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9/30/2011
HELL FREEZING OVER - I AGREE WITH GREENWALD

I just got a weather forecast for hell: temperatures are dropping and a deep freeze is expected.

Glenn Greenwald is right:

It was first reported in January of last year that the Obama administration had compiled a hit list of American citizens whom the President had ordered assassinated without any due process, and one of those Americans was Anwar al-Awlaki.  No effort was made to indict him for any crimes (despite a report last October that the Obama administration was “considering” indicting him).  Despite substantial doubt among Yemen experts about whether he even has any operational role in Al Qaeda, no evidence (as opposed to unverified government accusations) was presented of his guilt.  When Awlaki’s father sought a court order barring Obama from killing his son, the DOJ argued, among other things, that such decisions were “state secrets” and thus beyond the scrutiny of the courts.  He was simply ordered killed by the President: his judge, jury and executioner.  When Awlaki’s inclusion on President Obama’s hit list was confirmed, The New York Times noted that “it is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing.”

After several unsuccessful efforts to assassinate its own citizen, the U.S. succeeded today (and it was the U.S.).  It almost certainly was able to find and kill Awlaki with the help of its long-time close friend President Saleh, who took a little time off from murdering his own citizens to help the U.S. murder its.  The U.S. thus transformed someone who was, at best, a marginal figure into a martyr, and again showed its true face to the world.  The government and media search for The Next bin Laden has undoubtedly already commenced.

The problem that the president has ignored and that those cheering the death of this scumbag have forgotten is that al-Awlaki is not a terrorist. He has not even broken the law. He is innocent.

Until he is indicted, tried, and convicted of crimes by a jury of his peers.Then we can drag his terrorist hide to the execution chamber, strap him down, and give him the hot shot. I have no problem with that scenario at all. If there is going to be a death penalty in America, certainly those who advocate the mass murder of American citizens and work to carry it out deserve it the most.

If al-Awlaki had been killed in a drone attack in a cave where he just happened to be hiding along with other AQAP terrorists, we could all hold our noses and say it was a legal hit — despite knowing it to be a transparent fiction — simply because there was no stated intent to single out the terrorist for assassination. A patina of plausible deniability encompasses the act; not satisfactory to purists like Greenwald but good enough as a legal defense.

Recall that our efforts to target Saddam’s and Gaddafi’s known hideouts and bomb shelters could be similarly justified because we were hitting “command and control” targets. If they happened to be where the bombs were falling — a wish devoutly hoped for — well, c’est la guerre.

Indeed, we are at war. And if an American citizen chooses to fight on the other side, he takes his chances like the rest of the enemy combatants.

But knowingly, coldly and with malice aforethought, if we put his name on a missile and use it to kill him, it becomes a shocking transgression against the Constitution and flies in the face of 222 years of American law and tradition. Al-Awlaki was not a terrorst. No court said he was. No prosecutor ever indicted him. No jury ever convicted him. He was, as I said, an innocent American citizen under the law.

Would I be making the same argument if Bush were president? I would hope so. The case of Jose Padilla was similar in the sense that Padilla was innocent, although he was eventually indicted, tried and convicted (not of trying to detonate a dirty bomb). But at the time that he was picked up and indefinitely detained, his rights were trampled upon by a government that used the excuse of being at war to justify his unconstitutional detention.

Targeting foreigners is one thing. Targeting your own for assassination is what the Soviets, Gaddafi and the Iranians do to their citizens.

I hardly think following their example makes us very “exceptional,” do you?

By: Rick Moran at 1:04 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)

9/29/2011
Pakistan’s Terror Treachery on Trial

My latest is up at FPM and I take a look at Admiral Mullen’s comments about Pakistan’s involvement in terror attacks on US citizens and where the relationship might go from here.

A sample:

Admiral Mullen made some other interesting comments at that senate hearing as well. He said, “With ISI support, Haqqani operatives planned and conducted that truck bomb attack” on September 10 that killed 5 and wounded 77 coalition soldiers. Mullen added, “We also have credible evidence that they were behind the June 28th attack against the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul and a host of other smaller but effective operations.”

The State Department leaked to the Washington Post: “Adm. Mike Mullen’s assertion last week that an anti-American insurgent group in Afghanistan is a ‘veritable arm’ of Pakistan’s spy service was overstated and contributed to overheated reactions in Pakistan and misperceptions in Washington.”

What “misperceptions” could there be? An arm of the Pakistani government is colluding with terrorists to kill Americans. To most, that would seem a straightforward problem with which our government should be dealing. David Goldman (aka “Spengler”), writing on his blog at PJ Media, quotes another unnamed diplomat saying, “The administration has long sought to pressure Pakistan, but to do so in a nuanced way that does not sever the U.S. relationship with a country that American officials see as crucial to winning the war in Afghanistan and maintaining long-term stability in the region.”

Goldman adds:

The Pakistanis, in short, continue to murder Americans with impunity by threatening us with their own failure. It’s the geopolitical equivalent of the scene in Blazing Saddles in which the black sheriff intimidates a lynch mob by holding a gun to his own head and threatening to shoot himself.

The Pakistani military’s response to Mullen’s comments and the support he received from the Congress and notable pundits for his accusations has been sharp and without precedent. Not only has the Pakistani military angrily dismissed the charges made by Mullen, the it has flatly refused an American request to go after the Haqqani network in North Waziristan, while cozying up to China at the same time.

The civilian government, racked by corruption and seemingly powerless to control the military, was less direct in its criticism. It is trying to turn the issue into a question of nationalism and sovereignty, appealing to the people’s anti-Americanism and patriotism. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said at the UN that “Pakistan’s dignity must not be compromised.” And thousands of protesters poured into the streets across the country on Tuesday chanting anti-American slogans and burning American flags. A speaker at one of the protests said, “We warn US not to indulge in any misadventure with us, or the whole nation will stand united to defend our country.”

To tap into this sentiment and build support, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani will chair an all-party conference on Thursday to come up with a position on fighting terror and the course of future relations with the US. This will give an opportunity for the politicians to posture against America while fanning the flames of patriotism and nationalism. How that will quiet the situation remains to be seen.

By: Rick Moran at 11:38 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

9/27/2011
THE RICK MORAN SHOW: THE RISE AND FALL OF RICK PERRY

You won’t want to miss tonight’s Rick Moran Show, one of the most popular conservative political talk shows on Blog Talk Radio.

Tonight, I welcome Jazz Shaw of Hot Air, Vodkapundit Stephen Green, Jeff Dunetz of the Lid Blog. We’ll discuss Rick Perry’s troubles and the Palestinian statehood issue.

The show will air from 7:00 - 8:00 PM Central time. You can access the live stream here. A podcast will be available for streaming or download shortly after the end of the broadcast.

Click on the stream below and join in on what one wag called a “Wayne’s World for adults.”

Also, if you’d like to call in and put your two cents in, you can dial (718) 664-9764.

Listen to The Rick Moran Show on internet talk radio

By: Rick Moran at 4:35 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

9/26/2011
VLADIMIR PUTIN: ACT II

My latest at FPM deals with the expected return of Vladimir Putin to the presidency of Russia, The stage managed announcement at the United Russia party congress on Friday, surprised few people, despite current President Dimitry Medvedev’s desire for a second term. It was apparently always going to be Putin and in the piece, I speculate about a third presidential term for him.

A sample:

Putin is supporting Medvedev for prime minister, which has caused a rift in the senior levels of government with reformers. Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, one of the only officials trusted by foreign investors in the Russian government, says he would step down if Medvedev was made prime minister. Kudrin wanted the office for himself and would chafe at serving under Medvedev again, given their disagreements over liberalization.

It is unlikely that Putin will radically change course, continuing the reforms begun by his successor, simply because he will have to. “Russians will continue down the road of privatization and diversification away from oil, not because they like to, but because they will be forced to,” said Ivan Tchakarov, chief economist for Renaissance, a Moscow investment bank.

Might economic problems at home curtail Putin’s aggressively anti-Western foreign policy? Closer to home, this might be the case. Russia will always see the former Soviet republics in its sphere of influence and open to meddling, but Eastern Europe could be a different story. It is likely that Putin will refrain from openly threatening the former Soviet satellites, as he did when he bullied Poland and the Czech Republic into refusing the offer of a US missile shield. As much as his nationalist outlook would cause him to seek to influence former Warsaw Pact nations, he will need their investment and markets in the next few years as Russia moves from an export to an import economy.

But it is in the Middle East where Putin will cause the most trouble. He will no doubt continue the current policy toward Iran, partnering with the Islamic Republic on weapons sales and the transfer of nuclear technology. This almost certainly means there isn’t much chance of Russia voting for more stringent sanctions against Iran at the UN to prevent them from building a bomb. Russia is already playing a key role in the Iranian nuclear industry, agreeing to remove used fuel rods from the now operational reactor at Bushehr and taking them back to Russia for processing. Russian technicians are also training Iranian personnel at the plant, which would make a military strike on the reactor very hazardous, as it would likely lead to the death of Russian citizens.

The White House is putting on a brave face regarding Putin’s expected return to the presidency. National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said that “the reset has always been about national interests and not individual personalities.” This may be true, but it was also clear that the administration and the State Department preferred dealing with President Medvedev, he being seen as more pragmatic and reform-minded. The US also believed that it might even wean Medvedev from Putin’s control.

In truth, as the Guardian points out, this was wishful thinking:

Over the past four years Medvedev has done nothing to dispel the impression that he is anything other than a useful seatwarmer, his time in the Kremlin a legalistic blip in an epoch of endless Putin rule.

If anything, the orchestrated announcement that Putin would be a candidate for president shows that it was always Putin in the driver’s seat and Medvedev a very junior partner in their “tandem” governing arrangement.

A Republican in the White House would make a difference in our relations with Russia only at the margins. Unless it was a hard core conservative ideologue, arms control would still be a priority as would cooperation on issues relating to nuclear proliferation. These  are  so clearly in the interest of the US that only someone besotted with ideological fervor would cut off our nose to spite our face and ignore them.

I think a Republican president might have second thoughts about sponsoring Russia for membership in the WTO - or at least try to tie our support to an issue like Iran sanctions or Russian assistance with peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. But it apparently wouldn’t bother Putin that much if we refused to sponsor Russia’s membership since he doesn’t think much of the organization.

If Obama is re-elected, the danger I see with Russia is his overarching desire to leave a mark on history. This could lead to too many dangerous concessions in arms control agreements at a stage in negotiations where it is critical we maintain some semblance of a useful deterrent. Of course, this desire is not unknown among presidents from Washington to Bush. But Obama truly sees himself as a world-historical figure and his high opinion of himself may lead us into dangerous territory.

Russia hasn’t been anything like a democracy in the last 15 years. Our own diplomats, according to Wikileaks, refers to the Putin-Medvedev tandem as a “mafia government.” A third Putin term will see further consolidation of state control and an erosion of what’s left of freedom.

By: Rick Moran at 10:03 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (9)

9/23/2011
HAPPY 7TH BLOGIVERSARY TO RIGHT WING NUT HOUSE
CATEGORY: Blogging

Has it really been 7 years? Nearly 3,700 posts, 4 million visitors, 5.5 million page views and a lot of emotional energy expended in that time.

Numbers don’t tell the story. When I started this blog, September 23, 2004, we were in the midst of a hard fought presidential campaign that was in doubt until well into election night. The Dan Rather Affair had just hit the blogosphere and after reading everything I could about the matter, commenting on blog posts didn’t seem to be enough. With the encouragement of Ed Morrissey, I opened a Blogger account and began posting. Until about a year ago, I rarely missed a day.

What followed was not quite the “Rise and Fall” of a blogger - more like a journey of self discovery. Turning inward, I found my voice. It was not a voice that many on the right wanted to listen to — a fact that me in my towering ignorance never expected. Nor did I help my cause much by lashing out on occasion against my detractors.

But it is, what it is, and that’s that. I found to my delight that there was still a market for rational, less ideological analysis, albeit a smaller and less profitable one. But with my two jobs at American Thinker and PJ Media, along with other independent articles sold to a couple of sites, I am making a better living than I ever thought possible as a writer/editor. And with a book in the works, who knows what the future will bring?

I have nothing really profound to say about the last 7 years. Blogs have changed dramatically — fewer links (sharing), many more bloggers, but still room for important voices to rise up and be heard. It is much harder to accomplish that today. And the Twitterverse and Facebook revolutions have altered the landscape even more.

A little over a year ago, I realized I was burned out and began writing less. That is going to change — as soon as I can divest myself of one of my jobs. The problem now isn’t so much that I’ve lost the desire to write but rather I have no time to do it. I am gearing up to restart this blog; a redesign, a new domain name (rickmoran.com), and much more frequent and extensive postings. In short, I am going to try and raise my profile on the right, hoping that there is a larger audience for my kind of comment and analysis than there was previously.

In previous years, I have used this occasion to thank those who have helped me along the way. I see no sense in repeating myself. You know who you are, and you know I will be eternally grateful.

The number 7 has had a mystical history in the history of the civilized world. All sorts of good things have been associated with the digit — except perhaps the Seven Deadly Sins, of which I am on number 5 and striving hard to finish before I flee my mortal coil and join my fellow demigods on Olympus. But I am hoping that that this will indeed be a Lucky 7 year and that you - my most loyal and beloved readers — will join me in the adventure.

By: Rick Moran at 3:13 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

9/20/2011
THE ARAB SPRING’S FORGOTTEN WAR

Very bad situation in Yemen. In what may be the only realistic chance of democratic change in all the “Arab Spring” countries, President Saleh has gone all Bashar Assad on us and begun to shell and shoot down civilians at will in the street.

My FPM article today recounts the horrors of this past weekend:

Violence exploded across Yemen over the weekend and through Monday, as protesters throughout the country were met with live fire from military units loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The number of dead in just three days is at least 75, with 26 killed and more than 350 wounded in the capital city of Sanaa alone. Hundreds of thousands of protesters poured into the streets in several cities, demonstrating as they have for eight months against the oppressive Saleh regime, while rebel military units fought pitched battles in the streets with regime forces. Major General Ali Mohsin Saleh Ahmar’s 1st Armored Division, an opposition mainstay since he defected in March, exchanged artillery fire with Saleh’s Republican Guard in the streets of Sanaa, causing many casualties among the protesters.

Yemen has been placed on the backburner for the last several months by the US and its allies, as first the Libyan operation and then the violence in Syria overshadowed the struggle in Yemen for political change that has dragged on since the early months of 2011. The chaos has opened the door for Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to dig in and strengthen its hold in the south. The terrorists have also been able to expand their operations outside of Yemen, thanks to the lack of  control in the region by the government. And there is no end in sight to the conflict despite efforts by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to find a political solution that would satisfy President Saleh, the protesters in the streets, and the largest opposition bloc, the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP).

Some of the demonstrators want the rebel army to stop shooting because it is mostly civilians who are getting caught in the crossfire. One young revolutionary said, “I am upset and angry. My friend has been severely injured. I curse Ahmar’s soldiers and I curse the troops of the regime.” He added, “The demonstrators wanted this revolution to be peaceful, but the soldiers on both sides want this to turn into a civil war.”

Snipers took aim at the civilians from rooftops near Change Square, the epicenter of the revolt, gunning down children as young as 4 years old and exacting a fearful toll on the unarmed demonstrators.

Satisfying Saleh appears to be a near impossibility. Three times since the outbreak of the “Arab Spring” began last February, Saleh has promised to step down and make way for a transitional government. And three times he has reneged, or the opposition has objected to his conditions. His ploy to delay and muddy the waters of any deal that has been proposed has worked — Yemen has fallen out of the headlines and the US moved on to deal with other crises. This has left Saudi Arabia to try and work out a deal that would be acceptable to both sides.

But, as Marc Lynch points out in his blog at Foreign Policy, Saudi interests are definitely not those of the protesters. The US and the international community “essentially delegated the Yemen file to Saudi Arabia and the GCC, which quickly proved that it was either not up to the task or not interested in finding a real solution.” The last thing that King Abdullah wants to see is a democratic revolution on his doorstep. Instead, he has sought to guide the two parties to reach an agreement that would leave Saleh in power for a period of time, while elections were scheduled. Saleh has deputized his vice president to negotiate a deal with the JMP using the GCC framework as a basis for an agreement. But significantly, he is refusing to step down until elections could be held. And the way his negotiators are talking, it could be six months or more before that eventuality occurs.

The US hasn’t covered itself in glory with regards to pushing for Saleh to leave. In fact, we’re talking out of both sides of our mouth. While we give lip service to the protestors, we are working very closely with Saleh’s government to battle Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Penninsula. Obama has increased drone strikes on AQAP  targets and the CIA is constructing a base to better facilitate our attacks.

Not a satisfying turn of events.

By: Rick Moran at 11:36 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

9/19/2011
FALL
CATEGORY: Blogging

I really have to stop reading about Greece and the coming Euro-catastrophe. It’s spoiling my appetite and giving me major league writer’s block.

So I shall leave worldly things behind this morning and concentrate on more ethereal pursuits; such as bemoaning the loss of summer and plunging into the pit of depression over the coming change of season.

Fall begins officially on September 23 but here in my little corner of the Heartland, it’s been here for about a week already. Overnight temps have hovered at 40 or below and  Jack Frost has already come a’nipping, spreading a glaze over the lawn like an artist would wash a landscape. Even with bright sunshine during the day, there is a bite to the wind — little fingers of cold that penetrate your not-quite-fall clothing all the way to the bone, issuing a a warning to take heed the auguries of Fall and dress more warmly next time out.

Inevitably, your next excursion out of doors results in over compensating and dressing as if it’s mid-winter thus discomfiting oneself  when your wardrobe malfunction leads to overheating and an abundance of sweat. Fall always takes a while to get used to as far as finding the optimal balance between freezing and roasting.

Actually, we have it all over the ancients as far as being comfortable during Fall. They basically had a skins-no skins wardrobe. We should feel their pain at not being blessed with having polyester and nylon which, among other modern materials, are shaped into windbreakers, light jackets, and long sleeve shirts in order to ward off the chill and make being outdoors during the Fall a less onerous experience.

Of course, the ancients had other advantages to make up for their lack of appropriate outer wear. They got to sit around campfires every night, eat meat off the bone, fool around on their mates without having to worry about divorce, and go hunting every day. For a man, it sounds idyllic. Except for the lack of indoor plumbing and the fact that their clothes probably smelled like a three week old dead Moose, I’d jump at the chance to live that kind of life.

Cro-Magnon man had fire to keep himself warm and so do we — except the fire is in our gas heaters which leads to another Fall tradition; the ceremonial Lighting of the Sacred Furnace.

No amount of sacred dancing or sacrifices offered to non-existent deities will ever result in being able to light the burner on the first try. This is partly due to me not reading the directions very closely (every year) but also because manufacturers deliberately make it difficult to light the beast so that one is forced to call –  in order to get life giving warmth into the house — the High Priest of Fall.

The Furnace Repairman.

He arrives and the second he walks in the door, your wallet is lighter by $75.  This is the offering he demands in order for him to deign to look at the Holy Cinerator. He takes apart the contraption piece by piece, laying the innards on the basement floor in no discernible pattern, thus assuring however long it takes him to fix the problem, it will take twice as long to put the infernal machine back together. In this way, the High Priest is able to become a Tycoon as well - sort of like being a TV Evangelist only without the gay sex scandals.

His last incantation finished, he presents his bill. What was it that I failed to do to get it started I ask, blinking back tears after confusing his invoice with the national debt and realizing I am in the wrong business. “Might help if you turn the gas on before trying to light it,” he says casually.

I can think of better ways to spend a Fall Saturday afternoon.

No matter. The sun rises later and sets earlier every day, something that must have terrified the ancients. Being quite clever (despite ludicrous theories about ancient astronauts helping them figure everything out), our ancestors discerned the notion that an offering to the gods was good insurance, just in case the sun decided not to come up one day or take it on the lamb and hightail it out of town permanently. They hadn;t a clue about our heliocentric solar system or even that the sun was a heavenly body. All they knew was that warmth was going out of their lives and appeasing a deity was in order.

So on the equinox - -when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun, the center of the Sun being in the same plane as the Earth’s equator — our ancestors held religious ceremonies and offered sacrifices to assure the sun’s return to its former warmth. It shows how truly practical early man was and how science and faith played a role in their lives.

For me, I have no such practical thoughts despite knowing that the sun will once again shine warmly down upon us. It is the interregnum that depresses me. The long nights, the way that time nearly comes to a standstill (as opposed to the way it flies by during the summer), the endless, life draining battle with snow and ice, and finally, the realization that one more winter means there is one less winter before the end.

Irish fatalism? To be sure, I inherited that quality. But someday, I will knock the snow and ice off my boots and live in a place where snow is only seen on travel shows, and ice is what you put into a cocktail glass.

Of course, I will find something else to complain about. Maybe I’ll even miss the change of seasons.

Naw.

By: Rick Moran at 10:43 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

9/14/2011
Islamists Seeking to Isolate Israel

Here’s my latest up at FPM: Israel’s carefully wrought diplomacy has fallen apart over the last few months.

A sample:

It is surprising how quickly Israel’s relations with Turkey have gone south. They had been slowly deteriorating since Prime Minister Erdogan’s Islamist party took over the government in 2003. But the Mavi Marmara incident last year, where Turkish radicals tried to run the Gaza blockade by sea and 9 activists were killed, has accelerated the decline dramatically. A UN report released last week blamed Israel for actions that were “excessive and unreasonable,” while also blaming Turkey and organizers of the blockade runners for the deaths. The report also called the blockade “legitimate,” while criticizing Ankara for not warning activists of the consequences of trying to run the blockade.

On the heels of the report’s release, Prime Minister Erdogan demanded that Israel apologize. Prime Minister Netanyahu, while offering his regrets at the loss of life, refused, saying that Israel would never apologize for defending itself.

This was not good enough for Erdogan, who expelled the Israeli ambassador and cut military ties with the Jewish state. And in an interview with Al Jazeera television, Erdogan stated that the Gaza flotilla raid was “a cause for war” and that future Gaza-bound aid ships would be accompanied by Turkish war ships. He has since walked back from that last statement, saying that Turkey would not deploy its ships as long as Israel did not intercept the aid vessels in international waters. But the threat is there, and a clash between the Israeli and Turkish navies is a possibility if Erdogan carries through on his threat.

Erdogan’s government has now completely turned away from the West and is facing toward Iran and the Middle East. Some observers believe Erdogan wishes to supplant President Ahmadinejad of Iran as the number one champion of the Palestinians in the region. To that end, Erdogan has embarked on a tour of Arab nations, including Egypt, where he arrived to cheering throngs who chanted “Egypt-Turkey: one fist” and “brave Erdogan welcome to your second home.” His goal is to isolate Israel even further by developing a strategic partnership with Egypt, Tunisia, and other Arab countries. Given his anti-Israeli stance, he has become very popular on the Arab street and especially in Egypt, where the Israeli embassy was overrun by a mob of protesters over the weekend, forcing a harrowing evacuation of embassy personnel, including the ambassador.

The attack on the embassy was the second in less than a month. The first incident occurred following a terrorist attack in Israel that killed seven civilians and two soldiers. The attackers infiltrated into Israel from the Egyptian side of the Sinai border crossing, and in hot pursuit of the terrorists - who were reportedly dressed in Egyptian police uniforms - three members of Egyptian security were accidentally killed by the IDF. The incident resulted in a crowd of several thousand besieging the Israeli embassy, with one man ascending to the roof of the building and tearing down the Israeli flag and replacing it with the Egyptian standard, while police and military members stood by and watched.

The second incident occurred on Friday, when thousands of Egyptians broke through the wall surrounding the embassy, trapping the ambassador and other personnel inside the building while the mob vandalized several rooms. Repeated calls to the Egyptian head of state, Field Marshal Tantawi, by US defense secretary Leon Panetta went for naught when the authorities claimed the field marshal couldn’t be found. Panetta wanted to urge the Egyptians to launch an immediate rescue operation, but Tantawi’s mysterious disappearance intensified speculation that Egypt’s generals had deliberately failed to protect the embassy for political gain.

Eventually, Egyptian commandos rescued the Israelis, but only after Panetta warned the Egyptian government of “serious consequences” if any Israelis were killed.

There are some analysts who believe that a general Middle East war is becoming more possible as a result of Israel’s growing isolation and her enemies becoming emboldened because of it. There is also the question of instability in Egypt, Syria, Libya, Tunisia, and Yemen that is throwing up leaders who are not only hostile to the Jewish state, but lead populations that wish to destroy her. Many of those leaders are going to be Islamists or beholden to the radicals for their election victories. This spells nothing but trouble for Israel.

This is going to put Israel on a hair trigger defense posture. It is not inconceivable that conflict could break out in any number of areas as new leadership in the Arab world is driven to war by populations that desire Israel’s destruction.

A dangerous couple of years are ahead for Israel and its Arab neighbors.

By: Rick Moran at 12:39 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

9/13/2011
THE RICK MORAN SHOW: CAGE MATCH: ROMNEY VS. PERRY

You won’t want to miss tonight’s Rick Moran Show, one of the most popular conservative political talk shows on Blog Talk Radio.

Tonight, I welcome Jazz Shaw of Hot Air, Doug Mataconis of Outside the Beltway, and Fausta Wertz of Fausta’s Blog. We’ll discuss last night’s GOP debate, the Republican race for the nomination, and the new poverty statistics that came out today.

The show will air from 7:00 - 8:00 PM Central time. You can access the live stream here. A podcast will be available for streaming or download shortly after the end of the broadcast.

Click on the stream below and join in on what one wag called a “Wayne’s World for adults.”

Also, if you’d like to call in and put your two cents in, you can dial (718) 664-9764.

Listen to The Rick Moran Show on internet talk radio

By: Rick Moran at 4:45 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

9/7/2011
ASSAD DEFIES ARAB LEAGUE ON CRACKDOWN

A troubling disconnect between Assad’s brutality and the Arab League’s “peace plan” and the Red Cross efforts to visit detainees as I point out in my latest at FPM.

A sample:

Despite the Red Cross finally being allowed to visit some detainees held in an Interior Ministry prison outside of Damascus, there appears to be a disconnect between the brutal actions of the Syrian government, and the efforts by the Arab League and Red Cross to deal with the crackdown. In statements made by the representative of the Red Cross, Jakob Kellenberger, it appears that the pacifist organization is unable to grasp the enormity of the crimes against humanity being committed by Assad and his generals.

After expressing the hope that the Red Cross would be able to visit other prisoners being detained by the regime, Kellenberger said of the ICRC’s visit, “This is an important step forward for our humanitarian activities in Syria.” He also met with President Assad and discussed “the rules governing the use of force by security forces in the current situation and the obligation to respect the physical and psychological well-being and human dignity of detainees.”

For five months Assad has been using tanks against civilians and the Red Cross bureaucrat is lecturing Assad about “rules” and “obligations?”

Nobody has any idea how many Syrian civilians have been detained so far. Human rights groups put the number of detainees in the “tens of thousands.” Desperate families have no idea where their loved ones are being held, or even if they are still alive. Those few who have been released have told stories of torture and murder in the prisons. Amnesty International recently released a report detailing the deaths of 88 civilians who were detained by the army. Fifty-two of the bodies showed signs of torture. Amnesty International researcher Neil Sammonds said, “The accounts of torture we have received are horrific.” He added, “We believe the Syrian government to be systematically persecuting its own people on a vast scale.”

Meanwhile, the plan created by the Arab League is completely unacceptable to the protestors, never mind it being heavily criticized by the Syrian government. According to AFP, the document asks Assad to hold elections within three years, move toward a pluralistic government, and immediately halt the crackdown. SG al-Arabi said it was necessary “to carry a clear message to the Syrian authorities about the situation in Syria and the need to stop the violence and launch immediate reforms.” The League’s proposal also includes a requirement that most of their own governments don’t even follow: Assad must “separate the military from political and civil life.”

What makes this statement so surreal – and the effort behind it – is that opposition to the Assad regime has moved far beyond these paltry efforts to “reform” the political process. The protestors want Assad gone one way or another. One activist expressed the hope that the army would take the initiative and overthrow the dictator. “We think the army will one day make a coup. It would make the situation much easier,” he said. So far, that seems a forlorn hope. And the prospect of allowing Assad to serve another three years waiting for elections is a total non-starter with the opposition. In short, most elements in the plan are not based on the reality of what is happening in the streets.

The Arab League’s plan is not only unacceptable to the opposition, the Syrian government has all but rejected it out of hand. Hence, the request that SG al-Arabi cool his heels in Egypt and wait for a more propitious time to make his pitch. The semi-official Syrian news agency SANA reports that Damascus told al-Arabi, that the delay was necessary “due to circumstances beyond our control.” The agency added, “He [al-Arabi] has been informed of those circumstances and a new date will be set for his visit.”

Given the vagueness of the Syrian government’s statement about when that might be, one could assume that an invitation will be a long time coming.

The Arab League is a joke - always has been - but this effort is just gobsmackingly dumb. None of them really want to do anything because someday, they might be forced into the same situation as Assad and want to keep their options open as far as slaughtering their own citizens. They don’t want to intervene in Syria, just as they didn’t want to intervene in Libya. But the conscience of the world shamed them into supporting (or at least giving lip service) to the NATO mission.

The Red Cross seems truly oblivious to the manifestation of evil found in Assad’s Syria. To believe that Assad cares what they think about “rules” of behavior or “obligations” to respect the “dignity” of detainees is just plain weird. I suppose an organization like the ICRC is necessary but they make fools of themselves when injecting themselves into tragedies they simply can’t understand.

The Security Council is being blocked from extending sanctions by Russia and China who don’t think the game is up for Assad quite yet and are hedging their bets that he will find a way to survive. Those are pretty long odds from where I’m sitting. The protestors aren’t going away, the opposition is getting better organized by the week, and the military is becoming less reliable with every killing in the streets. There’s nothing Assad can do to “reform” the political process that would put the genie back in the bottle and stop the demonstrations, so he’s going to have to continue trying to suppress the revolt using terror tactics.

How long that can continue before the world, the Syrian army, or his own inner circle move to stop him is anyone’s guess.

By: Rick Moran at 11:11 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)