Blogs & Podcasts
(formerly Watching America) features blogs and podcasts by Professor Scott
Lucas and guest bloggers, analysing developments in
the United States, particularly the latest issues and trends
in US foreign policy.
The views and opinions expressed here represent those of the the individual
authors and do not in any way reflect those of the University of Birmingham, its
institutions and organizations that the authors are involved with.
***This blog has now moved to
31 July 2009
Memorial Day in Iran; Assessing Afghanistan-Pakistan
Rolling updates from inside the country....
This Wave is already in uncharted waters for the Islamic Republic, and I doubt any of us have the map to indicate where it goes.
Roger Cohen: "It was precisely emotion, and notions of good and evil, that the Obama administration had spent the previous months trying to drain from the charged U.S.-Iranian relationship."
23 July 2009
The Best Iran Coverage; Obama Press Conference; Torturing John Yoo
22 July 2009
The Best Iran Coverage; An Arafat "Plot" in Palestine?
20-21 July 2009
The Best Iran Coverage; Obama Backing Away from Gitmo Pledge?
16 July 2009
The Best Iran Coverage; The Clinton Speech; Israel and China
15 July 2009
The Best Iran Coverage; A British-Israeli Spat; Singing with Paranoid
Rolling updates from inside the
While the general position of
Supreme Leader is to be respected as
the highest authority, that respect
does not necessarily have to be
given to an individual who does not
fulfil the duties of the position,
in this case, Ayatollah Khamenei.
A disucssion of the manoeuvres
behind this Friday’s prayers, with
Hashemi Rafsanjani presiding and a
mass march which may include Mir
Hossein Mousavi, Mohammad Khatami,
and Mehdi Karroubi, and stories of
possible compromise within the
As the other 177 export licenses for
arms to Israel proceed without
restriction, one suspects that this
affair is simply a little local
Paranoid Larry's ditty from 2006
might still have some relevance.
14 July 2009
The Best Iran Coverage; France in Middle East; Dick Cheney's Secrecy
Rolling updates from inside the country....
Security Council members and Germany must turn to Turkey to successfully
negotiate with Iran.”
If true, French Foreign Minister Kouchner has just set up a
two-way message to Israel and Iran: while Tehran has its deadline —
negotiate by September or face tougher economic sanctions — the Israelis are
now on notice over the Palestinian process.
Far from being a Dirty Old Man, it seems Obama was a Polite,
Courteous Chief Exective, helping another lady step down. Instead, it’s Mr
Carla Bruni, a.k.a. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who may want to be
watching both his headlines and his domestic situation.
The Best Iran Coverage; Iraq, Afghanistan, and Israel Intrigues
Rolling updates from inside the country....
The perfect storm of the opposition from “without”, the public
challenge symbolised by the leadership of the Presidential candidate Mousavi,
and the opposition from “within”, the private manoeuvring of former President
Rafsanjani, may be imminent.
Britain’s Foreign Office and the White House have avoided giving
immediate responses so far. Instead, the “5+1″ (the permanent members of the
United Nations Security Council and Germany) await Tehran’s next step.
Twitter, having recognised its important role in post-election
Iran, now needs to act against the spam. If it does nothing, the spammers might
succeed where the Iranian authorities have failed, and silence online
John Hannah, one of the advisors to Vice President Dick Cheney
trying to remake the world in the Bush years, looks to claim the Iranian protest
movement as Dubya’s legacy.
The release of the five
Iranians points to the emergence of an Iraqi Government that is no longer
subject to the demands of the US military.
Rory Stewart: "After seven
years of refinement, the policy seems so buoyed by illusions, caulked in
ambiguous language and encrusted with moral claims, analogies and political
theories that it can seem futile to present an alternative.”
The more ground that the Netanyahu Government gives because
pressure from the Obama Administration, the better placed Tzipi Livni will be
within the context of a Washington-led settlement.
11 July 2009
The Best Iran Coverage; G8 Summit; US-Israel Conflict
10 July 2009
Iran, Sarah Palin, and the Google Bomb
7-9 July 2009
From Iran to Israel to China to Russia to British Torture
from inside the country....
is the challenge to the regime
and the role of Mojtaba Khamenei
on and after the 12 June
authorities are using prolonged
harsh interrogations, beatings,
sleep deprivation, and threats
of torture to extract false
confessions from detainees
arrested since the disputed June
12 presidential election."
The best parts of
the President's speech on
mystery of the Vice President's
words on Sunday....
the US acceptance of the 2500 units due to the specifics of private
contracts and Israeli law on settlements, or have the two sides found common
ground where both sides meet with some concessions?
This two-way message is being laid out to maintain
a balance between Iran and the US.
In a series of case studies Ian Cobain of The
how torture has become a standard method of interrogation for the
British intelligence services, and how everyone involved- from
personnel on the ground to high-ranking government ministers- may be
6 July 2009
The Best Iran Coverage; Joe Biden and Israeli Military Action
Rolling updates from
inside the country....
Getting to the truth on
the clerical and political manoeuvres
and the fiction of The New York Times'
headline on Sunday....
Did the Vice President
give the nod to Tel Aviv?
4-5 July 2009
The Best Iran Coverage; Stories and "Non-Stories" in Israel-Palestine
Rolling updates from inside
"[This] corrupt movement has
been implementing a foreign mission in order
to encourage unlawful activities, kill
innocent people, create a rebellion, plunder
public property and weaken the power of the
Human rights activists have
released details on 12 more people killed in
post-election violence in Iran, bringing the
total to 26.
The US Ambassador to Israel,
Michael Oren, diverts attention from
3 July 2009
The Best Iran Coverage; Stories and "Non-Stories" in Israel-Palestine
Rolling updates from inside
"To our boys and brothers in the
security forces! We are your mothers. We treat
you with respect as mothers. Respect us and our
wishes and refrain from inflicting harm onto
your mothers. Our sighs will follow you if you
treat us with violence."
As McKinney and others continue
to refuse deportation, no doubt hoping that
their jail stay will eventually be noticed, and
as Israeli authorities just hope the incident
will disappear, expect the New York Times
and Washington Post to ignore a story
that is not fit to print.
1-2 July 2009
The Best Iran Coverage; Afghanistan; Iraq; Waiting for Bin Laden
Rolling updates from inside the
In the furour over the Presidential
election, the most intriguing political contest may
have taken place, behind the street scenes, in
Iran’s religious centre, south of Tehran in the
dusty city of Qom.
An unprecedent clerical attack on
How to get to the truth behind
stories and rumours from Iran....
The Obama camp makes a move to
pre-empt additional military demands.
Juan Cole's immediate guide to the
situation behind the US "withdrawal"
Video: “The only chance we have as a country … is
for Osama bin Laden to detonate a major weapon in
the United States.”
Glenn Beck and Michael Scheuer recommend salvation
30 June 2009
The Best Iran Coverage; Israel; Obama on Energy
Rolling updates from inside the
LATEST Video: Rally at Ghobar Mosque, Resistance,
Violence (24-28 June)
The Guardian of London has
launched an appeal to put a face to the names of the
hundreds of people killed and detained in Iran since 12
Updates on bravery in new media and
craven sniping in old.
Head of Israel Defense Forces: "The
reelection of the Iranian president, his remarks on his
intention to harm Israel, and his efforts to obtain
unconventional weapons, require us to be prepared to
deal with every threat, far away and nearby."
28-29 June 2009
The Best Iran Coverage, Iraq, and "Monkey Business"
The Latest from Iran (28 June): The Regime Fails to Wrap Up
Rolling updates from inside the
LATEST Video: Rally at Ghobar Mosque, Resistance, Violence
UPDATED Iran: A Tale of Two Twitterers
A story of politics, new media, and
Iran: For Those Still Detained (A Daily Show Tribute)
Jason Jones interviews three people —
former Vice Presidents Ibrahim Yazdi and Mohammad Ali Abtahi
and journalist Maziar Bahari — who have all been detained by
the Iranian authorities.
Making Links: Extract from Martin Luther King’s “Letter from
a Birmingham Jail”
Transcript: General Raymond Odierno on CNN’s “State of the
Union” (28 June)
"[Iraqi] security remains good. We’ve seen
constant improvement in the security force, we’ve seen
constant improvement in governance."
Sex and Politics: Putting “Monkey Business” in the Right
John Matlin: "Maybe I’m too old and jaded,
maybe I’ve reached the age of pure cynicism but give me a
politician any time who can get the investment banks to
behave properly and lawfully, who can reduce loutish
behaviour so we can walk city centres at night, who can find
ways to reduce teenage pregnancies and who, if an American,
can get guns off the streets. Find him or her and he or she
can have as many affairs as he or she wants."
26-27 June 2009
Iran, Palestine, and Trippin' Wallabies
We could not have made this story up.
Rolling updates from inside the country....
While Ayatollah Ahmed Khatami was wielding the
public hammer to smite the demonstrations, Ayatollah's
Makarem-Shirazi's statement is an indication of reassurance to
key individuals. But whom?
Assuming the Cairo discussions between Fatah and
Hamas proceed, the Obama Administration might use Hamas leader
Khaled Meshaal’s message as leverage if Israel does not move
beyond symbolic developments.
25 June 2009
Full Iran Coverage; Iraq is Back; Israel-Palestine
Rolling updates from Iran.
"Doubtlessly, these events had another big victory
for our people and that was the possibility to talk to the world and
exhibit their real face, demands, and goals."
Iraq has been pushed back into the
news because of a series of deadly bombings.
The moral may be that moving
detainees about might buy time and a bit of breathing space, but it is no
substitute for firm agreements.
23-24 June 2009
Full Iran Coverage; Israel-Palestine;
Soviet Union Meets Sweet Home Alabama
22 June 2009
The Latest from Iran and Beyond
Rolling updates from Iran.
On Saturday, a woman was watching
demonstrations on Karegar Avenue in Tehran when she was shot in the chest by a
paramilitary Basiji. A 40-second video captured the killing; within hours,
“Neda” became an icon — witting or unwitting — for the political movement in
Iran: The “Mousavi Revolutionary Manifesto” for Change
Gary Sick on Mousavi: “It is apparent from
this statement that Mousavi’s movement — and Mousavi himself — have evolved
enormously in the past week….[This] is truly a revolutionary statement.”
Text: Mohammad Khatami Statement (21 June)
President Obama’s latest weekly address
was on new consumer protection legislation, which was described as important for
the recovery of the economy as well as for action against those companies that
have benefited through abuses of consumers’ rights.
On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu appeared for 13 minutes on US television, speaking to NBC’s
“Meet the Press”. However, it is a remarkably tangential interview, with host
David Gregory spending 12 1/2 minutes on Iran and 1/2 minute on Palestine.
As we were focused on events in Iran,
news came through of the deadliest attack in Iraq this year, with
80 people dying in a suicide truck bombing in Kirkuk.
21 June 2009
Full Iran Coverage; Latest in Iraq; Super-Obama
Rolling updates from inside the country....
The Supreme Leader’s defiant rejection of any wrongdoing in these elections has put the ball firmly in Mousavi’s court.
Christopher Hill: "I don’t want to sound Pollyannish about that because these are trends that are fragile and ones that need to be nurtured every day.”
20 June 2009
Full Iran Coverage; Obama is Osama?; Bear
Story of the Day
Rolling updates from inside the country....
Saturday’s rally could yet be the greatest challenge the Islamic Republic has ever seen.
"Overall, it does not look good, worse than it ever was...."
Henry Giroux: “The uprising in Iran not only requires a new conception of politics, education, and society; it also raises significant questions about the new media and its centrality to democracy.”
"I’m very concerned, based on some of the tenor and tone of the statements that have been made, that the Government of Iran recognize that the world is watching.”
Why have Osama bin Laden and Barack Hussein Obama never been photographed together?
This video of a Ohio television station’s news story on a bear in a back garden still has me crying with laughter.
19 June 2009
Iran - The Supreme Leader Speaks
Rolling updates from inside the country....
The speech as it happened today...
"Today made it very clear that the dynamics of the movement
are constantly evolving. From the first march where the only focus was on
Mousavi/ people’s vote to Mousavi, today’s slogans touched on issues of
freedom/justice/innocent people dying for a just cause."
Small World News have posted their second audio, an interview
this morning with an Iranian eyewitness reporting on the Thursday
demonstration in Tehran, the forthcoming Friday prayers, and the plans for a
large Saturday protest.
According to a Jerusalem Post-sponsored Smith Research poll,
most Israelis view outposts and settlements in the West Bank far differently
than they are seen by the US Government.
Iran: What’s Happening? Sifting Information from Rumours on Twitter
How to read a conflict...
18 June 2009
While the US has yet to convince Israel on the settlements issue,
Clinton did indicate that Washington had succeeded in another important area:
keeping Iran in the background, rather than at the forefront, of US-Israel
After the Guardian Council announced its decision to review the
vote in the Iranian Presidential election, a confession, an accusation and a
warning came from Israel on Tuesday.
How to read a conflict...
It is unlikely that public pressure, combined with the efforts of
a politically powerful clique, will remove Ahmadinejad from power. This crisis
is, however, as much a clash of competing cultures in Iran as it is about
Two provocative analyses of the politics behind the recent
decisions of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Winner: Representative Pete Hoekstra (Republican, Michigan)
17 June 2009
Rolling updates throughout the day from inside the country....
Our friends at Small World News, who broke new ground with “Alive
in Baghdad” and “Alive in Gaza”, have just posted their first recording with an
Iranian witness to events.
Video of a panel discussion on the Iran situation on Tuesday
afternoon’s Inside Story with Dr Seyed Mohammad Marandi of Tehran University and
Professor Anoush Ebteshami of Durham University.
Shirvin Zeinalzadeh: "The strength of Ahmadinejad has been
forgotten over the last few days as we see the almost one-sided views of the
Moussavi supporters walking the streets of Tehran."
Jon Stewart’s take on the Iran election controversy, linking the
special qualities of President Ahmadinejad with the special qualities of….US
Vice President Joe Biden?
16 June 2009
Crisis in Iran; A World of Arms
Rolling updates on fast-moving developments in Iran....
An experience from a Monday interview with EA's Scott Lucas on
the BBC World Service....
It seems that the economic global crisis has not shattered the
balance of demand and supply in the military-industrial complex.
15 June 2009
Crisis in Iran; Netanyahu on
14 June 2009
Rolling Coverage of Iran
13 June 2009
Rolling Coverage of Iran After the Election; Crisis in Pakistan
Regular updates on the latest from the country after the
disputed outcome of the Presidential election....
The least that could be said this morning is that the
overnight outcome of Iran’s Presidential election was unexpected, to
observers outside the country and I suspect many inside it. It is the more
that might be said — and done — that now occupies attention.
Shirvin Zeinalzadeh: "It really comes as no surprise that his
victory was so big. Many fail to realise the supporters of Moussavi were the
young elite rich of Northern Tehran."
Asia Times Online: "Pakistan’s month-long military operation
in the Malakand Division of North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), which
includes the scene of especially heavy fighting in the Swat Valley, has, per
official figures, cost the lives of over 1,300 militants and led to the
displacement of 3.5 million civilians.
The battle is far from over."
12 June 2009
Robert Dreyfuss: "The reality is that Khamenei and his all-powerful Council of Guardians has approved all four candidates, and virtually everyone says that the Leader will be happy if either Ahmadinejad or Mousavi wins."
On the eve of today’s elections, Presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi spoke with Al Jazeera. The clip is less than three minutes but packed with important declarations:
Including misleading labels, the yelps of Bushmen, "Iran's Michelle Obama", and "“Mousavi the Illiterate US Stooge”
Arrests as part of the "road map"...
11 June 2009
Election Past (Lebanon), Election Future (Iran)
No one could forecast how dynamic — and potentially important —
this campaign has become.
Rami Khouri: "None of this really mattered much, however, because
the balance of power in Lebanon (as in the entire Arab world) is not really
anchored in parliament, but in power relations that are negotiated elsewhere."
Thomas Barnett: "It is both amazing and a credit to our military
that we can so swiftly (just a month) and so readily admit serious operational
mistakes in the field."
10 June 2009
US-Israel Negotiations, Lebanon and Iran Elections
How can we
dare to be
envoy to the
why he is an
The US and
How Not to
plan a gig
9 June 2009
Lebanon's Elections, Russia-Israel Ties, and Obama Seen from Iran
The danger is not that a Lebanon led by Hezbollah, and behind
Hezbollah its “masters” in Iran, will emerge to challenge Israel and the US.
Instead, the political knife cuts the other way: external rhetoric of the
Hezbollah danger, a rhetoric which can always be escalated not to advance the
regional peace process but to block it, would simply add to Lebanon's internal
In the Middle East, Russia becomes one of the first beneficiaries
of the “soft power” of the US.
Dr. Mahmoud Reza Golshanpazhooh: “The Obama speech is an
undeniable turning point. But the most important part of the story is to put
these words into action."
The point is that — whatever North Korea’s motives — the
possibilities for a humanitarian resolution are far more limited, if they
exist at all, than they were in the case of Iran.
8 June 2009
The Signals on Israel and Palestine
Perhaps the great unnoticed paradox of Barack Obama’s Middle
Eastern trip came before his Cairo speech, when he stopped in Riyadh.
Israel’s need for some political breathing space, perhaps
ironically, is met not in Washington but in the streets of Palestine.
Yesterday, there was a turn of debate on CNN’s GPS which
may be symbolic of the shift in US foreign policy. This was a clash of
“Iran-first” vs. “Palestine-first” in the US approach towards Israel. And
Palestine-first won, 16 hands down.
Video and Transcript: Hillary Clinton on “This Week” (7 June)
7 June 2009
Israel-Palestine After the Speech, Updates from Iran, Obama in
Perhaps the most striking response
to President Obama's speech is coming from Hamas officials,
who are cautiously signalling that they are ready for
It may be less than 48 hours since the
Obama speech, but the US and Israel are already manoeuvring
— and testing each other — over Palestine.
Given the US delay in moving its Embassy, how
does Benjamin Netanyahu — facing a difficult position in his
Cabinet and with Israeli public opinion — respond?
Wednesday’s election debate between Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and one of his challengers,
Mir Hossein Mousavi, is still sending ripples through and
There have been a few
dramatic (and misleading) headlines, but the gist of the
IAEA’s conclusions are the same: no imminent Iran nuclear
weapon and a call for transparency on the programme.
6 June 2009
Revelations on Iran and Afghanistan,
Obama's Cairo and Germany Speeches, The Danger of Liberals
Putting together reports and interviews, Gareth Porter claims that Israeli intelligence played a key role in assembling the Iran “laptop documents” and then feeding them to Washington.
Despite previous denials, "A military investigation has concluded that American personnel made significant errors in carrying out some of the airstrikes in western Afghanistan on May 4 that killed dozens of Afghan civilians."
While al-Jazeera believes that it points to a ‘welcoming’ reaction from Israel, Press TV focuses on an apparent Israel ’snub’ to Obama over settlements. One short statement, two very different responses.
“These people…have a very unfavorable view of the United States….So why are we wooing them?”
Representative Lamar Smith: “The greatest threat to America is not necessarily a recession or even another terrorist attack. The greatest threat to America is a liberal media bias.”
5 June 2009
A Speech in Cairo, Debates in Iran
The significance of the immediate responses to Obama's world-view
I do not think it is an exaggeration to call the developments in
Iran’s Presidential campaign “extraordinary”.
4 June 2009
Obama Speech in Cairo, Inside Stories on US-Iran Talks,
British Medics in Sri Lanka and Egypt
And so the paradox of Cairo: at
the end of Obama’s hour, his exaltation of
values across faiths comes to Earth in those
buildings in East Jerusalem and across the West
Bank. It is their spread, rather than the spread
of goodwill or religious blessings, that will
determine the fate of this President’s “right
In a dramatic non-move that will
disappoint devoted readers of Conservapedia and
Standard, the still-not-Muslim
President did not kneel down before the
very-Muslim King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
As American and Britain news agencies continue to misunderstand and misrepresent President Obama’s strategic approach on Iran, Foreign Policy's The Cable offers an essential view from inside the Administration.
The wars may have ostensibly ended in Gaza and Sri Lanka, but the conflicts and hardships continue. As hundreds of thousands of residents languish in detention camps or endure a protracted siege, British medics trying to help also find themselves hindered — and worse — by Government officials.
3 June 2009
Obama's Middle East, First-Hand from Pakistan's Swat Valley,
Iran's New Allies
Obama is to
there was an
and Asif Ali
is in a cafe
that I meet
set out the
by that of
Oliver — as
In a slight
2 June 2009
Obama on the Middle East, Scott Lucas on Al Jazeera,
Fox Asks Israel to Bomb Iran
There was one significant passage where Obama called on Arab States to make concessions so Israel would engage in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority and other countries.
The questioning was blunt, opening with, “Do you have to change or alter in some way the US support for a strong Israel?”, but Obama held his line.
A spirited discussion on Israel’s military exercises and their significance for Middle Eastern politics with Mark Heller of Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies and retired General Hisham Jaber of the Lebanese Army
Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon holds out for economic sanctions against Iran’s “existential threat” as Fox’s anchorman presses for a military response.
Speaking on CNN, Jimmy Cartermade a gentle but challenging contribution to the debate over the release of photographs of detainee abuse and an investigation of the Bush Administration’s torture programme.
Matt Taibbi: "Obama is on his way to doing exactly the wrong thing. He’s going to make a show of closing the base, but retain the underlying idea by keeping some of the prisoners in indefinite legal purgatory."
In the never-ending fantasy game of Why George Bush Really, Really Got It Right on Iraq, even as the casualty level for US troops reach their highest point since September 2008, former Bush official Peter Feaver takes today’s top prize.
1 June 2009
More on the Torture Photos, Accounts from Gaza
31 May 2009
Dialogue in Syria, Facebook in Iran, Rapping for a Conservative America
In contrast to the Bush Administration’s attempt to get the
“right” Middle East through exclusion of those whom it did not like or trust,
the Obama Administration in four months has rebuilt relationships with key
leaders. Still, the outcome of those initial breakthroughs awaits an even bigger
signal: the US President’s speech in Cairo next Thursday.
UN Humanitarian Coordinator: “Blockades continue in order to
protect Israeli settlements.”
The Facebook revolution is one of dialogue and engagement. It may
face further bumps along the political road, but a return to a full block is
unlikely. The illusion that Iran is cut off from “the West” — just as the
illusion that Iran is or should be just like “the West” — is now well and truly
Two freshmen at Dartmouth College, “Serious C” and “Stiltz”,
having grown up on the mean streets, have styled themselves as “The Young
Just think of this as the love-child of Vanilla Ice and Sarah Palin.
29-30 May 2009
Israel-Palestine; Iran; Fear and Loathing in London
It took less than a day after Pyongyang’s second nuclear test on
25 May for Israel to identify the real significance: Iran.
Speaking on MSNBC this week, Zbigniew Brzezinski, President
Carter’s National Security Advisor, declared that President Obama found himself
between two options/schools of thought: Israel’s official perspective of
delaying the peace with Palestinians, by presenting the Iranian danger as the
priority of “existential threat”, and the demand for a two-state solution.
John Matlin on the expenses scandal: "The beauty of American
democracy is that no one needs to trust anyone else. Checks and balances take
care of that."
Obama, less than a week before his Cairo speech, still has nothing — not even a modest Israeli concession — to anchor his general wishes for peace. Stiil, in comparison to others, he might be considered fortunate. For Mahmoud Abbas does not even have the trappings of authority as the non-peace process drags on.
23-28 May 2009
Holiday Stories from Iran to Palestine to The Apocalypse
22 May 2009
Obama and Cheney Speeches; Israel Undoes Obama's Grand Plan
Halfway through the speech, Obama got into trouble.
Because it was then that he had to move from his powerful abstract
of “values with security” to the realities of the Bushian policies
that had wrenched them apart.
Keith Olbermann: “Thank you, Sir, for admitting,
obviously inadvertently, that you did not take a serious first look
in the seven months and 23 days between your inauguration and 9/11.
For that attack, Sir, you are culpable, morally, ethically. At best
you were guilty of malfeasance and eternally-lasting stupidity. At
worst, Sir, in the deaths of 9/11, you are negligent.”
President Obama, contrary to our earlier assessments,
may have had a grand plan to offer on 4 June in Cairo. And Israeli
officials, publicly and privately, have spent the last 96 hours
ripping that plan apart.
A BBC interview with Robert Serry, the UN Special
Envoy to the Middle East, raises again the question of the UN's
We can handle a Brain-Eating Zombie, but we can't
handle the detainees?
Here’s one thing that hasn’t changed in the Obama
era: Republicans are still able to come up with scare tactics that
turn Senate Democrats into a terrified and incoherent bunch of
21 May 2009
Un-Closing Guantanamo, Lying in Afghanistan, Watching Iran
President Obama will make an important, possibly
defining, statement on the future of the Guantanamo Bay detention
facility today. It will define not only whether Obama will stick to his
January promise to close the prison within 12 months but also whether he
will be politically caged — not only on Gitmo but on other “national
security” and foreign policy issues — by Congress, the media, and the
Bushmen/Bushwomen and those who still support them.
The US military's latest un-apology....
"This report has concluded that there is at present no
ballistic missile] threat from Iran and that such a threat, even if it
were to emerge, is not imminent. Moreover, if such a threat were
forthcoming, the proposed European missile defenses would not provide a
dependable defense against it."
Our favourite delusional paranoid and/or talk-show
shyster, Glenn Beck, makes the leap from the AIG financial services
group to the auto industry to prove that Obama/Hitler is “coming after
20 May 2009
Crises in Pakistan, Sri Lanka; Obama's
Two-Week Middle East Window
The Obama Administration is scrambling, against a 4 June
deadline, for something to offer the Arab world. And the prospects aren’t
Today some outlets are noting the immediate humanitarian (and
longer-term political) issue: the more than 250,000 refugees now in
We are not convinced that the 2 million displaced in Pakistan
will be testifying to Washington’s long-term aim of economic progress and
security if and when they hear Clinton’s words about the power of US
benevolence and technology.
19 May 2009
The Obama-Netanyahu Meeting plus More Torture Revelations
Obama continues to impress with his day-to-day
tactics, and he did so yesterday against another master tactician, but
as strategists, he and his Administration have put themselve in a
Where I come from, it’s called a “hiding to nothing”.
On the day-to-day scorecard of statesmanship, each
President got a Win. Obama blocked the Israeli insistence of Iran First.
Netanyahu, however, ensured that Palestine First would be a far from
quick and complete process.
Mahmoud Reza Golshanpazhooh: "There may be no escaping of
the fact that in the extremely realistic world of international
relations the presence of a window of hope may be a source of optimism
and pessimism at the same time.
"[Even] before [General Geoffrey] Miller met with the Abu
Ghraib officials, he first made a little-known visit to the Iraq Survey
Group, which was in charge of the hunt for WMDs in Iraq after the
invasion. Miller told the ISG they were “running a country club” by not
getting tough on detainees….Miller recommended temperature manipulation
and sleep deprivation."
How it looked 2000 years ago....
18 May 2009
Revelations on Afghanistan and Torture; Obama at Notre Dame
"Ask the DNI [Director of National Intelligence] whether,
based on years of experience now accumulated worldwide and in Iraq, the U.S.
can achieve its intelligence objectives while treating detainees humanely,
as that term is defined under minimum international standards. Or,
alternatively, ask whether experience shows it is necessary, in order to
achieve intelligence objectives, to have the right to use practices regarded
as cruel, inhuman, and degrading."
Military Summary: "There has been a 64% increase in insurgent
attacks, an 80% increase in IED [improvised explosive device] attacks, a 90%
increase in attacks on the Afghan government based in Kabul. ISAF deaths were up
55%, but recorded civilian deaths were down 44%."
Re our Saturday post on
the emergence of 15 of the photographs whose release was blocked by
President Obama: Italian newspapers La Repubblica and Il Corriere
della Sera have now published some of the photos.
17 May 2009
Afghanistan, The Torture Photos, and Pakistan's Offensive
On Friday, The Independent of London put together some pieces
of a military puzzle, linking US special operations and Afghan deaths from
American bombing and missiles, to declare, “The US Marines Corps’ Special
Operations Command, or MarSOC…was behind at least three of Afghanistan’s
worst civilian casualty incidents.”
After a great deal of discussion, Enduring America has
decided to post the two “most moderate” photographs. We do so not to be
sensationalist or voyeuristic but to show the “enhanced interrogation”
carried out in America’s name not only in Iraq but from Guantanamo Bay to
Afghanistan to unnamed countries from 2002.
A question put to Mr Karl Rove, a Bush advisor, when he wrote
that Pelosi was an “accomplice to ‘torture’”.
Al Jazeera have a video report documenting Pakistani
airstrikes and the reaction of residents of Mingora, the largest town in the
16 May 2009
Israel, Iran, and the US plus Obama Bows Down Again!
What President Obama needs now is not an Iranian concession but
an Israeli one. If Netanyahu holds fast and does not open up the possibility of
“genuine” talks with the Palestinian Authority, including discussions of
political status as well as economic development and security, then Obama’s
message — launched on Inauguration Day — of a new day in the Middle East is
Sometimes, the celebration is not only of a humanitarian outcome
but of the less-than-humanitarian manoeuvres that lie behind it — and of the
political and quite positive consequences that may follow.
Last month Enduring America brought you the controversy
surrounding Obama’s apparent bow to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Now he’s at
it again…and we have the picture to prove it.
15 May 2009
Obama's Excuses, Pentagon's Black
Budgets, Israel's Shifting Alliances
A day after President Obama’s reversal on the release of
photographs of detainee abuse, his Administration made another
concession to critics in Congress and the media. Three administration
officials spread the word that Guantanamo Bay military tribunals will be
resumed for some detainees.
Dan Froomkin: "In trying to explain his startling
decision to oppose the public release of more photos depicting detainee
abuse, President Obama and his aides put forth six excuses for his
about-face, one more flawed than the next."
Next year’s expenditure on covert operations will be
close to the entire military budget of Britain, France, Japan, or even
China,the next supposed superpower rival to the US.
Two weeks ago, Turkey and Syria held, for the first time
in history, joint military drills. So what happens to other
relationship, notably the long-standing ties between Ankara and Tel
14 May 2009
Obama Puts Away The Abuse Photographs
Obama’s reasons are flimsy and at times illogical. So, since
the President is normally quite intelligent and logical, the statement is
more of a cover-up than the actual reason behind his decision.
So what did happen? Obama gave in to pressure.
Ironically, as President Obama was trying to tuck away any
more photographs revealing the US Government’s torture of detainees, former
Bush Administration official Philip Zelikow was dissecting the legal and
political cover for “enhanced interrogations” in testimony to a Senate
Soufan was one of the first agents to question Al Qa’eda
operative Abu Zubaydah, and by “connecting” with the detainee, he learned
the identity of 9/11 planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
13 May 2009
Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Torture Then and Now
It is estimated that the “Sri Lanka mess”, in which Government
forces are fighting the insurgency of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has
killed an estimated 6500 civilians in recent weeks. Yet it has been effectively
a non-story in US and British media.
Vany Kumar: "This is really a disaster. I don’t know really how
to explain it. At the moment, it is like hell."
It’s a complicated relationship, with al-Qaeda’s ‘global’ jihadis
tapping in to local militancy and vice versa.
21 October 2001:
"FBI and Justice Department
investigators are increasingly frustrated by the silence of jailed suspected
associates of Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network, and some are beginning to that
say that traditional civil liberties may have to be cast aside if they are to
extract information about the Sept. 11 attacks and terrorist plans."
“At long last, Mr Vice President, have you no sense of
Yep, him again.
Swine Flu: 8176
12 May 2009
Petraeus Makes His Move on Afghanistan
This is not Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ war. This is not President Obama’s war. This one has been claimed by David Petraeus.
A day after her appeal of an 8-year sentence for espionage, Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi was freed from jail in Tehran.
11 May 2009
Afghanistan, Pakistan, A Little Torture, and A Bit More Dick Cheney
Justice Department Memos: "More than 25 of the CIA’s prisoners were subjected to sleep deprivation. At one point, the agency was allowed to keep prisoners awake for as long as 11 days; the limit was later reduced to just over a week."
Afghanistan human rights commission: ""Doctors who had treated victims from the incident had reported strange burns they believed may have been caused by a chemical like white phosphorus."
10 May 2009
Saberi Appeal in Iran, Obama the Stand-Up,
and Nazis Not So Bad Shocker
The appeal of the Iranian-American journalist, sentenced to 8 years for espionage, began Sunday.
Even if you don’t get the string of inside-Washington jokes, the first two-thirds of the speech — before Obama pays tribute to the press amidst its current financial crisis — is really funny.
Adolf Hitler, claim your partial exoneration. Josef Goebbels, hold fast to your propaganda. Hermann Goering, give back the cyanide. Y’all may have killed millions, started one of the two bloodiest conflicts of all time, and generally been nasty, but Congressman Pete Hoekstra has given you partial absolution.
9 May 2009
Obama in the Middle East, Odierno in Iraq, Scott Lucas on Press TV
General Raymond Odierno returned to the attack at a briefing in Washington: up to one-fifth of American combat troops may stay in Iraqi cities beyond the 30 June deadline.
Obama will make another general appeal for “engagement”, then have meetings and photo opportunities with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas.
On Thursday I appeared, with Richard Millett of IsraelConnect, on Press TV’s
Four Corners to discuss the United Nations Board of Inquiry report on the deaths of Gazan civilians in the recent Israeli military operations.
Fortunately, our alert homeland security forces were able to stop Hernando Calvo Ospina, a Colombian writer corrupted by his residency in France, before he could strike us with biting sarcasm or villainous irony.
8 May 2009
Afghanistan-Pakistan Special plus...Clinton for the Supreme Court?
If you want significance, it came not in Washington but back in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Here are the articles that mattered: “Civilian Deaths Imperil Support for Afghan War“, “In Pakistan, ‘Great Rage, Great Fear’“, and, this morning, “Afghans Protest over Farah Deaths“.
The “collateral damage” — not to the innocent but to the US military — must be limited.
This was far from being an urgent meeting to discuss ways to prevent the end of civilization as we know it. It has been all about the meticulous rebranding of the Pentagon’s “Long War”.
It’s worth stopping to consider what the “military solution” has been looking like recently in this region of the world.
If there were impeachment proceedings before the Supreme Court, he would be in a position of experience to lead.
Stephen Colbert: “President Raccoon had a magic letter, so it was not a violation of Common Article III of the Geneva Conventions”
Hamas Talks, Afghanistan-Pakistan Politics,
and The Legacy of Ronald Reagan
The Lebanese broadcaster Al Manar is reporting
that Hamas has passed a message to the Obama Administration
through an European official.
United Nations Report: Israel Deliberately Fired on Gaza
I’m not sure how many folks are still paying
attention — the Gaza War is so yesterday — but a United Nations
Board of Inquiry has found that the Israeli military
deliberately fired on UN schools, which were being used as
civilian shelters, during the conflict.
Video and Transcript: Obama Remarks After Meeting Afghanistan’s
Karzai and Pakistan’s Zardari (6 May)
Obama's message: "OK, boys, we’re not going to
push you out of office, but you best be co-operating with us
Tuesday’s Mass Killing in Afghanistan: US Military Begins The
This is already a glaring example of how the
Obama policy in Afghanistan will be undone not only by US
military action, but by the attempts to cover up the
consequences of those actions.
Transcript: Pakistani President Zardari Gets Schooled by CNN (5
Josh Mull: "Zardari is…trying to remain calm
and classy while the anchors explain to him how his country
Economic Crisis: The World Bank Turns Into The World’s Good Guys
Will the descendants of today's
'conscientious' problem-solving guys will have enough concern
and courage to criticize the cyclical dynamics of global
capitalism when, after an upturn, there is again the possibility
of maximising profits?
Our partner, The Journal of American Studies,
has posted a challenging roundtable on Melvyn Leffler’s recent
book, For the Soul of Mankind: The United States, the Soviet
Union, and the Cold War: "Were or were not leaders decisive?”
Republican Street Fight: Mitt Romney Runs from Bears, Ronald
Reagan, Sarah Palin
2008 GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney
got a bit lippy about Sarah Palin’s recent appearance on
Time magazine’s list of most influential people: “”Was that
the issue on the most beautiful people or the most influential
Devoted Palinists, rather than taking the
“most beautiful” compliment, hit back.
6 May 2009
US Shift on Israel-Syria?; Bringing Jesus to Afghanistan
In the span of 24 hours, the Obama
Administration went from demanding dual peace tracks between
Israel and the Palestinian Authority and between Israel and
Syria to a simple acceptance of the Israeli line on Syrian
control of the Golan Heights as a security threat.
Or maybe not.
Biden's most challenging statement was a call
on Israel to freeze settlement expansion and grant greater
freedom of movement to Palestinians as a means of
demonstrating Israel’s commitment to Palestinian statehood:
Nothing stunning in the talk, but a confident
and lucid Karzai emphasised Afghan advances in social
services and political development. Doing so, he set up a
powerful counter-narrative to the charges that he and his
advisors are corrupt and ineffective leaders.
Head US Military
Chaplain: "We do the same things as Christians, we hunt
people for Jesus. We do, we hunt them down. Get the hound of
heaven after them, so we get them into the kingdom."
Noah Pollak on the blog of Commentary
magazine: “The current chaos could provide a pretext for a
U.S. operation to seize or destroy the Pakistani arsenal.”
5 May 2009
Karzai Out-Manoeuvres the US, Netanyahu
Makes a Move,
Mullen Pushes on Pakistan
The case of Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi,
jailed in Iran for eight years on charges of espionage, may be moving to
a legal and diplomatic conclusion.
A tongue-in-cheek look at the hysteria around concert
pianist Krystian Zimerman's criticism of US military policies.
Somewhere there are cats marvelling at the lives
of Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai.
Mullen’s immediate purpose was to push both
countries as the priority for American foreign and military
policy: while the US “remain committed to the mission we’ve been
given in Iraq”, it had now been overtaken by crises which left
him “gravely concerned”: “This isn’t about can-do anymore, this
is about must-do.”
The six-minute presentation was a far-from-subtle
pitch to identify Tehran as Public Enemy Number One, linking it
to both Fascism and Soviet Communism.
4 May 2009
Violence, Politics, and Anti-American
More on “Bye, Bye Zardari”, Hello Pakistan Military
Video and Transcript: Secretary of Defense Gates on CNN
Iraq: The “Semi-Peace” Gets More Violent, the US Becomes
Meanwhile in Iraq: Iran Looks for a Border Settlement
Anti-American Euro-Weenie Alert: Polish Piano Player
Really Mad at US
3 May 2009
Tremors from Pakistan, Israel, and Palestine
What is significant in the latest report is the open
backing of Obama officials of Nawaz Sharif, Zardari's long-time rival.
A United Nations report, released Friday, has found that
up to 60,000 Palestinians are at risk of eviction in East Jerusalem.
Aerial weapons manufacturer Rafael: “Together, forever, I
will hold you in my heart. Together, forever, we will never be apart.”
2 May 2009
George Lipsitz, Clinton's Warnings, and US-Russian Strains
On Friday, it was “get tough” Hillary, strapping on
her shoulder pads for a contest with Beijing and Tehran in Latin
NATO expelled two top Russian diplomats after
accusing them of spying and Russia signed a treaty strengthening its
ties with the separatist regions at the center of the controversial
war. Are Russia’s relations with the West doomed to fail?
With a last-minute assist from Winnie the Pooh’s
intervention on Swine Flu, Enduring America has set a
monthly record for pageviews.
“Swine Flu? Man, I ain’t gonna let it catch me!”
Quick question: which of these three — President of
Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari, President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai
(pictured), or former President of the West Bank Mahmoud Abbas — should
be feeling most secure this morning about support from Washington?
Gates’ statement is a clear indication that, for the
foreseeable future, the Obama Administration is committed to an
“engagement” to get a resolution: Iran renounces any intention of
pursuing nuclear weapons, the US eases economic sanctions, and the two
countries co-operate in some areas and reduce their conflict in others.
“The president instructed us that nothing we would do
would be outside of our obligations, legal obligations under the
Convention Against Torture….And so by definition, if it was authorized
by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the
Convention Against Torture.”
Here is today’s Palinism: “We still have no reported
cases of swine flu.”
1 May 2009
Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates on US Foreign Policy
30 April 2009
Obama's Press Conference Special plus Specter and Swine Flu
The President's messages: Waterboarding is Torture,
Pakistani President Zardari is disposable, the Pakistani military is
A new advertising pin-up for "opposite marriage"....
When all else fails in the face of farce and farcical
fear, turn to The Daily Show for the way forward on swine flu,
“last on the list of things that can kill you in Mexico”.
Michelle Malkin is sure that the cause is “uncontrolled
immigration”, but it’s radio talk-show host Michael Savage who puts the
vital question, “Could this be a terrorist attack through Mexico? Could
our dear friends in the radical Islamic countries have concocted this
virus and planted it in Mexico?”
29 April 2009
Obama So Far, Torture, and Swine Flu
Scott Lucas on BBC Radio: How Is Obama Doing?
Gaza: Where’s the Reconstruction Money?
Video: US Public Diplomacy, Elizabeth Cheney, and the
Denial of Torture
Flashback: The Bush Administration Knew It was Torture
How Swine Flu Started: Nationalised Medicine, Poor
28 April 2009
Why Torture Matters plus
"Security" in Egypt, Iran, and the US
Any attempt to pretend that we can just whisk away torture as a silly
little aberration, is a disgrace to those of us who believe that
“America” should stand for something beyond the expedient and the
We still believe that. So today
Enduring America features
three opinion pieces and analyses — by Frank Rich of
The New York Times
and by historians Mark Danner and Andy Worthington, that offer both
answers and reasons why we should never forget.
Andy Worthington: "It remains to be seen whether the
Obama administration is committed to abiding by the laws that President
Obama praised so lavishly during his election campaign, or whether,
instead, he and his administration are committed to reading from a
different book: How to Torture With Impunity And Get Away With It, by
former Vice President Dick Cheney and an array of associates, all
intoxicated with the thrill of unfettered executive power, which
concludes by claiming that you get away with breaking any damn law that
you please, so long as you’re voted out of office at the end."
Mark Danner: "The first paradox of the torture scandal is
that it is not about things we didn’t know but about things we did know
and did nothing about."
Frank Rich: "We don’t need another commission. We don’t
need any Capitol Hill witch hunts. What we must have are fair trials
that at long last uphold and reclaim our nation’s commitment to the rule
27 April 2009
Ahmadinejad's Weekend Interview with US Television
Ahmadinejad’s most important message was: You can’t keep us out of the Middle East. And, indeed, if the US makes little progress before July — whether or not he still is President of Iran — he might be right.
When one is young and the world still resembles an oyster, when total reality has yet to hit, when annual sunshine — give or take a hurricane or two — is the staple diet, maybe the bubble that is Miami Beach is not so bad.
26 April 2009
Hillary in Baghdad; Lucas on Iran/Israel; Waterboarding for
"[The latest attacks] do not reflect any diversion from the security progress that has been made."
The Israeli threat is best seen as a political manoeuvre to get Washington to break off engagement with Iran (and to stall on any negotiations over a Palestinian state).
GRODIN: Would you consent to being waterboarded?
HANNITY: Yeah. Sure.
GRODIN: And we can waterboard you. Are you busy on Sunday?
HANNITY: I’ll do it for charity.
What starts of as a novelty music video quickly becomes much more.
25 April 2009
Torture, Iraq, Sri Lanka, and Obama as JFK?
However talented and however capable, Obama may struggle to develop a fully effective foreign policy until he can eradicate some of the difficulties that blighted the early hope of his Democratic predecessor almost fifty years ago.
A few of many notable examples from the excellent documentary Torturing Democracy.
Here’s a passionate, symbolic marker of the US crossing the Rubicon of the illegal, immoral activities of the Bush years.
Hillary Clinton's blame of “rejectionist efforts” for violence is uncomfortably close to Donald Rumsfeld’s confidence in 2003 that it was only “dead-enders” causing trouble in Iraq.
Global Post: "An estimated 70,000 Tamils have been killed in the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam’s decades-long struggle for independence against the Sri Lankan government. Civilians trapped between the Tamil Tigers and government troops are in particularly dire straits right now. But their suffering is largely unseen by the world."
"We weren’t fulfilling our objective of capturing terrorists, but instead creating enemies out of civilians."
24 April 2009
Israel v. Iran and President Chuck Norris
It’s no surprise that Obama's "engagement", given a generation of tension between Washington and Tehran, has been challenged in the US. What’s more interesting is that the greatest threat to Obama’s engagement comes not from media sceptics from Fox News to the Wall Street Journal or the foundations now packed with refugees from the Bush administration or even the Middle Eastern institutes putting a priority on Israeli security. No, Obama’s most daunting opponents are within his own administration.
Global Post: "The two men couldn’t carry themselves more differently and you don’t have to be a longtime observer of Israel to know which one fits in better with the western diplomatic community and is most favored by America.
Trouble is they’re essentially the same guy."
When Texas declares independence from the liberally decadent United States, its first leader will be the star of Missing in Action, Delta Force, and, of course, Walker: Texas Ranger.
23 April 2009
From Durban II to Israel v. Iran, "Threat" in Pakistan, Torture, and
The criticism, in the end, is not that Israel and Iran
have seized the “beacon of light” to control the “beacon of warning”. It
is that we let them.
“I think that we cannot underscore the seriousness of the existential threat posed to the state of Pakistan by continuing advances, now within hours of Islamabad, that are being made by a loosely confederated group of terrorists and others who are seeking the overthrow of the Pakistani state, a nuclear-armed state.”
“The abuse of detainees in U.S. custody cannot simply be attributed to the actions of ‘a few bad apples’ acting on their own."
Let’s hope that others, less publicly and much more relevantly than ABC Television, are moving towards a real resolution.
22 April 2009
Racism Conference, Obama/Cheney Speeches, and Culture Wars
Presidents and their right-hand men — unless they are overthrown in coups or toppled by wars — don’t wind up in jail. Their lawyers, however, are expendable.
Jon Stewart: ”Apparently everyone’s not upset about the fact that we torture. They’re upset about the fact that we know about it.”
We now know the US plan for Israel and Palestine in full.
Let’s Talk. If Only for the Sake of Talking.
No rational individual should endorse any anti-Semitic statement or action. However, no rational individual should endorse a mentality that hides behind pretexts to justify the killing of an unarmed man protesting against ‘injustice’ in a non-violent demonstration.
Somehow, in less than a generation, a country that was once the world’s pariah has transformed itself from dictatorship to democracy.
This seems more like an attempt to put US companies at the forefront of any internet goldrush in the Arabic-speaking world.
21 April 2009
Racism Conference, Obama/Cheney Speeches, and Culture Wars
Amidst all this diplomatic posturing, the foundation of the conference has been lost.
Dick, I know where the memos are that showed “what we gained as a result” of torture. They got misfiled in that big folder labelled, “Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction”.
Even as Tea Party demonstrations were taking place, a significant episode was being played out on the Internet. In that battle lay not consensus but a victory for the dangerous “liberals”, one that would have been hard to conceive even 20 years ago.
“Did you know that if all 50 states approve same-sex marriage, straight marriage becomes illegal?”
20 April 2009
Who Leads Pakistan?, Torture Memos, and Saberi Update from Iran
19 April 2009
Iran, Somalia, and the Obama-Chavez Handshake
18 April 2009
In the Loop with Israel-Palestine, Somalia, and Bush-Era Torture
most of the
In an ideal
the fight on
roots of the
17 April 2009
Torture, Trials in Iran, and After the Tea Party
As fun as it was, the tea-bagging
parody doesn’t shoo away anger and it certainly
doesn’t banish the polarising and manipulative
groups behind the protests. Emotions will
continue to be fraught, so politics must be
fought through engagement rather than dismissal.
From warrantless surveillance to
rendition to unlimited detention, Gitmo-style,
at Camp Bagram in Afghanistan, the
Administration is playing the political game of
“Look at the other guys, don’t fret about us.”
When Richard Armitage tells Al
Jazeera that he should have resigned over the
Bush Administration’s treatment of prisoners of
war, this is not the regret of an official who
was opposed to the campaign against Al Qa’eda
and international terrorism.
It is essential that US-Iran
discussions, leading to a more productive
relationship diplomatic, economic, and cultural
relationship, continue. It is just as essential
that, in the name of those discussions, Roxana
Saberi is not seen as expendable.
While U.S. attention has rightly
been focused on Mexico’s drug wars — with
high-profile trips by President Obama and
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton before this
weekend’s Summit of the Americas — Mexico’s
southern neighbor is in far more serious danger
of becoming a failed state.
16 April 2009
Odierno Backs Down Over Iraq, US Talks to
Afghan Insurgent Leader,
and Assessment of US-Iran Talks
The violence is far from new — and
it’s not just a “Mexican” situation, as even a
cursory glance at the US will show — but it is a
challenge to the institutional stability of the
To put it bluntly, the real question
at hand is how many Somali people we really feel
like killing right now.
K'Naan: "Can anyone ever really be
for piracy? Outside of sea bandits, and young girls
fantasizing of Johnny Depp, would anyone with an
honest regard for good human conduct really say that
they are in support of Sea Robbery? Well in Somalia,
the answer is: it’s complicated."
“The quintessential Palestinian
experience,” historian Rashid Khalidi has written,
“takes place at a border, an airport, a checkpoint:
in short, at any one of those many modern barriers
where identities are checked and verified.”
Thousands took the leap of the
faithful and Tea-bagged in Boston, Philadelphia,
Washington DC, and even Batesville, Arkansas, a
newcomer to the Tea-bagging phenomenon.
15 April 2009
Odierno Backs Down Over Iraq, US Talks to
Afghan Insurgent Leader,
and Assessment of US-Iran Talks
Launched in January,
Global Post has already established itself
as one of the leading sources of international news and
analysis. We believe that its international coverage is
the ideal complement to
Enduring America’s analysis of US politics
and foreign policy.
Global Post: "After the dramatic
rescue of American captain Richard Phillips from the
clutches of Somali pirates, U.S. President Barack Obama
announced his determination to end piracy: 'We remain
resolved to halt the rise of piracy in this region,' he
said. Easier said than done."
The trend continues to be towards US-Iran
negotiation, rather than confrontation.
The Iranian judiciary has announced that
Roxana Saberi's trial has opened.
Actually we’re #3 on Google for
“Republican teabagging” behind the YouTube videos of
“The Young Turks” and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, but we’re
hoping to become the #1 legitimate site by the time of
the Teabagging Parties on Tax Day tomorrow.
14 April 2009
Odierno Backs Down Over Iraq, US Talks to
Afghan Insurgent Leader,
and Assessment of US-Iran Talks
A week before Israel launched its first
attacks on 27 December, US sources shipped 989 20-foot
containers of military supplies. The 14,000 tons of
munitions replenished those used by the Israelis during the
The political situation in Pakistan has
twisted once again.
Enduring America can exclusively reveal that
CNN, well-known propaganda arm of the Obama Administration,
bumped the very important story of Obama's bow to King
Abdullah of Saudi Arabia for in-depth coverage of the White
House arrival of Bo, the Portuguese water dog.
13 April 2009
Odierno Backs Down Over Iraq, US Talks to
Afghan Insurgent Leader,
and Assessment of US-Iran Talks
It appears the General — after his apparent
challenge to the White House withdrawal plan earlier this week —
has beat a retreat.
Beyond the electoral short-term, the Iranian
nuclear program should be compared to a ’slow boat to
self-independence’. It is a long and expensive journey, but it
will get there in the end.
US officials have been in discussions with a key
Hekmatayar assistant, Daoud Abedi, an Afghan-American
businessman based in California.
On the eve of George Mitchell's visit to the
Middle East, the Palestinian Authority leader and former
President of the West Bank, Mahmoud Abbas, has called the
current Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu for a
“friendly and warm” conversation.
12 April 2009
Funding Palestine's Civil War, The Military v. Obama,
and Glenn Beck Goes Crazy
For the low price of $815 million, American
tax-payers have propped up an oppressive dictatorship, intensified a
Palestinian civil war, enabled acts of terrorism against Israeli
civilians, and provided the excuses Israel needs to further pummel
the Palestinian population.
Only weeks after the compromise of a 19-month
withdrawal was announced, Odierno has returned to the attack.
The extent to which the Obama Administration is
perceived as ‘successful’ in halting the recession through a
well-designed stimulus plan could re-shape beliefs. Could American
youth, two-thirds of whom do not embrace ” capitalism”, lead that
Last Wednesday, as “Barack Obama”, Glenn Beck
pretended to douse a Fox staffer in gasoline/petrol and set him on
fire. Two days later, he brought Tom Paine to life.
11 April 2009
Guantanamo Threats, CIA Director's Rendition, Mister Rogers' Evil,
and Republican Party Teabag Revolution
Clive Stafford Smith and
Ahmad Ghappour, lawyers for a number of
Guantánamo Bay detainees, have been
summoned to court over a letter they
sent to President Obama detailing the
torture their client Binyam Mohamed
claims he faced.
Before the secret prisons
were put out of business, they were sent
one more very special “guest”.
The deep thinkers at Fox
News, drawing upon a “study” by a
Louisiana State University professor,
now bring the shocking news that Mr
Rogers — more than the Soviets or the
Chinese or the North Vietnamese even
hippies — planted the seeds for the
downfall of America.
Preparing for Tea Parties
on 15 April, the deadline for filing US
tax returns, the new revolutionaries
have sent hundreds, maybe thousands, of
teabags to members of Congress. They are
promising to “Teabag Obama” and “Teabag
10 April 2009
Israel-Syria Talks, US-Iran Engagement, and Petraeus-Obama Battles
Did this stop the American
approach to Iran before it really started?
What could Turkish Prime
Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s vacation and
the Obama strategy on the Middle East have
Quite a lot.
If the deal does break down,
it poses another challenge to the American
strategy against the “safe havens” in
What we are witnessing goes
beyond the egos and aspirations of two
intelligent, confident American leaders. And
it is beyond the dreaded v-word of the 1960s
or the contrasting myth of Petraeus’
successful Iraq surge.
Is Qaddafi just being a
concerned citizen of the world?
After watching this, I’m not
worried about Northrop’s moneypot drying up;
I’m more concerned that they could take over
the US Government, let alone some tinpot
9 April 2009
Direct US-Iran Talks to Begin?
Washington is dropping its policy
of no direct discussions with Tehran.
Peter Jones: "In many ways,
discussions between Tehran and Washington will
be more of a watershed for their leaders than
they will be for us."
The deputy head of the
prosecutor’s office has claimed, “[Saberi] had
been carrying out espionage activities … under
the cover of a journalist … and she has accepted
Jon Stewart to his right-thinking
friends:“I think you might be confusing tyranny
8 April 2009
Obama Takes on Netanyahu?; Pakistan Takes on Holbrooke;
Palin Takes on North Korea
The initial skirmishes in an
Obama-Netanyahu battle may have begun.
Pakistani officials did not follow
the Obama script for a united War against Al Qa’eda/Taliban
There is a serious tension between
the local Sunni groups and Awakening Councils that
the US military have been funding in the “surge” and
the national Government.
Al-Zaidi had to do some jail time
(and take a beating) because of the Iraq
Government’s embarrassment. Now that Bush is an
ex-President, however, all the fuss can be put away
Palin was deterred in no way from her
brave statement by the fact that North Korea’s
launch was a failure and that the satellite under
development was a threat to the placid water of the
Pacific Ocean rather than Wasilla or Anchorage or
7 April 2009
Obama Speech in Turkey; Pakistan a Failed State?
This was a talk which recognised that
Ankara has a central place in both short-term and
longer-term American initiatives and, doing so, set
aside other general issues that could trouble the
When we call a country a failed state, it
leads to extra-judicial killings and exorbitant numbers
of civilian casualties.
Last week, a 25-page report by 11
non-governmental aid organisations set out concerns over
the civil-military tension in US strategy towards
Even as General David Petraeus and
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen defy
the Obama engagement strategy and try out the latest
scare line — Israel is most definitely going to take out
an Iranian nuclear facility — here’s a little tip-off
from Agence France Presse that Tehran will not be
giving up its atomic-energy programme.
6 April 2009
Losing in Afghanistan, The NATO Summit,
and Obama the Anti-Christ
Amidst all the flurry of Presidential
announcements and Congressional hearings on
Pakistan-Afghanistan, this is the most important
document to sneak onto the Internet this week.
President Obama pledged to rid the world
of nuclear weapons. His address, however, gave “a
hawkish edge to a peacenik pursuit".
The former National Security Advisor said
that the PJAK, the Iranian wing of the Kurdish PKK, was
operating against Iranian armed forces with the support
and encouragment of the George W. Bush Administration.
A Rasmussen poll announces “two thumbs
up” for a military smack of North Korea after its
(unsuccessful) test of a missile and satellite.
More evidence of Barack Obama’s uncanny
ability to combine atheistic Communism with
As we have been keeping a curious eye on
Conservapedia, it was upsetting not to see this included
as additional ‘proof’ of Obama’s ‘Muslim’ faith.
5 April 2009
Petraeus v. Obama (Again) and Zimbabwe
4 April 2009
NATO, Petraeus v. Obama, and Palinwatch
3 April 2009
State-sponsored Snitching, the Latest on Afghanistan,
and More Anglo-American Gift Wars
Enduring America's Canuckistan in The Guardian on
US Rethinks Af-Pak Strategy As Strikes Widen
Bagram Inmates Challenge Detention
Michael Cohen on The Trouble With Counter-Insurgency
Anglo-American Gift Wars 2: The Return Visit
2 April 2009
The US-Iran "Non-Meeting"
The silver lining of the past and possibly future debacle in Afghanistan is likely to be a US-Iranian rapprochement. If that is to occur, however, it will face a specific and limited Tehran agenda vs. the general ambitions of Washington in its “re-development” of Afghanistan and Central Asia.
You might think that Glenn Beck, shouting and crying his way to prominence on Fox “News” in the US, is a headcase.
You are wrong. Very, very wrong.
1 April 2009
The Israeli Airstrike on Sudan
This attack may have had catastrophic consequences, not only for Israel’s battle against Hamas, but for the US War on Terror, and on a much greater scale, those suffering from the horrible human rights crisis in Darfur.
This is a “hold the line” approach, trying to ensure that the Taliban does not expand its hold on territory, until the right partnership with the right Government in Kabul can be foreseen. More importantly, the line is to be held until the US can resolve its core problem, which lies not in Afghanistan but across the border in northwest Pakistan.
On Sunday, we reported on the arrest of Adil al-Mashhadani, an Awakening Council leader in the Fadhil section of Baghdad, and the subsequent gunfight between Council militiamen and US-Iraq forces.
Well, the story is far from over.
31 March 2009
US-Iran, Gaza, and Miss Universe Goes to
Those looking for real signals on what may come should note Iran’s careful consderation of the level of representation at the conference.
It was striking how quickly the Israel Defense Forces threw out the claims. Even more blatant, however, was the disconnect between the military’s “findings” and the actual statements of the Oranim soldiers.
Extracts from the soldiers’ accounts, as they appeared in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz
30 March 2009
Selling Mr Obama's War
29 March 2009
Concerns and Applause for Mr Obama's War
28 March 2009
The Day after the Obama Speech;
EA Joins Britain's Anti-Terrorism Campaign
27 March 2009
The Obama War Plan in Pakistan and Afghanistan
Could the Obama Administration really be pushing
for a tacit strategic takeover by the Pakistani military?
The magic is that Afghanistan has become a
sideshow.It’s a very expensive, very destructive sideshow, of
course, but it’s still a supporting act for the main event being
set up across the border.
Only one tiny problem: there is no sign — none —
of Washington strategy for the fundamental problem in Pakistan:
how is the country’s political stability to be assured?
Major General David Perkins tells reporters,
“Attacks are at their lowest since August 2003."
Iran, Afghanistan, Palestine, and Walled Baghdad
The cautious response from Iran’s supreme leader,
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to Barack Obama’s new year greeting can be
interpreted as an effort to contain the debate on US-Iranian
engagement at a crucial moment in Iranian politics.
Suggesting that Iran was pursuing a constructive
approach to its neighbour through non-military programmes, Khatami
urged Australia and other countries to withdraw their forces, as
they were hindering rather than helping any solution.
From Global Post: two former high-ranking Taliban
This may be one of the strangest pieces of
journalism, hiding a significant story, I have ever read.
From Syria Comment: Hamas political director Khalid
Meshaal spoke for three hours last week with Paul McGeough, an
Australian journalist about relations with Israel, relations with
countries outside the region, and the political prospects of the
Waiting for Mr Obama's War
So what is the Obama Administration’s new approach to
American intervention in Afghanistan and Pakistan?
Really. What is it?
Not only have unity talks between Fatah and Hamas failed
to reach a conclusion, but the Israeli-Hamas talks on a prisoner
exchange have also been fruitless. So what’s the hold-up?
Self-confidence. Hamas self-confidence.
Breaking News: Palestinian Unity Talks to Resume in Cairo?
contest to name a new room at the International Space Station went awry.
The comedian Stephen Colbert won.
The UN Report on Gaza
A United Nations Human Rights
Council report has concluded that “there
are strong and credible reports of war crimes and other
violations of international norms” in Israel’s recent military
operations in Gaza.
There is no ‘but” after the revelation of
innocents lives taken by disproportionate and illegal military
operations. There is no escape with the hard-nosed declaration
“war is war”.
There is no new information on yesterday’s
assassination of Kamal Medhat (Kamal Naji), the Palestinian
Liberation Organization’s deputy representative in Lebanon, and
three others in a bombing outside the Mieh Mieh camp near Sidon.
As we predicted, however, this is not stopping speculation and
Mohamed could go free “if he pleaded guilty to
terrorism charges, ended his High Court case to prove his claims
of torture, and agreed not to speak to the media about his
If the Washington press corps successfully links
Obama with the privileged in American society and nails him as
unable to curb the worst excesses of Wall Street, his Presidency
may descend into the disaster that few predicted and fewer,
except died-in-the-wool Republicans, wanted.
Obama and Cheney
Obama’s “Engagement”: Is Hamas Next?
Hamas political director Khaled Meshaal, speaking over the weekend
to the Italian newspaper
said: “”A new language toward the region is coming from President
If Dick Cheney’s recent interview with John King on
CNN served any purpose, it was to demonstrate the the arguments of
the Bush Administration still have no wisdom and consciousness.
Zardari Out in Pakistan? Engagement In in Iran?
Statements indicate Washington’s recognition that the
Iranian leadership would be in no position to move to direct, general
talks before June’s Presidential election.
Juan Cole, one of the shrewdest American analysts of
Iran, complements our optimism on the developments in US-Iranian
relations in his blog today.
A story from Israel’s YNet News on Monday raises the
prospect of a Washington rebuff to Israel on how to approach Iran.
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani will meet opposition
leader Nawaz Sharif on Sunday with “a message of reconciliation and
Now to watch the Supreme Court’s position towards Zardari:
the judges installed by his predecessor, Pervez Musharraf,
rubber-stamped an “amnesty” from the corruption charges that had forced
Zardari into exile.
The Obama Message to Iran; Gaza Revisited
What is important, however, is that the US does
not follow Obama’s message with pressure for further economic
sanctions and that it damps the public rhetoric blaming Tehran
for stoking every Middle Eastern fire.
The Supreme Leader’s none-too-subtle message,
following official Government reaction, is that there will be no
Iranian concessions in advance of talks with the US. It is also
a clear statement that Iran will not give up its interest in
cases like Palestine, the Lebanon, and Iraq.
Iran is welcoming the prospect of talks with the
US. On the other hand, it is setting out clear lines that it
does not want crossed — specifically, Iranian sovereignty over a
nuclear energy programme.
Stephen Walt: "We’ve deterred bigger and tougher
adversaries in the past, and while I’d strongly prefer that Iran
decide not to become a nuclear weapons state, I’m not going to
panic if it does cross that line at some point down the road."
Minister of Defense Ehud Barak: "We
have the most moral army in the world."
Rose Mishaan:"I think the hardest
part is knowing that as a world, we utterly failed
the Palestinians of Gaza. We stood and watched them
die and justified our own inaction. It is something
that should bring a little shame to us all."
Death of a Blogger
Stephen Walt: "We’ve deterred bigger and tougher
adversaries in the past, and while I’d strongly prefer that Iran
decide not to become a nuclear weapons state, I’m not going to panic
if it does cross that line at some point down the road."
When Gordon sat down to enjoy, let’s say,
he only received an eyeful of disappointment.
The last e-mail of Omidreza Mir Sayafi, who has
committed suicide in Iran's Evin prison.
Muddle on Iran?
There may be the drama of a
proposed letter to the Supreme Leader, but
there is still no clarity on what exactly is
happening between Washington and the fist,
clenched or unclenched, of Tehran.
While Tel Aviv might be
pressing for an Iran-first approach —
strengthened sanctions and possibly military
action — Washington will not be “on the same
Andy Worthington: "The
administration has raised the possibility
that, after seven years’ imprisonment in
conditions that ought to be a source of
shame to any civilized society, a large
number of these prisoners — these “nobodies
formerly known as enemy combatants” — still
have a long way to go before they can hope
to see the end of their ordeal."
Good to see, even in times of
economic downturn, that American ingenuity
linking big missiles and advertising hasn’t
What Now in Pakistan?
Juan Cole: "The real question is whether anyone will have
the gumption to put Cheney on trial for treason and crimes against
Quick Clue 1: Four
letters, starts with “I”.
Having failed to get “stability”
in the War on Terror with Musharraf, having
failed with Zardari, it is not hope that moves
Washington but this question:
Who or what can come next?
According to senior
administration officials, two of the high-level
reports on Pakistan and Afghanistan that have
been forwarded to the White House in recent
weeks have called for broadening the target area
to include a major insurgent sanctuary in and
around the city of Quetta.
[This] leaves only the Pakistani
military, whichever way it chooses to play the
hand with the Americans, as the only significant
force in the country with a symbolic and real
modicum of power. If Zardari protests this, the
prospect of his overthrow emerges. If he accepts
his emasculation, he is no more than an
irrelevant figurehead. Either way, it’s an
Rory Stewart: "There are many
small simple things we can do to help Afghan
society. All require us to forge a long-term
engagement with the country. But such a policy
is only possible if we reduce our investment in
money and troops and develop a lighter, more
affordable and ultimately more sustainable
relationship with Afghanistan."
Ironically, Wikileaks earned its
place in Australian censorship by revealing a
secret Danish list of banned sites. And both
appropriately and ironically, it was Wikileaks
that revealed the news of its own banning,
noting in Fight Club fashion, “The first rule of
censorship is that you cannot talk about
Quick Clue 2: Seven letters, starts
Iran's Presidential Election; The Red
Cross on US Torture
Chris Emery: "Former President Mohammad Khatami’s
decision to drop out of the upcoming Iranian presidential elections
seems to be based on the long-standing assumption that splitting the
“reformist” vote would be electoral suicide."
"The International Committee of the
Red Cross concluded in a secret report that the Bush administration’s
treatment of al-Qaeda captives 'constituted torture', a finding that
strongly implied that CIA interrogation methods violated international
law, according to newly published excerpts from the long-concealed 2007
A Long March of Victory?, Target Iran,
and The Danger of Jon Stewart
speed of the Zardari
concession to its
legal and political
opponents is almost
Chief of Staff of
Gabi Ashkenazi, is
spending five days
in Washington. He’s
not only seeing the
sights but also
Advisor Gen. James
L. Jones, special
advisor Dennis Ross
“Southwest Asia and
the Gulf”), and
of the side effects
of The Daily
and Jim Cramer, has
been a sustained
attempt by “proper”
journalists to put
Jon Stewart back
into a comedian’s
and What Happened to Jim Cramer after The Daily Show
gives his best friend,
James Altucher of
TheStreet.com, a lesson
in how to read The
personal experience (you
know, making millions of
dollars in a single day)
to illuminate the
only hope that The
Daily Show and Jon
Stewart show some mercy
towards Jim Cramer, if
not the world of
after last week’s
pummeling of the Mad
Rumours and Realities for Israel and Pakistan
draft resolution for the
conference is remarkable in
its criticism of Israel,
even in comparison to the
declaration of the first
there are stories flying
around the Web that Admiral
Mike Mullen, the Chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
may have stopped a military
coup in Pakistan through a
series of phone call to
General Ashfaq Pervez Kiani,
through a series of phone
Protests, Marches, and Jon Stewart's Latest Triumph
Setback on Israel, Showdown in Pakistan,
and Ahmadinejad and the Monkey
Stephen Walt: "This outcome is
bad for everyone, including Israel. It means
that policy debates in the United States will
continue to be narrower than in other countries
(including Israel itself), public discourse will
be equally biased, and a lot of self-censorship
will go on. America’s Middle East policy will
remain stuck in the same familiar rut, and even
a well-intentioned individual like George
Mitchell won’t be able to bring the full weight
of our influence to bear.
The Latest from Israel-Palestine (12 March):
Talks But No News
In contrast to the barrage of
stories surrounding last month’s negotiating
manoeuvres between Israel, Hamas, and Fatah last
resumption of “reconciliation” talks in Cairo
between Hamas, Fatah, and other Palestinian
factions went almost unnoticed by US and British
Pakistan: On Eve of Political Showdown, Hundreds
Top Iranian Children’s TV: Ahmadinejad and the
So there is this kids’ programme
in Iran called Amoo Pourang (Uncle Pourang),
watched by millions three times a week. The
presenter is talking to a young caller, who says
his father has given him a stuffed monkey for
War on Terror Watch: You are the Millionth
I’m hoping it’s me, and I’m
hoping there’s a super-duper prize (which
doesn’t involve rendition, detention, and/or
Laughing While Economic Fires Are Burning: The
Daily Show-CNBC Sequel
Jon Stewart completes Jim
Cramer’s humiliation with the help of Dora the
Explorer and Boots the Monkey
The US, Israel, and the Case of Charles Freeman
As a story of how US
foreign policy is re-structured —
courtesy of Congress, a network of
private groups, and American
political culture — it offers an
essential lesson. “Israel” continues
to set limits on the “acceptable” in
US foreign policy.
The Director of
National Intelligence, Dennis Blair
—- on the same day that the Obama
Administration had to withdraw the
nomination of Charles Freeman as
Chair of the National Intelligence
Council — has just set the scene for
another political battle in
Irrelevant Laureate, Mr John Bolton,
is at it again. Here is his
sure-fire recipe for glorious
American triumph in Iraq.
In the 2009
this is shaping up to be a comedy
The United Nations, Britain, and Torture
The United Nations report
released yesterday is clear and concise:
Britain was complicit with a US-created
system which violated basic human rights
and condoned the torture of detainees.
When a person is tortured
by the State, that is not news. But if a
person is tortured by a rock-chucking
chimpanzee employed by the State….
Is Obama Clinging to Bush's War on Terror
Could a President willingly surrender the
power, which might or might not be used but
was always available, claimed by a
predecessor? If the answer is No, it appears
this will have to come from the courts, not
the 44th President of the United States.
“Aides…said Mr. Obama did not mean to
suggest that everybody held by American
forces would be granted habeas corpus or the
right to challenge their detention.”
Has the starting point of an Iran policy
based on discussions with Tel Aviv been
dropped, by the Washington Institute for
Near East Policy or — more importantly — the
Afghanistan Manoeuvres, A Syria Initiative, and Space Wars
Toss aside the lazy
journalism of The New York Times,
keep your eyes for the moment on Pakistan,
and wait — possibly until the NATO summit at
the start of April — for a real story on an
Obama strategy in Afghanistan.
It will be far more difficult
for the Americans to dislodge Karzai, either
at the ballot box or through a political
coup, if they are presented as supporters of
his negotiating strategy.
There’s evidence to suggest
that warfare in Earth’s orbit is very
quickly accelerating from merely
hypothetical to a strategic reality
The Guardian: "
confidential EU report accuses the Israeli
government of using settlement expansion,
house demolitions, discriminatory housing
policies and the West Bank barrier as a way
of “actively pursuing the illegal
annexation” of East Jerusalem.
The most that can be said is
that yesterday’s event, while of symbolic
importance, is only the opener in a long
Russia, the Budget, and DVDs for the Special Relationship
Welcome to the Reset of the New
The figures are mind-blowing.
About $3.55 trillion has been requested for the
Fiscal Year commencing October 2010. In excess
of $2 trillion of that amount is required for
Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
There is perhaps no stronger
indictment of UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s
recent visit to the White House and Congress
than yesterday's slow-news-day-controversy over
President Obama’s gift to the PM.
Hours after we asked, “[Is]
Washington envisaging a Pakistani military
running Islamabad’s policy, either behind the
scenes or quite openly after toppling President
Zardari?”, the Asia Times offers a
See his political skills at work:
a clip from Limbaugh's short-lived TV show in
Mr Obama's: Afghanistan and Pakistan
Clinton to Iran: You Can Play in the (Afghanistan) Sandbox
This latest Clinton move is the equivalent of a parent yelling at her
child, “No, no, no!”, then pointing the kid to the “right” place to play
in. Well, I’ve done that, and I can tell you a litte secret:
The little b****** wouldn’t stay in the sandbox.
Mr Obama’s War: The Spin is…It’s Not Afghanistan. It’s Pakistan.
Senior Administration official "Afghanistan pales in comparison to the
problems in Pakistan. Our primary goal has to be to shut down the
al-Qaeda and Taliban safe havens on the Pakistan side of the border. If
that can be accomplished, then the insurgency in Afghanistan becomes
Ms Clinton's Wild Ride on the Middle East
With the text of the letter still secret,
here’s the key question: did it actually link a US
pullback on missile defense to a Russian concession on
Iran or did someone, possibly in Clinton’s circle, make
that up as part of the grand scheme she unfolded in the
This is shaping up to be a major US
diplomatic offensive to “put Iran in a box”, whether in
advance of another attempt at diplomacy from a position
of strength or further pressure on Tehran.
The Secretary of State and Iran's Supreme
Leader exchange pleasantries on Israel and Palestine.
Jim Lobe: "I...have the impression that
Ross and the so-called “Israel Lobby” whose interests he
represents believe that enhancing conditions on the West
Bank, combined with diplomatic engagement with Syria,
will somehow be sufficient for Washington to regain its
credibility in the region and rally the Sunni Arab
states — along with the European Union, Russia, China,
etc. — behind a policy of confrontation with Iran."
The video making the rounds in the Gulf
And the winner is....?
An Obama Grand Strategy on Israel-Palestine-Iran?
What is the broader strategy for the Obama
Administration if it is re-engaging with the
Israel-Palestinian process and the region beyond? There are
three issues to consider:
1. The pursuit of a “two-state”
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Zardari is completely
above board with this defense of “democracy”. The point is
that few outside Pakistan have looked behind the cloak of
“terrorism” to see the equally critical issue of the
political storm brewing in Islamabad. And the question is —
if there are no more attacks on Sri Lankan cricketers to
deflect attention from that conflict— will that storm
threaten to sweep away the President?
2. The contest between Hamas and Fatah for political
leadership in Gaza and the West Bank;
3. The US relationship with Iran.
Are the manoeuvres between the insurgent
groups and the Pakistani Government for cease-fires and
local deals going to free up these forces to wage an even
more intense campaign against the US and
its “Obama Doctrine” not just in Pakistan but across the
The Obama Doctrine, The Grand US-Russian Bargain,
and David Miliband is "Economical with the Truth"
power as its
may even act
will not do
so on issues
and it will
To put it
like a cross
and carry a
it is a
is on the
verge of a
naivete or —
— the quest
Iran, key US
of a nuclear
a leader is
in a strong
if he/she is
heads to the
one who has
it’s a much
going to lie
could you at
to do in the
you in the
Obama is Not
It is a
Fantasies on Pakistan, Hysteria on Iran
On Friday, after President Obama’s speech on Iraq and its recommendation for talks with Iran and Syria, we wrote, “Watch the manoeuvres of those who are hostile to any engagement not only because they don’t like ‘rogue states’.”
And so it goes.
Beyond the US manoeuvres, northwestern Pakistan isn’t just a “sanctuary”. It is part of a country in which, right now, there is a complex political struggle taking place. Reducing local elements in that struggle to Taliban-supporting pawns is just as dangerous as reducing them to mujahideen-supporting pawns in the 1980s.
Watch for the extent to which the Palestinian Authority is exalted by the delegations, indicating how much support there really is for an attempt to put Fatah at the head of Gazan politics, and the extent to which Hamas is condemned. That should give an indication as to whether there is a hope, beyond this conference, of an engagement with all parties on the Israel-Palestine issue.
Israel-Palestine Manoeuvres, Republican Party Fun and Games
On the eve of the Gaza donors’ conference, which is more of a political dance than a significant effort to rebuild the area, and the tour of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (pictured) of the Middle East, there are a lot of meetings for show but no substance…yet.
The Observer of London reveals today that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert rejected a Hamas approach for secret talks before the Gaza War in December.
The move is an attempt to abate the fighting around the country and establish some base of political support for the Government.
Jindal used a story stolen from a dead man as the centrepiece of Tuesday’s GOP response, and in ten short minutes the future of the Republican Party became a laughing stock and a liar.
The latest on the Hockey Mom's 2012 prospects.
The Obama Speech on Iraq Withdrawal
In his speech, President Obama apparently went beyond my immediate concern that some in the US Government were planning on the long-term stay of 50,000 American soldiers in the country. With those two words, however, he left himself room for manoeuvre or, put less positively, room for the US military and its supporters to maintain its pressure for permanent bases in the area.
"Military commanders, despite this Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government that all U.S. forces would be out by the end of 2011, are already making plans for a significant number of American troops to remain in Iraq beyond that 2011 deadline."
Leaked NATO documents set out the propaganda line, such as "'Opposing Militant Forces' is the correct term [for the insurgency] but is not suitable for use with the media. Depending on the audience and the group being referred to, the phrases militants/insurgents/extremists/Taleban extremists/enemies of Afghanistan may be used."
Both Obama’s decision to agree to just over half of his field commander’s request for additional troops and the broader strategic situation offer striking parallels with the decision by President Lyndon B. Johnson in April 1965 to approve 36,000 out of a 49,000 troop request for Vietnam"
On Friday, a US Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the claim of Obama’s Justice Department that surveillance without warrants (if you prefer, “domestic spying”), a procedure extended by the Bush Administration, came under the category of “state secrets” and could not be reviewed by the courts.
Daily Telegraph: "Binyam Mohamed, the British resident released from US detention base Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, has told friends that Britain is too cold."
Iraq, The Budget, and Obama as Jed Bartlet
"Even after August 2010, as many as 50,000 of the 142,000 troops now in Iraq would remain, including some combat units reassigned as 'Advisory Training Brigades' or 'Advisory Assistance Brigades', the administration and Pentagon officials said."
We’ll be searching for an announcement of how many US troops, as “support” units, will be based in Iraq after the end of 2010.
Bombing “Sanctuaries”, Now and Then: Mr Henry Kissinger
No Irony Here. Move Along.
Fact x Importance = News: The Stories We’re Watching (26 February)
Developments in Pakistan and Somalia and Canada's Toughness on Guantanamo Bay.
In today’s episode, we try to find Dennis’ new office in the State Department and ask if he is the now the Super-Envoy for Bahrain. Or Turkmenistan. Or maybe Sylvania.
President Obama’s State of the Nation: As Good as The West Wing?
John Matlin: "Both CNN and the New York Times have claimed that Obama’s speech harked back to the days of FDR and Lyndon Johnson, but it had many elements of vintage Jed Bartlet."
Text: President Obama’s Budget
The Latest from Israel-Gaza-Palestine (27 February): The Cairo Talks
Afghanistan, Gaza Macaroni, and State of the Nation Redux
Only The Daily Show could bring Mr Rogers,
Baconnaise, and a cure for cancer into a single analysis.
The State of the Nation, Syrian Tales, and the "Withdrawal" Deal on Iraq
Let it be clear: Mr Obama is going to war: “For seven years, we’ve been a nation at war. No longer will we hide its price.”
The battle over the American occupation, however, is in the politically-distant future, barring a significant upsurge in violence against US forces.
In 2003, chatter in Washington was “Baghdad, Then Turn Left”. That thought of rolliing regime change can now be consigned to the dustbin of George W. Bush’s history. It’s envoys, not tanks, that are the talismen of this New Middle East Order.
Hours after we posted an analysis of Washington’s engagement with Syria, the story started fluttering across the Internet that Damascus had built a missile facility on the site of the alleged nuclear plant bombed by Israel in October 2007.
We’ve just learned about the impressive website Virtual Gaza, which tries to get information about conditions in the area to the world: a combination of Google Earth with witness reports and investigative journalism.
Revelations from Guantanamo Bay
"The mujahadin shura decided that the leaders would combine forces for a joint struggle against coalition forces in Afghanistan and end hostilities against Pakistan."
"How shall we put this? Horse Gone. Stable Door Bolted. Nothing in this report will meet the requirement of an investigation not of Guantanamo Now but Guantanamo Then."
"The majority of the men being detained are in isolation. They go weeks without seeing the sun. Fluorescent lights, however, remain on 24 hours a day in Camp 5. According to the report, “improvements” cited by the military are, by and large, public relations activities rather than meaningful improvements in detainees’ conditions….The report details multiple cases of abuse occurring in the last month and a half."
"If the Obama Administration wanted meaningful engagement with Iran, Ross couldn’t be appointed as the point man."
Ali Yenidunya: "The hand has been extended, very indirectly and at a distance but still extended, to Hamas by Obama. The 44th President of the United States of America, unlike his predecessor, has given priority to an meaningful peace process rather than the rigid mantra of “Israeli security."
Mr Obama's War
"MR OBAMA'S WAR"
"What we are witnessing is a long-term,
wide-ranging strategy of creating international legitimacy
and political credibility for an escalation of violence by
the US, Pakistan, and NATO against religious and tribal
insurgents in Afghanistan and Pakistan."
At the end of the day, the apology of from
the New York Post is likely to diminish the
tension. However the criticisms are unlikely to end.
Denial of Rights at Home and Abroad?
A Bombshell on Iran?
Keep an eye on whether the Obama Administration plays up the drama of the higher enriched-uranium figures and refers to more sanctions against Iran, or whether it plays down any threat, thus protecting the priority of engagement.
Engagement with Iran and Hamas, Uncertainty over Guantanamo Bay
An interesting twist in the tale of the US military, notably General David Petraeus, the head of Central Command, and General Raymond Odierno, the US commander in Iraq, trying to undercut President Obama's plan for withdrawal of combat troops within 16 months.
"Sick urged the Obama Admininstration not to repeat the mistakes of Bush in having an incoherent policy towards Iran; however, I think "mixed signals" has been a perpetual theme of America's Iranian policy for the last thirty years."
Ironically, if the 17 had actually done something to threaten America, there might be the prospect of transferring them to the US for criminal proceedings. Because they are in effect innocent, however, there is nowhere to go.
"There has no denunciation of visits to Hamas by French and British delegations, either from their home governments or from Washington. So there is still a glimmer, and maybe more, of a long-awaited US approach to Israel and Palestine which includes all key parties."
If there is in fact an American and Israeli covert war of disruption being waged against Iran's nuclear program, it is now in my judgement, completely over, with the results being a humiliating loss for Israel, a lowering of hostilities with Iran, and a vastly strengthened American diplomatic position vis-a-vis the Iranian nuclear negotiations.
Outing Obama's Strategy, US Airbases, and the War on Terror
Interpreting Israel and Iran, The Torture Story Unfolds,
and Barack-Obama-Still-A-Muslim Shock
Hypocrisy in Gitmo and Pakistan, Tensions with Iran and Turkey
for US and
when it is
faced by the
on Osirak in
Iraq in 1981
— could come
not have the
Behind the Headlines in Gitmo, Afghanistan, and Israel
Turns out it was
who asked the US
to make the
The twist in the
article by Kim
Sengupta of The
the detail of
notably the head
bin Abdulaziz Al
in setting up
new image for
so driven to
take action in
Gaza that it was
willing to risk
a peace process
to ease tensions
on its northern
border and a
Iraq Up Close, Iran Taking Over America,
and a Valentine's Day Story
may come to pass —
activists wanting to
take out an "enemy",
and a mainstream
media without the
time or judgement to
assumptions — that
grey becomes black
and Iran once more
Number One to the
Jamail: "At least
70% of Fallujah's
massive US military
assaults in April,
and again in
November 2004, and
more than four years
later, in the "new
Iraq", the city
is rampant, the
remains largely in
ruins, and tens of
residents who fled
in 2004 are still
it was Reds under
the Bed. Now it's
the Mullahs Hiding
behind the Curtains.
Peres to express his
American and Israeli
and to emphasise his
personal efforts for
question is how much
room there is for
such a solution."
Hiding Torture and Death
Obama-Military Clash, Pakistan Manoeuvres, Hiding of Torture
Evidence, and Khatami in Iran
Iran and "Engagement", Attacks in Kabul, and Latest from
nation is prepared to talk.
However, these talks should be
held in a fair atmosphere in
which there is mutual respect."
At least 20 dead
in attacks north of Kabul and in
the capital on the Ministry of
Obama's First Press Conference, Iran, and "Failing the Torture
COVERAGE OF PRESIDENT OBAMA'S
FIRST PRESS CONFERENCE
Obama signalled that
he is now going to accept, without
discussion and modification, the
military's surge proposal.
Specifically, he let it be known
that Petraeus's word isn't gospel —
however big the legend of "victory"
in Iraq — and Holbrooke is his point
man as he tours Afghanistan.
appear to be a clear signal to Iran
that he is satisfied with the
opening at-distance exchanges.
Department, in a court case in San
Francisco, stands firmly against any
investigation of torture and
Yvonne Bradley, the lawyer for
British resident Binyam Mohamed,
with Britain's Channel 4 News about
the condition of her client, who is
supposedly near death in a hunger
strike at the Guantanamo Bay
political appointees within the
Pentagon have been trying to find a
way around Obama's command to
suspend Military Commissions.
"Islamist Terrorism", Iraq Fall-Out, and The Battle over
Is President Obama
preparing to stall out the
military's request for 25,000 more
US troops to Afghanistan?
Cold Realities on the Biden Speech, the Middle East, and Dick