As David Horowitz and his legions of victim-card-playing chickenhawks at various American universities bitch and moan about how no one cares how often they have nightmares about terrorists, here’s a roundup of recent news reports from around the globe:
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the U.S. is planning to send senior officials to examine Israel’s complaints that the smuggling of arms, equipment and persons from Egypt into the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip, continues.
Rice said that the smuggling activities are a grave concern and reiterated what she told her Egyptian counterpart Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit two weeks ago about the need to do more, and “urgently.”
The Bush administration is concerned about the continued flow of arms into Gaza and is under constant pressure from Israel and its friends in Congress, calling on the administration to do more to convince Egypt to prevent the smuggling.
At least in public, Egypt is refusing to accept responsibility for the smuggling. American officials who will visit the area will try to determine the goings-on on both sides of the border.
Lebanese troops opened fire Thursday on Israeli warplanes flying low over southern Lebanon, but no hits were reported, Lebanese officials said.
Soldiers opened up with machine guns and light anti-aircraft weapons mounted on armored vehicles at two planes that flew by just east of Marjayoun town near the border at midmorning, a Lebanese security official said.
An army statement issued later in the day said “the Lebanese army’s ground antiaircraft guns confronted the hostile Israeli aircraft during its violation of Lebanese airspace over the regions of Marjayoun and Bint Jbeil, forcing it to leave over the town of Alma Chaab in the direction of the occupied lands.”
Lebanon, like most Arab countries, does not recognize the State of Israel.
Syria has razed a suspected nuclear reactor building that was bombed by Israeli aircraft, according to nuclear experts.
Using commercial satellite images, the Institute for Science and International Security said there were signs of a hasty clean-up of the site that was attacked last month.
“Dismantling and removing the building at such a rapid pace dramatically complicates any inspection of the facilities and suggests that Syria may be trying to hide what was there,” ISIS said on its website.
Turkey today demanded the extradition of all Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq as its air force carried out further strikes on militant hideouts in the area.
The call by the Turkish deputy prime minister, Cemil Cicek, came after a meeting with the Iraqi defence minister in an attempt to defuse the rising conflict over the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK) fighters, who are operating from bases in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq.
The Iraqi government remains determined to expel the Blackwater USA security company and is searching for legal remedies to overturn an American-imposed decree that exempts all foreign bodyguards from prosecution under local laws, officials said Wednesday.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government accepted the findings of an Iraqi investigative committee that determined Blackwater guards, without provocation, killed 17 Iraqis last month in Nisoor Square in western Baghdad.
Iraqi investigators declared that Blackwater should be expelled and $8 million should be paid as compensation for each victim. The officials said the Cabinet decided Tuesday to establish a committee to find ways to repeal a 2004 directive issued by L. Paul Bremer, chief of the former U.S. occupation government in Iraq. The order placed private security companies outside Iraqi law.
Oil roared past $90, setting a record Thursday, as tight inventories and fresh signs that OPEC would shrug off calls for additional oil from big consumer nations sent prices up nearly 4%.
U.S. crude settled up $3.36 at $90.46 a barrel after striking an intraday record of $90.60. The rise added to Wednesday’s gain of nearly $2.
Energy officials from OPEC nations Venezuela and Algeria said the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries would not boost output when it meets informally in Saudi Arabia next month.
THE big chill between the US and Iran has deepened, with the White House imposing its toughest sanctions in almost three decades on the rogue nation amid concerns the countries are headed for war.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson have slapped sweeping new financial penalties on Iran in a bid to force it to stop enriching uranium and curb its terrorist activities.
However some US allies are concerned the White House is starting to build a case for war against Iran.
Critics see parallels in the rhetoric the Bush Administration is using against Iran with comments it made about Iraq in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Baghdad.
Tensions between Russia and the West over sanctions against Iran will be laid bare today as President Vladimir Putin attends a summit with EU leaders in Portugal.
The Russian leader described supporters of tough policies as “mad people wielding razor blades” after the US imposed economic sanctions on the Islamic republic yesterday in an attempt to curb its nuclear programme.
Mr Putin, who is at the summit to discuss disputed trade issues with the EU, is expected to make further comments on Iran this afternoon after a senior American diplomat suggested that Russia was “aiding and abetting” the Iranian military.
Nicholas Burns, US Assistant Secretary of State, said that Russia should stop selling weapons to Iran, and China should stop investing in the Middle Eastern state. “They’re now the number one trade partner with Iran,” he told the BBC. “It’s very difficult for countries to say we’re striking out on our own when they’ve got their own policies on the military side, aiding and abetting the Iraninan government in strengthening its own military.”
A suicide bomber has attacked a truck carrying troops in Pakistan, killing at least 20 people and wounding 34.
The blast happened in Mingora, the main town in the north-western district of Swat where 2,500 paramilitary troops were deployed this week to fight supporters of a militant cleric.
The blast set off an explosion of ammunition carried inside a military truck, triggering bullet fire.
Most of the casualties were soldiers, but some bystanders were also hit. Some nearby shops, restaurants and cars were damaged.
Gordon Brown yesterday amplified Nato calls for more combat troops in Afghanistan to spread a burden currently being borne by UK, US and Canadian forces, but the chief of defence staff warned that the country’s problems could only be resolved by political, not military, means.
Echoing concerns expressed by General Dan McNeill, commander of the Nato-led international force in the country, the prime minister called for greater “burden-sharing” in Afghanistan. Speaking after talks in London with President Hamid Karzai, he added: “We are all determined that Afghanistan should never become a failed state again, and to support the democracy that’s been created in that country.”
With Democrats and Republicans on the hill sparring over the costs and lengths of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Adm. Michael Mullen said that the current levels on defense spending—about 4 percent of the GNP—will not likely be enough to meet the U.S. military’s future needs.
He noted that the current level of defense spending–in percentage of the GNP– is less than even during the Gulf War. The Bush administration has requested $481.7 billion for the defense budget in fiscal 2008 and over $190 billion more to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
There’s definitely a lot to be scared about in this world. No one is arguing that. Conflicts across the Middle East are getting worse right now and many of them truly ring the alarm bells. But while fear is a perfectly natural and healthy human emotion, it’s a pretty shitty mechanism for making sound decisions. When fear becomes an obstacle to using a rational approach to these problems, we end up only advocating solutions that do nothing more than compound the problems that make us scared in the first place. This is why we’ve ended up where we’re at in the Middle East. Out of fear, we convinced ourselves that Saddam Hussein was a much greater threat to us and his neighbors than he really was. We convinced ourselves that the Islamic radicalism that led to 9/11 is a much larger movement than it really was. Today, we still convince ourselves that if we leave Iraq, the “terrorists” will rejoice and follow us back home. And we continue to fear that merely talking to Iran and Syria makes us weak, even as it remains one of the key prerequisites for allowing us to fix the mess we’ve created on their doorstep. All of these fears are irrational, and all of them hinder our efforts to bring freedom and stability to the region.
During the Vietnam War, Richard Nixon used what he referred to as the “Madman theory”:
At the core of Nixon’s notions was a diplomacy-supporting stratagem he called the Madman Theory, or, as he and Bob Haldeman described it, “the principle of the threat of excessive force.” Nixon was convinced that his power would be enhanced if his opponents thought he might use excessive force, even nuclear force. That, coupled with his reputation for ruthlessness, he believed, would suggest that he was dangerously unpredictable. The Madman Theory undergirded not only his policy toward North Vietnam but also toward other adversaries, including the Soviet Union.
Nixon’s theory never actually worked to achieve its intended goals – to bring a quick end to the Vietnam War and to preserve the South Vietnamese government. The strategy was based upon the belief that using fear would change the Soviet outlook and get them to act in ways they otherwise would not. But it failed. The problem with the Madman Theory is that it requires your adversary to be someone who allows fear to alter their worldview and keep them from acting rationally. And the Soviet government at that time did not allow that to happen.
Today, we have a growing conflict with Iran where both sides are trying out Nixon’s Madman Theory. The Bush Administration continues to threaten military action against a country of 65 million people, and the Iranian President tries his best to play the part of the unpredictable nutjob who would nuke Israel to bring about the apocalypse (even though he doesn’t even have the power to do that). Both sides think they can get what they want by being seen as a threat. The question is which side will allow the fear from the other side to force them into a stupid decision.
If David Horowitz gets what he wants out of his silly self-promotion spectacle this week, and the Bush Administration listens to people like Bill Kristol and Norman Podhoretz, the losers in this pointless stare-down will be us.