Monday, November 17, 2008

News that makes your hair stand on end

Israel and Iran
Israel won't rule out a military attack on Iran, according to Isaac Ben-Israel of the ruling Kadima party. The former air force general told SPIEGEL that: "If necessary, we will use force."
In order to stop Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb, the Israeli army is preparing itself for a possible military strike on Iran. "We are ready to do whatever is demanded of us," Israeli Air Force Major General Ido Nehushtan tells SPIEGEL in an exclusive interview.
Great. They couldn't get Bush and Cheney to do it, and Lieberman didn't become McCain's VP choice. Now they're going to have to start World War III.. (IV?).. by themselves.

Even our feeble attempts to prove Iran was supplying IED components has been disproved:
WASHINGTON - Last April, top George W Bush administration officials, desperate to exploit any possible crack in the close relationship between Iraq's Nuri al-Maliki government and Iran, launched a new round of charges that Iran had stepped up covert arms assistance to Shi'ite militias.

Secretary of Defense Robert M Gates suggested there was "some sense of an increased level of [Iranian] supply of weapons and support to these groups". And Washington Post reporter Karen DeYoung was told by military officials that the "plentiful, high quality weaponry" the militias were then using in Basra was "recently manufactured in Iran".

But a US military task force had been passing on data to the Multi-National Force Iraq (MNFI) command that told a very different story. The data collected by the task force in the previous six weeks showed that relatively few of the weapons found in Shi'ite militia caches were manufactured in Iran.

According to the data compiled by the task force and made available to an academic research project in July, only 70 weapons believed to have been manufactured in Iran had been found in post-invasion weapons caches between mid-February and the second week in April. And those weapons represented only 17% of the weapons found in caches that had any Iranian weapons in them during that period.
Warnings about the coming quagmire in Afghanistan:
The million dollar question is: Will Obama also play the great game in Afghanistan? Or is he capable of showing the compassion to let go that hapless country and allow it to wander towards a rediscovery of its traditional modes of life?

It is obvious he has to walk through a veritable minefield and reconcile various elements. Indeed, an intra-Afghan dialogue is needed and reconciliation with the Taliban becomes a central issue in such a dialogue. For that to happen, a regional climate needs to be prepared, which primarily involves engaging Pakistan, Russia and Iran and also addressing larger concerns in their relations with the US. Fortunately, Obama possesses the immense moral stature needed to convene a regional summit on Afghanistan.

Least of all, it may become necessary at some point to spell out a timeline on the troop withdrawal. Every challenge also offers an opportunity. The upcoming presidential election in Afghanistan offers an opportunity for Obama to resist the temptation to impose another US proxy in Kabul like President Hamid Karzai. Let Afghan people genuinely choose their leader. Let a new president emerge out of the complex deal-making that is part of the Afghan way of life. It is a difficult decision for Obama to take, but it needs to be taken. It will signify the beginning of a US "withdrawal".

As a recent commentary in the Chinese People's Daily noted, "Since it is absolutely not easy to carry on the war, then, the 'peace' solution poses a wise option … War and peace are horns of a dilemma in Afghanistan at present, and this has once again exposed the helplessness of Western nations in a predicament." The recent Chinese commentaries seem to underscore that the Obama administration runs the real risk of a quagmire in Afghanistan unless a political solution is quickly found.
Closer to home: Keeping track of the death threats since Obama became President-elect:
Since election day, the number of threats against the president-elect, and racial or violent incidents directed at his supporters, have soared. The Secret Service is concerned, calling it the highest number of threats against a President-elect in memory, but the national media until this weekend have largely ignored the disturbing pattern.
And keeping track of the racist backlash and the bitter clinging to guns and backward religions. Secret Service, please keep President-elect Obama and his family safe.

And Phil Gramm isn't sorry one bit:

In two recent interviews, Mr. Gramm described the current turmoil as “an incredible trauma,” but said he was proud of his record.

He blamed others for the crisis: Democrats who dropped barriers to borrowing in order to promote homeownership; what he once termed “predatory borrowers” who took out mortgages they could not afford; banks that took on too much risk; and large financial institutions that did not set aside enough capital to cover their bad bets.

But looser regulation played virtually no role, he argued, saying that is simply an emerging myth.

“There is this idea afloat that if you had more regulation you would have fewer mistakes,” he said. “I don’t see any evidence in our history or anybody else’s to substantiate it.” He added, “The markets have worked better than you might have thought.”

So... here comes the old saw about the theory was perfect, the people who implemented it were wrong? Kinda like the song the neocons are singing right now about how Bush effed up the wonderfully good and shiny PNAC agenda?

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