Friday, January 30, 2009

Rhetoric

Dr Karim Sadjadpour (Oh yeah! He got game! ) over at Carnegie scores big with a hit in the Gulf State's The National site

"The Iranian government’s feeling towards the state of Israel is straightforward. In times of peace it is utter contempt; in times of war it is visceral hatred.


The question is, why?


After all, Iran is not an Arab country, has no direct land disputes with Israel, has no Palestinian refugee problem, has a long history of contentious relations with the Arab world and is home to the largest Jewish community in the Middle East outside Israel itself.


The devastating images of innocent Palestinian women and children killed in Gaza are heart-wrenching. But why should Iran be a more strident enemy of Israel than, say, Lebanon, Egypt or even Syria — Arab nations that have lost hundreds of their sons in wars fought against the Jewish state?


Broadly speaking, there are two schools of thought. One says that Iran and Israel are natural rivals for primacy in the Middle East, and so the hostility between them is really a strategic joust cloaked in ideological garb. “One country cannot have two kings,” is how Amir Mohebian, one of Iran’s top political thinkers, once put it

As the Iranian political analyst Saeed Leylaz observes: “Hamas is a very practical and useful tool for Iran, not an ideological one at all. It is a very good tool for Iran, especially in its dealings with the US. What is happening right now in Gaza has made it easier for Iran to promote anti-US feelings among Muslims.”


The other school of thought contends that opposition to Israel is a deeply held ideological tenet of Iran’s 1979 revolution. Tehran is not simply “playing the Palestinian card” as a means of garnering popular support in the region; the Palestinian cause is a glorious end in itself. The rhetoric of the Iranian regime is taken at face value: nothing less than the dissolution — ie, the political dissolution, not physical annihilation — of the Jewish state would satisfy Tehran’s hardline leadership.


Tune out the rantings of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and focus on the most powerful man in Tehran, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei, whose writings and speeches are the most accurate reflection of Iranian domestic and foreign policy aims and practices.



A study I did on Mr Khamenei, based on three decades’ worth of his speeches, confirmed for me the Supreme Leader’s cynical, conspiratorial disposition. What surprised me, however, was how consistent and disciplined his message was. In thousands of pages of material there were few, if any, contradictions.


And, remarkably, the issue that has featured most prominently in his political discourse during his tenure as leader has been his opposition to Israel’s existence. Whether his audience is Iranian students or foreign dignitaries, or the topic of his speech is foreign policy, education or agriculture, he rarely misses an opportunity to invoke the professed virtues of the 1979 revolution — justice, independence, self-sufficiency and Islam — and to express his deep disdain for “the Zionist entity”.



For many close observers of US–Iranian relations, the Islamic Republic’s uncompromising stance on Israel presents the greatest impediment to US–Iranian entente. Not only is Khamenei well aware of this argument, he also agrees with it. Yet it is a bargain he appears unwilling to make.



Mr Khameini says: “The ridiculous accusations such as human rights violations or seeking weapons of mass destruction are only empty claims aimed at exerting pressure on the Islamic Republic, and if Iran stops its support of the Lebanese and Palestinian people, the United States will also change its hostile attitude toward the Islamic Republic. But we consider supporting the Palestinian and Lebanese people one of our major Islamic duties. This is why Washington is applying every pressure lever against the Islamic Republic in order to stop this support.”



Two important caveats should be entered. First, Iran has grudgingly said that it will accept any Palestinian-Israeli peace resolution that the Palestinians themselves sign off on. Second, if ever the regime’s existence is at stake, survival trumps ideology. In the near term, however, both of these appear unlikely prospects.



Nonetheless, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, we have to deal with the Iranian leaders we’ve got, not the ones we wish we had. A continued US-Israel-Iran proxy war for power and influence in the Middle East will continue to produce the same horrendous results witnessed in Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza today: no clear winners, unnecessary and excessive civilian casualties, and more fertile ground for radicals more interested in continuing the fight than in ending it."



Wednesday, January 28, 2009

KGB Gangstas?

When it comes to secret police, Russian Old school Collectivist Union's Комитет государственной безопасности - the Committee for State Security or the dreaded KGB surely stands at the top of the list. These cats secretly policed and purged Russian and vassal societies.

Actually, a reformation of the Czar's chekists, KGB was xformed into the Federal Security Service about the time Russia regime changed herself into the brief pre autocracy Commonwealth era.

KGB/FSB has nearly always been linked to assassinations - recently too - like ex KGB/FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko.


This is significant.

Especially so since Radio Free Europe reveals gossip about an unlucky 'hunting accident' in Siberia that killed off most of Vlad's hand picked President Dmitry Medvedev's staff.

"State Duma Representative Aleksandr Kosopkin; the deputy head
of the presidential-administration department on domestic affairs, Sergei Livshin; and Viktor Kaimin, chairman of the Altai Republic's Committee on the Preservation and Exploitation of Natural Resources."


Over the next few weeks, details of the incident began to trickle out. First, it was revealed that the men died while engaged in the "sport" of shooting at game animals with powerful rifles from the side of the helicopter.

Rumour has it this "sport" is hot! among Russia's ruthless rich and despite being technically illegal - organizing such shooting expeditions is one way Altai and other regions keep their budgetary needs near the top of the Kremlin's agenda.

The official version of the cause of the accident so far is "pilot error."

On January 20, "Moskovskaya pravda" published an article reckoning that the low-flying helicopter had been shot down by local hunters, who have been known to take potshots at poachers. The paper noted that choppers were shot down by rifle fire under similar circumstances when Soviet Russia was doing it to Afghanistan way back in the last millennium.

Maybe.

Art "Committee of State Gangstas"

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Military Balance 2009

The Internat'l Institute for Strategic Studies - a Great Britain based think tank unleashed their annual comprehensive report on the world's armed forces today - and it has a bit of a bombshell.

Namely that Iran will be able to create at least one nuclear weapon this year.

The Military Balance 2009 contains region-by-region analysis of the major military and economic developments affecting defence and security policies and the trade in weapons and other military equipment. Comprehensive tables detail major military training activities, UN and non-UN deployments, and surrender sweet sweet data on key equipment holdings and defence economics, as well as defence-expenditure trends over a 10 year period.

The Military Balance 2009 also contains essays on defence industries in the Asia-Pacific region and UN peacekeeping. There is a further short essay noting trends in non-state activity, which complements the table of selected non-state groups.

The Military Balance 2009 also includes an updated Chart of Conflict, a wallchart showing current conflicts around the world, (perfect for the office or den) with selected supporting tables.

This year’s Military Balance examines key military issues including conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq; the debate within NATO over actually engaging, killing and/or capturing Taliban and AQ fanboys in Afghanistan;

"As NATO marks its 60th anniversary in 2009, tensions remain over
burden-sharing in Afghanistan. Although the Alliance has been able to secure increased commitments from its members during 2008, there is a growing need for Allies to collectively improve their efforts to define mission objectives, and criteria for success."

Meanwhile, 2008 also forced NATO to re-examine its expansion programme in the light of the sharp conflict between Russia and aspirant-member Georgia. The conflict highlighted a number of capability gaps among the Russian forces deployed to Georgia, as well as obvious strengths."

MB09 features an update on EU military operations; the conflict between Russia and Georgia; continuing conflicts in Africa; and the increased attention given by the international community to piracy off the Horn of Africa.

The Military Balance 2009 is available to order.

Art - "Military Balance 2009"

Monday, January 26, 2009

"Old Fashion Fascism Will Take It Away"


Way back in the last millennium, a very scary scary rock group hit the scene named Marilyn Manson (Unhallowed be thy name). Their break thru CD was freaky - and entitled "Anti Christ Super Star"

The 'single' that MM unleashed was called "The Beautiful People" and it is possibly the most stunning psychic reading of how illegit leaders, despots and tyrants conceptualize their right to rule supreme - above any law.

Hitlerian to the Nth - crunchy, marching jack boots, adoring crowds, and towards the end - a chorus chanting "HATE! HATE!" almost like crowds of rowdy Deutschers did at the 1936 NSDA Partie Tag Rallies in Nürnberg - a bombastic drum beat and electric guitars so dehumanized - they sound like machines. Creepy chimes, chants and visual b & w footage that seems almost like Dr Frankenstein meets 3rd Reich

"I don't want ya - and I don't need ya -Don't bother to resist or I'll beat ya"

Also features a line of lyric that reminds free nations that Louis XIV's declaration that the leader is the state and the state is the leader may forever be lurking around the corner for societies obsessed with pretty celebs and unbridled materialism right around the 2:00 minute mark.

"Capitalism - Has made it this way - Old Fashion Fascism will take it away"

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Where's Mookie?

Moktada Al Sadr - the soon to be jumped up Ayatollah, exiled Caliph of recently liberated Sadr City (named after his pa) and decisively defeated Field Marshal in Hiding of the recently marginalized 'Mahdi Army' gets dissed by the Lame Stream Media in Great Satan by none other than Time Magazine.

Since Surge climaxed in annihilating Mookie's minions in Sadr City back in '08 the old school concept of shame and honor (and this must be a first - note that shame or honor in this particular instance is NOT located between the legs of grrls in the hood) has resulted in a significant decline in the overt girthy robust Persian fed and funded rowdy time traveling sha ria law loving intolerant al Sadr's quasi military - political militia in Iraqi politics.

"Prospects for al-Sadr's militia, the Mahdi Army, and the political
figures who stood at the edge of it have steadily dimmed since last spring, when government forces of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki emerged as the de facto victors in battles with the Mahdi Army across southern Iraq and Baghdad.

Weeks of fighting in the early months of 2008 ended in a
stalemate.
Since then, Iraqi security forces have rounded up scores of
Sadrists with the help of U.S. troops, effectively hollowing out the movement's street power and political influence.

Meanwhile, the vast popularity that al-Sadr's movement once
enjoyed among Iraq's Shi'ites seems to have declined too as Iraqis appear to grow increasingly weary of sectarian politics. A recent poll published by the National Media Center, which is funded by the Iraqi government, said 42% of Iraqis hoped to see secular candidates win in the coming provincial elections (31% said they wanted
candidates from religious parties to take seats).

Oh Snap! Say it ain't so!

Great Satan's sexyful influence about fun and free choice (backed up with the world famous M16 - true) is undeniable as Iraq decides to prep for this life instead of racing to the next.

Especial shout out to Ax!s Of Ev!L"s BoYfRiEnDs like Eric Martin and Michael Tuggle.

They love Mookie (not that Mookie is especial to them - they seem to genuinely love all of Great Satan's enemies) and arguably seemed hopeful he would teach that wicked, interventionist killer of killers - Great Satan - a lesson.

Cheer up ya'll!

Mookie did teach a lesson alright.

Great Satan and all She represents is undefeatable.

Sweet!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Sino Military 2009

It's time!

Red China - the world's largest autocracy of the old school Collectivist type unleashes a semi state of the military every year and thanks to their new improved home page, the famous annual Chinese 'White Paper' is up for grabs.

While significantly understating real military spending, this latest defense white paper is revealing in its attempts to wink and nod at the rest of the world about the old Red Dragon's "aggressive pace of non-transparent military modernization."

It also strips away a few bits of fashion to reveal China's strategic strengths, priorities - and - insecurities.

China is indespensible in the new millennium's “harmonious world of enduring peace and common prosperity.” Sounds awful sweet and also packs a sting "nor can the world enjoy prosperity and stability without China.”

Whoa!

Complex interdependence and enhanced cooperation make major wars unlikely -- but there are also tendencies toward more intense strategic competition among rising and developed powers, fueled by military modernization, arms races, and the struggle to secure resources.

Kinda tense - like sharing a class with a guy friend whose wife, mistress and girlfriend are also in class.

China’s military wants to reassure that she foresees a cooperative internat'l system, but it needs to justify its continuing expansion and growing sophistication with reference to a widening array of threats, many of them courtesy of Great Satan.

Chinese leaders and analysts appreciate the stability of U.S.-China relations since 2001. But the white paper attests that, notwithstanding American critics who charge that Washington has neglected Asia while firefighting in the Middle East, Great Satan has paid careful attention to Asian power dynamics, and has positioned America to continue to lead in the region.

Rather than ignoring Asia, “the U.S. has increased its strategic attention to and input in the Asia-Pacific region, further consolidating its military alliances, adjusting its military deployment and enhancing its military capabilities.”

Indeed, polling by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs shows that America’s soft power in Asia greatly exceeds that of China. Despite conventional wisdom that China’s rise erodes America’s staying power in the region, both popular polls and worries of China's military suggest that Great Satan has been doing something right in Asia.

One trick noted - the threats to Chinese national security are internal, or arise from external support for internal separatists and dissidents.

The nightmare for Chinese security planners, based on their reading of China’s predation by foreign powers during the age of imperialism, is of external sponsorship of “splittist” or dissident movements that undermine the cohesion of the Chinese state.

“Domestic security and international security are interwoven and
interactive,” China “faces strategic maneuvers and containment from the outside while having to face disruption and sabotage by separatist and hostile forces from the inside.”

Thus the need for a fully crunk idealogical praetorian guard that is strong and a technologically sophisticated military force.

China is pursuing “leapfrog development” of advanced capabilities by undertaking military modernization in a high-tech environment.

Beijing foresees comparative advantages stemming from its development of asymmetric capabilities, including in electronic warfare; from preparing to wage modern war in a battlespace where information dominance is a key to victory (China “aims at winning local wars in conditions of informationization”); and from undertaking military modernization with the benefit of new technologies not available to great powers that modernized earlier in history.

China’s copy cat of American rhetoric about force doctrine, the Revolution in Military Affairs, and information warfare is striking and presents one conclusion:

China is the only military in the world sexplicitly prepping, training and equipping to fight Great Satan.

Pic "People's Liberation Marines: Everwatchful for Imperialist Aggression and Chicanery"

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Focus And Exit

Carnegie Endowment's Strategic Coven unleashed a provocative preview of tactical choices to turn the tide in Afghanistan in a new trick called "Focus and Exit".

"After seven years of war, the international community has failed to
create the conditions for a sustainable Afghan state. The reality is that the international coalition now has limited resources and a narrow political time frame to create lasting Afghan institutions.

Yet building such institutions is our only realistic exit strategy."

Nation building with combat boots on the ground en masse.

"The real question is how combat troops should be used. The two choices we face are whether to continue playing offense by going after the Taliban, especially in the south and the east, and spreading troops thin; or whether to adopt a new strategy focusing on protecting strategic sites, namely, urban centers and key roads, to allow for the development of a strong core of Afghan institutions."

This either or approach - may be incorrect.

RAND Corps recent report teaches that essentially - Afghanistan is about as good as it's going to get - unless Al Qaeda and their time traveling intolerant tribal fanboys are taken head on in their Pakistani sanctuaries.

Carnegie agrees -

"Withdrawal will allow the United States to focus on the central
security problem in the region: al-Qaeda and the instability in Pakistan."

The real quiz is - why not all three?

Since NATO's raison pour le wusse' - their scaredy cat actions in Afghani safe zones only - split DC on Inauguration Day, it may be an opportune moment to exert the current 'era of tingly feelings' - time for a laison de guerre and get Europa manned up and stand up and pull some nation building, infrastructure babysitting.

Great Satan's bona fided Surgin' General Petraeus and the Cent Com Surge in Afghanistan would no doubt be best served by elite combat troops - experienced in their deadly expertise - the best killers of killers in world history.

Taking them on and out - in the pourus borderless regions of Talibanistan - or Pakistan - either way is fine.

Plus, a healthy dose of eradicating poppy fields in extremis - or at least taking them over totally and ensuring their illicit, addictive, destructive and corruptive influence are channeled and directed only into autocratic regimes would be a wicked Joker to hold close to the vest and used as Strategic Resource Weaponry - like oil or energy.



Pic - "Afghanistan" by M. Felicity

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Little Satan's Strip

Since the smack of cordite is fading, the smoke and dust have settled and Little Satan split the Strip, as Palestinians and the death cult HAMAS retrieves the dead - what exactly were the gains?

Tactical and Strategic?

Depends.


For Little Satan hater Dr John Mearsheimer (who recently was dissed to the Nth degree when he released his conspiracy book about how Little Satan controls Great Satan - right before SaudiLand scored the biggest arms deal in history) -Little Satan totally lost.

"There is little reason to think that the Israelis can beat Hamas into
submission and get the Palestinians to live quietly in a handful of Bantustans inside Greater Israel. Israel has been humiliating, torturing, and killing Palestinians in the Occupied Territories since 1967 and has not come close to cowing them.

Indeed, Hamas’s reaction to Israel’s brutality seems to lend credence
to Nietzsche’s remark that what does not kill you makes you stronger.


The bottom line is that no matter what happens on the battlefield,
Israel cannot win its war in Gaza. In fact, it is pursuing a strategy—with lots of help from its so-called friends in the Diaspora—that is placing its long-term future at risk. "

Like any machination, Dr M's co author of the "Israel Lobby" unleased a bit @ Foreign Policy that disses Little Satan's battlefield bona fides since the day She was born. Dr Steven Walt's deconstruction of the myth of Little Satan's superiority kinda sorta makes a left handed case for divine intervention as a raison de guerre.


These conclusions - that Little Satan gained almost nothing militarily: HAMAS continues to rule the Strip and retains military capabilities and the loyalty of Palestinians, and the semi independent minor death cult fanboys like Islamic Jihad will fire off more rockets anytime they desire.

The tiny tiny tactical success Little Satan enjoyed in sticking it to HAMAS are far outweighed by a heavy price Little Satan paid diplomatically.

Short version is that the slideshow to HAMAS' promise to turn the Strip into a graveyard sent pics and vids as daily rations of Palestine's self inflicted misery and torment - the soaring death rate drew widespread condemnation throughout the world and alienated Little Satan's few friends in the mohammedist world, most notably Turkey.

This is totally incorrect.

"Israel taught Hamas that no one but the Arab street really cares about the plight of Gaza under Hamas rule and, though noisy, the Arab street doesn't matter. No other country attacked Israel. Jordan maintained diplomatic relations. Iran fulminated but did nothing. Egypt, which once openly tolerated the tunnels, will no doubt clamp down hard on Hamas's smuggling.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was especially shrill in condemning Israel, but the $141-million Christmas deal between Israeli firms and the Turkish air force to upgrade Turkey's F-4 Phantoms remains intact."

"Israel also taught Hamas that the streets of Europe may be crowded with pro-Hamas demonstrators for a few days or a few weeks, but that European countries, the United States and even Russia and China have no love for Hamas and view it, rightly, as Iran's proxy. And that is not likely to change."

Tactically -

"Analysts may claim that the core of Hamas's military capability has survived in the bunkers and tunnels of Gaza City.

Possibly.

But the military initiative is now Israel's. The Israel Defence Forces set the agenda, drove the fight, kept the enemy on its heels, destroyed significant enemy capability (including many of the smuggling tunnels) and showed Hamas that IDF soldiers are now highly skilled in urban insurgent war.

Israel now has the military initiative in the south and will set the terms. It is no longer merely Hamas's antagonist; it is its unquestioned military superior.

The lesson will not be lost on Iran or Hezbollah.

Strategically, the "situation on the ground" has clearly changed. But the Gaza fight was not just a military demonstration — it had political objectives as well.

Israel taught Hamas that future provocation will be painfully costly. It also taught Hamas in Gaza that it is very easy for its titular leader, Khaled Meshaal, and his entourage in Damascus to call for a fight to the last breath against the Zionists. After all, he is protected by Syria. But he has clearly lost touch with the reality of Gaza.

Signs of a split are obvious. Hamas in Gaza is certainly not about to sign a peace treaty with Israel, but if the crossings are open and foreign aid is on its way, the split will most assuredly widen. If both Israel and Hamas can agree to a long-term, monitored truce, Mr. Meshaal will lose all relevancy."

It is, of course, tragic that hundreds of innocent Palestinians were killed and it is hard to understand how HAMAS didn't see this coming.

" Maybe HAMAS doesn't really care about Gazans, either."

Art - "Little Satan got claws!"

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day!

Inauguration Day is one of Great Satan's High Holy Days - and by extention - for the rest of the world - Free and Bond.

It is also remarkable because - well, swapping power in Great Satan has become rather unremarkable.

No sectarian violence, no sacred tribes, no especial bloodlines, no shame or honor to redeem at the expense of the lives of political party members.

Another of the countless reasons - why America really is that Shining City on a Hill

Monday, January 19, 2009

Condoleezza

The Vulcans - the cats who were on scene, large and in charge when 911 changed the world and officially escorted in the new millennium had one thread in common that separated them from all previous Great Satan's Oval Office cab members and advisers.

FDR's collection of wise men had Wall Street as a common denominator - JFK's best and brightest had the ivory ivy league halls academia.

The Vulcans had the Pentagon.

Taking Alabama's statue of Vulcan - a larger than life size omage to Birmingham's steel industry as their nom de guerre - the Vulcans (v1.0) included Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Armitage, General Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, VP Cheney and Dr Condoleezza Rice.

The Vulcans shared several central beliefs - they lived by them, they knew them to be true and they never wavered on those central values:

1. America ain't what's wrong with the world. Events and history totally bear this out. Any time rowdy trouble makers in the world act out it always because they cannot tolerate the sexyful, glistening promise of tolerant, egalitarian societies and transparent periodic elections - as Uncle Tony once awesomely put it "The rule of law - not the rule of the secret police."

2. America's position in the world should be maintained as THE dominant power. Not just military - but everything - trade, tech, R and D, and cultural as a means of constantly confronting and confounding illegit, unfree regimes and their very existence.

3. Free nations and democracies don't cause problems. They solve them. Democracies are often slow to get riled up - but as de Tocquville hinted - happy hands building, creating, inventing and tending to peaceful, capitalistic or academic endeavours can sweetly be switched over to building, fielding and deploying the deadliest armies of their age with creative destructive precisely visited upon the heads of internat'l naughtiness and villans decked out in despotic couture.

The best source about the Vulcans, their histories, personalitites and beliefs up to 2004 is James Mann's "Rise of the Vulcans". Great Satan fans will love it - Great Satan haters fear it (and actually try to hide all the copies at Barnes and Nobles in the alternate lifestyle section. That's weird - but true!)

One by one the Vulcans began dropping out of the scene. Secretary Powell, Deputy Def Sec Wolfowitz (who is also one of neoconservatism's top intelligentsia) and Deputy Sec of State Armitage (now here's irony for you - Great Satan's top covert cat from the Vietnam and it's aftermath days blown out of the water by a moment of kiss and tell about Valerie Plame. Kinda gives loose lips a new millennium motif), and the ever cheerful communication combatant, the most awesome cat to ever talk with his hands, Donald Rumsfeld.

The two Vulcans who made it through to the end were the ever avuncular, nigh indestructible cardiac wise, unrepentant VP Cheney and Dr Condoleezza Rice.

Sec of State Rice cut her way to the top with hard work, a giant brain almost too huge for her tiny hot little body and proved an ancient adage from right before the 2000 election that "She's so smart - she's beautiful."

Back in those days, girls coming up in the Great Satan pretty much ignored mom and poppa. Their influence was to be resisted.

Hey, they seemed to be wrong about everything. If they really dug something - it was suspect, eschewed and ignored.

If they disliked or feared something - that was the cue for girls to seek it out, embrace it and own it.

And for those of us who were little, the one role model that insinuated herself into nearly every aspect of our emerging ego's and id's was the hottest thing on the charts.

Right before 911 time Miss Britney Spears taught us it was cool to dress like a hoochie, act like a hoochie and still be as pure and virginal as the girl that poppa married.

"The video for her debut single, "Hit Me Baby One More Time," outfitted
her in full Catholic-school regalia and sent her well on the way to becoming an international sex symbol.

Yet Spears' handlers seemed to be trying to have it both ways --
there was a definite tension between the wholesome innocence Spears tried to project for her female audience, and the titillating sexuality that enticed so many male fans. Those marketing tactics made Spears a somewhat controversial figure, the subject of endless debates concerning appropriate role models for teenage girls. "

Britney proved that girls could dance all around the fire, over the fire, through the fire and (unlike the preacher, 'rents and older siblings tried to teach) never get burned! Mom and poppa were soooo wrong!!

Certain benevolent despotic 'rents used reverse psychology in a wicked maneuver to install more productive role models. And certain girls fell for it.

"Honey, just promise me you'll stay away from Condi Rice. She is sooo wrong. Using her education to get ahead - instead of getting married and raising a family, uncool - a southern girl gone bad like that actually having a place in decision making that could effect the entire planet. Who does she think she is? Why is she so special?"

Of all the Vulcans, Dr Rice was savaged by the stuck up press and political opposites in a way that tried to diss her on a personal level - actually - racist.

"Can anyone remember a racist caricature of such esteemed dignitaries like Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton? Where are the racist cartoons of Yassir Arafat, OBL or any of the terrorists that kill civilians as a military tactic? While Al Jazeera is overplaying the shooting of a supposed unarmed terrorist by a US Marine while choosing not to air the execution of CARE President Margeret Hassan by Iraqi
militants, where are the cartoons of those animals?"

Other critics - like Dr Fred Kaplan - kept it semi cerebral - but still were horrified that Rice proclaimed their precious Realpolitk was as incinerated as surely as the nearly 3K innocents who made it to work that ungodly AM in early September.

Dr Rice never lost her cool, she always kept her charm. And she used it. Like hitting Deutschland on tour wearing those sexy hot knee high boots.

"Rice challenges expectations and assumptions. There is undeniable authority in her long black jacket with its severe details and menacing silhouette. The darkness lends an air of mystery and foreboding. Black is the color of intellectualism, of abstinence, of penitence. If there is any symbolism to be gleaned from Rice's stark garments, it is that she is tough and focused enough for whatever task is at hand."

"She was not hiding behind matronliness, androgyny or the stereotype of the steel magnolia. Rice brought her full self to the world stage -- and that included her sexuality."

Or "Bedgate".

On tour with Great Britain's Foreign Sec Lord Jack Straw during a long flight, Condi gave up her own comfy bed to the ancient old man and crashed out on an impromptu pallet on the floor.

Charmed and disarmed - Lord Jack declared it was a textbook case of Southern hospitality.

Later events - like proclaiming the non negotiable demands of human dignity (curiously overlooked because some doofus with fake blood on her hands tried to sourmouth the event calling Dr Rice a war criminal) or calling out Mookie - a big fat coward who was willing to fight to the last drop of innocent blood to impose a caliphate on Iraq - led by himself - natch - from a secret lair somewhere in Preacher Heights in Tehran proved Rice could bare fangs and spit razor blades in any league.

Her recently released Foreign Policy opus "American Realism" is powerful meds for future leaders of the Free World and their aid de camps

Dr Rice's last official deal was helping Tzipi cut probably the shortest cease fire in history betwixt HAMAS and Little Satan on Friday.

Take care Dr Rice, rest, relax - enjoy those brainiac sessions at Stanford, NFL games and hopefully - fire up a volume of memoirs soon.

This may not be a professional 'farewell' for Condi. Such an august, brilliant presence like Dr Rice may again be summoned to serve Great Satan.

And, certainly not farewell from a thankful fangirl who learned how to think - sometimes Machiavellian, how to attempt to succeed and how to retain a bit of southern charm, to reshape drive and ambition, to focus, and well, how to live.

Dr Condoleezza Rice was and is a tremendous influence for moi - like a hip, cool older sis.

In a way - she made me.

Not 'farewell' Dr Rice - yet 'til we meet again' from a spiritual daughter.

Pic - "I love Dr Rice and I don't give a dayyum what anybody thinks"

Friday, January 16, 2009

W

Fellow citizens: For eight years, it has been my honor to serve as your President. The first decade of this new century has been a period of consequence -- a time set apart. Tonight, with a thankful heart, I have asked for a final opportunity to share some thoughts on the journey that we have traveled together, and the future of our nation.


Five days from now, the world will witness the vitality of American democracy. In a tradition dating back to our founding, the presidency will pass to a successor chosen by you, the American people. Standing on the steps of the Capitol will be a man whose history reflects the enduring promise of our land. This is a moment of hope and pride for our whole nation. And I join all Americans in offering best wishes to President-Elect Obama, his wife Michelle, and their two beautiful girls.

Tonight I am filled with gratitude -- to Vice President Cheney and members of my administration; to Laura, who brought joy to this house and love to my life; to our wonderful daughters, Barbara and Jenna; to my parents, whose examples have provided strength for a lifetime. And above all, I thank the American people for the trust you have given me. I thank you for the prayers that have lifted my spirits. And I thank you for the countless acts of courage, generosity, and grace that I have witnessed these past eight years.

This evening, my thoughts return to the first night I addressed you from this house -- September the 11th, 2001. That morning, terrorists took nearly 3,000 lives in the worst attack on America since Pearl Harbor.

I remember standing in the rubble of the World Trade Center three days later, surrounded by rescuers who had been working around the clock. I remember talking to brave souls who charged through smoke-filled corridors at the Pentagon, and to husbands and wives whose loved ones became heroes aboard Flight 93. I remember Arlene Howard, who gave me her fallen son's police shield as a reminder of all that was lost.

And I still carry his badge.

As the years passed, most Americans were able to return to life much as it had been before 9/11.

But I never did

Every morning, I received a briefing on the threats to our nation. I vowed to do everything in my power to keep us safe

Over the past seven years, a new Department of Homeland Security has been created. The military, the intelligence community, and the FBI have been transformed. Our nation is equipped with new tools to monitor the terrorists' movements, freeze their finances, and break up their plots. And with strong allies at our side, we have taken the fight to the terrorists and those who support them.

Afghanistan has gone from a nation where the Taliban harbored al Qaeda and stoned women in the streets to a young democracy that is fighting terror and encouraging girls to go to school.

Iraq has gone from a brutal dictatorship and a sworn enemy of America to an Arab democracy at the heart of the Middle East and a friend of the United States.

There is legitimate debate about many of these decisions. But there can be little debate about the results. America has gone more than seven years without another terrorist attack on our soil. This is a tribute to those who toil night and day to keep us safe -- law enforcement officers, intelligence analysts, homeland security and diplomatic personnel, and the men and women of the United States Armed Forces.

Our nation is blessed to have citizens who volunteer to defend us in this time of danger. I have cherished meeting these selfless patriots and their families. And America owes you a debt of gratitude. And to all our men and women in uniform listening tonight: There has been no higher honor than serving as your Commander-in-Chief.

The battles waged by our troops are part of a broader struggle between two dramatically different systems. Under one, a small band of fanatics demands total obedience to an oppressive ideology, condemns women to subservience, and marks unbelievers for murder. The other system is based on the conviction that freedom is the universal gift of Almighty God, and that liberty and justice light the path to peace.

This is the belief that gave birth to our nation. And in the long run, advancing this belief is the only practical way to protect our citizens. When people live in freedom, they do not willingly choose leaders who pursue campaigns of terror.


When people have hope in the future, they will not cede their lives to violence and extremism. So around the world, America is promoting human liberty, human rights, and human dignity.
We're standing with dissidents and young democracies, providing AIDS medicine to dying patients -- to bring dying patients back to life, and sparing mothers and babies from malaria.
And this great republic born alone in liberty is leading the world toward a new age when freedom belongs to all nations.

Like all who have held this office before me, I have experienced setbacks. There are things I would do differently if given the chance. Yet I've always acted with the best interests of our country in mind. I have followed my conscience and done what I thought was right. You may not agree with some of the tough decisions I have made.

But I hope you can agree that I was willing to make the tough decisions.

The decades ahead will bring more hard choices for our country, and there are some guiding principles that should shape our course.


While our nation is safer than it was seven years ago, the gravest threat to our people remains another terrorist attack. Our enemies are patient, and determined to strike again. America did nothing to seek or deserve this conflict. But we have been given solemn responsibilities, and we must meet them. We must resist complacency. We must keep our resolve. And we must never let down our guard.

At the same time, we must continue to engage the world with confidence and clear purpose. In the face of threats from abroad, it can be tempting to seek comfort by turning inward.
But we must reject isolationism and its companion, protectionism.

Retreating behind our borders would only invite danger.

In the 21st century, security and prosperity at home depend on the expansion of liberty abroad.

If America does not lead the cause of freedom, that cause will not be led.

As we address these challenges -- and others we cannot foresee tonight -- America must maintain our moral clarity.

I've often spoken to you about good and evil, and this has made some uncomfortable.

But good and evil are present in this world, and between the two of them there can be no compromise.
Murdering the innocent to advance an ideology is wrong every time, everywhere.

Freeing people from oppression and despair is eternally right. This nation must continue to speak out for justice and truth. We must always be willing to act in their defense -- and to advance the cause of peace.

I have confidence in the promise of America because I know the character of our people. This is a nation that inspires immigrants to risk everything for the dream of freedom. This is a nation where citizens show calm in times of danger, and compassion in the face of suffering. We see examples of America's character all around us.

These virtues give me an unshakable faith in America. We have faced danger and trial, and there's more ahead. But with the courage of our people and confidence in our ideals, this great nation will never tire, never falter, and never fail.

It has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve as your President. There have been good days and tough days. But every day I have been inspired by the greatness of our country, and uplifted by the goodness of our people.

I have been blessed to represent this nation we love. And I will always be honored to carry a title that means more to me than any other - citizen of the United States of America.

And so, my fellow Americans, for the final time: Good night. May God bless this house and our next President.

And may God bless you and our wonderful country.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Top Internat'l Sites

Greg Scoblete @ Real Clear World (the sister site to Real Clear Politics) unveiled his top 5 picks for intell, dossiers and gossip.

"When RealClearWorld launched during last year's Beijing Summer Olympics, we made it our mission to provide readers with the best world opinion on the web - a one-stop shop for readers seeking quality commentary and analysis on world politics, international relations and foreign affairs."

"Obviously, taste and opinion can be subjective."

"With that fine balance in mind, here are RealClearWorld’s editorial picks for the best international news sites of 2008. These news outlets offered us a weekly – if not daily – stream of strong content, and they also provided our readers with a fresh and nuanced perspective on global affairs."

Greg also reccommends readers submit their own faves and promises to share them online directly.

1. Al Jazeera - Yeah yeah, not a big fan of Great Satan or Little Satan, AJ certainly is

"Controversial and critical, few world news outlets have had the ability to split feelings quicker than the immensely popular Al Jazeera network. The Doha-based station – initially a satellite based network only – has grown into a worldwide media empire.

Broadcasting all around the world, on the web and in multiple languages, Al Jazeera has become both the Arab world’s platform for dialogue and information, and the rest of the world's window into a region full of faiths, languages and sects."

2. Japan Times

"provides quality commentary and opinion pieces from a number of esteemed former statesmen as well as journalists. Chris Patten (former governor of Hong Kong), Sir Hugh Cortazzi (former British ambassador to Japan), David Howell (former British Cabinet minister and former chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee), Gwynne Dyer and Robert Dujarric are all among regular contributors to Japan Times' opinion section.

Japan Times' coverage of Japanese and international affairs is also noted for its professional quality. "

3. China Post - Founded in 1952 by exiled Chinese mainlanders, the China Post is one of Taiwan's leading English-language dailies, with a circulation of about 400,000. The print edition of the Post is read mainly by Taiwan's intellectual elite and college students interested in world affairs and learning English.

Without a free press in mainland China, it's difficult to find balanced and critical opinion on the world's most populous nation and budding super power. But across the Taiwan Strait, such material is readily available in one of Asia's most vibrant democracies.

4. World Politics Review - Unafraid of ideological dissent and disagreement, WPR often features public figures and experts of conflicting views and allegiances. Tracking both the short-term news and long-term questions facing the global scene, they offer a variety of content for all audiences; from the casual reader, to the longtime observer of international relations, WPR offers it all.

5. Der Spiegel - Born in the post-war rubble in Hamburg, Der Spiegel is now the best-selling weekly magazine with a circulation of over 1 million. Der Spiegel is renowned for its depth and breadth in covering international events and exclusive interviews with world leaders.

In 1994, Spiegel became one of the first international publications to launch a web site. It is now Germany's top online news source. In 2004, an English version of the site - Spiegel International - was made available, and it's this site that provides some of RealClearWorld's most read commentary and analysis articles.


GrEaT sAtAn"S gIrLfRiEnD would submit a few more like Lebanon's Asharq Alawsat News - while doing a lot of AP and Reuters aside, the op ed pieces features some of the best in Arab intelligentsia and tends to be a guide toward progressive thought in the ME.

Also, Russia's RIA Novosti features a lot of thought, propaganda and some truth in the Commonwealth's revamped USSR GRU military intell community.

What are your faves?

Share them here and hit Greg up too @ gscoblete@gmail.com

PS - If you're curious about RCP's currently unfullfilled promise to return with '09 and a new improved reader's submissions - Greg's not really doing that gig so hit these cats up instead.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Madame Sec

Today, nine years into a new century, Americans know that our nation and our world face great perils: from ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to the continuing threat posed by terrorist extremists, to the spread of weapons of mass destruction; pandemic disease; from financial meltdown to worldwide poverty.


The seventy days since the presidential election offer fresh evidence of the urgency of these challenges. New conflict in Gaza; terrorist attacks in Mumbai; mass killings and rapes in the Congo; cholera in Zimbabwe; reports of record high greenhouse gasses and rapidly melting glaciers; and even an ancient form of terror – piracy – asserting itself in modern form off the Horn of Africa.

We should also use the United Nations and other international institutions whenever appropriate and possible. Both Democratic and Republican presidents have understood for decades that these institutions, when they work well, enhance our influence.

And when they don’t work well – as in the cases of Darfur and the farce of Sudan’s election to the former UN Commission on Human Rights, for example – we should work with likeminded friends to make sure that these institutions reflect the values that motivated their creation in the first place.

As we focus on Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, we must also actively pursue a strategy of smart power in the Middle East that addresses the security needs of Israel and the legitimate political and economic aspirations of the Palestinians; that effectively challenges Iran to end its nuclear weapons program and sponsorship of terror, and persuades both Iran and Syria to abandon their dangerous behavior and become constructive regional actors; that strengthens our relationships with Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, other Arab states, with Turkey, and with our partners in the Gulf to involve them in securing a lasting peace in the region.

Terrorism remains a serious threat and we must have a comprehensive strategy, leveraging intelligence, diplomacy, and military assets to defeat al- Qaeda and like-minded terrorists by rooting out their networks and drying up support for their violent and nihilistic extremism.
The gravest threat that America faces is the danger that weapons of mass destruction will fall into the hands of terrorists. To ensure our future security, we must curb the biological, chemical, or cyber – while we take the lead in working with others to reduce current nuclear stockpiles and prevent the development and use of dangerous new weaponry.

Our foreign policy must reflect our deep commitment to the cause of making human rights a reality for millions of oppressed people around the world. Of particular concern to me is the plight of women and girls, who comprise the majority of the world’s unhealthy, unschooled, unfed, and unpaid.

If half of the world’s population remains vulnerable to economic, political, legal, and social marginalization, our hope of advancing democracy and prosperity will remain in serious jeopardy. We still have a long way to go and the United States must remain an unambiguous and unequivocal voice in support of women’s rights in every country, every region, on every continent.

In recent years, as other nations have risen to compete for military, economic, and political influence, some have argued that we have reached the end of the “American moment” in world history.
I disagree.

Yes, the conventional paradigms have shifted. But America’s success has never been solely a function of our power; it has always been inspired by our values.

With so many troubles here at home and across the world, millions of peopleare still trying to come to our country -- legally and illegally.

Why? Because we are guided by unchanging truths: that all people are created equal; that each person has a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And in these truths we will find, as we have for more than two centuries, the courage, the discipline, and the creativity to meet the challenges of this everchanging world.

No matter how daunting our challenges may be, I have a steadfast faith in our country and our people, and I am proud to be an American at the dawning of this new American moment.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Deflected?

David Sanger @ New York Times is hawking a new book out Tuesday called "The Inheritance: The World Obama Confronts and the Challenges to American Power” and repackaged some old news to debut his new duds.

"President Bush deflected a secret request by Israel last year for specialized bunker-busting bombs it wanted for an attack on Iran’s
main nuclear complex and told the Israelis that he had authorized new covert action intended to sabotage Iran’s suspected effort to develop nuclear weapons, according to senior American and foreign officials."


The NYT piece is a good read - making the case that using asymmetrical warfare against a rising regional hegemon like Persia's Mullahs is clever.

After all, how can Supreme Leader of Iran try to become the Supreme Leader of Mohammedists worldwide when wicked agents of Great Satan and Great Britain are running around his own turf, sweetly queering the mix with sabotage against the regime most sensitive and precious assets?

While deflecting Little Satan from procuring those magical bunker busting devices and with holding air transit ops over Iraq is significant - it also conjures up several opportunities.

Little Satan is rumored to have buddied up with Georgia - right before Russia's panzer blitz last summer. Such a move to put airstrips in Georgia would give the IAF (which has mommie jets capable of refueling long range missions) no reason to violate anyone's airspace.

Save Iran's.

As noted in "Strike Package", Little Satan doesn't really have to have Great Satan's goodies or permission to render a rowdy panty raid on sensitive portions of Iranian prestige, capital and brainpower to render enrichment interruptus a reality.

Prob the best look at Target Sets (regime killing talk for vaporizing precious assets) and what it would take to knock them out - all the way out - is the SSP Working Paper by done by aviation sci spy guys Whitney Raas and Austin Long.

This exhaustive (yet fun and light to read dossier - perfect for the beach - and available in pdf) details naughty details.

"To have a reasonable chance of success, both in the mission and in
the ultimate goal of rendering Iran’s nuclear program impotent, the target set must be narrowed to concentrate on the critical nodes in Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.
The most difficult part of nuclear weapons development is obtaining the nuclear material itself; thus, if the means of fissile material production can be destroyed, the set back for Iran will be maximized.

The total number of weapons needed to have reasonable confidence
in destroying all three target sets is thus 24 5000-lb weapons and 24 2000-lb weapons."


84 tons! Such precision, intelligent weaponry - and Little Satan - even avoiding Iraqi airspace - has the means to put steel on target.

If HAMAS is going down - and it sure looks like it - then Iran's threat to turn the Gulf States into a collection of smoking rocket and missile craters, shutting down the Gulf if attacked and surging into Iraq may actually be self defeating.

Acting out militarily on a regional scale could not be sustained for long - besides Iran couldn't even take out Iraq in the horrible Iran Iraq war - even after laying seige to Basra for 6 years.

Strategic assets like Hiz'B'Allah wouldn't last long in a real war and striking at Iraq invites a counter strike from Great Satan that could end up killing off the entire regime in Tehran.

Since face saving is soooo important in a part of the world that never really caught on to the Western Way of War, events could conspire against Iran to accept 44's most likely offer of high level talks.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Saturday, January 10, 2009

7 Things

Bubblegum!!

Oh Snap!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Freedom At Work CVN 77


She is a predator. She is sovereign American turf - anywhere in the world. Her range is global. She will cause friends to pause and reflect. She will make enemies tremble and encourage allies.


She is 90,000 tons of diplomacy. She is over a 1000 feet long. She carries nearly 100 aircraft that are the ultimate in air superiority, ground attack as well as search and rescue.

Her nom de guerre is "Freedom at Work"

And She is the last of her kind.

She is CVN 77, the last of the Nimitz class carriers. Actually - more like a Nimitz Plus with future electronics, avionics, radar, sonor and can bring enough hurt into theatre that is unprecedented.


She is the USS George
HW Bush - and she debuts today.


She is only the 2nd carrier to ever be named after a Navy fly guy - after USS Forrestal and is the 2nd to ever be named after a former President that is still alive.

Her Crest features the silhouette of a F18 Super Hornet bearing a Grumman Avenger WWII Navy multi purpose bomber (made famous by Rosie the riveter) that the youngest pilot in the Navy in 1944 flew at the desperate air raid on Chichijima.

19yo LT (Junior Grade) GHW Bush rode through devastating flak like the Avenger was on a railroad to Hell, literally shot to flames as he and his crew annihilated their target - the super sensitive enemy sensors located only a 150 miles away from the soon to be famous Iwo Jima.

Suffering severe damage the Avenger had to be ditched and GHW's two crewmen Radioman Second Class John Delaney and Lieutenant Junior Grade William White were lost.
50 stars signifying her Presidential bona fides and repping all of Great Satan's states encircle the crest as surely as She will encircle the globe.

Like Her namesake's volunteer spirit, service to something larger than self and determination that the mission will succeed.

She is CVN 77


Pic - CVN 77 Ship's Patch

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Preemption

Max Boot has a bit up in the new Foreign Policy issue called " What ever happened to Preemption?"

Max traces the "When in doubt - knock 'em out' school of thought since the new millennium right into the future:

"What is truly alarming is the possibility that such an attack could be carried out with weapons of mass destruction. If al Qaeda were ever to get its hands on a nuclear bomb, Pakistan would have to be considered a prime culprit. It is, after all, a state rife with Islamist extremists, and has a government unable to preserve even a modicum of order. Its capacity to safeguard its nuclear arsenal, even with the best of intentions, is in doubt.

"Already, the A.Q. Khan ring has been responsible for a frightening amount of nuclear proliferation. It takes a lot of credulity to imagine that Pakistan's top nuclear weapons scientist could carry out these activities without the knowledge of anyone in the Pakistani government.

"Another likely source for a terrorist bomb would have to be Iran. Iran's own government admits to having more than 5,000 centrifuges in operation and plans to install many more. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) estimates that those centrifuges have already produced 630 kilograms, or 1,390 pounds, of low-enriched uranium. Once that material is purified into highly enriched uranium, it would be sufficient, or nearly sufficient, to make an atomic bomb. Intelligence estimates warn that could happen sometime in 2009. Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the IAEA, is hardly a hard-liner, but even he says efforts to stop Iran's nuclear program have been a "failure." "We haven't really moved one inch toward addressing the issues," he recently told the Los Angeles Times.

"In its recent report, the congressionally chartered Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, chaired by former U.S. Senators Bob Graham and Jim Talent, "singled out Pakistan for special attention" because "many government officials and outside experts believe that the next terrorist attack against the United States is likely to originate from within the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan."

"This region is home to more than 6 million Pashtuns living amid treacherous, mountainous terrain that has never been fully brought under control by any outside power. Next door is the North-West Frontier Province, which has a population of 20 million and has also become a playground for jihadists. Sending U.S. troops to take on such a difficult task would be virtually unthinkable, barring another tragedy on the scale of 9/11."

"And that's precisely the point. We Americans shy away from preemptive action because we can imagine all too clearly the costs of action. But we lack the imagination to see the costs of inaction. Or, rather, we can imagine the costs, but we tell ourselves, fingers crossed, that we may never have to pay them. Perhaps we will not live to see a major attack, emanating from Pakistan or Iran, on our soil or the soil of an allied country. Perhaps we will indeed dodge the bullet -- or, more aptly, the bomb. Or perhaps not.

"In a prosperous democracy it is all too easy for our leaders to succumb to the same soothing narcosis as the general populace, content to imagine that problems do not really exist because they have not yet fully materialized. That is the illusion that Churchill fought against in the 1930s and Clarke in the 1990s. They both failed. Now, as the United States and our allies fail to act decisively against present-day dangers, we know why."

A worthy read, in around about way - Max makes the case that in dangerous sitches - attacking suspect WMD sites, long drawn out negotiations or threats of sanctions (that funnily enough - never really seem to work) killing the regimes themselves - taking them out - all the way out - may solve far more probs than anything else.

Art - "When in doubt - knock 'em out"

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Cultes la Morte

"May God exterminate this HAMAS" screamed on the streets of Gaza City.

What the heck? Yet wasn't HAMAS the world's first freely elected suicide regime?

True - trick is - they have lived up to it. And they are going down in a military campaign that may have had their timely non electoral demise by design.

Great Britain's ex Foreign Sec Sir Malcolm Rifkind points out that HAMAS has totally queered the mix for any rational consideration of a Palestinian State.

Not to put too fine a point on the wicked rapier of rationality - Sultan Al Qassemi
from the Gulf States openly says it's time for HAMAS to split.

"This is where people will object and remind us that they were democratically elected. My answer to that is: Yes, but they are incompetent.

Most of us in the Middle East still believe that incompetence is a trait exclusive to dictators such as Muammer Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein and Jamal Abdul Nasser. However modern history has proven that democracy and incompetent governance aren’t mutually exclusive.

The audacity of Khaled Mashaal, the Hamas supreme leader, who called for the launch of a third intifada from exile in Syria.

Mashaal wakes up in the safety of Damascus, turns on the television, reads the paper and then says live on Al Jazeera TV – where else? – that “we want armed resistance, a military uprising to face the enemy”. Couldn’t he smuggle himself into the Gaza Strip to be with his resistance fighters?

That resistance has for many years been funded by donations from wealthy Arabs in the Gulf, among others to cover an annual budget that the US Council on Foreign Relations estimates at $70 million. Despite such sums, Hamas has hardly managed to amass a significant arsenal or military capabilities.

All it has to show after all this time and money is little more than long-range fireworks that it launches into neighbouring towns but which do more damage to its own image than to any infrastructure in Israel

Ultimately Khaled Mashaal, who declared from Damascus that the resistance “has lost very few people” as the body count approached 434

Many thought that Gaza and the West Bank were inseparable entities until Hamas’s bloody takeover of the Strip in the summer of 2007 damaged that notion. Their 18-month rule is marred by lawlessness, extra-judicial public killings and gang warfare that is more reminiscent of Somalia than a civilised state.

Time magazine reported on the violence that followed the takeover then: “Gangs have tossed enemies alive off 15-storey buildings, shot one another’s children and burst into hospitals to finish off wounded foes lying helplessly in bed.”

Last week, Taghreed El-Khodary of the New York Times reported that Hamas militants in civilian clothing again resorted to killing wounded former inmates of Gaza’s central jail who were accused of collaboration with the enemy. These unproved “collaborators” were executed in public even though Palestinian Human Rights groups repeatedly claim that “most of these people are completely innocent”. Hamas seems to be either unable or unwilling to stop such extrajudicial executions.

Additionally, on the first anniversary of Hamas’s takeover of the Gaza Strip, the Christian Science Monitor found a lack of medicines in hospitals as well as of clean drinking water in the territory, and raw sewage streaming into the sea. And this isn’t because Hamas’s dignity prevents it from meeting the enemy.

By any standards Hamas has failed miserably. It has failed in peace, failed in governance, and moreover failed in war. In addition to Hamas’s ambiguous political agenda, their goal seems to be resistance for the sake of resistance, a quagmire where the journey really is the destination. It is time for Khaled Mashaal to step down and allow more competent leaders to emerge before he causes even more damage to his cause.

The question is if Hamas leaves, what is the alternative?"

Art - "God exterminate this HAMAS"