Saturday, January 13, 2007


Question of the Day

The president's new plan is a plan for more door-to-door fighting, more civil war, more civilian casualties, more troop deaths, more wasted money, more destabilization in the region, and more separation from the world community. Does anyone in this administration have any sense at all?Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich

Though I love the rhetoric, Bush's "plan" does make sense once you realize that the administration is fighting against the Sadrists for enforceable oil contracts. For that they are willing to expend a great amount of treasure and sacrifice a great number of lives. That is not to say that it will succeed or that it is even sane, only that it has a certain internal logic.

Related post
The Bush plan for Iraq: What you should expect (1/11/07)


Friday, January 12, 2007


Iran and the New York "money people"

Former presidential candidate Wesley Clark didn't learn an important lesson from his campaign of 2004, such as "Whatever you do, don't offend the Jews." Clark ran into Arianna Huffington at Nancy Pelosi's swearing in and confessed his fears that the U.S. is preparing to bomb Iran. He also committed the gaffe of saying

You just have to read what's in the Israeli press. The Jewish community is divided but there is so much pressure being channeled from the New York money people to the office seekers.

Actually Clark didn't have to read the Israeli press because right-wing columnist Arnaud de Borchgrave had already laid out the details for the Moonie wire service. Here are a few of the juicier tidbits—

In today's Israel, the overwhelming majority is now convinced Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is synonymous with a 2nd holocaust.... In a New Year's Day message, superhawk and former Prime Minister Netanyahu Binyamin accused Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of the kind of appeasement that threatened Israel's very existence.

Netanyahu and Neocons everywhere absolutely detested the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group (ISG) report, which goes a long way to explaining why it arrived with such hype only to disappear without a trace. For starters, the report (1) suggested the "rank appeasement" of holding talks with Iran and Syria, (2) put resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the first requirement for bringing stability to the Middle East, and (3) unconscionably revealed that "The majority of the political establishment in Israel has grown tired of a continuous state of a nation at war."

So what should Israel do? Start a campaign, as it did with Iraq, to convince the U.S. to attack Iran—

Netanyahu then said Israel "must immediately launch an intense, international, public relations front first and foremost on the U.S. The goal being to encourage President Bush to live up to specific pledges he would not allow Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons. We must make clear to the government, the Congress and the American public that a nuclear Iran is a threat to the U.S. and the entire world, not only Israel."

There are signs this is already happening in Washington. Before the invasion of Iraq, the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld troika decided the ousting of Saddam Hussein had to become an integral part of the "war on terror." Eventually 60 percent of Americans thought Saddam was behind 9/11, even though there was no link between the two. Today, the Bush-Cheney team faces the same spin scenario: how to weave the global war on terror and the Shiite powers that be in Iran. This one is relatively simple: Iran trains and funds Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Palestinian territories.

Anticipating the new line, Sen. Joe Lieberman (Independent-CT) referred to "Iran and al-Qaida" on Wolf Blitzer's Sunday program on CNN. That Iran is Shiite and al-Qaida Sunni becomes irrelevant in the new game plan that will most probably lead to U.S. air strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities in 2007/08.

But what about the new Democratic Congress? Can it protect the U.S. from right-wing Jews?

Can a Democratic Congress be bypassed under a blanket authorization already secured to hunt down transnational terrorists wherever they may be hiding?

The "neocons" who work closely with Netanyahu on what could be the next phase of a nascent regional war in the Middle East, say Bush has the authority to take out Iran's nuclear threat. Because it has only one purpose -- to take out Israel. One Hiroshima-type nuclear weapon and Israel ceases to exit.

And if Bush doesn't take on Iran, prominent Israelis are speculating that president Clinton 2 (Hillary) will do so. Oded Tira, the chairman of Israel's Association of Industrial Manufacturers, and former chief artillery office in the IDF, said, "Bush lacks the political power to attack Iran. As an American air strike in Iran is essential for our existence, we must help pave the way by lobbying the Democratic Party, which is conducting itself foolishly, and U.S. newspaper editors."

Writing in Ynet News (online Yedioth Ahronoth), Tira said, "We need to turn the Iranian issue to a bipartisan one and unrelated to the Iraq failure. Hillary Clinton and other potential presidential candidates in the Democratic Party (must) publicly support immediate action by Bush again [sic] Iran."

As for target Iran, Tira voiced widespread belief in Israel that the Jewish state must coordinate strikes with the U.S. -- "and prepare for the Iranian response." Fearless forecast: It will be formidable.

Well, that doesn't leave much to the imagination, does it?

Playing the antisemitic card

But Clark's truth-telling about the Jewish Money Machine has the Jewish Name-Calling and Censorship Machine running full tilt. Columnist James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal characterizes Clark's remarks as "The Protocols of 'the New York money people.'" And Washington-based Shmuel Rosner of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz asks two questions of Clark's "ramblings": "First: how and why has it become so easy to speak in this way about the Jews? Second: What does it mean politically?"

Rosner then comes up with his list of recent antisemites—

It is, actually, rather troubling, even scary. People in elite circles somehow came to the conclusion that denouncing the Jewish community and its support for Israel is now becoming acceptable. Walt and Mersheimer came first, then former president Carter, now Clark - and we already have a new trend on our hands. A Jewish leader with whom I spoke yesterday asked me this most disquieting question: Is the ice thinner than one might have thought?

And of course the Republican Jewish Coalition has chimed in calling Clark's remarks "blatantly antisemitic."

All this to distract us from the import of Clark's remarks!

The question is not whether Wesley Clark's reading of the build-up for an attack on Iran is antisemitic but whether it is true. I wish I could find fault with it, but with respect to Israel and "New York money men" Clark appears to be on the money. So count me in the ranks of the "antisemites."

Related posts
Conductor Barenboim an anti-semite? (9/6/05)
Question of the Day (1/8/07)


Thursday, January 11, 2007


Harold Ford to the DLC?

Radar Online is claiming to have the scoop that former Representative Harold Ford, Jr., the failed Democratic candidate for Senator from Tennessee, has accepted the chairmanship of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), that group of corporate toadies within the Democratic Party who prefer to be known as "centrists." Hillary and Bill are members.

And to think that only a couple of months ago I was congratulating the Democrats for having dodged the bullet of a successful Ford candidacy! Well, if he must assume a public position, the DLC is just the right spot for him. That organization's influence within the party appears to be steadily declining, so Ford at the helm should expedite the process. I just hope he doesn't steal the silver.

Related post
Election 2006: Where have all the "values" gone? (11/22/06)



The Bush plan for Iraq: What you should expect

Last night as I listened to the panels of talking heads trotted out to critique the Bush plan for Iraq, I began to wonder if we had heard the same speech. All the talk concerned whether the escalation would "work,"—usually without spelling out a goal—and some complained that there was no strategy. Not one of these so-called analysts appeared to get the point of the "plan," so let me help.

Neocon objective in Iraq: To achieve a government stable enough to permit oil contracts with the great Western petroleum corporations to be written and enforced.1 The key is to achieve a government accorded international legitimacy, especially by governments of the Middle East. This in turn implies a government that will include the Sunnis, who must be offered incentives to endure Shia dominance. At the moment this is the Maliki government.2

Strategy: Though they're not saying so publicly the administration recognizes that the principal threat to achieving this objective is not al-Qaeda. They've decided to focus instead on Muqtada al Sadr, who wants anything American out of Iraq, including the oil companies.3 So no more pussyfooting. This time Bush proposes to take Sadr and his Mahdi Army head on.4

Tactics: Brute force. Send 20,000 more troops, principally into Sadr City and wherever else Sadr loyalists may be found and root them out. The gloves are off.5

Analysis: It is unlikely that the Bushies can be prevented by the Congress from escalating troop levels. But it probably does not matter so far as the strategy and tactics are concerned.

I suspect that the Bushies view the coming conflict in somewhat apocalyptic terms—not unlike what Hitler felt in those last days in the bunker when he was deploying phantom panzer divisions. As far as the effort in Iraq goes, the Bushies may well view this as the Final Battle.

To that end, they intend to get nasty. It appears that they hope to bring the Sunni experience in Fallujah to the Shia of Sadr City! Cheney's still running this show and there's no horror he's not willing to visit upon a civilian population.

We are about to witness Americans fighting a guerilla war within the confines of a major capital city of what used to be a relatively advanced country! Has such a war ever been fought?

This is the plan that the Presidential Fool has announced, and all the commentators I've heard either fail to get the point or are afraid to discuss what they heard. To understand the import of the speech, they would have to acknowledge the administration's true goal. Instead the commentators accept the administration's rhetoric of establishing a democracy in Iraq, when they speak of an endpoint at all.

And the chances of success? To defeat the Sadr Army and bring an end to the civil war? Less than none. If we are not the Great Satan, we are certainly the Great Destabilizer.

For whatever promises of support the Bushies have exacted from the Maliki government and for whatever assurances of a "free rein" they have coerced from that government, those promises and assurances will not hold once the carnage begins.6 Either the Maliki government will literally disintegrate, putting an official stamp on the reality that Iraq is a failed state, or it will align itself with its Shiite base and attempt to order the U.S. to stop the assault.

It is at this point that I can agree with some commentators that the Bush plan has the seed of an exit strategy. If Maliki should end up siding with the Sadrists and order a halt to the mayhem, the Bushies could declare the Iraqis to be ungrateful bastards for all we've done for them and announce that we will take our toys and go home. I do not believe, however, that is their current intent.

For warriors marching to the Final Battle, who hear the clarion calls of Götterdamerung, the notion of withdrawal is truly unthinkable. Such thoughts themselves are, well, emasculating—even a bit effeminate—and should not be thought (or printed, or discussed). What is needed here is a mighty thrust.

Bush and Cheney are girding their loins for this one. Count on it.

Related posts
Why isn't the press defending freedom of the press? (6/16/04)
Why isn't the press defending freedom of the press? (Revisited) (6/21/04)
Allawi stands up for freedom of the press — Yeah, sure (7/19/04)



1As Bush said last night,

The elections of 2005 were a stunning achievement. We thought that these elections would bring the Iraqis together.

But alas no. Now we must secure those oil revenues as a move in the "War on Terror"—

The consequences of failure are clear: Radical Islamic extremists would grow in strength and gain new recruits. They would be in a better position to topple moderate governments, create chaos in the region, and use oil revenues to fund their ambitions.... For the safety of our people, America must succeed in Iraq.


2Here was the promise to the Sunnis—

To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country's economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis. To show that it is committed to delivering a better life, the Iraqi government will spend 10 billion dollars of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs. To empower local leaders, Iraqis plan to hold provincial elections later this year. And to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation's political life, the government will reform de-Baathification laws — and establish a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq's constitution.

The Bushies would give just about anything right now for an America-friendly dictator who could reunify Iraq, and they would surely sacrifice not only Maliki but the whole constitutional framework of government to achieve it. Unfortunately the only person who even comes close to possessing that kind of power is not America-friendly. [back]

3To lay the groundwork for the confrontation with the Shia Bush makes what I believe is a new assertion in his speech: that al-Qaeda and Sunni insurgents acted together to blow up the al-Askari Mosque in February 2006—

Al Qaeda terrorists and Sunni insurgents recognized the mortal danger that Iraq's elections posed for their cause.... They blew up one of the holiest shrines in Shia Islam — the Golden Mosque of Samarra — in a calculated effort to provoke Iraq's Shia population to retaliate. Their strategy worked. Radical Shia elements, some supported by Iran, formed death squads. And the result was a vicious cycle of sectarian violence that continues today.

According to the Wikipedia entry on the mosque bombing, "Muqtada al-Sadr used the incident to push for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, something he has wanted since the fall of Saddam." [back]

4This will certainly not be the first attempt to dispose of Muqtada al-Sadr. The first well-publicized confrontation came with the decision to shut down his newspaper in Baghdad, which led to the first Shia uprising.

Subsequently Coalition head Paul Bremer made public a secret warrant for Sadr's arrest on a charge of murder and declared that he was an outlaw. [back]


Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two principal reasons: There were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and insurgents. And there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have.



Many listening tonight will ask why this effort will succeed when previous operations to secure Baghdad did not. Here are the differences: In earlier operations, Iraqi and American forces cleared many neighborhoods of terrorists and insurgents — but when our forces moved on to other targets, the killers returned. This time, we will have the force levels we need to hold the areas that have been cleared. In earlier operations, political and sectarian interference prevented Iraqi and American forces from going into neighborhoods that are home to those fueling the sectarian violence [Sadr City]. This time, Iraqi and American forces will have a green light to enter these neighborhoods — and Prime Minister Maliki has pledged that political or sectarian interference will not be tolerated.

I have made it clear to the Prime Minister and Iraq's other leaders that America's commitment is not open-ended. If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people — and it will lose the support of the Iraqi people. Now is the time to act. The Prime Minister understands this. Here is what he told his people just last week: "The Baghdad security plan will not provide a safe haven for any outlaws, regardless of [their] sectarian or political affiliation."


Monday, January 08, 2007


Question of the Day

Imagine if any gentile government official in the world cited the lowering of the Jewish birthrate in his country as an accomplishment, then recommended that his country's founding institution raise money to help poor gentile families, but not poor Jewish families. How would the Jewish world, starting with Israel, characterize such an individual? What sort of pressure would the Jewish world apply to get him or her fired, blackballed and, if possible, indicted? —Larry Derfner writing in "Rattling the Cage: A bigot called Bibi"

"Bibi" is the nickname of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin (Binyamin) Netanyahu, now leader of the right-wing Likud party. Derfner is referring to a recent speech in which Netanyahu discussed the cuts in child welfare he made while he was Israeli Finance Minister—

Two positive things happened. Members of the haredi public [Ultra-Orthodox Jews] seriously joined the workforce. And on the national level, the unexpected result was the demographic effect on the non-Jewish public, where there was a dramatic drop in the birth rate....

I don't think that the Jewish Agency should refrain from helping part of the Jewish public in the state, and it is possible that additional non-governmental bodies could have done so.

There was some question after the London bombings of 2005 whether Netanyahu, who was in the city at the time, received advance warning.


Atom feed

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by
Blogarama - The Blog Directory

Blog Search Engine

Blog Top Sites

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?