Iran Flexes Military Might in Gulf to Warn Against any Action Against their Nuclear Program

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 7th, 2012

Week in Review

Iran says they need nuclear power to make electricity.  They say this as they sit atop some of the largest crude oil reserves in the world (see Iran test-fires missiles in Gulf exercise by Ramin Mostafavi, Reuters, posted 1/2/2012 on Yahoo! News).

Iran said on Monday it had successfully test-fired what it described as two long-range missiles, flexing its military muscle in the face of mounting Western pressure over its nuclear program.

The announcement came at the climax of 10 days of naval exercises in the Gulf, during which Tehran has warned it could shut the Strait of Hormuz, through which 40 percent of world oil is shipped, if sanctions were imposed on its crude exports.

Analysts say Iran’s increasingly strident rhetoric, which has pushed oil prices higher, is aimed at sending a message to the West that it should think twice about the economic cost of putting further pressure on Tehran…

Tehran denies Western accusations that it is trying to build atomic bombs, saying it needs nuclear technology to generate electricity…

[Iran is the] the world’s fourth biggest producer [of crude oil].

Yeah, with being only the world’s fourth biggest producer of crude oil of course they need nuclear power to make electricity.  I mean, how much electricity can they make with all of that crude oil?

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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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The Libyan War is the First Battleground in the New War to End Human Suffering

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 3rd, 2011

Men and Women join the Military to Guard this county and our Way of Life

No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country.  He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.  In case you don’t recognize these lines they’re from Patton.  In that opening speech George C. Scott gives in front of that giant American flag.  This is the sad reality of war.  People die.  And it’s not only the bad guys.  Often they’re our teenagers.  Our young men and women.  Who answer the call of duty.  Knowing they may die.  For it’s in the job description.  And in the Code of the U.S. Fighting Force:

I am an American fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.

That’s why people join the military.  To risk their life guarding this county.  And our way of life.  This is the contract they signed on to.  Not humanitarian missions guarding other people and their way of life.  It’s one thing making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.  But it’s a whole other thing making the ultimate sacrifice just so another people can have a better life.  While your family is left with only memories. And a flag that draped a coffin. 

The Many Roads to War

Vietnam was yet another chapter in the Cold War to block Soviet Expansion.  Before Vietnam we were pretty successful.  We checked them in Berlin.  Greece.  Turkey.  Iran.  Failed in China.  Held the line on the Korean peninsula.  In Cuba (where we prevented the Soviets from placing their nuclear weapons there).  And tried again in South Vietnam.  And failed.  JFK was a Cold War warrior.  That’s why he went into Vietnam.  To check Soviet Expansion.  Our enemy in the Cold War.  Who was always trying to undermine our country and way of life.  People may not remember this, but Vietnam was a popular war before it was unpopular.  Because we lived in fear of the Soviet Union.  And their mushroom cloud.

Much of the world’s oil flows from the Persian Gulf region.  You stop that oil exportation and the world stops.  Remember the oil crisis of 1973?  We would dream of times as good as those should a Middle East dictator shut down that oil flow.  That’s why we threw Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait in the Gulf War.  To stop him from controlling all of that oil.  We went into Afghanistan to topple the Taliban who was giving sanctuary to al Qaeda.  For we had traced the 9/11 attacks back to Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.

The Iraq War is a little more complicated.  Hussein had repeatedly violated the terms of the ceasefire ending the Gulf War.  He was a threat to the region.  And the Saudis were very reluctant to shut down the terrorist financing in Saudi Arabia lest the Wahhabi rise up and overthrow their kingdom.  Long story short, our Iraqi invasion forced their hand.  Because they feared Iranian hegemony in the Middle East more than the Wahhabi.  Say what you want about the Saudis, but they walk a fine line between helping us and maintaining Arab peace.  All the while not playing politics with their oil.  You can’t really ask for more in a friend and ally.

Now Libya?  Whatever happened in Libya would not have changed life in America.  It was not a national security interest.  It was to the Europeans who bought Libyan oil.  And those nations that may face an influx of refugees hitting their shores.  But there was no U.S. interest for Americans to die for.  It’s a purely humanitarian mission.  Sure, the slaughter of innocents is bad.  And we have a big and powerful military.  But the men and women who sign up to serve pledge to give their life to guard this county.  And our way of life.  Not theirs.  It’s a heavy burden to send men and women into harm’s way.  Especially when some may make that ultimate sacrifice.  But when families understand why their loved ones died, they can find some solace that at least their loss served a higher purpose.  But that ‘why’ in Libya is not going to assuage much of their grief.  Should there be grief.

So why Libya?  It doesn’t make any sense from a national security standpoint.  From a military standpoint.  A diplomatic standpoint.  It’s very confusing.  Why, we don’t even know who the people are that we’re helping.  It would appear that emotion, not logic, got us into Libya.

Women bring Distinctive Life Experiences to Politics

There’s a big push to get more women into government.  For they bring something to the office a man doesn’t (see For a woman to reach the White House, the 2012 elections will be key by Debbie Walsh and Kathy Kleeman posted 4/1/2011 on The Washington Post).

This isn’t just about numbers, though. Women bring distinctive life experiences to politics, and research shows that female officeholders change both the policy agenda and the governing process. Whether the issue is equal access to credit (Bella Abzug) or education (Patsy Mink), family and medical leave (Marge Roukema), or inclusion of women in medical research (Pat Schroeder and Olympia Snowe), female lawmakers have long been recognized as powerful voices on behalf of women, children and families…

Eager for more female candidates, including some who don’t fit the traditional patterns, we’re working on the 2012 Project — a national, nonpartisan CAWP campaign in collaboration with California political strategist Mary Hughes to increase the number of women in federal and state legislative offices. Our goal is to identify and engage accomplished women 45 and older to run for office, women who already have established careers and reduced family responsibilities. We are especially seeking women from fields and industries underrepresented in elective offices, including finance, science, technology, energy and health care.

So they’re trying to find women who also happen to have these qualities to serve in government.  It would seem better to find people with these qualities who happen to be women.  Because it sounds like we’re trying to find the best qualified women.  Instead of the best qualified.  I wonder what Margaret Thatcher thinks of this.  I mean, she was a great leader.  Not just the best woman they could find to be prime minister.

A Woman with “Distinctive Life Experiences” advises Obama to go to War in Libya

There are some women already in politics.  One in particular has quite a powerful position in the Obama administration.  A confidant and adviser to the president.  Well learned and scholarly.  Wrote a book.  Which won her a Pulitzer Prize.  So she’s quite accomplished.  And people should fear her abroad.  Because she likes to send the military on lethal humanitarian missions.  And she’s going places (see Samantha Power to be the next Secretary of State? by Cathy Hayes posted 4/2/2011 on IrishCentral). 

A flattering New York Times profile has increased speculation that Samantha Power, the Dublin-born aide to President Obama, could be his next Secretary of State or National Security Adviser.

She has been the main architect, along with Hillary Clinton, of the Libya policy and has an increasing influence in the White House inner circle.

Of course that new job may all depend on what happens in Libya.  Will the mission creep?  Will there be boots on the ground?  And coffins returning to Dover Air Force Base?  Or will Qaddafi leave and peacefully transfer power to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group?  Or al Qaeda?  The Muslim Brotherhood?  Or whoever the rebels are?

…she defended the administration’s decision in establishing a no-fly zone, adding failure to do so would have been “extremely chilling, deadly and indeed a stain on our collective conscience.”

Since she began her career working as a war correspondant in Bosnia at the tender age of 22, Power has believed that nations have a moral obligation to prevent genocide. She can bring life to these ideals from her position of the National Security Council…

Some of her critics say that she could be pushing the U.S. into another Iraq. The conservative blog American Thinker says that Obama has “outsourced foreign policy” to the Dublin woman. She has also drawn the ire of the Israeli lobby for her pro-Palestinian positions.

Another Iraq?  I think another Vietnam may be more appropriate.  Because of the mission creep (from advisors to airpower to boots on the ground).  And the affect on the Johnson‘s presidency.  Made him a one-term president.  Unpopular wars can do that.  Will the Libyan War stay popular?  If so perhaps it can be another Iraq.  If not?  Hello Vietnam.

This is the problem of getting women into politics because they are women.  They bring those “distinctive life experiences to politics.”  Emotions then cloud prudent deliberation.  For it would have been better if someone else had the president’s ear regarding Libya.  Someone who said, yes, the situation in Libya is bad.  But we can’t send young Americans on lethal humanitarian missions where ever there is horrible suffering and crimes against humanity.  Because there is horrible suffering and crimes against humanity everywhere.  We can’t pick and choose.  Play God.  Say these people are worthy of living.  While these people should die.  And we can’t encourage others to rise up because they think we will intervene in their country, too.  We just don’t have the resources.  And we can’t ask our brave men and women to do things they didn’t contract for when they joined the military.  Dying for someone else’s country and way of life.

Instead, it was the softer side of the Obama administration that cringed at the thought of people suffering.  And these women did not hesitate to put our men and women at risk to soothe their anguished souls.  And why not?  These leftist intellectuals hate the military (the Ivy League only recently -and reluctantly- let ROTC back on their campuses with the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, no doubt conflicting them.  They enjoyed all the turmoil this is causing in the military.  But now they can’t use that excuse anymore to keep these people off of their campuses).  They don’t care if these people die.  You want to play war?  Okay.  Go play war in Libya.  Kill for us.  Be useful for the first time in your miserable lives.

The War to end Human Suffering

Now women in power is not necessarily bad.  Margaret Thatcher was a great leader.  I wish there were more of her to go around.  It’s getting women in power just because they’re women that is bad.  Especially when they bring those “distinctive life experiences.”  We can’t afford ‘nurturing mother’ types running our foreign policy.  Nurturers want to help.  Because they can’t bear to see suffering.  We need people who can see beyond the suffering.  Who can get past their emotions. 

The military is not a cold impersonal thing.  It’s our sons and daughters.  Our brothers and sisters.  Our fathers and mothers.  Our husbands and wives.  These are people.  Real people.  And we need to treat them as the precious resources they are.  Yes, some may die completing a mission.  So it is our duty to them to make sure they do not die in vain.  That we never ask them to make the supreme sacrifice just to make someone feel better.  Yes, suffering is bad.  But suffering is not a national security interest.  Oil is.  Stability in the Middle East is.  Sealing our southern border is.  Fighting al Qaeda is.  But suffering in Libya, the Ivory Coast, North Korea, (insert a country where there is suffering here), etc., is not. 

Suffering is bad.  But no reason to send Americans to die in war.  We cannot declare war on human suffering.  Because that’s a war that we can never win.  Like our war on drugs.  It requires changing human nature.  And until we can do that there will always be suffering.  And people using drugs.  We have a much better chance stopping terrorism. 

A war on terror?  Now there’s a war worth fighting.  Because winning that war is in our national security interest.

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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.

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