Reading many opinions, including tweets from Israeli Generals participating in a conference in NY (as published in the JP), comments in the US and European media and other opinions and researches, it seems that what we have was not really an “Arab Spring”, rather it was an Islamic Spring or a result of a conspiracy to change the status quo in the region.
In all this debate, there are certain facts that are usually missing
* The Arab spring did not create the Islamists. They were there, growing and expanding every day. It was only a matter of time before we see the conflict between the two poles erupt, the Islamists and regimes that proved unresponsive, at least in any adequate fashion, to changes occurring in their countries.
* The way history chose to “produce” this episode, which was inevitable in my opinion, was in itself a very inspiring lesson. It showed that another social segment -not the Islamists- can take the initiative. This fact will prove extremely important later on. It generated a sense of empowerment among the population in general and gave a feeling of entitlement to the non- Islamists. Islamists did not participate in the uprisings in the beginning. They usually stand firm against demonstrations, strikes or any sign of public expression or participation describing it as “western” or “democratic”, both happen to be “Haram” (not Kosher).
"What we’re seeing now in Egypt is something that might be called electoral bin Ladenism. Take the group Gamaa Islamiya, which under its spiritual leader, Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, made the first unsuccessful attempt to destroy the World Trade Center in 1993. Today, the organization has formed a Salafist political party with the benign name Building and Development Party. This organization, which like al-Qaeda traces its roots to the Islamist theorist Sayyid Qutb, has 13 seats in the new Egyptian parliament.
Syria will be a test of whether this post-bin Laden Islamist movement can continue to reject violence or will instead be radicalized by the jihadist magnet that is Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The successor to bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has tried to use the anti-Assad battle to rehabilitate the al-Qaeda brand — even though it’s another fight that embodies the Muslim-on-Muslim violence that bin Laden came to abhor." Ignatius
"... a year of mostly nonviolent democratic revolution. But it has brought to power some Salafist and Muslim Brotherhood groups that share common theological roots with bin Laden. And the al-Qaeda goal of driving the “apostate,” pro-American President Hosni Mubarak from power has been achieved." Ignatius
Truer words were never..., etc. Islamic revivalism (especially in Sunni Islam) is a cyclical phenomenon. Islam sees itself as a universal truth that should become a way of life for all. All else is tactics.
"The former head of Israel's Shin Bet security agency has accused the country's political leaders of exaggerating the effectiveness of a possible military attack on Iran, in a striking indication of Israel's turmoil over how to deal with the Iranian nuclear program.
Yuval Diskin said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak — who have been saber-rattling for months — have their judgment clouded by "messianic feelings" and should not be trusted to lead policy on Iran. Diskin, who headed Shin Bet until last year, said a strike might actually accelerate the Iranian program.
Shin Bet addresses security in Israel and the Palestinian Territories only and is not involved in international affairs." AP
We now have an interesting collection of former heads of Shin Bet (Shabak), Mossad, former DMIs, and the current chief of staff of the IDF who say that Bibi and his acolytes are endangering Israel by exaggerating the Iranian threat and Israel's ability to deal with it militarily.
A few weeks ago various AIPAC flunkies and 5th columnists were busy on TV and in print attacking the USIC and CJCS Martin Dempsey for saying the same things. How will they deal with this? Will they rally behind the hyper-nationalists or will they stop insulting and reviling American patriots who have the courage to speak the truth?
If Obama, Panetta and Clapper had not held the line against pro-Likud idiocy, these voices in Israel would not have felt empowered to speak. Would Romney have dealt with this by anything other than submission to Bibi's foolishness?
Let us get on with negotiating a reasonable compromise with the Iranians over their nuclear electricity program and the mischief they have caused since the revolution in Iran. If the Iranians are wise they will seek to reach a general agreement.
Can it be that we will see the beginning of a US/Israeli relationship not based on political manipulation and media deception? One can only hope. pl
Adam L. Silverman, PhD*
Yesterday COL Lang wrote about Israeli Defense Force's Chief of Staff Lt. General Gantz's remarks pertaining to Iran. I wanted to take a few lines and focus on some other portions of Lt. General Gantz's remarks, specifically those about Iranian strategic decision making. Lt. General Gantz, told his interviewers from Haaretz, that "If the supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wants, he will advance it to the acquisition of a nuclear bomb, but the decision must first be taken. It will happen if Khamenei judges that he is invulnerable to a response. I believe he would be making an enormous mistake, and I don't think he will want to go the extra mile. I think the Iranian leadership is composed of very rational people." While he still sounded a cautious note in regards to potential Iranian nuclear ambitions - "But I agree that such a capability, in the hands of Islamic fundamentalists who at particular moments could make different calculations, is dangerous", his caution was tempered by his evaluation of both the Iranian Supreme Religious Authority and leadership.
This is a very important point that we need to be cognizant of, just as the Haaretz reporter was, for two reasons. The first is that Lt. General Gantz's remarks echo those made by GEN Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, when he was visiting Israel. The second is that it starkly differentiates the professional views of Israel's senior military officer, as well as its past Intelligence Chief Meir Dagan, from that of Israel's leadership, as well as a number of elected American officials and pundits. If, as GEN Demspey, Lt. General Gantz, and Director Dagan assert, that the Iranian leadership, and therefore its decision making, is rational (and we should caveat this as within the Iranian context), then normal incentives such as economic sanctions and diplomatic initiatives, may bring about the changes in Iranian behavior that most would like to see.
The issue going forward is whether the professionals', both military and intelligence, assesments carry the policy arguments going forward or whether the war feverish among Israeli and American politicians and American pundits win the day. It also sets up some very interesting potential Israeli Civil-Military (Civ-Mil) relations follow ons as things continue to develop. Lt. General Gantz's remarks, unlike GEN Dempsey's which were in line with official US/Administration positions pertaining to Iran, place him at odds with the Israeli civilian leadership. That too is a developing situation that bears watching.
*Adam L. Silverman is the Culture and Foreign Language Advisor at the US Army War College (USAWC). The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of USAWC and/or the US Army.
AIPAC History Proto-AIPAC's incubation in the Israeli embassy in 1948. Strategic direction-setting by the Mossad and Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Confrontations with the Eisenhower and Kennedy Administrations and the secret battle over registration as an Israeli foreign agent. FBI espionage investigations of AIPAC. AIPAC and the clandestine Israeli nuclear weapons program. The grassroots fight for transparency, regulatory oversight and accountability. Presented by Grant F. Smith, Director of IRmep. http://vimeo.com/40544530
This time it is not about Egypt, though I will get back to Egypt in the near future. It is about the GCC countries.
It is obvious that there is an unfavorable configuration developing rapidly.
The sense in the GCC Capitals is that the US may “sell” these countries in any moment. That the US is not a reliable “anchor” in the current violent storm in the region. And that the US is weak – at best – or that it will let these ruling monarchies down in any grand bargain with Iran.
Why this is a dangerous situation? Simply because it creates a psychological environment that can begets unneeded complications. The paranoia regarding the US led to the rejection of three US NGOs in the UAE, Riyadh ceasing to coordinate with its main alley regarding Egypt, the arrest of a royal Sheikh in RAK and many other incidents which reflect the general sentiment that could border panic.
"... the normally reticent boss of the Israel Defense Forces has just poured cold water on this eventuality. Lt. Gen. Benny Grantz told Israeli newspaper Haaretz in an interview marking that nation's independence day that he doubts Iran is currently seeking a nuclear weapon or that they will eventually decide to pursue one.
To be sure, he insists that a theoretical nuclear weapon in the hands of Iran would be disastrous to Israel and its regional standing, and said he was preparing a credible military option, which he says is crucial for Israel's security." Dan Murphy
IMO the chance of Israel attacking Iran before the US election went to near 0% with this statement by General Gantz.
This means that IDF intelligence agrees with the USIC's estimate on Iranian capabilities and intentions.
To launch such an attack after this statement would completely "liberate" the US from any need to support such an attack or the ensuing war in the ME.
Gantz also acknowledges that a lot of Israel's concern over an Iranian nuclear capability is merely a desire to retain military hegemony in the region rather than a fear of an "exchange" of fires.
Given this context the opportunity is here for carrying through to a "detente" with Iran that would stabilize the ME situation. pl
If I recall correctly, my three year old mind registered the work of the Seven Dwarves as mining?
This really appeals to the science fiction reader that I was in my youth. I read a book about this. Heinlein, right? "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress?" As I recall the Moon colony (Gingrich was not yet a candidate for mayor) mined various rare earths like lithium or some such thing. They then loaded the rocks into an electrically driven rail gun, a mass driver. The ore fell in the ocean somewehere at a reasonalble depth and were recovered. Easy huh?
Actually it was the marriage customs of the moonies that really interestrd me, but, then, at that age.... pl
"About 15 percent of the DIA’s case officers will be part of the Defense Clandestine Service, the defense official said. New, more clearly delineated career paths will give DIA case officers better opportunities to continue their espionage assignments abroad, he said." Washpost
This is not a new "agency." It is not a new "service." It is the creation of a new unit withoing the DIA HUMINT depatyment. This one will be dedicated to recruitment of high level assets outside war zones. In other words this is not a combat support organization/ Why is this needed. Simple. CIA is a civilian organization. It has always done a poor job of trying to "work with" foreign military men.
CIA says DIA does poor work? Now that is really funny. Who was it that had half a dozen clandestine service people wiped out in in Afghanistan with one bomb. It was CIA. People died because of their poor skills and practises.
CIA, and the IDF are the greatest self promoters in the world. The marines run a close third in that race. rpl
"“It’s definitely going to be an uphill battle,” said Taylor, elected in 2008 to the state’s House of Representatives.“People feel their right to bear arms is being threatened.”
Gun-control advocates are finding it difficult to capitalize on outrage over the Martin case. The dynamics are similar in other states where efforts are under way to weaken or repeal the National Rifle Association-backed measures known as Stand Your Ground. Lawmakers have introduced rollbacks in South Carolina and Louisiana and say they plan to in Wisconsin andTexas."
Don't kid yourselves, folks. The four and a half million members of the NRA (me among them) and the extremely well organized lobbying effort of the group in Washington and the state capitals will stop the anti-gun crowd in their tracks. There will be no repeal of any of the "Stand Your Ground" laws in the states and BHO will not run on an anti-gun platform. In fact, his thinly disguised position on the Second Amendment will cost him a lot of votes no matter what the Democratic Party platform says. The prospect of his nominations to the federal bench on this as well as other issues insures a negative vote from many people.
The attempt to use the Martin/Zimmerman case as propaganda for federal or state gun control legislation is a total waste of time, and serves no purpose other than to irritate the hundred million plus gun owners in the United States.
That's democracy folks. Save your money and breath. pl
"Israel's prime minister on Monday scrambled to contain the damage from Egypt's decision to cut off natural gas exports, dismissing the matter as a mere "business dispute" as he tried to prevent a full-fledged diplomatic crisis.
The comments by Benjamin Netanyahu contrasted with earlier statements by Cabinet ministers who warned the Egyptian move threatened to harm already shaky relations between the two nations.
"We don't see this cutoff of the gas as something that is born out of political developments," Netanyahu said. "It's actually a business dispute between the Israeli company and the Egyptian company."" ABC News
The Beebster can talk himself blue in the face about this but, in fact, this is a major economic and diplomatic blow to Israel's future welfare.
The fact that this has occurred BEFORE the Islamist and basically anti-Israeli forces in Egypt are fully empowered is ominous.
IMO it is only a matter of time before the Egyptians withdraw from the treaty of peace with Israel. pl
An article in Wired's Danger Room blog caught my eye. Entitled "Pentagon Wants Spy Troops Posing as Businessmen," the article's main point of DoD wanting to use commercial cover in its clandestine activities seemed woefully out of date... by decades. However, a shocking notion was buried further down in the Wired article:
"There’s another change the proposal would make — one that seems boring and bureaucratic, but explains a great deal. Authority for overseeing the Defense Department’s human spying lies with the Defense Intelligence Agency. The proposal would give it instead to the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence"
Wired's original source for this information is an article from Inside Defense. I found one version of that article available to the public. A second article on the same subject is behind a paywall. The Inside Defense article is less dramatic, but still intriguing:
"The Defense Department is seeking new authority from Congress that would let DOD personnel work undercover in industry to conduct clandestine military operations abroad against terrorists and their sponsors. The Pentagon's request, submitted to lawmakers last week in a package of legislative proposals, is designed to significantly broaden DOD's existing authority -- first enacted in 1992 -- to use commercial cover in support of intelligence-collection activities.
The proposal would also delete from existing law the requirement that the Defense Intelligence Agency oversee DOD's use of commercial cover. The current statute was enacted before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks led Congress to establish the under secretary of defense for intelligence -- dubbed USD(I), for short -- to direct and oversee all intelligence, intelligence-related, and security programs of the department, DOD writes. Michael Vickers, the third person to hold the post since it was created in 2003, has served in that capacity for more than a year. The Secretary has directed that the USD(I) oversee these commercial activities," the proposal adds. "These developments have made the current statutory mandate for an oversight office in DIA an unwarranted limitation on the discretion of the Secretary and the Under Secretary in managing and overseeing the commercial activities program."
I have no idea why DoD would need to see more authorities to use commercial cover in its clandestine activities, even revenue generating commercial activities. Read Emerson's "Secret Warriors" for examples of special mission units and intelligence units using commercial cover. Regulations and directives for doing such activities have been around for ages. They are hard and expensive to initiate and maintain. They require tremendous discipline. The payoff is never immediate and there may never be a payoff. That's why they are so seldom undertaken. I've conducted commercial cover operations for near twenty years in both intelligence and special mission units, so I know about these things.
The Wired article says USD(I) will assume oversight of human spying (clandestine HUMINT) from DIA. That would mean Michael Vickers, as current USD(I), would become the DoD HUMINT Manager rather than LTG Michael Flynn, the incoming DIA Director. If true, that would be a significant change. The Defense News article only talks about USD(I) assuming oversight of the commercial activities program from DIA. Even that would be a big change.
Michael Vickers has a long history with special operations from his time in Special Forces, CIA and as ASD/SOLIC. He has a long history with both McRaven and Flynn. JSOC and special mission units are still in ascendency. Perhaps this is the sound of crockery breaking as Flynn moves into DIA.
I propose the following alternate view of Bashar Assad.
He is a bookish man who never expected to have any kind of political power. His older brother was supposed to succeed to the purple, but this brother died unexpectedly in his sports car learning the hard way that the laws of physics apply to all. Bashar was then called back from England where he was studying to be an MD.
His father died. Even Hafez al-Assad had to die sometime. Throughout Hafez' life the unmodern part of the majority Sunni Arab population in Syria plotted with the Saudis and with their agents, most importantly Rafik Hariri the Saudi agent who held power in Lebanon intermittently using Saudi money and his own money to influence people and "rent" them in Lebanon, Syria and Washington. It should be said that Hariri's money came frm his Saudi royal family connections and his manipulation of such opportunities as the "Solidaire" project for re-building downtown Beirut.
It was clear to me throughout the Bush '43 epoch that Bashar Assad sought a rapprochement with the US. The Cheney/neocon faction blocked that. The Assad government persisted for years and sought a deal with Israel to seal the over all deal. Israel was quite responsive to this but in the end the possibility of such a deal was crushed both by the Bushies and by the Baath old guard (both Alawi and Sunni) in the Syrian power structure.
BHO came into office willing to see if Assad really wanted a deal. This was not to be. AIPAC's "pound of flesh" in the formation of the "hope-change" administration included several representatives of the Zionist set to include Jeffrey Feltman (Asst SecState for NE), Dennis Ross, and various lesser lights. Not surprisingly, these people reported that Assad was "insincere." Why Hillary Clinton did not see through this is a mystery to me. Then Bibi came to power. He and his neocon allies in Washington made it clear that they were not really interested in Syria or the Palestinians. They wanted the US to prroduce an Israeli friendly regime in Iraq. That failed but they also wanted Iran crippled so that Iran could not challenge Israeli hegemony in the ME. They are stil working on that.
Throughout the Bush '43 era and into the BHO period the neocons pushed the idea that Westernised "liberals": and ethno-religious minorities should be brought to power in the region believing that as minorities they were willing to make nice with Israel. An unendingsearch for "good" Islamists took place over the last five years. Discreet contacts were made to encourage them against the "old bulls" like Mubarak. The Arab spring was a direct product of this neocon and academic fathead meddling in the Arab and Islamic worlds.
The Syrian Sunni Islamist revolt is a direct result of that effort. What you have in Syria is a civil war bewtwee the forces of semi-westernization on the government's side and the forces of Sunni Islamism backed by Saudi Arabia on the other. In this struggle. the lefty media (and Fox) have never seen or heard Rebel BS that they did not really love.
What options does Assad have. 1- He can fight through to a total defeat of the rebels, 2- He can surrender to US demands for the end of his government. Arrest, trial and death will surely follow for him and his. 3- He can flee into exile where he can brood until brought back for trial and death.
Which course of action do you think he will choose? pl
By Richard T. Sale, author of Clinton’s Secret Wars
For months, there have been rumors of a strike by Israel on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The propaganda build-up is very similar to that directed against Saddam Hussein's Iraq in 2002. In both cases, an isolated state with limited military and physical resources is depicted as a horror threatens to end the survival of the world, except, of course, that Saddam Hussein's WMD didn’t exist.
According to several U.S. analysts like Steven Heydeman, a perceptive commentator for Foreign Affairs, the message emanating from Israel and its right-wing U.S. supporters, is that the road to Jerusalem and an Arab-Israeli peace leads through Iran. Prime Minister Benhamin Netanyahu contends that since Iran’s support of Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza means permanent hostiity to Israel's existence,the only way to make an Israeli-Palestinian peace possible is to use brute force to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear capability. As a result, Iran is incessantly depicted by Israel’s right-wing as the seat of all the world’s evil and calls during the last few weeks for a joint U.S.-Israel strike against Iran have reached a crescendo of frantic anxiety.
Israel’s rationale for a strike is solidly rooted in its past. Avner Cohen, a first rate analyst of Israel’s nuclear and defense programs, wrote recently that the day after the bombing of the Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor in June 1981, Prime Minister Menachem Begin exclaimed that the Osirak attack meant installing a new strategic doctrine that said that “Israel would do its utmost, including risking starting a war, in order to prevent hostile states in the region from obtaining nuclear arms.” Behind this statement lurked Begin’s fear of new Holocaust of Israel’s Jews.
Israel adopted the so called Osirak doctrine, as if “it were holy writ,” said Cohen. But what the Israeli public in 1981 did not know was that throughout the operation, Begin hadn’t correctly understood his own intelligence, plus top Israeli security officials - including the heads of army intelligence, the Mossad and the director general of the atomic energy commission – had stridently opposed the attack. The obdurate Begin launched it anyway.
Or what? What a joke! What is being offered to the Alawis is surrender followed by racial and religious cleansing. Are the Turks going to intervene It doesn't look like it.
Basic rule - Don't make empty threats. pl
They can do what they please. As BHO said, they are a sovereign people, but there should be no assistance, no re-supply and no re-equipping if they do this without BHO's agreement. pl
Update: The three-judge panel is still deliberating over the $20 million Rosen v. AIPAC et al defamation suit.
AIPAC Fights Former Executive's $20 Million Defamation Suit by Grant F. Smith The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs March-April 2012 Full report at: http://tinyurl.com/wrmea-aipac
During Feb. 14, 2012 oral arguments before a three-judge panel in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, attorney David Shapiro argued passionately that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has a long history of obtaining and using classified U.S. government information. The fiery Shapiro clashed with AIPAC's legal team, headed by employment and labor law expert Thomas McCalley. The $20 million question before the judges was whether AIPAC defamed its former top lobbyist, Steven J. Rosen, after it fired him in 2005--but before Rosen, along with his colleague Keith Weissman, was indicted by the Department of Justice under the Espionage Act. AIPAC repeatedly told establishment media outlets that Rosen's "behavior did not comport with standards that AIPAC expects of its employees."
The Stuxnet virus that damaged Iran’s nuclear program was implanted by an Israeli proxy, an Iranian, who probably used a corrupt “memory stick.32,” former and serving U.S. intelligence officials said.
In the continuing battle to hold off the Iranian nuclear program, Iranian proxies have also been active in assassinating Iran’s nuclear scientists, these sources said.
These sources, who requested anonymity because of their close proximity to investigations, said a saboteur at Natanz, probably a member of an Iranian dissident group, used a memory stick to infect the machines there. They said using a person on the ground would greatly increase the probability of computer infection, as opposed to passively waiting for the software to spread through the computer facility. “Iranian double agents” would have helped to target the most vulnerable spots in the system,” one source said. In October 2010, Iran’s intelligence minister, Heydar Moslehi announced an unspecified number of “nuclear spies” were arrested in connection with Stuxnet.33 virus.
Israel’s battle plan also calls for the destruction of all of Tehran’s communication and network surveillance including its electrical plants, radar sites and command centers, said officials who requested anonymity because of their close proximity to ongoing investigations.
Two minutes into this interview on the Newshour Colonel (Ret.) Killibrew of CNAS chooses to denigrate what he calls "intelligence soldiers" as opposed to "direct combat soldiers" (sic) in the matter of the Afghan photos of troops and Afghan police palying with the remains of Taliban fighters who accidentally blew themselves up while installing roadside bombs. Bomb installers do this with some frequency. The IRA were particularly prone to this accident. I remember one fellow who did himself in while mixing fertiliser and other "goodies" with a steel shovel on a concrete garage floor. Special Branch and MI-5 had a good chuckle over that.
Killibrew's insult is reminiscent of all the snide remarks I have heard in the US Army over the last half century about intelligence soldiers. In memory of my old comrades I must say that I have seen intelligence soldiers fight as hard as any infantry and I have never known them to murder civilians in their beds.
From what I can learn, that whole brigade (4/82 Div.) behaved poorly during that deployment. The were unhappy to have been ordered into the "mentoring" mode and that showed in their performance. pl
"The Defense Intelligence Agency is a powerful if obscure organization responsible for providing intelligence to military commands, the Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Its secret weapon: It’s chiefly responsible for all of the Defense Department’s human informants. Yet it can seem overly bureaucratic and in eclipse compared to the military tactical-intelligence shops it helps man.
“Flynn’s nomination is interesting because he does not seem like someone who would choose to be a placeholder at an agency in decline,” says spywatcher Steve Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists. “The appointment may signal a revival of DIA, or at least some upheaval.”" Wired
The "crockery" needs breaking. DIA tends to be inhabited at the top by bureaucratic politicians who should be sent to graze somewhere else.
Not a West Point graduate.
Flynn sounds like a good idea. We will have to see if he will do as good a job of backing up his analysts in NIE discussions as did Burgess. pl
Egyptian politics are nothing if not heavy-handed. The American Left's angst over the possibility that Omar Suleiman might have been president is now shown to have been misplaced.
It is now clear that "the deal" is between SCARF and Amre Moussa. AM was Mubarak's foreign minister for a long, long, time. He is a slippery character, notable for a negative attidude toward the US and Israel. When he was foreign minister Mubarak "planted" an "observer" in the building to make sure AM could not act without close supervision. His relegation to the Arab League was a convenient way to remove him from the levers of power.
SCARF knows that AM will not cause them any trouble, especially when the inevitable crisis with the Islamist political groups arrives. pl
"The soldier who provided The Times with a series of 18 photos of soldiers posing with corpses did so on condition of anonymity. He served in Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne's 4th Brigade Combat Team from Ft. Bragg, N.C. He said the photos point to a breakdown in leadership and discipline that he believed compromised the safety of the troops.
He expressed the hope that publication would help ensure that alleged security shortcomings at two U.S. bases in Afghanistan in 2010 were not repeated. The brigade, under new command but with some of the same paratroopers who served in 2010, began another tour in Afghanistan in February.
U.S. military officials asked The Times not to publish any of the pictures.
Capt. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said the conduct depicted "most certainly does not represent the character and the professionalism of the great majority of our troops in Afghanistan.... Nevertheless, this imagery — more than two years old — now has the potential to indict them all in the minds of local Afghans, inciting violence and perhaps causing needless casualties."" LA Times
When you do things like this... you've been at war too long with the same poor suffering bastards.
The soldier who released these two year old pictures is correct. This level of disrespect to the enemy's dead is unacceptable and should be unacceptable in the "ancient and honorable profession of arms" as my father used to call it. He was at least partly serious.
Time to go. COIN is dead. Time to go. pl
After trying the services provided, I have decided to cancel my Facebook and Twitter accounts. I don't want to be that "sharing" and the accounts attract people to my blogs that are not suited to the conversations there. pl
"Anyone who wants to visit a gorilla preserve in Uganda, for example, knows what the restrictions are. The visitor must provide a certificate showing that he is not sick, and curious tourists are permitted only to visit in small groups and must leave the preserve in less than 24 hours. Tourists who go to the nature preserves in Tanzania know that it is forbidden to leave their vehicles, to throw food in the direction of the animals or get close to them. Anyone who kills a white polar bear in the snow fields will be brought to trial. There are clear, internationally recognized rules that define which species are threatened and how to preserve them.
Israel is a dangerous preserve and responsible nations should have issued a travel warning for this country long ago, or at least published a detailed guide of what is permitted or forbidden to do here. Which words or sentences induce a warning growl. A kind of dictionary for tourists in which terms such as "fly-in," "flotilla," "Palestinian state," "illegal outposts," "apartheid," "racism," "High Court of Justice," and of course, "occupation" will be underlined in bold red" Haaretz
We are fortunate that Israel still has some of the elements of a free press. They are more fortunate than we in America. Israel has become an extreme nationalist police state that holds down and occupies the terroitory of a native people. The better Israelis recognize that truth.
Time is running out for Israel. Its economy is propped up by foreign aid and remittances. The country teeters on the edge of a catastrophic war. Time is running out. pl
The rants and mutual insults concerning this matter on SST have become so bad that there will be no further discussion of the case. Congratulations to all concerned. You have managed to suppress free speech. pl
Maybe NASA isn't so dumb afer all.
"George Zimmerman had bandages on his nose and head the day after he shot Trayvon Martin dead, neighbors of the gunman said." CBS News
So, his neighbors are lying? What does the medical report on Martin's body say? pl
This is a perennial story. I have seen it all my life. It is easily possible to analyze fragments of information to produce a general picture of what will occur. It is much harder to acquire specifics with regard to particular future enemy activities. To do that requires highly capable SIGINT, HUMINT, etc.
A COIN campaign like the one in Afghanistan is one of the hardest "arenas" in which to forecast particular future enemy operations. These forces have little equipment, little communications equipment and thus present a small "target" for information collection.
HUMINT penetrations of the enemy are the answer. In a civil war like the one in Afghanistan this should be quite possible if skill and imagination are present.
Evidently they are not. pl
Zimmerman is the one on the right.
"The criminal justice process belongs to the public, and it's supposed to be difficult to seal documents that are part of criminal trials, especially given the number of important public issues raised in this case. The media companies we represent are challenging the fact that these records were sealed without prior notice to the public, and on nothing more than Mr. Zimmerman's attorney asking that they be sealed. The law does not allow that," attorney Scott D. Ponce of the law firm Holland and Knight said in an email." LA Times
(Irony alert) I agree. The issues of public policy at stake here are too great for a "star chamber" proceedimg. No plea bargains! Release the "discovery" material to the press at the same time it is given to Zimmerman's defense.
That will make a great case on appeal. pl
Adam L. Silverman, PhD *
Rick Perlstein, one of the top historians of modern American Conservatism, has a new profile of Sheldon Adelson up at Rolling Stone's Politics section. If you want a much better understanding of what drives Adelson, what he wants, and what he expects to get from a Republican presidential victory later this year, click on over and give it a read - its not long, but is informative and entertaining.
And like (we've previously mentioned about) Dr. Krauthammer, Mr. Adelson seems to like screaming at rabbis he disagrees with: "Then there was the time, late in 1999, when Las Vegas's Temple Beth Shalom honored the city's new Jewish mayor with a dinner. It was originally to be held at Adelson's new Venetian, but the Democratic mayor refused to cross the picket line. So they held it at the Four Seasons instead. Adelson withdrew the $250,000 he had pledged for the temple's building fund and tossed it to another Jewish organization instead – but not before verbally dressing down Beth Shalom's rabbi with such virulence that the shaken rabbi recalled, "Nobody had ever talked to me like he talked to me."
I think somebody needs a nap...
* Adam L. Silverman is the Culture and Foreign Language Advisor at the US Army War College (USAWC). The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of USAWC and/or the US Army.
"Netanyahu's tough statement also appears to underline the growing rift between him and Defense Minister Ehud Barak on the Iran issue. Barak, who will visit Washington for talks with his counterpart Leon Panetta and other senior officials, has said he believes the negotiations should be given a chance to succeed.
Also, Barak doesn't categorically oppose 20 percent enrichment of uranium by Iran under complete supervision. He is willing to accept 3.5 percent enrichment, under the terms set by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Netanyahu opposes any enrichment of uranium by Iran." Haaretz
Natanyahu's reaction indicates that these further discussions are making a mess of his desired date of attack.
Bqarak is acting more rationally? This must be a reversion to type.
Some comgressman dummy was on the tube yesterday to say that people in Israel scoffed at the idea that the Iranians might be "rational actors" on the nuclear issue. A similar question might be asked as to whether or not Israelis are rational actors on the same subject. pl
Adam L. Silverman, PhD*
The Affidavit of Probable Cause that was filed in the Zimmerman case is now available online. I found the link to it here. Here's an interesting take on it from James Fallows at The Atlantic and one on the case in general from Johnathon Turley.
* Adam L. Silverman is the Culture and Foreign Language Advisor at the US Army War College (USAWC). The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarilu reflect those of USAWC and/or the US Army.
I confess to having been less than impressed with Professor Gates during the Gates/Cambridge cop "crisis" of a few years back. I don't think it was his finest moment. Neither was it the president's finest moment, now repeated in the Zimmerman/Martin affair.
I never knew a lot about my ancestry. There were bits and pieces of family mythology. Much of this has proven to be wrong in the light of my wife's commitment to genealogical research centered on the internet. Incidentally, if you have a subscription to "ancestry.com," you can access our "tree." It is the Lang/Lessard tree.
From my wife's research I learned that contrary to family myth my family had no Indian blood, were evidently ardent Abolitionists who served in the Union Army, and were afflicted with the "wandering gene" that drove them from the eastern seaboard in New England and New France in the early 17th Century to the Pacific rim of North America by 1900.
I have a continuing political "problem" with those who have mixed emotions involving at least some loyalty to the "old country (ies)" For that reason I asked my wife to see if she could find me a rabbi or two among the centuries. So far, no luck.
Now we have these two television progams devoted to genealogy. I think they are marvelous. What they demonstrate is the pattern of relations and richness of our North American people. There is a certain amount of picking and choosing in the "lines" researched on the shows, but ground truth is emerging about the people who are featured and the people they came from.
"Thousands of mostly Islamist protesters flooded into Egypt's capital Friday in a show of force aimed at pushing Egypt's military leaders to block presidential candidates who held leading positions in the country's ousted regime.
The march came one day after the Islamist-dominated parliament passed a so-called "isolation" bill that, if passed by the ruling military council and upheld by Egypt's courts, would prevent Omar Suleiman, a former intelligence chief and briefly vice president, and Ahmed Shafiq, a former prime minister, from running in presidential elections that begin on May 23." WSJ
An excellent example of the dediciation to democracy of Egypt's emerging new rulers. Unwilling to allow the electorate's will to goven the outcome of the presidential election they seek to pressure the junta to exclude some Egyptians from the electoral list.
The MB will produce a democratic government? I do not believe it. pl
"Researchers reanalyzed the results of a 1976 experiment conducted by NASA’s Viking robots to detect for life on Mars. The robots picked up soil samples from the Red Planet and looked for signs of microbial metabolism. At the time, scientists concluded the Labeled Release Experiment showed geological activity, not biological.
This time, researchers distilled Viking data into sets of numbers, hoping that method could better reveal complexity. The result: Close correlations were found between the complexity of the Viking data and those of terrestrial biological data sets. The researchers say their findings show NASA’s Viking robots found biological activity after all." Washpost
Worth noting. pl
Ah, the hell with it. This from Alan Dershowitz is just to good to pass up. He wasn't smiling today. pl
IMO this is likely. As you all must know by now there is no shortage of crude oil at present. No amount of fear mongering and "peak oil" advocacy can disguise that fact.
The rise in filling station prices is all market action. Investors and suppliers bid against estimated price rises in the markets. This is basically a casino operation.
A fall in gasoline prices combined with slowly falling unemployment levels will doom "Kolob" Mitt's hopes.
I don't intend to vote for either of them. pl
The National Security Archive published a recently declassified memorandum from a senior U.S. State Department advisor Philip Zelikow who in 2006 courageously (if belatedly) opposed the Bush Administration's authorization of water boarding and other methods of what is often euphemistically referred to as 'enhance interrogation.' The legal opinions by former Deparment of Justice lawyers led by John Yoo endorsing the use of torture will serve as a blot on the soul of our nation for some time to come. It is a credit to both John McCain and Mr. Zelikow that they pressed the government to adhere to its own laws and professed principles.
Much of the Zelikow memo is written in legal-ease. The essence of his argument is that many of the "enhanced interrogation techniques authorized for employment by the CIA...[are] intrinsically cruel, inhuman, [and] degrading...[and should] be barred even if there is a compelling state interest asserted to justify them." The memo goes on to more explicitly make the case that specific coercive techniques including water boarding and stress positions are unconstitutional; while other measures such as sleep and food deprivation may be legal "depending on the circumstances and details of how these techniques are used."
Nations often reflect the aspirations, hopes, and fears of their people and leaders. In the of 9/11, many Americans have become overly fearful and only too willing to sacrifice personal liberties and bypass constitutionally-guarantee legal protections in the pursuit of an imagined (and unachievable) sense of security. Thankfully, President Obama has put some of the uglier aspects of the 'global war on terror' behind us. However, other aspects such as warrantless searches, 'targeted assassinations', and indefinite detentions remain. We will yet need many more citizens, politicians, and officials to demonstrate the courage of their convictions.
The author is professor of national security studies at the U.S. Army War College. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.
"The shooting at the Kilis camp led Turkish authorities to summon the Syrian ambassador in Ankara, the capital, to demand an end to clashes at the border area.
A Turkish Foreign Ministry official speaking on the condition of anonymity denied that Turkey has sent reinforcement to the area. However, he said “everything is on the table” when asked if the shooting will affect Turkey's involvement in the conflict, including steps to create a buffer zone along the border or to allow weapons to go to the rebels." LA Times
The process of creeping along in "baby steps" towards active intervantion in Syria continues. The US has already declared regime change to be the goal in Syria. Turkey is "on board" for that. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are providing money for the effort. All the talk of "agreements" is just a ruse.
Bashar Assad knows that if he makes an agreement with the Sunni insurgents he gives them legitimacy far beyond the description of them as "armed gangs" that his government has insisted on until now. Down that road lies his fall from power, trial, an iron barred cell and the end of everything for him.
Syria has a large population that will not accept Sunni Triumphalism. The country will have to be occupied for quite a while to make that "stick." The US will not occupy Syria. The Arab states lack the capability.
Turkey is the only possibility. The Ottoman past is still a factor but only one factor. pl
Afghanistan - "a newly formed national force — the Afghan Special Operations Unit — will have the authority to search houses and private compounds and arrest suspected insurgents, Afghanistan’s Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak said Sunday. U.S. forces will provide support “only as required or requested,” according to the agreement, which was signed by Wardak and General John R. Allen, the commander of the U.S. forces in Afghanistan." Washpost
Wardak (and his son) are reputed to be at the heart of Karzai government money corruption in Afghanistan. They also maintain relations with the "opposition" that are good enough to clear the way for logistics convoys. Surely General Allen knows that these operations will leak like a sieve when it is convenient to Wardak and company. Another coffin nail for the US presence in Afghanistan. pl
Egypt - Umar Suleiman knows he has little chance of becoming president of the degenerating mass that is post Mubarak Egypt. Umar Suleiman is not on trial. He was questioned and released without injury to his rights as a citizen. Why? He was head of the GID, the Egyptian EXTERNAL intelligence service, not the INTERNAL service. He did not work for the Ministry of the Interior (Police Ministry) Both of those are on trial or awaiting trial. It was not US's job to oppress Egyptians. It was theirs'. He is known to be uninterested in money as a basis for existence on the Mubarak or Wall Street models. He is a devout Muslim without taint of Islamist zealotry. He likes the West, and the US? Excuse me if I do not apologize on his behalf. Israel? Well, it was his duty. Why has he done this foolish thing in deciding to run? He is 75 years old. If we were still in touch I would have advised him not to do this... Amre Moussa will probably win. pl
Yemen - Last year I tried to make the point on a number of occasions that the union of North and South Yemen is unstable and may not last. That seems even clearer now. The former North Yemen country (YAR) continues to be dominated by confederations of Zeidi Shia (Fivers) tribesmen. These are highly self aware and heavily armed forces among which many have served in the Armed forces and were trained by the US, the UK, France and the USSR. The Zeidi Shia are nothing like the Twelvers in Iraq and Iran but a connection is relentlessly sought by the ignorant. The former South Yemen (PDRY) is overwhelmingly Sunni Arab, organized into largely de-racinated city swellers and sedentary villagers in the far flung wadis of the south. The PDRY was a Marxist-Leninist state. That set of ideas was taught in state schools for decades. Ali Abdullah Saleh was no saint but he was also no Marxist. Following his departure he was replaced with a "Sunni" general from the greater Aden area. That man knows that to maintain power he must rid himself of the Zeidi tribesmen that fill the armed forces and security services. Maliki understands the same thing in Iraq, His situation is merely the mirror image. The attempted purge of Zeidi officers that led to the airport seizure is the first act in this drama not the last. AQ in Yemen watches on the sideline. It knows that it would have far more running room in an independant South Yemen than it ever will have in the Zeidi country. pl
Israel - Ehud Bark was on Zakariya's GPS show today. I knew him when he used to say that Israel could do anything with its bayonets but "sit on them." I liked him better then even if he was closely linked to the Pollard Affair. He told Zakariya today that 1-MAD is not possible with Iran and therefore containment is not possible, 2- He predicted that Iran will build ICBMs for its as yet non-existent weapons and therefore Israel is trying to save the world from its own stupidity, 3- He does not believe that sanctions will dissuade to Iranians from their putative nuclear weapons program. IMO his vision of the true effect of the present sanctions is the reduction of Iran to a peasant and therefore harmless state. He reiterated that there is a limit to Israel's patience. IMO opinion this discourse makes the war or peace issue a question of American ability to deter Israel.
US Intelligence - In what is clearly a government press release, the US published today an exposition of the quality of its information regarding Iranian programs. Two staff journalists at the Washington Post wrote this up from rather complete interviews granted by what are described variously as former senior intelligence officials. Let us not be coy. If these were anything but recent former directors of the CIA the men in question would be headed for indictments. The story reeks of of the CIA is its role as propagandist. The subtle denigration of the rest of the IC is familiar. Is this story a bad thing? No! It is good! The target audiences are; Israel, Iran and the Zionist 5th Column in the US Congress and media. The message is clear. The US will know well in advance if Iran decides to build weapons. pl
On March 30, the Colonel challenged this blog’s readers to answer his question: “What has Israel EVER done for the US?”
There have been 73 posts so far, but no one has yet answered the question – though J did proffer one Tartar (sic, ouch) contribution.* So I propose not one, but three candidates: Comverse, Verint, and Narus. As James Bamford recently explained in his article, “Shady Companies With Ties to Israel Wiretap the US for the NSA”:
…Secretive contractors with questionable histories and little oversight were also used to do the actualbugging of the entire US telecommunications network. According to a former Verizon employee briefed on the program, Verint, owned by Comverse Technology, taps the communication lines at Verizon….At AT&T the wiretapping rooms are powered by software and hardware from Narus….What is especially troubling is that both companies have had extensive ties to Israel, as well as links to that country’s intelligence service, a country with a long and aggressive history of spying on the US.
Policymakers in the Bush and Obama administrations, who since 9/11 have determined that the warrantless wiretapping of millions of Americans is a good thing, are thus faced with aparadox. To best secure their objective, they must rely on Israeli-born companies - but these companies may not be so secure. It reminds me of an old Jewish joke:
My brother is impossible. He thinks he’s a chicken.
Why don’t you send him to a psychiatrist?
I can’t. I need the eggs.
Verint was incorporated in Delaware and is now headquartered in Melville, New York. Boeing acquired Narus in July 2010. Many of the engineers in both companies are American, and much of the tech behind the companies' innovations is US-derived. So my question is, does the NSA need the eggs?
*Incidentally, other notable Tatar contributors to America’s cultural life include Rudolf Nureyev, Charles Bronson, and Irina Shayk. RST