September 30, 2008

Media sidestepping on Terrorism

I often wince when local and international media refer to terrorists using the more sanitized term, “militants”; a term that offers legitimacy and/or a more positive connotation for those that resort to deadly violence for a cause.

Sure enough, if I were a journalist writing for Australia’s ABC, Britain’s BBC or the likes of AFP, I would find myself avoiding the term ‘terrorist” knowing in advance that it would, almost certainly be edited.

Hence, it was pleasing to note Mark Henderson's recent write up on this at The Australian Conservative:

The battle against terrorism is a long and difficult one that requires the responsible and committed involvement of all layers of government and other institutions.

One of those institutions is the news media. It is high time the media stopped providing terrorist groups with some kind of legitimacy by referring to them as “militants”. Terrorists are not “militants” - they are terrorists.

The issue has again been highlighted in the wake of the tragic attacks in India at the weekend. At least 21 people were killed and more than 100 injured - many seriously - in a series of bomb attacks in the capital New Delhi. The attacks have been claimed by a group calling itself the Indian Mujahideen.

Channel Nine news reported the attacks as being the work of “Islamic Militant groups”, while the ABC Online carried a Reuters report that referred to “militant attacks”. The justification that the ABC has previously provided for using the term “militant” is that they do not want to “label” groups. It would be quite wrong to hurt the feelings of terrorists by actually calling them terrorists.

Until it was embarrassed into changing its policy, the ABC News department used to remind its journalists that “one man’s terrorist is another one’s freedom fighter”.

So the murderous Indian Mujahideen are “militants” and some people’s freedom fighters. Quite what freedom they are fighting for is unclear when they said the reason for the New Delhi attacks was revenge.

The Reuters report that the ABC ran included this quote: “The National Counter-terrorism Centre in Washington says 3,674 people had been killed in militant attacks in India between January 2004 and March 2007, a death toll second only to that in Iraq.”

The NCTC said no such thing. Their whole report on global terrorism in 2007 refers to just that - terrorism. It even defines terrorism and gives examples of attacks that are NOT terrorism.

Here is how they define terrorism: “Premeditated politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by sub national groups or clandestine agents.” There is no mention of the word “militant.”

It is high time the news media started to play a responsible role in the war against terrorism. They should stop giving legitimacy to murderous terrorists by sanitizing them with the description of militant.

I recall in 2005 and following the London bombings that the BBC and even the leftist Guardian quite unexpectedly discovered the word terrorism in its reporting. I guess it was different reporting on an event that occurred in the neighborhood rather than somewhere else. In contrast to reporting of similar events elsewhere, where we find a preference for terms like, "fighters,” “activists,” “guerrillas” and “militants.” In covering the London bombings news organizations did what’s expected, report the facts and the suffering imposed, without the usual predisposition in relation to the perpetrators, as is frequently the case, when covering comparable atrocities in for example, Israel.

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September 26, 2008

U.S. Primacy and the Space Race ...

China's space program lags way behind that of the U.S., could someone please stand on the rooftops, and shout this out to our liberal media ... They (China) are basically recreating the Apollo missions 50 years on ...


Firstly, one needs to appreciate this, the image seen above was taken 43 years ago. No, that was not a typo ... 43 years ago!

To those born post 1980, our Liberal media are giving China the aura of being a world leader in technology hence, it was refreshing to come across Sam Roggeveen's post from The Interpreter which sets the the record straight about this weeks news of China's spacewalk ...

Given recent events on US financial markets, this is not the best time to be shouting from the rooftops about long-term American global primacy. But it's probably a bit early to draw the curtain on US primacy as well, particularly on the flimsy evidence presented in this blog post from Undiplomatic. Apparently, the coincidence of the financial meltdown with China's first ever spacewalk is portentous:

"Would the last person still believing in the continued dominance of American power please turn out the lights? This is China’s century now."

It's worth remembering three things: (1) the US conducted its first spacewalk in 1965; (2) this is a Chinese public relations exercise that wastes public money and contributes almost nothing to scientific understanding of space; and (3) on that score, the US has no peer competitors.

China's space program lags way behind that of the U.S., could someone please stand on the rooftops and shout this out to our liberal media.

As put so eloquently earlier this year by Joan Johnson-Freese, chair of the National Security Studies Department at the U.S. Naval War College and an expert on China's space development.

They (China) are basically recreating the Apollo missions 50 years on, it's a tortoise-and-hare race. They're happy plodding along slowly and creating this perception of a space race.

China remains decades away from challenging the U.S. in space and, so be it .... Oh, and they're keen on making a good impression

Image: In 1965, U.S. astronaut Edward White made the first U.S. spacewalk. Tethered to his Gemini IV capsule, White is pictured above holding a compressed gas "zip gun" for maneuvers in his right hand. His spacewalk began over the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii and ended 23 minutes later above the Gulf of Mexico.

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Your turn to comment on whatever topic aspect of American Interests you choose and/or takes your fancy ... You can provide a name or remain anonymous it does not matter, the only rules are:

(i) No course language and (ii) Keep the discussion civil ...

September 25, 2008

McCain’s Australian links

Further to yesterday's post, “McCain pledges to revitalize U.S. - Australian Alliance”, Andrew Shearer from the Lowy Institute, an independent international policy think tank based in Sydney highlights several telling features about McCain’s opinion piece.

>> Unlike Obama, McCain has a real connection to Australia and a deeply personal engagement in the alliance and our shared history, particularly on the battlefield.

>> McCain uses the word ‘critical’ to describe Australia’s support for US global leadership. Even discounting for an element of flattery, McCain challenges the persistent thread of Australian opinion that deprecates Australia’s international influence and would seek to circumscribe our international responsibilities to the South Pacific and perhaps Southeast Asia.

>> McCain sets out clearly his Asia strategy – in which US democratic allies are paramount. The language on China is clear-eyed, acknowledging substantial common interests but not shying away from shortcomings in China’s international behavior and treatment of its own people. Experience shows that this ‘outside in’ approach to influencing China’s choices in positive directions is more likely to succeed than the alternatives (which, at the other extreme, includes proposals for a US-China condominium in Asia). Equally important for Australia, McCain’s strategy empowers US allies; but the implicit rub is that the conceit that Australia can set itself up as a bridge between Washington and Beijing by positioning ourselves equidistant between the two is a non-starter.

>> McCain is an unabashed free trader, which matters deeply to Australia and to our major economic partners in Asia. At a time of profound global economic uncertainty, a renewed US commitment to free trade is even more vital. Obama’s advisers say that Obama too is a free trader despite his campaign rhetoric; but it’s hard to see a Democratic administration and a Democrat-controlled Congress standing up to growing protectionist impulses. A McCain Administration would still face an uphill battle with Congress on trade, but it’s better to have an advocate occupying the bully pulpit of the presidency than someone whose commitment is equivocal at best.

>> Values and democracy promotion would remain a central thread of US foreign policy under a McCain Administration, including in Asia.

>> McCain mentions Iraq before Afghanistan, a subtle rebuttal of suggestions that winning the latter war is more important than the former; while his language is diplomatic it is clear that McCain has noted not only Australia’s contribution in Iraq but also our premature departure.

(>> points via: The Interpreter)

September 24, 2008

McCain pledges to revitalize U.S. - Australian Alliance

Republican presidential candidate John McCain, whose family has military links to Australia stretching back to the 1908 arrival in Sydney of President Roosevelt's Great White Fleet, pledged to strengthen the alliance in an opinion piece featured in The Australian.

A little more than 100 years ago, president Theodore Roosevelt's Great White Fleet steamed into Sydney Harbour. Hundreds of thousands of Australians cheered the 16 battleships that would circumnavigate the globe as a demonstration that America was now a Pacific and a world power. On board the gunboat Panay, patrolling the Philippine archipelago, a young midshipman named John Sidney McCain - my grandfather - shared in the navy's pride at Roosevelt's audacious gesture. Only two years out of the naval academy, my grandfather would shortly be promoted to ensign and assigned to the flagship USS Connecticut for the fleet's triumphant return to the US.

In the middle of 1908, Australians and Americans recognized immediately the kindred spirit of two rugged and energetic peoples separated by half the globe but united by shared hopes for mankind. That initial friendship would be forged into an inseparable bond through many struggles in the years to come. Ten years after the Great White Fleet left Sydney Harbor, American soldiers would serve under Australian general John Monash at the decisive Battle of Hamel on the Western Front. My father and grandfather would both serve side by side with the Royal Australian Navy in the Pacific theatre, turning back the Japanese tide and then building a post-war network of alliances that would usher in a new era of peace and prosperity in Asia.

From Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan, I have seen first-hand how succeeding generations of young Americans and Australians have been ready to step forward together to defeat aggression and provide relief and recovery for the stricken.

On China

Firm commitments to our allies will set the stage for an American engagement of China that builds on the many areas of common interest we share with Beijing and encourages candour and progress in those areas where China has not fulfilled its responsibilities as a global power.
U.S. leadership and bilateral trade

American leadership is also necessary on trade. For six decades, Democratic and Republican presidents have consistently stood for free trade, but in this presidential election the Democratic candidate has broken with that tradition. I believe that free trade agreements, such as those we have entered into with Australia and Singapore and have negotiated with South Korea, are critical building blocks for an open and inclusive economic order in the Asia-Pacific region. They create billions of dollars' worth of new exports and set a higher standard for trade liberalization that ultimately helps all the nations in the region.

Nuclear proliferation

Today the American and Australian people face unprecedented challenges in the area of proliferation. Australia is a key partner in our efforts to reverse the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs. The US and Australia can also do more to reinforce the broader non-proliferation regime. My administration would lead by example by pushing for a fissile materials cut-off agreement and by reducing the US nuclear stockpile while maintaining a deterrent against attacks on our homeland and allies. I will also work with Australia and other allies to make the International Atomic Energy Agency more effective.

The war on terror

I am mindful that Australians, like Americans, have suffered terrible terrorist attacks. But we can also take pride in our successful co-operation with other nations in Southeast Asia to interrupt terrorist networks and prevent further attacks. In forums such as the Association of South-East Asian Nations and Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation, states have moved from initial shock to mutual co-operation in the fight against terror. It reminds us that while our alliances remain the foundation of peace and stability in Asia, we have new opportunities to build patterns of multilateral co-operation.

Our successes in the war on terror also result directly from our determination to take the fight to the enemy. Some have argued that American or Australian security would be better served if we abandon the mission in Iraq, but in fact the result would be just the opposite. A precipitous US withdrawal would only embolden our adversaries, risk regional instability, and demoralise our friends. After mismanaging the aftermath of the war, we have now established a more secure Iraq with the surge strategy and we are seeing the results in the steady process of political reconciliation and economic recovery. By bringing our troops home in victory, rather than defeat, we can ensure that they stay home once and for all.

McCain is fond of Australia. He was courted by former Australian Prime Minister John Howard and has formed a cordial relationship with new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. For me in particular, it was pleasing to note Senator McCain’s calls for a re-invigoration of the US – Australia alliance.

Read the whole piece here

September 22, 2008

The Significance of Hainan Island and Sanya

Contrary to conventional wisdom that the U.S. is slowly, withdrawing from the western pacific, Defence Secretary Robert Gates recently visited the region and committed the U.S. to a construction boom worth over $15 billion. Speaking at an annual assembly of Asian defence chiefs, the Shangri-la dialogue, Secretary Gates confirmed that over the next 5-10 years the Pentagon would spend billions on new facilities that can berth a nuclear carrier and include medical facilities and homes for U.S. service members and woman and even air bases.

Our Asian friends, whether or not they are formally allied to us, welcome our growing presence on Guam. As the island's new facilities take shape in coming years, they will be increasingly multilateral in orientation, with training opportunities and possible pre-positioning of assets," Gates said in Singapore. Gates's Shangri-La Dialogue speech was designed to convey a message of reassurance to the US's close allies in East Asia that talk of the gradual diminution of the US's military posture in the face of a renascent China was misplaced.
On the question of guaranteeing that the U.S. will not lose interest in Asia Gates was unequivocal
We will not lose interest because we are an Asian power," he said. "People would have been surprised, perhaps, in 1945 to see the US, 60 years later, still engaged in a larger way and a broader front in Asia than we were even at the end of the war ... nobody should have any worries on that score.The Defence Secretary argues forcefully Washington's presence has been an essential element in assisting Asia's economic revival, "opening doors, protecting and preserving common spaces on the high seas, in space and more and more in the cyber world.

This presence has offered other nations the crucial element of choice and enabled their entry into a globalised international society," he said. "As someone who has served seven US presidents, I want to convey to you with confidence that any future US administration's Asia security policy is going to be grounded in the fact that the United States remains a nation with strong and enduring interests in the region, interests that will endure no matter which political party occupies the White House next year.
Within 6 years the historic island territory of Guam, reclaimed in WWII from the Japanese will be home to 20,000 U.S. marines and a detachment of advanced unmanned global hawk surveillance craft with long range capabilities and able to track Chinese navy vessels and submarines as they emerge form their ports into the pacific or South China sea. The air forces newest fighter the F-22a will also be periodically flying from the island.

In spite of the build, some argue that China remains on target to challenge U.S. dominance in the Pacific by 2050. In an opinion piece featured in the Melbourne Age, Dr. Paul Monk author of Thunder from the Silent Zone: Rethinking China asserts that the Chinese will stamp there authority in the Pacific using the new secretive naval base on Hainan island referred to as Sanya.

China is set to challenge US dominance in the Pacific by 2050. According to naval intelligence sources in London and Washington and a recent MI6 briefing to Jane’s Intelligence Weekly, China is building a massive, highly secure naval base at Sanya on Hainan Island.

Recall the EP-3 incident in 2001 when a U.S. Reconnaissance aircraft was forced to land in Hainan, it had some to do with Sanya.

According to naval intelligence sources in London and Washington and a recent MI6 briefing to Jane's Intelligence Weekly, China is building a massive, highly secure naval base at Sanya on Hainan Island. This has been independently confirmed, using commercially available satellite imagery, by the Federation of American Scientists. The question is, should we be concerned about Sanya? The answer: Yes.

The naval base centres on a huge underground complex even the most sophisticated spy satellites cannot penetrate. It is being prepared with berths for up to 20 of the most advanced Chinese submarines, the C94 Jin-class boat, which will be capable of firing both anti-satellite and nuclear-tipped missiles. It is also being fitted out to house several aircraft carriers — something China does not even have yet. In short, Sanya is a very clear signal of the scale of China's emerging blue-water naval ambitions.
Monk goes on to discuss the possible implications of China’s Sanya base and makes some interesting historical parallels.

Several episodes in modern history show us, by analogy, what Sanya could signify:

The development of German naval power in the 1910s to rival British dominance; the rise of Japanese naval power in the 1920s to rival Western naval dominance in the Pacific; and the attempt by the Soviet Union, in the 1970s and early 1980s, to build a blue-water navy that could challenge American dominance of the world's oceans.

None of those attempts succeeded, but they were part of what became the First World War, the Second World War and the last anxious phase of the Cold War.

Consider the case of Germany 100 years ago.

The intention of the Germans, when they began their naval build-up, was not to fight Britain but to develop enough naval muscle to apply pressure on Britain in a possible future crisis that would induce Britain to come to terms and make concessions. The Kaiser's Navy Laws of 1898 and 1900 gave navy secretary Alfred von Tirpitz a mandate to develop a fleet of short-range battleships that could challenge the Royal Navy in the North Sea.

It was also hoped that the naval build-up would rally conservative interests and the new middle classes around the flag and buttress the legitimacy of the monarchy.

Sanya, on the South China Sea, is about China being able to put enough pressure on the United States in a possible crisis to extract concessions from it.

The aim may also be to rally Chinese citizens around the Communist Party, whose dubious legitimacy depends more and more on nationalism rather than communism.

In the 1910s there were many people in Britain who did not see the rise of German naval power as necessarily a cause for alarm.

As Gates stressed in June, U.S. ties with East Asia are the best they have been at any point in history, he even recently inaugurated a direct hotline with the Chinese and both sides engage in regular dialogue. However, as history has shown, and Paul Monk suggests, we must not rest on laurels or cynicism as clearly Sanya and the strategy behind it…

... has a clear objective: to dominate the waters around the first island chain — the great chain of islands that runs from the Kuriles through Japan and Taiwan to the Philippines — and then to challenge US dominance in the Pacific by 2050. The Sanya naval base is a key move in the grand plan — and we should all sit up and take note.

Hainan island hosted the 2007 Miss World pageant as is billed as an excellent holiday destination with its blue sea, beautiful beaches, green mountains and all year long sunshine but just next door the Chinese are constructing a new and very different vision of international maritime relations.

Experts attempting to understand the strategic aims behind China's aggressive military expansion have generally focused on Taiwan. Nevertheless, a new naval base points at Beijing's significant and growing interest in projecting power into waters far from the Taiwan Strait. China, in fact, is equipping itself to assert its longstanding and expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea. >> more

Circumstances set to further engage the interests of Tokyo, Seoul, New Delhi, Canberra and Washington …

Further reading

New Chinese SSBN deploys to Hainan Island

Observing China's "Secret" South Fleet Base

Chinese nuclear submarine base: China has secretly built a major underground nuclear submarine base that could threaten Asian countries and challenge American power in the region, it can be disclosed.

Marriott bombing in Islamabad

As it was ...



September 20: 1915hrs ...

Another attack on the West; this time in the form of a massive suicide truck bomb carrying 2,000 pounds of explosives.

Sources said that Marriott Hotel is the usual hotel choice of the US officials and it seems that militants tipped off that certain high level US intelligence officers were currently staying at the hotel.

U.S. airstrikes test alliance with Pakistan

The targeting of the Marriott, an American hotel chain comes at a time of growing anger in Pakistan over a wave of cross-border strikes on militant bases by U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

State Department

In a Press Statement following the attack, U.S. Department of State spokesperson Sean McCormack said:

We condemn the heinous attack on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad that has left more than 40 dead and many more injured. We extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to the Pakistani people, and we are ready to assist in any way possible during this difficult time. This barbaric attack comes during the month of Ramadan, only underscoring that those responsible have no respect for the principles of their faith. This strike to the heart of the Pakistani capital leaves no doubt as to the intentions of these extremist elements. Their goal is to create mayhem and weaken the institutions of government so that they may operate unfettered while spreading their intolerance. The United States will continue to stand with the Pakistani people and their democratically-elected government as it confronts this scourge. Among those killed was at least one American citizen; several others have been injured. We are in the process of notifying next of kin and offering our condolences and assistance at this time.

Latest

The death toll is continuing to rise in the Marriott Hotel bombing in Pakistan's capital in what officials say appears to be the work of Al Qaeda. Hospital staff say at least four Britons and four Germans, an American and a Danish citizen were among more than 60 people killed by a truck bomb detonated as hundreds of guests were dining at the Islamabad hotel. The Czech ambassador to Pakistan has also been killed in the attack.

The bombing came on the one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden's call for Pakistani Muslims to unleash jihad or holy war against the government, a vital ally in the US-led "war on terror" that has cracked down on militants.

See also: Attackers aim to shake US-friendly Government

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September 20, 2008

Online Survey: 2008 U.S. Presidential Election – New York University

In an effort to seek a better understanding of voting behavior from a psychological perspective, a research team from New York University, headed by Professor Yaacov Trope, and supported by the National Science Foundation, is investigating the cognitive causes of voting behavior, political preferences, and candidate evaluations throughout the course of the 2008 U.S. Presidential election. This stage of the study focuses on the information people use to inform evaluations during the last few weeks before the election. They seek respondents of all political leanings from all over the country (and from the rest of the world) to complete a 15-minute questionnaire, the responses to which will be completely anonymous...

Here is the link to the survey:

http://www.psychsurveys.org/brietruesdell/2008elections

The survey is not funded by any candidate office, nor aimed at altering respondents’ opinions.

In accordance with instructions issued by the research team and, with the aim of avoiding bias to circumvent some of the unwanted and common effects associated with psychological research, please accept that reader comments for this specific post are disallowed.

September 18, 2008

Ahmadinejad is heading to New York


Not to be misconstrued as an endorsement for the U.N. Some may view it as a valuable body when in fact, it is as hopeless as a guy carrying a stick; an organization that believes paperwork and innuendo can solve the problems of the world and, in the process, soak up massive amounts of taxpayers’ money. But I think the message in the image is clear enough, and it seems Palin agrees

WASHINGTON — Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska will have meetings at the United Nations next week, officials with Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign said on Wednesday.

[ … ]

… Ms. Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, would attend a New York City protest against Iran outside the United Nations on Monday.

[ … ]

“Governor Palin believes that the danger of a nuclear Iran is greater than party or politics,” said a spokeswoman, Tracey Schmitt. >> more

Oh and another reason the U.N. causes grief; the parking spaces that the consulates take up in Manhattan….

September 14, 2008

Is Sarah Palin that dangerous is she…

"... If Mitchell is alarmed by Palin, running for vice president, he should be terrified by Obama, running for president. Either that, or he should accept that nothing Palin said was particularly bellicose, extreme or unreasonable. He’s just fallen for the Palin = redneck spin of the Left ..."

She may only be running for VP but it already seems she is more astute, calculated, and coherent, than most would give her credit. Ok she wasn't perfect but Australian Journalist Andrew Bolt provides us with an excellent analysis following a Melbourne based radio hosts criticisms of Palin. The hosts name is Neil Mitchell.

Sarah Palin has given her first interview since being picked as the Republican’s vice-presidential candidate. The media has scrabbled for evidence of fumbles, and evidence that a shootin’, cussin’ redneck is about to plunge the world into war.

And away they go. From the Toronto Globe and Mail:

Shooting from the hip on foreign policy, Palin raises spectre of war with Russia
Indeed, 3AW’s Neil Mitchell this morning scoffed that a President Palin would have already started “four wars”, to judge by the interview.

Really? Let’s check

The first war a President Palin would allegedly start was with Pakistan, by invading it in the hunt for terrorists, and perhaps from the transcript you might agree the words are indeed naive and alarming:


We should start with the premise that the United States, like all sovereign nations, has the unilateral right to defend itself against attack. As such, our campaign to take out Al Qaeda base camps and the Taliban regime that harbored them was entirely justified… (I)f we’ve got (Osama bin Laden) in our sites, we should ask for Pakistan’s cooperation, we should ask Pakistan to take him out. But if they don’t, we shouldn’t need permission to go after folks that killed 3,000 Americans.
Oops, sorry. That was actually Barack Obama. This is Palin:

ABC News Anchor Gibson also asked Palin several times whether or not U.S. forces have the right to make cross-border attacks into Pakistan with or without the approval of the Pakistani government… “In order to stop Islamic extremists, those terrorists, who would seek to destroy America and our allies, we must do whatever it takes, and we must not blink...”
The other war a President Palin would start, according to Mitchell, was with Russia over Georgia (should Georgia be a NATO member, which it isn’t). Again, the transcript might sound alarming:

I would also argue that we have the right to take unilateral military action to eliminate an imminent threat to our security— so long as an imminent threat is understood to be a nation, group, or individual that is actively preparing to strike U.S. targets (or allies with which the United States has mutual defense agreements)...
And those allies should include Georgia:

I have consistently called for deepening relations between Georgia and transatlantic institutions, including a Membership Action Plan for NATO...
Oops. Again, that’s Obama. Here is Palin:

Asked whether the United States would have to go to war with Russia if it invaded Georgia, and the country was part of NATO, Palin said: “Perhaps so.” “I mean, that is the agreement when you are a NATO ally, is if another country is attacked, you’re going to be expected to be called upon and help,” she said. Pressed on the question, Palin responded: “What I think is that smaller democratic countries that are invaded by a larger power is something for us to be vigilant against ... We have got to show the support, in this case, for Georgia. The support that we can show is economic sanctions perhaps against Russia, if this is what it leads to.”
War three, fretted Mitchell, would be one with Iran, now seeking nuclear weapons, according to most assessments. Go to the scary transcript:

(T)he global community should offer “big sticks and big carrots” to persuade Iran to halt its nuclear programme.

“A nuclear Iran would pose a grave threat and the world must prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon...”
Damn, that’s Obama again. Here is Palin:

PALIN: No, no. I agree with John McCain that nuclear weapons in the hands of those who would seek to destroy our allies, in this case, we’re talking about Israel, we’re talking about Ahmadinejad’s comment about Israel being the “stinking corpse, should be wiped off the face of the earth,” that’s atrocious. That’s unacceptable.

GIBSON: So what do you do about a nuclear Iran?

PALIN: We have got to make sure that these weapons of mass destruction, that nuclear weapons are not given to those hands of Ahmadinejad, not that he would use them, but that he would allow terrorists to be able to use them. So we have got to put the pressure on Iran and we have got to count on our allies to help us, diplomatic pressure.

And the fourth war? Over Israel. To the transcript:

I will always keep the threat of military action on the table to defend our security and our ally, Israel.

You guessed it. Obama again. Here is Palin:

GIBSON: What if Israel decided it felt threatened and needed to take out the Iranian nuclear facilities?

PALIN: Well, first, we are friends with Israel and I don’t think that we should second guess the measures that Israel has to take to defend themselves and for their security.

If Mitchell is alarmed by Palin, running for vice president, he should be terrified by Obama, running for president. Either that, or he should accept that nothing Palin said was particularly bellicose, extreme or unreasonable. He’s just fallen for the Palin=redneck spin of the Left.

In fact, when you read the transcript of Palin’s discussion with reporter Charlie Gibson on foreign affairs, you realise how the gotcha cherry-picking of quotes from it, and the spin given to it, completely misrepresents Palin’s general ease with the subject. The Left dreamed of her making a fool of herself - “er, who’s Putin?” - but she most certainly did not.

UPDATE

Charles Krauthammer punctures Charlie Gibson’s big gotcha moment. No, Charlie, it wasn’t Palin who failed to understand what the “Bush doctrine” was. It was you.

(Via: Andrew Bolts blog)

Regards FP experience, it does not matter what familiarity in any one area one has, more importantly is a track record of having an aptitude to settle in, adjust and make tough decisions with the information on hand. Sarah has already demonstrated this as Governor. In addition, as a Governor, one is not expected that one have foreign policy experience. Recall we had a governor Clinton! All Presidents started somewhere and that somewhere in most all cases had little introduction to the world stage. In any event, Palin will come good soon; independent Senator Lieberman is among many FP specialists helping her out, not least McCain himself.

See also, a fascinating op-ed in The Daily Telegraph, Sarah Palin brings the Hillary Clinton era to an end, by columnist Anne Applebaum writing on how Sarah Palin breaks the archetype of the female politician, for American woman.

Oh, and "The Consequences of Secret Sanya" post is still in the pipe works; coming soon...

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September 11, 2008

Remember

Honor the fallen.


Remember too, a tragedy to be mourned yes, but also, an act of war.


Mid-week message board and ...

That time of the week again ... It's your turn to make comments on whatever topic aspect of American Interests you choose and/or takes your fancy ... You can provide a name or remain anonymous it does not matter, the only rules are:

(i) No course language and,
(ii) Keep the discussion civil

And this weeks 'and' is ... What a difference two weeks has made in the U.S. Presidential race, read John Barnhart's views on the impact of Sarah Palin on the Obama camp...

About 10 days ago I reported that the Obama camp was seeing their poll number slip to a 6% lead from what was at one point almost an 8% to a 9% lead. A little more than one week later and most polls have the race called as a dead heat and many have McCain up by 5% and the resulting desperation is showing in the Obama camp as they are starting to implode. >> more
Look out for our forthcoming post, 'The significance of 'Sanya'; should be up in a few days...

September 8, 2008

China: ASAT test II?

Recall January 11, 2007? China became the third nation after the United States and Russia, to carry out an anti-satellite (ASAT) operation successfully by destroying an aging low-earth orbiting weather satellite. Rumors abound that a second test is imminent.

OK, we are deep into rumour territory here, but Steve Clemons of The Washington Note is pretty reliable, and he's hinting that another trusted blogger, Jeffrey Lewis of Arms Control Wonk, will soon report that 'China may be getting ready to mimic something that the US stupidly did recently in the high skies.' That can surely only mean another test of China's anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon, with the 'mimicking' a reference to the US shootdown of a falling intelligence satellite in February.

Needless to say, this would be really bad news for a number of reasons, but let's leave the analysis until the test actually happens. There's nothing on Arms Control Wonk yet, but keep your eye out. Remember, Jeffrey Lewis broke the story of China's first successful ASAT test in January 2007.

(Via: The Interpreter)

In March we asked, “How long before China’s might develops into an effective bargaining chip in negotiations with the West? ASAT tests, moreover successful ones, may result in a burgeoning industrial scientific complex set to stimulate China’s hi-tech industrial base and education programs, much like America’s space program did in the sixties and seventies.

Let's wait and see if Jeffrey Lewis is right again ...

September 3, 2008

Audacious Russia, feeble Europe

As EU leaders strive to bridge the divide over how best to deal with Russia post Georgia, attention has now focused on energy policy, principally Europe’s dependence on Russian energy. Washington has weighed in; urging Europe to diversify supplies to counter the increasing economic advantage Russia is gaining over the continent. If anything, the present crisis has clearly demonstrated the West’s lack of leverage.

With Moscow supplying 40% of Europe’s gas, and 25% of its oil and given that the 25/40 mix is expected to rise dramatically over the next 20 years, Gordon Brown’s comments that the EU is “sleepwalking into energy dependence,” should be heeded.

For the time being, and if world headlines are any indication, the crises over Georgia has not merely altered opinion of Russia, but caused a significant amount of disquiet.

Russian Daily Kommersant compared the recognition of the Georgian territories with 9/11, stating that world politics would never be the same again.

“For the first time in history, Russia demonstratively undermined the principle of territorial integrity, giving preference to the principle of self determination of peoples.”
The Financial Times said:

“By recognizing … Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states, against international law, the Russian president had made Moscow’s intention clear: The Russian government wants to change the map of Europe by violence.”
Referring to Medvedev’s assertion that Russia might act against the Ukraine as it has done in Georgia, The Washington Post warned:

“This is the rhetoric of an isolated, authoritarian government drunk with the euphoria of a perceived victory and nursing the delusion of a restored empire. It is convinced that the West is too weak and divided to respond with more than words. If nothing is done to restrain it, it will never release Georgia -- and it will not stop here.”
Russia is a bully writes The Daily Telegraph as it noted the steps the west could take to defy Kremlin bullying:

“Expulsion from the G8; freezing consultation within the EU Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and the Nato-Russia Council; an invitation to Georgia and Ukraine by the alliance to join its Membership Action Plan; and the blocking of Russia's WTO membership.”
The Death of 1989 wrote Paul Berman in an exceptional article, The vast, frightening fallout of Russia's invasion of Georgia.

“An adequate response can only be complex, long-term, and global … We will need a newly combined policy, then--a reaffirmation of the principles of democratic solidarity, together with an urgent, national-priority effort to develop alternative-energy industries in order to weaken the Putin dictatorship and a series of other petro-enemies of democracy.”
Stratfor.com warned that Russian recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia may backfire:

“Russia is packed to the gills with its own separatist regions and Tuesdays decision will only give all these disparate and resentful groups food for thought … So why open a Pandora’s box? First and foremost the recognition decision is about Kosovo. In Kosovo, the west utterly ignored Russian concerns and imposed a legal regime that fit with western interests; with South Ossetia Russia is returning the favor in its own backyard.”
However, the Wall Street Journals Bernard-Henri Lévy discounts this in his opinion piece:

“As if there could be anything in common between the case of a Serbian province hounded, battered and broken by ethnic purification which lasted for decades, and the situation of Ossetia, victim of a "genocide" that, according to the latest news (a report by Human Rights Watch) consists of 47 deaths.”

The Russians have even gone as far as threatening the economic interests of Australia following Canberra’s threat to review the deal to directly export uranium yellowcake. Two-way trade between Australia and Russia is worth about $800 million per year. But it remains Europe dependence that mostly disturb me. As the Daily Mail’s Edward Lucas writes:

“Let us not forget our own guilty men: Tony Blair snuggling up to Vladimir Putin for nights at the opera in St Petersburg, safely distant from the howls echoing from the torture chambers of Chechnya, writes Edward Lucas. Nor our pinstriped fifth column: businessmen whose salivating pursuit of profits blinded them to the looming menace of Russia's authoritarian crony capitalism. And let us also blame the European leaders in Germany, Italy, France and elsewhere, crass and craven by turns, who have divided the continent and endangered our security. But we can still fight back.”
Moreover, fight back we must before the apathetic spinelessness brought upon us by PC aficionados, seize what is left of western interests.

Recall Putin’s words concerning the dissolution of the Soviet Union, referring to it as, “The greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century.”

America alongside Europe must make it clear that the west will not stay idle if Moscow attempts to re-assert its control over former Soviet Union States. Otherwise it truly will be a case of the, Death of 1989.