Tarheeltalker

Confused about Libya? Me too!

And just think what the people in the Ivory Coast must be wondering when they see us involved  in Libya, but not in their country. After several days of air strikes,cruise missile launchings, actual reports of French jets hitting  their  targets, do we have  a clue about the final outcome and even why we are involved? Why are we involved actually is what I have wondered all along + why the President did  not consult with the Congress before beginning whatever this is.

Of course this “adventure”  of ours  stems from what to all intents and purposes is  a Libyan civil war, between forces loyal to Hugo Chavez’ best friend, Col Gaddafi, and those intent on recreating the Egyptian experience of just a few weeks ago. Unlike the events in Egypt, there is a much stronger force intent on maintaining the status quo. So, of all sources to ask us, among others, to intervene, the Arab League called for the imposition of  a no fly zone to prevent the Libyan air force from massacring those opposing the Colonel.

So, American, French and British set out to do just that, ground the Libyan air force. What would be almost amusing, were it so deadly serious, is how quickly the Arab League got more than it expected. Libyan planes were shot down, antiaircraft guns were silenced and some people were killed. I  have no intention of poking fun at all, but how exactly did the Arab League expect a no fly zone to be established?  Just ask the Libyan pilots nicely to stay on the ground?

Anyway, the no fly zone was established and then what ensued? Gaddafi’s forces have continued to fight, NATO nad its allies are bickering and whatever we and our NATO  allies are doing goes on, with no specific end or goal.

And, if you missed it while watching events in Libya, not all that far away in Syria, there are anti government protests, accompanied by a government crackdown. Just ask yourself, at what point do we intervene there? Who will have to ask and how much turmoil will have to ensue and how will the decision be made? Will Congress  have  a voice next time;when there is  a next time? Mr President, the people of the Ivory Coast  are on line one.

March 24, 2011 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Revolution by any other name is?

Events in Egypt are still unfolding. The anti-government protests are into day#14 and the final outcome is far from being determined.So, what can we say at this point? Therein lies a problem. What one says sort of “smells” like instant analysis. Although that is a staple of  our culture, it often misses the boat completely. As an illustration, look at how the Obama administration has reacted or spoken at various times since events began to unfold.

Remember vice-president Biden saying that Mubarak was not  a dictator and should not resign?  Then we have Secretary Clinton saying that we are not advocating any specific  outcome  but then urging an orderly transition. The President has spoken to Mubarak, probably more than once and has reportedly urged him to go. He has stated that we hear you in referring to the demonstrators. Today he said that Egypt was not going back to the way it was, although I believe the Egyptian military will have  a big say in that. He opined that the Muslim Brotherhood will have  a role but not a significant one. He accurately said that we cannot dictate to Egypt but  we want to see orderly change. By definition, that seems to be quite unlikely.

But what most grabbed my attention in the Associated Press article were the phrases “pro-democracy protests” and “pro-democracy protesters.” I don’t  know if those words came from Robert Burns or Kimberly Dozier who bylined the article. And I hesitate to comment to strongly but I firmly believe those characterizations are way off base. It would be wonderful to see a democracy in Egypt. But what ever form of government emerges, it will not be  a  democracy. If there were a way to ask a representative sample of those demonstrating if they were pro democracy you would get few if any takers. As an illustration walk backwards in  egyptian history ans see what you discover.

So we watch and we wait and we wonder and some of us demonstrate in support of Egypt. Those of us who are so inclined would also do well to pray.

February 6, 2011 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Will Egypt be another Iran?

The ongoing turmoil in Egypt is in its sixth day with no obvious end in sight and it is far too early to know the outcome. Perhaps  even informed speculation is  premature. But speculate we do for many reasons. Egypt is a major American ally and has been for  several years, at least back to the Carter presidency.( More on the  Carter connection a bit later.) Egypt is the most populous and probably most influential Arab country with a very large army and air force and is  a very close neighbor of Israel. And so we  wonder about many things. How did this uprising or revolution begin? Was there a trigger event? What ( not if) outside influences are involved?  Vice-president Biden’s comments to the contrary, Mubarak seems unlikely to survive. If he goes, then what or who? Who do we  favor, the government or those opposing the government?

The UK Daily Telegraph has an article today  stating that we have backed Egyptian dissidents who have worked on regime change for at least three years, ostensibly trying to bring about a democratic government. Of course in its 6,000 year history Egypt has never had such  a government  and is unlikely to have one any time soon.

Much of the above referenced speculation is drawing parallels between this uprising and the Iranian hostage crisis  of 1979. The result of course was an Iran with which we still have issues. Some are calling this a Carter moment for Obama, i.e. Carter”lost” Iran and Obama could be well on his way to “losing” Egypt.

Meanwhile the turmoil, including  rioting, looting, organized prison breaks etc continues. And at least three countries, Israel, Turkey and the United States have begun evacuating their citizens with others preparing to do likewise.

The turmoil will eventually end  and answers to most if not all of our questions  will come. But what kind of outcome will that be?

January 30, 2011 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Future of Europe?

This is a subject that   I have been pondering for quite  awhile and  is probably just an initial effort at expressing  some opinions. To me the subject is at once complicated, disturbing and perhaps  a view of  our ( United States ) future.

I am a great fan of political novels, especially those set in our era. Those that depict events similar  to those that are occurring and make reference to actual people and places in the course of their books. I have referred before to Daniel Silva whom I thoroughly enjoy and I have just finished a book by Michael Walsh, Hostile Intent, that addresses some similar issues but from a  quite different perspective. Factored in to my post is a challenging nonfiction book that I have just begun to read. It  is by British author Melanie Phillips  and it its premise dovetails nicely with my fictional reading.

These slightly disparate works all have one word common to them that struck me quite forcefully. That word is Londonistan, which is the title of Ms Phillips book. Walsh mentions and I am fairly certain that Silva does also. Both fictional writers speak heavily of the concept as well.

What is the concept of which they speak? Ms Phillips says it best in the intro to her book. She begins her intro with the London subway suicide bombings of July 7. 2005 and  its implications . She asserts that  it reveals London as the  epicenter ( good Joel Rosenberg word) of Islamic militancy. She uses the word ” Londonistan” which is  a mocking play of the names of London and state sponsors of terrorism such as Afghanistan. You can think of others. She added this chilling detail that one could argue that al-Qaeda actually began in London in the 1980s and 90s. She continues to  talk about Britain in essence turning on itself and attacking its own historical values.

And this next may be the most troubling. There is underway an attempt to establish a separate Muslim identity in the country. This is  in  a country approximately 5% Muslim . So there is a  minority attempting and succeeding in many ways to impose its values on the host country. A tiny but illustrative example is that piggy banks are banned from British banks lest Muslims be offended. Funny, maybe, but not ha-ha funny by any means. British Muslims actually insist they are under Western attack  and blame any wrongdoing by Muslims on others. One more thought before part #1 closes.

 British liberals fear being labeled racist or Islamophobic so Muslim extremism goes somewhat  unchecked and  criticism is against the so-called bigot. The London train bombings were, by this logic, caused by American , Israeli or British policies.

My intent is to refer to Ms Phillips book  again in part #2 as well  as some fictional  references from Walsh and perhaps Silva. As I alluded,  her book is a difficult read for me but I hope to plow through  a bit further.

August 11, 2010 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Some Israeli Humor

A friend of mine emailed me the following story. It sounds  plausible and she is a  quite reliable source. Whether the actual event occurred or not is not germane to the truth lurking in the story. So read and laugh a bit but take note of what is being said.

                         An ingenious example of speech and politics  occurred recently in the U N General Assembly which made the world community smile ( probably not all of it though) . An Israeli representative began: ” Before beginning my talk I want to tell you something about Moses. When he struck the rock and it brought forth water ( Old Testament book  of Exodus, Chapter 17, verse 6) he thought, ” What a good opportunity to have a bath.” He removed his clothes, put them aside on the rock and entered the water. When he got out and wanted to dress, his clothes had vanished. A  Palestinian has stolen them.”

                  The Palestinian representative to the U N jumped up furiously and shouted, ” What are you talking about? The Palestinians weren’t there then.”

                 The Israeli diplomat smiled and said,” And now that we have made that clear, I will begin my speech.”

Shalom!

July 29, 2010 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Words to Consider

Jose Maria Aznar: Supporting Israel.

This is an unusual thing for me but I thought the subject worthwhile and that it was read in its entirety by the original author. By clicking on the above link, you will be taken to an opinion piece by Jose Maria Aznar, prime minister of Spain from 1996-2004. The article appears on the website of aish.com the world’s largest Jewish content website. I don’t necessarily endorse all that Mr Aznar has to say, but his article is well worth a read.

July 18, 2010 Posted by | International politics | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Apologetic Administration

Guess I could have said apologetic regime  but maybe  I’ll save that one for another day. The latest  apology should really not be a surprise. Obama himself has done a ” masterful” job at apologizing  all over the world to all sorts of folks for all sorts of things.

For the most recent administration example we can thank  Assistant  Secretary of State for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and  Labor ( what a mouthful of a job title that is)  Michael Posner. For what did he apologize and to whom?  The what is of course, the evil Arizona law which no one  in the Obama Administration has apparently read, even Homeland Secretary Napolitano. But she still would not have signed the law. Try and figure that one out. For the who of the apology, why that noted paragon of human rights, China.

Bill O’Reilly had a couple of great comment about Posner’s apology on his show last night. I really enjoyed his comment that China would probably like to have Posner replace Hilary as Secretary of State. The other comment was  much more troubling and more reality based. He posed the  question as to how China handles  its illegal immigrants. Hint, it isn’t  with a law like Arizona’s nor is it necessarily via deportation.

Arizona Senators McCain and Kyl  took issue with posner’s mea culpa for the United States and  demanded an apology. Isn’t that great, demanding an apology for an apology. Shucks, they may get one. That is one thing the Obama Admnistration is quite good at doing.

While we are on the  subject, wonder what other countries are due an apology? Let us see. Maybe  to Great Britain for winning the Revolutionary War, Germany for WWI & WWII, Russia for buying Alaska ( Obama might like that one) France for the Louisiana Purchase- not paying enough the list goes on and on and on and on.

May 18, 2010 Posted by | International politics, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Other Nuclear Summit

The President hosted a nuclear summit last week in Washington last week. Not to be outdone, another country on the other side of the world, hosted one just a couple of days ago. This event was spearheaded by that noted peace- loving country of Iran. Can you imagine  having something called  a nuclear disarmament conference in Tehran? It would almost be  amusing if it were not true.

And to make things even more interesting, 3 Arab leaders expressed their support for Iranian  nuclear rights. Now that’s a new one  on me, the concept of nuclear rights. The Syrian  Foreign Minister, Walid Muallem, is quoted as saying that ” We support Iran’s pursuit of peaceful  nuclear technology.”

Now, just for  a minute think why Iran wants or needs nuclear technoogy. Do they intend to use it to generate electricity? When you are sitting on as much oil as they are, why on earth would you do that?  Wonder what other purpose they might have in mind for  their nuclear knowledge? Weaponry, surely  not, must be missing something here, I guess.

Well   let us hear from 2 other Arab leaders who were at the summit and no Israel wasn’t at this  meeting other. First we hear from Lebanon’s Foreign Minister, Ali al-Shami who said that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful and they are certainly not violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Our thirdArab spokesman’s comment should  really get our attention. This is true partly to what he said and partly due  to where he is from. He is Iraqi, yes Iraqi, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari. Our Iraqi friend said that “we reject any threat against Iran and insist on Iran’s right( there   is that word, right, again) to use peaceful nuclear energy.” Reckon he cleared those comments with  Obama?

The other thing on which these three agreed may very well the biggest news from the conference. They  all agreed that Israel must dismantle its nuclear  weapons and allow its nuclear facilities to undergo  IAEA inspection. You might say that Israel  has no intention of dismantling anything based on an Arab nuclear summit. And you would be correct. What if these  guys are just stalking horses, so to speak, for someone else and the comment are just the ground work for  stronger demands  by more prominent nations?

Joel Rosenberg described just such an event in his 2005 work of fiction, The Ezekiel Option. In that book, it was, guess who, Russia, who made a dramatic call for Israel’s nuclear disarmament at a U  N session. In the book it was quite well received by virtually everyone. Just wondering.

April 19, 2010 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What did he mean?

A 47  nation nuclear summit was just concluded in Washington. It was notable in a number of ways. Those who weren’t there, Israel and Britain among others, the minimal opportunity for the media to ask questions, the massive security that wa was in place; just to name a few. One might say that any effort to reduce nuclear weapons or nuclear tensions is always a good thing. Presidents all the way back to Eisenhower have made this a goal. What was accomplished at this latest  session may depend on to whom one pays heed.

Example: reporters Lynn Berry and Betty Nguyen both used the term” complete success.” Whatever it was or wasn’t, it was not complete. Check out some of what Dana Milbank at the Washington Post had to say. By the way, it would accurate to call him  a voice in the wilderness.

Just a portion of what Milbank wrote:

World leaders “entered a capital(ours) that had become a  military encampment with camo-wearing military police in Humvees  and enough Army vehicles to make it look like a May Day parade.” Question, what country does military style May Day parades?

There is more. This is quite interesting when you juxtapose it with another  Obama quote. Milbank again. “In the middle of it all was Obama-occupant of an office once informally known as “leader of the free world.” Ouch!!

Now the Obama quote. Sad to say, this statement may be the most troubling thing that I have heard the President say. I offer it without comment, at least for the moment.

” Whether we like it or not, we remain a military superpower.”

April 14, 2010 Posted by | International politics, Media | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

About that Iranian Thing…

…..wasn’t it supposed to be over and done by now? Something about December and deadlines and agreements  and how Russia has smoothed it all over  and wasn’t all the Arab world going to fall in love  with us? You remember the speech in Egypt that  was so great, do you not?

And just the other day, Defense Secretary Gates held out hope for the sanctions to work. And now Hilary has given an interview that kinda says Iran is not the real problem since they don’t have a bomb,yet.

Don’t I remember somebody using the phrase “axis of evil” and being roundly  condemned for it. Why that cowboy diplomacy that makes the world hate us,how dare he!

And yet, today I read that Iranian President Ahmadinejad has told his atomic agency to significantly enrich the country’s  stockpile of uranium. And German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg  referred to the farce being played out  just like in the past. “The outstretched hand of the international community has not only been taken but pushed back.”

What did Herr Guttenberg mean do you think? We will agree with the UN plan maybe says Iran. If more sanctions were imposed it would a  4th round, if you’re counting, and neither Russia nor China seems  all that excited about it.

I just feel that I have written all of this before and yet here we are again. Wonder what Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel think about it all? Are they watching closely?” Bet your sweet bippy” they are. In fact he is in Russia as  we write on a “long-planned trip.” Wonder what they will discuss?

February 8, 2010 Posted by | Foreign Policy, International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment