Tuesday, May 31, 2011

On Cuba and Latin America: Congresswoman Ros-Lehiten Has it Straight

There is no way I intend to compete with the superb Babalu blog when it comes to covering developments in Castro's prison, the country formerly known as Cuba. Those folks have got an incredible stream of fascinating inside dope on daily life and death in that giant Spanish-speaking Devil's Island--and I use the term literally. I, however, have had in my long career many dealings with the topic of Castro's Cuba, and numerous run-ins with his senior "diplomats." I have worked closely with dissidents and former prisoners, people such Armando Valladares (read his book on his twenty-plus years in Castro's gulag) and others I don't wish to name. At the UN and at the OAS, some excellent colleagues and I tried as best we could to keep those organizations focused on the horrendous human rights situation inside Castro's Cuba, and to get other nations to do likewise. Most times we failed, a couple of times we won big--how we did that, I will tell in my book once I am sure the statute of limitations is past!


A brief, very brief rundown on modern Cuban political history. Some of this I have said before, but it bears repeating. For 52 years, eleven U.S. Presidents (six Republicans; five Democrats) have tolerated, to different degrees, a dictatorship in Cuba, one which openly has worked for the destruction of core US interests. The Castro brothers have ruled with a brutality unmatched in the modern Americas. We will never know how many tens-of-thousands, maybe hundreds-of-thousands of Cubans died before firing squads--including those run by fashion icon Che Guevara--in torture chambers, labor camps, prisons, or from malnutrition, shoddy medical care, suicide, or in failed escape attempts. Others have died in the regime’s misadventures in Africa and in Latin America. As with many other dictators, the list of dead, imprisoned, and exiled includes close associates; not many compañeros from Sierra Madre days have escaped the firing squad, prison, or lengthy exile. The only thing worse for you than opposing the Revolution, is being too much in favor of it--see the case of the late General Arnaldo Ochoa if you don’t believe me.


And let us not forget that it was Fidel Castro, not some Middle Eastern  jihadi, who nearly destroyed the United States. He proved barking mad during the October 1962 missile crisis. He wanted it to go from crisis to war, real war, not the cold variety. He wanted Khrushchev to "push the button."  


Castro defenders, and the regime still has them, distort the reality of pre-1959 Cuba. A little easy-to-do research shows pre-Castro Cuba with social indicators among the best in the Americas. It had a thriving middle class composed of doctors (more per capita than Holland or the UK) dentists, engineers, artists, academics, and entrepreneurs. Its embassies in Europe had long lists of persons seeking to emigrate to Cuba. The island was a net importer of people. It had one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the Americas; one of the longest life spans; and one of the highest levels of literacy. It came second only to the US in per capita ownership of televisions, radios, telephones, and cars.


Did Cuba have serious political and social problems? Yes. It, for example, did not have a working democracy; suffered rampant corruption; racial discrimination; and relied heavily on one or two raw material exports, remittances from Cubans abroad, and tourism for foreign exchange.  


After five decades of Castro rule, Cuba does not have a working democracy (quite the contrary); suffers rampant corruption; has pronounced racial discrimination; and depends heavily on one or two raw material exports, remittances from Cubans abroad, and tourism for foreign exchange.  Before, however, you rush to conclude that Cuba has stood still for 52 years, let’s be fair and underline some things that have changed, 


1. Americans do not frequent Cuban prostitutes: Europeans and Canadians do;


2. Cuba went from importing to exporting people; despite the legal, physical, and life-threatening difficulties put in the way of those wanting to leave, Cuba is a large net exporter of people; 

3. Cuba's socio-economic indicators are no longer number two in the Americas: No! No more number two! They are now well behind almost all of the rest of Latin America. We can remember hearing of the great Soviet health system; as became apparent after the fall of the Iron Curtain, those claims proved false. The same for Cuba. When, for example, Fidel faced his great personal health crisis in 2006, he brought in European doctors.  Revolutionary medicine is reserved for the masses.


Cuba, therefore, has not stood still, compañeros, it has slipped back, and not just a bit, but decades. The Castros have turned the word undeveloped into a verb: as in, “They have undeveloped Cuba.” A notable achievement, perhaps, only equalled by Kim il-Sung & Son & Grandson.

And the US embargo? Hate to break it to you, folks, but there really is no embargo. The USA is now among Cuba's top five trading partners, and the main foreign source of food and medicine. About the only remnant left of the embargo is that the regime has to pay cash on the barrel for US goods. We are the only ones getting paid--how about that? The regime desperately wants to be able to run a tab with us so that it doesn't have to pay us, just like it doesn't pay the others. I once asked a prominent Panamanian businessman why he kept exporting to Cuba since he did not get paid: "If I stop selling to them, they have told me they will NEVER pay me."

I went to an event last week in Washington organized by former Bush political appointee Otto Reich--the most hated man in Chavez's Venezuela, by the way--on the fascinating topic of "21st Century Socialism in Latin America." There was an excellent panel including persons who have suffered the "benefits" of this "socialism," including having their loved ones imprisoned on trumped up charges in Venezuela. The opening speaker was the Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Ileana Ros-Lehiten. She made an excellent presentation, showing that she gets it. She understands what's happening in Cuba and the region.

Some of her address concerned themes touched on in earlier Diplomad posts, (
here, for example), but she eloquently noted that the Obama administration is failing in its responsibilities to protect US interests and values in Latin America (I will try to get a link to the speech). She had so many good quotes it is hard to pick. Here are a few,
In April 2009, President Obama addressed the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, promising a new chapter of engagement and willingness to acknowledge U.S. errors.  Now two years later, we can see clearly how this speech set the stage for where we are today.  U.S. standing in the hemisphere has diminished significantly, while autocrats and tyrants have been empowered.  Democratic allies have been forsaken while anti-U.S. regimes were courted and engaged.  Special interest groups continue to dictate U.S. trade policy, while important job-creating agreements remain in limbo.
I would also like to take this opportunity to expose the growing threats to freedom of expression in our own hemisphere.  In Cuba, the Castro regime controls all the media outlets on the island and prohibits anyone from speaking out against the dictatorship.  In Venezuela, Hugo Chavez continues efforts to control the press by using fear, intimidation and extralegal measures to force television and radio stations to shut down.  In Nicaragua and Bolivia, Ortega and Morales have defined the totality of private news media as posing a direct political challenge to their agenda. And in Ecuador, Correa has taken specific steps to undermine speech and media freedoms in that country. 
Whether in democracy promotion, security, or trade, the United States cannot afford to be passive.  The absence of our leadership in the region has opened a vacuum which rogue elements and competitor nations have been all too eager to fill.  We must not allow tyrants who brutalize their own people to trample democratic principles, harbor extremist groups, and ally themselves with other anti-American regimes to increase their influence and capabilities in the Western Hemisphere.
Ros-Lehiten understands that the U.S. failure to do anything meaningful about the Castro regime has opened the doors to mounting threats to human rights, democracy, and security in Latin America, and the growing threat to our own country coming from this hemisphere.

The cancer that was allowed to grow and fester in Cuba is spreading quickly.

Modern Democracy: The Battle Between the Taxpayers and the Voters

Spent a considerable time this weekend reading about the very serious crisis of the Euro.  Different analysts grade the severity slightly differently, but all seem in agreement that the Euro, as we know it, is doomed. The most dire scenarios see the whole EMU (Economic Monetary Union) blowing apart, while the most optimistic see Greece, Portugal, perhaps one or two other "Southern" economies separated from the Euro (the numbers, and who exactly gets kicked off the island depend on whom you read), and the currency is reserved for the core "Northern" economies.

This reading then led me to a great deal of reading about the almost equally serious crisis affecting our own dollar.  Then, I read about the crisis affecting the British pound. It was an intense amount of very depressing reading:  I really need to get out more.

None of the sophisticated and highly technical analyses I read, however, picked up on the real source of the crises facing the major currencies, and, in fact, our core economic well-being.  It all comes down to a very simple and basic fact.  The western nations have developed societies where those who pay for government services, in general, are not the ones benefitting from the services. In the United States, for example, we have the top one percent of earners paying 38-41% of all Federal income tax.  We have nearly half of Americans who pay no income tax, and another large percentage 15-20% who pay minimal income tax (and lets not even get into "Earned Income Tax Credits".) We essentially have a society where some 25% of the income earners pay close to 90% of all Federal income taxes. That 25% does not consume anywhere near 90% of the services provided by the Feds.

You can argue until you're blue in the face that this imbalance is "fair" because those who make more SHOULD pay more.  Whether, however, you are "right" or "wrong," in socio-political terms this imbalance has set up a clash between those who pay and those who do not. To varying degrees, it is this clash we see played out in the US and Europe. In Spain, for example, huge crowds of "protestors" take to the streets demanding, well, demanding more from the state. This in a country with an unemployment rate of over 21%, and some of the most generous public benefits anywhere on earth, benefits that do not make it worthwhile to work. So who pays in Spain? Not the protestors, that's for sure. The payers are the ever-shrinking number of Spanish tax-paying wealth producers and, of course, the Germans. Greece, too, has been wracked by massive demonstrations, and even violent and lethal riots, by tens-of-thousands of Greeks objecting to any austerity measures. In other words, the demands are don't pay back the Germans, and let us continue to have a standard of living we have not earned, just because that's what we want and have gotten used to having.

I don't mean to pick on Spain or Greece; we have the same situation developing in the US. Americans are now fully into a political battle waged along new class lines. This is not the old battle of "haves" versus "have nots." This is a battle between "payers" and "pay nots," in other words, between taxpayers and voters.

I listened over the weekend to a parade of Democrats coming on the talk shows, one after another, calling for tax increases on the "wealthy." Some of these calls would push our top rate to some 62%. The Democratic formula is simple. You take the money from the 40% of the people who pay income taxes, and you buy the votes of the 60% who do not--and if there's a gap you borrow from the Chinese and the Japanese. This formula for political success and economic disaster was driven home to me when I was visiting a college campus many months ago. Nearly all the students were voting Democrat. They were full of outrage over some proposed cuts to local government services. None of these students pays income or property tax, few were from the community where they were now voting, and after their college years would move on. They, however, voted "Yes" on a proposal to increase local spending on some social programs. The bill would be paid by the local taxpayers; the goods, however, would be consumed by people who were not taxpayers

We can debate the deficit and entitlement programs all we want. The basic problem is this split between taxpayers and voters. We are going to see that played out big time in the 2012 elections. The Republicans will have a hard sell convincing the voters to cut the benefits they receive from the taxpayers. The Democrats will have a much easier time having the voters give themselves more of the taxpayers' money.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Canada, Again . . .

The Old Diplomad would be spinning in his grave, were he in one, but I am going to have to post another positive comment about Canada.

I join with Legal Insurrection in retracting previous Canada jokes: I will no longer say "Canada is Kansas ruled by Massachusetts," nor giggle when Canadian friends tell me their version of the War of 1812.  I will no longer say that CIA stands for "Canadians Infiltrating America" . . . . I will do Legal Insurrection one better: I call for a complete ban on Canada jokes for one month, OK, two months. I proclaim the United States free of the curse of Canadaphobia!

As I noted in a previous post, our neighbors to the north already have shown us up on how to run an economy, they've elected a much better government than we have, and now they are giving us lessons on how to be superpower overseas. PM Harper has proven himself a man of his word and a gutsy dude. It's not easy for Canada, traditionally a bit retiring and self-efacing in international fora (except for writing checks or cheques, as you wish) to stand up and take a politically incorrect stance. The Canadians, however, prevented the G-8 from saying something stupid and destructive about Israel in the final statement. The Israelis are quite elated. Israeli FM Lieberman has thanked Canada in terms once reserved for the USA,
Canada is a true friend of Israel and with a realistic and proper view of things, it understands that the 1967 borders do not conform to Israel's security needs and with the current demographic reality. 
Canada did the right thing. Canada acted as a defender of freedom should. Canada did what we should have done.

Guess I'll crack open a Molson, and put up my "Harper for President" bumper sticker next to my "Netanyahu for President" sticker. Was either born in Hawaii?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

In Latin America, it's Ten Minutes to Midnight.

According to the accounts of O'Bama's Wonderful, Magical, Mystery Tour of the British Isles, The One doesn't know the year; exhibit A from his signing of the guest book at Westminster Abbey:






Now a charitable person would write that off as a momentary "senior" moment. He got confused by the time change: is it three years forward or backward when you go to Europe?  GMT can be confusing. But The Diplomad is not charitable: The Diplomad can just imagine how the MSNBCers, et al, would have carried on if Reagan, Bush, or, God forbid, Palin had done this! Proof of incompetence! But if The One, The Healer of the Earth, King Kamehameha says it's 2008, then, dang, it's 2008! He went to Harvard, don't ya know? Those Brits better get in line and get with the "programme" . . .


More important than not knowing what year it is in Europe, The Dear Leader does not know what time it is in Latin America. While the calendar in Europe might be stuck at 2008, the clock in our little neighborhood is now at ten minutes to midnight, and ticking.  


Mexico and most of Central America, especially Guatemala, are coming apart in a storm of violence and corruption, much of it due to our insane drug laws and policies.  


In Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, the Sandinista child-molesting thug, is busy making plans to be "re-elected" for an illegal third term; he got the Supreme Court to rule that the Nicaraguan Constitution's prohibition on a third term was, get ready for this one, UNCONSTITUTIONAL! The sheer, overt, smirking cynicism is stunning.  He is pulling a coup and the US reaction? Silence, a few bleats from a now departed US OAS acting Permanent Representative, but nothing in terms of policy or follow up. There certainly was none of that outrage we saw from the Administration when the Hondurans threw out their President, the Chavez toady Mel Zelaya, who was preparing a similar stunt for Honduras. We helped toss Honduras from the OAS for daring to save itself -- Israel, take note. 


Burning with hate for the United States, Chavez is running amok. He initially was conducting a “slow motion coup”-- un golpe a camara lenta -- against Venezuela’s flawed but functioning democracy but has sped up the process, now repressing his people quite overtly. He is imprisoning democrats such as Alejandro Peña Esclusa on trumped up terrorism charges, shutting down the media--including using exile and murder--destroying the independence of the judiciary, and making Congress irrelevant as he rules by Presidential decree. He has engaged in ever more strident anti-Israeli and anti-semitic behavior, another staple of leftist dictators.  Although the Venezuelan government has stopped publishing figures, reliable reports show Caracas now has the world’s highest homicide rate, in excess of 233 homicides per 100,000. Not to worry, Chavez recently has announced a gun control program--an excuse to take even more power from the people. We should note that in gun-toting, capitalist Utah, the homicide rate is 1.3 per 100,000. 


Chavez is turning Venezuela into an economic wasteland. Despite huge oil reserves and rising oil prices, Venezuela’s GDP “growth” is in negative territory.  Despite those negative numbers, the corruption, and declining oil production by the nationalized oil industry, the high price of oil still gives Chavez lots of cash to use on mad imperial dreams. The supermarkets might not have any food, but he is buying modern military equipment from Russia and Iran, building an AK factory, and allowing the Iranian Mad Mullahs to set up shop in Venezuela. He backs terrorist movements, such as the FARC in Colombia, and Hamas and Hezbollah in the Middle East.  With oil money and military bluster he is buying the slavish backing of Nicaragua, Bolivia, Argentina, several of the Caribbean island nations, and Ecuador--where another leftist loon with drug ties, Rafael Correa, is running that country into the ground both politically and economically. Chavez is trying to buy the elections in Peru, and has set himself up as one of the arbiters of whether or not Honduras returns to the OAS. He has Brazil frightened and cowed into an indecisive, equivocating, quivering bowl of Jello, even more so than is their pathetic norm. Brazil, a superpower? Right. 


Bolivia is turning into a human rights disaster of major proportions.  After a few years of slow but steady progress in getting on the road to some semblance of modernity, Bolivia is sliding down hill into an ever deeper and wider cesspool of corruption, drug trafficking, and cultural insanity under the leadership of its pro-Cuban drug trafficking child-molester President, Evo Morales.


We still have no free trade deal with our old ally Colombia--feeling pretty lonely right now, and wondering whether it is worth it to be friends with the United States.  The Colombians will have to decide that soon, and I fear their decision.


Our Latin American policy is in total disarray. The State Department's Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA) bureau has disintegrated under the hapless leadership of Clinton and her Assistant Secretary.  It is rife with incompetent political appointees and spineless, gray bureaucrats afraid of their own shadows, and tied up in concerns about political correctness, peripheral issues (e.g., climate change), not offending anybody, and trying to untangle the hopeless Haiti aid mess. One of these WHA political appointees, I will note, wanted the US to join with Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Bolivia in condemning Arizona for its immigration laws -- no joke, that is true.  The NSC is non-existent. A total vacuum has developed at the NSC on Latin America since the Obama people took over.  They have no plan to stop the decay. Many of them deny the decay exists.


China is moving in on trade in the area, already replacing us as Brazil's largest trading partner. And, adding insult to injury, the creepy regime in Cuba is showing new signs of life, thanks to Chavez's billions and the prospect of oil just a few miles off the coast of Florida. The oil we won't be drilling because of concerns for polar bears, arctic wolves, and Salton Sea salamanders, the Cubans, with Chinese, Spanish and French help, will be drilling. 


So while our President parties in Europe, and has us involved in an absurd war in distant, irrelevant Libya, in Latin America it is ten minutes to midnight, and counting down.  



In coming days, I will be writing more on the impending disaster in Latin America and provide some suggestions on how we might stave it off.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Obama in the UK . . . Yawn . . .

Ok, he got out his teleprompter and spoke to the Parliament.

I found it to be a totally vacuous speech--compare it to Netanyahu's at the Congress, and you'll see what I mean. Lots of platitudes. Lots of words that he doesn't believe in.

Do you really think that he thinks the US-UK relationship is "indispensable?"  Has he acted that way throughout his presidency? No.  Does every American President have to make the same lame joke about the burning of the White House? Gets tiresome, particularly coming from a President who knows very little about American history.

Do you for a moment think he really believes what he said about Adam Smith? Has he acted as though he believes in the power of free enterprise? No.

Disappointing blah-blah from a disappointing President who doesn't have a clue what the world is like.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

One Last Comment on Netanyahu and Obama . . . Maybe

You just have to wonder.

Obama goes off to hang out in a pub in Ireland, making lame, self-centered jokes about--who else?--O'Bama, and he leaves a political mastermind like Netanyahu in DC.  Who are O'Bama's press people? Is he so arrogant that he thought that somehow, he would still get the headlines when a powerful speaker and real thinker like Bibi goes before Congress?

If the Republicans can't beat The One in 2012 . . .

Netanyahu for President

Somebody contact whomever produces long-form birth certificates and get one for Bibi.  Compare his address to Congress with the typical speech from the empty-suited The One.

Bibi's speech was elegant, powerful, full of wisdom and knowledge. It was also full of respect and admiration for the United States.

When has The One given a speech like that?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Socialists in Spain Take a Beating: When will Germany Stop Paying for All this Nonsense?

Spain just had some very interesting local and regional elections which seem to be a harbinger for what will come in the parliamentary elections due some time between now and March. The Socialist Party, PSOE, of the hapless Rodriguez Zapatero got clobbered by the conservative Popular Party, PP.  As I write this, I have not seen the final results, but it appears that the Socialists will lose nearly if not all 13 regional governments. It seems the PSOE will lose even in traditional strongholds, and that nationwide the PP is outpolling them by over 10%.  In some of the Basque country, however, some of the nutty separatist, pro-ETA types seem to be making major gains.

If the predictions are correct, it seems the PP is in line to take the parliamentary elections; it also seems the Socialist government is not in a rush to call the elections before they must legally take place.

The lessons? Mixed. Voter participation was low for Spain, just about 50%, and, I suspect there was an effort by the left to keep that low so as to minimize the impact of the loss.  Notice the weird demonstrations that took place just before and during the balloting, illegal in Spain when voting is on. I know some European commentators have praised the demonstrators, "Los Indignados," but I just could not make sense of what they wanted except maybe to express general unhappiness with the 21st century. What was their proposal? I don't know, but let me give them one:  Kill the Euro.

Spain has a "horrendous" unemployment rate, over 21% in the general population and perhaps double that among the under 25 set.  That is to be expected: unemployment benefits and other doles in Spain are among the most generous in the world.  It quite simply does not pay to work, or if you're an employer it does not pay to take anybody on--at least not officially on the books. Spain is overrun with immigrants from Latin America and North Africa, some of whom go there to work, but many of whom go for the benefits which seem to be handed out willy-nilly. It is a classic example of those who get the benefits not having to pay for them, a path we seem to be on in the USA. The politicians use other people's money to buy votes--gee, where else have we see that?

As long as the Euro and the current EU structure are around, it seems almost politically and socially impossible to undo this web of subsidies and doles.  Way too many rice bowls would need to be broken, and I don't see the conservatives being able to do it. The whole system in Spain, and much of the EU, is heading for a crash, much of it the fault of the Euro. That currency is a one-size fits all obsession that is unsuited for countries such as Spain, Portugal, Greece, Ireland, and Italy, and is proving an increasingly ominous burden for the Germans, who increasingly have to maintain this whole house of cads, er, I mean, cards.

The Euro initially produced a false prosperity in countries such as Spain. With the Euro, which is really nothing more than the old Deutsche Mark, suddenly Spanish consumers could buy almost anything, including real estate in Miami, and travel all over the world with a strong currency.  You could see the Spanish tourists in New York and Miami buying bags and bags of expensive clothing and electronic items. The Spanish government went on a spending binge, including huge investments in dead-end "green technologies." You went to Spain and, quite frankly, it was a wonderful place: whole city centers  reformed, fabulous pedestrian walk-ways built, airports modernized, etc. But, who was paying for it?  What exactly did Spain produce that could pay for all this? The answer is becoming clear. They produced cooked books that hid the massive borrowing and dependence on the EU/Germans.

As the PP comes into power, I suspect we are going to see a slide in the Euro as the full-extent of the "book cooking" by the Socialists becomes apparent.  If there is any hope to be had, that just might be the best thing for Spain, Greece, et al. If Spain could have its own currency, and let the market determine its real value, then Spain could figure a path out of the swamp.  As long, however, as the Euro makes unproductive Spain as expensive as productive Germany, there is no solution.  Not even getting DSK to put his pants on and rejoin the IMF . . .

Sunday, May 22, 2011

False Prophets and the End of the World . . . A Few Candidates

The world did not end on Friday. I have crawled out from my bunker and find my snailmail and email mailboxes full of overdue notices.  Damn! Maybe I should not have ordered all that stuff from Amazon .  . . don't suppose they give a waiver for people who bought stuff thinking they would not have to pay for it . . . you know, like all the people who bought what Obama was selling in 2008.

OK, the media is having a laugh at the expense of some dopey fringe pastor from a fringe group who predicted the "end of the world," not really what he said, but close enough. This is good.  I think it is way overdue for the mainstream media to start mocking false prophets.  In this spirit, I provide a few more they could mock.

This could become an interesting feature for the media: False Prophet of the Month, maybe Simon Cowell could get FOX to do a new show . . . ?

Anyhow, here are some of my nominees in no particular order:

Al Gore:   Getting rich from predicting the end of the world: Prophet = Profit.

Henry Paulson/Tim Geithner/Paul Krugman:  Joint performance award for their predictions that the only way to solve the problems of a debt-ridden economy was to spend more and get further into debt.

Karl Marx/Joseph Stalin/Mao Tse-dung/Adolf Hitler: Duh . . .

Thomas Malthus:  The earth can do a lot better than he thought because people are really smart.

Nancy Pelosi: Predicted the Dems would keep the House .  .  . and that people would buy her "book."

World Wildlife Fund: Is there a species WWF has not predicted is on the "verge" of extinction? Name one non-renewable resource we have exhausted . . .

Union of Concerned Scientists: Is there a weather phenomenon which UCS has not attributed to global warming?  Whatever happened to the nuclear holocaust they predicted if we followed the policies of Ronald Reagan re the USSR? Did I miss that one? I really need to get out more.

Saddam Hussein/Dominique Strauss-Kahn/Osama bin Laden: The Americans can't touch me . .  .

Barack Obama: Obamacare will bring down the cost of health care, restore the economy, etc, etc., etc. . .



So many nominees . . . so little time . . .

Friday, May 20, 2011

Obama and Israel: Why do this to a Friend?

Obama sandbagged Netanyahu in a way I have never seen done with an enemy much less with a friend. The day before he is going to have a meeting with the chief of government of one of our closest allies, Israel, Obama announces he supports the mortal enemies of that ally. We do not handle the Russians or the Chinese that way, nor should we.

If you think a meeting at the White house is important, you don't ambush, embarrass, or demean your guest the day before. You especially do not do it with somebody such as Benjamin Netanyahu. It would be tough to find anywhere a person, much less a politician, more pro-American than Netanyahu. I used to deal with him at the UN when he was the Israeli Permanent Representative. You could always count on him to back the USA.  He knew our politics, history, culture, and was educated in the US; I never met a bigger fan of the United States. He genuinely loves the United States. He was a visionary on the path that the war on terror would take, and had excellent advice for the US.  His brother Yonathan, of course, was the leader of the brilliant 1976 Israeli operation at Entebbe, and was the only Israeli commando killed in that operation.

Let's not get delicate about this.  Obama, in essence, has announced support for the annihilation of Israel.  The 1967 borders are an invitation to attack.  At one point on the map in that scheme, Israel is barely nine miles wide. The suggestion that the Israelis should place themselves in this jeopardy with nothing tangible in return is an outrageous stunt by an incredibly stupid and anti-American President. It is a sad day when we treat a friend in this manner. It is even a sadder day when it becomes obvious that a foreign leader loves and appreciates the United States more than does our own President.

Let's hope that Congress gives Prime Minister Netanyahu a different message.

Thursday Night Rant: Obama, Palestine, and Jews . . .

Obama must lose the 2012 election.  The future of our nation and the future of freedom in the world demand it. If the Republicans cannot defeat this evil, stupid, destructive empty suit of a President, they might as well fold their flag, shoot the elephant, call it quits, and see if we can all emigrate to Australia, the last hope for freedom's survival.

This President has done tremendous damage to our economy, damage that will take years to fix, and to our standing around the world, yet another item that will take years and blood to fix. He makes Jimmy Carter look like the rock of Gibraltar. He has betrayed, insulted, demoralized, and undermined our key allies and friends, most specifically but not limited to Colombia, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Egypt, Central America, Chile, and now Israel, and emboldened our enemies all around the world. He has gotten us into a pointless war in Libya; has no interest in defending our southern border; has kowtowed to evil regimes such as the ones in Cuba and Venezuela; and seems determined to kiss up to the most hideous of the Islamists.  If this President is not an anti-American, he is certainly good at playing one on the global stage. He must be defeated.

His speech yesterday on "Palestine" is stunning for its arrogance, sheer stupidity, and destructiveness.  Who are his advisors on this? Nobody seems to know. Hillary Clinton is a make-believe Secretary of State, completely out of the loop. Does CAIR write this stuff for him? Bill Ayres? Farrakhan? Rev. Wright? Chomsky? Hamas? Who? How could an American President be so ignorant, and not have any advisor to tell him so, about the Middle East? Does he really think that the problem in the Middle East is that the "Palestinians" do not have a state? Would the creation of yet one more corrupt, chaotic Arab country bring peace?

Some questions. Where is Palestine? It does not exist except when convenient for despotic Arab states to pretend it does. Isn't it funny how "Palestine" always seems to correspond with the exact places where Jews live or have control in the Middle East? "Palestine" seems always--surprise!--defined as the country of Israel, the only place the "Palestinians" could live. When the Arab states invaded Israel in 1948, they did it to destroy the Jews and occupy the land assigned them by the UN.  Jordan never set up a Palestinian state; neither did Egypt.  Before 1967, the West Bank was just a part of Jordan.  I never heard anybody refer to the West Bank back then as "occupied Palestine" or the people living there as anything other than Jordanians--except for those Arabs forced to live in "refugee" camps by the Jordanians and Egyptians. Why is Jordan not considered "Palestine?" Why is the concept of "Palestine"more valid than that of Judea?  Now there are some borders . . .

Judea

This brings me to the most important issue. We all know how smart Jews are supposed to be.  More Nobel prizes than anybody else; more great scientists, inventors, entrepreneurs, philosophers, writers, doctors, lawyers, comedians, actors, and on and on and on. OK, got it: they are really, really smart. Why then are they such idiots when it comes to voting in the US? Will they ever stop voting for FDR? The man, who, by the way, did not like Jews, and did not want them to immigrate to the US even when that would have saved many of them from the Nazis. They keep voting for idiots like Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama, two avowed enemies of the Jewish people.  Why won't they recognize that Nixon, Reagan, and George W. Bush are among the greatest friends Israel has ever had?  Why the support for Obama? Stop doing that! He is not your friend!

I am getting really tried of this President.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ah, Yes, Those Pre-1967 Palestine Borders

True to form, The One has spoken. He says Palestine must be based on the pre-1967 borders . . . you mean when it was called Jordan? And when Israelis were barred from half of Jerusalem?


Egypt, Israel, Jordan pre-1967.  Find Palestine on the map and you get a free supply of humus for one year.


UPDATE:  See the very good item on this over at Legal Insurrection.

Will Russia's Politicians Ever Grow Up?

Well, he did it again, on May 18, 2011. Yep,
President Dmitry Medvedev warned Wednesday Russia could pull out a new nuclear disarmament treaty and enter a new Cold War with the West if the two sides failed to agree on a new missile defence shield.
This seems to be a fairly common ritual, as you can see from this 2008 report,
Russia put the West on alert for a new Cold War that the Kremlin is ready to fight, its President said yesterday.
President Medvedev set tensions soaring when he recognised the independence of two breakaway republics inside Georgia. “We are not afraid of anything, including the prospect of a Cold War,” he said. Hours earlier he had ordered his Foreign Ministry to start establishing diplomatic ties with the secessionist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
And you can find press stories every year since, all with either Putin or Medvedev threatening a new "Cold War."

Sigh . . . do we really have to say it? Ok, here goes, "Hey, buddy, how'd that last Cold War go for you? You went from a country of 23 million sq. km. to one of about 17 million, and from a population of about 291 million to 142 million.  Keep it up, and soon Luxembourg will be bigger."

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

On The Arrest of IMF Boss Dominique Strauss-Kahn: Europe Looks Ridiculous, Again

The arrest of Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) is not the sort of story I normally would comment upon in much depth.  I genuinely believe in "innocent until proven guilty." I don't like the police practice of the "perp" walk. I find prosecutors all too often to be grandstanding egomaniacs using the considerable power of the state to advance themselves -- think, for example, of the loathsome Eliot Spitzer and his shenanigans as a prosecutor.  And, of course, in our media-mad, instant-fame, and litigious world, high profile persons are particularly vulnerable to all sorts of accusations, blackmail, and general "comeuppance" attacks.

What makes this story somewhat different is the reaction in many sectors of Europe.  I read on an almost daily basis major papers in the UK, France, Spain, Italy, and English-langauge versions of some of the others, or watch on TV or on online news broadcasts from Europe and elsewhere. I also have lots of foreign diplomats and government officials as acquaintances and even friends.  The reaction to the DSK arrest has been extraordinary.

There are many in the press, and in the comment sections, who see this as some sort of plot by the U.S. to destroy either the IMF, the Euro, or the French political system, or a combination of any or all of these. There is a feeling, in the French and lefty UK press in particular, of shock and horror at the American system of justice. A feeling that how could nasty crude NYPD cops arrest somebody as important as DSK on the word of a, well, of a simple maid. Those cops must be responding to orders from somebody high up in Washington -- yeah, right, try that with NY cops. That why wouldn't the cops have allowed DSK to fly to Paris, and then ask him to come back to respond to questions?  The horror at seeing one of their elites in handcuffs has been shocking to many, especially, and I must admit I find this odd, on the left.  I guess the spirit of July 14 Bastille Day has long worn off. The conspiracy theories are amazing and so convoluted it is impossible to follow them.

All I can say is imagine what the comments would have been if DSK had been allowed to fly off to Paris, and the cops had not taken seriously the account of a Muslim African maid in which she told of being attacked by a powerful, white, banker politician. The outrage! The confirmation of all we "know" about those racist, Jew-dominated cowboys!

Ah, "sophisticated" Europe . . . after all these years, still a source of entertainment and merriment . . . please don't change as in these difficult times we all need some levity.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Rantings . . .

Things that bother me on a Monday . . .

The I.M.F. story: I love the image of an elderly, pudgy, naked, crazed French socialist international bureaucrat who makes over $500,000/year tax free going amok in a $3,000/night hotel in Manhattan. If the story pans out--and despite my wishes, I have doubts that this story can pass the smell test--and assuming "M" is for maid, we now know what I.M.F. really stands for--insert your off-color joke here.

Oil "Windfall" Profits -- So the Demos want "Big Oil" to pay higher taxes? Don't they have the best solutions? We have a need for increased production and lower prices so let's raise the cost of production and, oh by the way, increase inflationary pressure! Genius. Pure. Genius. "The country is in the very best of hands . . "

Do the Republicans want to win in 2012? Forgive me if I have my doubts. Newt? Really? Ok, if you're running against Clinton in 1996, but not now.  Look, don't get me wrong, he's obviously smart and crafty, but do we need debates on his bizarre personal life? Why is he trashing Paul Ryan? Newt would be a good Secretary of State, but no way is he going to be President. Mitt Romney? Very smart, very knowledgeable about the economy, and has a real understanding of the importance of manufacturing.  He also makes good sense on foreign affairs and can make decisions. Normally, I would favor him, but he's now caught up in "explaining" how the disastrous Romneycare is not the same as the disastrous Obamacare.  Once you start to complain or explain, you've lost. In my heart I am switching to Herman Cain. He, at least, understands from where the "government's" money really comes; he has had to meet a payroll; had to go through the agony of setting up and running his own business. My doubts, however, are that he would know how to manage politicians. They would run circles around him in Washington. Despair, who is there?

Libya: Oh, yeah, that war is still on.  But no worry.  The Euros are on the job. They are using all seven of their airplanes to bomb Libya "around the clock"--well, at least, from 0900 until 1200, then lunch from1200-1430, a resumption of bombing until 1700 and then rest per union rules and EU requirements . . . AND they are going to get an arrest warrant issued for Qaddafi! Wow! None of those mean ol' nasty SEALs, nope, they're going to send a cop . . . that'll work.

More tomorrow . . .

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Happy Birthday Israel

The great Blogger crash of earlier this week delayed my posting of this little greeting to Israel.

I am a big fan of Israel and wish that country all the best. I am sorry to say that I have visited Israel only once, in 1974, and, although, I vowed over the years to return, and tried throughout my Foreign Service career to be assigned there, it never worked out--one of my big regrets.

Israel came into being on May 14, 1948, with all the odds against it. It was at war against an invading and vastly superior enemy within less than 24 hours, and won. It has been in the forefront of the fight against terror and Islamic jihadism ever since.  Despite the wars and the terror directed against it, Israel is a thriving democracy with a booming high-tech sector. It is also a close ally of the United States and our friend. We can count on Israel and until the Obama administration, Israel could count on the United States.

Contrast  Israel with Pakistan, which came into existence not quite one year before on August 14, 1947, and which, incidentally, voted against creation of the State of Israel during the vote at the UN.  For the Muslims, it was OK to have a Muslim homeland in the Indian subcontinent, where Islam was introduced from the outside and via the sword, but not a Jewish one in the birthplace of Judaism. By the way, I can't help but notice that the West Bank only became Occupied Palestine once Israel took it from Jordan.  Prior to 1967, the West Bank was just Jordan; now it's Palestine, and the people who used to be Jordanians, are now Palestinians.

Anyhow, Israel is a prosperous and free success; Pakistan is the typical Islamic repressive mess, and getting worse.  We have so-called Palestinian refugees after 60 years still being feted and fed by the UN (in large part by the US taxpayer) and supplying a steady stream of bombers and killers. I don't see the same concern for the millions of Hindu, Sikh, Bahai, Zoroastrian, and Christian refugees who fled Pakistan, or for that matter for the Jews and Christians who have had to flee the Muslim world.  But, that is the world in which we live.

Happy birthday Israel, and many more in the future.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Definition of Insanity: Jihadists at Work

This is one of the craziest stories I have read in a while.  I saw it in the loopy leftist British The Independent.

Check out the opening paragraphs, written apparently without tongue in cheek, or any sense of the absurdity of what is being stated,
Pakistan's Taliban retaliated brutally for the slaying of Osama bin Laden yesterday when two suicide bombers attacked a paramilitary recruitment centre killing at least 80 people in one of the deadliest strikes in recent months.
The two suicide bombers detonated their explosive vests just as the recruits from the Frontier Constabulary – an ill-equipped and poorly trained police force – were leaving their training centre at the Shabqadar Fort in the north-west town of Charsadda.
I guess that will teach the SEALs not to mess with Islamic heroes!

If you do, we will kill dozens . . . of people who had nothing to do with the SEALs . . . and, uh, well, we will kill dozens of Muslims just to show you we can!

Any protests from Islamic groups? Any calls for the UN Security Council to meet? Anybody out there doubt there is a serious, serious problem within the Islamic world? Anybody doubt that the greatest threat to Muslims is Islam?

Europe Unravels . . . Again

Europe officially came to an end on the morning of June 6, 1944. 


Readers, certainly, can pick other dates, but for me that is the one that sealed it.


Already in decline as an economic, military, scientific, and engineering power for the prior 50 or so years, Europe’s relegation to secondary status became crystal clear for all to see on that violence-filled day on which the Allies landed on the beaches of  Nazi-occupied France. That event took place only because of the overwhelming economic, industrial, and military power of the United States.  Giving full credit to the courage and skill of the British, and recognizing that without the British the war probably would have been lost, we must also recognize that without the United States the war certainly could not have been won.  Without that enormous American power, no hope existed to repulse Hitler's Nazi occupiers, or to prevent a possible new occupation by Stalin’s Communists. The price, however, for needing American assistance was that for the rest of the 20th century, while many issues that preoccupied the world came from or took place there, Europe served only as the stage, and provided the scenery, and some bit actors. The show was managed almost exclusively from Washington D.C. and Moscow.


The transformation of various European commercial, and then economic and political unity schemes that eventually produced the current EU monstrosity is well-known, I won't go through that whole history. Let's just say that it brings into doubt Darwin's theory of the survival of the fittest. The EU as currently structured is a scheme that has as its political purpose to reestablish Europe as the center of the world, and dim the light of those braggarts with their Coca-Cola, cowboys, Hollywood, aircraft carriers, and comic books on the other side of the Atlantic. Many years ago, as the EU monster was growing and making ugly noises, I told a German diplomat friend that "France sees the EU as an anti-American project led by French politicians, protected by British troops, and paid for by German taxpayers." That was in the early 1980s; I wasn't too far off.


If you go to the EU's official websites you see lots of bragging about all that the EU has "done," e.g., ended the Cold War, brought peace to Europe, etc. It is written sort of like an Obama speech.  It's, of course, rubbish. The EU has basically done nothing except create an enormous bureaucratic Frankenstein and come up with the ultimate Procrustean bed, the Euro. Peace? Sorry, mes amies, it was the cowboys, and their nasty computers, high tech economy, Star Wars weapons, neutron bombs, cruise missiles, and aircraft carrier battle groups that kept the peace and drove the USSR into extinction and reunified Germany--now that's how Darwin is supposed to work! Prosperity? Nope. It was the Marshall Plan, and the American willingness to protect Europe even while Europeans ran around and promoted their cheeses, wines, unwatchable movies, DeGaul, and lectured us on what barbarians we were. When, for example, the situation in ex-Yugoslavia came blowing apart, it wasn't wine, cheese, Brigitte Bardot, Sartre, or the French Foreign Legion, that resolved it. It was the cowboys, once again. It has got be tough to be a European.


Now the whole thing is coming apart at the seams. The question is how much longer are the Germans willing to be the bankers for French ambitions? The Germans are, in many ways, admirable. They, frankly, are at times surprisingly like us; certainly our science and engineering owes them a debt of gratitude--it was their political stupidity that drove some of the finest scientific minds in history to our lands on which they found very fertile ground. They are hard working and amazingly productive: one of the great things about Germany has been its ability to export goods and services regardless of whether the exchange rates are with them or against them. That is a tribute to their productivity and their concern for quality. But, but, they are getting a raw deal in the EU, a deal that not even they will be able to keep paying for. They have to pay for Greece, Portugal, Ireland, and soon Spain, Italy, Belgium, and who knows who else is in the wings waiting with a hand out. And let us not forget, that EU politics are essentially about hand outs: doles, subsidies, protectionism . . . the model for Obama, in other words.


Will the Germans keep paying? Will they keep taking orders from the French, or will we see a rebirth of German nationalism, sick of the rest of Europe reaching into its pockets and constantly throwing WWII in its face. That guilt train will eventually go off the rails, and then we will have something to see . . .


Europe never has recovered from June 6, 1944. 





Canada, eh? Eh!

Back when I was just the Diplomad, in the days before Diplomad 2.0, I vented a lot about Canada. I referred to our neighbor to the North as a "snow-bound, Sharia-besotted Botswana," and as the most "feminized country on earth," and made fun of their version of US-Canada history, especially their telling of the War of 1812--oh, please!! I never liked Trudeau or what he represented, and while average Canadians seemed quite nice and decent folks, many of their politicians were something else.

I also referred to Canada as "Kansas ruled by Massachusetts." Too harsh? Yeah, maybe, as I don't know of any Canadian politician who has left his young female aide to drown in a pond, while he swam away. I also expressed regret at the passing of the Red Ensign, and its replacement by a washed out, semi-pink, post-heroic Maple Leaf. A leaf?  Really? You couldn't have picked something a little more, I don't know, macho? A polar bear? An arctic wolf? An angry otter? Or at least Pamela Anderson?

On the positive side of the ledger, I, however, did express boundless admiration for the Canadians who stormed the beaches at Dieppe and Normandy, and who took some of the highest per capita losses of any nation in either World War. I also grew up admiring Lorne Greene and William Shatner, two Canadian kosher exports to the USA who became iconic figures in American culture--along with Howie Mandel, that is.  They, however, could have kept Richard Dreyfuss.

OK, I am here, not to apologize exactly, but to say that maybe, maybe there was more to Canada than the young(er) Diplomad was willing to admit.  Certainly their last elections seem to indicate there is something going on in Canada that we would do well to examine and perhaps emulate (not that health care system though; that's not for us, nor are their insane "hate speech" laws).  They had some tough campaigning, lots of pundits calling it all wrong, and a very decent result.  Stephen Harper, whom I met some years ago very briefly, won, fair and square, a pretty amazing victory for a parliamentary system.  He's got a clear cut majority government, and many of the loony types went down in flames: the odious and divisive BQ among them.  Harper is not a fancy talker, but he does speak clearly and he did a very good job of laying out a relatively conservative choice for Canadians--and they took it.  Well, a big chunk of them did, Canada, after all, has its versions of Manhattan, Boston, and San Francisco, places that never seem to give up on lefty politics regardless of the facts on the ground.

Perhaps even more impressive than this election is how Canada has weathered the economic storm. They are doing a lot better than we are. They took some tough decisions years ago to get their finances in order, and they did it. Admittedly they have the advantage of being able to export lots of high-priced raw materials to the folks in the USA, but still, they did not spend the money on craziness, they got their deficits down, and their dollar has strengthened.  So much so, that I find myself in competition with Canadian buyers for a retirement home in the western USA.  In addition, Las Vegas is counting on Celine Dion to restore prosperity to Sin City.

One more thing. Let's not forget the sacrifices Canadians are making in Afghanistan; almost 160 Canadians have died in the fighting there.

Anyhow, let's take a respectful look at what the other North Americans are up to. We might have something to learn from them . . but I still don't like Justin Bieber . . .

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

He was a Legitimate Target

I can understand the perverse delight my friends on the right are getting from noting that after all the caterwauling by the left about the "torture" of Al Qaeda detainees by the Bush administration, it's on the left's watch that an unarmed, dirty, sickly, prematurely aged old man, living in a run-down dump in a run-down country gets whacked on orders of the President.  Not just any President, mind you, but The One, The One Who Would Heal the Planet, Sooth All Troubles, the Post-American President, the Citizen of the World, The Nobel Peace Prize Winner, the, uh, well, you get it.  I know it's fun to speculate about maybe bringing Obama and Panetta to trial after 2012 for ordering an assassination. Yes, yes, pay back, and all that. Obama and company are a bunch of hypocrites; we all know that.

We all have been tempted, and on occasion have given in to that temptation, but using the Osama killing to make the above point about Obama, Holder, and the rest is not a good strategy. If one thing marks conservatives from the loony libs it's our genuine concern for the country, its institutions, and its standing in a very dangerous world.  We conservatives must, therefore, stand with the President on this issue. We cannot treat him  as the left would have treated Bush, and, in fact, did treat Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld, etc., all through the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Likewise the debate about whether he was or was not still in control of AQ is irrelevant.  It is as irrelevant as debating whether a delusional Hitler in his last few days in the the bunker was or was not in control of anything.  Doesn't matter.  They both were legitimate targets for what they had done if nothing else.

The bottom line is that Osama was a legitimate target for both capture and killing.  This is a new world in which the old concept of war as a declared conflict between states no longer necessarily holds.  Osama and his well-funded international organization had declared war on the United States; he repeatedly had acted on that declaration even before the 9/11 attack on the US mainland. He was a legitimate target whether or not he was armed at the time, and whether or not he put up any resistance. He was as legitimate a target as was Heydrich, whom the British trained and delivered a Czech assassination team to kill; as legitimate as Yamamoto whom the U.S. successfully targeted in a brilliantly executed early example of coordination between military and intel; and as legitimate as Rommel, strafed by the RAF and almost killed in the days after D-Day.  Heydrich did not fight back; he had no option to surrender--he died, as he deserved, a slow agonizing death from his injuries. Yamamoto was in a transport plane when he got jumped by P-38s; he could not fight back; he could not surrender.  Rommel was in his staff car when he got strafed and wounded by a Spitfire; he did not fight back; he did not have an option to surrender.

On killing Osama, I am with Obama . . . if that isn't a rallying cry, I don't know what is . . .

Monday, May 9, 2011

The SEALs and Abbottabad: What it Means for Islam

The SEAL raid on Osama's "palace" in Abbottabad has a meaning well beyond the welcome elimination of a murderous weasel who killed thousands of innocents by his direct actions, and tens-of-thousands indirectly. I see his death as I would that of a serial murderer: does capital punishment necessarily produce a lower crime rate? No, but that particular person won't kill again, and, more important, it shows that some people commit certain acts that are so beyond the pale, that society cannot and will not tolerate them at all.  Osama had forfeited his right to live. Society, acting in this case through an American SEAL, had the right and the obligation to terminate Osama's stay among us. That brilliant raid should be a lesson for Muslims on the perils of following the path laid out by Jihadi murderers. It should also be a lesson for the West: we can defeat the Jihadis as long as we realize it is a long process, requiring patience, and sacrifice--and if we can continue to produce the men who carried out that raid.

Islamic civilization is a rotten house. Constant outside pressure either will collapse it, or force its miserable occupants to begin a serious effort at reforming and rebuilding it.  Islam holds sway among some of the world's potentially richest and most advanced countries, but that, in fact, are among the poorest and most retrograde on the planet.  Islam as practiced is a failed ideology: it leads to slavery, stupidity, and poverty on a mass scale. The greatest victims of Islam are the Muslims forced to live under its tyrannical, mind-numbing, and brutal rule.

Islamic civilization produces nothing. Yes, yes, what about algebra? Ok, Ok, it hasn't produced anything in modern times besides ignorance, death, despair, and poverty. It is the MSNBC of religious faiths, but, admittedly, with higher ratings.

I have lived and worked in many Muslim countries over the course of my long career, and have never failed to be amazed by the damage Islam does to its practitioners or, better said, to its victims. It makes people stupid, intolerant, and violent. I found repeatedly that there was an inherent contradiction between being a good Muslim and being a good person.  I met lots of good Muslims, and lots of good persons:  there was VERY little intersection between the two groups. Islam requires breaking a person down and making him or her into a robot; it discourages and openly represses independent thought; and fosters a constant feeling of paranoia of and hatred for the outside world: non-Muslims should be allowed to exist only to the extent that they can be taken advantage of, and then converted or discarded.

Islamic civilization, ironically, can only be saved by constant and sharp defeat at the hands of the hated infidels.  The Islamists must be defeated in their war against Israel; their war against India; their war against Russia; and, of course, their war against the West and our friends. We must understand their totalitarian ideology and defeat it again, and again, and again. As long as we do not see our belief in freedom and liberty as requiring our suicide, we can and will defeat them, just as the SEALs did in Abbottabad.  Only then will it be possible for "good" Muslims who also  want to be "good" people, assuming they exist, to stand up and tell the Jihadis to take a hike.

Islam needs a major reformation and enlightenment, and if its practitioners are not willing or able to do it, then the SEALs will do it for them. That's the choice facing Muslims. That's the choice so starkly shown by events in Abbottabad.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Imagine if This had Happened in Israel . . .

Muted press reporting tells us that 12 have died in "clashes" between Christians and Muslims in Egypt.  That, of course, is a lie. It is the sort of mainstream politically correct media lie to which we have become almost completely numb.

What is happening in Egypt is not a "clash." It is a concerted, deliberate attack on Egypt's Christians by followers of the Religion of Peace and Tolerance. They are finding one excuse after another to try to eliminate--using the legal system, arson and murder--the ancient Coptic faith from Egypt. The Coptic Church dates back to the middle of the first century and, of course, predates Islam in Egypt by over 600 years. That, naturally, does not matter, since whatever was once Islamic must again be Islamic, and what is now Islamic must forever remain Islamic.

So, we have the Religion of Peace trying to eliminate faiths that predate it, and simultaneously insisting, for example, that Spain should be Muslim because it once formed part of the Muslim world. There once existed a thriving Jewish community in Mecca (yes, indeed), but, of course, it is now gone, and Mecca is a Muslim Holy City. I see no move to try to reestablish that community. The cities of Israel, however, must return to Islam because they once were ruled by Islamic despots.

In the view of the Religion of Peace, conquest can only go in one direction.

Christian crusades, bad; Muslim attempt to conquer Europe, good. Try to build a church in Saudi Arabia, almost impossible; try to stop a mosque from going up next to Ground Zero in New York, almost impossible. Kill a murdering terrorist scum such as Osama, and you have to treat his body with respect; fall into the hands of Osama and his followers, and you will be beheaded on the internet, or burned alive in a skyscraper.  I never realized that those were accepted forms of Judeo-Christian burial . . . notice also that the Islamos had no problem killing and throwing a crippled man in a wheelchair, Leon Klinghoffer, off the deck of the Achille Lauro.

Now, friends, imagine, the press reporting and "world reaction" if mobs in Israel had burned mosques and killed Muslim faithful. I can guarantee you the UN Security Council would be in session, and there would be resolutions floating about at the UNSC, the UNGA, and the UN Human Rights Commission condemning Israel.  We would have little Euro-lefties organizing boycotts and aid flotillas. Obama and Clinton would be all over the media condemning, expressing concern, etc. The outrage! You could cut it with a knife!

But, keep moving, folks, there is nothing to see here, just the Religion of Peace doing its thing . . . don't insult them . . . pray that Moloch will eat you last . . .

Osama: The Canary in the Cage

When I was a child we had a canary.  Although we had never accused or, much less, convicted him of anything, we kept him in a cage for an indefinite period. He, I am ashamed to say, did not have access to an attorney.

I hadn't thought of that innocent bird until today; the videos of Osama just released by the Pentagon reminded me of our canary.

Our little canary would spend hours contemplating his reflection in a little mirror that hung in the cage. It seems Osama did the same thing.  We see video of a scrofulous Osama watching himself--better said,  a younger version of himself---on video. He was just like that canary.

Thinking of that bird, got me to thinking that there existed a contract between the canary and our family.  He lived in the cage, and, in exchange, we fed him and protected him from the neighbor's cat, and from all the other dangers that exist for a little bird in the big world. On reflection, this seems to have been the arrangement Osama had with some Pakistani government agency or some powerful Pakistanis.  He would stay in the cage, not do much to attract attention to himself, certainly nothing that would lead back to Pakistan, and these Pakistanis would "make sure" nothing happened to him. Maybe there was money involved, usually the case in corrupt Pakistan, or just some ideological affinity.  He was, in essence, I think (and I have no special information) under house arrest, probably by some faction of the ISI, or another part of the military, or both.  It's likely that others, e.g., Mullah Omar, al-Zawahiri, have similar deals.  Given what happened to Osama, don't be surprised if these arrangements suddenly get canceled.  We might just see relatively soon the Pakistanis either opening the cage door and getting these other canaries to fly away, or suddenly "finding" them and either killing or turning them over to us.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Imagine if Bush had done that . . .

I am reading that we apparently sent out a drone strike to try to kill U.S.-born Anwar al-Awaki in Yemen.  It seems the strike didn't get him. Too bad.

That aside, first, why are discussing it?  Do we think that by announcing it to the world, it will be easier to get him next time?

Second, try to imagine if you can, the reaction from the left, especially from none other than Eric Holder, if Bush had ordered the assassination of an American citizen. The outrage! The lawyers! The injunctions! The editorials in the New York Times!

I guess, however, that under this administration it's ok because, as I understand it, our latest drones, developed with the technical assistance of the ACLU, broadcast a Miranda Warning just before the missile hits.

Second, since nobody has seen al-Awaki's long form birth certificate, it's not clear he's really an American citizen . . .

                                         "You have the right to remain silent . . . "

Please, Lord, is There an Off Switch?

The Obamatons just can't stop yapping, can they?

The impact and benefits of the remarkable taking out of Osama are being undermined by a seemingly endless blathering coming from administration spokesmen with--as we have highlighted in prior postings--widely divergent accounts of the raid on Abbottabad. It is one thing for there to be leaks, and off-the-record briefings that diverge or even dispute official accounts. That's the way of Washington, and of most modern capitals in the 24/7 news cycle in which we all live. It is quite another to have official after official going on the record with different and often directly contradictory accounts of the raid.  Is there no person who knows how to do "strategic communication?" Never mind that, let's get more basic, is there no person who can throw an off switch and stop the noise?

Was it really necessary to say anything official beyond, "We got him. Here are the photos?"

Now the latest gambit is revealing to all that US forces picked up all sorts of intel goodies in the Osama man-cave. Who was the genius who revealed that we found phone numbers? What do you think has now happened to those phones?  Why did we have to announce the taking of computers, hard drives, discs, and documents? Why? Do the geniuses in charge of this fiasco think that the bad guys aren't listening? That they don't know how to adapt? This is criminally irresponsible, and could put people's lives at risk.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Absurd Concerns for Osama . . . and the Yamamoto Principle . . .

Lots of stories in the press about the reactions in Europe and among some leftoids re the killing of mass-murderer Osama bin Laden.  This is just about as silly a concern as can be imagined.  Apparently some people worry that Osama was unarmed when he was killed and that he did not have the "surrender option."

This is war in the 21st century, folks. It is different.  You are dealing with people who fly civilian aircraft into buildings; who deliberately blow up trains and buses; who behead noncombatants and proudly broadcast the murders all around the world; people who wear explosive vests and get children to do likewise.

That said, let us bring up two points about the killing of Osama.

First, had we used a B-2 or a Predator, he would not have had a "surrender option." Everybody in that house would have been vaporized, and maybe even some neighbors.

Second, let us also remember another famous killing of an enemy leader ordered by another Democratic President. I refer to the intel-driven killing of Japanese Admiral Yamamoto, the mastermind behind the Pearl Harbor attack. In April 1943, responding to direct orders from President Franklin Roosevelt, and relying on information of the Japanese officer's whereabouts obtained from the deciphered Japanese naval code, US P-38 fighters shot Yamamoto and his staff out of the sky.  They were in two transport aircraft, could not fight back, and had no surrender option.  Was that a war crime?  Hardly.  Removing the Admiral, the most talented Japanese naval officer, probably saved a lot of lives and helped shorten the war. Yes, he was replaced, but he was not replaced by anybody with his skills and charisma.

Final thought on this topic. I could not help but reflect that Osama bin Laden learned first hand what the SEAL of the Prophet means . . .

Pakistani Perfidy and Western Incompetence in the Hunt for Osama

In the long ago 1980s, I spent several years working on Pakistani issues. I lived for two years in Islamabad and Peshawar, travelled all over the country, including in many areas now off-limits, and spent another two years working on Pakistan in Washington and returning frequently there. Those were the Reagan years, and we were working closely (sort of) with the Zia ul-Haq government to push the Soviets out of Afghanistan (more on that below.)

Pakistan is a strange country with a strange history.  It is a rump piece, a backwater of the great Indian Hindu civilization, and is wracked by any number of complexes and pathologies. It is a Muslim state founded by one of the most non-Islamic people ever, Muhammed Ali Jinnah, who only reluctantly came to the conclusion that Pakistan should be created. Most of his life he had argued for keeping the Muslims of India within a democratic India.  He was intelligent and good looking; dressed well; was not religious; spoke beautiful English; and was more at home in the salons of the well-to-do and educated than he was with the street rabble. He was never clear whether his vision for Pakistan was as a secular or a religious state, and that debate over his intentions still rages in Pakistan with a lot of historical revision undertaken to show the second. A heavy smoker, and, reportedly, a man who liked his Scotch, he died very soon after the creation of Pakistan. He therefore, never saw the country's subsequent humiliations and defeats. The carving away of Bangladesh, gave the lie to the creation myth of Pakistan as THE homeland of the subcontinent's Muslims, as did the fact that India continued to host one of the world's largest Muslim communities. We should note that more Muslims live in India than in either Pakistan or Bangladesh, and do not seem in a hurry to move to either of those "homelands."

Pakistan is and always has been a mess. It is held together just barely by two forces: the military, and hatred of India. Punjabis, Sindhis, Baluchis, Pashtos have little in common except religion, and there are even differences there. The Pakistanis, especially in recent years as Saudi influence has grown, have tended to  oppress non-Sunnis, and to institute a copy of Saudi-type Islamic rule. Things have gotten progressively tougher for intellectuals, artists, writers, and women in Pakistan, as well as for Christians, Ahmadis, and Shias (although the Ismaili followers of the wealthy Aga Khan have bought themselves some respite from persecution--money does wonderful things in Pakistan).  Most other religious groups have long been driven out, or firmly underground in Pakistan.  It is not a democratic country; democratic values run very thin and weak, and even then only among a handful of mostly Western educated elites--many of whom see "democracy" as a great way to get very rich by buying and selling votes, favors, parliamentary majorities, etc. The late Benazir Bhutto, whom I knew quite well, and her extraordinarily corrupt husband, now President of Pakistan, shine as classic examples of that sort of "democratic"elite so beloved by the West.

Pakistan is a weak, resentful state, very envious of the success of India, especially since India freed itself of the horrendous Nehru clan, in particular that evil, murdering, pro-Soviet Indira Gandhi. Islam has done nothing positive for Pakistan. Under Zia ul-Haq, later assassinated along with the US Ambassador, the country became more and more Islamized, became progressively crazier and, frankly, stupider and stupider. It was Pakistan's intelligence service, the corrupt and faction-ridden Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) outfit, working with the Saudis that created the Taliban and, eventually, al Qaida. It was not the CIA, the United States, or Great Britain. That the USA and the UK created those operations is one of those little stories put out by the left and certain others to try to discredit our current efforts against the Taliban and AQ. It was the Pakistanis and the Saudis, not the US and the UK, who created the Taliban and AQ.

I worked in Pakistan at the height of the relationship between the US and Pakistan. Even then, however, we knew not to trust them too much.  Zia, after all, did nothing to protect the US Embassy when it was attacked by a mob in 1979, following false local press reports of a US-Israeli attack on Mecca. That mob burned the Embassy, and killed four embassy employees, including a young Marine guard shot in the head by a sniper.

We knew they were double dealing us on the Afghans. We would insist they not support certain groups, they would promise, but then do so anyhow. They also played games with the Iranians, and we knew they were lying about their nuclear program. We reluctantly went along, as you often have to do in the real world, because we had the theory of defeating "one enemy at a time." We, too, did things that we did not tell them about. We were on a mission to destroy the Soviet Union, which at that time, and rightly so, was seen as the major threat to the United States, including to our homeland.  That mission succeeded, and I still think we did the right thing by focussing on that mission.  I am proud of the very small role I played in helping bring about that defeat.

Every victory, of course, brings consequences which successors must handle. Defeating Germany and Japan were the right things to do, although those defeats then opened opportunities for the Soviet Union and later Communist China.  Defeating Iraq in two wars benefitted Iran, but that doesn't mean it wasn't right to defeat Iraq.

Anyhow, bottom line, don't trust Pakistan. That government is ridden with factions, corrupt beyond belief, full of liars, and of people out for themselves and their families, not for the "country." Did Pakistan know that Osama had his man-cave in Abbottabad? I am sure parts of Pakistan's government did; almost certainly some officials were bought and paid for.  I have been to Abbottabad many times in the past.  It is inconceivable that a sprawling compound could go up in this sleepy and quaint town, without questions asked by Pakistani military, police, or intelligence services, or even by local politicians out to get some Baksheesh from an obviously rich potential benefactor who had just moved into town.

This episode, sadly, also raises some embarrassing questions which I have not read or heard asked about the West's intel services. When I worked in Pakistan, and this was well before high-tech drones, Google, and all the rest of that stuff, somebody with our Embassy, or with our friends at the neighboring British High Commission, would have commented on this compound, and undertaken an effort to find out who lived there, how it was being paid for, etc.

Since 9/11/2001, we have undertaken a multi-billion dollar manhunt for Osama, a hunt that focussed largely on Pakistan. It never occurred to anybody that he or some other very big fish might be in that complex? Had we become so enamored of the "he is living in a cave in the mountains" scenario that we couldn't conceive that this rich, spoiled, cowardly, and not very healthy man might be living in relative comfort somewhere more, shall we say, urbane? I hope I am wrong, and that the true history of the effort will show that somebody on our side asked about that compound. I am afraid, however, that this episode just shows how degraded we have let our intel services become, and, most notably, the poverty of our HUMINT capabilities.  That degradation is understandable coming as it does after decades of attacks, mostly by the Democrats, on our covert capabilities.  If the bad guy doesn't have a cellphone or internet we don't know who he is or what he is doing? That is a lesson our enemies, I am sure, have noticed, and that is not cheerful news.