as well as the Mexican elections tribunal, have rejected allegations of electoral fraud in the result that led to the election of Felipe Calderón as president of Mexico. Unfortunately, however, the leftist candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, is rejecting the results of that election. His actions leave observers wondering is a repeat of the election of 1910,
 
Pakistan, Afghanistan, Warziristan and Osama
Stop the ACLU has a good round up of the reaction to the story about Osama bin Laden being given defacto "asylum" in Pakistan based on comments by the press secretary of the Pakistani President.I really don’t know if, as the Pakistani ambassador states, the press secretary was "grossly misquoted" or not. And, of course, Pakistan now
 
Rewriting history, Chinese-style
Very interesting:When high school students in Shanghai crack their history textbooks this fall they may be in for a surprise. The new standard world history text drops wars, dynasties and Communist revolutions in favor of colorful tutorials on economics, technology, social customs and globalization.Socialism has been reduced to
 
I’ll Huff and I’ll Puff ...
Kofi Annan is issuing ultimatums according to IsraelNationalNews:United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has told Israel not to worry about Hizbullah terrorists so long as the international interim force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is present. He made the statement in reply to Israel’s claim that Hizbullah terrorists have returned to southern Lebanon despite reports that they are leaving.He
 
Iran and the future
Arnaud de Borchgrave, waxing pessimistic about the situation in the Middle East, says the "best" is yet to come:Just days before the United Nations Security Council deadline for Iran to cease and desist enriching uranium, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave the West the Iranian bird. By inaugurating a "heavy-water" reactor, Iran instantly doubled its chances of a
 
How effective will the UN be in Lebanon
I’m getting the feeling - with the announcement that the UN peacekeeping force won’t be attempting to stop weapons resupply shipments from reaching Hezbollah from Syria (and Iran) - that they won’t be much more effective than the last time. As I said earlier, the same UNIFIL only larger. An example:IDF f
 
Iran: Ready for "serious negotiations"
Hard to take that line seriously when the thing they’ve made non-negotiable is what the rest of the world is demanding - stop the enrichment of uranium.So now what? If that is the crux of the issue, and the Iranians have removed it as a negotiable item, what is there to get serious about?
 
In tentative praise of French Diplomacy
French bashing may be fun red meat to throw to the converted, but this strikes me as a much more plausible and intellectual read of the recent, apparent French perfidy at the UN. Essentially, both Israel and Hezbollah made major miscalculations and found themselves engaged in a war in which either could lose, but neither could win. Hezbollah could bruise Israel, but
 
Syria to form its own "Hezbollah"
Under the "hey it worked for them" department, Syria is now forming its own version of Hezbollah with which to contest the Golan Heights.On the heels of what it views as a Hizbullah victory against the Jewish state, Syria is forming its own Hizbullah-like guerilla organization to fight Israel in hopes of "liberating" the Golan Heights, an official from Syrian President Ba
 
North Korea: If there isn’t enough going on in the Middle East to suit you ...
Dear Leader may be getting ready to test a nuclear weapon.There is new evidence that North Korea may be preparing for an underground test of a nuclear bomb, U.S. officials told ABC News."It is the view of the intelligence community that a test is a real possibility," said a senior State Department official.A senior military official told ABC News that a
 
France is so useless ... kinda like the UN
Sometimes the French become a parody of themselves, I swear.Jacques Chirac has managed, single handedly, to again make the French appear as a country that should never be taken seriously when it tries to play with the big boys:France has rebuffed U.N. pleas to make a major contribution to a peacekeeping mission in south
 
The New Empires
Guest blogging at Unqualified Offerings, Thoreau writes... A lot of the world’s oil is controlled by state-run oil firms. (No surprise there.) An even larger share of new discoveries will be controlled by state-run firms, since private firms have already thoroughly explored their territories (I’m simplifying a bit) while state-run
 
(UPDATED) Who is in charge in Lebanon?
Although Lebanese troops are now moving into the south of Lebanon, it remains an open question as to who is actually in charge in Lebanon:Hezbollah, widely seen here as a victor in the month-long war, was reluctant to cede complete military control over south Lebanon to the army, which stood by as Hezbollah militiamen battled Israeli forces. On
 
Hezbollah refusing to disarm
If this comes as a surprise to anyone out there, please do let me know:Hezbollah refused to disarm and withdraw its fighters from the battle-scarred hills along the border with Israel on Tuesday, threatening to delay deployment of the Lebanese army and endangering a fragile cease-fire.So we have the first act in the show "Promis
 
I’m Shocked—Shocked!—To Learn of This!
The german News magazine Der Spiegel, is reporting that it appear that not only is Iran continuing its nuclear research, but Russian fingerprints are all over the assistance they’re getting.Despite claims to the contrary, leaders in Tehran are apparently still pushing forward with research into uranium enrichment with the aid of laser technology. A Russian engineer re
 
Various cease fire proposals under consideration in ME
President Bush has rejected a call for an immediate Israeli pull out in southern Lebanon saying that any plan must avoid a "vacuum" which will allow Hezbollah to again establish itself in the area:"We will work with our partners to get the resolution laid down as quickly as possible," Mr. Bush said, with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at hi
 
France’s Foreign Minister: If he didn’t exist we’d have to make him up
France’s Foreign Minister Phillippe Douste-Blazy on Tuesday talking about Iran:Iran is a significant, respected player in the Middle East which is playing a stabilizing role, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said earlier Monday in Beirut."It was clear that we could never accept a destabilization of Lebanon, which could lead to a destabilization of the
 
Whatever it is, we’re against it.
Yesterday, I wrote that "many voters have trouble taking the Democrats seriously on national defense [in part, because] the Democrats keep running away from the very policies they claim as their own". Here’s a bit more on the topic...During the ’04 Primary campaign (Jan ’04),  
We can’t afford to lose the propaganda war
I’ve been banging around the edges in recent days about the importance of propaganda in general and its application in particular concerning the current battle between Israel and Hezbollah.Tony Blankley does an excellent job today of addressing the importance of propaganda in forming opinions and how those opinions can have a far reaching and unwanted effect.  
Democrats running away from their own policies
Think Progress has a very odd criticism of Michael Ledeen...National Review Falsely Claims NeoCon ‘Has Opposed Military Action Against Iran’ But it is accurate to say that Ledeen has been vocally opposed to war with Iran. I noted that previously in this post when Kevin Drum and his commenters were criticizi
 
NATO and Afghanistan: The shape of things to come?
In a change of command in southern Afghanistan, NATO officially took over the fight in that area. Committed for the first time in its history, NATO is about as far away from the North Atlantic as it can get. But given the abysmal record of the UN in these sorts of situations, I’d much rather give NATO its first chance completely out of sight of any significant body of water than g
 
Handicapping the UN Sec/Gen race
We all get a kick out of guessing who’s going to win this or that political race here. How about the upcoming opening for Chief Bureaucrat of the UN, er, Secretary General (does that title sound, oh I don’t know, too "red" for anyone else?)?First a pop quiz: Name the last effective Secretary General of the UN.OK, as it is shaping up
 
Hey, they’re terrorists, what do you expect?
It appears that Israeli munitions are now being questioned in Gaza as well. Sounds like a trend. Or perhaps a campaign. I covered the claims from southern Lebanon yesterday:Doctors say they have never before seen such specific burn injuries, concentrated so much on the lower b
 
Newspaper publishes claims Israel used chemical weapons
I’ll preface this by saying you should recall the claims made against the US concerning the use of chemical weapons in Fallujah back in November of 2005.The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that Lebanon is claiming Israel has been using some sort of  
Israel: The world’s selective outrage
We seem to think "proportionate response" is a new term we’ve discovered because the Israelis are responding to Hezbollah in what many characterize as a disproportionate response. Johnathan Gurwitz reminds us of how "proportionate" a fairly recent response was when it happened in Europe:About that disproportionate response, of which Israel is a
 
Solving Israel’s proportionality problem
There’s been substantial debate recently over the proper and proportional Israeli response to Hezballah’s rocket attacks from within Lebanon. Reasonable people can disagree where that line should be drawn, though I think we can all agre
 
Israel: The winds of war begin to change
This is what I’ve been anticipating happening from the beginning:The Saudi foreign minister personally urged President Bush yesterday to intervene to stop the violence in Lebanon, the most direct sign of mounting frustration among key Arab states with what they see as a hands-off U.S. posture toward Israeli strikes against Hezbollah.
 
Israel: Foreign Forces may be acceptable on northern border
This is something we touched on in yesterday’s podcast concerning the Israeli incursion into Lebanon. Essentially the question was, "if Israel is successful in pushing Hezbollah out of the area necessary to secure Israel from rocket attack, then what?" They can’t stay. International pressure simply wouldn’t allow it (and they tried it before with mixed results). And they can
 
Israel: Ground combat now, not later
Ralph Peters says Israel is losing this war. His premise:All Hezbollah has to do to achieve victory is not to lose completely. But for Israel to emerge the acknowledged winner, it has to shatter Hezbollah. Yet Israeli miscalculations have left Hezbollah alive and kicking.As much as I like Peters, I’m not ready to
 
Iran’s diplomatic tin ear
Can they indeed be this out of touch in Iran?German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday forcefully rejected a letter from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seeking cooperation with Germany, saying it did not even deserve an answer.Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki delivered the letter to the German emba
 
Progressive Realism
Bumped upThomas Sowell urges realism from the anti-war crowd...One of the many failings of our
 
Evolving into 4th Generation Warfare
As McQ notes below, the (still very fluid) situation in the Middle East is extremely complex and not conducive to simplistic shows of force — "not all wars are won exclusively through military action". Let me explain the dynamic here a bit further by discussing the strategic problemIt’s pretty well accepted—even by their enemies—that Israel has an indisputable convential military advantag
 
Kristol: Conning the Neo-cons
William Kristol spends most of his article in the Weekly Standard describing how Hezbollah and Hamas really aren’t Israel’s problem but Iran and Syria are. No secret there. I think every pundit south of the moon has figured that part out. As Kristol points out, no Iran or Syria, no Hamas or Hezbollah.OK, I’m with him to t
 
The Middle East crisis has only complex answers
Three views, three different opinions today in USA Today on the crisis in the Middle East. Dennis Ross feels that while Iran is the "primary financer and supplier of Hezbollah and patron of Hamas", Syria is the key. Ross feels Syria (nor Iran for that matter) will do anything to end the crisis. As I’ve mentioned, it is to both Syria and Iran&rsqu
 
Moral Equivalence: Jonathan Chait gets it right
On TNR’s "the Plank", Jonathan Chait properly takes Matt Yglesias to task over comments made about the Israeli/Hezbolla battle presently being waged:At Tapped, Matt Yglesias writes that Hezbollah’s rocket strikes, as compared with Israel’s bombing of Lebanon, are "e
 
"Syria today has the most formidable chemical and biological weapons capabilities of any Arab state."
My old friend Billy Beck turned me on to this from the Middle Eastern Quarterly. If true, it represents more than a grave danger to the region (and it probably is true as we’ve known Syria possessed weapons grade chem weapons for some time). It would represent a huge strategic shift in the area (and even more so if Iran successfully with acquires nuclear weapons). That would end
 
Foreign Policy: theologians versus psychiatrists
Howard Dean argues for a faith-based foreign policy...“If you think what’s going on in the Middle East today would be going on if the Democrats were in control, it wouldn’t, because we would have worked day after day after day to make sure we didn’t get where we are today. We would have had the moral authority that Bill Clinton had when he
 
Israel v. Hezbollah: Could it spark a wider war?
Unlike the UN, who’s only attempt at a resolution to date has been to condemn Israel (vetoed by the US), the G8 issued a statement which, in my opinion, does a better job of placing the problem in the real aggressor’s lap: The United States and other world leaders reached an accord Sunday
 
Israel: Predicting the future
Ken McCracken asked me to participate in their "Punidt Roundtable" at Willisms and address the following topic:Israel is now fighting a two-front war against Hezboallah and Hamas. Tell us what outcome you would like to see, and make a bold prediction and tell us what you think will actually happen.My discussion and predictions:
 
A good reason for Israel to back off a bit
***UPDATES BELOW***I was going to include this in an update on the Israel story, but I felt it deserved a post of its own.I think Michael Young makes a compelling case for Israel to stand down, or at least back off some in Lebanon.He sets up his arg
 
Israel, Lebanon, Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas
Things are happening at a frightening pace in the expanding fighting between Israel, Hezbollah and Hamas. And it threatens to go wider.Iran is threatening to enter the fray if Israel attacks Syria. Of course the threat is from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and we’ve discussed the real limits of his power. However it would probably mean an increase in Iranian suppor
 
India: Bombings planned by Pakistaini ISI
If true we could see military action in that area of the world relatively soon as well. From the Hindustan Times:Forty-eight hours after bombs ripped through Mumbai, the needle pointed to Pakistan. Intelligence agencies on Thursday confirmed that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was the “mastermind” of the blasts that killed about 200 people.[...]
 
An Open letter to Lebanon
You either are a sovereign nation or you’re not.Lebanese Information Minister Ghazi Aridi called for a comprehensive cease-fire, saying the Lebanese government had nothing to do with the Hezbollah attacks.Sorry, you can’t have it both ways. If you are a sovereign nation you are responsible for everything which happens within your borders. Imagine rocket
 
Sea change in Japan’s thinking
It was noted previously here at QandO that the Japanese reaction to North Korea’s missile launches last week was quite extraordinary. A country which suffered a catastrophic defeat in WWII as a result of aggressive militarism has, as a society and culture, rejected any hit of such a thing since then. Japan has adamantly maintained a purely defensive force since then, at first for
 
Giving away Gaza: More cost than benefit
A few months ago, on one of my posts about Israel withdrawing from Gaza, I noted, "What you don’t do is unilaterally give [your enemy] tactical or strategic advantages for no gain (or to your detriment)."As these last weeks have unfolded in the area, that seems to be precisely what Israel has done. Instead of the hoped for lessening of tensions, giving Gaza to the Pale
 
Japan considers North Korean strike
Wow!That is news.Japan said Monday it was considering whether a pre-emptive strike on North Korea’s missile bases would violate its constitution, signaling a hardening stance ahead of a possible U.N. Security Council vote on Tokyo’s proposal for sanctions against the regime. The vote itself could be delayed for several days, a news agency rep
 
Mexico: Obrador caught betwixt and between
Seems that Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador does not intend to go quietly away after being declared the loser in Mexico’s contested Presidential election. The man who said he’d abide by the results of the recount apparently means he’ll do so only if they come out the way he wants them too:More than 100,000 defiant supporters of leftist presidential candidate Andres
 
Tensions Ramping up with North Korea
I’m not sure how reliable this report is, but it is consistent with some other recent data...A North Korean missile launched on Wednesday was aimed at an area of the ocean close to Hawaii, a Japanese newspaper reported on Friday. Now, perhaps this report doesn’t mean much, or perhaps it is inaccurate. But some other signals emanating from North Kor
 
Felipe Calderon named winner in Mexican vote recount
How do you say "Bush-Gore 2000" in Spanish?The ruling party’s Felipe Calderon won the official count in Mexico’s disputed presidential race by just under 0.6 percent Thursday, the culmination of a come-from-behind campaign for a recently obscure technocrat.But his leftist rival earlier declared victory and said he’d fight the ele
 
Venezuela and North Korea: Arms for Oil
Hugo Chavez can’t leave well enough alone, it seems:North Korea and Venezuela are discussing a strategic alliance motivated by a common goal — expanding anti-American forces.During Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il in late July, the two countries are also expected to craft an oil-for-arms
 
North Korea
At first glance, it’s very difficult to tell what North Korea was hoping to accomplish with their recent missile tests. The threat of indeterminate missile capability was one of the few tools in the North Korean foreign policy toolbox. One would think this means North Korea is getting (much more) desparate. Perhaps for that reason, China does not "appear too upset by the launches"
 
The NoKo missile tests
My guess is there may be some dead rocket scientists in North Korea today.Of all the scenarios we dreamed up here about shooting down the Taepodong-2 or not shooting it down, blowing it up on the pad or not blowing it up on the pad, etc., none envisioned it’s failure on launch.We acknowledged that were we, the US, were to attempt to shoot it down with our still unproven missile defense system and fail it would be deeply embarrassing to u
 
Alec Station
(via Outside the Beltway) The story about the CIA shutting down the unit devoted to hunting bin Laden has gotten a lot of  
British Poll: Stereotypes ’R US, Part II
Interesting conclusion to a poll taken in the UK about the US and its citizens.In answer to other questions, a majority of the Britons questions described Americans as uncaring, divided by class, awash in violent crime, vulgar, preoccupied with money, ignorant of the outside world, racially divided, uncultured and in the most overwhelming result (90 percent of r
 
Bolivia: Speaking of elections
Evo Morales’ victory in the recent Bolivian presidential campaign was splashed across the front pages of newspapers across the globe. Morales, an Aymara Indian and the first "indigenous" Bolivian ever to hold that high office, ran on a decidedly left-wing socialist agenda which promised to take greater state control over the economy. On May 1st (the prefect day for such an act), Morales nationalized the nation’s natural gas industry.As it tu
 
Notes on the Mexican Election
Reading through an article by James C. McKinley Jr. in the NY Times about the now completed Mexican Presidential election, several interesting things caught my eye.First, two of the candidates are in a dead heat. The PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) which ruled Mexico, exclusively for 70+ years
 
Hatfields and McCoys feuding again...
One has to imagine this would be a setback on the roadmap to peace...Israeli ground troops pushed into the Gaza Strip early Wednesday in a military operation aimed at freeing a captured soldier whose fate has transfixed much of the country. The incursion was the military’s first major move into Gaza since the Israeli government withdrew all troops and settlers from th
 
A peek into North Korea
A series of pictures, some taken surreptitiously by a Russian tourist, which give you a good peek into the daily life of North Korea. A fascinating look.
 
North Korea Missile Test: preemption?
After years of anti-preemption talk from the Left, I’m pretty surprised to read this column by Ashton Carter (Asst. SecDef under Clinton) and William Perry (SecDef under Clinton) advocating a US missile strike against North Korea...Should the United States allow a country openly hostile to it and armed with nuclear weapons to perfect
 
Taepodong-2: Anti-missile defense drone?
As North Korea defiantly asserts their right to test their newest version of their long range missile, it appears the US is quietly asserting its right to test its missile defense in response:The United States has activated its ground-based interceptor missile-defense system amid concerns over an expected North Korean missile launch, a U.S. defense official said on T
 
Never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity
One of the alleged benefits of the Iraq war was that it would put our enemies on notice — clean up or we’ll clean you up — making them more pliable, more responsive to US interests. I mean, who knows, maybe we could have even gotten Iran, Terrorism Public Enemy #1, to crack down on terrorists and even recognize the State of Israel. Short of peacefully replacing the Islamic tyrannies with democracies, that would be just about the bes
 
Blaming the "Victim"
Charles Krauthammer, once again, is asking uncomfortable questions about the Palestinians. And he’s wondering why no one else is asking similar questions.In the aftermath of an Israeli counterstrike on rocket installations in Gaza that have been shelling Israeli territory, it has been alleged that a Palestinian family on a nearby beach w
 
A Foreign Policy Reorientation
Michael Young has a very interesting proposal for reorienting US foreign policy in a less costly, more productive direction. The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is the primary agitant in the Middle East and our intervention does a lot more to cause us problems than to resolve the problem. So why not bow out and let them solve their own problems?[T]he
 
United States to offer Nuclear Technology to Iran
Finally, diplomatic progress...A package of incentives presented Tuesday to Iran includes a provision for the United States to supply Tehran with some nuclear technology if it stops enriching uranium - a major concession by Washington, diplomats said.I already see some people <
 
Iran: Running out of excuses
Iran has asked for direct talks with the US and gotten what it asked for. And, of course, that puts Iran on the spot. Or to use a sports cliche, the ball is in Iran’s court. If nothing else this removes all their excuses for not negotiating in good faith, if in fact, that is their intent.Obviously a diplomatic solution is better than a nuclear a nuclear confrontation. As the  
EU Status check: not good
The LA Times has an op/ed by Charles A. Kupchan which looks at the state of the European Union today:EUROPE’S revolutionary experiment in political union is faltering.In Britain and Poland in the last month, nationalistic parties uneasy with integration into the European Union have scored major adva
 
Mankiw’s Wager
Bear with me, becaise I’m going somewhere with this. Greg Mankiw discusses self-interest...So what motivates me? Self-interest or respect for the truth? The answer, I believe, is both.Suppose I filled my blog and books with nakedly self-interested statements: "The world would be a happier and more prosperous place if everyone sent Greg Mankiw $20." First of all, no o
 
Bush to Iran: Incentives possible to stop enrichment program
Yesterday I said we should consider having unilateral talks with Iran since they’ve seemingly "blinked" and ask for them. Most thought a) it wouldn’t be a good idea and b) it wouldn’t happen anyway.Well it appears c) it may:President George W. Bush said on Thursday he would consider providing incenti
 
Iran requests direct talks
This is a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned:Iran has followed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent letter to President Bush with explicit requests for direct talks on its nuclear program, according to U.S. officials, Iranian analysts and foreign diplomats.The eagerness for talks demonstrates a profound change in Iran&r
 
UN Human Rights Council: The usual suspects
John Bolton was absolutely correct to say the US wanted no part of the UN Human Rights Council. Why? Cuba on Tuesday secured a seat on the new U.N. Human Rights Council, which replaced an agency where abusers were often members, obtaining the seventh spot out of eight reserved for Latin American and Caribbean nations.
 
Saving Sudan...privately
Via Reynolds, I see the recent Boston Globe story on privately-funded intervention in Sudan is getting attention...Nations that do have effective military forces are unwilling to commit the
 
Meet the new meme, lame as the old meme
OLD MEME: New Press Secretary Tony Snow is a harsh critic of the Bush administration! NEW MEME: New Press Secretary Tony Snow is a lying apparatchik of the Bush administration and his hiring means "the White House is not serious about beginning a new era of telling the truth to
 
Iran threatens double retaliation if US attacks
This isn’t a particular surprise, but it is from a different and more authoritative voice:US interests around the word will be harmed if America launches an attack against Iran, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said."The Iranian nation will respond to any blow with double the intensity," he added, in comments reported on TV.Iran has been re
 
Russia is not our friend: ver. 9.9
Getting any cooperation from Russia (and thus the UN Security Council) concerning Iran doesn’t seem very likely:Russia on Thursday rejected a US call for Moscow to end its cooperation with Iran in constructing the Bushehr nuclear power plant.Foreign ministry spokes-man Mikhail Kamynin said that the plant had no relation to Iran’s work in uranium e
 
Iran’s Madman Strategy
I think a great deal of Iran’s current geopolitical stance (read: Ahmadinejad’s rhetorical excess) can be summed up by Richard Nixon’s "Madman Strategy". Via Sadly, No!, I find Nixon’s explanation...
 
Venezuela: going the way of Cuba?
Cuba’s Castro is one of Hugo Chavez’s heros. And the more you read about Venezuela, the more you recognize the emerging parallels. For instance:During my visit in 2005, there were disturbing signs that a once free and vibrant press was coming under increasing pressure to either censor themselves or face harassment.The source of the prob
 
Iran recruiting terrorists in Britian
A couple of days ago I highlighted a story about attempts by terrorists to recruit "white muslims". The story was about Bosnian muslims and the drive to recruit them because they’d be less likely to be suspected of being a terrorist than would someone of arabic descent.It appears the same sort of recruiting drive is occurring in Britian, this time by an  
Speculating on Oil and Iran
Ezra Klein suggests that Iran is planning to use the oil weapon...Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad greeted yesterday’s record oil prices with a nonchalant musing about how undervalued petroleum actually is. "The global oil price," he said, "has not reached its real value yet. The products derived from c
 
China and Zimbabwe: so much for turning east
Last July I talked about Zimbabwe’s courting of China after it had ostracized most of the western nations. In reality, they really had no other nation to turn too:After having willfully and purposely run a once vibrant economy and self-sufficient (and fairly rich) nation into the ground, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has decided the next place to turn for help is China.
 
The Archetype Fallacy
Here we go again... Washington Times: "What did Hitler sound like to those hearing him speak in the 1930s? Did he sound any less menacing than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran?"Rush Limbaugh: "Winston Churchill had this problem back in the thirties with Hitler. It&
 
Iran: bluff or truth?
In the last couple weeks, Iran has introduced a new anti-ship missile, a stealth flying boat and claimed to have successfully enriched uranium.I can’t help but think now that those revelations were made to give some credence to this claim:Of all the claims that Iran made last week
 
Iran and the bomb
If you were keeping up with the news yesterday, you’re more than familiar with the recent news out of Iran that the country has successfully enriched uranium. That’s step one in the "How to Build a Nuke" manual. Of course, to be fair, it is also step one in preparing fuel for a nuclear reactor. Anyway, after doing so, they’ve been very modest about their
 
France: Government capitulation
Not that I ever really doubted this eventual outcome:French President Jacques Chirac announced today that a contested labor law would be taken off the books, handing a victory to student groups and labor unions who have demonstrated in the millions in recent weeks to have the measure scrapped.The an
 
The Democrats on Iran
At Red State, Baseball Crank writes on Iran, citing two Kevin Drum posts...(1) "If Democrats don’t start thinking about how they’re going to respond to this, they’re idiots." 
France: Speaking truth to ignorance
Not that anyone will listen. But the president of the Sorbone has spoken out about the protests going on in France, and, surprisingly, he’s speaking out against the protesters. He’s being none to subtle about it either. Jean-Robert Pitte had this to say:Reacting to protests over the law, which makes it easier for employers to fire, and therefore presumably
 
Around the world
Articles and topics of interest from foreign sources ...They’re starving in Zimbabwe:The first time Knowledge Mbanda found a dead baby in the drains of Harare, he was horrified. “It is completely against our culture to abandon children,” he said. “I thought it must be of a woman who had been raped or a prostitute.”But now he and fellow cou
 
A Democratic Foreign Policy
The Democratic Party has released a foreign policy prospectus — "The Democratic Plan to Protect America and Restore our Leadership in the World" [pdf] — detailing their plan for a US Foreign policy. After a quick read, it appears to contain some good ideas, some wheel-spinning programs, some wishful thinking and a lot of platitudes.
 
Iran — nuclear threat?
Let’s take the "nuclear Iran = mushroom cloud over New York" crowd at their word for a moment. If this is the calculation that should drive our foreign policy towards Iran, what steps should we expect that crowd to endorse? Clearly, Iran does not have a missile program capable of reaching the United States — or even come close. In 2004, Iran announced that it had upgraded its Shahab-3 m
 
Russian Iraqi perfidy: Condi not amused
As we noted last week, documents coming out of Iraq and recently translated point to Russia having given US war plans to the Iraqi government prior to the 2003 invasion. Condi Rice commented on that during an appearance on Meet the Press:Rice also addressed revelations, impo
 
Albright’s Middle East advice
Former Clinton administration Secretary of State Madeline Albright offers the Bush administration some advice on the middle east. Let’s start with the title and subtitle to her piece:Good Versus Evil Isn’t a StrategyBush’s worldview fails to see that in the Middle East, power politics
 
Saddam and Al Qaeda
The New York Sun is reporting the following today:A former Democratic senator and 9/11 commissioner says a recently declassified Iraqi account of a 1995 meeting between Osama bin Laden and a senior Iraqi envoy presents a "significant set of facts," and shows a more detailed collaboration between Iraq and Al Qaeda.In an interview yesterday, the current president of the New School U
 
Prejudice has economic consequences
It is getting a little harder to deny the "prejudice" label and we’re darn near close to "xenophobia":A person familiar with the thinking of both the US and United Arab Emirates said officials were concerned that the pending investigation of Dubai International Capital’s £700m ($1.2m) purchase of Doncasters, a privately-held British aerospace manufacturer t
 
Boycott Iran
That’s the cry from some religious leaders in Iraq:Iraqi prayer leaders and tribal leaders in the Iraqi city of Fallujah issued a joint appeal to the people of Iraq calling on them to boycott Iranian goods in response to the “murder of thousands of Iraqi Sunnis” for which they hold Tehran accountable, a Kuwaiti daily reported on Sunday.The clerics a
 
The case for preemptive action
An editorial in Investors Business Daily declares:President Bush’s critics aren’t happy with a new National Security Strategy document that reemphasizes the doctrine of pre-emption. Neither, for that matter, are our enemies. And that’s the whole point.Yes, it is the whole point. And in a world which is seeing more
 
Time for some fiscal leadership
Will he or won’t he show some leadership here? I’m talking about President Bush:Congress raised the limit on the federal government’s borrowing by $781 billion yesterday, and then lawmakers voted to spend well over $100 billion on the war in Iraq, hurricane relief, education, health care, transportation and heating assistance
 
Iran: Discussing Iraq with the US
Developments in negotiations with Iran:Iran and the United States agreed Thursday to hold direct talks on how to halt sectarian violence and restore calm in Iraq, offering the first face-to-face conversation between the sides after months of confrontation over Iran’s nuclear program.
 
In case you missed it, they’re rioting again in France
Just thought I’d mention the fact that they’re at it again in France. This time its about jobs. Well that’s partly true. It’s about refusing an employer the right to fire someone from their job:French police used teargas and water cannon when violence erupted as students t
 
Iraq to acquire WMDs again? "Cruel, but fair"...
This story provokes three reactions from me...Official: Iraq may still seek WMDsA former top CIA official said Thursday that despite the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, Iraq is likely to be looking for weapons of mass destruction within the next five to 10 years. In the order they occurred to me:Politica
 
Saving Sudan: those who forget the recent past...
The New Republic editorial board laments our inaction with regards to Sudan...The genocide in Darfur has been going on for three years now. And, for three years, the international community hasn’t done much to stop it. It has threatened, but not enforced, sanctions. It has sent peacekeepers, but with insufficient numbers and a weak mandate. It has decried "crimes against humanity," but charged
 
Iranian IED Factories
Iran is the source of many IEDs it appears:U.S. military and intelligence officials tell ABC News that they have caught shipments of deadly new bombs at the Iran-Iraq border.They are a very nasty piece of business, capable of penetrating U.S. troops’ strongest armor. What the United States says links them to Iran are tell-tale
 
Iran: Carrots and sticks
If you listen to John Bolton, all the carrots are being left to the EU-3. Bolton, in a series of statements, is making it clear that a military response to Iran’s nuclear intransigence is not off the table:The US ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, has told British MPs that military action could bring Iran’s nuclear programme to a halt if all diploma
 
Surprise: Iran lied
Not only that, they’re now bragging about it, although it’s probable this wasn’t supposed to see the light of day outside Iran: Iran duped European Union negotiators into thinking it had halted efforts to make nuclear fuel while it continued to install equipment to process yellowcake — a key stage in the nuclear-fuel p
 
Carter: Undermining US foreign policy?
This old man is getting more and more tiresome as the days go by ... isn’t it peanut season in Plains yet?President Carter personally called Secretary of State Rice to try to convince her to reverse her U.N. ambassador’s position on changes to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, the former president recalled yesterday in a talk in which he also criticized President Bush’s Christ
 
The new whine
Dale noted Mark Davis’ blog entry below about the port deal.Not content with that, Davis then spends an entire column whining about being called everything from a racist to a nervous nellie because he doesn’t back the Dubai Port World deal:Since the issue heated up last we
 
The Port Deal II
Mark Davis at the RealClearPolitics blog writes that it’s gut-check time on the deal to allow Dubai Ports World to take over operations at US ports.This week and next are going to spell the success or defeat of this horrible Dubai port deal. It is the gut check of the year for conservatives who believe it is insane to hand over operational co
 
Nuclear Iran? No Problem!
MIT politcal science professor Barry Posen apparently thinks that all the brou-ha-ha over Iran’s attempts to acquire nuclear weapons is really a tempest in a teapot. To be sure, it’s not a good thing, but, he’s confident we can deter the Iranians from doing anything whacky.Iranian nuclear weapons could be put to three dangerous pu
 
Iran threatens Israel
Stratfor reports that Iran is pursuing their own Sampson Option against Israel...Iran will respond to a U.S. attack with a military strike against Israel’s main nuclear facility, an Iranian adviser to the Revolutionary Guard said, Haaretz reported Feb. 24. The adviser said the Iranian retaliation against Israeli targets would also focus on Haifa, which houses several chemical factorie
 
10 signs the US will bomb Iran
From Strategy Page with the disclaimer that no secrets are being revealed here ... this is pretty well known by all, although you may find some of the indicators, well, humorous, like number 7 for instance. But if you take them as a whole, they would indeed tell you something’s up. The whole point is unless you see most of these going on, don’t take the "pundit prat
 
Venezuela: Some will actually be shocked by this
Seriously. Among the rest of us who’ve been watching Mr. Hugo "Don’t mess with me, girl" Chavez with a jaundiced eye, this seems to be par for the course:Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Sunday he may seek to lift constitutionally mandated presidential
 
Meanwhile among the Palestinians, Hamas is a bit peeved
While the press here in the US goes into a frothing fit over "Fuddgate", the outgoing Palestinian Legislation Council (PLC) has attempted to hamstring the incoming Hamas legislature by passing a raft of last minute laws. Hamas is not amused:In a move that Hamas officials called "immoral", the outgoing Palestinian Legislative Council (
 
Iran and the UN: a Trap?
William Hawkins sees a trap building in the referral of Iran to the UN Security Council:The sudden decision by Russia and China to allow Iran’s nuclear weapons program to be brought before the U.N. Security Council should caution American officials about the old saw of being careful about what they wish for. It is doubtful either Mosco
 
Iran joins the cartoon imbroglio by sanctioning itself
The mullocracy of Iran, in reaction to the continued publishing of the cartoons depicting the Islamic prophet Mohammad has reacted in a decidedly unconventional manner:Tehran, Feb.05 (ISNA)-Following the insults of some western countries’ media to Holy Prophet of Islam, Iran’s President, Dr. Ahmadi Nejad ordered Commerce Minister to set up a council on "revi
 
The Chinese Economic Miracle?
Stratfor has a fascinating analysis of the incredible growth that China has experienced in recent years. [alt: free link] China’s remarkable growth, Stratfor argues, has not been entirely real. What’s more...Western markets have been at least subconsciously aware of this
 
For Hamas, there must be consequences
I’m with Charles Krauthammer on this. Hamas won the election in Palestine fair and square. But just because Hamas won the election does it mean we have to accept the will of the people without question? Imagine David Duke winning a seat in the House of Representatives. Does his win suddenly make his ideas legitimate? Do they mean that others have to now accept him wit
 
France and US quietly repair relationship
Very interesting David Ignatius column from yesterday which I didn’t get to until today.Welcome to the French Connection. Though the link between the top foreign policy advisers of Presidents Bush and Jacques Chirac is almost unknown to the outside world, it has emerged as an important element of U.S. planning. On a public level, France may still be the butt of jokes
 
Hamas Speaks
Khaled Meshaal is head of the political bureau of Hamas. As such, he has important things to say.The day Hamas won the Palestinian elections, the world’s leading democracies failed the test of democracy. Rather than recognize the legitimacy of Hamas as a freely elected representative of the Palestinian people, s
 
Iran: Missiles and nukes mean big trouble
More news about Iran’s nuclear program is filtering into the press:The International Atomic Energy Agency says it has evidence that suggests links between Iran’s ostensibly peaceful nuclear program and its military work on high explosives and missiles, according to a confiden
 
Iran to be reported to the UN Security Council?
An interesting and, at least to me, unexpected development:The permanent five members of the U.N. Security Council agreed on Tuesday that this week’s meeting of the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog should report Iran to the Council over its nuclear programs, said a statement from the five.
 
The emerging consensus for dealing with Hamas
It appears the western world is coming to a consensus concerning Hamas. That’s actually a good thing. The question, however, is, how long will this emerging consensus hold together?The United States and its E
 
In Defense of the Hamas Victory
There’s been no end to the vexation over the recent Hamas victory in the Palestinian elections. That’s unsuprising, of course. Consider the difference between the two main Palestinian political organizations: Hamas, while active in Palestinian social services, is indisputably a violent organization which has engaged in terrorism and is dedicated to the elimination of Israel. Fatah, on the
 
The trouble with Hamas
I’ve been doing a lot of watching and reading as concerns the Hamas victory in the Palestinian territories. Frankly I’m a bit surprised that so many are surprised they won. Given the violent history of Palestinians it doesn’t at all surprise me that they won. I’ve been an outspoken critic of Israel’s withdrawl from Gaza, an
 
The Myth of Oil Independence
Seth Williams at Say Anything blogs about the oil problem, concluding...Those that would insist we isolate ourselves from odious, yet oil-rich, regimes ought to be prepared to tell us how we would make up the shortfall that would result. Any plan that would insist we quit all or even some foreign oil cold turkey is a sure recipe for economic collapse and social disorder. I think people
 
Steamed Rice
Anyone else catch this last week?Speaking with Pravda this week, [Vladimir] Zhirinovsky chastised [Condoleezza] Rice for calling on Russia to "act responsibly" in supplying natural gas to Ukraine.The fascistic pol attributed that "coarse anti-Russian statement" to Rice being "a single woman who has no children.""If she has no man by her
 
The Iranian conundrum
As the Iran situation continues to build, some ramifications are now becoming obvious that will effect more than national security issues:A surge in oil prices last week to almost $70 a barrel on concerns about the restart of Iran’s nuclear program only hints at what may lie ahead. Prices could soar past $100 a barrel, experts say, if the U.N. Security C
 
Confronting nuclear brinksmanship
I’m not much of a fan of Jaques Chirac and the reasons vary ranging from the diplomatic and political realms to the cultural realm. France has it’s reasons, no matter how much I disagree, for each of its positions, and I won’t bore you with what they are and why I disagree. But in sum, France has not been the greatest friend or ally to the US lately. Add to that the previous French reluctance to engage in other than diplomatic efforts
 
Meanwhile in the oil patch
An interesting little tidbit from the WSJ:As international oil prices climb higher, the Interior Department took another step to develop oil from shale formations in Colorado and Utah.Interior’s Bureau of Land Management approved the applications of eight companies to try new oil recovery technology on 160-acre test plots on federal land. The winners, cu
 
Give Iran a taste of their own medicine
Mark Steyn weighs in with his ideas on how to handle the Iran situation. He first reviews the "conventional" means and how they’re both inadequate and work to the Iranian regime’s advantage. A military solution would require a sustained effort which could backfire badl
 
The Venezuela/Iran connection
Yes I find what is happening in Venezuela fascinating as it is a case study in the rise of an autocracy from democratic instititions (and something which is a real threat to emerging democracies everywhere). And yes I think it is instructive which is why I spend so much time on Chavez and Venezuela. The mechanism for making hiding an autocracy in democratic clothing, as outlined here, seems to
 
Even the Church has noticed
Now this is a post guaranteed to bring the Chavez groupies flocking, but regardless, our buddy’s been at it again:Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez accused a Roman Catholic cardinal Sunday of conspiring against him after the clergyman chastised the leftist leader for eroding democracy and abusing his power.The exchange was the latest sign
 
Iran: The Nuclear Messiah
McQ certainly nailed the motivations of Iranian President Ahmadinejad in this post last week. He’s on an apocalyptic mission from god. Via Drudge, I see the Telegraph asking the same questions I asked here at QandO last week: "What is moving its President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to such recklessness?" Politic
 
Racism? Oh, well that’s all right then...
In their rush to defend the indefensible, people sometimes make arguments which are as bad, if not worse, than the one they’re trying to defend.Case in point. I highlighted a speech by Hugo Chavez in which I made the argument that he was engaging in anti-Semitism by citing those who "killed Christ" 2000 years ago. That particular euphemism is commonly used when an anti-Semite
 
Diplomat, heal thyself
Got to love this stuff: Diplomats from Mexico and Central America on Monday demanded guest worker programs and the legalization of undocumented migrants in the United States, while criticizing a U.S. proposal for tougher border enforcement.Meeting in Mexico’s capital, the regional officials pledged to do more to fight migrant trafficking, but indirectly condemned a U.S. bill that would make illegal entry a felony and extend border walls.
 
Iran and Armageddon
As Jon resonably points out in his post about Iran, crazy is indeed a strategy. And it can be leveraged diplomatically if you play your cards right.But sometimes, crazy is just crazy. And when that is the case, trying to make rational assumptions about an irrational person is, at best, scientific wild-assed guessing.I’m frankly convinced that Iran has the second pr
 
Iran: crazy is a strategy
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hopes "the news that the criminal of Sabra and Chatilla [Ariel Sharon] has joined his ancestors is final." It isn’t news that the Iranian President thinks this — indeed, if he thought anything else, he’d surely be removed from office — but it is an unfortunate marker of the Iranian perception of their diplomatic position that he’d say it publicly.
 
China and the Dollar
Via Econopundit, I see the Chinese may be looking at diversification...China indicated on Thursday it could begin to diversify its rapidly growing foreign exchange reserves away from the US dollar and government bonds – a potential shift with significant implications for global financial and commodity markets. If so, let&rsq
 
And the predictable slide begins
Funny how some people can’t learn from the experience of others, but seem to have to learn the lessons of reality the hard way. We visit our good friend Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela for the third time in a week:
 
Reaction to Sharon’s stroke somewhat (and surprisingly) mixed among Palestinians
By now, everyone has heard of Ariel Sharon’s massive stroke.I would guess that among Palestinians, the following sentiment most closely reflects the feeling of the majority of them (via the Jerusalem Post:But a radical Palestinian leader in Damascus, the Syrian capital, called Sharon’s health crisis a gift from God.
 
Need an enemy? Blame the Jews
New Sisyphus has translated a portion of a speech given in Spanish by our good buddy Hugo Chavez. I don’t speak Spanish and am therefore putting both the Spanish portion of the speech (below the fold) up as well as Sisphus’ translation. Sisphus himself says he’s done as well as he can and would welcome any corrections, as would I. But
 
International worries for 2006
Lee Hamilton lists some of his worries about the international scene in 2006. Before getting to those, however, he says:While we should support the spread of democracy, we have cause to worry about the results of democracy serving as a near-term antidote to this instability. Americans must recognize that democracy does not always yield outcomes t
 
Al Qaeda: Further expanding operations?
From CNN:In what may be a sign that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s terror group is expanding its operations, Al Qaeda in Iraq has posted a statement claiming responsibility for firing missiles from Lebanon into northern Israel earlier this week.The statement, posted Thursday on Web sites used previously by al Qaeda in Iraq, cannot be indepen
 
Venezuela: Competitive Autocracy, the new wave in Latin America?
Javier Corrales pens an excellent article in the Jan/Feb issue of Foreign Policy magazine about Hugo Chavez’s “new style of authoritarianism”, or “how to be a modern dictator in democracy obsessed world”.One can only hope that his competitive autocracy will remain confined to Venezuela along with his socialist policies, but, given Latin America’s historic propensity for leftist ideology as a replacement for right-win
 
Realpolitik in the Middle East
Stratfor has a fascinating overview of the geopolitical strategic situation in Iraq. It’s far more complicated and tenuous than many supporters of the war might like to believe. Read all of this...
 
Clueless in Jerusalem
If you’ve agreed to visit a country which is peopled by a race and religion which has undergone the trauma of a pogrom we call the "holocaust" and since the country’s inception, has been attacked by enemies and terrorists, is it a good idea to stop on the way to a commemoration of the Holocaust to honor one of the terrorists which has been responsible for lethal attacks on that country?Most peop