Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A great speech?

Here's a speech, short and to the point, that calls for the international community to focus on the dangerous actions of Iran and North Korea and, for once, do something about them. The speech was made by French president Nicholas Sarkozy, to the UN Security Council.

There is a problem, of course: Sarko says now is the time to decide what to do; that if we want a world without nuclear weapons, we can't let the international rules be violated. But all he's talking about is sanctions.

Why anyone would think sanctions would dissuade the Iranians and North Koreans from pursuing nuclear weapons is a mystery to me. Yet that's the only thing the international community, led by the United States, can come up with.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Liberal fascism

I finally read Jonah Goldberg's 2007 book, Liberal Fascism, and recommend it to anyone who is curious about where ideas come from and how history can be distorted for political and philosophical reasons.

As I recall, I learned in high school that the American Progressive movement flourished in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, then petered out. Goldberg shows that this was far from the case. The Progressives instead became an important current in the Democratic party.

Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama come from this tradition which, as Goldberg points out, has ideals, goals and techniques in common with fascist movements. No, he doesn't argue that these or other Americans were fascists - but he points out similarities and links which were in fact noted at the time.

This is a history book, not a polemic, and Goldberg has done his research.

Crush Honduras

Yup, there's a serious threat to U.S. national security. You might name Iran, or the war in Afghanistan, or maybe North Korea - but you would be SOOO wrong. It's none of the above.

It's the current regime in Honduras. The United States has been consistently hostile to it; has called publicly for its demise; and has applied all kinds of sanctions, from withdrawing U.S. funds to denying U.S. visas to prominent Hondurans, including all members of the Supreme Court.

Now, the latest: the United States, along with the Organization of American States, will not accept the outcome of presidential elections in November unless former President Manuel Zelaya gets his job back. As Zelaya was thrown out of office since he wanted to be President for Life, this arrangement might seem a bit odd. The OAS, however, says he would only have limited authority.

I'm looking forward to the bestseller that explains how we got into this mess. Particularly since we so proud of not 'meddling' in Iran. I hope it names names!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Nazis and the Mideast

The pro-Nazi past of key Arab leaders like the Mufti of Jerusalem remains a hot topic. A recent exhibition in Berlin was cancelled because it detailed the links between the Nazis and the Mufti, who led the opposition to the return of Jews to Palestine and the establishment of a Jewish state, as well as to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Nor were those links purely pragmatic: rather, the Mufti and the Brotherhood shared the goal of exterminating the Jews.

So why is this ancient history so explosive? Because it reverses the narrative of why there was so much resistance to establishing the State of Israel.

As the exhibition's author, Mr. Rössel, said "I wonder why the people who so one-sidedly regard Israel as the region's main problem never consider how the Mideast conflict would have developed had it not been influenced by fascists, anti-Semites and people who had just returned from their Nazi exile."

When, did you say?

Matthew and I were just talking about the latest revelation of a 'secret' Iranian nuclear facility in the city of Qom. Secret is indeed a term of art; it means secret from the public, not from the U.S. government, which has known about it since 2002.

There are two aspects to this puzzling announcement. First, it does make you wonder about our intelligence estimates. In 2007, the U.S. intelligence community concluded that Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and kept it frozen. In 2007, we had known for five years about the 'secret' facility - so how could we have reached such a conclusion?

As for the second aspect: why is the Obama administration so confident that it can persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear program by using diplomacy perhaps backed by sanctions? Wouldn't you think that the existence of at least one 'secret' undeclared nuclear facility would suggest otherwise?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Betrayal with a capital 'B'

Well, like a slow-motion crash, the Obama Administration finally dumped the missile defense system that was to be installed in Poland and the Czech Republic. The reason: we don't need it, because Iran's long-range missile program isn't on track. Instead, we're going to concentrate on short- and medium-range missile defense systems.

This news broke the same day that the International Atomic Energy Administration (IAEA) announced it now believes Iran can build a nuclear weapon and is likely to 'overcome problems' on developing a delivery system.

I don't know whether our technical assessment of the threat is accurate. (Remember how good our intelligence has been on other threats? But I digress.) If the more immediate threat is the shorter-range missiles, then by all means we should protect against them. But to dismiss the other threat strikes me as short-sighted in the extreme.

I also don't know if the Russians will deliver a quid pro quo for this obvious concession. They're unlikely to support sanctions against Iran; as recently as last week Russian prime minister Putin's spokesman said sanctions were out of the question, especially since there were "no grounds to doubt" that Iran's nuclear program was purely peaceful - dazzling mendacity, especially given the IAEA report.

I also have no idea if there's any way to regain the trust of the Poles and Czechs, our good allies in both Iraq and Afghanistan, now we've pulled the rug out from under their feet so unceremoniously (we did, after all, sign agreements with them, for what the word of the United States is worth). In particular, it's a great way to celebrate the anniversary of the Soviet invasion and partition of Poland in 1939.

When we 'betrayed' Poland at Yalta, at least we had the reasonable excuse of not wanting to take on the Red Army which had already occupied Poland. There's absolutely no excuse this time around.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The international literary circuit

The prestigious Berlin Literature Festival kicked off on September 9 with a speech by Indian writer and activist Arundhati Roy. Here, if you have the stomach for it, is a brief analysis of her remarks by Clemens Heni and myself. It's the latest of the anti-capitalist, anti-American, anti-Zionist rants that pass for wisdom in many intellectual circles. Enjoy!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Talks with Iran

It all depends on what the meaning of 'is' is ... or, in this case, 'unconditional'. The Obama administration said it would hold talks with Iran without preconditions. Guess that just meant preconditions on our side, since Iran has made clear its precondition of no negotiations over the future of its nuclear program.

So the United States will join France, Britain, Germany, China and Russia in talks with Iran. Our rationale: we need to make this effort in order to justify sanctions. Since the Bush administration already participated in similar talks, and since Russia has just said no to any sanctions, that excuse is particularly pathetic.

The lack of courage on our part is sickening.

Be careful what you wish for

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Joe points out that the explanation in my previous blog entry about the mysterious Russian cargo ship doesn't make much sense. Inasmuch as the Russians have made no secret about their sales of anti-aircraft missiles to Iran and Syria, what leverage would the Israelis have to make them stop the shipment allegedly contained in the Arctic Sea?

Unfortunately, he does have a point; apologies for the confusion, and I'll have to wait for a better explanation.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Arctic Sea yet again

Remember the Russian cargo ship that disappeared for three weeks, reportedly the target of pirates operating in European waters? The latest speculation, which is linked to a secret trip Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu just made to Moscow, is that the Mossad found out the ship was carrying S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran. (Thanks to Daily Alert.)

The Mossad reportedly gave the Kremlin "time and space to stop the delivery and cover it up in order to save face." In my earlier entry, I had reported the rumor that the Israelis had intercepted the ship themselves.

The Iranians presumably want the missiles in order to protect themselves from an Israeli strike against their nuclear facilities.

Human rights travesty

On September 29, the UN Human Rights Council will launch itself into another paroxysm of anti-Israeli venom, with the presentation of Richard Goldstone's investigation of "all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by the occupying Power, Israel, against the Palestinian people" during the recent Gaza conflict.

Goldstone's report will be followed by one the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, Navi Pillay, also on Gaza. As Anne Bayefsky of Eye on the UN reports, "Pillay's 80 paragraph report devotes 66 paragraphs to Israel and 8 paragraphs to Hamas. Her recommendations mention only Israel and never name 'Hamas.' In fact, she suggests that ... 'Hamas has also made public statements that it is committed to respect international human rights and humanitarian law.'"

The United States just joined the Human Rights Council, which in true UN Orwellian style is dominated by some of the world's worst human rights offenders. Just what will the U.S. representative will say in response to these reports? I'm sure most of the MSM won't tell us, but Eye on the UN will.

A new way to observe 9/11

It looks as if someone has found a way to disrupt jihadist websites, and has done so on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. MEMRI reports that the two most important ones, Al-Falluja and Shumukh Al-Islam, are not working. A third one, al-Ekhlaas, which was taken down a year ago, has reappeared but is suspected of being a front operated by an intelligence agency.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Good news from Canada

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal just ruled that a clause granting the Canadian Human Rights Commission the legal grounds to pursue such people as Mark Steyn for indulging in 'hate speech' is unconstitutional. This is great news - hate speech restrictions may be well-intentioned, but they end up restricting free speech.

As for Mark Steyn, he remarks that similar challenges to free speech lie in wait in the United States, in the form of Obama administration proposals to reimpose Fairness Doctrine restrictions and otherwise muzzle its political opponents.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Out of touch

According to NewsReal blog, President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton were kept informed by the UK government on the process leading to the release and repatriation to Libya of PanAm bomber al-Megrahi.

That was indeed my assumption all along; I would find it absolutely incredible if the Brits had kept U.S. authorities in the dark on something like this. Apparently, neither Obama nor Clinton expected the U.S. public to have strong feelings about al-Megrahi's release. Speaking of out of touch politicians!


Yup, I've strayed yet again. This time, Libby and I co-wrote a piece on the American Thinker blog trying to guess what President Obama will way in his address to Congress on Wednesday on health care reform. We drew up a check-list of points we think he'll make; it'll be fun to see how it compares with the actual speech.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Rifqa to stay in Florida

Good news - the Florida court ruled that Rifqa Bary may remain there as a ward of the state.

U.S. isolated on Honduras

The Obama administration is digging itself in ever deeper on policy toward Honduras. It is continuing to punish the Hondurans for not allowing former president Manuel Zelaya to resume his post, while the International Monetary Fund, the Organization of American States, and the European Union are going back to business as usual. Even Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez appears to have accepted that Zelaya will not be reinstated.

I assume Obama is doing this because (a) he thinks it's the right policy and/or (b) he's feeding one victory to the restive left wing of his party. He certainly isn't doing it because it's in the U.S. interest. (Thanks to Investor's Business Daily.)

Chemical weapons against Israel?

You may or may not remember it, but last July there was an explosion in a village near the Lebanese border. The explosion was apparently blew up an arms cache being stored there for use against Israel. Now there's a report that it was in fact chemical weapons, supplied to Hezbollah by Iran, via Syria, that blew up, and three Hezbollah terrorists died from the toxins, in addition to eight who died in the blast. (Thanks to Daily Alert.)

If you add this to the earlier report of some 40,000 Hezbollah rockets stocked in southern Lebanon, it seems pretty clear that Iran is serious about making Hezbollah even more of a threat to Israel than it was before the 2006 war. It also reveals the true impact of UNIFIL, the UN peacekeeping force, led by France, that was supposed to keep Hezbollah out of the border areas.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

German support for Afghan fight

John Rosenthal provides a needed correction here to a New York Times article stating that the German Free Democratic Party (FDP) has called for a withdrawal of German troops from Afghanistan. The question is of importance, as the FDP is a potential coalition partner for Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, or CDU, which at the moment is the expected winner in Germany's upcoming elections.

In fact, late last month FDP party chair Guido Westerwelle strongly defended the German presence in the country: "Nobody likes to send soldiers on foreign deployments. … So every reasonable politician wants to end foreign Bundeswehr missions as soon as possible. But Afghanistan cannot be permitted to become a base for terrorists again. [Our presence] in Afghanistan is, above all, about defending our security here in Germany. … It would be wrong to withdraw now, since tomorrow Kabul would then be the capital of world terrorism yet again."

That is also Angela Merkel's position, as stated in a newspaper interview August 21. It turns out that the German politician calling for a pullout is Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the head of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), which is currently trailing in the polls. By coincidence, the New York Times wrongly reported Steinmeier as supporting the Afghan mission.

Why does this matter? Well, the mission in Afghanistan is a NATO one, and decisions must be made jointly. The United States spent years trying to persuade NATO allies to step up their involvement in Afghanistan. If President Obama now starts to waffle, it will really churn up the waters at NATO - in addition to any impact on Afghanistan, the Taliban or Al Qaeda.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Help Rifqa

Here, courtesy of Jihad Watch, is contact info for Florida Governor Charlie Christ and the Florida Department of Children and Family. Florida has granted Rifqa Bary 90-day temporary protection from her parents, who have threatened to kill her for converting to Christianity. If you want to urge the Florida authorities to make that decision permanent, please write to them. I'm not a great letter-writer but I have written to both.

If you want more info on the Noor Islamic Center in Columbus, Ohio, attended by Rifqa's parents, here it is - makes for chilling reading. The Center is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as Al Qaeda, and propagates values antithetical to our freedom of religion, among other things.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Missiles, anyone?

Here's an interesting piece on the mysterious Russian cargo ship, purportedly carrying some $2 million worth of timber from Finland to Algeria, that disappeared in European waters and re-emerged off the coast of West Africa.

Admiral Tarmo Kouts, the European Union's rapporteur on piracy and a former commander of the Estonian armed forces, speculated that the ship could have been intercepted by the Israelis as it took a cargo of weapons, most likely missiles, to the Mideast. And, indeed, Israeli President Shimon Perez apparently made a surprise visit to Moscow the day after the Russians recovered the ship.

Russian ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin denied this story, saying Kouts should stop 'running his mouth.' I'd take that as confirmation! (Thanks to Daily Alert.)