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RAPID RESPONSE (Archives)...Daily Commentary on News of the Day
This is a new section.  It will offer fresh, quick reactions by myself to news and events of the day, day by day, in this rapid-fire world of ours.  Of course, as in military campaigns, a rapid response in one direction may occasionally have to be followed by a "strategic withdrawal" in another direction.  Charge that to "the fog of war", and to the necessary flexibility any mental or military campaign must maintain to be effective.  But the mission will always be the same: common sense, based upon facts and "real politick", supported by a visceral sense of Justice and a commitment to be pro-active.  That's all I promise.
GS

Click here to return to the current Rapid Response list

TUESDAY and WEDNESDAY, January 30 and 31, 2007

Here are a few subjects dealt with in today's newspapers that warrant attention.
Mary Anastasia O’Grady: Making Lenin Proud

Making Lenin Proud
By MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY
January 22, 2007; Page A14

"The way to crush the bourgeoisie is to grind them between the
millstones of taxation and inflation."

-- Vladimir Lenin

Mexican historian and author Enrique Krauze has written that he
believes that the "last Marxist in history [will] die at a Latin
American university." At a minimum, Mr. Krauze seems to have gotten
the geography right.

Most of the rest of the world has stuffed communism into the dustbin
of history but, as events over the past week remind, Latin America has
not. Earlier this month, President Hugo Chávez officially took control
of Venezuela's central bank and declared himself a communist. He then
traveled to Ecuador to attend the swearing-in ceremony of his latest
and perhaps most promising protégé, Rafael Correa, as that country's
new president. Mr. Correa has lost no time emulating his mentor.

Mr. Correa, who was Ecuador's finance minister in 2005, was well known
in the early stages of the presidential campaign last year as an
anti-American, anti-market extremist with a view that "dollarization
was the biggest economic error [Ecuador] has ever committed." But when
he failed to win in the first round of voting in October, he was
forced to adopt a more measured tone and backed off his pledge to end
dollarization.

The trouble for Ecuadoreans, as we are now seeing, is that their new
president's stripes have not changed. In his first week on the job, he
has already demonstrated a profound understanding of Lenin's dictum
that power over monetary matters is a revolutionary essential. To that
end, he has begun an effort to destroy Ecuador's dollarization. From
there, taxation and inflation will do much of his work for him.

At his inauguration last Monday Mr. Correa put on quite a show. Most
extraordinary was his not-so-subtle admission that Mr. Chávez is going
to be the power behind the Ecuadorean throne. Most Latin governments
guard their independence as a matter of national pride. But Mr. Correa
appeared quite happy to let the world know that he will be outsourcing
Ecuadorean sovereignty to Venezuela.

Ecuador, the new president declared, is "leaving the night of
neoliberalism behind" and the new "Bolivarian" government will pursue
"21st-century socialism." He denounced competition and called for
cooperation instead. He held up a sword that Mr. Chávez had given him
as a gift and cried, "Look out, look out, Bolívar's sword is passing
through Latin America," a reference to the Chávez agenda, which calls
for South American integration under the thumb of the continent's
largest energy producer. The Venezuelan president was perched behind
the new president, eyes narrowed, enthusiastically applauding the
performance. Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was also an honored guest,
sitting next to Bolivian President Evo Morales.

Ecuador's political instability is legendary and Mr. Correa is the
eighth president in 10 years. He will have to move quickly in his goal
to consolidate power and if he is to avoid the fate of his
predecessors, he will also have to move carefully.

Rewriting the constitution is so central to his agenda that on
inauguration day he decreed a March 18 national referendum on the
issue. The only problem is that Mr. Correa hasn't the power to call a
constitutional referendum. Changes to the constitution fall under
congress. Since Mr. Correa's party has no members in the 100-seat
chamber and his coalition is shaky, it is not entirely clear that he
will be able to push through the constitutional changes he seeks. His
socialist revolution via a constitutional coup could be delayed.

Still, that doesn't leave the aspiring authoritarian without options.
He has Lenin's millstones to fall back on, if only he can resurrect a
local currency. This explains the assault on dollarization now under
way.

The adoption of the greenback as Ecuador's currency seven years ago
has been extremely popular among Ecuadoreans of all classes. A long
history of repeated bouts of hyperinflation, which destroyed both
wages and savings, has finally come to an end and been replaced by a
new sense of stability. Mr. Correa knows full well that he cannot
strip Ecuadoreans of this one economic gain without facing the kind of
rebellion that brought down previous governments. Yet the control he
yearns for will not be his as long as the dollar reigns.

To reverse dollarization and introduce a fiat currency, Mr. Correa
will have to undermine the dollar economy. One step in that process is
stifling commerce with the U.S., his country's largest trading
partner. He has already pledged that under his guidance Ecuador will
move away from trade liberalization with the gringos and throw its lot
in with Mr. Chávez's Bolivarian Alternative for America trading block.

Protectionism will help weaken the dollar economy but it may not be
enough to provoke a crisis. A forced restructuring of the country's
$10.3 billion in external debt will provide further assistance by
damaging the country's creditworthiness and discouraging new
investment, particularly because it is well known that Ecuador's debt
service as a percentage of gross domestic product is lower than
Colombia's or Brazil's. Creditors understand that paying what is owed
is a matter of willingness. Nevertheless, Mr. Correa's finance
minister, Ricardo Patino, last week proposed a haircut of 60% on the
country's debt and invited a team of Argentine officials -- otherwise
known as the world's most experienced deadbeats -- to Quito this week
to act as advisers.

It will be claimed that the "savings" on debt service will be used to
help the poor. This will boost Mr. Correa's populist appeal but
politicians never have enough revenue to meet their goals. Low growth
rates and disappointing oil prices will exacerbate revenue shortfalls.
In a fiscal crisis it is easy to imagine a government like Mr.
Correa's issuing script or a new currency in parallel to the dollar.

The new president seems to be prepared for just such an outcome. In
the past he has called for a regional currency and he has now
announced that he will end central-bank autonomy. Once foreign
investment and trade dry up and the bottomless pit of corruption and
social spending drains public coffers, dollarization will be the
scapegoat. Mr. Correa can then begin to print his own notes and make
Lenin proud.

SUNDAY and MONDAY, January 28 and 29, 2007

AS I WAS SAYING ABOUT Russia and CHINA...  GS

Sol Sanders: Anti-Satellite Power: ‘There Are Things We Don’t Know We Don’t Know’

A SENSE OF ASIA
Anti-satellite power: 'There are things we don't know we don't know'
By Sol Sanders
SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
 
Friday, January 26, 2007
The significance of China’s action on Jan. 11 in blasting its own tired communications satellite lies more in geopolitics than in technical aspects.
 
True, it demonstrates, again, Beijing’s capacity for achievement most Americans have been loathe to attribute to them. In fact, recent developments in submarine warfare, fighter plane design, hovercraft landing vessels, supercomputers, have if nothing else, shown increasing ingenuity in leap-froging over licensed or stolen foreign technologies.

Apparently U.S. intelligence knew of earlier failed attempts to accomplish something like this. Cyber warfare has long been a subject of deep concern with the U.S.’ escalating dependence on satellite communications as any glance at headgear of soldiers in Iraq indicates. Cyber sabotage is one aspect of asymmetrical warfare Beijing strategists continually proclaim, calling back over the centuries to traditional Chinese thinking about war.
Peter Brookes, former Pentagon official Heritage Foundation scholar, reported “the Department of Defense [in 2004] suffered a record 79,000 computer network attacks, including some that actually reduced the military's operational capabilities …]M]ost attacks on America's ‘digital’ Achilles Heel are originating from the People's Republic of China …”.

Beijing’s cyber guerrilla is another instance in Beijing attempting to demonstrate it can play in the big leagues. It seems certain more such “surprises” are ahead.

But a more fundamental aspect is not the action itself but the circumstances surrounding it. The event emphasizes again almost total ignorance of the U.S. about the process of Chinese decision-making.
Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld put the case well: "We know what we know, we know that there are things we do not know, and we know that there are things we don't know we don't know." To no subject does this apply more fittingly at this moment than the nature of the Beijing regime and its intentions..
Speculation is rife among the China experts, even if the public’s attention for this important event is minimal because of the debate over Iraq.

First of all, there seems to be some question about how much Chinese leadership knew and when. If, as some would argue, the whole effort was propaganda, then why was there no ready-made ”packaging”.Initially there were even denials from Chinese diplomats it had taken place. U.S. requests to Beijing for an explanation only elicited confused and minimal information. It is rare a major Chinese military-technical event is not carefully coupled with a rationale, however ridiculous.

It seems unlikely, as some speculation has held, President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao would have not anticipated a quite strong reaction from the U.S., Japan, and other interested parties. Are we then to conclude Chinese techno-military proceeded without a go-ahead from highest leadership?

It is true China — as the Soviet Union — has been pressing Washington for some new treaty prohibiting military activity in space. The Bush Administration announcements haVe been emphatic in proclaiming American national interest in space developments. Washington’s reluctance to undertake new treaty obligations with China clearly are a reflection of Beijing’s flagrant violations of earlier commitments; for example, Chinese government-owned companies have peddled missiles and missiles technology abroad in violation of anti-missile proliferation agreements.

But the larger concern is China’s continued professions of “a peaceful rising” as it acquires great power status, or for “harmonious society” with extensions to the international arena. Even were such a space venture to be undertaken, it was done without any warning. The method of destroying the satellite — that is, creation of additional space debris imperiling other satellites used for peaceful purposes — has long been a concern. It is one reason why both the U.S. and the Soviet Union ceased such anti-satellite destruction in the 1980s.
The event also fits into a recent pattern. For example, recent official full press publicity to development of a “fourth generation” fighter aircraft, said to compete with latest state of the art in the U.S., Russia and France. Yet in the demiworld of military intelligence, knowledge of that aircraft and its capabilities has been around for two years or more. The Chinese also publicized the development of an amphibious hovercraft landing vessel, designed for ventures beyond Beijing’s present threat to Taiwan. The penetration of Chinese submarines in waters off Japan, laser blipping of Japanese and American radar, all seem at least rather adventurously aggressive. Clandestinely, of course, the Chinese are doing such things as preparing for aircraft carrier operations.

When Deng Xiaoping, China’s former Paramount Leader, included military renewal as one of his “four modernizations” two decades ago, he also cautioned Beijing should keep its head down in international relations -- presumably until it had, in fact, reached great power status. That strategy had been assumed to be his successors’. But has a change taken place? Or is the Chinese military, pushing the envelope on its budget requirements, feeling its oats? Has the traditional Communist Party People’s Liberation Army symbiosis dissolved with accession of Party apparatchiks instead of old civil war veterans and growth of a new technocratic military elite? Or is this only reflection a bureaucratic struggle for resources in an economy, which while growing phenomenally, has overwhelming conflicting demands?

It is well to remember when Winston Churchill uttered his famous quote about the Soviet Union in October 1939, he linked it with :”I cannot forecast the action of Russia”. He might well have said the same about China today.

SATURDAY, January 27, 2007

The following are some random, although global, thoughts  flowing from the news of the past week. 
The next time you hear a politician use the word "billion" in a casual manner, think about whether you want the "politicians" spending your tax money.

A billion is a difficult number to comprehend, but one advertising agency did a good job of putting that figure into some perspective in one of its releases.

a. A billion seconds ago it was 1959.
b. A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive
c. A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in the Stone Age
d. A billion days ago no-one walked on the earth on two feet
e. A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes, at the rate our government is spending it.

While this thought is still fresh in our brain, let's take a look at New Orleans. It's amazing what you can learn with some simple division

Louisiana Senator, Mary Landrieu, is presently asking the Congress for  $250 BILLION to rebuild New Orleans.  Interesting number, what does it  mean?

a. Well, if you are one of 484,674 residents of New Orleans (every man, woman, child), you each get $516,528.
b. Or, if you have one of the 188,251 homes in New Orleans, your home gets $1,329,787.
c. Or, if you are a family of four, your family gets $2,066,012.  Washington, D.C .. HELLO?! ... Are all your calculators broken??

This is too true to be very funny...

Tax his land,
Tax his wage,
Tax his bed in which he lays,
Tax his tractor,
Tax his mule,
Teach him taxes is the rule.
Tax his cow,
Tax his goat,
Tax his pants,
Tax his coat.
Tax his ties,
Tax his shirts,
Tax his work,
Tax his dirt.
Tax his tobacco,
Tax his drink,
Tax him if he tries to think.
Tax his booze,
Tax his beers,
If he cries,
Tax his tears.
Tax his bills,
Tax his gas,
Tax his notes,
Tax his cash.
Tax him good and let him know
That after taxes, he has no dough.
If he hollers,
Tax him more,
Tax him until he's good and sore.
Tax his coffin,
Tax his grave,
Tax the sod in which he lays.
Put these words upon his tomb,
"Taxes drove me to my doom!"
And when he's gone,
We won't relax,
We'll still be after the inheritance TAX!!

Accounts Receivable Tax
Building Permit Tax
CDL License Tax
Cigarette Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Dog License Tax
Federal Income Tax
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Fuel Permit Tax
Gasoline Tax
Hunting License Tax
Inheritance Tax
Inventory Tax
IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax),
IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax),
Liquor Tax,
Luxury Tax,
Marriage License Tax,
Medicare Tax,
Property Tax,
Real Estate Tax,
Service charge taxes,
Social Security Tax,
Road Usage Tax (Truckers),
Sales Taxes,
Recreational Vehicle Tax,
School Tax,
State Income Tax,
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA),
Telephone Federal Excise Tax,
Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax,
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Tax,
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax,
Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges Tax,
Telephone State and Local Tax,
Telephone Usage Charge Tax,
Utility Tax,
Vehicle License Registration Tax,
Vehicle Sales Tax,
Watercraft Registration Tax,
Well Permit Tax,
Workers Compensation Tax.

COMMENTS: Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago
And there was prosperity, absolutely no national debt,
The largest middle class in the world and Mom stayed
Home to raise the kids.

What the hell happened?!

WEDNSEDAY through FRIDAY, January 24 through 26, 2007

In the midst of this card hand of "terrible two's" that America has to play in the Middle East is the joker, Russia.  The following article goes a long way toward uncovering that card.  GS

ITEM 8: John Elliott and Igor Khrestin: Russia and the Middle East

Middle East Quarterly
Winter 2007
Russia and the Middle East
By John Elliott and Igor Khrestin
Igor Khrestin is a research assistant at AEI.
John Elliott is a research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations.
[DJ: Footnotes not here. Can be found at:
http://www.meforum.org/article/1632]

Where does Moscow stand in the fight against
Islamism and the global war against terror?
Facing the Chechen threat at home, the Russian
government might be sympathetic to U.S. and even
Israeli concerns. Not so. Despite U.S.
declarations that Washington and Moscow were
"increasingly united by common values" and that
Russia was "a partner in the war on terror,"[1]
examination of Russian president Vladimir Putin's
policy toward the Middle East suggests that
Moscow has become an impediment both to the fight
against Islamist terror and Washington's desire
to promote democracy in the Middle East. The 2006
U.S. National Security Strategy reinforces that
U.S. policymakers should not only "encourage
Russia to respect the values of freedom and
democracy at home" but also cease "imped[ing] the
cause of freedom and democracy" in regions vital
to the war on terror.[2] While Russian officials
denounce U.S. criticism, the Kremlin's coddling
of Iranian hard-liners, its reaction to the
"cartoon jihad," its invitation to Hamas to
Moscow, and its flawed Chechen policy all cast doubt on Moscow's motivations.

While President Bill Clinton had focused his
Middle East policy on Israeli-Palestinian peace
talks, his strategy toward the broader Middle
East was more detached.[3] He was content to
pursue dual containment toward Iraq and Iran and
follow a status quo policy toward North Africa
and the Arabian Peninsula. The 9-11 terrorist
attacks focused U.S. foreign policy on the Middle
East. President George W. Bush asserted that the
region "must be a focus of American policy for
decades to come" and declared a "forward strategy
of freedom in the Middle East."[4] Putin, too,
made the Middle East an area of increasing focus.
But in contrast to his rhetoric of
cooperation--he was the first foreign leader to
call Bush on 9-11--he has pursued a contradictory
strategy to bolster Russian influence at U.S. expense.

The Chechen Lens

Nothing shapes Putin's thinking about terrorism
and the Middle East more than Chechnya. While
Islamist terrorism threatens U.S. security, the
Chechen conflict threatens both Russian security
and its territorial integrity. The conflict in
Russia's Chechnya province has claimed over one
hundred thousand lives since President Boris
Yeltsin ordered the Russian military into
Chechnya in 1994.[5] After the 1996 cease-fire,
Chechnya dissolved into anarchy, becoming the
"Somalia of the Caucasus."[6] Foreign jihadists
infiltrated the Chechen leadership.[7] In 1999,
Vladimir Putin, newly-appointed prime minister,
ordered Russian troops to reassert order. His
tough stance catapulted him into political
prominence and, eventually, the presidency.

Putin and Bush initially cooperated in the war
against the Taliban. The Russian leader complied
with U.S. requests to build bases in Uzbekistan
and Kyrgyzstan for use in the war against the
Afghan Islamists. In April 2002, U.S. and Russian
militaries cooperated to dislodge terror groups
from Georgia's Pankisi Gorge.[8] The following
month, the two leaders declared, "We are
partners, and we will cooperate to advance
stability, security, and economic integration,
and to jointly counter global challenges and to
help resolve regional conflicts."[9]

Putin's domestic war on terrorism enjoyed only
limited success. Russian security forces did
impose some order in Chechnya, but the Kremlin
was unable to stem Chechen and Islamist terrorism
on Russian soil. In 2002, 120 died in a rescue
attempt after Chechen rebels took 800 people
hostage in a Moscow theater. Two years later,
several hundred children died after terrorists
seized a school in Beslan. Even after the
subsequent crackdown, Russian forces have not
been able to stop Chechen Islamist raids into
neighboring provinces as they seek to build an
"Islamic Republic of the North Caucasus."[10]
Terrorists continue to take advantage of endemic
Russian corruption.[11] An independent Russian
daily observed that "a police officer or soldier
is killed in the Caucasus practically every day";
a senior military official admitted that the
situation in Chechnya is "far from ideal."[12]

Faced with only marginal gains at home, Putin
changed tack. Rather than continue cooperation
with Washington on the broader war on terror, he
sought to cut a deal. In 2003, he asked to join
the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC),
even though with only 20 million Muslims--about
15 percent of the population--Russia lacked the
required 50 percent minimum Muslim
population.[13] While the OIC did not grant
Russia full membership, it did grant Moscow
observer status.[14] The relationship was
symbiotic: the OIC saw Moscow as a patron that
could offset U.S. pressure while Moscow received
de facto immunity from criticism of Russian
policy in Chechnya as a result of OIC reluctance
to interfere in the internal affairs of
member-states, even honorary ones.[15] Putin
further outlined his vision of alliance with the
Islamic world when, addressing the newly-elected
Chechen parliament in December 2005, Putin called
Russia "a faithful, reliable, and dedicated
promoter . . . of the interests of the Islamic
world" and "its best and most reliable partner and friend."[16]

Arming Iran

The desire both to cut a deal and stymie
Washington also explains Moscow's policy toward
Tehran. Russian and Iranian interests are
historically divergent. The two countries fought
intermittently throughout the nineteenth century,
and Soviet leaders supported separatist movements
in Iran in the twentieth century.[17] Their
perceived spheres of influence overlap in the
Caucasus and the Caspian. The 1979 Islamic
Revolution may have torn Iran away from alliance
with the United States, but it did not bring
Tehran and Moscow any closer. Revolutionary
leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini considered the
Soviet Union to be "godless" and purged leftists
from the revolutionary coalition.[18]

But a February 1989 visit by Soviet foreign
minister Eduard Shevardnadze and a reciprocal
visit to Moscow by then-Majlis speaker Ali Akbar
Hashemi Rafsanjani four months later cemented a
détente. Relations expanded with Moscow after the
Soviet Union's collapse. On August 25, 1992,
Tehran and Moscow signed an US$800 million deal
for Russian companies to build two nuclear
reactors at Bushehr.[19] While this contract
predates Putin's presidency, the Russian leader
turned a blind eye to signs that the Iranian
program was not entirely civilian. Five years
after Rafsanjani threatened to use nuclear
weapons against Israel,[20] and despite an
International Atomic Energy Agency finding that
Iran was in noncompliance with the nuclear
nonproliferation treaty's safeguards
agreement,[21] Russian foreign minister Sergei
Lavrov insists that the Iranian program "is
conducted fully in accordance with international norms."[22]

So what explains Russian behavior? Maintaining
nuclear trade with Tehran enabled Putin to cement
a tacit agreement in which Iran declines to
interfere in Chechnya and other Islamist causes
which threaten Russia. Winning Iranian
acquiescence is especially important given its
proximity to Russia's troubled south. In
exchange, the Kremlin shields the Iranian
government from Western pressure. Russian
unwillingness to accept sanctions against Iran
for its nuclear noncompliance has vexed
Washington,[23] as has Moscow's refusal to force
an Iranian reaction to the May 2006 European
Union and U.S. package of incentives.[24]

Any Middle Eastern government which seeks
Moscow's support understands it must either side
with the Russian struggle against Chechen
separatists or, at a minimum, agree not to
meddle. With the end of the Cold War, the Israeli
government has sought to better its relations
with Moscow. Since 1999, Israeli intelligence has
shared information with their Russian
counterparts and has assisted Russian forces in
training and border security. Israeli officials
have likened the Chechen separatists to
Palestinian terrorists.[25] Damascus, too, has
assisted Russia diplomatically. In September
2005, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad welcomed
the pro-Moscow president of Chechnya, Alu
Alkhanov, to Damascus, granting the embattled
Chechen leader some international legitimacy.[26]

The commercial factor is also a bonus. The
Russian government has secured lucrative
contracts with several states that Washington
considers pariahs. In December 2005, the Iranian
government signed a billion dollar arms deal that
included twenty-nine Tor M1 missile defense
systems to protect the Bushehr nuclear
facility.[27] The Russian government has also
sold Strelets missiles to Syria.[28] Putin halted
sales of even more sophisticated weaponry only
after vigorous U.S. and Israeli protest.[29] That
Iran is also oil-rich is added incentive; Russia
has $750 million invested in energy projects
there.[30] The Russian oil firm Lukoil seeks to
move 23 percent of production to the Middle East by 2015.[31]

Russia's Cartoon Jihad

Bush characterizes the U.S. fight as a "war with
Islamic fascists."[32] Putin, too, has cracked
down on Islamist terror in Russia. But what works
at home is not necessarily what Putin embraces
for those outside Russia. On February 4, 2006,
protests erupted in many Muslim countries against
cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, which
had been published months before in the Danish
daily Jyllands-Posten. In Lebanon and Syria, mobs
sacked the Danish embassy and, in Libya, they
attacked an Italian consulate. But rather than
stand up for free speech--as did many outside the
Middle East--the Russian government sided with the Islamists.

Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Duma's
(parliament) International Affairs Committee,
chided the Danish government for allowing such
cartoons to be published. "The [Danish] prime
minister washed his hands of the whole matter,
with the usual comments, chapter and verse, about
freedom of speech," Kosachev said, before chiding
the Danes for citing the right of free speech as
reason not to crack down on "anti-Russian
hysteria over Chechnya in Denmark"[33] a few
years earlier. Then, three days after the mass
protests erupted, Putin said, "One should reflect
100 times before publishing or drawing something
. . . If a state cannot prevent such
publications, it should at least ask for forgiveness."[34]

To drive home the point, on February 17, Andrei
Dorinin, acting mayor of the southern Russian
city of Volgograd, shut down the local paper
Gorodskie Vesti, after it printed a cartoon
depicting the Prophet Muhammad along with Jesus,
Moses, and Buddha.[35] The government also
charged Anna Smirnova, editor of Nash Region in
Vologda, with "inciting racial hatred"--an
offense punishable by up to five years in prison,
according to article 282 of the Russian criminal
code--after her paper republished the original
Jyllands-Posten cartoons. She was fined 100,000
rubles (about US$3,700). The paper's owners,
citing concerns over the "safety of the
journalists," shut down the newspaper.[36]

What makes the Russian government's actions
curious is that they initiated the crackdown
absent any significant public outcry, let alone
riots, against the cartoons. According to a
nationwide poll conducted by the Levada Center,
only 14 percent of respondents were "outraged" by
the Prophet Muhammad cartoons; the plurality
simply did not care.[37] The reactions of
Russia's religious leaders were likewise muted.
Mufti Talgat Tadzhuddin, head of the Central
Muslim Spiritual Directorate, noted that "in a
cultured society, it is necessary that there be cultured people."[38]

While local politics played a part in the
crackdowns,[39] the general Kremlin reaction
showed that the fight against Islamism was
relative. While Putin will neither tolerate
terrorism nor the ideology behind it at home, he
will at times justify that same extremism abroad
if it wins Moscow points in the Islamic world,
prolongs the tacit agreement against Islamic
countries' interference in Chechnya, and
undercuts the general U.S. and European
diplomatic position in the Middle East. Andrei
Serenko, an expert at the Fund for Development
for Information Policy, explained, "To prove
Vladimir Putin's thesis that ‘a strong Russia is
a defender of Muslims,' [the Kremlin] can sacrifice a regional newspaper."[40]

Hamas Tours Moscow

Perhaps nothing underlined the relativity of
Moscow's fight against terror as much as the
Kremlin's 2006 invitation to Moscow of a Hamas
delegation. In February 2006, Putin announced,
‘‘We are willing in the near future to invite the
authorities of Hamas to Moscow to carry out
talks."[41] The State Department reacted
cautiously. Spokesman Sean McCormack warned that
"as a member of the Quartet, we would certainly
expect that Russia would deliver that same
message" to Hamas, namely to renounce violence,
recognize Israel, and respect previous
Palestinian and international agreements.[42]

While Moscow had long supported the Palestine
Liberation Organization and lobbied for the
creation of the Palestinian state, Putin's
outreach to Hamas broke with tradition. Mikhail
Margelov, the chairman of the international
relations committee of the Federation Council,
Russia's upper house, had praised the Israeli
assassination of Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh
Ahmad Yasin.[43] When a Hamas suicide bomber
killed seventeen people in Beersheba in August
2004, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a
statement condemning "the new barbarous foray by
the extremists," and declaring, "We are convinced
that no political or other purposes can be
reached by means of violence and terror."[44]

Hamas leaders seized the opportunity proffered by
Putin. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said, "We
salute the Russian position and . . . accept it
with the aim of strengthening our relations with
the West and particularly with the Russian
government."[45] The Hamas delegation met with
Lavrov, toured the capital with the leaders of
Russia's Muslim community, and had an audience
with the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox
Church.[46] The Russian government's engagement
with Hamas did not lead the group to abandon
terrorism.[47] One Russian journalist concluded,
"Moscow invited the Palestinians just to invite
them, and Hamas came just to come."[48]

The Russian press was less forgiving than the
Kremlin. In the press conference, an Izvestiya
reporter asked Hamas delegation leader Khalid
Mashaal to comment on his June 2000 pronouncement
that children should be trained as suicide
bombers. The Hamas leader defended his comment.
"We have our own symbols, our own examples to
imitate. And we are proud of this,"[49] he told
the assembled press. So what did Putin's outreach
achieve? Again, Chechnya played front and center
in his strategy: Hamas promised not to meddle in the North Caucasus.[50]

What does the Hamas visit signal for
Russian-Israeli relations? Under Putin, ties
between Moscow and Jerusalem initially blossomed.
The Russian president appreciated Jerusalem's
no-nonsense approach to terrorism, as well as its
technical assistance with regard to Chechnya.
That one million Israelis speak Russian
facilitates business. Economic relations between
Moscow and Jerusalem thrived; hundreds of Israeli
businesses operate in Russia.[51] Russian
business leaders look to fill Israel's growing
energy needs.[52] Today, direct trade between the
two states is valued at approximately $1.5
billion.[53] In April 2006, the Russian
government launched an Israeli satellite capable
of spying on the Iranian nuclear program.[54] But
while some writers once celebrated Putin's new
approach,[55] the enabling of Iran's nuclear
program and the invitation to Hamas suggest that
optimism regarding Russia's president is
premature. While the Russian government is
willing to criticize its Iranian and Arab clients to placate the
West, it seldom translates harsh words into
action. The Russian Foreign Ministry's
contradictory statements[56] following the July
12, 2006 Israeli incursion into southern Lebanon
seemed designed to obfuscate rather than stake
out a clear position against terror. The Russian
government may appreciate the fruits of economic
relations with Israel, but when it comes to
standing on principle against terror, Putin draws
a line. Russia does not consider Hamas or
Hezbollah to be terrorist groups; to stand too
much with Israel against terror might mean
undercutting Putin's Faustian bargain with Islamists over Chechnya.

Conclusions

The post-9-11 U.S.-Russian honeymoon did not
last. While some tension resulted from Putin's
growing authoritarianism,[57] more responsible
was Putin's decision to place Russia squarely in
opposition to Washington's desire to contain
Iranian nuclear ambitions, delegitimize terrorism, and promote democracy.

That Washington and Moscow diverge on the Middle
East should not surprise. A June 2000 foreign
policy concept paper approved by Putin defines
Moscow's priorities in the Middle East "to
restore and strengthen its position, particularly
economic ones."[58] Putin has pursued this
strategic pragmatism even when it puts Moscow in
the position of arming Iran and Syria while
strengthening economic relations with Israel.

How wise is Putin's policy? Not all Russian
analysts are convinced it will further Moscow's
interests. Dmitri Suslov, an expert with Moscow's
Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, explained,
"[T]here is a big risk here, that by providing
greater legitimacy for Islamists, Russia could
invite greater instability in the Middle East and
at home."[59] Prominent Russian columnist Yulia
Latynina argued that "by holding talks with rogue
states, Russia comes perilously close to being
perceived as a rogue state in its own right."[60]

Nor is success assured for Putin's gamble that he
can appease external Islamists to win space for
Russian actions in Chechnya. In June 2006,
Islamists in Iraq kidnapped and murdered four
Russian diplomats--including one Muslim. They
issued a tape declaring, "God's verdict has been
carried out on the Russian diplomats … in revenge
for the torture, killing, and expulsion of our
brothers and sisters by the infidel Russian
government." [61] Simply put, Putin may subscribe
to Realpolitik, but Islamic extremists are not well-versed in its intricacies.

TUESDAY, January 23, 2007

FOOD FOR THOUGHT.  GS

> > THE MAYONNAISE JAR AND COFFEE
> >
> > When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours
> > in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar... and the coffee.
> >
> > A professor stood before his Philosophy class and had some items in
> > front of him.
> >
> > When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty
> > mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.
> >
> > He then asked the students if the jar was full.
> >
> > They agreed that it was.
> >
> > The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the
> > jar.
> >
> > He shook the jar lightly.
> >
> > The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.
> >
> > He then aske d the students again if the jar was full.
> >
> > They agreed it was.
> >
> > The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar.
> > Of course, the sand filled up everything else.
> >
> > He asked once more if the jar was full.
> >
> > The students responded with a unanimous "yes."
> >
> > The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and
> > poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty
> > space between the sand.
> >
> > The students laughed.
> >
> > "Now," said the professor, as the laughter subsided, "I want you to
> > recognize that this jar represents your life."
> >
> > "The golf balls are the important things - your God, family, your
> > children, your health, your friends, and your favorite passions - things
> > that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would
> > still be full."
> >
> > "The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house,
> > and your car."
> >
> > "The sand is everything else-the small stuff."
> >
> > "If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no
> > room for the pebbles or the golf balls."
> >
> > "The same goes for life."
> >
> > "If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will
> > never have room for the things that are important to you." "Pay
> > attention to the things that are critical to your happiness." "Play with
> > your children." "Take time to get medical checkups." "Take your partner
> > out to dinner." "Play another 18." "There will always be time to clean
> > the house and fix the disposal." "Take care of the golf balls first, the
> > things that really matter." "Set your priorities." "The rest is just
> > sand."
> >
> > One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee
> > represented.
> >
> > The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked."
> >
> > "It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem,
> > there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend."

SATURDAY through MONDAY, January 20 through 22, 2007

So little time, so many irritants.
GS

TUESDAY through FRIDAY, January 16 through 19, 2007

Iraq and the Middle East.  We haven't seen nor heard from so many "nattering nabobs of negativity" in a long time.  One typical example was the interview between Matt Lauer and Mr. Hauss (President of the non-governmental Council on Foreign Relations) on the Today Show this morning.  Lauer, whom I like but who is another media liberal, began in the usual way, making the obligatory "sign of the cross": "Of course we all wish America's efforts in Iraq to succeed, but...."  Then he questioned his guest about three possible scenarios for an outcome...all losing efforts.  He has plenty of company playing Cassandra in the main-stream media.  Furthermore, all of these people talk about "getting out of Iraq" or getting out of the Mid-East.  Folks, we're not getting out...not after what the terrorists did to us and plan to do to us in the future; not after over 3,000 deaths and over 30,000 seriously wounded among our soldiers; not with our unfortunate long-term continuing dependence on Middle East oil; not with Iran posing a serious strategic danger; not with Israel as our permanent client State; and not after millions of Iraqi citizens risked their lives to go to the polls for a democratic nation - and after hundreds of thousands of them have perished through sectarian terrorism.  The only thing missing in this scenario is for this administration to tell this to Americans like it is and will be - must be.  When is that going to happen?  Every day of silence and equivocation emboldens all liberals...who never saw a war they didn't oppose...and confuses loyal but troubled citizens who see no goal as recompense for all this loss.  President Bush, "it's curtain time" plus three years.  Don't make one final screw-up by more "too little, too late."

GS

MONDAY, January 15, 2007
Happy Warriors
The three who unmade a revolution.
by Steven F. Hayward
Weekly Standard
01/15/2007, Volume 012, Issue 17

The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister
Three Who Changed the World
by John O'Sullivan
Regnery, 448 pp.

There was an arresting tableau at Ronald Reagan's memorial service at the National Cathedral in 2004 that passed largely without comment. Seated together in the same pew were Lady Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev, the man with whom, Thatch er famously told the world, "we can do business."

If, the day after Ronald Reagan's election in 1980, you had offered the prediction that not only would Reagan set us down the road to ending the Cold War, but the final leader of our dangerous foe would pay tribute to Reagan at his passing, your listeners would have looked nervously for men in white coats to intervene. The scene of Gorbachev and Thatcher together saluting Reagan almost demands speculation about Providence, if not divine intervention; only the absence of Pope John Paul II--protocol and ill health prevented his attendance--kept the thought from becoming obvious.

The story of the end of the Cold War, surely one of the most momentous and consequential in all human history, continues to grow as more details emerge from the archives, and we have yet to grasp it from certain angles. There are shelves of books about the "Big Three" of World War II--Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin--but so far very little has been written directly about the triad of Reagan, Thatcher, and John Paul II, partly because the pope's indirect political role does not fit easily into the conventions of political biography.

Here, for the first time, John O'Sullivan pulls together the important threads from all three figures.

He is the ideal person to tell this story, having lived in Washington for much of Reagan's first term in office, serving as an aide and speechwriter to Thatcher, and all the while worshiping in the Roman Catholic Church. It is this last fact--O'Sullivan's own faith--that is decisive in the genius of this book, as he appreciates both the political and theological subtleties of John Paul that are lost on most political writers, as well as the role of faith for both Reagan and Thatcher.

When, in the first 10 pages, O'Sullivan fixes his gaze on then-Cardinal Wojtyla's deft responses to Vatican II and the erosion of Church orthodoxy in the 1960s and '70s (especially on matters of sexual morality), it seems, at first, like a peculiar digression from the main story line of the 1980s. By degrees, though, O'Sullivan makes us appreciate anew John Paul's shrewdness and prudence, qualities that enabled him to conduct himself in Poland in a manner O'Sullivan describes as a "technique of resistance disguised as accommodation." (This acute perception also enables O'Sullivan to swerve away from embracing uncritically the cloak-and-dagger stories beloved of some conservatives, such as that the pope actively collaborated with the CIA to bring down the Polish government.) Beyond this, O'Sullivan believes that "In all three cases--Reagan, Thatcher, and John Paul--it is a spiritual dimension that best explains them and their achievements."

And although Americans know instinctively that Reagan and Thatcher were on the same ideological wavelength, most Americans are not aware of details of the Reagan-Thatcher collaboration (and occasional spats) beyond the Cold War dimension. They complemented each other not merely on ideological grounds, but because "each brought to the partnership qualities the other person lacked that made it work better." Everyone knows of "The Speech," Reagan's famous nationwide address for Barry Goldwater in 1964 that launched Reagan's political career. Few know that Thatcher had her own analogue, a 1968 address to a Conservative party conference entitled "What's Wrong with Politics?" With its attacks on consensus government policy, it was a sharp break from Tory doctrine as it existed at the time.

It signaled Thatcher's arrival as a serious political force in her party. And like Reagan's speech, it proved a lodestar to the future: "Anyone who treated the lecture as a guide to future decisions by a Thatcher government would have been right nine times out of ten." O'Sullivan also chronicles Thatcher's domestic policy achievements, which parallel Reagan's very closely, in large part because they were based on the same principles of free markets, lower taxes, deregulation, and privatization.
It was the closeness of their political principles that enabled Thatcher, paradoxically, to speak bluntly and sometimes roughly to Reagan. "Reagan didn't mind," O'Sullivan explains, "and was even amused by her occasional outbursts. One time, when she was thundering disagreement down the phone line from London, he held up the telephone so that the rest of the room could hear her and said, 'Isn't she wonderful?'"

Everyone recalls, too, the attempted shootings of Reagan and the Pope just a few weeks apart, but O'Sullivan reminds us that Thatcher also survived an assassination attempt, the IRA's bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton in 1984. "There is an almost cinematic neatness about this series of crimes," O'Sullivan writes. "In The Omen or The Exorcist they would be readily explained as the forces of Satan seeking to destroy the apostles of hope before they could do too much good."

Along the way, O'Sullivan briskly recalls many familiar scenes, such as Reagan's dramatic summits with Gorbachev, the iterations of the Polish crisis, and the contentiousness over arms

control and Central American policy, in most cases including the role and influence of the pope that is missing from most other narratives. O'Sullivan also discusses possible alternative interpretations of some aspects of these familiar moments in the 1980s. Most important is his intuition that John Paul discerned Reagan's sincerity about wanting to abolish nuclear weapons, as well as a regard for Reagan's view that both a military buildup and the Strategic Defense Initiative were morally and politically prudent--a view at odds with most American Catholic bishops.

Most unconventional is O'Sullivan's assessment of the relative legacy of all three figures. Reagan's might seem the most substantial. Until the recent election it seemed plausible (and, perhaps, still does) to see Reagan as the agent of the realignment that made conservatives and the Republican party the governing majority in America. Although Thatcher compelled her Labour opposition to moderate its views (unlike the Democratic party here, with the brief and partial exception of Bill Clinton), her Tory party has been lost in the wilderness ever since she departed the scene. (O'Sullivan refers to the Tory party's "continuing nervous breakdown.")

In the grand scheme of things, these matters are political ephemera. O'Sullivan revels in politics, but keeps his eyes fixed on what Abraham Lincoln called "the only greater institution" against which "the gate of hell shall not prevail." O'Sullivan notes at the end that "the late pope bequeathed to Pope Benedict XVI a Catholic Church that was large, growing fast, becoming more orthodox and possessing an advantage over the other rapidly growing Christian churches in the southern parts of the world . . . That may one day come to look like a greater achievement than his role in the defeat of Communism--and not only in the eyes of God."

The scope of O'Sullivan's narrative does not, of course, allow for an extrapolation to the present circumstances of the West's clash with terrorism and radical Islam. But the central movement of the three figures in view, who went rapidly from being "too sharp, clear, and definite in an age of increasingly fluid identities and sophisticated doubts" to being "just what the doctor ordered to cure malaise," should encourage us that their qualities may reassert themselves at the very moment when hopes for such virtues seem forlorn.

Steven F. Hayward is the F.K. Weyerhaeuser fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the author, most recently, of Greatness: Reagan, Churchill and the Making of Extraordinary Leaders.

SUNDAY, January 14, 2007

Another trial by leak and media.  "Let him who is without fault cast the first stone".  GS

The Archbishop's Bargain -- and Poland's
By Anne Applebaum
Washington Post
Tuesday, January 9, 2007; Page A15

Like so many other scandals, this one unfolded in a pattern at once familiar and depressing. First there was an unsubstantiated leak in a somewhat marginal weekly; then a denial. Then there were more substantial leaks in more mainstream media; then more denials. Then, all at once, there were behind-the-scenes maneuvers, interventions at high levels and, finally, at the last possible minute, a resignation.

But this scandal had a few twists: Instead of a politician, the authority figure in question was the newly appointed archbishop of Warsaw, Stanislaw Wielgus. Instead of political hacks, the behind-the-scenes maneuvers featured Pope Benedict and high-ranking priests. Instead of sex or money, the scandal revolved around the archbishop's alleged collaboration with communist secret police in the 1970s. And instead of announcing his resignation at a news conference (customarily with a supportive wife weeping softly in the background), the archbishop made his surprise speech during the Mass celebrating his new appointment.

Surely this could have happened only in post-communist Poland. Where else would millions be avidly watching the live broadcast of an archbishop's inaugural Mass? Where else would absolutely everyone -- from officials in the Vatican to the national archives to the presidential chancellery -- be leaking like a giant sieve? There are no secrets in Warsaw, a city that, not unlike Washington, often feels more like a village than a metropolis.

Coming now, more than two years after Poland's accession to the European Union, this little morality play also usefully illustrates the weird crossroads at which the citizens of formerly communist Europe find themselves. On the one hand, many have absorbed the Western "normality" to which they so long aspired. Warsaw dinner parties that once ended in gloomy discussions of the Yalta agreement now feature lively discussions of property prices, just as in London or Paris. Supermarket chains sell the same products in Poland as in Germany or France. The same range of media exists here, too, everything from satellite television to scandal-driven tabloids to newspapers with serious foreign coverage. The media here act with enormous speed, also just as everywhere else. For all its attempts at modern media-friendliness, even the Catholic Church couldn't keep up with its rapidly reported leaks.

Yet even in this city of new office buildings and 24-hour news, there is no escaping the past. Behind this scandal, there are layers upon layers of it, starting with the still-open and still-bitter debate about the compromises people made in the communist era. The archbishop's past collaboration was in some ways very typical. Intelligent and ambitious, he wanted to study abroad. The secret police told him that in exchange for a passport, he would have to report what he heard when he got there. He apparently agreed. Many others, offered the same deal, did not agree -- and as a result they did not study abroad, and possibly did not advance as far in their chosen professions as Wielgus did in his. Some of them are still angry about it.

It is true, of course, that the archbishop has said that he "never informed on anyone and never tried to hurt anyone." It is also true that nothing negative about him has been proven: This was trial by media, not a balanced judgment. The documents that would clarify the extent of his collaboration, one way or another, apparently no longer exist. But their absence is also a historical legacy, this time from 1989, when the last communist chief of the secret police -- who remained in charge rather longer than is generally remembered -- destroyed most of the files concerning church officials and possibly those of other public figures, too. Odd though it sounds, in some ways the memory of 1989 bothers Poles more than the memory of the 1970s. Certainly the deals done at that time -- political power for the former dissidents in exchange for amnesty for the former rulers -- laid the foundations for the country's perpetual bad mood.

Contrary to some Western reporting, the first Polish post-communist governments did not conduct significant investigations into the affairs of their predecessors. At the same time, laws that neatly allocated shares in privatized factories to their former managers -- thus allowing communist cadres to transform themselves into capitalist owners -- were allowed to remain in Poland, as they were in Russia, Hungary and elsewhere. Thanks to those shady privatizations, the former ruling class became rich in the 1990s, and their former opponents did not. Hence the generalized gloom, which has never been justified by the economic statistics, and the prevailing sense that justice was not done. Hence the lack of tolerance for archbishops who made mistakes as younger men.

It isn't going to go away anytime soon, this discussion of Polish communism and post-communism, and perhaps it shouldn't. After all, Germans are still talking about the Third Reich; Americans were still talking about slavery and segregation when Trent Lott resigned from the Senate majority leadership. Maybe these overheated arguments about things that happened 30 years ago are a sign that Poland has, at last, truly joined the West.

WEDNESDAY through SATURDAY, January 10 and 13, 2007
GS

MONDAY and TUESDAY, January 8 and 9, 2007

Epiphany: revelation".  As many of us have been anticipating since events following 9/11, there are now starting to appear important "revelations" surrounding, as well as unknown to, the decision - makers leading to and following the pre-emptive strike on Iraq by America and its coalition of the willing.  One good recent source was published last month in Imprimis, the national speech digest of Hillsdale College, reporting on a speech given by Stephen F. Hayes on November 9, 2006 (www.hillsdale.edu).  From the information provided therein we can glean some clear insights:
Recent articles by Thomas Friedman and by David Brooks, as well as the spectacle of the handling of the Hussein hanging by the Iraqi government,  further revealed in a report published yesterday in The Day (www.theday.com) ("U.S. Struggled To Delay Execution Of Saddam", Nation/World, pA7) reflects the way the Iraqi majority wants to do busness. 
 
All of this is an on-going revelation, a great deal of which should not have been nearly this surprising...if our Federal government during the last 15 years had done its work properly.  What a shame.  What to do now?   Again, re-read the above offerings in this section on the subject.  But whatever we do, and whatever the outcome, America has unnecessarily lost standing and credibility in the world...not a good thing for our vital self-interests.  That will be in large part the legacy of Presidents Clinton and Bush - 43.

GS

SUNDAY, January 7, 2007

The Feast of the Epiphany, a holy day.  A good way to close the intertwined religious and festive natures of the last two weeks was offered by Rev. Joseph Castaldi as part of his homily last Sunday.  It is offered here for your consideration.  GS

"T'was the night before Christmas"
T'was the night before Christmas and all through the town, Not a sign of Baby Jesus was anywhere to be found.
The people were all busy with Christmastime chores, like decorating, and baking, and shopping in stores.
No one sang, "Away in a manger, no crib for a bed".. Instead, they sang of Santa dressed-up in bright red.
Mama watched Martha Stewart, Papa drank beer from a tap. As hour upon hour the presents they'd wrap.
When what from the T.V. did they suddenly hear? Behold an ad..which told of a big sale at Sears.
So away to the Mall they flew like a flash... Buying things on credit. . .and others with cash!
And, as they made their way home from their trip to the Mall, did they think about Jesus? Oh, no ...not at all.
Their lives were so busy with their Christmastime things, no time to remember Jesus, the Prince, the King.
There were presents to wrap and cookies to bake. How could they stop and remember who died for their sake?
To pray to the Savior. . .they had no time to stop, because they needed more time to "Shop til they dropped!"
On Wal-Mart! On K-Mart! ON Target! On Penney's! On Hallmark! On Mini-Mart!, A quick lunch at Denny's.
From the big stores downtown to the stores at the Mall, they would dash away, dash away, and visit them all!
And up on the roof, there arose such a clatter as grandpa hung icicle lights from up on his ladder.
He hung lights that would flash, he hung lights that would twirl. yet, he never once prayed to Jesus. . .Light of the World.
Christ's eyes.. .bow they twinkle! Christ's Spirit.. .how merry! Christ's love-how enormous! All our burdens.. .He'll carry!
Instead of being too busy, overworked, and uptight, let us try to put Jesus back in our lives and then hope, to enjoy a few good nights!

THURSDAY through SATURDAY, January 4 through 6, 2007

So, what is it that we are seeking for the world?  Self-defense for ourselves, including our vital self-interests...like access to oil; and self-determination for the peoples of the world.  Can we promote both goals?  Our error-choked effort in Iraq begs that question.  So, what are we facing in the world today?
So, what to do?  Read my recent offerings in this section on the subject.  I have neither heard nor read a better game plan.  Why?  Here's why.  We say that the conflict in Iraq must finally be resolved by means of the political process.  But whose political process?  It should be the process of the Iraqi people, including civil war if necessary if they so choose despite our efforts...not the process of the American people, which is now controlling the show.  In this regard we are back to Viet Nam, a war that did not involve our vital interests but where domestic politics controlled.  This time our vital interests (ie. anti-terrorism and oil) are deeply involved.  We Americans should be united on this one, if only the isolationists, the wishful thinkers, the selfish and the cynical would only get out of the way.  At least the liberal media should definitely know better and lead the way forward...instead of leading the retreat.

GS

MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, January 1 through 3, 2007
GS


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