North Korea warns the United States that any US-driven Regime Change will result in Countermeasures

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 6th, 2014

Week in Review

North Korea is apparently in desperate need of food and/or energy.  As they are being especially belligerent of late.  When they want stuff they do some belligerent things.  Like a petulant child.  The international community then steps in to ratchet down the tension.  And gives something to that petulant child to shut them up for awhile.  But North Korea’s belligerence seems exceptionally belligerent these days (see North Korea says US ‘hell-bent on regime change’ by CARA ANNA, AP, posted 4/4/2014 on Yahoo! News).

North Korea on Friday accused the United States of being “hell-bent on regime change” and warned that any maneuvers with that intention will be viewed as a “red line” that will result in countermeasures.

Even North Korea is mocking President Obama about red lines.

Pyongyang’s deputy U.N. ambassador Ri Tong Il also repeated that his government “made it very clear we will carry out a new form of nuclear test” but refused to elaborate, saying only that “I recommend you to wait and see what it is…”

Ri blamed the U.S. for aggravating tensions on the Korean Peninsula by continuing “very dangerous” military drills with South Korea, by pursuing action in the U.N. Security Council against his country’s recent ballistic missile launches and by going after Pyongyang’s human rights performance.

Ri also accused the U.S. of blocking a resumption of six-party talks on its nuclear program by settling preconditions and said Washington’s primary goal is to maintain tensions and prevent denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula…

North Korea walked away from the six-party nuclear disarmament talks in 2009 over disagreements on how to verify steps the North was meant to take to end its nuclear programs…

Using the initials of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the country’s official name, Ri said, “The DPRK has been making strenuous, hard efforts, very generous, toward easing the tensions on the Korean Peninsula, but ignoring all this generous position of the DPRK and its proposals, the U.S. went ahead with opening the joint military drills, very aggressive nature, and they’re now expanding in a crazy manner the scale of this exercise.”

This is the problem with being a reclusive communist regime.  Yours is a world based on lies.  You lie to your people. You lie to the world.  You lie so much that you lose any connection to reality.  Nuclear tests.  Ballistic missile launches.  An atrocious human rights record.   Walking away from six-party nuclear disarmament talks.  And yet they say they are being generous and working hard to ease the tensions on the Korean Peninsula?  Tensions one would conclude North Korea caused based on Pyongyang’s deputy U.N. ambassador’s statements.  Do they not see this?  Or do they believe that the world will believe whatever they say?  No matter how big the lie?

It makes one wonder if that ‘red line’ comment was a clever dig at President Obama.  Or just a coincidence.  For Vladimir Putin may be able to pull off a clever dig at President Obama.  But when it comes to geopolitics Pyongyang deputy U.N. ambassador is no Vladimir Putin.  For he is an autocrat.  And understands the use of power (military and economic).  The threat of using power.  And uses it to take what he wants.  Unlike the North Koreans (who can only make nuclear bluffs-they can’t cut off someone’s energy supplies like Putin can).  Or president Obama for that matter.  Who makes ‘red line’ declarations but fails to do anything once a red line is crossed.

A little regime change would be nice in North Korea.  No doubt their people would like to live without those horrible human rights abuses.  And the international community would like not having to deal with these recurring tantrums.  But regime change will be painful.  And costly.  Especially for South Korea.  Who will probably have to feed the North Koreans after their regime collapses.  And bear the burden of reunifying the Koreas.  With the United States no doubt having to pick up part of those costs.  For the last thing they want is instability on the Korean Peninsula.  But with the Obama administration slashing the defense budget the last thing they want is another nation to rebuild.  So it is highly doubtful that the U.S. is “hell-bent on regime change.”  Unless there was an inexpensive way of doing it.  Which there rarely is.

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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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Obama Looking less George W. Bush and more Jimmy Carter/LBJ

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 1st, 2011

Construction Spending down despite all those Shovel-Ready Projects

Some days it just sucks to be Obama (see February construction spending down 1.4% by Steve Goldstein posted 1/1/2011 on MarketWatch).

February construction spending fell 1.4% to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of $760.6 billion, the lowest level in more than 11 years, the Commerce Department said Friday. January spending was revised lower to a decline of 1.8% from a previous estimate of a 0.7% fall. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a 0.1% rise.

Construction is the last to enter recession.  And it’s the last to emerge from recession.  Because it takes a long time to go from design to completion.  But after all those shovel-ready projects bought and paid for by the stimulus bill back in 2009, construction should not be the worse it has been in 11 years.  That means the economy is still a mess.  And it may very well get messier.

First bad Fiscal and Monetary Policy, then Inflation

Yes, we’re still mired in recession.  But recession may soon be joined with something we haven’t seen since the 1970s.  At least, not during a recession (see Fed Is Likely to Raise Rates By End of the Year: Lacker by CNBC.com and Reuters posted 1/1/2011 on CNBC).

Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey Lacker told CNBC Friday that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if the central bank raised interest rates before the end of the year…

He said his greater concern is rising inflation and controlling it in the next nine months “will be critical for us.”

Jimmy Carter must be smiling.  Many say he was the worst president.  Mainly because of the stagflation of the 1970s.  High unemployment and high inflation.  Normally, you don’t get the two together unless you really managed to make a mess of the economy.  And now it looks like Obama may go all Jimmy Carter on us.  We still have record unemployment.  And the Fed, while they’re still planning to go ahead with more quantitative easing in June:

At its last meeting, the Fed voted unanimously to continue as planned with its $600 billion bond purchase program, designed to lower interest rates and stimulate growth, which is scheduled to end in June.

is already talking about battling the inflation their previous actions have given us.  Which they did in a futile attempt to counter Obama’s job-killing fiscal policies.  No doubt Carter is grateful he has lived to see this day.  When another president has ruined the economy greater than he did.

TARP bails out Libyan Owned Bank

But it gets better.  For Carter, that is (see Libya-Owned Arab Banking Corp. Drew at Least $5 Billion From Fed in Crisis by Donal Griffin and Bob Ivry posted 1/1/2011 on Bloomberg).

Arab Banking Corp., the lender part- owned by the Central Bank of Libya, used a New York branch to get 73 loans from the U.S. Federal Reserve in the 18 months after Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. collapsed.

The bank, then 29 percent-owned by the Libyan state, had aggregate borrowings in that period of $35 billion — while the largest single loan amount outstanding was $1.2 billion in July 2009, according to Fed data released yesterday. In October 2008, when lending to financial institutions by the central bank’s so- called discount window peaked at $111 billion, Arab Banking took repeated loans totaling more than $2 billion…

Arab Banking reported a loss of $880 million in 2008 as it took a $1.1 billion charge tied to structured investment vehicles and derivative products known as collateralized debt obligations. Arab Banking recovered during the next two years, posting profits totaling $265 million.

So, Arab Banking Corp., part-owned by the Central Bank of Libya, the country we’re currently bombing now to ‘encourage’ regime change, was ‘bailed out’ in our TARP program.  That hurts in so many ways.  Our tax dollars that our Congress authorized to purchase trouble assets (i.e., all those Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac subprime mortgages) not only bailed out Obama’s friends on Wall Street, they bailed out foreign banks.  Even helped a Libyan dictator.  Who we’re now trying to ‘accidentally’ kill.  I mean, you can’t make this stuff up.  Meanwhile, Carter looks like a better president with each day that passes by.  Who’d’ve thunk it?

Liberal Base says Obama is Worse than George W. Bush

And speaking of that Libyan…thing…that’s not a war but has all the bombing and killing of a war…how’s that going?  Not so good with the president’s base (see Liberals outraged by Libya intervention posted 1/1/2011 on UPI).

Liberal Democrats, key to Barack Obama’s election as U.S. president, are some of the loudest critics on his strategy on Libya, a review of reaction indicates…

“In two years we have moved from President [George W.] Bush’s doctrine of preventive war to President Obama’s assertion of the right to go to war without even the pretext of a threat to our nation,” Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, an anti-war liberal, said Thursday during a House floor speech. “This is a clear and arrogant violation of our Constitution. Even a war launched for humanitarian reasons is still a war — and only Congress can declare war.”

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., said Congress and the White House have argued for years over the division of power in wartime, but “the Constitution grants sole authority to the Congress to commit the nation to battle in the first instance.”

That sounds like they’re saying that Obama is worse than George W. Bush.  Wow.  At least Bush had the pretext of weapons of mass destruction.  What’s Obama got?  Well, had he not acted, there may have been another civil war in the world.  As bad as that is, it isn’t an imminent risk to American security.  Which means the president did not have the Constitutional authority to do what he did.  Unlike George W. Bush in Iraq.

The Military doesn’t want Obama’s Libyan War

So he’s losing his liberal base.  But he’s still got the military establishment, doesn’t he?  As the Left well knows, they don’t care about right or wrong.  They just like to kill people and blow things up.  Right?  Not exactly.  You see, actually knowing a thing or two about war, they are not all that eager to go to war (see U.S. Military Not Happy Over Libya by Leslie H. Gelb posted 1/31/2011 on The Daily Beast).

Pentagon civilian leaders and the military brass see nothing but trouble looming as the Obama administration takes one step after another into the Libyan morass. The next step appears to be arming the Libyan rebels, a move that would inevitably entail pressures to send U.S. trainers and even more potent arms—and a move that Defense Secretary Robert Gates flat-out rejected in testimony before Congress on Thursday. “What the opposition needs as much as anything right now is some training, some command and control, and some organization,” Gates said. As for providing weapons, that is “not a unique capability for the United States, and as far as I’m concerned, somebody else can do that.”

Libyan morass?  Wow.  That’s some heavy criticism.  That’s the kind of language they used back in the day of the Vietnam War.  Which was an unwinnable morass.  Interesting, too, that liberal presidents with aggressive domestic agendas created both of these morasses.  But can Obama win his war?  Even though LBJ couldn’t win his?  Or will Obama follow LBJ’s example and not seek nor accept his party’s nomination for a second term as president?  Guess time will tell.

U.S. aircraft took the lead in junking a good chunk of the Libyan Air Force and launched devastating attacks against Libyan tanks, artillery, and other ground forces. Despite the severity of these attacks, Libyan forces survived, regained the offensive, and are now moving back toward rebel strongholds in eastern Libya. And the expectation of U.S. intelligence is that without having to face U.S. air power, Gaddafi’s troops will build further momentum. So, U.S. military officials haven’t stopped worrying about being dragged yet again into the air war.

You know, this is a lot like the Vietnam War.  Every time we pulled back the enemy advanced.  Then we’d pound them back with our superior airpower.  Until Congress stopped paying for that superior airpower.  And then you know what happened?  No?  Not familiar with our actions to protect South Vietnam?  Okay.  Look on a current map for South Vietnam to find out how that turned out.  But don’ spend too much time looking for it. Because it’s not there anymore.

The rebels won’t be able to use most arms, even relatively simply ones like anti-tank rockets and rifles, without extensive training…

Remember, underneath everything happening now are the two driving goals that President Obama set: to protect populations and to oust Colonel Gaddafi. In all likelihood, U.S. coalition partners cannot achieve these goals without U.S. jets resuming combat missions. Even with more U.S. air power, it probably won’t be possible to stop Gaddafi without using some coalition ground forces. So, pressures to do more and more will continue to lurk. All the Pentagon can do, then, is to raise tough questions (Who are those rebels we’re determined to help, could they be Muslim extremists?) to diffuse pressures on the U.S. military to do more.

If you ever wondered how Vietnam happened, here’s a good teachable moment.  JFK sent in military advisors to train the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN).  These were the ‘good guys’ in South Vietnam.  But when the very well trained and well supported North Vietnamese Army (NVA) threw them back we needed more than advisors.  We started supporting the ARVN.  Then the ARVN started supporting us as we took over more and more of the war.  Next thing we knew hundreds of thousands of U.S. ground troops were fighting it out in the jungles of Vietnam.  And the rest is history.

Barack Obama makes Jimmy Carter look Good

The last month or so hasn’t been too good for our president.  The economy is still mired in recession.  Inflation is about to join those high unemployment numbers to give us some good old-fashioned Jimmy Carter misery.  Our taxpayer TARP money found its way to Libya.  Instead of buying our troubled assets.  The Liberal base is abandoning him.  The Libyan war is less Constitutional than Bush’s Iraq War.  And appears about as winnable as the Vietnam War.

Yup.  Sucks to be him.  When he’s not on vacation, that is.

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When it Comes to the Libyan War, Obama must see George W. Bush when he Looks into the Mirror

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 30th, 2011

Dumb things and Turd Sandwiches

President Obama called what he’s doing in Libya dumb.  In 2002 when he was criticizing George W. Bush for toppling the brutal dictator Saddam Hussein in Iraq.   He may not have changed much from this position.  Someone told Savannah Guthrie, NBC News, that the president used a phrase of a national security aide to describe his Libyan operations, calling them a “turd sandwich.”  You have to hand it to the president, he sure knows dumb and turd sandwiches.  Because they really describe well the Obama Doctrine in Libya.  And though it’s not a great delicacy, we the people may have to learn to enjoy this sandwich.  For we may be taking a bite from this sandwich for a very long time.

Libya to become a Recruiting Ground for al Qaeda?

First it was a no-fly zone.  Then we were attacking Qaddafi’s ground forces.  Now we’re taking it up a notch.  We may be supplying arms to the opposition forces.  And Obama has CIA operatives on the ground.  But I’m sure they’re not wearing boots.  For Obama promised there would be no boots on the ground. 

Get ready to take another bite of that sandwich.  Even though the UN Resolution 1973 did not authorize regime change, we’re sure acting like that’s what we’re doing.  And we really don’t know who the opposition is.  But what the hell?  What’s the worst that can happen in this chaotic, rapidly changing situation (see Al Qaeda’s Libya Pilgrimage by Ron Moreau & Sami Yousafzai posted 3/30/2011 on The Daily Beast)?

As debate rages in Washington over whether to arm anti-Gaddafi rebels, an exclusive report by The Daily Beast indicates al Qaeda forces are gearing up to join the rebels and seize power in Libya…

Since the anti-Gaddafi revolution began last month, al Qaeda—especially Libyan-born affiliates—have viewed the fighting as an opportunity to spread their radical Islamist ideology. Indeed, as one Afghan Taliban operative who helps facilitate the movement of al Qaeda militants between the tribal area and Pakistani cities told The Daily Beast earlier this month: “This rebellion is the fresh breeze they’ve been waiting years for. They realize that if they don’t use this opportunity, it could be the end of their chances to turn Libya toward a real Islamic state, as Afghanistan once was…”

According to the Afghan commander, al Qaeda fighters can’t believe their good luck that U.S. and NATO aircraft—the same forces that have dropped bombs on their heads in Afghanistan and Pakistan—are now raining down ordnance against Gaddafi.

You mean our actions in Libya will attract al Qaeda operatives?  Wait a minute.  Let me see if I understand this.  A country where radical Islamists were persecuted and exiled who then went abroad to get battle experience in foreign wars want to come home now because of the Obama Doctrine?  Why, that’s not good.  In fact, Obama can call his actions in Libya dumb again.  For he criticized George W. Bush for doing this in Iraq.  Recruiting al Qaeda where there was no al Qaeda.  And here is Obama.  Recruiting al Qaeda to Libya.  Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

Today, along the tribal border region, al Qaeda’s thirst for more immediate news has led even top leaders like Abu Yahya al-Libi, a Libyan who serves as the movement’s senior Islamist ideologue and bin Laden’s head of operations for Afghanistan, to become almost foolhardy. The Afghan commander says that Yahya and some of his countrymen have even risked visiting villagers’ houses that have satellite television dishes on the roof to watch the latest Western and Middle Eastern news feeds from Libya. Their movements in public areas could easily expose these high value targets to human and UAV surveillance, and a deadly drone strike.

When important bad guys risk their lives for Libyan War updates you know something is afoot.

Whether Yahya himself will return to Libya remains to be seen, but speculation about what he’ll do is rife in the tribal area. “What Yahya will do is on the mind and in the words of everyone,” the Taliban commander adds.  “But I think he is probably preparing for his next move, contacting mujahideen in Libya and watching the situation in Libya…”

“They know they must tread cautiously, and not push too hard, for too much, too soon,” he says. Instead, he says, they expect to take a moderate line at first, while quietly trying to persuade rebel leaders that the preservation of Libyan sovereignty against Western “colonialists” depends on taking an anti-Israeli, anti-American line. Any move toward imposing Islamic sharia law, Yahya’s specialty, will have to come later. Still, Taliban sources say, if Yahya is successful in reaching rebel-held territory inside Libya, at least he’ll be able to operate with relative freedom, without worrying about Gaddafi’s secret police.

Oh my.  This is double plus dumb.  To play on an Orwellian phrase.  Some of us older people may have an eerie feeling of déjà vu.  Because this is how the Iranian Revolution went from democratic uprising to oppressive theocracy.  And we’re providing just the kind of environment to recruit mujahedeen.  Chaos.  Not only that, when they recruit them they may be already armed.  Because of the Obama Doctrine.  Perhaps it’s time to rethink this doctrine.

The Cities we’re Protecting are home to Libyan Jihadists?

All right, it looks like Islamist militants are coming home to Libya.  Thanks to our no-fly zone.  And ground support for the opposition.  Whoever they may be.  So what was this Islamist militant-Qaddafi relationship like?  And who was the real bad guy?  Well, if we focus on just this dynamic it appears that we may be backing the wrong horse (see Jihadist Opportunities in Libya by Scott Stewart posted 2/24/2011 on Stratfor).

Libyans have long participated in militant operations in places like Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya and Iraq. After leaving Afghanistan in the early 1990s, a sizable group of Libyan jihadists returned home and launched a militant campaign aimed at toppling Gadhafi, whom they considered an infidel. The group began calling itself the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) in 1995, and carried out a low-level insurgency that included assassination attempts against Gadhafi and attacks against military and police patrols.

Gadhafi responded with an iron fist, essentially imposing martial law in the Islamist militant strongholds of Darnah and Benghazi and the towns of Ras al-Helal and al-Qubbah in the Jabal al-Akhdar region… Many LIFG members fled the country in the face of the government crackdown and a number of them ended up finding refuge with groups like al Qaeda in places such as Afghanistan.

While the continued participation of Libyan men in fighting on far-flung battlefields was not expressly encouraged by the Libyan government, it was tacitly permitted. The Gadhafi regime, like other countries in the region, saw exporting jihadists as a way to rid itself of potential problems. Every jihadist who died overseas was one less the government had to worry about. This policy did not take into account the concept of “tactical Darwinism,” which means that while the United States and its coalition partners will kill many fighters, those who survive are apt to be strong and cunning. The weak and incompetent have been weeded out, leaving a core of hardened, competent militants. These survivors have learned tactics for survival in the face of superior firepower and have learned to manufacture and effectively employ new types of highly effective improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

In a Nov. 3, 2007, audio message, al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri reported that the LIFG had formally joined the al Qaeda network. This statement came as no real surprise, given that members of the group have long been close to al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden. Moreover, the core al Qaeda group has long had a large number of Libyan cadre in its senior ranks, including men such as Abu Yahya al-Libi, Anas al-Libi, Abu Faraj al-Libi (who reportedly is being held by U.S. forces at Guantanamo Bay) and Abu Laith al-Libi, who was killed in a January 2008 unmanned aerial vehicle strike in Pakistan.

Oh, oh.  The rebel cities are also home to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group?  Really?  The people who were killing Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq are the people we’re now helping in Libya?  We’re going to give these people arms?  So they can, basically, continue a struggle they started long ago to overthrow Qaddafi and impose Sharia Law?  Replacing one oppressive regime with another even more oppressive regime?  Do I understand this correctly?  Because this is dumb.  And worthy of the turd sandwich metaphor.

This toppling of brutal dictators is trickier than it looks.

The Libyan government’s security apparatus carefully monitored those Libyans who passed through the crucible of fighting on the battlefield in places like Iraq and Afghanistan and then returned to Libya. Tripoli took a carrot-and-stick approach to the group similar to that implemented by the Saudi regime. As a result, the LIFG and other jihadists were unable to pose a serious threat to the Gadhafi regime, and have remained very quiet in recent years. In fact, they were for the most part demobilized and rehabilitated.

Gadhafi’s son Seif al-Islam oversaw the program to rehabilitate LIFG militants, which his personal charity managed. The regime’s continued concern over the LIFG was clearly demonstrated early on in the unrest when it announced that it would continue the scheduled release from custody of LIFG fighters.

So Libya has been struggling with a Muslim problem.  Of the radical Islamist kind.  And some of those trying to now overthrow the regime may be Islamic militants.  How about that?  Maybe that crazy bastard wasn’t lying.  Maybe there were some chards of truth in Qaddafi’s ramblings.

This deep streak of radicalism in eastern Libya brings us back to the beginning. While it seems unlikely at this point that the jihadists could somehow gain control of Libya, if Gadhafi falls and there is a period of chaos in Libya, these militants may find themselves with far more operating space inside the country than they have experienced in decades…

While Seif al-Islam, who certainly has political motives to hype such a threat, has mentioned this possibility, so have the governments of Egypt and Italy. Should Libya become chaotic and the jihadists become able to establish an operational base amid the chaos, Egypt and Italy will have to be concerned about not only refugee problems but also the potential spillover of jihadists. Certainly, at the very least the weapons looted in Libya could easily be sold or given to jihadists in places like Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria, turning militancy in Libya into a larger regional problem. In a worst-case scenario, if Libya experiences a vacuum of power, it could become the next Iraq or Pakistan, a gathering place for jihadists from around the region and the world. The country did serve as such a base for a wide array of Marxist and rejectionist terrorists and militants in the 1970s and 1980s.

Refugees and jihadists spilling over Libyan borders?  Funny.  Because that’s sort of the focal point of the Obama Doctrine.  To prevent spillover.  That’s why we’re there.  To keep the region stable.  Avoid chaos.  And had we not intervened we may have just done that.  With less loss of life than we may have in this worst-case scenario.  And have a more stable Libya to boot.  But now we may have to nation-build for a third time in a Muslim country.  Or see jihadists radicalize the entire region.  In other words, turd sandwich.

Obama Doctrine or Chaos Theory?

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse in the Libyan War.  Obama Doctrine?  Truth be told there is no Obama Doctrine.  It’s chaos theory.  Without the theory.  For we sure seem to be doing a lot of things without thinking them through first.  Of course it could be worse.  If we did these things after thinking them through.  And we’re getting exactly what we expected.

Pass that sandwich.

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Obama Explains Autocratic Action in Libya was Necessary to Keep UN Legitimate

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 28th, 2011

Obama Explains the Libyan War

President Obama finally took to the television to explain what we’re doing in Libya.  He takes a dig at George W. Bush over the Iraq War.  Says this isn’t anything like the Iraq War.  And that the U.S. role will be short and sweet (see Obama: Libya Isn’t Iraq by Carol E. Lee posted 3/28/2011 on The Wall Street Journal).

During the 2008 presidential campaign,  Barack Obama became a hero of the left for his opposition to the Iraq war. Tonight, he used the eight-year-old conflict to explain how the U.N.-backed mission to protect rebels in Libya, not overthrow Col. Moammar Gadhafi, won’t result in a prolonged U.S. engagement.

“If we tried to overthrow Gadhafi by force, our coalition would splinter,” President Obama said. “We would likely have to put U.S. troops on the ground, or risk killing many civilians from the air. The dangers faced by our men and women in uniform would be far greater. So would the costs, and our share of the responsibility for what comes next.”

He added: “To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq.”

“[R]egime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars,” Mr. Obama said. “That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya.”

Yes, we’ve been down the ‘regime-change’ road before.  And we’ve also been down the ‘no-fly-zone’ road before.  In Iraq, for example.  After the Gulf War.  Some twelve years before the Iraq War.  You see, after we threw Iraq out of Kuwait we entered into a ceasefire.  But Saddam Hussein did not behave.  Or honor many of the terms of the armistice that ended the Gulf War.  Worse, he was violently oppressing Kurds in the north and Shiites in the south that were rising up against his Sunni government.  We were hoping for regime change.  We didn’t get it.  And we didn’t try to help the Kurds or the Shiites.  For the same reasons Obama cites in the Libyan War.  Of course, the Left brutally criticized George H.W. Bush for ending the war too soon.  For not toppling the Hussein regime.  And there we were.  Watching Hussein putting down those uprisings with extreme prejudice (i.e., deadly force).  Oh, it was bad.  Like in Libya. Only worse.

The atrocities got so bad that the international community finally did something.  They established no-fly zones in the north and the south.  And maintained them for some eleven years.  Did we end them after we’ve achieved success?  No.  They ended after the Iraq War toppled Hussein from power making them moot.  You see, here’s the ugly truth.  Unless you topple the bad guy from power, those no-fly zones can never go away.  Even Bill Clinton launched an attack against Hussein while president.  Because he kept attacking the Kurds.  Even with the no-fly zone in place.

What Obama says in effect is that we’re going into Libya half-assed.  We’re not going to do anything that will have a permanent affect.  Just like after 1991 in Iraq.  And we’re leaving ourselves with an open-ended commitment that won’t end until Qaddafi dies by natural causes.  Because he ain’t going anywhere.  He’s a marked man.  And even if he finds safe sanctuary, whoever takes him in may become another Jimmy Carter and see their embassy staff taken hostage (when Carter reluctantly allowed the deposed Shah of Iran into America for medical care).

So the question remains.  Why Libya?  There’s suffering all around the world.  But we help only Libya.  Some have suggested that it was to help the Europeans protect their Libyan oil as they fear another ‘Hugo Chavez‘ nationalization of their oil assets.  Being that they made those agreements with the Qaddafi regime, I’m not sure why they would want to help the rebels trying to topple him from power.  If the Muslim Brotherhood or al-Qaeda fills the power vacuum in a post-Qaddafi Libya, you can bet that their terms on the ‘revised’ contracts won’t be as favorable to any Western economy.  So I don’t know.  It’s a stretch.  But one thing for sure Obama isn’t telling us the whole story.  There has to be a reason why Libya.  Better than the weak arguments he’s making now.

We Attacked Libya so the UN can Save Face

In making his case President Obama inadvertently attacks the role of the UN.  And tries to ease our concerns about a third war with the nation mired in recession.  And buried under a rapidly growing debt (see Obama on Libya: ‘We have a responsibility to act’ by Ben Feller posted 3/28/2011 on The Associated Press).

Citing a failure to act in Libya, he said: “The democratic impulses that are dawning across the region would be eclipsed by the darkest form of dictatorship, as repressive leaders concluded that violence is the best strategy to cling to power. The writ of the U.N. Security Council would have been shown to be little more than empty words, crippling its future credibility to uphold global peace and security.”

 Well, isn’t that a fact?  That that “writ of the UN Security Council” is pretty worthless unless backed by the wealth and military might of the United States?  The UN has no military.  Article 43 of Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter tried to build a UN military but no nation contributed any forces.  So the UN has no teeth.  Oh, sure, you can say NATO can fill that role.  But the bulk of NATO’s assets are whose?  That’s right.  Ours.  However you want to slice it doesn’t change this fundamental truth.  Any UN or NATO operation is only as strong and as effective as the size of the U.S. role in that operation.

Domestic politics got a nod, too, in a nation saddled in debt and embroiled over how to cut spending.

“The risk and cost of this operation – to our military and to American taxpayers – will be reduced significantly” Obama said.

The president said transferring the mission to NATO would leave the United States in a supporting role, providing intelligence, logistical support and search and rescue assistance. He said the U.S. would also use its capabilities to jam Gadhafi’s means of communication.

The U.S. in a supporting role?  Whenever has the U.S. played that part before?  We’re the John Wayne of international peace-keeping and humanitarian efforts.  We don’t get supporting roles.  Even if that’s all we want.  And the sop to the taxpayers?  This from the guy that is running trillion dollar deficits?  That’s ‘trillion’ with a ‘t’.  Not the ‘billion’ dollar deficits of Ronald Reagan that were irresponsible and bankrupting the country.  He has shown little regard to the American taxpayer.  Why should we believe him now?  He likes to spend tax dollars.  And he likes to tax. 

Fighting Illegal Wars and Cozying up to Big Corporations just isn’t for Republicans Anymore

And tax he does.  He and his progressive Democrats.  They go after rich people.  And big corporations.  Well, some of the big corporations (see 15 Tax Escape Artists by The Daily Beast posted 3/28/2011 on The Daily Beast).

As reported Friday, General Electric concluded 2010 with $14.2 billion in profits, for which the Internal Revenue Service is paying them a tax benefit of $3.2 billion, thanks to a shrewd use of U.S. tax loopholes, aggressive lobbying and favorable international tax provisions. They’re far from alone.

“Companies are becoming much more sophisticated in the way they arbitrage the U.S. tax system,” says Howard Gleckman, a resident fellow at The Urban Institute, which analyzes economic issues in the U.S. “GE is not the only one, there are many other companies doing the same thing.”

Did you catch that?  GE earned $14.2 billion in profits and did not pay any taxes.  In fact, the IRS paid them a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.    How does that make you feel about a ‘green’ corporation in tight with the Obama administration?  GE is a heavy Democrat donor.  And crony.  A big proponent of green energy.  Because they want to sell compact fluorescent lamps and windmills.  They’re so committed to Obama in going green that Jeffrey Immelt, GE CEO, leads Obama’s economic advisory board.  And yet it’s always the Republicans that are criticized for being in the pocket of the big corporations.  But when it’s Democrats, we don’t call it crony capitalism.  Go figure.

Is GE getting favorable treatment?  Perhaps. 

Critics argue that the avoidance of corporate income tax hurts the economy and hampers domestic investment and job creation, but defenders of the practices argue it’s the only way their companies can stay competitive on a global scale as the American corporate tax rate of 35 percent is one the highest in the world…

“GE is a symptom of a much bigger problem and GE management uses the tax code for their benefit,” says Gleckman. “I’m not offended by GE, I’m offended by a tax system that allows this to go on. They have an obligation to their shareholders and their workers to maximize after-tax profits.”

Of course, the irony is that GE Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt is the same person Barack Obama appointed to head the panel of external economic advisers created in 2009 to help steer the U.S. out of the economic crisis. Says Willens, “when [Immelt] was appointed to that position, people who had familiarity with GE’s tax practices had a good laugh, which are rare for tax professionals.”

Obama says our role in Libya will be limited to help the American taxpayer.  Does having the highest corporate tax rates in the world that stifle economic growth and sends jobs overseas help, too?  These tax rates are so high that it forces poor corporations to manipulate the tax code to stay competitive.  Which is okay as long as you are pouring money into Democrat coffers apparently.  Even if you outsource jobs to countries with lower tax rates.

And having the fox guard the chicken house?  In the world of Obama, there’s no conflict there.  Of course, if George W. Bush selected an oilman to lead such a board I suspect there would have been some protestation.  But Obama can do no wrong.  Although the Libyan War is now straining some of his strongest supporters.  Which should make for an interesting 2012 election.  If we have one, that is.

Going Rogue or Just in over his Head?

Special tax deals and policy influence for cronies?  Wars launched without Congressional authority or any clear idea of what exactly our national security interests are?  High taxation?  Huge deficits?  You know, there is a name for this kind of leader.  Autocrat.  Someone who does whatever he wants.  This reminds me of another leader.  You might have heard of him in the news lately.  He’s Libyan.  Goes by the name of Qaddafi.

Of course, Obama is no Qaddafi.  He’s much more conservative in dress.  And he doesn’t murder his own people.  But apart from these two things, you have to admit there are some similarities.  Both are cults of personality (before you object remember that Obama got the Nobel Peace Prize before he had a chance to do anything as president).  Friends of both get special treatment (the stimulus bill didn’t hire anyone – it went to the public sector unions and other supporters).  Both feel they’re above the law (take Obamacare, for example.  Ruled unconstitutional yet the Obama administration is still proceeding in defiance of the court’s ruling).  And they both attack their enemies (the Obama machinery bussed protesters to Wisconsin to try to prevent the elected Wisconsin Assembly from voting on the bill to restrict collective bargaining rights to public sector workers).  Oh, and even though he defied one judge (in the Obamacare ruling) he used another judge in Wisconsin to stop a law he didn’t personally like (restricting collective bargaining rights of public sector unions).

So this leaves all scratching our collective head.  Why Libya?  When you get right down to it, he must like a lot about Qaddafi.  He’s doing a lot of the same.  Only without the blood and fancy dress.  And while we’re asking questions, here’s another.  Will there be an election in 2012?  That may depend on how far his poll numbers drop.  Because there’s a limit to the number of dead people that can vote without drawing suspicion.  I’m joking, of course.  There will be an election.  Obama hasn’t gone rogue.  He’s just young, inexperienced and in over his head.  At least based on his incomprehensible actions.

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Obama’s ‘help’ may Lose the Middle East to Radical Islam

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 25th, 2011

Libya no Worse than other Humanitarian Crises

Everyone is still asking that question.  Why Libya?  The Middle East and Africa are full of humanitarian crises.  Yet we’re not bombing them.  Is their suffering not as bad as the Libyan suffering?  Or are their people simply not worth saving?  People want to know.  Because people are suffering everywhere. 

[Syria]  Violence erupted around Syria on Friday as troops opened fire on protesters in several cities and pro- and anti-government crowds clashed on the tense streets of the capital in the most widespread unrest in years, witnesses said.  -By Associated Press, The Washington Post, 3/25/2011 

[Bahrain]  Clashes erupted in Shiite villages across Bahrain on Friday as antigovernment protesters defied a government ban on public gatherings, despite a beefed-up presence by the military and security forces.  -By Joe Parkinson, The Wall Street Journal, 3/25/2011 

[Ivory Coast]  Up to one million Ivorians have now fled fighting in the main city Abidjan alone, with others uprooted across the country, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Friday as violence escalated in a 4-month power struggle.  – Stephany Nebehay, Reuters, 3/25/2011 

[Yemen]  With hundreds of thousands of rival demonstrators on Sanaa’s streets, soldiers fired warning shots to prevent loyalists whipped up by Mr Saleh’s speech attacking anti-regime protesters on Friday, the Muslim day of prayers and rest… The rallies came one week after a bloodbath in which 52 protesters were gunned down by Saleh loyalists, drawing widespread international condemnation and a spate of defections from within his ruling circle.  -By AFP, ABC News, 3/25/2011 

And there’s more.  Iran.  North Korea.  And others.  It’s everywhere.  Suffering.  But you know why we’re not helping any of these nations?  Because it’s too much for anyone to do.  Suffering is bad but it is NOT the United States’ duty to end it all.  And yet we’re trying to do just that in Libya.  Was the Qaddafi regime a great threat to American security interests?  No.  He’s been pretty quiet since the Iraq War.  He seemed content to oppress his people and leave others alone.  Perhaps the others noted above were even less dangerous than Qaddafi.  Perhaps in comparison they’re just docile pussy cats.

If any Nation Deserves Regime Change it’s Syria

Let’s look at Syria.  They make no secret of the fact that they don’t like America.  Or Israel.  They are behind a lot of unrest in the Middle East.  They want to see the whole region under Sharia Law.  And be less friendly with the West.  As bad as Qaddafi was, he did sell a lot of his oil to the West.  So that would make Syria more of a national security concern than Libya.  But we’re not bombing Syria.  Perhaps the Syrian violence just isn’t that bad (see Resident says troops open fire on protesters in Daraa, other Syrian cities by Associated Press posted 3/25/2011 on The Washington Post).

The violence erupted after tens of thousands of Syrians took to the streets across the country, shouting calls for greater freedoms in support of a more than week-long uprising in Daraa, according to witnesses, activists and footage posted online…

An activist in Damascus in touch with eyewitnesses in the southern village of Sanamein said troops there opened fire on demonstrators trying to march to Daraa, a short distance away. He said there had been witness reports of fatalities, some claiming as many as 20 slain, but those could not be independently confirmed…

About 200 people demonstrated after the Friday prayers at the Thawra Bridge, near the central Marjeh Square, chanting “our souls, our blood we sacrifice for you Daraa!” and “freedom! freedom!” They were chased by security forces who beat them some of them with batons and detained others, an activist said on condition of anonymity for fear of government reprisals.

No.  That isn’t it.  That’s some pretty bad violence.  That’s Qaddafi bad.  Killing your own people.  And it is far worse than what Mubarak was doing in Egypt.  He didn’t turn the army against his people.  And yet Obama said he had to go. But we’re not attacking Syria.  With bombs.  Or words.  Perhaps Syria is a strategic force for stability in the Middle East.  Like how Iraq balanced Iran once upon a time.  We supported Iraq then.  Because Iraq balanced the greater risk in Iran.  Like that old saying.  The enemy of my enemy is my friend.  So maybe Syria offsets the ‘big bad’ in the Middle East.

Assad, a close ally of Iran and its regional proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas, has promised increased freedoms for discontented citizens and increased pay and benefits for state workers — a familiar package of incentives offered by other nervous Arab regimes in recent weeks.

No.  That ain’t it either.  Syria is cozy with all the ‘big bads’ in the Middle East.  The powers that want to kill Jews, Americans and all other infidels.  But wait.  It gets worse.

Shaaban, the presidential adviser, also said the Baath party would study ending a state of emergency that it put in place after taking power in 1963.

The emergency laws, which have been a feature of many Arab countries, allow people to be arrested without warrants and imprisoned without trial. Human rights groups say violations of other basic liberties are rife in Syria, with torture and abuse common in police stations, detention centers and prisons, and dissenters regularly imprisoned for years without due process.

The Baath party?  Sound familiar?  That was the party of Saddam Hussein.  Emergency laws since 1963?  Arrests without warrants?  Imprisoned without trial?  Torture and abuse?  No due process?  This is bad stuff.  What some would call a humanitarian crisis.  Like the one in Libya.  But as bad as that all sounds, it’s the Iraq connection that is most troubling.

Before the Iraq War, Iraq and Syria were close.  So close that many think those weapons of mass destruction we were looking for in Iraq were hidden in Syria during the run-up to war.  We know Saddam had them.  He used them on the Iranians.  And the Kurds.  But he never documented their destruction.  So if he hid them in Syria they may still be there.  They may have been hesitant to use them thus far because we could probably trace them back to them.  Especially if they had Iraqi markings on them.  But if all these ‘democracy’ movements in the Middle East and North Africa gather steam, they could become a problem.  If the region goes Muslim Brotherhood and is closer to Iran and/or al Qaeda, Syria won’t be the only country to see the world the way they do.  And they may feel safe enough to use these weapons.  Should they have them.  Oh, and Israel would be surrounded by countries that have the destruction of Israel at the top of their top-10 list.  And that is very bad.  Because that could start a world war.  Shut off the oil supply to the Western economies.  And plunge the world into a depression.

The Muslim Brotherhood Establishing an Islamic State in Egypt?

So let’s back up a bit.  Let’s take a closer look at these ‘democracy’ movements.  Are they really democracy movements?  Or are they more theocracy movements?  Well, in Egypt, things aren’t looking good for democracy (see Islamist Group Is Rising Force in a New Egypt by Michael Slackman posted 3/24/2011 on The New York Times).

In post-revolutionary Egypt, where hope and confusion collide in the daily struggle to build a new nation, religion has emerged as a powerful political force, following an uprising that was based on secular ideals. The Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group once banned by the state, is at the forefront, transformed into a tacit partner with the military government that many fear will thwart fundamental changes.

It is also clear that the young, educated secular activists who initially propelled the nonideological revolution are no longer the driving political force — at least not at the moment.

Sound familiar?  This is what happened in Iran.  The young people who started the revolution didn’t end the revolution.  Ayatollah Khomeini ended it.  With one of the most oppressive theocracies in the Middle East.  And those young women in the Iranian Revolution?  They don’t protest anymore.  They live good Muslim lives under Sharia Law.  Whether they like it or not.

“There is evidence the Brotherhood struck some kind of a deal with the military early on,” said Elijah Zarwan, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group…

 “We are all worried,” said Amr Koura, 55, a television producer, reflecting the opinions of the secular minority. “The young people have no control of the revolution anymore. It was evident in the last few weeks when you saw a lot of bearded people taking charge. The youth are gone…”

When the new prime minister, Essam Sharaf, addressed the crowd in Tahrir Square this month, Mohamed el-Beltagi, a prominent Brotherhood member, stood by his side. A Brotherhood member was also appointed to the committee that drafted amendments to the Constitution.

The big question was would Mubarak turn the army on the people.  Or, should he, if the army would follow that order.  You see, the people respected the army.  Most had family that had or were serving in the army.  The army was good.  It was the security forces the people hated.  Not the army.  It was the army the people thought they could trust.  And now we’re hearing that they struck a deal with the Muslim Brotherhood?  That’s very ominous.  As are the beards.  That’s hardcore, conservative Islam.  Like they have in Iran.  And that sure ain’t what the protestors wanted in Egypt.  I mean, there were women in those crowds.  If Egypt goes the way of the bearded men, these women will never protest anything ever again.  Just like in Iran.

And the lying has begun.  Egypt was a secular country.  But they still had their religion.  It was still a Muslim country.  Like Turkey.  There’s the state.  And the religion.  Both very important parts of life in these countries.  But separate parts.  Now it appears secular means state atheism.  Like in the former Soviet Union.  Or in parts of America where anything goes.  According to the more radical elements in Egypt, at least.

“The problem is that our country will be without a religion,” read a flier distributed in Cairo by a group calling itself the Egyptian Revolution Society. “This means that the call to the prayer will not be heard anymore like in the case of Switzerland, women will be banned from wearing the hijab like in the case of France,” it said, referring to the Muslim head scarf. “And there will be laws that allow men to get married to men and women to get married to women like in the case of America.”

Talk about scare tactics.  If you don’t vote for a more conservative Islam there will be no Islam.  People will be free.  Women will be free.  And gay, I guess.  All horrible thoughts to the conservative Muslim.  And a lot of Muslim men who are just not fans of feminism.

This is not to say that the Brotherhood is intent on establishing an Islamic state…

None of that has changed, Mr. Erian, the spokesman, said in an interview. “We are keen to spread our ideas and our values,” he said. “We are not keen for power.”

He would not comment on whether the Brotherhood had an arrangement with the military, but he said the will of the people to shift toward Islam spoke for itself and was a sign of Egypt’s emerging democratic values. “Don’t trust the intellectuals, liberals and secularists,” Mr. Erian said. “They are a minor group crying all the time. If they don’t work hard, they have no future.”

Warning Klaxons should be going off.  These are things that dictators say before they oppress their people.  Why, you can almost see the reassuring eyes and the soothing voice of Ayatollah Khomeini as he calmed the anxious Iranian people shortly after 1979.  Before those eyes became scary.  And we all saw how that turned out.  Oppressive theocratic rule.  And the odds just got better for the same in Egypt.

Virginity Tests in Egypt

And it’s already started (see Egypt women protesters forced to take ‘virginity tests’ posted 3/24/2011 on the BBC).

A leading rights group says the Egyptian army arrested, tortured and forced women to take “virginity tests” during protests earlier this month.

Amnesty International is calling on the authorities in Cairo to investigate.

It says at least 18 female protesters were arrested after army officers cleared Tahrir Square on 9 March.

It says they were then beaten, given electric shocks and strip searched.

The army denies the allegations.

This isn’t what the women in the crowds were protesting for.  And the reason these women were protesting?  Because they could.  Egypt was one of the most progressive countries in the Middle East.  Women had some of the greatest freedoms enjoyed in a Muslim country.  Not anymore.

A 20-year-old woman, Salwa Hosseini, told Amnesty she was forced to take off all her clothes by a female prison guard in a room with open doors and a window.

She said that male soldiers looked in and took photographs of her while she was naked.

The demonstrator said a man in a white coat later carried out a ‘virginity check’ on her and she was threatened with prostitution charges.

“Forcing women to have ‘virginity tests’ is utterly unacceptable. Its purpose is to degrade women because they are women,” a spokesperson for Amnesty International said in a statement.

Mubarak may have been bad.  But he wasn’t that bad.  The painful moral of this story is to be careful what you ask for.  The enemy you know is often better than the enemy you don’t know.  Unfortunately we sometimes learn this lesson too late.  Including presidents.  For it was a mistake to throw Mubarak under the bus.  Middle East scholars knew it then.  And the rest of us are learning it now.  And now we’re helping to destabilize Libya.  That, too, could turn out to be a mistake.  Because we don’t know who the rebels are.  Just like we didn’t know who they were in Egypt.  So the chances are good that what happens in Egypt could very well happen in Libya.  A “shift towards Islam.”

Of course, there are a couple of countries in the Middle East that probably warrant our involvement.  Two come to mind.  Iran.  And Syria.  Things could only get better in these countries.  Yet we don’t help the protesters in these sovereign countries.  So when President Obama finally tells us why Libya, perhaps he can tell us why not in countries that already hate us.  And while he’s explaining these great mysteries perhaps he can tell us why he’s undermining our allies in the Middle East.  Is there a method to this madness?  Or is it just madness?

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Competency and Constitutionality in Question in Obama’s Libyan War

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 21st, 2011

The Libyan War as Popular as the Iraq War

The attacks on Libya have been authorized by the UN.  There is multilateral support.  And a coalition of the willing.  So we’re standing on the side of moral authority.  And legality.  Unlike the Iraq War.  At least this is what the supporters of this Libyan operation are saying.  And they speak with a united voice.  Or do they (see EDITORIAL: Obama’s illegal war by The Washington Times posted 3/18/2011 on The Washington Times)?

Five Security Council member states sat out the vote, including permanent members Russia and China, in addition to Germany, India and Brazil. China in particular objected to any action that would compromise Libya’s sovereignty, but did not veto the resolution. This may have been a political move, since the abstaining countries are now in a position to raise principled objections to whatever happens once force is utilized. To claim the United States forged an international consensus seems premature when Resolution 1973 did not have the support of countries representing 42 percent of the world’s population.

Russia, China, Germany, India and Brazil oppose this multilateral action?  And that 42%?  It appears that Libya at best may match the Iraq War in popularity.

Very Little Arab Participation in this Arab Matter

All right, we can expect some of this dissent.  But what about one of our allies.  One of the coalition of the willing (see The House of Commons reacts to Libya assault by Peter McHugh posted 3/21/2011 on the UK’s Channel 4 News)?

[The Prime Minister] was just seven minutes into his defence before the first doubt appeared. How would he avoid “mission creep” asked the SNP’s Angus Robertson. Politicians on all sides now use military phrases as short hand for much more serious questions and what he really wanted to know was how do we avoid the Iraq experience when George W Bush said the war was over in days but thousands were to die in the unplanned years that followed…

He said the campaign against Gaddafi was well supported but only Qatar,out of all the arab states were committing troops. Starting a war was easy, said Dennis Skinner, ending it much harder especially if we did not know what would mark the end.

The unease continued to expose itself in a series of interruptions. “What about the £230m of arms we had sold to Libya last year?” asked one MP and “What about Yemen and Bahrain?” said Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn. Would the Prime Minister resign if British “boots” were ever on the ground in Libya?

The UK and France are the two big European nations in charge of this thing.  And one of them is already having a lot of second thoughts.  They’re worried about mission creep.  It becoming another Iraq.  And for a “well supported” mission, there’s only one Arab state on board.  Strange, for it is Arab killing Arab in Libya.  And the Arab League supported the UN resolution to create the no-fly zone.  This lack of Arab participation can be unsettling for the coalition.  For without Arab participation, it can look like European Christians fighting Muslims on oil-rich land.  And that just won’t be good for the mission.

The Nobel Peace Prize Winner Initiates War

Across the pond, Republicans and Democrats alike are questioning the Libyan action.  Some of the stronger criticism may be coming from Republicans (see Rep. Roscoe Bartlett Says President Obama’s Unilateral Choice to Order U.S. Military Force Against Qadhafi is an Affront to Our Constitution by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett posted 3/21/2011 on bartlett.house.gov).

“The United States does not have a King’s army. President Obama’s unilateral choice to use U.S. military force in Libya is an affront to our Constitution. President Obama’s administration has repeated the mistakes of the Clinton administration concerning bombing in Kosovo and the George W. Bush administration concerning invading Iraq by failing to request and obtain from the U.S. Congress unambiguous prior authorization to use military force against a country that has not attacked U.S. territory, the U.S. military or U.S. citizens. This is particularly ironic considering then-Senator Obama campaigned for the Democratic nomination based upon his opposition to President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq.

Some serious charges there.  But is it only partisanship?  I mean, right now, President Obama isn’t all that popular these days with his war on Libya.  He’s letting down some of his most avid supporters.  Who are no doubt stunned.  Their Nobel Peace Prize winner initiating war?  How can this be?

The Russians Call the Coalition Christian Crusaders after Libya’s Oil

Remember when Hillary Clinton went to Russia with that button?  To reset Russian-American relations?  They got the Russian translation wrong on the button.  But the Russians still praised the Obama administration for the effort.  But they’re not praising him anymore (see Russian Duma Leader Wants Obama Stripped of Nobel Peace Prize by Kenneth Rapoza posted 3/21/2011 on Forbes).

The controversial leader of the Russian Liberal Party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky,  said in a statement on Monday that he will ask the Nobel Committee to strip President Barack Obama of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Zhirinovsky said in the letter that the prize, awarded in 2009 for Obama’s historic presidential victory and his work on nuclear non proliferation, was now hypocritical in light of recent missile strikes in Libya…

“These developments in Libya are another outrageous act of aggression by NATO forces and, in particular, the United States,” he wrote, calling it a “colonial policy” with the goal to control Libyan oil…

Zhirinovsky’s protest to the Nobel Committee is most likely a cry in the wilderness.

However, Russian officials have stated no interest in military adventures to punish Gadhafi for waging a civil war against anti-government forces. On Monday, The Economic Times of India reported Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin calling the airstrikes on Libya a “medieval call for crusades.”

Strip the Nobel Peace Prize?  You could say that the missile strikes are a far cry from what he did to win the Peace Prize.  Which was nothing.  He was elected in 2008.  Took office in 2009.  Not a whole lot of time to do anything.  But Zhirinovsky is a small player in Russia these days.  It doesn’t really matter what he says.  Putin is the power in that country.  And he called Obama’s airstrikes a “medieval call for crusades.”

I think we’re going to need another button.

Obama Attacked for Attacking his own Kind

And it gets worse.  Even some of his most ardent supporters are turning on the president (see Farrakhan To Obama: “Who The Hell Do You Think You Are?” by Alan Colmes posted 3/21/2011 on Liberal Land).

You’re a liar and a hypocrite, and I warn my brother don’t let these wicked demons move you in a direction that will let you absolutely ruin your future with your people in Africa and throughout the world…My advice would be, why don’t you organize a group of respected Americans and ask for a meeting with Qaddafi? You can’t order him to step down and get out. Who the hell do you think you are, that you can talk to a man that built a country over 42 years, and ask him step down and get out? Can anybody ask you?

Your people?  Why, that sounds a bit racist.  His people in Africa is code for black.  His people throughout the world is code for Muslim.  Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, is slamming Obama for attacking his black brothers.  And his Muslim brothers.  Even though Obama is a Christian.  Confusing, yes, but for whatever reason Muslims around the world (even Gaddafi looks at him as a son) have adopted this Christian as one of their own.

Mission and Command Structure Poorly Defined

So despite all the talk about a multilateral coalition of the willing, the actions against Libya are pretty unpopular.  Which means support will probably not last long.  So they better get in fast.  Complete the mission with all possible speed and efficiency.  Declare mission accomplished.  And get out.  Shouldn’t be too hard (see Confusion Over Who Leads Libya Strikes, and for How Long by Steven Erlanger posted 3/21/2011 on The New York Times).

As the military operation continued over Libya on Monday, there was some confusion about which country or organization is actually leading it, and for how long. France, Britain and the United States are in charge of their own operations, which each have different code names.

The participants are being “coordinated” by the United States, but not commanded by it, according to the French Defense Ministry. The Americans, with the most assets, seem to be the lead coordinator, but Washington has said it wants to step back after the initial phase and have NATO take charge of maintaining a no-fly zone and arms embargo.

Britain wants NATO to take over but France does not, and Italy is threatening to rethink its participation unless NATO takes command.

Okay, so there is some confusion about the command structure.  But if France is the only holdout in turning over command to NATO we should be able to make a persuasive case to them.  Then that problem will be solved.

Foreign Minister Alain Juppé said in Brussels on Monday that “the Arab League does not wish the operation to be entirely placed under NATO responsibility…

Turkey is also reluctant to have NATO take charge, since it is the only Muslim member of the alliance, has opposed the use of force in Libya and was excluded from a Saturday planning meeting in Paris. But Turkey, which has kept lines open to the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, is likely to allow NATO to run the operation as long as it does not invade Libya with any ground forces or occupy the country.

Okay, that’s a bigger problem.  The whole Arab world is against NATO assuming command of operations.  Perhaps the British and the French can run the coalition.

Washington may be willing to have France and Britain run the operation as a coalition, but that would be hard for the two countries to do without using NATO assets for command and control, most of which belong to the United States. But Washington has never been willing to put its troops under the command of any other nation, one reason that even in NATO, the Supreme Commander Europe, is always an American.

Good night nurse.  Did anyone think this through?  Before we committed to military operations?  The coalition will fall apart before the popular support for the war does.  Command and control issues.  Mission uncertainty (regime change or no regime change).  If we’re this unclear now that we’re in a shooting war, exactly what clarity was there when we committed to the use of force?

Obama says Libyan Civil War is a US Security Threat

Well, the President explains why in a letter to Congress (see Obama explains Libya mission to Congress by Greg Sargent posted 3/21/2011 on The Washington Post).

Qadhafi’s continued attacks and threats against civilians and civilian populated areas are of grave concern to neighboring Arab nations and, as expressly stated in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973, constitute a threat to the region and to international peace and security. His illegitimate use of force not only is causing the deaths of substantial numbers of civilians among his own people, but also is forcing many others to flee to neighboring countries, thereby destabilizing the peace and security of the region. Left unaddressed, the growing instability in Libya could ignite wider instability in the Middle East, with dangerous consequences to the national security interests of the United States.

Threatening the United States?  Really?  Losing Egypt to the Muslim Brotherhood could threaten our security.  Losing Bahrain to Iran-friendly Shiite control could threaten our security.  But Libya?  While we have suffered at the hands of Gaddafi, it was more tit for tat.  When he retaliated after receiving a military ass-kicking from the US.  His weapon of choice?  Terrorism.  He blew up a Berlin disco frequented by American Servicemen.  And blew up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.  If the pattern follows, we are at greater danger by our action.  Inaction would have been the safer bet for American security.

Note the mention of the “consequences to the national security interests of the United States.” Some Dems are arguing that Obama needs Congressional authorization under the War Powers Resolution, which only allows the President to initiate military action without Congress if America is under attack or under serious threat.

Indeed, Dennis Kucinich is citing this quote from Obama himself back in 2007: “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” Obama’s insistence that our national security is at stake if Gaddafi is not repelled by force tacitly asserts the President’s authority to invade without Congressional authorization.

Not only are we not safer, there are serious questions about the constitutionality of Obama’s actions.

George W. Bush more Constitutional than Barack Obama

The United Nations Participation Act (UNPA) of 1945 is U.S. law governing our actions with the United Nations (UN).  It defines what the president’s authority is when working with the UN.  And it’s not much (see The false defenders of Obama’s war in Libya by Michael Lind posted 3/21/2011 on Salon).

The only rational way to interpret these sections of the UNPA is to read them as authorizing the president, without congressional approval, to supply fewer than a thousand noncombatant troops to the U.N. for Article 41 actions short of war, and also to negotiate agreements to supply armed forces to the U.N. under Article 43 — but only with prior congressional approval. In Article 42 situations, like the situation in Libya, where the U.N. Security Council calls on members to go to war, the UNPA did not grant the president to act without congressional approval — presumably because the Congress that passed the UNPA understood that all Article 42 enforcement actions approved by the Security Council would have to be separately and independently approved by congressional declarations of war before the U.S. could take part.

Far from delegating the president vast discretion to wage war in pursuit of U.N. requests, the U.N. Participation Act jealously guards the constitutional prerogatives of Congress.

In other words, the Constitution grants war making powers to Congress.  Not the UN.  Or the President.

The Constitution cannot be amended by statute. It cannot be amended by treaty. It cannot be amended by precedent. It cannot be amended by public opinion poll. It cannot be amended by election result. It cannot be amended by humanitarian pity. The U.S. Constitution can only be amended by the procedures set forth in Article V of the Constitution itself.

People are free, if they wish, to propose a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would read as follows: “The President of the United States shall have power to initiate war on his own authority, without the prior approval of Congress; provided, however, that Congress may refuse to appropriate funding for the continuation of a war the president has begun.” Such an amendment would create the situation that many people falsely claim to be the case today. Until such an amendment is ratified and goes into effect, however, the law of the land remains what it has always been, and President Obama’s war in Libya, even if it is moral, prudent and legally authorized under international law by the Security Council, is plainly unconstitutional.

Obama is president of the United States.  He swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.  He did not swear an oath to the UN.  His authority is defined in the U.S. Constitution.  And it is clear he exceeded his constitutional authority.

Obama supporters are just exasperated to no end.  Because they know that George W. Bush went to war in Iraq with more Constitutional authority.  And this fact is just killing them.

The Libyan War already a Mess

The international community is not united in the attacks on Libya.  There is dissent within the coalition.  Uncertainty about mission.  Exit strategy.  Disagreement over command and control.  And legality.  It’s a mess.  It begs the question why Obama would do this to himself.  Especially with the 2012 elections around the corner.  He looks at the world through political eyes.  One can only assume that he has a plan to make this work to his advantage.  But it sure is hard to see how from here. 

Or is it just like JFK’s/LBJ’s whiz kids during the Vietnam War?  Completely out of their element.  Inept.  And making one bad decision after another.  Guess we’ll find out at the 2012 election.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

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Political Unrest in the Middle East and North Africa: Democracy in Action or an Extension of the Iranian Revolution?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 26th, 2011

Democracy Movements Sow the Seeds of Shariah Law

The Arab world is ablaze with democracy movements.  Which is creating disorder and chaos.  A most fertile ground for Shariah law to take root and grow (see AP’s Al-Qaida calls for revolt against Arab rulers posted 2/26/2011 on myway).

Al-Qaida’s offshoot in Yemen urged Muslims to revolt against Arab rulers and establish governments based on Islamic law, according to an audio tape posted Saturday on militant websites…

He also said toppling longtime rulers is not enough and that new governments must be established based on Islamic religious law, or Shariah.

“One tyrant goes, only to be replaced another who may fix for the people some of their worldly issues by offering job opportunities and increasing their income, but the greater problem remains,” al-Rubeish said, according to a translation provided by SITE.

This is how the Iranian Revolution ended in a rigid theocracy.  Nothing at all what those female college students wanted when protesting against the Shah.  But this is the danger of revolution.  Disorder and chaos tend to favor the less savory types.  People with ulterior motives.  Who never let a good crisis go to waste.

Big Trouble in Little Bahrain

Bahrain is ripe for chaos.  A majority Shiite population ruled by a Sunni minority.  Home to an American naval fleet.  Supported by Saudi Arabia who is seen as too friendly to the United States.  And now an exile returns home (see Key Shi’ite opposition leader returns to Bahrain by Adam Schreck, Associated Press, posted 2/26/2011 on The Washington Times).

A prominent Bahraini opposition leader returned home from exile Saturday and urged the Gulf kingdom’s rulers to back up promises of political reform with action.

The return of Hassan Mushaima, a senior Shi’ite figure, could mark a new phase for an anti-government movement in the tiny nation which is strategically important for the U.S. because it hosts the U.S. Navy‘s 5th Fleet.

Mr. Mushaima heads a Shi’ite group known as Haq, which is considered more hard-line than the main Shi’ite political bloc that has led two weeks of protests. Mr. Mushaima returned Saturday from several months of voluntary exile in London, with a stop in Lebanon.

A more hard-line Shiite?  Sort of like in Iran?  This reminds me of someone.  I seem to recall another opposition leader in exile who returned to Iran following that democratic revolution.  What was his name?  It’s on the tip of my tongue.  Who was that?  Oh, yes.  Now I remember.  Ayatollah Khomeini.  In exile he wanted but one thing.  For the Shah of Iran and his government to be overthrown.  (And he wanted to impose Shariah law but he didn’t tell the people about that.  He would surprise them with that one later.  After he seized power.)  Surely Mr. Mushaima wasn’t in exile for anything like this.

Mr. Mushaima had been among a group of Shi’ite activists accused of plotting to overthrow Bahrain‘s rulers.

Then again he could have been in exile for exactly the same thing.  But is this any cause for concern?

Bahrain is the first Gulf state to be thrown into turmoil by the Arab world’s wave of change. The unrest is highly significant for Washington because Bahrain is home to the U.S. Navy‘s 5th Fleet, which is the Pentagon’s main counterweight against Iran’s widening military ambitions.

Well, as long as we have nothing to fear from Iran, there should be no problem.  And what has Iran been doing lately that should worry us?

Iran Working on the Ingredients to Build an Atomic Bomb

Iran has been trying to build an atomic bomb.  They deny this but they have begun enriching uranium.  And enriched uranium is an ingredient of an atomic bomb.  But we can take Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for his word, can’t we?  Sure, he denies the Holocaust.  And he wants to wipe Israel from the face of the planet.  And he oppresses his people.  Locks up dissidents.  But despite all that, then candidate Barack Obama said he would sit down with this man and talk with him.  So that must mean he’s a reasonable man.

Well, that.  Or Obama is woefully naive and ignorant of Middle East history.  Ahmadinejad is a threat and a loose cannon in the Middle East.  Everyone should be worried about him.  And not trust a single word he says (he supported the democracy movement in Egypt while cracking down on dissidents in Iran).  He’s up to something.  And a bad something, no doubt.  Others know this.  And have taken action to delay his atomic bomb making ability.  Many believe that these people launched the Stuxnet computer virus with the objective of interrupting the Iranian nuclear program.  This malware spun some of their uranium-enrichment centrifuges out of control, damaging them.  It would appear they are unloading the uranium fuel to make repairs, further delaying their ability to make an atomic bomb.

Some will object to this interference into a sovereign nation.  And some have criticized those in the West.  Who are we to say who can and cannot have a nuclear program?  Well, the West has never started a nuclear war.  It would appear that we can’t get the same kind of assurance out of Iran (see Iran nuclear plans: Bushehr fuel to be unloaded posted 2/26/2011 on BBC News Middle East).

The IAEA report – obtained by the BBC and made available online by the Institute for Science and International Security (Isis) – says Iran is “not implementing a number of its obligations.”

These include “clarification of the remaining outstanding issues which give rise to concerns about possible military dimensions to its nuclear programme”.

Six world powers are negotiating with Iran over its nuclear programme, and the country is subject to United Nations Security Council sanctions over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment.

Enriched uranium can be used for civilian nuclear purposes, but also to build atomic bombs.

The United States has been a nuclear power since 1945.  Who in the world today is worried about a U.S. nuclear first strike?  No one.  It’s not who we are.  And our history of being a nuclear power proves it.  Now who thinks Iran can be trusted with nuclear weapons like the U.S.?  Only those who see the world through the same prism as Iran.  Those people who want to see Israel and the United States destroyed.  Other, rational people know the world will be a more dangerous place with a nuclear Iran.

Saudi Arabia on the Right Side of Soviet Communism and Iranian Hegemony

And we come back to Bahrain.  Which can be the fuse to the tinderbox growing in the Middle East and North Africa (see Could the next Mideast uprising happen in Saudi Arabia? by Rachel Bronson posted 2/25/2011 on The Washington Post).

The unrest in Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain and Yemen (to the kingdom’s west, east and south) plays on the Saudis’ greatest fear: encirclement. The Saudis aligned with the United States instead of colonial Britain in the early 20th century in part to defend against creeping British hegemony. During the Cold War the monarchy hunkered down against its Soviet-backed neighbors out of fear of being surrounded by communist regimes. And since the end of the Cold War, the overarching goal of Saudi foreign policy has been countering the spread of Iranian influence in all directions – Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and Yemen…

Sunni-ruled Bahrain, less than 20 miles from Saudi Arabia’s oil- and Shiite-rich Eastern Province, has been a longtime recipient of Saudi aid. It has also been a focus of Iranian interests.

The Saudis are “concerned about the events unfolding in Bahrain and throughout the region.”  And they weren’t too happy with President Obama on Egypt.  They were “reportedly furious that the Obama administration ultimately supported regime change in Egypt, because of the precedent it could set.”  And for good reason.  The Saudis have always been on our side.  I mean, they’re not perfect, but it doesn’t get much better in the Muslim Middle East.

The United States has a great deal at stake in Saudi Arabia, though Americans often look at the Saudis with distaste. As one senior Saudi government official once asked me: “What does the United States share with a country where women can’t drive, the Koran is the constitution and beheadings are commonplace?” It’s a tough question, but the answer, quite simply, is geopolitics – and that we know and like Saudi’s U.S.-educated liberal elites.

The Saudis have been helpful to us. They are reasonably peaceful stalwarts. They don’t attack their neighbors, although they do try to influence them, often by funding allies in local competitions for power. They are generally committed to reasonable oil prices. For example, although their oil is not a direct substitute for Libyan sweet crude, the Saudis have offered to increase their supply to offset any reduction in Libyan production due to the violence there. We work closely with them on counterterrorism operations. And the Saudis are a counterbalance to Iran. We disagree on the Israel-Palestinian issue, but we don’t let it get in the way of other key interests.

Saudi Arabia is not in as bad economic conditions as the other nations falling into unrest.  It may not fall.  But if Bahrain falls under hard-line Shiite control, that’s not going to help the Saudis.  The Middle East.  The United States.  Or world peace.  Before that happens, we should consider treating our friends better than our enemies.

Will Democracy Win the Day for Oppressive, Authoritarian Rule?

As volatile regions go, they don’t come much more volatile than the Middle East.  And, like it or not, many of the world’s economies are dependent on their oil.  We know this.  They know it.  And our enemies know it.

As chaos spreads opportunity knocks.  And it’s clear who is knocking.  Iran.  We have kept this oppressive, authoritarian regime’s ambitions in check so far.  It’s rather ironic, then, that it’s greatest enemy may be the key for her success.  Democracy.  In other countries.  That will cause chaos that Iran can exploit.  Much like they did during the Iranian Revolution. 

History does have a funny way of repeating itself, doesn’t it?

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