Showing posts from April, 2006

"United 93": You have to see it!

I don't know if it's the real picture of United 93, but I agree that the movie is a Gripping, Sensitive Portrayal of Terror Victims' Brave Final Act and of the heroism of Todd Beamer, Jeremy Glick the other passangers who stormed the cockpit and forced the plane down and prevented it from hitting the U.S. Capitol. I also agree with the reviewer in the Washington Post: "United 93" is a great movie, and I hated every minute of it.

Tod Beamer's father had a very moving piece in the WSJ in which he pointed out that: There are those who question the timing of this project and the painful memories it evokes. Clearly, the film portrays the reality of the attack on our homeland and its terrible consequences. Often we attend movies to escape reality and fantasize a bit. In this case and at this time, it is appropriate to get a dose of reality about this war and the real enemy we face. It is not too soon for this story to be told, seen and heard. But it is too soon for …

At the movies

In 1930, legendary economist John Maynard Keynes published an essay called "Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren." Keynes surmised that the main problem of Americans today would be what to do with our copious leisure time.
Keynes figured productivity would surge (correct), wages would rise (of course), and people could do more in less time (yes). We'd wind up with all this time to hang around. This would lead to pool halls, Hummers and Hooters restaurants. I'm telling you, the man was uncanny.
However, the central claim of Keynes’s essay failed to come true, even though it rested on logic as simple as one plus one equals two: The little work that needed to be done would be spread out among the population in portions of perhaps fifteen hours per week, because “everybody needs to do some work if he is to be contented.” Keynes spent a large part of the essay discussing the promise and difficulty of adjusting to life when we are freed from the struggle for subsiste…

my article in the new issue of Reason magazine

Reason magazine, which is the premier and most popular libertarian magazine has published in its new June issue an article by yours truly, "You can't Bring Order to the Middle East." It's sandsiched between two other articles by Michael Young and Tom Palmer, all part of a cover issue, "Mission Accomplised. Three Years Later. Iraq's Troubled Present and Haunted Future." The issue is not yet accessible online. But if you'll click on the following images you can read the article.

Memo to neocons: How about that "Maoist Threat"

I've been reading a lot of stuff recently about a Maoist-led guerrilla campaigns in India and Nepal. The Financial Times had a long and intresting analysis today about the Insurgency in India - how the Maoist threat reaches beyond Nepal. It notes that: Aspectre is haunting South Asia - the spectre of Maoism.
An ideology ofpeasant-led revolution that swept the villages of rural China in the 1920s has made an unexpected reappearance on the Indian subcontinent. At just the moment that India is emerging as an economic powerhouse on the world stage, landless revolutionaries committed to the class struggle and the destruction of the state are gaining control of vast swathes of territory at home.
Prompted by the political crisis in Nepal, where the world's only Hindu king is battling to save his throne from a Maoist-led campaign, India is belatedly waking up to the gravity of the threat from leftwing extremists.
Motivated by resentment at generations of social injustice made all the mor…

Rumsfeld in another "surprise visit" to Iraq...

According to Reuters Rumsfeld makes surprise visit to Baghdad:
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sought to show U.S. support for Iraq's new leadership on Wednesday, making a surprise visit to Baghdad just days after Shi'ite politician Jawad al-Maliki was chosen as prime minister.
Rumsfeld swooped into the capital aboard a military cargo plane for his first visit to Iraq in 2006.
In addition to Iraqi political developments, Rumsfeld's trip comes as U.S. military commanders contemplate reducing the number of American troops in the country in the coming months. There are about 132,000 American troops in Iraq at present.
Rumsfeld indicated earlier this week that the Pentagon intended to stick with plans to reduce the size of the U.S. military presence, but he gave no specific numbers nor a timetable.
Opinion polls show U.S. public support for the three-year-old Iraq war eroding, which is contributing to a drop in President George W. Bush's job approval ratings.
Rumsfeld himself …

Gadhafi Says America and Europe Will Soon Be Muslim

Yes, our new Middle Eastern friend, the Kooky G. makes a few predictions via watching america.

G and B: Separated at birth? Like his more attractive brother?

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The war on terror is over, and China Won

My futuristic scenario about Sino-American relationship, originally published in the Singapore Business Times, was posted in April 21, 2006
The War on Terror Is Over,
and China Won

by Leon Hadar
Imagine 40 years from now how a global affairs columnist for the Fox-Xinhua (or New Shanghai Times) content-providing service will analyze the world's geo-strategic and geo-economic balance of power. This might be the way he or she recalls the visit that China's former president Hu Jintao made in April 2006 to Washington, the capital of what was then known as the "United States." Now in 2046, the city is a major tourist attraction for Chinese and Indian tourists, many of whom stay at the seven-star hotel previously known as the "White House" (the Lincoln Suite is the most expensive).
He or she (cloned in 2011) might write the following:
"As I downloaded news reports that were published in the American media on that week, what really astonished me was t…

On the radio...

I usually don't advertise my interviews on the broadcast media outlets for two main reasons: They are quite often cancelled or rescheduled (a few weeks ago I was waiting for a limouisine that was supposed to be dispatached by Fox-TV to take me to their studios and then received a phone call from the producer of the show letting me know that, well they had to bump me off in favor of "former under-secretary"). And then most of the interviews last anyway no more than three minutes and involve such exchanges as: "So do you think that Iraq remains unstable?" "Yes, I do." But this weekend I'll be on the "American Forum" radio program which is hosted by Karen Kwiatowski. I doubt that I have to introduce her to the readers of my blog. But here is her bio. And here is some info on the program.

Mearsheimer/Walt/Israel Lobby has become Big Story...

...Now that Tony Judt published a long op-ed A Lobby, Not a Conspiracy in the New York Times. You can just imagine the number -- and the tone -- of the emails, phone calls, etc. that the Times is receiving at exactly this moment. Is Alan Dershowitz going to have a huge letter to the editor or a long counter piece in the op-ed section tomorrow? Or is it going to be long signed letter to the editor or perhaps a paid ad? We'll have to wait and see... I agree in general with most of the points that Judt makes although I continue to argue that Americans need a serious debate on the entirety of U.S. policy in the Middle East, including the relationship with Israel. (see my From the China Lobby to the Israel Lobby ).In any case, I think the most important and biting part of Judt piece is the following:Looking back, we shall see the Iraq war and its catastrophic consequences as not the beginning of a new democratic age in the Middle East but rather as the end of an era that began in the w…

Intellectuals and generals don't -- and shouldn't -- make foreign policy....

You're not so important

Get elected or shut up!

In a recent article I insisted that while I've been critical of the influence of the Israel Lobby on U.S. Mideast policy and have focused on the role of the neocons in driving the Bush Administration's agenda in the Middle East, it's President Bush and the members of his cabinet -- the politicians -- who have been responsible for the war in Iraq: That President George W. Bush and his top foreign policy aides (Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice) have decided to adopt the neocon agenda has to do with their perception of U.S. national interests, not the power of the Israel lobby or, for that matter, American Jews (the majority of whom did not vote for Bush and were against the war in Iraq).
I've also made it clear in a recent post that while I'm not great fan of Rumsfeld, I'm also very uneasy with the idea of current and retired military office…

Robert Kaplan does a Fukuyama?

Humble Kaplan?

I've received an email with the following commentary (I'm not sure where it was published) by Robert D. Kaplan, the ex-travel writer who has been transformed into a geo-political thinker and amateur imperialist. Here he explains why he supported the war in Iraq but shouldn't have, and why he now still supports it. Or something like that:
Haunted by Hussein, humbled by events
Firsthand knowledge supported the invasion in Iraq; now it shakes our faith in the use of military power.
By Robert D. Kaplan
April 17, 2006
I WAS AN EARLY supporter of the invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Since 2003, my firsthand experiences in Iraq have shaken my faith in large-scale demonstrations of military power on land, but I cannot disavow my earlier support, because it was also based on firsthand experiences in Iraq.
To know a totalitarian regime abstractly is different from knowing it intimately. Iraq in the 1980s was so terrifying that going to Damascus from Baghdad was like com…

The Cigar Store Indian and the Israel Lobby

The Liberty & Power blog on the History News Network
had an interesting discussion on the Mearsheimer & Walt piece on the Israel Lobyy. These comments by Aster Francesca caught my attention: I don't trust M&W at all.
This piece presents all the classic elements of anti-semetic conspiracy theory- Jews with vast financial power secretively manipulating 'our' society. Now, there's nothing in the article which is prima facie anti-semitic and M&W scrupulously just lay out a factual case which just *happens* to coincide with the world as viewed according to the hoariest old hatreds and stereotypes.
What makes me very suspicious of the authors is that they must know this, and yet write their piece in the cute, dissembling dispassion of academic postivism as if they are totally oblivious to the cultural resonance of their theory. They give a few 'we are not antisemitic' statements, scrupulously portray their concepts and generalisations as particular, con…

Please, don't fire Rumsfeld...

And I mean it. I'm sick and tired reading about "More retired Generals call for Rumsfeld's Resignation". First, where were these guys when the decision to go to war were made? Why didn't they resign, protest, etc. if they thought that the strategy pursued by Rumsfeld would fail and endanger their troops? These are not Profiles in Courage in any way you look at it. Moreover, as military commanders they were responsible for everything that has taken place in Iraq -- the successes and the screw-ups. Then there is the issue of civilian control over the military. I cannot stand Rumsfeld and am opposed to his policies. But this guy is in charge, selected by the president and confirmed by Congress and I really don't care what the men and women in uniform -- or those who retired from service -- think about this war. If they want to change policies, they should run for office. And finally I can already see what would happen if Rumsfeld is fired. The neocon spin would …

On "Neo-libertarians"

Matthew Barganier has drawn my attention to James Taranto's rants in The Ugly Side of Libertarianism which probably should be re-titled, The Ugly Side of Neo-libertarianism , by which I refer to the pro-war libertarians who dominate now much of the blogsphere in the form of the war-bloggers. Matt Welch has challenged these guys with his The Pro-war Libertarian Quiz:How far are you willing to go to win the War on Terror?. There's is a element of cognitive dissonance run amok in the pro-war libertarian agenda: They are so, so angry at the Bushies for taking steps to resrict our civil libertaies, as though the Patriot Act, etc. has nothing to do the war. They are so, so pissed off at rising spending by the federal government,etc., as though that has nothing to do with increasing defense spending, that is, the war. They are so, so frustrated with growing protectionisn, "isolationism,' etc., as though that doesn't reflect the nationalist fervor unleashed by the Bush/t…

More on Iran

Since posting my previous item on Iran-U.S. in which I speculate about an the confrontation with Iran turning into a Cuban-Missile-Crisis, David Ignatius published a commentary in The Washington Post titled "An Iranian Missile Crisis" in which he basically makes the same argument. Zbigniew Brzezinski is quoted in the piece making some excellent points:Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, makes a similar argument about Iran. "I think of war with Iran as the ending of America's present role in the world," he told me this week. "Iraq may have been a preview of that, but it's still redeemable if we get out fast. In a war with Iran, we'll get dragged down for 20 or 30 years. The world will condemn us. We will lose our position in the world."
Brzezinski urges President Bush to slow down and think carefully about his options -- rather than rushing to stop Iran's nuclear program, which by most estimates…

Hersh's Iran article in the New Yorker

It's been happening all week. In every conference, lunch, email exchange, phone conservation I've been asked about Sy Hersh's article in the New Yorker about President Bush's plan to attack Iran, including by using tactical nuclear weapons, to prevent it from developing a nuclear military capability. I've published several long analyses (here and here)and short commentaries (here,here,here,and here) on U.S.-Iran calling on the administration to do a Bush-going-to-Iran a la Nixon-going-to-China, that is secret talks leading to a bilateral diplomatic bargain on several issues, including the nuclear one. I've also stressed that only a direct U.S.-Iran accord could make is possible to stabilize Iraq. And that in case, Israel's nuclear military power would serve as the main deterrence to potential Iranian capability. I've also predicted that a combination of domestic political pressures in both countries as well as strategic considerations are bound to lead…

Among the conservatives: great foreign policy ideas; lousy sex

Midge Deceter: Neocon Goddess

Andrew Bacevich: Conservative foreign policy intellectual

A few years ago (quite a few, as a matter of fact), I was (s)elected as the --- please, don't laugh! -- Shadow Secretary of State of the libertarian Party (and no, I didn't get a "shadow chauffeur" not to mention any "shadow salary"), so when my party organized a conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, I accepted their invitation for the weekend hoping that I'll, well, get lucky. And I had this fantasy of cool and easy libertarian gals who would be fighting with each other over who would have the honor of spending Saturday night with their Secretary of State... What can I say... Most of the attendees in the event were aging nerdy males plus two of three aesthetically-challenged females and they all ended up spending Saturday night arguing over where and when Alissa Rosenbaum (Ayn Rand) and Nathaniel Branden had made out for the first time. And believe me, the Mormom night …

The truth about Condi

Pic from Time magazine

Some of the critics of the Bush Administration's Iraq War/foreign policy insist on portraying Condi Rice as the "good guy/gal" in the administration, the anti-Cheney/Rumsfeld, if you will. This attitude stems probably from an infatuation with a media star, an interest in demonstrating that "we are not really Bush Administration haters," as well as from a politically-correct-driven concern about bashing a powerful Africa-American/female public figure. I've been arguing that the Lady is a Light-Weight and that she has been a total dissaster both as a National Security Advisor and a Secretary of State. In fact, she is probably the worst Secretary of State in U.S. history (please, read my earlier columns for a explanation). In any case, Sidney Blumenthal has a great analysis of Condi in the Guardian
The tethered goat strategy which details our chief diplomat's efforts to silence U.S. diplomats about the mess in Iraq.

On the immigration debate: It's the Latinos, Stupid!

The Cato Institute with which I'm affiliated as a research fellow in one of the leading pro-immigration think-tanks, while the American Conservative for which I write as a contributing editor wants to place restrictions on immigration. So... I've chosen a neutral forum, the Singapore Business Times to publish my analysis of the current immigration debate. There is no doubt that economics plays a role in this debate. It's not surprising that American businesses support a more open immigration policy and as a classical liberal I tend to sympathize with their position. But... it seems to me that much of the opposition to immigration in the United States and in Europe (with regard to Arab and Moslem immigrants) has to do less with economics and more with such core existential issues as national and cultural identity. One could use terms like "xenophobia" to dismiss concerns among Americans over the reality in which many Latino immigrants aren't assimilating into …

Mearsheimer/Walt again...

A victim of anti-Semitism?

A victim of Racism?

A few online pals emailed to ask me what I thought of Eliot Cohen's Yes, It's Anti-Semitic
op-ed in yesterday's Washington Post in which the veteran neocon military thinker implies that John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" is, well, anti-Semitic.If by anti-Semitism one means obsessive and irrationally hostile beliefs about Jews; if one accuses them of disloyalty, subversion or treachery, of having occult powers and of participating in secret combinations that manipulate institutions and governments; if one systematically selects everything unfair, ugly or wrong about Jews as individuals or a group and equally systematically suppresses any exculpatory information -- why, yes, this paper is anti-Semitic. I've commented in the M/W paper in earlier posts, and included some of my reservations. But "anti-Semitic?"
I don't have time to do that. But I wish someone …

Dr. Ron Paul's Liberty Caucus

I had the honor to address today members of the Liberty Caucus, a group of Congressmen who support political and economic freedom. The event took place in the office of one of my political heroes, Congressman (and Dr.) Ron Paul, the only libertarian Member of Congress. The meeting was private but to give you some idea of the sentiments I encountered you could check out this latestreport about what Dr. Paul, and another member of the caucus, Congressman Walter Jones of North Carolina (who attended the event today) were doing yesterday:In the House, Republican Reps. Walter Jones of North Carolina, Ron Paul of Texas and Wayne Gilchrest of Maryland announced their support for a Democratic resolution that would force an immediate, 17-hour-long House debate on the war aimed at requiring a plan to get troops out.
"There are those of us in both parties who want to meet our constitutional responsibility, and that is to discuss and debate the present and the future of our commitment in Iraq…

At The Movies

I just saw Sophie Scholl - The Final Days, very moving and inspiring German-made movie (and an Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film this year). In the movie, Julia Jentsch plays the role of a valiant 21-year-old hero a member of the White Rose anti-Nazi resistance movement who stood up against the Nazis and denounced Hitler as a liar as she stood strong against the relentless challenges of Nazi interrogator Robert Mohr (played in the movie by Alexander Held). I remember the 1982 movie on the White Rose directed by Michael Verhoeven that made an impression on me and encouraged me to read about the subject. But since then records of Scholl's interrogation and incarceration that had long been unavailable were discovered in former East German archives, and the director of the new movie, Mark Rothemund and screenwriter Fred Breinersdorfer have been able to recreate in an almost semi-documentary style the last six days of Sophie's life, after she and her brother Hans (Fabian…

How to Handle Hamas?

For some reason my earlier post which carried my analysis, "How to Handle Hamas: The Holy Land needs a more modest peace plan. Think Cyprus," which appeared in The American Conservative, April 10, 2006, "disappeared." So here it is again. Just click on the images below:

From pro-Likud U.S. propagandist: Likud didn't really lose

The director of the Center for Middle East Policy at the Hudson Institute, Likud propagandist Meyrav Wurmser has published an analysis of the recent Israeli elections in the NRO ( Should I mention that she is also the wife of shady neocon/Likudnik figure, David Wurmser) which is so stupid -- as well as poorly writen (do they edit stuff at NRO?) -- that it deserves special attention by yours truly:
Israel's recent elections occurred in the context of significant, even monumental,["significant, and even monumental..." like "bad, and even horrible..."] questions facing the Jewish nation [and I thought that this was an election in which Israeli citizens, including more than 20 percent Arabs and at least 10 percent "others," that is, non-Jewish citizens vote. Do American-Jews belong to the "Jewish nation?" Is there an election in which members (citizens?) of the "Jewish nation" vote?] Israel faces grave threats from Hamas's ascent, […

The Economist and the "respected Palestinian pollster"

My analysis on How to Handle Hamas.The Holy Land needs a more modest peace plan.Think Cyprus which was published in The American Conservative (April 10, 2006) opens with the following.Google "respected pollster" and "Palestinian" and you'll get quite a few hits leading to Khalil Shikaki, who is described as "the most respected Palestinian pollster." This view is shared by Tom Friemdman and other journalists who regularly soundite the head of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research -- whose institute has received funding from American Foundations and who has served as an adviser to the U.S. government.
I go on to suggest that there is one major problem in leading respectability as a pollster: his polls. Shikaki conducted three crucial polls tht showed the moderate Fatah well ahead of the militant Hamas by a comfortable and growing margin on the eve of the Palestinian parliamentary elections in which Hamas won Big. The proble…