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Faster, Please!

Monthly Archives: March 2011

I was on a radio show today and one of the hosts was trying to put a good face on Obama’s Libyan thing. “Well,” she said, “he was slaughtering all those innocent people. Should we just stand by?”  I said that the Iranians were killing 3 a day — that we know about — for months, and for extras were killing Americans, as they had been for 32 years. We have stood by, as we are standing by as Assad — another sponsor of American killers — slaughters the Syrian people demonstrating for freedom.

The problem with Obama’s Libyan thing is twofold:

First, if it’s right to intervene to save Libyan lives, then why isn’t it right to save Iranian, Syrian, Congolese, Sudanese, North Korean and Chinese lives, as well as millions of others?

Remember, I was the first kid on the block to call for bombing the Libyan air force, several weeks before the Valkyries decided that it was urgent to do something, and convinced a clearly reluctant president to do the Libyan thing.  And I have said that getting rid of Qadaffi is a worthy mission, but not a crucial one. Which brings us to the second part of the problem.

Second — and here we get to the crux of the matter — why is it so important to save Libyans when this president won’t act against tyrants who kill Americans?  It’s disgusting to me, as I’m sure it is to other military parents, spouses, and children, that the president and the secretary of state seem positively proud to tell us that we won’t lift a finger against Assad or Khamenei.  Yet Assad and Khamenei are mass murderers on a scale that dwarfs Qadaffi, and they are also killing AMERICANS.  But we don’t hear about that.

I’m all for saving Libyans, and I’m all for regime change in Tripoli.  But that’s a secondary matter in the strategic scheme of things.  The primary strategic issue is how to win the big war being waged against us, the big war the president either does not see or whose name he dare not utter.  The big war that gives the lie to all his empty politically correct bombast about changing the world with his outstretched hand and shameful apology tours and his obeisance to tyrants from Venezuela to China.

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The Wimp Goes to War

March 22nd, 2011 - 8:12 pm

I was right to worry about what the president might do to demonstrate his virility on the international stage, and the confusion surrounding just about everything having to do with the Libya thing certainly proves that.  But I had underestimated this administration’s misreading of the situation, and they have dragged most of the pundits along with them, to such an extent that it’s nearly impossible to see Libya in context.  That’s not unusual or even surprising.  When Egypt happened, it was all about Egypt.  When Tunisia happened, that was the lone subject for analysis.  And now it’s all Libya, all the time.

But it’s not about Libya.  It’s about the big war in which we are involved.  That war extends from Somalia to the Persian Gulf, from Sudan into Egypt, and thence to Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey, and across North Africa.  It reaches South and Central America, and some of its footsoldiers are undoubtedly on our soil. The tensions and passions involved in that war have turned many of those countries into battlefields, and since we have refused to see the war for what it is, we do not have a clear picture of the fighters, nor even a reliable way to anticipate future events.  And the hell of it is that we have been in a position to benefit enormously from this war, but instead we find that we might “win” in Libya (topple Qadaffi, empower the “rebels,” launch the usual cycle of new constitution, new elections and new government) and utterly lose the day, as enemies even more virulent than the colorful colonel of Tripoli take over.

We have to win the big war.  Decisions about Libya should be subordinate to a serious big war strategy, which in turn should be aimed against our main enemies.  Regime change in Tripoli is a worthy objective, but it’s not a crucial strategic mission.  We should want regime change in Syria and Iran.

There are lots of reasons to criticize Obama for the Libya thing, but the most important is never mentioned:  it’s the wrong battlefield. The battlefields that will determine the outcome of the big war are Tehran and Damascus, and there are ongoing battles on both.  We could make a decisive difference, without bombing anything, without risking any American lives, just by giving political and perhaps some financial and technological support to the Iranian and Syrian rebellions.  The tyrannical regimes are hollow, the people have demonstrated great courage, and if — as I keep hearing — we have gone to war in Libya in support of people who are fighting for their freedom against evil dictators, all the more reason to support the Iranians and Syrians, who are fighting against killers of even more Americans than Qadaffi has killed.

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What Would a Desperate Wimp Do?

March 16th, 2011 - 7:16 pm

At about this stage in the Carter years, I began to worry:  the president was getting a reputation for being a wimp, the economy was going to hell, and his poll numbers were headed steadily south. The main enemy — the Soviet Union — was flexing its muscles, invading Afghanistan in December of 1979. This came amidst the Iranian hostage crisis, which began early the previous month.

We tend to forget that the U.S. military buildup, which ultimately played a big role in the successful outcome of the Cold War, was started by Carter in response to the Soviet move, but by the time it started, “the wimp” could not hope to recover his lost manhood by sending money to the Pentagon.

And so I asked myself, is there a point at which a president realizes that wimps don’t get reelected? And if so, what might he do to shatter that image? For the next two years I worried that Carter might overreact to some international crisis in order to make folks see that he was really a tough guy.

It never happened, to my relief. But I’m starting to have the same worries about Obama. To be sure, he’s got a press that is considerably friendlier than Carter had, but even so we are seeing quite a number of stories about a president who just can’t seem to make decisions, who doesn’t seem to get it when terrible things happen, things that cry out for American leadership. The wimp seems to be mounting a comeback. If he gets tarred with that brush, he might start considering options to recreate his image. There are certainly many opportunities, from Iran to Venezuela.

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Norooz: The Opposition Grows

March 15th, 2011 - 7:28 pm

The Persian (pre-Muslim) New Year, Norooz, has always stuck in the craw of the Islamic Republic, especially the fire festival, featuring people leaping through bonfires to ritually cleanse themselves of the physical and spiritual aches and pains of the winter.  The festival is officially banned, both because of the Zoroastrian heresy it represents and because it brings together large numbers of people, which the regime of course fears, lest it take on political overtones.

So they forbid it, thereby automatically giving political significance to any celebration.

So the enemies of the regime turn out for the celebration, and tonight there was a lot of action all over the country, as you can see from these videos.  These are the early reports, and some of them may turn out to be from past years, but I have received first-hand testimony that jibes with the pictures.  The regime cannot feel good about tonight, and for two reasons:

–First, a lot of people sneered at the ban;

–Second, there were new people in the streets, workers from, for example, southern neighborhoods of Tehran.  The regime had deployed its thugs in the northern and western (middle class) areas of the capital–that is where most of the demonstrators have come from ever since the phony elections of June, 2009–but they were not expecting trouble from the workers.

This is further evidence that the Greens’ base is larger than the regime imagines, and you can be sure the leaders of the Revolutionary Guards, the Basij, and the various intelligence organizations are looking for workable countermeasures.  But the more territory they have to cover, the more difficult it becomes for them to use the “Chinese” method of trying to drown the protesters in a sea of security forces.  They have already had to deploy young boys in the streets, and there are some reports today that female prisoners were armed and in the streets.

It’s tough being the supreme leader of a country that hates you.

What if They Are Already Here?

March 14th, 2011 - 9:21 pm

A very long time ago — back in the last century, when I worked for men like Alexander Haig and Ronald Reagan — the United States government knew of at least three terrorist sleeper cells on our soil.  The most famous of these was  in St. Louis, Missouri, where Zeit Isa, a member of the Abu Nidal organization — one of the most lethal of that time — was quietly running a convenience store.  He was a Palestinian who had gone to Puerto Rico and married a local woman (even though he already had a wife in the old country).  They produced two girls, and one night the older one came home late and her father stabbed her to death as her mother held her down.  The FBI got the whole thing on audio tape.

This led to the trial of 4 members of the group in the mid-nineties, which exposed the Abu Nidal sleeper network to public view.  Many of the network, realizing that it had been penetrated by the FBI, left the United States, but Isa and his wife spent the rest of their lives in a federal prison.

You’d have to think that if there were three sleeper cells in America in the eighties, there must be even more now, and I’m sure that’s correct. Dave Gaubatz, who’s spent years studying this nasty business, says so quite categorically, and, like other counterterrorist experts, sounds surprised none of the terror underground has emerged to kill Americans.

The government doesn’t ever want to talk about such things, but every so often we get to look through a dark windowpane, as for example the very disturbing story earlier this year about an Iranian book that turned up in the Arizona desert.  It was a hymn to martyrs — suicide killers.  If you read the whole thing, you’ll probably break into a sweat.  Try this:

“At this time, DHS does not have any credible information on terrorist groups operating along the Southwest border,” a Department of Homeland Security official said in a statement.”  But we’re not talking about groups operating along the border;  we’re talking about terrorists inside the United States.  Those intended-to-be-reassuring words from DHS carefully beg the central question.  And the more you read, the worse it gets:

(FBI Director Robert) Mueller testified before the House Appropriations Committee in March 2005 that “there are individuals from countries with known Al Qaeda connections who are changing their Islamic surnames to Hispanic-sounding names and obtaining false Hispanic identities, learning to speak Spanish and pretending to be Hispanic.”

Just last year, the Department of Homeland Security had in custody thousands of detainees from Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. U.S. Border Patrol statistics indicate that there were 108,025 OTMs (“Other Than Mexicans”) detained in 2006, compared to 165,178 in 2005 and 44,614 in 2004.

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Iran Attacks

March 11th, 2011 - 9:00 am

The Iranian regime is attacking on all fronts, thrilled at the downfall of the hated Mubarak, and buoyed by the paralysis of the West.  The failure to support democratic revolutions in the Middle East has convinced the mullahs in Tehran that they have no effective opposition, and they are trying to run up the score as fast as they can, on both regional and domestic playing fields.

Last Tuesday, lots of would-be demonstrators turned out in the streets of  many Iranian cities, only to find themselves outnumbered by security thugs, both the usual collection of Revolutionary Guards, Basiji, plaincothesmen and women,  Lebanese Hezbollah (increasingly an adjunct of the Quds Force) and the new ranks of very young boys from religious schools who are paid the significant amount of $50 for beating up anyone who walks down the street.  This is the Chinese method:  overwhelm your opponents, arrest lots of people, prevent demonstrators from gathering in significant numbers by striking first in the streets that lead to the big squares, jam communications so that the demonstrators don’t know which streets are safe, and block automobile traffic at all crucial intersections.  And if some foreign journalist dares to report the truth, just throw him out.

It worked well on Tuesday, International Women’s Day, and the regime rubbed it in by focusing their attacks and arrests on women, who hold a special terror for the misogynists who rule the Islamic Republic.

But while these tactics prevent the Iranian equivalent of Tahrir Square, they have failed to defeat the pro-democracy Green Movement, and the regime was forced to take one step backward in its assault on Green leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who were first put in isolation in their homes and then, a couple of weeks ago, dragged off to interrogation in some of the regime’s secure villas on the outskirts of Tehran.  It is said, by people close to Mousavi, that the interrogators pushed hard for a confession of the Greens’ foreign support, but got none (Mousavi would have to invent it, since there is no foreign support, to the shame of the so-called West).  Instead they got a defiant statement:  “You have two choices,” he reportedly said, “you can hang me or shoot me.  You have no other option from your standpoint.”

They did neither.  Indeed, while the street fights were going on, they quietly returned Mousavi and his firebrand wife, Zahra Rahnavard–in my opinion the most interesting Green leader–to their home.  And late Thursday, the lights in the Karroubis’ home were turned on for the first time since they were kidnapped.  For the moment, the regime has adopted the “Burmese solution”:  the leaders are not going to be killed, the regime has abandoned hope of an effective show trial or even confession under torture, and the Mousavis and Karroubis will be cut off from the world in solitary confinement in their own homes.  For a useful reminder of how often this method has been used in tyrannical regimes, have a look at this short review from RFE/RL.

This suggests that the Greens will have to alter their strategy, as Mousavi had argued before the latest round of demonstrations.  Committed as he is to a non-violent campaign, Mousavi envisaged a wide range of actions against the regime in order to produce its implosion.  He did not believe that there was going to be an Iranian replay of the storming of the Bastille or the Winter Palace, and while he favored a continuation of demonstrations, he was working to expand the Greens’ activities.  He had long said that the Green Movement had to enlist workers in its ranks, and he had been quite successful, as you can see by the wave of strikes (and also here) (and here)  (and here, reporting on an anti-Ahmadinejad demonstration, with chants and banners of “we workers are hungry”) to which I previously called your attention.  Workers are increasingly fed up with a regime that has condemned half the urban population of the country to pauperism below the poverty line.  We can expect more of these, especially if Western workers’ organizations raise money for strike funds for their Iranian brothers and sisters, as they did for Soviet bloc unions in the decisive phase of the Cold War.

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The View from Mousavi’s Daughters

March 3rd, 2011 - 12:50 pm

Green leader Mir Hossein Mousavi’s daughters issued an elegant statement today, and I am simply posting it here without elaboration.  As they say, they have spoken for themselves.

To our kind friends and companions,

We are concerned these days. We worry, like any other child suddenly deprived of all communication with their parents and left in the dark regarding their condition and well being.  It is clear to all that our loved ones are held hostage by individuals who feel hatred and vengeance towards them, purely because of their ideals. We are concerned when newspapers insist that our parents are not in prison, nor are they under house arrest.  We have even read in the news that they are being escorted and that we, their children are free to visit with them. Unfortunately, however, this has not been the case. We have not seen our parents, nor have we heard their voices.  The contradictory reports [by state owned media outlets] only add to our ever increasing concerns.

Following a flood of false reports and in order to put an end to the rumors and clarify the facts [something that is rare these days], we once again attempted to visit with my father at his residence on Thursday night. Upon our arrival, while peering through the iron gates behind which our parents’ residence is now located, we inquired whether our parents were still there and if so, requested to meet with them.  The security agents as: “Who has given you permission?” to which we responded “Keyhan newspaper, Tehran’s Prosecutor, and the Exterior Minister. We were under the false impression that some of these state owned media outlets were reliable. We believed them and are here to see our parents in order to alleviate our concerns.”

The response to our question was once again negative. We were told: “No you may not visit with them. The news is false. Those who published the news have erred. Go to the Revolutionary Court! Go see the judge!”

Our parents are not criminals… they have only disappeared. We will see a judge some day. God will be our judge and we will ask God to render his verdict.

As the children of parents who have been held hostage for more than two weeks and have virtually disappeared, we are concerned.  We will nevertheless wait as God himself so eloquently stated: “And keep yourself patient [by being] with those who call upon their Lord in the morning and the evening, seeking His countenance [Holy Quran: Surat Al-Kahf: 28]. We will continue to wait like our two disappeared loved ones who have remained patient and steadfast despite the misery they have been forced to endure. We will continue to wait like our two beloved who have called upon God to protect them, for we are certain that they too are patiently waiting.

We will remain their companions on this difficult journey. We write to you about bitter days during which we have had no news of our parents. We write to you about their bizarre disappearance, their house arrest, their detention and so much more.  We write to you because you have always been our trusted companions. It was the strength, compassion, and perseverance of our people that allowed our parents to give their heart and soul to our nation in June of 2009. For even then they were fully aware that they would stand firm on the promise they had made to God and with the people of their nation.

If we speak of our sorrow we do so amongst friends and confidants. Throughout this ordeal we never heard about their pain, the bitterness, the difficulties and injustices they have had to endure.  We are reminded of the night of June 12th, after the repeated attacks when we asked our father worried: “What will happen tomorrow?” With the same calm, dignity and strength he is now loved for he replied: “What is more important than results is holding our head up high in the face of God, our nation and history.” Tomorrow arrived and the days that followed only became more difficult to endure. Though they have endured endless suffering, defamation and slander,  like you they have remained steadfast and proud in the eyes of God, our nation and history.  This is our only hope, our only wish….

The Iranian Civil War

March 2nd, 2011 - 4:04 pm

According to the Daily Beast, yesterday’s demonstrations against the Iranian regime were smaller than those on February 14th, but in fact they were both larger and more aggressive.  The chants of “Death to the dictator” are now quite specific:  “Death to Khamenei.”  They can be heard at night in every Iranian city, and posters of the supreme leader are now burned in the streets during the fighting — for fighting it is.

Perhaps we will someday see photos from Google Earth, but, lacking that, we have to go on eyewitnesses, with all the subjective limitations of such evidence, some videos, and what we know about the regime’s behavior, which is a far more reliable guide.  There were 617 arrests around the country — I believe that is the number provided to Khamenei and Ahmadinejad earlier today — and 270 people were seriously wounded, requiring medical attention (one of the uglier aspects of this regime is its use of ambulances as paddy wagons and mobile punishment centers;  protesters are thrown in and then beaten), and there are two women in coma who will most likely not survive.

The regime armed its “security forces” with all manner of weaponry, from sawed-off mafia-style shotguns to electric batons, tear gas, pepper spray and chains.  Armored personnel carriers were deployed, and helicopters were seen overhead at the peak of the fighting.  So concerned were the tyrants that they brought in outside forces against the Iranian dissidents:  Lebanese Hezbollah fighters (who deployed around Khamenei’s home) and, for the first time that I know of, young boys (15 years old and younger, down to 10-11) from mostly rural religious schools, who had been told they would be fighting infidels, and thus any level of violence was justified by divine command.  In addition, there were earthly rewards:  $50 dollars each.  If you look at #iranelection on Twitter you’ll find links to accounts of these young hoodlums, as well as some personal accounts of their savagery.

They are in training for future jihads.

In short, the regime went all-in and could not intimidate the people.  If anything, the fighting was tougher than in the past, and both sides are sure there is more to come.

Demonstrators took to the streets in the major cities, including Tehran, Isfahan, Tabriz, Shiraz, Ahwaz, Rashd, Kermanshah and others.  They were not only calling for Khamenei’s death but also for the immediate release of Mousavi and Karroubi, the two Green leaders who, along with their wives,  were  snatched from their homes last Thursday night.  The four have been moved from one “secure location” to another virtually every day.

The next round is scheduled for Tuesday the 8th.

Meanwhile, the regime is doing its best to create the Persian equivalent of the Hermit Kingdom.  They want to isolate the Iranian people from the outside world, and to that end they are striving to block or filter the social media, shut down international email, and jam foreign satellite broadcasts (or at least destroy the many millions of satellite dishes).  They hope, in this way, to become the only source of information and doctrine, and the campaign runs parallel to the intrusion of religious instructors and censors at all levels of public education, the rewriting of the history books to eliminate references to the glories of pre-Muslim Persia, and the vicious purge of the country’s leading film makers and artists.

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