Wednesday, November 27, 2013
The Iranians Have the Best of Both Worlds Right Now, They Are Diplomatically Shielded from Attack Yet They Can Work Overtime on their Nuclear Program
Sunday, November 24, 2013
1. Parchin: This long-suspected facility remains out of UN oversight. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry boasted after the signing that daily IAEA inspections will take place at Fordo and Natanz. However, cameras are already fixed at both those facilities without an agreement, whereas Tehran’s consistent denial of IAEA access to Parchin is not addressed.2. Secret nuclear locations: Under the heading "Possible Military Dimensions," the last IAEA report noted: "Since 2002, the Agency has become increasingly concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear related organizations, including activities related to the development of a payload for a missile.” The watchdog has received information indicating activities "relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device." This was further corroborated by new information obtained since November 2011.Tehran’s non-cooperation for investigating these findings is not mentioned in the Geneva interim accord, nor was it addressed in the negotiations.3. Dirty bombs: Iran doesn’t need a full-scale nuclear bomb or missile warhead for attacking Israel. For decades, Tehran has been working on perfecting hundreds of dirty bombs as part of its nuclear program, by adding plutonium or enriched uranium to conventional bombs. These weapons are easy to make and easy to use. In the hands of Hizballah or other Shiite terrorist organizations in Syria or Iraq, for instance, they could be used to strike Israel without leaving a trail to Tehran.This peril too was ignored by the six powers in Geneva.4. Rollback. While President Obama has presented the deal as a first step toward freezing or even rolling back “key aspects” of Iran’s nuclear program. The fact remains that, so long as Iran is permitted to enrich uranium, even though this is restricted to a low 5 percent grade, it is free to produce as much fissile material as it wants, whenever it wants. This seems more like roll forward than roll back.5. Enrichment. Obama and Kerry said the new deal does not recognize Iran’s right to enrich uranium. They were contradicted by the Iranian president and senior negotiator as well as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. So what is the truth? If Iran won recognition for this right, it blows the bottom out of the Non-Proliferating Treaty because, in no time, all the signatories may start enriching uranium with permission from the big powers. Neither is there any point in making Iran join the NPT’s Additional Protocol for snap inspections.6. Centrifuges. Iran has undertaken not to add new centrifuges to its enrichment facilities, according to President Obama, but there is nothing to stop it from keeping up their production. In the six-month interregnum for negotiating a comprehensive nuclear deal, Tehran wins time to turn out enough centrifuges to substantially expand its production of enriched uranium.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Iranian Leader Calls Jews "Rabid Dogs" and That "They Cannot Be Called Human Beings", Obama Administration Silent
Jerusalem is "unpleasantly surprised" that, as of Thursday afternoon, the Obama administration had not unequivocally condemned vicious anti-Israel statements made Wednesday morning by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, senior Israeli officials told The Times of Israel.In an address to an assembly of tens of thousands of Basij militiamen, Khamenei declared that Israel was doomed to fail and characterized the "Zionist regime" as the "sinister, unclean rabid dog of the region." He also said Israelis "cannot be called human beings." Footage of the event showed the crowd shouting "Death to America" and "Death to Israel."...
Monday, November 18, 2013
At Least Obama Has Accomplished One Good Thing, He Has Brought Israel and Saudi Arabia Together... For an Attack on Iran
Israel and Saudia Arabia are secretly working together on plans for a possible attack against Iran in case the Geneva talks fail to roll back its nuclear program, British paper The Sunday Times reported.
The two countries' shared concern has put them at odds with the United States as the latter continues to seek an agreement with Iran to ease economic sanctions in return for pulling back nuclear development.
According to the diplomatic source quoted by the Times, Saudia Arabia has agreed to let Israel use its air space, and assist an Israeli attack by cooperating on the use of drones, rescue helicopters and tanker planes.
Israel's Mossad intelligence agency is reportedly working with Saudi officials to make arrangements following the signing of a nuclear deal in Geneva.
"Once the Geneva agreement is signed, the military option will be back on the table. The Saudis are furious and are willing to give Israel all the help it needs," the Times quoted the source as saying.
Saturday, November 16, 2013
As a practical matter, it is nearly inconceivable that insurance companies would be able to reissue the canceled health-care plans. The process, as Avik Roy expertlyexplains, is too extensive and complex to complete in the few weeks between now and Obamacare’s coverage deadline — something that an administration that can’t, after three years, get a functioning website running should know. But even if it could be done, the insurance companies would be insane to offer plans that failed to comply with the letter of the Obamacare statute. Similarly, the state insurance commissioners would be insane to permit them, and Americans would be insane to buy them. The policies would be legally unenforceable.
As the telecoms learned, Bush’s assurance that they’d be held harmless meant nothing once Obama and his base started urging warrantless wiretapping victims to sue. The companies spent untold millions in legal fees and costs. The health-insurance companies, too, would be deluged with lawsuits by insureds who claimed that the policies were illegal and wrongly denied coverage for this or that treatment. The insurance companies themselves would get into the act, filing suits to be compensated for payouts they’d made based on the illegal policies. The Obama “waiver” would avail them of nothing in a court, where a judge would be obliged to follow the law, not Dear Leader’s enforcement preferences.
Friday, November 15, 2013
It is a condition of my admission to this great land that I am not allowed to foment the overthrow of the United States government. Oh, I signed it airily enough, but you'd be surprised, as the years go by, how often the urge to foment starts to rise in one's gullet. Fortunately, at least as far as constitutional government goes, the president of the United States is doing a grand job of overthrowing it all by himself.
On Thursday, he passed a new law at a press conference. George III never did that. But, having ordered America's insurance companies to comply with Obamacare, the president announced that he is now ordering them not to comply with Obamacare. The legislative branch (as it's still quaintly known) passed a law purporting to grandfather your existing health plan. The regulatory bureaucracy then interpreted the law so as to un-grandfather your health plan. So His Most Excellent Majesty has commanded that your health plan be de-un-grandfathered. That seems likely to work. The insurance industry had three years to prepare for the introduction of Obamacare. Now the King has given them six weeks to de-introduce Obamacare.
"I wonder if he has the legal authority to do this," mused former Vermont governor Howard Dean. But he's obviously some kind of right-wing wacko. Later that day, anxious to help him out, Congress offered to "pass" a "law" allowing people to keep their health plans. The same president who had unilaterally commanded that people be allowed to keep their health plans indignantly threatened to veto any such law to that effect: It only counts if he does it — geddit? As his court eunuchs at the Associated Press obligingly put it: "Obama Will Allow Old Plans." It's Barry's world; we just live in it.
Thursday, November 7, 2013
Think Worries About a Nuclear Arms Race in the Middle East are Overlbown? Think Again. The Saudis are Prepared to Acquire Pakistani Nukes
Saudi Arabia has invested in Pakistani nuclear weapons projects, and believes it could obtain atomic bombs at will, a variety of sources have told BBC Newsnight.
While the kingdom's quest has often been set in the context of countering Iran's atomic programme, it is now possible that the Saudis might be able to deploy such devices more quickly than the Islamic republic.
Earlier this year, a senior Nato decision maker told me that he had seen intelligence reporting that nuclear weapons made in Pakistan on behalf of Saudi Arabia are now sitting ready for delivery.
Last month Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli military intelligence, told a conference in Sweden that if Iran got the bomb, "the Saudis will not wait one month. They already paid for the bomb, they will go to Pakistan and bring what they need to bring."
Since 2009, when King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia warned visiting US special envoy to the Middle East Dennis Ross that if Iran crossed the threshold, "we will get nuclear weapons", the kingdom has sent the Americans numerous signals of its intentions.
Gary Samore, until March 2013 President Barack Obama's counter-proliferation adviser, has told Newsnight:
"I do think that the Saudis believe that they have some understanding with Pakistan that, in extremis, they would have claim to acquire nuclear weapons from Pakistan."
The story of Saudi Arabia's project - including the acquisition of missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads over long ranges - goes back decades.
In the late 1980s they secretly bought dozens of CSS-2 ballistic missiles from China.
These rockets, considered by many experts too inaccurate for use as conventional weapons, were deployed 20 years ago.
This summer experts at defence publishers Jane's reported the completion of a new Saudi CSS-2 base with missile launch rails aligned with Israel and Iran.
It has also been clear for many years that Saudi Arabia has given generous financial assistance to Pakistan's defence sector, including, western experts allege, to its missile and nuclear labs.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Friday, October 4, 2013
Egyptian military leaders expressed concern over the apparent slowdown in U.S. military shipments of advanced helicopters and other parts needed to keep their warplanes in service, according to retired Army Col. Ken Allard, who recently spent three days in Cairo with his colleagues meeting with the top Egyptian military leaders.
This purported slowdown is said to have hindered military efforts to combat terrorist forces in Egypt's Sinai region and cut off the flow of weapons across the porous Libyan border, according to Allard and others.
Senior Egyptian military leaders "told us there's a problem in getting the AH-64 Apache helicopter" and other replacement parts for their F-16 fighter jets, Allard said during a Tuesday press briefing.
Both of these aircraft have been critical in Egypt's fight to stop Muslim Brotherhood-aligned terrorists who have gathered in Egypt's Sinai region and could be attempting to smuggle weapons across the Libyan border.
The problems are "part of a slowdown" in U.S. weapons shipments since the Egyptian military deposed former President Mohammed Morsi in what Americans have dubbed a "coup," Allard told the Washington Free Beacon.
Egyptians have also noted a stoppage in deliveries of additional F-16 parts, according to retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Rick Francona, who also participated in the trip, which was organized by the Westminster Institute.
These critical F-16 parts were being used to modernize the American-made F-16 planes and make them more efficient.
The Egyptian military is consequently "having to cut back operations in the Sinai" that are meant to prevent terrorist attacks, according to Francona.
"We're in danger of losing a key strategic ally in the Middle East, the linchpin of the Middle East." Allard said. "I heard [Egyptian] generals say, 'Friends do not treat friends this way.'"
It "shows you what we're talking about with the Russian potential," he added.
"They are very upset with the U.S.," said retired Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely, a former deputy commanding general for the U.S. Army Pacific Command. "That we didn't do our homework better, that our State Department didn't do their homework better and sided with the Muslim Brotherhood."
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
It was also nice to see him read Green Eggs and Ham on the Senate Floor (at his daughters' bedtime):
Monday, September 23, 2013
"My work was based on trying to create a more fair and inclusive world," he said in a recent interview. "I have an activist's desire to improve people's lives."
Mr. de Blasio became an ardent supporter of the Nicaraguan revolutionaries. He helped raise funds for the Sandinistas in New York and subscribed to the party's newspaper, Barricada, or Barricade. When he was asked at a meeting in 1990 about his goals for society, he said he was an advocate of "democratic socialism."
In 1987, Mr. de Blasio was hired as a political organizer, soon after he finished graduate school at Columbia, earning $12,000 a year. He worked inside the Quixote Center's Maryland office, converted apartments filled with homegrown squash and peace posters. Hunched over his desk with a phone to his ear — his colleagues likened him to "Big Bird with a beard" — he oversaw efforts to solicit and ship millions of dollars in food, clothing and supplies to Nicaragua. He also proved to be a skilled provocateur, twice being arrested during rallies against United States foreign policy that were held in the Washington area.
In the cramped Lower Manhattan headquarters of the Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York, where he volunteered, Mr. de Blasio learned to cause a stir. He and a ragtag team of peace activists, Democrats, Marxists and anarchists attempted to bring attention to a Central American cause that, after the Sandinistas lost power in a 1990 election, was fading from public view. "The Nicaraguan struggle is our struggle," said a poster designed by the group.
The activists tried everything: brandishing George H. W. Bush masks on subway cars, advertising parties to celebrate the Cuban revolution and hawking subscriptions to the international edition of Barricada. (Mr. de Blasio, who was living in a basement apartment in Astoria, Queens, was one of the first to sign up.)
Despite some debate over whether it should support only humanitarian causes, the Nicaragua Solidarity Network held dances to benefit the Sandinista party. "They gave a new definition to democracy," Mr. de Blasio told The New York Times in 1990 in an article about the wistful reaction of American activists to the defeat of the Sandinistas. "They built a democracy that was striving to be economic and political, that pervaded all levels in society."
At a retreat later that year, members of the network were asked to articulate their visions for society. One suggested a "real peace movement," according to minutes of the meeting. "Rewards for altruism," another said. Mr. de Blasio suggested "democratic socialism."
Mr. de Blasio remained supportive of the Sandinistas, often referred to by their acronym, F.S.L.N., even after they lost power. "People who had shallow party sympathies with the F.S.L.N. pretty much dropped everything when they lost," said Jane Guskin, a fellow activist in the solidarity group. "Bill wasn't like that."
He has remained interested in Latin America — he even honeymooned in Cuba (in violation of a United States travel ban). To this day, he speaks admiringly of the Sandinistas' campaign, noting advances in literacy and health care. "They had a youthful energy and idealism mixed with a human ability and practicality that was really inspirational," he said.
Friday, September 20, 2013
"There is no more time for negotiations. The Iranians have been negotiating for four years. Over the last 18 months, there has been some progress in imposing sanctions that have pressured the Iranian leadership. The sanctions are estimated to have cost the Iranian economy about $100 billion just over the last 18 months. Since the entire scope of the Iranian economy is about $450 billion, this signifies a massive blow. Their economy is on the verge of collapse, but they still keep advancing their nuclear program."
"[Iranian President Hasan] Rouhani has launched a charm offensive on the West, but he plans to charm his way to a nuclear weapon. While he sends letters to [U.S. President Barack] Obama and wishes the Jews a happy new year, the centrifuges continue to spin. Not only has the [nuclear] project not stopped, it is galloping forward."
"If the Iranians continue to advance, they will have nuclear capability within six months. Time has run out and the West, chiefly the U.S., must clarify to the Iranians that they have two options: either abandon their nuclear aspirations and save their economy or continue with the nuclear project and risk a real military attack that will destroy the nuclear project and humiliate them. There is no middle ground."
Steinitz suggests that the solution may ultimately emerge from the Iranian people themselves, who crave a better economic situation. "There is an internal debate within Iran and it should be intensified. The people in Iran have said their piece: If they have to choose between a bomb and saving the economy, they prefer to save the economy. Now an ultimatum must be set, accompanied by a timetable: If you don't honor the Security Council resolution by a certain time, we will attack."
Over the last two months, Steinitz has met with the foreign ministers of three key European countries: Germany, France and Britain. "All the meetings focused on the Iranian issue," he recounts. "If the world fails to maintain a clear, unified front in the face of Iran, they will try to disintegrate the sanctions."
The minister notes that at this point the Iranians have yet to cross the red line set by Netanyahu, but they are constantly trying to erase it. "They have turned the question of how much material they have enriched to 20% irrelevant. They have added so many centrifuges, and even installed second and third generation centrifuges, which are several times more efficient than the old ones. In the past they had to enrich the material from 3.5% to 20%, and that is a process that takes time, and only then from 20% to 90%. Today they can jump directly from 3.5% to 90%, which is fissile, weapons-grade material. The timetable today is much shorter."
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Looks Like the Organizers of the "Million Muslim March" Were a Tad Optimistic in Their Original Projection
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
The Federal Government is Just 3 weeks Away from a Possible Government Shutdown and 5-8 Weeks Away From Completely Running Out of Cash
Congress needs to pass another continuing resolution to fund the government (God forbid they actually pass a budget) and then they need to vote again to raise the debt ceiling. Check out this chart from the Bipartisan Policy Center which shows when the Federal Government will completely run out of cash:
Monday, September 9, 2013
1. The United States should not commit its forces to military action overseas unless the cause is vital to our national interest.
2. If the decision is made to commit our forces to combat abroad, it must be done with the clear intent and support needed to win. It should not be a halfway or tentative commitment, and there must be clearly defined and realistic objectives.
3. Before we commit our troops to combat, there must be reasonable assurance that the cause we are fighting for and the actions we take will have the support of the American people and Congress. (We all felt that the Vietnam War had turned into such a tragedy because military action had been undertaken without sufficient assurances that the American people were behind it.)
4. Even after all these other combat tests are met, our troops should be committed to combat abroad only as a last resort, when no other choice is available. (Ronald Reagan: An American Life, 466)
A second senior official, who has seen the most recent planning, offered this metaphor to describe such a strike: If Assad is eating Cheerios, we're going to take away his spoon and give him a fork. Will that degrade his ability to eat Cheerios? Yes. Will it deter him? Maybe. But he'll still be able to eat Cheerios.
The two officers with current and recent service in the Middle East say the term "degrade" is so vague that it could be used to describe the effect of a single cruise missile strike.