Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Military Industrial Complex, Fact or Fiction

When American was attacked by Japan at Pearl Harbour in December 1941 the US declared "Total War" on the axis powers of Germany, Italy and Japan. This meant that America was to turn its entire economy onto a war footing. Every industry would be maximised for the war effort. Many people believe that after the war ended, America was unable to step down from this war economy and that the internal pressure from the military industrial complex became too great.

Many people of a left wing persuasion believe that this military industrial complex continued to dominate the US economy throughout the cold war justifying phenomenal military spending and that this facilitated and even encouraged the Korean and Vietnam wars. These same people believe that this intertwined relationship between the military and the industry is also responsible for the 21st centuries greatest messes most notably the war in Iraq. However as we will now see it was not a radical student at Berkeley that first came up with this theory. It was in fact one of the greatest heroes in American history, none other than General Dwight Eisenhower. Watch below a clip from his Presidential farewell address where he warns America about the internal dangers posed by the military industrial complex. Truly fascinating.

The fact that General Eisenhower, WW2 supreme allied commander, liberator of Europe and President of the United States (1953-61) believes strongly in this theory lends it real credibility. But how real is it ? I have a background in International Relations so personally I tend to believe that it is national interest that determines foreign policy as opposed to any other special interest. For example I never believed that the war in Iraq was a war for oil or a corporate driven war. I was critical of it on a different level. However one cannot deny the GUBU amount of money that has been spent on it. Many many people have become wealthy beyond imagination as a direct result of this war. Not only due to the armaments industry and reconstruction contracts but the post invasion Coalition Provisional Authority headed up by Paul Bremer initiated a policy of replacing all the old sterile state companies with new privately owned corporations leading to massive opportunity for American investors. Might all these powerful interests have actually contributed to the White Houses decision to go to war. Its a scary thought. General Eisenhower believed it was possible. Who am I to argue with him ?

Serb Nationalism Fading

A mere 10,000 people gathered in central Belgrade today for a protest against the arrest of wanted war criminal Radovan Karadzic

I couldn't help notice the small turn out at yesterdays protest in Belgrade. This coming from the the Serb's, the most nationalist people in Europe. When you think of how they rallied behind Slobadon Milosevich during all those tragic years and how many stood by him when he was in Den Hague. It was only five months ago that hundreds of thousands of Serbs protested, some violently, against Kosovo's independence. There was some violence yesterday but it was minimal. I believe we are seeing the end of militant Serbian nationalism just as we've seen it elsewhere throughout the continent.

The decline of ultra nationalism in Serbia is of course a good thing. All it ever did for the Balkans was tear it apart. I for one am glad to see that Serbia appears to be slowly abandoning its ethnocentric view of Europe just as all other nations have. I hope it leads to eventual EU membership for Belgrade. The EU helped heal the wounds of two world wars in Europe but it did have the healing power of time working with it. If it could bring the nations of the Balkans together a mere two decades since the slaughter, what a spectacular example this would be of the EU bringing peace and stability to another part of Europe.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Anti Semitism in Ireland, Part 2

Following on from my pledge to expose anti semitism in Ireland I now have another unfortunate example. In my last post on the matter I attempted to exposed left wing anti semitism. Here is an example of it coming from the right. Below is a video made by a young Irishman who is upset at the increasing levels of immigration into Ireland. The video is entitled Who's behind the immigration / multicult industry in Ireland Lets see who he blames.

So why is this classic racism toward Jews. Dr Ronit Lentin is a well know academic in Trinity College Dublin that regularly commentates on integration issues. She has also campaigned for multiculturalism throughout Ireland and lobbied the government for a proper integration system. She is also Jewish. There are those that believe that you can blame just about everything that goes wrong in the world on the Jews. Such people believe in particular that the Jews are directly or indirectly behind societies ills, such as unemployment, crime and decadence. The Nazis believed this, Islamic extremists believe it and many conspiracy theorists believe it. In this case the Creator of the above video believes that Jewish intellect is behind the erosion of Irish culture and the immigration policy that will result in the Irish being a minority on their own island. Classic Jew hatred.

This guy is a fool. Not only are his assertions about immigration completely inaccurate (which is another argument) but his attempts to invent a link between what he perceives as societies ills and Jewish influence are totally outrageous. But just for a moment lets look at this from his level. So a prominent academic that is pro immigration is also Jewish. Is this supposed to prove something about "the Jewish agenda". Jews do often hold positions of influence but to imply that there is a collective and sinister agenda is pure fiction. From an early age the importance of knowledge and education is emphasised among Jewry. As a result they often succeed in business and academia. This is nothing to apologise for. It is in fact something they should be admired for. The traditional Irish education system was only capable of producing priests and civil servants. If it had of been more like the standard Jewish education we might not have had so much emigration ourselves. Oh the Irony.

However while on the subject of irony I can't help point out that right wing Israelis would love this guys other videos that are about radial Muslims taking over Europe, something they have been raving about for years. How uncomfortable it must make Benjamin Netanyahu and others to know they share a viewpoint with Neo Nazis when it comes to the issues of Europe's Muslims. Oh what a Gubu World we live in.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Obama in Berlin

Watch a clip from Barack Obama's speech in Berlin earlier today

Part Two, Obama discusses the walls that exist between America and Europe

He didn't speak at the Brandenburg gate. It was thought by some in influential circles in Germany that it would be inappropriate for Obama to attempt to replicate the famous speeches of Kennedy and Reagan by speaking at the world landmark when he's not even President. This honor is reserved for heads of state which he is not. He instead spoke at the victory column in Tiergarten Park.

I think some Europeans may have been disappointed with the speech as it hit home that Obama is not the messiah that they thought. If President he will still safeguard American interests at all costs and that's the bottom line. However I think he does articulately describe how Americans and Europeans often have a negative yet inaccurate opinion of each other. He then goes on to talk about "global citizenship" and how no global issue can be tackled alone, a clear reference to President Bush's unilateral foreign policy which is so detested in Europe. Other than that I think the speech was quite banal really. Obama's principal objective was to appear more presidential. He definitely succeeded in doing this.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Iraq War Footage

Below is a series of clips showing real footage of the Iraq war. Some of it, even if it is of fairly routine events, is frightening, some of it is shocking. But its all real. Anybody who had any illusion about war and its brutality should keep in mind that this barely scratches the surface.

A mortar landing just in front of a Humvee

Watch the shock waves from a series of IED explosions detonated by US troops, very loud

Sniper takes a shot at US position

Watch this massive IED explosion taking out vehicles in a US convoy

Very disturbing footage of an Iraqi fighter being gunned down

These videos are very unpleasant. The last one in particular shows the horror of war. It also reminds me how no war movie, not even Saving Private Ryan has ever come close to capturing what war is really like. You can see how in this video the man is dead as soon as the bullet touches his head and it is a totally lifeless body that falls. In the movies the body that falls is a living one whose muscles are still tensed. Not the case with this poor soul. What is your opinion of all the above.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

War Criminal Arrested

Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic was arrested yesterday

Europe's most wanted war criminal, Radovan Karadzic, also known as the butcher of Bosnia, was arrested last night in Belgrade after 13 years on the run. The former leader of the Bosnian Serb state he was responsible for a campaign of mass murder against Bosnia's Muslim population between 1992 and 1995. His objective was to join the Serbs of Bosnia and Croatia together with Belgrade to form a greater Serbia. In his quest to reverse the succession of Bosnia and Croatia and create a greater, purer, Christian Serbia he orchestrated a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Bosnia's Muslims most notably the brutal two and a half year siege of Sarajevo in which tens of thousands of civilians were murdered. Watch below as the citizens of Sarejevo celebrate his capture.

Karadzic was indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia or ICTY in 1995 and has been in hiding ever since. The most infamous crime he is accused of is the massacre in July 1995 of 8000 Muslim men in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica which he is thought to have ordered. It was clearly an effort to change the ethnic demographic of the region in favor of the Serbs. This has led Karadzic to being accused of ethnic cleansing and genocide. As the head of the Bosnian Serbs at the time he is the man most wanted for this crime. Another man equally associated with this and other atrocities is General Ratko Mladic who was commander of Bosnian Serb forces at the time and is thought to have personally overseen the Srebrenica massacre. He is still at large.

General Ratko Mladic continues to evade capture after 13 years

What does this mean for Serbia ? Since the election of the pro western government in Serbia earlier this year Belgrade has been making efforts to appear more favourable for EU membership. All countries seeking membership must achieve a democratic and economic benchmark in order to be considered. However for Serbia (and Croatia) there is a different element, its war criminals. For ten years now Serbia's reluctance to aggressively pursue its war criminals has been seen as a hindrance to EU membership. Now with the arrest of Karadzic by the Serbian authorities things may be beginning to change. They will however have to hand over Mladic as well. This is all proving difficult for the Serbs many of whom are intensely nationalist and whose anger reached boiling point last year when Kosovo gained independence. These people regard Mladic and Karadzic as heroes and may protest violently over the next few days. But when is the transition from dictatorship to democracy ever easy. Yesterdays development is great news for the Balkans and I for one hope that Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia are all one step closer to joining the EU.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Obama's Iraq Problem

General David Petraeus takes Barack Obama on an aerial tour of Baghdad earlier today

Barack Obama has an Iraq problem. He opposed the invasion from the beginning, he opposed it all through the years and he was opposed to the June 2007 surge. But now as the election looms this November the situation in Iraq appears to be improving. So how does he handle this? It used to be Obamas strength, that he was one of the few opposed to the war from the beginning. It turned out to be a shrewd call as the situation went from bad to disastrous. But there has been an undeniable decrease in violence in Iraq in recent months. When Bush announced the surge Obama criticised it saying it would make the situation worse. It seems he was wrong. Then again, do we really know to what extent the surge is responsible for the improvement in security. Can Obama, on only his second visit to Iraq today, continue on the course of criticising the war in its entirety or will he have to acknowledge its successes. And in either case can he still stick to his campaign pledge to withdraw all US troops within 16 months of entering the White House.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Irish Jew moves to Israel

This is an absolutely amazing video about a young Irish Jew that makes "Aliyah" and moves to Israel. Controversially, any Jew anywhere in the world has the right to make aliyah and become an Israeli citizen. Watch as he addresses his fears and concerns before meeting up with family. It truly is fascinating to watch as he congregates with other Irish Jews and they discuss the whole experience of moving from Ireland to Israel. Enjoy !

Friday, July 18, 2008

Israeli Prisoner Swap

Samir Kuntar celebrating his release in Beirut

This week saw the extremely controversial prisoner swap between Israel and the Lebanon where Israel exchanged five Lebanese militants for two Israeli corpses. The Arabs must really be brilliant hagglers because it just doesn't add up. Furthermore one of the Lebanese militants released is the infamous Samir Kuntar, sentenced in 1979 for the murder of three Israelis including a four year old girl. On Wednesday this man, a hate figure in Israel, was released and paraded around Beirut as a hero. This has proved very painful for Israel.

I have always argued that the biggest flaw in the Good Friday Agreement on this island is the release of all "political prisoners" regardless of the nature of their crimes. I always believed that the early release scheme should not have applied to individuals that deliberately targeted innocent civilians as a tactic. I believe the same should have applied here. Israel made a mistake by releasing Kuntar. They have taken the "no soldier behind" philosophy a bit too far and in doing so have encouraged Israel's enemies to commit more kidnappings.

On April 22nd 1979 Samir Kuntar, a member of the Palestine Liberation Front, along with three other militants landed in a dinghy on a Northern Israeli beach. They had set out from across the border in Lebanon. Once ashore they stormed up the beach where they were confronted by a policeman. They shot him dead. In the confusion that followed Kuntar ran to a random apartment complex nearby were he held Danny Haran and his four year old daughter Einat hostage. Also in the apartment but hiding in the attic was Smadar Haran, the wife and mother, and her two year old daughter Yael. Tragically Smadar held her hand over her daughters face to muffle her cries and in doing so accidentally smothered her to death.

After a long stand off with the police 17 year old Kuntar negotiated his way back down to the beach with the two hostages in an attempt to escape. After a shoot out with police Kuntar shot 28 year old Danny at close range killing him. He then crushed four year old Einat's skull with his rifle butt killing her. He was taken into custody shortly thereafter. Samir kuntar is now a free man.

Samir Kuntar being being led away by the Israeli army after the shootout at the beachfront in Northern Israel

It is difficult to know how his release could lead to anything other than extreme bitterness for Israelis. Perhaps there is another element here with which we are unaware. A behind the scene deal that will reap future dividends. The two Israeli bodies returned as part of the deal were that of IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev who were kidnapped in July 2006 in the incident that sparked off the month long war between Hezbollah and Israel. Israel's stated objective for going into southern Lebanon in July 06 was to retrieve the two missing soldiers. They have now done so. Maybe it was a pride thing for the Israelis all along. They claimed in July 06 that they would bring the soldiers home at all costs. It appears the cost may have been Samir Kuntar's freedom.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Iranian Jews free to travel to Israel

I have posted in the past about Iran's Jews or the Persian paradox as I called it. How can it be that the Muslim country that is apparently the most radical and fundamentalist, committed to the destruction of Israel, biggest supporter of international terrorism is also the only country in the region that has not expelled its Jewish population since the foundation of the Israeli state and has in fact enshrined the right of Jews in its constitution. It gets even stranger. I have recently learned that Iran's 25,000 Jews are free to travel to Israel, via a third country, visit relatives and return to Iran.

I know from my travels to the region that once you have set foot in Israel it can be very awkward to gain entry into many Arab and Muslim countries with Syria Lebanon and Iran being the most difficult. Naturally Israeli citizens cannot enter any of of these countries with the exception of Egypt and Jordan which Israel has made peace with. So the idea of Iranian Jews leaving Iran, traveling to Israel (usually via Turkey) to visit relatives for a couple of weeks and then returning to Iran, all with the permission of the Iranian authorities is truly GUBU.

Relations today between Iran and Israel could not be lower. A month ago the Israeli air force conducted a test in the Eastern Mediterranean which many analysts claimed was a dress rehearsal for an air strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. Last week in what was widely regarded as a response Tehran conducted long range missile tests capable of hitting Israel. And in the middle of all this tension you have Iranian Jews travelling to and from Israel. Can you imagine the pressure these people must be under. If you think Irish people travelling to England in the 80's had it bad at the points of entry what must it be like for these poor souls. No doubt on arrival in Israel they are approached by Israeli intelligence services and asked if they would spy for Israel on return. No doubt when requesting permission from Iranian authorities to travel to Israel they are asked if they would be willing to spy for Iran on the Jewish state. What can I say, I'm glad I'm not an Iranian Jew right now.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Masters of War

Just a short post about a great video I found on youtube. The great Bob Dylan sings Masters of War, a very moving song about war and the people that start them. The accompanying video is brilliant. The creator of the video poignantly posted it on the 11th of November, the date the first World War ended, the war that was supposed to end all wars.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Renewed talk of action on Iran

Iranian's conduct medium and long range missile test on Wednesday

Is it on again ? Iran's missile test on Wednesday has led to speculation that an Israeli air strike on its alleged nuclear sites is imminent.

Lets break it down.

Reasons it might happen
1. Israelis are absolutely petrified that a nuclear Iran would be in a position to carry out what it has threatened (albeit vaguely)to do. That is annihilate the Jewish state. The entire basis for the establishment of the Jewish state was for Jews around the world to band together under one flag in order to protect themselves. Israel's motto is "Never Again", meaning never again will we allow another Holocaust. It is impossible to underestimate the determination that exists in Israel to make sure of this.

2. Iran's relationship with Hezbollah. Iran and Hezbollah are pretty much the same organisation. If Iran were a to become a nuclear power they would not have to launch a nuclear missile at Israel to kill six million Jews. They could transfer it to Hezbollah. Israel simply can not be expected to tolerate, what would in effect be a nuclear Hezbollah.

3. Americans do not want Iran to dominate dominate the Persian Gulf. Over the years Iran has attempted to influence the politics of the gulf nations that have Shia minorities. These countries, Qatar, Bahrain ect are American allies. An Israeli air strike would take them down a peg or two.

4. The international community are afraid that a nuclear Iran might trigger a nuclear arms race in the Middle East with Saudi Arabia the most likely to follow.

Reasons it might not happen.
1. Iran have claimed they will respond the same way to an Israeli air strike as they would a US strike as they claim the two are acting as one on this matter. For this reason the Americans will want to restrain Israel.

2. Iran has the capability to completely undo the progress the Americans have made in Iraq since the surge. They would do this by launching a massive wave of attacks against us troops and by sponsoring uprisings by the Shia.

3. We could also see massive attacks against US in Afghanistan, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, UAE, perhaps even Germany Italy and anywhere else US troops are stationed.

4. Iran is the only country on earth whose armed forces will openly operate in an unconventional fashion. This means that suicide tactics that are normally associate with terrorist groups will be launched be the Iranian military. They will use these tactics to attack American interests all over the world.

5. They may attempt to blockade the Straits of Hormuz which all shipping entering or exiting the Persian Gulf must pass through. This will not succeed but it will lead to naval warfare throughout the Gulf (of which 40% of the world's oil must pass through)driving oil prices possibly as high as 300$ a barrel. This could drag the world economy into a global recession 1929 style.

Lets hope sanity prevails.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Missile Defence in Europe

Earlier today the US signed an agreement with the Czech Republic allowing the US military to place a missile defence radar on Czech soil. This is subject to ratification by the Czech parliament. The radar is part of a wider system that is supposed to operate in tandem with a missile site located in Poland. In theory, any conventional missile fired at Europe could be located by the Czech radar and destroyed by the Polish missile. However it is far from certain that this system will go ahead due to excessive Polish demands, Czech reluctance and Russian opposition.

Initially Poland was the most receptive of two former communist countries under the leadership of the identical twins, Prime Minister Jaroslaw and President Lech Kaczynski. However since the election of new Prime Minister Donald Tusk in November 2007 the deal to place ten missile interceptors in Poland has grounded to a halt. Tusk is demanding massive US investment into the Polish armed forces in exchange for permission to place the missiles on Polish soil. The arrangement has not yet fallen through but the US has made it clear that Poland is not the only option with Lithuania being touted as a possible option. As for the Czechs, the population appear to be overwhelmingly against the idea and the politicians will be under pressure to reject it in Parliament. Gubu World will keep an eye on this.

Polish Prime Minister Tusk is making things difficult for US plans for a European missile shield

Why build it ? The US claims that the project is designed to protect Europe from missiles launched from "rogue states". In other words it is to shoot down a long range Iranian missile which the US claims Iran would be capable of striking Europe with by 2015. If the plan goes ahead, construction will begin in 2009 and will be complete between 2011 and 2013. In 2004, the US placed its own similar missile defence system in Alaska and California to protect the west coast from missiles fired from North Korea. Some in NATO believe it is only natural that the same system should protect Europe from Iran.

The Russian factor. Initiating a defensive system that shoots down scud and ballistic missiles may seem like a fairly reasonable endeavor. Not so in Moscow. The Russians are claiming that this is an attempt to cancel out Russia's nuclear deterrent. This may be a bit of a stretch but there is no denying that it does appear to raise the stakes in the arms race forcing the Russians to compete. The Americans discount this insisting that the planned missiles would be useless against Russia's nuclear arsenal and that Moscow should support the effort. The Russians offered a compromise saying they would support the defence system in Azerbaijan, a former soviet country that is still under Russian influence.

New Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is opposed to the East European missile defence system

Personally I just don't see the need for the system. People who read my blog know I think the Iranian threat is overstated. So why put it up to the Russians and risk a new arms race or at least economic retaliation against the west. This issue in reality is clearly about Russia and its insecurities over NATO incursions into Russia's traditional zone of influence. Twenty years ago the Poles and the Czechs were part of the Eastern block and couldn't decide any major issue without approval from Moscow. Now they are both EU and NATO members. This process is continuing to move Eastward to countries like the Baltics and Ukraine that were actually part of the Soviet Union itself up until 1991. Now with Georgia applying for membership in combination with this missile defence system it's all getting a bit much for the Russians. The system may or may not go ahead as time is running out for George Bush who leaves office in January and a democratic President is highly unlikely to pursue it. If it does however manage to get the go ahead, the Russian response will be fascinating. Gubu World as always will report.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Jihad against Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter at a signing of his controversial book, 'Palestine, Peace not Apartheid'

In the United States former President Jimmy Carter has been at the brunt of massive criticism in recent times as a result of his apparent support of the Palestinians and his criticism of Israel. I am not going to go in to details on Carter's positions on the various issues but I have always thought them as quite measured and objective. However in the US the Israeli Palestinian conflict is viewed very different than in Europe. In America it is extremely rare to hear a mainstream political or media figures harshly criticise Israel. This is in no small part due to the powerful influence of the pro Israeli lobby of which most prominent political figures appear to pander to. As a result of Carter's outspoken stance against the status quo, an unprecedented and ongoing campaign has been initiated designed not to respond and discredit his views but to discredit the man himself.

This has taken the following form. Led by Fox News, AIPAC and others Jimmy Carter has been labeled as a weak unamerican appeaser who holds secret anti Semitic feelings. This is said about Jimmy Carter, former Naval Officer, World War Two Vetern, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Humanitarian and former President. This anti Carter crusade represents the worst of the post 9/11 fear mongering and McCarthyism that has raised its ugly head in America. The Jihad against Jimmy reached its height in 2006 when he released his controversial book Palestine, Peace not Apartheid. This shocked the American public as they had never heard such a prominent political figure use such language to describe the Middle East. The most common misunderstanding about this excellent book refers to the title itself. Carter's critics deliberately manipulate the title and frequently accuse the former President of referring to Israel as an apartheid state. He has never done this. In fact he has regularly described Israel as a modern, pluralistic and all inclusive democracy. The word apartheid in the title clearly refers to Palestine and the Israeli occupation of it. He is in my opinion accurately describing the situation in the West Bank where Jewish settlers are subject to one rule and Palestinians another.

An image mocking President Carter's book, note the Nazi symbol in the title

In addition to this Carter has been vilified for travelling around the Middle East meeting Arab leaders and most recently for his trip to Damascus where he met Hamas leader Khaled Meshal. Critics argue that this meeting legitimized Hamas, a terrorist organisations. Irish people will remember the same thing being said about John Hume and his secret negotiations with the IRA in the 80s and as we now know the Hume Adams talks proved a vital step to eventual peace. In Carter's case he responded by stating what many people see as obvious. Hamas have legitimacy. They were voted in by the Palestinian people and an eventual peace treaty will have to include them. I predict that one day Carter will be universally praised for this effort if it proves to be the first step in Hamas abandoning violence and recognising Israel.

Carter met secretly with Hamas leader Khaled Meshal, no photos were allowed

Jimmy Carter is clearly a stubborn man. He is not at this stage in his life concerned about being popular. He is concerned as he always has been with doing whatever he can to end the conflict. However it must hurt the man and his family to see his character assassinated in such way. Just recently I heard the famous lawyer and academic, Alan Dershowitz (a man I used to admire) say that Carter was an "anti Israel Bigot" and that there was "a special place in hell for him". To make comments like this about the man who brokered the the 1978 Camp David Peace Accords which resulted in peace between Israel and Egypt after decades of war is outrageous. I am not even an American and I have more respect for the institution of the presidency that this. Carter's treatment in recent times is a cause for American shame. I have no doubt his legacy is secure, no matter what is said about him but it would be nice to see him get the public credit he deserves from the very top of the political establishment. This I'm sure will happen if in November the Democrats take back the white house.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

John McCain's war record

General Wesley Clark, former NATO commander and possible Democratic Vice Presidential candidate

In the last few days a controversy has emerged in the US when when retired General Wesley Clarke did what I think many have wanted to do for a while now. He called into question whether John McCain's experience in Vietnam specifically adds to his qualifications to be President. Up until now McCain has been seen as pretty much untouchable when it comes to military affairs. Nobody ever thought to question his national security credentials. But General Clark, a former Democratic presidential candidate and current Obama advisor on foreign policy has done just that. Watch the clip below.

What General Clark in my opinion rightly says is that the act of getting shot down and spending 5 years in a POW camp does not in itself indicate anything significant about McCains ability to command large armies. It does indicate much about McCains bravery and commitment to his country.

A picture of John McCain being dragged from a lake after being shot down above Hanoi in 1967

What Clark stresses is that the ultimate skill of the presidency is understanding American power and knowing when it is appropriate to use it. McCain in his support of the war and his general rhetoric toward Iran and Russia in combination with his indifference toward Americas allies shows an arrogance of power. Clark and Obama understand that American power is about using the political and economic might of America to "build a strategy" and get results. In fact using military power shows a weakness because as Clark puts it "power is about being able to persuade people".

The difference between these two positions in practise is massive. On the one hand you have McCain who wants to stay in Iraq for 100 years and bomb Iran while he is on a role. Obama on the other hand wants to to open up a dialogue with the Iranians and the Syrians in order to stabilise Iraq. He wants to use Americans economic and military power to "Persuade" the Iranians to abandon their nuclear programme and he wants to initiate a massive diplomatic offensive in the holy land between Israelis and Palestinians. The American electorate will decide in November which path is taken.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Bulldozer Attack in Jerusalem

Earlier this morning a very disturbing incident occurred in Jerusalem. An Arab/Israeli (in other words a Palestinian living within the state of Israel) construction worker went on the rampage in his bulldozer killing three Israeli civilians and wounding thirty. He crushed cars and tipped over a bus before being shot dead by it appears an armed civilian. Watch the end of the incident below but be warned the images are quite graphic.

The Palestinian man was a blue card holder which meant he had permission to enter Jewish West Jerusalem from from Arab East. Only individuals that are considered low security are permitted to do this. There are those in Israel believe that Arabs will always want to kill Jews. This is incident will strengthen this conviction. Since the erection of the infamous west bank wall suicide bombings have stopped completely. However according to military logic when your enemy puts up one barrier you immediately begin looking for another way to penetrate. This is the second attack recently involving an Arab Israeli. In March eight students were murdered in an attack at a west Jerusalem school. Many Arab Israelis have several restrictions placed on them such as movement to and from the west bank and gun ownership. Now I have no doubt people will be saying that you cannot even trust them with heavy machinery. Today's incident is a very troubling development.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Gubu meets Iranian Minister

Last Friday I attended an event at the Irish Institute of European Affairs where Deputy Iranian foreign Minister Dr Mahdi Safari (pictured) gave a talk focusing on Iran's position on various Middle Eastern issues ranging from Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine to the Iranian nuclear issue. You can read the full text of his speech here. Afterward the floor was opened up to a Q & A session.

I asked the first question which was as follows. I asked the minister if he could tell us here today that when Israelis or conservative Americans claim that it is the stated objective of the Iranian government to annihilate the state of Israel, that they are wrong. I clarified by asking if he could confirm that to quote Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying that Israel should be wiped off the face of the earth is inaccurate. He responded as follows. He claimed that Iran does not want to destroy Israel. He claimed that Iran wants to see Zionism come to an end the same way the Soviet Union came to an end. He added that Iran has never attacked Israel and has no intentions to. There were some follow up questions along this line.

When asked about Ahmadinejad's holocaust denial remarks he claimed that the Iranian President has never denied the holocaust, that he just disputed the number killed. On the nuclear issue he reminded the audience that Iran has opposed nuclear weapons in the Middle East since the revolution. He insisted that nuclear weapons have no part in Iranian foreign policy. He further claimed that the ultimate ruler of Iran, the supreme ayatollah Khameini actually issued a fatwa against nuclear weapons insisting that they were un-Islamic.

The above answers were intriguing but none of them surprised me. I will concede that I wish these official positions were circulated more widely in the western media and that if they were it might reduce tensions significantly. However I do not find these answers acceptable. They do not alleviate Israels legitimate concerns as I will now explain. Firstly, the Nazis claimed at first that they did not want to wipe out the Jews but only to strip them of their power and influence. Whether premeditated or not it did not turn out that way. The more the war began to go increasingly against Germany the more they took it out on the Jews leading to the Holocaust. The Iranians are saying pretty much what the Nazis said in the early days. Given Jewish history it is hardly surprising that Mr Safari's watering down of Ahmadinejad's comments is not good enough for Israelis. Secondly, disputing the number killed in the concentration camps shows a cold indifference to world wide Jewry and their completely appropriate determination to prevent a repeat of these events, no matter what form it comes in. Thirdly and perhaps most crucially, Dr Safari's claims that Iran's nuclear ambitions are peaceful is simply not good enough given the realities of my first and second points. Even if Ayatollah Khameini is truthful about Iran's peaceful intentions it is too great a risk that some collection of individuals within the Iranian regime might do a deal with Hezbollah in Lebanon and next thing you know there is an explosion in Tel Aviv resulting in the deaths of six million Jews in another holocaust. Israel will not allow Iran to get this far.

Israel will bomb Iran if it feels it has the potential to reach the stage where it could carry out what ahmadinejad has threatened to do. This is an unchangeable reality. I never got the opportunity to make this point clear to Dr Safari but if I could of, I simply would have pleaded with him. For God's sake, no, for all our sakes, just give up the nuclear programme.