This is one of the best I’ve seen!

Iran Is Seeking To Gain Time While Waiting For Mahdi To Come

Iran Press Service

Iran Is Seeking To Gain Time While Waiting For Mahdi To Come

Iran’s international situation is so disastrous, the officials so discredited, the moral so low, the despair and discontent so deep, the corruption so generalized and so obvious, the regime so hated that in order to divert the attention of the public to other issues and mobilize them behind a fear factor, the decision-makers are genuinely looking to a show-down with the United States or Israel, or the two, informed sources in Tehran told Iran Press Service.



Paris, 5 Aug. (IPS) Iran’s international situation is so disastrous, the officials so discredited, the moral so low, the despair and discontent so deep, the corruption so generalized and so obvious, the regime so hated that in order to divert the attention of the public to other issues and mobilize them behind a fear factor, the decision-makers are genuinely looking to a show-down with the United States or Israel, or the two, informed sources in Tehran told Iran Press Service.

          At the same time, aware of the serious possibilities of a mass uprising by a population already hit badly economically, in case of further sanctions decided by the United Nations Security Council and respected by the international community, the regime tries, by taking one step forward and two backward, to protract as much time as possible the negotiations with the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany concerning its controversial nuclear activities.

          Hence Iran’s conciliatory attitude and ambiguous statements every time the group of six, (the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China), exasperated and frustrated at Tehran’s uncompromising stance, raise the flag of new sanctions.

Tehran adamantly reject the demands for suspension of its nuclear activities as “illegal”, describes the resolutions as “worn out papers”

          Likewise, on 5 August, the date the Group had set for Tehran to respond to its latest proposals for continuing nuclear talks, Iranian media quoted unidentified officials announcing the delivery of a letter to Mr. Xavier Solana, the Spanish super minister of the European Union for Security and Foreign Affairs and representing the group of six.

          However, according to the same media and same official, the letter “is not an answer to the group’s proposals”, including the so-called “freeze against freeze”, meaning Iran suspending its uranium enriching activities while talks continue against the Security Council refraining implementing the sanctions already approved and deciding on new ones.

          Tehran adamantly reject the demands for suspension of its nuclear activities as “illegal”, describes the resolutions as “worn out papers”, reiterates that it is not after nuclear arms, reminds that having nuclear technology is its right under international laws and regulations, continues to enrich uranium, insisting that this activity is its “legitimate right”.

          “The letter of Mr. Sa’id Jalili, the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme Council on National Security (SCNS) and the regime’s senior nuclear negotiator to Mr. Solana, his principal counterpart for the talks, comprises a short review of the latest meeting between the two men”, the semi-official Students News Agency ISNA reported, without mentioning that the 19 July meeting in Geneva was attended by deputy foreign ministers from all the parties engaged, including for the first time a representative from the United States.

            “The letter does not address the Group’s main demand, namely the suspension of uranium enriching activities”, a source close to Mr. Solana said, baffled at the meaning of the document, which an Iranian political analyst described as “masterpiece of mollahs doublespeak ambivalence”, as, according to another source from Iran’s SCNS, the message was “no more than a transcript of a telephone conversation between Solana and Iran’s top nuclear negotiators on Monday”.

Jalili - Solana
The message was “no more than a transcript of a telephone conversation between Solana and Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Jalili, who met in Geneva

          “What was given to Solana was the telephone conversation transcript and not a response to the proposed package”, the source told the official IRNA news agency. Adding to the confusion, a source close to Solana said that “for the time being we have not received anything” from Tehran and emphasised there was often a time lag between Iranian announcements and the actual delivery.

          “The basis to the foreign policy of the ruling ayatollahs is essentially based on the old Persian saying of: there is always some hope from one column to another”, the political analyst said.

          Despite an unprecedented revenues from oil, the economic situation is quasi paralysed, huge capitals are flying to outside Iran, prices for basic food and housing are shooting up on a daily basis, as inflation does, making life almost unbearable for the middle and poor classes, electricity and fuel shortages cripple the local industries, making domestic products uncompetitive against foreign goods, mostly made in China, South Korea, India and other developing nations.

          “The problem with Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is that not only he himself do not understand anything about modern economy, but because of his firm belief that Mahdi, the Muslim Shi’a’s twelfth imam would soon reappear and arrange everything to the liking of the Iranians, he has no confidence in economic experts and listen to no one, except yes men”, explains a source close to him, speaking on condition of anonymity.

          According to Shia’s, Imam Mahdi went into hiding in a well about eight hundreds years ago, at the age of eight, to re-emerge when the world is “saturated with sin, corruption, mismanagement and disillusion”.

The basis to the foreign policy of the ruling ayatollahs is essentially based on the old Persian saying of: there is always some hope from one column to another

          One of the reasons Tehran arrogantly and in a provocative manner refuses to cooperate with the international community on nuclear issue is the hope that the hidden Imam will come to the rescue of Iran and until then, one has to gain time.

          “At the same time, with a yes and no policy, the ruling ayatollahs also hope that the six, or at least four of them, meaning minus Russia and China, would get serious in implementing the sanctions, thus providing Iranian officials the tools to portray the Islamic Republic as a victim of the imperialists and justify more sacrifices from the Iranian people, including accepting more repressions, more censorship of the press and expressions, more restrictions on the already badly limited social and cultural freedoms”, the source added.

          To prepare the public for a military showdown, not only the mollahrchy multiply military maneuvers, puts on show its military equipments, like ballistic, medium and short-range missiles, fast torpedoes and speedboats, jet fighters, bombers, and now new devices that would stop enemy’s vessels at 300 kilometres from Iranian shores, but also creates an atmosphere of fear by telling the people that the world’s war mongers, meaning essentially the major western powers led by the United States, are determined to destroy the Islamic Republic, “the heart of the world’s 1.3 billions Muslims”.

          The base of Iran’s intransigency lies in its intrinsic difference with the United States in particular, and the international community in general in that the Islamic Republic does not recognize the present world system based on the United Nations, a system that at the same time, has recognised America as the world’s most powerful nation and leader.

          “This is a very good case of Iranian ambivalence: The regime rejects the present world order, wants to change it, starting by the United Nations, a body it regards as an object at the hands of the United Nations and the five permanent members of the Security Council, while at the same time, not only it continue its membership of the Organisation, but also wants to enter the Security Council”, observed Mr. Abbas Abdi, a leading Iranian political analyst and journalist.

          In his view, the Iranian clerical rulers do not understand that if Washington, or China, or Russia, or any other major nations have noting against India, Pakistan and Israel’s nuclear weapons, it is because they do not reject the present world order. “If China and Russia have signed the three resolutions against Iran is that they consider themselves as part of this international order and do not want to change it”, Mr. Abdi pointed out.

Assad Ahmadinejad
Assad Told his Iranian couterparts to be ready for historic changes in the Middle East.

          Would the Islamic Republic hear the voice of the logic and change course, as Libya did, as North Korea is doing and Syria might soon join the rank of the West?

          “Syria of President Bashar Assad, which, contrary to his Iranian counterpart, does not seek the annihilation of Israel, would certainly leave the camp of the region’s radicals led by Iran and join the west if and when it can trust Washington and Tel Aviv. The day Damascus recovers the Golan Heights; it would establish full relations with Israel”, wrote Mr. Ahmad Zeydabai, an influential pro-reform Iranian journalist, adding:

          “Bashar is preparing himself for this historic moment, a move that would certainly change the face of the Middle East. This is what very probably Assad informed the Iranians during his last visit to Tehran last week and very probably, he also told Iranians that it is time for them to change to the region’s new realities”.

          But as things stands in Tehran, most people doubt. ENDS IRAN SITUATION 6808


John McCain: “Today We Are All Georgians”

Sneak Preview of Obama’s Next Flip Flop

Sneak Preview of Obama’s Next Flip Flop

Rick Moran

Will Obama’s next flip flop be on affirmative action?

If liberal Peter Beinart has his way – and if some hints from Obama himself prove to pan out – it may very well be that we will see Obama abandon his long-held belief in race based affirmative action and substitute instead a “class based” model:

Obama can’t make race go away by ignoring it, especially because the GOP and the media won’t. He needs to acknowledge their fears and do something dramatic to assuage them. Paradoxically, his best shot at deracializing the campaign is to explicitly make race an issue.

He can do that with a high-profile speech — and maybe a TV ad — calling for the replacement of race-based preferences with class-based ones. That would confront head-on white fears that an Obama administration would favor minorities at whites’ expense. It would be a sharper, more dramatic, way of making the point that Obama has made ever since he took the national stage (but which some whites still refuse to believe): that he represents not racial division but national unity.

Funny way for Obama to respresent “national unity” when he pulls the race card out at the drop of a hat to tar his opponents with charges of bigotry. But no matter. Ed Lasky points out the reasons for this strategy:

He is weak among seniors-so he proposes seniors stop paying income taxes. He is weak among whites partly because they view him as an African-American who will support race-based affirmative action. Solution: a major policy shift to support class-based (not raced-base) affirmative action.  

This would , of course, be a complete reversal from the cause he has supported his entire professional life. But once he is past November, such a campaign reversal will go into the dustbin  of history.  

Beinart is wrong-race is not the only card John McCain has and it is far from the only, let alone the major, reason Americans do not support Barack Obama. He is merely buying into the race-based canard Obama’s campaign is promoting.

Indeed he is. Beinart dismisses the thought that people don’t trust Obama for a wide variety of reasons – not the least of which is his lack of experience, his pandering for votes, and a mushy headed view of our enemies.

In Beinart’s world, those questions don’t matter because people who don’t want to vote for Obama are, at heart, racists. Any other consideration is just an excuse.

Great way to win friends and influence people, Peter.


The Final Curtain in Venezuela?

The Final Curtain in Venezuela?

By Gustavo Coronel | 8/13/2008

The mood that permeates Venezuela today is one that seems to signal impending doom for autocratic Hugo Chavez. The lyrics of Paul Anka’s “My Way” seem to float in the Caracas air: “And now, the end is near… ”.

Three moves by Chavez, all taken during the last month, comprise his attempt to maintain control over an increasingly frustrated country. The first one is the passing, on the very last day of the period of legislative power granted to him by the National Assembly, of 26 decree-laws that will give him most of the powers that he tried to get, unsuccessfully, through the December 2007 Constitutional referendum.

Defeated by the voters in the referendum, he is now using this blunt force to obtain what the popular vote denied him. No one in the country, except those who drew up the over 2000 articles of the new decrees, knew about them in advance or had a chance to discuss them. In another major move, Chavez used his General Comptroller and the Supreme Tribunal of Justice to ban 260 Venezuelans from running for office in the November regional elections. Not surprisingly, several of the best candidates of the opposition, favored to win by all polls, are included in the ban, which openly violates articles 42 and 65 of the current Venezuelan Constitution.

The third move has been his takeover of Banco de Venezuela, the third largest private bank in the country, owned by Spanish Bank of Santander. Chavez characteristically announced this move during one of his TV shows, without any notice made to the owners. Chavez had been in Spain only days before, trying to mend his relationship with the King, but did not disclose his intentions.

Although these moves would seem to indicate overwhelming power and complete political control of the country, a more careful reading suggests them to be attempts at asserting authority by a weakening leader facing increasing opposition from Venezuelan civil society. The ban on opposition leaders is being challenged in the streets, giving rise to popular protests in which the students are once more leading the way. A delegation of MERCOSUR, the free trade organization from the southern cone, has visited Caracas to investigate the ban and finds it undemocratic, which will prevent Chavez from joining the organization.

Public opinion in the U.S. and Europe is beginning to see Mr. Chavez’s tactics in the same category with Zimbabwe’s Mugabe. The reaction against the decree-laws is starting to unfold and could develop into open civil rebellion.

One of the new decrees would give Chavez the rank of four-star general, not currently existing, and the pompous title of “Generalissimo” in the same level with dictators like Tito, Franco, and Chiang Kai-Sheck. Another decree will convert the state-owned petroleum company, PDVSA, into an agricultural and industrial conglomerate, and still a third would create a new army, loyal to Chavez and not to the nation.

Leaders of the opposition, including industrialist Rafael Alfonzo and recent Milton Friedman award winner and student leader Jon Goicochea, are calling for a popular rebellion, including, if need be, a general strike against the Chavez regime, while members of his own political coalition are speaking in open disagreement with the measures. The takeover of Banco de Venezuela has pushed the country risk of Venezuela to record highs, now 679 points — highest in the hemisphere. The fear of private investors is turning into terror as some of the decrees, especially one on “food sovereignty,” could justify the takeover of important privately-owned food companies.

Once again, Hugo Chavez has brought Venezuela to the brink of open social conflict. He now seems determined to become an absolute ruler. He is forcing a showdown with the Venezuelan people that he has little chance of winning, given the mood of the country. This time he cannnot expect much solidarity from his allies in the hemisphere since Morales, Kirchner, Ortega, and the Castro dynasty are experiencing similar — if not even worse — problems. As the Venezuelan private sector, the Catholic church, the student movement, the opposition parties, civil society in general and many of the members of his own political coalition take the media and the streets against him, Chavez will be fighting for his political life, weighed down by the burden of ridicule and possibly facing the final curtain. He could probably claim he did it “his way,” but history will say that his way was not the people’s way.

Gustavo Coronel is a petroleum geologist, author and public policy expert, who was elected to the Venezuelan Congress in 1998 before it was dissolved in 1999 following the election of Hugo Chavez as president. Coronel is currently designated as an “enemy” of the Chavez regime.

Georgian President Cites McCain At Freedom Rally In Tbilisi

The Obama Phenomenon is Not New

The Obama Phenomenon is Not New

By J.R. Dunn

A nation enduring hard times. A frustrating war, a doubtful president. Public turmoil, political disagreement, future prospects uncertain as best. Then a figure appears from nowhere, a secular messiah from the heartland — unique, appealing, promising solutions that are effective, fast, and easy. He stirs up an immediate and vastly excited following across the country, though many share quiet doubts.

I’m well aware what this sounds like. But in fact the year is 1861, and we’re speaking of George B. McClellan.


Barack Obama has succeeded in ducking any meaningful comparisons with historical figures. Oh, there’s John F. Kennedy (and let’s not forget Jesus Christ), but that’s simply another aspect of PR. Comparisons to JFK are a matter of style and appearance and little else. True enough, there is a pronounced resemblance between the two — the slimness, the good looks, and a kind of indefinable aura of the early 60s.


But there the similarities end. Kennedy had long experience in several fields prior to his presidential campaign — lengthy terms in both the Senate and the House, along with a wartime career as a naval commander. (Granted that he lost his command under the most bizarre circumstances imaginable. His biographer Thomas Reeves pointed out that JFK was the only known torpedo boat skipper to lose his boat through collision.) Kennedy also authored well-received books — though Profiles in Courage owed as much to the talents of Ted Sorensen as it did to Kennedy himself. (Not to mention Arthur Krock’s assistance with Why England Slept.)


But apart from JFK, there has been little attempt to compare Obama to other historical figures, because, well, because it leads us directly to McClellan. (Though a recent article in AT compared him to Wendell Willkie, which, as proud owner of an original, never-worn “Win With Willkie” tiepin, grieved me deeply and endlessly.)


George McClellan appeared to have everything going for him. A West Point education, a good reputation from the Mexican War, a career as a civil engineer that, just prior to the Civil War’s outbreak, led him to the presidency of a railroad. McClellan was well-liked, inspired confidence in those he worked with, and appeared to be a young man headed for the top.


As a commander of Ohio volunteers, McClellan secured the western portion of Virginia (today West Virginia) against a handful of ill-led Confederate troops. The press inflated the operation into a mammoth victory, with McClellan as a combination of Napoleon and Wellington both. So when the Union nearly lost the war in an afternoon at Bull Run (July 21, 1861) leaving almost the entire Federal command in disgrace, who was there to turn to but Little Mac? (Out west there was a drunk named Grant and a near-lunatic named Sherman, but nobody was paying any attention to them.)


McClellan did an outstanding job pulling together a demoralized Union Army. But he didn’t stop there, also taking on the roles of head of the Army of the Potomac and effective overall commander of Union forces. “I can do it all,” he assured a worried Lincoln.


And for a time it seemed as if he could. The public, goaded by a hysterically adulatory press, had no doubt. Little Mac was greeted as a hero wherever he set foot.


But certain disquieting signs soon appeared. A sense of vainglory, an unwillingness to listen or share his thinking with other responsible figures — even Lincoln himself.  One observer stated that McClellan seemed to be “in a morbid condition of mental exaltation”.  McClellan’s letters to his wife revealed this to be exactly the case:


“I find myself in a new and strange position here: President, cabinet, Gen. Scott, and all deferring to me. By some strange operation of magic I seem to have become the power of the land….  All tell me that I am held responsible for the fate of the nation, and that all its resources shall be placed at my disposal.”


Speaking of the public, he wrote, “It is a proud and glorious thing to see a whole people here, simple and unsophisticated, looking up to me as their deliverer from tyranny.”


It goes on and on. About the only thing that McClellan didn’t call himself was a “symbol of American values”, though if he’d thought of it, he’d have done that too. 


As the historian Bruce Catton put it:


“This man, utterly winning and modest and soft-spoken in all his personal contacts, simply could not, down inside, look long enough on the great figure he was becoming, could not get enough of the savor of admiration and love that were coming to him…. What buried sense of personal inadequacy was gnawing at this man that he had to see himself so constantly through the eyes of men and women who looked upon him as a hero out of legend and myth?”


As is often the case, the record failed to live up to the myth. After a slow and methodical buildup lasting nearly a year, McClellan at last moved against the Confederates. The strategy was  brilliant — outflanking Confederate forces by landing the army on Virginia’s James Peninsula and marching up to Richmond from an unexpected direction, while a second Union force closed in from the north. It was a nicely turned plan, and in other hands it might have worked. But not in McClellan’s.


McClellan’s bloated self-confidence deserted him in the face of a challenge. Rather than a brisk advance to Richmond, McClellan dawdled, insisting that vast, nonexistent Confederate forces prevented him from moving. When at last he started off, it was at a slow crawl that allowed the Rebels to fortify their front and concentrate their forces. When Union troops finally reached Richmond, the Confederate commander, another untried figure named Robert E. Lee, struck a series of lightning blows in what became known as the Seven Days battles, driving McClellan relentlessly back to the river. Rather than attempt to hold his commanding position, McClellan panicked and evacuated the entire army, leaving the field to the victorious Lee.


McClellan moped, blamed everyone else but himself, and sniffed conspiracies behind every closed door. His self-regard was not diminished a single iota, nor had his talent for procrastination. Weeks passed while the troops sat idle. Already strained political relations grew worse with each passing week. During one presidential visit to the camp, McClellan, a general under a democratic government serving at the pleasure of the president, refused to see Lincoln. Already evident doubts about McClellan began to burgeon.


Then Lee turned his army north, in the wake of yet another Bull Run victory. McClellan set off in pursuit. And at last everything went his way. Union troops found the Confederate campaign plan wrapped around a bundle of cigars and immediately sent it to headquarters. McClellan could see Lee’s thinking as if through clear glass. His forces were in the right place. He had the numbers on his side. Victory had been handed to him, in a manner rarely seen in history.       


Victory had been handed to him, and he threw it away. First by racing around the camp waving the captured paper and shouting “I’ve got him…” within easy earshot of a Confederate spy who then rode off to warn Lee. Secondly by taking his time getting moving. And thirdly by mishandling his forces. He put Ambrose Burnside, a competent staff officer but no field commander, in charge of the vanguard troops. When Burnside fumbled the job, McClellan, looking on from only a few yards away, failed to replace him, instead watching though the long afternoon as 22,000 men fell at Antietam Creek in the  bloodiest single day in American history.


He failed where he could not have failed. Lee fought him to a draw, and successfully withdrew the Army of Virginia to safety.


McClellan was relieved in November 1862, and told to return to his home in Trenton, N.J. to await further orders. The orders never came. Lincoln turned to Burnside and then Joe Hooker in an effort to find a winning general, until it became impossible to overlook the fact that the drunk and the crazy man had succeeded in literally splitting the Confederacy in two. Grant came east, while Sherman remained in command of the troops in the west.


McClellan did not sit still. In the 1864 presidential election, after insisting he wouldn’t run, he accepted the Democratic nomination at the behest of the Copperheads, a pro-slavery and anti-war group in effective control of the party. McClellan was still immensely popular. The war bogged down during the summer as the Army of the Potomac lay siege to Richmond. Lincoln was convinced that he would lose. Under a McClellan presidency, the South would have been allowed to go its way, slavery would have prevailed for further decades, and a second civil war, perhaps fought with the techniques and pure viciousness of WW I, would have been inevitable.


But as the summer progressed, the new Union strategy, in which Grant’s forces held Lee’s army in place while Sherman gutted the deep South, unfolded itself. Sherman at last reached the sea, presenting Savannah — and the election — as a gift to Lincoln. The new strategy undercut antiwar forces in the same way as Gen. David Petraeus’s surge a hundred and forty years later.  Lincoln took 212 electoral votes to Mac’s 21.


A reinvigorated Union increased the pressure. At last the Southern troops could take no more. It ended on a fine April day in the courthouse at Appomattox. McClellan, a forgotten man, went back to engineering. He did very well. 


One of Karl Marx’s least harmful sayings is that history repeats itself first as tragedy, then as farce. At best, that’s only partially true. Intellectual absolutist as he was, Marx overlooked the fact that most events mingle tragedy, comedy, and every other conceivable element. There was no lack of tragedy in McClellan’s wild charge across the American landscape, not the least involving the men who fell in the Seven Days and at Antietam. But there was no lack of farce either. Consider these words, spoken when Little Mac took command of his first army: “Soldiers! I have heard there was danger here, and I have come to place myself at your head and to share it with you. I fear now but one thing — that you will not find foemen worthy of your steel.”


Now consider the fact that the man who spoke them stood about 5′ 4″.


McClellan holds the place in American history as the figure whose initial promise was least borne out by events. The fact that Barack Obama most resembles one of this country’s great clowns is his misfortune. Similar initial conditions will lead to similar results. If Obama follows the same path, the process will have its comic aspects. It already does — recall the 57 states, the haloed iconography, the campaigning in Berlin with more intensity than in any American city. But as events play out, we will not be denied our share of tragedy.
J.R. Dunn is consulting editor of American Thinker.