No Arab Spring Democracy in Yemen yet, just All Out War

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 29th, 2011

Week in Review

Still no democracy in breaking out in the Arab Spring.  Just more violence.  And a preview of violence to come (see Yemen’s Embattled Government Calls Cease-Fire That So Far Fails to End Violence by LAURA KASINOF posted 10/25/2011 on The New York Times).

The northern part of the capital city has turned into a virtual war zone in recent days, and even as the government announced a cease-fire on Tuesday, explosions boomed across the city.

The failure to end the bloodshed was another sign that fighting has intensified between the nation’s elites, a dynamic that began to unfold when antigovernment protests began months ago, inadvertently aggravating longstanding rivalries between heavily armed groups. The largely peaceful protesters still camped out in the streets, calling for democracy, remain a vulnerable backdrop to an armed conflict that has defied resolution…

Then, The Associated Press reported that Mr. Saleh had met with the United States ambassador to discuss stepping down, a statement that, like the cease-fire announcement, may prove to lead nowhere.

Why would he step down?  Bashar al-Assad saw what happened to Hosni Mubarak in Egypt.  No exile.  Only jail.  If he’s lucky.  So Assad has no incentive to step down in Syria.  And neither does Saleh in Yemen.  Of course, if he doesn’t step down, the images of a dead Muammar Gaddafi must surely come to mind.

Also, if he’s talking to the Americans you just know that it won’t end well for him.  Because it hasn’t helped our other allies in the Middle East and North Africa.  Unless you call these countries going Islamist a good thing.  Lest you forget, the Islamists are the ones who have been trying to kill Americans and Jews wherever they can.

The Arab Spring is not being very good to America.  Or Israel, for that matter.

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The Wall Street Protesters’ Pain is a Joke to those Truly Suffering around the World

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 10th, 2011

Cuba is Imploding.  Like all Communist Countries Have.  Are.  Or Will.

Wall Street is bad.  Capitalism is bad.  Because they put profits ahead of people.  Instead of putting people before profits.  Like they do in Cuba (see A Troubling Sign that Economic ‘Reform’ in Cuba Isn’t Working by Juan Carlos Hidalgo posted 10/10/2011 on Cato@Liberty).

The number of Cubans intercepted at sea trying to reach the coast of Florida more than doubled in the last fiscal year according to figures released by the Department of Homeland Security…

This is yet another sign that the much heralded economic “reforms” announced by Havana aren’t working. The massive layoffs of hundreds of thousands of public employees undertaken by the government of Raúl Castro were meant to be absorbed by Cuba’s almost non-existent private sector…

Earlier this year I talked to an official from the U.S. Interest Section in Havana who told me that we shouldn’t be surprised if we see a steady increase of Cubans trying to escape the island towards the United States. Faced with a dilapidated economy, hundreds of thousands of unemployed, and growing social unrest, the Castro regime wouldn’t hesitate in letting more Cubans use the “escape valve” of emigration. We might be seeing the first signs of this.

The Castro brothers (Fidel and Raúl) are no fans of America.  Or capitalism.  No.  Cuba is a hardcore communist country.  Because the communist way guaranteed the best of everything for everyone.  Without corporate greed or the pursuit of profit getting in the way.  But Cuba is imploding.  Like all communist countries have.  Are.  Or will.  As they always will.  Whenever you have the government put people before profits.  Because when states do that somehow the people always take it on the chin.

So the solution to save their people?  Get rid of their people.  Let them swim to America.  Because if they’re no longer in Cuba they no longer have to feed them.  House them.  Or fight them in the inevitable revolution.

Life is Truly Difficult in Syria with some 400 People Dying on Average each Month

Castro would rather these people flee his communist utopia than fight them.  Because this kind of thing has been going on in North Africa.  The Middle East.  And he wants none of that (see Syria violence: EU poised to announce fresh sanctions in wake of latest killings by Adrian Blomfield posted 10/10/2011 on The Telegraph).

More than 30 people were killed in the latest wave of violence after security forces opened fire on a funeral in the city of Homs and the army clashed with deserters from its ranks who have defected to the opposition. The battle underscored the growing shift in the uprising from the peaceful demonstrations of its early days to an armed insurrection that is gaining strength on the periphery of what is still an overwhelmingly civilian revolt.

The latest fatalities took the overall death toll since the uprising began to just under 3,000, according to UN calculations.

Makes you scratch your head about the Libyan War.  For we launched that war to prevent these things from happening in Libya.  And here they are.  Happening in Syria.  And yet we have a different policy.  Why is that?  But that’s another story.

This brutal oppression has been going on for some 7 months.  And it’s only gotten worse.  After living under such an oppressive regime these people won’t give up.  And neither will Assad.  Making life truly difficult in Syria.  And claiming some 400 lives on average each month.  For now.

Why is Europe the go-to Continent during Humanitarian Crises?  Because they are Richer and More Capitalistic.

Some of these Syrians are fleeing their country.  A lot of them are trapped for the duration.  Not really knowing what their nation’s fate is.  Or their own.  As millions of others face turmoil throughout the world.  And millions of these are fleeing their countries.  And for their lives (see Multiplying crises create 43 million refugees by D. Parvaz posted 10/10/2011 on Al Jazeera).

Regional conflicts and the potential for violence have complicated aid efforts aimed at the nearly 12 million affected by the drought in Africa. The unrest rose to such a level that people were crossing over from Libya to Tunisia, from which people were also fleeing to France and Italy due to mass unrest.

According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), as of September 30, more than 700,000 people have left Libya, with the bulk of that migration, 304,127, heading to Tunisia…

Livio Zilli, the international secretariat of Amnesty International’s Refugees’ and Migrants’ Rights Team, points out that many of the people leaving Libya aren’t Libyan nationals, but likely were already among transient populations who were forcibly displaced due to security or economic issues. These people are refugees twice over…

This, said Zilli, makes the current situation: “A refugee crisis on the doorsteps of Europe.”

And Europe might not want to deal with it, he said.

Like Europe doesn’t have enough problems to deal with.  What with that whole sovereign debt crisis crippling Europe.  They’re going broke.  And spending more and more tax dollars to try and save the Euro.  Which is in danger of going the way of the dodo because of excessive government spending.  That caused excessive government debt.  And the last thing they need are tens of millions of refugees being fed and housed on the taxpayers’ dime.

Yes, this is a humanitarian crisis.  But Africa was here before Europe.  So why is it that Europe is the go-to continent during humanitarian crises?  Because they are richer than most of these countries in crisis.  And more capitalistic.  Where the Rule of Law keeps the peace.  And puts no one above the law.  Setting the stage for a prosperous free market economy.  That can provide for all a nation’s needs.  Or trade for them during times of crisis.  All handy things for a safe, healthy, prosperous nation.

No Doubt some of the Egyptian Protestors from 8 Months back are having Buyer’s Remorse

Egypt had a lot of these things.  By Middle East standards it was a pretty prosperous nation.  People had more freedom than others.  A bustling tourism industry thanks to a rich and glorious past.  Peace and stability with its neighbors.  And within the country.  Even Muslims and Christians lived together in relative peace.  For all its corruption, oppression and faults, it was one of the most benign of Middle East dictatorships.  But the Egyptian people threw out the tyrant during the Arab SpringHosni Mubarak.  And it hasn’t been as peaceful since (see Coptics Criticize Egypt Government Over Killings by David D. Kirkpatrick posted 10/10/2011 on The New York Times).

Egypt’s Coptic Christian church harshly criticized the government on Monday over its actions in crushing a bloody protest in Cairo the night before that left at least 24 people dead, mostly Christians, as grieving families began to bury their dead, some of them mangled by tanks, bullets and beating wounds.

The protest on Sunday was the most violent in Egypt since the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak from the presidency eight months ago and raised new questions about the country’s ability to move forward toward a pluralistic and tolerant democracy…

The violence on Sunday began after a demonstration by Christians angry about a recent attack on a church. By day’s end it had morphed into a raging riot directed against the military council that has ruled Egypt since Mr. Mubarak was ousted in February. The violence seemed to be aggravated by the public’s widespread distrust of the military’s authority because of repeated delays in turning power over to Egyptian civilians.

After some 8 months of ‘freedom’ from the tyrant the country still bleeds.  And burns.

If you’re a Christian in Egypt you no longer have the peace and security you had under Mubarak.  And if you’re a Muslim that just wants to live in peace with everyone.  As you did before the Arab Spring.  You now risk being caught in the crossfire.  Eight months and still no democracy.  Still military rule.  And growing violence.  No doubt some of the protestors from 8 months back are having buyer’s remorse.  And probably believe perhaps Mubarak with some reforms might have been better than near-anarchy they’re seeing the occasional glimpse of.

The Protesters are Asking the People to Use the Power of Capitalism to Redress the Abuses of Capitalism

We finally have a demand from the Occupy Wall Street people.  Well, not so much of a demand.  But a request.  Not for the oppressive bankers and corporate thugs.  But for the people (see Wall Street Protests Get Specific: Could ‘Bank Transfer Day’ Pit Americans Against Their Big Banks? by Martha C. White posted 10/10/2011 Time Moneyland).

The growing anger directed at U.S. banks (especially the big ones that took federal bailout funds) over recent fee increases coalesced this weekend into a Facebook-driven campaign urging Americans to close their accounts at large banks and move their money to credit unions by Nov. 5.

Remarkable.  They’ll march on Wall Street because Bank of America imposed a monthly debit card fee.  But they could care less about the out of control government spending and regulation that takes more out of their pockets every hour of every day.  But I digress.

These protesters aren’t all that original.  I’ve heard of this request before.  They’re asking the people to use the power of capitalism.  If one business becomes less attractive to your needs let your wallet voice your displeasure.  They act as if we aren’t free to be able to do this already.  But we are.  And we have a myriad of choice available.  Because that’s what capitalism is.  Businesses compete against each other to see who can please us the most.

People Truly Suffering Around the World must be Thinking if Only they Had it so Bad as the Wall Street Protesters

There is real suffering around the world.  And these Occupy Wall Street people are whining about high bank fees.  They want government to intervene.  When they already have the power to cause change themselves.  We call it free market capitalism.  We have it.  A lot of people don’t.  People in Cuba.  Syria.  Libya.   Somalia.  Kenya.  Ethiopia.  And everywhere else where capitalism is constrained and maligned.

Can you imagine these people truly suffering around the world seeing these Wall Street protesters?  Playing their drums?  Tweeting their whiny tweets to family and friends?  Wearing face paint?  Women dancing topless?  While they starve.  Get run over by tanks.  And shot.  They must be thinking if only they had it so bad.

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The Arab Spring may be the Israeli Winter

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 15th, 2011

The Arab Spring may not be all Sunny and Bright

Before anyone tried to win Ben Stein’s money, he was a speechwriter for the Nixon administration.  And the Ford administration.  So Ben Stein is a pretty smart guy.  Though controversial at times.  And he’s been wrong on occasion.  Like about the subprime mortgage market in 2007.  He didn’t think there was a problem.  Of course, there was.  A big one.  Putting people into houses who couldn’t afford houses gave us the worst recession since the Great Depression.  Especially when all the derivatives backed by the subprime mortgages became worthless.  But that’s another story.

So he knows a thing or two about history.  Foreign policy.  And the Middle East.  Looking at what’s going on now in the Middle East, he’s not seeing the “Arab Spring” a lot of others are seeing (see Ben Stein: “Arab Spring” is a fraud by Ben Stein posted 5/15/2011 on CBS News).

First, the “Arab Spring” as a force for democracy, human rights and peace in Egypt seems to me to be a fraud.

The dictator and his entourage who were kicked out in Egypt were pro-West, a bit restrained on Israel, open to free enterprise, and resistant to Iranian-sponsored terror.

Egypt is now rapidly becoming anti-Israel, pro-Iran, pro the Iranian-sponsored terrorist group Hamas, and very far from being pro-human rights. They are arresting businessmen right and left in Egypt just for the crime of being successful. They have arrested Mubarak’s sons, and have said they plan to try Mubarak.

It would seem that their democracy movement is resulting in less democracy than they had under Mubarak‘s dictatorship.  Funny.  You’d thought it’d be the other way around.

The most potent of the political forces in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, hates the United States, loathes Israel, condemns the killing of bin Laden (whom they praised as a martyr), and have been wedded to terror for their entire existence.

Oh, P.S, they are closely connected with Adolph Hitler.

They will probably take over Egypt completely sooner or later.

So the worst political element is also the strongest political element.  Saudi Arabia rejected the offer to bury bin Laden in Saudi soil.  Perhaps if the U.S. asked the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt they would have accepted that offer.  Even built a shrine to honor this ‘martyr’.

Has anyone noticed that the common denominator of all the successful Arab street movements is that they are sympathetic to Iran? When the dust settles, Iran is going to own the Middle East – except for maybe Saudi Arabia, if we have the guts to help them (which I very much doubt).

We are going to lose our pals in Bahrain – not nice guys, but pals of the U.S.A. anyway – and we are going to lose our pals in Yemen, and it will possibly have an actual al Qaeda government.

There is a gigantic regional coup by Iran taking place. We are doing very little, if anything, to stop it.

Yes, Iran is everywhere in these movements.  Wherever there is a Shiite population they are there.  Supporting these democracy movements.  Of course, when Iranians put on a little democracy movement themselves, the Iranian government sees that differently.  And brutally suppresses it.  But they’re all for democracy.  Everywhere but in Iran.

We are going to regret helping the Egyptians kick out Mubarak as much as we regret helping Khomeini force out the Shah.

You can call it “Arab Spring” if you want. But with Iran now the regional superpower, it is a lot more like an extremely bleak Mideast winter.

The Egyptian policy of the Obama administration may prove to be the greatest blunder in U.S. history.  Losing Iran was big.  But it was one country.  If the U.S. loses Egypt, they may very well lose the Middle East.  And the first thing on the Muslim Brotherhood’s agenda when they ascend to power no doubt will involve Israel.  Who will be by then completely surrounded.  With a nuclear option.  Faced by an enemy that will no doubt also possess a nuclear option.  Thanks to the Iranian nuclear program.

An extremely bleak Mideast winter indeed.

Egypt becomes more Islamist

So how are things in Egypt these days?  How is that democracy working out for them?  Not bad.  As long as you’re not in the minority (see Egypt’s top Christian leader calls for end of sit-in after demonstrators attacked overnight by Associated Press posted 5/15/2011 on The Washington Post).

Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s population, have felt increasingly insecure since 18 days of street protests brought down Mubarak, who led the country for nearly 30 years until he was forced to resign on Feb. 11.

The Christians, many of whom are Coptic, have complained that the interim government and security forces have failed to protect them and have allowed extremist Islamic groups to attack with impunity.

Earlier this month, mobs of Muslims, apparently urged on by the ultraconservative Salafi sect of Islam, stormed the Virgin Mary Church in the Cairo neighborhood of Imbaba and set it ablaze. The attack was sparked by a rumor that a Christian woman planned to marry a Muslim, which some religious purists consider to be forbidden.

If Salafi Muslims are cracking down on Christians in Egypt, that can’t bode well for Israel.  Because the Jewish state of Israel is probably less popular with the ultraconservatives rising in Egypt than this Christian minority. 

Put yourself in Israel’s place.  And take a look at the map around you.  The Palestinian West Bank to the east.  Syria to the north. Lebanon to the north.  As well as Hezbollah.  And running down the Mediterranean coast you have the Gaza Strip.  Ruled by Hamas.  That borders Egypt.  Where ultraconservative Salafi Islamists are attacking Christians.  While the ascendant political party, the Muslim Brotherhood, no doubt sides with the Islamists and may be pressuring the army to allow these attacks.  In other words, Israel is surrounded.  Not just by opposing armies.  But by a people who seek the destruction of the state of Israel.  And never before were they in such a position to make this happen.

An extremely bleak Mideast winter indeed.

The Arab Spring turns to Winter over Israel

And speaking of Israel, how are things going for them amidst this “Arab Spring” (see 9 Killed as Israel Clashes With Palestinians on Four Borders by Ethan Bronner posted 5/15/2011 on The New York Times)?

Israel’s borders erupted into deadly clashes on Sunday as thousands of Palestinians — marching from Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank — confronted Israeli troops to mark the anniversary when Arabs mourn Israel’s creation. As many as nine Palestinians were reported killed and scores injured in the unprecedented wave of coordinated protests.

It doesn’t sound like the Israeli spring is as ‘springy’ as it is in the Arab world.  In fact, one could say this is more of a bleak winter.

Every year in mid-May many Palestinians mark what they call Nakba, or the catastrophe, the anniversary of Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948 and the start of a war in which thousands of Palestinians lost their homes through expulsion and flight.

But this is the first year that Palestinian refugees in Syria and Lebanon tried to breach the Israeli military border in marches inspired by recent popular protests around the Arab world. Here too, word about the rallies was spread on social media sites.

“The Palestinians are not less rebellious than other Arab peoples,” said Ali Baraka, a Hamas representative in Lebanon.

So the “Arab Spring” is flowering throughout the Arab world.  In places that have been relatively peaceful.  Such as in southern Lebanon.  And southern Syria.  Especially in the once peaceful Golan Heights.

Yoni Ben-Menachem, Israel Radio’s chief Arab affairs analyst, said it seemed likely that President Bashar al-Assad of Syria was seeking to divert attention from his troubles caused by popular uprisings there in recent weeks by allowing confrontations on the Golan Heights for the first time in decades.

Incidentally, even though Assad did something Mubarak never did, turn the army on his people, it was Mubarak that the Obama administration said had to go.  Not Assad.  Funny, too, because the world probably had less to lose with the fall of Assad than they did with the fall of Mubarak.

The day’s troubles began when an Israeli Arab truck driver rammed his truck into cars, a bus and pedestrians in Tel Aviv, killing one man and injuring more than a dozen others in what police described as a terrorist attack.

Later, hundreds of Lebanese joined by Palestinians from more than nine refugee camps in Lebanon headed toward the border, around the town of Maroun al-Ras, Lebanon, scene of some of the worst fighting in the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah.

They passed posters that had gone up the past week on highways in Lebanon. “People want to return to Palestine,” they read, in a play on the slogan made famous in Egypt and Tunisia, “People want the fall of the regime.”

So the “Arab Spring” is flowering among the people of Hezbollah and Hamas.  The enemies of Israel.  Friends of the Muslim Brotherhood.  And Iran.  And it was the ‘democracy’ movements in Tunisia and Egypt that have inspired them.  Imagine that.  The “Arab Spring” inspired political movements that would be anything but democratic to Israel.  Because, perhaps, to them “Arab Spring” has the same meaning as “Israeli Winter.”

An extremely bleak Mideast winter indeed.

Anything is Possible in the Middle East these Days

Even though Ben Stein was wrong about the Subprime Mortgage Crisis, it’s hard to fault him on what’s happening in the Middle East.  At least, based on the facts.  And the underlying history.  Oh, and let’s not forget how the Iranian Revolution went down.  It, too, started off as a democratic movement.  And ended in one of the harshest, Islamist theocracies the world has seen. 

Iran may soon be the regional power in the Middle East.  When that happens, life will change.  For everyone.  More terrorism.  More war.  And probably some higher prices at the gas pump.  You know, the late Saddam Hussein is looking better and better in hindsight.  Sure, he was a pain in the ass.  But he was also Iran’s pain in the ass.  And the enemy of our pain in the ass is our friend.  Of course, the wild card is what will happen to Iraq when the U.S. leaves.  Will it just be another domino to fall to Iran?  I hope not.  But anything is possible in the Middle East these days.

An extremely bleak Mideast winter indeed.

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What we Fear in Syria already happening in Egypt?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 30th, 2011

The Islamist Muslim Brotherhood Ascendant in Egypt

The death toll in Syria has exceeded 500.  But we’re not calling for Assad to step down.  And we’re not bombing Syria.  Even though Syria is very friendly with Iran.  And supports Hezbollah and Hamas.  No.  We’re acting cautiously with Syria.  Because Assad is a man the Obama administration is banking on to reform Syria.  He’s the moderate.  Friend of the Christian community in Syria.  Holding the Muslim Brotherhood and their Islamism at bay.  Because Iran is bad.  Hezbollah is bad.  Hamas is bad.  And the Muslim Brotherhood is especially bad.  So we’re going to tread lightly in Syria. 

This is exactly the kind of caution the Obama Administration did NOT exercise in Egypt.  Pity, because everything the world is worried about in Syria may be happening in Egypt (see Muslim Brotherhood to contest half of Egypt parliament by Reuters posted 4/30/2011 on The Jerusalem Post).

The Muslim Brotherhood said on Saturday it will contest up to half of Egypt’s parliamentary seats in elections scheduled for September.

But the group said it will not field a candidate for the position of president in an election due to held after the parliamentary vote.

The Muslim Brotherhood was no secret in Egypt.  Or their ties to Iran and Hamas.  But the Muslim Brotherhood wasn’t involved with the democracy protests.  Sure, they were the only organized, albeit illegal, opposition party.  But that was nothing to worry about.  Because this was an outpouring of young people and their yearning for democracy.  Much like those young people who yearned in Iran in 1979.

The Muslim Brotherhood is regarded as the most organized political force in Egypt after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in February and the dissolution of his National Democratic Party…

The Brotherhood is an Islamist group founded in the 1920s and has deep roots in Egypt’s conservative Muslim society.

So what is there to worry about?  This spontaneous yearning for democracy by the young will no doubt triumph.  Unlike a well organized movement that goes back to 1920.  And that has deep roots in Egypt’s conservative Muslim society.  There is no reason that the Egypt revolution will be just like the 1979 Iranian Revolution.  Just because it parallels the Iranian Revolution doesn’t mean it will end up like the Iranian Revolution.  In theocracy.

The Islamist Muslim Brotherhood denies being Islamist

As if to assuage this very concern, the Muslim Brotherhood is telling their critics that their Islamist party is not a theocratic one.  That they will gladly cooperate with the secular powers (see Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood sets up new party posted 4/30/2011 on the BBC).

It has sought to allay fears of an Islamist parliamentary majority, and said it would be willing to co-operate with secular parties.

Mohammed al-Mursi, the head of the new Freedom and Justice Party, told reporters in Cairo: “It is not an Islamist party in the old understanding, it is not theocratic.”

Just like Ayatollah Khomeini assured the young revolutionaries in Iran not to worry.  Their government would be a secular government.  And it was.  Until it became a theocratic one.  You see, he lied.  He told everyone what they wanted to hear.  All the while making Iran a theocracy.

But that won’t happen in Egypt.  Because the people who want to turn Egypt into a theocracy are telling us they don’t want to turn Egypt into a theocracy.  So there’s nothing to worry about.

Egypt Reopens Gaza Border Crossing, Hamas Cheers

Or is there?  The Muslim Brotherhood is not exactly what one would call fans of the state of Israel.  No.  They would fall more into the anti-Israel camp.  Like Iran.  And Hamas.  With Gaza bordering both Israel and Egypt, and with Hamas in power in Gaza, what happens in Gaza vis-à-vis Egypt would be a good indicator of things to come.  So let’s take a look at what’s happening in Gaza (see Egypt intends to reopen Gaza crossing by Michael Birnbaum posted 4/29/2011 on The Washington Post).

Egypt plans to reopen a border crossing with the Gaza Strip as soon as possible, a spokeswoman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said Friday, worrying Israel and bringing an end to a blockade of the territory that had been deeply unpopular inside Egypt…

Access to Gaza from Egypt had been severely restricted at Israel’s request after the Islamic movement Hamas took control of the territory in 2007. Israel and the United States consider Hamas a terrorist organization, and Israel imposed a blockade on the territory because officials said they were concerned about weapons and explosives being transported across the border.

If one didn’t know any better, one would think that Egypt may be moving away from Israel and towards Iran/Hamas.  Because their action will help weapons get into Gaza where Hamas can fire them on Israel.  Which is sort of their thing.  Launching weapons into Israel.  So maybe there’s something to worry about here with this new Egyptian direction.

Egypt has moved in recent days to bolster its relationship with Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was banned in Egypt during Mubarak’s reign. The change reflected popular sentiment and helped Egyptian diplomats broker a deal this week between Fatah and Hamas that will unify the two main factions in the Palestinian territories. Egyptian diplomats have also announced their intention to increase ties with Iran.

Okay, so they’re throwing open the border crossing between Gaza and Egypt.  They’re improving relations with Hamas.  And Iran.  I think we’re past ‘maybe’.  I think it may be time for someone to start worrying.  For despite all of their denials about their theocratic intentions, their actions speak louder than their words.  It’s beginning to look a lot like Poland in 1939.  A country surrounded.  Flanks secured.  Good propaganda.  And a burning desire to launch a war of annihilation.  I’d be surprised if Israel wasn’t worried.

Israel isn’t Feeling the Love

Oh, come on, you say.  That’s just ridiculous.  The Palestinians are just a peace loving people.  And Hamas is just a political party.  Comparing them to Nazi Germany is a bit extreme to say the least.  Besides, what have they ever done to suggest that they want to annihilate the state of Israel (see Barak to UN chief: Hamas must recognize Israel by Haaretz Service and Reuters posted 4/30/2011 on Haaretz)?

Defense Minister Ehud Barak spoke with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday and expressed concerns about the unity agreement that was recently reached between Fatah and Hamas.

“Hamas is a terrorist organization that fires rockets at Israeli towns and recently used an anti-tank missile against a school bus,” Barak said.

“Therefore, we expect that world leaders, including, of course, the head of the UN, to make cooperation with such a joint government, if it is established, conditional on the government accepting the Quartet’s conditions, which are the recognition of Israel, the abandonment of the path of terror and the acceptance of all previous agreements with Israel,” Barak continued.

Well, yeah, there’s all of that.  A long history of violence towards Israel.  And the refusal to recognize them as a sovereign state.  But other than that, what has Hamas ever done to suggest that they want to annihilate Israel?

One thing for sure, Israel isn’t feeling the love these days.

Democracy Losing in Egypt 

Democracy may lose in Egypt.  Just as it did in Iran following the 1979 Revolution.  Which will empower Hamas.  And that open border crossing between Egypt and Gaza will greatly help Hamas in their struggle against Israel.  With an able assist from the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.  Pity we didn’t think this through better before saying Mubarak had to go.

Things are so bad with an ascendant Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt that we’re backing off on the crimes against humanity in Syria.  There the price of innocent civilians killed is an acceptable cost to keep the Muslim Brotherhood at bay.  But not in Egypt.  And Mubarak didn’t even set the army on his people.  But he had to go.  No ifs, ands or buts about it.  But Assad is okay.  He just needs to tone it down a little.  Kill a few less people.

All the while Israel sits and waits.  Their world is changing.  And there’s little they can do about it.  They hope for the best.  And no doubt plan for the worse.  Like in 1973 during the Yom Kippur War.  When the tide of war was going against them and defeat looked imminent.  They had suffered great losses and desperately needed U.S. aid.  Which was not forthcoming.  So Israel began preparing some nuclear weapons to stave off defeat.  This got the attention of the U.S.  Who replaced Israeli’s material losses.  Which kept them in the war.  Kept them from going nuclear.  And allowed them to win a favorable peace.  And the Arab world has hated the U.S. ever since.

So much hatred in the Middle East.  And so many old scores to settle.  It’ll probably get worse before it gets better.  And all I can say is that I’d sure hate to be in our shoes.

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What would Jesus think about the Assault on Christianity?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 24th, 2011

Who would Jesus Vote For?

One thing I learned about demons and vampires from watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer is that they lay low on Halloween.  Except for the few that like to bother the Scooby Gang, that is.  But for the most part, the evil beings don’t like Halloween.  It’s just a bit silly for them.  So the evil and undead stand down on this day.  When the non-evil dress up and pretend to be evil.  A bit of professional demon/vampire courtesy.  They let the people play their scary games.  Then resume their bloodlust the following day.

You’d think those on the Left would extend the same courtesy to Christians on Easter Sunday, the most holy day on the Christian calendar.  Let up on their Christian disdain for this one day.  So Christians can worship this special day in peace.  But no.  Someone has to invoke Jesus Christ in the budget debate (see The Democrats’ secret budget weapon: Jesus by Brad Martin posted 4/24/2011 on Salon).

There are signs that the 2010s could be a fertile ground for using Christian ideals to pursue goals of social justice…

If the moral test of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable, the emergence of What Would Jesus Cut? may be the flashlight leading us out of the dark cave of budgetary wrangling. But it should also provide progressives with a model for marrying religion to politics in a way that reinvigorates their agenda, rather than simply leaving the field wide open to often intolerant evangelicals and social conservatives.

Why, this is a fascinating concept.  And practical.  Especially at Easter.  The day of the Resurrection.  When Christ rose from the grave He was sent to after dying for our sins.  Yes, what a fine day it is to politicize Jesus Christ.  But I’m game.  Hmmm.  Let me think. 

What would Jesus cut?  The defense budget?  Well, if we did that we couldn’t stop the genocide Muammar Gaddafi is perpetrating against the Libyan people.  That’s bad.  So bad that liberals who champion social justice sent our military to Libya to stop that genocide.  Cutting defense spending will leave us little more than an observer of these crimes against humanity.  Much like the rest of the world that isn’t a superpower.  So I don’t know if Jesus would cut defense spending.  Not when we’re using it for humanitarian reasons.  So, could there be something else to cut?

Would He cut programs like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?  These programs are very kind to those who can’t afford to buy a house.  By putting them into a house that they can’t afford.  Hmm.  That didn’t end too well in 2008, what with the subprime mortgage crisis and all.  No, putting people into houses they can’t afford turned out to be a bad thing.  It gave us the worst recession since the Great Depression.  And this hit art and charitable foundations especially hard.  With record unemployment, no one has any money to donate to the needy.  So, yes, I think Jesus would cut programs like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Anything else?

Oh, here’s a no brainer.  Planned Parenthood.  Because I’m pretty sure Jesus Christ would oppose anything remotely connected to abortion.

How could no one on the Left see this coming?  What would Jesus cut?  Number one on the hit parade would be abortion.  And any public spending that could provide ‘aid and comfort’ to the abortion providers.  This is Jesus we’re talking about.  And I just don’t see Him being pro-choice.  Sure, Planned Parenthood’s abortion unit is only a small part of their business (3%).  But government funding pays the overhead where they provide their real services.  Breast exams.  Pap smears.  Pelvic exams.  AIDS screening.  Birth control.  Etc.  That’s why they don’t have stand alone abortion clinics.  Doing so few abortions makes the unit cost per abortion too high to recover the overhead.  But if the overhead is already being paid by Uncle Sam, why, then that’s a different story.

The Left should stop talking about Jesus.  For they’re going to hurt themselves with the political contortions necessary to make their case.  Besides, if you asked who would Jesus vote for, I’m guessing he or she would have an ‘r’ after their name.  The bitter God-clingers they are.  So why even bother?  They should just take a lesson from the evil/undead and show a little magnanimity on this day.  If they had it in them.  Like the evil/undead do at Halloween.

Syria and Egypt, Similar yet Different

Egypt and Syria are very similar countries.  Both are in the Middle East.  Both are secular nations with Christian minorities.  And both outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood.  The main difference between the two is that one is an ally of the United States.  The other is an enemy.  Another difference is U.S. foreign policy.  They abandoned the ally.  And showed patience with the enemy.

Some are urging caution in Syria.  Worried about what may replace the current regime should it fall.  The Israelis for one.  And possibly the Obama administration.  For now, at least.  Interesting, because they had no such reservations with our ally.  And how are things in Egypt?  Suffice it to say there is cause for concern (see Crowds protest Christian governor in south Egypt by Maggie Michael, Associated Press, posted 4/22/2011 on MSNBC).

Since President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster in February after an 18-day popular uprising, ultraconservative Islamist groups have been flexing their muscles and vowing to take a more active political role as Egypt charts its transition to democracy…

Coptic Christians make up an estimated 10 percent of Egypt’s population of nearly 80 million and complain of discrimination. Relations between the two faiths plunged to new lows after a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a Coptic church in Alexandria on Jan. 1, killing 21 people and injuring 100 others.

Salafis, who seek to emulate the lifestyle of Islam’s early days in the seventh century, have for the past year played a key role in fueling sectarian tensions, spearheading protests against the Orthodox Christian church.

Salafis?  One of their Islamic theologians was Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab.  As in Wahhabi.  As in Saudi Arabia.  As in al Qaeda.  As in Osama bin Laden.  Yes, bin Laden is a Wahhabi.  This is old school Islam.  The way it was mean to be.  In Salafi eyes.  As the Taliban thought, too, the world should be.

The only upside to this is that the Salafis are Sunnis.  Who don’t much care for the Shiites.  Which is what the Iranians are.  So, to recap, the Salafis are not Shiites.  Which may place them out of the Iranian orbit.  Which is good.  The bad news is this.  It was the Wahhabi that attacked us on 9/11.

So maybe we should have encouraged more reform in Egypt and less ‘Mubarak has to go’.  Perhaps we learned our lesson.  Perhaps that’s why we’re not pushing our enemy in Syria (see For Syrian Christians, protests are cause for fear by The Washington Post posted 4/23/2011 on The Washington Post).

For decades, the government of President Bashar al-Assad has protected Christian interests by enforcing its strictly secular program and by curbing the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood. In recent years, Assad has visited the town of Maaloula and other Christian communities to pray and pass on messages of goodwill. At Christmas, he addresses Syria’s Christians, carrying similar tidings. Assad is himself from the minority Alawite sect, a branch of Shia Islam, and many Christians feel they can relate to him…

Many Christians interviewed said their biggest fear was the growth of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is banned in Syria. About half as many worshipers as usual attended Good Friday church services this year because people are afraid to leave their homes.

Maybe these ruthless despots know something we don’t.  Maybe their tyrannical and oppressive rule is the only way to keep things secular in the Middle East.  And peaceful.  At least, under them, the few Christians in their countries could live in relative peace.  Whereas it’s looking a bit harder these days.

Happy Easter

So on this Easter Day, we can reflect on Jesus Christ and His message.  Such as judge not lest ye be judged.  Pity we rushed to pass judgment on Hosni Mubarak.  Perhaps that wasn’t the Christian thing to do.  But we did.  And now Christians in Egypt are getting worried.  And Christians are nervously sitting out the protests in Syria.  Afraid of what their future may hold.  But instead of showing genuine concern for the oppressed (and possibly the soon to be oppressed), some instead think of politicizing Jesus Christ to advance a political agenda.

I wonder what Jesus would think about that.

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Obama’s Incoherent Policy on Egypt, Libya and Syria

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 23rd, 2011

Syrians not as worthy to Save as Libyans?

President Assad is killing innocent Syrians in the streets.  In an effort to squelch their yearning for liberty.  A contagion spreading through the Arab world.  TunisiaEgyptBahrainYemen.  Libya.  And now Syria.  The international community is shocked at Assad’s brutality.  And they issued a stern ‘you better stop doing that or we may tell you to stop a second time’.  Whereas we demanded Mubarak to step down in Egypt.  And bombed Libya.  But in Syria all we got is a wag of the finger (see Obama’s Middle East Head Spin by Christopher Dickey posted 4/22/2011 on The Daily Beast).

From Washington’s vantage, every Friday is becoming Black Friday in the Middle East… This Friday, the shock came in Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad runs one of the Middle East’s most repressive regimes. Across the country, protesters have grown ever more emboldened in recent weeks, and on Friday they poured into the streets by the tens of thousands to face the deadly fusillades of Assad’s security forces. More than 70 died. What did the White House have to say? From Air Force One: “We call on all sides to cease and desist from the use of violence.”

Pity the president didn’t add, “Don’t make me turn this car around.”  For children know it’s serious when Dad threatens to turn that car around.  Of course, Obama isn’t their dad.  But he expects everyone to listen to him as if he were.  And if that’s all we got going for our foreign policy, I say use it.  Can’t hurt.

Then again, perhaps the president just doesn’t know what to do.  He had no governing experience before running for president.  He never had a real job.  It’s rather baffling why so many championed the guy when he was in fact so utterly unqualified.  But they did.  And here he is.  What was it that Rush Limbaugh called him?  Man child?  Pretty strong criticism.  But is it true?

The drama—the tragedy—increasingly apparent at the White House is of a brilliant intellect who is nonetheless confounded by events, a strategist whose strategies are thwarted and who is left with almost no strategy at all, a persuasive politician and diplomat who gets others to crawl out on limbs, has them take big risks to break through to a new future, and then turns around and walks away from them when the political winds in the United States threaten to shift. It’s not enough to say the Cabinet is divided about what to do. Maybe the simplest and in many ways the most disturbing explanation for all the flailing is offered by veteran journalist and diplomat Leslie H. Gelb: “There is one man in this administration who debates himself.” President Obama.

A brilliant intellect who is not allowed to think brilliantly.  Because of all this stuff going on in the world.  This isn’t what he signed on for.  He wanted to pontificate great things.  Not govern.  It’s not fair.  He wanted to provide a laser-like focus on job creation.  Build a stronger economy.  Lower the sea levels.  Instead he failed.  Everywhere.  As he is failing in his foreign policy.  Or, rather, flailing.  With a policy that is utterly incoherent.

At the Pentagon, which bears the brunt of much of this hesitation and vacillation, the mood is one of not-so-quiet desperation. Said one longtime friend of Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates: “They think it [the Libyan operation] is just nuts. We are destroying our credibility with this situation, and there is really no answer to it.”

This is what happens when you have people who hate the military (i.e., liberals) use the military.  The military has a constitutional role.  To defend the United States.  And protect vital national security interests.  There is no constitutional clause that says, oh, and by the way, if a sovereign nation is being mean to her people we should commit U.S. military force without a clear objective or exit strategy.  Just to feel good.  But we can’t do that.  For feeling good is a poor national strategy. 

So Vice President Joe Biden has been left to handle the file, and he’s seemed none too happy about it. In an interview with the Financial Times, he argued that America’s real strategic interests were elsewhere, notably in helping to stabilize Egypt, while continuing to try to deal with Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and North Korea. “We can’t do it all,” said Biden. NATO and the Europeans should do more, he insisted. But NATO is run by consensus, and when its most powerful member refuses to lead, hard decisions are hard to come by. France and Britain, for their part, have taken the initiative in Libya from the beginning and crossed a new threshold last week by announcing publicly that they would send military advisers into Libya to help the rebels organize. (One firm decision by the U.S.: It will not put its troops on the ground in Libya under any circumstances.)

Of course when we say ‘by consensus’ we mean ‘by the United States’.  For any international effort is weak and ineffective without the full weight and force of the United States.  It goes with being a superpower.  But we have to pick and choose our fights.  For even a superpower’s might is finite.  There are national security interests (Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and North Korea, for example).  And there are non-national security interests.  Such as Libya.  And look where we are.  The non-national security interest.  Why? 

The United States got involved “because of the worry that Gaddafi could destabilize the fledgling revolutions in both Tunisia and Egypt, with Egypt being central to the future of the region; and, second, to prevent a humanitarian disaster.” Then the clincher: “A third reason was that, while it was not a vital interest for us, our allies considered it a vital interest. And just as they have helped us in Afghanistan, we thought it was important, the president thought it was important, to help them in Libya.”

All right, let me see if I understand this right.  Our allies joined us in the fight against international terrorism.  Because international terrorism is international.  It’s not only America at risk.  Everyone is.  So they helped us in Afghanistan.  Where we’ve taken the lead role.  Because it was in our national security interest.  As it was in theirs.  So, to thank them for joining the fight against international terrorism, we joined their fight to keep their supply of oil cheap and plentiful.  Got it.

There is no question, for instance, that what happens in Syria is of vital interest to Israel, which is America’s strategic partner; nor is there any question that Assad is watching Gaddafi’s brutal tactics for precedents that will serve the Syrian’s own savage regime…

The fundamentally important American alliance with Saudi Arabia, which holds the keys to the global oil market, was shaken badly by what King Abdullah saw as Obama’s betrayal of Hosni Mubarak. Add to that the king’s bitter disappointment with American course corrections, and reversals, on the Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative. A European envoy who met with Abdullah in early March described him as “incandescent” with rage at Obama. Yet the Saudis backed the intervention in Libya—only to see the Americans fumble their leadership once again.

As for Iran, ever since the regime there confronted and crushed huge pro-democracy protests in 2009, nothing threatens it more than successful revolutions in the Arab world. And nothing gratifies Iran’s leaders more than to see the United States dithering about whether Arab democracy is in American interests. The ripple effects are felt even in East Asia, where a former U.S. ambassador says he’s heard that the North Koreans are telling the Chinese “if this is the best the Americans can do in Libya, we’ve got nothing to worry about.”

Well, if Obama’s foreign policy strategy is to placate our enemies and infuriate our allies, he’s succeeded.  If that wasn’t the strategy you’d then have to say those in charge of foreign policy are in over their heads.  Or just incompetent.

Israel Looks at Syria and sees Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran

The world’s superpower can suffer bouts of incompetence.  Because it takes time to bring down a superpower.  We have the world’s largest economy.  And the most powerful military.  It takes a lot to disrupt our daily lives.  So people don’t really fear the outside world.  Except the occasional terrorist attack.  And when something like that happens, people rally around the grownups.  George W. BushRudy Giuliani.  But can you imagine if it was that way all of the time?  To be under attack all the time?  To be in a perpetual state of war?  The Israelis can.  They can’t afford the luxury of incompetence.  There, the grownups are in charge.  And they’re looking at all the developments in the Middle East a little differently than the Obama Administration (see Israel in a quandary over turmoil in Syria by Joel Greenberg posted 4/22/2011 on The Washington Post).

Syria has long been a bitter enemy of Israel’s, a key player in a regional alliance with Iran, a backer of the militant Hezbollah group in Lebanon and host to the political leadership of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. Yet it has also been a reliable foe, keeping its cease-fire lines with Israel quiet for decades through periods of war and confrontation in Lebanon and Gaza, and it has participated in U.S.-mediated peace talks.

A power shift in Damascus could alter those dynamics. But there is no clear sense in Israel of where that might lead, and there are a range of views here on the most preferable scenario. Experts speculate that Syria could dissolve into anarchy and civil war, Libya-style, or that a new authoritarian leadership could emerge, backed by the army and security forces, or a government dominated by the long-banned Muslim Brotherhood.

So Syria is a lot like Egypt in a sense.  Peaceful and secular.  The only difference is that they’re in tight with Iran.  And Hezbollah and Hamas.  Who have a penchant for killing Jews in Israel.  And share a common objective with Iran.  The destruction of Israel.  But it could be worse.  They’re not Islamist.  They may be the client of an Islamist state (Iran).  But they’re not Islamist.

“We prefer the devil we know,” said Ephraim Sneh, a former deputy defense minister, referring to Assad. “Although the Islamist forces are not the majority in the opposition, they are better organized and politically competent. And if we fantasize today that one day we’ll be able to take the secular regime in Syria outside the Iranian orbit, it may be more difficult, if not impossible, if the regime is an Islamist one.”

Dore Gold, a former foreign policy adviser to Netanyahu who heads the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, also emphasized the importance to Israel of monitoring “who the opposition is” in Syria to see whether “what looks like a sincere desire for freedom ends up being hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood.”

“Israel views a lot of the current developments through the prism of the Iranian threat,” Gold added. “It would be unfortunate if Iran becomes the beneficiary of the developments across the Middle East. Iran could face a tremendous strategic loss if the Syrian regime falls and is replaced by a more Western-oriented leadership.”

How wise.  If only Obama viewed developments through the prism of the Iranian threat.  Perhaps he would have moved slower on Egypt.  Until we knew who the opposition was.  And whether the Muslim Brotherhood would hijack their democracy movement.  Maybe we could have persuaded Mubarak to implement reforms.  Like the Israelis are willing to do with Assad.  Because sometimes the known devil is easier to deal with than the unknown one. 

Still, a change of leadership in Syria or a weakened Assad regime could present opportunities that the United States and Israel should explore when the dust settles, according to Uri Sagi, a former chief of military intelligence who headed the Israeli negotiating team in talks with the Syrians from 1999 to 2000.

“I would suggest that the Americans take advantage of this crisis in order to change the balance here, namely to get the Syrians out of their intimate relationship with Hezbollah on the one hand and the Iranians on the other,” Sagi said.

The Syrian policy would probably be a little less complicated had it not followed the collapse of our ally in Egypt.  Had the Syrian uprising happened first, there would have been more room for risk taking in Syria.  We would have had the opportunity to shut down Hezbollah and Hamas.  By severing the link to Iran via Syria.  But Egypt happened first.  And the great unknown now is the Muslim Brotherhood.  They’re there.  Lurking in the background.  In Egypt.  And in Syria. 

Egypt is our ally.  Syria is not.  If we’re hesitating to act in Syria, then we should have hesitated in Egypt.  This may prove to have been a big mistake.  Forcing Mubarak out.  We’re sending mixed messages to our allies and enemies.  And losing all credibility by flailing about in Libya sure doesn’t help matters either.

Obama Looks at Syria and sees the 2012 Election

Yes, American foreign policy has not been President Obama’s shining moment.  But I’m sure there’s a good reason for that.  After all, he’s president.  He must have a lot of things to worry about.  Important things.  More important than turmoil in the Middle East.  I mean, how can that compare to his reelection campaign (see Obama’s 2012 Campaign: What’s the Strategy? by Daniel Stone posted 4/22/2011 on The Daily Beast)?

Staffers declined to disclose how many people are currently working for Obama in Chicago, and how fast the operation has been taking in money. But so far, campaign events hosted by the president himself have had high yields. At several fundraisers this week in San Francisco and Los Angeles, some supporters donated up $35,800 per couple, the maximum allowed by federal election laws.

Sure they’re shooting Syrians down in the street.  But it’s not all bad news for Obama.  His fund raising is doing very well.

Despite the clear advantage of having all the trappings of the presidency—Air Force One, a support staff of hundreds, guaranteed press coverage—Obama’s challenges may be new and unique. “Last time he was an underdog and outsider and really led a movement,” says Tad Devine, a senior adviser to Al Gore’s 2000 and John Kerry’s 2004 campaigns. “This time is different. He’s the president. His campaign will have to take advantage of all the things they did last time, coordinating and using technology. It’s hard not to be institutional.”

You can say many things about Obama.  Criticize him for his disastrous economic policies.  The lack of transparency in his administration.  His abysmal foreign policy.  But one thing for sure.  He’s a man that his priorities in order.  Reelection first.  Everything else is a distant second.

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Peace in the Middle East Depends on Egypt once Again

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 22nd, 2011

Roman Barbarism begets Christian Charity

This is Good Friday.  The day Jesus Christ, a Jew, was crucified by the Romans.  In the land of the Jews.  Palestine.  Then occupied by the Romans.  Which came after the Egyptian occupation.  But before the Byzantine occupation.  Yes, there was always a power struggle there.  And Jesus was a part of it.  Though His struggle against the powers that be was not to gain their earthly powers.  But to usher in the Kingdom of Heaven.  Despite their earthly powers.  Starting in Judea

Things went from bad to worse on the temporal side.  On the spiritual side, though, things went pretty much according to plan.  Jesus endured great suffering.  For death by crucifixion is about as bad as it gets.  Which is quite the testament of the man Jesus was.  For He suffered as a man.  Not a god.  His pain was real.  And it lasted a long time.  Then He died.  Ascended to heaven.  And ushered in the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.  Where His words and deeds became the greatest force for peace the civilized world has ever known.

Now this is the Christian view of history.  Not everyone agrees with it.  But it is impossible to refute the role of Christianity in civilizing the barbaric lands of Europe during the Middle Ages.  It was a civilizing force that transcended the warring tribes.  And ultimately brought peace, the rule of law and civil society to Europe.  And the Western world.  It was the one force in the world that restrained the arbitrary power of kings.  And the phrase ‘Christian charity’ entered the lexicon as people chose to live in peace and love their neighbor.  To live by the Golden Rule.  And this all goes back to southern Palestine.  To Judea.  Where one man once walked among us.

Assad worse than Mubarak but gets better U.S. Treatment

The Arab world is ablaze.  Tunisia and Egypt saw regime change.  Libya is embroiled in civil war.  The UN passed a resolution to help Libya.  So we started bombing Libya.  There’s been further unrest in the Arab world.  But nothing rising to the level of a Libya, though.  Not serious enough for the international community to step in (see Shameful U.S. inaction on Syria’s massacres posted 4/22/2011 on The Washington Post).

FOR THE PAST five weeks, growing numbers of Syrians have been gathering in cities and towns across the country to demand political freedom — and the security forces of dictator Bashar al-Assad have been responding by opening fire on them…

Massacres on this scale usually prompt a strong response from Western democracies, as they should. Ambassadors are withdrawn; resolutions are introduced at the U.N. Security Council; international investigations are mounted and sanctions applied. In Syria’s case, none of this has happened. The Obama administration has denounced the violence — the White House said it “deplored” Friday’s slaughter — but otherwise remained passive. Even the ambassador it dispatched to Damascus during a congressional recess last year remains on post.

This is very interesting.  For Colonel Qaddafi was killing his people, too.  And we bombed him for that.  In Egypt, Mubarak wasn’t killing his protestors but the Obama administration said he had to go.  Even though he was a strong U.S. ally.  And a strong force for peace in the Middle East.  Egypt has recognized Israel.  And remained at peace with them.   Allowing free transit of the Sinai for Jew and Arab alike.  But he had to go.  As does Qaddafi.  But Syria can kill their own people.  Why?  Is Syria a better force for peace than Egypt?

The administration has sat on its hands despite the fact that the Assad regime is one of the most implacable U.S. adversaries in the Middle East. It is Iran’s closest ally; it supplies Iranian weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip for use against Israel. Since 2003 it has helped thousands of jihadists from across the Arab world travel to Iraq to attack American soldiers. It sought to build a secret nuclear reactor with the help of North Korea and destabilized the pro-Western government of neighboring Lebanon by sponsoring a series of assassinations.

No.  They are not a better force for peace in the Middle East.  In fact, they’re the exact opposite of that.  You couldn’t find a bigger enemy to peace.  Or the United States.  Well, except for Iran, of course.  Who we’ve handled in the same way when their people protest their totalitarian rule.

Yet the Obama administration has effectively sided with the regime against the protesters. Rather than repudiate Mr. Assad, it has proposed that his government introduce reforms. As The Post’s Karen DeYoung and Scott Wilson reported Friday, the administration, which made the “engagement” of Syria a key part of its Middle East policy, still clings to the belief that Mr. Assad could be part of a Middle East peace process; and it would rather not trade “a known quantity in Assad for an unknown future.”

An unknown future?  Syria and Iran are at the top of our enemies list.  We worry about radical Islam taking hold in Egypt as that democracy movement looks less and less democratic and more theocratic.  But it’s already there in Iran and Syria.  What ‘unknown’ are we worried about?  That the Syrians may convert to Christianity?  To Judaism?  That they may stop killing Jews and Christians?  That they may stop killing Americans?

If we were going to practice restraint anywhere, it should have been in Egypt.  We probably should have considered long and hard what may happen in Egypt before throwing Mubarak under the bus.  We should have asked him to introduce reforms.  We were already engaged with him.  And he wasn’t killing Americans.  As far as peace partners go, that’s a pretty big plus in my book.

The Sinai Peninsula – A Great Crossroads of the Middle East

Do you know where the Sinai Peninsula is?  It’s between Israel and Egypt.  On the other side of Israel is Jordan.  Above Jordan is Syria.  Above Israel is Lebanon.  Also bordering Israel and Egypt on the Mediterranean is the Gaza Strip.  And who is the ruling power in the Gaza Strip?  Hamas.  And who do they hate?  Israel.  Who else hates Israel?  Hezbollah.  In southern Lebanon. 

Israel has fought a lot of wars to stabilize their borders where they currently are.  They still deal with the occasional rocket attacks.  But there has been an uneasy peace along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean.  They still hate each other.  And they’re still trying to kill each other.  But it hasn’t blown up into a full scale war.  Partly because of the stabilizing force of Egypt.  Under the steady rule of Hosni Mubarak. 

Of course, the Obama administration threw Mubarak under the bus.  And the future of Egypt is unsure.  If it falls to the Iran-friendly Muslim Brotherhood, that will empower Hamas to make a whole lot of mischief in the Gaza Strip.  Which may encourage a little mischief from Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.  Which Syria no doubt will exploit.  And if all of this happens, Iran will swoop in and be the major power in the eastern Mediterranean.  Putting Israel in a very difficult position.  Fighting for her existence.  Which could plunge the region into war.  And the world into war.  And the flashpoint for all of this may be in the Sinai Peninsula.  A great crossroads of the Middle East. 

U.S. Boots on the Ground in…the Sinai Peninsula

President Obama promised the American people that there would be no ‘boots on the ground’ in Libya.  That we would only use air power to protect civilians from Colonel Qaddafi.  And maybe advisors.  Because the rebel forces, though filled with the spirit of liberty, lacked a certain military discipline.  But no combat troops on the ground in Libya.  Of course, that didn’t mean there wouldn’t be boots on the ground elsewhere (see Md. National Guard Members Prep For Egypt Deployment posted 4/22/2011 on WBAL TV).

More than 400 soldiers from the Maryland National Guard will spend the next 10 month in Egypt. 11 News reporter Sheldon Dutes looks at how they’re preparing.

And guess where in Egypt these troops will deploy?  Here’s a hint.  Think of the worst possible place.  Are you thinking the Sinai Peninsula?  The potential tinder box for World War Three?  If so, you thought right.

If Egypt goes Iran’s way, there will be a lot of traffic through the Sinai.  And not the good kind.  People with guns.  And bombs.  Going into the Gaza Strip.  To kill Jews.  And anyone that supports the Jews.  Like Americans.  Who are now about to deploy to the Sinai Peninsula.

Palestine’s Elusive Peace

Egypt and Israel go a long way back.  Two of the world’s oldest kingdoms.  Three, if you count the Kingdom of Judah.  And they haven’t always been the best of friends.  But they made their peace.  Thanks to Jimmy Carter‘s diplomacy.  And billions of dollars of U.S. aid.  The Camp David Accords brought some peace to the Middle East.  Despite hostile feelings that simmered throughout the region.  So hostile that they did boil over in Egypt.  When those unhappy with the Israeli peace assassinated the Egyptian president who made that peace.  Anwar Sadat.  The world held its breath.  Would Egypt collapse into anarchy.  And break the Israeli peace?  No.  Because of one man.  Hosni Mubarak.  Who we just recently threw under the bus.

Some in the world hold their breath again.  Mostly grownups who remember what happened in Iran in 1979.  What will happen in Egypt this time?  Will it continue to honor its peace with Israel?  Or will there be world war?  Hard to say now.  It could go either way.

Some things never change in the Middle East.  Especially in Palestine.  Where happiness is as elusive there as it was during the Roman occupation.

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All Roads Lead to Israel in Middle East Unrest

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 17th, 2011

Migrants are Fleeing Arab Democracy Movements

One of the reasons President Obama gave for bombing Libya was to prevent a wave of migrants from these countries in turmoil flooding neighboring/European countries.  Doesn’t look like the bombing worked (see France blocks Italian trains carrying migrants posted 4/17/2011 on the BBC).

Authorities in France have blocked trains from Italy in an attempt to stop north African migrants from entering the country.

Migrants landed on the Italian shores, got their temporary resident permits and hit the train stations.  Now they’re traveling across Europe looking for a new, state-subsidized life.  At least, this is France’s beef.  Before they’ll let them cross their border they have to prove they can pay their own way.  Because history has shown that migrants fleeing war-torn nations often can’t.  While high domestic unemployment will make it difficult to absorb those who can into the workforce.

Italy and other European countries have been increasingly concerned about migration from north Africa following the political turmoil in the region.

Earlier this month, Italy and France agreed to launch sea and air patrols to try to prevent the influx of thousands of people from Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

TunisiaEgypt?  Those ‘democracy’ movements were rather peaceful.  So it is puzzling that so many people are fleeing from these ‘democracy’ movements.  We can understand Libya.  We escalated that into civil war with our bombing campaign.  And people typically flee from nations in civil war.  But why Tunisia and Egypt?

Christian Governors not Welcomed in Qena

Perhaps these aren’t democracy movements.  Or perhaps they’re theocracy movements exploiting the unrest of these ‘democracy’ movements (see Christian governor named in south Egypt, protests flare by Dina Zayed, Mohamed Abdellah, Reuters, posted 4/17/2011 on The Daily Star).

“The experience of a Coptic governor has failed. There is no objection to his Coptic identity but the previous governor left a negative impression of Christian officials,” Youssef Ragab, a witness in Qena, told Reuters by telephone.

Residents say Ayoub was too weak in enforcing laws to quell rising tension between Muslims and Christians, fearing his background might imply sectarian allegiance.

The Christians and the Muslim got along with Mubarak in office.  There’s no reason for that to change now that Mubarak is out of office.

The protest took a more aggressive turn as some radical Salafi Islamists in the crowd demanded a Muslim official, saying “we want it Islamic.” Some even threatened to kill Mikhail if he came to his office.

Witnesses in the city said Egypt’s military, concerned that the demonstration would spark inter-faith violence, had moved to protect churches in the province.

See?  A simple way for sectarian peace.  Everyone converts to Islam.

The GCC Calls on the UN to take Action against Iran

So there’s trouble from within.  And trouble from without (see Gulf states call on UN to halt Iran ‘interference’ by AFP posted 4/17/2011 on Breitbart).

Gulf Arab states on Sunday called on the international community and UN Security Council to “make flagrant Iranian interference and provocations” in Gulf affairs cease after unrest in Bahrain.

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, after a meeting in the Saudi capital Riyadh, called in a statement for “necessary measures” against the Islamic republic to prevent it from sowing regional discord.

So it’s just not the West having problems with Iran.  It would appear that they are trying to export their Iranian Shiite revolution everywhere.

The six-nation GCC called on “the international community and the Security Council to take the necessary measures to make flagrant Iranian interference and provocations aimed at sowing discord and destruction” among GCC states.

It said the GCC — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — “categorically rejects all foreign interference in its affairs… and invites the Iranian regime to stop its provocations.”

Will the international community step in to stop these Iranian provocations?  Forget about a flood of migrants.  What happens in these GCC countries is a huge national security interest.  If Iranian influence spreads unchecked here, we’ll wish we only had a migration problem.

Little is said about Israel in Lands that Hate Israel

In all these Arab ‘democracy’ movements, there is a strange omission.  You really don’t hear the anti-Israel rhetoric you normally hear in parts of this region.  Which is a little strange.  Israeli criticism has been quiet.  A little too quiet.  Which can only mean one thing.  Something’s up (see Stratfor.com: The Arab Risings, Israel and Hamas by George Friedman posted 4/12/2011 on Bill O’Reilly).

We know of several leaders of the Egyptian rising, for example, who were close to Hamas yet deliberately chose to downplay their relations. They clearly were intensely anti-Israeli but didn’t want to make this a crucial issue. In the case of Egypt, they didn’t want to alienate the military or the West. They were sophisticated enough to take the matter step by step.

Hamas is a militant Palestinian Islamic movement.  They want to destroy Israel.  And they’re connected to the Muslim Brotherhood.  Which also happens to be the largest organized opposition party in Egypt.

Egypt is key for Hamas. Linked to an anti-Israel, pro-Hamas Cairo, the Gaza Strip returns to its old status as a bayonet pointed at Tel Aviv. Certainly, it would be a base for operations and a significant alternative to Fatah. But a war would benefit Hamas more broadly. For example, Turkey’s view of Gaza has changed significantly since the 2010 flotilla incident in which Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish civilians on a ship headed for Gaza. Turkey’s relationship with Israel could be further weakened, and with Egypt and Turkey both becoming hostile to Israel, Hamas’ position would improve. If Hamas could cause Hezbollah to join the war from the north then Israel would be placed in a challenging military position perhaps with the United States, afraid of a complete breakdown of its regional alliance system, forcing Israel to accept an unfavorable settlement.

Hezbollah is a Lebanese Shiite Islamist organization.  They hate Israel, too.  And have close ties to Syria.  And Iran.

For the United States and Europe, the merger of Islamists and democrats is an explosive combination. Apart, they do little. Together, they could genuinely destabilize the region and even further undermine the U.S. effort against jihadists. The United States and Europe want Israel to restrain itself but cannot restrain Hamas. Another war, therefore, is not out of the question—and in the end, the decision to launch one rests with Hamas.

During the Gulf War, we pleaded with Israel to just take whatever Saddam Hussein threw at them.  And Israel showed incredible restraint after the Scud missile attacks began.  Try as Hussein did, he could not provoke Israel into the conflict to break up the Arab coalition.  And here we are again.  With a foreign policy that depends on Israeli suffering.  Will Hamas be able to provoke them into war?  Or will they not take the bait and absorb their attacks?  Will additional Israeli actions against Gaza further sour Turkey towards Israel?  Will Egypt fall to a Hamas/Iran friendly Muslim Brotherhood?  Will the Iranians continue to incite trouble in the GCC states?  All BIG questions in terms of our national security interests.  And the answers to them will have huge and lasting consequences.

So what is the US doing in all of this?  Getting involved in the one county that isn’t even in the Big Picture.  Libya.

The Real Enemy in the Middle East

There’s something going on here.  And it ain’t protecting our national security interests.  The best one can figure out is that we’re helping Europe keep their Libyan oil.  Sure, Qaddafi is a bad guy.  And, yes, he used deadly force on his people.  But that happens every day somewhere in the world.  Attacking Libya is like beating up a 90 year old ex-Nazi.  Yeah, there may be some justice in it.  But a 90 year old ex-Nazi isn’t a threat to world peace.  But Iran is.  And what are we doing about Iran?  Nothing.  Even though there are democracy movements there.  But we just stand by and do nothing.  Pity we didn’t do that in 1979. 

The Shah of Iran was horrible.  A monster.  In fact, Iran was such a horrible place that girls could get a college education.  Well, college students (i.e., young and educated) started a democracy movement.  Just like those today.  The Iranian Revolution.  And they got rid of the Shah.  But with the Shah went a lot of their liberties.  Girls don’t go to college anymore in Iran.  And regret the day he fell from power.

It’s just like that old saying.  You don’t know what you have until you lose it.  And that other old saying.  I used to bitch about being poor and unemployed until I found out what it meant to be a second-class citizen without any rights. 

Our allies in the Middle East know who the real enemy is.  We should start listening to them more.  And less to the people who sent us into Libya.  Before it’s too late.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

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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?

www.PITHOCRATES.com

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No Love Dividend Yet from the Apology Tour

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 4th, 2010

Add One Part Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter tried detente.  Make nice to our enemies.  Alienate our allies.  He pointed out the human rights abuses our allies made in their fight against communism.  But he said little about our Cold War foe who raised the bar on human rights abuses.  The plan was to love our enemy.  And they would love us.  How did it work?  During the Carter presidency, the Soviet Union introduced a nuclear first-strike doctrine.  Because they were sure their missiles would land before Carter would ever launch ours.  The Soviets, for the first time since the days of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), were planning to win a nuclear war.

Obama said the Arab/Muslim world hated us because of George W. Bush’s overt hostile rhetoric/actions against them.  He would talk to the president of Iran.  He would engage in diplomacy.  He would change the way the Arab/Muslim world felt about America.  And how is that going?  Not good.  Iran has a nuclear reactor about to go on line, taking them one step closer to becoming a nuclear power.  And now Syria and Iran are cozying up with each other.  A united stand against Israel.  And the United States.  And the thanks Obama got for all his nicey nice?  They dissed him.  They said any attempts at an Israeli-Palestinian peace were only a desperate attempt to boost Obama’s poll numbers.  See Reuters’ Syria’s Assad rebuffs Washington by courting Iran by Robin Pomeroy.

It would appear that the lessons of Carter’s economic policies are not the only lessons Obama ignored.  Our enemies don’t like us.  Really.

Add One Part Richard Nixon

When the Vietnam War expanded into neutral Cambodia, all hell broke out.  On the college campuses.  Four died at Kent State.  And an unpopular war grew ever more unpopular.  But Nixon was playing to win.  The Ho Chi Minh Trail fed the insurgency in the south.  And the jumping off point was in Cambodia.  Where LBJ tried to limit the war Nixon tried to win it.  Nixon would ultimately get a peace treaty in Vietnam.  Backed by the might and will of America.  But Nixon was by then so hated that he would be undone by his own paranoia.  Watergate would throw him out of office.  With him went the might and will promised to South Vietnam.  And soon there was no longer a South Vietnam.

Obama has expanded the war in Afghanistan into Pakistan.  Our ally.  The ‘Cambodia’ of that conflict.  And he’s stepping things up.  (See the Wall Street Journal’s CIA Escalates in Pakistan by Adam Entous, Julian E. Barnes and Siobhan Gorman.)  The similarities are striking.  But there’s no unrest on our college campuses.  No concerted media attack by the 3 major networks.  And yet included in the Obama administration is Hilary Clinton.  She participated in the impeachment of Richard Nixon.  Over in the Senate, John Kerry, the Vietnam War protester, is saying that you have to attack these sanctuaries.  My, how time changes some.  Or the political expediency of the moment.  Nixon’s Cambodian intrusion – bad.  Obama’s Pakistan intrusion – good.  So I guess the lesson here is that if you want to run covert military operations on the wrong side of the border, you better be a Democrat.

The anti-war people in the Democrat Party are fuming over this war doctrine.  This is something that they’d expect George W. Bush to do.  Not their guy of hope and change.  Will Obama try to appease the Left?  Give up on Afghanistan?  Like the Left did on South Vietnam?  Let’s hope not.  Politics is politics.  But Americans shouldn’t die in vain.

Add One Part LBJ

LBJ didn’t want to be the first American president to lose a war.  So he tried.  But with far too many rules of engagement.  For he was trying to win the hearts and minds of the world.  The American people, our allies in Southeast Asia and even our enemies (who were trying to kill us and our allies).  And look where it got him.

LBJ wanted it all.  He wanted to win the war in Vietnam.  And the wars against poverty and racism.  But his policies made Vietnam a quagmire.  There were race riots in the United States.  And his domestic agenda exploded government spending, causing runaway inflation in the 1970s and recession.  We call it stagflation.  It gave Carter a single term.  And he’s still bitter about that to this day.

Johnson was a big liberal.  Obama is a big liberal.  Johnson had an unpopular war.  Obama has an unpopular war.  Johnson had an aggressive domestic agenda.  Obama has an aggressive agenda.  Johnson’s Great Society programs have been abject failures (we are still fighting poverty and racism today.  And we’re still paying the hefty tab on those failed programs).  Wonder what history will say of Obama.

Mix Together for One Obama

On foreign policy, Obama came in young, inexperienced and naive.  Some would even say inept.  His apology tour hasn’t changed the hate.  Our enemies still hate us.  Go figure.  Now Iran will soon have nuclear weapons.  And the world will be less safe.  If you’re nostalgic for Jimmy Carter, here’s your chance to relive those dangerous days.

Afghanistan was the ‘good’ war.  But the Left doesn’t have ‘good’ wars.  They want out.  And Obama is trying.  He even is going Nixon.  Attacking the enemy’s safe havens.  Attack a neutral country?  Hell, I’ll attack an ally.  It’s the right military call but will the Left ever forgive him?  I guess time will tell.  As will the college campuses.

LBJ wanted to give everyone everything they wanted.  Yet they still rioted.  And it hurt.  LBJ could not understand.  Nor could he forgive.  At the end of his first full term he had had enough.  He lost Walter Cronkite.  He lost the American people.  So he said goodbye.  And the hated man faded away.  Obama has had an aggressive domestic agenda.  He gave away a lot of free stuff.  But the people who have to pay for that generosity are not amused.  And the polls show that the Democrats in Congress will ultimately pay for Obama’s generosity.  A lot of them may be looking for a new job.

But it’s not all bad for Obama.  There are some who endorse his Cap and Trade policy initiative.  Some believe in the dangers of global warming.  Osama bin Laden all but said so in one of his latest broadcasts (see Reuters’ UPDATE 1-Bin Laden criticises Pakistan relief mission by Martina Fuchs and Tamara Walid.)  So, the American people may be turning away from him, but some of our enemies still support some of his agenda.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

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