Sunday, November 30, 2008



Miriam Nissimov 1

The article is from the Iran Times No. 9, November 13, 2008, and is used with the permission of the Iranian Studies Department of Tel Aviv University .

Since the advent of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the struggle against Zionism and Israel has captured a central place in the regime's ideology. Attacks on Zionism and Israel are commonplace in Iranian leaders' speeches, interviews, Friday sermons, and in articles and academic books. In recent years, the medium of television has been drawn and utilized in this effort. Television documentary and drama productions are increasingly dedicated to presenting the Islamic Republic's position on the annals of Zionism and the State of Israe In 2005, The Iranian Broadcasting Authority sponsored the production of the television series "Zero Degree Turn" . Although some episodes in this series focus on the Holocaust and the fate of the Jewish people in Europe during World War II, the central plot deals with the conspiracy of "global Zionism" and its activities in Iran and the rest of the world. On the backdrop of a love story between a young Iranian man and a Jewish French woman the Zionists are portrayed as collaborators with the Nazis and as people who for the sake of implementing their Zionist objectives, harm other Jews from their own communities, and even murder Jews who dare to oppose them. Together with televised dramas, documentary productions that address Zionism also have come to occupy an important place. Throughout May-June 2008, the Islamic Republic of Iran News Network (IRINN) aired the documentary series, “The Secrets of Armageddon". This series made widespread use of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” to base the claim that international Zionism aims to take over the world. In twenty-six episodes, the producers of this series also presented supposed historical plans of global Zionism to take over Iran .

The depiction of Zionism as a force threatening Iran itself – and not just the Palestinian nation and the Islamic world – and the supposed uncovering of global Zionism's plot to take over Iran is a new trend in Iran 's struggle against Zionism. Since the Islamic Revolution and the establishment of the Islamic regime in 1979, many scholars in Iran have dealt with the relations between the Pahlavi Regime and Israel and the influence of Zionist forces on the decision-making process in Iran of the Pahlavi era. Yet the novelty in this series is the attempt to present Zionism as a force trying to take over Iran and turn the country into a venue for Armageddon.

An additional innovation in the Iranian attack on Zionism can be found in documentar series that focus on Jews and their control over the global film industry. A twenty-six episode documentary, “Footprints of Zionism in World Cinema,” which aired during May-June 2008 on IRINN, seeks to expose the "true colors" of the global film industry. The series promotes the perception that the Western film industry - primarily Hollywood - is controlled by Zionists who strive to inculcate the viewers with Zionist subliminal messages. The creators of the series, with the aid of Iranian specialists who were interviewed, explained that these messages are meant to provide a basis for the State of Israel's legitimacy and to justify its "criminal" policies. They warn that these messages operate on the sub-conscious of the viewer, and that consequently the viewer is convinced of the veracity of the messages. To substantiate this thesis, the series' producers in Iran analyze a sequence of Western films of different genres and periods, including Ben-Hur (1959), Fiddler on the Roof (1971), La vita è bella (1997), Saving Private Ryan (1998), Meet the Parents (2000), Chicken Run (2000) and The Pianist (2002).

Against the backdrop of pictures from the successful British animation movie, Chicken Run (2000), the narrator explains that the images of the fenced farm along with other visual elements are meant to conjure associations of concentration camps, and that the longings of the caged chickens for a utopian place is a metaphor for the Zionist nationalist longings (MEMRI-TV, clip 1787). While discussing Fiddler on the Roof the Iranian experts in the series determined that the positive and sympathetic portrayal of the Jewish character in the film is meant to present to the viewers with a distorted picture of the reasons and the historical background surrounding Jewish migration to the land of Israel (MEMRI-TV, clip 1807).

One of the leading Iranian scholars who developed the central argument presented in this series is Dr. Majid Shah Hosseini, who in 2007 was appointed to manage the Farabi Cinema Fund, a leading governmental foundation for encouragement of cinematic creation. Shah-Hosseini is also the author of the book “The Cinema and Zionism” ( sinama va tzhionist ). In this book, he writes that a review of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” reveals that global Zionism aims to take over the world and that cinema- which Zionism has taken control of since its earliest days- is manipulated for the purposes of this endeavor. In order to implement its world conquest, global Zionism and its agents penetrate the film industry and infuse movies with distorted religious messages. According to Shah-Hosseini, one of these distorted religious messages deals with the appearance of a redeemer and the existence of a utopian land and society, personified in Zion . The science-fiction trilogy Matrix (1999), Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions (2003) and the references in these films to the city Zion serve, according to Shah-Hosseini, as an additional example that proves his theory about a Zionist conspiracy. Shah-Hosseini, who is presented as a Western film expert, is one of the regular interviewees in the series, “Footprints of Zionism in World Cinema”. In one of the episodes, he connects the Matrix trilogy to the film Saving Private Ryan , claiming that the word ‘Ryan' rhymes with the word ‘ Zion .'

The view that Western cinema is a tool in the hands of “global Zionism” assists Iranian film critics in explaining the phenomenon that they define as a cinematic attack on the cultural heritage of Iran and on Islam. They point to productions such as Armageddon (1998), Alexander (2004) , 300 (2006) and Persepolis (2007), as examples of films intended to harm Iran and its cultural heritage. In a conference held by the Association of Iranian Film Critics and Scriptwriters in April 2008, which was dedicated to this issue, the Iranian film critic Sayyid Abu-Alhassan Allawi Tabatabai asserted that films such as Armageddon and 300 are expressions of the Zionist policy which seeks to attack ancient Persian culture and heritage. In a conference on Iranian and international war films, that took place in June 2007, the Iranian filmmaker Nader Talebzadeh, a graduate of Columbia University who presently serves as Director General of the Foreign Programs Department at the Iranian Broadcasting Authority, also focused on the film 300. He claimed that the Americans have stated on many occasions that they are the enemy of Iran, and he added that this film and its like- funded exclusively by Zionists- was intended to strengthen the fighting spirit of American society.

While Hollywood films rapidly find their way into Iran and are pirated in street corners in broad daylight, as admitted by the authorities in Iran (MEMRI-TV, clip 1802), it appears that the regime's cinema experts have increased their efforts to link the global film industry to Zionism, and are monitoring these matters for the sake of Iranian viewers. Iranian viewers are being warned of the concealed dangers involved in viewing Western film productions. What is interesting is that despite their harsh criticism the Iranian experts themselves are viewers of Hollywood cinema; they are familiar with it and analyze it. In

addition there has been no attempt on their part to call for a boycott of Hollywood productions and no attack or criticism against Iranian viewers of Western film.

These new trends in the struggle of the Islamic Republic of Iran against Zionism – trends that are manifested in the television series described above – further deepen the demonic image that Iran seeks to affix to Zionism. Zionism is not merely the ideology of the regime that occupies the land of Palestine and kills its sons, but rather it is a force whose extensions penetrate all directions and succeeds to infiltrate every household and influence the souls of children and adults alike through cinematic films that are purportedly intended to provide entertainment and pleasure.

Center for Iranian Studies

1 Mrs. Miriam Nissimov is a research fellow at the Center for Iranian Studies and aPhD candidate at the Graduate School of Historical Studies at Tel Aviv University .

Mission Accomplished II

Cal Thomas
The Washington Times
11/28/2008 (first post)

Nineteen months after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared the war in Iraq "lost" and just nine months after Speaker Nancy Pelosi asserted the war has been a "failure" because it had not brought political change leading to reconciliation, it can now be said conclusively that both were wrong One of the great military reversals in history is close to achieving victory. That is contributing to stability in Iraq, along with reconciliation between warring factions.

These conclusions are contained in a report compiled by retired Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey after a recent visit to Iraq during which he consulted with Iraqi and American military leaders and diplomats.

Gen. McCaffrey, now an adjunct professor of international affairs at the United States Military Academy at West Point, wrote a memorandum for his academic colleagues. It concludes, "The United States is now clearly in the end game in Iraq to successfully achieve what should be our principle objectives: the withdrawal of the majority of U.S. ground combat forces... in the coming 36 months; leaving behind an operative civil state and effective Iraqi security forces; an Iraqi state which is not in open civil war among the Shia, the Sunnis, and the Kurds; and an Iraqi nation which is not at war with its six neighboring states."

While adding that the security situation is "still subject to sudden outrage at any moment by al Qaeda in Iraq" or to "degradation because of provocative behavior by the Maliki government," Gen. McCaffrey concludes that "the bottom line is a dramatic and growing momentum for economic and security stability, which is unlikely to be reversible."

Gen. McCaffrey notes the sharp drop in attacks and casualties in the last two years and praises the "genius of the leadership team of Ambassador Ryan Crocker, Gen. David Petraeus and Secretary of Defense Bob Gates." He credits these three with "turn[ing] around the situation from a bloody disaster under the leadership of Secretary Rumsfeld to a growing situation of security."

While Gen. McCaffrey is cautious about the Maliki government, he adds that Mr. Maliki "clearly has matured and gained stature as a political leader since he assumed his very dangerous and complex leadership responsibilities." Provisional elections are scheduled for January 2009, district elections for mid-year and national elections sometime next December. Gen. McCaffrey says fighting is now more about politics than shooting and bombing and that Americans should "have a sense of empathy for these Iraqi politicians [who] have survived a poisonous Saddam regime and a culture of intrigue and murder from every side."

While optimistic, Gen. McCaffrey's memo is filled with caveats that have much to do with America's willingness under a new president to finish the job. The Iraqi military, he says is still "anemic," lacking adequate weapons and equipment. "Their military officer corps is immensely better than a year ago - but the bench is thin."

Though the economy struggles - (unemployment is 20 percent and under-employment is probably 60 percent, he says), the financial system is "immature," investment capital is lacking, enterprises are run with "badly maintained, outmoded equipment" and the country suffers from "brain drain" - things are markedly better than at any time since the war started. "The markets are open. The roads are again viable. Oil and electricity [are] no longer routinely sabotaged by the insurgents and criminals. Cell phone communications, satellite TV, and radio are all operating."

Gen. McCaffrey is critical of those responsible for managing the war during its early years: "It did not have to turn out this way with $750 billion of our treasure spent and 36,000 U.S. killed and injured." Still, he says, it is critical that force reductions are conducted in a "deliberate and responsible manner," leaving "a stable and functioning state."

Many still argue - as President-elect Barack Obama does - that we should never have invaded Iraq. But if a stable Iraq results and serves as a bulwark against terrorism and terrorist states, it may turn out to have been worth it. While much could still go wrong, Gen. McCaffrey's conclusion that gains are now "irreversible" is the most optimistic assessment since President Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln five years ago.

That sentiment was premature, but if this one is correct, don't look for the current president to get short-term credit. That will go to Barack Obama for pulling the troops out. Long after any Republican can derive political credit, historians will be forced to acknowledge that freedom won and state terrorism lost in Iraq.

Gaza Terrorists Upgrade Mortars

Hana Levi Julian Gaza Terrorists Upgrade Mortars

Gaza terrorists have upgraded their mortars and changed their tactics, catching IDF troops by surprise over the Sabbath in an intense mortar attack on the Nahal Oz army base. IDF Sgt. Noam Nakash, 21, of Be'er Sheva lost his leg in the Friday night attack and is being treated at Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon. Three IDF soldiers suffered moderate-to-serious wounds, and four others were lightly injured. All were evacuated to Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva.

The Hamas terrorist organization has acquired advanced 120-mm mortar shells that are more accurate and lethal than the previous models, according to a report by Sunday morning by Voice of Israel government radio military correspondent Carmela Menashe.

The Al Qassam Brigades division of Hamas, which took responsibility for the shelling, said it had carried out the attack "as a response to Zionist aggression… and against the occupation."

The attack came just 24 hours after Israel said it was prepared to continue the temporary truce that began on June 19, which had completely disintegrated over the past four weeks.

Defense Ministry Chief of Security and Political Affairs Amos Gilad told Egyptian intelligence head Omar Suleiman that Israel would agree to re-open the Gaza crossing to commercial traffic on the condition that Hamas cease its attacks.

Israel has periodically opened the crossings for delivery of humanitarian aid to the region, sometimes even while sporadic rocket attacks continued. Moreover, Palestinian Authority Arab residents of Gaza have continued to cross into pre-1967 Israel for medical treatment through the Erez Crossing.

Hamas has adopted a routine of planting bombs along the Gaza separation barrier, and using the provocation to draw counterterrorist fire by IDF soldiers. The terrorists then respond by firing mortar shells with a range that can reach as far as the nearby army bases.

Soldiers have complained that there is no fortification in their bases against Kassam rocket attacks, but government officials have said that it is impractical to protect every soldier by rocket-proofing the housing.

Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai repeated stale threats issued a year ago by outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak that Israel "soon will have no choice" other than to stage an all-out offensive against Hamas.

The terror group has had a death grip over Gaza since it wrested total control over the region in a militia war with rival Fatah faction in June 2007. Despite a temporary truce with Jerusalem that began on June 19, there were sporadic violations with single and double Kassam rocket attacks on the western Negev and Gaza Belt region.

Four weeks ago, the temporary truce was destroyed with the discovery that Hamas operatives had prepared a tunnel some 250 meters from the security barrier with which they planned to kidnap another IDF soldier. Aside from the fact that the tunnel itself was a complete violation of the ceasefire, Israel's government decided its existence merited an immediate and unequivocal response, and sent the army to destroy it. Hamas responded with weeks of intensified rocket and mortar attacks on southern Israel.

The Silence of the Lambs

Swati Parashar*

Even as I write this, I hear Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, in a press conference brazenly denying Pakistan's role in the Mumbai terrorist war and carnage. He says, 'Pakistan is a responsible neighbour and a responsible nation'. A new definition of 'responsibility' perhaps! The 'responsible' nation allows terrorists and fanatics like Syed Salahudin, Hafiz Sayeed, Masood Azhar and Dawood Ibrahim to walk with impunity in its territory. The Minister further says that 'every Pakistani should know that when it comes to national security and national interest, all institutions of the state are unanimous'. Can we learn something from his message? Can we also say that when it comes to our national security, integrity and sovereignty, we, as Indians, can also stand together and speak with a unanimous voice? Can we convey a message to our leaders and our decision makers that this time, I repeat, this time we shall not have Indo-Pak rapprochement take priority over our response to this heinous act of terror against our nation? President Zardari said a few days back that, 'there is a little bit of Indian in every Pakistani and little bit of Pakistani in every Indian'. Well said Mr. President but your own people have derided your magnanimity or rather your hyperbole. Political analyst Shireen Mazari concluded in one of her usual anti-Indian rantings that beneath all the multilayered identity she has as a Pakistani, she failed to see that 'little bit of Indian' in her. I wonder what the kin of Mr. Jinnah, living in India, have to say about this. For her, India is a foreign country. At this moment, unfortunately, when 'borders' have entered our vocabulary once again, I am unable to see the 'little bit of Pakistani' in me. Pakistan is as much a foreign country for us as India is for Ms. Mazari, albeit with a history of hostility!

I have not been able to sleep since this nightmare broke out. I wonder if our ever sensitive PM who lost his sleep (and perhaps rightfully so!) when Mohammed Haneef, was arrested in Australia, could get some sleep this time. He did not seem to lose much sleep while addressing the nation. Mr. Prime Minister, (Dr. Manmohan Singh) which sovereign country will tolerate this blatant act of terror, when a group of armed men from across the border carry out a violent orgy in the name of delivering justice to their brethren in this country? What would happen if a group of Mexicans carry out this kind of mayhem against Americans in the US, in the name of delivering justice to Hispanics? What would be China's response to a group of Tajiks, Uzbeks or even Pakistanis, who walk into China just as easily as these terrorists landed in Mumbai and then carry out carnage in China, as a response to Chinese treatment of Uighur Muslims? How would the Australians react if a group of Indonesians enter their territory and carry out terrorist attacks to protest against the oppression of minority Muslims in Australia? We (including our own Government) know what course of action these governments will take but for India, inaction would mean a virtuous moral high ground.

But wait, is this new? We have been taught similar lessons in the past too, by our charitable neighbours in the South, East and West. Our national leader was assassinated in our territory using our resources, and terror and violence is unleashed almost on a monthly basis, often facilitated from across the Western and Eastern borders. They are lessons taught, but we learnt nothing! Not once could we send a strong signal that our tolerance could not be taken for granted. Mr. PM, you and your ministers have hardly inspired any confidence even during this war in Mumbai. On another note, even the commando operations have left us speechless as we try to come to terms with the fact that two or three terrorists at any given time can keep 100 or more elite NSG commandos engaged in a fierce gun battle for three days! The media reporting added to our fears as we kept getting information about how the terrorists are eluding the commandos, shifting positions, moving from one floor to another. Some of us ask, why did the media need to be briefed about the operations, about the movement of the terrorists, and about the number of commandos, hostages etc. and run it like a reality show? Why did the commandos need to address the media especially when the operation was still going on? I salute those brave soldiers who fought to secure us and our country, mourn for those who lost their lives, but I cannot help raise questions. I hope some informed people will dispel the darkness around these uninspiring 'counter- terrorism' operations.

I have been following the media reports and opinion pieces very carefully, even those from Pakistan. There is the familiar and understandable denial from the Pakistani side. However, the denial by our Indian media is disheartening. Some writings have started coming through, familiar and rhetorical; let us look at 'root causes', let us address 'marginalisation' and let us talk about 'oppression' and 'grievances'. I wish to tell them that despite the genuine problems of exclusion and marginalisation we still face, we have fared better than the dismal records of those in the world who point fingers at us. A gentleman from Pakistan asked me to think about what our (Indian) 'reaction' to this kind of terrorism would mean to the Muslims of the sub-continent. My only answer is that for every action and reaction, how fair is it to be always held hostage to the feelings of one community, when the sad truth is that we have not even succeeded in convincing them of our goodwill. I have written in an earlier article, "There can be no limit to the ways in which any community's sentiments are threatened because communities are more fragile identities than individuals. I am beginning to get a sense that in the name of protecting the feelings of communities of all sorts, we are promoting a culture of intolerance that will further divide the people and entrench conflicts in the society."

Why should the feelings of any one community negate any effective counter-terrorism strategy? What happens to claims about our multicultural, multi religious and multi ethnic identity and the fact that the state has responsibilities towards citizens and not just communities? Besides, I am sure the Indian Muslims would also not like 'foreigners' to speak for them and carry out such attacks in their name. These terrorists claimed to be representing the aggrieved in India. I am hoping those 'represented' will speak up this time. Kashmir was mentioned as a reason for this terrorist war in Mumbai. Do the Kashmiris want to be represented by such terrorists/ such brutal killers? Why haven't I heard any Kashmiri leader speak out yet? I also wait for intellectuals like Arundhati Roy, ever so conscientious and sensitive towards the 'wronged' and the 'innocent' victims, to offer their condolences to those who have died in these terror attacks including the uniformed officers! But, maybe Ms. Roy would argue that they deserved to die, the rich foreigners, especially Americans, Jews, and those rich Indians who were staying in these posh hotels, people who were symbols of imperialism, capitalism and therefore, of bourgeois decadence! But Ms. Roy, you can still condole the cold blooded murder of 'common' people at the CST railway station.

In classical political science we are taught that a 'state' as a political entity consists of four essential elements; territory, government, sovereignty and population. These attacks in Mumbai make me rethink our existence as a 'state'. Our territorial integrity blatantly violated by people (terrorists) who could walk in and out without being as much as even questioned. Sovereignty, such that these foreign terrorists deliver justice to the oppressed citizens of this country. Government? Does there seem like one? So does population alone make our country a 'state' then, a population which is anyways being annihilated in such acts of terror? These difficult questions will have to be asked and we will have to introspect, we will have to speak out. The great poet, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, has a message for us even as we make sense of this tragedy and outrage.

"bol ki lab aazaad hai.n tere

bol zabaa.n ab tak terii hai

teraa sutawaa.n jism hai teraa

bol ki jaa.n ab tak terii hai"

Speak, your lips are free.

Speak, it is your own tongue.

Speak,it is your own body.

Speak, your life is still yours.

Swati Parashar is a PhD candidate at the Department of Politics and International Relations, Lancaster University, UK. She can be contacted at

OPEC's Consultations in Cairo

Randa Takieddine

Does the average citizen know why oil prices reached $147 a barrel a few months ago and then dropped to $70, then $60, then $45 a barrel, or how low they will go? When oil prices were at high levels, consumers in the big industrial countries blamed OPEC, unaware of the responsibility of speculators, who played a fundamental role in seeing prices rise to levels unfavorable for the consumer and the producer alike.

Today, the price of oil has dropped to levels that threaten investments in huge projects in the energy and alternative energy sectors. How can the average citizen understand what happened? How can we justify this rapid drop, and what is the role of the global financial crisis? Does this mean that the price drop will not cease? How will OPEC countries limit the slide?

It is clear that when the price of an oil barrel hit $147 during the summer, it was neither justified nor understood. There was oil in sufficient quantities and OPEC countries did not cut supplies; they have always upped their production, to reassure markets and affirm that the rise in oil prices was caused by investors and speculators in American markets, who shifted from speculation in currency markets - with the depreciating dollar - to oil. Oil prices did not reflect market factors, i.e. supply and demand. For balance prevailed in the markets back then with no shortage whatsoever. However, when the international financial crisis began, and big financial institutions like Lehman Brothers and others in the US collapsed, the speculation stopped, and traders in the markets stopped work because of the bankruptcies and lack of liquidity, after everything that had happened in the US.

Today, no one knows how long the financial crisis will last, or the countries that will be exposed to it the most. The leading state and biggest market in the world, the US, forms the basis for the answer. The financial crisis and disasters started there then spilled over to Europe. There is also a question about how the crisis will impact big countries such as China, India or others. The financial crisis has begun to affect the demand for oil, whose price has begun to drop. OPEC countries, in line with this drop-off, have begun to reduce their production, to avoid a surplus. In Vienna, OPEC took the decision to reduce production by 1.5 million barrels as of last November 1st. Today, producing states like Iran, Venezuela and Libya call for an extraordinary conference to be convened prior to the Oran meeting in Algeria on 17 December. OPEC producers have decided to hold consultations in Cairo on Saturday after the conference of Arab Oil Producing and Exporting Countries (AOPEC). However, the date of the consultative meeting does not permit a precise evaluation of the level of production during November and whether there was actual adherence to the drop in production. However, the meeting will be an opportunity to hold consultations about what should be done to confront a further slide in oil prices.

The question is: can OPEC states halt the slide in prices and retain the organization's unity and solidarity when oil prices rise? In difficult economic times, i.e. when oil prices fall, OPEC states often shift blame to the biggest producer, Saudi Arabia, which has a history of adhering to decisions to reduce production. Meanwhile, other countries call for cutting off production but usually do not adhere to such decisions. From the numbers that have begun to appear, there are non-adhering countries, like Iran and Libya and others, and they are in the forefront of those demanding a reduction, as well as extraordinary and emergency OPEC conferences to confront the situation. Will disputes resurface among OPEC member states and prompt prices to drop further, as happened in the past? Or on the contrary, will the member states, in light of the looming danger, respect the set quotas and show responsibility as the organization has over the past 20 years? There is hope that OPEC member states will be able to overcome the lack of trust, the disputes and the conflicts in order to blame others; there is hope that they will show solidarity so that the price of oil does not drop so low that it has a negative impact on all producing countries and on industrial projects in oil countries. Will the Egypt consultative session produce a decisive resolution by OPEC on Saturday? It is unclear, especially since convening on this date will mean that not all members have a clear picture of each state's implementation of the decision to cut production taken in Vienna.

©2003 Media Communications Group مجموعة الاتصالات الإعلامية

Comment: Take note-the price of oil is averaging $51/barrel as of today. In the USA the price of regular gasoline is $1.97 in California, near $1.31 in parts of Colorado. We have fallen off over $90/barrel in less than 7 months. The supply of oil has not changed, the output has not changed, the refining capacity or ability has not changed. What has changed? Market speculation due to the economic "crisis" is a reason. now match this outcome with the motivation to expand our energy independence strategies in America. How soon do we forget-it takes leadership to see beyond this temporary blip in energy costs. We will hear that it is no longer "cost efficient" to develop other oil resources (offshore, deep water,Alaska)-we already have heard from the Saudis-they think $75-80/barrel is a fair price. Has anyone asked "how did you arrive at this figure-is it what you need to fund all of your "projects" around the world? The ME oil producers are caught in quite a dilemma-decrease production in order to increase the price and suffer near term income drop. They have also extended themselves financially and NEED the West and China/India to keep gulping oil. Governmental policies are based upon oil supply and price-we have them in a quandary and if we have leadership we can shift the tide of unbalanced policy decisions due to oil. It is time now to make our move away from foreign energy-the events, situations and people who lead us to believe we must do so still exist in our world. we have but a temporary respite-let us not misuse this opportunity!

Mortgaging our future and our security

Riyadh rejects idea of Gulf bailing out West
The Daily Star-lebanon

MUSCAT: Saudi Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf on Tuesday ruled out an "exceptional" bailout by oil-rich Gulf states of Western countries caught up in the turmoil of the global financial crisis. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, grouping Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, are being urged by the West to contribute "exceptional" sums to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank as the two institutions come to the rescue of ailing world economies.But Assaf, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a GCC meeting in Muscat, said the Gulf states should not be the only ones turning out their pockets.

"If there is a need for an increase in financing these institutions, then Saudi Arabia, and I expect the same of the other GCC members, will contribute as much as the member countries [of these institutions], not more," he said. Saudi Arabia, the minister added, "has for many years been playing an important role ... and has in the past contributed exceptional funds to the IMF and the World Bank."

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown had said in early November that he believed Gulf states would announce extra money for an IMF bailout fund at the G20 summit in Washington. However, a six-point plan was announced at the November 15 summit which did not include a bailout by Gulf states.

Kuwaiti newspaper As-Siyassah reported last week that the United States has asked four oil-rich Gulf states for close to $300 billion to help it curb the global financial meltdown.

Quoting "highly informed" sources, the daily said Washington has asked Saudi Arabia for $120 billion, the UAE for $70 billion, Qatar for $60 billion and was seeking $40 billion from Kuwait. The report has not been confirmed. - AFP

Comment: Of course they will loan us the money, after playing the "game" with the USA.Make your enemy dependent upon you ad this is precisely what is going to happen. In Arab culture, it is not only the money at stake/risk, it is our very soul. Do you really believe this "bailout" will not come with expected attachments and unintended consequences?

Mumbai attacks: Al-Qaeda methods & ideology


Guest Comment:Articles like this one should be forwarded to others. As one reads about sea access by some terrorists we must understand that the boats that are now reaching Gaza can be the forerunners of something even more dangerous

Indian and American intelligence sources tell ABS-CBN that there is increasing evidence that the attacks in Mumbai were carried out by a Pakistani militant group linked to Al-Qaeda. The primary suspects, they say, are Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed. Lashkar-e-Toiba has denied it’s behind the attacks.
Indian intelligence sources say that one of the gunmen now in custody told Indian authorities that he – along with seven others – pretended to be students, rented an apartment in Mumbai and meticulously staked out the targets. Allegedly, they carried Malaysian identity cards. A Pakistani national, he told authorities he was trained by Lashkar-e-Toiba – taught to hijack a sea vessel and carry out urban warfare. These are tactics used by Al-Qaeda in past terror attacks, honed and passed along in its training camps; Lashkar-e-Toiba has long been linked to Al-Qaeda.

The ties are clear if we take the facts in Mumbai and compare them with the history of Al-Qaeda and its affiliate groups.

Link 1: Some of the Mumbai terrorists (on Indian television) demanded that Muslims in Indian prisons be released. This is not the first time this demand has been made. In 1999, during the hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane, Muslim militants asked the Indian government to release mujahideens in Indian prisons. They hijacked the plane and flew it to Afghanistan, holding the passengers hostage until their demands were met. I covered that story then, and it wasn’t until years later that we discovered it was an Al-Qaeda operation.

Link 2: One of the men released by Indian authorities in 1999 was Omar Saeed Shaekh, who was later arrested for the kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Omar Sheikh also worked very closely with Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the architect of the 9/11 attacks (and who had an apartment in the Philippines in 1994). Omar Sheikh confessed to authorities that he was involved in a series of attacks on India, including the Indian Parliament attack in December 2001.

Link 3: I also reported that story on the Indian Parliament, and it has interesting echoes today after heavily armed men with grenades attacked soft targets in Mumbai.

The Parliament attack in New Delhi was the first time well-trained, heavily armed men stormed an urban target in India. A gun battle broke out on Parliament grounds, and authorities narrowly prevented the terrorists from entering the building where hundreds of ministers and parliamentarians were attending a session. That attack – although unsuccessful narrowly brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war.

Later, Indian authorities claimed the attack was jointly carried out by operatives of Lashkar-e-Toiba and another al-Qaeda linked group, Jaish-e-Mohammed.

Link 4: In 1999, the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed, Maulana Masood Azhar, was in an Indian prison. He also walked free – along with Omar Sheikh – in exchange for the lives of the passengers on that Indian Airlines flight. From Afghanistan he went back to Pakistan, where he continued to spread Al-Qaeda’s radical ideology. Jaish-e-Mohammed has close links to Al-Qaeda and bin Laden through a religious school in Karachi.

Link 5: Frontal assaults carried out by armed men firing semi-automatic weapons and lobbing grenades is a favored tactic of groups like Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed. They were called “fidayeen” (literally death-defying) squads. Most of the attacks, carried out by Pakistani nationals, took place in Indian-administered Kashmir from 1999 to 2003. The attacks died down in 2004 as India-Pakistan relations improved, but the deployment of this tactic now in Mumbai betrays the roots of the terrorists.

Link 6: The Indian Airlines hijacking and the Parliament attack were carried out by Al-Qaeda and homegrown groups it trained. We know this from the testimony of an Indian suicide pilot recruited by Al-Qaeda, Mohammed Afroz. He told authorities about the attack on India’s Parliament before it happened. He also said that one of the hijackers of the Indian Airlines plane in 1999 did pilot training with him in the United States.

Afroz trained in Australia, Britain and the US. He told authorities that London was a simultaneous target of Al-Qaeda in the September 11 attacks. According to him, Al-Qaeda had infiltrated a suicide team into Britain to attack the Houses of Parliament. The cell planned to hijack a domestic flight in London scheduled to leave at 2:30 pm on September 11, but it was delayed to 5 pm. By that time, the 9/11 attacks had already happened and all planes were grounded.

Link 7: The terrorists in Mumbai targeted US, British and Israeli nationals – long-time targets of Al-Qaeda and associate groups. No Indian nor Pakistani home-grown groups have targeted these foreign nationals.

Link 8: The attack on the Chabad House in Mumbai is an evolution of an earlier plot by an Al-Qaeda affiliate group in Southeast Asia, Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). Hambali, a Malaysian who worked very closely with Al-Qaeda, and other JI operatives were working on a plot to attack the Chabad House in Bangkok, Thailand, according to interrogation reports.

Finally, let’s look at the group that did claim responsibility: unknown before the Mumbai attacks, Dekkan Mujahideen sent an e-mail claim to Indian news groups saying it carried out the attacks. One of the news groups traced the email to a Russian IP address (at the very least, showing a global connection).

Terrorist groups in South Asia change their names often. Once a terrorist group is identified, often it just changes its name. For example, one of the first groups discovered with an Al-Qaeda link was Harkat-ul-Unsar (it also has links to the Philippines). The group changed its name to Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, and when they were declared terrorists, they changed their name again …. to Jaish-e-Mohammed.

The Mumbai attacks are well-planned and coordinated using tactics and methods that reflect a very familiar virulent ideology. It shows the evolution of terrorist groups – how homegrown and foreign tactics are merging and creating new threats. The roots leading to Al-Qaeda are clear. We just have to follow the links.

Maria A. Ressa is the author of Seeds of Terror: An Eyewitness Account of Al-Qaeda’s Newest Center of Operations in Southeast Asia. She is senior vice president for news and current affairs of ABS-CBN and managing director of ANC (ABS-CBN News Channel). She was CNN’s correspondent for nearly two decades.

Same Old New Deal?

George Will
Sunday, November 30, 2008

WASHINGTON -- Early in what became the Great Depression, John Maynard Keynes was asked if anything similar had ever happened. "Yes," he replied, "it was called the Dark Ages and it lasted 400 years." It did take 25 years, until November 1954, for the Dow to return to the peak it reached in September 1929. So caution is sensible concerning calls for a new New Deal. The assumption is that the New Deal vanquished the Depression. Intelligent, informed people differ about why the Depression lasted so long. But people whose recipe for recovery today is another New Deal should remember that America's biggest industrial collapse occurred in 1937, eight years after the 1929 stock market crash and nearly five years into the New Deal. In 1939, after a decade of frantic federal spending -- President Herbert Hoover increased it more than 50 percent between 1929 and the inauguration of Franklin Roosevelt -- unemployment was 17.2 percent.

"I say after eight years of this administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started," lamented Henry Morgenthau, FDR's Treasury secretary. Unemployment declined when America began selling materials to nations engaged in a war America would soon join.

In "The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression," Amity Shlaes of the Council on Foreign Relations and Bloomberg News argues that government policies, beyond the Federal Reserve's tight money, deepened and prolonged the Depression. The policies included encouraging strong unions and wages higher than lagging productivity justified, on the theory that workers' spending would be stimulative. Instead, corporate profits -- prerequisites for job-creating investments -- were excessively drained into labor expenses that left many workers priced out of the market.

In a 2004 paper, Harold L. Cole of UCLA and Lee E. Ohanian of UCLA and the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis argued that the Depression would have ended in 1936, rather than in 1943, were it not for policies that magnified the power of labor and encouraged the cartelization of industries. These policies expressed the New Deal premise that the Depression was caused by excessive competition that first reduced prices and wages, and then employment and consumer demand. In a forthcoming paper, Ohanian argues that "much of the depth of the Depression" is explained by Hoover's policy -- a precursor of the New Deal mentality -- of pressuring businesses to keep nominal wages fixed.

Furthermore, Hoover's 1932 increase in the top income tax rate, from 25 percent to 63 percent, was unhelpful. And FDR's hyperkinetic New Deal created uncertainties that paralyzed private-sector decision-making. Which sounds familiar.

Bear Stearns? Broker a merger. Lehman Brothers? Death sentence. The $700 billion is for cleaning up toxic assets? Maybe not. Writes Russell Roberts of George Mason University:

"By acting without rhyme or reason, politicians have destroyed the rules of the game. There is no reason to invest, no reason to take risk, no reason to be prudent, no reason to look for buyers if your firm is failing. Everything is up in the air and as a result, the only prudent policy is to wait and see what the government will do next. The frenetic efforts of FDR had the same impact: Net investment was negative through much of the 1930s."

Barack Obama says the next stimulus should deliver a "jolt." His adviser Austan Goolsbee says it must be big enough to "startle the thing into submission." Their theory is that the crisis is largely psychological, requiring shock treatment. But shocks from government have been plentiful.

Unfortunately, one thing government can do quickly and efficiently -- distribute checks -- could fail to stimulate because Americans might do with the money what they have been rightly criticized for not doing nearly enough: save it. Because individual consumption is 70 percent of economic activity, St. Augustine's prayer ("Give me chastity and continence, but not yet") is echoed today: Make Americans thrifty, but not now.

Obama's "rescue plan for the middle class" includes a tax credit for businesses "for each new employee they hire" in America over the next two years. The assumption is that businesses will create jobs that would not have been created without the subsidy. If so, the subsidy will suffuse the economy with inefficiencies -- labor costs not justified by value added. Here we go again? A new New Deal would vindicate pessimists who say that history is not one damn thing after another, it is the same damn thing over and over. George Will's e-mail address is georgewill(at) (c) 2008, Washington Post Writers Group

Copyright © 2008 Salem Web Network. All Rights Reserved.

Scandal exposes Islam’s weakness


"Did you hear about the German Gnostic?"
"He couldn't keep a secret."

Just such a Teutonic mystic is Professor Muhammad Sven Kalisch, a German convert to Islam who teaches Muslim theology at the University of Munster. Kalisch recently laid a Gnostic egg in the nest of Islam, declaring that the Prophet Mohammed never existed, not at least in the way that the received version of Islamic tradition claims he did. Given that Kalisch holds an academic chair specifically funded to instruct teachers of Islam in Germany's school system, a scandal ensued, first reported in the mainstream English-language press by Andrew Higgins in the November 15 edition of the Wall Street Journal.

On closer reading, Kalisch offers a far greater challenge to Islam than the secular critics who reject its claims. The headline that a Muslim academic has doubts over the existence of the Prophet Mohammed is less interesting than why he has such doubts. Kalisch does not want to harm Islam, but rather to expose what he believes to be its true nature. Islam, he argues, really is a Gnostic spiritual teaching masquerading as myth. Kalisch's heretical variant of Islam may be close enough to the religion's original intent as to provoke a re-evaluation of the original sources.
A labor of love from inside the fortress of Islamic theology may accomplish what all the ballistas of the critics never could from outside the walls. Koranic criticism, I have argued for years (here and elsewhere - You say you want a reformation? Asia Times Online, August 5, 2003) is the Achilles' heel of the religion. That argument has been made about Christianity for years by Elaine Pagels and other promoters of "Gnostic Gospels", and it is dead wrong. In the case of Islam, though, it might be dead accurate.

Kalisch is a Gnostic, a believer in secret spiritual truths that undergird the myths manufactured for the edification of the peasantry. But he is a German Gnostic, and therefore feels it necessary to lay out his secrets in thorough academic papers with extensive footnotes and bibliography. It is a strange and indirect way of validating the dictum of the great German-Jewish theologian Franz Rosenzweig: Islam is a parody of Judaism and Christianity.

It is in weird little byways of academia such as Kalisch wanders that the great battles of religion will be fought out, not at academic conferences and photo opportunities with the pope. For example: the Catholic Islamologists who organized the November 4-7 meeting of Catholic and Muslim scholars in Rome envision incremental reforms inside Islam through a more relaxed Turkish version (see A Pyrrhic propaganda victory in Rome Asia Times Online, November 12, 2008 and Tin-opener theology from Turkey Asia Times Online, June 3, 2008). Despite their best efforts at an orderly encounter with Islam, events have a way of overtaking them. Last March, Pope Benedict personally received into the Catholic faith the Egyptian-born Italian journalist Magdi Allam at the Easter Vigil. In September, Kalisch dropped his own bombshell. In a way, it is longer-acting and more deadly.

A small group of Koran scholars, to be sure, has long doubted Mohammed's existence. Their scholarship is sufficiently interesting, though, to question whether it is worthwhile exposing the alleged misdeeds of the Prophet Mohammed, who may not have existed in the first place (The Koranic quotations trap Asia Times Online, May 15, 2007). Earlier this year, I reported on the progress of the critics, as well as belated emergence of a treasure-trove of photocopies of Koranic manuscripts hidden away by Nazi Islamologists (Indiana Jones meets the Da Vinci Code Asia Times Online, January 18, 2008). The Nazis had a Gnostic interest in Islam (call them "Gnazis"). The manuscripts and copies are now under the control of mainstream scholars at the University of Berlin, with deep ties to Arab countries.

Kalisch is the first Muslim scholar to dispute the Prophet's existence, while continuing to profess Muslim. If the Prophet did not exist, or in any case did not dictate the Koran, "then it might be that the Koran was truly inspired by God, a great narration from God, but it was not dictated word for word from Allah to the Prophet", he told a German newspaper. A German Protestant who converted to Islam as a teenager in search of a religion of reason, Kalisch can live with an alternative of reading of Islam. Very few of the world's billion and a half Muslims can.

Islam cannot abide historical criticism of the sort that Judaism and Christianity have sustained for centuries. "Abie, if you're here, then who is that there in my bed?," responds the Jewish wife in the old joke when her husband catches her in delicto flagrante. No one can offer an alternative explanation for the unique persistence of the Jewish people after 30 documented centuries of Jewish life. "If Moses didn't exist," the Jews respond to skeptics, "then who brought us out of Egypt?" Told that perhaps they didn't come out of Egypt, the Jews will respond, "Then what are we doing here today?"

Christians, by the same token, read the writings of numerous individuals who either met Jesus of Nazareth or took down the accounts of people who did, and who believed that he was the only begotten Son of God. Proof of Jesus' divinity, though, is entirely beside the point. If the Christian God wanted to rule by majesty and power, he would not have come to earth as a mortal to die on the cross. The Christian God asks for love and faith, not submission before majesty. The Christian is not asked to prove the unprovable, but to love and believe. Muslims have a different problem: if Mohammed did not receive the Koran from God, then what are they doing there to begin with? Kalisch has the sort of answer that only a German academic could love.

"We hardly have original Islamic sources from the first two centuries of Islam," Kalisch observes in a German-language paper available on the Muenster University (website). It is fascinating reading, and since it is not yet available in English I take the liberty of translating or summarizing a few salient points. Responsibility for any errors of translation of interpretation is my own.

Kalisch continues, "And even when a source appears to come from this period, caution is required. The mere assertion that a source stems from the first or second century of the Islamic calendar means nothing. And even when a source actually was written in the first or second century, the question always remains of later manipulation. We do not tread on firm ground in the sources until the third Islamic century."

This, Kalisch observes, is extremely suspicious: how can a world religion have erupted in a virtual literary vacuum? A great religion, moreover, inevitably throws off heresies: where are the early Islamic heretics and Gnostics? Later Islamic theologians knew the titles of some of their works, but the content itself was lost. "The only explanation for the disappearance is that it had long since become unusable theologically," he alleges of certain Shi'ite sources.

Kalisch draws on the well-known work of Patricia Crone and Martin Hinds, whose criticism of the received version have a distinctly minority position in Koranic scholarship:

It is a striking fact that such documentary evidence as survives from the Sufnayid period makes no mention of the messenger of god at all. The papyri do not refer to him. The Arabic inscriptions of the Arab-Sasanian coins only invoke Allah, not his rasul [messenger]; and the Arab-Byzantine bronze coins on which Muhammad appears as rasul Allah, previously dated to the Sufyanid period, have not been placed in that of the Marwanids. Even the two surviving pre-Marwanid tombstones fail to mention the rasul.

The great scandal of Islamic tradition is the absence of Islamic formulations from coins and monuments dating from the its first two centuries, as well as the presence of material obviously incompatible with Islam. "Coins and inscriptions are incompatible with the Islamic writing of history," Kalisch concludes on the strength of older work, including Yehuda Nevo and Jutith Koren's Crossroads to Islam.

The oldest inscription with the formulation "Mohammed Messenger of Allah" is to found in the 66th year of Islamic reckoning, and after that used continuously. But there also exist coins found in Palestine, probably minted in Amman, on which the word "Muhammed" is found in Arabic script on one side, and a picture of a man holding a cross on the other. Kalisch cites this and a dozen other examples. Citing Nevo/Koren and other sources, Kalisch also accepts the evidence that no Islamic conquest occurred as presented in much later Islamic sources, but rather a peaceful transfer of power from the Byzantine empire to its local Arab allies.

"To be sure," Kalisch continues, "various explanations are possible for the lack of mention of the Prophet in the early period, and it is no proof for the non-existence of an historical Mohammed. But it is most astonishing, and begs the question of the significance of Mohammed for the original Muslim congregation in the case that he did exist."

The numismatic, archeological, source-critical and other evidence against acceptance of the received version of Islamic history was well developed by other scholars. But it was never accepted by mainstream Orientalists. Cynics might point to the fact that most Middle Eastern studies programs in the West today are funded by Islamic governments, or depend on the good will of Middle Eastern governments for access to source material. Academia is not only corrupt, however, but credulous: the question arises: if Mohammed never existed, or did not exist as he is portrayed, why was so much effort devoted in later years to manufacturing thousands of pages of phony documentation in the Hadith and elsewhere?

Why, indeed, was the Mohammed story invented, by whom, and to what end? The story of the Hegira, Mohammed's flight from Mecca to Medina allegedly in 622, provides a clue, according to Kalisch. "No prophet is mentioned in the Koran as often as Moses, and Muslim tradition always emphasized the great similarly between Moses and Mohammed," he writes. "The central event in the life of Moses, though, is the Exodus of the oppressed Children of Israel out of Egypt, and the central event in the life of Mohammed is the Exodus of his oppressed congregation out of Mecca to Medina ... The suspicion is great that the Hegira appears only for this reason in the story of the Prophet, because his image should emulate the image of Moses."

Furthermore, "the image of Jesus is also seen as a new Moses. The connection of Mohammed to the figure of Jesus is presented in Islamic tradition through his daughter Fatima, who is identified with Maria ... The Line Fatima-Maria-Isis is well known to research. With the takeover of Mecca, Mohammed at least returns to his point of origin. Thus we have a circular structure typical of myth, in which beginning and end are identical. This Gnostic circular structure represents the concept that the soul returns to its origin. It is separated from its origin, and must return to it for the sake of its salvation."

Kalisch concludes that Islam itself began as a Gnosis, a secret teaching much like the Gnostic Christian sources rejected by the Church Fathers. "The myth of Mohammed ... could be the product of a Gnosis, which wanted to present its theology in a new and original myth with a new protagonist, but actually is the old protagonist (Moses, Jesus). For the Gnostics it always was clear, that the issue was not historical truth, but rather theology. Moses, Jesus and Mohammed were only different characterizations of a mythic hero or son of god, who would depict an old spiritual teaching in mythical form."

He explains,

In the Islamic Gnosis, Muhammed appears along with [his family members] Ali, Fatima, Hasan and Hussein as cosmic forces ... the Gnostic Abu Mansur al Igli claimed that God first created Jesus, and then Ali. Here apparently we still have the Cosmic Christ. If a Christian Gnosis was there are the origin of Islam, then the Cosmic Christ underwent a name change to Mohammed in the Arab world, and this Cosmic Mohammed was presented as a new edition of the Myth of Moses and Joshua (=Jesus) as an Arab prophet.

Thirst for secret wisdom drew Kalisch to Islam as a teenager, and keeps him within the faith despite his devastating critique. As he writes,

The teachings of Islamic mysticism are not specifically Islamic. They are a new minting of the perennial philosophy, which is found everywhere in the world in various traditions ... For me, this perennial philosophy is what the Koran means when it speaks of a teaching that God brought to humankind in all epochs.

My own views on the subject of Islamic mysticism are contained in a recent essay, (Sufism, sodomy and Satan Asia Times Online, August 12, 2008). Kalisch, it should be noted, adheres to a minority sect within the minority Shi'ite current in Islam, the Zaydi variant. His conclusions will convince few in the Islamic mainstream. But his work points to the great vulnerabilities of Islam. As I wrote some months ago, the German Jesuits who advise the Vatican on Islamic matters invested heavily in the supposedly moderate establishment of Sunni Islam in Turkey, and the theology department of the University of Ankara in particular (Tin-opener theology from Turkey Asia Times Online, June 3, 2008).

Of far greater interest may be the wide assortment of variant and quasi-heretical trends within Islam. Something very ancient and entirely genuine long buried within Islam may be struggling to the surface, a cuckoo's egg, as it were, waiting to hatch. It is noteworthy that Germany's Alevi community (immigrants from Turkey's 5-to-15 million strong Alevi population) expressed solidarity with Kalisch when he came under attack from other Muslim organizations.

Coming from a minority within a minority, Kalisch has offered a new and credible explanation of the motive behind the great reshuffling of Islamic sources during the second and third centuries of the religion. I cannot evaluate Kalisch's handling of the sources, but the principle he advances makes sense. It is another crack in the edifice of Islam, but a most dangerous one, because it came from the inside.

Bush to Olmert: Why are you giving Syria the Golan for nothing?

Aluf Benn, Haaretz Correspondent

WASHINGTON - U.S. President George Bush believes that Israel is offering Syria the Golan Heights without getting anything in exchange, according to sources briefed on his White House meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last week. After Olmert updated Bush on Israel's indirect talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad, the U.S. president demanded, "Why do you want to give Assad the Golan for nothing?" the sources said.

"It's not for nothing," Olmert insisted. "It's in exchange for a change in the region's strategic alignment."

Bush persisted: "Why should you believe him?" And to that, Olmert did not reply.

The Bush administration has long had reservations about Israel's talks with Syria and refuses to play any active role in them. Infuriated by Syria's involvement in anti-American terror in Iraq, as well as its undermining of Lebanon's fragile democracy, Bush preferred to invest his diplomatic capital in Israeli-Palestinian talks, while eschewing contacts with the Syrians.

Olmert tried to explain the strategic importance that Israel attaches to the talks with Syria, describing the Middle East as being defined by two axes: an extremist "horizontal axis" running from Iran via Syria to Hezbollah and Hamas, and a pragmatic "vertical axis" running from Turkey via Syria to Israel, Jordan and Egypt. Syria, Olmert argued, sits at the intersection of these two axes. Thus should it switch its allegiance to the "vertical axis," this would greatly weaken the extremists and strengthen the pragmatists.

Olmert also believes that Bashar Assad has moved much closer to Iran than his father Hafez ever did. Today, he said, Damascus is locked in an Iranian "bear hug" that threatens the very existence of its secular regime. That, combined with Syria's dismal economy, creates an opportunity to flip Assad into the moderate camp, the premier argued.

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama favors American dialogue with Syria, and would presumably agree to take an active role in Israeli-Syrian talks. Aaron Miller, a veteran of former president Bill Clinton's peace team, published an article in The Washington Post Saturday in which he urged Obama to adopt a "Syria first" strategy.

Comment: Good grief Olmert, you really do not believe what you said-do you? If yes you are a bigger fool than your previous behavior has demonstrated-time for you to go home-now! President-elect Obama, do not follow a fool's path, study, learn before you even consider opening a dialogue with Assad-he is a lier!

Terror lesson in Mumbai

India terror offensive proves that West’s war doctrine must be modified
David Altman

The terror offensive in Mumbai must prompt decision-makers and assessment agencies to realize that the common perception regarding terror activity is flawed and anachronistic. The world views terror incidents as sporadic, high-profile, and one-time events. They arouse fury, anger, and pain, yet they do not undermine the power of the state where terrorism takes place. Years ago, when Palestinian terrorists were blowing up airplanes, a terror leader was asked about the benefit achieved by his men while perpetrating horrifying incidents where hundreds of innocents are murdered. His response was as follows: “I get full attention – in the two minutes where the entire world’s attention is directed at me, I can express my message regarding the injustice done to me, and this is enough for me.”

Ever since that time, terrorism underwent a series of changes. The Vietnam War changed the conception of terror organizations and made them think that a terrorist army was not only meant to sting, but ultimately it also had the power to win. In a meeting held at the end of the war between representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization and North Vietnamese General Giap, the PLO men congratulated him on his great victory and asked when he thought terror groups would be able to defeat Israel. He responded with one word: Never. When he was asked why, he replied: because of lack of determination.

Some observers believe this was one of the turning points for Islamic terror groups, as it prompted them to build an educational system that lauded suicide, thereby laying the groundwork for suicide terrorism. Their immediate interpretation was that determination meant willingness to offer personal sacrifice, and that the more people prove their willingness to die, the greater their determination would become, ultimately resulting in victory. Eventually, terror leaders realized that suicide bombers have a demoralizing effect and can create grave damage and prompt a government shakeup - for example, the attack on the Madrid subway system in 2004 that prompted a change of government in Spain.

Skilled terror armies

However, terrorism upgraded itself into combat units. The Hizbullah terror organization does not premise its power on sporadic terror incidents. By now it has accumulated 42,000 rockets aimed at undertaking military terrorism and causing mass casualties, while challenging Israel militarily.

For a while now, Hamas has dealt not only with suicide terrorists, but rather, it is building an offensive arsenal of continuously upgraded rockets, while also forming military units whose modus operandi is wholly different than that of terror cells, and training a terror army that is also involved in military activity.

This conception has also been applied by the Iranian army that alongside combat units maintains the Revolutionary Guards, which in turn nurture paramilitary organizations combining terror and anti-terror activity with military activity. This is combined with a public relations war, which is the secret weapon of fundamentalist organizations and where they are more powerful than all Western states.

Al-Qaeda too has shifted from sporadic terror to military terror, and its operations are more complex and integrate more elements. They reflect the face of future warfare, which combines local terror with wide-scale terror that potentially includes biological and chemical weapons, and aspires to achieve nuclear terror using combat units operating differently than terror groups that attempt to undertake a local one-time attack.

India constitutes a broad testing ground for terror forces aiming to take over a large city while using military terrorism. The country constitutes a tool for learning terror’s new conceptions as they manifest themselves at this time, in the face of the conclusions of the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, and terror attacks in Pakistan.

Therefore, the war on terror’s doctrine must change. The old-time suicide bombers mostly operated alone or in small groups, in order to prove their power and hurt the enemy as much as is possible. Yet their time has passed.

Today, we see the emergence of a dark, new, and different army, with new branches that include all the components of a military, yet still utilize the terror doctrine. The advantage of terrorist armies is first and foremost the fact they are not subjected to any law or international convention. They do not face any pressure and they are not accountable to anyone.

They tie the hands of the responding force, which is the only side subjected to conventions pertaining to human rights, war captives, and the targeting of civilians.

Every terror event makes it increasingly clear that the danger to the stability of societies and regimes is much greater than we thought. The Mumbai events must serve as a turning point in the way we address terror armies. This is no longer a conventional war. The war codes formulated in the wake of World War II are no longer relevant. Instead, an international anti-terror force must be created; this force must be specialized, it must study the new threat, and it must be able to provide an immediate response by forces trained especially to that end.

Dr. David Altman is the deputy chairman of the Center for Strategic Dialogue at the Netanya Academic College

Mumbai horror: Rescue workers shocked by Chabad massacre site

Victim identification forces describe terrifying scene at Mumbai Jewish center; ZAKA officials encounter bound bodies, scattered prayer books, live grenades. Rabbi's wife apparently murdered early on, body found draped in prayer shawl
Ronen Medzini

Israel Police forensic teams will be heading to Mumbai Sunday on an Air Force plane in order to offer their assistance in identifying the remaining bodies in the Chabad House massacre. fficials are saying that eight or nine people were murdered at the Jewish center. Six bodies have been identified so far – five Israelis and a Jewish Mexican national.

The names of the five Israeli victims have been cleared for publication:

* Rivka Holtzberg
* Gavriel Holtzberg
* Leibish Teitlebaum
* Bentzion Chroman
* Yocheved Orpaz

Shuki Brif, a member of the ZAKA disaster victim identification force sent to Mumbai, recounted the horrifying scenes at the site of the massacre.

"When we entered the Chabad House, we saw a home completely ruined by hand grenades. The building was completely destroyed and we saw live grenades on the floor. It was a shocking sight. Prayer books and many other objects were all over the place. It was a shocking sight even for a veteran ZAKA member."

"The bodies of the rabbi and the kashrut observers were in one room. Two more bodies were bound with phone cords," Brif said. "The body of the rabbi's wife was draped in a prayer shawl. We estimate that she died earlier, and the rabbi covered her. We removed the bodies that could be removed. Later, security forces continued to neutralize the explosives, and only after that we continued to remove the bodies.

ZAKA members say they insisted that the bodies would not be subjected to an autopsy. "We explained to the Indians how important it was for us not to perform an autopsy and not to touch the bodies," one ZAKA official said. "We were arguing over this until nighttime." For the time being, ZAKA members are staying at the massacre site to watch over the remaining bodies.

Meanwhile, Israel's Ambassador to India Mark Sofer told Ynet about the difficult moments he experienced.

"We, and India as a whole, went through difficult days. The result is very grave for the Israelis and Jews who were murdered," he said. "If I'm not mistaken, more Israelis were murdered than any other foreign nationality."

"The most important thing for us is to complete the identification of the bodies," Sofer said, while praising the work of Israeli diplomatic officials in recent days.

"Everyone performed amazingly…even though they did not sleep for three days," he said. "The two consul generals from Mumbai and Delhi traveled between hospitals constantly in order to look for Israelis. Later, they examined hundreds of bodies, including ones in very difficult condition, in order to identify Israelis. This isn't an easy situation for anyone, and particularly for people who are not used to it."

Adva Naftali and Roni Sofer contributed to the story

Mumbai jihadists 'planned to kill 5,000'

Epic Fail: No virgins for you. "Mumbai gunmen 'planned to kill 5,000,'" from Australia's ABC, November 30 (thank to JE):

Indian officials say the gunmen who attacked Mumbai this week planned to kill up to 5,000 people. At least 195 people died and hundreds more were injured when the gunmen launched their coordinated attacks at locations around the city on Wednesday evening (local time).

The Times of India is reporting that Indian police believe 10 terrorists carried out the attacks. Nine were killed and one, who was caught on camera during the attack at the city's main railway station, was captured alive.

Maharashtra's deputy chief state minister says initial investigations suggest the militants had hoped to kill up to 5,000 people. [...]

The Hindustan Times wrote: "India is under attack. The very idea of India is under attack ... Playing the headless chicken is no longer an option".

Oh, I'm sure some people will manage to continue doing so anyway.

A US counter-terrorism official said Lashkar-e-Taiba, a militant group fighting Indian rule in Kashmir, may have been responsible for the attacks.

Maharashtra's deputy chief state minister says initial investigations suggest the militants had hoped to kill up to 5,000 people.

Indian authorities are also investigating whether some of the attackers may have escaped.

The owner of the Taj Mahal Palace hotel, where the last gunmen were killed yesterday, says he is determined to restore the 105-year-old building to its former glory.

Ratan Tata said some security measures had been relaxed after earlier warnings of a possible attack.

But he said those measures, including a metal detector at the front door, would not have helped.

"They came from somewhere in the back, they planned everything," he said.

"I believe the first thing they did was they shot a sniffer dog and his handler. They went through the kitchen, they knew what they were doing and they did not go through the front."

Survivors have given terrifying accounts of the carnage in the Taj and the Oberoi hotels. Many said they hid in the dark for hours, barricaded in rooms or hiding under beds, inside wardrobes or bathrooms.

"I cannot believe what I have seen in the last 36 hours. I have seen dead bodies, blood everywhere and only heard gunshots," said Muneer Al Mahaj, an Iraqi national, after he was rescued.

Television footage of the inside of the hotel showed half-eaten meals left on tables as diners fled for their lives. The restaurant walls were pockmarked with bullet holes and the floor covered with a thick layer of glass.

As the city cleans up after the rampage, Indian newspapers have called the Mumbai attacks India's own "9/11".

The Hindustan Times wrote: "India is under attack. The very idea of India is under attack ... Playing the headless chicken is no longer an option".

A US counter-terrorism official said Lashkar-e-Taiba, a militant group fighting Indian rule in Kashmir, may have been responsible for the attacks.

Pakistan's Government has denied any role and says it will cooperate fully with the Indian investigation.

Indian police and intelligence services are coming under intense scrutiny for their failure to prevent the attack.

India, Jihad's Permanent Battleground‏

Srdja Trifkovic forwarded with comments by Emanuel A. Winston, Mid East analyst & commentator

When you read the following, think of contemporary leaders who apparently never cracked a history book. They haven’t bothered to learn and understand the culture of Islam.

They haven’t learned that - as Islam’s war against Western Judeo-Christian civilization expands into Global chaos, the leaders of the West cringe and tell us that Muslims are really a kind and peaceful people who only wish to worship Allah. Perhaps most, but if "only" 5 or 10% are radical Terrorists, they can wreak havoc. I have in mind the Bush family.

I have in mind Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who Muslims call "Abid" which means slave in Arabic.

I have in mind President-Elect Barack Obama who Muslims call "Abid" which means slave in Arabic. He has gathered many pro-Arab advisors and Cabinet members around himself and his new transition team.

Finally I think of Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Shimon Peres who have been insistent on putting Israel’s neck into the hands of radical Muslim Islamists on the theory that Muslims can be appeased.

Gordon Brown of England and Nicholas Sarkozy of France similarly act as apologists for the hostile Muslim "Jihadists" who have flooded their nations.

As you read the following, think of Israel and America trusting Muslims who live by the word of the unalterable Koran and their pledge to take over all Western nations.

As George Santayana is often quoted: "Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it."



India, Jihad's Permanent Battleground by Srdja Trifkovic of heavily armed terrorists carried out seven coordinated attacks in India's financial capital "Mumbai" (Bombay) on Wednesday evening and early Thursday morning. Over 160 people were reported killed by Friday morning and over 327 wounded, with the final toll likely to rise once the ongoing hostage crisis is ended. Similar attacks by Islamic terrorists occur with grim regularity in India (see Timetable at the end). The disputed province of Kashmir notwithstanding, militant Islam sees the second most populous country in the world as a piece of "unfinished business": having been ruled by Muslims once, it cannot legitimately revert to Dar al-Harb.

The attacks represent a massive intelligence failure on part of the government in New Delhi. Even India's business capital is now seen as a soft target for Jihadist terror, yet the ruling Congress Party continues its old habit of minority appeasement and automatic insistence that the problem is confined to an unrepresentative extremist fringe aided from abroad (i.e. Pakistan). This attitude indicates common ideological roots of India's political and media elite and its Western role model. Both are supine, secularist and leftist to boot.

Now that the jihadists have targeted two luxury hotels and a top-tier restaurant frequented by visiting foreigners, now that they have brought their holy war to India's upper crust and their Western business partners, the country's elite class should wake up to the fact that India has a Muslim problem. That problem is fundamentally the same in each and every country in the world with a substantial Muslim minority. It would be there even if the government in Islamabad and its semi-rogue agencies like the ISI were to terminate all support for Islamic terrorist groups active across the Subcontinent (which will never happen, of course). The attacks remind us that global Jihad has India in its sights, no less firmly today than in the early centuries of the expansion of Islam's bloody borders.

Prior to the Muslim invasions which started in the 8th century India was one of the world's great civilizations. It matched its contemporaries in the realms of philosophy, mathematics, and natural science. It was a richly imaginative culture, one of the half-dozen most advanced civilizations of all time. Its sculptures were vigorous and sensual, its architecture ornate and spellbinding.

Muslim invaders began entering India in the early eighth century, on the orders of Hajjaj, the governor of Iraq. Starting in 712 C.E. the raiders, commanded by Muhammad Qasim, demolished temples, shattered sculptures, plundered palaces, killed vast numbers of men—it took them three days to slaughter the inhabitants of the port city of Debal—and carried off their women and children to slavery. After the initial wave of violence, however, Qasim tried to establish law and order in the newly conquered lands, and to that end he even allowed a degree of religious tolerance. Upon hearing of such practices, his superior, Hajjaj, wrote back:

You go on giving pardon to everybody, high or low, without any discretion between a friend and a foe. The great Allah says in the Kuran [47.4]: "O True believers, when you encounter the unbelievers, strike off their heads." The above command is a great command and must be respected and followed. You should not be so fond of showing mercy, as to nullify the virtue of the act. Henceforth, grant pardon to no one of the enemy and spare none of them, or else all will consider you a weak-minded man.

In a subsequent communication, Hajjaj reiterated that all able-bodied men were to be killed, and that their underage sons and daughters were to be enslaved. Qasim obeyed, and, on his arrival at the town of Brahminabad, massacred thousands of men.

Qasim's early exploits were continued in the early eleventh century, when Mahmud of Ghazni "passed through India like a whirlwind, destroying, pillaging, and massacring," zealously following the Kuranic injunctions to kill idolaters, whom he had vowed to chastise every year of his life. In the course of seventeen invasions, in the words of Alberuni, the scholar brought by Mahmud to India,

Mahmud utterly ruined the prosperity of the country and performed there wonderful exploits, by which the Hindus became like atoms of dust scattered in all directions, and like a tale of old in the mouth of the people. Their scattered remains cherish, of course, the most inveterate aversion toward all Muslims.

In the aftermath of the invasion, in the ancient cities of Varanasi, Mathura, Ujjain, Maheshwar, Jwalamukhi, and Dwarka, not one temple survived whole and intact. In his The Story of Civilization, Will Durant lamented the results of what he termed "probably the bloodiest story in history." He called it

a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilization is a precious good, whose delicate complex order and freedom can at any moment be overthrown by barbarians invading from without and multiplying from within…. [E]ternal vigilance is the price of civilization. A nation must love peace, but keep its powder dry.

Islamic invaders broke and burned everything beautiful they came across in Hindustan, displaying, as an Indian commentator put it, the resentment of the less developed warriors who felt intimidated in the encounter with a more refined culture. The Muslim sultans built mosques at the sites of torn down temples, and countless Hindus were sold into slavery.

As far as the invaders were concerned, Hindus were kafirs par excellence. They, and to a lesser extent the peaceful Buddhists, were not "of the book" — "protected," like Jews and Christians, provided they submit to dhimmitude – but at the receiving end of Muhammad's implacable injunction against pagans: "Kill those who join other gods with God wherever you may find them." (Kuran, 9:5-6)

The mountainous northwestern approaches to India are called Hindu Kush, "the Slaughter of the Hindu," a reminder of the days when Hindu slaves from Indian Subcontinent died in the harsh Afghan mountains while being transported to Muslim courts of Central Asia. The slaughter in Somnath, the site of a celebrated Hindu temple, where 50,000 Hindus were slain on Mahmud's orders, set the tone for centuries.

The Buddhists were the next to be subjected to mass slaughter in 1193, when Muhammad Khilji also burned their famous library. By the end of the twelfth century, following the Muslim conquest of their stronghold in Bihar, they were no longer a significant presence in India. The survivors retreated into Nepal and Tibet, or escaped to the south of the Subcontinent. The remnants of their culture lingered on even as far west as Turkestan. Left to the tender mercies of Muslim conquerors and their heirs, they were systematically destroyed, sometimes—as was the case with the four giant statues of Buddha destroyed by the Taliban in Afghanistan in March 2001—as late as the first year of the third millennium.

That cultivated disposition and developed sensibility can go hand in hand with bigotry and cruelty is evidenced by the example of Firuz Shah, who became the ruler of northern India in 1351. This educated yet tyrannical Muslim ruler once surprised a village where a Hindu religious festival was celebrated and ordered all present to be slain. He proudly related that, upon completing the slaughter, he destroyed the temples and in their place built mosques.

The Moghul emperor Akbar is remembered as tolerant, and only one major massacre was recorded during his long reign (1542–1605), when he ordered that about 30,000 captured Rajput Hindus be slain on February 24, 1568, after the battle for Chitod. But Akbar's acceptance of other religions and toleration of their public worship, his abolition of poll-tax on non-Muslims, and his interest in other faiths were not a reflection of his Islamic spirit of tolerance. Quite the contrary, they indicated his propensity for free-thinking experimentation in the realm of religion that finally led him to complete apostasy. Its high points were the formal declaration of his own infallibility in all matters of religious doctrine, his promulgation of a new creed, and his adoption of Hindu and Zoroastrian festivals and practices.

Things were back to normal under Shah Jahan (1593–1666), the fifth Mogul Emperor and a grandson of Akbar the Great. Most Westerners remember him as the builder of Taj Mahal and do not know that he was a cruel warmonger who initiated 48 military campaigns against non-Muslims in less than 30 years. Taking his cue from his Ottoman co-religionists, on coming to the throne in 1628 he killed all his male relations except one who escaped to Persia. During his reign, in Benares alone 76 Hindu temples were destroyed, and Christian churches at Agra and Lahore were demolished. At the end of the three-month siege of Hugh, a Portuguese enclave near Calcutta, he had 10,000 inhabitants "blown up with powder, drowned in water, or burnt by fire." More than 4,000 were taken captive to Agra where they were offered Islam or death. Most refused and were killed, except for the younger women who went to harems.

The massacres perpetrated by Muslims in India are unparalleled in history. They are bigger in sheer numbers than the Holocaust, or the massacre of the Armenians by the Turks; more extensive even than the slaughter of the South American native populations by the invading Spanish and Portuguese.

Major recent attacks by Islamic terrorists in India:

March 12, 1993: 257 killed and more than 1,000 injured in 15 co-ordinated bomb attacks in Bombay. The blasts were orchestrated by an Islamic group headed by Dawood Ibrahim.

February 14, 1998: 46 people were killed and more than 200 injured in 13 car bombs in the city of Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. The attacks were blamed on the "Al Umma" Islamist group

October 1, 2001: Militants belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammed, a Kashmiri group, attacked Jammu and Kashmir Assembly complex in Srinagar, killing 35 people.

December 13, 2001: Attack on the Indian Parliament complex in New Delhi led to the killing of a dozen people and 18 injured. Four members of the Pakistan-based Islamist group Jaish-e-Mohammed were later convicted for their part in the plot

September 24, 2002: 31 people killed, 79 wounded at Akshardham temple in Gujarat

May 14, 2002: Islamic attackers killed more than 30 people in an Army camp near Jammu.

March 13, 2003: A bomb attack on a commuter train in Mumbai killed 11.

Aug. 25, 2003: Twin car bombings in Mumbai killed at least 52 people and injured 150. Indian authorities blamed the Kashmiri Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba

July 5, 2005: Attack on the Ram Janmabhoomi complex, the site of the destroyed Babri Mosque at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh.

Oct. 29, 2005: Three explosions in busy shopping areas of south Delhi, two days before the Hindu festival of Diwali, killed 59 and injured 200. Islami Inqilabi Mahaz (Islamic Revolutionary Group) claimed responsibility, but authorities blamed Lashkar-e-Taiba.

March 7, 2006: A series of bombings in the holy city of Varanasi killed at least 28 and injured over a hundred. Indian investigators blamed Pakistan-based Islamic terrorists.

July 11, 2006: Seven bomb blasts on the Mumbai Suburban Railway killed over 200 people. Police blamed Lashkar-e-Taiba and Students Islamic Movement of India.

Sept. 8, 2006: At least 37 people were killed and 125 were injured in a series of explosions near a mosque in Malegaon, Maharashtra. The Islamic Movement of India claimed responsibility.

Aug. 25, 2007: Forty-two people killed and 50 injured in twin explosions at a crowded park in Hyderabad by Harkat-ul-Jehad-i-Islami (HuJI).

May 13, 2008: A series of six explosions in Jaipur killed 63 people and injured more than 150.

July 26, 2008: Serial explosions in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad killed 45 people and injured more than 150. The Indian Mujahideen claimed responsibility.

Sept. 13, 2008: Five bomb blasts in New Delhi's popular shopping centers left 21 people dead and more than 100 injured. The Indian Mujahideen claimed responsibility.

And yet, The New York Times manages to produce a long reports on the attacks without mentioning the word "Muslim" or "Islamic" even once!


Robert Fulford: A great eight years for America haters
Posted: November 29, 2008, 9:30 AM by Kelly McParland

Bush’s billions saved lived in Africa — but how many people know this?

For those Canadians who hate Americans, and believe in their hearts that they are intrinsically superior to the citizens of the United States, George W. Bush’s two terms have been a radiant period, an era when familiar impulses of nationalist bigotry were reinforced by unbridled, exuberant rage. At the same time, liberal Americans who see the Republicans as the party of the devil have enjoyed eight years of intense self-righteousness. It’s unlikely that either group will ever know such satisfactions again. This is not to minimize the tragedies of the Bush years, from Iraq to New Orleans to Wall Street, or to suggest that Bush-haters failed to experience those grave events with a proper seriousness. The point is that in hard times (and our times turned bitterly hard on 9/11), there’s much relief to be found in placing the blame.

It seems clear that Bush’s legacy is now carved in stone. He’s the perfect recipient of blame for everything that happened during his administration. He’s made a few remarks suggesting that he dreams of a reversal in opinion resembling the moral upgrade that time eventually conveyed on Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, both of them much-derided in office. That hope has grown increasingly wan.

Bush has never been the complete failure his enemies have always pictured, but his greatest success is hard to appreciate. After 9/11 demonstrated the incompetence of America’s intelligence system, history assigned Bush the task of preventing anything similar happening again. For a national leader, nothing out-ranks the safety of the citizens. Few would have bet on success in this project, 9/11 having seemed so easy for the suicide killers, yet this continent has, amazingly, enjoyed seven terrorism-free years

Somehow, the plans of terrorists have been frustrated. That may be Bush’s greatest success. The fears everyone experienced in 2001 have so diminished that Americans and others now regard as bothersome the security systems that may have saved their lives.

Bush’s style of diplomacy, which has too often involved an insouciant disregard for the attitudes of allies, has made whatever he’s accomplished in world affairs nearly invisible. Five years ago, only about 50,000 people in all of Sub-Saharan Africa were receiving anti-retroviral treatment for AIDS. In 2003, Bush launched the $30-billion President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Now, 1.7 million people in the region receive the treatment. This year, Bush signed a commitment to spend $48-billion that, among other things, extends the number being treated to 3-million and provides training for 140,000 health-care workers specializing in HIV prevention and treatment. That’s the largest contribution that any state has ever made to fight a single disease. By organizing that bipartisan program, Bush fundamentally changed future American involvement in Africa. But it’s unlikely that one in a 100 of his fellow Americans knows about it.

Like everything else that was positive in his era, it was buried beneath his mistakes. He proved to be a sadly inadequate manager of government. That’s especially surprising when we recall that he’s the first president who ever came to office with an MBA on his record -- and a Harvard MBA at that. His many bad appointments, made out of political motives, friendship or perhaps pure laziness, came to the surface in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina roared over New Orleans and inept federal officials made a tragedy much worse than it had to be.

Whatever his mistakes, Bush saw in the fall of 2001 that the struggle against terror was the great challenge to 21st-century democracy and therefore the great challenge of his life. He was a war president, as he said, but the Iraq war proved his failure as a leader. Perhaps because of a narrow, incurious nature, he didn’t understand that a democracy cannot successfully fight a war without the enthusiastic assent of the citizens.

Somehow, he orchestrated a war in which no one sacrificed except the military participants and their families. While soldiers died in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Bush Republicans conducted business as usual, their corporate supporters gratefully receiving tax cuts while awarding each other lavish bonuses. Understandably, the citizens were revolted. The greatest of the failures that undermined his presidency was Bush’s lack of a moral imagination.
National Post

David Frum: Eight facts that burnish Bush's record
Posted: November 29, 2008, 9:00 AM by Kelly McParland
David Frum, Full Comment, U.S. Politics

With the U.S. economy in crisis, George W. Bush’s already slumping popularity levels have sagged even deeper. This summer, his own political party kept him away from its national convention in St. Paul. The President himself has been reduced to wistful hopes that history will somehow justify him.

At this low point, some counterbalance:

1) Even as you read this, Indian commandos are waging a deadly urban battle against Islamic terrorists. Those soldiers have almost certainly trained with U.S. Rangers or Marines — part of an intensifying U.S.-India security partnership that has been one of the most signal foreign policy successes of the Bush years. Otto von Bismark is supposed to have said that the most important geopolitical fact of the 20th century would be that the United States and Great Britain spoke the same language. Bush’s strategic entente with India may well prove the most important geopolitical fact of the 21st.

2) Last week, the Iraqi parliament approved a status-of-forces agreement authorizing the continuing presence of U.S. troops inside Iraq. The Iraq war is ending in political reconciliation within Iraq -- and with hope of an ongoing alliance between Iraq and the United States. Since the 1960s, Iraq has been the most destabilizing state in the Arab world, ruled by a succession of radical anti-western regimes. Bush leaves office with Iraq ready at last to become a more normal country, at peace with itself and its neighbours.

3) Bush’s hopes for a more democratic Middle East have not been realized. But here’s what has been accomplished throughout the region: Libya has ended its nuclear program, paid damages for the Lockerbie bombing and reoriented its regime to the West. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have toughened their banking rules, ending their old double game on terrorist financing. Hamas fundraising operations in North America have been rolled up: Just this past week, a Texas court convicted the officials of the Holy Land Foundation, Hamas’ main U.S. front group, of providing material support to terrorism. The second Palestinian intifada has been crushed, confronting the Palestinian leadership with the hard truth that their aspirations cannot be attained by violence.

4) No new international terrorist attack inside the United States since 9/11. No Islamic terrorist attacks on a European ally since 2005.

5) Plan Colombia worked, and the Colombian insurgency has been weakened if not broken. Mexico has completed its second multiparty presidential election. The United States has resisted Hugo Chavez’s attempts to make himself a Castro-style martyr, putting the Chavez regime on the way to collapse due to its own economic incompetence.

6) Economic conservatives like me may not like it much, but for many millions of senior citizens, George Bush’s most important legacy is a national prescription-drug program that relieves those over 65 of the fear that they cannot afford the medications they need.

7) Bush encouraged the nuclear-power industry. There have been 17 new nuclear licence applications since 2007 — opening the way to the first new reactors since the 1970s. U.S. oil consumption has dropped almost 10% since 2005. In September, 2008, the most recent month for which figures are available, the United States consumed a little under 534 million barrels of oil — the lowest amount used in any month since September, 1996.

8) After 9/11, Bush passionately championed America’s vast majority of law-abiding Muslims — and perhaps due to his leadership, the much-feared wave of hate crimes never occurred. According to surveys by Zogby International, only 6% of U.S. Muslims experienced any form of verbal abuse in the two months immediately following 9/11. In all the United States, there were 84 incidents of anti-Islamic violence or intimidation in 2007. (To put that in context, there were 1,039 incidents that year of anti-gay violence or intimidation.) George Bush was the first president to confer cabinet rank on a Muslim American, when he chose Zalmay Khalilzad as ambassador to the United Nations in 2007.

Does this legacy qualify George Bush for Mount Rushmore? Probably not. But it does promise the 43rd president a gentler treatment from history than he has received from his contemporaries.
©David Frum

National Post

Photo: President George W. Bush reviewing an honour guard during an official visit to India in March 2006. Bush visited India to salvage a nuclear trade deal as the basis of a new strategic partnership. (EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

Conrad Black: A 'rather successful' president with some serious achievements under his belt
Posted: November 29, 2008, 9:00 AM by Kelly McParland
Conrad Black, Full Comment, U.S. Politics

A cataract of sniggering and brickbats may safely be expected as serious analysis of the presidency of George W. Bush begins, but it will not last: The historical standing of departing presidents tends to rise as emotionalism subsides.

The U.S. annual economic growth rate has been 2.2% through this presidency, the highest of any advanced country, and the economy expanded 19% in this time, well ahead of other large economies. The same pattern was replicated in per-capita income and spending, investment of all kinds and unemployment, which ran at half a percent below the average of the Clinton years and three full points below the Eurozone.

Until the last three months of his eight-year presidency, Bush avoided a recession. It is clear now that the Federal Reserve and the Treasury will prevent deflation and maintain the money supply by topping up the monetary base as credit contracts. They are already kick-restarting commercial and personal lending. They will, if necessary, propel the banking system by the scruff of the neck and the small of the back toward its real function, sensible lending, and not being hosed out of their shareholders’ underwear by imaginative, self-destructing derivative instruments, invented by the now defunct and largely unlamented U.S. investment-banking industry. George W. Bush will not be tagged with a lingering economic depression as Martin Van Buren and Herbert Hoover were.

Bush’s treaty with India, creating an alliance with that country, is one of the most important diplomatic initiatives in the world since Richard Nixon’s visit to China in 1972. But the chief preoccupation of the Bush administration has been the conflict with terrorists and terrorism-promoting states. All who remember 9/11 will recall the very high concern that, as bin Laden promised in his belligerent videos at the time, there would be imminent and frequent sequels. Yet not so much as a firecracker has gone off in the Americas since then, and President Bush deserves much credit that he has not received for this fact. Despite the current outrage in India, international terrorist action has not been a fraction of what had been feared. Terrorist organizations have been severely damaged, by the United States or with American assistance, in many infected countries.

Ironically, the issue that will mainly determine the historical ranking of the Bush presidency, the fate of Iraq, lies largely in the hands of Barack Obama. If Iraq endures as a powerful and effective anti-terrorist ally, a pro-Western regime with some power-sharing, and an alternative government model to the corrupt theocracies and secular despotisms that infest the Arab world now, the geo-strategic impact will be as immensely positive to the West as the Iranian revolution was a severe setback.

As long as the West imports large quantities of oil, it is extremely dangerous to have both major Persian Gulf countries, Iran and Iraq, in hands hostile to the West. Saddam Hussein and the Iranian Khomeinists between them, had the Saudis, Emirates and the other Gulf states quaking in their metaphorical sandals.

Those who opposed Bush’s insertion of 30,000 more soldiers into Iraq in the Surge of January 2007, and have consistently denied that it would succeed, including Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, are still officially in denial. Some have claimed that Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki is effectively an Iranian puppet. This, they allege, is why he overtly supported Obama in the U.S. election, because he wants the United States out in 16 months to facilitate the oppression of the Sunnis and the Kurds, by the Shiites, under the sponsorship of Shiite Iran. The litmus test is the integration into the Iraqi security forces of the Sunni “Awakening,” the militias and para-militaries that under U.S. blandishments, deserted al-Qaeda.

Whatever the president-elect thinks of the Iraqi initiative of his predecessor, he must be too intelligent to throw away the fruits of a military campaign that has made such dramatic progress. This is not a blood-letting impasse with draftee forces like Korea and Vietnam. In any scenario except the complete domination of all Iraq by Iran, the United States will be a long way ahead of where it was in the Middle East on September 12, 2001.

More than this, President Bush has restored the credibility of American conventional deterrence. Bin Laden and other radicals mocked the aversion of the United States to casualties, and said the U.S. would cut and run in Iraq, as it was deemed to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia. Instead, al-Qaeda has been expelled from Iraq and has been driven into caves in Pakistan. No one can contest the staying power and effectiveness of the U.S. military; its professional performance has been extremely high.

Unilateralism has not been an unalloyed success, but the point had to be made that the United States will not wait on anyone else before using force in what it considers to be its national security interest. Particularly, it will not accept that its forces can be deployed only with the prior permission of those historic exemplary upholders of international law, Germany, Russia, China and France.

I believe that something important and useful will come from the Iraqi operation, and that George W. Bush will ultimately be seen as a rather successful president. For the benefit of skeptics, I might add that this thesis — expanded into its current form at the request of my editor — has been my publicly stated view since well before there was any thought of asking this president to redress, in my own case, the failings of the American justice system.
National Post

National Post

Ted Belman