Saturday, November 19, 2011

Shed No Tears for Iran’s Nuclear Scientists - By Jonathan S. Tobin

COMMENTARY/CONTENTIONS
J@tobincommentary



Looking for a new cause focused on saving an endangered minority group? Then your search is over. According to Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iranian scientists working on the Islamist regime’s nuclear weapons program are now the moral equivalent of the Komodo Dragon or the Snow Leopard. The plea for the future happiness of those seeking to give the ayatollahs genocidal power should provide a cue for the proverbial world’s smallest violin.
Of course, the Iranian envoy is right. Iran’s nuclear scientists do have a bull’s eye on their backsides. One can only hope both American and Israeli agents are doing all in their power to make sure these hard-working agents of evil are having accidents at work or mishaps on their morning commutes. But though the plea for the scientists’ safety is the stuff of satire, Iran’s successful stalling tactics in international forums have left the West with no choice but to resort to covert action to halt Tehran’s push for nukes.
We can all laugh at the Iranian ambassador’s demand for compensation from the UN agency for the inconvenience suffered by any scientist who was named in the damning IAEA report on the Islamist regime’s push for a military application of nuclear power. But thanks to Russian and Chinese support for Iran, the UN is more likely to pay such damages than it is to enact stringent economic sanctions that might bring Tehran to its senses. The ayatollahs have been able to string along the West for years as they play for more time–during which their researchers have gotten ever closer to their goal. And because the Obama administration appears to be unwilling to contemplate the use of force against Iran and to ensure Israel can’t hit them either, attacks on the scientists and their computers are the only method left to deal with the problem.
Let’s also be clear about whether or not the scientists deserve any sympathy. These scientists are not innocent civilians. Anyone who lends his expertise and knowledge to a program designed to give a nuclear weapon to a repressive Islamist regime that aids terrorism and which has threatened Israel with genocide is, by definition, a combatant, if not a war criminal. It would be preferable for Iran and its nuclear servants to stop their activities. But since they are determined to persist, the West and Israel have no choice but to go after them. While some at the UN may lament the sad fate of the endangered Iranian nuclear scientists, our only message to the CIA, the Mossad and any Western agency aiding their efforts is simple: Good hunting.

Video: MUST SEE Muslim Brotherhood Dictating White House Meetings & More!


Obama muslim brotherhood.jpg
Lord help us!



PalArabs admit using UNESCO for political goals

Saturday, November 19, 2011
ELDER OF ZIYON
From Ma'an:

UNESCO could help restore the Palestinian Authority's cultural presence in Jerusalem, the president of the Palestinian Committee for Education Culture and Science, Yahya Yakhlaf, said last week in Ramallah. (Photo: Yahya Yakhlaf)



Yakhlaf, who used to be Minister of Culture and is a well known Palestinian novelist, stressed that Palestinian ambitions within UNESCO would remain merely cultural. "But we can achieve political goals through cultural means," he added.


"In the next months we will register more than 20 Palestinian sites as our national heritage," Ismail Tellawi, secretary general of the Palestinian UNESCO-Commission, said in his Ramallah office.

One of the sites Palestinians will try to register is the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron, also known as the Cave of the Patriarchs, where Abraham is believed to be buried.
How many of these sites will not also be important Jewish historical sites?
(Photo: Tombs of the Patriarchs)

If you doubt that the "Palestinian Committee for Education Culture and Science" (which is part of the PA government) is political, note that one of their stated goals is "To do best efforts at international, Arab and Islamic levels to emphasize the Palestinian refugees rights to education, to preserve their Palestinian national identity, to enhance their human right to return back to their homeland in accordance with the resolutions of the inter national legality."

In other words, to destroy Israel.

But, it is a cultural thing.



Goodbye Belgium....25% of Belgian Capital Is Now Muslim

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2011

Holger Awakens 


When 25% of your population is Muslim, you might as well kiss your way of life, your culture and your freedoms goodbye and that is exactly what appears to be the case in Brussels, Belgium.

From the article at EurasiaReview:

More than 250,000 residents out of a total population of one million in Brussels have Muslim roots, according to a study carried out by the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium and published in the Belgian media Friday.

The study was carried out by Felice Dasetto, a sociologist and a professor at the university who is considered to be an expert in issues relating to Muslims in Belgium.

Brussels the political capital of the European Union accounts for half of the total number of Muslims in Belgium.

The figure puts Belgium among other European cities with a big Muslim presence like Birmingham in the UK, says the study.

Last night on my Blog Talk Radio show we were discussing the possibilities of Sharia Law happening in America and there was discussion of the fairly low percentage of Muslims in America but this article shows what happens when a Muslim population skyrockets - I ask you, if you live in an American city that would see the Muslim population get to 25 or 30 percent, you don't think that there would be sharia courts popping up?

Belgium: 25 Percent Of Brussels Population Is Muslim

More than 250,000 residents out of a total population of one million in Brussels have Muslim roots, according to a study carried out by the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium and published in the Belgian media Friday.

The study was carried out by Felice Dasetto, a sociologist and a professor at the university who is considered to be an expert in issues relating to Muslims in Belgium.

Brussels the political capital of the European Union accounts for half of the total number of Muslims in Belgium.

The figure puts Belgium among other European cities with a big Muslim presence like Birmingham in the UK, says the study.

It claims that the Islamic presence is becoming more and more visible in Brussels with more mosques and minarets, more women wearing a veil and more Muslim organisations.

The study argues that the Islamic faith has the power to mobilise people to a a very big extent, more than for example the Catholic church or political parties.

System Failure on a Global Scale


SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2011

WARNING SIGNS


By Alan Caruba
We are living in times when the structures involving the global financial system, national security, and self-governance are under attack, decaying, or just self-destructing due to all the ills to which humanity is prone. 

Wars in the twentieth century were always an example of either the failure of nations to resolve their differences or of the ancient human inclination to steal whatever they can from their neighbor. Wars organize this into armies for that purpose. The other cause for war is the necessity to rid the neighborhood of the crazy guy who’s hoarding weapons and building bombs.

What is occurring of late, however, goes beyond the usual casus belli to something far greater, a loss of faith in national and international banking systems, aggravated by the failure of nations to act in a prudent fashion to protect the wealth of their citizens and their national sovereignty. 

The cause of this is socialism, the polite name for communism. Like Islam, it exists for world domination, the control of the population for the enrichment of those holding the reins of power. It is no accident that the U.S. Congress is filled with millionaires or those who soon will be.

Communism, the creation of a man who never held a job in his life, Karl Marx, and its theoretically gentler version, Socialism, has proved to be a failure wherever it was implemented. It is always introduced as the antechamber to utopia, a better life for everyone and it has always led to the slaughter of millions in the name of achieving it. It is just another form of slavery.

Socialism, as practiced throughout the United States and Europe, dependent as it is on the “redistribution of wealth” in the form of “entitlement” programs is now crashing down around the heads of various elected leaders. 

As the former British Prime Minister of Britain, Margaret Thatcher, once famously said, “Sooner or later you run out of other people’s money.” 

When you pile on debt beyond the mind’s capacity to imagine and you empower “super committees” or hold desperate meetings as are occurring in Europe, public faith in national currencies begins to disappear and with it a rational world in which goods and services generate income.

We are now 66 years since the end of World War Two, the war that followed “the war to end all wars”, World War One. Peace—the absence of war—lasted a scant twenty-one years in Europe before the latter cataclysm began in 1939.

Times of turmoil are the perfect opportunity for tyrants of every description to emerge, organize the collective anger, and launch new wars. In the past 66 years of “peace” there has been a succession of wars, usually between Communist and Capitalist nations such as the Korean and Vietnam Wars or civil wars. The recent wars and revolutions in the Middle East have been about oil and who gets to pump it out of the ground. 

Threatening the entire world is the rise of the Islamic Revolution. Islam is less a religion than a battle plan for global conquest that has the added fillip of enslaving its adherents in a faith system that demands total obedience on pain of death. Unbelievers in general face this threat. Israel in particular always has.

Capitalism isn’t a perfect system, subject to periodic cycles of recession and depression, but it does require a greater measure of individual freedom than any other in order to encourage the kind of innovation and risk-taking that creates vast wealth-producing economies.

The problem the West is facing has been brought on by the profligate and often corrupt waste of the people’s wealth. This has been the result of metastasizing laws whose ultimate purpose is to keep populations from demanding more freedom from rapacious taxing, borrowing, and spending. Even central banks are powerless against this. Ours, the Federal Reserve, has responded by printing dollars out of thin air.

On November 18th a proposed constitutional amendment that would require Congress to balance the budget failed in the House. The U.S. is currently $15 trillion in debt. The worst fears of our Founding Fathers are coming true. Presiding over the nation is a Marxist ideologue and his henchmen.

When the Congress of the United States of America refuses to obey the limits of the Constitution, you have failure. 

When that same Congress refuses to reform “entitlement” programs and reduce massive spending, you have failure. 

When the Federal Reserve—a central bank that is not a part of the federal government— owns most of the nation’s debt, you have failure.

In my lifetime, the United States of America went from a largely Capitalist system and society to one of near total government control. It is Socialism supported by an insane system of taxation lacking even the appearance of fairness.

The United States has moved too far away from the purpose of the Constitution, established to “form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity…”

We are that posterity, 

In the decades since the last Great Depression a succession of Congresses has bankrupted the nation once again. It is happening as well in Europe because nations like Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and France thought they too could defy common sense and fiscal prudence.

It is system failure on a global scale.

Americans and the citizens of Europe are the unwilling victims of too much government, too much regulation, too much corruption, too much taxation, and the general inclination of those in charge to acquire as much wealth for themselves while keeping the rest of the population complacent with “redistribution of wealth” schemes that always fail.

The Tea Party movement is calling for a restoration of America. We have precious little time to do that and it is the Democratic Party in league with unions who oppose that goal.

© Alan Caruba, 2011

Barak: Iran Will be 'Unstoppable' in One Year


Defense Minister Ehud Barak tells CNN: Iran is less than a year away from being unstoppable in its goal to be nuclear.

By Elad Benari
First Publish: 11/20/2011, 3:04 AM
Israel National News
Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak
Flash 90
In another of several interviews he has given this past week on the Iranian issue, Defense Minister Ehud Barak is hinting that in time is running out to stop Iran from achieving nuclear capability.

In an interview to CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS”, which will air on Sunday and of which an advanced transcript was released on Saturday, Barak says that Iran is less than a year away from becoming unstoppable in its goal to produce a nuclear weapon.

When asked by the host whether Israel is going to attack Iran, Barak says, “I don’t think that that is a subject for public discussion. But I can tell you that the IAEA report has a sobering impact on many in the world…and people understand that the time has come... People understand now that Iran is determined to reach nuclear weapons. No other possible or conceivable explanation for what they have been actually doing. And that should be stopped.”

Zakaria also asks Barak about President Barack Obama’s support for Israel, in light of the criticism that has been pointed at the President because of policy regarding Israel.
“He is extremely strong supporter of Israel in regard to its security,” Barak responds. “Traditionally, the president will support Israel in keeping its collective military edge and taking care of its security needs. But this administration is excelling in this. And it could not have happened without the immediate direct support of the president. So I don’t think that anyone can raise any question mark about the devotion of this president to the security of Israel.”


In the past week Barak has given several interviews in the media in which he addressed Iran’s nuclear program.

On Wednesday, he told PBS’ Charlie Rose that the only way to get Iran to drop its nuclear program using negotiations would be if the world, including Russia, China and India, “joins hands” and sanctions Iran.

In the same interview, Barak said that if he were the Iranians, he’d “probably” want a nuclear weapon as well.

On Thursday, Barak told Kol Yisrael radio that although Israel was trying to convince members of the international community to economically isolate Iran, he did not think that effort would work. Despite his pessimism, he said, Israel needed to continue working through diplomatic channels – and avoid the alternative.

In the same interview, Barak tried to defend himself for telling Charlie Rose that if he were Iranian he’d probably want a nuclear bomb, saying that he had no “empathy” with Iran.
“We must make clear to the world that we understand the situation and are ready todeal with it, and that this is a challenge not just for us, but for the whole world,” Barak said, skirting the question on his comment. When pressed, Barak simply said that his comment was taken out of context.

His remarks resulted in MKs and political officials from left to right castigating him.



EDITORIAL: Obama’s Kenyan move

THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Administration loosened abortion laws in African nation




Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga (left), Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma (center) and Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo (right) meet in Abidjan on Monday. (Associated Press)The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report Monday confirming Obama administration meddling in the drafting of controversial provisions of Kenya’s constitution, which were ratified last year. Officials funneled $18 million in taxpayer cash to a number of groups, at least one of which openly worked to reverse the African country’s ban on killing the unborn. U.S. law prohibits lobbying for or against abortion with foreign aid money. (Photo: Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga (left), Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma (center) and Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo (right) meet in Abidjan on Monday. (Associated Press)
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) skirted the ban by using grant recipients to help re-write the country’s charter. “The groups that were supported are the pro-abortion groups in Kenya - not just some group that may have an interest,” Rep. Christopher H. Smithtold The Washington Times. The New Jersey Republican was one of the three members who asked government auditors to perform a full investigation of how taxpayer funds were spent.
In 2008, the government of Kenya charged a “committee of experts” with drafting a new constitution that would be presented to voters for approval. This committee’s original draft only stated that “every person has the right to life.” The International Development Law Organization(IDLO), which took $400,000 in administration cash, provided “input” to the committee. The next draft allowed abortion when the “health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law.” This language made it to the final, ratified constitution.
The loophole essentially gives the government the freedom to grant abortion on demand. “Health can be defined to be virtually anything,” said Mr. Smith.
The Siljander Amendment, a provision of federal appropriations law, has outlawed overseas abortion lobbying since 1981. USAID told GAO that its grant recipients weren’t lobbying because the push for abortion was not direct. The constitutional committee also wasn’t a governmental entity, so USAID argued it couldn’t be lobbied. Moreover, the grant recipients and subrecipients were merely “civic education groups” that took money to correct “misunderstandings” about the abortion provision.
Mr. Smith found the bureaucrats were much more strict when he proposed a grant for the support of a pregnancy care center in the Republic of Georgia. “It was about assisting women who happened to be pregnant - it had nothing to do with lobbying for or against abortion,” saidMr. Smith. “And that was construed to be a violation of Siljander by State Department lawyers.”
It’s bad enough President Obama is pushing a hard-left agenda on the United States. He shouldn’t use taxpayer dollars to spread his “change” overseas as well.
© Copyright 2011 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

BREAKING: Fatah and Hamas reach understandings, 'government' to move to Gaza

ISRAEL MATZAV
by Carl in Jerusalem
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Fatah and Hamas have reached 'understandings' pursuant to which they are 'reconciling' and moving their 'government's seat to Gaza. Fatah is downplaying concerns expressed by the United States and Israel. And the two parties have agreed to get rid of Salam Fayyad, which is only going to make international donors more jittery. But the 'Palestinians' are now denying some of those reports and trying to put a damper on others.
The issue of reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas is an internal Palestinian affair and no one has the right to intervene in it, a Palestinian Authority official in Ramallah said Saturday.

The official, who was responding to reports about Israeli and American opposition to efforts to achieve reconciliation between the two rival parties, said that neither the US nor Israel had the right "to meddle in the internal affairs of the Palestinians."

He also denied that the US Administration had threatened to cut off financial aid to the Palestinians because of the rapprochement between the two parties.
It may well be an 'internal Palestinian affair' but the 'Palestinians' have no right to dictate how the World will react to whatever decisions they make.
Meanwhile, Hamas and Fatah officials denied that they have agreed to move the headquarters of the next Palestinian government from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip.

...

On the eve of the Abbas-Mashaal summit, sources close to Hamas and Fatah said that the two sides have agreed that current Prime Minister Salam Fayyad would not head a new unity government.

Hamas's fierce opposition to Fayyad's nomination has prevented the implementation of the Egyptian-sponsored reconciliation accord that was announced last May.

Until recently, Abbas and Fatah had rejected the Hamas stance, insisting that Fayyad remain in his job after the formation of a unity government.

Last week, Fayyad hinted that he would be prepared to step down to facilitate the implementation of the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreement.

Over the weekend, some Fatah representatives in Ramallah said that it was possible that Hamas would agree to having Fayyad serve as finance minister in the proposed unity government.
Those 'Fatah representatives' have undoubtedly started to think through the implications of losing much of their international aid money.
In a related development, senior Hamas representative Ahmed Yusef announced that his movement and Fatah have agreed that the headquarters of the next government would be based in the Gaza Strip and not in the West Bank.

Yusef told the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper that Hamas and Fatah have also reached agreement on a political platform that envisages the establishment of a Palestinian state within the pre-1967 lines with Jerusalem as its capital.

Yusef, a former political advisor to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, claimed that in the past Abbas insisted on Fayyad because he was worried that removing him would disrupt his plan to apply for Palestinian membership in the UN.

Amin Maqboul, a Fatah representative in the West Bank, denied that the new government would be moved to the Gaza Strip. He said that this was one of the issues that would be discussed between Abbas and Mashaal.

Another top Hamas official, Salah Bardaweel, also denied that the two parties had reached agreement on moving the government headquarters to the Gaza Strip.

He also denied that Hamas and Fatah have reached agreement on the identity of the prime minister who would head a new unity government consisting of independent figures.

Bardaweel warned that failure of the Abbas-Mashaal summit would have "negative consequences" for the Palestinians, but did not elaborate.

He added that despite the optimism surrounding the Abbas-Mashaal summit, Hamas was concerned about the continued crackdown on its supporters in the West Bank by Abbas's security forces.

In contrast, Nabil Sha'ath, member of the Fatah Central Committee, voiced optimism over the prospects of ending the dispute with Hamas.
YNet adds that Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is also expected to stay out of the next government. A quid pro quo for Fayyad?
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Maan news agency reported Saturday that neither Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh nor Fatah PM Fayyad will seek the premiership in the next Palestinian elections.

"Ismail Haniyeh and Salam Fayyad were causes of disagreement in the previous stage, and so both will be exempted," Youssef said.
Should be an interesting week. What could go wrong?




Bee's note:
See the following on WMD:


FROM WND'S JERUSALEM BUREAU

Americans to pay terrorists' salaries?

New Palestinian unity deal could put Islamist group on U.S. payroll


Read more:Americans to pay terrorists' salaries?http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=369521#ixzz1eChnDWDJ






Friday, November 18, 2011

The City of David: Then and Now


THE BIBLE PLACES

With a few free hours in Jerusalem, I headed to the City of David with a handful of old photographs that I had printed off. My goal was to get the "now" version. For the most part, I was not successful. That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it greatly, but it means that things have changed so much that many times I couldn't even get to the same location where the photograph was taken (or figure out exactly where it was). But I had success in a couple of places, and my favorite is of the City of David.
View from Southwest, ca. 1915
Photo from the Jerusalem volume of the American Colony and Eric Matson Collection/Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-DIG-matpc-05424.


 View from Southwest, August 23, 2005

For best effect, download the two photos in higher resolution in a PowerPoint presentation and flip back and forth between the photos. See how many differences you can detect.


Note:  Check out "The Bible Places" .. this is a remarkable link to information and amazing photos!

Don't Underestimate Iran's Instability - by Sultan Knish

Wednesday, November 16, 2011
SULTAN KNISH
a blog by Daniel Greenfield
Israeli leaders and generals certainly don't mind smiling knowingly every time a top Iranian commander meets an untimely accident, which has been happening surprisingly often these past few years, but the explanation is likely to be more complicated than Mossad secrets agents operating behind the scenes. The logistics of infiltrating people on the ground to carry out assassinations isn't easy, anyone viewing the chronology of the Dubai hit for one man in a hotel room, can only begin to imagine what it would take to pull off more complicated operations in Iran, which sees far less foreign travelers and has much tighter security.

There's no doubt that Israel has its hand in it, but it's also unwise to underestimate the meltdown of the Iranian revolution which began with Ahmadinejad's fraudulent reelection and has turned into a complex power struggle between the Ayatollahs, Ahmadinejad and a populist movement that draws on student protests and brings together reformist Mullahs, Communists and masses of young people who want to live their lives without the religious police looking over their shoulders.

Iran's religious leaders have never trusted its military, and instead relied on the Revolutionary Guards to suppress dissent. Like most military forces turned Praetorian deciders, the Revolutionary Guards has been split by its own factions and violent internal disputes. The volume of deaths among top Guards commanders suggests less of a vast Israeli assassination network and more knives in the dark or sabotaged helicopters.

With Iran's power pyramid now in the hands of Revolutionary Guards commanders, eliminating some commanders who support rivals, or eliminating commanders who block a supporters' path to the top is politics in action within a system where even the pretense of popular elections has been dispensed with.

The bloodshed has comprehensively killed the lie on which the Islamic revolution was based on, that the religious leaders represented a more than human will and were incorruptible. The Shiite revolution fell apart into squabbling and power struggles, ironically in the same way that the Shiite-Sunni split over dynastic rivalry originally occurred. 

Ayatollah Khamenei is protecting his family wealth, like every other tinpot dictator in the region. And Ahmadinejad, the unpopular president whose fraudulent election tore apart the last shreds of political stability is a complete lunatic who also fancies himself to be the 'chosen one'. The strains of suppressing popular protests stemming from the stolen election also broke the alliance between the traditional power base of the Ayatollahs and the Islamic populists.

Ahmadinejad was the great hope of the Ayatollahs for keeping the lid on youthful unrest. A smiling fellow who seemed to understand "the kids" and was into all the new technology. Charismatic and charming, the man seen as a mad dog around the world, was supposed to be the one who would salvage the unstable situation. Instead Ahmadinejad only made it worse. Not by threatening to destroy Israel, that is standard rhetoric in Iran and throughout the Muslim world, but by falling prey to his own mysticism. 

By Sunni standards, the Shiites are already guilty of excessive mysticism, a tendency which the legalistic structure of the clerics are supposed to contain. While the clerics saw Ahmadinejad as a way to put a human face on a brutal and corrupt regime, Ahmadinejad saw his rise as the fulfillment of a prophecy. The Ayatollahs thought they were getting a pleasant representative of reactionary rule, what they were actually getting was a maniac who thought he was here to bring on the end of the world.

The end of the world part wasn't so much of a problem for the clerics, as Ahmadinejad's theological innovations and starring role. And the minimal reforms weren't winning over the youth or calming them down. Iran's economy was troubled and its leaders were pouring money into a global war with only one possible target. The United States. But such a war could only end one way.

It was bad enough that the Iranian leadership was looting the country's oil wealth for its private gain, but it was also squandering it in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Gaza. Iran was acting like a great power because it had oil, squads of suicide bombers and a nuclear program. And Western tolerance allowed them to get away with it.

Iran seized British personnel and held them hostage. It attempted to kidnap American troops. It sent weapons to the Taliban. And each time it got away with it, its leaders became emboldened. It was no wonder that Ahmadinejad's delusions of grandeur got worse with every sign of western weakness. But like Bin Laden, Ahmadinejad didn't understand the West or track its unexpected shift from pacifism to brutal violence. Instead while the Ayatollahs kept planning empires and Ahmadinejad was picking out the right outfit to wear to armageddon, it was the Iranian people who decided that enough was enough.

Ahmadinejad had become unpopular, but Ayatollah Khameini wouldn't let an election kick him out. And that was a mistake that the Supreme Leader is probably still chewing his fingernails over. A victory by reformers wouldn't have significantly damaged clerical power. The reformers had come and gone before, and they were reactionaries compared to what the protesters wanted.

What made Khameini take that drastic step? Was it arrogance or financial interests that would be threatened? Had American weakness emboldened him to dispose of elections without worrying that the West would take advantage of the internal chaos? Or paradoxically, did the possibility of a conflict with the United States necessitate keeping Ahmadinejad where he was? There's no way to know, but the consequences were ugly.

The rebels weren't just university students, though university students invariably provide the core of the rebels in the Middle East, as they do in the West. Joining them were members of the clergy who had been shut out by the power structure or were tired of the corruption. A weak economy combined with repression and corruption are fertile ground for revolutions. And Iran was no different.

The Islamic revolution had relied on mobs, brutality and religious sanction to stay in power. The mobs were no longer on their side, except for the imported Hamas and Hezbollah thugs funded by the regime. The religious sanction had come apart in the face of endless corruption and hypocrisy. That left armed force, but suppressing popular uprisings with the military means turning over power to the military.

When Mubarak had to call on the military, it was the military that took power. Bringing out the Revolutionary Guards to decide a power struggle quickly turning into a civil war, meant that the new instrument of power in Iran was the Guards. Once the military becomes the deciding power then the only way to prevent it from seizing power outright is either by appointing your own family members to high positions or by choosing them from members of a minority group that cannot hold power. (And even that isn't always reliable as the Alawites have managed to rule Syria.) Finally that just leaves random terror.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards is now the supreme power in Iran, even though it was created because of the clerical distrust for the regular military, its part gang of regime thugs, part guerrilla and terrorist group and currently the only thing standing between the regime and the people who hate it enough to want to die tearing it down. But it's also more than a name or the sum of its functions. 

Like so much of the regime, it's also a business built on stolen wealth, corruption and greed. Like the KGB, it's part secret police and part mafia. The KGB wound up taking over and ruling the USSR, brushing aside the Communists and replacing their ideology with an oligarchy run for their own profit. Given time and power, the IRGC will go the same way and the Islamic revolution will drift to a close and be replaced by officers calling themselves presidents, much as it is throughout the region.

But time is running out. The KGB could not have taken over without undermining the Communists and the reformers. The Revolutionary Guards suppressed the reformers and are in a position to bring down the Ayatollahs if they choose. But the reformers were never discredited and the Guards may never get their oligarchy.

Quite a few Guards commanders have fled or defected, much as top KGB officers who weren't on the inside jumped ship and turned into Putin's worst enemies. The Litvinenko assassination was the KGB killing its own. The same thing is likely happening with the Revolutionary Guards in Iran with rivals affiliated with different factions in the grand power struggle fighting an internecine war among themselves. Some may be allied with the CIA or the Mossad, and may be bringing their own house down for their own reasons.

The sabotage and assassinations all point to internal factions, likely working with outside parties in a quiet civil war. Inside Iran the nuclear program is about more than destroying Israel, it's about power and it's about money. The nuclear program puts money into the pockets of the well-connected which includes the extensive construction businesses of the Guards. It also gives the regime bragging rights. Nuclear weapons mean genocide to those on the outside, but to those on the inside they mean money and having the biggest gun to show off on parade.

The atmosphere of paranoia within the inner ranks is bad and the situation is spiraling out of control. That does mean that the Iranian regime may implode, but even worse it may not.

Imagine for a moment if the leaders of the coup against Gorbachev had accused him of being an American spy and sent tanks across the German border? Had they done that, it's very unlikely that the Soviet Union would have ever fallen. And in the worst case scenario, it would have meant a nuclear war. But the leadership had become too conservative and cautious to roll the dice and take the risk. There's no reason to think that applies to the numerous factions playing the game in Iran.

A war likely wouldn't save them, but if nuclear weapons are added to the mix, it could still raise a pile of bodies that would make Saddam look like a slacker. And while the good news may be that the Islamic Revolution is on its last legs, the bad news is that it's planning to go out with a nuclear kick.

The fanatics want armageddon, the clerics want a big gun that they can use to become a world power and the people doing the killing-- it's anyone's guess what they want.


The Devil's Smile - by Sultan Knish

Sunday, November 13, 2011
Sprightly Ahmadinejad tours nuclear facilities, having stolen an election he marches on as his police batter and protesters. And everywhere he goes, he smiles his trademark loopy smile. The smile of a psychopath or a saint.

Why is Ahmadinejad smiling? The answer is not a terribly complicated one. With every step he takes and every day that he remains in power, he discredits the most deeply held ideas of Western liberals about the power of diplomacy to resolve conflicts and internal civil disobedience to achieve peaceful regime change. Despite years of diplomatic and hundreds of thousands of protesters taking to the streets-- Ahmadinejad's grip on power remains as secure as ever.

Walking over the bodies of student protesters, of political dissidents, of the thousands killed by the wars he has touched off, he continues to taunt the rest of the world to do anything about it. And the rest of the world has done nothing except talk. And as Ahmadinejad has demonstrated, talk counts for nothing at all.

While Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may be detached from ordinary reality, living in an Islamic version of Charles Manson's fantasies about touching off a spectacular war in order to bring on a new age, he understands his enemies well enough to call them out on their weakness. Like every other Islamic terrorist and warlord, Ahmadinejad sees diplomacy as weakness behind a mask of civility. And like just about every strongman in the world, he laughs at it.

Ahmadinejad may be a monster, but there are no shortage of monsters in the Middle East. Saddam Hussein was just as bad, yet much of the American and European left proved eager to shut their eyes to the rape rooms, to Uday's horrors of mangled limbs and broken fingers, to the ethnic cleansing and gassing-- while demanding that we respect Saddam's sovereignty. Today those very same people pat themselves on the back, as if defending the right of a tyrant to keep killing his own people were some great act of moral courage.

But even Saddam and Ahmadinejad are not particularly unique, because monsters proliferate in the Middle East like mushrooms after a rainstorm, growing off the oil money that their enemies send them, which they exchange for weapons and payments to their own loyalists to secure their base of power. Every petrodollar sent to the Middle East means death of a certain kind, whether it's the death of a passerby by a suicide bomb in Basra funded by Iranian or Saudi money, the death of an imported Indian contract worker in Dubai or the murder of an African Sudanese in Sudan. Either way oil money is death money, and the world knows it, and yet does nothing. No wonder Ahmadinejad keeps on smiling.

The Middle Eastern tyrannies of today often began as client states by Western governments and the USSR, which thought that they could control their oil by way of a strong leader or two. They were right and they were wrong. Because it didn't take a great genius to realize that the leaders would take the oil and the reins would soon be pointing the other way. That's what happened to the United States and Saudi Arabia. The US oil companies were nationalized, and then the Saudis proceeded to nationalize the US government as well.

Eisenhower's intervention on behalf of Nasser's seizure of the Suez Canal, and against England, (despite Nasser being a Soviet ally) demonstrated that America would rather turn on its allies, than risk alienating Arab and Muslim states. When the Saudis nationalized ARAMCO, they were confident that America would do nothing. And they were only partially wrong. America did something, it used taxpayer money to compensate shareholders for the nationalized by our "Saudi" friends.

And then the pattern was set. And it's still set. The Saudi plan of slow conquest is proceeding on schedule, as their front groups promote Islam in America and Europe, their Chevron board members (formerly ARAMCO) hold key positions on foreign policy, and everyone bows to the Religion of Peace. But there are those on both the Sunni and Shiite side who are dissatisfied with slowly boring from within, who want apocalyptic showdowns and governments of the faithful installed post haste in every Muslim and non-Muslim country. Al Qaeda represents the Sunni extreme. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad represents the Shiite extreme. Together they have become the conductors of the international orchestra of death.

Because the West did not just underestimate their own vulnerability to blackmail, once all that black crude was in the territory of "our close friends", but they failed to take Islam into account. To the mindset of the time, Islam was a borderline irrelevant factor, a primitive tribal religion that few of the Sheikhs took seriously anymore. It might be used by a Mahdi to drive a crowd into a fevered rage. It might be used to command a certain amount of loyalty. But the idea of Islam and the modern world colliding in any way, was not taken seriously by too many of the Oxford and Harvard educated pipe smoking chaps who made the maps and wrote what they thought was the future of the Middle East.

But while Islam may be backward, it is the primitive things that are the hardest to kill and exercise their strongest grip on the mind of man. And while the abstract battle between capitalism and communism raged on, abstract because the Middle East was already full of capitalists who lived communal lives under totalitarian rule, Islam, which had never gone away, inevitably because the dominant theme of the region. And eventually the world.

And what will the West throw up against it? Back in 1956 the British tried to stage a phony crisis in order to send in peacekeeping troops in order to stop Nasser's nationalization of the Suez Canal, a weak effort that was aborted when Eisenhower threatened to use the Treasury to destroy the British Pound. Eisenhower would later go on to regret it, but the deed was done.

Today the West threatens extensive diplomacy, possible trade sanctions (which amount to a puff of dust in the wind) and eventually perhaps some kind of liberation force intended to implement regime change and democracy. All of which essentially translate into a show of weakness. And that is why Saddam wanted nuclear weapons, knowing that having them would enable him to bluff any threat. Ahmadinejad wants it for the same reason, but his bluff is aimed a lot wider and higher. Because he plans to actually use nuclear weapons and then call the world's bluff to do anything about it. And he may be right.

Ahmadinejad's smile is nurtured by the toxic self-assurance of a monster who knows he is unstoppable. Hitler wore that same smile as his armies tore across Europe, and only when those same armies were finally shattered and sent back in retreat at a terrible cost, did his madness finally turn on him and drive him deeper and deeper into delusion, and finally suicide. Hitler believed he was unstoppable, because the only thing his enemies seemed willing to throw at him was diplomacy and more diplomacy. This only fed his grandiose complex and his sense of omnipotence, for how better to encourage a madman who believes that nothing can stand in his way, than to fail to stand in his way.

But Ahmadinejad's story is also the larger tale of the Middle East. Where the world turns its face away from genocide, terrorism, oppression, gender apartheid and slavery by oil rich Muslim nations, while lambasting Israel in the hopes of winning their favor. The Muslim world has gone from a fetid swamp to a radioactive dump, its green glow shining poisonously into the sky. And there is a very simple reason for that. Because when you do not oppose evil, or worse when you actively pander to it, the evil grows that much worse.

Both the slow Saudi apocalypse and the speedy Iranian armageddon can be stopped by demonstrating that the people who they think are their victims are neither weak nor willing. The tyrants of the Muslim world are not afraid of diplomacy, they are not all that terrified of protests, and bombs and bullets don't worry them too much unless they are backed by real resolve. You can scare a wolf pack away for a time by firing into the air or by occasionally firing at them, but eventually the predators realize how the game works and they either work their way around your position or just charge. The slow apocalypse or the speedy one. Then there is a third option. When the hunters become the hunted. In half a century, oil money has built petty tyrants and tribal coalitions into imaginary nations and states. In less than a decade, all that can be taken away. If we continue retreating or bluffing with the power we dare not use, the wolves will have their way, one way or another. Only by going on the offensive can we win.



From NY to Jerusalem,

Daniel Greenfield

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