Commentary

December 1, 2012 Comments off

Commentary—Imposition of Democracy

How quickly history may change. The exchange of rockets between Hamas and Israel was documented in great detail especially if you watched the somewhat one sided, minute- to- minute exchange on CNN. Forgetting their then poor attempt to correct their bias, the events of the various parties reaching out to the fairly newly anointed President of Egypt was an impressive showing of international politics in action.

Played out on international television, the proceedings unfolded but were subject to events beyond the battle field and not shared with the viewing public in print or television. A bit over three weeks prior to the Hamas rocket attack, Israeli jets raced to the south west and the far side of the Red Sea to the skies over Khartoum, the second largest city of the Sudan. If you are attempting to visualize its location, it is just to the west of Ethiopia. There, the Israeli jets bombed the Yarmouk weapons factory, which belongs to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. They are the manufactures of those long range missiles with heavy warheads that were propelled toward Israel. They were considered by some as the “game change” weapons. Iran had paid for the rockets and had them smuggled to Gaza for Hama’ use against Israel. For days, those particular rockets, were launched at major cities and intercepted by the defense shield Dome (a product of US and Israeli knowhow and money). When it was clear to intelligence sources that most, if not all, of those rockets in Gaza had been spent and none could be produced because of the destroyed factory, the United States entered the scene.

The United States’ Secretary of State appeared alongside the Egyptian President and the Hamas/Israeli hostilities then halted. The game changing rockets were no longer in Gaza, and the factory that built them was destroyed. There were some sputtering moments of peace which were followed by quiet and international praise for the Egyptian government and its leaders. And that seemed to be the end of the story.

Two days later, it was announced that the cease fire was holding. Then the commentators weighed in on who was the winner of the conflict, and where we were to foresee the future of any new alliances that could be spawned by cession of conflict. With the media focus on the various wings of the anti-Israeli world, a vitriolic campaign erupted over if and when Israeli should “start” any action, “they” would send Israeli back to dust. Considering what had just transpired, one wondered why this verbal barrage suddenly erupted upon the world stage. But those were only bellicose words, and the rattling of swords remained in their sheath.

When the dust finally appeared to be settling down -–the rocket launching had stopped, the verbal threats lost their voice, and regional forces moved toward the negotiation table there was no one who could have anticipated that the newly minted hero of the moment, the president of Egypt, would attempt a clear political misstep and look to seize governing power away from the recently shaped democratic country. By attempting to seize the prevailing power in Egypt, clouded by the Hamas/Israeli crises, the President, one could assume, thought that his enhanced international standing and the emotional heat of the rocket and verbal exchanges would shroud what was clearly an attempted at the grab of power during a domestic constitutional crises.

Once taking that step it was difficult for him to back down (this is sometimes referred to as: loosing face), and his intransigence not only intensified the domestic political crises at a critical moment in Egyptian development, but rallied the people in the street and also those officials within the government. Especially vocal were the Judges. Egypt was once again in turmoil with the familiar rioting and tenting in its most famous square. A constitutional crisis of immense proportions grew, and that does not bode well however the issues are settled for a new country and its attempts at democracy. “Snap” votes cannot determine the breath of a new constitution to protect all the people within one nation.
It was said to me (and I believe I must have written about it) that history over hundreds of years plays an enormous role in how a democracy maybe created. The life and generational history of a people within a particular geographic area play a large role in the creation of a democracy. Under what form of governance have they lived for generations after generations. What has been ingrained, generations after generations, in their understanding and acceptance of governance? The mid-East has never known democracy as we in the West understand it. The question then becomes can there be a sudden and complete upheaval and reordering of life from non-self governance to immediately allowing a population—the individual– the self-governance of democratic choices? What has happened to the DNA of democratic choices within each individual that has never been allowed expression? We are seeing that played out in Egypt. The fear for some is that one form of dictatorship is being replaced by another form of suppression.
Richard Allan,
The Editor

Categories: Uncategorized

Global Incidents and Commentary

November 20, 2012 Comments off

Global Incidents

  • From the FP Situation Report: “The good news? Cyber-security threats are down at DOE. The bad: there are still a lot of them, reports Killer Apps’ John Reed: Although better cyber-security practices have reduced the number of reported vulnerabilities, “22 of those 38 vulnerabilities are brand-new while the remaining 16 went unresolved even after the inspector general noted them in 2011, according to a report released this month. This comes as the department has suffered nearly 3,000 cyber-related incidents’ over the last four years, according to the report.”
  • Homeland Security once again warns us that a terrorist attack on the U.S. power grid could be more destructive than super storm Sandy, possibly costing hundreds of billions of dollars and leading to thousands of deaths, the National Academy of Sciences says. While such an event probably wouldn’t kill people immediately, it could cause widespread blackouts for weeks or months.
  • In New Jersey an investigation by FBI along with the Bergen County Bomb Squad lead to the arrest of a 60-year-old doctor with ties to the Occupy Wall Street movement. He has been charged with possessing a large amount of chemicals commonly used for making bombs and explosive devices, along with assault rifles and other weapons.
  • Iran: Steve Emerson reports that “Iran may be capable of doubling the number of centrifuges dedicated to enriching uranium within days. This was reported by one of three diplomats from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in conjunction with the issuance of the latest IAEA Iranian Safeguards report issued Friday.“An additional 700 centrifuges are believed to have been installed at the Fordow fuel enrichment plant near Qum. That brings the total number of centrifuges at Fordow to nearly 2,800, which would mean nearly 1,400 in operation at a given time at the facility. Fordow was designed to hold approximately 3,000 centrifuges so it is now near its capacity and is buried deep inside a mountain, making it a particularly hardened target.” This not good news!
  • Tablet Magazine’s Adam Chandler exposed one of the propaganda evils of the present deadly clash in Gaza. A photograph with a heart rendering image of a grieving father holding his dead child as mournful doctors look on helplessly was released via Twitter by Hamas’s military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigade. “It’s a dead child all right, but it took place in Syria, not Gaza, and had nothing to do with this week’s violence.” And the list of lying accepted by Western media goes on as reported by Steve Emerson: When Israeli troops entered the West Bank city of Jenin in 2002 to root out terrorists the reports of a “massacre” flowed immediately and true to form were accepted by western media. More than 1,000 people were reported killed the headlines proclaimed. In the end, the death toll was revised to 56. To make matters more unfortunate the Palestinians were caught faking funerals with corpses who weren’t dead yet. During Israel’s 2008-09 incursion into Gaza, reports claimed that a United Nations school building in Jabaliya was bombed, killing more than 40 people. It just didn’t happen. In a broad based attack on the media it has been claimed (by an influential member of the media) that two major networks one being cable (and not Fox) have shown a bias in its reporting building and enhancing the Hamas story.

Commentary: Domestic National Security

I am an admitted Francophile. I say that knowing that there is an endemic overabundance of anti-Semitism in that country. I also know, and can accept, that you may love your country and still be anti-Semitic. No one has ever said that you cannot intensely dislike the Pope and still be a very loyal American in a Christian nation. Still the thought is jarring.

Many years ago (and I had to retreat to my bookshelves looking for a particular hardback to see its date of publication), a book was published entitled The Left Bank, and being who I am, I rushed out to buy it. It was only then that I learned that the book detailed the role of intellectuals in France who not only utilized their extraordinary intellectual talent to embrace Germany and the Nazi solutions but actively helped and conspired to sway and move their own country into Hitler’s arms. I must say, upon reading the entire book, I was devastated. How could it be? Those individuals, with extraordinary talent, heightened and developed logic not merely educated but having their status embrace a cause as despicable as that flowing from the banners of the Nazis. I must admit that the contents of the book have stayed with me, as an annoying splinter, to this day. And it stays with me as I still wander the streets of Paris and see the little bronze markers attached to anonymous buildings that declare who had been murdered in that building by the invited invaders during the German occupation of France.
And today, so many years later, I am reading a historical spy novel that takes place in Paris during the days of Hitler’s annexations, the English government’s fatal political missteps and the fear of exiles in France, with none anticipating the eve of the crushing German army blitzkrieg. The author, Alan Furst, is a meticulous fact researcher and, there near the last quarter of the book is a short paragraph listing a few of those very famous persons in industry who more than collaborated with Hitler. Taittinger, Coty, Hennessy, the Michelin brothers, all names that we readily recognize. Who else, I thought? Which lead me on my own research: Who else in industry and those in the entertainment world in France, who were not German but sided with the Hitler in his march to power? I was not interested in those who collaborated after occupation but only those who facilitated the fall of the legitimate French government.
Then suddenly I asked how all of this fitted into the overarching subject matter of this blog? My response was that security begins not merely at the external borders of the United States, but with a “cold blooded” recognition that there are those who live among us, who sat beside us in grade school, who work in the next office to us and who are now not merely willing to participate but are actively engaged in the undermining of and seeking the ultimate destruction of their own constitutionally created government. What was true in France in the late thirty’s is true today in the United States.
How does one respond when you learn of a young American college woman in 2009 who disappears and then 18 months later rams a car full of explosives into a crowded street killing 28 people? She becomes the first American citizen to become a suicide bomber to act out her belief but not in the United States. Her acts, though, could have easily been translated into action within the States. The FBI has reported that young Somali-Americans in the mid-west have “vanished” only to learn that they have been recruited to start their journey to Somalia. In Somalia they joined a terrorist group with ties to al-Qaida. The question is clear: where do they exploit their new training, and the possible answer is in the United States. Suspected in the recruitment process are two local mosques. There was a similar terrorism case study that has played out near Buffalo, N.Y., known as the Lackawanna Six. Within the last week, Omar Shafik Hammami, formerly from Alabama, who is reportedly a senior leader in al Shabaab, an insurgency group in Somalia, has been placed on the FBI most wanted list. And today the FBI announced Four California residents are suspected of plotting to wage “violent jihad,” by joining forces with al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. They were charged with plotting to provide material support to terrorists. Three of the four are naturalized US citizens one born in Afghanistan, one Philippines and one in Mexico. The third was born in the United States.
And then there are the white supremacist and neo-Nazi organizations: the non-Jihadists. “Outside every major military installation, you will have at least two or three active neo-Nazi organizations actively trying to recruit on-duty personnel,” said T.J. Leyden, a former white power skinhead in the U.S. Marines who now conducts anti-extremism training. The truth of the matter is that since the WTC and Pentagon, attacks 19 civilians have been killed in “terrorist attacks” in Continental United States. These deaths were provoked by belief systems that are not connected to the world of Osama bin Laden. Nor can we forget Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, the two main actors in The Oklahoma City bombing were from middle America These non-jihadist deaths were motivated by extreme anti-government views and extreme anti-Semitic/neo Nazi beliefs. None the less, and chillingly so these home-grown Americans are to be characterized as terrorist.
From a New America Foundation study, we learn that law enforcement appears to concentrate its investigations on those groups that can be defined as jihadists (‘“Jihadist” terrorists are defined in their database as those associated with or motivated by al Qaeda, or its affiliates or like-minded groups”) and thus overlook an equally dangerous groups within the United States that are just as as dangerous to our security. Nevertheless, 61% of the 337 people indicted for terrorism-related activities since the 9/11 attacks are jihadists, according to the New America Foundation data.
Not only our inherent nationwide prejudices but also the focal point of law enforcement is that the focus of our national security attention should be aimed at the “foreign” looking, speaking, religious individuals or groups in the United States from one region of the world. The facts speak otherwise and it appears the home-grown terrorist is no less a threat to our wellbeing. The conundrum is how best to secure our safety domestically without become a paranoid, oppressive society.

Richard Allan
The Editor

Global Incidents and Commentary

October 24, 2012 Comments off

Global Incidents
The Syrian government and its opposition were considering a ceasefire for a religious holiday beginning on October 26. The ceasefire had been proposed by the UN and Arab League envoys. But almost immediately the government indicated that the cease fire would probably fail because it claimed there was unified opposition leadership to sit at the opposite end of the negotiation table. Then today the UN special envoy to Syria said that the government agreed to a ceasefire and that “some” opposition armed groups agreed “on principle”.

• The American Civil Liberties United has filed Freedom of Information requests to gain additional information about the American drone program in addition to learning about the alleged drone killing of an American teenager. The claim is that the program and the killing has been kept under a veil of secrecy that is unnecessary to the national security of the United States.
• A mixed bag: The first half of the story is that while new data recently released by the IEA paints a picture that the US and EU sanctions against Iran have been quite successful and have impacted that nation’s oil industry the collateral effect has been that tanker insurance has been crippling for Iran. In addition, Iran’s national currency has lost 40 percent of its value in the last month. As this Editor learned at a presentation at New York University from a U.S. Under-Secretary of the Treasury, the crippling restriction placed upon Iran’s banking and currency system has prevent Iran’s central bank from operating in the world banking system.
The other portion of the mixed bag is revealed in an article in The Atlantic by Charles Recknagel. “The U.S. and European Union have to be very careful in not shooting themselves in the foot about it (the fiscal sanctions), because the global economy remains quite sensitive right now and quite vulnerable to any kind of immediate price shocks.”
• Reuters reports: “Violence is returning to what has long been the most tranquil region of Afghanistan, where fears of a resurgent Taliban are as stark as the ragged holes left by the bombing of two ancient Buddha statues in cliffs facing the Bamiyan valley. Bamiyan had been seen as the country’s safest province due to its remote location in the central mountains and the opposition of the dominant local tribe, the Hazara, to the Taliban.”
• Inside Politics reports: United States Representative Peter T. King a New York State Republican (Editor’s note: who generally speaks in hyperbole ) and happens to have the press at his command because he is the Chairperson of the House’s Homeland Security Committee announced that al Qaeda is a greater threat now than it was before the terrorist attacks September 11, 2011. He went on to say that this was the consensus of most intelligence experts. Editor’s Note: Two things must be noted: first, the Congressman said “intelligence experts” not the US intelligence government, and second his remarks were broadcast on CNN a day before the second presidential debates. One has the right to wonder aloud.
• Steve Emerson’s blog noted that a senior Muslim Brotherhood official denied that the group’s leader called for a holy jihad against Israel even though “strikingly similar language” remains on their website. All this precedes the arrival in Jerusalem of the newly appointed Ambassador from Egypt to Israel who, when presenting his credentials (after an absence of almost 2 years of any ambassador rank person), alleged that all is well between two old friends and agreements between the two nations will be upheld.
• In an area of the world that we in the West rarely looks at the latest news is that Russian security forces have killed 49 alleged rebels in the North Caucasus region.
• A snap shot of Africa reveals that in Nigeria, Islamist militants have once again launched a deadly attach against that country’s soldiers in the north east. While the Argentinean government has older more that 300 of its sailors to evacuate a ship that had been seized by the authorities

Commentary: The Indiscriminate Use of the Word Terrorism

 

The second presidential debates raised the issue –whether intentional or not—of the meaning of the words “terrorism” and “terrorist attack”. Clearly, the President utilized the word “Terrorism” and the counterattack, after the debate in the spin room, was to try to limit its definition. The more important issue today is not that semantic game that took place in the debate but the indiscriminate use of the word “terrorism” in general.

Let me start from an excerpt from the Washington Post: “Americans were shocked to learn that the prime suspects were not foreign terrorists but men from the nation’s heartland. The plot was not hatched in Beirut or Baghdad but possibly in the backwoods of … by a paramilitary cell ….. (The suspects) are products of Middle America.”

 

These words were written 17 years ago in 1995, by Dale Russakoff and Serge F. Kowalski, both then staff writers for the Washington Post. This long article is chilling more so because it was two Americans with terrifying and unpredictable cunning, who after planning for an extended period of time, heaped violence of horrific proportions on other Americans. Their sheer brutality brought alarming headlines across the entire nation. Some of their victims were adults but many, far too many, were children playing in a day care center when the defendants bombed the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. This was not a hate crime. The targets were neither black nor Hispanics nor “foreign” looking. The defendants were not racists.

 

The two killers sought and intentionally murdered citizens of not some distant nation but those who were born and lived within their own country. The incident became domestically and internationally known as “The Oklahoma City Bombing”. No prior set of domestic violence in anyone’s recent memory could have predicted or even explained a domestic act of violence as catastrophic as the Oklahoma City bombing. Until that date one could have predicted how the average reader would have defined domestic terrorism. But to create the mental imagery of such an event was unheard of. We were well aware of and thought we understood the nature of international terrorism. Until that time it was an act of violence far from our shores, attributed to people who hated Americans, American interests and ideals. And then, while not directly articulated, the purveyors of that violence “weren’t Americans…they were foreigners”. Domestic violence of the nature of the Oklahoma City bombing—killing of one’s own —-was an anathema and so much more because of what appeared as a normal or accepted relationship between those killed and the killers.

 

Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, the two main actors in The Oklahoma City bombing were from middle America—as describe in the Washington Post article– two “kids from the heartland of America” who met in early adulthood, became obsessed with guns and the enemies of the American way of life, as they envisioned both an enemy and what was to them the “American way of life”. Then a historical event occurred that monopolized the headlines for days across America: The firestorm in Waco Texas and the shootout between federal agents and the followers of David Koresh and the Branch Davidians that left 80 dead. Both adults and children. The attack against the Branch Davidians was touted by many as “instigated” by federal officers—the United States Government— thought by many as oppressors who declared war on innocent people and whose self defined individual freedom had been encroached upon not by some foreign entity but the federal government.

 

That event propelled McVeigh to define who he was and what steps he had to take to defend his country and his sense of individual rights. The question for him was: who was the “wrongdoer” at Waco, and the answer to him was simple and straight forward: The federal government and all it stood for. This conclusion easily fed into his obsession to protect his guns and their use. It is reported that he became enthralled and spelled bound by the Battle of Lexington, which as history has taught us, was the firing of the first shots that began the American Revolution for individual freedom from the tyrannical King of England.

 

The question then becomes how should we characterize or define McVeigh and Nichols? They were not part of a lynch mob in some southern state, they didn’t ride through some slum of a city with a poor immigrant population and throw handmade gasoline bombs, they weren’t high on some potent drug and shot-up a high school prom that they had been denied access to, they weren’t two malcontents who lost control of their emotions. And, equally important, they didn’t fit into any of the usual slots in our statutory criminal justice system. They were terrorists. They were terrorists who were born and raised in the United States. They did not go to some foreign land to learn the art of violence. They were not financed by any foreign nation, religion or foreign political entity. They did not even envision the total overthrow of the United States Government and its replacement, they were eager to “merely” change its structure and definition to fit a less authoritarian and dominating form. They sought a movement which they believed had to be imposed by force in order to attain their model of what they believed to be the original definition of individual liberty. They were terrorists. Terrorists who were born and raised in the United States, whose target was a “federal” office building filled with “federal” employees.

 

The problem in the ensuing years, as we became more accustomed to acknowledging the idea that terrorism in all forms exists, was the overuse of the word terrorism. With the least provocation, the word became an euphuism for anything and anyone who frightened us with violent behavior; we were thus “terrorized by terrorists”. In late 2002, what began as a robbery and a murder of three in Louisiana and Alabama and that initially produced no national headlines, culminated in screaming headlines of “terrorism” in Washington, the Nation’s Capital. During a three week period, following the murder in Louisiana and Alabama, people drove in fear in Washington and suburban Virginia. The headlines spoke of fear and terrorism, as random shots rang out, and one at a time, over 21 days, ten people were murdered and at least three others were critically injured by unknown sniper fire.

 

“Terrorism”, “terrorists” and “terror” were the three main words repeated over and over. All the television networks provided live coverage of each attack, with some broadcasts lasting for hours. The New York Times covered it extensively and as it was discovered later, most of its sensationalized reporting was fabricated to create the aura of a series of terrorist attacks. In truth, it was one man with a teenage accomplice that created the carnage. His aim was to cover his tracks. He had murdered his wife and was now attempting to create a picture that his wife had been a victim of a string of random killings. Did these killings terrorize the inhabitants of the Washington Beltway, and the answer is clearly: Yes. Did the killer attempt to create the aura of terror and fear? And the answer was clearly: Yes. But he was neither a terrorist nor can his acts be described as terrorism.

 

On August 5, a man walked into a Sikh temple outside Milwaukee and killed six people before he was seriously shot and, thereafter, committed suicide. The first words heard on the news were that there was a terrorist attack at a Sikh temple. It was reported that he thought he was killing Muslims. For hours after the attack and the death of the attacker, the local police, speaking to the worldwide news media, talked of and described the incident as an “act of terrorism”. It was not. The killer was a racist not a terrorist.

 

Whether it be the “white warriors”, or a “neo-Nazi white supremacist”, or an “Aryan Nations” member, or an individual connected to the “racial holy war” movement or any generic white supremacist interest group spread across the United States, they are not terrorists…domestic or international. They are racists. Yes, they have committed terrible atrocities by killing scores of people in a day care center or killing a Filipino American postal carrier or in a drive-by shooting in a racial holy war. Or even at a Sikh temple in Milwaukee. These killers were not terrorists, they are racist ideologues.

 

The word “terrorist”, alongside the misguided phrase “war on terrorism”, superimposed with the careless use of the word “terrorism”, has taken on meanings far beyond, not merely what is necessary, but what is misleading and dangerous for the proper platform to discuss how to approach the definition, interdiction and prosecution of certain acts of violence. There has been a world-wide proliferation of definitions for the word “terrorism”, and much of it depends upon who you represent and where you reside. It depends upon your religious bent and your political and cultural motivation. In addition, we—individually, in the media and by some law enforcement authorities, continually employ the word “terrorism” in a dangerously indiscriminately manner. Probably, what is more clearly understood, or should be, is what the word terrorism does not encompass what that emotional word embraces.

 

Richard Allan,

 

The Editor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized

World Incidents and Commentary

September 12, 2012 Comments off

Daily Events
* Syria: The ground troops of Syria’s President Assad have seemingly vanished in what is called the rebel-held territory, but that has not prevented the residents from continued aerial attacks.
Afghanistan: The US Department of Defense has announced that because of the rise in “insider” attacks against coalition troops, the United States Government has suspended indefinitely the combat training of a significant number of Afghan Local Police. The number of such trainees is about 1000. In addition, it is hoped that by pre-vetting new participants and re-venting present participants the US will be better able to weed out potential Afghan inside attackers

* The Air force Print News (AFNS) reported that the Iraq Government not only is anxiously awaiting delivery of American F-16 Fighting Falcons but, in what has been described as an “historic partnership”, Iraqis fighter pilots are receiving their flight training pursuant to a unique agreement with the Arizona Air National Guard Fighter Wing. Obviously, as reported in the AFNS, what is being sought is a long-term “war-fighting” partnership for the United States through the year 2020 in a very troubled area of the world. A political/geographic area of uncertainty at every turn.

*Egypt: Front page New York Times is the story of 16 months of intense and frustrating negotiation with Egypt regarding the debt relief we have given Egypt over many years. The United States has through something bordering upon mere tradition provide Egypt with 1.3 billion dollars in military assistance. Then came the spring revolutions and the political upheaval in that country which produced no clear leader and no clear road Egypt was to follow. What was very clear at the State Department was that the United States became apprehensive and mistrustful of the new Islamist government under President Morsi. Egypt on the other hand and in the midst of political uncertainty was faced with a 25 million budget shortfall. Egypt turned to the International Monetary Fund and then for the new president’s first trip abroad he scheduled not a trip to the United States but to China. And while the United States is desperate to have Egypt as an ally and as an ally toward Israel, the Egyptian Government has decreed that all women news commentators and new broadcasters wear the traditional head covering while on air. EDITOR’S NOTE: The country is clearly moving away from its secular past and more toward an Islamist state. How far and how fast will it travel and what will be the United States influence if any notwithstanding its billions in aid?

* Syria: The United Nations has reported deadly and freighting statistics. More than 100,000 people have fled Syria in August alone. And more than 5,000 have been killed in what is probably the deadliest month since the uprising last March. And now it is reported that young rebels have threatened that when they achieve their goals in their struggle to overthrow the present regime, they vow to kill all those who have formed the minority that backed the Assad government.

* South China Sea: The Voice of America has been particularly adroit in following the continued flare-up brewing in the South China Sea. This is not a” he said she said” situation; it is territorial claims by China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei, Japan and the Philippines each claiming parts of the SCS. While the United States has been seeking to encourage agreement along the lines of a code of conduct for all the parties involved inured to establish procedures for resolving these type of international water disputes, it is Indonesia that has been the key play. Also sitting in the background has been Singapore who while having enjoyed close ties to the United States is at the same moment attempting to be an independent local power broker and is willing to play a more active role in resolving area disputes.

* Egypt: Memri reports an excerpt from a lecture delivered by an Egyptian Cleric which gives one additional pause to consider the direction of Egypt under its new government. : “Islam instructs a man to beat his wife as a last resort before divorce, so that she will mend her ways, treat him with kindness and respect, and know that her husband has a higher status than her.”

*Southern California: It has not been widely reported but senior police officials have warned of terrorist attacks in Southern California if Iran is attacked even if the US does not participate in the violence. It is reported by the LAPD that there are a number of “active plots” in the southern regions of the state. They admit they are tracking government operatives from Iran, Hezbollah and the home grown extremists. Fascinating also being watched by the LAPD terrorists unit are the animal rights groups. What is causing some consternation within the entire picture is that the LA Police Commission has approved new guidelines to determine if suspicious behavior is such that would warrant further investigation. The catch word although not employed is “profiling”. The new guideline is that a police office may reported a person whose activity maybe not be illegal but could be linked to terrorism. EDITOR’S NOTE: Frankly that is gobbledygook. If a person’s activity could be linked to terrorism then the activity is illegal.

* Department of defense /American Forces Press Service reported on the progress of this fall’s military exercise conducted between Israel and the United States. The exercise called Austere Challenge 12 and will provide vital defense training for both the Israel and the United States. It is reported at all deployed systems will be in full operation mode which means that the exercise will include missile interceptors (and important item for Israel’s defense).
* More from Al Qaeda: Yet another militant leader from Jordan with links to Al Qaeda has warned that his “extremist” group will began a series of at attack that he describes as deadly in neighboring Syria to bring down its President Bashar Assad. His rallying cry was “our fighters are coming to get you.”

Commentary: The Indiscriminate Use of the Word Terrorism
From the Washington Post: “Americans were shocked to learn that the prime suspects…were not foreign terrorists but men from the nation’s heartland. The plot was not hatched in Beirut or Baghdad but possibly in the backwoods of … by a paramilitary cell ….. (The suspects) are products of Middle America.”
These words were written 17 years ago in 1995, by Dale Russakoff and Serge F. Kowalski, both then staff writers for the Washington Post. This long article is chilling more so because it was two Americans with terrifying and unpredictable cunning, who after planning for an extended period of time, heaped violence of horrific proportions on other Americans. Their sheer brutality brought alarming headlines across the entire nation. Some of their victims were adults but many, far too many, were children playing in a day care center when the defendants bombed the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. This was not a hate crime. The targets were neither black nor Hispanics nor “foreign” looking. The defendants were not racists.
The two killers sought and intentionally murdered citizens of not some distant nation but those who were born and lived within their own country. The incident became domestically and internationally known as “The Oklahoma City Bombing”. No prior set of domestic violence in anyone’s recent memory could have predicted or even explained a domestic act of violence as catastrophic as the Oklahoma City bombing. Until that date one could have predicted how the average reader would have defined domestic terrorism. But to create the mental imagery of such an event was unheard of. We were well aware of and thought we understood the nature of international terrorism. Until that time it was an act of violence far from our shores, attributed to people who hated Americans, American interests and ideals. And then, while not directly articulated, the purveyors of that violence “weren’t Americans…they were foreigners”. Domestic violence of the nature of the Oklahoma City bombing—killing of one’s own —-was an anathema and so much more because of what appeared as a normal or accepted relationship between those killed and the killers.
Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, the two main actors in The Oklahoma City bombing were from middle America—as describe in the Washington Post article– two “kids from the heartland of America” who met in early adulthood, became obsessed with guns and the enemies of the American way of life, as they envisioned both an enemy and what was to them the “American way of life”. Then a historical event occurred that monopolized the headlines for days across America: The firestorm in Waco Texas and the shootout between federal agents and the followers of David Koresh and the Branch Davidians that left 80 dead. Both adults and children. The attack against the Branch Davidians was touted by many as “instigated” by federal officers—the United States Government— thought by many as oppressors who declared war on innocent people and whose self defined individual freedom had been encroached upon not by some foreign entity but the federal government.
That event propelled McVeigh to define who he was and what steps he had to take to defend his country and his sense of individual rights. The question for him was: who was the “wrongdoer” at Waco, and the answer to him was simple and straight forward: The federal government and all it stood for. This conclusion easily fed into his obsession to protect his guns and their use. It is reported that he became enthralled and spelled bound by the Battle of Lexington, which as history has taught us, was the firing of the first shots that began the American Revolution for individual freedom from the tyrannical King of England.
The question then becomes how should we characterize or define McVeigh and Nichols? They were not part of a lynch mob in some southern state, they didn’t ride through some slum of a city with a poor immigrant population and throw handmade gasoline bombs, they weren’t high on some potent drug and shot-up a high school prom that they had been denied access to, they weren’t two malcontents who lost control of their emotions. And, equally important, they didn’t fit into any of the usual slots in our statutory criminal justice system. They were terrorists. They were terrorists who were born and raised in the United States. They did not go to some foreign land to learn the art of violence. They were not financed by any foreign nation, religion or foreign political entity. They did not even envision the total overthrow of the United States Government and its replacement, they were eager to “merely” change its structure and definition to fit a less authoritarian and dominating form. They sought a movement which they believed had to be imposed by force in order to attain their model of what they believed to be the original definition of individual liberty. They were terrorists. Terrorists who were born and raised in the United States, whose target was a “federal” office building filled with “federal” employees.
The problem in the ensuing years, as we became more accustomed to acknowledging the idea that terrorism in all forms exists, was the overuse of the word terrorism. With the least provocation, the word became an euphuism for anything and anyone who frightened us with violent behavior; we were thus “terrorized by terrorists”. In late 2002, what began as a robbery and a murder of three in Louisiana and Alabama and that initially produced no national headlines, culminated in screaming headlines of “terrorism” in Washington, the Nation’s Capital. During a three week period, following the murder in Louisiana and Alabama, people drove in fear in Washington and suburban Virginia. The headlines spoke of fear and terrorism, as random shots rang out, and one at a time, over 21 days, ten people were murdered and at least three others were critically injured by unknown sniper fire.
“Terrorism”, “terrorists” and “terror” were the three main words repeated over and over. All the television networks provided live coverage of each attack, with some broadcasts lasting for hours. The New York Times covered it extensively and as it was discovered later, most of its sensationalized reporting was fabricated to create the aura of a series of terrorist attacks. In truth, it was one man with a teenage accomplice that created the carnage. His aim was to cover his tracks. He had murdered his wife and was now attempting to create a picture that his wife had been a victim of a string of random killings. Did these killings terrorize the inhabitants of the Washington Beltway, and the answer is clearly: Yes. Did the killer attempt to create the aura of terror and fear? And the answer was clearly: Yes. But he was neither a terrorist nor can his acts be described as terrorism.
On August 5, a man walked into a Sikh temple outside Milwaukee and killed six people before he was seriously shot and, thereafter, committed suicide. The first words heard on the news were that there was a terrorist attack at a Sikh temple. It was reported that he thought he was killing Muslims. For hours after the attack and the death of the attacker, the local police, speaking to the worldwide news media, talked of and described the incident as an “act of terrorism”. It was not. The killer was a racist not a terrorist.
Whether it be the “white warriors”, or a “neo-Nazi white supremacist”, or an “Aryan Nations” member, or an individual connected to the “racial holy war” movement or any generic white supremacist interest group spread across the United States, they are not terrorists…domestic or international. They are racists. Yes, they have committed terrible atrocities by killing scores of people in a day care center or killing a Filipino American postal carrier or in a drive-by shooting in a racial holy war. Or even at a Sikh temple in Milwaukee. These killers were not terrorists, they are racist ideologues.
The word “terrorist”, alongside the misguided phrase “war on terrorism”, superimposed with the careless use of the word “terrorism”, has taken on meanings far beyond, not merely what is necessary, but what is misleading and dangerous for the proper platform to discuss how to approach the definition, interdiction and prosecution of certain acts of violence. There has been a world-wide proliferation of definitions for the word “terrorism”, and much of it depends upon who you represent and where you reside. It depends upon your religious bent and your political and cultural motivation. In addition, we—individually, in the media and by some law enforcement authorities, continually employ the word “terrorism” in a dangerously indiscriminately manner. Probably, what is more clearly understood, or should be, is what the word terrorism does not encompass what that emotional word embraces.
Richard Allan,
The Editor

Global Incidents and Commentary

June 27, 2012 Comments off

Global Events

    • RFE reports Turkey has called for an extraordinary meeting of the NATO military alliance to discuss what it calls Syria’s “aggressive” downing of a Turkish fighter jet over the Mediterranean. Speaking on his country’s TRT state television, Turkish Foreign Minister said that the Phantom fighter jet was on a routine training mission when it inadvertently strayed into Syrian airspace. The plane carried no weaponry and that its mission, it was alleged, was not related to continued unrest in Syria.
    • MOSCOW, June 24 (RIA Novosti) – A Russian ship carried overhauled disassembled helicopters to Syria and not new gunships as was claimed by western media, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei alleged. “We are not going to make any excuses because we did not breach anything. We violated neither international law, nor UN Security Council resolutions nor our national legislation on export control, which is one of the tightest in the world,” the Minister said in an interview Rossiya-1 TV channel. Western media claimed the Russian ship carried armaments and ammunition to Syria, a circulated a picture of the alleged ship. Editor’s Note: If true it is a tragedy of gigantic proportions in terms of human tragedy.
    • Voice of America reports from LONDON – Ecuador says it is giving serious consideration to giving Julian Assange ( Assange is thefounder of the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, which published confidential files on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and thousands of U.S. cables sent between overseas diplomats and Washington) political asylum, after the founder of the WikiLeaks website made the request at the country’s embassy in London. British authorities say they will arrest Assange if he leaves the embassy. Assange alleges that “Ecuador back in 2010 suggested that perhaps I should come to Ecuador and be given residency, so they are sympathetic over a long period of time so we hope that the asylum application will be viewed favorably,” he said. The Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said his government was considering the asylum application. Editor’s Note: What wonders what Ecuador will extract from the United States to ignore Assange’s request.
    • The Times of India reports from NEW DELHI, that Delhi and Mumbai, two most populated cities of India, will be protected by the missile defense system.“According to media, these two cities have been chosen by the Defense Research and Development Organization for deploying the first national Ballistic Missile Defense system. Editor’s Note: The whole world, it appears, is preparing for armed attack by its neighbors.
    • Iran: Al Pessin of the Voice of America reports from London what could have been safely predicted: “The near failure of talks in Moscow and the pending imposition of a full oil embargo by the European Union have deepened the dispute between Iran and the international community, and increased concerns about military action.“Two days of grueling talks did not narrow the gaps between the West and Iran. The negotiators could only agree to hold lower level talks in the coming weeks. Mark Fitzpatrick at London’s International Institute for Strategic Studies calls the Moscow meetings “a disappointment,” and has little hope for the follow-on talks.” Editor’s Note: Does anyone really believe that Iran will come to the table after repeated false moves. It is a continuing game of diplomatic gamesmanship, buying time for them to develop their bomb making and delivery capabilities. Once accomplished the world would have lost yet another moment to secure some semblance of sanity in the world.
    • Turkish media has reported that several high-level Syrian military officers — a general, two colonels, two majors, and 30 soldiers — have defected with their families to Turkey. They were part of a group of 200 Syrians who crossed the border near Reyhanli and were taken to a high-security camp about two miles from the Syrian border.
    • Syrian president Bashar al-Assad declared to his newly appointed cabinet that Syria was in a “state of war,” and “all of our politics has to be concentrated on winning this war.” Riad al-Asaad, the commander of the rebel Free Syrian Army opposition group, told the Lebanese Daily Star that Hezbollah fighters are involved in battles in Syria. Al-Asaad said “as for the involvement of Hezbollah fighters, we have confirmed that it is involved in events inside Syria, especially in Talkalakh and Homs

 

Commentary: One Person, One Vote, One Time

The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate for Egypt’s 2012 presidential election, Mohamed Morsi, was officially announced the winner after a number of tumultuous days on June 23rd. At a rally before the election, a widely known cleric spoke on behalf of Morsi, who was the Muslim Brotherhood’s second choice as candidate, and drew a huge emotional response from his audience, when he outlined his hopes and beliefs with their triumph of the presidential election. One must remember that the Brotherhood had already secured a strong majority in the parliamentary election; a constitution of their own making was assured. Their only obstacle was (and is) the Army.

The charismatic cleric envisioned a changed world with the election of Morsi. Gaza would be liberated, the Caliphate[i] of the “United States of the Arabs” would be restored, with Jerusalem as its capital. His rallying call to those who were present and those listening to the broadcast was that “our cry shall be: ‘Millions of martyrs march towards Jerusalem.’

Martyrs! To claim Jerusalem! While Morsi himself did not echo these statements, he did not repudiate them, and later, prior to the actual election, promised to stand for peaceful relations with Israel. Yet during his campaign he pledged that his administration would be based on Islam. No mention was made of the fact that he spent years as a member of an anti-Israel group, the Committee to Resist Zionism. At the same time, he is not a stranger to the United States, having received his PhD from the University of Southern California, and he was an assistant professor on their faculty. He had seen democracy in action while living in California.

Not withstanding President Jimmy Carter overarching interest and presence in that part of the world, the Brotherhood’s opposition claimed that the Brotherhood employed “intimidation, threats and violence against supporters of candidate Ahmed Shafik.” Those opposed to the Brotherhood “filed more than 100 official complaints accusing the Brotherhood of ballot rigging and stuffing.”

The National Post reported —“ Egypt’s media are demonizing the Muslim Brotherhood as the state’s worst enemy, claiming the fundamentalist group plans to plunge the country into chaos if its candidate does not emerge as the winner from the presidential runoff.” The question left unanswered is what they will do now that their candidate has won. We now must wait for that answer. One thing is certain, there will be an escalation of tension between the government newly elected and the Military. Tensions are escalating, as in the past, with protesters gathering in larger and larger numbers in Tahrir Square; the power of the Constitution Court will come into question, and the Military protecting its concept of national security will exercise its determination. Each of the multi-sided equations in this battle will be aimed at the sweeping powers assumed by the military and their diminution of the office of the presidency.

International overt condemnation of the rule of the military, with a subtext by those who secretly fear the Brotherhood, will have little impact on the ultimate outcome of the political uncertainty frothing in Cairo. The military will not lightly rescind the role it engrafted upon its own historical mandate—now adding the role of legislator, the right to arrest civilians and control over drafting a new constitution. The military has also taken several steps to shield itself from civilian oversight.

But the most telling sign, as reported on the cover of this week’s edition of the state weekly Al-Mussawar, showed a picture of Morsi placing a kiss on the head of the group’s spiritual leader, or Murshid, Mohammed Badie in a gesture of both reverence and submission. For the world to see: The president/government acknowledging it’s being “submissive” to the supreme Islamic/religious leader of the nation. Within days the articles in Arabic newspapers around the world were speculating who is blinking first in the standoff between the people, the newly elected government and the military. A headline in the United States read: “Islamic Democracy.” That, to my mind, is either a non-sequitur or an oxymoron. Your choice.

“We will not be ruled by the Murshid,” said the magazine in red print under the picture. Inside, eight prominent literary figures known for their liberal views said in interviews that a Brotherhood presidency could change Egypt forever. “I consider the Brotherhood to be a threat to Egypt,” said one of the eight, prize-winning novelist Gamal el-Ghetani. “We are living a moment that may be similar to (Adolf) Hitler’s rise to power.”

A chilling thought: One person, one vote, one time.

Richard Allan,

The Editor

  • Editor’s Note, postscript: Turkey’s uproar over a shot down unarmed fighter jet by Syria while understandably it was an act of aggression, the extent of which is not sufficient to go to war or reign unleashed force on that nation. Turkey’s prime minister has claimed that Syria is a “clear and present threat” to his country. Nonsense! May I suggest that the Turkish government beset with serious financial chaos is attempting to focus the unrest, concerns and anger of its population at the government’s handling of the economy toward a foreign and different enemy: Syria.

 

 

 

 

 

 


[i] Caliphate, the political-religious state comprising the Muslim community and the lands and peoples under its dominion in the centuries following the death (ad 632) of the Prophet Muḥammad. Ruled by a caliph (Arabic khalīfah, “successor”), who held temporal and sometimes a degree of spiritual authority, the empire of the Caliphate grew rapidly through conquest during its first two centuries to include most of Southwest Asia, North Africa, and Spain. Dynastic struggles later brought about the Caliphate’s decline, and it ceased to exist with the Mongol destruction of Baghdad in 1258. Encyclopedia Britannica

 

 

June 21, 2012 Comments off

Global Incidents—
• The chairperson of the US Senate Homeland Security Committee, Joseph Lieberman, has added his voice to those who seek an independent (independent of the White House) investigation of national security leaks to the world media
• Syrian Government Forces continue to escalate their attacks
across the country Sunday, employing artillery barrages in the flashpoint city of Homs, as well as the suburbs of Damascus and Aleppo, and various towns. In addition, the UN News Service reported that the head of the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) today warned that escalating violence in the Middle Eastern country is hampering the ability of UN observers to carry out their work. The UN estimates that more than 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria and tens of thousands displaced since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began some 16 months ago.
• Frightening news from Egypt: A well know Salafi-jihadi cleric was sought for a ruling on the “status” of members of the Egyptian military. The reply was that Egyptian soldiers “as a collective” are considered infidels, and the preferred manner in “dealing” with them must be left for a later time; presently the battle was ideological. Editor’s Note: Considering the Commentary to the right of this column, conditions in Egypt is uncertain for every segment of its population including its military. The chance of outright civil war is great and that is a tragedy beyond the unnecessary and tragic loss of life.
• Radio Free Europe reported that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Russia has not been taking part in discussions with the United States or other countries about a political transformation in Syria that would involve President Bashar al-Assad leaving office. Then he added, which can only be described as comical, that Moscow does not “get involved in overthrowing regimes.”
• Voice of America: “U.S. military has confirmed it runs ‘broad ranging’ intelligence operations in Africa, though it stopped short of verifying a report that it has set up small air bases across the continent to keep watch on terrorist groups. While the Washington Post newspaper reported that the U.S. military has set up about a dozen air bases in Africa to conduct surveillance, in countries that include Burkina Faso, Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and the Seychelles. Kenyan military officials have denied the United States is using Kenyan territory or airspace to conduct regional surveillance missions, as mentioned in a Washington Post newspaper report describing expanding U.S. intelligence operations across Africa.
• Not surprisingly Swiss ignore new Iran oil and bank sanctions. Benjamin Weinthall of the Jerusalem Post reported from Berlin that the” Swiss government’s policy to reject sanctions targeting Iran’s Central Bank and European oil trade has prompted criticism from the US government. With a new round of EU and US Iran sanctions to be implemented on July 1, there is growing frustration from the American side that the Swiss have failed to join the Western coalition trying to stymie Iran’s nuclear work.”
• You have to be of a certain age to remember the following: They were accused of taking part in the release of sarin gas in train cars on the Tokyo subway system during the morning rush hour on March 20, 1995. Twelve people died and thousands more were poisoned. The cult’s founder, Shoko Asahara (whose real name is Chizuo Matsumoto) has been sentenced to death by hanging for those killings and 15 others blamed on the group. Eleven other Aum members have also been convicted of murder and sentenced to die. Asahara, the cult leader, who is legally blind, at one time had a following numbering in the thousands. He told cult members he wanted them to help unleash turmoil that would trigger a third world war so they could seize power and take over Japan. Voice of America announced that Japan was breathing a long-awaited sigh of relief, as newspaper sellers hawked an extra edition with a banner headline that the country’s last remaining top fugitive has been apprehended. The police official said Katsuya Takahashi, 54, on the special Most Wanted list, has been taken into custody following a manhunt that began in 1995 and served with an arrest warrant for murder and attempted murder.
• MEMRI reports– Egyptian cleric Safwat Higazi announced to his followers in Egypt that “Our capital shall not be Cairo, Mecca, or Medina. It shall be Jerusalem, Allah willing. Our cry shall be: ‘Millions of martyrs march toward Jerusalem.’” “The United States of the Arabs will be restored…. The capital of the Caliphate – the capital of the United States of the Arabs – will be Jerusalem, Allah willing.”

• IRIN reports that fears of violence in northern Afghanistan after the drawdown. Recent violence allegedly sparked by the behavior of local police and militia groups in northern Afghanistan has raised fears that the planned withdrawal of international forces could lead to renewed violence even in the generally more peaceful north. “Violence has been increasing. Since the Karzai government has been in power we have not seen such high levels of violence here,” said Nadira Geya, head of the Directorate of Women’s Affairs in the northern province of Kunduz. “Before, we didn’t have cases of militia killing women – not even once a year. This year we have already seen several cases.”

• Global Security reports– what could be captioned as :”More of the same”: that “Iran’s intelligence ministry announced the capture of a number of prime suspects in the killings of two of the country’s nuclear scientists, and claimed the detainees were linked to Israel, IRNA news agency reported. “The main elements behind the killings…were arrested and moved to detention following an investigation of at least 18 months involving surveillance in Iran and abroad,” said a statement from the ministry published by state media.

• In a not good news report for the United States, Reuters’ Brian Ellsworth tells us from Caracas that “Venezuela is building unmanned drone aircraft as part of military cooperation with Iran (including China and Russia). President Hugo Chavez claims that his aircraft only has a camera and was exclusively for defensive purposes. While claiming that “We are a free and independent country” one must wonder why US prosecutors are investigating the drone production in that country.

Commentary: I Told You So: Political Chaos in Egypt
I cannot tolerate people who say: “I told you so!” But I did tell you. The Egyptian Spring Revolution ran its bumpy course and presently has more than its front wheels in an impenetrable ditch. The people, if not the political system, have moved from exaltation to frustration to near exhaustion. This is or has already created a vacuum for the military to once again take control of that nation. In retrospect the reason is clearer, as it always is, as to what the future course of events were to be when the revolution first burst upon the public squares of Egypt.
 

Some write that Egypt has now “suffered a political earthquake”. But earthquakes are not always predictable. One did not need a magic mirror to predict that country’s present political and social chaos. When the slow but predictable outcry of the people in Tahrir Square reach a monumental proportion, the Muslim Brotherhood was all but invisible. It was the black leopard crouching, hidden in a tree, waiting for its prey to meet a moment of vulnerability. Then, the world’s oldest and one of the largest Islamist movements moved to the forefront of the political discussion, and contrary to its public face during the height of street protest and violence, did a double turn and announced through its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), that it would move to fill the political void created by what seemed like the evitable political demise of the Mubarak Government. At that moment and simply stated, its well known positions regarding sharia law, women’s rights, and Egypt’s relations with Israel should have sent a shudder though the West. Most politicians applauded the birth of another democracy. Except that democracy
 

The election process began in a move toward a new government. However, of the newly elected 100 member Egyptian Assembly, there were only six women and six Christians who were elected. Christians comprise about 10 percent of Egypt’s 85 million people. Within all those elected, there were almost none, it is claimed, who could be defined as skillful or knowledgeable in either constitutional or human rights issues.
When, thereafter, the newly elected Assembly convened for the first time to vote for those who would draft the country’s new constitution—it’s very first and most important and substantial act, one quarter of the Assembly (the lower house) walked out in protest. Walked out because they complained that the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the FJP, along with an ultraconservative Islamist Nour Party, effectively froze out of the legislative process a group of liberal and non-Muslim legislators. The liberal bloc of the elected members consisted of three separate parties who, along with the non-Muslim legislators, stated their objection that the Islamist-dominated law makers had imposed their will on the minority in the process of choosing who would draft the new constitution. In other words, no voice was given to the religious and political minority in the constitutional process. The political process then began to tumble almost uncontrollably. Decrees were issued, mediation between groups took place, and peace was brought to create a parliament and draft a constitution. Then the unsettling CNN reports flashed on our television screens: In the midst of electing a new president, after weeks of trying to determine who and who was not permitted or could be considered for that position, there was “sort of a coup”. “Sort of ?” Suddenly I had visions of Tahrir Square at the on start of the Spring Revolution, with the faces of a jubilant and defiant population celebrating the birth of their new democracy. And before most realized it, the new voices of the “new democracy” were calling for end to all relations and treaties with “America” and “Israel”.
 

On June 15th, there was a political bombshell! Egypt’s highest court ruled that one third of the parliamentary seats in the Islamist controlled parliament were invalid. This announcement invited the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces –that country’s interim ruling military council that had been hit with arrests within its own ranks—ruled that if any part of the parliament has been judicially declared illegal, then by “logic” the entire legislature should be dissolved.
 

Al-Jazeera reported that this string of events triggered a new level of chaos and confusion in the country’s leadership and a politically divided country with a population exhausted by the process. By week’s end the Country’s Constitutional Court added additional fuel to the fire by declaring that a law passed by the new Islamist controlled Parliament (that would control the election process and would have barred any member of the Mubarak government from running for office) was unenforceable. That ruling permitted the fallen government’s last prime minister to stand for election as president of the new republic. Parliament, controlled by Islamists who had long been antagonistic to the military, had only been in session for one month before it was dissolved. The end results were that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces was once again in control of the country. It would determine the makeup of the 100 person group to draft the country’s new constitution. By weeks end (June 15) there was a new constitution, as the Muslim Brotherhood announced that they would put “all their efforts” into securing the presidential election.
 

Notwithstanding that a parliamentary government did not exist, having been dissolved by the military, a presidential election was held the weekend of June 16 and 17. Monday morning June 18, the Muslim Brotherhood claimed victory and then, confronting the military head-on, declared that the dissolved parliament would write its own constitution. As I was about to place this Commentary on the blog, the front page of multiple news services ran the photograph of the opposition presidential candidate. The headline was he too was proclaiming victory. Therefore, as of June 19th, Egypt has two constitution, two proclaimed presidents and a dissolved Parliament.
 

How strong will the military stand? Can the Muslim Brotherhood generate sufficient public outcry to overcome the role of the military? In this atmosphere, can there be a compromise between the two? All this while a substantial minority within Egypt has their fate in the hands of competing wills. If the Brotherhood wins the battle, its historical voice is an indicator that the minority will be trampled. Beyond the pyramids, who succeeds in running the government will have an impact on not merely the lives of those that live in that ancient country but on the politics beyond the Mid East.

Richard Allan,

        The Editor

 


 

Global Incidents and Commentary

May 12, 2012 Comments off

Global Events

The CIA thwarted an ambitious plot by al-Qaida’s connection in Yemen to destroy a U.S.-bound airliner using a bomb with a sophisticated new design to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden. This new bomb was also designed to be used in a passenger’s underwear, but of a different design. The question is whether it could have passed though airport security and the indication was that since there was no metal in its construction it could. What is not that clear is whether new body scanners used in many airports would have detected it. The would-be new type underwear bomber, who was based in Yemen, had not yet picked his target or purchased his plane tickets when he and his bomb were detained. (See below for further comments.)
• NEW DELHI (Reuters) – “Standing next to India’s foreign minister, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressed neighboring Pakistan on Tuesday to do more to stamp out homegrown terrorism, in comments likely to please the Indian government but annoy Pakistani leaders.” Editor’s Note: Pakistani leaders always get annoyed, and then go their own way ignoring our pleas because they know we will not react.
Editor’s Note: The Election in France will change the tone of the dialogue between and among those in both the euro zone and beyond. Although it is thought that the impact on the financial structure of the euro zone maybe minimum, national and international security issues will be view though very different prism then presently exists. Close attention to the dialogue should be looked at not as reality but the actions of all the parties as they move forward to their individual national goals.
• The Israeli Prime Minister has agreed to form a political coalition government with the leading opposition party and thus canceling his early election plans. The platform was that it would restore political and economic stability for the people of Israel. The real question is what does this do the hot public and publicity talk of bombing or not bombing Iran? Have the two parties come to an agreement concerning that very difficult issue and its implications far beyond the region?
• Yemen – One of the continuing hot spots in the world of violence with political instability and ongoing issue of terrorism (see Event below) has once again been partially sanitized by the US Defense Department with the reintroduction of a small number of military trainers. Much more than that will be necessary to stabilize that country.
• The Yemen branch of al Qaeda, on the Arabian Peninsula, was the home of the latest suicide underwear bomber. This time—surprise – it was actually a double-agent who delivered the non-metallic upgraded underwear bomb. The agent spent, what is described as weeks, inside Yemen’s al Qaeda affiliate which provided him access to information that has yet to be released and probably will not. The question remains that although the plot to blow up the bomb on an American plane was foiled well prior to its execution, was the other and equally important mission to find and kill the well-known and very well skilled bomb maker who remains at large…and untouched?
• Algerians opened their election polls for the first time since their independence from France in 1962. One would have expected a flood at the door to the voting booth, but only 35 percent of those eligible to vote will probably show up. The boycott is the result of the not unfounded belief that the real power to govern will be held by the security forces.
• Turkey—In its latest “stand alone stance”, the Turkish government has said it would not answer an international call for the arrest of one of Iraq’s senior Sunni Arab officials, hiding out in that country, on suspicion of directing and providing finance for alleged terrorist attacks. The reason given was that will not extradite someone whom they have always supported. The real reason has a tic-for-tack basis: Turkey would like Iraq to turnover alleged terrorist it wish to place under arrest who are ensconced in northern Iraq.
• And Last: Under the title of “that’s unfair”– a man who was involved in a domestic dispute was traveling with his young child. When he and the child attempted to board a domestic flight, the child’s teddy bear was placed on the conveyer belt for inspection (and why not?) and—low-and-behold, the teddy bear contained a gun toting armed hand gun.

Commentary—Be Careful What You Wish For.

The truth is I have never asked myself the question: what is democracy? After some thought and an attempt for an all-inclusive answer, what I arrived at was: Democracy is a form of government wherein all the people of a nation or state vote to determine the form or type of government they wish, and to elect those people who will decide the details and carry their wishes to fruition. Encompassed in that mandate is that the newly elected officials will then enact laws and regulations that provide a format or method for the new government to govern. What would flow from that directive would be laws that would be enacted to protect the population from a harsh government, and that each person subject to the laws would be treated not merely fairly but as equals. Obviously, this approach would change from culture to culture, but the underlying principals would remain the same.
When the Arab or “Spring” Revolution began its shattering race across the Middle East in late 2010 early 2011, a popular uprising began in late January of 2011 in Cairo and then in Alexandria, Egypt. Although Egypt has seen revolutions in the past, what occurred in Cairo differed in form from what had occurred weeks earlier in Tunisia. The Egyptian revolution began as non-violent acts of civil disobedience, supported by labor strikes, to not merely protest the regime of President Hosni Mubarak but to overthrow his repressive dictatorship with its crippling economic conditions and widespread corruption. The protestors quickly grew in size, and within a matter of days it was estimated that 2 million people –from a wide variety of social, economic and religious backgrounds–were protesting in Tahrir square. But violence did erupt, and over 800 people died with 6000 injured. The scene day after day and night viewed on CNN as it unfolded was as dramatic as one could wish to see in the hope that ultimately there would be the birth of a new democracy. The West stood on the sidelines throwing roses at those in the street of Cairo seeking democracy.
Nevertheless, the Mubarak dictatorship, although an overtly repressive regime, had its special place in the world order because of its friendly and financial ties to the West and the United States in particular. It had joined and partnered with the West in its fight against terrorism.
The world quickly came to terms, viewing President Hosni Mubarak as defendant Mubarak and in the dock fighting for his life in a court of law. As that event unfolded, if you did not watch closely enough, the revolution and “democracy” took a different turn in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s oldest and one of the largest Islamist movements, moved to the forefront of the political discussion, and contrary to its public face during the height of street protest and violence, did a double turn and announced through its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), that it would move to fill the political void created by the demise of a Mubarak Government. At that moment and simply stated, its well known positions regarding sharia law, women’s rights, and Egypt’s relations with Israel should have sent a shudder though the West.
The election process began in a move toward a new government. However, of the newly elected 100 member Egyptian Assembly, there were only six women and six Christians who were elected. Christians comprise about 10 percent of Egypt’s 85 million people, and within all those elected, there were almost none, it is claimed, who could be defined as skillful or knowledgeable in either constitutional or human rights issues.
When, thereafter, the newly elected Assembly convened for the first time to vote for those who would draft the country’s new constitution—it’s very first and most important and substantial act, one quarter of the Assembly (the lower house) walked out in protest. Walked out because they complained that the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the FJP, along with an ultraconservative Islamist Nour Party, effectively froze out of the legislative process a group of liberal and non-Muslim legislators. The liberal bloc of the elected members consisted of three separate parties who along with the non-Muslim legislators stated their objection that the Islamist-dominated law makers had imposed their will on the minority in the process of choosing who would draft the new constitution. In other words, no voice was given to the religious and political minority in the constitutional process. The political process then began to tumble almost uncontrollably.
Under this scenario, a series of fundamental—indispensible– questions flowed from the international press: What will happen to the secularists within and without the government? What of the non-Muslim but religious minority and their individual religious rights, their freedom of speech? Gays? What of women’s rights, unveiled women in public, women traveling without a male guardian? Is blasphemy punishable by death? Five months ago, thousands of supporters of the FJP marched in Cairo chanting: “Death to the Jews” and pledged to continue the jihad against Israel. The principles, beliefs, doctrine of the Brotherhood were and remain: “Allah is our objective, the Quran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader, jihad is our way and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.”
Mubarak was exchanged, at great cost, for a chance at democracy. Can the uncompromising imposition of the majority, backed Brotherhood’s narrow litany of “these highest of our (religious) aspirations” be forced upon a diversified country and be deemed or acknowledged as “democracy in action”? Or is it merely that a “new government” through fortuitous and unanticipated events, has been hijacked by religious zeal?
“Is democracy foreclosed” might have been a better title for this Commentary. Upon reflection, the ultimate and disturbing question is: Can a democracy –in any form – be viable in the Middle East because of the ever present constraints on its political development? Part of the complicated answer can be discovered by recognizing that not only the regions very long and deep-seated cultural way of life has become part of its basic fabric, but that very complex ingredient has also been integrated into its zealous and fanatical religious ideals. The consequences of that permutation are that every aspect of individual and national life has become inexorably and inescapably entwined, with no room for political evolution.
Richard Allan,
The Editor

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Global Incidents and Commentary

May 3, 2012 Comments off

      GLOBAL INCIDENTS
Fox News has reported that five people who are self-described anarchists were arrested in Cleveland for allegedly trying to blow up a bride and were considering a series of other plots of destruction. Editor’s Note: Anarchists: are not a terrorist in the traditional sense! And they are generally defined as one which holds that the state is not only undesirable but harmful…seeking a stateless society. Yes they do violence but not all violent groups or individuals are terrorists.
CAIRO (AP) — Clashes erupted on Wednesday between unknown and unidentified assailants and mostly Islamist protesters who had gathered outside the Defense Ministry in the Egyptian capital, leaving eleven people dead and nearly 50 wounded. Editor’s Note: And the Arab Revolution continues!
North Korea has once more been blamed by South Korean officials for jamming signals affecting GPS navigation affecting air transportation in the area. No danger to aircraft was reported but both nations are still technically at war and continue their harassment of each other.
• A resident of New York City, Bosnian-born United States citizen, was found guilty at the conclusion of jury trial in a federal court. The authorities called this matter “one of the biggest terrorism threats” since 9/11. Adis Medunjanin, the defendant, had received military training from al-Qaeda and had planned an attach with co-conspirators on one of the world’s busiest subway systems. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said that the trial provided a rare look into the inner workings of al-Qaeda’s recruitment methods.
Mali: Violence remains the norm in this west African nation when soldiers who had staged a coup in Mali, alleged they had beat back a counter-coup loyal to their ousted president. The attack by paratroopers attempted to kill the coup leader who had promised to restore civilian rule in this war torn nation. A nation in turmoil Mali has been prime feeding ground that allowed Tuareg rebels and Islamist militant to have previously seized the northern half of that country.
• Israel—A military tribunal in Israel has concluded its investigation that 21 members of a Palestinian family who died during the Gaza war in 2009 did not support allegations that their death supported grounds for criminal indictments or disciplinary action when the house they had been sheltered by the Israeli Defense Forcers was thereafter shelled by friendly fire.
• Yemen at war: Reuters reports that Yemen, a small crude old producer, suffering a year of political upheaval has emboldened militants to have seized swathes of territory in that nation. The militants have repeatedly blown up gas pipelines feeding the country’s largest industrial complex. The continue violence in that nation poses a potential risk to global trade because of its strategic location linking Asia, Europe and the Americas.
Syria –The clashes continue across the country. The claim of troops killed continues to climb, and the Human Rights Watch cited war crimes committed by Bashar al-Assad before the negotiated truce. The report states that arbitrary detentions, summary executions of not merely adults but children occurred. Editor’s Note: In the meantime and unbelievably so, the United Nations peacekeeping mission is seeking additional recruits. What is the West waiting for?
Foreign Policy-Mideast Daily—reporting of an article from the Washington Post—Disturbing news: “In granting a waiver on national security grounds, administration officials argued that continuing the funding (to Egypt) was more likely to encourage cooperation with the United States and progress on human rights than a cutoff would. As it turns out, the administration was wrong. In a number of tangible ways, U.S.-Egyptian relations and the military’s treatment of civil society have deteriorated since the waiver was issued.*** Conditions for U.S.-backed pro-democracy groups elsewhere in the Middle East have deteriorated as other governments have observed Egypt’s ability to crack down with impunity.”
• From The Mail on Line—we learn that four British alleged terrorist were to employ those little toy cars your child plays with, load them up with explosives then send them under the gates at a Territorial Army base in Luton then blow them up. It appears there is a new flourishing of attacks in the UK.



COMMENTARY: – Bin Laden Dead. Are We Any Safer?
           As the anniversary of bin Laden’s death gets circulated, commentated upon and analyzed in all media forms, the question asked in the most somber terms is: With his death, are we safer? And the answer, in even more somber terms, is: Yes. Unfortunately, the answer is far from complete and true.
Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda empire is but a shadow of its former self. That much is true. Its present leaders have neither the charisma nor the leadership nor influence of its former leader. His was a cult of immense power and magnitude. He was a person to be feared, not merely because of his tremendous ability to instill a dedication to “the message”, but even more important devotion to the man.
          Those of his papers that were seized in his compound, upon his capture, and made public or reviewed and discussed by recognized analysts reveal that he himself understood that his message had lost its import for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the number of Muslims who had been killed by their own people. His message, though, remained on target, and that is to rid the world of non-Muslim ideas, ideals, religions and “ways of life”. There is, he preached, only one “approach” in all avenues of one’s life. His message was really quite simple but to make it a reality is another question and this was his goal. The purpose of the 9/11 could not be any clearer or more forceful. What is most important in answering the question, ”are we any safer with his demise”, is that although his individual pulpit may have all but vanished, his message is far from being forgotten or abandoned by others.
         As a nation and individually, we tend to oversimplify, and it would be a tremendous mistake if we were to construct a disconnect between bin Laden now dead and the Spring, or more accurately, the Arab Revolutions and how they are evolving as we stand far afield and watch from the sidelines. In another piece, I have written about the “free” world’s reaction, applause and celebration, as a democratic uprising took hold in the streets of the Arab world. First in the streets of Tunis, then spreading to Egypt and now in war torn Syria. Those of us addicted to CNN watched throughout the days and nights with fascination, as the streets of the Arab capitals were filled with people from all facets of life, culture and religion. The television conversations were how and when the newly freed people would chose their new forms of government, representatives and constitution. The camera took us into the midst of the people in the squares of these countries. We heard, not merely from those who sought to lead but also, and so much more important we thought, from the individual in the street. The marvel of instant communication brought us “Democracy and Freedom at Work” right before our eyes. Then something happened. Something went wrong.
In reality nothing “went wrong”. What went “wrong” was our lack of understanding of a different culture and history. What went wrong was our substituting our wishes for people with a very different history and culture, who would create their own wish list of ideals. Living in New York City, as I do, with people from every corner of the world with communities reeking with different spices, languages and religions we tend, although not losing their individual identification, to meld the various cultures into one overarching way of life. We are inclined to have a double set of DNA; one for our home and the other for beyond our neighborhood. The same is not true in the Arab world.
Standing afar from the city squares that saw the rise of the Arab Revolutions and the cheering that took place among its people, it became confusing to us that a nation, such as Egypt, who after decades of surviving under a dictatorship that was not benevolent to its people and ruled with an unforgiving hand would not turn to an open and free democracy to fashion their daily lives. Freedom means– I have the right to choose. Democracy means –we all vote and pick. Freedom and Democracy means we are all equals and we are all treated fairly. For that, you need a double set of DNA; it appears that does not exist in Cairo.
        The Muslim Brotherhood stands for much beyond its standard definition. Its allies both in Egypt and beyond do not preach democracy or any form of its incarnations. The idea of freedom of choice is not one of their guiding policies. Not for themselves as a people, nor their neighbors, nor the nations far beyond their horizons. It stands for the eradication, annihilation, suppression of all that is not within their embrace. In Egypt, the direction of the new nation(new in that it was free of a brutal management) began when the elections began for its Assembly, when a commission was to be elected to draft its constitution and when there were those who sought the office of president spoke out in the public square. The leading candidate for the country’s highest office has declared that if elected, he will lead the nation toward the destruction of Israel and the fall of the West and the imposition of Islam upon all.
Bin Laden is dead. In lower Manhattan we have constructed a building that is now higher than the Empire State Building and is still growing on a site that is best known for 9/11. But are we any safer today now that he is dead? The answer is clearly—no. The message remains the same, the messenger is different.
                                                                Richard Allan,
                                                                              The Editor

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Global Events and Commentary

April 30, 2012 Comments off

GLOBAL INCIDENTS
It would seem to most that it is easy to move an accused terrorists from one “civilized” nation to another for trial, but a perfect example of democracy in action is that on April 17, British authorities rearrested Palestinian-Jordanian Muslim cleric Abu Qatada, who had been released from prison in February when the European Court of Human Rights ruled that he could not be deported to Jordan on terrorism charges. The Home Secretary informed British legislators the same day that the United Kingdom has received pledges from Jordan that should address the European court’s concerns, and clear the way for Abu Qatada’s deportation.
• As reported in LWOT there is trial that is underway that is attracting particular scrutiny in New York City: a home-grown alleged terrorist is in the dock. “Seven prominent journalists and civil rights activists have filed suit against Attorney General Eric Holder, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and other top U.S. officials over the recently approved National Defense Authorization Act, which the plaintiffs claim puts them at higher risk of arrest, and allows the indefinite detention of American citizens on U.S. soil.” Saajid Badat, who has been convicted in Britain in for plotting to blow up a passenger plane in the December 2001, the famous “shoe-bomb attempt”, testified for the prosecution via video deposition about the leadership and training methods of al-Qaeda.
• Once again we hear the argument made by defense attorneys for Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who is on trial at Guantánamo Bay for allegedly masterminding the 2000 USS Cole bombing. Defense attorney argued that a military tribunal is unconstitutional because it applies only to non-U.S. citizens, discriminating against people “simply by the accident of where they were born”. Editor’s Note: That distinction plays an enormous role in numerous federal acts, and in particular, when dealing with interdiction of electronic communications. There is a clear distinction when dealing with US citizens and noncitizens.
• A branch of al-Qaeda in Iraq known as the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) has once again claimed responsibility for a series of attacks that killed 38 in Baghdad and across that war torn nation. The ISI claims it has targeted security forces and government officials in “response” they claim,” to the campaign of detaining, torture, embargo and confiscation of lands of Sunni people, especially in Baghdad and its outskirts.” They claimed that their wave of violence was a “new wave” a “new invasion” and that the violence would “not stop until God judges between us” and the Shiites. Their violence has produced dozens of bombings and shootings in seven different provinces killing 38 people and wounded more than 170. Each day seems to have produced the deadliest day in Iraq since “some previous day”, when scores of people have been killed and wounded in attacks also claimed by al-Qaeda’s ISI. Editor’s Note: As a child, I learned of different tribes of Indians who attacked each other and the “white man”, today it seems inconceivable that tribes, within the same nation, continue to attack each other. These tribal feuds continue as man reaches beyond the moon and computers talk to each other at imaginable speeds.
• Finally, China, who has long been Pyongyang’s most important backer, recently joined with other countries in condemning North Korea for a failed missile launch earlier this month. For Beijing it was one of those very rare public censure of it’s internationally and isolated ally. Beijing once again has denied allegation that it provides North Korea help in violation of international mandates. “We’ve made very clear to China that China has a responsibility,” claims an American Official, “to make sure that North Korea — if they want to improve the situation with their people, if they want to become a part of the international family, if they, in fact, want to deal with the terrible issues that are confronting North Korea, there’s a way to do that.” Beijing has in the past not only provided enormous economic aid to that financially strapped nation but acted as its protector and advocate when North Korea behaved in its usual belligerent manner which only resulted in escalated tension in the international community.

Commentary—-Water War Tomorrow

In the early 90’s, on a sunny spring day sitting on a bench in Budapest with the late Ian Cuthbertson, who was the smartest person I had ever known, I remember being shocked when seeing the Blue Danube for the first time. Somehow I expected something more ….blue and probably more majestic, and it was neither. He was amazed at my lack of knowledge and said in passing: In a couple of decades, people will be fighting over water. I realized, as he made that offhand comment, that a few years earlier, as the guest of an advisor to the then Prime Minister of Israel, I was shown the Jordan River and was amazed that it looked more like a neglected stream than the mighty river I had been lead, as a child, to envision. Then too, this top ranking security official had indicated that future wars would be fought over water. At the time, I was led to believe that Israel, a country that is two-thirds arid and surrounded by hostile voices, was experimenting in developing a desalination system.

I have not thought of those two incidents until I stumbled across two articles. The first was about the regions of the world that were so extremely water poor. The second stated that Israel has developed a new and cheaper –no chemical process– for desalination. The claim by the Israeli’s is that once their project is complete over 50 percent of their household water use will come from a desalination process. The 50 percent that will not have this advantage is a huge percentage of that nation’s total need—not merely for household use but for their extensive agriculture ventures. It only takes a moment, when you stop to think that without water a people/nation/civilization dies.

In an article by Alan Bierga, U.S. Intelligence Says Water Shortages Threaten Stability, Mr. Bierga reports “An all-out water war is unlikely in the next 10 years, as nations will be more likely to use water as a bargaining chip with each other, according to the report from the Director of National Intelligence….” I respectfully disagree. Water will not be, as claimed, a “bargaining chip”. Not in a world where at present almost one in eight people on the entire planet aren’t able to secure a glass of safe water to drink. Water will be held hostage, and the immediate response will be violence between those that depend upon the water flow to their nation and the nation that dams the rivers to dry beds. The reason is understandable: clearly, one neither has the time nor inclination to “negotiate” with a hostile neighbor for an item held captive as dear as water, when it means the difference between eating and not eating and life and death.

The key areas to focus upon are the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa. Much of the real facts regarding the need for water and national security are buried in a classified document released by the National Intelligence Estimate that was narrowly distributed to policymakers. From the unclassified edition one can unmistakably draw unambiguous conclusions. They are very disturbing and certainly not reassuring. In addition, the assessment from the NIE is that 70 percent of all fresh-water supplies are now used for agriculture. “The downside, the NIE claims, is that many regions are “pulling water out of aquifers faster than it is being renewed.” You can then read that “when it’s gone it’s gone.” The conclusions from that statement are ominous: when water is gone crops die and life ceases.

The strategic water basins that feed the rivers in several geographic areas include:
1. The Nile. This river runs through 10 countries before ending up in Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea. (Note that this river runs south to north.)
2. The famous Jordan River. The Palestinians and Jordan have long been at odds with Israel.
3. Tigris-Euphrates in Turkey, Syria and Iraq.
4. And, last, for most of us, the least known is the Indus, whose rainwater collection area includes Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Tibet.

Subsequent reviews of these geographic areas provide us with a special prospective beyond merely the absence of water and beyond their strategic location for human use and agriculture. They are potential targets for terrorism of a greater proportion than the twin towers in New York City. When the Twin Towers were attacked and destroyed, the loss of human life resulted in 2,996 –immediate at time of attack—deaths. Now envision a terrorist attack at a major water collection center that feeds into streams and rivers, and irrigates thousands of acres of fertile land and provides drinking water to untold numbers of people. What of the lives that are connected to that source of water supply—water that is not merely contaminated but undrinkable and dangerous? And although Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced that the United States would employ both its knowledge and political will to seek “solutions to global water accessibility challenges, especially in the developing world”, we have been allowed to see only the tip of the world problem. Major water supplies intentionally polluted beyond redemption are beyond the scope and magnitude of the Twin Towers.

Where there is an insufficient or poorly husbanded water supply that is but one concern for the world. And not to minimize that concern, nevertheless this problem is easily conquered. It has been done in the past, and surely, it can be accomplished on a grand scale in the future. All it takes it the will and the financial support.
It is the second and third water issue: Where those who control the supply of water will intentionally withhold or deny it from others for political or religious reasons, and, last, where as a weapon of terrorism and violence, a water supply is destroyed. The importance of such an act—if successful– can only be envisioned as being immediate with sickening consequences. At times the obvious must be said: terrorism is beyond a car bomb in a city square or commuter train.

Richard Allan
The Editor

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Global Incidents and Commentary

February 28, 2012 Comments off

Global Events

  • LWOT reports that “twelve of 13 suspected members of a banned Northern Irish militant group, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), were acquitted of terrorism charges in Northern Ireland’s largest so-called “super grass” trial (Reuters, CNN, Guardian, BBC). The judge described the prosecution’s “super grass” witnesses Ian and Robert Stewart as “ruthless criminals and unflinching terrorists,” and suspected that their testimony was “infected with lies, ” leaving authorities questioning the legitimacy of allowing “rehabilitated” militia members testify against their former comrades (Guardian). “
  • Representatives from more than 60 Western and Arab countries have met in Tunis, Tunisia to call for the Syrian government to implement an immediate ceasefire and to allow humanitarian assistance for civilians and people wounded in violence. The group was not expected to discuss military options but will threaten increased sanctions if the Syrian regime doesn’t comply within days. Editor’s Note: Shamefully, neither Russia nor China, who vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution based on an Arab League plan aimed to end the Syrian violence planned to attend the conference and have protect the Syrian government from the UN sanctions. The problem also is acerbated by the fact of the lack of coordination within the groups opposing the Government: “The “Friends of Syria” seem to be favoring the opposition Syrian National Council, but are not giving the group exclusive recognition. The other main opposition group, the National Coordination Committee, is boycotting the conference.” On top of all this the activists have reported that over 7,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the 11-month uprising.
  • Palestinian militants in Gaza fired a rocket into southern Israel’s Eshkol district on Friday evening, the Israeli military said, but there were no reports of casualties. Early on Friday Israeli warplanes staged two air strikes on the Gaza Strip, in response to rocket fire on Thursday night. A Palestinian militant group, the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), said it had launched one of Thursday’s rockets “in defense of Al-Quds,” the Arabic name for Jerusalem, where there has been a rise in tensions in the Old City compound that houses the Al-Aqsa mosque.
  • And the saga continues, where talks on forming a unity government between Fatah and Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, have once again been postponed.
  • Foreign Policy reports that “next month, U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will hold a key meeting over the Iranian nuclear challenge that will test their sometimes rocky relationship. After a weekend visit by National Security Advisor Tom Donilon to Israel, the White House announced this week that Obama will host Netanyahu in Washington on March 5. This will be an opportunity for the two leaders to synchronize their positions on Iran. Whether they can reach some common ground — now or in the near future — could be a decisive factor in Israel’s decision-making on whether to strike Iran sometime this year.” It is no secret that Netanyahu and Obama have never been close, but now is the time for the two leaders to find common ground over the Iranian nuclear issue.
  •  International pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran has never been higher. In addition to the new, crippling U.S. sanctions enacted on Dec. 31 and Feb. 6, the European Union recently pledged to halt the importation of Iranian oil by July 1. The top local news there is that Iran’s economy is reeling. The counter part is that the Iranian leaders have struck an increasingly aggressive note. The latest bellicose announcement was they have threatened a preemptive strike against their “foes”, and warned that they could close the Strait of Hormuz. In another recent act of defiance, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced on Feb. 15 that a “new generation” of Iranian centrifuges had just been activated at the Natanz nuclear site. And this week, IAEA inspectors charged with monitoring Iran’s nuclear program were denied access to a military facility, returning to Vienna after what they termed “disappointing” talks with their Iranian interlocutors. And the latest news is that Ahmadinejad may be seeing his last days as the head of the civil government.

COMMENTARY—Foreign Aid and Reciprocal Objectives

The percentage of Americans living below the poverty standard is staggering. There are at last count almost 300 million Americans presently residing in these united states. A little fewer than 15% of them, or about 42 million, exist on a standard of living that is unconscionable even in these difficult economic times.

With these facts in mind and ever mindful of our absolute need for the support and growth of our national security infrastructure, I find it beyond merely embarrassing that we provide financial aid in the form of economic and military aid to two countries, and we do not, in return, demand some form of reciprocal cooperation or public acknowledgment of “thank you”. I refer to Egypt and Turkey.

Billions (not millions) of dollars have and are being provided these countries– some in loans, some in grants, some for economic purposes and some to bolster their military prowess. I do not and have never advocated pulling back from our international commitment or involvement in global affairs. We are, after all, a nation among many others, totally dependent upon the goodwill of each of us. Yet it is unfathomable that our aid has no fair and equitable strings attached. I am not refereeing to the political or military control of another nation nor involvement in their domestic or foreign governance and decision making process. I am referring to a memorialized commitment to mutual goals –not imposed one upon another.

The security of this national in these unprecedented violent times, with vocal histrionics spewed across foreign airwaves and press, it behooves our nation to support causes that inure to our benefit and not those that contradict our frame work of democratic process, our philosophy or that attack our allies.

The power of the newly formed Egyptian government beyond that of the military, rests with a newly elected Parliament whose leadership is in the hands of the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. No historical friend of America, whose credo was and is, “God is our objective; the Quran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of God is the highest of our aspirations”. Within the last weeks, this newly formed, deeply rooted Islamic government has not only demanded the abdication of the military but has put on trial non-Egyptians who have over the years, funneled money to NGOs to support democratic reform. One of those charged is an American. And yet the billions of dollars (over 1.5 billion dollars in 2011) the United States pours into that nation is being utilized for anti-west sentiment and action.

Although Turkey has, over the past few weeks, become the spearhead of a joint Western-Arab-Turkish policy aimed at forcing President Bashar Assad to cede power in Syria this turnabout has clear questionable motives, considering Turkey’s overall international and regional conduct. At one time it had cordial relations with Israel, but in its scurry to be the principal representative of a Mideast Arab community, in its present state of disarray, it has repositioned itself to confront Israel both politically and militarily. To muddle this new approach, the apologists for Turkey (some of whom reside in the United States) have attempted to confuse Turkey’s policy toward the West with its ever changing hostile attitude toward Israel. These strains will only continue because of the core of Turkey’s political and religious internal changes. Turkey’s newly evolving Islamist international posture reflects its internal evolution. Turkey wishes to become the lynchpin in the Mideast struggle between and among those Mideast nations who are attempting to cope with revolutions and ineptness in creating functional governments, and to fill the vacuum created by the toppling of the regions’ dictators. Could the reason be: at a time it wishes to take its place at the head of the Mideast table, its fear that a show of any good will toward Israel would be considered an anathema in any attempt to take a leading role in its relations with its historical kin?

When Turkey does appear to side with the West and, in particular, with the United States, I think one has the right to question the motives of Turkish government and what is truly included in its calculations. Could it be that as the US has supplied billions of dollars in multiple forms of aid to Turkey and the region (yes, including Israel), and being very frank, all that Israel has supplied to the international community is its creation of a Jewish democratic state and is thus, considered by many, a “problem” in a region where nations have had not only historical difficulty to coalesce but to bring any semblance of democracy to their people?

Richard Allan,
The Editor

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