Saturday, March 03, 2007

Nasrallah's nightmare is Israel's dream?

In Sy Hersh's latest article in the New Yorker he interviewed Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah in Lebanon. Nasrallah has a theory that Israel wants to chop the Middle East into many tiny-easy- to-manage pieces. Hersh writes:

"Nasrallah said he believed that President Bush’s goal was 'the drawing of a new map for the region'. . . Nasrallah said he believed that America also wanted to bring about the partition of Lebanon and of Syria. In Syria, he said, the result would be to push the country 'into chaos and internal battles like in Iraq.' In Lebanon, 'There will be a Sunni state, an Alawi state, a Christian state, and a Druze state.'

Nasrallah told me that he suspected that one aim of the Israeli bombing of Lebanon last summer was “the destruction of Shiite areas and the displacement of Shiites from Lebanon. The idea was to have the Shiites of Lebanon and Syria flee to southern Iraq,' which is dominated by Shiites. 'I am not sure, but I smell this,' he told me."

Something smells about this whole thing but you know the old saying: 'Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean someone's not out to get you.' Now, of course, we must keep in mind that this is the leader of Hezbollah talking, a terrorist from way back, so I'm not saying I think this is anything other than paranoia or propaganda. But this idea of breaking up the Middle East reminds me of something I read in David Hirst's The Gun and the Olive Branch.

It appears that Sharon had a plan in the 80's to ship all the Palestinians out of the occupied territories over the Jordan River and into Jordan, where they would have their own country. [I bet King Abdullah II would be thrilled with that idea!] As crazy as that sounded, though, Oded Yinon, of the World Zionist Organization, took it a little further. He wrote in its publication Kivunim in Feb. of 1982:

"The following essay represents, in my opinion, the accurate and detailed plan of the present Zionist regime (of Sharon and Eitan) for the Middle East which is based on the division of the whole area into small states, and the dissolution of all the existing Arab states. . . The total disintegration of Lebanon into five regional, localized governments is the precedent for the entire Middle East . . . The dissolution of Syria, and later Iraq, into districts of ethnic and religious minorities following the example of Lebanon is Israel's main long-range objective on the eastern front. "

Since this is actually happening in Iraq and Hersh says this might be the future of Lebanon, you'd have to, at least, admit that Nasrallah might have a right to be paranoid. They really are out to get hm!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Gallaudet: The shame of it all.

Well, well, well, the kids at Gallaudet are in the news again. According to Newsweek while the students were having thier little temper tantrum last fall "the university's foundation was crumbling. . . an academic-certification group has warned the school that its accreditation status is 'fragile' and could be revoked. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education's stinging Jan. 13 letter, released last week, cites concerns over eight standards including academic integrity, low graduation rates and a lackluster response to previous inquiries."

The WaPo reported back in November that members of the faculty and staff were "charging that some administrators have compromised academic standards and jeopardized the institution's integrity and performance. Faculty members were asked by administrators to change grades of several failing students, according to internal documents and interviews. Faculty reports to the board of trustees have warned that the university is admitting students with very low academic skills without giving professors the necessary training and resources to help them."

Students with low acedemic skills huh? Imagine that! But they're deaf, let them slide.

I seem to recall reading somewhere that part of the reason some folks were so against Jane Fernandez becoming president was because in her previous role as university provost she actually held students to account for their lousy grades. We can't have that sort of person running the university, heavens to Betsy no! Can't the board of trustees find some kindly old grandpa who will let the brats run wild while he naps? What about John McCain? Oopse, forget that, he resigned from the board last November.

The WaPo reported that McCain was upset at the way Fernandez was treated. He said "I cannot in good conscience continue to serve the board after its decision to terminate her appointment, which I believe was unfair and not in the best interests of the University."

Wow, how embarrassing. If the university isn't accredited because of the ridiculous behavior of some of the students and faculty, they'll have only themselves to blame. To think Abraham Lincoln put the money up for the school and now look at the shape its in.

Previous posts on Galaudet




From the 'there's an Iranian under every bed' department:

Newsweek reports:

"Increasing tensions between Washington and Tehran have revived New York City Police Department concerns that Iranian agents may have already have targeted the city for terror attacks. Such attacks could be aimed at bridges and tunnels, Jewish organizations and Wall Street, NYPD briefers told security execs last fall, according to a person with access to the briefing materials who asked for anonymity because of the sensitive subject matter."

Could this "person with access" who asked for anonymity possibly have been his Dark Lordiness Dick Cheney? I'm just wondering because Sy Hersh mentioned in his interview with Terry Gross this week that Cheney was absolutely convinced Iran was ahead of schedule on building a bomb -- despite all the evidence to the contrary -- and as soon as it was ready it would be handed over to sleeper agents already in the US. Since Cheney wouldn't even allow reporters on the trip back from Afghanistan to quote him directly, only being allowed to attribute his comments to a "senior administration official," [WaPo] I'm just figuring he could behind this story. It's got his finger prints all over it, or claw prints or whatever he has.

Kind of odd the timing of this little tid-bit about Iranians planning to blow up the New York subway, isn't it? Supposedly this briefing happened back in last fall, but we're just hearing about it now? Seems to me, if the NYPD had evidence Iranian agents were casing the subway we would have heard about it sooner. [I wonder if they met with Mohammed Atta in Prague before they moved to New York, too?] Here's yet another example of what I was saying last week: It's all Iran all the time. You can't read a story about anything in the paper nowadays without Iran being involved somehow:

'The pills were in Anna Nicole's fridge, not her stomach, but they came from Tehran a senior administration official said today!'

Operation Iranian Liberation (OIL)

Regardless of this new eagerness on the part of the administration to talk to Iran and Syria about Iraq's security, I'm not buying into the notion that somehow W. & Co. are all of a sudden seeking to "assuage congressional concerns about the administration's Iraq policy", as the WaPo puts it.

They've never cared about assuaging the concerns of Congress before, why would they care now? Another fairy tale I'm not swallowing is that Cheney's influence inside the White House has been diminished by all the serial errors of judgment he's been responsible for since he picked himself for the VP job. W. and him are peas in a pod when it comes to regime change in Tehran. The fact that they don't know for sure whether Iran is even trying to make a bomb is no impediment to their plans for "decapitating" the leadership in Tehran before they leave office. [The suicide bombing at the gates of Bagram, though probably not aimed at Cheney, will only fire him up even more. We all know how he reacted to the news that there was a plane aimed right at him on 9/11. He's a physical coward so we can expect him to lash out.]

The way I see it, Cheney may figure he'll give Condi one more chance to prove that diplomacy never works. Sure she went behind his back on the North Korean thing and she got away with it, but she's not going to be allowed to pull that crap with Iran. The Dark One knows W.'s got the idea in his head that he's on a mission from the big guy up stairs to deal with the regime in Tehran once and for all. So, as soon as these upcoming talks fall apart -- Ahmadinejad can be counted on to say something stupid -- Darth can say "see, I told you so.' If by some misfortune these initial discussions wind up bearing fruit and they move on to the higher level in early April, there's still time for everything to fall apart before mid-April when, Sy Hersh writes, two more US aircraft carrier battle groups will be in the area to relieve the two there now, but "they may be ordered to stay in the area after the new carriers arrive."

And as I've pointed out previously, there's a new moon in mid-April. Several moonless nights between the 14th and 18th will make Stealth bombers really stealthy. As long as it doesn't rain that is: Remember, during the bombing of Serbia in '99 rain made the zillion dollar B-2's visible to Serbian radar. [Which led to one of them being shot down, which led to the Serbs getting hold of the special, super secret material the Stealth bombers are made of, bits of which they may have been handed over to the Chinese (or the Russians) in exchange for tracking US bombing runs from thier embassy, that may have led to the "accidental" bombing of their embassy in Belgrade.]

The rush to wrap up this diplomatic nonsense before mid-April would also tend to explain the suddenness of Rice's announcement this week. All we've heard for the past six months is how pointless talking to Tehran would be. But now, out of the blue, we want to visit with them? Don't they have terrorist training camps? Aren't they providing these new so called Explosively Formed Penatrators to insurgents who are killing American soldiers? Why would we even think about dealing with those evil doers?

If the desire to talk is actually genuine, then it's a pretty big about-face for the bomb-first-ask-questions-later crowd in the White House bunker. I don't see how they're going to convince the Iranians to play ball in Iraq while we've got a two naval armadas and half the US air force breathing down their necks. And what about that pesky nuclear issue; there's one big elephant sitting in the room everyone will have to ignore. The whole idea of having talks presupposes that both sides will be willing to give something up, but judging by what Condi said last month: "The only reason to talk would be to exact a price, and that's not diplomacy, that's extortion," I'd have to say one side, at least, is going into this wanting complete surrender before anything else can be discussed. I don't think that's likely to happen, though, hence the heavy hardware sitting in the Persian Gulf.

Batten down the hatches and clear the decks for battle, Operation Iranian Liberation (OIL) is about to begin.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Black Tuesday and getting Shanghai'd by the Dubo ji.

Ok, I don't know much about economics, but this stock market crash -- sorry, "correction" -- in Shanghai on Tuesday sort of has me worried. Don't we owe the Chinese a lot of money, I mean a lot of money? The fact that they sneazed and the whole world panicked is kind of scary., isn;t it? Am I the only one who get's worried when the Chinese have more to do with my econonomic well-being than our own government does?

In this brave new world of globalization, it looks like several million Chinese suddenly losing their life savings in the crazy slot machine they call a market send a lot of us out to sleep on subway grates. If it turns out the Yuan is really monopoly money, what happens to the dollar? I don't know about you but, I'm not comfortable with the idea that some little old Chinese lady's investment strategy of throwing the I Ching at a stock listing could lead to me dinning out at a soup kitchen every night.

It seems to me all the analysis I've seen and heard doesn't to get around to the fact that China is pretty much in the same situation the US was in during the "Roaring Twenties." Back then the US was the world's biggest loaner and everyone was getting rich, on paper at least, speculating like there was no tomorrow and "playing the market." Then came Black Tuesday.
What really worries me is that none of these so called experts on TV want to go there. Their obfuscation is showing, me thinks.

I saw this James Angel character on Tuesday night's NewsHour and he explained what happened in Shanghai like this:

"Remember how Wile E. Coyote would run over the cliff, and then suddenly it drops. Well, the markets have gone up so high, so fast in China that suddenly people have gone, 'Wait a minute, maybe it's gone a little too far,' and they're rushing for the exit."

Is this guy a Jim Angle at Georgetown or is he the Angel on the Rockford Files who's always on the grift? When these supossed "experts" are invoking Wile E. Coyte to calm everyone down, you know it's a lot worse than they're letting on.

I'm worried, how about you?

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Cheney's new "redirection" plan: Iran/Contra and the creation of al-Qaeda all rolled into one.

Sy Hersh was on Fresh Air yesterday and as I listened to what he was saying about W. & Co.'s new Middle East strategy the top of my head almost blew off. He was discussing his latest article in the New Yorker about the administration's new "Redirection" plan for Iraq. In essence, the plan is to blame Iran for everything that's gone wrong in Iraq, gang up with the "moderate" Sunni governments in the region against the Shiites (The Iranians) and fund radical Sunni jihadi groups in Lebanon, who the Saudis have convinced Cheney are less of a danger to us than Hezbollah is.

The most amazing thing about all of this is that Cheney wants to basically expand the sectarian civil war going on in Iraq into Lebanon. The Saudis are absolutly adament that the Syrians are never getting back into Lebanon and Iran's influence must also be eliminated. This means doing everything possible to stop Hassan Nasrullah and the Shiites from gaining power. If that means backing jihadis with blood on their hands, upsetting the delicate political/ethnic balance in Lebanon and possibly causing another civil war; so be it. The Siniora government must be kept in power at all costs! So much for the Cedar Revolution and democracy on the march.

Hersh quotes Vali Nasr, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, saying: "It seems there has been a debate inside the government over what’s the biggest danger -- Iran or Sunni radicals. The Saudis and some in the Administration have been arguing that the biggest threat is Iran and the Sunni radicals are the lesser enemies. This is a victory for the Saudi line." [Aren't the people who are killing most of our people in Iraq Sunnis?]

Naturally, the Saudis would push this line of thinking, they're all on about the "Shiite Crecent," but you'd think that after 9/11 Cheney & Co. would have a greater appreciation of the dangers of employing Sunni jihadis who have a nasty habit of not going away once they're done doing our dirty work.

But not to worry: "[Saudi Prince] Bandar and other Saudis have assured the White House that 'they will keep a very close eye on the religious fundamentalists. Their message to us was ‘We’ve created this movement, and we can control it.’ It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at--Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians . . ."

They can control these groups? Right. But terrorism is A-OK as long as it's in the name of freedom, I guess. So if we're funding and encouraging terrorist groups in Iran to blow up Iranians, that's OK too.

The Daily Telegraph reported last week that:

"America is secretly funding militant ethnic separatist groups in Iran in an attempt to pile pressure on the Islamic regime to give up its nuclear programme. . . The operations are controversial because they involve dealing with movements that resort to terrorist methods in pursuit of their grievances against the Iranian regime.

Such a policy is fraught with risk, however. Many of the groups share little common cause with Washington other than their opposition to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad . . . The Baluchistan-based Brigade of God group, which last year kidnapped and killed eight Iranian soldiers, is a volatile Sunni organisation [nsd] that many fear could easily turn against Washington after taking its money."

Where have I heard that before? Isn't this how al-Qaeda got their start? The Saudis really kept a tight leash on them. Who will keep an eye on the Brigade of God Group or put Iran back together again once we're done setting all the various ethnic groups at each other's throats? Not W. & Co. they'll be out of office.

In the mean time, they'll just keep blundering around the Middle East creating chaos without telling anyone about what they're up to. Not surprisingly, Hersh reports, the administration hasn't bothered to clue Congress into what they're up to. They're using Saudi money to get things done, much like Ollie North & Co. did back in the 80's. In fact, Elliot Abrams, W.'s national security adviser for democracy in the Middle East [Ha,ha], was an Iran/Contra co-conspirator who isn't about to repeat old mistakes.

Hersh writes:

"Iran-Contra was the subject of an informal 'lessons learned' discussion two years ago among veterans of the scandal. Abrams led the discussion. . . As to what the experience taught them, in terms of future covert operations, the participants found: 'One, you can't trust our friends. Two, the C.I.A. has got to be totally out of it. Three, you can't trust the uniformed military, and four, it’s got to be run out of the Vice-President’s office'—a reference to Cheney’s role, the former senior intelligence official said."

Is anyone in Congress paying any attention to any of this?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Cheney's misadventure in Afghanistan:

Dick Cheney is on a roll: Last week he kicked off his "The Bunker hits the Road Tour '07" through Asia by denouncing Nancy Pelosi for aiding and abetting al-Qaeda. Today he winds it up by pissing off the Pakistanis and adroitly managing to dodge a suicide bomber at the U.S. military's Bagram Airbase outside Kabul. [AP] Despite Cheney's traveling press pool being "sworn to secrecy," according to the NYT, while swooping in and out of Pakistan and Afghanistan, somehow a Taliban/al-Qaeda suicide bomber was able to blow himself up at the gates of Bagram while Cheney was safely ensconced in an undisclosed location there. Afterwards Cheney said the attackers, "Clearly try to find ways to question the authority of the central government." I'd say they're doing a pretty good job, too.

Most likely the attack was purely coincidental, but then again, if they were able to react that quickly to news of his "surprise visit" this would tend to point to a sophistication and operational ability on the part of the Talibs that up until now was unknown. Before last year suicide bombings and IEDs were almost nonexistent in Afghanistan, now they're going off on a daily basis. It looks like our enemy's learning curve is growing in leaps and bounds.

But, of course, Afghanistan is a shinning example of Cheney and W.'s wildly successful campaign against terror, so the fact that the bomber was stopped at the gate is yet another "mission accomplished" moment in the annals of Bush-dumb. For some reason, though, despite the fact that we're "absolutely winning" in Afghanistan, according to W., neither Cheney nor Karzai felt safe enough to travel by car to meet up, so Cheney had to wait for the weather to clear to fly the few miles over to see our Afghan ally in the Capital. One wonders how they might have known where he'd be.

The massive amount of secrecy surrounding Cheney's visits to our South Asian allies in the WOT, the NYT points out, is a "reflection of growing concern about the strength of al-Qaeda and Taliban forces in the area, [As if there's any difference between the two at this point] and continuing questions about the loyalties of Musharraf's own intelligence services." [Say it ain't so!] It appears the same might be said for Karzai's security people as well. Something smells rotten in Denmark about this whole episode.

The timing of this is also kind of interesting coming on the heels of the assassination attempt against an Iraqi vice president in Baghdad yesterday in a supposedly secure location at a government building in the Mansour district. Abdel Abdul-Mahdi escaped a bomb blast inside the Iraqi Public Works Ministry, which according to the AP, is a "seven-story structure with crack surveillance systems from its days as offices for Saddam's Hussein's intelligence service." The attack killed 10 people who were there to see near him give a speech. The bomb might have been hidden in the podium and AP reports that it "could have been on a timer-trigger that missed the vice president by sheer luck." [Kind of like last night's episode of "24," if you think about it. Do they get the FOX network in Baghdad?]

For all the people we're holding at Gitmo; all the extraordinary renditions; all the waterboarding and warrantless wire tapping going on, al-Qaeda sure seems to be rolling with the punches. And regardless of what Cheney says, it doesn't look like al-Qaeda and the Talibs really need any help from Nana Pelosi to get their war on. They seem to be doing just fine with the assistance of the Pakistani ISI in their Waziristan hideouts and the Talib's de-facto capital in Quetta.

The NYT reported yesterday that in the Afghan town of Musa Qala in Helmand Province, which Taliban forces over-ran three weeks ago, the Talibs, acting on orders from the Taliban leadership council in Quetta, were rounding up the town Elders and killing them. Back in October NATO and the Talibs made a deal to stay out of Musa Qala, but – surprise, surprise -- the Talibs reneged. When this happened the out-going British NATO commander Lieutenant-General David Richards said the they had finally "shown their true colors."

Ok, maybe this is part of what's wrong with the effort to defeat the Talibs so far in Afghanistan. I thought it was pretty well established that the Taliban couldn't be trusted. Why would anyone make a deal with them and expect them to honor it? Why would NATO make a deal to give up jurisdiction over a town that's -- in theory anyway -- part of Afghanistan, a country the international community is spending billions to defend and rebuild? We've heard a lot about the major victory over the Talibs in Helmond Province back in September that supposedly led to the killing of 500 Taliban fighters, but they don't seem to be in the least bit weakened. In fact, mere moments after NATO announced this stunning victory a suicide bomber blew up a in an outdoor market in Lashkar Gar.

Nothing is going to be resolved in Afghanistan until we get a handle on Pakistan, which is why Cheney dropped in on Pervez in the first place. Up until now, W. has been more than happy to throw good money after bad at Mussharraf, regardless of whether he's making deals with the Talibs or promising not go after OBL. Now that the newly elected Democratic Congress is threatening to cut aid to Pakistan he sends Cheney over there to deliver the bad news.

Of course, all this talk about 'tough talk' directed at Musharraf, I doubt the administration is too keen on destabilizing the regime there. Since Musharraf has exiled or marginalized all the traditional moderate political parties, like Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party and Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League all that's left is the most radical Islamic elements in Pakistani politics. He needs the support of the Taliban types to get re-elected next year -- if there are elections -- and being seen to knuckle under to the hated Americans would pretty much finish him. We don't need radical Sunni regilious groups taking over the government of Pakistan and its nukes just as W. & Co. start their shock and awe campaign against Iran.

I'm thinking W. & Co. will continue to give Musharraf 'tough talk' in public but continue to wink and nod in private as they gear up for the attack on Iran. If "moderate" Pakistan were to go the way of Afghanistan, that would pretty much turn South Asia into a seething cauldron of apocalyptic soup that would spill over into India and even China. And keep in mind the Chinese are busy building a deep water port for the Pakistanis in Gwadar. Theoretically they could take advantage of a chaotic Pakistan to establish a bridgehead into the Indian Ocean. I wonder what Admiral Fallon would do about that!

This is a fine mess this bunch in the White House has gotten us into and anyone who would want to run for president in '08 and inherit WW III would have to be insane. For sure Obama couldn't hack it and I wouldn't want a butched-up Hillary and her more muscular "centrist" Democratic brain trust to get anywhere near it, either. There's no doubt that if McCain got his hands on this we'd all be living in bomb shelters for the rest of our lives, so the only person I can see coming to the rescue is Al Gore.

See he doesn't want to run, obviously he's not crazy. But he has to: He's got a brain the size of Manhattan, he's got an Academy Award [ Reagan couldn't say that] and by the time the elections come around he'll probably have a Nobel Peace Prize, too. Carter only got that after he was president! Gore comes into office with all this heavy hardware plus he's already been elected.

Common' Al, stop being coy, you're country needs you to serve out the term you never got.
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