Topic: GLOBAL

AMERICANS TRAVELING ABROAD

From James Tichacek’s Veteran's RAO Bulletin
Source: Margarita Station Angeles City News JUL 2004 and the U. S. State Department

Millions of Americans travel abroad every year and encounter no difficulties. However, U.S. embassies and consulates assist nearly 200,000 Americans each year who are victims of crime, accident, or illness, or whose family and friends need to contact them in an emergency.

When an emergency happens, or if natural disaster, terrorism, or civil unrest strikes during your foreign travel, the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate can be your source of assistance and information.

By registering your trip, you help the embassy or consulate locate you when you might need them the most. Registration is voluntary but it should be a part of your travel planning and security. This free service is available to U.S. citizens who are traveling to or living in a foreign country. Such registration allows you to record information about your upcoming trip abroad that the Department of State can use to assist you in case of an emergency.

Registration on the website is NOT considered proof of U.S. citizenship. If you apply for any American citizen services from the embassy or consulate while abroad, you will be asked by the consular staff to provide proof of U.S. citizenship, such as a U.S. passport or American birth certificate. Registration on line can be accomplished at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/home.asp [https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/home.asp]. If desired, you can create a password and update personal information on this website at any time. All personal information you provide is secure and protected by the Privacy Act of 1974.

When registering you have the option of selecting:

Short Term Traveler: Tourists and business travelers are examples of those who select the short-term option. If you are traveling outside the United States and plan to return after a brief time (usually less than six months), you should select this option. While you travel, your information will be available to U.S. consular officers should they need to contact or locate you.
Long-Term Traveler/Overseas Resident: If you reside in a foreign country, or will stay in a foreign country for an extended time period, you should select the long-term option. If you make frequent trips to the same country, you may also wish to use the long-term option. Long-term travelers and overseas residents have their information registered directly at the U.S. embassy or consulate nearest their foreign residence or travel destination. You may add information about travel companions or members of your household, as well as your business address and additional ways to contact you. This will help consular officers provide you with emergency and routine services. U.S embassies and consulates often distribute important security information to Americans residing in their regions.
Travel Agent or Organizational Representative: If you are organizing a trip for other travelers and are not traveling yourself, your organization's information should be registered.

While American travelers are abroad, U.S. consular officers can assist those who encounter serious legal, medical, or financial difficulties. Although consular officers cannot act as your legal counsel or representative, they can provide the names of local attorneys and doctors, provide loans to destitute Americans, and provide information about dangerous conditions affecting your overseas travel or residence.

Consular officers also perform non-emergency services, helping Americans with absentee voting, Selective Service registration, receiving federal benefits, and filing U.S. tax forms. They can notarize documents, issue passports, and register American children born abroad. Most embassies and consulates have web sites with more information.

It is not necessary to register, however, to get travel information from the Department of State. Log on to http://travel.state.gov/ [http://travel.state.gov/] for a current listing of all travel warnings, public announcements, and consular information sheets as well as additional information and services.



ANTI-AMERICANISM

By Barry Rubin August 20, 2004
Foreign Policy Research Institute. A Catalyst for Ideas. www.fpri.org [http://www.fpri.org]

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and Senior Fellow of FPRI. He is co-author, with Judith Colp Rubin, of the just-published book “Hating America: A History” (Oxford University Press). This essay is based on his FPRI BookTalk on August 12, 2004.

One of the most contentious issues of this presidential election is the high level of anti-Americanism in the world today. Is the problem due to an understandable reaction against the policies of President George W. Bush or rather the product of forces opposing freedom and democracy?

Like many partisan disputes, this debate misses the point and mashes the facts to suit a predetermined objective: whether Bush is the architect of hostility against the United States or the champion of a free world against totalitarians and whether Bush or Senator John Kerry would be a better president.

If one examines anti-Americanism apart from these set arguments, though, a much more accurate picture emerges.

Anti-Americanism is a phenomenon as old, actually even older, than the United States itself. Although it has gone through various periods and emphases, the main themes have remained remarkably consistent, long predating either the influence of Hollywood or America being a great power internationally. Two of the most important are the vision of the United States as a bad society, which threatens to become the model for the whole world, and that of America as seeking global conquest.

For example, the first clear statement of anti-Americanism came from the French lawyer Simon Linguet in the 1780s. The dregs of Europe, he warned, would build a dreadful society in America, create a strong army, take over Europe, and destroy civilization. If one were to be talking about the spread of notions like democracy and liberty, Linguet's fear was something of a personal premonition. A few years later, he was guillotined by the French revolution.

Similarly, the first use of the word “Americanization” has been traced to an 1867 article in a French journal which warned that the import of American agricultural machinery would end with the elimination of French culture. It is no accident that France has long been the global capital of anti-Americanism. Indeed, the level of hatred toward the United States in the 1920s and 1930s, as well as other decades, has been arguably higher than today.

In considering the roots of anti-Americanism, a dislike of U.S. policies has often been set off against a disdain for American values. Yet there are problems with both explanations. Regarding values, withering criticism and even hatred often arise among people who share those values in broad terms. Europeans are also pro-democratic.

Sometimes, of course, criticism may be on target but what is often being ejected so passionately is either the details of how America interprets those values or a notion of American life based on bizarre stereotypes. For instance, America is seen as typified by capital punishment, yet most states do not put people to death while many Americans oppose this. Thus, capital punishment does not typify America.

By the same token, Americans do not spend all their meals eating pizza and hamburgers. There is a greater variety of culinary experiences available in the United States than in any other country, not to mention the high quality of food that can be found. Another anti-American technique is to compare the average or even lowest level of culture or society in the United States with elite habits in Europe. The average Frenchman does not spend his time reading philosophy and eating haute cuisine.

Most important of all, however, may be the fact that the United States has always been a symbol of modernity. Whatever people did not like about the way the world was heading — urbanization, secularism, mass culture, and so on — was portrayed as a specifically American characteristic. In the Middle East, the nature of American society is even more distorted and misunderstood than in Europe.

The same basic points apply to U.S. policy. One can like or dislike any given American action in the world but what marks the difference between respectful criticism and contorted, even murderous, hatred? If it is assumed that American motives are evil (wanting to steal Iraq's oil and rule the world), then obviously antagonism will prevail.

One question is whether actions are viewed as mistakes or crimes proving the evil nature of America as imperialistic and aggressive. Another is if a systematically negative vision is portrayed, in which anything positive done by the United States is deliberately ignored while other actions are made to seem negative or worse than they are.

As to the timing of this particular wave of anti-Americanism there are different causes. In the Cold War's aftermath, the United States is the world's most powerful country who’s political, economic, and cultural influence seemed ever-spreading. It is not surprising that many would perceive that such a strong power was the great threat to their own societies and countries. In a real sense, the current situation is the realization of the two-centuries'-long nightmare of anti-Americans.

In this context, Bush also seemed to fit long-standing anti-American stereotypes in every detail of his life and deportment. The negative image of America is closely tied up with those who could be portrayed as cowboys, religious, conservatives, and unintellectual. Being unpopular doesn't mean being wrong, however, and only the American voters can determine how they feel about his record and global image.

There is, however, one more extremely important factor that is virtually always omitted in discussions of anti-Americanism: self-interest. Those purveying anti-Americanism have always been those who benefited from doing so, whether promoting their material well-being or ideas.

Dictators use anti-Americanism to convince their subjects to support them. Intellectuals and cultural figures have been the main carriers of anti-Americanism as a weapon against a country whose products compete with their work. Moreover, the spread of the American model would greatly reduce their power and prestige. For Europeans and Middle Easterners, albeit in far different ways, anti-Americanism seems a good slogan to unite around.

Come to think of it, the issue is often used similarly within the United States, as a political tool or a partisan bludgeon. Actually trying to understand the phenomenon in its complexity, however, is the only way to respond successfully to the very real problems it presents us with today.

———————-

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BE AWARE OF WHAT YOU WALK ON

Forwarded by Slim Russell

These are beautiful and thrilling sights to see and realize what a wonder to behold.

Turn up your volume a tad and click here. [http://home.att.net:80/~hideaway_fun/442/planet.htm ]

If it doesn't move downward automatically, do so manually.



CHEMICAL ATTACK NEXT TIME

FORMER MUSLIM WARNS OF THINGS TO COME
Tawfik Hamid in the London Sunday Express
Forwarded by J.D. Johnson

“Britain will be hit by a Chemical attack next time. London [bombings] was nothing. The majority of Muslims are passive terrorists who secretly condone terror attacks on the West,” an Islamic scholar has warned.

Muslim born Tawfik Hamid - who has had close links with Al Qaeda's top brass and predicted the attacks on New York, Madrid and London - warned of worse to come in Britain.

And he called on the Government to act against the “cancer” of extremists hiding within the Muslim community.

The scholar, who has been forced to conceal his real identity after death threats from Islamic fundamentalists, says he was schooled in radicalism and indoctrinated into terrorism as a young man before escaping in the West.

Born in Egypt, he often prayed alongside Al Qaeda leaders including Osama Bin Laden's deputy Ayman Al Zawaheri.

He has now warned, “There will be future terror attacks in Britain and they will make Thursday's bombing in London look like nothing, I expect a major crisis in the next few years. I expect a major chemical attack on the water supply or on the food in Britain.”

He said the failure of Western governments to act against the growing radicalism had allowed it to flourish. “This is like someone with cancer pretending they do not have it.” They ignore it but will just grow and eventually it will kill them.”

Hamid, author of The Real Roots of Islamic Violence has founded an Islamic movement promoting peace but said tackling fundamentalism will fail unless the teachings in Islam change.



CHINA MILITARY POWER

DOD PRESS ADVISORY
No. 046-05 Jul 19, 2005

The Department of Defense has released the 2005 China Military Power Report to Congress. The report can be found
HERE [http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2005/d20050719china.pdf ]

U.S. Department of Defense Official Website: CLICK HERE [http://www.defenselink.mil ]

U.S. Department of Defense News About the War on Terrorism:
CLICK HERE [http://www.defendamerica.mil ]



CHINESE DRAGON AWAKENS

By Bill Gertz, THE WASHINGTON TIMES June 26, 2005
Forwarded by Col. Ken Mackie, USAF (Ret) via p38bob

China is building its military forces faster than U.S. intelligence and military analysts expected, prompting fears that Beijing will attack Taiwan in the next two years, according to Pentagon officials.

READ FULL STORY HERE [http://www.washtimes.com/specialreport/20050626-122138-1088r.htm ].



EUROPEAN SUICIDE

CASUALTY OF A CULTURE WAR
By Rod Dreher, Dallas Morning News 11/10/04
Forwarded by MAJ Jerry Van Wagner, USA (Ret)

Two years ago, I sat in the backyard of an old friend in a suburb of Amsterdam and argued with him over the war on Islamic terrorism that America had undertaken.

“This war is your war,” he said. “Why should we get involved?”

“Because you're already at war,” I said. “You just don't know it yet.”

He does now. Last week, jihad arrived in Holland. Film maker Theo van Gogh, a secularist provocateur who had recently made Submission, an 11-minute film protesting the way Islamic societies treat women, was slain on the streets of Amsterdam. After a gun battle, police took into custody a 26-year-old Moroccan immigrant allegedly connected to Islamic radicals.

Mr. Van Gogh’s killer cut his throat and pinned a letter to his body with a knife plunged into his chest. The letter declared war on the Netherlands, on America, and on Muslim Uncle Toms who did not toe the Islamist line. And the letter specifically threatened the life of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, as Somali refugee, feminist ex-Muslim and Dutch Member of Parliament who had collaborated with Mr. Van Gogh on his film. She is now in hiding.

Everyone around the world who cares about human rights, free speech and the abuse of women should screen Submission. Here in the West, where free speech is our solemn right, an artist was butchered and a lawmaker has gone underground because they dared to raise their voices against Islam.

Despite this, many in the Dutch establishment are wringing their politically correct hands over how their people have to be more sensitive to Muslims.

The Dutch are downright psychopathic on this point. Last week, when a Rotterdam artist spray-painted Thou shalt not kill on a wall near a mosque, the imam called the city government to complain - and the mayor ordered it painted over.

In recent years, when young Moroccan males accosted Dutch women at public swimming pools, calling them filthy names for dressing in an Islamically inappropriate manner, authorities shut down the pools rather than confront the thugs.

Two years ago, the denial of the problem turned homicidal. Prim Fortuyn, an openly gay libertarian running for prime minister, repeatedly warned that the tolerant, secular society the Dutch had built was in danger from crime and Islamic extremism among immigrants who, despite generous government assistance, refused to accept Dutch civic values.

Mr. Fortuyn said that Holland’s multiculturalist mentality blinded the nation to the civilizational threat from Islamic radicalism. Indeed, terrorism experts have cautioned in the wake of 9-11 that Islamic terrorists find friendly territory in Holland because the Dutch taboo against criticizing minorities gave them relative freedom from scrutiny. Mr. Fortuyn charged that his countrymen were too open-minded to take their own side in the clash of civilizations.

The popular Mr. Fortuyn was mercilessly vilified as a right-wing extremist by the politically correct Dutch right-wing extremist by the politically correct Dutch media, even though his politics were left of the U.S. Democratic Party.

He was shot dead days before the election. His murderer was an animal-rights activist who said he wanted to defend immigrants.

Yet Mr. Fortuyn was later vindicated by the very establishment he had attacked. In January, the Dutch Parliament issued a landmark report calling the government’s 30-year multiculturalist coddling of Islamic immigrants a failure. Holland’s major cities are now home to crime-ridden Islamic ghettos and a militant subculture that threatens to tear the country apart.

Now that another Dutchman has given his life for criticizing Islam, Holland is at a crossroads in which its very survival depends on the path the nation takes. By 2020, half the people 18 and under in Holland will be Muslim. By 2100, estimates Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis, all of Europe will be predominantly Muslim.

Demography is destiny. Bassam Tibi, a leading Muslim moderate in Germany, says the only question left to figure out is which Islam - sharia Islam or Euro-Islam - is to dominate in Europe. If Europeans cannot figure out how to make converts to secular liberal democracy out of the Muslim immigrants populations they've welcomed uncritically for a generation or more, their civilization will die.

Future historians will judge it a suicide.



FRENCH DERELICTIONS

Forwarded by LenFreidA

“France has neither winter nor summer nor morals. Apart from these drawbacks it is a fine country. France has usually been governed by prostitutes.” - Mark Twain
“I would rather have a German division in front of me than a French one behind me.” - General George S. Patton
“Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without your accordion.” -Norman Schwartzkopf
“You know, the French remind me a little bit of an aging actress of the 1940s who was still trying to dine out on her looks but doesn't have the face for it.” - John McCain, U.S. Senator from Arizona

As far as I'm concerned, war always means failure” - French President Jacques Chirac
“As far as France is concerned, you're right.” - Rush Limbaugh

“The only time France wants us to go to war is when the German Army is sitting in Paris sipping coffee.” - Regis Philbin
“We can stand here like the French, or we can do something about it.” - Marge Simpson
“You know why the French don't want to bomb Saddam Hussein? Because he hates America, he loves mistresses and wears a beret. He is French, people.” - Conan O'Brien
“I don't know why people are surprised that France won't help us get Saddam out of Iraq. After all, France wouldn't help us get the Germans out of France!” - Jay Leno
“The last time the French asked for 'more proof' it came marching into Paris under a German flag.” - David Letterman

Dennis Miller specializes in anti-French humor with these:
“You can always count on the French to be there when they need us!”
“The only way the French are going in is if we tell them we found truffles in Iraq.”
“The French are always reticent to surrender to the wishes of their friends and always more than willing to surrender to the wishes of their enemies.”

That last one is more than a joke. It's shrewd commentary. It captures why the French make such poor allies. When they pulled out of NATO 40 years ago and declared Americans must close down their bases in France, Secretary of State Dean Rusk had a bitterly caustic response:
“Should we dig up the graves of American soldiers in Normandy, too, and take them home?” No French answer was recorded.

AND THESE… FROM UNKNOWN SOURCES:

How many Frenchmen does it take to change a light bulb? One. He holds the bulb and all of Europe revolves around him.
It is essential for France to join us in the war against Iraq. They can teach the Iraqis how to surrender.
Why are French streets tree-lined? So the Germans can march in the shade.
How many Frenchmen does it take to defend Paris? No one knows. It's never been tried.
What do you call 100,000 Frenchmen with their hands up? The army.
How many gears does a French tank have? Five. Four Reverse and one Forward (in case of an attack from the rear).

REPLACEMENTS FOR THE FRENCH NATIONAL ANTHEM:
“Don't Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin
“Everybody's Somebody's Fool” by Connie Francis
“I'm Leaving It All Up To You” by Donny and Marie Osmond
“I Really Don't Want to Know” by Tommy Edwards
“Live and Let Die” by Wings
“Raise Your Hands” by Jon Bon Jov
“Runaway” by Del Shannon
“Running Scared” by Roy Orbison
“Save It For Me” by The Four Seasons
“Surrender” by Elvis Presley
“Walk Right In” by the Rooftop Singers
“What a Fool Believes” by the Doobie Brothers



FRENCH-MUSLIM CONNECTION

By Thomas D. Segal, tomsegel@joimail.com [mailto:tomsegel@joimail.com]

Harlingen, Texas, May 2, 2004: There are more than one billion Muslims in the world. The largest Muslim population, totaling 180 million, is in Indonesia. It is followed by 125 million in Pakistan, Bangladesh with 109 million and India with 84 million. The remainder is spread through 100 countries, including an estimated 5 million Muslims in France.

Though the figure 5 million may not seem large when viewed next to the populations of countries such as Indonesia, it still represents almost twenty percent of the people in France. What it has done to this western nation is negatively impact it so severely that it may soon lose its European identity. In fact, if the birth rate continues as projected, France will have a Muslim majority in less than 25 years.

According to International Limits To Growth organization writer Brenda Walker, France should be seen as a cautionary tale of immigration run amok, and how quickly things can get out of control. Muslim immigration to France is a post-war phenomenon for the most part. Just a few decades of high immigration of a group with high fertility has put France in the unenviable position of being the European nation thought most likely to be the first to introduce sharia (Islamic) law.

The constant appeasement attitude of officials has also been seen to embolden the Muslim population into making strong demands on the country. As they grow in numbers most French Muslims feel they can impose the will of Islam on the entire country. There is also the threat of violence, which is always a concern by French leaders. They have already seen an increase in crime and violence against women among the Arab immigrants.

Starting in the year 2000, following the Intifada uprising, France started to experience an escalation of crimes against its Jewish citizens. Six synagogues were burned down in less than three weeks. The perpetrators were Muslims. By 2002 France was experiencing 12 anti-Semitic incidents daily. The Muslim population had grown 10 times larger than the country's Jewish community and by sheer numbers had placed themselves in a position where anti-Semitism seemed to no longer be a concern of those in government. Today French Muslims outnumber all non-Catholic ethnic and religious factions in the country combined, including Protestants and Jews.

Also frightening to the French government is the lack of assimilation into national identity by these immigrants. Decades of immigration have produced a large class of young men who claim Islam, not France, as their identity and consider crime as an acceptable life style.

As France became more and more concerned about the attitudes of its Muslims, more forms of appeasement were offered. The Muslim Brotherhood, an outlaw organization in Egypt, was given official status and allowed to preach its message of hate. One of the basic Brotherhood themes is: it is a duty to kill in the name of Allah. France also decided to make Muslims more mainstream by giving them a national council. What was thought would be a voice of Muslim moderation became instead the voice of radical Islam.

By the time the United States was seeking United Nations resolutions on Iraq the French-Muslim connection was so strong that as a country they preferred an Iraqi victory and strongly rejected the United States position. There are many who feel that France lives in such fear of a violent uprising by its Muslim population that it can never take a strong western position on anything. There are writers such as Guy Milierre who have remarked, ³France behaves more and more as if she does not belong to the West any more and as though she is the leader of the Third World.

If this fear of its own population does not seem possible to the reader, consider this:
* Ten Arab men were convicted of raping a teenage girl. The Arab families left the court shouting revenge. Eight days later the court was burned to the ground and the girl along with her family had to flee for their lives.
* More than 23,000 French prison inmates are Muslim. This is more than six times the proportion of Muslims to the overall French population.
* From Marselle to Paris synagogues have been destroyed, Jewish men, women and children have been attacked, and schools and school buses of Jews have been stoned. Even with the strong anti-Semitic violence so openly displayed, few officials speak out and fewer members of the media report the incidents.

With all of this as a background Al Qaeda is rapidly recruiting new members. In France the terrorist organization, according to best estimates, has created military style units of between 35 and 45 thousand men.



INSIGHT FROM IRAQ

An after-the-fact report excerpted from a C-130 pilot‘s letter home (name withheld).
Forwarded by 1stAdmPAO

On Nov. 6, 2004 I was honored to fly the Iraqi VP Dr. Ibrahim al-Jaffari - heavily favored to be elected in January - from Baghdad to Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. He sat up on the flight deck, and I invited him to get up on headset to visit with us for a little bit.

Talk about an intelligent man! He is a medical doctor that could easily pass as a history professor in any university in America. He no doubt knew more about our own campaigns for freedom than most Americans do. He named places, dates, anecdotes about US history and compared them to the struggle underway for Iraq today.

I pointed out that our own Revolutionary War took years to end, even against the will of some, or at least the apathy of many of the American colonists. He agreed and continued with the histories of many of the world's democracies. Our press seems to forget that building a true democratic nation cannot be accomplished over night. Our own country went through, and continues to go through growing pains. Nearly 100 years after the Declaration of Independence, our country went to war with itself. It should be no surprise that violence is occurring here… and for many of the same reasons - fear of government, struggle for power, fear of liberty, repression of weaker peoples, religious fervor, etc.

The conversation turned to Iraq under Saddam. He described the mass graves. Told of his own family members being killed under the regime. I said it seems like every family can point to some relative who was persecuted under the Hussein family's terror. He agreed, and then again pointed out why the people in the Sunni-triangle region are resisting.

Most of the resistance is not Iraqi. Afghanis, Jordanians, Iranians…t he terrorist melting pot has gathered and now hold the people captive with fear and lies. He admitted that the terrorists have left no option but violence to end this. It is regrettable, but is the reality… something most of us have known since September 11th.

Dr. al-Jaffari then told me of his family, all intelligent, successful people and then asked about my own family. I told him of my five beautiful girls and showed him a picture of them all. We talked about families, and the perceptions of the Iraqi people. He was shocked to see four children in an American family. He said he thought most American families had two, maybe three. He is the youngest of twelve boys, and I think three girls, and has five children of his own.

We talked about the birthplace of civilization, of Abraham and the foundation of Christianity and Islam. His English is decent, and he was an easy conversationalist. I have no concept of his political leanings, or his intent for Iraq other than security and freedom. But as a person, he strikes me as decent and steadfast. He said he was excited about President Bush's re-election… which immediately gained favor with me.

He then said a curious thing… that he viewed the soldiers in Iraq as his own children. He called me his son, and my co-pilot his daughter and struggled to find the right words to explain what he meant. I do not know if this is a common thing in this culture but regardless, it struck me as intimate. Despite his struggle with words, his point was made clear.

He was implying that it pains him to see the sacrifices here, but is made proud by the courage and commitment of the American Soldier…t he same feelings we would experience when our own children suffer, or succeed. He was so grateful. It was really humbling for him to say such wonderful things to us personally, and the US military as a whole. And I wish those things could be heard by everyone in America.

The people at home just don't get it. One day… one day, they might. Freedom is the goal, and as Dr. al-! Jaffari noted, forgetting your past will certainly lose your future.

I think Iraq is in good hands.

May God's will be done here.

P.S. - My crew was selected as the top C-130 unit for October!



INSIGHT ON FRANCE RIOTS

By Thomas Sowell, Nov 8, 2005.
Biography [http://www.townhall.com/opinion/contributors/thomassowell.html ].
Forwarded by Bill Thompson

Riots that began on the outskirts of Paris have spread into the center of the French capital and to other communities in other parts of the country. Thousands of cars have been set on fire and the police and even medical personnel have been shot at.

Like many other riots, whether in France or elsewhere, this one started over an incident that just happened and was then seized upon to rally resentments and unleash violence. Two local boys in a predominantly Moslem neighborhood tried to escape the police by hiding in a facility that transmitted electricity — and accidentally electrocuted themselves.

This was the spark that ignited volatile emotions. But those emotions were there, ready to be ignited, for a long time. A substantial Moslem population lives in France but is not really of France. Much of that population lives in social isolation in housing projects away from the center of Paris, as unknown to many Parisians as to tourists.

Like housing projects in America, many of these are centers of social degeneration, lawlessness and violence. Three years ago, profound British social critic Theodore Dalrymple wrote of “burned-out and eviscerated carcasses of cars everywhere” in these projects, among other signs of social degeneration. This was in an essay titled “The Barbarians at the Gates of Paris” that is reprinted in his insightful book, Our Culture, What‘s Left of it [http://www.thbookservice.com/products/BookPage.asp?prod_cd=c6661 ].

While Dr. Dalrymple called this Moslem underclass “barbarians,” a French minister who called the rioters “scum” provoked instant outrage against himself, including criticism from at least one member of his own government. This squeamishness in word and deed, and the accompanying refusal to face blatant realities is also a major part of the background for the breakdown of law and order and the social degeneration that follows.

None of this is peculiar to France. It is a symptom of a common retreat from reality, and from the hard decisions that reality requires, not only in Europe but also in European offshoot societies like Canada, Australia, New Zealand — and the United States of America.

European countries especially have thrown their doors open to a large influx of Moslem immigrants who have no intention of becoming part of the cultures of the countries to which they immigrate but to recreate their own cultures in those countries.

In the name of tolerance, these countries have imported intolerance, of which growing anti-Semitism in Europe is just one example. In the name of respecting all cultures, Western nations have welcomed people who respect neither the cultures nor the rights of the population among whom they have settled.

During the last election, some campus Republicans who were holding a rally for President Bush at San Francisco State University were harassed by Middle Eastern students, including a woman who walked up to one of these Americans and slapped his face. They knew they could do this with impunity.

In Michigan, a Moslem community loudly sounds their calls to prayer several times a day, without regard to whether that sound bothers the original inhabitants of the community.

The Dutch were shocked when one of their film-makers was assassinated by a Moslem extremist for daring to have views at variance with what the extremists would tolerate.

No one should have been shocked. There are people who will not stop until they get stopped — and much of the media, the political classes, and the cultural elites of the West cannot bring themselves to even criticize, much less stop, the dangers or degeneracy among groups viewed sympathetically as underdogs.

Not all Moslems, nor necessarily a majority of Moslems, are either a cultural or a physical danger. But even “moderate” Moslem organizations in the West who deplore violence and try to discourage it nevertheless encourage their followers to remain foreigners rather than become part of the countries they live in.

So do our own intelligentsia and political and cultural elites. Balkanization has been glorified as “diversity” and diversity has become too sacred to defile with anything so gross as hard facts. But reality is not optional. Our survival may in the long run be as menaced by degeneration within — from many sources and in many ways — as was that of the Roman Empire.

Thomas Sowell is a Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow [http://www.friedmanfoundation.org/ ].



IRAQ BIBLICAL HISTORY

Forwarded by Jerry Johnson. Originator unknown.

Israel is the nation most often mentioned in the Bible. But do you know which nation is second? It is Iraq! However, that is not the name that is used in the Bible. The names used in the Bible are Babylon, Land of Shinar, and Mesopotamia. The word Mesopotamia means between the two rivers, more exactly between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. The name Iraq, means country with deep roots.

Indeed Iraq is a country with deep roots and is a very significant country in the Bible. No other nation, except Israel, has more history and prophecy associated it than Iraq.

  • The garden of Eden was in Iraq.
  • Mesopotamia, which is now Iraq, was the cradle of civilization!
  • Noah built the ark in Iraq.
  • The Tower of Babel was in Iraq.
  • Abraham was from Ur, which is in Southern Iraq!
  • Isaac's wife Rebekah is from Nahor, which is in Iraq. !
  • Jacob met Rachel in Iraq.
  • Jonah preached in Nineveh - which is in Iraq.
  • Assyria, which is in Iraq, conquered the ten tribes of Israel.
  • Amos cried out in Iraq!
  • Babylon, which is in Iraq, destroyed Jerusalem.
  • Daniel was in the lion's den in Iraq!
  • The three Hebrew children were in the fire in Iraq
  • Jesus had been in Iraq also as the fourth person in the fiery furnace!
  • Belshazzar, the King of Babylon saw the “writing on the wall” in Iraq.
  • Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, carried the Jews captive into Iraq.
  • Ezekiel preached in Iraq.
  • The wise men were from Iraq.
  • Peter preached in Iraq.
  • The “Empire of Man” described in Revelation is called Babylon, which was a city in Iraq!

Since America is typically represented by an eagle. Saddam should have read up on his Muslim passages. The following verse is from the Koran, the Islamic Bible:

Koran 9:11 - For it is written that a son of Arabia would awaken a fearsome Eagle. The wrath of the Eagle would be felt throughout the lands of Allah and lo, while some of the people trembled in despair still more rejoiced; for the wrath of the Eagle cleansed the lands of Allah; and there was peace.

Note the verse number again, if you missed the connection!



IRAQ ELECTIONS

By LtCol Jim Rose, 1st FSSG Fut Ops/Plans Officer
Forwarded from 1stADMPAO

The Marine Team had a helluva task in front of them this month. Fallujah was just a warm up for this and really was a stage setter for the Iraqi National Election. Both will be memorable for me until I die.

We just sent the last of the Iraqi election workers home on the last C-130 plane out of Camp Taqaddum. What a sight! I don't even know how to organize all the thoughts and feelings going through my mind right now. I have been completely buried with the Iraqi election support here and today I got more out of this than I ever thought possible.

Back in November after we went through Fallujah, the election commission was ready to write off the Al Anbar province in which we operate. Too dangerous, no stability, and still a lot of bad guys roaming around that were going to see to it that elections weren't held. It was all but written off. I don't know who made the decision but we started planning this back in December as a concept.

On Jan 3rd, we got together with the UN election commission in Baghdad and put a plan together for our area of operations. By January 10th the plan was set for execution and the ball started rolling. The number of moving parts and changing information kept this completely fluid until the last.

I remember one of the things we really argued against doing was using indelible ink on the fingers of the voters. (The ink was to prevent voters from voting twice) Our logical approach was this would mark them for the insurgency and make the Iraqi voters obvious targets. The election commission was emphatic that the ink had to show. We wanted to use the ink that only showed under an ultra violet light. The election commission had the final say and the visible ink won. In hindsight, this would prove to be HUGE.

We started from absolute ground zero and had to prepare a 1000 man facility here at Camp Taqaddum. This would house the Iraqi election workers that would come from all over Iraq, consolidate here and be flown out to the polling sites in the middle of the night just before elections. The polling sites were kept secret to the Iraqi's so leaks would not get back to the insurgents.

On the third day before elections, the sites were occupied by the Marines, hardened with blast protection and security perimeters were set in place. On the second day before elections, all the polling materials, generators, lighting, food, water, even port a johns were brought in for the election workers. All this was done by the Marines.

While this was going on, we were gathering up the election workers from several locations and flying them into Camp Taqaddum aboard the Marine C-130's. Most of these people were hired off the street and promised $500 to come to the Al Anbar province, get trained and to work the polling centers during elections. Now you have to put yourself in the frame of mind they were in. The locals don't necessarily trust us. They've been forewarned by the insurgency that they will die if they vote, not to mention work the election.

I doubt many have been in an aircraft, much less a US Marine aircraft. And then to do it in the middle of the night with all those dangers to many to mention. They had everything to lose. They showed up extremely scared and apprehensive but they were here. A couple got air sick but what we always knew was once they got here, we'd make sure they were OK. We fed them, we clothed them in clothes they could fly in, (our aircraft are all open compartments) we gave them a place to sleep in our new tent city and had a shelter for them to get into if the mortar attacks started up. We knew on the 3rd night before elections that the election was really going to happen!

The night before elections, we commenced upon the largest US Marine helicopter lift since the fall of Saigon. CH-53 and CH-46 helicopters lifted in and out from Camp Taqaddum starting at 2100 (9pm) until 0500 (5am) the next morning. We moved the entire Iraqi election worker population with all the blank ballots to designated landing zones in our area of operations where they were further trucked in armored vehicles to 30 different polling sites that were surrounded by the Marines. The election workers had to be a little more than tense.

Much to the insurgent's dismay, on the morning of Jan 30th, all polling sites were up and running and ready to receive voters. It was a win even before it started. The day did not come without a price. Overall, we lost one Marine and had 11 wounded. The one Marine killed was from my unit. We prepared for much more than this. The insurgents did attack in our area but it was soon very evident that their attacks were uncoordinated and with very little heart. And the people still voted - with big smiles and dancing - and the only thing they wanted to do was show us their blue INKED index fingers. The blue ink became an instant symbol to them to show the world they were doing something they thought they'd never do. And we wanted them not to use the ink when we planned this. How wrong we were.

We figured the worst attacks would come early. If the insurgents attacked early, it would keep voters from initially going and get the most out of the media coverage. The media could play and replay the violence and the world would turn their backs along with the Iraqi's. Isn't it funny how we must plan against our own media? By afternoon we knew we were in the home stretch and regardless of the polling, the Iraqi's had won and the insurgents were handed a resounding defeat. That night the polls closed and the counting began throughout the night and into the next day.

The Iraqi election workers were brought back to Camp Taqaddum in reverse order from the way they went out. At this point they were considered a high value target due to them carrying marked ballots. By mid day yesterday (31JAN05), all workers and ballots were back to our Tent City at Camp Taqaddum.

Tent City was now known unofficially as Camp Democracy. Walking through Camp Democracy, you'd have thought you were in Times Square on New Year's Eve minus the booze. All the workers were holding their inked fingers in the air, jumping up and down, singing and dancing. (I didn't get the sense it was over being $500 richer). They were hugging and wanting to get their pictures taken with us. A bond had formed with these people and the Marines. They talked to us in Arabic and we talked back in English never knowing what was being said but we all had the same feelings. It was as festive an occasion in a war zone that I've ever seen.

I fell asleep last night exhausted and with a lot of weight off my shoulders, wondering what I had just been witness to.

Today after coming in and catching up on a few things, I went for a run. As I ran down the road past Camp Democracy, I could see the planes lining up and loading the Iraqi election workers to go to their final destination. I turned and went back, took a shower and grabbed one of my roommates, hoped in a vehicle and went down to Camp Democracy for what I was hoping to be one last breathe of yesterday.

As we arrived, they were loading up the very last C-130 aircraft of the election workers. We followed in trace of the workers as they went out to the flight line. Everyone had cameras by then and we were snapping like crazy.

They lined the last of the workers up in single file to board the plane and we all stood opposite of them as they passed, slapping their hands like two opposing teams after a game is played. After they boarded the plane, we stood there on the runway and watched as it taxied and began rolling down the runway. A mortar round wouldn't have made any of us move at that point. The plane lifted off and as it banked out over Lake Habbaniyah, We all turned to walk back in our own silence. There wasn't a dry eye on the flight line.

The election workers are probably arriving home now as I write this. They are marked men and women and so are their families. You may consider it noble or not that we are here and thankful for the troops, but today, I said goodbye and shook hands of heroes we've only read about in history books from 225 years ago. The insurgency will continue today, tomorrow and then some but yesterday, the Nation of Iraq bought into democracy and now has a vested interest that I don't think they'll let go. The insurgent can fire an RPG and die for his cause but what cause does he really have left? He'll realize eventually there is no cause for him to die. And the Iraqis will soon realize that their form of democracy will need to always be protected or they will lose what they have just gained.

As I was walking back to the vehicle to leave, my roommate ran into one of the interpreter's he knew. (She was born in Iraq but is now from Warren, MI). We began discussed old stomping grounds and then started talking about the workers that had just left. Her name was Ana and she kept telling us how the Iraqi's that just left could not believe how well we had treated them during their stay. As we were saying goodbye to Ana, she matter-of-factly mentions something that left me speechless.

She told us that she had a pile of mail that needs to get back to the states. All the Iraqi election workers had all gotten together last night and began compiling “Thank You” notes to President George Bush and needed them mailed. It was totally unprovoked by any of us.

No one wanted the moment to end. It was a lot of work up to that point but it was a moment to savor and never forget.



IRAQ PERSPECTIVE

COMPARING CALIFORNIA TO IRAQ
By Victor Davis Hanson, The American Enterprise Online, April 12, 2006
Forwarded by Bill Thompson

War-torn Iraq has about 26 million residents. A peaceful California perhaps now has 35 million. The former is a violent and impoverished landscape; the latter said to be paradise on Earth. But how you envision either place, to some degree depends on the eye of the beholder, and is predicated on what the daily media appear to make of each.

As a fifth-generation Californian, I deeply love this state, but still imagine what the reaction would be if the world awoke each morning to be told that, once again, there were six more murders, 27 rapes, 38 arsons, 180 robberies, and 360 instances of assault in California - yesterday, today, tomorrow, and every day. I wonder if the headlines would scream about “Nearly 200 poor Californians butchered again this month!”

How about a monthly media dose of “600 women raped in February alone!” Or try, “Over 600 violent robberies and assaults in March, with no end in sight!” Those do not even make up all of the state's yearly 200,000 violent acts that law enforcement knows about.

Iraq's judicial system seems a mess. On the eve of the war, Saddam let out 100,000 inmates from his vast prison archipelago. He himself still sits in the dock months after his trial began.

But imagine an Iraq with a penal system like California's, with 170,000 criminals - an inmate population larger than those of Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Singapore combined.

Just to house such a shadow population costs our state nearly $7 billion a year - or about the same price of keeping 40,000 Army personnel per year in Iraq. What would be the image of our Golden State if we were reminded each morning, “Another $20 million spent today on housing our criminals”?

Some of California's most recent prison scandals would be easy to sensationalize: “Guards watch as inmates are raped!” Or “Correction officer accused of having sex with underage detainee!” And apropos of Saddam's sluggish trial, remember that our home state multiple murderer, Tookie Williams, was finally executed in December 2005 - some 26 years after he was originally sentenced.

Much is made of the inability to patrol Iraq's borders with Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Turkey. But California has only a single border with a foreign nation, not six. Yet over 3 million foreigners who snuck in illegally now live in our state.

Worse, there are about 15,000 convicted alien felons incarcerated in our penal system, costing about $500 million a year. Imagine the potential tabloid headlines: “Illegal aliens in state comprise population larger than San Francisco!” or “Drugs, criminals, and smugglers given free pass into California!”

Every year, over 4,000 Californians die in car crashes - nearly twice the number of Americans lost so far in three years of combat operations in Iraq. In some sense, then, our badly maintained roads, and often poorly trained and sometimes intoxicated drivers, are even more lethal than Improvised Explosive Devices. Perhaps tomorrow's headline might scream out at us: “300 Californians to perish this month on state highways! Hundreds more will be maimed and crippled!”

In 2001, California had 32 days of power outages, despite paying nearly the highest rates for electricity in the United States. Before complaining about the smoke in Baghdad rising from private generators, think back to the run on generators in California when they were contemplated as a future part of every household's line of defense.

We're told that Iraq's finances are a mess. Yet until recently, so were California's. Two years ago, Governor Schwarzenegger inherited a $38 billion annual budget shortfall. That could have made for strong morning newscast teasers: “Another $100 million borrowed today - $3 billion more in red ink to pile up by month's end!”

So is California comparable to Iraq? Hardly. Yet it could easily be sketched by a reporter intent on doing so as a bankrupt, crime-ridden den with murderous highways, tens of thousands of inmates, with wide-open borders.

I myself recently returned home to California, without incident, from a visit to Iraq's notorious Sunni Triangle. While I was gone, a drug-addicted criminal with a long list of convictions broke into our kitchen at 4 a.m., was surprised by my wife and daughter, and fled with our credit cards, cash, keys, and cell phones.

Sometimes I wonder who really was safer that week.



ISRAEL - AMAZING LITTLE COUNTRY

By Dorothy Scisorek
Forwarded by MGen H Stelling USAF (Ret)

The Middle East has been growing date palms for centuries. The average tree is about 18-20 feet tall and yields about 38 pounds of dates a year. However, Israel has developed date trees that yield 400 pounds/year and are short enough to be harvested from the ground or from a short ladder.

Israel - the 100th smallest country, with less than 1/1000th of the world's population - can lay claim to many worldly accomplishments that may surprise you, including the following:

GENERAL:

  • Developed the cell phone - at the Israeli branch of Motorola, which has its largest development center in Israel.
  • Developed most of the Windows NT and XP operating systems at Microsoft-Israel.
  • Designed the Pentium MMX Chip technology in Israel at Intel.
  • Entirely designed, developed and produced both the Pentium-4 microprocessor and the Centrino processor. The Pentium microprocessor in your computer was most likely made in Israel .
  • Developed voice mail technology. Both Microsoft and Cisco built their only R&D facilities outside the U.S. in Israel.
  • Developed the technology for the AOL Instant Messenger ICQ - by four young Israelis.
  • Developed the fourth largest air force in the world (after U.S., Russia, and China). In addition to a large variety of other aircraft, Israel's air force has an aerial arsenal of over 250 F-16's, the largest F-16 fleet outside of the U.S.
  • Has $100 billion economy - larger than all of its immediate neighbors combined.
  • Has the highest average living standards in the Middle East. Its per capita income exceeds that of the UK
  • Has world's highest percentage of home computer use per capita.
  • Operates the world's most impenetrable flight security. U.S. officials now look to Israel for advice on how to handle airborne security threats.
  • Has the world's highest ratio of university degrees per capita.
  • Produces more scientific papers per capita than any other nation, by a large margin: 109 per 10,000 people, as well as one of the highest per capita rates of patents filed.
  • Except for the U.S., Israel has the largest number of startup companies in the world, per capita. In absolute terms, Israel has the largest number of startup companies than any other country in the world, except the U.S. With more than 3,000 high-tech companies and startups, Israel has the highest concentration of hi-tech companies in the world — apart from the Silicon Valley, U.S.
  • Ranks #2 in the world for venture capital funds right behind the U.S.
  • Has largest number of NASDAQ listed companies, except for the U.S. and Canada.
  • Has largest number of biotech startups, per capita.
  • 24% of Israel's workforce holds university degrees, ranking third in the industrialized world, after the United States and Holland, and 12% hold advanced degrees.
  • Leads the world in the number of scientists and technicians in the workforce, with 145 per 10,000, as opposed to 85 in the U. S., over 70 in Japan, and less than 60 in Germany. With over 25% of its work force employed in technical professions. Israel places first in this category as well.
  • Developed and installed a large-scale solar-powered and fully functional electricity generating plant in southern California's Mojave desert.
  • Only liberal democracy in the Middle East.
  • Its Operation Solomon in 1984 and 1991 airlifted a total of 22,000 Ethiopian Jews at risk in Ethiopia, to safety in Israel
  • When elected Prime Minister of Israel in 1969, Golda Meir became the world's second elected female leader in modern times.
  • When the U. S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya was bombed in 1998, Israeli rescue teams were on the scene within a day — and saved three victims from the rubble.
  • Has the third highest rate of entrepreneurship — and the highest rate among women and among people over 55 - in the world.
  • Is the largest immigrant-absorbing nation on earth, per capita. Immigrants come in search of democracy, religious freedom, and economic opportunity, including thousands from the former Soviet Union.
  • First nation in the world to adopt the Kimberly process, an international standard that certifies diamonds as “conflict free.”
  • Has world's second highest number of new books, per capita.
  • Only country in the world that entered the 21st century with a net gain in its number of trees, made more remarkable because this was achieved in an area considered mainly desert.
  • More museums per capita than any other country.

MEDICAL RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT:

  • First fully computerized, no-radiation, diagnostic instrumentation for breast cancer.
  • Computerized system for ensuring proper administration of medications, thus removing human error from medical treatment. Every year in U. S. hospitals 7,000 patients die from treatment mistakes.
  • First ingestible video camera, so small it fits inside a pill. Used to view the small intestine from the inside for cancer and digestive disorders.
  • New device that directly helps the heart pump blood, an innovation with the potential to save lives among those with heart failure. The new device is synchronized with the camera helps doctors diagnose the heart's mechanical operations through a sophisticated system of sensors.
  • Clear Light device that produces a high-intensity, ultraviolet-light-free, narrow-band blue light that causes acne bacteria to self-destruct — all without damaging surrounding skin or tissue.

Israel accomplished all of the above while engaged in regular wars with an implacable enemy that seeks its destruction, and an economy continuously under strain by having to spend more per capita on its own protection than any other county on earth.



ISRAEL - WILL BEYOND THE BATTLEFIELD

By Ben Stein, New York Times, August 20,2006
Forwarded by p38bob

It’s been a bitter month or so.

Mighty Israel, the redeemer of faith in what free men and women can do with arid desert if they are motivated, redeemer of faith that maybe there is a place for the Jews as a sovereign people and technological superpower, has been fought to a standstill by Hezbollah.

Can it possibly be that Hezbollah is better motivated, better led, better dug in and better armed than the Israeli army, which is supposed to be the best army, pound for pound, in the world? Can it be that Israel, which used to beat whole armies of countries like Egypt and Syria, has been humbled by a few thousand very well-motivated and well-armed men firing from between apartment buildings?

Or could it be that what's different this time is the trumpet and, specifically, its uncertain sound? Israel geared up for a huge offensive, then called it off, then huffed and puffed, then called it off again, then said, “Watch out, this time we're really going to blow your house down,” and then called it off again.

Now, Israel's very survival is on the line, and it is a tiny state, about the size of New Jersey. If Israel cannot get it together to fight a serious war against a group, Hezbollah, that the State Department identifies as a terrorist organization, who will?

So, Israel, which was supposed to be the shining light of how peace is won, is not shining as bright - despite President Bush's extreme support for a good long time.

Terrorists are still hatching plots against the air traffic system of the West, and this time bigger and worse than before. Obviously, Al Qaeda is far from dead. We have much to fear from it still. The fact that the suspects were almost all home-grown Britons makes the situation that much more frightening and unpredictable. How long will it be until American-born terrorists strike against American targets? We are a big country and we have a lot of unhappy people. How long until they organize themselves to kill? Not long, I am afraid.

While we're at it, yes, it's miraculous and wonderful that the plot was foiled, if it was. But now the whole Western world will be seriously inconvenienced in its travel for years, maybe decades. Isn't this already a victory for our enemies? Isn't this already a blow against world business? Might it be enough to push our already slowed growth into a recession?

But the worst is what is to come: I got a jolting hint of this when I read the obituary for John L. Weinberg, who ran Goldman Sachs from 1976 to 1990. Mr. Weinberg was 81 when he died this month in Greenwich, Conn., after a lifetime of major achievement. I had the pleasure of dealing with him when he and I were a lot younger and I was in law school, also studying finance, at Yale.

My dear old father was a friend of his father, the venerable Sidney J. Weinberg, who ran Goldman Sachs from 1930 to 1969. My dad wangled a job interview for me with John Weinberg, an unprepossessing figure but obviously a smart guy. After some talk, he offered me a job. I would start by spending two years sitting at a desk until late at night going over spreadsheets.

“Really?” I asked. That did not seem to be so glamorous. “Yes, really,” he said. “That's how we all start.”

I turned it down and became a poverty lawyer instead. But what I did not know about John Weinberg was that even though he was rich and well connected, as a young man he joined the Marines to fight the Japanese in the Pacific, then fought again in Korea. That was America's ruling class then. The scions of the rich went off to fight.

My longtime pal and idol, Peter M. Flanigan - a former high honcho of Dillon, Read; a high aide to my ex-boss, Richard M. Nixon; and heir to a large brewing fortune - was once a naval aviator. My father left a comfortable job in Washington to join the Navy. The father of my pal Phil DeMuth left a successful career to be an Army Air Corps pilot, flying death-defying missions over Burma. Congressmen resigned to serve. Senators resigned to serve. Professional athletes resigned to serve in the uniform.

Now, who's fighting for us in the fight of our lives? Brave, idealistic Southerners. Hispanics from New Mexico. Rural men and women from upstate New York. Small-town boys and girls from the Midwest. Do the children of the powers on Wall Street resign to go off and fight? Fight for the system that made them rich? Fight for the way of life that made them princes? Surely, you jest.

And that's the essence. The other side considers it a privilege to fight and die for its beliefs. Those on the other side cannot wait to line up to blow themselves up for their vision of heaven. On our side, it's: “Let the other poor sap do it. I've got to make money.” How can we fight this fight with the brightest and best educated rushing off and working night and day to do private equity deals and derivatives trading? How can we fight this fight with the ruling class absent by its own sweet leave?

I keep thinking, again, that if Israel, with its back to the sea, cannot muster the will to fight in a big way, then the fat, faraway U.S.A. will never be able to do it. I keep saying this and it terrifies me.

We're in a war with people who want to kill us all and wreck our civilization. They're taking it very seriously. We, on the other hand, are worrying about leveraged buyouts and special dividends and how much junk debt the newly formed private entity can support before we sell it to the ultimate sucker, the public shareholder.

We're worrying whether Hollywood will forgive Mel Gibson and what the next move is for big homes in East Hampton. We're rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The terrorists are the iceberg.

WHAT stands between us and the iceberg are the miraculously brave men and women of the armed forces. They're heroes and saints as far as I'm concerned. But can they do it without the rest of us? Can they do it while we're all working on our tans and trying to have our taxes lowered again? How can we leave them out there all alone to die for us when we treat the war to save civilization as something we can just wish away?

If we don't win this war against the terrorists, there's not going to be business as usual ever again. If the terrorists get to their goal, there's not going to be a stock exchange or hedge funds or Bain Capital or the Carlyle Group or even Goldman Sachs. If the terrorists get their way - and so far, they're getting their way - there's not going to be business, period.

Everyone with the really big money at stake is - again - bidding for the best deck chairs as the iceberg looms, not so far, any longer, under the surface, and very large and very cold and very solid.

Ben Stein is a lawyer, writer, actor and economist.



LANCING THE BOIL

By Victor Davis Hanson, National Review Online, December 16, 2005
Forwarded by Bill Thompson

For some time, a large number of Americans have lived in an alternate universe where everything is supposedly going to hell. If you get up in the morning to read the New York Times or Washington Post, watch John Murtha or Howard Dean on the morning talk shows, listen to National Public Radio at noon, and go to Bed reading Newsweek it surely seems that the administration is incommunicado (“the bubble”), the war is lost (“unwinnable”), the Great Depression is back (“jobless recovery”), and America about as popular as Nazi Germany abroad (“alone and isolated”).

But in the real adult world, the economy is red-hot, not mired in joblessness or relegating millions to poverty. Unemployment is low, so are interest rates. Growth is high, as is consumer spending and confidence. Our Katrina was hardly as lethal as the Tsunami or Pakistani earthquake. Thousands of Arabs are not rioting in Dearborn. American elderly don't roast and die in the thousands in their apartments as was true in France. Nor do American cities, like some in China, lose their entire water supply to a toxic spill. Americans did not Just vote to reject their own Constitution as in some European countries.

The military isn't broken. Unlike after Vietnam when the Russians, Iranians, Cambodians, and Nicaraguans all soon tried to press their luck at our expense, most of our adversaries don't believe the U.S. military is losing in Iraq, much less that it is wise now to take it on. Instead, the general impression is that our veteran and battle-hardened forces are even more lethal than was true of the 1990s - and engaging successfully in an almost impossible war.

Nor are we creating new hordes of terrorists in Iraq - as if a young male Middle Eastern fundamentalist first hates the United States only on news that it is in Iraq crafting a new Marshall Plan of $87 billion and offering a long-oppressed people democracy after taking out Saddam Hussein. Even al Jazeera cannot turn truth into untruth forever.

Instead, the apprentice Jihadist is trying to win his certification as master terrorist by trying his luck against the U.S. Marines abroad rather than on another World Trade Center at home - and failing quite unlike September 11. Like it or not, wars are usually won or lost when one side feels its losses are too high to continue. We have suffered terribly in losing 2,100 dead in Iraq; a vastly smaller enemy in contrast may have experienced tens of thousands of terrorists killed, and is finding its safe havens and money drying up.

Panic about Iraq abounds in both the American media and the periodic fatwas of Dr. Zawahiri - but not in the U. S. government or armed forces.

The world does not hate the United States. Of course, it envies us. Precisely because it is privately impressed by our unparalleled success, it judges America by a utopian measure in which anything less than perfection is written off as failure. We risk everything, our critics abroad almost nothing. So the hope for our failures naturally gives reinforcement to the bleak reality of their inaction.

The Europeans expect our protection. The Mexicans risk their lives to get here. Indians and Japanese want closer relations. The old commonwealth appreciates our strength in defense of the West. Even the hostile Iranians, North Koreans, Cubans, Venezuelans, Chinese, and radical Islamists - despite the saber-rattling rhetoric - wonder whether we are naïve and idealistic rather than cruel and calculating. All this we rarely consider when we read of anti-Americanism in our major newspapers or hear another angry (and usually well-off) professor or journalist recite our sins.

Al Zarqawi is in a classical paradox: He can't defeat the American or Iraqi security forces or stop the elections. So he must dream up ever more macabre violence to gain notoriety - from beheading Americans on the television to mass murdering Shiites to blowing up third-party Jordanians. But such lashing out only further weakens his cause and makes the efforts of his enemies on the battlefield easier, as his Sunni base starts to see that this psychopath really can take his supporters all down with him.

The Palestine problem is not even worse off after Iraq. Actually, it is far better with the isolated and disgraced Arafat gone, the fence slowly inching ahead, the worst radical Islamic terrorists on the West Bank in paradise, Israel out of Gaza, and the world gradually accepting its diplomatic presence.

The real hopeless mess was 1992-2000 when a well-meaning Bill Clinton, Madeline Albright, and Dennis Ross still deluded themselves that a criminal gang leader like Yasser Arafat was a legitimate head of state or that you could start to end an endless war by giving his thugs thousands of M-16s.

The European way is not the answer, as we see from the farcical negotiations over Iran's time bomb. Struggling with a small military, unsustainable entitlement promises, little real economic growth, high unemployment, falling birth rates, angry unassimilated minorities, and a suicidal policy of estrangement from its benefactor the United States, Europeans show already an 11th-hour change of heart as we see in the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, and soon in France.

Europe's policy about Iran's nuclear program can best be summed up as “Hurry up, sane and Western Israel, and take out this awful thing - so we can damn you Zionist aggressors for doing so in our morning papers.”

The administration did not prove nearly as inept in the Iraqi reconstruction as the rhetoric of its opposition was empty. The government's chief lapse was not claiming the moral high ground for a necessary war against a fascist mass murderer - an inexplicable silence now largely addressed by George Bush's new muscular public defense of the war. In contrast, we can sadly recall all the alternative advice of past critics across the spectrum: invade Iraq in 1998, but get out right now; trisect Iraq; attack Syria or Iran; retreat to the Shiite south; put in hundreds of thousands of more troops; or delay the elections.

Donald Rumsfeld's supposed gaffe of evoking “Old Europe” is trumped tenfold and almost daily by slurs that depict Abu Ghraib as worse than Saddam, Guantanamo as the work of Hitler, Stalin, or Pol Pot, Bush as the world's greatest terrorist, the effort to democratize Iraq as unwinnable, and American troops terrorizing Iraqi women and children.

Most Americans may grumble after reading the latest demonization in the press of Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld, but they are hardly ready to turn over a complex Middle East to something like a President John Kerry, Vice President Barbara Boxer, Secretary of State Howard Dean, National Security Advisor Nancy Pelosi, and Secretary of Defense John Murtha - with a kitchen cabinet of Jimmy Carter and Sandy Berger.

So at year's end, what then is happening at home and abroad?

For the last three years we have seen a carbuncle swell as the old Vietnam War opposition rematerialized, with Michael Moore, the Hollywood elite, and Cindy Sheehan scaring the daylights out of the Democratic establishment that either pandered to or triangulated around their crazy rhetoric. The size of the Islamicist/Baathist insurrection caught the United States for a time off guard, as was true also of the sudden vehement slurs from our erstwhile allies in Europe, Canada, and Asia. Few anticipated that the turmoil in Iraq would force the Syrians out of Lebanon, the Libyans to give up their WMDs, and the Egyptians to hold elections - and that all the killing, acrimony, and furor over these developments would begin to engulf the Middle East and threaten the old order.

In the face of that growing ulcer of discontent, we quietly kept on killing terrorists, promoting elections in Iraq, pressuring Arab autocracies to democratize, and growing the economy. All that is finally lancing the boil, here and abroad - and what was in there all along is now slowly oozing out, making the cure seem almost as gross as the malady.

————-

Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. His latest book is A War Like No Other. How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War.WEBSITE [http://www.victorhanson.com/ ]



NORTH KOREAN NUKES

By James G. Zumwalt, October 18, 2006
Forwarded by Bill Thompson

It now appears North Korea's test of a nuclear device was partially successful. We need to understand not only why Pyongyang ignored international pressure — even from its sole ally, China — to conduct this test but also how it was allowed to be done.

The seeds for this test were planted in 1994 when Kim Jong-il's father, Kim Il Song, died. The father's rule for almost half a century was a brutal model for total submission — a laboratory experiment in mind control as his people were stripped of all outside contact, human dignity and independent thought. But the father maintained a critical balance between two foundations upon which stability of his power base rested — the party leadership and military.

When Kim Il-sung died, the son experienced uncertainty. Long groomed as his father's replacement, the son held, initially, a closer affinity to the party than the military. However, as later shared by Hwang Jong Yop, the most senior North Korean official to defect to the West, the son felt the party denied him the same respect it showed his father. Sensing a power void, the son's personal bodyguard, a two-star general, sought to fill it.

Click here for the rest of the story in the
Washington Times [http://www.washingtontimes.com/commentary/20061017-100247-3575r.htm ].



PEACEKEEPERS OF PENZANCE

By Spengler, Asia Times http://www.atimes.com
Forwarded by p38bob

Like W S Gilbert's cowardly policemen in The Pirates of Penzance, Europe's prospective peacekeepers have decided that “a policeman's lot is not a happy one”. Europe's serious exercise in peacekeeping led to the massacre of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica, when Dutch soldiers turned over Muslims in their charge to Serb death squads.

France offers no more than 200 engineers to join the peacekeeping force that the United Nations Security Council has mandated as a buffer on the Israeli-Lebanese border. The last time French peacekeepers ventured into Lebanon, a Hezbollah suicide bomber killed 58 paratroopers.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has appealed to Italy to lead the 15,000-strong UN force. The last time an Italian army confronted a well-armed and determined force in the region, at the Ethiopian battle of Adwa in 1896, the Italians suffered 70% casualties.

Otto von Bismarck pronounced the Balkans unworthy of the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier, and Europe's governments seem unwilling to sacrifice a single soldier to maintain the peace in southern Lebanon.

This raises the question: What is Europe's interest in the Middle East? The answer appears to be: To disappear and be forgotten with the least possible fuss.

A people without progeny will not accept a single military casualty. If this generation is the last, there will be no children for whom to sacrifice. Today's Europeans value their distractions and amusements more than they do prospective children. Germany's 2005 birth rate of only 8.5 per 1,000 inhabitants indicates that Europe is following the low variant of UN population estimates. These guarantee the virtual disappearance of the Europeans by the end of the present century.

Only 300 million Europeans, nearly half of them geriatric, will remain at the end of the present century against more than 700 million (including all of Eastern Europe) today. Europeans younger than 60 years of age now number about 560 million; that number will fall by only 150 million by the year 2100. This number excludes immigrants, overwhelmingly from the Middle East and Africa, who show no signs of assimilating as Europeans.

The number of Americans will exceed the number of Europeans, Russia included, by around the year 2080, although the aggregate numbers mask the true extent of the catastrophe, for nearly half of Europe's survivors will have reached retirement age. A fifth of Europeans are past 60 now; by 2050 more than a third will be above 60; and by the end of the century nearly half. The United States' elderly will number about 30%, so that the number of Americans younger than 60, at 280 million, will be close to double the number of young and working-age Europeans.

It might be objected that Europe's demographic catastrophe lies a generation hence, and that it need not determine European policy today. Just the opposite is true: it is Europe's present attitudes that dictate the demographic catastrophe. Europe began to die in the 1990s when deaths outnumbered births.

It seems unlikely that French diplomats deceived the world by promising French leadership and boots on the ground to enforce the latest UN ceasefire resolution. It simply is difficult to find volunteers to bell the cat.

From this we should conclude that the so-called “international community” is an empty construct. The Europeans, Russia included, are the walking dead. Europe wants a quiet transition to the cemetery, while Russia plays spoiler indifferent to future consequences; whatever those consequences might be, very few Russians will be alive to see them.

The United States is the only superpower not because no other Western country will have sufficient people to act like a superpower a century hence; the United States will have more people a century hence precisely because Americans think and feel like citizens of a superpower.

All that matters is the coming confrontation between the United States and Iran. Iran's own demographic future resembles that of Europe more than it does the United States. By mid-century, Iran's aged will compose nearly a third of its population, and its population pyramid will invert. Social and economic catastrophe threatens Iran, persuading its present leaders to establish a regional empire while they still have the opportunity.

The Israeli-Hezbollah ceasefire came into effect because Washington threatened Tehran with something extremely unpleasant if it continued to enrich uranium. Iran is not sure how far the United States will go, or how it should respond, and wants to buy time.

That is why it kenneled its dogs in southern Lebanon, at least for the moment. Israel shrank before the number of casualties required to neutralize Hezbollah, and was happy to let the United States have a heart-to-heart conversation with the dogs' master. The rest of the matter, notably France's buffo part, is light farce.

What happens next is entirely up to Iran. I have predicted that Iran will remain intransigent, for it cannot abandon its last chance for a new Persian Empire. The Persians have been an annoyance since the Battle of Marathon, and it will not displease me to see them fail again. If Iran refuses to change course, nothing short of force of arms will keep it from building nuclear weapons, something the US is reluctant to employ.

That would bury what is left of America's nation-building exercise in Iraq, and possibly throw the world economy into recession through much higher oil prices. The two protagonists are circling each other, while their proxy warriors - Hezbollah and Israel - lick their wounds and watch.

In the end, I believe the US will attack Iran's nuclear facilities. But the outcome is in Iranian hands. Even Nineveh repented and was saved after hearing Jonah's prophecy that it would be destroyed otherwise; who can tell if Washington's threats are as potent as the execution?

(Copyright 2006 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved.)



REDISTRIBUTION OF FORCES

By John D. Banusiewicz, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON (AFPN) 8/16/2004 — During his address to the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Cincinnati on Aug. 16, President George W. Bush announced planned redistribution of forces now stationed at overseas locations “where the wars of the last century ended.”

“The world has changed a great deal,” President Bush said, “and our posture must change with it for the sake of our military families, for the sake of our taxpayers, and so we can be more effective at projecting our strength and spreading freedom and peace.”

“America's current posture in Europe was designed to guard against Soviet aggression, “he added. “The threat no longer exists.”

The decision to redistribute forces comes after three years of study and consultations. “We have consulted closely with our allies and with Congress. We have examined the challenges posed by today's threats and emerging threats. The result,” he said, ‘will be a more agile and flexible force.”

As the new global posture takes shape during the next 10 years, more U.S. troops will be stationed at, and deployed from, home bases in the United States, Bush stated. “We'll move some of our troops and capabilities to new locations so they can surge quickly to deal with unexpected threats. We'll take advantage of 21st century military technologies to rapidly deploy increased combat power.”

The president said the new plan will strengthen U.S. alliances and build new partnerships worldwide, and will reduce stress on military people and their families.

“Although we still will have a significant presence overseas, under the plan I'm announcing today we will bring home about 60,000 to 70,000 uniformed personnel and about 100,000 family members and civilian employees during the next 10 years ,” he said. “This would give service members more time on the home front, as well as more predictability and fewer moves during a career.”

“Our military spouses will have fewer job changes, greater stability, and more time for their kids and to spend time with their families at home. Taxpayers will benefit from cost savings realized by closing obsolete overseas bases and facilities,” he said.



REVEALING READING

From Investor’s Business Daily Oct. 2004
Forward by BGen Bob Clements, USAF (Ret)

Scandal: A great debate has raged over why so many of the world's major countries suddenly went all weak in the knees when the U.S. went after Saddam Hussein. A new CIA report makes the reason clear, and it isn't pretty.

The report by Charles Duelfer, chief weapons inspector of the Iraq Survey Group, sketches out in plain language what could be the biggest bribery scandal of the last century - one that reaches into the highest political circles. It makes for shocking reading.

It shows how Saddam evaded U.N. sanctions from 1997 to 2003 by illicitly selling oil through other countries and bribing world leaders, up-and-coming politicians, journalists, businesses, even the U.N. itself. In the process he cleared $11 billion in illegal profits.

The report names names. Anyone who could help him regain weapons of mass destruction was a target. He settled on Russia, France and China - three of the five U.N. Security Council members that, with the stroke of a veto pen, could stop the U.N. from going to war or end economic sanctions against his country.

Even more stunning than the fact of the bribery is its scope and depth. The list of those who helped Saddam cheat and got paid for it is long and depressing. It includes Charles Pasqua, France's former interior minister; Megawati Sukarnoputri, president of Indonesia; and Benon Sevan, former head of the U.N.'s Iraq sanctions program. Also named are a large number of Russian government officials and fixers and the governments of Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Egypt and China.

And that's just a few. The list is hundreds of names long.

Saddam's strategy was simple: keep the U.S. off his back. American and British planes were buzzing over Iraq's “no-fly” zones since the 1991 end of the Gulf War, and Saddam was forced to suspend his WMD program due to U.N. inspections.

To get his way, Saddam gave, in the words of the report, “preferential treatment to Russian and French companies hoping for Russian and French support on the UN Security Council.” That is, he bribed them. He wanted U.N. sanctions ended so he could go back to making chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

France proved to be an easy target. So was Russia. In the case of France, Iraqi intelligence “targeted a number of French individuals that Iraq thought had a close relationship to French President Chirac,” the Duelfer report said. Iraq even toyed with the idea of supporting a candidate in the French elections - though there's no evidence Iraq gave Chirac money directly.

Still, a member of the French Parliament, according to a memo sent to Saddam in May 2002, “assured Iraq that France would use its veto in the U.N. Security Council against any American decision to attack Iraq.” That is, once bribed, France would stay bribed.

All in all, a scandal of epic proportions. But what can be made of it? Well, a number of things:

For one, it's a devastating blow to John Kerry's much-ballyhooed “plan” to end the war in Iraq by holding an international conference of nations - including France, Russia and China - to decide Iraq's future. Given what we know of those nations' complicity with Saddam's murderous regime, that's no longer an option.

Also shattered is Kerry's assertion that patient diplomacy might have disarmed Iraq and brought Saddam to heel. French, Russian and Chinese efforts to Subvert U.S. actions against Iraq show they would have opposed us no matter what. They were merely providing the service they were paid for.

Then there's Kerry's assertion that future action in Iraq must pass a “global test.” That, too, now seems ridiculous.

Iraq's cheating on sanctions corrupted a major world forum - the U.N. - along with many of its most influential members. Put bluntly, the U.N. can't be trusted. Nor can France, Russia or China. Despite pretenses, none of them can be counted as a U.S. ally.

Too bad. In coming months, tough decisions will have to be made in Iraq - how much force to use, how to hold elections, how to rebuild. We'll have to make them with our existing coalition. It should have been a broader effort of many nations - one that potentially led to the blossoming of democracy across the Mideast.

Instead, a massive bribery scandal has revealed the rank cynicism and open dishonesty of many nations we used to trust.

We commend the Duelfer report to your attention. It shows clearly we were right to get rid of Saddam. Perhaps more important, it shows just as clearly whom we can still call friends.



ROMANIAN 9-11 PERSPECTIVE

By Cornel Nistorescu
Forwarded by epeterson@oregonfcu.com

ONLY FREEDOM CAN WORK SUCH MIRACLES

A reprint of an article about America's reaction to the 911 attack, published in the Romanian newspaper Evenimentulzilei, under the title, C'ntarea Americii (Ode to America).

Why are Americans so united? They would not resemble one another even if you painted them all one color! They speak all the languages of the world and form an astonishing mixture of civilizations and religious beliefs. Still, the American tragedy turned three hundred million people into a hand put on the heart.

Nobody rushed to accuse the White House, the army, and the secret services that they are only a bunch of losers. Nobody rushed to empty their bank accounts. Nobody rushed out onto the streets nearby to gape about. The Americans volunteered to donate blood and to give a helping hand.

After the first moments of panic, they raised their flag over the smoking ruins, putting on T-shirts, caps and ties in the colors of the national flag. They placed flags on buildings and cars, as if in every place and on every car a government official or the president was passing.

On every occasion, they started singing their traditional song: “God Bless America!” I watched the live broadcast and rerun after rerun for hours, listening to the story of the guy who went down one hundred floors with a woman in a wheelchair without knowing who she was, or of the Californian hockey player, who gave his life fighting with the terrorists and prevented the plane from hitting a target that could have killed other hundreds or thousands of people.

How on earth were they able to respond united as one human being? Imperceptibly, with every word and musical note, the memory of some turned into a modern myth of tragic heroes. And with every phone call, millions and millions of dollars were put in a collection aimed at rewarding not a man or a family, but a spirit, which no money can buy.

What on earth can unite the Americans in such a way? Their land? Their galloping history? Their economic Power? Money? I tried for hours to find an answer, humming songs and murmuring phrases with the risk of sounding commonplace. I thought things over, but I reached only one conclusion: Only freedom can work such miracles.

Cornel Nistorescu



RUSSIA AND CHINA

From Stratfor Geopolitical Diary
Forwarded by BGen Robert Clements USAF (Ret)

Depending on whose statements you believe, Russian forces involved in their most intensive war games in a decade have just failed to launch one to three ICBMs. That failure will radically reshape military doctrines in Moscow, Washington and Beijing.

The first misfires on Feb. 17 were a pair of ICBMs — from the nuclear submarine Novomoskovsk in the country's northern fleet — that did not leave their tubes. On Feb. 18, the third came from the Karelia, another northern fleet nuclear sub, that self-destructed 98 seconds after take-off because its was falling out of its expected trajectory.

While grudgingly admitting that the Karelia launch was indeed a mislaunch, most of the navy's brass, including Navy Chief of Staff Vladimir Kuroyedov, assert that the Novomoskovsk mislaunches were only intended to be “virtual” launches and that everything went according to plan.

Such counterclaims simply do not hold water. Extensive PR leading up to the “failed” Feb. 17 “launches” indicated that they would be live and large. Such assertions came from individuals as high up the chain as Deputy Chief of General Staff Yuri Baluyevsky and Igor Dygalo, one of Kuroyedov's aides. Additionally, Russian President Vladimir Putin was on a submarine next to the Novomoskovsk when the launch was to take place. The event was to be a highlight of Putin's re-election campaign.

What we are seeing appears to be a recurrence of the Russian navy's predilection to deny and shift blame. For months after the 2000 Kursk disaster, senior naval officials continued to charge “Western submarines” for the Kursk's sinking, despite no evidence to support the claim and steadily mounting evidence to the contrary.

But even if, on the outside chance, Kuroyedov is correct and the Feb. 17 mislaunches were just virtual “tests,” it is unavoidable that the one live launch on Feb. 18 failed. And more than just a failure, it was an abject failure.

Russia depends upon biannual launches to test its nuclear deterrent, normally one each of its land-launched and sea-launched missiles. The target site (this time in Kamchatka in the Russian Far East) and the launch site are selected months in advance, allowing ample time to inspect and perfect the process. This time around, Putin's presence gave the launches an additional level of importance.

And yet they still failed.

The consequences for Russia of the failed launches are staggering. The Russian military is only a pale shadow of its former Soviet glory, and with every year, most of its equipment — ICBMs included — age with precious few replacements. This has left Russia's nuclear deterrent at the core of the country's strategic doctrine. In 2000 Russia adopted a first-strike policy that continues to this day, simply because it lacks the conventional capability to repulse a large-scale attack.

In order to extract some additional utility to its deterrent, Russia has prioritized the maintenance of its ballistic missile capable submarine fleet, the thought being that such a fleet can do double duty as a deterrent and as a power-projection tool.

Let that sink in a bit. The Russian ballistic missile submarine fleet has been prioritized. Moscow intends for them to be the best of the lot; the navy had months to prepare; a leader not known for his kindness was in attendance, and all three launch attempts failed.

So that there is no doubt where we are going with this: The integrity of the Russian strategic deterrent is highly questionable.

For Russia this will mean nothing short of the re-evaluation of the country's entire strategic doctrine. Moscow must decide whether to even maintain any meaningful naval presence whatsoever, or instead depend upon land-based systems, which — while easier to maintain — allow neither second-strike capability nor dual-tasking.

Even more far reaching will be the potential changes in Chinese and American doctrine. The U.S. Defense Department is in the nascent stages of developing a national missile defense capability. Even NMD's most ardent supporters have never claimed that the system would be able to block a full Russian nuclear strike, since such an attack was always assumed to consist of hundreds or thousands of warheads.

The Feb. 17 and 18 launch failures have now forced a change in that calculus. If the best of Russia's best missiles — with ample preparation — are unable to launch under ideal circumstances, then during the course of the next 10-20 years U.S. NMD capabilities might find a Russian “strike” a manageable affair. Stratfor expects the Bush administration to take an extremely hard look at its NMD program, which will most likely result in sustained higher funding rates. If the Pentagon believes it might be able to protect against a Russian strike, it will take steps to do so.

Of more direct danger to Russia are potential evolutions in Chinese military thinking. Beijing still smarts from the chunks of territory it lost to Russia in the unequal treaties of the 19th century. Aside from Taiwan, such lands are the only pieces of “China” that Beijing has not yet been able to assert control over. Demographic pressures — there are fewer than 20 million Russians east of the Urals compared to over 100 million Chinese just across the border from the Russian Far East — have led to a steady flow of Chinese north into Russia.

According to the Russian security services, that flow has led to the establishment of Chinese majority regions within Russia proper. From a strictly military point of view, it is the Russian nuclear deterrent that has been the uncompromising barrier to Chinese encroachment. Add in China's hunger for energy and raw materials — with Siberia's bounty of energy and raw materials — and it does not take a genius to see why Moscow will soon be casting an even more wary eye in the direction of its southern neighbor.



RUSSIA DECORATES U.S. OFFICERS

By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 28, 2006 – Underneath a portrait of Czar Peter the Great, the Russian Ambassador to the United States presented two U. S. officers with the Order of Friendship for their parts in rescuing submariners trapped underwater off the Kamchatka peninsula in August 2005.

Ambassador Yuri V. Ushakov presented the awards, the highest honor to non-Russian citizens, to Air Force Maj. Patrick Poon and Navy Lt. Cmdr. Steve Smith in a ceremony at the Russian Embassy here. Both men said it was due to the combined efforts of all on the team that seven Russian submariners survived their Priz AS-28 deep submergence submarine ordeal.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Gen. Peter Pace and Undersecretary of State Robert Joseph attended the ceremony.

On Aug. 5, 2005, the 45-foot long craft became entangled in discarded fishing nets in Russian Far East waters. The disabled submarine was stuck at 600 feet, and time was a crucial factor in rescuing the crew. “I got the call at 8 a. m. and by 1 p. m. I was on a plane heading toward Kamchatka,” said Poon, commander of Detachment 1, 36th Contingency Response Group, at Yokota Air Base, Japan.

Continue this story by clicking here [http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Feb2006/20060228_4339.html ].

For earlier story of the actual event, click here [http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/08/06/world/main763654.shtml ].



SECURITY LEVELS

Forwarded by VAdm Harold Koenig, U.S. Navy (Ret)

The British are feeling the pinch in relation to recent bombings and have raised their security level from “Miffed” to “Peeved.” Soon though, security levels may be raised yet again to “Irritated” or even “A Bit Cross.” Londoners have not been “A Bit Cross” since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies all but ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from “Tiresome” to a “Bloody Nuisance.” The last time the British issued a
“Bloody Nuisance” warning level was during the great fire of 1666.

Also, the French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from “Run” to “Hide”. The only two higher levels in France are “Surrender” and “Collaborate.” The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country's military capability.

It's not only the English and French that are on a heightened level of alert. Italy has increased the alert level from “shout loudly and excitedly” to “elaborate military posturing”. Two more levels remain, “ineffective
combat operations” and “change sides”.

The Germans also increased their alert state from “disdainful arrogance” to “dress in uniform and sing marching songs”. They also have two higher levels: “invade a neighbor” and “lose”.

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual and the only threat they worry about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.

The opening paragraph reminds me of the suggestion that the reason why the Glorious Glosters were put in such a precarious position during the Battle of Imjin [http://www.members.tripod.com/~Glosters/Imjin.html ] in the Korean War was because American officers did not appreciate that the message “Things are getting a bit sticky here” was meant to convey a dire situation.



THE FUTURE OF AMERICA IN IRAQ

Forwarded by Bill Thompson with the following comments: Military sociologists will have a great time with this thesis. Wasn’t it the Greatest Generation spawned in WWII, that provided the leadership for the U.S. for the next 50 years? Many of us have learned over the years to not underestimate the potential and resourcefulness of junior officers and enlisted personnel. Robert Kaplan has stumbled on to a good story and let’s hope others pick up on it and report other positive pieces.”

By Robert D. Kaplan, author of Imperial Grunts: The American Military on the Ground (Random House, 2005).

If you want to meet the future political leaders of the United States, go to Iraq. I am not referring to the generals, or even the colonels. I mean the junior officers and enlistees in their 20s and 30s. In the decades ahead, they will represent something uncommon in U.S. military history: war veterans with practical experience in democratic governance, learned under the most challenging of conditions.

For several weeks, I observed these young officers working behind the scenes to organize the election in Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city. They arranged for the sniffer dogs at the polling stations and security for the ballots right up to the moment Iraqi officials counted them. They arranged the outer ring of U.S. military security, with inner ones of Iraqi soldiers and police at each polling station, even as they were careful to give the Iraqis credit for what they, in fact, were doing. The massive logistical exercise of holding an election in a city of 2.1 million people was further complicated by the fact that the location of many polling stations changed at the last minute to prevent terrorist attacks.

Read the rest of the story HERE [http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-kaplan24dec24,0,1795116.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions ].



THE OTHER IRAQ

From MG Bill Hegland USAF (Ret)

Here is an interesting website that provides an overview of a part of Iraq the average person knows little or nothing about.

Click here for ENLIGHTENMENT [http://www.theotheriraq.com/ ]



UNTHINKABLE OPTIONS?

By Jack MacKercher, July 13, 2006, in a letter to the Tampa Tribune

Michael Goodwin's case for the beginning of WW III comes too close to the mark. And so, too, does your headline writer in stating the “U.S. Is Paralyzed”. This need not be. Frightening as they are, options are available - not inviting, but they provide alternatives. Most importantly, they make us instantly unpredictable.

For instance, USS PUEBLO still lays captive in Korean waters. It's a reminder to the world, if not to us, that our immediate past is replete with examples of our tissue-paper tiger stature.

Moving on to the unthinkable:

Option 1:
Launch a multiple head ICBM with one non-nuclear war head and the remainder dummies. Mission: take out Pueblo and splash those dummie warheads along the coast of North Korea. No advance warning and no follow-up explanation. Leave it to the world to digest its meaning.

Option 2:
Begin removing our troops post haste from South Korea. Again, no explanation. Leave the stewing and worry to the bad guys! Why are the Americans leaving after all these years?

Option 3:
Immediately give Japan a limited nuclear capability to protect themselves. This is a reality the Russians and Chinese dread.

Option 4:
Take out the offensive missile facilities as well as those involved in the production of nuclear weapons, first with conventional weaponry and, as a last resort limited nukes. This final option need not be a precursor to total war.

Now put yourself in Beijing and Moscow as the leadership of those nations. Are you willing to sacrifice everything for Kim Il Jong, a miniaturized madman?

But all these are crazy. The U. S. doesn't do such things. Doing such would be unthinkable.

Not really! Even thinking about any one of these alternatives involves a sobering deterrent value.

John C. MacKercher
Weeki Wachee, FL.



WESTERN HEMISPHERE

TIGHTENING OUR BORDERS

In April 2005, the U.S. Department of State announced details of the proposed “Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative”.

If enacted, U.S. and Canadian citizens will be required to carry a passport for travel to or from certain countries/areas that were previously exempt. The proposed implementation dates are as follows:

Beginning December 31, 2005, a passport or other accepted document will be required for all air and sea travel to or from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Central and South America.

Beginning December 31, 2006, a passport or other accepted document will be required for all air and sea travel to or from Mexico and Canada.

Beginning December 31, 2007, a passport or other accepted document will be required for all air, sea and land border crossings.

To read the report of this meeting in its entirety CLICK HERE [http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2005/44286.htm ].



WHO HAS CONTROLLED THE MIDDLE EAST?

Forwarded by BGen Bob Clements USAF (Ret)

Who has controlled the Middle East over the course of history?

Just about everyone: Egyptians, Turks, Jews, Romans, Arabs, Persians, Europeans… the list goes on.

The bigger question is, “Who will control it today?”

To see 5,000 years of history in 90 seconds, click HERE [http://www.mapsofwar.com/ind/imperial-history.html ], then click “PLAY”.