Showing posts from 2006

2006: Looking Back

Reason Online asked several contributors, including yours truly to choose their Person of the Year. My choice was Jim Webb (above) and here is why: Democratic senator-elect James Webb of Virginia. Earning a Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and two Purple Hearts in Vietnam is Impressive. Authoring best-selling thrillers with juicy sex scenes is hot. Being one of the first public figures to Bash Bush's War is cool. "Maccacing" a would-be Republican presidential candidate in a Senate race in GOP stronghold is big. Providing the final Senate seat that tilted Capitol Hill to Democratic control is huge. Being a bit rude to the Chicken-Hawk-in-Chief is no vice. And having big balls in Washington, DC, is rare. Watch out status-quo buffs! On a related topic. Please read my 2006: The Year of the Nationalist which was published in the Business Times of Singapore. Since access to their site is difficult, I'm pasting it here: AFTER examining the way American pundits have interpre

Neo-connections for single neocons

BILL MAHER: This is a very, very funny clip.

Surgpill: For post-occupation depression (POD)

Are you having one of those days? Who are the "shites?" And the "Sunimis?" I wish Dick was here... Are you irritatedibalized? I really have to go to the potty... Can't find your way? The WMD's are in Rummy's tuches..heee...heee... Well, that's what happens when you occupy countries in the Middle East for a very long time. You are probably suffering from post-occupation depression (POD). And when you need a Surge, you take Surgpill! Indeed, the anti-POD Surgpill stimulates the birth of new brain cells in rats jumping from ships aka Ken Adelmans, scientists have found. A similar effect in humans might explain how the drug has helped hundreds of of emperors world-wide to cope with POD. There are no sexual side-effects! One in five members of the Bush Administration are likely to suffer from POD in the next two years, yet medical opinion is divided as to its cause. Some believe it is a genetic disease (stupidity) or a chemical imbalance (recovering alc

Neocons: we was robbed

Check-out Surge Fever -- Catch It! on Stop the Spirit of Zossen, which has a link to an interview in an Israeli newspaper with Meyrav Wurmser. Unbelievable. Among other things this gems: Many of Wurmser's friends believe the disaster is not only in Iraq, but in the entire region. They are also very frustrated over the way in which Israel embarked on the war against Hizbullah this summer, and on the way it returned from it. "Hizbullah defeated Israel in the war. This is the first war Israel lost," Dr. Wurmser declares. Is this a popular stance in the administration, that Israel lost the war? "Yes, there is no doubt. It's not something one can argue about it. There is a lot of anger at Israel." What caused the anger? "I know this will annoy many of your readers… But the anger is over the fact that Israel did not fight against the Syrians. Instead of Israel fighting against Hizbullah, many parts of the American administration believe that Israel should h

The shape of things to come

I've been receiving a lot of emails and phone calls from very depressed people who want to know what I think is going to happen now that W seems to have rejected Baker-Hamilton and whether we'll ever get out of all this mess in Iraq, the Middle East, etc. As I've written in the past, the modus operandi of the Bush Administantion's foreign policy is Muddling Through. The Bush administration has no idea what it's doing. Starting with 9/11, it has been an opportunistic policy that lacks an coherent strategic overview. It's basically based on the assumption that if we can do it, we'll do it! If there are counterpressures at home (election 2006) and abroad (Iraq), we'll try to cut our costs, buy some time and wait for an opportunity to push "forward." The only way that Baker-Hamilton plus the results of the mid-term could have had any effect of the Bushies is if the Democrats in Congress and/or a coalition of Democrats and Reublicans -- a majority i

The Hegemon isn't horny about the Horn

(Thanks to Dr. Strauss from For much of the Cold War the Horn of Africa was a central battlefield and Ethiopia and Somalia switching sides between the US and the USSR. So it's kind of interesting that now that the Islamists in Somalia and Ethiopia are about to go to war , the American Hegemon isn't even pretending to be doing something about it. Why? Read Robert Samuelson's Farewell to Pax Americana. I think that he exaggerates American benign intention during the Cold War and makes it sound that Americans were responsible for all the progress that took place during that time. But Samuelsom makes some good points.

George Packer: Bring in the social scientists

Journalist George Packer has done a great job covering the before and the after of the Iraq War that he covered for the New York Times Magazine and the New Yorker and turned into a book, The Assassins Gate. Gary Kamiya had this to say about Packer and his book in a review on The Road to hell : Most of the American left lined up against the war in Iraq. But some did not. Among the liberal intellectuals who supported the invasion was George Packer, a staff writer for the New Yorker. His new book, "The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq," proves that holding strong opinions about a subject does not prevent a journalist of integrity from reporting the truth, even if it flies in the face of what he had believed. "The Assassins' Gate" is almost certain to stand as the most comprehensive journalistic account of the greatest foreign-policy debacle in U.S. history. A funny thing happened to Packer: He went to Iraq. Reporting is a solvent that dissolves illus

Baker Commission: Too Little? Too Late?

(published on Right Web ) The Baker-Hamilton Recommendations: Too Little, Too Late? Leon Hadar | December 12, 2006 IRC Right Web One of Aesop's fables recounts how once upon a time Mount Ida, the birthplace of Zeus, experienced a huge earthquake. “The earth commenced to tremble and shake—and huge boulders flew off the mountain top into the sky,” the fable goes. “It seemed as if the mountain was about to give birth.” Then the sky blackened and the thunderous sound became even worse. Finally, “an earthquake more violent than any ever before it set everything in motion—and in one terrifying moment, the mountain's peak split wide open!” Some people got on their knees and began to pray. Others couldn't take their eyes off the mountain, wondering how it would end. Suddenly the roaring, the shaking, and the shocks simply stopped. The whole region went silent. And then, slowly, “and with hardly a whisper of sound … out of the huge cleft in the mountain peak there slowly emerged

Carter: A Jew Hater?

I haven't read Jimmy Carter's new book, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid," and I'll probably browse during my weekend visits to Border's and Barnes&Noble. But I did follow all the angry reactions including in Jimmy Carter, Palestinian Sympathizer in which Alan Dershowitz is quoted saying that "It's obvious that Mr. Carter just doesn't like Israel or Israelis" while Marty Peretz predicts in the magazine his wife had bought him once that Carter "will go down in history a Jew hater." In my Special Relationship: A one-sided U.S. policy toward Israel endangers both countries’ interests which was published in the American Conservative I refer to Carter: Indeed, Washington’s ability to play the role of an honest broker between Israel and Egypt (and Syria) after the 1973 Middle East War was only made possible when Richard Nixon re-established diplomatic ties with Cairo, co-opting it into the pro-American camp. It was the even-handed U

The day I'll miss George W

I'm working on a long commentary on Baker-Hamilton, but I was watching John McCain on television today doing his Churchill imitation during a Senate hearing as he called for sending more troops to Iraq and tried to make Baker sound like Chamberlain. To think that this guy could end up occuppying the White House. If Bush II made me nostalgic for Clinton and Bush I, will McCain make me feel nostalgic for Junior? Anyway... Joe Conason has a great piece on McCain as The Last Neocon on He asks: Does McCain really expect that the president and the Pentagon will accept his advice? Or is he merely positioning himself for the war's aftermath, when he will claim that his spurned counsel could have won the victory that eluded Bush? Is he truly an idealist -- or is he a cynical demagogue? The answers may be impossible to know. There is much evidence that he values his integrity, and much evidence that he values his ambition even more. And ThinkProgress has here a quote of what

Will the Mountain give birth to a mouse?

Almost 3,000 years ago, the famous storyteller Aesop lived in the Aegean region. One of his fables goes: "A very deep and frightening sound began emanating from Mount Ida (the birthplace of Zeus). The earth commenced to tremble and shake -- and huge boulders flew off the mountain top into the sky. It seemed as if the mountain was about to give birth." "The population was terrified and ran for shelter -- trembling in fear." "The sky blackened and the thunderous sound from the sacred mountain became even worse. Finally, an earthquake more violent than any ever-before it, set everything in motion -- and in one terrifying moment, the mountain's peak split wide open!" "The people all got down on their knees and began to pray. Some fainted from fear. Others couldn't take their eyes off the mountain -- wondering how this terror would end." "Suddenly the roaring, the shaking, and the shocks just stopped. The whole Aegean region went silent.&

There is a new pro-war congressman in town...

Representative-elect Chris ("Let's Win the war first") Carney Called to congragulate Chris Raised money for Chris And he is Chris Carney (seen above), the representative-elect from the 10th Congressional District of Pennsylvania. According to the New York Times' James Risen: In early 2002, Mr. Carney, a Naval Reserve officer, was assigned to work in a tiny intelligence unit created by Douglas J. Feith, then the under secretary of defense for policy, to search for links between terrorist groups and their possible state-sponsors, most notably Iraq. After the 2003 invasion, the Feith unit, the Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group, was caught up in the debate over the Bush administration’s handling of prewar intelligence, and the office was investigated by a Senate committee and an independent presidential commission. In the summer and fall of 2002, Mr. Carney was at the center of the storm, briefing George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, and Step

When will Israel attack Iran?

I'm not an "Intelligence analyst" and I don't play one on television. But I urge you to study the following items: 1. Seymour Hersh new piece in The New Yorker, "The Next Act: Is a damaged Administration less likely to attack Iran, or more?" 2. Tony Karon's "Israel's Domestic Political Games Raises the Danger of a U.S.-Iran War." 3. Aluf Benn's "Olmert's Drums of War" in Haaretz . 4. Bush:I would understand if Israel chose to attack Iran. 5. Michael Oren's op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal on November 16 which is only accessible to subscribers. So here are a few interesting quotes: Much like 1967, Israel faces a Middle Eastern leader who has repeatedly sworn to wipe it off the map, and to that end is assiduously trying to acquire nuclear weapons. Like Nasser, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad can cripple Israel economically by keeping it in a state of alert, driving away foreign investment and tourism. In the absence of interna

Who Lost Iraq? I(t')s Condi(,) Stupid!(?)

Dr. Strauss from Stop the Spirit of Zossen emailed a long and very insightful indictment of Condi's role in the Iraq. According to Who Lost Iraq? which was published in US News : President Bush's acceptance of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's resignation was intended to signal a change in course on Iraq. But many national security experts say that Condoleezza Rice, Bush's national security adviser at the time of the invasion, and the National Security Council share much of the blame for the problems in Iraq. "She did not perceive, and the National Security Council did not assess, what is in the United States' interests and what is in the interests of our enemies," says retired Lt. Gen. William Odom, an outspoken critic of the war who served as military assistant to Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter's national security adviser. "Once you make that basic mistake, there isn't any way to make the war come out good. It's all over

You got to love the Brits for their headlines...

Bush goes to Vietnam, four decades after dodging draft By Sebastien Berger in Hanoi Last Updated: 2:22am GMT 17/11/2006 Bush to face the ghosts of America's last failed war Thirty-one years after the US army left Saigon, President Bush flies in for a visit dogged by the unlearned lessons of history Suzanne Goldenberg Friday November 17, 2006 The Guardian

The bad news about the Baker Commission

I'm beginning to reassess just a little bit my excitement about the Baker Commission. It seems to me that "we" have been paying too much attention to the glass-is-half-full side of the "study group," that it's a victory for the "realists" and a defeat for the neocons and that it will give Bush a political cover for changing the course in Iraq, negotiate with Iran and Syria, etc. Well ... with all the "Not-so-fast" warnings with regard to withdrawal from Iraq coming even from some of the "good guys," I'm now concerned that Baker and Company are also going to provide a political cover to Democratic war critics who are hesitant about pressing Bush to get out of Mesopotamia. That could turn out to be the glass-is-half-empty side of Baker-Hamilton. Or is it going to be Baker-Hamilton/McCain-Lieberman, that is, a mushy bipartisan consensus in Congress in support for cosmetic changes in the Iraq policy and perhaps even backing for

Why did the elites turn against Bush

Michael Wolff explains in Survivor: The White House Edition in the new issue of Vanity Fair. (It's not the piece about the neocons bad-mouthing Bush). It's the "third act" of a failing war and "everybody's positioning himself for the end."

For a change: Some good news

Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2002, U.S. President George W. Bush has campaigned in one Presidential contest (2004) and two Congressional races (2002 and 2004) as a victorious “War President.” Bush and his Republican allies in Congress have been swimming towards one electoral victory after another by comparing the White House occupant to Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt that was supposedly leading the American people and the Free World in a global struggle against the terrorist network led by Osama bin Ladin and (allegedly) Saddam Hussein and the Axis of Evil rogues nations (Iraq, Iran, North Korea) attempting to acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to attack American and the West. The rising sense of nationalism that had swept America after 9/11 has helped Bush and the Republican Party rally the American people around the President, the Flag and the Judeo-Christian Civilization standing up against “Islamo-Fascism,” “wimpy” Europeans, and the “weak,”

How to vote today?

Just make sure that Bush looks like that when the results come out.

On "self-hating Jews"

The Prophet Jeremiah:A self-hating Jew Baruch Spinoza: A self-hating Jew David Mamet: Not a self-hating Jew I'm a great fan of David Mamet's films and have seen The Spanish Prisoner and House of Games several times. So I was a little disappointed reading the review of Mamet's new book, The Wicked Son: Anti-Semitism, Self-Hatred, and the Jews. According to the reviewer David Margolick, The book’s title refers to the character in the Passover Seder who distances himself from his people. “What does this ritual mean to you?” he asks tendentiously. For Mamet, he represents a disease among Jews, too many of whom are negative, weak, defeatist, ignorant and ungrateful. They hate their own history and traditions, loathe the state of Israel and are far too prone to trade their precious birthright for the closest cause or cult. Margolick didn't like the book and I agree with most of what he writes here: He has a peculiar knack for finding the most egregiously misbehaving Jews:

Will U.S. trade policy stall after midterm elections?

Business Times - 03 Nov 2006 Will US trade policy stall? Increasing Democrat control may weaken pro-free trade forces By LEON HADAR IN WASHINGTON THAT the US midterm elections could result in the Democrats regaining control of Congress is causing some concern among pro-free trade proponents in Washington. After all, the Republicans on Capitol Hill have been leading the push for trade liberalisation in recent years, while many Democratic candidates for the House and the Senate have been campaigning on platforms that criticise globalisation with some of them favouring higher tariffs for imported goods. Indeed, pro-free trade Republican Senators from Ohio, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Rhode Island, and Missouri are now facing strong challenges from Democratic candidates who tend to be more skeptical - of not protectionist - on the issue of free trade. Hence the expectation in Washington is that the most likely consequence of Democratic control of Capitol Hill will be growing pressure

On the elections and U.S./China

Two of my recent pieces from the Business Times of Singapore are pasted here: Business Times - 01 Nov 2006 Will US polls end with a big bang? A Democrat win won't mean Bush will change Iraq policy and withdraw troops By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT A VETERAN British political journalist who has covered all the US presidential races since 1992 is in Washington this week to report on the mid-term Congressional elections that will take place in less than 10 days. 'This is the first time in my career that my newspaper has assigned me to do stories on non-presidential elections in the US,' he told me over lunch in a restaurant on Capitol Hill. 'There is a feeling among my editors that although the elections on November 7th are basically of local nature, they could have a major impact on US foreign policy, and in particular on what's happening in Iraq,' he explained. 'My bosses seem to believe that if the Republicans end up receiving a major blow next month