January 29, 2009

End of the Blog

... It was put to me that to end a blog is to delete it, but in recognizing the role that it plays in a larger ecosystem of information, it shall NOT be deleted ...



Yesterdays post, “Culture threat to American Interests” will be my last post on American Interests. After ‘x’ amount of postings and some 21 months, I regretfully end the American Interests blog. There are several reasons for the resolve to end it. Time has become limited; I am feeling the time crunch, so to speak. Good blogging requires energy, commitment, discipline, organizational skills, accurate research and some writing skills but especially, time. There have been occasions when I felt that I had run out of original things to say, but this too, I am sure was because of time constraints that began as early as last May.

I have always maintained that in blogging, one must find their own voice, thus when one finds themselves frequently blockqouting because time restraints prevent the articulation of one’s own, then it may be time to stop.

Lately I have also felt somewhat selfish, as I am not giving enough in return, that is, contributing to other blogs for lack of, you guessed it, time. For this, I am sorry.

It was put to me that to end a blog is to delete it, but in recognizing the role that it plays in a larger ecosystem of information, it shall NOT be deleted. Besides, I may yet add a post here and there if compelled to do so …

It has been an honor and privilege to get my ideas and message out into the wild, for that is what blogosphere sometimes resembles.

So without too much fuss and emotive flourish, I humbly thank all who have routinely visited, commented and thus contributed to the cause that is, America’s Interests.

Finally, to those that arrive here through some Google or related search or by sheer accident, I urge you to pause, examine, consider, and reflect upon the words under the heading, “About this blog” and hopefully, explore the many posts using the labels for navigation.

Good-bye and God bless …

January 28, 2009

Culture threat to American Interests

Even today, American art, dance, film, and literature continue to inspire others who appreciate its culture and power. Such elements of global culture reflect American values, way of life, and serve as useful instruments of divine will, and triumph over evil, and for good or bad, globalization is delivering consumer products, brands and corporations’ to almost every corner of the globe. Think Coke, McDonalds, Viacom (MTV), Google, Apple, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, News Corp (Fox) and Time Warner (CNN) just to name a few. Even English, which is the language of choice in media and internet circles, owes much of its worldly presence to the U.S. One would think that this alone virtually guarantees the continued spread of American culture though things are changing.

Cultural Counterforce

A relatively new phenomenon now threatens American Interests and the battle of ideas; ideas on which American empire has traditionally rested are being subjected to a cultural counterforce that is resisting American influence. Even U.S. media interests are no longer the undisputed champions of cultural globalization as foreign corporations develop competing interests set to resist automatic acceptance of U.S. inspired alternatives even as the fusion of new and older cultures continues amidst the adaptation process.

Arab Broadcasting Networks: Al Jazeera is the chief broadcasters in the region expressing resentment about the U.S. and is now the most widely watched Television network in the Arab world. The U.S. had helped to launch a competing Arab language network, Al Hurrra, but has had little if any quantifiable success in defeating aversion to U.S. Middle East policies. To make matters worse, Al Jazeera has launched faculties broadcasting in the English language from Europe, Asia, and even America itself.

India: Bollywood’s presence and influence grows unabated while Hollywood only holds its own. Over a third of Bollywoods revenue results from foreign markets and outsourcing film production is enabling it to cause some concern in Hollywood. Call centers form another aspect of outsourcing that has added to cultural tensions over the past decade.

China: Restrictions on satellite broadcasting and the internet, in addition to quotas being placed on imported film show that China is fearful of cultural influence. China has also developed an effective soft power diplomacy or Charm Offensive that is gaining ground with Asian elites within university campuses in Asia.

Taliban: There is a degree of righteous cultural elements to America’s fight with the Taliban with a sense of Christian mission being a driving force of U.S. policy. This also applies in reverse, with long-established Qur’anic schools or Madrassas feeding Taliban fighters and students in general who develop an intolerant, prejudiced, and narrow-minded view of the world from an Anti-American base. As the continued fighting with the Taliban demonstrates, the two cultures are completely irreconcilable on faith and ideological grounds.

Ideas had always mattered to American Empire as a basis for furthering its own interests and promoting freedom thought-out the world, but other cultures are fighting back, challenging the normally automatic right of leadership that we have come to expect. Said the late, Samuel P. Huntington, “World politics is entering a new phase, in which the great divisions among humankind and dominating source or international conflict will be cultural.”

The United States must double its efforts to convey a positive image to those that resist it most through an effective public diplomacy program otherwise its status as an exemplar of modernity may one day erode.

January 24, 2009

Obama's first Military act

It's pleasing to note that the war on terror continues!

Associated Press is reporting the first serious military operation of the Obama Presidency:

Missiles fired from a suspected U.S. spy plane killed seven people Friday on the Pakistan side of the Afghan border, a lawless region where al-Qaida militants are known to hide out, officials said. The strike was the first on Pakistani territory since the inauguration of President Barrack Obama. Pakistani leaders had expressed hope Obama would halt the attacks, more than 30 of which have been launched since the middle of last year, reportedly killing several senior militants.
Barack Obama's approval of the raids that began under Defence Secretary Bob Gates - kept on by America's new President - should not come as a surprise. When, in August 2007, he first advocated sending US troops into Pakistan to kill terrorist leaders the Wall Street Journal ran an editorial headline 'Barack Obama, Neocon'.

Dr Liam Fox, Defence spokesman for Britain's Conservatives, will be supportive. He recently said that disruption of Pakistan's al-Qaeda-Taliban network should be celebrated.

Via: America in the World

Obama a neocon? Hardly! Pakistan had hoped the new administration would put a halt to such attacks which are normally launched from Afghanistan. Not that its desirable, but do not expect media scrutiny of the kind that followed George W. Bush over this; criticism that was unmerited in the case of the former president ...

January 21, 2009

Change of Guard: Goodbye GW Bush hello President Obama

By my reckoning America is still today, yes even today my friends, the "exemplary society".

In an atmosphere of unprecedented optimism and emotion, Barack Obama has been inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States and the first African-American to hold the position. As my regular readers know well, I am primarily an advocate of America and its importance to fostering peace and maintaining international security, spreading democracy, and the force of its ideas and culture which I believe are useful constructs when considering its multifarious role in shaping the contemporary world for the betterment of the many. As Ronald Reagan said:

The United States is unique because we are an empire of ideals
In such contexts, I sincerely wish President Obama well, but have concerns about the apparent love affair between media and the new President, often wondering about the role of emotion in politics and its implications for critical inquiry and balanced coverage, something I know will be absent in the immediate future. Consider the words of Janet Albrechtsen in writing in the Australian this morning.

You know that something is amiss with rational judgment when economics Nobel laureate Amartya Sen describes events surrounding Barack Obama’s arrival as US President as “turning an exceptional human being into almost the kind of godhead that he has become … when opinion leaks into news coverage and straight analysis, as so often happens, something altogether more dangerous is happening. The media forfeits their place as the fourth estate when they forget their primary duty to report the facts so the average reader, as well the commentariat, can form their own judgments. Regrettably, much of the mainstream media in the Western world have abandoned this trusted role. They want to be players, not mere observers. Intellectual scepticism, which should sit at the heart of good political analysis, is too often a rarity in an increasingly liberal (in the American sense of that word) media.
Albrechtsen concludes

Sadly, it looks as if Obama may get a free pass on tough media scrutiny largely because so many journalists share his politics … In a tough world, however, we will need more from Obama and from his press gallery. What will matter is whether Obama does a good job, not whether he’s black, good looking and speaks well.

On George W. Bush

As I wrote here, in letting Bush go we would do well to consider that if one bases his or her vote on whether Bush was good or bad solely on what’s presented on the 24/7 news cycle, then we were always going to know any poll results in advance. The passage of time and with it, the shift in media focus away from Bush will be conducive to impartial analysis by commenters, reporters, reviewers and general folk without the usual ‘pink noise’ distraction put forward by knee jerk elites from both ends of the Atlantic. As such, history will be fairer to GWB. By my reckoning America is still today, yes even today my friends, the "exemplary society".

Recommended reading:

George W. Bush’s Legacy: Moral Vision

He never let Americans forget there is evil in this world and that their nation has a unique calling to fight it ... he leaves to history the reaffirmation of American good over evil in the world. The job is not done, and will never be done until the ideology of fanaticism in the hearts of men is extinguished. But in leaving office, this president can always be recalled for standing tall in the face of historic crises not unlike those faced by chief executives before him.

Bush’s legacy, there should be little doubt, will be great, despite what now is suggested by the final public approval ratings and the current euphoria of the Democratic transition. >> more
History fairer to Bush

In the avalanche of abuse and ridicule that we are witnessing in the media assessments of Bush's legacy, there are factors that need to be borne in mind if we are to come to a judgment that is not warped by the kind of partisan hysteria that has characterised this issue ...>> more

January 19, 2009

The Jewish are to blame … right

Are you wondering about the root cause of problems in the Middle East - no, scrap that ... are you wondering what’s behind all the problems between Islamic fundamentalists and Westerners, right across the globe?


Images purportedly from Gaza such as the one on the left have been circulated by e-mail in Malaysia and Indonesia in recent weeks, accompanied by text in Malay which translates in part as: "I cry because I'm a Muslim, and my brothers are being killed!" Therefore, Muslims worldwide are being energized and drawn into a conflict which otherwise has no direct bearing on them.

As Donald Douglas noted at American Power on January 6: No one is unaffected by the civilian causalities. But it's precisely images like these which are used by Hamas for diabolical propaganda purposes. Israel has been extremely judicious in abiding by the laws of war and in conducting its campaign with respect for human rights and the prevention of civilian deaths.
And so, we come to Caroline Overington a senior writer and columnist with The Australian and two-time winner of the Walkley Award for investigative journalism and her scrutiny of a loathsome article that appeared in the Melbourne Age:

Are you wondering about the root cause of problems in the Middle East - no, scrap that ... are you wondering what’s behind all the problems between Islamic fundamentalists and Westerners, right across the globe?

The Jews are to blame!

So says Michael Backman, in this opinion piece in The Melbourne Age.

Some choice cuts ...

Israel’s utter inability to transform the Palestinians from enemies into friends ...

Excuse me ... Israel’s inability to transform the Palestinians into friends… ? Like, Palestinians want to be Israel’s BFF? (Then again, perhaps they do; they’re always sending things over.) But anyway, Israel’s refusal to take a missile as a hand of friendship in a cunning disguise ....

... has imposed big costs on us all.

It has? How so, Mr Backman?

We have paid for Israel’s failure with bombs on London public transport, bombs in bars in Bali, and even the loss of the World Trade Centre towers in New York.

Ah-hah! It was Jews that flew those planes into the towers, and carried those back packs onto London buses. Who knew?

It is not true that these outrages have occurred because certain Islamic fundamentalists don’t like Western lifestyles

No. There is nothing Islamic fundamentalists like more than Western decadence.

Rather, it is Israel — or more correctly the treatment of the Palestinians — that is at the nub of these events.

Well, of course. Israel - that is, the Jews - are responsible for the death of thousands of people in the World Trade Centre and of footballers on holiday in Bali.

Mr Backman goes on to say that the Jews have managed to unite Muslims across the world in hatred of them:

The world’s Muslims have no head ...

Actually, it’s Daniel Pearl who has no head, but go on Mr Backman:

So, how extraordinary that Israel and the West have managed to unite this headless, diverse, dispersed grouping without any institutional framework, around just one issue — anger at the treatment of the Palestinians.

Is that not a touch racist? Backman seems to be saying that all Muslims hate Israel, and support gross acts of terror.

Groups of Muslims do seem to feel for one another in a way that Christians and others do not.

Which is why no Western nation has ever gone to the aid of an ally in, say, a world war; why there are no links whatsoever between, say, Australia and the United States; or indeed England and the United States; none between the nations of Europe; none between christians across the globe.

Pictures of distraught Gazan mothers beside the mutilated bodies of their children are circulating right now among Muslim communities worldwide.

Which can mean only one thing. More dead 15-year-old surfer girls in a bar in Kuta.

The enmity many Muslims now feel for Israel has nothing to do with religion ...

No, of course not. If all the Jews of Israel were driven into the sea, terrorists would still be firing rockets into people’s homes and blowing up buses of others in Israel.

Besides, it isn’t the Jewishness of Jews that Muslims find offensive. No, it’s just that Jews are loathsome.

Trekking in Nepal is fashionable among young Israelis. So much so that many shops in Kathmandu and Pokhara have signs in Hebrew. But once you get on the trekking circuit and speak with local Nepalese guides and guesthouse operators you soon discover how disliked the Israelis are.

Because of Palestine? No:

This has nothing to do with religion or politics: rather, they say that the young Israelis are rude, arrogant, and argue over trifling amounts of money even though they clearly have means.

A-ha! See, it’s not because they are Jewish! It’s because they are money-hungry, penny-pinchers.

Israel needs to change.

Or else ...what? More dead civilians in many distant cities?
Be sure to read the rest here

An article that appeared at the Jewish Center for Public affairs site by Prof. Efraim Karsh appears to answer most if not all the reasons for the West’s contempt for Israel’s war against Hamas.
  • With a unanimity that has become all too familiar, politicians, the media, NGOs, and church leaders across the globe took their cue to denounce Israel's legitimate act of self-defense against one of the world's most extreme terror organizations. This chorus of disapproval is in stark contrast to the utter indifference to far bloodier conflicts that have been going on around the world.

  • Why do citizens in democracies enthusiastically embrace a radical Islamist group that not only seeks the destruction of a fellow democracy but is overtly committed to the substitution of a world-wide Islamic caliphate for the existing international order?

  • Decades of mistreatment of the Palestinians by the Arab states have gone virtually unnoticed. Only when they interact with Israel do the Palestinians win the world's attention.

  • The fact that international coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict has invariably reflected a degree of intensity and emotional involvement well beyond the normal level to be expected of impartial observers would seem to suggest that it is a manifestation of longstanding prejudice that has been brought out into the open by the conflict.

  • The Palestinians are but the latest lightning rod unleashed against the Jews, their supposed victimization reaffirming the millenarian demonization of the Jews in general, and the medieval blood libel - that Jews delight in the blood of others.

A Tidal Wave of International Indignation

No sooner had Israel opted to stop Hamas' attacks on its civilian population, after years of self-imposed restraint, than it was confronted with a tidal wave of international indignation. With a unanimity that has become all too familiar when it comes to the world's pronouncements on Israel, politicians, the media, NGOs, and church leaders across the globe took their cue to denounce this legitimate act of self-defense by a sovereign democracy against one of the world's most extreme terror organizations, overtly committed to its destruction, which for years had been raining down thousands of rockets and mortar shells on civilian communities (not to mention the long string of suicide bombings).

Echoed by the international media's blanket coverage of Israel's response in Gaza, but not Hamas' murderous ideology and actions, this chorus of disapproval over the Jewish state's "disproportionate" use of force is in stark contrast to the utter indifference to far bloodier conflicts that have been going on around the world, from the long-running genocide in Darfur, with its estimated 400,000 dead and at least 2.5 million refugees, to war in the Congo, with over 4 million dead or driven from their homes, to Chechnya, where an estimated 150,000-200,000 have died and up to a third of the population has been displaced at the hands of the Russian military. None of these tragedies saw protesters flock into the streets of London, Paris, Berlin, Milan, Oslo, Dublin, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Washington, and Fort Lauderdale (to give a brief list), as has been the case during the Gaza crisis.

Arab Mistreatment of the Palestinians Went Unnoticed

How can this be? Why do citizens in democracies enthusiastically embrace a radical Islamist group that not only seeks the destruction of a fellow democracy but is overtly committed to the substitution of a world-wide Islamic caliphate (or umma) for the existing international order based on territorial nation states? Not because of compassion for the Palestinians, whose plight has never attracted genuine international interest, especially by the Arab states (and for that matter, the Palestinian leadership), whose decades of mistreatment of the Palestinians have gone virtually unnoticed.

Between 1949 and 1967, Egypt and Jordan ruled the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank respectively. Not only did they fail to put these populations on the road to statehood, but they showed little interest in protecting their human rights or even in improving the quality of their life - which is one of the reasons that 120,000 West Bankers moved across to the East Bank of the Jordan and about 300,000 others emigrated abroad between 1949 and 1967.

Nobody in the international community paid any more attention to this than they have more recently to the ongoing abuse of Palestinians across the Arab world from Saudi Arabia to Lebanon, a country which was condemned in a June 2006 Amnesty International report for its "long-standing discrimination and abuses of fundamental economic and social rights of Palestinian refugees."

Nor has there been any international outcry when Arab countries have massacred Palestinians on a grand scale. In 1970 King Hussein of Jordan ordered the indiscriminate bombing of Palestinian refugee camps in the course of putting down the Palestinian uprising during "Black September." This left between 3,000 and 5,000 Palestinian refugees dead. But the fact that Hussein killed more Palestinians in the course of a single month than Israel managed to do in decades was never held against him or dented the widely held perception of him as a man of peace. As the supposedly pro-Palestinian journalist Robert Fisk put it in his recent memoirs, King Hussein was "often difficult to fault."

Again, more than two decades ago Abu Iyad, the number two man in the PLO, publicly stated that the crimes of the Syrian government against the Palestinian people "surpassed those of the Israeli enemy." While in the wake of the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, Kuwaitis not only set about punishing the PLO for support of Saddam Hussein's brutal occupation by cutting off their financial support for Yasir Arafat's overblown and corrupt organization, but there was also a widespread slaughter of Palestinians living in Kuwait.

This revenge against innocent Palestinian workers in the emirate was so severe that Arafat himself acknowledged: "What Kuwait did to the Palestinian people is worse than what has been done by Israel to Palestinians in the occupied territories." Yet there was no media coverage or specially convened UN meetings because it is only when they interact with Israel that the Palestinians win the world's attention.

Only Palestinian Interaction with Israel Wins World Attention

In other words, the extraordinary international preoccupation with the Palestinians is a corollary of their interaction with Israel, the only Jewish state to exist since biblical times, a reflected glow of the millenarian obsession with the Jews in the Christian and the Muslim worlds. Had their dispute been with an Arab, Muslim, or any other adversary, it would have attracted a fraction of the interest that it presently does. On occasion, notably among devout and/or born again Evangelical Christians, this obsession has manifested itself in admiration and support for the national Jewish resurrection in the Holy Land. In most instances, however, anti-Jewish prejudice and animosity, or anti-Semitism as it is commonly known, has served rather to exacerbate distrust and hatred of Israel. Indeed, the fact that the international coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the libels against Zionism and Israel, such as the despicable comparisons of Israel to Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa, have invariably reflected a degree of intensity and emotional involvement well beyond the normal level to be expected of impartial observers would seem to suggest that, rather than being a response to concrete Israeli activities, it is a manifestation of longstanding prejudice that has been brought out into the open by the vicissitudes of the conflict.

Be sure to read the rest here

As I wrote in late December Israel will never win the any popularity contest in the West, it may as well “brave the backlash”. The State of Israel has the right to defend herself to safeguard her interests, and protect its citizens; the failure t do so would be a dereliction of its duty.

January 17, 2009

American Interests: Why bother…

American Interests is my contribution, one that hopefully forms part of the sum and substance of all World Wide Web content that sings the same tune ...

While displaying decipherable sum of sincerity and empathy a friend recently enquired as to why I bother with blogging. What he was really questioning was the degree to which one could effect change or have any meaning through a one in a 150 million blog or in my case, two blogs. Referring to my efforts to alter the course of opinion in relation to climate change policies in Australia, and stimulating positive discourse vis-à-vis America and its interests to our world on this blog, it was suggested that, “in reality” it remains beyond the reach and influence of mere individuals sitting at their desks at home. The ensuing discussion brought to mind a couple of old parables.

A shoe factory sends two marketing scouts to a region of Africa to study the prospects of expanding business. One sends back a telegram saying, situation hopeless stop no one wears shoes. The other writes back triumphantly, glorious business opportunity stop they have no shoes.
I hazard to guess that I would NOT be the marketing expert to view the circumstances, what is, as evidence that points to hopelessness.

… a man catches sight of a young women who appears to be engaged in a ritual dance. She stoops down, then straightens to her full height, casting her arm out in an arc. Drawing closer, he sees that the beach around her is litered with starfish, and she is throwing them one by one into the sea. He lightly mocks her: “There are stranded starfish as far as the eye can see, for miles up the beach. What a difference can saving a few of them possibly make?” Smiling, she bends down and once more tosses a starfish out over the water, saying serenely, “It certainly makes a difference to this one.
American Interests.blog may be a small one-man show, but as its faithful author I rather see it as a pointer to abundance and possibility; a way of making a difference, albeit a small one. Approaching the task with my own, very individual perspective that focuses on potential, a way to make a difference and not what stands in the way. The man in the second parable sees only the obstacles, the countless starfish (number of other bloggers), efforts futile, lack of resources, too difficult…not enough time…

American Interests is my contribution, one that hopefully forms part of the sum and substance of all World Wide Web content that sings the same tune. To this end, I know I am not alone and yet, even if I were that one in a zillion, I would remain undeterred, perhaps even more inspired. Here is another gem to consider.

Four young men sit by the bedside of their dying father. The old man, with his last breath, tells them there is a huge treasure buried in the family fields. The sons crowd around him crying, "Where, where?" but it is too late. The day after the funeral and for many days to come, the young men go out with their picks and shovels and turn the soil, digging deeply into the ground from one end of each field to the other. They find nothing and, bitterly disappointed, abandon the search. The next season the farm had its best harvest ever.
American Interests.blog is not an arena of and for success alone, more accurately and in the first instance, it is a place of contribution. Can anyone guess the book from which the parables were lifted? Finally, to those reading this, don't forget to say Hi, perhaps subscribe to the feed, or add this blog to your Technorati favorites. Help us to prove my friend wrong; a "Hi" will do just fine...

January 16, 2009

President George W. Bush Farewell Speech

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



Overall, George W. Bush hasn’t gotten much good press in recent years, but other than liberating Iraq from the tyrant that was Saddam, protecting the homeland from further terrorist strikes and taking taking the war on terror to one if its major breeding grounds in Afghanistan, he’s accomplished some important things that the next president would do well to preserve and extend.

In particular, consider three often overlooked achievements:

1. The emerging U.S.-India strategic partnership.

Since 1995, there have been more than a dozen joint U.S.-Indian military exercises, but the size and importance of these operations has expanded dramatically under Bush. In 2007, the two countries conducted a three-week Special Forces counterinsurgency training exercise. That same year, Indian warships joined two U.S. aircraft carriers and warships from Australia, Japan and Singapore to practice maneuvers. India has begun buying U.S. military hardware, requesting more than a billion dollars in arms in 2007 and acquiring what is now the second-largest ship in the Indian navy: the I.N.S. Jalashva, formerly the U.S.S. Trenton, an amphibious transport vessel. And the United States and India have negotiated a new deal granting New Delhi access to nuclear fuel for civilian purposes.

India isn’t always an easy partner. New Delhi’s strategic interests sometimes don’t align with Washington’s - witness India’s comfortable relationship with Iran. And India is always sensitive to any hint it is being treated as anything less than an absolute equal. But with China becoming more assertive, India - along with Vietnam and other states on China’s seacoast - shares some vital interests with the United States. The next U.S. president should therefore build on Bush’s India legacy by drawing New Delhi into a closer defense relationship - not because Washington expects conflict with China, but in order to deter conflict.

2. A more equal partnership with Latin America.

During this decade, the big countries of South America turned to the left. Former union leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva won the presidency of Brazil in 2002. The populist husband-and-wife team of Nestor and Cristina Kirchner has governed Argentina since 2003. Michelle Bachelet, a center-left leader, governs Chile.

In the past, leftist Latin governments have clashed with conservative U.S. administrations. Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez has gleefully goaded Washington, hoping to justify his increasingly authoritarian rule by inciting a clash with the colossus of the North. But the Bush administration frustrated Chávez with something unexpected: nothing. Instead of snapping at Chávez’s bait, Washington largely ignored him. (Except for one bad day, when it briefly seemed to countenance an attempted anti-Chávez coup - a mistake swiftly corrected.)

Given enough rope to hang himself, Chávez quickly alienated his democratic left neighbors, even as Washington showed it was ready to do business with them. The economic policies of the Latin left may have slowed growth and stoked inflation, but there is good reason to hope that South American states have now developed the political means to correct such errors–without crisis or violence. The Latins themselves deserve most of the credit for this. But for the first time since the McKinley administration, Washington under Bush can fairly claim that it didn’t get in the way. The next president could learn a lesson from Bush’s restraint - and perhaps apply it to Cuba, where five decades of U.S. isolation have failed to achieve much.

3. The determination to do counterinsurgency right.

The Bush administration made many serious mistakes in Iraq, but the president got the big thing right. Faced with defeat, his administration first acted to cut off foreign support for the Iraqi insurgency by arresting and (covertly) killing Iranian operatives inside Iraq. It then developed unexpected new allies among the Sunni tribes, adopted effective new counterinsurgency tactics and deployed large reinforcements. The result was an unexpected success that has opened the way for political reconciliation.

The next president will face a very similar problem in Afghanistan. Covertly aided by Pakistan, a nasty insurgency by the resurgent Taliban has taken shape there. While the mission retains broad support in the United States, many NATO allies are under serious domestic pressure to cut their losses and withdraw.

Bush’s Iraq model should be reapplied: pressure Pakistan into ending its assistance to the insurgents, send in more troops and adopt new tactics. The job will be tough. But the new president should know that if the last one could do it in Iraq, surely he can do it in Afghanistan.

Adapted from and via: Hiram 7 review

The full text of Bush's farewell address can be read here

January 13, 2009

The Climate Change Show

December 2008 - Gore praises China's contribution to fighting climate change

January 2009 - In a move likely to fuel concerns over global warming, China aims to increase coal production 30 pct by 2015 to meet its energy needs.

Is it all meant to incite laughter or amusement? What a circus!!! I found this here

January 12, 2009

American Job losses: Some Perspective please …

The image on the left is grossly misleading and I doubt whether the U.S. Department of Labor intended it to be interpreted as it was ...

Late last week we could not hide from the news that the U.S. lost over 520,000 jobs in December, which according to news reports raised the job loss figure to nearly 2.6 million for 2008.

This is not good but strikingly, comparisons were made to World War II hence the headline at CNN, amongst others:

“Annual loss biggest since end of World War II”

Such comparisons are both deceptive and false, as they do not take into account the fact that the labor force is much bigger than it was in 1945. It would be more accurate to compare jobs lost in relation to the labor force for each period we are comparing to….

I guess MSM can’t help but exaggerate America’s woes …

For even more perspective read this

January 11, 2009

USS George H.W. Bush brought to life …

... It will be the most technologically advanced carrier in the world and is expected to protect American Interests until at least 2059 ...

The U.S. Navy today welcomed the newest member to its powerhouses of the fleet. The U.S.S. George H.W. Bush (CVN -77) was commissioned at Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Va.


About 20,000 people attended the commissioning, including President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other members of the Bush family.

Some CCN 77 facts:

  • Cost: $6.2 billion

  • Powered by two nuclear reactors that can operate for more than 20 years without refueling

  • Expected to operate as Navy warship for about 50 years

  • Typical Nimitz-class ship carries 80-plus combat aircraft

  • Towers 20 stories above the waterline with a 4.5-acre flight deck

  • 1,092 feet long: nearly as long as the Empire State Building is tall

  • Four bronze propellers, each 21 feet across and weighing more than 30 tons

  • Steering accomplished by two rudders, each 29 feet by 22 feet and weighing 50 tons

  • Four high speed aircraft elevators, each more than 4,000 square feet, bring planes to the flight deck from the hangar below

  • Home to about 6,000 Navy personnel

  • Enough food and supplies to operate for 90 days: 18,150 meals served daily

  • Distillation plants providing 400,000 gallons of fresh water from sea water daily, enough for 2,000 homes

  • Nearly 30,000 light fixtures and 1,600 miles of cable and wiring

  • 1,400 telephones, 14,000 pillowcases and 28,000 sheets

Source: Northrop Grumman

It’s commissioning adds another 90,000 tons of impossible to ignore cold steel diplomacy to its arsenal. As former, Secretary of Defense William Cohen once stated:

"If you don't have that forward deployed presence, you have less of a voice, less of an influence."

The Nimitz class is am immense source of pride for the world’s largest Navy and its builder Northrop Grumman Corp. It will be the most technologically advanced carrier in the world and is expected to protect American Interests until at least 2059.

The USS George H.W. Bush will be the final vessel in the Nimitz class of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, but as one chapter comes to a close, another begins. In November, Northrop received a $5.1 billion contract from the Navy to build the lead ship in the next class of carrier - the Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) and is expected to be completed in 2015.

Multimedia: The commissioning of the G.H.W. Bush

See also: U.S. Navy Aircraft Carriers

January 9, 2009

U.S. Navy launches New Command to lead fight against Piracy

In a decision that underlines the value of shared responsibilities, values, and costs in terms of global security issues, a new international force consisting of more than 20 nations and headed by the U.S. Navy and Rear Admiral Terence McKnight (pictured) has been set up to ward off ocean piracy and is expected to begin operations as early as next week. Navy Times reports that Rear Adm. Terry McKnight would head Combined Task Force 151, which is expected to be “fully operational” in days.

“… pirate attacks have grown in the past months despite broader United Nations authorization to pursue suspected hijackers at sea and ashore … “Some navies in our coalition did not have the authority to conduct counterpiracy missions,” Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, commander of 5th Fleet and Combined Maritime Forces, said in the announcement. “The establishment of CTF-151 will allow those nations to operate under the auspices of CTF-150, while allowing other nations to join CTF-151 to support our goal of deterring, disrupting and eventually bringing to justice the maritime criminals involved in piracy events.”

“The most effective measures we’ve seen to defeat piracy are non-kinetic and defensive in nature,” Gortney said in the Jan. 8 statement. “But the problem of piracy is and continues to be a problem that begins ashore and is an international problem that requires an international solution. We believe the establishment of CTF-151 is a significant step in the right direction.”

A surface warfare officer and a native of Norfolk, McKnight had recently been the commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 2, since Sept. 2007. The new task force will operate in the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Red Sea and Indian Ocean.”
According to the BBC more than a dozen ships with around 200 crewmembers remain in the hands of pirates, among the most valuable being a Saudi supertanker, loaded with $100 million of crude oil and an Ukrainian vessel with Russian-made tanks and other heavy weapons on board.

The threat of piracy is a shared concern; hence, it is pleasing to witness the formation of this International Anti-Pirate Armada, one that hopefully will not only counter the efforts of pirates but more importantly, serve as a foundation for shared duty in a world where common threats to global interests, are typically left for the U.S. to confront alone.

Image: AP Photo/US Navy - Jennifer A. Villalovos

January 6, 2009

John Howard awarded U.S. Presidential medal

The former Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, will receive yet another award, the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honour. Said White House press secretary Dana Perino:

The President is honouring these leaders for their work to improve the lives of their citizens and their efforts to promote democracy, human rights and peace abroad ...
It follows a string of previous awards in recogntion of the former Prime Minister efforts to make the world a safer place. In 2005, Prime Minister John Howard was presented with the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars Award, an unprecedented honour for a serving leader and person outside of America and Europe. Then just over a year ago, he was presented with the 2008 Irving Kristol Award, only the second time the award was presented to a foreignor. And just over 3 months ago John Howard was awarded the Winston S Churchill Medal of Freedom at a ceremony in Los Angeles.

This latest award represents another remarkable achievement for one of this country's best Prime Minister's.

Previous postings on John Howard:

John Howard awarded Winston S Churchill Medal of Freedom
John Howard accepts Irving Kristol award - defends his Conservative Legacy
Order of the Garter
Australia's John Howard Receives 2008 Irving Kristol Award
Australia votes 11/24/2007
Australia: An Election looms

See also Pajamas TV Video: John Howard - The Long War Against Radical Islam

January 5, 2009

The Rally for Israel and Peace

... The people of Israel are free and always will be. And Australia will stand by them ...

Israeli supporters gather on the steps of Parliament House in Melbourne, Australia Jan 4, 2009.

Australian Senator Mitch Fifield speech to “THE RALLY FOR ISRAEL AND PEACE”, Sunday, 4 January Parliament House Melbourne, Australia.

For our American readers, Malcolm Turnbull being mentioned in the first paragraph, is presently Australia's opposition leader.

Ladies and gentlemen, firstly can I congratulate you all for coming out on a Sunday to stand up for your beliefs. I was talking to Malcolm Turnbull on the phone just before the rally and he asked me to convey to you all his very best wishes.

Israel is under attack. Not from the Palestinian people. Not from the Palestinian Authority. But from Hamas. A group known by many names. But we here today know exactly what they are. They are extremists. They are terrorists. And Israel has every right to defend itself against them.

Today is a rally in support of Israel. But today is also a rally for her neighbours and the right of all to live in peace. Today we rally for democracy. We rally for freedom. We rally for the rule of law.

It is important that we remind the international community that Israel is being attacked from within the borders of a territory that it did not occupy. That Israel is being attacked from within a territory over which it makes no claim.

Hamas in Gaza cannot claim to have been resisting an occupier. Let us remember that Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. Despite this, Israel has come under attack on an almost daily basis from rockets fired by terrorists linked to Hamas. More than 3,000 rockets in 2008 alone.

Hamas care nothing for civilian populations on either side of the border. Hamas fire missiles randomly at population centres in Israel. Hamas intentionally puts the residents of Gaza in danger by hiding weapons in civilian areas.

But if you listen to some commentators you could be forgiven for thinking that Hamas was some sort of benevolent religious organisation – a kind of Salvation Army with weapons. The truth is that Hamas seeks neither peace nor prosperity for Gazans.

Some believe that Israel, as the stronger military entity, should just sit back and absorb the rockets, the casualties and the deaths. That somehow every nation except Israel has the right to defend itself in line with Article 51 of the UN Charter. What lies behind such a view is the belief that Israel doesn’t have a right to exist and deserves whatever it gets.

The State of Israel has the right to defend herself. But more than that, the Government of Israel has an obligation to protect its citizens. To fail to do so would be a dereliction of its duty.

We should mourn all civilian deaths on both sides and hope and pray for a quick resolution to this crisis. The objective should be a sustained end to hostilities. What should not be accepted, however, is a one way ceasefire that just leads to further attacks on Israel. The rockets must stop. Israel’s right to exist in peace with its neighbours must be accepted.

Israel is a beacon of hope and liberty in the Middle East. It is a great and robust democracy. The people of Israel are free and always will be. And Australia will stand by them.

Israels message to its enemies is simply, "don't mess with us". I hope Armadinijad is listening ... If you support Senator Fifields rally for Israel, let him know here ...

January 3, 2009

A Statement of Support for Israel

We are particularly outraged that the UN Security Council, in an act of hypocrisy, issued a statement suggesting an “equivalency” between Hamas’ terrorism and Israel’s attempts to eliminate that terrorism. The UN Security Council statement ignores Israel’s fundamental right and responsibility to protect its people.


In a timely article, the authors at Hiram 7 Review call on international leaders and all people of good conscience to support Israel as it acts to protect its citizens from systematic attacks from Gaza.

The international community and all those who seek the rule of law, moderation and democracy should now stand with Israel, in this effort to turn the tide against the extremists who not only threaten Israel, but the whole Middle East and the entire civilized world.

We are particularly outraged that the UN Security Council, in an act of hypocrisy, issued a statement suggesting an “equivalency” between Hamas’ terrorism and Israel’s attempts to eliminate that terrorism. The UN Security Council statement ignores Israel’s fundamental right and responsibility to protect its people.

The UN Security Council needs to understand that it is encouraging and emboldening Hamas and other Islamic extremists whose ideology seeks to undermine the rule of law and democracy. The UN Security Council must understand that this is a critical moment in the struggle against Islamic extremism.

As President-elect Barack Obama said a few months ago during his visit to Sderot, Israel: “If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.” Hamas and its supporters bear sole responsibility for any harm to Gaza’s civilians. The United States of America, France, Russia, the president of the Palestinian Authority, and other international leaders have blamed Hamas’ escalating rocket attacks for Israel’s current military action.

The White House has backed Israel’s attacks, saying Hamas remains a terrorist group. Other countries, including Germany, also voiced support for Israel.

Hamas and other Iranian-supported extremists chose to renew their war against Israel instead of renewing the six-month “calm” that ended on December 19th. In the week after December 19, 2008, Gaza’s terrorists committed war crimes and collective punishment by launching over 280 rockets and mortars that targeted civilian men, women, and children in southern Israel.

Israel seeks peace. It withdrew from Gaza in 2005, but instead of nation-building, Hamas seized control and has abused Gaza to build its terrorist capabilities and incite hatred and violence.

Israel respected the June 19th agreement for six months of “calm,” even as Hamas strengthened its terrorist infrastructure and launched over 377 attacks during the agreement. Israel exhausted all diplomatic channels to renew the “calm,” but Hamas responded only with escalating terrorism.

Israel has exercised extraordinary restraint even as Hamas has systematically targeted Israeli civilians, and Hamas has left Israel no choice but the military option it began on December 27, 2008. Israel’s stated goal is to destroy the terrorist infrastructure while avoiding harm to Palestinian civilians.

Hamas’ fanatical commitment to its founding document’s mission of “obliterating” Israel and murdering Jews is once again causing suffering for Palestinians living in Gaza. When Israel employed non-violent strategies to pressure Hamas to moderate, the terrorist organization cynically exploited them to accuse Israel of human rights’ abuses. Hamas attacks on Israel-Gaza crossings have impeded humanitarian aid deliveries. Hamas rocket misfires and “work accidents” have killed Palestinian children.

Hamas’ ruthless use of human shields and densely populated neighborhoods has endangered Palestinian non-combatants. Hamas’ refusal to let wounded Gazans cross into Egypt for medical care is compounding casualties.

We join other international leaders in unequivocally condemning Hamas and its crimes against Palestinians and Israelis.

We call on the civilized world to support the right and above all, the duty, of every sovereign nation - including Israel - to defend its citizens from armed aggression. No nation can or should allow daily, incessant attacks against its people.

There is no justification their terrorizing and intentionally murdering innocent men, women, and children.

Hamas could have easily changed Israeli policies merely by renouncing extremism and terrorism. It chose war instead. We hope the day will soon come when Hamas’ self destructive battle against Israel ends, and Israelis can live with their neighbors in prosperity and peace. We urge you to send this statement or your own letter with some of the above facts to national or international leaders.

For addresses of US officials, click here.

Dont forget to copy the following officials:

President George W. Bush
President of the United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania AvenueWashington, D.C. 20500
Phone: 001 202 456-1111
E-Mail: president@whitehouse.gov

President-Elect Barak Obama
Contact the Obama administration transition team here.

Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20520

Secretary of State Nominee, Hillary Rodham Clinton
Contact Hillary here.
Phone: 001 202 224-4451

Secretary General of the UN Ban Ki-Moon
The Honorable Ban Ki-Moon
Secretary General
760 United Nations Plaza,
United Nations
New York, NY 10017

Israel wants peace and would have done anything to avoid this conflict. Hamas has been acting in accordance to its founding document (its charter) which calls for the elimination of Israel. The leaders of Hamas have been inflicting terrorism on Israel, and hiding among the Palestinian people in Gaza, using Palestinian children as human shields.

Reprinted with the kind permission of David Ben-Hame, Editor and Publisher HIRAM 7 Review. E-Mail: hiram7@web.de

HIRAM 7 REVIEW
c/o Rechtsanwalt (German Attorney-at-Law) Alexander Martin Lüdicke
Pestalozzistr. 22 - 22305 Hamburg - Germany

Last we checked Australia's Foreign Minister had not yet issued a statement in relation to Israel's present fight against terror. Contact Australian officialdom here

The Hon Stephen Smith MP
R.G. Casey Building,
John McEwen Crescent
Barton, ACT, 0221 Australia
Phone: +61 2 6261 1111 Fax: +61 2 6261 3111

The media’s incessant anti-Semitic viewpoints, casting Israelis in now familiar terms, is consistent with century’s old Islamic anti – Semitism and modern day Israeli loathing. Amongst other things, the process is indoctrinating masses the world over, the moral position that Little Satan must be purged. Whether anti-Semitic proclamations are empty rhetoric or not, Israel cannot be denied the right to act to protect its own.

January 2, 2009

2008 is widely tipped to be declared the coolest year of the century.

While official figures are not yet in, 2008 is widely tipped to be declared the coolest year of the century. Whether this is a serious blow to global warming alarmists depends entirely on who you talk to. Anyone looking for a knockout blow in the global warming debate in 2008 were sorely disappointed. The weather refused to co-operate, offering mixed messages from record cold temperatures across North America to heatwaves across Europe and the Middle East earlier in the year. >>more

As regards global warming, my view remains unchanged: Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is a scam, with no basis in science. Up until a couple of years ago, even isolated episodes of hot weather were proclaimed as “proof” of global warming. Now, however, we have endless reports of unusually cold weather from all over the world but they are always attributed to “normal variation”. Could it be clearer that we are dealing with Leftist politics rather than science?

In 2009, watch out for, 1. those that refer to Carbon Dioxide as a pollutant and 2. Those advocating for a carbon-constrained economy. ... The debate needs to switch focus to the negative impact a carbon-constrained economy will have on ordinary citizens of the world ... "



For further reading check our my Climate Change articles here

January 1, 2009

2009: Happy New Year

... in each era of our history an astounding sense of self-satisfaction and contentedness is entrenched and prevails. An attitude accepted by most participants of each epoch; a secure consciousness that fails to acknowledge the scope of things to come ...

New Years Eve is also a time of reflection and nostalgia, in my case something came over me as I reflected on this New Year. For no palpable reason, I found myself gob smacked at the thought that it was actually 2009. The first decade of the new millennium is nearly over! To clarify my thoughts permit me to venture away from the realm of this blog, just this once.

Back in mid 1970’s as a teenager I looked ahead to 2000 and beyond with awe, envisioning a world of sci-tech wizardry and commercial space travel and colonization. I guess I was a victim of too many scfi novels, popular science and mechanics magazines, and sitcoms, such as Hanna-Barbera's, The Jetsons.

That said, with advances in robotics, personal networking, mind control interfaces, smart architecture, (buildings), Computing, Biotech’s and Nanotechnologies, we can expect a very different world by 2050. Make no mistake we’re going to witness some pretty amazing stuff in time to come.

Our knowledge is but a few blades of grass, our ignorance however is ...
They were my words in 1998, in fact, no one can be sure that we have even yet discovered all the fundamentals of the physical world. There was a time over a century ago, that many of the world’s eminent scientists and physicists thought just that. Enter Albert Einstein, whose revolutionary concepts - relativity and quantum mechanics - displaced many previously held assumptions. Through history, progress in the sciences has occurred in bursts. As Einstein did, other brilliant minds will come forth; his curious mind will take him down new unexplored paths of thought and analysis. She will dig deeper into the building blocks of matter, he/she will, like many of their great predecessors, challenge the prevailing theories of their time, and we shall witness quantum jumps similar to the Newton/Einstein eras. The American philosopher William James summed it perfectly when remarking upon the views of the science establishment amongst his Harvard colleagues. I find his words so poignant that I present verbatim.

Science has made such glorious leaps in the last 300 years that it is no wonder the worshippers lose their heads…I have heard more than one teacher say that all the fundamental conceptions of truths in science have been found and that the future has only the details of the picture to fill on. But the slightest reflection on the real conditions will suffice to show just how barbaric…crude…such notions are …whatever else be certain, this at least is. That the world of our present natural knowledge is enveloped in a larger world of some sort, of whose residual properties we, at present can frame no positive idea".
Over 110 years have passed since these statements, has time not vindicated him?

It is foolish and inadequate for anyone be it scientist, philosopher, and commoner to believe that as race we have discovered all the facts of the physical world. As a race, we have an enormous potential to grow and discover yet, in each era of our history an astounding sense of self-satisfaction and contentedness is entrenched and prevails. An attitude accepted by most participants of each epoch; a secure consciousness that fails to acknowledge the scope of things to come.

Let us therefore concede that current technology within all its modern day packaging will be primitive in 100, 500, 1000 years hence. Assuming we continue as an intelligent race, technologies of the future can only be envisioned by our imaginative faculties at best. Indeed, if the past 100 years were any indication, any attempt to depict such distant technology would render us incoherent even today.

Any science or technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic.
So said Arthur C. Clarke, I am sure that some of the advances destined for commercialization will bring humankind closer to that magic; not that I will be around to experience it…

It is all relative my friends, depending from whence one surveys time; we are both primitive and modern in AD2009.

Stay safe and Happy New Year