Hugo Chávez was loved by Venezuelans, Sean Penn, Oliver Stone, Michael Moore and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but mocked on SNL

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 10th, 2013

Week in Review

Justin Timberlake made fun of Hugo Chávez last Saturday night on SNL.  Impersonating Sir Elton John he sang a modified version of Candle in the Wind.  Some of the lines went like this:

You called George Bush the devil, when you spoke at the UN, you said he smelled like sulfur, and you called him Mr. Danger

And it seems to me you lived your life like a candle in the wind, If a candle could pull out two pistols at a press conference

And you said the U.S. caused earthquakes, and you outlawed Coke Zero

You helped to make your country the kidnapping capital of the world, but you also increased milk production by almost 50%

And it seems to me you once gave a speech where you encouraged shorter showers, and another thing you said was capitalism killed Mars

Yes you believed in a civilization that existed on the surface of Mars, but capitalism killed it all when it was introduced to Mars

Funny.  Because it’s true.  Albeit a bit disrespectful for the recently departed.  One thing for sure, though, when Justin Timberlake hosts SNL you will not be disappointed.  He’s talented.  The man can do it all.  And he’s got guts to sing a song like this about an icon of the American Left.  For there are some who revere Hugo Chávez (see Sean Penn, Michael Moore and Oliver Stone pay tribute to Hugo Chávez by Ben Child posted 3/6/2013 on the guardian).

Penn, who first met Chávez in Venezuela in 2007 and attended a candlelit vigil for the stricken firebrand in Bolivia in December, bemoaned the politician’s lack of credibility in North America. “Today the people of the United States lost a friend it never knew it had. And poor people around the world lost a champion,” he said in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter. “I lost a friend I was blessed to have. My thoughts are with the family of President Chávez and the people of Venezuela.” Penn added: “Venezuela and its revolution will endure under the proven leadership of vice president [Nicolas] Maduro.”

Oliver Stone, who celebrated Chávez’s presidency and the successes of left wing politicians across South America in his 2009 documentary South of the Border, said the Venezuelan leader would be remembered fondly by historians as a champion of the poor. “I mourn a great hero to the majority of his people and those who struggle throughout the world for a place,” he said in a statement. “Hated by the entrenched classes, Hugo Chávez will live forever in history. My friend, rest finally in a peace long earned.”

Michael Moore, who met Chávez at the Venice film festival in 2009 and posted pictures of himself with the president, tweeted: “Hugo Chávez declared the oil belonged 2 the ppl. He used the oil $ 2 eliminate 75% of extreme poverty, provide free health & education 4 all. That made him dangerous. US approved of a coup to overthrow him even though he was a democratically-elected president.”

High praise indeed.  You would be hard-pressed to find someone saying anything nicer about Chávez.  Unless you listened to someone who hates the United States even more than Hugo Chávez (see Ahmadinejad: Chávez Will Return by The New York Times posted 3/6/2013 on The Daily Beast).

Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad posted a letter on his website, promising that the deceased president would “come again” with Jesus and a Muslim prophet expected to redeem mankind. Ahmadinejad called for a day of national mourning for the “Latin American anti-imperialist figure.”

How about that?  The Hollywood Left loved Chávez as much as America’s number one enemy.  A man who suppressed his people during the Green Revolution.  In response to voting irregularities that kept him in power.  Something that happened in Venezuela, too.  Suggesting Chávez  was not as loved as some say.  Or as much as the Hollywood Left loved him.   Apparently, those who loved Chávez the most were those who didn’t have to live in his socialist utopia.

Many of the Venezuelan people did love Chávez, though. Because Chávez was a populist.  He nurtured a cult of personality.  He made the people love him.  Because he convinced the people that he was their champion.  As Penn, Stone and Moore believed.  Despite Chávez dying with a net worth of $1 billion.  Siphoned off the top of all that oil money that went to the people.  To eliminate extreme poverty.  That’s right.  He acquired wealth just like George W. Bush did.  From oil.  Only Bush did it in the free market.  While Chávez did it by just confiscating it.  Like all anti-capitalist socialists are wont to do.  Because they are the champion of the people.  Where everyone is equal.  Only some are more equal than others.

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Economic Sanctions causes Collapse in Iranian Rial and Protests against Iranian Regime

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 7th, 2012

Week in Review

The economic sanctions are making their mark in Iran.  The people are suffering the economic consequences.  But so far it doesn’t look like it’s encouraging any change in official Iranian position on their nuclear program.  At least, not yet.  For the Iranian regime is beating back the protestors (see Iranian discontent rises as riot police fight protesters by Robert Tait, David Blair posted 10/3/2012 on The Telegraph).

Security forces used tear gas and batons against demonstrators angered by a dramatic collapse in the national currency, the rial, which has lost about a third of its value against the US dollar since Sunday. The hour by hour decline of the currency provides vivid evidence of the damage wrought by international sanctions, which were imposed because of Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

There were voting irregularities in the 2009 Iranian elections.  Protests erupted throughout Iran.  And the Iranian regime suppressed them.  President Obama did not support the protesters.  Nor demand that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad step down.  Even though the Iranian regime is an enemy of the United States.  They are an active sponsor of terrorism.  And a threat to regional peace.  But when the Arab Spring reached our ally, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, President Obama demanded that he stepped down.  Even though he didn’t use his army to suppress his people.  Now the country is run by the Muslim Brotherhood.  And is moving closer to Iran.

With the invasion of Iraq Libya made peace with the United States.  They were no longer a threat to the United States.  Or regional peace.  Yet President Obama committed military force to support the opposition in their civil war.    When the Arab Spring moved on to Syria, an Iranian ally, supporter of terrorism, home of Hezbollah, President Obama made no move to support the opposition.  And Syria has degenerated into a bloody civil war.  Sending refugees across borders.  And causing cross-border incidents.  The very thing the Obama administration warned of in Libya.  And used to justify their support in that conflict.

American foreign policy these days may appear a bit confusing to our friends and allies.  The U.S. is supporting sanctions against Iran to get them to abandon their nuclear programs.  Which probably would not have advanced as far had the Iranian protests in 2009 led to a regime change.  But the U.S. did not support the protestors.  Unlike in Egypt and Libya.  Nations that weren’t enemies of the United States.  Like Iran is.  So it will be interesting to see where these new protests may lead to.  Hopefully they will end well for the Iranian people.

Behind the rial’s decline lies a precipitous fall in Iranian oil exports, which have dropped from about 2.5 million barrels per day last year to 1.1 million barrels in August, according to the International Energy Agency. This has deprived Iran of billions of dollars of revenues and exposed the regime’s failure to avoid the damage caused by sanctions.

The collapse of the currency reflects a general loss of public confidence. The anti-government website, Kalemeh, cited eyewitnesses accounts that demonstrators demanded the overthrow of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The collapse of the rial makes it far more expensive for Iranian companies to buy imported goods. Mr Kushner said the latest decline “means that most Iranian importers simply cannot afford to pay for goods if they must use the free market rate.”

Instead of trading with the West, Iran has tried to buy more goods from countries likes China, India and particularly Turkey. However, the fall in the currency raises the price of imports across the board, meaning that they could become unaffordable. “We will see a real financial crisis in the coming months because the economy cannot sustain this,” said Mr Kushner. “It is bad, but will become a lot worse.”

With the fall in oil revenues the state has to make up for that revenue by other means.  And it looks like they’ve depreciated their currency.  That is, they’ve printed rials.  Making them worth less.  Which can be hidden somewhat in a closed economy.  But not with international trade.  Because to buy foreign goods you first have to exchange your money for the foreign currency of your trading partner first.  And when your currency is greatly depreciated it doesn’t trade for much foreign currency.  Making those imports very, very expensive.  Taking more and more rials to buy them.  Putting them out of the reach of ordinary Iranians.  Hence the protests.  And the lack of public confidence.

The Iranian people are ready for change.  Will they get it?  Time will tell.  Unfortunately for the Iranians, time didn’t treat them well in 2009.

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The Clock is Ticking on the Iranian Problem but will we Act before they go Nuclear?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 15th, 2012

Week in Review

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is stirring up trouble in the Middle East.  Again.  He’s got his eyes on some strategically located islands that just might come in handy in some future plans (see Gulf states schedule special meeting over Iran-UAE island dispute by Alexandra Sandels and Ramin Mostaghim posted 4/13/2012 on the Los Angeles Times).

Foreign ministers of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states are scheduled to meet in the Saudi capital of Riyadh following a visit by Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to a disputed island earlier this week in a move that has sparked a diplomatic spat between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Iran…

Abu Musa is one of three islands that both Iran and the UAE claim. Iran took control of the islands of Abu Musa, Lesser Tunb and Greater Tunb — all located near important shipping lanes in the Strait of Hormuz — back in 1971, as the Gulf emirates gained full independence from Britain and British forces were withdrawn.

GCC chief Abdullatif al-Zayani has denounced Ahmadinejad’s visit to Abu Musa. In a statement, he called it a “clear violation of UAE sovereignty” and said it was “an irresponsible provocation and is not in line with the GCC policy of maintaining good neighborly relations with Iran,” according to media reports.

If you look at a map you can understand why Iran is causing all of this trouble.  Lesser Tunb and Greater Tunb are in the shipping lanes proper.  Abu Musa is on the far side of the shipping lanes from Iran.  Ideal islands to have if you’re threatening to blockade the Strait of Hormuz.  Which the Iranians are threatening to do if anyone tries to stop their nuclear program.

Iran is the bully of the Middle East.  Always looking to start trouble.  They were sponsoring attacks on U.S. service personnel in Iraq.  They were inflaming the unrest on Bahrain.  They’re close with the Muslim Brotherhood who is gathering political power in Egypt.  They’re funding Hezbollah and Hamas in their attacks on Israel.  And, of course, they want to remove Israel from the map.  Which is just something their nuclear program can do.  Even the other Arab states are sick and tired of having to deal with Iran.  Who want to be the supreme power in the region.  Just like the British were at one time.  And who the Iranians condemned for it. 

Iran it the greatest threat to stability and peace in the area.  Which is growing ever more instable and less peaceful since the fall of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.  We can’t let Iran be a nuclear power.  For they won’t live in peace with any neighbor once they have it.  And threaten nuclear retaliation for any attempts to limit her influence and power in the region.  Or any action they take against Israel.  There is no good way for this to end.  Except, perhaps, the fall of the current Iranian regime.  Which may be the only way to stop it.  But after a decade of war who is going to start another?

There is a parallel to pre-World War II Europe here.  Hitler got away with provocation after provocation because no one wanted a return to war.  Not after World War I.  So we negotiated and dithered.  Even gave Hitler a sovereign nation.  Czechoslovakia.  Anything to appease him and avoid war.  And we know how that ended.  Once he had Czechoslovakia he attacked Poland.  Launching World War II.  Which was far worse than World War I.  And any war Iran starts as a nuclear power will be far worse than the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.  Which means only one thing.  We can’t let Iran become a nuclear power.  But will we?

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Iranians attack British Embassy in Tehran, Keeps working on Nuclear Program despite Escalating World Opposition

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 4th, 2011

Week in Review

The Iranians have attacked the British embassy in Tehran.  Something like this hasn’t happen since the Iranians attacked the U.S. embassy in Tehran.  That’s the problem with a rogue regime.  They go rogue (see Storming of British Embassy in Iran: This rabid rogue state could tip the world into a new dark age by Michael Burleigh posted 12/2/2011 on Mail Online).

That rampaging mob of ‘students’ storming the British Embassy in Tehran on Tuesday, lobbing petrol bombs, ransacking the building, burning the Union Jack and threatening to hold hostage terrified members of staff inside the compound, was a deeply worrying spectacle for those of us who have studied the Iranian regime over the years.

The mayhem followed a vote in Iran’s parliament to downgrade diplomatic relations with Britain – a response to the tough new financial sanctions imposed by London last week over Iran’s nuclear programme, after the International Atomic Energy Authority warned that Iran is getting ever closer to building a bomb.

These protesters were clearly orchestrated by the Iranian regime, for the mayhem could never have taken place without sanction in a country where secret police stalk the streets, torture is endemic, criminals are executed in public and foreign embassies are closely guarded and monitored.

Far from being students, many of the thugs involved were elite members of Iran’s paramilitary Basiji brigades, a hard-core volunteer outfit under the control of the country’s Revolutionary Guards, who answer to the country’s top cleric, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Iran plays by no rules but their own.  Embassies are supposed to be sovereign soil.  Iranian territory ends at the walls of the British Embassy.  Just as British territory ends at the walls of the Iranian embassy in Great Britain.  This is sacrosanct in the international community of nations.  And here the state has orchestrated an attack on a foreign embassy.  This isn’t diplomacy.  This is the action of a rogue state.

So why did the Iranians do this?  Because they’re pissed.  No one is buying their story of why they are going nuclear.  They say it’s for energy.  But they also have said they want to remove Israel from the map. Which happens to be another use for nuclear technology.  Weapons.  And mass destruction.  So the international community of nations is starting to pull away from Iran.  Apply sanctions.  And a few other things.

As President Ahmadinejad said recently: ‘All our banking operations, all our trade, all our purchases and sales, all our agreements are being monitored and blocked’.

The truth is that the country’s nuclear ambitions are under siege as never before.

Israel’s intelligence agents are ruthlessly assassinating Iran’s top nuclear scientists one by one, while sabotaging the country’s nuclear processing plants using cyber-warfare and explosives placed by double agents – only this week there was a huge unexplained explosion at a nuclear facility in the city of Isfahan.

The Israelis are in survival mode.  Because they know what what’s going to happen if Iran gets a nuclear bomb.  They’re going to use it.  And they know where.  All that Iranian talk about hating Israel and wanting to incinerate it kind of telegraphed their intent.

The kind of behaviour we are witnessing in the attack on the British Embassy is all too frighteningly reminiscent of the day in November 1979 that so-called students burst into the U.S. Embassy, demanding that America surrender the exiled Shah, who was being treated in the U.S. for cancer.

The Supreme Leader of the day, Ayatollah Khomeni, endorsed the ‘students’, who settled down to a government-licensed siege, with U.S. diplomats held hostage in harrowing conditions for 444 days.

The young Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, now president, was one of the hostage-takers.

That’s right.  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was one of the thugs that violated U.S. sovereign territory back in 1979.  Once a thug always a thug.  Only he’s now the head of state.  And may shortly have access to nuclear weapons.

Indeed, many believe that Iran’s behaviour is so outrageous, and its nuclear capability now so dangerous, that a military strike is the only option left to the international community to bring the renegade nation into line.

Israel is already considering such action against Iran’s three main nuclear facilities, which are hundreds of miles apart: a Russian-built-and-staffed light water facility at Bushehr; a major underground uranium plant at Natanz; and two water facilities at Arak to convert uranium dioxide into weapons-grade plutonium…

The Iranians have threatened dire consequences if such an attack took place, including firing long-range ballistic missiles, thought to be more accurate than the Scud missiles Saddam Hussein launched against Israel during the first Gulf War.

They are also likely to retaliate against any neighbouring state that allows Israel to fly through their airspace towards Iran, including Turkey and Iraq.

They may risk attacking U.S. forces stationed in Iraq or the nearby Gulf states, sucking the U.S. directly into the conflict. Significantly, only the U.S. military has the necessary firepower to deal with Iran’s formidable military machine.

If the U.S. was dragged in, Iran would not only engineer conflagration in the Middle East.

It has also threatened to cut off oil supplies from the region by unleashing Chinese Silkworm missiles or suicide-bomber boats against tankers in the Straits of Hormuz, the world’s vital oil lifeline.

Industry experts calculate this would instantly send the price of oil soaring three times its present price to $300 or more a barrel – which would be even more catastrophic for our ailing economies than the unresolved eurozone crisis.

The Arab Spring is heading into winter.  ‘Moderate’ Islamists are winning elections.  That means these countries, one time friends and allies of the United States, are becoming more Islamist.  More like Iran.  It’s going to become harder and harder to isolate Iran in the Middle East when she gets more friends and allies throughout the region.  Which is going to make it easier for Iran to follow through on these threats.  So what do we do?  Trust Iran and do nothing while they develop and use a nuclear device?  Or strike now and risk a conventional war?

Something has to be done.  While Barack Obama has tried to play nice to our enemies the world has become a more dangerous place.  Obama has failed.  He just doesn’t get it.  The only thing our enemies respect is brute force.  And the will to use it.  So far he has shown the will to kill from a distance with drones and Special Forces.  Or invade a country that is no threat to U.S. security interests.  Where there was little chance of losing an extended military engagement.  So as not to alienate his antiwar political base.  But will he attack Iran to save vital U.S. security interests from nuclear attack?  Will he take that political risk?  Especially when all of this is happening in an election year?

Only time will tell.

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Iran and al Qaeda hate America and Anyone who Associates with America or Sells them Oil

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 28th, 2011

In 2001 al Qaeda was by far More Evil than Iran but the Evil Race is Still On

Iranian president Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust.  And that al Qaeda brought down the Twin Towers.  Which is really pissing off al Qaeda (see Al Qaeda to Iran: Stop Spreading 9/11 Conspiracy Theory by Lee Ferran posted 9/27/2011 on ABC News).

“The Iranian government has professed on the tongue of its president Ahmadinejad that it does not believe that al Qaeda was behind 9/11 but rather, the U.S. government,” an article reads. “So we may ask the question: why would Iran ascribe to such a ridiculous belief that stands in the face of all logic and evidence?”

Though Iran was the first of the two to use the “Great Satan” as a synonym for the U.S., the author claims that Iran sees itself as a rival for al Qaeda when it comes to anti-Americanism and was jealous of the 9/11 attacks.

“For them, al Qaeda was a competitor for the hearts and minds of the disenfranchised Muslims around the world,” the article says. “Al Qaeda… succeeded in what Iran couldn’t. Therefore it was necessary for the Iranians to discredit 9/11 and what better way to do so? Conspiracy theories.”

Reminds me a little of that Austin Powers movie where Dr. Evil laments that his son is not evil enough.

In your face, Iran, says al Qaeda.  Yes, in 2001, al Qaeda was by far more evil than Iran.  Sadly, the evil competition hasn’t ended.  And we should worry about escalation in the evil race.  Especially when one of these evil competitors may already have a nuclear bomb.

I wonder how the 9/11 deniers will take this?  All those George W. Bush haters who said Bush imploded the Twin Towers.  So he could invade the Middle East.  Most everyone else blamed al Qaeda.  Something al Qaeda, incidentally, never denied.  And claims responsibility for to this day.  Even after punishing retribution.  And the death of their glorious leader.  Osama bin Laden.

And what about those saying that our only enemy is al Qaeda?  That Iran’s nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes.  And their meddling in the Middle East is nothing to worry about.  Sure they support Hezbollah.  And they support Hamas.  And support these groups in their goal of removing American ally Israel from the world map.  But there’s nothing to worry about.  For I’m sure their territorial ambitions will end with Israel.  Much like Hitler‘s did with the Sudetenland.  Besides, who else says they have an anti-American agenda?  Other than the big bad of anti-Americanism?  Al Qaeda.

The Wahhabis don’t like the House of Saud or their Coziness with the U.S

So, yes, Virginia, radical Islamists want to hurt Americans.  Despite the last 2+ years of de-Bushifying the nation.  Despite the Cairo speech.  Nothing has changed.  The bad guys are still gunning for Americans.  Wherever they can find Americans (see US warns of possible kidnap plot in Saudi Arabia posted 9/28/2011 on CBS News).

The U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia warned Americans on Wednesday that a terrorist group may be planning to abduct Westerners in the capital of Riyadh…

Saudi Arabia has waged a heavy crackdown on Islamist militants since al Qaeda’s Saudi branch launched a wave of attacks in the country in 2003, including suicide bombings and shootings that killed dozens of Saudis and foreigners. At least 11 Americans were among the dead.

Saudi Arabia is an important U.S. ally in the Middle East.  And friend.   Which is why they get a lot of this kind of stuff in their kingdom.  And their actions in 2003 prove this.  For everyone talks about the Saudi money that financed bin Laden.  But it wasn’t the House of Saud.  It was the Wahhabi Muslim sect residing within their kingdom.  From whence bin Laden came.

The Wahhabis don’t like the House of Saud.  Or their coziness with the U.S.  So the Saudis walk a fine line.  Staying friendly with the U.S.  Without being too friendly with the U.S.  To keep the peace in their kingdom.  And to maintain stability in the Middle East.

And all the while they’re dealing with this threat from within they have to deal with the threat from without.  Iran.  Who may have a hand in these Arab uprisings.  Especially where there are Shiite majorities.  To expand Iranian hegemony into the Middle East.  Especially in the Sunni areas of the Middle East.

On Monday, the former chief of Saudi intelligence services said the kingdom’s sizable oil installations were safe despite the growing threat of terrorist attacks in the region.

Prince Turki al-Faisal said the unrest in the Arab world would not spill over into Saudi Arabia.

“While the general picture of Saudi Arabia’s surroundings is predominated by this great turmoil, at the center of these many storms sits our Kingdom, which, I am glad to report, remains stable and secure,” he said.

Which is good.  Because next to Canada, Saudi Arabia is the second largest source of U.S. oil imports.  Even expanded their production to compensate for the loss of Libyan crude.  Again, Saudi Arabia is an important ally.  And friend.

The Loss of Refinery Capacity Now will make Gas Prices Soar During any Economic Recovery

Oil is the lifeblood of a modern economy.  Advanced nations consume oil with a voracious appetite.  That’s why Saudi crude is so important.  Both to the West.  And the enemies of the West.  Because if they can disrupt it they can disrupt the Western economies.  So any threat to Saudi Arabia is a national security interest.  Especially when it’s against Americans in the kingdom.

So oil is important.  As is the price of oil.  When it falls it’s for one of two reasons.  Either we’ve increased supply.  Or people just aren’t buying it (see Crude Oil Set for Second Straight Quarterly Decline on Europe Debt Crisis by Mark Shenk posted 9/28/2011 on Bloomberg).

Crude oil fell in New York, heading for the biggest quarterly drop since 2008, on concern that Europe’s debt crisis will linger and on rising U.S. stockpiles…

Crude stockpiles advanced as imports rose and refineries reduced operating rates…

Gasoline stockpiles rose 791,000 barrels to 214.9 million in the week ended Sept. 23, the report showed. Supplies of distillate fuel, a category that includes heating oil and diesel, increased 72,000 barrels to 157.7 million.

Sadly, this fall in price is due to people not buying it.

What?  Oil prices are falling?  That’s good news, yes?  Sadly, no.  Not in this case.  Because they are falling for a bad reason.  Weak demand.  From an economy on the precipice of another recession.  (The economy is so bad that people just aren’t buying gasoline).  Though some will argue we’ve never emerged from the Great Recession.  And it gets worse.

“The crude market is also under pressure because of the announcement of yet another possible shutdown of an East Coast refinery,” said Carl Larry, director of energy derivatives and research at Blue Ocean Brokerage LLC in New York. “At some point we’ll be able to count on both hands the number of operable refineries on the East Coast.”

Refineries are shutting down because of this extraordinary weak demand.  Which will not be good on the far side of this recession.  When the economy picks up.  For with the loss of this refinery capacity, when demand picks up gas prices will soar.  And it gets worse.

As economies heat up so will demand for oil.  Making oil prices soar.  Making high gasoline prices even higher.  Dampening any economic recovery.  Perhaps even throwing us back into recession.

A Big Oil Shock could Take any Bustling Economy and Thrown it into Recession

So the post-recession oil supply is not looking good.  Is there anything else to worry about?  Of course there is (see Double-dip ahead? Posted 9/28/2011 on The Economist).

Unfortunately, the economy has been battered for most of the year: by lousy weather, a seismic disaster in Japan, soaring oil prices, a major intensification of the European crisis, the end of QE2, and a down-to-the-wire blow-up over the debt ceiling among other things. There was good reason to think that the economy might have grown at 4% this year, but actual performance is largely governed by two big factors: what shocks occur and how policymakers respond to them.

Shocks, eh?  There could be a big oil shock in the pipeline.  Thanks to a bad economy that is closing down refinery capacity.  And an Arab Spring that is going to no one knows where yet.  And there are those who have eyes on Saudi Arabia.  People who don’t like America.  So, yeah, there could be a big oil shock coming our way.  Which could take any bustling economy and throw it into recession.

What Happens in the Middle East Matters to the Price of Gasoline and to American Security

There is a race between Iran and al Qaeda to see who can do America more harm.  We have made some progress against al Qaeda.  But we haven’t done much on the Iranian front.  And they’re about to acquire nuclear weapons.  Or already has them.

If our archenemy says that Iran is their rival in anti-Americanism, then Iran is probably anti-American.  And we should probably act accordingly.  Like the Saudis have against al Qaeda.  Despite the great risks that brought to their kingdom.  From the al Qaeda-sympathetic Wahhabi population.

When George W. Bush invaded Iraq many called it blood for oil.  They were adamantly against that.  Almost as much as they were against $4/gallon gasoline.  For they want their cheap gasoline.  And believe they should be able to get it no matter what happens in the Middle East.

But what happens in the Middle East matters.  To the price of gasoline.  And to American security.  They are linked.  And if given the chance, our enemies will use one.  To get to the other.  Us.  Because oil is the lifeblood of a modern economy.  And if they can’t defeat us in military arms.  They can shut us down by controlling the oil in the Middle East.

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Democracy or Theocracy Movements in the Middle East and Africa?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 20th, 2011

A Domino Theory in the Middle East and Africa

You may not know where Bahrain is.  But you’ve probably heard of it.  Long before the protests there.  It’s home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.  We support our operations for Afghanistan and Iraq from Bahrain.  So it’s pretty important to U.S. security.

It’s an island nation off the coast of Saudi Arabia.  Not too far from Kuwait (the nation Saddam Hussein invaded back in 1990).  Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are still friendly to the U.S.  And these Sunni states provide a strategic counter to Shiite Iranian power in the Persian Gulf area.

Protests following the democratic uprising in Tunisia and Egypt got pretty bloody in Bahrain.  But is Bahrain going through a democratic uprising?  Or is it a civil war between Sunni and Shiite (see Saudi Arabia says it’s ready to help Bahrain’s rulers by Janine Zacharia and Michael Birnbaum posted 2/20/2011 on The Washington Post)?

Saudi Arabia on Sunday said it stands ready “with all its capabilities” to shore up Bahrain’s ruling royal family if a standoff with the Shiite-led opposition is not resolved soon, underscoring the kingdom’s deep concern about its neighbor’s ongoing political crisis.

Sunni-led Saudi Arabia props up Bahrain’s al-Khalifa family with cash and has long sought to prevent the tiny Persian Gulf state – with its majority Shiite population – from falling into Iran’s orbit. With dwindling oil resources, Bahrain relies heavily on Saudi Arabia for money and security.

This is what makes any ‘democratic’ uprising in the Middle East complicated.  You see, the Sunnis and Shiites don’t exactly get along.  The 8-year war between Iraq and Iran was a war between Sunni (Iraq) and Shiite (Iran).  They hate each other.  And the only way they appear to live in peaceful coexistence is when one is oppressing the other.

But the more stabilizing force tends to be the Sunnis.  The Sunni nations are typically the more modern nations.  The ones with women’s rights.  The Shiites are more old school.  They want to turn the hands of the clock back when there were no comforts in life but prayer.  And women were little more than chattel.  They’re a bit more radical.  Then again, the Sunnis have their own radicalism.  Let us not forget that Osama bin Laden is a Wahhabi Sunni.  As is Al Qaeda.  But the big destabilizing force in the Middle East is Iran.  And they’re Shiite.  They’re big, powerful and trying to acquire nuclear weapons.  So her neighbors are understandably worried.

Kuwait’s emir, Sheik Sabah Ahmed al-Sabah, also called the Bahraini king on Sunday and stressed that “the security of Bahrain is the security of the region,” reflecting the growing anxiety among gulf monarchies that Bahrain’s troubles could have a spillover effect. In Kuwait, protesters have already taken to the streets demanding more rights.

Talk about a domino theory.  We still don’t know what will rise from the ashes in Tunisia and Egypt.  They could very well go Muslim Brotherhood.  This would be a huge boost to Iranian interests in the area.  Adding Bahrain and Kuwait could very well seal the deal and give Iran the hegemony it so desperately wants in the region.

We need to be careful in urging democracy to break out in the Middle East and Africa.  Because sometimes stability is better than instability.  For there is a good chance that democracy will lose these revolutions in time.  Opening the door to the more radical elements (such as the Muslim Brotherhood).  Who may impose an oppressive theocracy instead.  Like they said they’ve always wanted to in Egypt.  And if they get what they want, say hello to $4/gallon gasoline.  Or more.  Because they will turn back the hands of time.  And cut off our oil.  Shutting down our economies.  And then, if they get their nuclear weapon, they’ll take it up a notch.

It is important to understand something.  They don’t want our land.  They don’t want our industry.  They just want to get rid of us.  The only thing that prevented the Soviets from destroying us was that they needed our food.  And our technology.  Iran wants technology to make their bomb.  But once they use it they’ll be content to go back to living in abject poverty.

Iran Likes Democracy as long as it is in Egypt

These protests are getting contagious.  Libya, Morocco and China.  And, yes, even Iran.  Now if there was ever a democratic movement for the U.S. to stick its nose into it would be in Iran.  This isn’t complicated. The Iranian people have been suffering under the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad regime.  Ahmadinejad is the greatest threat to peace in the region.  He’s working on a nuclear bomb.  And he wants to incinerate Israel.  It doesn’t get simpler than this.  He’s the big bad now.  Osama bin Laden is holed up in a cave.  Kim Jong-il desperately needs western food and energy.  China may be flexing her muscle but she owns so much of our debt that she needs us to prosper if she is to prosper.  Iran, though, has no use for us.  And would be quite happy to see us in the past tense.

And how are the Iranians handling their protesters?  Sounds like they’re not quite as nice as the Egyptians were (see Iran Squelches Protest Attempt in Capital by Liz Robbins posted 2/20/2011 on The New York Times).

Despite a steady rain, large crowds of protesters gathered throughout Tehran, the capital, from the main thoroughfare to city squares, according to opposition Web sites and witnesses. Those sites and witnesses reported that ambulances were being driven into crowds and officers were making arrests. Security forces, some on motorcycles, deployed tear gas to disperse crowds near Valiasr Square. A hazy cloud of tear gas hung over Vanak Square.

Plainclothes officers randomly stopped and frisked people on the streets and removed people from vehicles, witnesses said. There were reports of police officers firing on the crowds, although that could not be immediately verified because foreign journalists were largely not allowed to report in Iran.

And this from the government that praised the people of Egypt of going after what they deserved.  Democracy.  It’s funny how they can praise democracy that can destabilize a nation friendly with the West but attack it within its own borders.  It almost makes one think that Iran has other motives in the region.

It was unclear how many people joined the demonstrations in Tehran on Sunday. Witnesses estimated that more than 20,000 people attended demonstrations on Feb. 14, making them the largest opposition protests since the aftermath of the 2009 disputed election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, president Obama said he would speak with Ahmadinejad.  To address our differences.  And find common ground.  He thought he could reason with him. Then came the Apology Tour.  And the Cairo speech.  He called for more democracy in the Muslim world.  Then came the Iranian election.  There appeared to be massive fraud.  And then the uprising.  Iranians trying to get some of that democracy that Obama spoke of.  And what did Obama do?  Acted timidly.  He didn’t attack Ahmadinejad.  He treated him with far more respect than he gave Hosni Mubarak.  And Mubarak was our ally.  And now the people of Iran are rising up again.  And the Iranian regime is fighting back against the forces of democracy.

The government, however, appeared to limit the electronic voice of the protesters on Sunday. Witnesses in Iran reported that the Internet was working very slowly, cell phone service was shut down in areas where people were demonstrating and satellite television, including Persian BBC, was jammed.

Out on the streets, the police in Tehran appeared to be recruiting teenagers to quell the protests on Sunday. Witnesses observed packs of young boys armed with batons, and wearing helmets and army fatigues.

A witness told the International Campaign for Human Rights that security forces on Mirdamad Street in Tehran had used live ammunition against protesters, and one person is believed to have been killed there, but that could not be verified.

There’s a difference between Ahmadinejad and Mubarak.  Ahmadinejad oppresses his people, supports terrorism, wants to incinerate Israel and seeks to disrupt peace throughout the Middle East.  Mubarak only oppressed his people.  Other than that Egypt was a stabilizing force in the region.  And yet look who’s still in power.

Time for a New Strategy

Instability in every nation other than Iran in the Middle East and Africa is cause for concern.  The one country where it can’t get any worse is Iran.  If their regime collapses anything that replaces it will be closer to democracy.  And if we support all of those democratic uprisings everywhere else, we should support the hell out of it in Iran.  Why, then, has our response there been so lukewarm?

I guess it goes back to the Cairo speech.  And the apology tour.  It would appear that our national security strategy is to get people who have a deep-seated hatred for us to like us. To believe that rolling over and showing our soft underbelly can get our enemies to forget tradition, custom and religion.  But after two years look what it has gotten us.  An emboldened enemy.  And fallen and threatened allies.

I think it’s time for a new strategy.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

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America’s War with Iran in Iraq

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 25th, 2010

Apology Tour Diplomacy to Get Ahmadinejad to Like Us

Most everyone was for going to war in Iraq.  They, Republican and Democrat alike, read the same intelligence.  Saddam Hussein was a bad man.  He had some nasty weapons he didn’t document destroyed.  He expelled UN inspectors.  He was brutally suppressing the Kurds.  Torturing and killing dissidents.  And, of course, he had a record of using chemical weapons against the Iranians and the Kurds. 

So there was pretty much a united front at the beginning.  But elections come every 2 years.  The Democrats would eventually have to get their hate on.  And, boy, did they.  They all started to dump on the Iraq War.  Never mind that it got Saudi Arabia to crack down on Wahhabi funding of Al Qaeda.  Bush lied.  People died.  Iraq was nothing more than a breeding ground for Al Qaeda.  It created anti-American sentiment.  And plunged Iraq into a civil war.  The Bush administration pointed to the foreign influence.  Especially that of Iran.  But the Left said that the liar George W. Bush just wanted to expand the war into Iran.

We were just bullies.  That’s why the world hated us.  Well, one presidential candidate said he would change that.  He would talk to the people that hated us.  He would meet Iranian president Ahmadinejad.  Without preconditions.  To say, hey, you’re okay.  We’re okay.  What do you say?  Friends?  This candidate would go on to win the election.  He became president.  And President Obama went on a world wind apology tour.  He denigrated the United States.  Bowed to Muslim royalty.  And praised Islam.  And how did all that work?

Ahmadinejad Making Iran the New Evil Empire?

Not good.  For Iran was fueling the Iraqi insurgency.  And Ahmadinejad rebuffed the love of the Obama administration and kept killing Americans.  That fact is made very clear in another dump of classified documents by WikiLeaks.  The New York Times reviewed those documents and Michael R. Gordon and Andrew W. Lehren wrote on 10/22/2010 (see Leaked Reports Detail Iran’s Aid for Iraqi Militias):

Citing the testimony of detainees, a captured militant’s diary and numerous uncovered weapons caches, among other intelligence, the field reports recount Iran’s role in providing Iraqi militia fighters with rockets, magnetic bombs that can be attached to the underside of cars, “explosively formed penetrators,” or E.F.P.’s, which are the most lethal type of roadside bomb in Iraq, and other weapons. Those include powerful .50-caliber rifles and the Misagh-1, an Iranian replica of a portable Chinese surface-to-air missile, which, according to the reports, was fired at American helicopters and downed one in east Baghdad in July 2007.

Iraqi militants went to Iran to be trained as snipers and in the use of explosives, the field reports assert, and Iran’s Quds Force collaborated with Iraqi extremists to encourage the assassination of Iraqi officials.

The reports make it clear that the lethal contest between Iranian-backed militias and American forces continued after President Obama sought to open a diplomatic dialogue with Iran’s leaders and reaffirmed the agreement between the United States and Iraq to withdraw American troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.

Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have killed or maimed most American troops.  And most of those devices were no doubt the result of Iranian material and/or training.  But why would they help their archenemy?  They hate Saddam.  They hate Iraq.  They fought a bloody 8-year war with Iraq.  So why would they help the Iraqis fight the Americans?

The political struggle between the United States and Iran to influence events in Iraq still continues as Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has sought to assemble a coalition — that would include the anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr — that will allow him to remain in power. But much of the American’s military concern has revolved around Iran’s role in arming and assisting Shiite militias.

Shiite Iran is helping the Shiite militias in Sunni Iraq.  Unable to beat Iraq in war, they’re now trying it through subterfuge.  But it doesn’t end there.

Established by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini after the 1979 Iranian revolution, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps has expanded its influence at home under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a former member of the corps, and it plays an important role in Iran’s economy, politics and internal security. The corps’s Quds Force, under the command of Brig. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, has responsibility for foreign operations and has often sought to work though surrogates, like Hezbollah.

And where has Ahmadinejad been lately?  Lebanon.  And what does he want to do?  Incinerate Israel.  And what are they bringing on line?  Nuclear reactors.  They’re destabilizing Iraq.  Destabilizing the Middle East.  Allied with Hezbollah.  Helping them with their fight against Israel.  Ahmadinejad is pushing a lot of nations towards war.  You know, he’s a lot like Osama bin Laden.  Only more dangerous.  The new Evil Empire?  Well, they are on the axis of evil.  They’ve been killing Americans.  Evil, yes.  And yet our president is trying to make nice with him.

Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down this Wall

Ronald Reagan recognized an enemy.  He stood up to them, the Evil Empire.  Didn’t apologize.  Didn’t make nice.  He talked with them but with preconditions.  He didn’t practice Carter’s detente.  Gorbachev was a nice guy.  But the Berlin Wall still stood.  It isn’t standing any more.  Because Reagan won the Cold War.

We don’t need a man like Jimmy Carter in the face of such an implacable enemy.  We need another Ronald Reagan.  But we have Barack Obama.  Who’s a lot more Jimmy Carter than Ronald Reagan.  And we all know how well things turned out for Jimmy Carter in Iran.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

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