Bush didn’t Lie but President Obama Did

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 31st, 2013

 Politics 101

Bill Clinton said in a 2005 Interview that the 1981 Israeli Bombing of an Iraqi Nuke Plant was a Good Thing

“Bush lied people died.”  You heard that a lot all during President Bush’s presidency.  The left was shouting it from the mountain top.  “Bush lied people died!”  Saying that the dumbest man ever to occupy the White House fooled the most brilliant people in the world—liberal Democrats—into voting for the invasion of Iraq.  Because Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Saddam Hussein used WMDs on March 16, 1988.  It was the closing days of the Iran-Iraq War.  In the Kurdish town of Halabja in Northern Iraq.  Hussein was no friend of the Kurds.  And the Kurds had no love for Hussein.  Which is why Kurdish guerillas fought with the Iranians against Saddam Hussein.  And after the Iranians took this Kurdish town in northern Iraq Hussein had no problem with committing an act of genocide in Halabja.  Which he did on March 16, 1988.  The largest chemical attack against a civilian population in history.

On June 7, 1981, Israel carried out a surprise bombing of an Iraqi nuclear reactor under construction.  For they feared a Saddam Hussein with nuclear weapons.  During the Persian Gulf War the Americans bombed what was left of that nuclear reactor.  For they, too, feared a Saddam Hussein with nuclear weapons.  Though publicly condemned by pretty much everyone at the time of the bombing most were probably happy the Israelis did that unpleasant task for them.  Even Bill Clinton said in a 2005 interview that the bombing was a good thing.

Saddam Hussein violated the Terms of the Gulf War Cease Fire by not Documenting the Destruction of his WMDs

The Congress saw the same intelligence the Bush administration saw in the run-up to the Iraq War.  It was so convincing that Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Harry Reid voted to give George W. Bush the authority to invade Iraq.  Who all feared a Saddam Hussein with WMDs.  For as bad as 9/11 was it could have been worse if the terrorists had WMDs.  Hussein had WMDs.  And he had no moral compunction against using them.  As proven by Halabja.  Making him a very dangerous man in a world where terrorists who hate America are in the market for WMDs.

So there was a very strong case against Saddam Hussein.  Especially when you throw in his violation of the terms of the Gulf War cease fire agreement.  In particular the documentation of his destruction of his WMDs that he agreed to do.  Which was a tantamount admission of having them.  WMDs.  But he didn’t document the destruction of his WMD stockpiles.  Because he did not destroy them.  Which meant one thing.  He still had weapons of mass destruction.  Which is probably why Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Harry Reid voted to give George W. Bush the authority to invade Iraq.  For they were terrified…of being on the wrong side of history when those WMDs they knew he had were found.

Well, we found no WMDs in Iraq.  Probably because Hussein shipped them off to Syria for safekeeping.  Assuming he would remain in power after the Iraq War.  Just as he remained in power after the Gulf War.  After the invasion nonsense was done he could go to Syria and take his WMDs back.  And perhaps get them into the hands of a terrorist for use against an American city.  To retaliate for the big headache George W. Bush gave him.  Of course his subsequent capture and execution put a wrench into all future plans he may have had.

Liberals play Fast and Loose with the Truth as Telling the Truth rarely helps the Liberal Agenda

President Obama made some promises about Obamacare during the Affordable Care Act debate.  Because the people were against it.  They didn’t want anything near quasi national health care.  So he kept saying that Obamacare wasn’t a government takeover of our health care system.  And that it would actually make the private health insurance industry better.  It would cover more.  While costing less.  And the best thing about the Affordable Care Act was this (see Obama’s pledge that ‘no one will take away’ your health plan by Glenn Kessler posted 10/30/2013 on The Washington Post).

“That means that no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health-care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health-care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.”

The Fact Checker on The Washington Post gave this statement Four Pinocchios.  Their highest level of dishonesty.   Or ‘whoppers’.  As About The Fact Checker calls Four Pinocchios.  Basically saying the president lied about Obamacare to get the Affordable Care Act passed into law.  And lied again to win reelection.  For the election results may have been different if he had told the truth.  If he had said that some will lose their doctors and some will lose their health-care plan.  If he had said that premiums and deductibles would rise.  If he had would the people who had insurance and doctors they liked vote for him?  No.  Probably not. 

So President Obama and the Democrats told lies that deceived a great many people to get what he couldn’t get by telling the truth.  Obamacare.  One of the most divisive pieces of legislation ever passed in Congress.  Passed on purely partisan lines.  No Republicans voted for the Affordable Care Act.  Unlike the legislation that gave George W. Bush the authority to invade Iraq.  Which had bipartisan support.  With both Republicans and Democrats voting for it.  Yet the left said, “Bush lied people died.”  But when it comes to President Obama’s flagrant lies about the Affordable Care Act all you hear are crickets from the left.  Because for them the truth is whatever they say it is.  And a lie is whatever they say it is.  For the only way to pass their liberal agenda is to play fast and loose with the truth.  As telling the truth rarely helps the liberal agenda.

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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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The new Egyptian Government may be Islamist and more Oppressive than the Mubarak Regime

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 8th, 2012

Week in Review

Egypt is changing.  And not the way the college students and protesters had hoped when they rose up against Hosni Mubarak.  Much like similar protesters were to be disappointed during the Iranian Revolution (see Seeking support amid Islamist split, Egypt’s Brotherhood promises Muslim clerics say in power by the Associated Press posted 4/4/2012 on The Washington Post).

The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate for Egypt’s presidency is lobbying hard for support of ultraconservative Muslim clerics, promising them a say over legislation in the future to ensure it is in line with Islamic law, as he tries to rally the divided Islamist vote behind him…

Giving Muslim clerics a direct say over legislation would be unprecedented in Egypt. Specifics of the Brotherhood promise, which Salafi clerics said Wednesday the candidate Khairat el-Shater gave them in a backroom meeting, were not known. But any clerical role would certainly raise a backlash from liberal and moderate Egyptians who already fear Islamists will sharply restrict civil rights as they gain political power after the fall last year of President Hosni Mubarak.

Unprecedented in Egypt, perhaps.  But very much expected as it is exactly what happened following the Iranian Revolution.  And not just a little like it but a lot like it.  The Shah of Iran was a little too friendly to the West.  So young college students and ‘reformers’ overthrew the ruthless dictator that was keeping them freer than they had the good sense to know.  By preventing the rise of Islamic fundamentalism.  The clerics kept promising that they didn’t want Sharia law.  Until they didn’t have to promise it anymore.  After they had subjected all Iranians to Sharia law.  Those college students went on to miss that ruthless dictator.  The Shah of Iran.  And the freedoms they once enjoyed under him.

Salafis are the most hard-line of Egypt’s fundamentalists, depicting themselves as the “guardians of Shariah” and touting a strict interpretation of Islamic law similar to Saudi Arabia’s. Many of them see the Brotherhood as too willing to compromise on implementing Shariah and despise its political pragmatism.

Like Saudi Arabia?  Yeah, we wish.  Saudi Arabia is a friend and ally of the U.S. whose interests in the regions are peace and stability.  Yes, let’s hope that if Egypt goes Islamic that it is another Sunni Saudi Arabia and not another Shiite Iran.  Who has but one goal.  The destruction of Israel, the United States and all other Western interests that don’t condemn Israel or the United States.  The Iranians support terrorist organizations that disrupt peace and stability.  The Saudis don’t.  Yes, Osama bin Laden’s funding came from the Wahhabi in Saudi Arabia.  But the Saudis didn’t sponsor them.  They feared them.  For the Wahhabi hate the House of Saud as much as they hate the Americans.  Which makes them very much unlike Iran.  And far more preferable than Iran.  For any government that is hated by extreme Islamists has to be better than an extreme Islamists.

Mohammed Habib, who was the Brotherhood’s deputy leader at that time, says the platform item was for a body of clerics simply to advise lawmakers, but that some in the group wanted it to have a more powerful role to vet legislation…

Tharwat el-Kherbawi, a former Brotherhood member who fell out with the group, said the council appeared similar to Iran’s system of clerical “guardians” over the elected government.

Goodbye Egypt.  And hello Iran.

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In the Face of Force and the Willingness to use that Force the Iranians back off the Hostile Rhetoric

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 22nd, 2012

Week in Review

The Iranians love diplomacy.  Because they see it as a sign of weakness and don’t respect it.  They respect only one thing.  Force.  And the willingness to use it.  Which they’ve seen of late.  And have backed off of their shutting down the world’s oil supply rhetoric (see After threats, Iran plays down U.S. naval moves by Robin Pomeroy and Hashem Kalantari, Reuters, posted 1/21/2012 on Yahoo! News).

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps said on Saturday it considered the likely return of U.S. warships to the Gulf part of routine activity, backing away from previous warnings to Washington not to re-enter the area.

The statement may be seen as an effort to reduce tensions after Washington said it would respond if Iran made good on a threat to block the Strait of Hormuz – the vital shipping lane for oil exports from the Gulf.

The US said say all you want but that carrier will be there.  And it will respond to any hostile acts such as blockading the Strait of Hormuz.  As will their steadfast ally the Brits.  Who sent a serious naval asset to the region.  A Type 45 destroyer.  A single ship that can shoot down anything the Iranians can throw into the air long before hitting any US, UK or other friendly target.  And, of course, with that US carrier and its task force on station as well the response to that failed Iranian attack would have been devastating.  The Iranians would have had their asses handed to them.

They’ll talk until everyone is blue in the face.  To them diplomacy is unmanly and a sign of weakness.  They simply don’t respect it.  But project force and be willing to use that force and they will respect that.  Which is the only thing they will respect.

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Britain sending some Serious Firepower to Prevent the Iranians from Blockading the Strait of Hormuz

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 8th, 2012

Week in Review

Britain is sending its state of the art destroyer to send a message to the Iranians.  Telling them that they will not stand by and let the Iranians blockade the Strait of Hormuz (see Royal Navy sends its mightiest ship to take on the Iranian show of force in the Gulf by Thomas Harding posted 1/6/2012 on The Telegraph).

Iran has threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, which served as the conduit for 17 millions barrels of oil every day last year.

Naval commanders believe the deployment of HMS Daring, a Type 45 destroyer, will send a significant message to the Iranians because of the firepower and world-beating technology carried by the warship.

Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, has publicly warned Iran that any blockade of the Strait of Hormuz would be “illegal and unsuccessful”…

Iran completed a 10-day naval exercise in the sensitive waters near the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday, staging manouevres which included firing three anti-ship missiles understood to be the Chinese-made C-802.

Yesterday, Tehran said that another exercise would be held in the same area next month. Admiral Ali Fadavi, commander of the naval branch of the Revolutionary Guard, warned that this would be “different” from the most recent one.

Speaking earlier, Mr Hammond said that “our joint naval presence in the Arabian Gulf” was “key to keeping the Strait of Hormuz open for international trade”.

No one likes a recession.  Europe may be limping into another one thanks to the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis.  The United States can’t shake off their recession.  Capital is fleeing China because their export markets aren’t buying like they once were.  And if you think these economic times are bad you ain’t seen nothing yet if the Iranians blockade the Strait of Hormuz.  And shut off that Middle East oil.  The life force of the world’s economies.

There will be blood for oil if the Iranians interrupt the flow of oil at market prices.  Because they will put the world now struggling in a world-wide recession into a full-blown depression.  It will be a humanitarian crisis of the first order.  With scenes from the Great Depression in first-world countries.  And worse in the third-world countries.  As they will be utterly on their own.  An easy prey for totalitarian regimes.  Like Iran.  Whose own people will suffer along with the rest of the world.  But Tehran won’t care about that.  As they haven’t yet.

The Strait of Hormuz is a vital British national security interest.  It’s a vital U.S. national security interest. As it is for modern economies everywhere.  Yes, oil is that important.  Because it’s a part of the price of everything we buy today.  And if oil becomes scarce the prices of everything will increase.  From the electronic toys we buy that cross the oceans on ships burning oil.  To the food in our grocery stores that are delivered to market by planes, trains and trucks burning oil.  So whatever happens in the Strait of Hormuz will impact everyone everywhere.  Whether you’re buying a smartphone.  Of the weekly groceries.

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The Americans free Iranians held Hostage by Somali Pirates

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 8th, 2012

Week in Review

After receiving threats from the Iranian government not to return to the Persian Gulf the Americans do.  And save Iranian fishermen from Somali pirates (see For Iranians Held by Pirates, U.S. to the Rescue by C. J. CHIVERS posted 1/6/2012 on The New York Times).

In a naval action that mixed diplomacy, drama and Middle Eastern politics, the aircraft carrier John C. Stennis broke up a high-seas pirate attack on a cargo ship in the Gulf of Oman, then sailors from an American destroyer boarded the pirates’ mother ship and freed 13 Iranian hostages who had been held captive there for more than a month…

This fishing vessel and its crew, provided fuel and food by the Navy, then set sail for its home port of Chah Bahar, Iran.

Do you think the Iranians would have treated American hostages held by Somali pirates the same?  Probably not.  They would probably have held the Americans on trial for espionage.  You see, that’s the difference between Iran and the U.S.  Our governments may not get along.  But it ends there for the United States.  The Americans don’t hate the Iranian people.  And will help them whenever it’s within their power to help.  As they did in the Gulf of Oman.

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The Iranians threaten to hold the World’s Economy to Ransom by Sealing the Strait of Hormuz

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 31st, 2011

Week in Review

Iran is flexing their muscles in the Persian Gulf region.  Because America helped give them the elbow room to flex their muscles (see Iran to test-fire missiles escalating Strait of Hormuz tensions with US by Adrian Blomfield posted 12/30/2011 on The Telegraph).

Iran will escalate tensions in the Persian Gulf on Saturday by test-firing a barrage of long-range missiles just days after it threatened to hold the world’s economy to ransom by sealing the Strait of Hormuz, a vital energy waterway…

A ten-day naval exercise will culminate in a grandiose display of the Iranian regime’s ballistic arsenal. Senior navy officers boasted that ground-to-sea, surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles, some of which could theoretically be fitted with nuclear warheads, would be tested in the Gulf of Oman at the southern end of the Persian Gulf…

With the situation fast deteriorating, the United States announced on Thursday night that it had completed a deal to sell Saudi Arabia 84 F-15SA fighter jets.

Although the aircraft will not be delivered until 2015, the sale will be seen as evidence of Washington’s determination to shore up its Gulf allies, which are increasingly fretful about Iran’s growing military swagger.

Iran hates Israel.  And America.  They support Hezbollah and Hamas who both wish the destruction of Israel.  Our Gulf allies are worried about the rise of Iran in the area.  Even the ones who aren’t all that fond of Israel.  For an Israel they can tolerate.  But an ascendant Iran they cannot.

Al Qaeda funding for 9/11 came from the Wahhabi region of Saudi Arabia.  The Saudis, however, were reluctant to suppress this funding during the subsequent War on Terror.  For the Saudi royal family was right next to the Americans on the Wahhabi list of things they hate with a white hot burning passion.  If they cracked down on the Wahhabi they could very well start a civil war.  So their reluctance is understandable.  But with the American invasion of Iraq and the prospect of an American failure and an Iranian win, the Saudis quickly changed their minds.  And risked the civil war to prevent the worse evil.  An ascendant Iran.  And put a serious dent into al Qaeda funding.  The good friend and ally that the Saudis are.  Just like Hosni Mubarak was in Egypt.

When the American president told Hosni Mubarak that he had to leave power this did not go over well with our Saudi friends.  And rightly so.  Egypt, like them, helped to maintain peace in the region.  And they were united in their opposition to Iran.  The Saudis didn’t see an Arab Spring.  They saw an Islamist Spring.  With an ascendant Iran.  First the border between Egypt and Hamas-controlled Gaza was thrown open.  And then the Islamist parties showed well in their recent elections.  Good for Iran.  But not good for the United States or its allies in the region.  Hence the sale of the F-15s to the Saudis.

Now Iran is working on a nuclear capability.  The U.S. pulled out of Iraq for what some say were political reasons to shore up the president’s base in the coming 2012 election.  And now the Iranians are holding maneuvers and testing missiles that all can be put to use to “hold the world’s economy to ransom by sealing the Strait of Hormuz.”

American troops will probably then have to return to the Gulf.  And this time it will be blood for oil.  To prevent the second Great Depression.  Which it will be if the Iranians shut off that oil to the world’s economy.

Let’s hope America’s next president does a better job when it comes to foreign policy and American security.

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LESSONS LEARNED #64: “National security can be a messy business. Especially when your enemies don’t play by the same rules.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 5th, 2011

Stalin Contained in Europe and Asia

Following the defeat of Nazi Germany, Soviet communism filled the Nazi world conquest void.  The Soviets paid the highest price in blood in the war against Hitler.  And the way they looked at it, that gave them the deed to any land the Red Army found itself on after hostilities came to an end.  Those countries who once welcomed their Soviet liberators from Nazi oppression soon found themselves under Soviet oppression.  The Soviets weren’t going anywhere.  They stayed in Eastern Europe.  They tried to stay in Iran but the British and the Americans got them to pull out, thanks in large part to America’s nuclear status.  Communist guerillas in Greece that once harassed the Nazis were trying to ascend to power with the help of the Soviets.  The Truman Doctrine checked the Soviet influence and kept Greece independent and out of the Soviet camp.  Russia was once again trying to take Turkish lands to give them that elusive warm water port via the Bosporus and Dardanelles into the Mediterranean.  Again, the Truman Doctrine helped keep the Turks independent and out of the Soviet sphere.

The German capital, Berlin, was completely inside East Germany.  But it was partitioned between East and West.  This was a problem for the Soviets as the people in East Germany didn’t like them, the KGB or the East German Stasi (which formed in 1950).  East Berlin was a gateway to freedom via West Berlin.  The first attempt to shut this down was the Berlin Blockade.  Truman overcame the blockade with the Berlin Airlift.  Thwarted, the Soviets lifted their blockade.  But then built the Berlin Wall to keep the unhappy East Germans from fleeing Soviet oppression.  West Berlin remained free within un-free East Germany.  And was still the gateway to freedom.  Only attaining freedom was a lot more difficult, with many East Germans dying in the attempt.

Being rebuffed in Eastern Europe, Berlin, Greece, Turkey and Iran, Stalin looked next to the Korean peninsula.  President Truman had hastened the end of World War II with the atomic bombings in the Pacific for a couple of reasons.  One was to spare American lives resulting from an invasion of the Japanese homeland.  The body count had only increased as MacArthur island-hopped his way to Japan.  Another reason was to get the Japanese to surrender before the Soviet Union could get the Red Army on more territory in the Pacific.  Because Truman saw the writing on the wall.  The Soviets never willingly left land the Red Army occupied.  With the end of hostilities in the Pacific, and the Japanese out of the Korean peninsula, the Allies partitioned Korea into North and South.  The Soviets occupied the North.  The Americans the South.  The Soviet sponsored North Korea eventually invaded the American sponsored South Korea, inaugurating the first open conflict by proxy in the Cold War.  After three years of a seesaw war, North and South signed an armistice setting the border between the two where it was in the beginning.  At the 38th Parallel.  Though the Korean War was a draw, it was still another Soviet defeat.  Who began to realize this world domination was trickier than it looked.  Especially when there were do-gooders out their like the United States always mucking up the works.

Eisenhower to Kennedy, Regime Changes and near Nuclear Annihilation

So the Soviets changed gears.  No more wars of invasion and conquest.  They had a new idea.  Wars of liberation.  They would help foment dissent in countries under the boot of American Imperialism.  Or at least in countries closer to America than the Soviet Union.  With America being in the Western Hemisphere that, of course, led the Soviets to Central and South America.  With the close of hostilities on the Korean peninsula in 1953, the Americans were now suspect of any communist-like behavior, eager to avoid another bloody and costly proxy war with the Soviet Union.  And they saw some in 1954 Guatemala.  Where the newly elected Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán started seizing private property and instituted agrarian reforms.  Along communist lines.  With more public property.  And less private property.  The developments in Guatemala may not have been Soviet in origin.  But it looked enough like it for President Eisenhower to approve a CIA coup in Guatemala.

After going through World War II and the Korean War, Eisenhower wanted to fight future wars before they became wars.  Like in Guatemala.  And elsewhere.  As in Cuba.  Where Eisenhower approved planning for Regime change in this Caribbean nation following the Cuban Revolution that ousted Fulgencio Batista who had seized power in a coup.  Putting the revolutionaries Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in power.  Once in power, the new revolutionary government did some very ‘communist’ things.  Seized private property.  Nationalized public utilities.  Created a bit of a police state.  The usual things.  But it was worse than in Guatemala.  And closer.  So President Kennedy approved the Eisenhower plan of regime change.  And we call that CIA plan the Bay of Pigs Invasion.  Which, of course, failed.  Unlike Eisenhower, Kennedy did not support this black ops mission with the U.S. military to stave off defeat.  So Castro, his brother, Guevara, and others, defeated the CIA backed Cuban exiles.  Which empowered Castro.  And pushed him closer to the Soviet Union. 

You know what Nikita Khrushchev saw when he looked across the Black Sea?  American nuclear missiles in Turkey.  Figuratively, of course.  Not literally.  He couldn’t even see the Turkish coast let alone missile installations.  But he knew they were there.  And that really got in his craw.  And the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion with the young and apparently reluctant American president provided just the opportunity he needed.  He would install Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba.  And try this young and inexperienced president.  Castro was all for it, fearing another U.S. invasion (he apparently thought far more of Kennedy than the Soviets).  Guevara, too.  Because he was just reckless.  And crazy, as it turned out.  Well, the secret deployment was discovered by a U-2 spy plane.  Caught the Soviets with their pants down.  We threw up a naval blockade.  Came to the brink of nuclear war.  But Kennedy stood his ground.  The Soviets backed down and removed their missiles.  And then the Americans removed the missiles that had so bothered Khrushchev.  This last was part of a secret agreement to keep the young American president from looking bad.  But the Soviets were a little glad to remove their missiles from Cuba.  Because Guevara wanted to nuke the United States.  And probably would have if he had control of those missiles.

From Iranian Coup to Iranian Revolution

Oil underground is useless.  It only has value when someone brings it up where it can be refined into something useful.  And that’s what the British did in Iran.  The Iranians did not like the split of profits (they were only getting 16% of the net profits which was greater than the 0% they were receiving before the British pumped the oil out of the ground).  Anytime there is huge money involved, there’s going to be trouble.  And after the oil infrastructure was set up the Iranians nationalized the oil industry.  Which didn’t make the British happy.  So they pulled their expertise from the Iranian oil industry and blockaded their oil exports.  The Iranians were not as good as the British and their production fell.  And what little they did produce they could not sell.  This led to unemployment, hunger, etc.  All the right conditions for a coup.

Truman was not interested.  He had his hands full with the Korean War.  But Eisenhower saw things differently.  Especially when the British told him Iran may fall into the Soviet sphere.  And with her would go all of that oil.  Eisenhower believed this.  For there was nothing more the Soviets would have wanted.  They’d still be in Iran if the British and the U.S. (backed by the United States’ nuclear monopoly) didn’t persuade them to leave following World War II.  So Eisenhower joined the British in the coup that placed Mohammad Reza Shah (aka, the Shah of Iran) on the throne in 1953.  And placed Iran into the American sphere.  And everyone lived happily ever after.  The West got Iranian oil on more favorable terms.  And the Middle East got a burning white hatred for the United States and the West in general.  Who apparently would do anything to steal their oil.  So that ‘happily ever after’ was more tongue in cheek.  It ended well in terms of the Cold War.  But not in terms of the nationalism or geopolitics of the Middle East.  For it turns some people can hold a grudge for a real long time.

Shah-rule proved at times to be rather oppressive.  And highly Western.  Democratic, anti-Shah protests began in 1977.  First by Islamists.  Who didn’t really like Western influence.   Then eventually well-educated and unemployed college students (men and women).  Who wanted more freedoms.  And jobs.  Ayatollah Khomeini returned from exile in 1979.  As the democratic revolution grew in fervor, Khomeini consolidated his power behind the scenes.  There were no public statements about creating a theocracy.  Because the people didn’t want a theocracy.  Especially the women who had graduated from college with great hopes and dreams.  Because in a theocracy, women become second-class citizens with fewer rights.  And fewer hopes and dreams.

There was then a referendum asking if Iran should be an Islamic Republic.  It passed with near unanimity.  A draft constitution was put up to vote on.  It passed, too.  Some complained about voting irregularities.  Which became moot when Khomeini stated Iran would be based on Shari Law.  With no republic parts.  Then the Shah (now in exile) went to the United States for medical treatment.  Complications extended his stay, infuriating the Iranian protesters (who wanted him back to try and execute) and ratcheting up the American hate (who recalled the 1953 coup).  Young Islamists stormed the U.S. Embassy taking 52 hostages, holding them for 444 days.  Sunni Iraq then invaded Iran, fueling the Islamist furor.  The Islamists suppressed political opposition.  Shut down the free press.  Made women second-class citizens.  And, well, the rest is hardcore Islamist theocratic history.

Conquerors Lie and Exploit Political Instability

The world is a big place.  Sometimes events are interrelated.  Sometimes they’re not.  Sometimes we pay a price for acting too late.  And sometimes we pay a price for acting too soon.  Sometimes our actions prevent a bad situation from getting worse.  Sometimes our actions make a bad situation worse.  Or even makes a not necessarily bad situation a complete and utter disaster.  You never can be certain.  For one thing, everyone has some ulterior motive.  Sometimes those motives align with your national security interests.  Sometimes they don’t.  Unfortunately, we can never know for certain at the time we need to make a decision.  We can only base it on our current intelligence.  And history.

One thing we do know, though, is that there are people who want to conquer other people.  Hitler wanted to conquer the world and spread Nazi rule.  Stalin wanted to conquer the world and spread communist rule.  And now Islamist fundamentalists want to conquer the world and spread Islamist rule.  How do we know this?  They told us.  And demonstrated this by their actions.

Two other key points we can learn from history.  Those who want to conquer lie.  And they exploit political instability.  Hitler lied about his intentions in Czechoslovakia and took advantage of a war-weary Europe still recovering from the Great Depression.  Khrushchev lied about placing missiles in Cuba.  Which he placed in Cuba by taking advantage of the political instability following the failed Bay of Pig Invasion.  And Khomeini lied about his intentions in Iran knowing the people didn’t want a theocracy.  And he took advantage of the chaos of the democracy uprisings and other events to steer the nation where he wanted it to go.  Islamic theocracy.

The Nazi threat gave way to the Communist threat.  Which gave way to the Islamist threat.  So we should pay close attention to any country with political instability/democracy movements.  That has any Islamist elements.  Especially one that feels they’ve been wronged by the United States.  For that would be the perfect storm in the Islamic world.

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Iran’s Nuclear Program for Domestic Energy or a War of Annihilation?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 28th, 2011

 There was a Vibration…in Iran’s Reactor in Bushehr

Yet another setback for Iran’s nuclear program.  Could be thanks to Stuxnet.  Or simply bad luck.  Whatever the cause, something damaged a cooling pump (see Russians Say Iran’s Reactor Has Damage to Cooling Pump by William Broad posted 2/28/2011 on The New York Times).

In a statement, Russia’s state nuclear energy corporation, Rosatom, which is building the reactor in Bushehr, Iran, said it found damage to one of the reactor’s four main cooling pumps…

The Russian statement on Monday said the trouble arose as pressure mounted in the reactor during tests. The pump vibrated and joints broke, the statement said. As a result, metal shards smaller than three millimeters — or less than a tenth of an inch — could have shot into cooling pipes and lodged in fuel assemblies.

“The joints broke down under conditions of high vibration and pulsing pressure,” the statement said.

Cooling pumps?  Reactor tests?  Vibration?  Pressure?  This all sounds kind of familiar.  Where have I heard this before?

Oh yeah.  That’s where I heard that before.  The movie that killed the American nuclear power industry.  It didn’t help that they released the movie just days before the accident at Three Mile Island.  No.  Nuclear power was dead in the United States in the Seventies.  While pretty much the rest of the world expanded their nuclear power programs. 

And then there was a China-Syndrome-like accident.  But not in America.  The world’s worst nuclear accident happened in the Soviet Union.  The Ukraine, to be precise.  In 1986.  At the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.  Reactor number four.  Radioactive fallout covered much of the western Soviet Union and Europe.  It was pretty bad.  The Americans, on the other hand, had no such accident.  And yet the Soviet Union/Russia continues its nuclear power program.  Even exporting it to Iran.  But we shouldn’t have anything to worry about.  I mean, the China Syndrome, Three Mile Island and Chernobyl were all based on 1970s technology.  This is 2011.  The technology is even better today.  So there is little to worry about with the safety of that new Iranian nuke plant (besides their making an atomic bomb, that is).

The statement said the failed pump dated to the 1970s, when West Germans began building the reactor. The Russians, who took over in 1995, have said for years that integrating the old German equipment posed more challenges than initially anticipated.

Then again, perhaps we should worry.  Just a little.  And there’s that whole atomic bomb thing, too, to worry about.  Let’s not forgot about that.

Iran Threatening to pull out of the Racist 2012 London Olympics

In other Iranian news, they’re threatening to boycott the 2012 London Olympics (see Iran threatens to boycott 2012 London Olympics because of logo by Cindy Boren posted 2/28/2011 on The Washington Post).

According to an Iranian official, the logo, with its blocky, abstract rendering of “2012,” is racist because it appears to spell the word “Zion,” a biblical term for Jerusalem, rather than 2012.

When I look at the logo I don’t see ‘Zion‘.  I barely see ‘2012’.  But knowing that it’s supposed to be ‘2012’, I can see ‘2012’.  But I just don’t see ‘Zion’.

By the way, these same Iranians?  They’re working on a nuclear program.  But there’s nothing to worry about.  Sure, they can use enriched uranium to build an atomic bomb.  But who do they hate enough to use an atomic bomb on?  So what’s to worry?  Incidentally, the reason they’ll boycott the Olympics because the logo looks like ‘Zion’?  Because they absolutely hate the state of Israel and Jews everywhere.  Wait a minute.  That could be worrisome.  And then there’s that other thing.  How they have repeatedly said that they want to wipe Israel off the map of the world.  You know, on second thought, it would appear that there is a lot to worry about a nuclear Iran.  Such as a war of annihilation.

Free Electricity too Costly without Massive Government Subsidies

Iran sits on some of the richest oil reserves in the world.  They have an abundance of energy at their finger tips.  Yet they pursue a nuclear program for their domestic energy needs.  So while Iran pursues a nuclear program with some possible nefarious motives, what does the U.S. do for its domestic energy needs?  Builds windmills.  And solar panels (see D.C. reneges on aid to install solar panels by David Nakamura posted 2/27/2011 on The Washington Post).

Dozens of District residents who installed solar panels on their homes under a government grant program promoting renewable energy have been told they will not be reimbursed thousands of dollars as promised because the funds were diverted to help close a citywide budget gap.

The funds were diverted to close a citywide budget gap?  Probably to fund pension and health care benefits for public sector workers.

That came as a shock to Brian Levy, 35, who received a letter from Tulou on Jan. 25 informing him that the city would be unable to pay him the $12,200 it had promised last September. In October, Levy had hired a contractor, Green Brilliance, to install a $27,500 solar energy system on the roof…

Ivan Frishberg, an environmental advocate and a member of Capitol Hill’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission, installed a $34,000 solar system on his home, only to be told that the city would not be able to reimburse him the $11,000 it had promised.

Well no wonder.  If you have an average electric bill of $200  a month, you can see the abysmal rate of returns on those investments.  Assuming you get all of your electricity free after this investment, it would take over 11 years for Mr. Levy to break even.  And over 14 years for Mr. Frishberg.  Clearly, adding solar panels to your house is not a wise investment.    If it were, the government wouldn’t have to bribe you to do it.  With other people’s tax dollars.  All the while cheaper sources of energy are available.  Such as coal.  And nuke plants.

We Build Solar Panels to Save the Planet while letting Iran build a bomb to Destroy It

I doubt many believe Iran is building nuclear plants for domestic energy needs.  And I think most will agree that they are interested in acquiring an atomic bomb.  And yet there are those who say we can’t interfere with a sovereign state’s nuclear ambition.  We can shut down an industry in the United States.  But a madman in the Middle East with a festering hatred of Israel and America, why, he can have his nukes.  Even though he’s sitting on vast oil reserves.  But in America, not only can we not have nuclear power, we can’t even drill for oil.  Instead, we must build windmills.  And solar panels.

Is it me?  Or does something seem wrong here?

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Can Feminism Survive in the Islamic Middle East?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 19th, 2011

The Iranian Revolution and Feminism

The Shah of Iran modernized Iran.  And advanced women’s rights.  Did away with child marriage.  And outlawed having multiple wives.  Women may not have been fully equal but they were more equal than they had ever been before.  Or since.  And they had access to education.  In fact, they were so well educated that when they came out of college some could find no jobs.  At least none that called for such a higher education.  So there was a lot of unemployment during the 1970s.  A lot of highly educated people without jobs.  Both men and women.  And they protested.  Both men and women.  They overthrew the Shah.  Both men and women.  And how did that go?  Well, better for the men than it did for the women.

The Iranian Revolution in 1979 kind of came out of nowhere.  Stunned most of the world.  But many quickly welcomed this ‘democratic’ revolution.  Some people even welcomed that kindly, moderate, old man returning from exile.  Ayatollah Khomeini.  Even The New York Times said at last we will see a humane government in a third world country.  Of course, that didn’t happen.  The ‘democratic’ revolution soon became a theocratic revolution.  Khomeini ushered in Sharia law.  And a rather oppressive interpretation at that.  Everything the women gained under the Shah was gone.  Women were property again.  Second class citizens.  Not the kind of hope and change they were protesting about.  In fact, a lot of their daughters say today, “Thanks, Mom.”  And, “What were you thinking about!?!”  Under their breath, of course.

The Iranian Revolution started out as a democratic movement upset about rampant unemployment and abject poverty.  And they were angry at the Shah’s oppressive regime that exercised dictatorial power.  That shut down all opposition voices.  A lot like in Egypt.  But underneath this there was another element lurking in the background.  An Islamic element.  Angry at the Shah’s Westernization of Iran.  And eager to restore the old, Islamic ways.  And while the first revolutionaries talked about democratic reform, these other revolutionaries planned their theocracy.  Then they installed it.  And the rest is history.  A sad one for those women who had achieved so much under the Shah’s rule.

As in Iran, Men and Women Stood side by side during the Egyptian Revolution.  Will they after the Revolution?

So another revolution comes and goes in the Arab world.  It took only 18 days.  Things were pretty good in Egypt for women before the revolution.  But what will life be like after the revolution (see Egypt women stand for equality in the square by Kathy Lally posted 2/18/2011 on The Washington Post)?

Women are far better off in Egypt than some parts of the Arab world. There are no religious police enforcing dress codes as in Iran, or prohibitions against driving as in Saudi Arabia. But Egyptian women are greatly underrepresented in public life and inferior to men before the law. They hold cabinet posts, but no judgeships. They are members of parliament, but have few seats. They occupy many professions, but not all.

Divorces are difficult to obtain and favor men, as do property rights. Women are encouraged to marry and have children early: The legal age of marriage was only recently raised from 16 to 18.

And, every day as they walk down the street, they are reminded of their low status – until Tahrir Square. Egyptian women are sexually harassed to an astonishing degree, groped, ogled, followed by catcalls, behavior that no law forbids. In a 2008 survey, the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights in Cairo found that 83 percent of Egyptian women and 98 percent of foreign women had been harassed at some point.

And this in a ‘far better off’ country in the Arab world.  Makes one wonder what happened in the not so better off countries.  The question is, will this be the high water mark for feminism in Egypt?  Will they now retreat on the advancements made in women’s rights?

“We were equal partners in this revolution,” she said, “and we are respected as such. Now we have to use the moment effectively, to make sure women participate in daily political life, to make sure they are involved in the development of political parties and labor movements.”

That’s kind of what the women said in Iran.  Of course, once that theocracy took hold, all hopes for women being involved in political parties and movements were over.  Will this be Egypt’s fate?  Or the Middle East’s?  A common enemy can unite a people.  Even the sexes.  But what about tradition and culture?  And religion?  How heavily will they weigh on the new governments borne of revolution?

Tunisia and Egypt – Oppressors of the People but Defenders of Feminism

What do Tunisia and Egypt have in common?  They both just disposed hated dictators.  And they were both bastions of women’s rights (see Are the Mideast revolutions bad for women’s rights? by Isobel Coleman posted 2/20/2011 on The Washington Post).

Tunisia, in particular, has been a bastion of women’s rights in a region known for the opposite. Shortly after independence in 1956, President Habib Bourguiba, the country’s secular authoritarian leader, pushed through a Personal Status Code which was remarkably liberal for its time. It granted women equal divorce rights to men, abolished polygamy, set minimum marriage ages, allowed access to birth control and even some access to abortion. Bourguiba modeled himself on Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey’s founder who force-marched his country into the modern age through a painful process of secularization – “for the people, despite the people,” as he once quipped.

The result is that Tunisian women today enjoy relatively high literacy and have achieved broad gains in law, medicine, business, academia and media.

But things got bad.  And the Tunisians protested about the same things the Iranians and the Egyptians did.  And the big question is this.  Now that there is a power vacuum, who will fill it?  A modern, democratic power?  Or an old school, theocratic power?  Like, say, the Muslim Brotherhood?

In Egypt, democracy will also create important openings for Islamist groups, especially the Muslim Brotherhood. In a 2007 Gallup survey, 64 percent of Egyptians polled said that sharia should be the only source of law in the country; an additional 24 percent said it should be a source of legislation. (There was little variation by gender.)

Still, Egyptians’ desire for sharia is balanced by a strong demand for modernization and a distaste for theocracy. Women’s rights will be a litmus test for the new government – a sign of where the country is headed. The Muslim Brotherhood unleashed a sea of controversy in 2007 when it released its party platform excluding women (and non-Muslims) from the presidency, and calling for a group of Islamic scholars to review and veto legislation that does not conform to religious rules. These conservative positions confirmed critics’ worst fears of the Brotherhood, and led to some soul-searching within the organization itself, especially among younger members who disagreed with the hard-line positions of their elders.

Those younger members should read a page from the Iranian Revolution history.  The young in Iran today are not all happy with their parent’s revolution.  Especially the women.  And the girls.

The rise of Salafism, a particularly conservative form of the faith propagated by Saudi Arabia, should worry Egyptian women’s groups. In recent years, tensions between secularists and Salafis have been rising, with Salafis calling for full veiling of women and gender segregation in universities. The Salafis’ following is evident in the rising number of Egyptian women wearing the niqab, the face-covering veil, long black abayas and even gloves on their hands to avoid physical contact with men.

Wearing the veil has become popular in Tunisia and Egypt for a variety of reasons, including as an expression of religious identity, conforming to social pressures and as a statement against the secular authoritarianism of the government. (The irony is that Egypt is the birthplace of Arab feminism, which in the first half of the 20th century put much energy into unveiling women.)

With Hosni Mubarak gone, activists will now have to contend with hard-core politics in a way that has been missing from Egypt’s Potemkin parliament. Controversial legislation, like the equal right to divorce that was passed in 2000, will come under pressure from Islamist lawmakers who fiercely opposed the bill. (Tunisia is the only other Arab country that grants women the right.) Women’s groups can no longer fall back upon a sympathetic Mubarak regime, which often sided with their cause.

Ah, yes, the hated Hosni Mubarak.  Champion of feminism.  Who they ran out of the country.  Much like the Shah of Iran.  One can only hope that the women of Egypt don’t end up like the women of Iran.

Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan – Still not Bastions of Women’s Rights

Of course, being a woman in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan was no picnic.  Under their law, the sentence for many offences was death.  Even for not wearing the proper traditional garb.  But that was then.  We toppled the Taliban from power in Afghanistan.  And the Saudi’s are a stalwart ally.  So how are things there now (see Why American troops in Afghanistan shouldn’t have to wear headscarves by Martha McSally posted 2/18/2011 in The Washington Post)?

In 2001, I was an Air Force lieutenant colonel and A-10 fighter pilot stationed in Saudi Arabia, in charge of rescue operations for no-fly enforcement in Iraq and then in Afghanistan. Every time I went off base, I had to follow orders and put on a black Muslim abaya and head scarf. Military officials said this would show “cultural sensitivity” toward conservative Saudi leaders and guarantee “force protection” – this in a nation where women couldn’t drive, vote or dress as they pleased…

In Afghanistan after Sept. 11, 2001, the world saw the hallmark of Taliban oppression – women who failed to cover up risked death. Now, nine years after the fall of the Taliban government, Afghan women are still required to cover themselves and have hardly moved toward the equal rights and liberties we envisioned. In conjunction, U.S. military women are simply submitting to Muslim practices that symbolize the plight of Afghan women when they put on the scarf themselves.

American servicewomen will continue to be viewed as second-class warriors if leaders push them to take up the customs of countries where women are second-class citizens.

It’s pretty bad when they make your liberators adopt the custom of the previously oppressed women.  There’s a mixed message here.  Rise up and enjoy your freedom.  But be obedient.  They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.  And as tradition, culture and religion go, they don’t come much older.  Talk about democratic movements all you want.  But there is a heavy undertow of Islamic Fundamentalism in the Middle East.  And it’s going to take an extraordinary effort to resist it.  

Will the women make it to shore and enjoy democracy?  Or will they be dragged back and disappear beneath the surface of theocracy?  Like in that democratic revolution in Iran?  Let’s pray that feminism wins the day.  For if theocracy does, it won’t be only the women in the Middle East that suffer.  We all will.

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