Showing posts from November, 2007


Washington pundits have an odd way of ridiculing the Bush administration's grandiose plans for remaking Iraq, while at the same time embracing ambitious designs for bringing peace to the Holy Land. Hence many Middle East hands urge the United States to take a cautiously realistic approach to achieving ethnic and religious reconciliation in Mesopotamia. But these same Realpoliticos become born-again idealists in insisting that American leaders could and should help resolve the conflict between Arabs and Jews. As in Iraq, these peoples have been fighting since the British invaded in World War I. But, hey, Americans needs to show some faith to get the peace process moving ahead, right? So on to Annapolis. The faith in America's ability to lead the Arabs and Israelis into the promised land of peace is grounded in one very unique historic event: The 1979 peace accord between Egypt and Israel, achieved at Camp David through crucial mediation efforts by President Jimmy Carter. Since t

Look who is "anti-Israel"?

Who said the following: "If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and [Israel] face[s] a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (also for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished. The Jewish organizations, which were [Israel's] power base in America, will be the first to come out against [Israel], because they will say they cannot support a state that does not support democracy and equal voting rights for all its residents." Jimmy Carter? John Mearsheimer? Tony Judt? Some "left-wing" Israeli? Check-out who told Israel's Haaretz that Two states or Israel is done. And apropo checkout my “Two Peoples, Two States": The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has only one solution. Unfortunately, it's getting close to midnight and I don't see that happening any time soon. More about the Annapolis meeting in my next post. Bottom Line: Photo-op. Instead take the road to Dama

economic stuff

Business Times - 27 Nov 2007 Why read the Fed when it can't read the economy? By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT IN a recent speech in Washington in which he stressed the efforts by the US central bank to become more open and transparent about monetary policy, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke acknowledged how difficult it would remain for him and his colleagues to make economic predictions. 'The only economic forecast in which I have complete confidence is that the economy will not evolve along the precise path implied by our projections,' he said. That may sound like an exercise in self-deprecating humour. But it is clear that notwithstanding the commitment by Mr Bernanke to provide more information about the Fed's economic forecasts and deliberations about interest rate policy, deconstructing the Fed's thinking about the economy and predicting its interest-rate decisions would remain a Mission Impossible. One major reason why 'reading' the Fed wou

VOA interview on pakistan

Pakistan: Old Guy;New Girl

Please read my U.S. Cannot Force Regime Change in Pakistan . Also for those who are so, so surprised at what's happening there, check-out my policy paper Pakistan in America's War against Terrorism: Strategic Ally or Unreliable Client? (from 2002)and the two commentaries The Real War on Terrorism Is in Pakistan, Not Iraq (2003) and If Iraq, Iran, and North Korea Are the "Axis of Evil," Why Is Pakistan an Ally? (from before the Iraq War), as well as my op-ed in the Los Angeles Times Outsourcing the Hunt for Bin Laden.
Business Times - 09 Nov 2007 When fake news and comedy trump reality By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT DISCUSS political events with a 20-something American these days and you would probably be surprised to learn that he or she gets much of his or her news on politics, including the presidential race, from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report, the two popular shows on Comedy Central cable television network. This is where comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, using formats typical of mainstream journalism ('And now we turn to our senior child molestation correspondent . . .') play talk show hosts who anchor mock newscasts and report fake news. 'A lot of television viewers - more, quite frankly, than I'm comfortable with - get their news from the Comedy Channel on a programme called The Daily Show,' prominent - and real - news reporter and anchor Ted Koppel told The Washington Post two years ago. Indeed, some observers have even compared t

more on the economy

Business Times - 13 Nov 2007 US economy: entering the fear zone The credit crunch and the weak dollar could force Americans to finally start to pay back the money they borrowed By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT AS the US dollar reached an all-time low against the euro and oil prices rose close to US$100 a barrel and the housing market experienced one of the steepest downturns in two decades, the last thing that Congress and Wall Street needed was to have US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke tell them that they should expect a 'sluggish' US economic growth in the near future. At the same time, he hinted that the US central bank had no concrete plans to cut interest rates anytime soon. Yes, the economy was slowing down and that there wasn't much he could do about it. You'll just have to get used to it. But that was exactly what Mr Bernanke did last Thursday during his much anticipated testimony before a joint economic committee on Capitol Hill. It is quite possib

Golden Oldie and new stuff

Bye, bye and check-out my Innocent Abroad: Karen Hughes’s mission impossible. And... the new issue of the American Conservative carries my Osama's Man in America -- His job: keep the Viagra and the gossip flowing while praying for a Giuliani victory. It's not online yet, but if you click on the pics below you could (I hope) read it:

Interest rates, the Middle East and the movies

Business Times - 02 Nov 2007 Bernanke playing into the hands of Bush & Co By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT INVESTORS on Wall Street were expecting that when the policymaking committee of the US Federal Reserve met on Wednesday, its members would agree to cut the federal funds rate by a quarter percentage point to 4.5 per cent. And surprise, surprise! That's exactly what happened, which is the good news, at least as far as short-term effects are concerned - and perhaps also the bad news, if one considers the long-term repercussions of the latest move by the US central bank. The Fed had cut the federal funds rate (the rate at which banks lend to each other) by half a percentage point at its previous meeting of the Open Market Committee on Sept 18, responding then - as it did this week - to the pressures coming from the financial markets. September's decision had clearly helped to calm the then anxious credit markets. But then, the credit markets, facing more bad financ