From the desk of Martin Helme on Wed, 2007-04-04 12:46
An article by H.E Mart Helme, Estonia’s ambassador to Russia 1996-1999
When last February the Russian president Vladimir Putin unleashed his chilling attack against America in a speech in Munich, he was really addressing the European Union, or “old Europe” to be exact, and most humiliatingly its most influential state, Germany.
Barely a day earlier, TV screens had been inundated with promotional clips about the cooperation between Russia and the EU in the days of Germany’s ex-chancellor Gerhard Schröder. It was natural that the present chancellor, Angela Merkel, is all for emphasizing the need to preserve the dialogue with Russia.
So why did Putin humiliate and aggravate his friends and hosts in such a way? Simple.
Putin used a well-known technique of Zen-Buddhism’s shock therapy against senile, indecisive, spoiled and greedy Europe.
Having used his prior bully tactics – gas attacks, political assassinations, obstruction in the Middle-East, etc. – to demonstrate his brutality, resolve and fearlessness in the face of the New Cold War, Putin set the European Union on a crossroads: either Russia or America, either gas and Europe’s readiness for deals or confrontation over economy and security issues with obvious consequences.
The fact that “old Europe” is in a depressing silence shows that Putin’s message has hit home. Only the representatives of the United States and some of the Northern and Mid-European countries, i.e those who feel that they will have to face Russia’s threats anyway, have raised their voices in protest.
But why has Putin suddenly turned so active and audacious? It is wrong to seek the answer in Russia’s upcoming elections. Sure, they are a background but nevertheless an unimportant one. The continuing inflation of the prices of raw materials is also more or less a background as it gives Moscow more money to carry out its plans. However, the primary reason lies elsewhere. Basically in the fact that the increasing hunger for energy in the Asian giants has created an alternative for Russia, one that liberates Moscow from the mutual trade dependence with European countries and gives it trump cards for political extortion.
Indeed, in collaboration with China, India and other Asian countries, Russia can completely satisfy its own need for consumer goods and at the same time export all – and I mean all – of its produced and exportable raw materials to the Asian Tigers, leaving European foundries in Germany and its neighbours dry. In other words Russia no longer needs Europe.
Moscow gets added confidence thanks to the fast development of relations between Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan – all countries that are part of the Shanghai Association founded in 2001. This syndicate, where Mongolia is an observer country, is the embryo of an extremely powerful geopolitical consortium. It engulfs two thirds of the Eurasian continent, has 1.5 billion people and a remarkable portion of the world’s raw materials. This alliance, not just Russia, is the main challenger to the block of the United States and its allies. Moreover, one has to add to this the hostility of the Islamic world towards the US (and Western civilisation in general). This is a force that Washington does not have the luxury of ignoring.
But who are still allies of the USA in the present anti-American world? Which countries can Washington still rely on? Primarily the Anglo-Saxon nations (Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New-Zealand) and “new Europe” – the East-European countries, including the Baltic States, who have conterminously felt the threat emanating from Russia.
In Asia, the two new power blocks fight over India. In Europe they fight for old Europe’s allegiance. As an adept prostitute, old Europe is flirting with both sides. Putin’s attack on Europe was meant to force Berlin, Paris, Rome, Brussels and all the others who are situated to the west of the former Iron Curtain to decide whether the European Union wants to choose the gas coming from Russia – and thus become a vassal of a considerably weaker Russia than that of the Cold War period – or continue as an appendage of the United States. The fact that Europe is unable to form an independent and monolithic centre of power is apparently clearer to Moscow than to Brussels, which is still living in the illusions of a common foreign and security policy and a European Constitution.
From the point of view of Eastern Europe, it would of course be welcome if new Europe remained allied with America. But be that as it may, these nations can no longer follow a strategy of silent reliance on a non-existent European solidarity. New Europe must stop putting its trust in the EU’s dream of a common foreign and military policy and opt for a clear security policy oriented to the United States.
This orientation, besides being the only one offering potential security, might tilt the Western-Europeans, who have wound up sitting on Russia’s gas syringe, a few millimetres to decide in favour of a real, not merely a verbal, transatlantic coalition.
We need a new Truman doctrine. We need a new “Berlin wall” against neo-Stalinist Russia and its anti-Western allies. This time the Baltics cannot be left to the East of it. ‘Old Europe” has to realize that the attempts at democratising Russia have failed. The efforts at integrating Russia with the West have failed. Only one option remains: Russia, which is threatening world peace, must be opposed through a New Cold War.
By James Lewis
Today Britain is being raked over the coals by the nasty old Barbary Pirates, in the shape of the Madcap Mullahs of Qom. All the United Kingdom needs is a little help from its old friends France and Germany, the twin pillars of the European Union.
But so far the EU is remarkably reticent about the whole affair. Why? Well, it’s the Almighty euro. Nobody wants to lose a single blessed euro to rescue the British captives. Laissez les Anglo-Saxons aller à l’enfer!
David Frum and Newt Gingrich have each provided the obvious answer. If you don’t want to use gunboat diplomacy, what about squeezing the billionaire mullahs on the little matter of their shameless wealth and their decades of false promises to improve the lives of the poor in Iran? All those billions in oil money is now going for nukes, a fanatical Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and a notoriously corrupt theocracy. Well, we know that Americans are just materialistic, blood-for-oil types, who only worship the Mighty Dollar, while Europe is deeply humane and peace-loving. So — if it’s only a matter of money to help Britain save the lives of its sailors and Royal Marines, surely the EU would be willing to help with its euros?
We can forget a civilized dialogue with Tehran. Tehran is in the hands of barbarian throwbacks, and its seventy million people will continue to live in fear until the theocracy is overthrown, just like the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.
But Europe has a lot of economic clout in mullah land. David Frum lists the following:
Any economic boycott would quickly translate into social pressure on the mullahs, as their 12 to 20 percent unemployment rate escalates. What could be more humane than driving the dangerous mullahs from power for their corruption and misrule of the Iranian economy?
Newt Gingrich has an even simpler idea, following Ronald Reagan’s approach in weakening the USSR. Since Iran has only one oil refinery, why not throw some sand into the works? A modest amount of sabotage would squeeze the mullahs with “deniability.”
These are not friendly acts, but they would save lives. And if the mullahs can be squeezed enough to stop their mad rush to nukes, it might save many thousands of lives and infinite trouble down the road. All the Sunni Arab nations would heave a sigh of relief, because they are first in line for the neo-Persian Empire.
All it takes is a resolute, unified and morally serious Europe to do the right thing.
Just a few weeks ago the EU celebrated its Fiftieth Anniversary, headlined by the BBC and Guardian with a flood of gaudy hype about the unity and successes of Europe. Europe, it appears, has “kept the peace for fifty years,” all by itself. But that brave record doesn’t extend to supporting Britain against a flagrant violation of the Geneva Conventions by the lolly-gagging fascisti in Iran. Could it be that France and Germany are more worried about their 14 billion euros of trade with the mullahs?
Well, the real EU is a Potemkin Village, all jolly peasants and no bricks. It is held together by a grand bargain: Germany pays for French farm supports, and France fronts for Germany’s return to international standing and power. Britain came in only as an afterthought, to sustain the grand illusion. But today we see what that really means when the chips are down.
The French and the international Left keep trying to split the Atlantic Alliance, by drawing the UK away from a century of security cooperation with America. London’s Parliamentary sovereignty has therefore been turned over to the EU to an astonishing extent. The British military are being decimated to make room for a new European Army. The Royal Navy has been told that promotions will be frozen for five years. Chances are that promising young officers will only see career openings in the Franco-German-Spanish-Belgian Army, so that the British armed forces will quickly bleed into the new Euro Rapid Reaction Force. Even British foreign policy will soon be controlled by Brussels, with a heavily French bureaucracy, run by French-style centralized control under a tiny power elite, largely shaped by … Paris and Berlin.
So British sovereignty has been kidnapped as surely as those sailors were in the Shatt-al-Arab. But for what? The real test of Europe is not farm subsidies, nor the Universal Declaration of the Rights of the Child, nor the bankrupt-as-usual National Health Service. The real test is the survival of democratic government on earth, as Abraham Lincoln said in his Gettysburg Address — that is, can a truly democratic Europe protect its member states? Will it stand up for its proclaimed citizens? Does it have a spine in the face of totalitarian aggression?
Or can “Europe” only thrive on the childish pretence that peace and security will happily go on forever and ever, like a fairytale? Because at some point the American cop is going to get mighty tired of waiting for those 450 million people to grow up.
Mullahs to Europe: This is a test!
It won’t be the last.
The OPINION JOURNAL OF WSJ has a featured article The Trouble With Islam
BY TAWFIK HAMID
Jerry Gordon’s message:
Dr. Hamid has it exactly right about the anti-liberal core of Islamic beliefs. Having met and heard him at the recent Intelligence Summit in St. Petersburg, Florida, his views in this Wall Street Journal op ed should be heeded by all Americans and the imperiled countries of Eurabia. Look at the law suit filed by the six ‘flying imams’ against U.S. Airways and fellow passengers on a flight from Minneapolis to Phoenix and the desecration of a Chicago synagogue, just prior to Passover with writings in Arabic with the threat of ‘death to Israel.’ Dr. Hamid’s words should be read far and wide in this country so what feckless PC tolerant proponents get the message that their very lives and our Western values are at risk of annihilation by Islamists in our midst.
[..] It is vital to grasp that traditional and even mainstream Islamic teaching accepts and promotes violence. Shariah, for example, allows apostates to be killed, permits beating women to discipline them, seeks to subjugate non-Muslims to Islam as dhimmis and justifies declaring war to do so. It exhorts good Muslims to exterminate the Jews before the “end of days.” The near deafening silence of the Muslim majority against these barbaric practices is evidence enough that there is something fundamentally wrong.
The grave predicament we face in the Islamic world is the virtual lack of approved, theologically rigorous interpretations of Islam that clearly challenge the abusive aspects of Shariah. Unlike Salafism, more liberal branches of Islam, such as Sufism, typically do not provide the essential theological base to nullify the cruel proclamations of their Salafist counterparts. And so, for more than 20 years I have been developing and working to establish a theologically-rigorous Islam that teaches peace.
Yet it is ironic and discouraging that many non-Muslim, Western intellectuals–who unceasingly claim to support human rights–have become obstacles to reforming Islam. Political correctness among Westerners obstructs unambiguous criticism of Shariah’s inhumanity. They find socioeconomic or political excuses for Islamist terrorism such as poverty, colonialism, discrimination or the existence of Israel. What incentive is there for Muslims to demand reform when Western “progressives” pave the way for Islamist barbarity? Indeed, if the problem is not one of religious beliefs, it leaves one to wonder why Christians who live among Muslims under identical circumstances refrain from contributing to wide-scale, systematic campaigns of terror.
Politicians and scholars in the West have taken up the chant that Islamic extremism is caused by the Arab-Israeli conflict. This analysis cannot convince any rational person that the Islamist murder of over 150,000 innocent people in Algeria–which happened in the last few decades–or their slaying of hundreds of Buddhists in Thailand, or the brutal violence between Sunni and Shia in Iraq could have anything to do with the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Western feminists duly fight in their home countries for equal pay and opportunity, but seemingly ignore, under a façade of cultural relativism, that large numbers of women in the Islamic world live under threat of beating, execution and genital mutilation, or cannot vote, drive cars and dress as they please.
The tendency of many Westerners to restrict themselves to self-criticism further obstructs reformation in Islam. Americans demonstrate against the war in Iraq, yet decline to demonstrate against the terrorists who kidnap innocent people and behead them. Similarly, after the Madrid train bombings, millions of Spanish citizens demonstrated against their separatist organization, ETA. But once the demonstrators realized that Muslims were behind the terror attacks they suspended the demonstrations. This example sent a message to radical Islamists to continue their violent methods.
Western appeasement of their Muslim communities has exacerbated the problem. During the four-month period after the publication of the Muhammad cartoons in a Danish magazine, there were comparatively few violent demonstrations by Muslims. Within a few days of the Danish magazine’s formal apology, riots erupted throughout the world. The apology had been perceived by Islamists as weakness and concession.
Worst of all, perhaps, is the anti-Americanism among many Westerners. It is a resentment so strong, so deep-seated, so rooted in personal identity, that it has led many, consciously or unconsciously, to morally support America’s enemies.
Progressives need to realize that radical Islam is based on an anti-liberal system. They need to awaken to the inhumane policies and practices of Islamists around the world. They need to realize that Islamism spells the death of liberal values. And they must not take for granted the respect for human rights and dignity that we experience in America, and indeed, the West, today.
Well-meaning interfaith dialogues with Muslims have largely been fruitless. Participants must demand–but so far haven’t–that Muslim organizations and scholars specifically and unambiguously denounce violent Salafi components in their mosques and in the media. Muslims who do not vocally oppose brutal Shariah decrees should not be considered “moderates.”
All of this makes the efforts of Muslim reformers more difficult. When Westerners make politically-correct excuses for Islamism, it actually endangers the lives of reformers and in many cases has the effect of suppressing their voices.
Tolerance does not mean toleration of atrocities under the umbrella of relativism. It is time for all of us in the free world to face the reality of Salafi Islam or the reality of radical Islam will continue to face us.
Dr. Hamid, a onetime member of Jemaah Islamiya, an Islamist terrorist group, is a medical doctor and Muslim reformer living in the West.
Destruction Through Diplomacy
By Micah Halpern
MicahHalpern.com | April 4, 2007
Diplomacy is an art.
Diplomacy is often embroiled in a conflict of cultures.
Diplomacy is always punctuated with dramatic disagreements.
It is through the tortuous byways and entanglements and unspoken rules of diplomatic etiquette that regional and international differences are resolved and historic compromises emerge. In the end, the parties are equally disappointed, frustrated and satisfied. In the end, diplomacy works.
Everyone in international affairs knows these fundamentals of diplomacy. And that is exactly why the current on-the-table version of the Saudi Peace Plan so greatly surprises me. Why exactly?
Because the Saudi Peace Plan is being pitched as a turn-key program. Because with this Saudi Peace Plan it is all or nothing, take it or leave it. Since when is a diplomatic situation ever all or nothing? The entire point of diplomacy is compromise in order to achieve a mutually beneficial situation, a situation Game Theorists call “win – win.”
Obviously, Israel has some serious problems with the proposal. The Right of Return and the absolutism of the return to pre-1967 borders are sore, sticking points. And despite that, Israel has said that they are willing to discuss the proposal because for Israel the idea of actually sitting down with other countries in the region and discussing the future and their joint fates is nothing less than compelling. Even if the parties disagree. Even if the parties walk out doors and slam their fists and threaten to end the talks. For Israel, formally, officially talking to countries in the region other than the few they already have ties with is about as good as it gets.
Israel is looking to expand its diplomatic circle. Israel is not looking for friends. Israel is looking for non-enemies. Israel is looking for diplomatic cohorts.
If Israel can speak to even one new country, that would be a tremendous step forward. Not only for Israel, for both those countries. For the Arab world it would be an opportunity to see that Israelis do not really have those proverbial horns, it would be an opportunity to realize that Israel is more than merely a dread, de facto reality.
It would, but it never will.
The Saudi Peace Plan is ultimately not about diplomacy. Ultimately, the Saudi Peace Plan is about cultural identity. The all-or-nothing -plan and the manner in which it has been presented is the give away. The Saudi Peace Plan is an unworkable and unrealistic proposal not because of content but because of presentation.
Don’t believe me, listen to what the Saudis themselves are saying. The Saudi foreign minister has clearly framed his country’s intentions and objectives and motives. Not accepting The Plan, he said, is tantamount to asking for war. He said: “That if Israel refuses, that means it does not want peace and it places everything back into the hands of fate. They will be putting their future not in the hands of peacemakers but in the hands of the lords of war.”
Powerful. Very powerful wordage. So why is it that according to Saudi thinking the only alternative to total acceptance of The Plan is war, the exact total opposite of The Plan. What about working out differences? Ironing out specifics? Mutual dialogue for the sake of pounding out a better proposal for all the parties? The Saudis have come so far in even proposing this plan, why are they sabotaging it from the outset?
The Saudi Peace Plan promises total normalization with all Arab countries. Saudi Arabia can’t guarantee that. Saudi Arabia doesn’t speak for all Arab countries. The Arabs cannot actually guarantee their end of the bargain. So instead of attempting to influence naysayer colleague countries, they set the bar so high that Israel will never accept the proposal.
The most recent Arab meeting to discuss The Plan had almost 100 percent Arab attendance. Everyone came, even the foreign minister of Iran. The only significant group missing was al Qaeda. And everyone decided to endorse The Plan. And everyone knew that Israel never could and never would.
Here’s an interesting footnote to the meeting. Before the meeting the Iranian foreign minister held a joint meeting with Hamas’ Palestinian Prime Minster Haniyeh and Fatah’s Palestinian President Abbas.
Talk about being in cahoots. Talk about diplomacy, Arab Style.
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http://frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=27704 THE UN HID NORTH KOREAN COUNTERFEITSBy Ed Morrissey
The United Nations faces another embarrassing scandal, as the New York Sun’s Benny Avni reports today. Despite its earlier denials, UN officials not only knew about North Korea’s counterfeiting operation — it helped Pyongyang hide the evidence in Turtle Bay safes:
As federal investigators examine how the leading U.N. agency in North Korea illegally kept 35 counterfeit American $100 bills in its possession for 12 years, documents indicate that more officials were aware of the existence of the fake currency — and earlier — than the agency has reported. Spokesmen for the United Nations Development Program have said top officials at the agency’s New York headquarters learned in February that their safe in Pyongyang contained the counterfeit bills and immediately reported it to American authorities. But several documents shown recently to The New York Sun indicate that higher-ups knew much earlier that the safe held counterfeit money. …
One “safe contents count record” — shown to the Sun with the stipulation that the paper omit such details as the exact issuing date, which was before February — confirms that fake money was in the safe in Pyongyang. According to a source familiar with the system, this and similar records were filed with UNDP headquarters twice a year.
Internal UNDP communication shown to the Sun also indicates that in at least one incident, a Pyongyang office manager reported the existence of the counterfeit money to his successor. Similar reports were filed with the seven managers that have served in North Korea since 1995. Some of these managers have returned to UNDP headquarters since then and now serve as top officials there.
In this case, the familiar refrain of “follow the money” applies literally. The UN’s own documentation shows that their leadership had clear knowledge of the criminal enterprise conducted by the Kim Jong-Il regime. They were required to inform the US of it and to provide the evidence for our investigations. Instead, they aided and abetted Kim and Pyongyang in undermining our currency.
Not surprisingly, the Treasury Department takes a dim view of this activity. The Secret Service wants to talk to at least 13 officials in the UN Development Program to determine their complicity in the counterfeiting ring. So far, the UN has not lifted immunity for those individuals, and they’re not talking about when it will happen; a “senior UN official” told Avni that the UN and the Secret Service are “working out the modalities”.
If federal prosecutors can return an indictment and confirm this activity, the UN will face a much tougher time in the US than it did in the Oil-for-Food Programme scandal. In that case, they turned a blind eye and enabled Saddam Hussein to enrich himself through a vast kickback scheme. If the UN helped hide North Korea’s counterfeiting ring, that is a direct insult to our sovereignty, as well as our hospitality.
It would be an insult that we cannot afford to let pass. If the UN does not immediately fire everyone involved in this scandal and revoke their immunity, then we must cut off all funds for the UN and create a timetable for withdrawal from this thoroughly corrupt organization. We have no need of a debating society whose members transform refugee camps into seraglios, who stuff the pockets of dictators with money meant for those they oppress, and who actively assist other nations in undermining our currency. If the UN fails to cooperate, it’s time to push Turtle Bay into the water and bid adieu to the last of the Cold War anachronisms. Tuesday, April 3, 2007
By Bill Roggio
Districts of Bannu, Lakki Marwat and Swat are Taliban country
NWFP/FATA map. Red agencies/districts are openly controlled by the Taliban; yellow are under threat. Click map to view.
As Pakistan’s civil war continues, the Northwest Frontier Province slips further into the darkness of a Taliban ruled state. During a recent meeting between senior government political and security officials on March 6, the officials recognized the deterioration of the government’s writ not only in the tribal areas, but in the settled districts of the province. The situation in the NWFP, as reported by Dawn, is summed up as follows: “Inaction on the part of LEAs (law-enforcement agencies) -– government on the retreat. Writ of the government shrinking with every passing day. Vacuum being filled by non-state actors. Respect for law and state authority gradually diminishing. Morale of the LEAs and people supportive of government on the decline. Talibanisation, lawlessness and terrorism on the rise.”
The report also notes that the districts bordering the tribal agencies of North and South Waziristan, “namely Tank, Dera Ismail Khan, Bannu and Lakki Marwat” are increasingly falling under the control of the Taliban, while the districts of Swat, Charsadda and Mardan, which neighbor Bajaur in the north, are also falling under the influence of the Taliban. “They were also briefed on the resurgence of the defunct Tehrik-i-Nifaz-i-Shariat Muhammadi, particularly in Swat region where Maulana Fazlullah aka Maulana Radio was making full use of his illegally set up FM radio station to stop people from sending girls to schools and getting their children vaccinated against polio,” notes Dawn “Recently, anonymous letters were delivered to girls’ schools in Charsadda and Mardan asking them to wear veils; shops dealing in video CDs have been warned to stop their ‘un-Islamic’ business or face retaliation.”
The rapid decline of the situation in the Northwest Frontier province should come as no surprise to those who closely watch the Pakistani news. The following incidents are daily occurrences in the NWFP: assassinations of security officials, pro-government tribal leaders and ‘U.S. spies’; bombings of police stations, music and video shops; attacks on military patrols and bases; threats against barbers to stop shaving beards; Taliban recruiting drives; the threats to close schools, financial institutions and non-governmental organizations. The signs of the Talibanization of northwestern Pakistan have been visible for well over two years.
The report indicated the lack of political will and the failure to shore up the security forces has led to the deterioration of security and the rise of Talibanistan in the province. “There seems to be some sort of paralysis at the decision-making level. There is little one can do in these circumstances other than fire-fighting,” an official commented to Dawn. “These are not normal times. Extraordinary situations demand extraordinary decisions. Unfortunately, the focus at the decision-making level now is more on politics than security. It (security) is on the back-burner.”
The Northwest Frontier province is rapidly switching from Taliban influenced (yellow on the map) to outright Taliban controlled (red). The recent fighting in Tank, where the government has called in the army after the Baitullah Mehsud’s Taliban openly attacked the town, highlights just how badly the government has lost control in the settled districts in the NWFP. The tribes in Tank held a jirga (or tribal meeting) where they “banned offices of militant groups in the city, and pledged to fight and expel foreign militants.” “A peace committee was set up to look into ways to guard peace in the district on a permanent basis,” Dera Ismail Khan director Zulfiqar Cheem told reporters.
The Pakistani government claims it is sending in an additional two brigades, about 8,000 ‘crack troops,’ to the tribal regions to conduct a robust offensive and restore order. Apparently the troops are being sent to South Waziristan. The government, however, still clings to the clearly failed agreements in North and South Waziristan by characterizing the internecine fighting between Taliban commander Mullah Nazir, who openly supports jihad in Afghanistan and vowed to continue to fight the West, and Uzbek al Qaeda as signs of success of the Waziristan Accord. The Pakistani government is claiming over 140 Uzbeks have been killed in the fighting, while the locals in the region have put the numbers far, far lower. The Pakistani Army is well known for inflating enemy casualties while hiding their own.
Rumors of the Pakistan Army sending troops to conduct an offensive in the tribal areas have been circulating since the beginning of 2007, yet no offensive has materialized. Past “peace deals” have amounted to little than unenforceable agreements between the Taliban and the government, which result in the Taliban openly controlling the territory. Just prior to the fighting in Tank, Baitullah Mehsud was called in bring the people of Tank a “peace message.”
We hope the Pakistani government will seriously deal with the situation in the tribal agencies. The Taliban and al Qaeda are so entrenched a counterinsurgency campaign is now required to uproot them, according to a senior U.S. military intelligence official.
We hope the tribes of Tank are serious in wanting to eject “foreigners” and opposing the presence of the Taliban. But we doubt the sincerity of the actors involved. The Pakistani government and Army have shown little inclination to deal with the Talibanization on its northwestern border, and the ‘tribes’ they negotiate with to abdicate control of the region to are very often the Taliban. Tuesday, April 3, 2007
From FOX News: Bush: Pelosi Meeting With Syria’s Assad Sends Wrong Signal.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Syria to meet President Bashar Assad sends a signal that the rogue nation is part of the international mainstream when it is not, President Bush said in a Rose Garden address Tuesday. Pelosi, D-Calif., arrived in Syria earlier that day, leading a Congressional delegation on a trip that the White House has criticized.
“It’s one thing to send a message,” Bush said. “It’s another thing to have the person receiving the message actually do something. Sending delegations hasn’t worked, it’s simply been counterproductive.”
Pelosi, who was met at Damascus airport by Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem, is the highest-ranking American politician to visit Syria since relations began to deteriorate in 2003.
The United States accuses Syria of interfering in Iraq and Lebanon and sponsoring terrorists — charges that Damascus denies. A White House spokeswoman has described Pelosi’s visit to Syria as a “really bad idea.”
Pelosi has shrugged off the criticism, pointing out that Republican members of Congress have also visited Syria. During a visit to neighboring Lebanon Monday, she said she considers the visits to be an “excellent idea” and was hopeful of rebuilding lost confidence between Washington and Damascus.
And IBD Editoirals: Mrs. Chamberlain.
We’ve seen how well Iran plays with others, capturing 15 British sailors in what in earlier times would have been considered an act of war. It is killing U.S. troops with advanced armor-piercing IEDs it supplies Iraqi jihadists. It plays host to Muqtada al-Sadr, whose Mahdi army has tried to destabilize Iraq’s infant democracy. Still, Pelosi insists we follow the ISG’s advice. Come, let us reason together. But we’ve seen Iran’s response to the ISG and to the international community that has rightly sanctioned Tehran for building weapons of mass destruction.
Syria and Iran were partners in crime in Hezbollah’s unprovoked attack on Israel and used the democracy of Lebanon as a human shield as it helped provide weapons that rained death and destruction on civilians in Israeli cities and towns. It acted as a conduit for arms flowing to Hezbollah from Iran used in Hezbollah’s attacks.
Syria has been linked to the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri and a host of other anti-Syrian political leaders as it works to destabilize the country it occupied for over two decades. Pelosi won’t be able to talk to Lebanon’s former industry minister, Pierre Gemayal. He was assassinated as part of Syria’s and Hezbollah’s plan to destabilize Lebanon.
UPDATE: From CNN: Pelosi receives warm welcome in Syria.
Pelosi stood by the U.S. assertion that Syria supports groups that the United States considers terrorist organizations. “Of course the role of Syria in Iraq, the role of Syria supporting Hamas and Hezbollah, the role of Syria in so many respects — we think there could be a vast improvement,” she said. “We think it’s a good idea to establish the facts, to hopefully build some confidence between us. We have no illusions, but we have great hope.” Tuesday, April 3, 2007
By Investor’s Business Daily
Investor’s Business Daily | April 4, 2007
Crackpot 9/11 conspiracy theories are usually deemed beneath the dignity of network television. With Rosie O’Donnell now promoting the fringe, how embarrassed are ABC and Barbara Walters willing to be?Since joining ABC’s all-female talk show “The View” last year, comedienne and film star O’Donnell has exchanged insults with Donald Trump, and been labeled a bigot by Catholic League president William Donohue for what he called her “relentless and profoundly ignorant attacks on the Catholic Church and its teachings.” According to O’Donnell “radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam.”
Famed interviewer Walters, co-host and co-owner of “The View,” and ABC might tolerate that kind of controversy. But will they accept her promotion of 9/11 conspiracy schemes? Last week, O’Donnell said the collapse of the 7 World Trade Center building “defies physics” because “it is impossible for a building to fall the way it fell without explosives being involved.”
In a post on her Web site, she ranted last month about how 7 WTC “contained offices of the FBI, Department of Defense, IRS (which contained prodigious amounts of corporate tax fraud, including Enron’s), U.S. Secret Service, Securities & Exchange Commission (with more stock fraud records), and Citibank’s Salomon Smith Barney, the mayor’s office of emergency management and many other financial institutions,” not to mention “the U.S. Secret Service’s largest field office with more than 200 employees.”
In recent days, O’Donnell suggested on “The View” that Iran’s capture of British seamen could be a plot by Britain and the U.S. to start a war with Iran. “Have governments ever faked incidents or incited incidents in order to get them into wars?” she asked.
O’Donnell smoothly transformed herself from history expert to a virtuoso in philosophy Thursday when a guest called the phrase “war on terror” propaganda. “Exactly,” O’Donnell exclaimed, because the phrase “makes people into evil and good.”
Reputable sources such as Popular Mechanics’ “Debunking 9/11 Myths” report and last year’s 10,000-page National Institute of Standards and Technology report have thoroughly debunked the 9/11 conspiracy crowd. While O’Donnell has a look at the facts they’ve assembled, she might also want to glance at her ABC contract — and get prepared to pull the cord on her golden parachute.
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By Ben Johnson
FrontPageMagazine.com | April 4, 2007
A RECENT ASSOCIATED PRESS STORY SO THOROUGHLY TWISTED THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE to present the opposite of reality, Bill Clinton might be writing its headlines. On Saturday, the AP ran a story with the depressing banner, “U.S. March toll nearly twice Iraq forces.” In it, AP writer Steven R. Hurst asserted, “The U.S. military death toll in March, the first full month of the security crackdown, was nearly twice that of the Iraqi army.”
According to Hurst, “The Associated Press count of U.S. military deaths for the month was 81, including a soldier who died from non-combat causes Friday.” So, the “U.S. March toll” stood at 80 dead. Hurst writes, “the Iraqi military toll was 44. The Iraqi figures showed that 165 Iraqi police were killed in March. Many of the police serve in paramilitary units.”
In other words, the number of U.S. deaths was less-than-half that of Iraqi forces. The very premise for Steven Hurst’s arbitrary story is based on an incomplete count that ignores those serving on the front lines of the Iraq war. However, since most Americans did not read beyond the headline to scrutinize his flawed methodology, they walk away believing the troop surge is proving futile.
It appears designed to demoralize, and it likely succeeded.
Hurst managed to bury the good news deep in the story: “The civilian death toll for the month was down significantly.” A somewhat less modest description of the death toll would be that of Reuters: “the lowest for four months.” Maj. Gen. William Caldwell reports in the one month since the surge began in earnest, “there has been an over 50 percent reduction in murders and executions.” Lt. Gen. Abboud Qanbar, the Iraqi commander of the Baghdad security plan, also noted the operation’s success. Even the infamous BBC has conceded “violence in the Iraqi capital has fallen by 25%.”
The odd emphasis of Hurst’s story is highlighted by the fact that it appeared one day after Maj. Gen. Michael Barbero announced at a press conference:
all across Iraq sectarian violence remains at reduced levels. Attacks against civilians are down by about 20 percent, and civilian deaths are down by about 30 percent. Specifically in Baghdad, comparing the same six-week periods, attacks against civilians are down by 20 percent, with civilian deaths down by about 50 percent…The Iraqi public also shows increasing signs of support…It has reported that citizens are hoping the security plan will last.
All this progress took place with approximately one-third of the projected surge forces in Iraq. Nonetheless, in another story filed last Saturday, Steven R. Hurst editorialized, “While Bush, the American military and U.S. diplomats in Iraq have expressed cautious optimism about the crackdown…the ease with which suspected al-Qaida suicide bombers have continued striking Shiite targets must be deeply disconcerting.”
Hurst buried significant news in that story, as well: Al-Qaeda has started using chlorine gas against fellow Sunni Muslims, because the Sunnis now support America. “Al-Qaida-linked insurgents were believed to have turned to the weapon to strike terror among fellow Sunnis who have sided with U.S. forces.” In fact, the Sunnis are now engaged in “active combat” with al-Qaeda in Iraq and have signed up for the aforementioned Iraqi Police.
Maj. Gen. Barbero – who noted the U.S. is now receiving tips from inside Sadr City – gave a better assessment: “The use of poison gas on innocent Iraqi civilians discredits all of the Sunni extremist propaganda of being, quote, ‘an honorable resistance,’ focused on, quote, ‘driving out the infidels.’”
It also discredits the omnipresent objection of the antiwar Left, expressed by Hillary Clinton only yesterday: “It is time for us to get them out of the middle of this sectarian civil war.”
The media’s coverage also deftly elided the depths of depravity to which Iraqi terrorists have sunk. Al-Qaeda packed an explosive backback on a 12-year-old boy, which detonated in Haditha on March 21. Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, the terrorists have burned or attacked 208 schools, killed numerous teachers, and particularly targeted schools open to girls.
This kind of twisted, false measure is but a continuation of the prestige media’s coverage of Operation Iraqi Freedom since its inception. As I reported, the day after Christmas the AP reported, “U.S. Deaths in Iraq Exceed 9/11 Count.” The ultimate casualty obsession story, the world’s largest news service reported with bated breath when the death toll hit 2,974 – one more American than died on 9/11. The implication is clear: Iraq was a “war of choice,” and by extension President Bush is a greater killer than Osama bin Laden. There were media orgies for the 2,000th casualty, the 1,000th casualty, even the 721st casualty. The media bemoaned a ban on portraying military caskets – which they quickly broke – and have taken to classifying each month as, e.g., “the fourth deadliest month of fighting.”
This is not reporting: it is news manipulation designed to massage public opinion about the war. It is an important reminder of the ever-present filter through which Americans receive their news.
If they haven’t smartened up.
As a newborn regime, the Islamic Republic infamously violated America’s embassy walls and held American citizens hostage for 444 days. That was followed by decades of kidnappings and terror from Iran’s Hezbollah henchmen.
Of course, Iran is not alone. China held 24 American servicemen for almost two weeks in 2001, after a Chinese warplane intercepted a U.S. Navy surveillance plane flying in international airspace above the South China Sea. Cambodia seized the Mayaguez in international waters. North Korea held the crew of the USS Pueblo for almost a year.
As with Tehran’s latest act, all of these regimes wanted to extract some admission of guilt, some finding of illegal behavior. It is odd how the appearance of justice is so important to regimes that are so exquisitely unjust. But this is how governments that derive their legitimacy from force act. And far too often, they have gotten away with their gamesmanship.
Predictably, many observers are getting lost in the hedgerows, wandering as they are in tangential debates about dueling GPS devices and the war in Iraq. All of this is really irrelevant to the broader issue here: British sailors, operating under their flag and with an international mandate, were seized. They were not escorted out of Iranian waters by Iranian ships, in the manner a normal navy would behave. They were not detained, interrogated, and released—rational and reasonable behavior under international norms. They were seized and held captive by a regime that seeks to elevate and sustain itself by humiliating other regimes, threatens its neighbors with annihilation, and trades in terror.
Whether the British sailors and Marines are released tomorrow or today, Tehran’s behavior must be shown to be unacceptable to the civilized world. There must be a price for piracy.
But first, perhaps it’s time for Europe to pay a price for its union. After all, if the European Union is really what it claims to be, one would expect its members to rally to the UK’s defense and to challenge this act of aggression. Beyond rhetoric, this has not happened. In fact, as one newspaper reported this week, the EU explicitly “ruled out any tightening of lucrative export credit rules” against Iran. This provides yet another indication that the EU’s faux foreign minister and vision of a “common foreign and security policy” are laughably premature.
Still, Prime Minister Blair has every right to challenge his fellow EU leaders—or even to shame them—into showing the EU’s worth and relevance. They should start by freezing all trade with Tehran. As Timothy Garton Ash recently observed:
“The EU is by far Iran’s biggest trading partner. More than 40 percent of its imports come from, and more than a quarter of its exports go to, the EU. Remarkably, this trade has grown strongly in the last years of looming crisis…As President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fails to deliver on his populist economic promises, this European trade becomes ever more vital for the Iranian regime—and ever more dependent on European government guarantees to counterbalance the growing political risk.”
In short, an EU financial freeze would definitely get the mullahs’ attention.
But as with so many other recent tests, the EU’s governing elites are not willing to put their treasure on the line, let alone their armies. There was a time, not long ago, when the Europeans flexed their economic muscle to force rogues and outliers to change behavior, or have their regime changed.
Consider the case of South Africa. In 1985, what was then the Common Market joined Washington in imposing sanctions against the ugly apartheid regime. Under the initial battery of sanctions, Western Europe embargoed oil, military hardware and expertise, and nuclear technology. Later, import bans on South African gold, iron and steel were added. Not only did the embargo stigmatize South Africa, it also hit the government and its patrons where it counted—in the wallet. Prior to the embargo, iron, steel and gold exports to Europe accounted for $700 million in South African income. Apartheid is now a part of history.
Likewise, Western Europe played a central role in transforming Eastern Europe after the collapse of Communism. By giving Eastern European governments a range of economic, political, human rights, and military standards to achieve, the EU (and its forerunner, the European Community) helped resuscitate what Communism had left for dead. And by giving Eastern Europe aid and trade opportunities, the wealthy West gave the once-orphaned East hope.
In 2004, the EU added 10 new countries, most from Europe’s eastern half. Just 15 years earlier, eight of those countries were under Communist domination. Three of them, the Baltics, were still leashed to the Soviet Union in the 1990s. This impressive feat of European enlargement has been successful precisely because the EU set standards for acceptable behavior, aid and assistance.
Simply put, Europe has the capability to effect real change. It also has the right and the responsibility to set standards of acceptable behavior. But it lacks the will, at least vis-à-vis the thugs that rule Iran.
With or without the EU’s support, one hopes that somewhere on the Persian Gulf or in London or Washington, British and American strategists are developing plans for a punitive strike on the naval base that spawned the boats that seized the Brits. After the hostages are released, there has to be some price for piracy; and if the EU is not ready to extract it with Euros and dollars, then perhaps a US-UK flotilla should do so with precision-guided munitions.
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Suppose you were an idiot.
And suppose you were a member of Congress….
But then I repeat myself.
I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.
A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.
-.George Bernard Shaw
A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man ….which debt he proposes to pay off with your money.
-G Gordon Liddy
Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.
-James Bovard, Civil Libertarian (1994)
Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries.
-Douglas Casey, Classmate of Bill Clinton at GeorgetownUniv ersity
Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.
-P.J. O’Rourke, Civil Libertarian
Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.
-Frederic Bastiat, French Economist (1801-1850)
Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it s tops moving, subsidize it.
-Ronald Reagan (1986)
I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.
If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free!
In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.
Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you!
-Pericles (430 B.C.)
No man’s life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session.
-Mark Twain (1866)
Talk is cheap…except when Congress does it.
The government is like a baby’s alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.
The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.
The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin.
The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.
-Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)
There is no distinctly Native American criminal class…save Congress.
What this country needs are more unemployed politicians.
-Edward Langley, Artist (1928 – 1995)
A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.