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Friday, November 30, 2007

Foreign Policy News and Commentary Update November 30, 2007

THE GATES CRITIQUE ? EDITORIAL (BOSTON GLOBE, NOVEMBER 29): Secretary of Defense Robert Gates displayed solid news judgment in presenting a valid critique of recent US efforts to meet contemporary challenges almost entirely by military means. His prescription for righting the imbalance between hard power and soft power should be debated by the presidential candidates of both parties. What Gates left unsaid, but should have said, is that America will not be able to retrieve its squandered soft power without showing a decent respect for the international treaties and organizations of a world order that was laboriously constructed by previous US administrations.


US PLANS TO 'FIGHT THE NET' REVEALED - ADAM BROOKES, BBC PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (INFOSHOP NEWS, NOVEMBER 29; first appeared January 27, 2006): From The newly declassified "Information Operations Roadmap" (2003): "nformation intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy and Psyops, is increasingly consumed by our domestic audience."


BIDEN: DIPLOMACY CAN AID U.S. - MIKE MCCORD (SEACOSTONLINE, NOVEMBER 30): Presidential candidate Joe Biden looked to recent history and the uses of American power in places such as Bosnia and Kosovo that have proved very successful and stabilizing. Biden, chairman of the foreign relations committee, said the world is waiting to pitch in and that he hopes to leave a legacy of restoring the country's moral legitimacy and the ability to use widespread public diplomacy.

THE REPUBLICAN WAY OF WAR - KEVIN MATTSON (GUARDIAN, NOVEMBER 29): Why bother explaining what you stand for when what you stand for is so incredibly self-evident and obvious? This explains why Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes's attempts at public diplomacy have fallen flat on their face and why she recently resigned from the state department. Assuredness about virtue is no recipe for public diplomacy.

INDIA CAN OFFER QUIET DIPLOMACY - JAMIA MILLIA ISLAMIA (ECONOMIC TIMES, INDIA, NOVEMBER 30): The real issue is not what India can, or rather could have contributed at the US-hosted Mid-East peace conference in Annapolis. It is what India might contribute now that the conference is over. First, we can offer quiet diplomacy to help in those tracks where change is possible, and that itself will be something of a balm for those suffering from too much public diplomacy, which is the case with all of West Asia.,prtpage-1.cms

ANNAPOLIS, A CHANCE TO JOIN THE MIDEAST PEACE TRAIN - ENDY M. BAYUNI (JAKARTA POST, JAKARTA, NOVEMBER 30): If Indonesia is changing its Middle East policy in the wake of the country's participation in Annapolis, and is seeking a more active role in the peace process, then the government had better work on its public diplomacy on the home front as well.

UKRAINE'S PUBLIC DIPLOMACY SAYS: WE ARE NOT RUSSIA ? (KIM ANDREW ELLIOT DISCUSSING INTERNATIONAL BROADCASTING AND PUBLIC DIPLOMACY, NOVEMBER 29): "'Russia wants to re-establish itself as a world leader' whereas 'all Ukrainians want to be European.'"

US, OTHERS PLEDGE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS - ASSOCIATED PRESS (NEW YORK TIMES, NOVEMBER 30): The United States, Britain and France publicly pledged Thursday to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of journalists in war zones. The three countries became the first signatories of the Geneva Convention to accept a new nonbinding accord on protecting correspondents in conflict, said the International Committee of the Red Cross, which oversees compliance with the 1949 treaty on the rules of war.

AMERICAN BRAIN DRAIN REVIEW & OUTLOOK (WALL STREET JOURNAL, NOVEMBER 30): Foreign students comprised 44% of science and engineering doctorates last year. Closing the door to foreign professionals puts US companies at a competitive disadvantage and pushes jobs out of the country.

THE ALGEBRA OF OCCUPATION - CONN HALLINAN (FOREIGN POLICY IN FOCUS, NOVEMBER 27): ?Winning over the population,? continues to be the illusion of every occupier. Testifying before Congress, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, 'Army soldiers can expect to be tasked with reviving public services, rebuilding infrastructure, and promoting good government.' And then there is the real world.


REOPENING OF LOOTED MUSEUM SIGNALS A CALMER BAGHDAD - JON SWAIN (SUNDAY TIMES, NOVEMBER 25): Nearly five years after it was ransacked by hordes of looters in the wake of Saddam Hussein?s overthrow, the Iraq museum in Baghdad is about to open its doors again.





QUIET BEFORE A NEW IRAQ STORM? IN THE FOX'S LAIR - WILLIAM S. LIND (COUNTERPUNCH, NOVEMBER 28): In past wars, quiet periods at the front have often preceded a "big push" by one side or both. Such may prove to be the case in Iraq as well, at least as far as Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army are concerned.

STILL NO WAY OUT - EDITORIAL (NEW YORK TIMES, NOVEMBER 30): Iraq's leaders are no closer to making the political deals that are the only hope for building a self-sustaining peace. Americans need to ask themselves the questions Mr. Bush is refusing to answer: Is this country signing on to keep the peace in Iraq indefinitely? If so, how many American and Iraqi deaths a month are an acceptable price? If not, what?s the plan for getting out?

BUSH'S NEXT PREEMPTIVE STRIKE - HAROLD MEYERSON (WASHINGTON POST, NOVEMBER 29): On Monday, Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki signed a declaration pledging that their governments would put in place a long-term political and security pact sometime next year. What Bush will almost surely be pushing for is permanent U.S. bases in Iraq, enshrined in a pact he can sign a few months before he leaves office.

BUSH ISN'T THE ONLY DECIDER: HE SHOULDN'T BE ALLOWED TO LOCK IN AN IRAQ TREATY WITHOUT CONGRESS' APPROVAL - BRUCE ACKERMAN (LOS ANGELES TIMES, NOVEMBER 29): President Bush is again in legacy mode. His White House "czar" on Iraq, Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, explained that the administration intends to reach a final agreement between the two countries by July 31, 2008. In describing the negotiations, he made a remarkable suggestion: Only the Iraqi parliament, not the US Congress, needs to formally approve the agreement.,0,3241305.story?coll=la-opinion-rightrail

THERE'S REASON FOR HOPE IN IRAQ, BUT MANY HURDLES REMAIN TRUDY RUBIN (BALTIMORESUN.COM, NOVEMBER 27): Remnants of al-Qaida in Iraq wait in the wings. Radical Shiite militias retain their arms. The al-Maliki government is weak and inept. But the current security lull at least provides a base on which to build something sustainable before U.S. troops start to withdraw. This Iraqi opening deserves a chance.,0,2204334.story

WHERE TO FIND PROGRESS IN IRAQ: BAGHDAD SHOULDN'T BE THE COUNTRY'S ONLY BELLWETHER - JON P. DORSCHNER (CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, NOVEMBER 29): After years of violence, insurgency, and uprisings, the current window of relative peace may present an unprecedented opportunity to move ahead economically and politically. Provincial people and their governments appear determined to grab this opportunity and run with it, with or without the government in Baghdad. And that is a legitimate sign of progress for the country. (Jon P. Dorschner is a career foreign-service officer and the Iraq provincial affairs officer in the Italian-led Provincial Reconstruction Team in Dhi Qar Province. This piece was subject to State Department review.)


U.S. WANTS TO HAVE IT BOTH WAYS ON IRANIAN NONINTERVENTION PACT - REESE ERLICH (BATIMORESUN.COM, NOVEMBER 28): President Bush and leading Democratic presidential candidates have said a military attack on Iran is a viable option. Yet the 1981 Algiers Accords, backed by Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, prohibit such an attack. SEE BELOW ITEM 50.,0,7234661,print.story



BUSH'S NEXT STEP? WHO KNOWS? - DAN FROOMKIN (WASHINGTONPOST.COM, NOVEMBER 29): When it comes to achieving peace in the Middle East, President Bush seems to have no idea what to do next.

THE WHITE HOUSE 'AFTER PARTY' - DAN FROOMKIN (WASHINGTONPOST.COM, NOVEMBER 28): Bush's flirtation with Middle East summitry looks more like an attempt to humor his beloved secretary of state than it does a departure from his hands-off and ardently pro-Israeli posture of the past seven years. SEE ALSO BELOW ITEMS 54-57.

AFGHAN COUNTERINSURGENCY BY THE BOOK - FAWZIA SHEIKH (ASIA TIMES, NOVEMBER 28): The Afghanistan Counterinsurgency Academy, a work in progress, aims to teach counterinsurgency practices to newly arrived Western trainers sent to embed with the Afghan security forces, as well as to coalition forces and to senior members of the Afghan military, police and intelligence services. The academy received US$1 million this year but is lobbying for an annual budget of $7-9 million to spend on paying instructors and for building infrastructure.


THE GENERAL STANDS ALONE EDITORIAL (WASHINGTON TIMES, NOVEMBER 30): Pakistan's democratic opposition is embittered at the continued U.S. support for Mr. Musharraf, and will probably boycott the January elections.

THE GENERAL RETIRES: BUT STILL PERVEZ MUSHARRAF CLINGS TO POWER, PROLONGING PAKISTAN'S CRISIS ? EDITORIAL (WASHINGTON POST, NOVEMBER 29): If Pakistan's moderate center is to have a chance of defeating al-Qaeda and the Taliban, Mr. Musharraf will have to retire from public life. The sooner he and Pakistan's army get that message from Washington, the quicker the current crisis can be ended.

IF YOU THOUGHT MUSARRAF WAS BAD . . .: FORMER PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTERS SHARIF AND BHUTTO ARE HARDLY THE RIGHT LEADERS TO NUTURE DEMOCRACY AND FIGHT TERRORISM - MANSOOR IJAZ (LOS ANGELES TIMES, NOVEMBER 30): Given the players and the circumstances, the elections in January will resolve little.,0,7041077.story?coll=la-opinion-rightrail

POLITICAL ISLAM AND EUROPEAN FOREIGN POLICY EFFWIT (SWEDISH MEATBALLS CONFIDENTIAL, NOVEMBER 29): The Centre for European Policy Studies released an important report yesterday dealing with the necessity for the E.U. (and by extension, the U.S.) to do a better job of engaging Islamic political parties in the Arab world. One conclusion is that the heavy lifting will likely have to be conducted through the Europeans, due to the toxicity of the U.S. brand in the opinion of the target audience.

A PARTNER FOR DEALING WITH IRAN? THE LESSONS OF U.S.-CHINA COOPERATION ON PYONGYANG - ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI (WASHINGTON POST, NOVEMBER 30): A comprehensive, strategic dialogue between the United States and China regarding the relevance of their shared experience dealing with North Korea to the potential crisis with Iran could be timely and historically expedient.

SHUTTING UP VENEZUELA'S CHÁVEZ - ROGER COHEN (NEW YORK TIMES, NOVEMBER 29): Chávez's grab for socialist-emperor status is grotesque and dangerous.

AMERICA'S GULAG GOES BEFORE THE COURT - MARIE COCCO (TRUTHDIG, NOVEMBER 28): It has been more than three years since the Supreme Court ruled that the Guantanamo detainees indeed have a right to contest their confinement before a U.S. court, and that the circumstances under which they are held?without charge, without having seen the government?s evidence against them and without the ability to gather evidence of their own?violate the Constitution and various treaties the United States has signed. But that ruling in Rasul v. Bush didn?t prompt compliance. It touched off a round of cynical circumvention.

GET SERIOUS [REVIEW OF CONTAINMENT: REBUILDING A STRATEGY AGAINST GLOBAL TERROR BY IAN SHAPIRO] - JAMES P. RUBIN (NEW REPUBLIC, NOVEMBER 29): If the know-one-thing opponents of the Iraq war such as Ian Shapiro get the upper hand in the campaign debate, and in history's first judgments, there is a real risk that the pendulum of American politics will overshoot the responsible mark, and post-Iraq wisdom will turn into post-Iraq folly.


RICE'S WAY: RESTRAINT IN QUEST FOR PEACE - HELENE COOPER (NEW YORK TIMES, NOVEMBER 29): One thing is clear: the Rice approach to Middle East diplomacy is far more restrained than that of her predecessors, and it consists of pushing Israel -- as well as her boss, President Bush -- only so far, while putting off the big, hard fights until the end.

Grasp the Promise of Annapolis

Grasp the Promise of Annapolis

From today's Forward (America's leading Jewish

Daniel Levy

Even the most hardened of Middle East cynics could be excused for
momentarily feeling a fluttering of hope after witnessing the scenes at
this week's peace conference in Annapolis, Md.

Israel's much-maligned prime minister, Ehud Olmert, conducted himself
with consumate dignity, displaying a rare capacity to combine unabashed
national pride with sincere empathy for the other. Palestinian President
Mahmoud Abbas, for his part, met Olmert's outstretched hand with an
unflinching commitment to a negotiated resolution of this bloody
conflict and to a realization of his own nation's aspirations that would
not be at Israel's expense. Both men have developed a degree of genuine
mutual respect and appreciation, and they were on display at Annapolis.

Only President Bush came up short, sticking to a simplistic
good-versus-evil narrative that was not only patronizing, divisive and
lacking any resonance with the Arab world, but might very well prove
counterproductive. Nonetheless, the Bush administration, and especially
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, can allow itself a gentle pat on
the back this weekend: A joint statement was achieved, the conference
was well attended, the speeches were uplifting, and Bush personally
committed himself to the process.

The self-congratulatory moment, though, should be a fleeting one.

This week's peace conference assiduously avoided even a flirtation with
the serious substance and content of a peace agreement. The warm words
at Annapolis will be followed by pledges of hard cash at a donors'
conference scheduled for Paris in three weeks, but after that the
testing ground returns to the far more hostile terrain of the Middle East.

If, several weeks from now, the negotiations are perceived to have
stalled and the situation on the ground to have deteriorated or just
stayed the same, then the smiling Annapolis summiteers will turn
ashen-faced and their detractors back home will claim vindication. Such
a scenario is all too imaginable; a return to mutual recrimination,
blame games and American disengagement would be perhaps the bookmaker's

As coincidence would have it, the Annapolis gathering fell on the same
week as the 60th anniversary of the adoption by the United Nations
General Assembly of Resolution 181. Separated by six decades, these
events are in fact intimately and perhaps decisively linked.
Celebrations in Tel Aviv, November 29, 1947

Anyone who has supped at the table of Zionist history has that night and
the U.N. vote indelibly etched into memory: 33 in favor, 13 against, 10
abstentions. This was the great moment of international recognition for
the Zionist cause.

The rest is history: The Arabs rejected partition, brave young Israel
survived a war of independence and a threatening alliance in 1967, and
the country has since grown middle-aged awaiting an Arab peace partner.
All national narratives tend to play fast and loose with the historical
record, and ours is no exception.

So where do we find ourselves in November 2007? Sixteen Arab states,
including all of Israel's neighbors, attended the Annapolis conference.
This comes five years after the Arab League adopted an initiative that
holds out the prospect of recognition and normal relations for Israel
with the Arab world once comprehensive peace is achieved.

Even before that, at the Madrid conference in 1991 and at the Sharm el
Sheikh summit in 1996, the Arab states stood alongside Israel when the
United States convened previous peacemaking efforts. Some dismiss the
significance of these developments and point to the curmudgeonly refusal
of the Saudis to shake hands, but as Olmert himself quipped this week,
"What did you expect, tea in Riyadh tomorrow?" The Arab states have
actually softened their own position by taking steps toward
normalization in advance of Israel ending the occupation.

The historic success of 1947 was a territorial division whereby 55% of
mandatory Palestine would become a national home for the Jewish people,
while 45% would be an Arab-Palestinian state. The prospect held out by
the Arab initiative and the Annapolis summit is of Arab, Palestinian and
world recognition and support for an Israel on 78% of that original

You do the math. The Arab world is saying yes to less than half of what
it was offered — and rejected — 60 years ago.

Some may ask why we ought to be defeatist now; history, such critics
have been known to argue, proves that the longer we hold out, the more
we get. This approach ignores the devastating damage done to Israel's
standing in the world and to its security, as well as disregards how the
country's priorities have been skewed by the ongoing occupation and
absence of internationally recognized permanent borders.

Are we really prepared to continue paying over the coming decades the
human, material and moral price in order to edge the percentage of land
we can call ours from 78% to, what, 80% or 81%?

Grasping the promise of the Annapolis conference and the Arab initiative
means saying yes to 78% and withdrawing to the 1967 lines on the West
Bank, including East Jerusalem, and on the Golan Heights. There can be
reciprocal and minor modifications to those lines, such as land swaps,
that would allow for incorporating the vast majority of settlers into
Israel's new and internationally recognized borders, but the basic
parameters of the deal are pretty clear. Israel would be wise to seize
the post-Annapolis moment, while the Arab consensus on the Saudi
initiative still holds and before there is a further waning of American
influence in the region.

It would be cozy and comforting if all this could be achieved in
accordance with Bush's division of the world into moderates and
extremists, but that is as intellectually lazy as it is practically
unachievable. The challenge to the Annapolis framework is not only the
need to summon the political courage to embrace the 78% option, it is
also to build a more inclusive process that creates openings for actors
who will be crucial to the credibility and sustainability of any secure
peace — in particular Hamas. Engaging Hamas, even indirectly, will not
be easy, but Hamas, too, is inching toward an acceptance of the 1967
lines. In the context of an agreement that enjoys Arab consensus, an end
of occupation and an acceptance of its own political role, Hamas's
acquiescence is far from inconceivable.

Annapolis represents Israel getting to yes with the Arab world. Now
Israel and its supporters in America should declare a resounding yes to
78%. Last time I checked, we were a people who recognized a good deal
when we saw one.

U.S. should help Israel make peace with Syria by Leon Hadar,0,2536539.story
Another View
U.S. should help Israel make peace with Syria

By Leon Hadar

November 30, 2007

Washington pundits have an odd way of ridiculing the Bush administration's grandiose plans for remaking Iraq, while at the same time embracing ambitious designs for bringing peace to the Holy Land.

Hence many Middle East hands urge the United States to take a cautiously realistic approach to achieving ethnic and religious reconciliation in Mesopotamia. But these same Realpoliticos become born-again idealists in insisting that American leaders could and should help resolve the conflict between Arabs and Jews. As in Iraq, these peoples have been fighting since the British invaded in World War I. But, hey, Americans needs to show some faith to get the peace process moving ahead, right? So on to Annapolis.

The faith in America's ability to lead the Arabs and Israelis into the promised land of peace is grounded in one very unique historic event: The 1979 peace accord between Egypt and Israel, achieved at Camp David through crucial mediation efforts by President Jimmy Carter. Since then, generations of American officials and experts, promoting the legend of President Carter's role as a ''peacemaker,'' have been fantasizing about a sequel: Camp David II.

But notwithstanding President Carter's commitment to, and success in bringing about an Egyptian-Israeli peace, he didn't ''make peace.'' Carter and his aides helped to facilitate an agreement ending 30 years of war between the Egyptians and the Israelis, reflecting the existing regional balance of power and what the two Middle Eastern players regarded as their national interests.

In fact, the Egyptian and the Israeli leaders agreed to meet at Camp David only after officials from both sides had agreed on the diplomatic formula that served as the basis for the negotiations there: Israel would return all of the occupied Sinai back to Egypt in return for Egyptian willingness to recognize the Jewish state. What both the Israelis and the Egyptians wanted and succeeded in winning at Camp David were American security commitments and economic assistance in exchange for signing a peace accord whose contours had been accepted in advance.

That President Bill Clinton's Camp David II sequel in 2000 ended up as a major disappointment had nothing to do his diplomatic skills. Clinton couldn't ''make peace'' because both the Israelis and the Palestinians had concluded that making painful concessions on core, existential national interests -- dividing Jerusalem's holy sites; the ''right of return'' of the Arab refugees; the fate of the Jewish settlements -- wouldn't be worth it to them. Each side calculated that using violence would end up forcing its adversary to surrender to its demands.

The sequel of 2000 created such high expectations that the Americans would ''make peace'' in the Middle East that Clinton's failure to deliver ignited more anti-Americanism among Arabs and Moslems -- exacerbated after 9/11 -- and the peace camp began losing political support in Israel.

From that perspective, President George W. Bush and his aides seemed to have learned the lessons of Camp David I and II when they decided that they need lower expectations this time in Annapolis. Hence their emphasis on making the Americans the facilitators of a potential peace accord that could only be achieved if and when the Israelis and the Palestinians conclude that the costs of continuing to fight are too high, and that they should make agonizing compromises over Jerusalem, the Palestinian refugees, and the Israeli settlements.

Today, a realist would see no sign that the Israelis and the Palestinians have reached such a stage -- and that no amount of American diplomacy can make a difference now. But he might also point out that there are chances for an agreement between Israel and Syria -- very much along the ''territory-for-peace'' formula that was applied at the original Camp David -- if the two sides conclude that it's in their interest to reach one. As with peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, the United States couldn't make it happen, but it could help.

Leon Hadar is a research fellow in foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute and a former U.N. bureau chief for the Jerusalem Post. Readers may write to the author at the Cato Institute, 1000 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20001. This article was distributed by McClatchy-Tribune News Service.

Copyright © 2007, The Morning Call

Outside View: Euro thaw not what it seems by Leon Hadar
Emerging Threats - Analysis

Outside View: Euro thaw not what it seems
Published: Nov. 30, 2007 at 10:31 AM

UPI Outside View Commentator
WASHINGTON, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- Against the backdrop of the warm welcome bestowed by President Bush upon German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy during their recent U.S. visits, American pundits have been celebrating what they describe as a thaw in relations with the two European allies.

Both Merkel and Sarkozy have been contrasted with their predecessors, Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder, who were leading critics of the Iraq War. They have been feted as "pro-American" European leaders who not only admire America's free-market orientation but are also willing to accept U.S. leadership of a revitalized trans-Atlantic alliance.

There is no doubt that both Merkel and Sarkozy recognize that their countries will be left behind in global economic competition unless they take significant steps to reform their labor markets and tax systems. But in fact, their predecessors were also supportive of these goals -- though their efforts were hindered by strong domestic political opposition. And it's not clear whether the two new leaders will succeed in overcoming this resistance from labor unions and other opponents of change in France and Germany.

Moreover, it would be quite misleading to depict Merkel and Sarkozy as American-style free marketers. Sarkozy's reformist approach fits very much with his stance as an economic nationalist who has also pledged to protect "strategic" French companies from international competition.

Similarly, in calling for restrictions on immigration from Muslim countries and for blocking the entry of Turkey into the European Union, the French and German leaders are reflecting what in the context of American politics would be described as nationalist positions. At the same time, their respective agendas on global warming are not very different from that of Al Gore and his allies in the environmentalist movement.

There is also an element of wishful thinking in the prevailing spin in American neoconservative circles -- mirror-imaged in the views of European left-wing critics of Sarkozy and Merkel -- according to which the two are about to lead their respective governments straight into President Bush's "coalition of the willing" in dealing with Iraq and follow the U.S. administration in a military attack against Iran.

In this faith-based interpretation, the French and the Germans are acknowledging the errors they had supposedly made in Iraq and are now ready to share in the burden of maintaining U.S. hegemony in the Middle East.

But after applying a reality-based analysis, it becomes clear that Sarkozy and Merkel, reflecting the views of the wider public as well as the political elites in France and Germany, concluded a long time ago that Chirac and Schroeder were right to predict that the use of military force to oust Saddam Hussein from power would produce chaos in Iraq, destabilize the Middle East and make it more difficult to win the war against terrorists like Osama bin Laden.

There is no sign that either the Germans or the French are willing to even consider the idea of deploying troops into Iraq to assist the government in Baghdad and its American protectors.

In a way, when it comes to Iraq, the main difference between the Sarkozy-Merkel duo and the Chirac-Schroeder pair is that the former were trying to mobilize European diplomatic power first to prevent the U.S. from invading Iraq and then to press Washington to get out of there; the latter are adopting a benign-neglect approach while the Americans continue to invest more of their overstretched military and economic power in the quagmire.

When it comes to Iran, France and Germany are trying to use their diplomatic influence in the hope that the threat of U.S. military action will persuade Iran to place its nuclear military program on hold -- while at the same time refraining from making any commitment to use their military power against Iran if it rejects their diplomatic pressure.

Some analysts have suggested that a U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq would wreak havoc in the Middle East in a way that could threaten European strategic interests. And Bush has emphasized the need "to defend Europe against the emerging Iranian threat." But if that is the case, why aren't the Europeans spending more of their economic resources on building their military power to protect themselves against these threats in the Middle East, a region that is, after all, geographically closer to Europe than America?

The answer is that the current U.S. policy is providing France, Germany and the rest of the EU with incentives not to spend more on defense and to continue building up their welfare states.

For Sarkozy and Merkel, the current American military intervention in the Middle East is compatible with their short- and mid-term strategic and economic interests. Let the Americans pay the costs of stabilizing the government in Baghdad and juggle the many contradictory commitments to Iraq's ethnic and religious communities there while at the same time trying to contain the rise of Iran. Let them handle the Middle East mess their policies helped to produce. If and when the Americans fail in their mission, stronger and more assertive Europeans would be ready to pick up the pieces.

From that perspective, Sarkozy and Merkel are not promoting a "pro-American" policy -- but one that is easily compatible with French and German interests.


(Leon Hadar is a research fellow in foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute in Washington.)


(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)

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Insight into Olmert's thinking

Four years ago, long before he was prime minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert discussed his vision of Israel's borders in an interview with Ha'aretz reproduced below. In it he foreshadowed the theme of his most recent interview with that newspaper and put it into a context quite different from the recent peace pageant in Annapolis that may help clarify his intentions today. (The reference to the Geneva Accord is to a heads of agreement peace pact informally agreed between the PLO and an Israeli delegation led by Yossi Beilin which many at the time saw as demonstrating that negotiations in good faith could, contrary to the thesis of Israeli unilateralists, produce an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and hence, through the Saudi-initiated Arab League proposal for normalization of relations with Israel in that context, to acceptance of Israel's legitimacy by all the Arabs. )

'Maximum Jews, minimum Palestinians'

Ehud Olmert speaks out: Israel must espouse unilateral separation - withdrawal to lines of its own choosing. It's the only answer to the demographic danger, says this latter-day realist.


By David Landau

Ehud Olmert delivers his message in euphemisms. Delicate, cautiously crafted ellipses, laden with nuanced significance. The vice prime minister, and minister of industry, and of labor, and of communications, and of the Israel Lands Authority, and of the Israel Broadcasting Authority, ensconced in his elegant new government office, wreathed in his trademark cigar smoke, is plainly reluctant to ruffle any feathers. Especially those of the man he hopes to succeed, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. His purpose is to sound a note of urgency, without even a hint of criticism.

But his message comes through clearly, nevertheless. "There is no doubt in my mind that very soon the government of Israel is going to have to address the demographic issue with the utmost seriousness and resolve. This issue above all others will dictate the solution that we must adopt. In the absence of a negotiated agreement - and I do not believe in the realistic prospect of an agreement - we need to implement a unilateral alternative."

When Sharon was challenged recently on the demographic issue, as he relaxed with aides and newsmen in his Moscow hotel lounge, he fobbed off the questioner with vague predictions of future aliyah and rosy reminiscences of the tiny pre-state Yishuv (Jewish community in Palestine). Olmert invokes no such comforting calculations. "We don't have unlimited time," he says. "More and more Palestinians are uninterested in a negotiated, two-state solution, because they want to change the essence of the conflict from an Algerian paradigm to a South African one. From a struggle against `occupation,' in their parlance, to a struggle for one-man-one-vote. That is, of course, a much cleaner struggle, a much more popular struggle - and ultimately a much more powerful one. For us, it would mean the end of the Jewish state.

"Of course I would prefer a negotiated agreement [for two states]. But I personally doubt that such an agreement can be reached within the time-frame available to us."

Olmert's "formula for the parameters of a unilateral solution are: To maximize the number of Jews; to minimize the number of Palestinians; not to withdraw to the 1967 border and not to divide Jerusalem." Large settlements such as Ariel would "obviously" be carved into Israel.

"Maximum Jews, minimum Palestinians" - this harks back to the language of long ago. And indeed, Olmert hankers unabashedly for those more hopeful times. "Twenty-three years ago," he says, "Moshe Dayan proposed unilateral autonomy. On the same wavelength, we may have to espouse unilateral separation. We won't need the Palestinians' support for that. What we would need is to pull ourselves together, to determine where the line should run."

Maximum, minimum, Dayan, unilateral line - all these seem to add up to large-scale withdrawal from the West Bank and probably full-scale withdrawal from Gaza. Hardly the stock-in-trade of the traditional Likud politician. "These are my own personal contemplations," Olmert says, "not yet evolved into a full strategy. I speak only for myself ... If I wanted to unfold a detailed blueprint I would do so. At this point, this is what I want to say."

As for Likud tradition, the prime minister's pronouncements on Palestinian statehood were sharp departures from that tradition, too, he says. Fundamentally, he adds, his own unilateralist ideas are at one with Sharon's repeated assertions that he would make "painful concessions" to achieve peace.

The subtext is clear enough, though Olmert, deft and careful, is not prepared to articulate it. The cabinet as presently constituted would presumably not endorse his proposed unilateralism. The two far-right coalition partners and several Likud ministers - but not Sharon, Olmert believes - would see it as defeatism. In terms of practical politics, therefore, the acceptance of Olmert's ostensibly still-inchoate ideas depends on the return of Labor to the national unity fold.

Olmert does not say so in so many words, but clearly he believes that Sharon himself will move in this direction, wooing Labor to join him in a drastic, unilateral act of separation. Olmert's Delphic formulation is: "I believe that in the course of time there might be a likelihood that the government might prefer this approach to the present situation and to the well-founded fear of demographic hazard."

The fence, now being built amid much controversy, would "ultimately become part of" the unilateral plan, Olmert says with deliberate vagueness. Unlike Ehud Barak, who advocates a unilateral withdrawal expressly depicted as temporary, pending negotiations, Olmert says his unilateralism "would inevitably preclude a dialogue with the Palestinians for at least 25 years." It would stand a good chance, he says, of winning "a degree of perhaps tacit understanding" from the international community, or at least from the important parts of it.

Olmert says his scheme does not reflect the lack of victory after three years of bloody intifada, but rather "the lack of realistic chances for a negotiated agreement in which we can live peacefully and comfortably." Drawing a unilateral line would probably not mean an absolute end of terrorism. That is perhaps unattainable. "But if we have total separation, it would reduce the terror to a manageable level - and enable us as a society to focus our energies on our own needs, our own agenda, our own mission."

Political insiders say Olmert has been dropping unilateralist hints for two or three months, but drawing back when urged to speak out. He himself says he has not debated his thinking with cabinet colleagues, preferring to await the right diplomatic and political constellation.

Quite possibly his wait was cut short by the publication last month of the Yossi Beilin-Yasser Abed Rabbo "Geneva Accord" and this has brought him to speak out now. Geneva demonstrably rattled the government - witness Sharon's furious "stab in the back" condemnation of the lengthy, unofficial negotiation that produced the accord. The continuing accolades that the accord has won from world leaders - Colin Powell was the latest to praise it last weekend - have added to the government anger and frustration over Beilin's coup, as well as over the earlier Ami Ayalon-Sari Nusseibeh agreement, which is also garnering support at home and abroad.

Olmert keeps harping on Beilin. Powell's praise, he insists, "does not accurately reflect the attitude of the president ... It does not mean that the U.S. endorses Geneva."
Only through a wholesale abdication of realism, he maintains, can anyone seriously believe that Geneva is a pattern for negotiated peace. A realist like himself admits to "a total disbelief in the prospect of an agreement." But, determined that Israel not be drawn passively by events into demographic disaster, the realist proposes an active, unilateral response.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Big turnout, small result

The Arab-Israeli summit in Annapolis

Big turnout, small result
Nov 29th 2007 | ANNAPOLIS
From The Economist print edition

An agreement on further peace talks, if not much else

THEY almost didn't make it, but in the last hour Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, agreed on a joint statement. Four months of preliminary talks had failed to produce what Mr Abbas and Condoleezza Rice, the American secretary of state, had hoped to brandish at this week's peace summit in Annapolis: an agreement to predetermine some aspects of the final-status deal that would ultimately create a Palestinian state next to Israel. In the end, Ms Rice had to settle for less, but the Palestinians and Israelis did agree two things. Final-status talks will begin on December 12th. And the United States will monitor both sides' compliance in the meantime with the "road map" peace plan of 2003, under which Israel is meant to freeze settlement-building in the West Bank while the Palestinian Authority (PA) takes action against militants who attack Israel.

Both these agreements still lack some important detail, however. While teams of negotiators will work continuously to hammer out all the issues of a peace deal—the borders of the Palestinian state, the division of Jerusalem, the fate of 4.5m Palestinian refugees abroad, the sharing of water resources, and so on—nobody has specified whether the starting point will be a blank slate or a previous near-deal such as the informal 2001 Taba agreement negotiated in Egypt. That could make a big difference to how fast things progress. So too could the fact that there will be no American go-between for them.

Likewise, the United States has agreed to supervise both sides' compliance with the road map; a potential win for the Palestinians since in the past Israel has been the de facto arbiter of performance. But it is unclear how, and how strictly, America will actually do this. So far, it has only appointed a general, James Jones, as a security envoy to the PA. Much clearer is that Israel will not make his job easy. An Israeli official says that any impression that Mr Olmert plans a total construction freeze, as the road map stipulates, is a "convenient misperception".

A more telling measure of Mr Olmert's intentions may be how vigorously he goes after the 100-plus "unauthorised" outposts established by hardline settlers, of which the road map requires him to dismantle around 60. Previous attempts to take even one down have led to violent clashes between the police and settlers, who are regrouping for a showdown after losing their fight to stay in the Gaza Strip in 2005. As for the Palestinians, the American arbitrator will find himself squeezed between the Israeli reading of the road map—that the PA must entirely dismantle terrorist groups before any final-status deal that the two sides reach can go into effect—and the Palestinian one, which is that it need only get the task well under way.

The two sides hope to conclude the final-status deal itself within a year. But given the complexity of the issues and the fragile politics on each side, this looks over-ambitious to some. Mr Olmert will have to keep conceding enough to keep the peace process going, but not so much that it prompts right-wing parties to leave his coalition. They have already started throwing out banana skins, such as a parliamentary bill earlier this month that would make it much harder for Israel to give up any of Jerusalem to the PA. Mr Abbas, for his part, having got much less out of Annapolis than he originally insisted on, is vulnerable to the jibes of Islamist opponents. His security forces have been cracking down with unusual harshness on anti-Annapolis demonstrations in the West Bank this week, something that could cost him precious legitimacy.

A coalition of the fearful

For a conference so thin on content, though, Annapolis was surprisingly thickly attended. Few expected Saudi Arabia to send its foreign minister, but there he was, along with 40 leaders, many from Islamic states without diplomatic ties with Israel. To what extent this is a victory for President George Bush, though, is also not yet clear.

One reason the Arabs showed up, as American officials argue, is because they may share Mr Bush's desire to create a united, mostly Sunni front against mostly Shia extremists led by Iran. Syria's decision to send its deputy foreign minister—less than a full negotiator, but more than just a token presence—in return for a merely token discussion at Annapolis about Syrian-Israeli peace may have signalled that Syria, too, is worried about ending up on the wrong side of the barricades. The show of solidarity certainly produced some alarmed noises from Tehran and fist waving from its Islamist allies, Lebanon's Hizbullah and the Palestinians' Hamas.

Yet the Saudis and others may also have come because they felt they had no choice. It would have been too easy for America to paint them as the cause of Annapolis's failure. With Lebanon fearing more civil conflict as it tries to break a deadlock over the election of a president, Syria's role is crucial; some, indeed, think its invitation to Annapolis is what has prevented Lebanon from exploding already. But Mr Bush offered Syria no concessions, instead giving it a clear rebuke in his speech with a reference to Lebanon's need for an election "free from outside interference and intimidation" (see article). The question now is whether America can convert the show of support it got at Annapolis into anything more substantial.

The neo-imperialists strike back ... At Peace with Pax Americana by Jonah goldberg

The neo-imperialists strike back....

Jonah Goldberg:
At peace with Pax Americana
Does being the leader of the free world make the U.S. an empire?
November 27, 2007

For lack of a better word, the United States is getting tagged as an "empire" from all quarters. Indeed, it's been a century since the notion of an American empire got such wide circulation, and back then Washington truly had designs on such expansion. (Google "Spanish-American War" if you're unfamiliar with this period.)

The empire charge has long been a staple bit of rhetoric lobbed about by those on the political extremes -- and has even bubbled up in the presidential race. Lefty Rep. Dennis Kucinich insists that we must abandon "the ambitions of empire." Hyper-libertarian Rep. Ron Paul says that America could afford healthcare if we weren't paying the freight on "running a world empire." The word "empire" substitutes for an argument; there are no good empires, just as there are no good fascists, or racists, or dictators.

In recent years, however, there's been an attempt to rehabilitate the e-word. Historian and former Times columnist Niall Ferguson deserves primary credit for the mainstreaming of the empire debate with his 2004 book "Colossus." He faced the empire charge head-on, saying, in effect, "Yeah, so what's your point?" The world needs a stabilizing, decent watchman to keep the bad guys in check and to promote trade, he argued, and the United States is the best candidate for the job.

Ferguson concedes, however, that the American people don't want an empire, don't think that they have one, and even our elites have no idea how to run one. As David Frum noted at the time in the National Review, Ferguson "repeatedly complains that his particular fowl neither waddles nor quacks -- and yet he insists it is nevertheless a duck."

Even as he strives to rehabilitate the idea of empire, Ferguson acknowledges that the word has limitations. It "is irrevocably the language of a bygone age," he writes at the end of his book. It has become irretrievably synonymous with villainy.

Critics of American foreign policy point to the fact that the U.S. does many things that empires once did -- police the seas, deploy militaries abroad, provide a lingua franca and a global currency -- and then rest their case. But noting that X does many of the same things as Y does not mean that X and Y are the same thing. The police provide protection, and so does the Mafia. Orphanages raise children, but they aren't parents. If your wife cleans your home, tell her she's the maid because maids also clean homes. See how well that logic works.

When they speak of the American empire, critics fall back on cartoonish notions, invoking Hollywoodized versions of ancient Rome or mothballed Marxist caricatures of the British Raj. But unlike the Romans or even the British, our garrisons can be ejected without firing a shot. We left the Philippines when asked. We may split from South Korea in the next few years under similar circumstances. Poland wants our military bases; Germany is grumpy about losing them. When Turkey, a U.S. ally and member of NATO, refused to let American troops invade Iraq from its territory, the U.S. government said "fine." We didn't invade Iraq for oil (all we needed to do to buy it was lift the embargo), and we've made it clear that we'll leave Iraq if the Iraqis ask.

The second verse of the anti-imperial lament, sung in unison by liberals and libertarians, goes like this: Expansion of the military-industrial complex leads to contraction of freedom at home. But historically, this is a hard sell. Women got the vote largely thanks to World War I. President Truman, that consummate Cold Warrior, integrated the Army, and the civil rights movement escalated its successes even as we escalated the Cold War and our presence in Vietnam. President Reagan built up the military even as he liberalized the economy.

Sure Naomi Wolfe, Frank Rich and other leftists believe that the imperialistic war on terror has turned America into a police state. But if they were right, they wouldn't be allowed to say that.

Two compelling new books help explain why our "empire" is different from the Soviet or Roman varieties. Walter Russell Mead's encyclopedic "God and Gold" argues that Anglo-American culture is uniquely well suited toward globalism, military success, capitalism and liberty. Amy Chua's brilliant "Day of Empire" confirms why: Successful "hyperpowers" tend to be more tolerant and inclusive than their competitors. Despite its flaws, Britain was the first truly liberal empire.

America has picked up where the British left off. Whatever sway the U.S. holds over far-flung reaches of the globe is derived from the fact that we have been, and hopefully shall continue to be, the leader of the free world, offering help and guidance, peace and prosperity, where and when we can, as best we can, and asking little in return. If that makes us an empire, so be it. But I think "leader of the free world" is the only label we'll ever need or -- one hopes -- ever want.


Adrian Hamilton: Annapolis's sole purpose is to serve the Bush agenda

Adrian Hamilton: Annapolis's sole purpose is to serve the Bush agenda

Published: 29 November 2007

There can have been few more excruciating sights than President Bush parading the Israeli and Palestinian leaders before the cameras at the Annapolis summit on Tuesday, clasping their hands, squeezing their shoulders, pushing them together for a handshake and then leaving them to return to their seats like awkward boys summoned to the podium to be congratulated for their efforts at a school prizegiving.

But then that was only right for the occasion. Why were President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert there in the first place, if not because the White House had propelled them there with not an iota of prior agreement between them? And why did their joint statement of intent single out the end of 2008 as the time by which they hoped to reach a peace settlement? Because that is when President Bush will be leaving office.

This is not just the carping of a Bush critic. No one in their right mind would wish for anything other than peace to come to the Middle East. For the last four decades since the 1967 war, Palestinians and Arabs everywhere have begged and prayed for the West, and America in particular, to enter the fray and force the pace of peace. One could hardly complain that this is what Washington now appears to be doing, and under a president who has so long resisted it.

But this is not where the White House is heading. Forget all the rolling acres of analysis devoted to what separates the sides, the compromises that might be reached, the grave opinions as to how this is the "best chance" for peace in a decade and all the other guff that surrounds these talks, as it has surrounded all its many predecessors.

A lasting peace is not the primary point of this exercise, although the participants might be happy if it did achieve it. The Annapolis process is here for one purpose only, and that is for the final justification of Bush's presidency, his "legacy" after all the failures in Iraq and elsewhere. It will be regarded as a success if he gets to the elections next November with the parties still talking, or there having been a breakdown that can be clearly blamed on one side or another, presumably in this case the Palestinians.

Make no mistake about it. The process set in motion at Annapolis is a humiliation for the Palestinians, made all the worse because they have no choice but to go along with it, mouthing the platitudes of peaceful intent without the slightest confidence that they can achieve, or be given, anything in return for their promises of good behaviour.

And they are having to do it before an Arab world equally dragooned into acting as cheerleaders, unable to resist the pressure of Washington and fearful of looking bad if they didn't attend. No one believes in the efficacy of the project, certainly not the ordinary Palestinian or Israeli, but their leaders are there because they feel they cannot afford not to be.

If you doubt that interpretation, read the text of President Bush's speech in opening the conference. Well over half is given over to a catalogue of what the White House wants – no, demands – from the Palestinians and how it sees the talks not as a resolution of the Palestinian cause but an exemplar of Bush's long-vaunted vision of democracy for the whole Middle East. After the failure in Iraq, now it is Palestine, and behind it the Arab League, that is being asked to act as America's frontline force in the manichean struggle against fundamentalism in the Middle East.

"The Palestinians," said Bush in a revealing passage, "must show the world they understand that, while the borders of a Palestinian state are important, the nature of a Palestinian state is just as important. They must show that a Palestinian state will accept its responsibility, and have the capability to be a source of stability and peace – for its own citizens, for the people of Israel, and for the whole region."

Israel in contrast is asked to do little more than "remove unauthorised outposts, end settlement expansion and find other ways for the Palestinian Authority to exercise its responsibilities without compromising Israel's security". In other words, Israel is under no pressure to move on the bigger issues of right of return, the status of Jerusalem or the dismantling of authorised settlements on the West Bank.

Introducing a wonderful concert by the Joubran Trio at the Barbican recently, the trio's leader explained to the audience that the three brothers were Palestinian, before adding with quiet emphasis: "We do not seek peace. We seek justice." There was a moment of stunned silence before the largely Arab crowd erupted in acclamation.

You won't see the word justice in President Bush's speech, nor for that matter in President Abbas's. The reason is simple. The Palestinians won't get that, whatever the end of the process, from Annapolis, from Israel or from this administration.


PM to Haaretz: Two states or Israel is done for

PM to Haaretz: Two states or Israel is done for

By Haaretz Correspondents and AP ,

By Aluf Benn, David Landau, Shmuel Rosner and Barak Ravid

WASHINGTON - "If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (also for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Haaretz yesterday, the day the Annapolis conference ended in an agreement to try to reach a Mideast peace settlement by the end of 2008.

"The Jewish organizations, which were our power base in America, will be the first to come out against us," Olmert said, "because they will say they cannot support a state that does not support democracy and equal voting rights for all its residents."

Olmert pointed out that he had said similar things in an interview he gave four years ago, when he was deputy prime minister under Ariel Sharon, in which he revealed for the first time his proposal for a withdrawal from most of the occupied territories.

"Since then, I have systematically repeated those positions," he said, adding that people "will say I'm having problems and that's why I'm trying to do [a peace process], but the facts must be dealt with justly."

Olmert said the Annapolis conference "met more than we could have defined as the Israeli expectations, but that will not absolve us of the difficulties there will be in the negotiations, which will be difficult, complex, and will require a very great deal of patience and sophistication."

According to Olmert, "we now have a partner," in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. "He is a weak partner, who is not capable, and, as Tony Blair says, has yet to formulate the tools and may not manage to do so. But it is my job to do everything so that he receives the tools, and to reach an understanding on the guidelines for an agreement. Annapolis is not a historic turning point, but it is a point that can be of assistance."

The prime minister said that Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni will continue to head up the Israeli negotiating team.

"There will also be people acting on my behalf, who will have a very significant role in this process, and the ones ultimately who will be in charge of this matter will be the leaders on both sides. That is why we announced that we will continue to meet regularly."

General James Jones, who was NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe until 2006, has been appointed the U.S.'s new security coordinator in the territories. According to a senior diplomatic source, Jones will determine whether Israel and the Palestinians have met their commitments in accordance with the "road map" plan, and will draw up security plans for transfering responsibility for additional Palestinian cities from the Israel Defense Forces to Abbas' forces.

Yesterday, Olmert and Abbas met again separately with President George W. Bush, and later joined him, along with their chief negotiators, Livni and Ahmed Qurei, for a brief ceremony in the White House Rose Garden to inaugurate the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

"One thing I have assured both gentlemen is that the United States will be actively engaged in the process," Bush said. "We will use our power to help you as you come up with the necessary decisions to lay out a Palestinian state that will live side-by-side in peace with Israel." "Yesterday was an important day, and it was a hopeful beginning," Bush said with the leaders at his side. "No matter how important yesterday was, it's not nearly as important as tomorrow and the days beyond. I appreciate the commitment of these leaders, working hard to achieve peace. I wouldn't be standing here if I didn't believe that peace was possible, and they wouldn't be here either if they didn't think peace was possible." Unlike their three-way handshake on Tuesday, the leaders did not shake hands in the Rose Garden.

Olmert also met yesterday with China's foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, and spoke by phone with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He also briefed the cabinet members by phone.

Olmert departed the U.S. last night and will be arriving in Israel this afternoon, in time for the Knesset's special session marking the 60th anniversary of the UN partition plan that called for the formation of a Jewish homeland.


Olmert's private conversation with Bush yesterday centered on blocking the Iranian nuclear threat. Olmert told reporters yesterday that "there is nowhere I encounter greater understanding for Israel's existential issues than in the Oval Office."

At a meeting earlier this week in Washington, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov informed Defense Minister Ehud Barak that Russia has decided to supply the nuclear fuel rods for Iran's Bushehr power plant.

The fuel will be sent to Iran in special packaging, in keeping with the instruction of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Lavrov told Barak, adding that "it is not so simple to open these packages without it being discovered."

Lavrov's announcement contradicts Russian President Vladimir Putin's promise, during his meeting with Olmert several weeks ago, not to supply the fuel for the reactor in Bushehr.

Stopping the Next Pearl Harbor

Stopping The Next Pearl Harbor

If enough people read this essay, we just might stop the Bush administration and Israel from engineering the next Pearl Harbor. The Japanese “sneak attack” on Pearl Harbor was publicized two weeks in advance in the headlines of one newspaper. If our generation does not act to stop the Next Pearl Harbor, we will be responsible for launching of World War III and for the end of life as we knew it.

How could the Israelis and the Bush administration engineer us into World War III? There has been much talk of another 911. Previously, I have said too many people know that the World Trade Center was taken down by controlled demolitions so they cannot do that again and expect the same result. Nor can they set off a dirty bomb and radiate tens of thousands of Americans. As I said,would you want to walk around on the same streets as those thousands of people if you had irradiated them and induced terminal cancers in them? If they cannot pull off another 911, what can they do?

The Iranians have Russian-made SS-N-22 Sunburn and more advanced SS-NX-26 Yakhonts anti-ship missiles which were designed to sink American aircraft carriers. Both the Sunburn and the Yakhonts are unstoppable killing machines. In 2001 the incoming Bush administration tasked the Navy with finding a defense against these missiles but has not met the challenge to date. The Sunburn has a range of 90 miles and travels at Mach 2.5 nine feet above sea level. The Yakhonts has a range of 180 miles. The Iranians also have 300 NATO made Exocets and large numbers of Chinese Silkworm anti-ship missiles. The Iranians have recently said they will fire 11,000 missiles and artillery shells in the first minute of an attack They have Russian made artillery with ranges up to 180 kilometers. Within minutes of any attack on Iran by either Israel or the United States we could lose 20,000 plus sailors and marines in the Persian Gulf. Those who do not die immediately risk capture by the Iranians who have 1,000 fast rubber boats and an endless supply of men willing to commit suicide. The old Soviet military doctrine of mixing a few advanced weapons in with large numbers of older but deadly ones might succeed in creating a New Pearl Harbor. Our fleet is in the Persian Gulf and not in the Indian Ocean precisely so they would be in range of Iran's Russian made missiles. Sacrificing the lives of 20,000 sailors and marines is essential to the Zionist plan to launch World War III.

Vladimir Putin has formed a partnership with the nations of the Caspian Sea which obligates Russia to defend Iran against an American attack. This means the U.S. must wait for Iran to attack America before we can bomb the Iranians. The Israeli Lobby is so powerful in Russia that Putin could only defend Iran from an American attack and not from an an Israeli air assault using U.S. supplied bunker busting nuclear weapons. Iran has said that they would respond by attacking both the United States and Israel if this scenario occurs. If Iran defends itself as it said it will, those in Israel and the United States whose fondest dream is to launch World War III will have engineered Pearl Harbor II and will see their dreams and our nightmares come true. The American TV watching public would demand revenge because they would not know that their leaders deliberately sacrificed our sailors and marines. Thanks to Bush we have no military left to do anything but to use nuclear weapons to exterminate the Muslims and steal their oil for Wall Street.

Exterminating Muslims is not practical as there are 1.3 billion of them and we do not have enough soldiers to defend ourselves from the inevitable consequences. Giving Arab oil to Wall Street has not worked well either. Oil used to be $20 a barrel. After four and a half years of occupying Iraq, oil is closer to $99.

The CIA has used the term Blowback to describe Isaac Newton's law that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The Blowback to using nuclear weapons to kill Muslims will be enormous. The Iranians and their allies will close the Persian Gulf to oil exports and to the imports of military supplies into Iraq. Oil will hit $300 a barrel. China, Japan, Singapore and Korea have enough surplus dollars on hand to pay cash in advance for oil at $400 a barrel for the next three years. America could only borrow money to buy oil, but, if the American fleet in the Persian Gulf is sunk, the dollar will drown as foreigners will want to dump their dollars. The stampede would be first started by the Muslims who would refuse to either accept or to hold dollars. They would dump hundreds of billions of dollars And then as the dollar decline gains momentum, all foreigners, including the drug cartels, would have to get rid of theirs as well.

The Iranians recruited 40,000 suicide bombers. These are trained and educated people who could do a lot of damage. In 1993 The FBI recruited an Egyptian military intelligence officer to find some patsies to set off a bomb in the World Trade Center garage. One illiterate was supposed to park the van 15 feet from the central pillar. He couldn't because a New Yorker had parked illegally in the tow away zone. He was not educated enough to select another pillar. Because the FBI had recruited a scientifically illiterate dupe the bomb went off 15 feet from the pillar and only 6 people died. The 40,000 Iranian suicide bombers are not FBI-CIA recruits and will do a lot more damage.

The Iranians could set aside 500 or so men and women to use explosives to take out American oil refineries and chemical plants. A small input yields a big blast. There are 20 oil refineries and chemical plants in the Houston Metro area. Other oil refinery targets of interest would be in New York, New Jersey , California and wherever targets of opportunity are easily available. They could take out 25% of our refinery capacity as they have been given more than adequate warning by the Neocons of their intentions to bomb Iran. Gas could sell for $10.00 a gallon and require ration coupons to buy.

It would not take many men to blow up a sufficient number of power lines carrying electricity to cause a nationwide blackout. Without electricity the gas stations could not pump gas until the power was restored. Nor could anyone get money from a bank or use a credit card. The nationwide blackout, the sinking of our fleet and the collapse of the dollar would all be signs that America was through as a world power and probably also as a sovereign nation.

The Iranians have been buying a lot of weapons. For $5,000,000 they could have bought 5,000 shoulder fired anti-aircraft weapons. They could hand them out to anyone willing to shoot down either an American airplane or helicopter. We have already lost 10% of our helicopters in Iraq. They could arm thousands of their suicide bombers with a couple thousand of those shoulder fired missiles and automatic weapons to take down our helicopters in both Iraq and Afghanistan. They could send other units to cut off supplies entering Iraq via the two roads running from Kuwait. We could lose a lot of soldiers and marines. And many more could be captured.

The U.S. Military Central Command (CENTCOM) website lists U. S. forces in 25 Muslim nations and in two others where Muslims are a minority. What would happen to Americans stationed on those bases if the locals cut off their water and other supplies? What would happen if our soldiers were attacked by rogue elements of the host nation's military who objected to the use of nuclear weapons to kill Muslim civilians? We have no military to send to rescue our men and women. We could use even more nuclear weapons to deter the local populations but that would be decidedly counter productive.

When foreigners dump a few trillion dollars buying oil, gold, silver, copper, food and other commodities, those dollars will not disappear. The people who sell a few hundred billion dollars of commodities will have been given dollars that will be rapidly approaching zero value as prices soar. They will have to get rid of their new found money very quickly. Economists call this phenomenon the velocity of money. If the GNP is 12 trillion and the money supply is ten trillion, the dollar turns over 1.2 times a year. But, if Americans and foreigners collectively decide that the dollar is toast, it will turn over once every 6 months, then once every 3 months and then once a month. If velocity goes from 1.2 to 12, then prices will go up 1,000%. Pensions and savings will lose 90% of their value. After tax wages will decline by more than 50% even if workers can get raises because the working poor will be pushed into tax brackets designed for the wealthy. This increase in the velocity of money is what happened to the Weimar Republic in 1923.

The economic dislocations from the war and inflation will cause a depression and could lead to 25% unemployment just like in 1933. We have more than doubled our population since the 1930s. And our culture has changed. What do you expect young people to do if they were without a job and had no money to buy gas or food? What would you expect parents to do if their children had not eaten for three days? What do you think the 43,000,000 elderly and disabled on Social Security would do if they had nothing to eat? What would you expect America's street gangs to do in every major city? Would you be willing to walk down a street where thousands of people have neither food nor gas money and no way to pay the rent and utilities? The people who deliver the food and other services to you will have to live in those neighborhoods as they will not likely make enough to move to a safe neighborhood like yours. They might have to flee the cities thus cutting off the vital services you need. The crime rate will be enormous. This is in addition to the terrorist campaign previously mentioned. The public will demand and gladly accept martial law. Since the politicians who will give us martial law in either 2008 or 2009 work for the banks, they will also give us currency controls. Currency controls allow the government to regulate how much of your money you can spend. The wealthy will have sent their money overseas and have bought oil or gold. You will not be allowed to withdraw your money from the bank until it has become absolutely worthless. The purpose of currency controls is to allow the elite to dump their dollars while the poor will losse what little they did have. It is long past time that you heeded my warnings to get your savings out of dollars and out of the United States.

Martial law is the intended result of the the Next Pearl Harbor, the deliberate sacrificing of 20,000 sailors and marines in the Persian Gulf. Martial law will not mean the cancellation of the 2008 elections. Why would the bankers want to stop the people from voting for the candidates who will permanently enslave the citizenry by merging the United States with Canada and Mexico to form the North American Union (NAU)? The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the Bilderberg Society have said they want to merge the U.S. into the NAU by 2010. The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) has 120 people working to make this happen. The NAU will abolish the American Constitution and the Bill of Rights. If the President-elect in 2008 does not follow orders and end American sovereignty, the bankers can always assassinate him as they did President Kennedy in 1963 and his brother Robert Kennedy in 1968. Bobby was shot in the back 5 times. The “lone assassin” was never seen behind him, could not have shot him and does not even know what happened that night. The press did little to investigate the killing of the man favored to win the 1968 election and will do nothing to uncover the truth if another candidate is murdered in 2008. More recently the news media has covered up the killing of 3,000 Americans in controlled demolitions on 9-11-2001.

What would happen if there were no Pearl Harbor in the Persian Gulf? If there were no enemy at the gates, the voters might blame Wall Street for the coming economic debacle. There are two Presidential candidates, Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul, who want to repeal the Federal Reserve Act which created the Depression of 1929-1939 and the coming Hyperinflationary Depression. Wall Street used World War II to cure the high unemployment rate of the Great Depression. World War III will be used to eliminate democracy, to grab oil and other natural resources for Wall Street, to exterminate all those who resist the New World Order and to starve to death anyone in the Third World who cannot afford to pay the vigorish on their loans.

Presidents Lincoln and Kennedy issued non-interest bearing Treasury Notes and were killed by “lone assassins” for their efforts. If they had lived, we would not have a nine trillion dollar debt and would not be paying several hundreds of billions for interest on the “debt”. Money is a commodity that measures the value of all other commodities and services. Prices are a ratio of the amount of money in circulation to all the goods and services available. If you increase the GNP and the money supply by identical rates, you will have a constant ratio and stable prices. Notice that there is no mention of Treasury bonds being issued. Under the Federal Reserve system, the Treasury Secretary issues 100 billion dollars in bonds which he gives to the Federal Reserve in exchange for 100 billion dollars in Federal Reserve Notes. The Federal Reserve gets the money by paying 3 ½ cents on the dollar to the Bureau of the Mint. The taxpayers are then obligated to pay interest to the Federal Reserve until the end of time. There is no need to issue bonds so there never was a reason to have a government debt. Of course you never will hear about that in the news or even on a typical college campus. Both of these institutions are controlled by Wall Street.

The people of the Third World have a lot in common with the citizens of America. They both toil on the Global Plantation to pay the vigorish on fraudulent loans. The bankers create money and expect you to pay them even though the money the banks created devalued the pensions and savings of the working class in America. The citizens of the United States will soon learn that their masters think as little of them as they do of the poor in the underdeveloped nations. As I have said previously, at least 200 billion dollars a year is stolen from unaudited federal government contracts. That money has been sent overseas to finance drug running, to be invested in foreign currencies, oil, gold and other commodities. When the coming Hyperinflationary Depression arrives, the bankers will be able to buy America for pennies on the dollar. They will own everything. Wall Street has had the foresight to have the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act passed to take away your ability to resist. Martial law will eliminate any opportunity you might have had to just say no to dictatorship and to permanent poverty.

What can we do to stop the Next Pearl Harbor from happening? We have been given a few months time to organize our resistance. Fortunately for us, the Israelis have a government that is as corrupt as ours. The Israelis recently announced that a billion shekels or about 250 million dollars went missing from their civil defense fund. The Israeli citizenry had been promised that new gas masks and other protective gear would be issued to them. About half of the country received theirs when the other half was told that there was no money left. That means that we cannot expect Israel to attack Iran for several months. I would like to suggest what we could do peacefully to prevent martial law from being used to cover the theft of our pensions, our savings, our property, our country and our democracy.

1) Continue with the 9-11 Truth Movement. I tell everyone to look at the videos of World Trade Center Tower 7 collapsing at . If the voters knew that the World Trade Center Towers 1, 2 and 7 were taken down by controlled demolitions on 9-11-2001, they might demand our leaders tell the truth.

2) Begin a new Truth Movement for Missing Money. Billions of dollars are being stolen from taxpayers each week because we are not allowed to audit federal spending. Do you really expect subsidiaries of defense contractors to adequately audit the wrong doing of their parent companies? Go to and type in “missing money” in the search box.

3) Tell people the specific consequences of what will happen if we allow Israel to attack Iran with American made bunker busting nuclear weapons. Tell them the economic consequences. Tell them that our sailors and marines will be deliberately sacrificed so we can have martial law and complete the transfer of all wealth to Wall Street.

4) If you see a candidate for office, you might ask them about the missing money and why neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have passed stricter auditing laws to protect the taxpayers. Study the issues in advance, ask the best short question you can and have a friend get it down on videotape so the rest of us can see it.

5) Please do everything you can to share the information about the coming Pearl Harbor in the Persian Gulf. If enough people know what to expect, then the people who think they own the government will not be able to launch World War III just so they can have martial law, eliminate democracy, steal all of your pensions and savings and permanently cut your pay 50%.

6) If you know someone who is well known and is trusted and respected by the American public, share a few ideas with them about the Missing Money and the collapse of WTC Tower 7. Give them time to absorb the issues. Then ask him or her to go public. We need one well known and respected American to come forward to encourage others to resist treason, tyranny and the killing of a few billion poor people.

The world is ruled by men who think that War, Economic Collapse, Hyperinflation, mass starvation and abrogating the Constitution and Bill of Rights are a Game. They have no regard for your life nor for the lives of your family and friends. They will continue doing what they have been doing until we stop them. We are the world's last best chance.

Israel's nukes missing from the table by Kaveh L. Afrasiabi
Israel's nukes missing from the table
By Kaveh L Afrasiabi

With the one-day peace summit in Annapolis in the United States failing to produce any tangible results, save a general agreement to more marathon talks until the end of 2008, sure to try the patience of long-suffering Palestinians, the summit's other agenda to rally the "peacemakers" against the "troublemakers" deserves critical scrutiny. This is partly because of Israel's self-serving fallacy that Middle East nuclear proliferation can be effectively stalled in the absence of any meaningful initiative on its part.

And why not, seeing how the compliant US media's list of "most contentious Mideast issues", to borrow the title of one report on the conference, does not even mention Israel's nuclear arsenal as an item of interest.

The summit at the US Naval Academy of representatives from over 50 nations and international groups under the leadership of US President George W Bush announced the formation of a steering committee towards the establishment of a Palestinian state and biweekly meetings between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. It was agreed to make "every effort to conclude an agreement before the end of 2008".

In terms Israel's nuclear weapons, Western governments and the media may have a benign perception of them as purely defensive to secure Israel against external "existential threats". But the Muslim population of the Middle East and their rulers may be excused if they conform to a vastly different perception, that Israel's nukes are evil, constantly threatening them and even blackmailing them.

"We have to worry about Israel first," Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said at the peace conference, adding that this was a "separate priority from the question of whether Iran is developing weapons of mass destruction or interfering in Iraq". Such Arab sentiments contain at least an implicit worry about Israel's nukes that sword-like pierce through the Arabs' self-confidence, as it reminds them of their subordinate status in the regional system.

The "perception gap" over Israel's nuclear weapons has been widening as a result of Israel "coming out of closet" with its nukes, essentially since the 1991 Gulf War, when Israel threatened a nuclear attack on the Iraqis if they put chemical or biological warheads on their scud missiles fired at Israel.

More recently, the ever-present "Iran threat" has seemingly pushed Israel to compromise its self-imposed opacity - or ambiguity - in favor of occasional forays into nuclear visibility, both to deter adversaries and to continue with its traditional reliance on its nuclear power as complementary to its regional "power projection".

Not to worry, Israeli officials and their formidable media admirers in the West insist, because Israel's nukes are for the "regional good" and, somehow, serve "regional peace". The idea of Israel's weapons of mass destruction as a regional "collective good" sounds appealing, except when seen through the prism of its neighbors and "near neighbors". They, though physically apart from Israel, nonetheless harbor national-security worries caused by Israel's ever-growing reliance on its nuclear arsenal for an "out-of-area" power projection, legitimated by the convenient nomenclature of the "Greater Middle East".

As the first country to have introduced nuclear weapons in the Middle East, Israel bears the lion's share of responsibility for triggering the volatile region into the bosom of proliferation tendencies, albeit with the false, delusional notion that Israel can forever be the monopolizer of that tendency. And this by sheer force if need be, as was the case with Israel's 1981 destruction of Iraq's power plant in Ossirak and, subsequently, Israel's successful prodding of the US to invade Iraq in order to nip in the bud Iraq's suspected nuclear genie.

Following the same perverted logic, Israel is now sowing the seeds of a similar US gambit against Iran, that is, another US proxy war to guarantee Israel's nuclear monopoly.

On the surface, things look different. Israel is officially committed to a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East, as soon as there is a lasting "peace" and its nuclear weapons are not "offensive" but rather purely "defensive". In reality, however, with its bunker-buster, laser-guided "smart" nukes, its long-range missiles and its nuclear-based "geostrategic depth", Israel is deeply wedded on a doctrinal level to the idea of "nuclear hegemony" as part and parcel of the ruling Zionist ideology.

Yet, that Israel operates on an ossified nuclear worldview can be seen in the fact that it still relies on the pre-independence State of Emergency regulations of 1945 to safeguard its nuclear activities, as if the world had stood still in the post World War II era. The sheer absence of the minutest nuclear transparency in Israel, breached by the "Vanunu affair" [1] in the mid-1980s, reflects a society stuck in the past, clinging to a pre-globalization state of mind that perpetuates a "fortress Israel", as if it is an island immune from globalization's net of interdependencies.

This is, indeed, the tragic paradox of Israel, whose nuclear program remains oceans away from the slightest notion of democratic accountability and control, and whose leaders continue to stick their heads in the sand, refusing to admit their role in triggering Middle East nuclear proliferation. They all the time believe that their nuclear buildup has brought Israel strategic security when, in fact, the exact opposite is true - it has substantially increased Israel's strategic vulnerabilities.

From Annapolis to Israel's post-opacity
"It is time to end the boycott and alienation toward the state of Israel," Olmert urged the Arab representatives at the Annapolis summit. Short on specifics and heavy in symbol-wielding, Olmert's performance reminds one of the countless cases of Israeli dissimulation, whereby clever delay tactics are used as substitutes for genuine efforts toward a just resolution of Palestinian issues.

Never mind the atrocious living conditions in Gaza due to Israel's restrictions decried by the United Nations relief agencies, or the fact that Israel's policy of illegal settlements in the West Bank has continued unabated despite the "peace talks". Israel is, after all, the peacemaker, according to a Washington Post writeup that adopts without questioning the White House's spin that today the balance of power is not in favor of ''peacemakers'' but rather the "troublemakers". These are headed by the "rogue" Iran that "exploits unresolved tensions".

Implicitly, then, instead of a viable peace solution, what Israel has offered the Arab world in Annapolis is an "umbrella" protection
against the (Shi'ite) Iranian menace. Henceforth, in light of Iran's defiance of the UN's demands to halt its controversial nuclear work, we should expect an increasingly unambiguous Israeli nuclear posture that compensates for Israel's policy shortcomings with regard to the Palestinians by the added value of anti-Iran deterrence, supposedly cherished by the conservative Arab states, especially in the Persian Gulf region.

Much of this amounts to wishful thinking, a recipe for disaster,

both for Israel and the US superpower underwriting its security for so many decades, particularly since the famed Richard Nixon-Golda Meir meeting of 1969 when Nixon reportedly conceded Israel's nuclear status as long as it remained "unadvertised".

That was then, and what Israel has increasingly learnt is the prestige-enhancing value of discretely advertising its nuclear weapons, on a par with France and Great Britain, and thus it acquires global status. This for an otherwise tiny state, lacking geographic depth and suffering from "cruelty of nature", to paraphrase David Ben Gurion, Israel's first premier.

But, what price liberating itself from the confines of nature by relying on the ultimate weapons of mass destruction? And is it not a case of self-bondage in other ways, by permanently marking Israel the target of would-be-proliferators in the region, who are unwilling to sacrifice their national-security interests imperiled by Israel's nuclear monopoly?

Unfortunately, when it comes to nuclear issues, Israel is a hermetical, closed society, except in the context of debating other countries' nuclear policies and potentials. In other words, the "nuclear insurance policy" in Israel is also an insurance policy against full-fledged democracy. It is a nuclear elitism in which only a select group of civil and military leaders enjoy the total monopoly of nuclear decision-making, outside the purview of their legislature, formal budgetary processes or public discourse. The latter is absent because of the article of faith concerning the wholly beneficial role and function of nuclear weapons, as the ultimate weapons of the nation's survival. This, again, reflecting a naive nuclearism that, ironically, self-promotes as clever strategem. That is, falsely believing that, to quote a well-known pro-Israeli US pundit, Louis Rene Beres, that with nuclear weapons, "Israel could deter unconventional attacks and most large conventional aggression."

Beres also mentions Israel's ability to launch pre-emptive strikes at its adversaries as yet another advantage, presumably since the ones attacked would hold back from retaliating due to fears of Israel's nuclear prowess, which sustains Israel's peace "rejectionism", to paraphrase US political activist and author Noam Chomsky, by giving it a false sense of invincibility.

Clearly, the need for an Israeli nuclear house-cleaning is long overdue and the avalanche of seemingly pro-Israel rationalizations such as Beres's do not help. Rather, they help only in perpetuating Israel's self-imprisonment in a pre-modern, 19th-century military calculus that informed the Zionist leaders' worldview - through an unreconstructed ethos of kdushat habitachon (the sacredness of security).

In light of the above, Israel cannot have its cake and eat it too, on the one hand giving lip service to the connectivity of genuine peace with its nuclear proliferation and, on the other, pretending to be serious about peace, as it has just done in Annapolis. And this without showing any initiative on what the rest of the Middle East considers to be a highly contentious issue, namely, its nuclear monopoly.

In fact, wily-nily the Israeli debates on Iran's nuclear proliferation have had the beginning effect of breaking an old taboo on Israel's own arsenal, and which needs to be articulated more forcefully into a national discourse. The old bombs-in-the-basement attitude has had as its complement a debased mentality that glosses over the fact that in today's Middle East, national-security issues are interlinked and the manifest or latent threats posed by Israel's nuclear proliferation have built up the momentum for wider proliferation.

What Israel lacks today is, in a word, a counter-proliferation momentum that is not solely other-focused and that does not adhere to a defunct view of things as inherently discrete and separate. They are not, and the liabilities of the homogenous nuclear thinking in Israel, in inadvertently fomenting the region's proliferation impulse, are now beginning to show themselves.

Thus the paradoxical, contradictory influence of the "Iran threat" on Israel's nuclear posture, doctrine and public embrace of that doctrine, hitherto taken for granted, in entrenching many Israelis into even more hardcore nuclearists, just as their old taboo of openly discussing their nuclear policies is breaking down.

The side-effects of the Iran nuclear crisis, in pushing the issue of Israel's arsenal more to the foreground and, as in the case of feeble attempts at the UN to link the two through emphasis on a nuclear-free zone in the region, only mean that sooner of later the Israeli public will have to reckon with the international community's demand for the end of Israeli exceptionalism and Israel's playing by the rules of the non-proliferation regime. This, in turn, points at the other side of the post-opacity coin, namely, the end of the taboo on Israel's non-disarmament.

Concerning the latter, the recent US-India nuclear deal, justified by US officials in the name of bringing India within the bounds of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has a distinct potential to extend to Israel - as with India - the prospect that aspects of its nuclear program could be subject to international monitoring.

The Atomic Energy Agency's toolboxes of inspection and verification cannot be effective in the region as long as Israel continues to evade them. thus raising the consistent complaints of double standards and hypocrisy. This particularly on the part of Western nations that demand the disarmament of Iran from even the "knowledge to produce nuclear weapons" while turning a blind eye on Israel's relentless nuclear weaponization.

Inevitably, Israel's path to durable peace must be paved with good nuclear intentions, yet this is completely missing today.

1. Mordechai Vanunu is an Israeli former nuclear technician who revealed details of Israel's nuclear weapons program to the British press in 1986. He was subsequently abducted in Rome by Israeli agents and smuggled to Israel, where he was tried and convicted of treason. He spent 18 years in prison before being released in 2004.

Kaveh L Afrasiabi, PhD, is the author of After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran's Foreign Policy (Westview Press) and co-author of "Negotiating Iran's Nuclear Populism", Brown Journal of World Affairs, Volume XII, Issue 2, Summer 2005, with Mustafa Kibaroglu. He also wrote "Keeping Iran's nuclear potential latent", Harvard International Review, and is author of Iran's Nuclear Program: Debating Facts Versus Fiction.

(Copyright 2007 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

Welcome to the Blogosphere, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad!
Welcome to the Blogosphere, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad!
by Kevin Jon Heller
The blogosphere has a new member: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran. He doesn't write many posts — "personal musings," as he calls them — but the comments section has been quite active. And quite critical, as the Guardian (UK) notes in an article today:

Somewhat gleefully, the reformist newspaper Etemad reported yesterday that some respondents were venting their spleen with little regard for pleasantries.

One writer - calling himself Sadegh Al Ebrahim - sarcastically congratulated Ahmadinejad on his success in creating new jobs through last summer's decision to ration petrol. "In our city before rationing there were two petrol stations, of which one was always shut. But now, due to you, we have 3,000 petrol sellers," the message reads, hinting at the rampant black market.

Another, claiming to be "on behalf of the more than 50 million people who didn't vote for you", berates Ahmadinejad for high unemployment and high inflation. The writer says: "Instead of useless provincial trips, fake propaganda on state TV and unrealistic news fed to you by your aides, you should come to the heart of the society."

Not all the comments, however, are critical. My personal favorite is this one, written by a Canadian named Adara: "I in fact think you are a great leader and I am actually contemplating moving to Iran because of the ignorance of people and the harsh things they say about all middle eastern countries."

Make sure to check out the site. It's available in English, French, Arabic, and Farsi, and provides helpful links in its blogroll to sites like the official website of Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.

No word yet on whether Ahmadinejad would be willing to guest-blog on Opinio Juris...