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Category Archives: Middle East

The Republicans who ran on fixing the economy are saying their recommended cuts may kill more jobs. Obama’s budget is cutting education programs but hanging tight on defense dollars. Wait, what? Andrew Sullivan is calling foul:

Obama just said that even the Republicans’ small cuts in defense would “undermine … national security.” Just to let all of you Obama voters in 2008: yes, he’s arguing for a bigger military budget than the Republicans. He has moved the withdrawal date from Afghanistan to 2014 and if Petraeus asks for longer, how can we trust he won’t get it?

If this is the president’s attitude toward the debt crisis, made so much worse by the recession, it means this country’s pressing problems have been deferred until he gets re-elected. Change? This is not just more of the same; it’s far worse – and with every year, more dangerous.

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Is it just me, or is the Tea Party’s religiosity a strange ecumenical brew? They seem to be oddly fundamentalist in their rhetoric yet very reluctant to see any problem with an elder in the LDS church (a Christian cult that espouses that Jesus and Satan are spirit brothers) being their anointed spokesman. They also seem hellbent to see no discernible difference between moderate Islam rec centers and Jihadist al-Qaeda terrorist camps. So very weird. An unrelenting broadness that masquerades as narrowness. It just gets curiouser and curiouser.

Michael Moore channels Harry Truman in his open letter to the President.

It is not your job to do what the generals tell you to do. We are a civilian-run government. WE tell the Joint Chiefs what to do, not the other way around. That’s the way General Washington insisted it must be. That’s what President Truman told General MacArthur when MacArthur wanted to invade China. “You’re fired!,” said Truman, and that was that. And you should have fired Gen. McChrystal when he went to the press to preempt you, telling the press what YOU had to do. Let me be blunt: We love our kids in the armed services, but we f*#&in’ hate these generals, from Westmoreland in Vietnam to, yes, even Colin Powell for lying to the UN with his made-up drawings of WMD (he has since sought redemption).

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Prosecuting the war on terror has always required a steely resolve, a heart of courage and a complete disregard for history, facts or anything approaching reality. It is a shame that the Nobel Prize committee can’t cough up a Nobel War prize. John McCain and the neo cons would be shoo ins.   Frank Rich of the New York Times explains:

Perhaps the most surreal aspect of our great Afghanistan debate is the Beltway credence given to the ravings of the unrepenant blunderers who dug us into this hole in the first place.

Let’s be clear: Those who demanded that America divert its troops and treasure from Afghanistan to Iraq in 2002 and 2003 — when there was no Qaeda presence in Iraq — bear responsibility for the chaos in Afghanistan that ensued. Now they have the nerve to imperiously and tardily demand that America increase its 68,000-strong presence in Afghanistan to clean up their mess — even though the number of Qaeda insurgents there has dwindled to fewer than 100, according to the president’s national security adviser, Gen. James Jones.

But why let facts get in the way? Just as these hawks insisted that Iraq was “the central front in the war on terror” when the central front was Afghanistan, so they insist that Afghanistan is the central front now that it has migrated to Pakistan. When the day comes for them to anoint Pakistan as the central front, it will be proof positive that Al Qaeda has consolidated its hold on Somalia and Yemen.

To appreciate this crowd’s spotless record of failure, consider its noisiest standard-bearer, John McCain. He made every wrong judgment call that could be made after 9/11. It’s not just that he echoed the Bush administration’s constant innuendos that Iraq collaborated with Al Qaeda’s attack on America. Or that he hyped the faulty W.M.D. evidence to the hysterical extreme of fingering Iraq for the anthrax attacks in Washington. Or that he promised we would win the Iraq war “easily.” Or that he predicted that the Sunnis and the Shiites would “probably get along” in post-Saddam Iraq because there was “not a history of clashes” between them.

What’s more mortifying still is that McCain was just as wrong about Afghanistan and Pakistan. He routinely minimized or dismissed the growing threats in both countries over the past six years, lest they draw American resources away from his pet crusade in Iraq.

Two years after 9/11 he was claiming that we could “in the long term” somehow “muddle through” in Afghanistan. (He now has the chutzpah to accuse President Obama of wanting to “muddle through” there.) Even after the insurgency accelerated in Afghanistan in 2005, McCain was still bragging about the “remarkable success” of that prematurely abandoned war. In 2007, some 15 months after the Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf signed a phony “truce” ceding territory on the Afghanistan border to terrorists, McCain gave Musharraf a thumb’s up. As a presidential candidate in the summer of 2008, McCain cared so little about Afghanistan it didn’t even merit a mention among the national security planks on his campaign Web site

…Americans, meanwhile, want to see the fine print after eight years of fiasco with little accounting. While McCain and company remain frozen where they were in 2001, many of their fellow citizens have learned from the Iraq tragedy. Polls persistently find that the country is skeptical about what should and can be accomplished in Afghanistan. They voted for Obama not least because they wanted a new post-9/11 vision of national security, and they will not again be so easily bullied by the blustering hawks’ doomsday scenarios. That gives our deliberating president both the time and the political space to get this long war’s second act right.

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The Holy Scriptures warn us of false messiahs promising “Peace, peace” when there is no peace. However, the Good Book says precious little about folks who receive Nobel Peace prizes when they have no peace accomplishments to merit it. President Obama has been awarded this honor after a mere nine months on the job, with America embroiled in two land wars and, most recently, having just bombed the moon. The event is rich with irony. But our President accepted the award with appropriate humility and understood it as a reminder of what he has yet to be accomplished, rather than a metric of  “mission accomplished” achievements to quote his Nobel-prizeless predecessor. Whether Obama’s over-the-top apologetic rhetoric on foreign soil has emboldened terrorists remains to be seen. What is certain is his turning sabre-rattling into multilateral cooperation has at least emboldened our European allies. Which after the last eight years , is worth, at least, an honorable mention.

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JibJab has done it again.

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Apparently, General David Petraeus is having an unhappy honeymoon with the new Commander-in-Chief. The pillow talk is not what it used to be. And it seems this President is not comfortable with a Petraeus scheme of simply relabeling Iraqi-based troops and calling that a withdrawal:

Petraeus was visibly unhappy when he left the Oval Office, according to one of the sources. A White House staffer present at the meeting was quoted by the source as saying, “Petraeus made the mistake of thinking he was still dealing with George Bush instead of with Barack Obama.”

Petraeus, Gates and Odierno had hoped to sell Obama on a plan that they formulated in the final months of the Bush administration that aimed at getting around a key provision of the U.S.-Iraqi withdrawal agreement signed envisioned re-categorising large numbers of combat troops as support troops. That subterfuge was by the United States last November while ostensibly allowing Obama to deliver on his campaign promise.

Gates and Mullen had discussed the relabeling scheme with Obama as part of the Petraeus-Odierno plan for withdrawal they had presented to him in mid-December, according to a Dec. 18 New York Times story.

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Okay, nobody has accused Obama of having a shortage of gray matter. But, wow! His first televised interview, he does for Arabic television. And he can say that members of his family are Muslim, and that he grew up in Muslim countries. All the stuff that didn’t play well in West Virginia, gives this guy a leg up in the West Bank. Hopefully, this does more than reduce the flag burnings. Hopefully, it helps reshape the globe. Yes we can.

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Bin Laden and company are sure going to miss Bush. He was the poster child for al-Qaeda recruitment. Now they are trying to come up with ways to demonize Obama. Good luck with that one.

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After jetting the globe, helping heal the Northern Ireland divide, facing down steroids in major league baseball and accomplishing great things in general, George Mitchell will now be the special envoy to the Middle East. Looks like Mitchell’s good luck is about to change.

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A Jew prays for the children of Gaza:

Almighty who makes exceptions, which we call miracles, make an exception of the children of Gaza. Shield them from us and from their own. Spare them. Heal them. Let them stand in safety. Deliver them from hunger and horror and fury and grief. Deliver them from us, and from their own.

Restore to them their stolen childhoods, their birthright, which is a taste of heaven.

Remind us, O Lord, of the child Ishmael, who is the father of all the children of Gaza. How the child Ishmael was without water and left for dead in the wilderness of Beer-Sheba, so robbed of all hope, that his own mother could not bear to watch his life drain away.

Be that Lord, the God of our kinsman Ishmael, who heard his cry and sent His angel to comfort his mother Hagar.

Be that Lord, who was with Ishmael that day, and all the days after. Be that God, the All-Merciful, who opened Hagar’s eyes that day, and showed her the well of water, that she could give the boy Ishmael to drink, and save his life.

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For all my pro-Israeli Evangelical readers: Can you please  tell God’s “chosen people” to take a break from slaughtering helpless Palestinian woman and children long enough to crack open a Bible. Yes, Hamas has been lobbing primitive rockets into Israel for several months now. But do we really think that doing surgical strikes on civilians is honoring the Mosiac law of proportionality? Can we please hold off on Armageddon just long enough to enjoy the Great Tribulation/Depression that the housing crisis has handed us?

As McCain’s campaign drops in the polls, it’s good know that he has growing support from at least one substantial faith community: al-Qaeda. A password-protected al-Qaeda website ecnourages the faithful to support a McCain presidency. He “…would be a faithful son of Bush” who would help al-Qaeda in “exhausting ” America.

Peggy Noonan has it right. The Liberal bloggers have shot their candidate in both feet. Yet he can still limp to the finish line. But the bloggers and pundits have to take it easy with Sarah. Even Michael Moore understood that. She is the heartland. She loves God and guns, and although we don’t get that, America does. When she prays that the Iraq War be God’s will, it doesn’t mean that she is trying to make it so. She is saying “God, don’t let us get this wrong.” Regular Americans get this, the media doesn’t. Bottomline: Cut Xena a break and maybe she won’t field dress us like a moose.