We have heard three different stories now as to the manner of Benazir Bhutto's death. Variously, we have been told that she was killed by one or more bullets (perhaps from the bomber's hand gun before he blew himself up), shrapnel from the bomb or by banging her head on a piece of car hardware during the bombing. The last seems a little far fetched, but, no matter. It's their story, not ours.
Now, Hilary Clinton has spoken up to say that the word of the Pakistan government is not to be trusted because they are obviously an interested party in the killing (Is Musharraf not a politician?) and because Bhutto was killed in Rawalpindi, a largely military town ever since the days of the Raj.
She is right on both counts, and also right to suggest that an outside investigation would be appropriate. Many others have said the same thing.
Unfortunately, there will not be an outside investigation.
Some might ask why not? After all, when Rafik Hariri was killed in Lebanon several years ago, there was an international hue and cry for a UN led investigation with the clear intention of hanging responsibility around Syria's neck. The investigation has come to pass and the result has been -- nothing.
Now we have the Bhutto affair. Will there be an investigation analogous to the Hariri investigation? No.
That investigation took place because it was the policy of the United States to agree to and, indeed sponsor such an inquiry. The French? Ah, yes. The French in this case sided with the United States because Chirac's government had reached a level on alienation from America that needed correction.
Bottom Line: Crimes like these are really matters of international politics, and the large countries' interests still govern. All else is just illusion. International law? A pretty conceit. The strong still are strong.
There will be no effective international investigation into Bhutto's death. pl
There were three suicide bombers on foot in the crowd and someone fired several shots that hit the bullet resistant glass where she was supposed to be sitting.
Musharraf has been the target of a number of assassination plots but this set of attacks on Benazir Bhutto just after she descended from the aircraft that brought her home raises once again the question of the future of Pakistan, a country that possesses deliverable nuclear weapons and aircraft configured to do the job.
The Pakistani military is thoroughly infiltrated by men of doubtful loyalty to a Western alliance. Without the past help or passive acceptance of such men the Taliban and al-Qaeda would never have become the menace that they still are.
No. The US did not sponsor either group. We sponsored other groups. Look it up.
Nevertheless, the situation in Pakistan remains largely a question of the survival of a handful of people like Musharraf and Bhutto. Perhaps next time the plotters will have better luck. If they do then, a sudden reversal in Pakistan which produces a government committed to an Islamist course is distinctly possible.
The threat of Iranian nuclear weapons is distant and still inconclusive. The threat that would be posed by Pakistani weapons would be immediate. pl
Someone killed her. Is anyone surprised? As I said, the country is inherently like this. It was a mistake. Now we know what the odds worked out to be. What will we see now? Will there be chaos in the streets? Will Musharraf put his militarized police and army into the streets to shoot rioters? What will we see? pl
It seems clear that the "pundits in chief" of American television have in mind to "guide" American voters to the election of a candidate who, in their collective "wisdom," is appropriate to the office of president of the United States.
It should be no secret that the "chattering classes" on the left and right coasts believe that they are far wiser than the peasantry residing in "fly over country" in between (or among) their citadels of exalted brooding.
The various preferences of the media Machiavellians are pitifully obvious to those unfortunate enough to need to watch (endlessly).
Christopher Matthews, (MSNBC) (when not abusing and bullying guests) makes it clear that his first choice would have been Giuliani (a man from the "civilized" northeast) but, (sigh) if that is not to be, then Obama will fulfill the civil rights yearnings of his soul. In pursuit of that goal, there is nothing that he will not say, endlessly, boringly, repetitively against the Clintons. God help anyone on his programs who disagrees with this "program."
And then, there is Tim Russert, host of "Meet the Press." Tim holds forth there with an authority reminiscent of the doctrine of papal infallibility and a clear belief that none dare confront him.
Today, his "guest" was Dr. Ron Paul, the previously obscure physician and congressman from coastal Texas. This man has the effrontery to insist that the US Constitution is still an effective document, that the federal government has too much power, spends too much money and that Abraham Lincoln might not have been as wise as the hagiolatry surrounding his name mandates as belief.
Somehow, unbelievably, the masses huddled outside the major cities of America resonate to what Paul says. His message of minimalist government and foreign policy, civil rights for all and a return to balanced budgets appeals to many. To the consternation of the "professional pols" money floods into the Paul "campaign" over the internets. Thus far, this flow of small contributions is not reflected in polling, but, as my favorite political consultant (my wife) suggests, this may be the result of people being reluctant to tell pollsters that they will vote for Paul
With regard to Paul's various "heretical" opinions, Russert poured forth a continuous stream of questions at so rapid a rate that it became clear that the purpose was a hope that the "guest" would stumble over himself in attempting to answer. The purpose of this approach seemed to be destructive rather than constructive.
Both Russert and Matthews are products of schooling that should have done better by them. pl
In January, the United States will also invite the Iraqis to negotiate a new "strategic partnership agreement" to replace the existing U.N. mandate for U.S. troops, starting in 2009. David Satterfield, Rice's special coordinator for Iraq, will ask Baghdad to appoint a negotiating team that represents all the country's factions and ministries. This new agreement will be sensitive for both sides, since it will cover everything from imprisonment of Iraqi detainees to future U.S. basing rights to Special Forces operations against al-Qaeda terrorists. Explains a senior Bush administration official: "There will be new rules of the game. There have to be. It cannot be business as usual." Ignatius
"" A new "strategic partnership agreement" " As I thought, they are going to be dumb enough to try to maintain themselves with troops in the heart of the Arab World.
I guess they just don't understand that there will not be a peaceful outcome for any of the parties to such an agreement. There will simply be more war.
There are those among them who should know better. Crocker and Satterfield are prime examples, but the siren call of ambition and the desire to maintain one's place seem to trump all, all. The master must be served. The master must be served. What will be amusing is the speed with which these grand functionaries will spin on a dime to take up the policy and values of the opposing party if the Democrats are elected.
I saw that once before in the time when Carter lost to Reagan. The State Department people with whom I was serving all became cowboy conservatives over night. Some of these were among them. pl
Because of the greatly improved situation in the counterinsurgency war in Iraq there will be a terrible temptation to think that Iraqis have now accepted a long term American military presence in their country. That would be a mistake.
The improved military situation has largely been the result of Iraqi revolt against takfiri jihadi oppression and the emergence of a coalition military leadership philosophy that welcomed that revolt and which provided fnancial, materiel and operational support to the rebels against Al-Qa'ida in Mesopotamia and its freinds. The urge to attribute the success in the last year and a half to the increased presence of American combat forces must be strong, but, in fact, that presence has been helpful but not decisive.
Many problems remain in Iraq. The central government remains the monstrous engine of ethno-religious factional politics that the Coalition Provisional Authority created. It is dominated by returned exiles and politicians who "played the game" with Saddam for their own benefit. Such men are not inclined to abnegation in the "national" interest. The Kurdish/Turkish conflict is reaching crisis proportion in the north and the swirling cockpit of Shia militia competition is now becoming more visible in the south.
These problems can only be resolved through the kind of determined diplomacy throughout the region that I have often advocated.
At present the US has accepted as temporary allies many of those who fought against us before the "Anbar Awakening." That is as it should be. We should continue that policy in other parts of the country.
What we should not think is that our former enemies have become reconciled to a permanent US military garrison in their country. To think that would be a terrible mistake.
If we want to have a reasonable relationship wth whatever Iraq there will be, then we should understand that the basis for resistance to us was rejection of the idea of foreign military occupation.
Bottom Line? Those who fight beside us now will fight us again if we decide to occupy their country permanantly. pl
"Mowafaq al-Rubaie, Iraq's national security adviser, said his government was ready and called on Basra's citizens to work together.
"Your unity is essential in rebuilding your city. You have to come together and unify — Sunnis, Shiites, Muslims and non-Muslims and nationalists," he said.
Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, the No. 2 U.S. commander in Iraq, said the handover was "the right thing to do" for southern Iraq, but American officials worry that a power vacuum could heighten the influence of Iran and threaten land routes used to bring ammunition, food and other supplies from Kuwait to U.S. troops to the north.
"What we have to watch is undue Iranian influence," Odierno told a small gathering of reporters in Baghdad." Yahoo News
Glad to see the supply route security issue has their attention now. It did not for a long time. A lack of imagination seems to be a continuing problem in the planning process.
On the issue of Iranian influence in the south, it sounds like Odierno is "channeling" the White House. The Iranians are obviously going to have a lot of influence in south Iraq. They intend to dominate Iraq generally without occupying any of it and they intend to dominate the Basra area most of all. How will they do that? They will continue to play the various Shia factions against each other to their own benefit. This is a winning strategy.
Clearly, the US should look at the possibility of applying the "divide and rule" methods it has applied elsewhere in Iraq to this problem. There is no reason to treat the Shia population as a monolith. There are analogous fissure lines among the various Shia factions and between them and the Shia tribes. Is a diagram necessary? pl
"In his remarks — Israel's harshest criticism yet of the U.S. report — Avi Dichter said the assessment also cast doubt on American intelligence in general, including information about Palestinian security forces' crackdown on militant groups. The Palestinian action is required as part of a U.S.-backed renewal of peace talks with Israel this month.
Dichter cautioned that a refusal to recognize Iran's intentions to build weapons of mass destruction could lead to armed conflict in the Middle East.
He compared the possibility of such fighting to a surprise attack on Israel in 1973 by its Arab neighbors, which came to be known in Israel for the Yom Kippur Jewish holy day on which it began.
"The American misconception concerning Iran's nuclear weaponsis liable to lead to a regional Yom Kippur where Israel will be among the countries that are threatened," Dichter said in a speech in a suburb south of Tel Aviv, according to his spokesman, Mati Gil. "Something went wrong in the American blueprint for analyzing the severity of the Iranian nuclear threat."" Yahoo News
Yup. Tail wags dog. Mouse gives diving eagle the finger. Dog bites the hand, etc.
Israeli intelligence has been the foster child of American government for so long it is impossible to remember when anything was different. I suppose before '56.... Maybe.
The reference to the "Yom Kippur War" is amusing since the surprise experienced by Israel was entirely the product of their own analytic failure.
In any event, now they have a satellite or two and they have arrived at their own theory of the state of mind of the Iranians. In that context, their officials speak grandly of "the American misconception of Iran's nuclear weapons." My. My.
In fact what happened is that the US intelligence community punctured the balloon of illusion concerning Iran's programs That balloon had been skilfully painted in gaudy colors that fit the Israeli "misconception" of the world. Now there is unbridled rage among the Jacobins, the Cheneyites and the Israeli government over an unexpected failure.
I hear that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is going to make a visit to Israel. The Israelis actually say that they will make a maximum pitch to him for repudiation of the intelligence community's work. That should be interesting since a lot of the intelligence community belongs to the Defense Department.
Then, there is the visit of the president, supposed to occur in January. Israelis have told me that he must be going there to coordinate the next moves in the Iran game. I told them that they should believe that his trip is connected to a renewed peace process.
They found that amusing. They do not believe there really is a peace process. pl
Whether or not one should argue with people who do not argue in good faith is an interesting question. My view, for what it is worth, is that one should.
However, it is both true -- and important -- that many of those who are commonly called 'neocons' do not argue in good faith: that they prefer, rather than confronting the arguments of others, to use smear tactics, and also that they are remarkably unwilling to consider evidence that calls into question their preferred theories. This is a crucial fact about them which is still very inadequately appreciated -- not least because of the deference which has been paid to their views in the mainstream media. So, on the many occasions when they are clearly either in bad faith or plain wrong, it is important to point this out.
If this seems over the top, I can perhaps illustrate by reverting to an earlier discussion on this blog.
A good example of familiar neocon approaches was the hatchet job done on Sherman Kent, a pivotal figure in the wartime R&A branch of the wartime OSS and in shaping the analytical side of the CIA, by Carl Schmitt and Abram Shulsky -- the latter of whom headed the Office of Special Plans, through which much of the bogus intelligence used to justify the Iraq War was channelled. Their article Leo Strauss and the World of Intelligence suggested that Kent's conception of intelligence as research involved a naïve faith in the ability of a 'social science' method to generate reliable predictions about the behaviour of adversaries -- and this, they claim, led him to discount the importance of espionage, and the interception and deciphering of enemy communications.
When I read Kent's book, I discovered that most of their charges were based upon a total misrepresentation of what Kent said. Certainly some of this may be due to intellectual incompetence. Anyone with any grasp of the context in which Kent was writing should be aware that the last thing he could have been expected to produce was a candid discussion of the crucial contribution of codebreaking to victory against Germany and Japan. A generation after he wrote people who had worked at Bletchley Park still did not talk about it even to their immediate families. It could be that the inability of Schmitt and Shulsky to grasp this is simply a kind of reductio ad absurdum of the Straussian disbelief in the importance of context -- who can say? However, some of the distortions are so flagrant that it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that one is dealing with people utterly devoid of the standards of intellectual integrity that university education is supposed to instil.
What Kent was actually stressing was a very simple and crucial point -- that in intelligence gathering as in other forms of intellectual inquiry, it is important to get clear the questions you want to answer, and then look at all the available means by which you can answer them. He also argued that, commonly, ingenuity in the exploitation of open sources yields far more information than espionage -- although he never said that this was necessarily the case. He stressed that the relative importance of secret intelligence and open sources depended upon the specific problem you were confronting.
In attacking Kent's fundamental argument, Schmitt and Shulsky were not making useful criticisms of the inadequacies of the CIA -- they were striking at the basic foundations of good intelligence practice, and thereby doing their level best to turn the United States into a kind of self-blinded giant: a danger to others and to itself. And their appalling theory was reflected in Shulsky's absysmal practice -- the fact that the neocons were led by the nose by Ahmad Chalabi, who may well have been in the instrument of a well-planned Iranian deception operation.
I developed the argument at some length in a piece which Colonel Lang posted -- see http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2005/11/habakkuk_onleo_.html
"The NIE then highlights, without altering, the underlying issue: At what point would the nations that have described an Iranian military nuclear program as "unacceptable" agree to act on that conviction? Do they wait until Iran starts producing nuclear warheads? Does our intelligence assume that we will know this threshold? Is there then enough time for meaningful countermeasures? What happens to the growing stock of fissile material that, according to the estimate, will have been accumulated? Do we run the risk of finding ourselves with an adversary that, in the end, agrees to stop further production of fissile material but insists on retaining the existing stockpile as a potential threat? " Kissinger
Henry the "K" has (until now) managed to disguise his relationship to the neocon Jacobins who seek the "perfection of mankind" through political scheming and open warfare. Through the skillful use of avuncular editorials, oracular rumblings and throaty interviews on the Sunday Morning Newsies, he has somehow managed to seem aloof from the policy driven view of "reality engineering" that has been the hallmark of the neocon influence on history.
His regular consulting sessions at the White House and the intimate and profitable links of "Kissinger and Associates" to the Bush Administration never quite managed to damage Kissinger's image as an elder statesman seeking to "right" the ship of state as a "disinterested" man. Not even the massive and colossal screw-ups of his friend and protege Paul Bremer dimmed HK's star.
This op-ed published on the neocon dominated editorial page of the Washington Post changes that. In this piece Kissinger comes out of the closet far enough to directly challenge the "right" of the National Intelligence Council (NIC) to make judgments inconvenient to the policy desires of the Administration of the moment.
In this piece Kissinger insists that he (and his friends) know best what is important (and dangerous) in Iran's nuclear program. He insists that the mere enrichment of uranium is the most dangerous part of such a program. He denigrates the focus of the NIE on actual weapon and warhead research and production, claiming that such prodigies of engineering could be achieved with relative ease once the all-important store of enriched uranium is obtained.
In this process of reasoning, Kissinger ignores the fact that uranium enrichment is also necessary to produce fuel needed to have a large number of atomic electric plants. The difference in the two kinds of enrichment is that weapons production requires a much higher percentage of enrichment. The difference is detectable and so far the IAEA has not detected any efforts to produce weapons grade enriched fuel.
Kissinger's anger at the "interference" of the spooks in the image building campaign conducted against Iran is palpable. He is revealed as an ally of the AEI fantasists and their friends in the White House. His "crocodile tears" over the poor, misguided souls in the intelligence community are not merely laughable. They are, in fact, symptomatic of a great mind which has lost its own way. pl
I'm a fan of your blog and, as a former State Dept. nuclear nonproliferation specialist, an avid consumer of foreign policy analysis. But I have not seen much lately attempting lay out in detail a path forward on, or out of, Iraq, and I would value a source of intelligent debate on that topic.
My friends and I are divided into two camps. On one side are those who say that our continued presence can at best keep the civil war on hold but cannot resolve it, and therefore conclude that we have to withdraw, over the course of some months, and face the fact that the civil war will flare up.
On the other side are those who say that having broken it, we will have to enlarge our military and keep 50,000 troops there for the next 30 years to try to keep a lid on. But none of us are what I would call sophisticated analysts of mid-east issues. It strikes me that you and some of your contributors might be able to do a nice job on the topic. Or if I just have not been looking in the right place, perhaps you could tell me where I find such discussion.
Charlottesville, Virginia "
Interestingly, I have a close friend with the same name (Bob Newman). I have written on this topic before, but I think that a wide-open discussion of this matter would be a good idea and welcome Mr. Newman's suggestion.
As some of you know, I am in the "camp" of those who favor a staged departure of American forces over the next three years. Whether or not a training, supply and security contingent would be left there for a couple more years after that would depend, in my mind, on whether or not there had emerged by then a responsible Iraq government worth dealing with. I definitely do not support the idea of a long term (as in Korea) presence in Iraq. Such a presence would inevitably lead to continued anti-US warring in the country. In such a situation some of those who now have turned against the takfiri jihadis and are fighting as our "allies" might well go back to fighting us.
Shia Iraq is going to be increasingly unstable in the next months or years as the four major Shia factions struggle for supremacy in various parts of the country. The Iranians are attempting to "play" this situation in such a way as to achieve as much influence in Iraq as possible.
This factor should be included in your analysis. Play "nice" with the other kids. pl
"“When you listen to Barack Obama, when you really hear him, you witness a very rare thing,” she said in Des Moines. “You witness a politician who has an ear for eloquence and a tongue dipped in the unvarnished truth.”
Winfrey, the television talk show host from Obama’s hometown of Chicago, stood at a podium on a small riser, with the crowd around her on all sides. Obama’s staff said 18,500 people were present, which would make it the largest Iowa event held for a single candidate this year.
In an afternoon rich with religious allusions, Winfrey began by saying she’s nervous in her new role as a political advocate.
“It feels like I’m out of my pew, I’m out of my terrain,” she said." Quad Cuty Times
Oprah says he is "the one." The one what? The messiah, the mahdi, the tin man, the "leader?" What is this, "the Matrix?" Readers here know how uneasy this kind of talk makes me. We don't need "men of destiny" for the constitutional job of running the Executive Branch of the federal government and supervising the process of seeing that federal law is enforced. Contrary to the opinion of the Jacobin neocons and numerous other nationalist "hard cases," the presidency of the United States is a limited job with limited power.
Anyone who thinks that the president of the US is a CEO who runs America like a business enterprise and in who is in charge of all policy greatly over-estimates the power of the office and its ability to control history. Several inhabitants of that office have learned to their sorrow that they are not elected kings. GWB just learned it again when a group of relatively "little" people in the intelligence establishment gutted his Iran plans by defying him. Now his flunkies and allies are going to see if they can turn the gutting knife around and use it on the defiant. They should take care. They may end up like the white-tails I used to hang in trees in Maine. They turned slowly in the wind until you took them down.
Senator Obama was once a law professor. He should re-read a few things and contemplate the limits of American toleration of those who wish to make radical changes to the way we live. pl
"Senate Republicans are planning to call for a congressional commission to investigate the conclusions of the new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran as well as the specific intelligence that went into it, according to congressional sources.
The move is the first official challenge, but it comes amid growing backlash from conservatives and neoconservatives unhappy about the assessment that Iran halted a clandestine nuclear weapons program four years ago. It reflects how quickly the NIE has become politicized, with critics even going after the analysts who wrote it, and shows a split among Republicans." Wright and Kessler in the WaPo
The "jungle telegraph" in Washington is booming with news of the Iran NIE. I am told that the reason the conclusions of the NIE were released is that it was communicated to the White House that "intelligence career seniors were lined up to go to jail if necessary" if the document's gist were not given to the public. Translation? Someone in that group would have gone to the media "on the record" to disclose its contents.
It is no wonder that the AEI crowd and their congressional helpmates are running around with their hair on fire over this estimate. In sharp contrast to the ease with which the neocon Jacobins were able to control the content of the October 2002 NIE on Iraq, this time they failed utterly to use a national intelligence estimate as a propaganda tool.
Hearings? Good! Let there be hearings! Let there be many hearings! The more the better and let them be public hearings. Bring them on!. pl
Romney is right in saying that American tradition holds that there should be no "religious test" for holding public office in the United States. Unfortunately, the implication that this dictum applies to the personal opinions of individual voters is egregious and deceptive. The phrase is from the founding documents of the United States and is concerned with the kind of government bar to office that the founders had experienced as subjects of the British king. It would have been a good idea for Romney to stick to the truth in his speech today rather than resorting to the kind of marketing rubbish that so dominates politics today.
I attended graduate school in Salt Lake City. This is essentially a Mormon city. I found Mormons as a group to be decent, incredibly hard working, honest Americans. The only faults I would ascribe to them are an inclination to sacharine sentiment and an excessive apppetite for pie. This latter trait may be brought on by their self denial of stimulants.
I would not have difficulty in voting for a Mormon for president or any other office. I would not have a difficulty in voting for a Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist or any other category of believer (or unbeliever). What I would be concerned with in each case would be my appreciation of the person's character and policy positions.
Romney's problems on the religion "front" are not with people like me. His problems are with those who believe deeply and fervently that the "rapture" is coming soon and that the Bible is literally true, word after word after word. In my version of Christianity we waited for the rapture on hilltops a thousand years ago. It did not come and now we are inclined to be less literal about scripture.
In my opinion, Romney's faith is incompatible with that of orthodox Christians and evangelical Protestants will feel that strongly. Reverend Land's statement is indicative. As the months pass that incompatibility will become increasingly evident.
Romney should have left this topic alone, trusting in the essential fairness and tolerance of Americans. Now, we will see what we are really about in this country. pl
"Clearly, Bush did not wish to disappoint loyal supporters at home and Israeli allies abroad who saw an existential threat to the Jewish state. There was much talk in recent months to the imperative need "to save Israel from a second holocaust." Norman Podhoretz, godfather of the neocons and now foreign policy adviser to Rudi Giuliani's presidential campaign, wrote in Commentary last June, "Please Mr. President, as an American Jew, I beg you, bomb Iran." For the neocons, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was another Hitler. (Late-night comedians who can't pronounce his name call him I'm-a-dinner-jacket.) This was now World War IV; World War III was the one we won against the evil Soviet empire.
Vice President Dick Cheney, who says Darth Vader "is one of the nicer things I've been called recently," was clearly in the neocon camp and sent the NIE estimate back to the drawing board on several occasions in recent months. Star investigative reporter Seymour Hersh delivered one "scoop" after another in The New Yorker about a secret Pentagon unit planning a "shock and awe" aerial blitz designed to destroy not only nuclear installations, but also Iran's military assets, from missile batteries to naval bases in the Gulf." De Borchgrave for UPI
It is time for plain talk, time to call a spade a "f-----g shovel" as one of my old sergeants would have said.
The chimera of Iran as deadly menace is a product of Israeli paranoia and debilitating fear of the "other." This fear saturates Israeli strategic thinking making impossible for them a rational contemplation of the odds against Iranian suicide attacks against Israel. Israel rejects the concept of deterrence of nuclear attack through creation of MAD (mutual assured destruction). I have described their reasoning elsewhere in these pages. Given the awful nature of Jewish history, such overwhelming fear of the return of the final "golem," or perhaps Azrael himself is comprehensible.
What is not comprehensible is that their fear somehow captured the "minds" of the present population of of the White House, the NSC staff and the office of the Vice President. The tail has truly been wagging the dog. The interests and attitudes of a small client state have been allowed to seize control of the policy of an ecumenical empire. Was not this surrender and acceptance of capture an abandonment of the sacred oath sworn to the Constitution of the United States? "Protect and Defend...."
It is said that this National Estimate survived repeated efforts by the administration to corrupt the judgments of the intelligence community.
In an address on national security to the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars on August 1, 2007, Obama stated that as President he would consider military action in Pakistan in order to attack al-Qaeda, even if the Pakistani government did not give approval.  Obama said, "I will not hesitate to use military force to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to America." He also said "As President, I would deploy at least two additional brigades to Afghanistan to re-enforce our counter-terrorism operations". Tariq Ali, an acclaimed British-Pakistani historian, criticized Obama for his comments regarding attacking terrorists inside Pakistan and stated "Were the United States to start bombing raids inside Pakistan, there would be a massive increase of support for the jihadi fundamentalist groups in that country, and it would weaken not just secular political groups, it would weaken even the moderate religious parties who are not associated with that."" Wiki
"US President George W. Bush called Annapolis, the first substantive Arab-Israeli peace talks in seven years, a "hopeful beginning" for Mid-East peace.
Mr Olmert said it was not the first time he had articulated his fears about the demographic threat to Israel as a Jewish state from a faster growing Palestinian population.
He made similar comments in 2003 when justifying the failed strategy of unilateral withdrawals from Israeli-occupied land which holds large Palestinian populations.
"If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights, then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished," Mr Olmert is quoted saying in Haaretz newspaper." BBC
Olmert's demographic brooding reminds me of an article that Dr. Krauthammer wrote some years ago for Kristol's magazine, "The Weekly Standard." In it he predicted that because of the high rate of assimilation in the USA there would be no more than 50,000 who identified themselves as Jewish at some future date that he had picked. In the case of Israel Olmert would know better than I.
I do not think that the Annapolis meeting will lead to great things any time soon. Olmert knows that there are a lot of Israelis who do not want the kind of "concessions" to the Palestinians that would be necessary to a deal with Abbas. There is actually talk of the possibility of civil war in Israel. At the same time, HAMAS, although willing to make a truce (Hudna) with Israel is not going to be willing to make a permanent cession of territory to Israel. HAMAS would think such a deal to be equivalent to apostasy to Islam . In their view they have no right to truncate the "Umma. Hamas is not going to "go away" willingly and so far no one appears to have made the arrangements necessary to "disappear" them, so, I reason that there is not going to be a Palestinian/Israeli deal soon.
On the other hand, Syria and Israel wish to compose their differences. The Syrians want it because they very much want to get out of the "doghouse" with the United States. They feel (rightly) that the Bush Administration will collapse the regime if it finds a way to do so. As I have written, they have been seeking to open talks to improve their position for years now. Olmert understands that it would be a great improvement in Israel's strategic position if Syria were "fixed" and became a Levantine version of Libya. Look for diplomatic action if GWB can just be persuaded to accept "victory." pl
"Dear Pat A week or so ago, I noticed some of your readers were nervous about the fate of Pakistani’s nuclear arsenal. While some concern remains, the following facts should be noted. As early as 2000, the Clinton administration created a joint commission, a liaison group, consisting of American and Pakistani scientists. The purpose of this group was to help the Pakistanis create command and control codes for the use of such weapons that would be unbreakable. In the course of such work, America basically gained full knowledge of Pakistan’s command and control system. The US then used snatch teams to kidnap Pakistani scientists who were peddling Pakistan’s nuclear technology or knowledge of it to undesirables. A bunch of such scientists disappeared from Burma while traveling, for example. But the kidnaping disrupted the alleged 200 links between the Pakistan nuclear community and terrorists such as al Queda. Other Pakistanis sympathetic to al Qaida Sultan Bashiruddin, a much decorated scientist for Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, were arrested and interrogated. The US had thoroughly infiltrated the nuclear procurement-peddling ring without telling the Pakistanis about it, which is why the US got Libya to abandon its program and why Iran, another Pakistan client, disclosed its own activities to the IAEA.. After 9/11, American aid to the Pakistanis to safeguard and control its nuclear arsenal was stepped up, with Bush using the proposed $3 billion in US aid as a bludgeon. Pakistan has 40 nuclear weapons, but within two days of the attacks, Pakistan’s military began to secretly relocate critical nuclear weapons components to six new secret locations, known to the Bush administration. When Pakistan joined the war on terrorism, it submitted to additional US oversight. Lastly, Musharaff shuffled top military and intelligence personnel just before the US attack on Afghanistan on October 7. A new Pakistani Strategic Planning Division was set up, headed by a three-star general to supplement the control of such weapons by the National Command Authority.. There were also changes made to keep nuclear technology out of the hands of jihadis in the event Musharaff was assassinated. The US again had a big part to play in this. So while the nukes of any country are allegedly in danger of hijacking, apparently the new safeguards are such that the slightest error in procedure renders the weapon null and void, a system much like the one the Russian used with their portable nuclear weapons systems. So for now, the danger of jihadis seizing a Pakistan nuke seem minimal. With greetings to all, Richard Sale"