Saudi Arabia labels Muslim Brotherhood a Terrorist Organization

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 8th, 2014

Week in Review

During the Arab Spring President Obama told Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak that he had to go.  A man who was the anchor of peace in the Middle East.  Since then the Middle East has grown less safe.  And closer to Iran.  Which hates Israel, the United States and Western Civilization.

The most organized political opposition in Egypt at the time of the Arab Spring was the Muslim Brotherhood.  An organization that Mubarak had outlawed in Egypt.  As they tended to agree more with Iran than they did with the Mubarak regime.  When they stepped in to fill the political vacuum left by Mubarak President Obama and his fellow Democrats were quick to recognize the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.  Even gave them military aid.  Despite their being a terrorist organization (see Saudi Arabia lists Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah as terror groups posted 3/7/2014 on UPI).

Saudi Arabia added the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah and two Syrian-based groups to its list of terrorist organizations Friday, officials said…

Abdel Latif al-Sheikh, head of the Saudi religious police, described the Brotherhood, Hezbollah, ISIS and al-Nusra Front as groups “ruled from outside to serve political purposes.”

“They are groups that fight moderate Muslims and are causing troubles around the world. This is what we consider against Islamic principles and has given a negative impression about Muslims in the West,” Sheikh said.

Here’s something you don’t hear often.  Or ever.  A Muslim nation speaking out against Islamist extremism.  But Saudi Arabia prefers peace.  Which is why they liked Hosni Mubarak.  And were very unhappy seeing him go.  Especially with the Muslim Brotherhood replacing the Mubarak regime.  Mubarak kept the peace.  The Saudis liked that.  Even though they don’t much care for Israel.  But they would take a peaceful world with Israel in it any day over a world without Israel if it meant having no peace.

Israel is not the source of all the unrest in the Middle East.  There is a huge divide in Islam that has killed more than any war or occupation involving Israel has killed.  Sunni versus Shia.  Saudi Arabia is Sunni.  Egypt, too.  While Iran is Shia.  Saudi Arabia prefers peace.  Iran prefers revolution.  Which is why Hosni Mubarak was good for Egypt.  Saudi Arabia. Israel.  The Middle East.  And world peace.  The Saudis understood this.  Which is why they call the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.  While the Obama administration does not.  Which is why they gave military aid to the Muslim Brotherhood.


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FT148: “You only know what someone taught you.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 14th, 2012

Fundamental Truth

If we Grew up on a Deserted Island isolated from Hate we’d Probably Grow up Better Adjusted to live with One Another

No one is born a racist.  It’s something you have to learn.  Someone has to teach it to you.  If a parent is a racist chances are the child will be bombarded with racial slurs growing up.  And become a racist.  Just like his or her parent.  But if you raised a bunch of babies of different races together on a deserted island in isolation would any of them grow up to be a racist?   No.  For they wouldn’t even know what racism is.  Because the life they knew would be normal.  It would be normal for black, white, brown, red and yellow to live together.

Catholics and Protestants have spent a few centuries killing each other.  Ever since the Protestant Reformation in 1517.  People have been persecuting Jews since forever.  The Palestinians, Hezbollah and Hamas have been killing Israelis for decades.  Shiite and Sunni have also been killing each other for a very long time.  These people have hated each other so much that they just want to see the other dead.  Yet if you took a Catholic, a Protestant, a Jew, a Palestinian, a Shiite and a Sunni baby from their parents and raised them on a deserted island in isolation they wouldn’t grow up wanting to kill each other.  They wouldn’t even know they were supposed to hate each other.

Europe was just itching to go to war.  Nationalistic fervor was just bursting at the seams.  Germans, Austrians, Hungarians, French, Russians and British were ready and waiting.  Filled with nationalist pride.  Just jonesing to open a can of whup-ass on anyone that wasn’t from their own great nation.  Having learned nothing from the Crimean War.  Or the American Civil War.  Thinking they would march their magnificent armies onto the field of battle, fight a glorious battle and watch the enemy throw down their arms and run away.  Even though tactics hadn’t changed much from the Crimean War and the American Civil War.  Though the weapons were far more lethal.  Making World War I one of the bloodiest wars of all time.  But had you taken a German, an Austrian, a Hungarian, a French, a Russian and a British baby from their parents at the turn of the century and raised them on a deserted island in isolation they wouldn’t have grown up wanting to go to war with each other.  As they wouldn’t know that they were supposed to hate each other.

Of all the Things the State did Poorly perhaps the Worst was being Husband and Father

When our parents grew up they often went to bed without locking the doors to their houses.  Even during the days of Prohibition when armed gangs shot each other in the street with automatic weapons.  Today we have deadbolts and alarm systems.  And metal detectors at our schools.  For kids today are taking guns to school.  And they’re shooting people.  This didn’t happen during the days of Prohibition when gangs were armed with Thompson 45-caliber submachine guns.  Why?  Because during Prohibition there weren’t violent video games, graphic violence in movies & television and rap & hip-hop songs glorifying gun violence.  So even though we have less lethal weapons on the streets today we have more gun violence than before.  Because kids have been so desensitized to violence that killing people just isn’t a big deal to them.  Raise these kids on a deserted island away from this violence in our pop culture, though, and they’re not going to kill indiscriminately.  Instead they’ll stay innocent kids longer.

Add to this violence in our pop culture our secular progressive culture.  The Left’s quest to remove religion and God from as much of our lives as possible.  And their attacks on Christianity.  For imposing their moral code on people.  And opposing free love and abortion.  They have gone so far as to call for the removal of the Ten Commandments from our government buildings.  And our schools.  Because teaching kids things like ‘Thou shall not kill” is a bad thing.  Or any other morality lesson.  For who’s to say what is right and wrong?  Of course when we teach our kids growing up that there are no moral absolutes it sure weakens the argument for them not to do bad things.  It detaches them from society.  And makes them lack empathy for their fellow citizens.  Making it easier to hurt them.  If you pulled these kids out of our public schools and put them and their parents on a deserted island away from this secular progressive culture and filled them with the fear of God for misbehaving they probably could sleep at night with their doors unlocked.  For hurting one another would be the last thing on their minds.

When LBJ passed his Great Society legislation it included Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC).  An unmitigated disaster for poor people.  For it let men father and abandon their children.  Leaving women to turn to the state to act as husband and father.  And of all the things the state did poorly perhaps the worst was being husband and father.  It just decimated poor families.  Single mothers filled housing projects.  Their children, with no male role model, turned to the street.  Got into a lot of trouble.  And into drugs.  Even taking that behavior into their schools.  Which is part of the reason why metal detectors are needed today at our schools.  Forcing organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters of America to pick up the parenting slack.  Had these deadbeat dads lived on a deserted island untouched by AFDC there would have been less fathering and abandoning of children.  Like there was before AFDC.

Keynesian Policies have Historically Resulted in High Unemployment and Painful Recessions

After World War II the world went Keynesian.  Classical economics (that favored savings over consumption, low taxes, the gold standard, little government intrusion into the private sector and responsible fiscal policy as in DON’T spend so much) that made America a superpower went out the window.  In came the disaster we call Keynesian economics (that favored consumption over savings, deficit spending, printing lots of money, high taxes and a lot of government intervention into the private sector.  Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge in the Twenties were the last of the classical economists.  Their policies gave us great prosperity.  JFK adopted policies of the classical economics variety to pull America out of a recession in the Sixties.  Nixon, Ford and Carter were big Keynesians whose policies destroyed America.  Ronald Reagan rebuilt America in the Eighties by returning to policies of the classical economics variety.  As George W. Bush did to pull us out of the bad recession caused by Bill Clinton’s dot-com bubble bursting.

So the record shows the success of classical economics.  And the failure of Keynesian economics.  Yet about half the population voted for the Keynesian policies of President Obama in 2012.  Why?  Why did they vote for more of the failed policies of the past?  Because most Americans learn only of Keynesian economics in their economic courses.  While politicians, economists and the mainstream media endorse Keynesian policies as if they have a record of success.  They do this because Keynesian economics does something that classical economics doesn’t.  Empowers big government.  Sanctions class warfare.  Giving them the moral high ground when raising taxes.  And printing money.  Despite these actions causing the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression.

President Obama won reelection for one of two reasons.  Either people want more free stuff.  Or they don’t understand economics.  Or the consequences of handing out all that free stuff.  For if they understood economics they would not have voted for a Keynesian.  For Keynesian policies have historically resulted in high unemployment and painful recessions.  So even if you’re voting for the free stuff you’d vote for the classical economics candidate.  For without people working there is no income to tax to pay for all of that free stuff.  But few people understand economics.  Which is lucky for President Obama.  In fact, few people understand the disaster that has been the liberal agenda as the liberals control the public schools, our colleges, the mainstream media and the entertainment establishment.  So few are learning the long record of liberal failures.  Which helps liberals win elections.  For you only know what someone taught you.  And if the liars are in charge of teaching us the only things we will learn are their lies.  Unless, of course, we can find some deserted island to grow up on where their policies can’t reach us.  Then when we come back we can make the world a better place.  A place with sound economic policies.  With no racism, no religious intolerance, no blind nationalist fervor, no culture of gun violence and no epidemic of deadbeat dads.


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

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 28th, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Obama Going all George W. Bush in the Middle East?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 19th, 2011

Fighting Wars on the other Side of the World

In 1775, the shooting in the American Revolutionary War began.  The world’s superpower, the British Empire, had planned on taking some arms away from local rebels.  Some shots were exchanged at Lexington and Concord.  And the small British force retreated to Boston.  The rebels harassed the British column the entire way.  The war did not begin well for the British.  And it would end like it began.  Not well.  The British formally recognized the United States of America 8 years later with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783.

The British outclassed the Americans in every way but one.  Lines of communications.  The British lines were some 3,000 miles back to Great Britain.  About a 6 hour flight today.  Then, a couple of months by ship.  By contrast the Americans held the advantage of short, interior lines.  We could ‘hit and run’ and melt back into the surrounding country.  Like we did in 1775 during that British retreat.  As we did throughout the war.  Though General Washington wanted to defeat the British in a decisive battle, he would not get the chance to meet the British in such a battle until 6 long years later at Yorktown.  Unable to win a decisive battle, he did the only thing he could.  Not lose a decisive battle.  The American Revolutionary War was a war of attrition.  The British sued for peace when the cost of continuing the war was greater than the British people were willing to pay.  As wars are wont to be with such long lines of communications.

Military planners have learned this lesson.  You are probably familiar with a more recent war that was similar.  Where a world superpower was involved in a war of attrition half way across the world.  In South Vietnam.  The Americans came into the conflict to support South Vietnam from Communist North Vietnam.  There is no South Vietnam today.  Like the British some 200 years earlier, we won the military engagements but just couldn’t win the war.  When the cost in blood and treasure became too great, we met in Paris, too, to end the war.  We signed the Paris Peace Accords in 1973.  And we learned the British lesson of 1783.

Winning the War is Easier than Winning the Peace

When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, George H. W. Bush assembled an international coalition and threw the Iraqis out of Kuwait.  Operation Desert Storm was an overwhelming victory.  However, Bush was heavily criticized for ‘not finishing the job’ in the Gulf War.  His critics said we should have gone on to Baghdad to remove Hussein from power.  We didn’t.  For a couple of good reasons.  First of all, the coalition included Arab nations.  They only joined to repel Hussein from Kuwait.  Not to remove him from power.  The other reason was that if we toppled Hussein we would own Iraq.  And we would probably end up there for years trying to ‘win the peace’.

Following the Gulf War there were uprisings throughout Iraq.  The world watched hopeful that he would be overthrown by his own people and democracy would break out.  It didn’t.  He suppressed the rebellions brutally.  So brutally that no-fly zones were established in the north over the Kurds and in the south over the Shiite population.  But we didn’t invade.  And he remained a thorn in our side.  And his people suffered.

After 9/11, the US invaded Afghanistan.  Then Iraq.  The official reason was his weapons of mass destruction that he never documented destroyed.  He had used chemical weapons against the Iranians.  And the Kurds.  Being a ‘supporter’ of terrorism there was worry he might provide these weapons to a terrorist.  So there was that reason.  The other reason was a little more convoluted.  Osama bin Laden was a Wahhabi Sunni.  He had ties in Saudi Arabia.  And there was a large Wahhabi population in Saudi Arabia providing funding to al Qaeda.  The Saudis were reluctant to shut down this funding for fear of a rebellion by the Wahhabis against the House of Saud.  But there was one thing that worried them more than the Wahhabis.  Shiite Iran.  By invading Iraq we forced their hand.  They had a vested interest in seeing us succeed in Iraq.  And in our war against al Qaeda.  We made progress against al Qaeda and their Taliban hosts in Afghanistan.  And the Saudi started to shut down their funding.  The Iraq War was a success.  But the one drawback was that we now owned Iraq.  And winning the peace was nowhere as easy as winning the war.  As George W. Bush learned.

Obama Commits Military Force in Libya

The US has some very important friends in the Middle East and North Africa.  Among these are Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.  To name a few.  These are nations with Sunni populations and/or Sunni governments unfriendly to Iran.  Egypt made peace with Israel and kept the Suez Canal open for international trade for decades.  Saudi Arabia peacefully coexists with its neighbors and is the largest oil exporter in the world.  Except for the oil embargo of 1973, they have maintained the flow of that oil at market prices to Western economies.  The US Navy’s 5th Fleet is headquartered in Bahrain.

These nations aren’t perfect.  Saudi women can’t drive a car, for example.  But they’re stalwart US allies.  One of these nations was pretty progressive as well as being a staunch US friend.  Egypt.  Egyptian women were about the freest in the Middle East, second only to Tunisia.  Egypt and Tunisia, though, were suffering economically.  Had high unemployment.  And a Muslim opposition unhappy with their ‘Western’ ways.  The largest organized opposition group is the Muslim Brotherhood.  And they can be best described as being more simpatico with Iran.  When Egypt had their uprising, the Obama administration called it a democracy uprising and called for Hosni Mubarak to give up power.  Without considering who would step into that power void.  Which did not go over well with Mubarak.  Or the Saudis.

Now Libya is burning.  Qaddafi is attacking his own people.  The US dithered for weeks.  While the Libyans cried for help.  Even other Arab nations cried for our help.  But we did nothing.  Even though Qaddafi is not a US friend.  And was a sponsor of terrorism.  As the carnage mounted, though, someone took action.  The French of all people (see U.S. Missiles Strike Libyan Air-Defense Targets by David Kirkpatrick, Steven Erlanger and Elisabeth Bumiller posted 3/19/2011 The New York Times).

American and European forces began a broad campaign of strikes against the government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi on Saturday, unleashing warplanes and missiles in a military intervention on a scale not seen in the Arab world since the Iraq war…

The campaign began with French warplane missions even before the end of an emergency summit meeting in Paris, where leaders, reacting to news that Colonel Qaddafi’s forces were attacking the rebel capital city of Benghazi on Saturday morning despite international demands for a cease-fire, said they had no choice but to act to defend Libyan civilians and opposition forces.

France has a Muslim problem.  They had some riots a few years back in some Paris Muslim suburbs.  Where young Muslims were unemployed.  Unhappy.  And not all that willing to assimilate into French culture.  Though they want to live in France.  So there’s been tensions between the French and their Muslim population.  So it says a lot that France was on point in this attack on a Muslim country.  Yes, at this time the international community, including some Arab states, approve of this action.  But you play with fire whenever you attack a Muslim country.  Especially if they have oil.  And Libya has oil.  In fact, it’s some of the finest oil in the Middle East.  A low-sulfur sweet crude.

When the international community was coming together against him, Qaddafi was defiant.  Warned us to stay out of their internal affairs.

“Libya is not yours. Libya is for all Libyans,” he wrote in one letter, read to the news media by a spokesman. “This is injustice, it is clear aggression, and it is uncalculated risk for its consequences on the Mediterranean and Europe.

“You will regret it if you take a step toward intervening in our internal affairs.”

Colonel Qaddafi addressed President Obama as “our son,” in a letter jarring for its familiarity. “I have said to you before that even if Libya and the United States enter into war, God forbid, you will always remain my son and I have all the love for you as a son, and I do not want your image to change with me,” he wrote. “We are confronting Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, nothing more. What would you do if you found them controlling American cities with the power of weapons? Tell me how would you behave so that I could follow your example?”

Could this be why the Obama administration was so reluctant to act?  Because of a father-son relationship between Obama and Qaddafi?  You gotta admit this is a strange thing for Qaddafi to say.  Makes you wonder just what was the extent of Obama’s apology tour in the Middle East.  One thing for sure, it will give fuel to those who think Obama is a Muslim.  I mean, it just doesn’t help when the bad guy calls you a son.

Regret?  We should take that threat seriously.  After some military encounters with Libyan losses in the Gulf of Sidra Qaddafi retaliated with the bombing of a German disco frequented by US troops.  When we discovered his connection to that bombing we bombed Tripoli.  In retaliation for that bombing he had a bomb smuggled aboard a 747.  Pan Am Flight 103.  Brought down on Lockerbie, Scotland.  So he has a history of getting even.  Which we need to be on guard for.

Obama now Owns Libya

So it’s war.  Missiles are flying.  People are dying (see Libya: British forces launch missile attacks on Gaddafi by Colin Freeman, in Benghazi and Sean Rayment posted 3/20/2011 on the UK’s Telegraph).

Explosions were reported at an airport east of Tripoli as a British Trafalgar Class submarine and US Navy ships and submarines stationed off Libya fired 110 Tomahawk missiles at 20 targets in what one source described as a “night of carnage”.

The missiles targeted Libyan command and control centres, radar installations and surface-to-air missile sites. Libyan officials said the attacks were “barbaric” and causing civilian casualties…

British sources and Pentagon officials said Nato would undertake a “battle damage assessment” of Libya’s military during daylight hours and would decide whether to continue with further attacks.

Sources at the Elysée Palace said Britain, France and the United States had assumed the “leadership” of the coalition in early talks between the Prime Minister, Mr Sarkozy and Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State. The “extremely purposeful conclusion” of the early talks was endorsed by the full meeting, where speakers included Ban Ki-Moon, the United Nations secretary general.

Well, President Obama has his third war.  Pretty impressive for a guy that said he would get us out of Iraq (he didn’t).  That he would fully prosecute the Afghanistan War to victory (he hasn’t).  And he wouldn’t nation-build like his predecessor.  George W. Bush.  He now may.  There’s no way Qaddafi can withstand the military force now aligned against him.  So he will lose.  But what then?  Who will fill that power vacuum?  In an already unstable and changing Middle East?  He can say what he wants about Iraq and Afghanistan, but it’s different with Libya.  This happened on his watch.  And he now owns it.  It will be up to him to win the peace.  Or lose it.

Those naval operations against Libya will be based out of Bahrain.  I sure hope he doesn’t encourage any more ‘democracy’ uprisings while we’re using that base for combat operations.  It would be a shame to lose that base during the middle of these operations.  And by a shame I mean a complete and utter disaster.  Because that would greatly extend our lines of communications.  And history has shown what that can do in war.


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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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Libya Burns, Saudi Arabia Worries, Prosperous China Maintains Power and Prosperous Turkey offers way for Egypt

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 21st, 2011

Turkey Provides a Democratic Model for Egypt

Can democracy work in the Middle East?  Well, it’s working in a nation with a predominately Muslim population.  That nation on the BosporusTurkey (see A Muslim democracy in action posted 2/17/2011 on The Economist).

In his eight years in power, Mr Erdogan has done more than any of his secular predecessors to move Turkey closer to its coveted goal of full membership of the European Union. Reforms that he rammed through during AK’s first term in office persuaded the EU to open membership negotiations with Turkey in 2005…

Turkey’s economy has survived the global financial crisis relatively unscathed. It is expected to grow by 5% this year, putting it only just behind China and India. Unemployment is down and the budget has begun the year with a surplus…

On the Arab street, Mr Erdogan’s salvoes against Israel over the Palestinians have made him a hero. Turkey’s high-profile diplomacy, its successful economy and its drive for new markets have made it the envy of many Arab leaders. It is little wonder that so many pundits have taken to talking up a “Turkish model” as a way forward for Egypt. It is also no surprise that Mr Erdogan is brimming with confidence.

Of course, Turkey isn’t a ‘Muslim democracy’ as the Economist wrote in its title.  It’s a secular democracy where nearly all of the people are Muslim.  People practice their religion in their private lives.  But not in government.  For in Turkey there is a wall between church and state.  Or mosque and state, as it were.

Turkey is doing well.  And it can serve as a model for countries where nearly all of their people are Muslim.  If they separate religion and government.  And herein lies the concern.  If the Muslim Brotherhood rises to prominence in Egypt, Islam will play a role in government.  And in nations where this happens there are concerted efforts to move away from Western influences.  Including Western business practices.  And prosperity.  The more extreme cases of this can be seen in Afghanistan.  And Iran.  But Turkey is looking to the West.  And economic prosperity by joining the European Union.  Still there are the critics.

Yet critics claim that Mr Erdogan’s confidence has curdled into the sort of authoritarianism that, if left unchecked, might transform Turkey into another Russia. Such claims are surely overwrought: Turkish elections are free and fair, and the press is largely unfettered. Yet there is also no question that Mr Erdogan is getting bossier and less tolerant by the day.

With a healthy economy, a budget surplus and jobs for the people, there is little reason for the people to rise up.  The political opposition may.  But not the people.  That’s why the democratic movements have been confined to countries with poor economies and high unemployment.  For working people have better things to do.  Such as enjoying life.

Discontent is Easier to Manage when you have a Booming Economy

The collapse of the Soviet Union was not pretty.  In the Soviet Union.  Or the Russian state following.  Crime.  Corruption.  Lawlessness.  And, worse, high unemployment.  People were unable to buy the bare necessities.  These were dark and dangerous times.  And had many pining for the good old days of Soviet Communism.  You may have been poor, oppressed and wanting for the basic necessities of life.  But you could walk the streets at night.  You just had to worry about the state busting down your door at night and taking you away to some Siberian gulag.  But other than that, life was at a leisurely pace.  And had routine.  And routine begets political stability.

China saw this trouble.  And they learned some valuable lessons from their northern neighbor.  Change too fast can be bad change.  Hence their crackdown at Tiananmen Square.  And now (see Discontent, but no revolt in China — yet by Charles Hutzler, Associated Press, posted 2/21/2011 on Salon).

“The current regime structure is very fragile. It’s not right for revolution at the moment, but that doesn’t mean mass political upheaval can’t take place in the future,” said Minxin Pei, a China politics expert at Claremont McKenna College in California.

In the latest test, China’s authoritarian government seems to have dispatched the threat of public protests with great efficiency. In response to an Internet appeal of unknown origin for simultaneous protests in 13 cities Sunday, police detained known activists, disconnected some cell-phone text messaging services and blocked online searches for the phrase “Jasmine Revolution” — the name of both the protest call and the wave of Middle East democracy protests that started in Tunisia.

And the protests for now seem to have petered out.  Why?  Economics.

China is the world’s fastest-growing major economy, with economists predicting another year of better than 9 percent growth for 2011. While unemployment is surely higher than the nearly 5 percent urban joblessness rate, factory wages and conditions are improving for many. University graduates — a crucial group in Egypt’s uprising — are finding jobs in China, though they are poorly paid.

Life isn’t that bad when you have a job.  The protests in the Middle East and Northern Africa started over high unemployment.  The protesters were poor, oppressed and unemployed.  And when you have nothing, you have nothing to lose.  The Chinese have something.  It may not be much.  But it is a lot more than they used to have.  And things aren’t bad enough yet to lose this new life of plenty.

The Asian Economy so Strong they’re Building Bigger Ships for Exports

And things are looking up for the Asian economy.  While the U.S. continues to struggle in the worst recession since the Great Depression, Maersk just received an order to build the world’s biggest container ship.  And guess who’s building those ships.  And what they’re going to carry (see Deal for biggest ever cargo ships sets sail by Tom Clarke posted 2/21/2011 on

A major shipping contract is a good barometer for the global economy – the industry at least seems to think trade between Asia and Europe will remain strong. However the European economy won’t benefit as much as Asia from the deal. All the jobs to build the new ships are in Korea and the vast majority of high value goods the ships will carry will be made in Asia to be sold here.

And sold in other parts of the world.  Including the United States.  So Asia is doing all right.  China, too.  The fact that they were able to shut down those protests so quickly indicates that the larger population is content.  For now.  Of course, that may change in the future.  The Chinese workers may demand more pay and better benefits.  Perhaps try to unionize.  If they do China may have to meet their demands.  Or risk further unrest.  Either way the economy will more than likely lose steam.  Either through higher labor costs.  Or political unrest.  And that could prod them more towards a Libyan fate.

Libyan Violence Escalates, Oil Supply Interrupted

And how are things going in Libya?  By all measure it appears to be going from bad to worse (see Oil soars on Libya violence, WTI shorts cover posted 2/21/2011 on Reuters).

In Libya, scores were killed in anti-government protests as one of the region’s bloodiest revolts hit Tripoli for the first time, while army units defected to the opposition and Gaddafi’s son vowed to fight to the last man standing.

And it gets worse.  Economically.

The focus was on deadly clashes in Libya, where one oil firm was shutting down some 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) of production and others evacuated staff. The leader of the Al-Zuwayya tribe threatened oil exports to the West would be cut off unless authorities stopped violence.

“The market is on edge about the potential for Middle East and North Africa supply disruptions,” said Mike Wittner, head of commodities research, Americas, at Societe Generale.

When oil prices go up economies go down.  Because oil is the engine of the modern economy.  We’ll probably first notice this supply interruption in higher prices at the gas pump.  Then in a slow but steady price inflation on everything we buy.  Those nations trying to get themselves out of bad recessions will then have to deal with this inflation problem.  And inflations are typically solved by recessions.  Economically, this is not a good outlook.  For if Europe and the United States fall back into deeper recessions, where will all those exports go from China and Turkey?  Nowhere.  And then these prosperous nations will see a rise in their unemployment numbers.  Giving strength to their opposition forces.  And perhaps extending the political unrest from the Middle East and North Africa to China and Turkey.  And beyond.

Things look like they may get worse before they get better.  Especially with what is happening in Bahrain.

A wave of popular unrest in North Africa and the Middle East has already toppled long-time leaders in Tunisia and Egypt, and traders are watching events carefully in other members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) for signs of escalating tension.

While protests continued in Bahrain and Yemen, the greater fear was that discontent among majority Shi’ites in Bahrain who are protesting against the Sunni government might spread to Saudi Arabia’s own Shi’ite minority — who mostly live in the eastern province, the source of the kingdom’s oil wealth.

And this is the greatest danger.  That all of this political unrest may transform these revolutions from democratic struggles into theocratic ones.  Many of the countries rife in political unrest are Sunni countries.  Some have oppressed Shiite populations.  Or underrepresented Shiite populations.  And these populations have an organizing force.  The Muslim Brotherhood.  And inserting itself at the top of this Shiite power swell is the region’s largest Shiite population.  Iran.  The mortal enemy of Saudi Arabia.

It’s a Small World after All

Peace in the Middle East is not easy.  It’s mostly Islamic.  And in Islam, the Sunni hates the Shiite and the Shiite hates the Sunni.  Any government trying to rule over these disparate people rules on a powder keg.  They can maintain the peace most times if the people have jobs and can buy what they need.  During bad economic times, though, it’s quite a different story.  The rich kingdoms (often Sunni) will be attacked for being too Western.  And then economic issues become religious issues.

What will happen in Egypt?  Will it follow the Turkish model?  Or will it succumb to the radical elements like what happened in Iran following their 1979 revolution?  And what about Saudi Arabia?  Are they next?  If OPEC oil fails to flow at market prices, economies may crash throughout the world.  Including Turkey.  And China.  Because oil is the engine of a modern economy. 

It’s a small world after all.  What happens in the Middle East matters.  Everywhere.


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Democracy or Theocracy Movements in the Middle East and Africa?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 20th, 2011

A Domino Theory in the Middle East and Africa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iran Likes Democracy as long as it is in Egypt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time for a New Strategy

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

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

I think it’s time for a new strategy.


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America’s War with Iran in Iraq

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 25th, 2010

Apology Tour Diplomacy to Get Ahmadinejad to Like Us

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

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

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

Ahmadinejad Making Iran the New Evil Empire?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down this Wall

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

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


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LESSONS LEARNED #25: “War is costly. Peace, too.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 5th, 2010

AT THE HEIGHT of the Roman Empire, the empire reached from North Africa to Britannia (England), from Hispania (Spain) to Mesopotamia (approximately modern day Iraq).  When Roman power ruled the civilized world, there was peace.  The Pax Romana (Roman Peace).  The Romans built empire through conquest.  And Rome grew rich with the spoils of conquest.  For awhile, peace was only those quiet intervals between growth and conquest.  But with secure borders, a uniform government, a rule of law, a stable currency, bustling trade & markets and a military to be the world’s policeman, peace broke out.  For some 200 years.

Life was good for the Roman citizen.  As well as for those living in the empire.  The Romans modernized the provinces they conquered.  Made life better.  Even for the conquered people.  Although there were those who hated being subjugated by a foreign power.

Reg: They bled us white, the bastards. They’ve taken everything we had. And not just from us! From our fathers, and from our father’s fathers.

Loretta: And from our father’s father’s fathers.

Reg: Yeah.

Loretta: And from our father’s father’s father’s fathers.

Reg: Yeah, all right Stan, don’t belabor the point. And what have they ever given us in return?

Revolutionary I: The aqueduct?

Reg: What?

Revolutionary I: The aqueduct.

Reg: Oh. Yeah, yeah, they did give us that, ah, that’s true, yeah.

Revolutionary II: And the sanitation.

Loretta: Oh, yeah, the sanitation, Reg. Remember what the city used to be like.

Reg: Yeah, all right, I’ll grant you the aqueduct and sanitation, the two things the Romans have done.

Matthias: And the roads.

Reg: Oh, yeah, obviously the roads. I mean the roads go without saying, don’t they? But apart from the sanitation, the aqueduct, and the roads…

Revolutionary III: Irrigation.

Revolutionary I: Medicine.

Revolutionary IV: Education.

Reg: Yeah, yeah, all right, fair enough.

Revolutionary V: And the wine.

All revolutionaries except Reg: Oh, yeah! Right!

Rogers: Yeah! Yeah, that’s something we’d really miss Reg, if the Romans left. Huh.

Revolutionary VI: Public bathes.

Loretta: And it’s safe to walk in the streets at night now, Reg.

Rogers: Yeah, they certainly know how to keep order. Let’s face it; they’re the only ones who could in a place like this.

All revolutionaries except Reg: Hahaha…all right…

Reg: All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?

Revolutionary I: Brought peace?

Reg: Oh, peace! Shut up!

(From Monty Python’s The Life of Brian, 1979.)

Maintaining a peaceful empire is costly.  As people got more accustomed to peace and plenty, they began to complain about taxes.  Citizens refused to volunteer to serve in the Roman Legions maintaining that peace.  Barbarians began to serve in the Legions.  Some rose to command them.  Some Roman commanders came from the very people they were fighting in the border regions.  Soon Rome would rely on mercenaries (hired soldiers) to defend their borders.  All of this cost the empire.  It had to pay more and more to maintain the loyalty of the military.  Ditto for the huge bureaucracy administrating the empire.  And they lost control.  Trouble on the borders and economic collapse ended the peace.  And, ultimately, the empire.  The civilized world broke down and collapsed.  And barbarian leaders on the borders, hungry for conquest, attacked.  Plunging the former Roman provinces into war and instability.

RISING FROM THE ashes of the Roman Empire were the seeds of new empires.  And the ground that proved most fertile was the northern limit of the old empire.  England.

England started to assert herself with the growth of her navy.  With her borders secured, a uniform government, a rule of law, a stable currency, bustling trade & markets and a military to be the world’s policeman, peace broke out.  Again.  For about a hundred years.  During the Industrial Revolution.  After the defeat of Napoleon. 

Imperial Britain stretched across the globe.  The sun never set on the British Empire.  And wherever she went, she brought the rule of law, modernity, a sound economy and political stability.  Her old colonial possessions went on to be some of the richest, most prosperous and peaceful nations in the world.  India.  Australia.  New Zealand.  South Africa.  Canada.  And, of course, the United States of America.  She achieved her century of peace (Pax Britannia) by a balance of power.  She maintained peace by intervening in disputes, often on the side of the weaker nation.  She prevented stronger, aggressive nations from threatening her weaker neighbors.   And she provided a safe environment for the weaker nation to live peacefully in the shadows of stronger, more aggressive neighbors.

For a hundred years Britannia kept the peace.  In large part due to her Royal Navy, the most powerful and potent navy at the time.  If you ate any imported food or used any imported goods, it was thanks to the Royal Navy that kept the world’s sea lanes safe.  But this peace came with a price.  The rise of nationalism, the quest of new empires to establish their own overseas colonies and a change in the balance of power in Europe with the rise of Germany added to that price.  And then a shot fired in Sarajevo by a Serbian terrorist ignited a tinderbox.  The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Gavrilo Princip started World War I.  The most bloody and expensive war at the time, it bankrupted Great Britain and ended her empire.  And left the world a less safe place. 

From the ashes of World War I rose new leaders with aspirations of world conquest.  Fascist Italy led by Benito Mussolini.  Nazi Germany led by Adolf Hitler.  Communist Russia led by Joseph Stalin.  Imperial Japan led by Hideki Tojo.  And the nation that led the victors in World War II would, by default, become the new world power.  The new world policeman.  The United States of America.

SO WHAT HAPPENED during the inter-war years that led to World War II?  War exhausted Britain and France.  Neither had the stomach for another war.  Britain continued to rely on the Royal Navy for protection (as an island nation, sea power is indispensable).  France built fixed fortifications (the Maginot Line).  Both were primarily defensive strategies. 

In America, General Billy Mitchell demonstrated the vulnerability of battleships to air power by sinking a battleship with an airplane (greatly flustering the naval high command).  Colonel George S. Patton developed an armored doctrine for an unenthused army and eventually transferred back to the horse cavalry.  Meanwhile, Imperial Japan was building aircraft carriers.  And Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Communist Russia developed air and armored doctrine while fighting in the Spanish Civil War.

Fascist Italy attacked Ethiopia in 1935 to rebuild the Roman Empire and make the Mediterranean Sea a Roman lake once again.  Nazi Germany launched World War II in 1939 by an armored assault on Poland with tactical air support.  Poland resisted with horse cavalry.  And lost.  Imperial Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941 to destroy American naval power in the Pacific.  They did a lot of damage.  But the American carriers, their prime objective, were at sea.  They would eventually meet those carriers later at the Battle of Midway.  Where they would lose four of their best carriers and many of their best aviators.  This tipped the balance of power in the Pacific to the Americans.

America was ill-prepared for war.  But American industry, the Arsenal of Democracy, ramped up and built the planes, tanks, guns, rifles and ships that would win the war.   It would come with a heavy price tag.  Global wars typically do.  Had there been a balance of power that would have checked the territorial ambitions of the aggressor nations, it would have been a different story.  Of course, having the power is one thing.  How you use it is another. 

France had more tanks than Germany before the outbreak of hostilities.  But the Nazis quickly overran France.  Why?  Doctrine.  France’s doctrine was to hide behind the security of the Maginot Line.  It was a defensive-only strategy.  She developed no armored doctrine.  The lesson they learned from World War I was that armies killed themselves attacking fixed defenses.  Germany, too, learned that lesson.  So their doctrine called for going around fixed defenses with fast-moving armor spearheads with tactical air support (i.e., blitzkrieg).  Formidable though the Maginot Line was, it could not attack.  And if the Nazis didn’t attack it, it did nothing but concentrate men and firepower away from the battle.

WHEN WE PULLED out of South Vietnam, we agreed to use American air power if North Vietnam violated the terms of the treaty ending that war.  Watergate changed all of that.  Even though JFK got us into Vietnam, it became Nixon’s war.  And a vindictive Congress wouldn’t have anything more to do with it.  The North tested the American will.  Saw that there was none.   Attacked.  And overran South Vietnam.  The message was clear to tyrants.  America will quit in the long run.  Especially after a large loss of life.

Other ‘retreats’ would reinforce this perception.  Especially in the Arab world.  The withdrawal from Lebanon after the bombing of the Marines’ barracks.  The withdrawal from Somalia after the Somalis dragged dead American troops through the streets of Mogadishu.  The Arab world even saw the victory in Desert Storm as a retreat.  The anti-American Arab world said that our invasion was about oil.  That what we really wanted was to topple Saddam Hussein and take his oil.  It was just another Christian Crusade into holy Islamic lands.  When we didn’t do that, the Arab world saw it as another American retreat.  That America didn’t have the will to endure a bloody battle to conquer Iraq. 

So some in the Arab world would test America.  Al Qaeda.  Headed by Osama bin Laden.  They started small and became more daring.  World Trade Center bombing.  Tanzanian Embassy bombing.  Kenyan Embassy bombing.  Khobar Towers bombing.  The USS Cole attack.  And they paid little for these attacks.  America didn’t fight back.  But their luck ran out on September 11, 2001.  Because America finally fought back.

PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER one, Osama bin Laden, belonged to the conservative Sunni sect of Islam called Wahhabi.  They have a large following in Saudi Arabia.  The Wahhabi have a delicate relationship with the Saudi Royal family.  They disapprove of the Western displays of wealth in the House of Saud. 

Al-Qaeda was a shadowy enemy.  We confronted them in the mountains of Afghanistan where the Taliban gave them a safe sanctuary.  We attacked.  Knocked the Taliban from power.  Drove al-Qaeda underground.  But we could not stop their funding.

Wahhabi money from Saudi Arabia financed 9/11.  And the money continued to flow.  The Saudis would not intervene on behalf of America.  They feared any crackdown on the Wahhabi could unleash a civil war.  So America needed leverage to get Saudi cooperation.  And they found it in an old nemesis, Saddam Hussein. 

A Sunni minority ruled Iraq.  The Saudis did not like Saddam Hussein.  However, they liked the balance of power he offered to Iran.  Iran was Shiite.  As much as the Saudis did not like Saddam, they disliked Shiite Iran more.  This was the American lever.

After some diplomatic gymnastics, the invasion of Iraq was set.  The Saudis thought we were bluffing.  They didn’t believe we would invade Iraq.  Never in a million years.  If we didn’t do it in Desert Storm when we had the force in place to do it and didn’t, there was no way the Americans would amass another coalition and redeploy forces to the region again.  Especially because America doesn’t like long, drawn out, bloody wars.  Which an invasion of Iraq would surely be.

They asked us to remove our forces from the Saudi bases.  We did.  Now they were getting nervous.  That was the political game.  Make some noise to show the Arab world you weren’t an American toady.  But, secretly, you want those American forces to remain.  That American presence did provide security.  And stability.  After the invasion of Kuwait, it sure looked like Saudi Arabia would be next.  It was only that large American force in the desert that changed that inevitability. 

The Americans invaded.  And conquered.  Now the Saudis had a vested interest in helping the Americans.  They needed them to be successful in Iraq.  To contain Iran.  The lever worked.  The Saudis stemmed the flow of Wahhabi money to al-Qaeda.  The invasion of Iraq proved to be one of the most effective battles in the war on terrorism.  

HISTORY HAS SHOWN that a balance of power can lead to peace.  It has also shown that a superpower can enforce a larger peace.  But it also has shown that there is good and bad when it comes to power.  The Romans could be cruel, but so were most in that time.  The road to empire, after all, started out simply as a quest to provide a buffer between Rome and the hostile barbarians on her borders.  Rome, then, expanded in pursuit of peace.  (Initially, at least.)  And then used her power to maintain peace.

Many view Great Britain as the successor to the Roman Empire.  And many view America as the successor to the British Empire.  These powers share many things (rule of law, an advanced civilization, political stability, etc.).  Perhaps the greatest, though, is a powerful military.  And how it was/is used.  As a powerful deterrent to an aggressor nation.  To protect trade routes.  To maintain peace.  Malign these empires/nations all you will, but the greatest periods of world peace were due to their military power.  And their will to use that military power.  Expensive as that was.  Is.

So, yes, wars are costly.  Peace, too.  Sometimes, though, we must fight wars.  But we can avoid a lot of them.  By a peace-time military force that acts as a deterrent.  Because there are bad guys out there.  Who only respect one thing.  And it isn’t diplomacy.  Often the only thing preventing them from waging a cruel war of conquest is a potent military and a willing leader to use it.  If a tyrant knows he will face a military consequence for acting, he may not act.  When he knows that consequence will be devastating, he will not act.  But if he knows a nation hasn’t the military power or the will to use military power, he will act.  Just as Hitler did.  As Mussolini did.  As Tojo did.  And as Osama bin Laden did.


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