Archive for the ‘policy’ Category

Obama Has Failed To Spell Out His Vision

March 14, 2009

President Obama has failed to lay out an integrated, realistic and comprehensive vision for his presidency, despite his inaugural address, a “state of the union” like opportunity before a joint session of Congress, and innumerable major policy speeches on health care, the economy, education et al.

And maybe he likes it that way.

Forget about any vision spelled out by Obama during the campaign for the White House — all those promises have either evaporated, been disarded or swepts aside by Obama himself, by the pratical applications of the presidency or by the economic “catastrophe”  — so named by Obama himself.

Transparency turned out to be opaque, lobbyists did get jobs and on and on.

American foreign policy is already adrift, with inept liaisons between Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, a severe challenge to the freedom of the seas by China and a rattling of sabers by North Korea that only Japan has accepted as a real problem.

Obama has lost a key airbase in Kyrgyzstan that could impair allied efforts in Afghanistan, which could ultimately go down the drain along with its neighbor Pakistan.

And the legal wrangling over Gitmo, the use of terms like “terrorism” and “enemy combatant” is taking us where?

Where and how are the questions.  Where is U.S. foreign policy headed and how does Obama propose to get there?

If these questions are not answered, and soon, we can likely expect a reactive rather than a proactive U.S. foreign policy, which we have had for at least eight years and perhaps many more depending upon one’s point of view.  The Bush Administration, despite its trumpeting of the Bush Doctrine, largely reacted to 9-11 and other real world events.

Will Obama do the same?

And on domestic policy, there is a growing sense of discord between those that want the economic ills solved before we dive into overhauling health care, education, the environment and our national energy system and thioose like Obama who say this is exactly the right tme to overhaul everything.

Obama crammed the stimulus through a frightened congress without hearings and followed that with an omnibus packed with pork earmarks that he pledged to eliminate during the campaign and this week promised to eliminate next year.

There is no now in explaining the truth in this Administration so far, only fear and we have to do it all without worry about the cost and the debt.

Where’s the blueprint?  Where’s the roadmap?

The only roadmap so far is to look at the proposed spending.  This is the administration of spending without apparent planning.  And the very fact that commentators are asking about socialism shows the theme one gets from looking at the spending.

Maybe Obama believes this is the ONLY time to move his domestic agenda along — during a period of crisis with a Democratically controlled congress with little analytical effort, a willing public, and an Obama swallowing media….plus a lot of voters who will profit from all this spending.

That’s socialism.

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By Sean Wilentz

The president did an excellent job explaining how the federal government has spurred economic growth in the past, but, historian Sean Wilentz asks, when is he going to lay out a specific vision for America’s future?

It’s been nearly a decade since the country has heard a vibrant, full-throated Democratic speech from a president of the United States. President Obama gave one tonight. In presenting his budget priorities to the Congress and the American people, he provided a clear defense of the federal government’s historic role as a catalyst for economic growth and the nation’s welfare. From the Transcontinental Railroad to the Interstate Highway System, he explained, private wealth has always expanded with the help of the national government. And with that, the president exorcised the political spirit of Ronald Reagan from Capitol Hill.

Energy, health, education—these are at the top of the administration’s agenda. If nothing had happened last September, when Lehman Brothers was allowed to collapse, these policies also would have been at the top. But a great deal has changed since the Democratic convention ratified the party’s platform, with these same priorities. The country and the world have plunged into the greatest economic crisis since the Depression. And that must be the president’s chief preoccupation.

Read the rest:
http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs
-and-stories/2009-02-24/obamas-
day-of-reckoning/

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By Ted Anthony, AP

“He sees this emergency as a time to reshape the country,” says Theodore Sorensen, one of Kennedy’s top advisers who was instrumental in shaping the famed 1961 inaugural address that defined the mission of the New Frontier.

Sorensen was struck by Obama’s use of the economic crisis to open channels to other issues — from the imperative of education as a patriotic duty to universal health care and a recalibration of environmental issues. Ultimately, each impacts the economy.

Finding the right fit

To frame his goals, Obama invoked the always appealing image of Americans dreaming big and having their biggest achievements ahead of them. Trouble is, his next steps, as outlined, are far too interventionist for Republicans’ comfort.

Princeton University historian Sean Wilentz, whose latest book chronicles the age of Ronald Reagan, says Obama, with Tuesday’s address, “exorcised” Reagan.

Just as Reagan articulated decades-old GOP principles in his own way, so, too, did Obama synthesize varied progressive principles into his plan of action.

“We’re getting an update of Democratic ideals,” Wilentz says. “The age of Reagan is over. Republicans … have nothing. Ideas that once commanded the heights of national politics 30 years ago are now in disarray….

Read the rest:
http://www.tennessean.com/articl
e/20090226/NEWS08/902260341

Related:
Obama Could Lose Afghanistan, Pakistan

Obama Backs Off, Japan Ready To Shoot Down North Korean Missile

 Obama Backs-Off On Human Rights Issues: Economy is That Important

“we still managed to spend more money and pile up more debt, both as individuals and through our government, than ever before.”  Barack Obama said this during his joint session of congress speech but now is adding even more debt…..

Obama speech, Feb 24, 2009:
http://blogs.suntimes.com/sweet/200
9/02/obamas_speech_before_joint_ses.html

“In other words, we have lived through an era where too often short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity”

What is the stimulus and the omnibus spells long-term prosperity?

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China says it would never seek hegemony

January 20, 2009

China would never seek hegemony or engage in military expansion now or in the future, no matter how developed it becomes, says a white paper on China’s National Defense in 2008 issued here Tuesday.

Xinhua

It is China’s sixth white paper on National Defense since the first one was issued by the Information Office of the State Council in 1998.

It says China advocates to settle international disputes by peaceful means, and opposes aggression, expansion and the enlargement of military alliances.

With the advent of the new century, the world is undergoing tremendous changes and adjustments, says the white paper, adding new security threats keep emerging.

Facing unprecedented opportunities and challenges, China would stick to the road of peaceful development, pursue the opening-up strategy of mutual benefit, and promote the building of a harmonious world with enduring peace and common prosperity, it says.

With regard to China’s security situation, the white paper says China’s overall national strength has increased substantially, and its capability for safeguarding national security has been further enhanced. The country’s security situation has improved steadily.

However, China is still confronted with long-term, complicated, and diverse security threats and challenges, it says. The issues of existence and development security, traditional and non-traditional security threats, as well as domestic and international security are interwoven and interactive.

Concerning world security situation, the white paper says the risk of worldwide, all-out and large-scale wars keeps low for a relatively long period of time, as the common interests of countries in the security field have increased.

Read the rest:
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/200
9-01/20/content_10688353.htm

Iran May Be Obama’s Biggest Challenge, No Pakistan, No Hamas and Israel

January 7, 2009

Israel and militant Palestinians are locked in deadly battle in the Middle East, but Iran poses the biggest challenge in the region to the incoming Obama administration, President George W. Bush‘s national security adviser says.

At the same time, the Mideast offers President-elect Barack Obama the greatest opportunity to put his imprint on world affairs, Stephen Hadley said, referring to the need for a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace accord that eluded both Bush and former President Bill Clinton.

Outside the Mideast, it is Pakistan that should command Obama’s keen attention, said Hadley, who has been senior foreign policy adviser to the president for eight years.

By DEB RIECHMANN and LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press

Hadley, who is always in the shadows and rarely seen by the public, discussed Bush’s two terms and the international challenges — ones he says will not pause for America’s transfer of power in January — during a nearly hourlong interview Tuesday with The Associated Press in his West Wing office. He was also delivering a speech Wednesday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

He said the Taliban remains a serious threat in Afghanistan, where the U.S. is getting ready to dispatch at least 20,000 extra troops.

“Its fighters have found safe haven across the border in Pakistan, and if the extremists succeed in destabilizing Pakistan, the chaos will threaten peace and progress throughout the region,” he says in remarks prepared for Wednesday. “Stabilizing Pakistan must be the first priority for the new administration.”

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the Natanz uranium ... 
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility.(AFP/File/Atta Kenare)

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090107/ap_on_g
o_pr_wh/hadley_interview_4

President Workout: Front Page News or Pure Tabloid?

December 30, 2008

Ah, the perks of media affection. On Christmas Day, The Washington Post delivered a Page One paean to Barack Obama‘s workout habits. The 1,233-word ode to Mr. Obama’s physical fitness read more like a Harlequin romance novel than an A-1 news article.

Sighed smitten reporter Eli Zaslow, “The sun glinted off chiseled pectorals sculpted during four weightlifting sessions each week, and a body toned by regular treadmill runs and basketball games.” Drool cup to the newsroom, stat.

Mr. Zaslow imparted us with vital information about buff Bam’s regimen: “Obama has gone to the gym for about 90 minutes a day, for at least 48 days in a row.” The Washington Post enlightened us with more gushing commentary from Obama friends and associates, who explain how, as the subtitle of Mr. Zaslow’s opus put it, “Gym workouts help Obama carry the weight of his position.”

By Michelle Malkin
The Washington Times

For adoring journalists, you see, Mr. Obama’s workout fanaticism demonstrates the discipline and balance in his life. Apparently, what is good for Mr. Obama’s glistening pecs is good for the country. Mr. Zaslow quoted Obama Chicago crony Marty Nesbitt, who offered this diagnosis: “He doesn’t think of it as something he has to do – it’s his time for himself, a chance for him to reflect. It’s his break. He feels better and more revved up after he gets in his workout.”

And when Mr. Obama feels better, the skies will part, the sun will shine (in moderate, environmentally correct, non-global warming-inducing amounts, of course), and peace will reign worldwide!

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/
dec/30/two-workout-presidents/

Obama Support For Israel Uncertain; Gaza Attacks Complicate Policy Making

December 29, 2008

George Bush and Condoleezza Rice failed.  Numerous heads of the United Nations have failed.  Palestinian and Arab leaders have failed.  Now maybe Barack Obama will inherit the Middle East peace process like many before him.

With less than a month until the inauguration, the U.S. president-elect could inherit a Middle East in international crisis  — and it will be his to fix or suffer through.

The death toll from a weekend of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza has topped 300, Palestinian medical sources said Monday.

Israel’s air assault began a third day amid wide ranging condemnation from the international community.

The United States has always been Israel’s number one ally: but with a new president to take office on January 20, 2009, new policy is being formulated in the U.S. that involves Israel now….

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The deaths of hundreds of Palestinians in Israel‘s deadliest-ever air assault on Hamas further complicate President-elect Barack Obama‘s challenge to achieve a Middle East peace — something that eluded both the Bush and Clinton administrations.

The Bush administration has blamed the renewed violence on the militant Islamic group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, saying it broke a cease-fire by firing rockets and mortars deep into Israeli territory. The Arab world, however, has reacted with rage to the aggressive Israeli counterattacks, which have left at least 290 Palestinians dead and more than 600 wounded.

It’s unclear whether Obama will be as supportive of Israel as President George W. Bush has been.

By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer

Fire burns late Sunday or early Monday in Gaza, where Israel has been bombing what it says are Hamas targets.

Fire burns late Sunday or early Monday in Gaza, where Israel has been bombing what it says are Hamas targets.

David Axelrod, senior adviser to Obama, chose his words carefully Sunday, saying the president-elect would honor the “important bond” between the United States and Israel.

“He wants to be a constructive force in helping to bring about the peace and security that both the Israelis and the Palestinians want and deserve,” Axelrod said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “Obviously, this situation has become even more complicated in the last couple of days and weeks. As Hamas began its shelling, Israel responded. But it’s something that he’s committed to.”

Pressed about how much support Obama will offer Israel, Axelrod said: “He’s going to work closely with the Israelis. They’re a great ally of ours, the most important ally in the region. … But he will do so in a way that will promote the cause of peace, and work closely with the Israelis and the Palestinians on that — toward that objective.”

Israel had been carrying out its attack exclusively from the air, but the Israeli Cabinet has authorized the military to call up 6,500 reserve soldiers for a possible ground invasion.

“I’m not sure it’s a good idea,” Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “I mean, Israel certainly has the right to self-defense, of course. Hamas has not recognized Israel’s right to exist. … But I’m hopeful that as this transition comes, as we look to January, that strong presidential leadership can make a difference here.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/2008
1229/ap_on_go_pr_wh/us_mideast

Related:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/me
ast/12/28/gaza.israel.strikes/index.html

http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS
/12/29/obama.gaza/index.html

Pakistani Troop Move Toward India is Setback To U.S. Anti-Terror Policy

December 28, 2008

Pakistan‘s decision to relocate thousands of troops away from the Afghanistan border toward India threatens the critical U.S. foreign-policy aim of relying on the South Asian ally’s military in the global battle against terrorism.

President-elect Barack Obama’s campaign promise to turn around the stalemated war in Afghanistan could be the first casualty of Pakistan’s latest moves, and the frustrated American effort to crush al Qaeda may be the second.

Pakistan’s sudden military shift catches two administrations in mid-transition, presenting Mr. Obama with a dangerous spike in tension that his predecessor has been unable to prevent.

As President Bush found out, the United States can’t wage either fight alone and can’t always persuade even well-meaning allies to set aside their own agendas and domestic politics.

To win in Afghanistan rather than merely hold ground, the United States and its allies must find a way to seal off the militants’ redoubts across the forbidding mountainous border with Pakistan. The U.S. can’t do that without Pakistan’s help, and Pakistani and Afghan militants know it.

By Anne Gearan ASSOCIATED PRESS

Bush administration officials have been shuttling to New Delhi and Islamabad for weeks following the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, pleading with both sides not to let well-founded suspicions that the attacks originated in Pakistan become an excuse for new conflict. India and Pakistan have fought three wars, and enmity against the other has been an organizing principle for leaders of each nuclear-armed country.

If Pakistan yanks fighting forces away from what the U.S. considers the good war against terrorism in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, it will bear out U.S. fears of a ripple effect and show how easily militants can exploit the old rivalry.

“We hope that both sides will avoid taking steps that will unnecessarily raise tensions during these already tense times,” White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said Friday.

Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, was in Islamabad last week, after noting with approval earlier this month that neither side seemed to have mounted a military response to the Mumbai terrorism.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/20
08/dec/28/pakistani-troop-redeploymen
t-a-setback-for-us/

Russia, Obama and the Strategic Chess Tournament

December 19, 2008

Within hours of Barack Obama’s election as President of the United States a kind of Slavic chess tournament opened in the Kremlin to defeat the new American president.  Whether it is because he is Black or for whatever reason (and we might not know the Russian reason exactly for some time) Russian President Dmitry Medvev and his predecessor, mentor and Foreign Minister Vladimir Putin, began to pressure, cajole and coerce Mr. Obama.

The chess pieces include the U.S. missile defense plan for Europe, which includes ten or so interceptor missiles and a radar site, both in Poland and the Czech Republic.  Russia wants to checkmate these and get them off the European (and Kremlin) chessboard.

Putin and Medvev have as kings nuclear weapons of their own.  The day after Obama’s election, in an opening move, Medvedev offered to really provide a geographic move of short range nuclear-tipped Iskander missiles closer to Eastern Europe.

The U.S. yawned.

Medvedev backed off this idea largely due to world-wide condemnation at his dangerous bluster.

Today Russia says it will stop developing “some” strategic nuclear weapons if the U.S. halts it European missile shield plan.

This seems to us at Peace and Freedom to be a play by Russia to guarantee future Russian superpower status.  Eastern European (and former Soviet) nations like the Czech Republic and Georgia are gravitating toward the West and NATO, and Russia cannot accept their loss.  That’s why Russia invaded Georgia and South Ossetia last summer….

Related:
Russians Say Medvedev, Obama to Meet “Soon After Jan 20 Inauguration”

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Vladimir Putin is a world-class chess master at getting what he wants.  The former KGB man now  seems poised to return to the presidency of Russia for another term in a few years and he seems to have convinced many, by deception, that missile defenses in Europe are a threat to Russia.

What Putin wants is control of Russia — and a Russia of long term dominance on the world stage.

Conceived way back during the Ronald Reagan presidency and often derisively called “Star Wars” or the missile shield, U.S. missile defense is no threat to Russia or anyone else.  Like a defensive basketball or football player, missile defense is designed and used to block destructive attacking missiles from reaching their goals.

Russia has manipulated the world media for almost two decades to create the illusion that missile defense is some threat to Russians.  In fact, no missile defense missile has the capability of harming Russia or Russians: the “kill mechanism” of a missile defense interceptor is the kinetic energy or crashing into the attacking missile.  The missile defense missile has no warhead — unlike intercontinental ballistic missiles that can carry 10 or so nuclear warheads, each capable of annihilating millions of people and entire cities.

The U.S. missile defense effort for Europe has been a long and painstaking discussion going back two decades.  Along with thousands of others, I participated myself in these discussions, forums and conferences, in the early 1990s, on two levels: first as co-chairman of a NATO study (one of several) to determine the efficacy and implications of a European missile defense to stop missiles like those being developed by Iran targeted on Europe; and then on U.S. government missions to Moscow to show with credible evidence that a U.S. missile defense was no threat to Russia — or anybody.

By the middle 1990s, the Russians seemed to agree that U.S. missile defenses, even in Europe, were no threat to Russia or Russians.

In 2002, the United States, after years of notification to Russia and discussions with Russia, withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty which had been made with the Soviet Union.  This action was necessary to permit testing of U.S. missile defenses — which had targets and interceptors that could have posed an international legal discussion vis-a-vis the treaty.

Then an interesting thing happened.  Vladimir Putin in Russia decided that he wanted a resurgent Russia with renewed superpower status, like that enjoyed during the Cold War Soviet era.  As Russia developed its oil reserves, exports gave him the financial clout he needed despite an aging and creaky military machine.  But an expert at media and public manipulation, Putin went to work to achieve his goals and to stifle U.S. objectives on many fronts.

Putin Medvedev
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Above: Vladimir Putin speaks with his presidential successor, Dmitry Medvedev, in parliament May 8, 2008. Putin brought Medvedev from the post of Charman of Gazprom, Russia’s oil giant, to become his chief of staff and later preident.  Now Medvedev has proposed a longer term for Russia’s president and it is no secret that Putin wants to come back as President of Russia.  Photo: Sergei Chirikov AFP/Getty Images

The suave, handsome and articulate Mr. Putin and Mr. Medvedev are also quick to reveal clumsy bluster and intimidation — which is what the recent threat to move Iskander missiles closer to Poland seems to have been.

Russia also attacked neighbors in Georgia and South Ossetia — quickly turning ignored intimidation into acts of war.

Russia continues a very aggressive trade relationship with Iran, which continues to develop more capable ballistic missiles, nuclear technology (with Russian help) and sends verbal assaults at least weekly at Israel and the U.S. (”Israel should be wiped from the map,” said Iran’s President Ahmadinejad).

Efforts to slow or stop Iran’s nuclear development in the United Nations are routinely thwarted by Russia and China.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the Natanz uranium ... 
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility.(AFP/File/Atta Kenare)

Now a global media tired of George W. Bush and enamored by Barack Obama has absolutely no time for the truth of the missile defense situation.  This weekend Agence France-Presse (AFP) wrote a photograph caption on a picture of French President Sarkozy and Russian President Medvedev which read, “Sarkozy urged Russia and the United States to stop threatening each other with missiles and missile shields.” (see below)

The fact is that U.S. missile defense threatens nobody — with missiles incabale of landing on Russian targets and without warheads.  The U.S. has even offered Russia the opportunity to place Russian inspectors at U.S. missile defense sites, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year to ensure no sneaky bad guys alter these defensive systems for attack.  The difficulty of converting a missile defense system for attack is, well, like secretly and quickly rerouting the Space Shuttle from a mission to the International Space Station and then attempting a manned landing on Mars.  Russia knows this is a crazy notion — but many in the media and others have swallowed this brainless Russian borscht.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) speaks with President of ... 
French President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) speaks with President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev, before the Europe-Russia finance reform summit in Nice southern France. Sarkozy urged Russia and the United States to stop threatening each other with missiles and missile shields Friday and called for talks on Europe’s future security. (AFP/Valery Hache)
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NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer called the Russian remarks on moving missiles in Europe unsolicited, unnecessary and unhelpful.

Russia has also said that a missile defense system in Europe will “negate” its thousands of nuclear armed missiles.  But the European missile defense system is only intended to have 10 interceptors — which would be easily and quickly overwhelmed by a Russian attack.

Russia's "Iskander" missile system on display ... 
Russia’s “Iskander” missile system on display at a military exhibition in the Siberian town of Nizhny Tagil in 2005. President Dmitry Medvedev has said Russia will place short-range missile systems on the EU’s eastern border to counter planned US missile defence installations in Eastern Europe.(AFP/VEDOMOSTI/File/Evgeny Stetsko)

Threating people in Europe with nuclear destruction is a gossly over the top Russian act of instigation and intimidation — and it makes no sense in the post-Cold War world.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ribert Gates said the threat from Russia, made just after the U.S. election of President-elect Barack Obama, was “hardly the welcome a new American administration deserves. Such provocative remarks are unnecessary and misguided.”

“Quite frankly I’m not clear what the missiles would be for in Kaliningrad, after all the only real emerging threat on Russia’s periphery is in Iran and I don’t think the Iskander missile has the range to get there from Kaliningrad,” Gates added. “Why they would threaten to point missiles at European nations seems quite puzzling to me.”
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Medevev and supposedly Putin have now backed away from their threat to move Iskander missiles but they have created an incredible fog of lies in the air — which many in the international media and elsewhere have swollowed.

U.S. missile defense, and the European effort with Poland and the Czech Republic, is no threat to Russia or anybody else.  It is a system to bat down incoming nuclear warheads from long-range missiles, like those Iran continues to test.

By John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia

Iraq Stopped Shipping Most Dangerous Weapons into Iraq — General

December 11, 2008

Iran is no longer actively supplying Iraqi militias with a particularly lethal kind of roadside bomb, a decision that suggests a strategic shift by Iranian leadership, U.S. and Iranian authorities said Thursday.

Use of the armor-piercing explosives — known as explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs — has dwindled sharply in recent months, said Army Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz, head of the Pentagon office created to counter roadside bombs in Iran and Afghanistan.

Metz estimated that U.S. forces find between 12 and 20 of the devices in Iraq each month, down from 60 to 80 earlier this year.

“Someone … has made the decision to bring them down,” Metz told reporters.

By ANNE GEARAN, AP Military Writer

U.S. Army Lieutenant General Thomas Metz at an army compound ... 
U.S. Army Lieutenant General Thomas Metz at an army compound on the outskirts of Arbil, October 1, 2004.REUTERS/Sasa Kralj/Files

Asked if the elite Iranian Republican Guard Corps has made a deliberate choice to limit use of EFPs, Metz nodded: “I think you could draw that inference from the data.”

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh agreed Iran has curtailed its activity inside Iraq. He said he thinks Iran has concluded that a new security agreement between the U.S. and Iraq poses no threat to Iran. Iran opposed the agreement as a blessing for foreign forces to remain in Iraq, and encouraged Iraq’s democratic government to reject it.

The United States has long claimed that Iran or Iranian-backed groups are using Iraqi Shiite militias as proxies to kill U.S. troops in Iraq. Iran denies the Bush administration allegations that it supplies money and weapons, but independent analysts have said U.S. evidence is strong, if circumstantial.

The U.S. cites the spread of powerful EFP roadside bombs as the clearest Iranian fingerprint. U.S. military officers say they know the EFPs come from Iran because they bear Iranian markings and because captured militants have told them so. The workmanship is so precise they could only come from a modern factory with machine tools available in Iran but not Iraq.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081211/ap_on_go_
ca_st_pe/us_iraq_iran

What do the financial crisis and US Middle East policy have in common?

December 7, 2008

Behind the financial crisis was a well-practiced mechanism for concealing risk. The risk was there, and it was constantly growing, but it could be disguised, repackaged and renamed, so that in the end it seemed to have disappeared. Much of the debate about foreign policy in the United States is conducted in the same manner: Policymakers and pundits, to get what they want, conceal the risks.

By Martin Kramer
The Jerusalem Post

In the case of the Middle East, they concealed the risks of bringing Yasser Arafat in from the cold; they concealed the risks of neglecting the growth of al-Qaida; and they concealed the risks involved in occupying Iraq. It isn’t that the risks weren’t known. The intelligence was always there. But if you were clever enough, and determined enough, you could find a way to conceal them.

But concealed risk doesn’t go away. It accumulates away from sight, until the moment when it surges back to the surface. It did that after Camp David in 2000, when the “peace process” collapsed in blood; it did that on 9/11, when hijackers shattered the skies over New York in Washington; and it happened in Iraq, when an insurgency kicked back. This tendency to downplay risk may be an American trait: We have seen it in US markets, and now we see it in US election-year politics. In Middle East policy, its outcome has been a string of very unpleasant surprises.

The Iranian parliament on Tuesday approved President Mahmoud ... 

A CASE in point is radical Islam. One would think that after the Iranian revolution, the assassination of Anwar Sadat, the terrorism of Hizbullah, the Rushdie affair, the suicide attacks of Hamas and al-Qaida, the Danish cartoons and a host of other “surprises,” we would not be inclined to ignore the risks posed by radical Islam. And yet there are batteries of interpreters, analysts and pundits whose principal project is to obscure if not conceal those risks.

Here are some of the most widespread variations on the theme: Worried about Ahmadinejad? Pay him no mind. He doesn’t really call the shots in Iran, he’s just a figurehead. And anyway, he didn’t really say what he’s purported to have said, about wiping Israel off the map. What the Iranians really want is to sit down with us and cut a deal. They have a few grievances, some of them are even legitimate, so let’s hear them out and invite them to the table, without preconditions. Iran isn’t all that dangerous; it’s just a small country; and even their own people are tired of the revolution. So pay no attention to Ahmadinejad, and pay no attention to the old slogans of “Death to America,” because that’s not the real Iran.

Read the rest:
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satell
ite?cid=1227702450421&pagenam
e=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull