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29 December 2009


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Abu Sinan

Khat, as a cultural item, completely outstrips alcohol in the US.

Imagine the US where almost every house had a seperate room where the men sit around for hours, even days, drinking and drinking and doing little else.

Khat and liquor are apples and oranges.

Clifford Kiracofe

From the Times (London):

"Security sources are concerned that the picture emerging of his undergraduate years suggests that he was recruited by al-Qaeda in London. Security sources said that Islamist radicalisation was rife on university campuses, especially in London, and that college authorities had “a patchy record in facing up to the problem”. Previous anti-terrorist inquiries have uncovered evidence of extremists using political meetings and religious study circles to identify potential recruits. .."

Well obviously we should bomb London. It is clear that "Londonistan" is a seething hotbed of Al Qaeda nastiness.

Aside from an air war against London, we can use our Navy...up the Thames, of course.

Our ground forces can also go in. We could mobilize them in northern France, Ireland, and Sweden for a three pronged invasion.

The main objective, of course, would be regime change. I have heard that our intelligence community has detected WMD at Buckingham Palace in a secret underground laboratory. Not only that but we also have information from unidentified sources that all that so called ecological stuff being done by a certain prince is merely cover for biological warfare research (yes, I know this will be hard for fanciers of Dorset Cereals to fathom).

Clearly, it is a vast global conspiracy...a royal one at that. Thus we need to wage war against Londonistan in order to replace the present royal family with a new one. Senator Lieberman and the Neocons could form the selection committee.


One of the neo-cons (Kristol or some other fool) was saying yesterday that the int'l community (NFI) needed to tell the Yemenis to put a stop to this or the IC would step in. I had to ask myself who had a couple of spare divisions to devote to rooting out extremists from a rugged country that hasn't fully emerged from the Middle Ages. Whoever it is, I am sure that a large Asian country will be glad to buy the bonds to finance that boondoggle.


Excellent observation David!

I was just thinking recently who the Chalabi look alike would be in terms of Afghanistan, Iran and now possibly Yemen.

The con that Chalabi ran to bamboozle very receptive "strategic thinkers" like Perle and Wolfowitz and other neo-cons was in retrospect a masterpiece. Not that neo-liberals "thinkers" are any different.

I don't know the current politics in the UK, but where do you think the British people are coming to with respect to Tony Blair and his role in the deception?

DE Teodoru

Gen. Powell finally stood up for himself-- a bit late-- and expressed an Ike-like concern over all the "terrorism" experts trying to make themselves necessary by revving up the issue—reminds of days of professional anti-Communists. alQaeda as an Internet apparition is not what we should worry about. Better to worry about America broke and in debt to the Chinese while they leak nuclear technology to every two bit regime that would love a deterrent without needing a standing army that could cause a coup. We have been fighting alQaeda in Yemen just as intensely as in Pakistan since 2001. "Forward" bleeding to death while our border remains tangled in bureaucratic competition for Congressional funding is no solution. How many World War IV fronts against Islam does Petraeus need in order to kick off his presidential campaign? Let's start recognizing our limited realm of the possible vs. impossible. Can we afford to go to war with every nation from which troubled boys come with bombs strapped to their scrotum?

The beaver

I remembered reading an article on Yemen some 15 yrs ago and have managed to track it:


Interesting story and draw your own conclusions

The beaver


Looks like someone else has come to the same conclusions:


The US will get entangled because the Yemeni government will want to manipulate US action in its own interests and to preserve its wilting authority. It has long been trying to portray the Shia rebels in north Yemen as Iranian cats-paws in order to secure American and Saudi support. Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) probably only has a few hundred activists in Yemen, but the government of long time Yemeni President Ali Abdulah Salih will portray his diverse opponents as somehow linked to al-Qa'ida.


Jesus Christ, I hope someone in the White House is reading this site.

David Habakkuk


Just before Christmas, Tony Blair gave an interview to the Sunday Times, which was printed under the headline 'It's only you Brits who don't appreciate me, insists Tony Blair'.

He blamed his negative image on the press, explained that it was 'not true that nobody likes me', and remarked that there was 'a completely different atmosphere around me outside the country.'

The comments on the article give a vivid picture of the visceral hatred very many people here now feel for Blair -- a hatred which crosses party lines.

Anger at being deceived into war in Iraq is one element -- but the way that the economic crisis has produced disillusion with the finance-centred economic model championed by Labour and Tories alike is also crucial, as is the linked sense of cynical elites lining their pockets.

(See http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6962872.ece.)

For my own part, I think the best verdict on Blair was that given two years ago by the economist and veteran government advisor Sir Christopher Foster, who described him as 'the worst prime minister since Lord North' -- remarking that 'he's lost us a form of government that creaked and groaned but worked reasonably well.'

(See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1570357/Christopher-Foster-Why-Britain-is-run-badly.html.)

Whether the anger ends up being simply negative and destructive, or whether it can help generate the kind of constructive energy required if we are to recover at least some of what has been lost, seems to me an open question -- both in relation to Britain, and also to the United States.


Mr. Habakkuk,
Thank you for pointing to the article on Blair. It is not just Britains who hate him. Poor Tony Blair lost any respect I had for him when he decided to be G. W. Bush's best friend forever. I remember in 2003 or 2004 he addressed a joint session of our congress and told them how "well done" the Iraqi adventure was. Must be too much religious fervor.

I would also like to thank everyone here for the lack of hysteria on the underwear bomber subject. All the press given to this would be, failed "terrorist" seems to elevate his importance out of proportion.



Isn't it interesting that those that have the real experience of a leader - the citizens - are negative while those that know only the PR image don't have the same impression?

I don't get why Tony Blair did what he did in deceiving the British and the rest of the world with respect to the "imminent" threat of Iraq. The only explanation I have is hubris.

The political parties on both sides of the pond bought into the thesis of finance-based economies as it enabled the massive growth in credit to provide exceptional growth and asset inflation while masking the underlying fragility of the real economy. The people loved it too as asset inflation provided "current income" and increased standards of living that their contracting real wages could not.

I can relate to the disillusionment and cynicism of the Brits with regard to the financialization of the UK economy as we face the identical problem here in the US. With money printing to benefit those that played a central role in causing the financial crisis continuing on steroids I am not very sanguine about the intermediate term prospects of the credit system. The US has reduced the duration of its national debt considerably and will need to not only refinance nearly 20% of its outstanding Federal debt but also finance the additional debt incurred to support the various "stimulus" programs as well as entitlement programs. Since the economy cannot withstand higher rates I think the politicians in an election year will resort to even more money printing. History has not been kind to the people in such situations.

On that dour note I wish you and everyone at SST, particularly our host Pat a wonderful New Year!

Chris Brace

"What a crock! What interagency process puts Ted Kennedy and Cat Stevens on the no fly list but dismisses the warnings of a prominent Nigerian businessman about his own son?"

Whats the betting an email filter threw out a message because it included the words "I am a former Nigerian minister and banker" and so assumed it was a scam email, so the departments never actually knew what each other were up to,

David Habakkuk


Hubris is certainly part of the answer as to why Blair behaved so foolishly. A bit of background may perhaps help make this more comprehensible.

In the arguments of the late Seventies and Eighties, there were two matters about which the Thatcherites were unambiguously right. By the mid-Seventies, the trade unions were making large areas of the British economy virtually unmanageable, and the country close to ungovernable. Meanwhile, state intervention in the economy here had been in general nefarious in its effects.

The Labour left, from which Blair comes, only finally abandoned their commitment to support for trade union luddism and industrial interventionism after successive electoral thrashings. When however they finally did so, prominent figures, including Blair, experienced something close to a religious conversion. They swallowed a very large part of the Thatcherite free market fundamentalist package whole -- and although many in the party had misgivings, Blair managed to take his party with him.

For the reasons you give, the economic results were apparently very impressive, here as in the U.S. -- with the underlying problems being disguised. But with the economy apparently doing well, and the Tories in disarray, Labour under Blair looked by 2003 in command of the political landscape. In a sense then, it was understandable that this went to Blair's head.

In foreign affairs, the corollary of the triumph of Thatcherite ideas was a widespread assumption across the political spectrum here of the fundamental neoconservative notion that the retreat and collapse of Soviet power demonstrated that there was some kind of natural teleology, leading to the triumph of Anglo-Saxon political and economic models.

This process, many assumed, could be encouraged by the muscular use of military power -- and would provide the basis for a permanent unilateral U.S. hegemony. The vision of Britain as a junior partner in this unilateral hegemony -- sometimes along with Israel -- provided a resolution to unresolved dilemmas about British identity in a post-imperial world.

It was all a dream world -- but it is one from which many in the British elite are finding it difficult to awake.


Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the
American Declaration of Independence?

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.
They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

What kind of men were they?
Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.
Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.

Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.
Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.

At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his head-quarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.
Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months. John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart.

Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates. Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution.

These were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more.


I would have thought that Somalia is the once and future Afghanistan. Yemen might fall apart and end up as a hotbed of terrorists and extremists; Somalia is already there.



Thanks for the context.

Isn't it interesting that the religious conversion to the "Thatcherite free market fundamentalism" did not withstand first impact of the credit crisis? How the formerly free market fundamentalists in both the UK and US were quite happy to absorb the losses of their banking friends with the taxpayers checkbook. And what did the taxpayers get in return?

Today's note by John Hussman Timothy Geithner meets Vladimir Lennin speaks to the issue of exactly how I feel about this.

I am afraid that the US and UK with their post-cold war "muscular" foreign policy expend resources that they don't have with no real objective other than to be militarily engaged in lands that they don't really get.

Do you think the British people are coming to the realization that they've been hoodwinked and will do something about it? I don't believe that folks here get it yet and as a result I am skeptical that there will be any mass outrage anytime soon.

Alexandra Martins

I was looking for a knowledgeable source to help as an interviewee in my humble article about Yemen. Could you please, colonel W. Patrick Lang, share your time with me in this interview by phone or email? I´m a Brazilian journalist. I work for the international desk of a local paper from Belo Horizonte, capital of Minas Gerais, southeast Brazil.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Best regards
Alexandra Martins.

Alexandra Martins

Dear Cel.
why the central governament is so relapse towards the ongoing Al Qaeda moviment in the country - considering the recent prisons?


Found another blog posting about 'the next quagmire' by Jeff Huber here -
Huber mentions in the comments section how he thought Somalia would have been next...


Dear sir,
I am a United States citizen, my son is in Yemen I applied for I-130 for my son on 2006 when he was under age, after so many forms and waiting time, they finally got the visa unfortunately at that time I couldn’t go to the interview with them, but I appointed another person to represent me at the embassy interview, at that time my son was 20 years old already, but the embassy put as an excuse that the person who represent me at the Embassy did not had his ID. It passed exactly one year for him to get another interview and finally he got the interview the other day. At the interview the Ambassador did not let him talk or ask my son anything, he just handle him some information regarding the GHAT and told my son to come back in 3 years. Even though my son told him that he has never take any kind of drugs or drink neither smoke.
I really don’t understand why? Last year my son took a medical examination for the Embassy, few days ago he took another medical examination for the interview, my son has never taken any kind of drug or drink or smoke or Khat.
I really don’t know what to do, my son is willing as many test as he require to proof that he has never being under any kind of drug, the only thing he wants is to reunion with us.
Thank you for your attention.

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