Archive for November, 2006


November 30, 2006

UK News

The two BA planes at Heathrow
The two BA planes at Heathrow

Spy Radiation Fears Grow

Updated: 15:32, Thursday November 30, 2006

Traces of radiation have been detected at 12 locations during a probe into the death of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko.

Home Secretary John Reid revealed 24 unnamed locations have been or are currently being monitored by experts.

Low levels of radiation have already been found on two British Airways planes connected to the case and a third is being held in Moscow until it is safe to return.

Mr Reid said a fourth plane which flew into Heathrow from Moscow this morning had been looked at.

The Russian Boeing 737, which is leased by Transaero, was monitored by scientists and later given the all clear.

However, Mr Reid said a fifth plane – another Russian aircraft – is also of interest to the inquiry.

Mr Litvinenko was poisoned with radioactive material
Mr Litvinenko was poisoned with radioactive material

BA had warned an estimated 33,000 passengers and 3,000 staff when “low levels of radioactive traces” were found on two of its aircraft at Heathrow which had flown between London and Moscow.

A spokesman said they were being examined because “individuals involved in the Litvinenko case” had travelled on them.

Some 2,500 passengers have since contacted a BA helpline since the detection of radiation was made public.

Meanwhile, Mr Reid said some 1,700 calls has been made to NHS direct since the radiation scare came to light and 69 people have been referred to the Health Protection Agency as a precaution.

Of the 29 people who have so far been tested, none have returned results of concern to medics. A further 18 have been referred to specialist clinics.

Two planes have been grounded at Heathrow
Two planes have been grounded at Heathrow

Mr Litvinenko – an ex-KGB man and fierce critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin – died last week of radiation poisoning after being exposed to polonium 210.

An inquest into his death has been opened at St Pancras Coroner’s Court, London and adjourned so police can continue their investigation.

After the brief hearing, the Russian’s friend Alexander Goldfarb said: “We still believe that this was a murder perpetrated by agents of the Russian intelligence service.

“I strongly suspect that the origin of this material is Moscow because the police are looking at the planes flying between London and Moscow.”

Mr Litvinenko – whose family have been tested for radiation and cleared – accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of being behind his poisoning.

The Kremlin has denied any responsibility but the new find puts the focus of the investigation firmly back in Moscow.


November 29, 2006

Muslim Brotherhood on rise to power in Egypt
By Associated Press  November 28, 2006
A year after winning nearly one-fifth of the seats in Egypt’s parliament, the Muslim Brotherhood is asserting itself as the main challenger to President Hosni Mubarak’s autocratic regime in ways both big and small, overshadowing secular reform groups.

The nation’s largest Islamic opposition still has very limited power here, most experts agree. Nevertheless, it is on the rise — using its new weight in parliament to issue challenges to Mubarak’s regime, while also trying to increase its influence in powerful trade unions.

Meanwhile, the group continues to work behind the scenes to rebuild its ranks, perhaps hoping for a more-opportune moment to make bigger public moves.

The renewed vigor of the nearly 80-year-old group, which was officially banned in 1954, dates to last year’s parliamentary elections, in which Brotherhood candidates — who ran as independents — won an unprecedented 88 seats in the 454-member parliament.

Abdel Monaem Aboul Fatouh, a senior Brotherhood leader, said the political gains have come despite frequent government crackdowns such as arrests of its members, and a general slowing in the pace of democratic reform here.

Egypt canceled local elections after the parliament balloting, and has generally made few additional democratic reforms in recent months. The United States, which had been pressuring Egypt, has publicly backed off a bit at a time when the region is tense because of the summer Hezbollah war and chaos in Iraq.

“It was our determination and our will that put us in the parliament and not the American pressure (for democratic reform) or the (Mubarak) regime’s cosmetic changes,” Aboul Fatouh said.

In recent weeks, the Brotherhood fought a fierce battle to win a significant chunk of seats in powerful trade unions, which include millions of workers in the enormous state-run industries, plus workers in the huge government bureaucracy.

To win support from workers, it reversed its traditional support for free-market policies to come out strongly in support of the state sector. That won it support against Mubarak-allied candidates, because the government wants to move toward privatization and other economic reforms.

The Brotherhood already controls some powerful unions, such as the lawyers and the doctors syndicates, but its power remains limited: When it tried to also field candidates in recent elections for student unions, social clubs and businessmen’s groups, the authorities kept its candidates away.

In another sign of its growing influence, however, the Brotherhood last week forced parliament to debate a vote of no-confidence in the minister of culture, a long-time Mubarak confidante, after the minister said that wearing the hijab, or full Muslim headscarf, was a “step backward” for Egyptian women.

The minister remains in office but secular intellectuals immediately accused the group of using an off-the-cuff remark to bolster its political agenda.

“They (the Brotherhood) are trying to Islamize the society from below to reshape it the way they want,” said Nabil Abdel Fatah, an expert at the Al Ahram Center for Strategic Studies.

“Don’t believe the Brotherhood when they say they do not want to take over the country. That is only a pretense,” wrote the government weekly Rose El Youssef in a banner headline.

Despite such moves, the Brotherhood appears to be moving much more slowly — if at all — to expand its influence into more-sensitive parts of Egypt’s society, such as the army and security forces.

Both are considered backbones of Mubarak’s regime and key to ensuring stability.

Both Brotherhood leaders and government officials refuse to discuss publicly any issues related to the army or security forces. But experts say the Brotherhood would hesitate to provoke on the issue — the country’s most sensitive. Politics are banned in the armed forces.

“The Brothers cannot even contemplate coming closer to the army,” said Hossam Tamam, a highly respected expert on the movement. “It is a glaring red line.”

Tamam said the group instead was using its rising political clout to focus on rebuilding its organizations — after severe crackdowns in the 1980s and 1990s — and to train a new generation of leaders.

Meanwhile, speculation remains rife that the 78-year-old Mubarak is preparing to clear the way for his highly ambitious son, Gamal, 42, to succeed him after his fifth term ends in 2011 — despite Mubarak’s denials.

That possibility, though, has led many to believe that the Brotherhood is just biding its time until then, and the period of uncertainty during any such transfer of power.

“They are not in a hurry, they are pragmatic,” said Tamam. “They can wait a little more.”

Where Is G-D ???

November 27, 2006

WND Exclusive

New U.S. dollar coins hide ‘In God We Trust’
On gold-colored presidential pieces, national motto relegated to thin edge

Posted: November 27, 2006
1:52 a.m. Eastern

© 2006

New dollar coins place ‘In God We Trust’ along thin edge instead of front or back

WASHINGTON – “In God We Trust,” the official national motto since 1956 and a familiar sight on U.S. coins and currency, will be hard to find on the new presidential dollar coins scheduled for release to the public Feb. 15, 2007.

The new gold-colored dollar pieces, featuring images of U.S. presidents, will move the inscription from the face of the coin to the thin edge, along with the year and the previous national motto, “E Pluribus Unum,” Latin for “Out of Many, One.”

The official reason for the design change? To allow space for larger portraits of the presidents on the face and the Statue of Liberty on the reverse, according to the Mint.

The new coins will be the same size as the 1979 Susan B. Anthony and the 2000-2002 Sacajawea.

For the first time the coin will also say “$1” instead of “One Dollar.”

Images of George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison are scheduled to appear on the coins in 2007, with a different president appearing every three months.

The series will honor four different presidents per year, in the order they served in office. Each president will appear on only one coin, except for Grover Cleveland, who will be on two because he was the only president to serve non-consecutive terms. To be depicted on a coin, a president must have been dead for at least two years.

“In God We Trust” became the national motto by an act of Congress in 1956 and officially superseded “E Pluribus Unum.”

The most common place where the motto is observed in daily life is on U.S. currency and coinage. The first United States coin to bear this national motto was the 1864 two-cent piece. It wasn’t until 1957 that the motto was permanently adopted for use on U.S. money.

November 25, 2006

Frequently asked questions about the Libertarian Party

What is a Libertarian?

Libertarians believe that you have the right to live your life as you wish, without the government interfering — as long as you don’t violate the rights of others. Politically, this means Libertarians favor rolling back the size and cost of government, and eliminating laws that stifle the economy and control people’s personal choices.

Are Libertarians liberal or conservative?

Libertarians are neither. Unlike liberals or conservatives, Libertarians advocate a high degree of both personal and economic liberty. For example, Libertarians agree with conservatives about freedom in economic matters, so we’re in favor of lowering taxes, slashing bureaucratic regulation of business, and charitable — rather than government — welfare. But Libertarians also agree with liberals on personal tolerance, so we’re in favor of people’s right to choose their own personal habits and lifestyles.

In a sense, Libertarians “borrow” from both sides to come up with a logical and consistent whole — but without the exceptions and broken promises of Republican and Democratic politicians. That’s why we call ourselves the Party of Principle.

How large is the Libertarian Party?

By almost every objective measure, the Libertarian Party is the third-largest political party in America. We’re active in all 50 states and have more than 200,000 registered voters, which is more than all other third parties combined.

What kind of offices do Libertarians hold?

Around the USA there are Libertarian mayors, county executives, county council members and even a Libertarian sheriff! Libertarians also serve on school boards and in hundreds of local offices. In 2004 our candidates for U.S. earned over 1 million votes for the third time in a row, which is a feat no other third party has achieved.

These elected Libertarians are already hard at work saving you money and protecting your civil liberties. In fact, Libertarians saved Americans over $2.2 billion in 2004 alone.

What kind of people join the Libertarian Party?

People like you. People who used to be Republicans, Democrats, and independents – from all walks of life. They joined us because they realize that we’re the only political party working for their personal and economic liberty.

Another question we sometimes hear: Is political extremist Lyndon LaRouche in the Libertarian Party? No. LaRouche has never been associated in any way with us. He runs for office as a Democrat.

How can I join the party?

It is free to join the Libertarian Party. But if you donate $25, you receive a subscription to our monthly newspaper LP News and help finance our work to spread the word about the Libertarian Party. With your help, we can keep the media informed; run Internet, radio, and magazine advertisements; send information to more Americans; support Libertarian candidates in winnable races; promote pro-freedom legislation at the federal and state level; provide resources to our state organizations; and more.

Ask yourself: Is government too big or too small? Are taxes too high or too low? Does the government regulate my business too much or too little? Does the government control my personal life too much or not enough? If you agree, like most Americans, that government is too large, too expensive, and meddles too much, the Libertarian Party is for you!

Now it’s time to take action. Join the Libertarian Party today – and become part of the new choice in American politics!


November 23, 2006

British, U.S. Militaries Dangerously Overstretched

Evidence is mounting that military overstretch is starting to leave Western combat units in Iraq dangerously vulnerable. According to a recent British Ministry of Defense document, the British Army is facing “critical weaknesses” so endemic that it is “almost impossible” for it to complete its duty in Iraq and Afghanistan (Independent, October 29).

In fact, 40 percent of Britain’s divisions report “serious or critical” problems relating to manpower shortages and are having serious problems attaining the state of “immediate readiness” for war. Units displaying critical weaknesses would find it “almost impossible” to meet pressing commitments in the field while units with serious weaknesses would find it “difficult but not impossible,” according to the Ministry of Defense (ibid.).

There are such shortages in certain key military professions that leaves of absences are being cut and extended tours are becoming commonplace. According to a recent National Audit Office report, the British military currently has a shortfall of 5,000 personnel. That may not sound like much, but when you consider that the UK only has 7,000 troops in Iraq and 5,000 in Afghanistan, it illustrates how debilitating the shortfall really is (Agence France Presse, November 3).

America too appears to be facing military overstretch. Recent warnings have come from U.S. Gen. Peter Schoomaker, who refused to submit a budget plan for 2008, arguing that the military could not continue operations in Iraq and its other missions without additional funds. General Schoomaker warned that the Iraq war has put a brutal strain on regular military budgets, which is languishing after Congress and the White House slashed several Army spending requests over the past months. General Schoomaker is regarded as an ally of the Pentagon administration, so his vocal protest underscores the seriousness of the funding shortfall (Guardian, September 26).

What’s more, as wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to wear on, U.S. military recruitment numbers continue to drop. In order to sustain operations, like British troops, American troops too have been held beyond their contracted terms.

“It’s quite a debacle,” says military analyst Loren Thompson, who represents the Lexington Institute think tank. “Virtually everyone in the Army feels as though their needs have been shortchanged.”

There couldn’t be a worse time for America and Britain to face crunches on their military capabilities. Trends indicate an escalation of dangers that will require robust intervention. 

British Troops Denied ARMOUR

November 21, 2006

Army fury as chief in Afghanistan is told he won’t get vital armour

UK Mail On Sunday | November 19, 2006

The senior Army officer who will command British troops in Afghanistan next year is embroiled in a furious row with the Ministry of Defence after learning he will be denied vital armour to protect his men.

Brigadier John Lorimer, who will take charge of more than 5,000 troops in the spring, issued a ‘shopping list’ of requirements after a week-long recce in volatile Helmand province, the stronghold of Taliban fighters.

The tough and experienced Parachute Regiment officer asked for up to 12 Challenger 2 tanks, 14 Warrior armoured vehicles and four AS90 artillery guns – plus an extra 600-strong battalion of troops.

But he has been told by senior MoD officials that his requests will be denied.

A source close to 43-year-old Brigadier Lorimer, who commands 12 Mechanised Brigade, said: “He has been told that there is little likelihood of him getting his tanks. He is extremely unhappy about this. He is disappointed and frustrated.”

The MoD snub comes just six weeks after Tony Blair promised on TV: “If the commanders on the ground want more equipment, armoured vehicles for example, more helicopters, that will be provided. Whatever package they want, we will do.”

A senior Army source told The Mail on Sunday last night: “The denial of John Lorimer’s operational requirements shows how empty Blair’s words were.

“The Taliban are certain to launch a major offensive in Helmand next spring and the Brigadier wanted the extra armour to protect his men. No chance, as his requests were rejected in their entirety.

“Officers in 12 Mech Brigade see this as as a dereliction of duty by Defence Ministers. Lorimer still hasn’t been given an explanation. One can only assume it’s to do with lack of availability, equipment shortages and cost-saving.”

Last night Shadow Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox said: “This insult to the man taking over as commander of our troops in Afghanistan proves that no one, including those on the front line, can take seriously a word that Tony Blair says.

“He is not trusted by anyone and he should go now. He promises everything and gives nothing. His words are not worth the breath he uses to say them.”

The row is yet another example of Labour’s volatile relationship with Armed Forces top brass. Last month Mr Blair was left reeling after General Sir Richard Dannatt, Chief of the General Staff, said British troops should come home from Iraq within two years and warned that the Army could ‘break’ if British soldiers were kept there too long.

Brigadier Lorimer came to prominence as the commander of British troops in Basra in September last year, when he ordered 40 SAS men to storm an Iraqi police station where two undercover Special Boat Service (SBS) troopers were being held captive by armed militia.

British Warriors bulldozed their way in to rescue the SBS pair. Three soldiers had to jump clear from a Warrior with their clothes on fire after being petrol-bombed by insurgents.

The deployment of 12 Mechanised Brigade in Afghanistan will last six months. The lead infantry element will be the 1st Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment, backed by troops from 19 Field Regiment Royal Artillery, 26 Engineer Regiment, two squadrons of Light Dragoons and men from the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards.

Yesterday the MoD took the unusual step of issuing a statement on behalf of Brigadier Lorimer. It said: “Suggestions that I am angry or frustrated are simply not true. I have conducted my reconnaissance and made recommendations. I am perfectly happy that those are being considered in the normal way and I am closely involved in that process.”

An MoD spokesman said: “No decisions about the force package for Afghanistan in 2007 have been taken and no requests have been turned down.”


November 20, 2006

Europeans Want to Remove the Islamic Veil

By Ron Fraser
Western society is beginning to show a degree of backbone in responding to pan-Islamism attacking its traditions and culture.

It may be that some of our political and religious leaders have taken courage from Pope Benedict xvi’s example. Perhaps they admired his flinging down the gauntlet to encroaching Islam in his now infamous Regensburg speech of September 12. In that cleverly constructed thesis on the subject of faith and reason, the pope inferred that no good thing had come out of the religion created by Muhammad. It galvanized a hateful reaction from many quarters within extremist Islam, including al Qaeda.

No sooner had the furor over Benedict’s inflammatory comments on Islam died down than a senior British politician touched off another round of Islamic vitriol. “[British] Cabinet Minister Jack Straw has said he would prefer Muslim women not to wear veils which cover the face. The Commons leader said he did not want to be ‘prescriptive’ but he believed that covering people’s faces could make community relations more difficult” (bbc News, October 6).

Straw couched his point in typical British understatement. The fact is that the very refusal by thousands of Islamists to conform to the cultural norms of the societies to which they have migrated, in order to exploit the very freedoms that their countries of origin deny them, has imposed terribly disruptive effects on “community relations” within countries to which they have emigrated. In a further sign that the British establishment has had enough of beating around the bush on the imposition of foreign cultures upon the nation’s heritage, a Muslim lawyer who refused to remove her veil while representing a client in court in central England was removed from the case.

Now the debate is extending deeper into the arena of religion.

John Sentamu, archbishop of York (the Church of England’s second-highest office), said in an interview with Britain’s Daily Mail that Muslim women shouldn’t expect the public to accept them wearing veils because the veils did not “conform to norms of decency.” “I think the thing is in British society you can wear what you want, but you can’t expect British society to be reconfigured around you,” he said. “No minority can expect to impose this on the public or civic life.”

The following day the Vatican stepped up the debate. Cardinal Renato Martino, the Italian prelate heading the Vatican’s office on issues concerning migrants, itinerant workers and refugees, confronted the cultural and religious clash that Muslim immigrants have introduced into the countries of their adoption during a news conference to present Pope Benedict xvi’s annual message on migrant issues. In answer to a question put to him on whether Muslim immigrant women should wear veils, Martino stated that countries “must require that guests who arrive from a different culture must respect the traditions, the symbols, the culture, the religion of the countries they go to. … This seems to me to be elementary. It is quite right that [local] authorities insist on this.”

That evening, the Vatican further ratcheted up the debate, broadcasting a statement declaring that “the question of the veil for Islamic women” ought to be “considered in the context of respect for the laws of the countries which welcome them.”

There is no doubting that this crusade of words is heating up. The pope has a deliberate agenda to challenge pan-Islamism on its massive incursion into European society.

Associated Press reported, “Martino also pushed the Vatican’s campaign for Christians’ right to worship around the world. He lamented that some … countries do not allow immigrants from Christian countries to easily profess their faith. The pope has been lobbying for Christians’ right to worship openly in countries such as Saudi Arabia, which forbids Christians from practicing their religion” (November 14).

The pope is in a win-win situation in this debate. It is working powerfully to the Vatican’s advantage in Rome’s evangelizing drive to wrest Europe back from the centuries of secularism that has dominated its society since the Age of Enlightenment. The rising fear of Islamic incursion on the Continent is steadily driving people back to mother Rome in a religious counter-offensive against pan-Islamism. History and biblical prophecy indicate that this reaction will heat up into a great clash of civilizations.

Already there are signs of European reaction manifesting itself in legal changes designed to stem the tide of Islam. In France, a ban on Muslim headscarves and other “conspicuous” religious symbols at state schools was introduced in 2004. The Dutch government backed a proposal by the country’s immigration minister to ban Muslim women from wearing the burqa publicly. The Dutch cabinet declared that burqas disturb public order, citizens and safety. In Belgium, the city of Maaseik has banned the niqab, which covers the whole face except for the eyes.

But it is in Italy, home to the Vatican State, that measures designed to begin limiting the impact of Islamic culture on society are most advanced. Local politicians in the north of Italy resurrected old laws against the wearing of masks to ban women from wearing the all-over burqa. The Italian parliament has approved anti-terrorist laws which make concealing one’s face in public—including by wearing the burqa—an offense. The Italian government has now said it will also draft new legislation to ban the Islamic veil that covers the face.

It is patently clear that the European Union is feeling the cultural and religious push from its south. Added to this is the constant fear of Islamic terrorism and the barraging rants from the Islamic zealot President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, his latest threat being that the EU is within the range of his increasing arsenal of weapons, destined soon to go nuclear.

This present cultural clash, seemingly long overdue for a public reaction from the European establishment, has finally broken through the politically correct barriers. The verbal gloves are off. It remains to be seen how long it will take this present war of words to spark into a war of a much more heated nature! 


November 16, 2006

22:42 , 11.12.06
Religious Extremism

‘Taking steps well beyond the rest of Islam.’ Ahmadinejad Photo: AP

Awaiting the Iranian messiah

A glimpse into the apocalyptic ideology gripping the Iranian government
Yaakov Lappin

He challenges the largest superpower on earth, threatens a regional superpower with annihilation, and mocks international efforts to keep tabs on his nuclear program. Where does the unswerving confidence of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad come from?

To whom did Ahmadinejad refer to when he told the United Nations in September: “I emphatically declare that today’s world, more than ever before, longs for? the perfect righteous human being and real savior who has been promised to all peoples and who will establish justice, peace and brotherhood on the planet. Almighty God? make us among his followers and among those who strive for his return and his cause. ”

According to Shiite Islam, the twelfth Imam, named Mahdi, is the awaited messiah who will establish the rule of Islam around the world – following a massive war during which Islam’s enemies are expected to be decimated. Iran’s official state websites are filled with information about the Islamic Republic’s messiah.

“Imam Mahdi was unseen from the eyes of common people and nobody could see him except special group of Shiites… After the martyrdom of his father he was appointed as the next Imam. Then he was hidden by God’s command and he was just observable by the special deputies of his own,” the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting website declares.

‘One strike to end infidels’

Iran’s state broadcasting website also contains a special hadith (tradition) prayer, to be recited on the birthday of the Mahdi: “Today is Friday, a day you are expected to come; the faithful will be free of cares and troubles when you shall arrive, and with one strike shall put an end to the intrigues of the infidels.”

Speaking to Ynetnews, Professor Raymond Tanter, one of the authors of the forthcoming book ‘What Makes Iran Tick,’ which explores the Shiite Islamist ideology of Iran, said there was no questioning the belief of Iran’s leaders in the coming of the Mahdi.

Tanter, President of the Iran Policy Committee , a Washington-based organization comprised of former officials from the White House, State Department, Pentagon, and intelligence services, said: “The Iranian leadership, particularly Ahmadinejad, welcome the apocalyptic vision of the return of the hidden Imam. And all the strains of Islam believe in the eventual return of the Mahdi, also known as the twelfth Imam, or the Shiite messiah. After a period of great destruction, once the forces of evil are defeated, the so-called twelfth Imam is supposed to reign over a period of great prosperity.”

“When Ahmadinejad was mayor of Tehran, he set up an urban renewal program that would make it easier to facilitate the Mahdi’s return. He created passageways and roadways that would allow the Mahdi to return triumphantly. He operationalized this concept,” Tanter added. The Iranian president did not view himself as the Shiite messiah though, according to Tanter.

‘Man of a thousand bullets’

“Ahmadinejad was called the man of a thousand bullets. Because he would give the last bullet for someone who has been tortured, and primarily executed by firing squad. Ahmadinejad’s role was to put the last bullet in, in case the person was still squirming. After a thousand people had been killed, supposedly he said, he had it with that particular job,” Tanter said.

Tanter noted Ahmadinejad’s comments after a speech to the UN General Assembly in 2005, which he also concluded with a call for the Mahdi to return. After the speech, Ahmadinejad said that “the hand of God had held all of them” in a hypnotized-like state, and had “opened their eyes and ears.”

“Before the return of the Mahdi, there must be a suitable representative to govern in the Mahdi’s place,” Tanter explained.

“They are ruling until the Mahdi comes. That is the justification for Khamenei to rule,” he added.

Tanter said that “most of the ayatollahs in Iran don’t buy this, that you can facilitate the return of the messiah,” adding that Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah probably “doesn’t take it that seriously.”

“Ahmadinejad is taking steps well beyond the rest of Islam,” he said.

Messianic nuclear weapons

“There is a link between Iran’s nuclear weapons program on one hand, and its ideology of trying to facilitate a cataclysmic event to hasten the return of the Mahdi. As a result, no conceivable positive or negative incentives will influence the leadership of the clerics and the revolutionary guards from acquiring nuclear weapons. They need nuclear weapons in order to facilitate the ideological precepts of the return of the Mahdi,” said Tanter.

“The process of diplomacy as far as Ahmadinejad and Khamenei are concerned is to prevent sanctions that would constrain the nuclear weapons progress, and to that extent Iran has done well to drag out this process,” he added.

Citing realist arguments that Iran needs nuclear weapons “to deter neighbors in a tough neighborhood,” Tanter said such views were misguided. “These nuclear weapons are tied to the return of the Mahdi, and no one says this,” he says.

An excerpt from ‘What Makes Iran Tick’ left no doubts over the authors view of Iran’s intentions: “Just as it is in the nature of the scorpion to sting, so it is in the nature of the ayatollahs ruling Iran to establish an Islamic empire and destroy Israel.”

It continued: “Toward these ends, the regime pursues nuclear weapons, subverts Iraq, and supplies money and arms to Islamist terrorist groups like Hizbullah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad? The deliberate initiation of war with Israel in July 2006 by Hizbullah, most probably at the direction of the Iranian regime, confirmed the worst fears about Ahmadinejad? a nuclear-armed Iran the single greatest security threat to the international community in general, and to the United States and Israel in particular.”


November 14, 2006

Has America Waged Its Last War?

Rumsfeld is gone; the Democrats are promising a retreat. Once the U.S. is out of Iraq, will it ever resort to solving global problems through military might again?

Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid were giddy like lottery winners. As last week’s election night results tipped the balance of power in both chambers of United States Congress in favor of the Democrats, these two looked to become the next speaker of the House and Senate majority leader. Throngs of supporters cheered; their faces glowed. Confetti fell; their hearts soared.

They weren’t the only ones celebrating. Halfway around the world, Iran’s leaders were also wreathed in smiles. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the nation’s supreme spiritual head, called the election result “an obvious victory for the Iranian nation.” He viewed it as “the defeat of Bush’s hawkish policies in the world,” Iran’s student news agency isna reported. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the election showed “that the majority of American people are dissatisfied and are fed up with the policies of the American administration.”

Amazing: Not only were the Democrats and mullahs celebrating the same thing, they were celebrating for the same reasons. Expectations are high in both circles that an era of perceived American belligerence and warmongering is over.

What that means for the future, however, is where the two camps differ. Democrats believe this will open the door to a golden age of diplomacy—the mullahs believe it’s a step toward a golden age of their brand of Islam. The Dems see the election leading to peace—the mullahs see it as buying them the breathing room they need to take over the Middle East and beyond.

Which vision is correct will become clear quite soon, because the U.S. truly has entered a new, less militaristic phase. Donald Rumsfeld, who oversaw the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, was out the day after the election. The man who will replace him is widely believed to favor a more pragmatic policy, one that would favor negotiating with Iran and Syria to fix Iraq’s problems. “We have to tell Iraqis that the open-ended commitment is over,” said Sen. Carl Levin, who will likely lead the Senate Armed Services Committee. He and other top Democrats immediately said they’d work to start bringing the troops home within months.

The voices of the new leading party in Congress, compelled to prove they aren’t soft on defense, say they will implement a smarter, tougher military policy. But the truth is, they represent a trend in American politics that has been developing for decades—a trend that, in the end, President Bush will have proven only a brief exception to: the loss of America’s military as a genuine instrument of American sovereignty.

In other words, America has all but given up its ability to declare war.

The Democratic victory merely poured in concrete a reality that had already existed for perhaps two years. The shift toward managing dangers through diplomacy without threat of action, of subjugating national interest to the will of the United Nations, has already occurred. Just look how Washington has handled nuclear threats from the other two members of the “axis of evil,” Iran and North Korea. Semi-tough talk backed up by firm, muscular patience. Belligerent tolerance. Repeatedly redrawing lines in the sand. Shuffling responsibility onto the UN, or the Security Council, or the EU, or six-party talks.

Even an objective observer can see the drastic adjustment in attitude from the administration that knocked out the Taliban in seven weeks and Saddam Hussein in three. Between those two impressive successes and now, something changed. Almost 3,000 American soldiers dead, perhaps; overstretched forces; Abu Ghraib; constant drubbings in the press; abysmal approval ratings; a combination of things, surely. Whatever the cause, anyone can see that the U.S. is behaving differently—already.

So now, after an election that empowered the party that has incessantly criticized virtually every aspect of those campaigns the president did undertake, should we expect a toughening of the U.S. military? No one campaigned on a strategy of increasing troop numbers and fortifying America’s presence in Iraq. When Senate Armed Services Committee chairman-elect Levin says, “The people spoke dramatically, overwhelmingly, resoundingly, to change the course in Iraq,” he is not advocating victory in the traditional sense—he is talking about some version of fleeing the scene.

After disentangling itself from Iraq, will the U.S. recommit troops in order to solve other conflicts by military means? Not outside the confines of UN or nato action, surely.

Will it go after Iran, North Korea, or somewhere else? No.

Will it, instead, look for every possible diplomatic avenue in addressing new global problems, to the point of effectively taking robust military options off the table? It already has.

Is it possible, in fact, that the United States will never launch another war?

To a mind saturated with hatred for the U.S., convinced that Islam will soon rise to dominate the world, the answer is obvious. The Great Satan, so powerful and arrogant, has been humbled. It will not rise again.

Last March, an important article appeared on by Iranian journalist Amir Taheri, explaining how the Middle East is anticipating the day that President Bush leaves office. Titled “The Last Helicopter,” it described a powerful image burning in the minds of many Muslim leaders: that of a helicopter whisking the last of the “fleeing Americans” out of a hot war zone—an image that has played out repeatedly in history: “It was that image in Saigon that concluded the Vietnam War under Gerald Ford. Jimmy Carter had five helicopters fleeing from the Iranian desert, leaving behind the charred corpses of eight American soldiers. Under Ronald Reagan the helicopters carried the corpses of 241 Marines murdered in their sleep in a Hezbollah suicide attack. Under the first President Bush, the helicopter flew from Safwan, in southern Iraq, with Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf aboard, leaving behind Saddam Hussein’s generals, who could not believe why they had been allowed [to] live to fight their domestic foes, and America, another day. Bill Clinton’s helicopter was a Black Hawk, downed in Mogadishu and delivering 16 American soldiers into the hands of a murderous crowd.

“According to this theory,” Taheri wrote, “President George W. Bush is an ‘aberration,’ a leader out of sync with his nation’s character and no more than a brief nightmare for those who oppose the creation of an ‘American Middle East.’ … Ahmadinejad [and others] have concluded that there will be no helicopter as long as George W. Bush is in the White House. But they believe that whoever succeeds him, Democrat or Republican, will revive the helicopter image to extricate the U.S. from a complex situation that few Americans appear to understand.

“Mr. Ahmadinejad’s defiant rhetoric is based on a strategy known in Middle Eastern capitals as ‘waiting Bush out.’ … Mr. Bush might have led the U.S. into ‘a brief moment of triumph.’ But the U.S. is a ‘sunset’ (ofuli) power while Iran is a sunrise (toluee) one and, once Mr. Bush is gone, a future president would admit defeat and order a retreat as all of Mr. Bush’s predecessors have done since Jimmy Carter.”

Perhaps Ahmadinejad doesn’t have that long to wait. 

Nightmare Scenario Coming

November 13, 2006

Bush Prepares Switch on Iraq and Downgrading of US Ties with Jordan and Israel

DEBKAfile Special Report

November 12, 2006, 4:14 PM (GMT+02:00)

Monday, Nov. 13, former US secretary of state James Baker and ex-Congressman Lee Hamilton will present their recommendations on Iraq to President Bush in the Oval Office. Their audience will include an array of top administration officials: Vice President Dick Cheney, national security adviser Stephen Hadley, secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte and CIA Director Gen. Mike Hayden, as well as U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Peter Pace. Incoming defense secretary Robert Gates will attend as a member of the bipartisan committee.

Absentees will include outgoing defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who stepped down after the Republican’s lost the Nov. 7 midterm to the Democrats over the Iraq war, and the commanders directly running that conflict, Generals John Abizaid and George Casey.

The timing and composition of the conference indicate that the larger decisions are already in the bag with regard to the new US policy on Iraq and a fresh approach to the radical side of the Middle East led by Iran and Syria, mainly at the expense of Jordan and Israel. Monday’s White House conference will be concerned mostly with tying up the last ends and deciding who performs which part of the revised strategy.

DEBKAfile’s Washington sources report that Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, who is due Monday will be one of the first foreign White House visitors to hear an update on the new policy. He will find he is required to listen rather than speak. Bush will use the occasion to inform him where America’s Iraq policy leaves Israel and the Palestinian dispute.

Most of all, the US president will be looking ahead to Wednesday, Nov, 15, when he stops over in Moscow for unscheduled talks with Vladimir Putin. Air Force One was originally supposed to refuel in Moscow and continue without delay to Hanoi for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit later this week. And the Russian president would not normally have come to the airport to greet him. But the US president has decided to seize on the chance of persuading Putin to jump aboard the new American format on Iraq, Iran and the Middle East, on none of which the two leaders saw eye to eye before.

The first sign of Bush-Putin collaboration is in the air.

DEBKAfile’s Moscow sources report that Iran’s senior nuclear negotiator, national security adviser Ali Larijani spent two days of talks in Moscow on Nov. 10 and 11, during which Putin asked him if Tehran was willing to adapt its nuclear program after Washington agrees to direct negotiations.

Once president Bush decided, after his election defeat, to subsume his Middle East policy to the bipartisan model, he lost no time in realigning its elements. He took now time out for briefing America’s regional allies and dependants – whether Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq’s Kurdish leaders, Abdullah King of Jordan or Ehud Olmert – to name a few.

No senior Israeli official was abreast of the seismic changes in Washington’s attitude before the prime minister embarked for the United States. His first stop is Los Angeles to address the North American Jewish Federations Conference. Since he is accompanied by seven cabinet ministers, he can call a mini-cabinet session to update them on his talks with Bush.

After those talks, Olmert will follow the best diplomatic traditions of US-Israeli relations, declaring that Israel has no better friend who is more committed to its security that the President of the United States and affirming full assent between the two governments on the issues of Iran and the Palestinians.

He will gloss over the reality: the New US Middle East Policy will add another negative layer to Israel’s situation and further aggravate the fallout of its Lebanon War reverses. In fact, Jordan and Israel will be the first two countries in the direct line of fire from the reversal of the Bush administration’s Iraq strategy (which DEBKA disclosed was on the cards anyway ahead of the midterm election)

Unlike Israel, King Abdullah – who gambled and lost on Bush standing foursquare behind his plans for Iraq – has at least two alternatives:

He can make common cause with Syrian president Bashar Asad and join the anti-Israel Eastern Front with Iran, Hizballah and the radical Palestinian organizations operating out of Damascus or –

He can turn south instead of north and accept the protection of the Saudi Arabian-Egyptian alliance.

Israel, in contrast, will find itself high and dry in the Middle East. After being downgraded by the Lebanon War’s outcome, the Olmert government will be obliged to accept the crack of the American whip – at least until it can build a new security option that is not dependent on Washington’s new Middle East strategy.

A clear-eyed evaluation of this prospect was ventured Friday, Nov. 10, by the new deputy defense minister Ephraim Sneh, who urged Israel in a Jerusalem Post interview to prepare to thwart Iran’s drive for a nuclear capability “at all costs”. The chances of the international community instituting effective sanctions against Iran were not high, said Sneh. “My working assumption is that they won’t succeed.” If Iran is allowed to acquire the bomb, he said, many people will leave Israel because no one is keen to be “scorched.” Ahmadinejad will be able to “wipe out the Zionist dream without pushing a button.”

The Israeli official’s comment was a rejoinder to the US ambassador to Israel Richard Jones’ dismissal of Israel’s ability to mount a military operation against Iran. Speaking to a select group of Israeli journalists on Nov. 7 – under cover of an anonymous “senior American official,” Jones warned Israel against attempting an attack on Iran’s nuclear installations because, in America’s opinion, it could not succeed.

But no sooner had the deputy defense minister spoken, when the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem denied that Sneh had represented the views of Ehud Olmert. By this denial, the Israeli prime minister cut out the ground ahead his Washington talks from under any independent Israeli posture in its own defense, which might have offset the deep erosion in American support for Israel.