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A Little Context

Time for some context on the current turmoil in and around Israel. This passage from Ron Suskind’s The Price of Loyalty has special resonance given current events. The scene is the White House Situation Room in January 2001, where Bush is meeting for the first time with his National Security Council, 10 days after taking the oath of office. Bush has just asked who in the room has met Ariel Sharon:

He’d met Sharon briefly, Bush said, when they had flown over Israel in a helicopter on a visit in December 1998. “Just saw him that one time. We flew over the Palestinian camps,” Bush said sourly. “Looked real bad down there. I don’t see much we can do over there at this point. I think it’s time to pull out of that situation.”And that was it, according to [Paul] O’Neill and several other people in the room. The Arab-Israeli conflict was a mess, and the United States would disengage. The combatants would have to work it out on their own.

[Colin] Powell said such a move might be hasty. He remarked on the violence on the West Bank and Gaza and on its roots. He stressed that a pullback by the United States would unleash Sharon and Israeli army. “The consequences of that could be dire,” he said, “especially for the Palestinians.”

Bush shrugged. “Maybe that’s the best way to get some things back in balance.”

Powell seemed startled.

“Sometimes a show of strength by one side can really clarify things,” Bush said.

With that, the rest of the meeting was devoted to Iraq.

(From TPM)

July 29, 2006 Posted by | Armed Conflict, National Defence | 4 Comments

I Almost Forgot World Leaders are Usually Smart.

I watched the joint press conference of English PM Tony Blair and our President George Bush and was completely struck by one thing over all others. While both Bush and Blair touted the same losing strategy in the Middle East I felt, for the first time, that I understood where these crazies are coming from. Why? Because Blair was there to articulate sentences that communicated thoughts. Oh how I miss such qualities in our leader. I still think the strategy of blindly staying the course is poorly conceived but at least I came away from the conference with an understanding of their “plan” (if you can call it that).

On more than one occasion, Blair answered on behalf of Bush who couldn’t form a sentence without three or more grammatical errors. Not only is he completely dumb but it took him standing next to a Brit for me to realize just how rude he is. We can’t forget, of course, how he talked to Blair at the G8, chewing with his mouth open, not looking him in the eye, using expletives. And I will never forget the back-rub he bestowed on the German Chancellor. But whenever Blair referred to Bush he said something like “The President and I agree” or “President Bush and I had a long conversation about” but with Bush its more like “Tony and I had a long chat” and “that’s why Tony and I think Condi Rice should stay up there”.

Its all so embarrassing.

July 28, 2006 Posted by | Armed Conflict, Irony and Hypocrisy, National Defence | Leave a comment

Stop the violence NOW!

Abbas El-Zein writes a bias but nonetheless tragic Opinion on the current situation in Lebanon. The passage below struck a particular cord with me but the entire piece is worth a read.

More is at stake now than the fate of Lebanon. If the West does not persuade Israel to stop its attacks, that failure will add to a creeping sense that, in its fight with Islamic fundamentalism, the West has abandoned its claim to moral superiority based on respect for human rights and international law, and is pursuing instead a war based increasingly on tribal solidarity. What a tragedy this would be, especially for those of us who crave a modern, peaceful Middle East. And what a triumph for the varied strains of bin Ladenism — Muslim, Christian and Jewish alike.

July 27, 2006 Posted by | Armed Conflict, National Defence | 6 Comments

Will Lieberman Take over for Rummy?

Juliette Kayyem thinks it’s a possibility.

July 27, 2006 Posted by | Decision '06, National Defence | 3 Comments

Iraqi PM Paints Rosey Picture of War

Perhaps mindful of the negative response shown by Democrats and Republicans in Congress yesterday who do not agree with his stance on the Israeli-Lebanese conflict, Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Maliki did not bother to mentioning it in his speech to a joint session this morning. Not only did he neglect the conflict, but he again failed to define Hezbollah as a terrorist organization when he spoke about Iraq being on “the front lines of the war on terror”.

His speech went on with no mention of the ongoing violence in Iraq and the constantly rising civilian death toll. Many Democrats are taking issue with his rosey depiction of the situation on the ground.

Meanwhile, in a press conference yesterday, a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff seemed a bit unsure of our progress (or lack there of) in Iraq. When asked if we were winning in Iraq he stumbled for a good six seconds and blurted “I wont say we’re winning but we’re not losing”.

When will it be made clear to the American people that the war is turning into a serious civil war that we cannot controll. The only logical solution is to redeploy to and secure the boarders and let the Iraqis fight it out and provide the necessary tactical support. See John Murtha’s plan.

Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki

July 26, 2006 Posted by | Armed Conflict, National Defence | 2 Comments

DOD Sells Weapons to Civilians.

According to a report coming out of NBC news, the Department of Defense has been selling highly sensitive and potentially destructive weapons and surveillance equipment to individual civilians at a fraction of the original price.  Something about this seems counterintuitive to the war on terror.

July 22, 2006 Posted by | Irony and Hypocrisy, National Defence | Leave a comment

On the Isreal Conflict

A great article on Salon

Hamas and Hezbollah, Lebanon and Palestine, Syria and Iran, the U.S. and Israel: Unless these four pairs of actors turn away from their failed policies, the Middle East will sink further into violence and despair.

July 15, 2006 Posted by | National Defence | 2 Comments

“Terrorists” Busted!

There is no way I could let this slide:  
That was pretty much the gist over the weekend, as seven men were arrested for an alleged plot to blow up the Sears Tower. This along with the “Weapons of Mass Destruction” that Santorum found last week, and you’d think we’d won the War on Terror. But very quickly it became clear that the group had no organization and posed no real threat, and it was all just a big mix-up. Oops.

Or was it?:

BuzzFlash is not saying that there wasn’t a plot against the Sears Tower, but it was awfully curious timing for a “raid,” wasn’t it? After all, the Dems had just finished making their first somewhat united effort to initiate a troop withdrawal from Iraq (just disagreeing over the timetable — with only a few renegades, like GOP Joe Lieberman). It reminds us of the old days when Tommy Thompson rolled out a color coded terror alert whenever the Bush Administration experienced a dip in the polls…Actually, it’s quite easy to explain. This is Rovian cynicism and mass media manipulation at its essence. Put a false claim out there through any means possible, then quietly debunk the assertion. The false claim gets picked up and conveyed with alarm by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, FOX News and even the rest of the mainstream press. Meanwhile, the disproof of the false assertion gets left behind in the crowd, like a milk carton that is trampled in a feverish rush of people who are running from the boogeyman.

The Poli Sci 101 definition of a terrorist is anyone who stirs up trouble and violence to scare people into supporting policies. Sound familiar?

Don’t be too discouraged though; Poli Sci 101 also teaches us that terrorism never wins in the long term.

reprinted from Blog for America 

June 27, 2006 Posted by | In The News, National Defence | Leave a comment

A Secret Timetable?

“The top American commander in Iraq has drafted a plan that projects sharp reductions in the United States military presence there by the end of 2007, with the first cuts coming this September, American officials say…after criticizing Democratic lawmakers for trying to legislate a timeline for withdrawing troops, skeptics say, the Bush administration seems to have its own private schedule…”

June 25, 2006 Posted by | National Defence, Right Wing Deception | Leave a comment

Maliki to set timetable for troop withdrawal

It seems when we set up a Democratic state in Iraq we literally meant Democratic.  Even Prime Minister Maliki will be setting a time table for American troop withdrawal and Iraqi troop buildup.  This is precisely what Democrats have been asking for for months and the Bush administration has been refusing to provide for months.  

 The response from the White House is still unclear.

June 25, 2006 Posted by | National Defence | 1 Comment