ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) — Pakistan’s government has agreed to a $7.6 billion aid deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Pakistan’s top finance official said.
he IMF endorsed Pakistan’s homegrown program after a review and agreed to the aid package to be paid out overtwo years to help Pakistan meet short term financial needs, including balance of payments, said Shaukat Tareen, the finance advisor to Pakistan’s prime minister.
"The only thing which we debated was the interest rates," Tareen said. Pakistan agreed to a two percent interest rate, he said.
Pakistan expects to receive the first installment before the end of the month with further payments spread over a two-year period, according to The Associated Press.
The loan will be used to bolster Pakistan’s dwindling foreign currency reserves amid concern that a run on the Pakistani rupee could force the country to default on its international debt, AP said.
The U.S. sees nuclear-armed Pakistan as a crucial regional ally in the so-called "War on Terror" and is concerned that economic instability in the country could undermine the government in Islamabad’s efforts to counter insurgents in the semiautonomous northwestern tribal regions bordering Afghanistan.
According to the University of Iowa’s presidential-futures market, John McCain’s prospects peaked on March 22, 2008. By that day it was clear he’d be the nominee, though he had not yet been officially nominated. The market implied that his odds of winning the White House were 55 percent.
But then financial markets began their historic fall, which accelerated as the campaign wore on. When McCain’s probability of winning was at its peak, the S&P 500 index stood at 1,329.54. By November 5, it had dropped 28.3 percent, to 952.77. The question: Did the tanking economy help Obama; did the economy tank as a reaction to the fact that Obama might become president; neither; or both?
Democratic partisans prefer the first explanation. Nobel Prize–winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, for example, recently wrote that “Barack Obama owes his victory in large measure to the prospect of the longest and deepest economic downturn in a quarter-century and perhaps since the Great Depression.”
Stiglitz is right. The link between bad economic news and diminishing prospects for the presidential candidate who represents the incumbent party is older than sliced bread, and has been carefully documented by Yale economist Ray Fair. But Stiglitz is only half right, because the negative correlation between Obama’s prospects and stock prices reflected an ominous feedback loop: As Obama’s odds of winning rose, markets tanked; as they tanked, Obama’s odds of winning rose.
Obama supporters will of course dispute this, but market movements after the election confirm that an “Obama Panic” took place in October and November. The day after the election, the S&P 500 dropped 5.2 percent, the worst reception ever for a winning candidate. It dropped another 5 percent the next day.
What explains the despair? A look at Obama’s platform suggests that he plans four big changes that, if implemented, could have terrible economic consequences. Think of them as the Four Horsemen of Obamanomics.
The First Horseman is a bill, the “Fair Currency Act,” that Obama co-sponsored last May. If this bill becomes law, it could ignite a trade war similar to the Smoot-Hawley catastrophe that contributed to the Great Depression.
The bill allows the U.S. to impose duties on imported Chinese products to offset China’s purported currency manipulation. Michigan senator Debbie Stabenow has argued that the measure will “protect” Americans from China and other countries that artificially lower the cost of exports. Imposing new duties on these products, according to the bill’s supporters, would “level the playing field” and would restore the competitive position of American manufacturers in the global marketplace.
But such “protection” is never the end of the story. If we impose duties, others will respond in kind, and trade will suffer. During the campaign, Democratic economists apologized for Obama’s anti-trade rhetoric — they claimed he understood the benefits of free trade and was just scoring political points. We will soon find out whether such reassurances were justified.
The Second Horseman is “card check.” Card check allows union organizers to form a bargaining unit once they receive signed authorization forms, or “cards,” from a majority of employees. The National Labor Relations Act currently permits this, but also allows employers to challenge the results and require a secret-ballot election. The Employee Free Choice Act, which passed the House last year and was defeated only by Republican opposition in the Senate, would take away the right to challenge card-check petitions except when fraud or coercion is suspected. Arguments against card check often focus on fairness: By taking away the option of a secret-ballot election, card check would make it easier for union bosses to intimidate workers into acquiescence. But consider, also, the impact of further unionization on businesses: Costs would skyrocket, profits would tank, and bankruptcies and job destruction would follow.
The Third Horseman is tax policy. While much of the political debate centered on Obama’s plan to increase marginal tax rates on the “wealthy,” a little-known footnote to his plan was a call to end the deferral of tax on the profits of U.S. multinational corporations. This is the most alarming of his many proposals.
American firms currently compete in the world economy with an enormous disadvantage. The U.S.’s nominal corporate tax rate, 35 percent, is the second-highest among OECD nations. The gap between our rate and our trading partners’ has been growing sharply; the average corporate rate among non-U.S. OECD nations had fallen all the way to 25 percent by 2007.
A little-appreciated aspect of the tax code has proved the salvation of our multinationals during these high-tax times. If a company locates its profits in a subsidiary based in a low-tax country, it does not have to pay U.S. tax on those profits until the money is sent back to the United States. So a subsidiary operating in Ireland, where the 2007 corporate tax rate was 12.5 percent, can sell its product in France and let the profit pile up in an Irish bank account indefinitely. In this scenario, the disadvantage of the U.S. rate is reduced significantly. Democrats have raged against such deferral, arguing that it encourages firms to move their activity overseas. But deferral is necessary only because of the high tax, which is in and of itself a reason for businesses to go elsewhere.
If Obama successfully ends deferral, our multinationals will suddenly find that costs have dramatically shifted in their disfavor. They will lose business to competitors that operate in low-tax jurisdictions, and cut back employment both here and abroad.
The Fourth Horseman is regulation. As a candidate, Obama blamed deregulation for our economy’s woes, and promised to crack down with new regulations if elected. One can bet that Obama’s efforts will not focus solely on the financial sector, and that many new costs will be imposed on American businesses generally. This despite the fact that most deregulation has been achieved on a bipartisan basis, and widely hailed as successful. Trucking and air travel, for example, are two industries that deregulation has made more efficient.
Given this list of bad policies, it’s little wonder that investors have headed to the exits. The collapse of housing prices and the financial calamity that ensued certainly started the process, but it’s hard to imagine that the market would have plunged this far without the magnifying effect of Obama’s policies — and the most chilling thought is that the market probably has not fully factored the Four Horsemen into current stock prices. It is an open question whether Obama will pursue all of his campaign promises, but the threat that he might has markets predicting apocalypse.
Earlier this week, Iran launched a two stage solid fuel ballistic missile with a range of 1,200 miles making U.S. troops, bases, and allies in the Middle East most notably Israel vulnerable to threats, intimidation and influence from Iran and its President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This display of provocation intended to engage the new administration under President-elect Obama follows the similar tactics of the President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev who set a precedent less than a week ago by threatening the deployment of ballistic missiles on its border if the new U.S. administration does not withdrawal from the agreements that would deploy missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic.
The Iranian ballistic missile proliferation, demonstration and development – coupled with their quest for nuclear weapons – create an extremely unstable region that extends beyond the Middle East and into Europe.
Countries within the region will be forced to react to equalize the status quo and maintain stability. Their limited options are, to rely upon and request American security, match and deter the ballistic missile inventory of Iran, launch pre-emptive military action, or become nuclear.
Iran’s technical development of two stage and solid fuel boosters with its ballistic missiles extends their range and technology today and in the future to influence, deter and threaten Europe and critical U.S. bases stationed in Europe.
It is clearly apparent for President-elect Obama and his new administration to have flexibility, tools and options to deal with Iran to maintain peace and stability in the Middle East. The current investment in missile defense capabilities must continue to be developed, tested and deployed from the European third site to the U.S. and regional missile defense assets to ensure security and stability for the Middle East.
Missile defense will supplement current and future diplomatic and threat reduction efforts as well as give insurance for protection and stability in case of failure of these efforts.
"The power holders in the new American government are trying to regain their lost influence with a tactical change in their foreign diplomacy. They are shifting from hard conflict to a soft attack," Hossein Taeb said, Deputy Commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.
To be effective with soft power you need hard power assets in place.
…and we’re going to trust Barack Hussein Obama with national security secrets too? The U.S. military (especially Special Operations missions in Afghanistan/Pakistan) would be wise not to divulge any military secrets, battle plans, because BHO is no friend of the U.S. military.
The New York Times today splashed the details of yesterday’s first meeting between President George W. Bush and President-elect Barack Hussein Obama. It was a private meeting between the president and president-elect with no staff attending.
To get the story out, once again the journalistically unprofessional NYT took advantage of citing unidentified sources, indicating their information came from “advisers to Mr. Obama”.
“Advisers to Mr. Obama” would have known nothing without Obama filling them in.
Meanwhile, among the legions of unknowns about Obama, and who he really is, comes a proven known: Obama blows confidences.
Obama is touting an armed “national civilian security force” to rival the U.S. military and mandatory “community service” for all children. Obama’s paid “digital brown-shirts” dominated the internet throughout the 2008 election cycle silencing or countering all anti-Obama news stories, often before they even came out, resulting in the election of a man people know literally nothing about.
A sense of civic duty and voluntary civil service has always been a good American idea. Involuntary service forced at gun-point, is something quite different.
Obama has no personal military, intelligence or security experience and his “community service” experience is limited to ACORN, Annenberg and Woods Fund “community organizing” of the Black Panther thugery sort. Obama mentors like Saul Alinsky and William Ayers, taught him all that he knows about civic duty.
But Obama knows something his voters don’t!
As he marches his 63 million mindless minions into unbridled Marxism, it will become impossible to man the U.S. Military through conventional voluntary means. Young American patriots have always been willing to volunteer to risk life and limb for freedom and liberty, but what about for Marxism?
How many young Americans will volunteer to put their lives on the line for Obama’s global socialism? American soldiers have fought and died to spread freedom and end Marxism all over the world. Now they are going to fight and die to defend it here at home?
There was a mass exodus of military personnel at all levels under Clinton, because young men and women trained in the time honored tradition of God and Country, freedom and liberty, would not take orders from a Commander-in-Chief that wrote about how he “loathed the military” as he dodged military service by taking classes at Oxford during Vietnam.
You can only imagine the military reaction to an Arab Commander-in-Chief while soldiers are dying in an ongoing war against radical Arab Islam. You can imagine how many “God and Country” freedom fighters will take orders from a man who has spent his life in a consistent effort to destroy the same constitutional republic that soldiers volunteer to defend.
Democrats to reduce Military Spending by 25%
Democrats now in full control of all branches of government
Once we refuse to fight tyranny and terror abroad, and “change” America to tyrannical One World socialism at home, they are right. A military sworn to uphold, protect and defend the Constitution they aim to dismantle, is counter-productive to the cause. The new mass exodus of true patriots will be welcomed by the new administration.
Hence, the need for a new “brown-shirt” civilian security force to exact Martial Law on an immoral poverty stricken society, operating at the Command of the new “Black House,” as Obama supporters like to refer to it.
Our all volunteer forces are sworn to defend the Constitution and the people against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. The new National Security Force will instead be sworn to support and defend Obama’s administration as it works to effect the kind of “change” that is a direct attack on the Constitution and the people. Not a small difference…
Re-instating the Draft
For all practical purposes, voluntary military service will end on January 20, 2009, unless Obama fails to answer the
Americans won’t volunteer their lives in defense of Marxism. People in the military now, will not re-up. They didn’t sign up to defend Marxism. They signed up to defend freedom. The nation just voted against freedom.
The increased threat of homeland terror attacks inherent with the withdrawal from the fields of battle abroad will drive a need for better security at home. As patriots will not volunteer, they will have to be drafted, forced into service, either in Obama’s new military – fighting in defense of international socialism now, – or as a member of Obama’s new National Civilian Security Service, aka “brown-shirts.”
The collapse of America’s financial system, a direct result of past Democrat economic policies consistent with liberals
Cloward-Piven Strategy, will cause civil unrest in all major cities across the nation and Obama knows it, even if his voters don’t.
But, unrest in the streets will be easier to control with the use of mandatory community service, ACORN style of course. People can’t resist if they are forced to support the cause via mandatory civil service.
The all volunteer military will soon be gone, replaced by Obama’s “brown-shirt” military, forced to serve via a draft, making it a crime not to serve.
People unwilling to serve in the new Marxist government under the mandatory draft must be re-educated. We have seen Obama supporters across the country become belligerent towards anyone willing to disagree. There will be no tolerance for those mounting an insurgency against Obama’s Marxism. The mob has spoken and the rest must accept it!
You were labeled a “racist” if you failed to march in lockstep behind the Obama campaign. Biden told you that you were “unpatriotic” if you resist their right to confiscate more of your hard-earned property, for the greater common good. You will be a “traitor” if you refuse to be drafted into Obama’s national community organizing effort.
You must be punished and you must be taught a lesson! You must get your thinking right and that’s why the “
Fairness Doctrine” will be used to silence “Redneck Talk Radio.” The aim is not to get their message out. It’s already out… That’s how they got 63 million voters. The aim is to silence dissenting views and Obama just announced his “Fairness Doctrine” head of the FCC, life-long leftist lawyer Henry Rivera.
This is the New America
According to Obama, this is all for your own good. You failed at individual freedom and he was elected to mandate a greater common good.
Obama will come after your property and your guns. Then he will draft your children into his new civic services community. He will replace an all voluntary military loyal to the people and their constitution with a National Security Force loyal to “change.”
63 million Americans wanted “
change.” But they never stopped to ask what kind of change Obama had in mind. They will learn soon enough, the hard way…. as change is a comin’!
The president-elect’s advisers quietly craft a proposal to ship dozens, if not hundreds, of imprisoned terrorism suspects to the United States to face criminal trials.
WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama’s advisers are quietly crafting a proposal to ship dozens, if not hundreds, of imprisoned terrorism suspects to the United States to face criminal trials, a plan that would make good on his promise to close the Guantanamo Bay prison but could require creation of a controversial new system of justice.
During his campaign, Obama described Guantanamo as a "sad chapter in American history" and has said generally that the U.S. legal system is equipped to handle the detainees. But he has offered few details on what he planned to do once the facility is closed.
Under plans being put together in Obama’s camp, some detainees would be released and many others would be prosecuted in U.S. criminal courts.
A third group of detainees — the ones whose cases are most entangled in highly classified information — might have to go before a new court designed especially to handle sensitive national security cases, according to advisers and Democrats involved in the talks. Advisers participating directly in the planning spoke on condition of anonymity because the plans are not final.
The move would be a sharp deviation from the Bush administration, which established military tribunals to prosecute detainees at the Navy base in Cuba and strongly opposes bringing prisoners to the United States. Obama’s Republican challenger, John McCain, had also pledged to close Guantanamo. But McCain opposed criminal trials, saying the Bush administration’s tribunals should continue on U.S. soil.
The plan being developed by Obama’s team has been championed by legal scholars from both political parties. But it is almost certain to face opposition from Republicans who oppose bringing terrorism suspects to the U.S. and from Democrats who oppose creating a new court system with fewer rights for detainees.
Laurence Tribe, a Harvard law professor and Obama legal adviser, said discussions about plans for Guantanamo had been "theoretical" before the election but would quickly become very focused because closing the prison is a top priority. Bringing the detainees to the United States will be controversial, he said, but could be accomplished.
"I think the answer is going to be, they can be as securely guarded on U.S. soil as anywhere else," Tribe said. "We can’t put people in a dungeon forever without processing whether they deserve to be there."
The tougher challenge will be allaying fears by Democrats who believe the Bush administration’s military commissions were a farce and dislike the idea of giving detainees anything less than the full constitutional rights normally enjoyed by everyone on U.S. soil.
"There would be concern about establishing a completely new system," said Rep. Adam Schiff of California, a member of the House Judiciary Committee and former federal prosecutor who is aware of the discussions in the Obama camp. "And in the sense that establishing a regimen of detention that includes American citizens and foreign nationals that takes place on U.S. soil and departs from the criminal justice system — trying to establish that would be very difficult."
Obama has said the civilian and military court-martial systems provide "a framework for dealing with the terrorists," and Tribe said the administration would look to those venues before creating a new legal system. But discussions of what a new system would look like have already started.
"It would have to be some sort of hybrid that involves military commissions that actually administer justice rather than just serve as kangaroo courts," Tribe said. "It will have to both be and appear to be fundamentally fair in light of the circumstances. I think people are going to give an Obama administration the benefit of the doubt in that regard."
Though a hybrid court may be unpopular, other advisers and Democrats involved in the Guantanamo Bay discussions say Obama has few other options.
Prosecuting all detainees in federal courts raises a host of problems. Evidence gathered through military interrogation or from intelligence sources might be thrown out. Defendants would have the right to confront witnesses, meaning undercover CIA officers or terrorist turncoats might have to take the stand, jeopardizing their cover and revealing classified intelligence tactics.
In theory, Obama could try to transplant the Bush administration’s military commission system from Guantanamo Bay to a U.S. prison. But Tribe said, and other advisers agreed, that was "a nonstarter." With lax evidence rules and intense secrecy, the military commissions have been criticized by human rights groups, defense attorneys and even some military prosecutors who quit the process in protest.
"I don’t think we need to completely reinvent the wheel, but we need a better tribunal process that is more transparent," Schiff said.
That means something different would need to be done if detainees couldn’t be released or prosecuted in traditional courts. Exactly what that something would look like remains unclear.
According to three advisers participating in the process, Obama is expected to propose a new court system, appointing a committee to decide how such a court would operate. Some detainees likely would be returned to the countries where they were first captured for further detention or rehabilitation. The rest could probably be prosecuted in U.S. criminal courts, one adviser said. All spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing talks, which have been private.
Whatever form it takes, Tribe said he expects Obama to move quickly.
"In reality and symbolically, the idea that we have people in legal black holes is an extremely serious black mark," Tribe said. "It has to be dealt with."
The official website of President-Elect Barack Obama, Change.gov, originally announced that Obama would "require" all middle school through college students to participate in community service programs; but after a flurry of blogs protested children being drafted into Obama’s proposed youth corps, the website’s wording was softened.
Originally, under the tab "America Serves" Change.gov read, "President-Elect Obama will expand national service programs like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps and will create a new Classroom Corps to help teachers in under served schools, as well as a new Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, and Veterans Corps.
"Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year," the site announced.
Gateway Pundit called Obama’s plan the "creation of his Marxist youth corps," and DBKP commented, "’Choosing’ to serve should be approved by parents – not required by the government. No amount of good intentions can sugar-coat words like ‘mandatory,’ ‘compulsory’ or ‘required.’"
Following the furor raised by bloggers, however, the website’s wording was changed.
The word "require" was stricken from the website yesterday, replaced with the phrase "setting a goal" and now also listing tax credits toward college tuition.
The original wording is captured below:
The current website’s content now reads:
The new wording is consistent with Obama’s campaign website, which also described the college tuition tax credit and detailed "enabling" Americans to serve, rather than "requiring" them to serve.
J.D. Tuccille of the Civil Liberties Examiner also points out, "Most public schools depend on federal dollars. As Obama elaborated in a speech last December, ‘At the middle and high school level, we’ll make federal assistance conditional on school districts developing service programs, and give schools resources to offer new service opportunities’
"So, it won’t be the nasty federal government forcing your kids to donate their time to government-approved service, it’ll be the local schools – but that requirement will be among the strings attached to federal money," Tuccille writes.
Obama’s selection of an advocate for mandatory civil service, Rahm Emanuel, as his chief of staff has further worried bloggers that Obama’s plans may be more "requirement" than "encouragement."
In his book, "The Plan: Big Ideas for America," Emanuel writes: "It’s time for a real Patriot Act that brings out the patriot in all of us. We propose universal civilian service for every young American. Under this plan, all Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 will be asked to serve their country by going through three months of basic training, civil defense preparation and community service."
Tuccille comments, "Emanuel and co-author Bruce Reed insist ‘this is not a draft,’ but go on to write of young men and women, ‘the nation will enlist them for three months of civilian service.’ They also warn, ‘Some Republicans will squeal about individual freedom,’ ruling out any likelihood that they would let people opt out of universal citizen service."
Obama has also yet to clarify what he meant during his July "Call to Service" speech in Colorado Springs, in which he insisted the U.S. "cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we’ve set" and needs a "civilian national security force."
Obama spokesmen have declined to return WND calls requesting an explanation of what this security force would be or whether this force would be "required" or "encouraged."
"If we’re going to create some kind of national police force as big, powerful and well-funded as our combined U.S. military forces, isn’t this rather a big deal?" Farah wrote. "I thought Democrats generally believed the U.S. spent too much on the military. How is it possible their candidate is seeking to create some kind of massive but secret national police force that will be even bigger than the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force put together?
"Is Obama serious about creating some kind of domestic security force bigger and more expensive than that? If not, why did he say it? What did he mean?" Farah wrote.
His call generated intense Internet discussions.
The Blue Collar Muse blog commented, "The questions are legion and the implications of such an organization are staggering! What would it do? According to the title, it’s a civilian force so how would it go about discharging ‘national security’ issues? What are the Constitutional implications for such a group? How is this to be paid. … The statement was made in the context of youth service. Is this an organization for just the youth or are adults going to participate? How does one get away from the specter of other such ‘youth’ organizations from Nazi Germany and the former Soviet Union when talking about it?"
Michael Kinsley also commented generally on plans for enlisting America’s youth in voluntary versus required volunteerism on Time’s website: "Problem number one with grand schemes for universal voluntary public service is that they can’t be both universal and voluntary. If everybody has to do it, then it’s not voluntary, is it? And if it’s truly up to the individual, then it won’t be universal."
A few weeks back I expressed the opinion that the American people would never tolerate anyone, foreign or homegrown, depriving them of their Second Amendment rights to bear arms.
I penned those words amid of flurry of articles expressing fear of a presidential win by Barack Hussein Obama would lead to social dictatorship in the U.S. Now, with BHO’s hand firmly on the front door of the White House, those fears, being expressed mostly through the Internet, have not subsided as more people try to understand what the new president is all about.
Today, Nov. 7, the New York Times, carries a story by Kirk Johnson headlined: “On Concerns Over Gun Control, Gun Sales Are Up. The article quoted sources out of Texas, Montana, Colorado, Nevada and Pennsylvania. According to federal law-enforcement officials, sales are up 17 per cent both handguns and long guns. Semi automatic weapons are also very popular. Now that is interesting since sales levels for everything else are down the toilet.
The reason? People are afraid a BHO regime will somehow legislate against gun ownership. And how did people get that idea? From the mainstream media? Not on your life. They are turning to the Internet and sites that are not afraid to tell the truth.
The NYT report also announces that battles over guns “raged fiercely” throughout the presidential election campaign. Really? How come the MSM didn’t bother to tell us that during the election? No, they had to wait for three days after.
I am revisiting this issue because of a CFP cover piece titled: Obama’s Homeland Security Police State. This is a must-read piece. What is being proposed is nothing short of the creation of regional enforcement committees that could be used to disarm residents neighborhood by neighborhood under the guise of fighting terrorism.
Now call me a lunatic conspiracy theorist if you wish, but these same kind of groups were used to control the populations of Eastern Europe during their forced servitude to the old USSR.
One more point. It should be very worrisome to Americans that so many dictators and terror groups are flocking to announce their support for BHO and praising him for winning the U.S. election. Some analysts have said Middle East support for him is because of color.
The same appears to be true for his support among African states. One thing about so many African states is they really know how to run a democracy. If you don’t believe me, just ask Robert Mugabe.
Now let’s consider this. Maybe, just maybe, all the news media types around the world on the web, all the bloggers, all the analysts and all the sites created by various freedom and other groups are wrong about Barack Hussein Obama. He would be owed the mother of all apologies. I doubt, however, that he will even come close to earning that apology.
The reason all these websites exist is the fact that the MSM are simply not telling the truth and we know it.
Now, according to the NYT story, a lot of other people know it because they have turned to our sites and have learned the facts. They know they’ve been misled and lied to. And now they are out buying guns.
But do not be misled. The NYT story quotes a gun store owner in Montana as saying his customers are awake, and aware and see a dangerous trend. And where are they getting their information on which to base their conclusions, “They are educating themselves on the Internet.”
If the mainstream media had done its job, people might not need the Internet. They might not even feel the need to buy more guns and ammunition.
With guns, we are ‘citizens.’ Without them, we are ’subjects’.
While Americans have been fixated on the drama of our national elections, the Syrian army has reportedly taken up battle positions in four villages around Hasbaya opposite Mt. Hermon and northern Israel.
Elements of the Syrian 10th, 12th and 14th Divisions and the Third Army are now poised opposite Israeli positions holding the disputed Shebaa Farms enclave on Mt. Harmon. At this point, too, all of Lebanon is encircled by Syrian troop emplacements.
Reportedly, too, Syria has established a military presence inside Lebanon. During the past summer, they set up radar stations on the Lebanese peaks of Mt. Sannine and Barukh in the central mountain range. Such radar provides a look at every move on Lebanese territory, in northern Israel, and on the eastern Mediterranean.
Lebanon is where the next big, Middle East war will begin and Lebanon will be the platform for a massed attack on Israel. Meanwhile, in Gaza, tons of explosives and weapons have been smuggled into this enclave of Hamas. A coordinated attack from the north and south cannot be ruled out.
In Israel, the politics of the nation has slowed progress toward selecting a new prime minister and putting together a ruling coalition. Israelis have pinned their hopes on a deal with Fatah, formerly the more powerful of the two Palestinian factions, but it has a weak leader and is largely an impotent partner for peace even if it wanted it. There is no proof of that despite U.S. efforts to facilitate an agreement.
To understand the timing of the next war it is important to know that the Israeli congress, the Knesset, will dissolve itself on November 11th and, for the next four or five months, there will be a major power vacuum; a nation essentially without a government that would be vital in the event of an attack. That is why an attack is imminent.
President-elect Obama has surrounded himself with foreign affairs advisors that are uniformly anti-Israel. Despite his protestations, he is likely to be the first U.S. President who would not take steps to assist an Israel under attack.
Indeed, even the Bush administration in its waning days has essentially signaled Syria that, if it keeps its promises to control Hezbollah within Lebanon, it would not oppose its return to control that nation.
All this suggests that a massive attack on Israel will be mounted.
In the sixty years of Israeli sovereignty, it has essentially been at war every day. This, too, is why Palestinians have been never been allowed to migrate and integrate into the other nations of the Middle East. At least two generations of Palestinians have been deliberately kept as refugees without a state.
If Israel were defeated, it would be seen as a signal that the Islamic Revolution is succeeding. It will put American and allied European troops in the region at significant risk. The British have already withdrawn theirs from southern Iraq and it explains in part why British and French generals are recommending that Afghanistan be abandoned.
More to the point, it does not matter what America and Europe do with regard to the Middle East. In the end, wise heads may conclude that it needs to be “contained” much as the former Soviet Union was for four decades. The fever of the Islamic revolution must be allowed to run its course until the people of the Middle East reject it.
In the meantime, with a President-elect who spent his formative years in Indonesia as the adopted son of a Muslim and who has Muslim relatives in Kenya, an attack on Israel is virtually guaranteed.
Who says you can’t have it all? The Democrats — the Left — now have the White House, control of both houses of Congress, a majority of governors’ mansions, a majority of state legislatures, the entertainment media, the elite news media, the unions, the educational establishment, the lion’s share of the philanthropic community, and increasing power over the courts.
Will President-elect Barack H. Obama use this awesome power to strengthen America’s defenses in a time of global conflict and repair America’s economy in a period of financial distress? Or will his goal be to solidify the Left’s grip for the long-term, for example by shutting down conservative talk radio and perhaps other pockets of media resistance, by growing the percentage of Americans dependent on government programs, and by using immigration policy and gerrymandering to create a permanent Democratic majority? Your guess is as good as mine.
Give Obama his due: It is an exceptional politician who can win the support of Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, and Kenneth Duberstein, former chief of staff to President Reagan; of William Ayers, an unrepentant terrorist, and Christopher Buckley, son of William F. Buckley, founder of modern intellectual conservatism; of Rashid Khalidi, an Israel-hater, and Edgar Bronfman, former head of the World Jewish Congress. Here’s a not-very-bold prediction: A year from now, someone is going to be sorely disappointed.
Thomas Jefferson famously said that “every generation needs a new revolution.” Could this be ours? I know: On Tuesday, we had an election, not an insurrection. But look up revolution in the dictionary and you’ll find it means “change” — sudden, radical, or fundamental change. Is that not what Obama has been promising?
The thing about revolutions is that very few succeed. The American Revolution was an exception in large measure because America’s founding revolutionaries were not utopians: They believed people had a right to govern themselves — even if they governed badly. They saw freedom as a means, but didn’t claim they could envision the ends. They understood that no system of government, however clever, can guarantee happiness — only the right to pursue that elusive state of being.
The more ambitious French Revolution that soon followed deteriorated into what became known as the Terror — mass executions that Robespierre defended as “prompt, severe, inflexible justice.” Pace Zhou Enlai, it is not “too early to say” that the French Revolution was a failure.
In the 20th century, revolutions in Russian and China failed on a grander scale — millions of innocent people murdered, imprisoned, and tortured, again in the name of justice.
And soon it will be 30 years since Iran’s Revolution. We have no idea how much suffering theocratic fascism will inflict on the world.
But back to more prosaic matters: John McCain did not win the Republican primary — he did not defeat Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson, et al. Rather, each of those campaigns imploded or eroded — and McCain was the last man left standing.
I thought it possible that something similar might happen in the general election. Had the race become a referendum on Obama — his lack of experience, his links with so many unsavory and radical characters — a majority of Americans might well have decided to at least wait a few years before giving him the keys to Air Force One.
In another era, the mainstream media might have seen it as their duty to probe deeply and reveal to the public as much about Obama as they could. But the days of a fiercely independent, disinterested, tough-but-fair press are over. Too many American journalists have become partisans, propagandists, and lackeys. This, also, is a kind of revolution.
In another era – say, four years ago — independent political groups would have focused the public’s attention on such issues. One reason that did not happen this time: restrictions on political speech — gussied up as “campaign-finance reform” and championed by none other than John McCain.
Those who helped the Swift Boat Veterans tell their tales about serving under John Kerry’s command were warned by their lawyers that it would cost them more than just money if they were responsible for ads questioning Obama’s fitness for office. They’d be served subpoenas and find themselves confronting hostile congressional committees. They might suffer other forms of harassment as well.
Of course, McCain himself could have forced this debate into the public square. But he was either unwilling or unable to do what needed to be done. Though a military man by breeding and training, as a candidate he shot rubber bullets and pulled his punches.
There were other factors, too — enough to fill books, and that will happen. So long as national security was the issue foremost on voters’ minds, McCain was a contender. But when the economy went into a tailspin, McCain threw away his advantage. He raced back to Washington in an effort to show he was a work horse, not a show horse. Huddling with the confused and querulous politicians who had caused the crisis did not enhance his image as an elder statesman.
Obama was well-advised to stay on the campaign trail and stay on message, continuing to offer “hope” and to promise “change.” Soon now, we’ll find out what that really means.