Friday, June 8, 2012

Obama Joined Socialist New Party, New Docs Show

by Stanley Kurtz

Obama joined socialist New Party, new docs show

Barack Obama appears on the front cover of a New Party pamphlet in  1996, the year documents show he joined the  socialist ACORN-affiliated  party. 
Photo Credit:
The New Party

On the evening of January 11, 1996, while Mitt Romney was in the final years of his run as the head of Bain Capital, Barack Obama formally joined the New Party, which was deeply hostile to the mainstream of the Democratic Party and even to American capitalism. In 2008, candidate Obama deceived the American public about his potentially damaging tie to this third party. The issue remains as fresh as today’s headlines, as Romney argues that Obama is trying to move the United States toward European-style social democracy, which was precisely the New Party’s goal. ...

Recently obtained evidence from the updated records of Illinois ACORN at the Wisconsin Historical Society now definitively establishes that Obama was a member of the New Party. He also signed a “contract” promising to publicly support and associate himself with the New Party while in office. ...

Why did Obama deny his ties to ACORN? The group was notorious in 2008 for thug tactics, fraudulent voter registrations, and its role in popularizing risky subprime lending. Admitting that he had helped to fund ACORN’s voter-registration efforts and train some of their organizers would doubtless have been an embarrassment but not likely a crippling blow to his campaign. So why not simply confess the tie and make light of it? The problem for Obama was ACORN’s political arm, the New Party.

Stanley Kurtz


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Mordechai Kedar: The Suffering of Africa - Sins of Europe - Guilt of Israel

by Mordechai Kedar

Read the article in Italiano (translated by Yehudit Weisz, edited by Angelo Pezzana)

Those Africans who enter Israel illegally in order to find work are a very small part of the general global problem of emigrants from Africa who are searching for a new land that will allow them to live, even with only a minimum income and standards of living, and the main thing that drives them is survival. Their poor condition, in Israel, in Europe, in North and South America and in Asia, raises the question: how did an entire continent, where a billion people live, about one fifth of the world population, arrive at such a low condition, and how, among the 61 states and entities that it comprises, not even one offers its citizens security, education, health and welfare at a reasonable level. How did it happen that a whole continent is torn by never-ending wars, mass murders costing millions of lives, and famines that still threaten the residents, most of whom want only to flee from it.

The one answer to all of these questions is: Europe, or more accurately, the greedy lust of the European peoples in previous century, which was reflected in colonization, and the way in which the Europeans related to the peoples of Africa when they ruled it and in the way that they left Africa and abandoned it to its suffering.

We must remember that in Africa there were never "peoples" in the European sense of the word; there were tribes. These family-based groups, over the course of generations, grew and split off to form new tribes, but their members always remained loyal to tribal culture. Traditionally, each tribe has its own religion, language, customs, laws, dress, standards of behavior, living area, sources of livelihood and economic interests, around which every member of the tribe would unite. To defend themselves and their sources of livelihood, the members of the tribe formed a fighting group, without which function it would be extremely difficult for the tribe to survive. For thousands of years the tribes of Africa lived this way undisturbed, in continual balance between man and nature, between tribes and neighbors, between man and his beliefs.

The European conquest and colonization that began in the late 15th century, brought continual disaster upon the tribes of Africa: the colonialists saw the black continent as a source of raw material for European industry - gold, silver, copper, iron, zinc, aluminum, diamonds, rubber and wood, and later, oil. But worst of all was that the African was now seen as a slave, an amazingly cheap source of labor whose life had value only inasmuch as he could be exploited as a cheap source of labor. The most obvious example of this is the behavior of King Leopold II, king of Belgium (1835-1909), who ruled as Czar of the Congo from 1884 to 1908, and regarded the Congo, and all that it contained, as his private property. He used the residents of Congo as slave labor in his mines and rubber industry, and a third of the people met their death in this work. Slaves who could not fulfill the production quotas that were demanded from them were punished with amputation of a hand. Men were forced into slave labor, families were destroyed and whole tribes were wiped out by famine. Africans were considered lower than animals, and the wealth that the king stole from the lands of the Congo served his large construction building projects in Belgium. Many of the beautiful and stylish buildings in Belgium are the result of his conduct, which earned him harsh criticism from other countries.

During the period from the 16th to the 19th century, millions of Africans were captured by European, Arab and local slave traders and sold into slavery, mainly to South and North America. About one sixth of the slaves did not survive the journey by ship, mainly because of the miserable nutritional and sanitary conditions in these floating prisons. Slave hunters cast the tribes of Western Africa into a never ending chain of acts of reprisal because of their collaboration with slave traders.

At the Berlin Conference in the year 1884, the colonialist countries of Europe marked the borders of Africa as a "division of spoils", and became wealthy from the raw materials and the slaves that were brought out from the lands of Africa. A not insignificant part of European wealth today is a direct result of this act - the greatest plunder in the history of mankind.

Failed States

During the 19th and 20th centuries, colonialism gradually receded from Africa, leaving behind it states whose borders had been determined by the interests of colonialism, not the natural division of humanity in Africa. Borders included many disparate groups together which often were in conflict with each other, and in some cases tribes were divided between states. This situation created states whose populations struggle within themselves, and most were ruled, and are still ruled by one group which took control of the whole country. The tribe that is in control "buys" the loyalty of other tribes by political appointments and economic benefits, a phenomenon that creates a great deal of corruption in government.

The economy of the standard African state is controlled by the regime, which divides the wealth of the state according to its political interests. This situation causes groups who are not within the inner circle of the regime to be marginalized, and thus are under-developed, a fact which is reflected, among other ways, in a poor educational system. As a result of this, its people are doomed to be left behind in terms of vocational training, and they - a group that may amount to millions of people - are left to a life of poverty and unemployment because their area is under-developed in relation to other sectors of the state who are in the regime's favor.

The internal division of the states between those in favor and those who are not, creates tension between the tribes, which adds to the accumulated tensions that have existed between the tribes for many generations. The result is tribal conflicts that degrade the situation and cause civil wars to break out in the states quite easily. Examples of this are many: Biafra at the end of the 60s, which split off from Nigeria, resulting in wars for independence that left hundreds of thousands of fatalities caused both by the sword and by hunger; Rwanda during the nineties was an arena of horrific acts of slaughter between the Hutu and Tutsi tribes; the Second Congo War (1998-2003) took the lives of more than five million people; Uganda experienced acts of mass slaughter in the days of Idi Amin; lately Charles Taylor, a former dictator of Liberia, was indicted for crimes against humanity, meaning against his citizens; Somalia is experiencing a continual situation of tribal war which, as of today, has cost the lives of tens of thousands, and its lack of government is responsible for the phenomenon of piracy in the Indian Ocean; bloody wars for 60 years between the Arab-Islamist government of Sudan and sectors of the Christian-Animist South, which, during the last year gained independence; the slaughter of hundreds of thousands during the past decade that the government of Sudan carried out against the people of Darfur, which is in the Western part of the state; in Kenya, bloody street riots break out between the tribes every time there are elections and in many other cases when there are bloody conflicts.

These conflicts stem from no other reason other than the demographic situation of the states of Africa, each of which is a combination of different groups who are hostile to each other and share no unifying factor. The modern framework of a state - institutions, a flag, a hymn and symbols of sovereignty - have failed in the most important task, which is to settle in the hearts of the people and to substitute traditional loyalty to the tribe with a new loyalty to the state. The differences between the tribes can even be seen in external appearance - height, color, shade, the shape of the facial features - as well as the level of education and development. These differences are clear and continue to be a basis for discrimination and various coalitions, and are used as a way to obtain the favors of the regime or to be excluded from them.

In the states where there is oil, Nigeria for example, the population is divided between those tribes who profit from the oil, (usually those who live in areas from which the oil is extracted or in land through which oil is piped), and those tribes who see no earnings from the oil. The tribes with oil defend their interests with hoarded weapons, and the state can buy their allegiance only at a high price. However, many times, tribes sabotage the pipes in order to steal and sell the oil, and these acts of sabotage result in explosions and fires that leave hundreds of dead, wounded and burn victims. In Sudan, oil is the reason for the war in the past few months between the state of Sudan, whose capital is Khartoum, and the new state of South Sudan, whose capital is Juba. It is from this failed state that many of the illegal aliens who came to Israel originated.

The Influence of Islam

The states of the Sahara Desert in North Africa - Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco - are all Muslim, and also the states south of the Sahara - Chad, Mali, Niger, Tanzania, Somalia, Eritrea, Kenya and Nigeria - are mostly Muslim or a large proportion of their population is Muslim. In these states, in addition to the tribal tensions, there exists a high degree of religious tension, because Muslims see themselves as believers of the true religion ("din al-haq"), while the others - Christians and Pagans - are infidels who adhere to a false religion ("din al-batil").

During the past twenty years, in some of these states, struggles have developed over the status of Islamic religious law (Shari'a), compared to civil law, and the Northern sections - the Muslim sections - of Nigeria, where tens of millions of people live, are ruled today according to Muslim law. This is the direct result of the Islamic Wahhabi penetration by propagandists who were schooled in Saudi Arabia and work under its inspiration and funding. Struggles develop in these areas stemming from the existence and activity of non-Muslim houses of worship, modern schools, the sale of wine and other spirits, and the status of women and their presence in the public arena. In African Islamic countries, radical Islamic organizations are active which have adopted the generic name, or label, "al-Qaeda". The processes of religious radicalization that the African Muslim societies are undergoing is described in an article that we published here a number of weeks ago.

This situation has poured oil on the fire of traditional tribal rivalries which are now quarreling and fighting with each other because of religion in addition to the previous reasons. As a result of this, the civil framework of the country is weakened still further, and additional sectors of its population have become economically, socially and politically marginalized.

The Exodus

The eternal conflicts in the failing African states cause many sectors to be lacking in basic necessities, and they search for any possible way to save themselves from the poor economic situation and the social, political and religious oppression that they experience. Many millions of Africans are on their way to the developed world, in order to find a new, peaceful and decent life. Millions have passed and continue to pass through the Northern Sahara desert, in a journey that for many of them will end in the desert with a gathering of vultures hovering over their carcasses.

Some of them arrive to states in North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Libya and Tunisia) and from there they sail in ships via the Mediterranean Sea or the Atlantic Ocean to Europe. Sometimes a ship sinks, and its passengers become food for the sharks. Others enter one of two Spanish enclaves - Ceuta and Melilla - which are located on the Northern shore of Morocco; from there some of them are taken to Spain, and some are sent back to their death in the Sahara. Some of those who reach Egypt continue to Israel via Sinai, and if the Bedouins do not kill them on the way to harvest their organs for transplant, they arrive - at the end of a journey of continuous torture and humiliation - to the border of Israel.

The phenomenon of the emigration of the poor and tormented Africans has stirred the peoples of Europe, and in a gesture of remorse for what they did in Africa, they drafted an international covenant demanding the modern states to treat the refugees in a fair way. The salient point in the covenant is that a developed country is prohibited from sending a person back to a state in which his life will be in danger. This rule applies to the great majority of Africans who arrived to Europe illegally, consequently there is no legal way to return great numbers of illegal immigrants in Europe back to Africa. Europe ruined their lives in Africa, and now they come in hordes to Europe, changing its character beyond recognition. This is history's sweet revenge.

The UN World Conference Against Racism - Durban 2001

Toward the end of the previous millennium some African intellectuals initiated the claim that Europe should be made to pay damages to the African peoples for hundreds of years of economic exploitation, mass murders in the mines and the fields, slave trade and having established failed states. The amounts that were mentioned in this connection were in the hundreds of billions, and just having raised the claim aroused horror in the hearts of the European governments. They knew that the post-colonial discourse that developed in Europe in the previous generation would cause broad ethical support for the African claim.

In order to introduce the claim onto the international agenda, the African states decided to convene a conference against racism, which would condemn the racism of today and of the past, and would impose upon the European states the responsibility for the racist way in which they related to the peoples of Africa in the previous century. This responsibility would be the basis for the monetary claim. This conference met in Durban, South Africa in September of 2001.

Politicians and European public figures, who have no desire to open the wounds of the past and stand in front of the mirror of history that will reveal their great wealth from Africa and their ethical nakedness, searched out a scapegoat, onto whom it would be possible to place all of the sins of their colonialism. Together with Arabs (descendants of the slave traders) the sacrificial victim was found: Israel. Their preparatory conference, which was held in Teheran (a well-known stronghold of human rights) determined that (1) Israel is an apartheid country and therefore they must impose boycotts and condemn the countries that support it. (2) Israel is a country of occupation, and occupation is a crime against humanity and endangers world peace. (3) Zionism is racism. (4) The state of Israel violates the human rights of Palestinians. (5) Israel carries out genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and therefore it is necessary to conduct an armed struggle against it. (6) There has not only been one holocaust. Relating to the holocaust in the plural demonstrates that the Jewish people have not undergone a unique holocaust experience compared to disasters that have occurred to other peoples in the world, like the slaving of the blacks in Africa or the holocaust that Israel carries out upon the Palestinians. (7) The state of Israel was conceived in sin because it was established by means of ethnic cleansing of the Arabs in the area.

Since the Durban conference, an anti-Israel spirit has dominated the global discourse on human rights, so much so that most of the decisions of the Human Rights Council of the UN relate to Israel, while ignoring -partially or totally - wholesale violations of human rights in most countries of the world, from China to Russia, from Myanmar to Venezuela, not to mention Iran and the Arab countries. Only the Arab mass murders during this past year drew the attention of this council enough to produce some lukewarm decisions concerning the situation of human rights in the Arab world.

The Durban Conference, which was originally intended to deal with the sins of European racism and the compensation that Europe should pay to Africa, was hijacked by the Arabs with European collaboration, in order to represent Israel as the last colonialist left in the world, upon whom it would be possible to impose the responsibility for all the sins of European colonialism. The Durban Conference and the world "forgot" that Britain still rules many colonies, some of which are thousands of miles distant: Islands in the Atlantic Ocean: Falklands, Corex, Caicos Islands, South Georgia, Sandwich Islands, Ascension Island, Saint Helena, Tristan da, Montserrat, Cayman Islands, Virgin Islands and Bermuda. In the Indian Ocean - Diego Garcia (from where British and American planes left to bomb Iraq), in the Pacific - Pitcairn, and even in Europe - in Gibraltar and in Cyprus - Britain still maintains colonies.

France also maintains its colonies thousands of kilometers from France: Guadeloupe, Reunion, French Guiana, Butte, French Polynesia, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, and Wallis and Futuna, New Caledonia and Hadley. There are those who claim that also the French rule of the Mediterranean island of Corsica is a foreign occupation. Does anyone in the world remember this French colonialism, that continues until today? And this is not the end of the list of colonies that still remain under the rule of European countries.

European colonialism is alive and well, and continues to ruin the fabric of life in Africa and in many other places. Israel serves Europe as a scapegoat on whose head they can pile their dirty sins of repulsive European racism that were accumulated over hundreds of years. Israel must cope today with the difficult problem of infiltrators from Africa, and it must solve this severe humanitarian problem according to international law, established mainly by ... Europe.


Dr. Mordechai Kedar ( is an Israeli scholar of Arabic and Islam, a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and the director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. He specializes in Islamic ideology and movements, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic mass media, and the Syrian domestic arena.

Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav.

Links to Dr. Kedar's recent articles on this blog:

Source: The article is published in the framework of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. Also published in Makor Rishon, a Hebrew weekly newspaper.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Our Right to this Land

by Ze'ev Jabotinsky

Following the outbreak of the Arab revolt in Palestine in 1936, the British formed the Peel Commission of 1936-1937, formally known as the Palestine Royal Commission, to offer recommendations for how to deal with the violence. In 1937 the commission suggested dividing the land into cantons, while leaving the majority of the territory in Arab hands.

The Jewish leadership at the time, headed by Prof. Chaim Weizmann, David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Sharett adopted the partition plan, despite the fact that the plan only allotted the Jews about 5,000 square kilometers (1,900 square miles) of the land.

My grandfather, Ze'ev Jabotinsky, resolutely rejected the Jewish leadership's right to concede any part of the Land of Israel. Because he was forbidden by the British from entering mandate-controlled Palestine, he recorded his objection on a gramophone record which was smuggled in for the Jewish public to hear. That recorded message seems like it could have been written today in response to how the Likud "leaders" voted Wednesday against the outpost arrangement bill.

Here are the words recorded by the head of the Beitar movement, for your consideration: "Do not say, so what if we concede Hebron, Nablus and beyond the Jordan — this concession is not comprised of words devoid of meaning, and everyone will understand this to be the case. Do not underestimate the power of a concession! … Do not underestimate the power of a right, and don't exaggerate the value of a building that is being built. I, too, respect the construction of a building, but woe upon us if we extract the basis of our right to exist from it. … The Christian hand may not touch our rights — which are eternal and are complete, and shall not be relinquished."

I too, like my grandfather, respect the prime minister's declaration that dozens of new homes will be built in Beit El, even though I have difficulty understanding what has prevented him from doing this for more than three years already. But woe upon us if the extra construction becomes the basis for our right to build communities in Judea and Samaria.

The opposite is true: The legitimacy of our right is protected by international law, and is based on decisions made in 1922 by the League of Nations, decisions that are still valid today.

The destruction, even of one building, erodes this right of ours. Those who voted in favor of the erosion of this right have lent their hands to a policy that runs counter to the wishes of the vast majority of Likud members.

My recommendation is as follows: Immediately hold a referendum among all members of the Likud party.

Ze'ev Jabotinsky


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

If the US Disarms, Will Its Adversaries Do the Same?

by Peter Huessy

Our force structure would be smaller than that of China, Pakistan or India, let alone Russia. It would be the smallest of the entire nuclear age, so low that an adversary would have as few as six targets to hit to eliminate all US weapons available for nuclear deterrence.

Although the American public -- according to countless polls including one earlier this year by "Let Freedom Ring" -- overwhelmingly supports a strong US nuclear deterrent, there are pressures from some anti-nuclear elements to eliminate 70% of our deterrent and unilaterally reduce our nuclear forces to a level near that of the Chinese communists.

One such group, "Global Zero," recommends that the US deploy no more than 450 nuclear warheads compared to the 1550 now allowed by the new START treaty, ratified between the US and Russia in late 2010. Global Zero generously says the US can do this unilaterally.

The organization cites five reasons why nuclear deterrence is irrelevant to today's threats facing America and its allies, among which is incomplete view that as nuclear weapons would not have stopped the attacks of 9/11, they now serve little useful purpose.

Global Zero also proposes that US nuclear forces be cut to ten submarines and ten bombers (compared to 14 submarines and 60 bombers allowed under new START). In its most radical proposal, it recommends eliminating entirely our 450 land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, and that all our remaining forces be put on a non-alert status -- unable to be launched for up to three days. Undoubtedly our adversaries will be moved to cooperate, and, in a crisis, not threaten us for any of that time.

These ideas are worse than dangerous: they would leave the US vulnerable; increase nuclear dangers by assuring any adversary that a strike would have no immediate consequences; provide incentives for further nuclear proliferation, and in a crisis make it more likely that force, including nuclear weapons, would be used by a US adversary.

Russia, for example, is modernizing its entire nuclear arsenal. Its president, Vladimir Putin, is building 400 new nuclear armed ballistic missiles. By contrast, the US is planning to build some too, but is not yet modernizing any of the three legs of our nuclear deterrent.

Moreover, under the new START treaty, Russia can increase its current missiles and bombers up to the 700 level allowed by the treaty, while the US has had to reduce its nuclear arsenal from 1100 platforms. Further unilateral US reductions would seriously upset the strategic balance upon which a deterrence rests.

China, too, is modernizing its arsenal, and building or testing countless new ballistic missiles. While the size of China's nuclear warhead arsenal remains, unsurprisingly, a mystery – the People's Republic has rebuffed all efforts to improve transparency -- China is also building a new submarine force, and a new land-based mobile missile. According to China expert Michael Pillsbury, the PRC military says that China is building all the weapons needed to become a world hegemon.

The most wrong-headed Global Zero recommendation of all, however, is to eliminate all 450 land-based ICBMs in the US arsenal. This would leave the US on a day-to-day basis with submarines at only two bases, in Georgia and Washington, and with 3 submarines at sea. Our force structure would be smaller than that of China, Pakistan, and India, let alone Russia. It would be the smallest of the entire nuclear age, so low that an adversary would have as few as six targets to hit to eliminate all US nuclear weapons available for deterrence.

This means an adversary such as Russia or China, facing the US in a crisis over Syria, Iran or North Korea, could eliminate the entire US strategic nuclear arsenal by using very few weapons of their own, a very attractive, almost irresistible, option. Submarines at sea and in port could even be destroyed slowly, surreptitiously, using conventional torpedoes or missiles launched from attack submarines, without resorting to the use of nuclear weapons, and thus significantly lowering the threshold over which a crisis might become an open conflict.

In a crisis, therefore, or in a run-up to a crisis, the incentives by our adversaries to use force or threaten the first-use of force, including nuclear weapons, would also rise precipitously. Our enemies would no longer need to fear our land-based retaliatory capability from our Minuteman missiles: they would no longer be available. As a result, an adversary would have every incentive to "get our submarines," a probability the report even acknowledges, but only in a footnote. The report then concludes by stating that a technological breakthrough could, in fact, make our entire nuclear submarine fleet vulnerable and thus "dramatically" change the recommendations of the report – a conclusion particularly worrisome in light of the proposals to reduce our submarine fleet to only ten submarines.

The report also makes the astounding argument that as all 450 US deployed warheads would be available to deter Russia, we would thus have nothing to worry about. But this would be true only if the US launched a nuclear strike first. Historically, however, our deterrent needs have always been calculated based on what would be needed for retaliation, or what is known as an "assured second strike". Under the Global Zero force structure, an adversary might well conclude that only a very limited number of US nuclear forces would survive an initial attack or series of surreptitious attacks. The temptation to "go for it" in a crisis might look too good to pass up – creating the most highly unstable deterrent policy one could possibly propose.

Every administration in the nuclear age, over some 60 years, has built, maintained, modernized and supported what is known as a strategic triad of nuclear forces—submarines, bombers and land-based missiles. The idea has been to prevent any enemy from being able to take a cheap, sudden shot at the US and eliminate our nuclear capability. This new report has hung a sign on the US on which is written: "Come Get Me."

Deterrent stability, however, is not the only casualty of the zero-nuclear campaign. Equally foolish is its quaint parallel notion that persuading other nations to cut their nuclear arsenals requires the US to first – dramatically, even unilaterally – to cuts its nuclear arsenals. We are led to believe that the nuclear arsenals of China and North Korea, for instance, have been built and expanded because the US does not have the moral authority to seek non-proliferation as long as we maintain our own nuclear arsenal.

If this is true, the argument goes, then we can only be a paragon of virtue in the eyes of these nuclear powers once we have eliminated all our nuclear forces. But we already have gone the extra arms control mile. Starting with the Reagan and Bush eras' INF, START and Moscow treaties, our nuclear weapons have been cut from 12,000 deployed weapons to the fewer than 2000 deployed today.

What did we get in return? North Korea went nuclear. Pakistan and India both tested more nuclear weapons and built up their arsenals. China is modernizing its nuclear arsenal in dramatic fashion, as is Russia. And both Russia and China have repeatedly threatened the use of nuclear weapons. In short, there is little evidence that nuclear arms control by the United States has engendered similar efforts by other nuclear or aspiring-to-be-nuclear powers.

As our nuclear "umbrella" protects over 30 countries, they have been able to forgo nuclear weapons -- ironically, one of the great non-proliferation success stories.

Have other countries given up their nuclear arsenal or advanced nuclear programs? Yes Iraq in 1991, Libya in 2005 and South Africa in 1988.

Also, when Desert Storm ousted Saddam from Kuwait, that act eventually led to the discovery of an Iraqi nuclear program and its dismantlement.

Operation Iraqi Freedom led to regime-change in Iraq in 2003, the capture of Libyan-bound nuclear centrifuges, and the subsequent capture of Saddam Hussein. The late Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi saw the hand-writing on the wall and gave up Libya's nuclear program

And the approaching end of apartheid in South Africa led to that government voluntarily giving up its nuclear weapons. All successes were initiated by and led by the United States, two by the US military.

Unfortunately, this important history is ignored.

The Global Zero report substitutes fairy tales for sound thinking, wishes for realities, and would leave us in a world of heightened nuclear dangers. It is advice heard before but which successive American administrations have rejected for over half a century and which the American people still oppose. Let us keep it that way.

Peter Huessy


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Don’t Let America Imitate a Burning EU

by Bruce Thornton

Traveling through Europe can obscure the looming crisis threatening the continent. Visiting the medieval villages of Alsace, the castles on the Rhine, or the magnificent cathedrals in Basel or Cologne, it’s easy to forget that Europe is on the brink of disaster. But these days even EUrophiles are sounding apocalyptic. The European Commission has said that the monetary union is in danger of “disintegration,” while the European Central Bank called it “unsustainable.” To some, the threat to the eurozone is a threat to the whole EU project. Joschka Fischer, Germany’s former vice-Chancellor, has said, “In a mere three years, the eurozone’s financial crisis has become an existential crisis for Europe.” As the Financial Times puts it, “The flames are licking closer to the eurozone’s combustible core.”

All that architecture and art, then, are the fragments of a glorious past, museum exhibits created by a once dynamic and powerful but now declining civilization. For Americans, Europe’s magnificent past is not as important as its current collapse, which should warn us against repeating its utopian delusions that ignore the hard realities of human nature and human limitations.

The EU and its common currency eurozone were founded on a shopworn idea and a simplistic understanding of history. The bad history is the reading of the state violence instigated by Germany for 70 years and culminating in the horrific slaughter of World War II. The exclusionary, if not racist, mystic nationalism of Germany was seen as the root cause of the war, and so it was concluded that diminishing the power of nationalism while promoting democracy and prosperity would prevent such violence in the future. In Europe, this meant reining in Germany by limiting its power with supranational institutions, and by fostering a pacifism that most Germans were all too eager to embrace. By integrating its own economic interests with those of Europe, Germany could prove it was no longer a threat to its neighbors. Former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt recently evoked this argument in his plea to save the euro: “More than once we Germans have caused others to suffer because of our position of power,” he said, adding that “whoever doesn’t understand this original and still relevant reason for European integration is missing the indispensable requirement for solving today’s precarious crisis.”

What’s forgotten in this analysis is that the European vacation from tragic history was subsidized by the United States. Europe’s once powerful militaries, always the instruments for pursuing state interests with force, could shrink because the U.S. military provided the security against the existential threat of the Soviet Union. Even with that threat gone, the globalized economy from which Europe profits is policed by American military power. Germany isn’t a threat not because of the EU, but because it hasn’t needed to build up its military due to the security dividend provided by American taxpayers.

The old idea is the two-centuries-long dream of a “parliament of nations,” the notion that supranational institutions and laws would replace the nation-state with its divisive particularities of custom, culture, religion, and language. Western civilization, it was thought, was evolving into a more universal identity created by science, technology, new knowledge about human nature and society, and the shrinking world created by global trade. These all were leading to a “harmony of interests” that increasingly rational people would realize could be served more by peace and prosperity than by conflict and war. This grand idea also lay behind the creation of the League of Nations and the United Nations, which both failed at creating a unified, transnational authority comprising sovereign nations with distinct and necessarily conflicting interests and cultures. The EU will not be any more successful than the other two, and for the same reason. EU member countries have never stopped being sovereign entities each with its own constitution that reflects national custom, law, and character.

The current fiscal crisis, then, has simply allowed the return of repressed nationalism and conflicting national interests. Most commentary on the crisis reflects this obvious fact. For example, The Telegraph’s Janet Daley writes, “As everyone has been saying, in order to be viable in the face of market pressures, a genuine currency (as opposed to a pretend one) must have a ‘lender of last resort’ – a true central bank like the US Federal Reserve System. But this is impossible within the EU because the constitutions of member states are not compatible with each other or with the principle of underwriting debt across national boundaries (as the states of the US are under their genuinely federal system).”

More broadly, difference of national attitudes to and cultures of work between the northern industrious ants and the southern “Club Med” grasshoppers have been expressed in the refusal of the citizens of the former to subsidize the spendthrift habits of the latter. Two headlines on the same page of a recent issue of the Financial Times say it all: “Germany talks tough on Spain” and “National interests likely to hobble EU banking reforms.” Or consider a recent Wall Street Journal article on German reluctance to foot the bill for rescuing the euro: “Half the German population believes the common currency has been more of a negative than a positive for Germany, up from 43% in February, according to a poll released late last month by public broadcaster ZDF. Nearly 80% are opposed to proposals for euro nations to jointly sell and guarantee euro bonds. A solid majority believes Greece should leave the euro.”

As for the Greeks, they are playing chicken with Germany over the latter’s insistence on austerity programs to rein in government spending, and making arguments from the bad old history supposedly transcended by the new EU brotherhood, claiming that Germans still owe reparations from their occupation of Greece in World War II. Meanwhile over in Italy, ex-prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, still the head of the biggest bloc of seats in parliament and thus capable of bringing down the government, has blustered, “If Europe refuses to listen to our demands, we should say ‘bye, bye’ and leave the euro. Or tell the Germans to leave the euro if they are not happy.” In response an ally of Angela Merkel scolds, “The states of Europe must for their part undertake every endeavor to contribute to solving those problems themselves.” The current crisis with its intra-national squabbling and rancor confirms the insight of the 18th century conservative philosopher Joseph de Maistre: “A constitution that is made for all nations is made for none.”

Yet some in the EU are calling for more economic integration, not less, as the solution to the current crisis. “So,” Daley continues, “either the existing democratic institutions and historical principles of all EU countries must be forcibly reconciled in a Year Zero political reconstruction, or there can never be a monetary union (let alone fiscal union) that will be sustainable.” Obviously, such closer integration would make Germany more powerful in the long run, since he who pays the piper calls the tune––thus creating the possibility of the very threat the EU was supposed to prevent. And greater economic integration would make easier greater political integration at the cost of national sovereignty and individual freedom, worsening the EU’s already substantial “democracy deficit.” The beneficiaries would be the Eurocrats in Brussels, a techno-elite that has already shown an eagerness to limit personal freedom in order to achieve its utopian dreams of absolute equality, prosperity for all, and a cost-free dolce vita.

As we Americans watch the flames grow higher, we should take warning and fight against those like Obama who see the EU as a model to follow. The Europe that created the art and architecture we travel there to admire is gone. Instead, let’s return to our own traditions and political principles that made America the freest and most prosperous great power in history.

Bruce Thornton


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Germans Boycott Israeli Products

by Soeren Kern

Although Pax Christi claims it is not seeking a blanket boycott of Israeli products, the NGO's use of vague and sweeping language, plus the fact that there are no special labels to distinguish products made in the so-called occupied territories, does make it a de facto boycott of everything made in Israel.

A prominent Roman Catholic NGO in Germany has called for a wide-ranging boycott of Israeli products.

The petition represents an expansion of the boycott, disinvestment and sanction (BDS) movement against Israel in Germany, where efforts by pro-Palestinian activists to delegitimize the Jewish state continue to pick up momentum.

The German branch of Pax Christi, which describes itself as an "international Catholic peace movement," issued a press release dated May 22, in which it urged German consumers not to buy goods from Israel as long as it remains unclear whether they are produced in the "settlements" or in "Israel."

A two-page flyer for the campaign, which uses the slogan "Occupation Tastes Bitter" (Besatzung schmeckt bitter), states: "Israeli settlements on occupied territory violate Article 49 of the Geneva Convention. Whoever contributes to the profitability of these settlements contributes to the violation of human rights." The flyer also encourages German consumers to report "questionable" Israeli products on a website called .

Although Pax Christi claims it is not seeking a blanket boycott of Israeli products, the NGO's use of vague and sweeping language, plus the fact that there are no special labels to distinguish products made in the so-called occupied territories, does make it a de facto boycott of everything made in Israel.

Pax Christi's boycott campaign has received political backing from Albrecht Schröter, the Social Democratic mayor of the eastern German city of Jena in the state of Thuringia. A June 1 article in the local newspaper Thüringische Landeszeitung quotes Schröter as saying his goal "is to demand mandatory labeling of goods from illegal Israeli settlements that occupy Palestinian territory."

But critics have accused Schröter (and Pax Christi) of issuing one-sided statements against Israel, and of giving the false impression that Israel is a country that systematically disregards international law and human rights.

Others say the obsession with Israel while human rights are being systematically abused in Muslim countries such as Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia is a reflection of anti-Semitism.

For example, Kevin Zdiara of the Berlin-based German-Israel Friendship Society (DIG) says that Schröter's arguments "in certain areas resemble anti-Zionist anti-Semitism" because his remarks meet Natan Sharansky's 3-D test for modern anti-Semitism: demonization, double standards and delegitimization. Zdiara also equates the Pax Christi boycott with the Nazi-era slogan "Don't Buy from Jews."

Katharina König, a Left Party state representative in Thuringia and a Jena city councilwoman agrees. She says Schröter's signature on the Pax Christi petition and his support for a boycott are "false and inappropriate" and that the boycott "has the same meaning as 'Don't Buy from Jews.'"

In any case, the BDS movement against Israel is growing in Germany.

For example, in an unprecedented victory for BDS activists, Deutsche Bahn, the German railway operator, recently announced that it would pull out of a project to build a high-speed rail line from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem because the line would cut through six kilometers of disputed territory in the West Bank. Deutsche Bahn had been in charge of electricity and communications control on the project, but pro-Palestinian groups claimed the project violated international law.

German Transportation Minister Peter Ramsauer told Deutsche Bahn Director Rüdiger Grube the project was politically "problematic" and potentially in violation of international law. Ramsauer offered the following reason for terminating the project: "Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riyad Al-Malki, members of the German Parliament and media have criticized a project in which DB International is acting as adviser to Israel's state-run railway."

German BDS activists have also repeatedly pressed for Israel to be banned from participating in Berlin's annual International Tourism Exchange (ITB), known throughout the world as the top trade show for the global tourism industry. And a group called Berlin Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (BAB) has pushed for a complete academic and cultural boycott of Israel. The group has boycotted Israeli film festivals and has German artists and musicians to refrain from performing in Israel.

In March 2012, BDS activists in Berlin targeted Galeria Kaufhof, a major retailer that sells products from Israel. Protests were also held at stores in Bonn, Cologne, Hamburg and Heidelberg.

In February, BDS activists in Hamburg targeted a nine-day series of concerts called "Sounds of Israel" that featured Israeli musicians. That same month, BDS activists in Berlin protested Israeli participation in the annual Fruit Logistica trade fair.

In November 2011, BDS activists launched a nationwide protest against Israel agricultural exports; BDS protests were held in Berlin, Hamburg, Heidelberg, Munich and Stuttgart.

In April, the Duisburg branch of the German Left Party (Die Linke) posted a flyer on its website with a swastika morphing into a Star of David, and called for a boycott of Israeli products. The flyer, which calls Israel a "rogue state" and a "warmonger" states: "Oppose the moral blackmail of the so-called Holocaust! Truth makes free!" This is a pun on "Arbeit macht Frei!," located above the entrance gate to the Auschwitz concentration camp.

In March, a group called the "Bremer Peace Forum" in the northern Germany city of Bremen staged protests in front of supermarkets urging Germans to boycott Israeli products. The Forum protesters distributed leaflets showing pictures of bloody oranges and held posters with the slogan: "Save the Palestinian people."

The German Left Party, in a Call to Action said: "Israel has occupied the West Bank for decades, contrary to numerous UN resolutions. More and more illegal Jewish settlements are being built and Israel exports the fruits that are harvested from there. This is against international law and the exports from the occupied territories are illegal. A boycott of Israeli products will move public opinion in order to increase international pressure on Israel, just as happened in South Africa."

Later that month, the German Bundestag [Parliament] held a debate over accusations of anti-Semitism within the Germany Left Party following the release of an in-depth study by two German sociologists titled "Anti-Semites as a Coalition Partner." The report says that "anti-Zionist anti-Semitism" has become the dominant consensus position within the Left Party and that this trend is gaining force.

Soeren Kern is Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook.


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Best Buy, CAIR and Boycotts

by Eileen F. Toplansky

With Father's Day just over a week away, it is important to publicize the ongoing situation with Best Buy and CAIR. Best Buy was founded by Richard Schulze in 1966 and the first store opened in St. Paul, Minnesota. Listed in 2008 as a Fortune 500 Company, Best Buy declares this to investors and employees.

Our formula is simple: we're a growth company focused on better solving the unmet needs of our customers-and we rely on our employees to solve those puzzles. Thanks for stopping.

Although it seems a bit truncated as a mission statement, clearly the focus is on problem solving.

Thus, it is confusing why Best Buy has doubled down and insists on continuing its support of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). In April of 2012, Islamist Watch publicized that Best Buy was a "Platinum Sponsor" for a fundraising banquet for the CAIR chapter. This alarming news led nearly 5,000 people to sign a pledge to boycott Best Buy until it rescinded its support for CAIR. As of the 3rd of June 2012, the petition at the site had 11,547 signatures. Nonetheless, Best Buy maintains that its

...customers and employees around the world represent a variety of faiths and denominations. We respect that diversity, and choose to engage with our customers, employees and communities in ways that reflect their traditions and maintain good relationships for Best Buy.

Let's clarify. CAIR is a front for terror groups. As highlighted at Discover the Networks

CAIR promotes a radical Islamic vision, as evidenced by the fact that its co-founder Omar Ahmad told a Fremont, California audience in July 1998: 'Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Koran ... should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth.' In a similar spirit, co-founder Ibrahim Hooper told a reporter in 1993: 'I wouldn't want to create the impression that I wouldn't like the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future.' In 2003 Hooper stated that if Muslims ever become a majority in the United States, they will likely seek to replace the U.S. Constitution with Islamic law, which they deem superior to man-made law. In the late 1980s, Ihsan Bagby, who would later become a CAIR Board member, stated that Muslims 'can never be full citizens of this country,' referring to the United States, because there is no way we can be fully committed to the institutions and ideologies of this country.'

Is this the diversity that Best Buy is promoting?

The United States government has identified CAIR "as an agent of the Muslim Brotherhood, sharing the common goal of dismantling American institutions and turning the U.S. into a Sharia-compliant Islamic state through incremental, stealth jihad."

So incensed was he at this news that a former Marine who served in Beirut in 1982-1983 and Iraq in 2003 posted this You Tube video stating that he and his family "will no longer conduct business at Best Buy" because of the company's endorsement of CAIR.

To those who would respond that this response is rooted in bigotry, one would be hard pressed to argue with a 2007 federal filing stating that "[f]rom its founding by Muslim Brotherhood leaders, CAIR conspired with other affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood to support terrorists[.]"

In this interview at Fox News, Dr. Jasser, founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy maintains that CAIR will not even condemn Hamas, long known for its terrorism. Jasser goes on to explain that CAIR actually obstructed the Somali Muslim community from assisting the federal government in weeding out terrorism. Jasser maintains that Best Buy is not promoting diversity at all but rather is "honoring the lowest hanging fruit" that does not promote freedom loving Muslim groups such as his.

In fact, according to Mona Charen, "[a] dishonest character assassination campaign has been launched against Jasser" by CAIR which has urged Muslims to protest Jasser's serving on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper told The Blaze that Jasser "has long been viewed by American Muslims and the colleagues in the civil liberties community as a mere sock puppet for Islam haters and an enabler of Islamophobia."

As a result of the Islamist Watch story, a number of other media have publicized the ongoing controversy. The Jewish Tribune of Canada features an interview with Islamist Watch Director Marc Fink. Powerline on April 19, 2012 by Scott Johnson highlighted the story as did Rachel Hirshfeld of Arutz Sheva-Israel National News

So even though the struggling retail giant is using profits from American consumers to fund the annual banquet of a group closely linked to Hamas, Best Buy has refused to rule out future support for CAIR. Moreover, Canadian readers of American Thinker should know that the Canadian retailer "Future Shop" is wholly-owned by Best Buy.

Sign the petition. Write the Best Buy Public Relations Department. If "you don't like the idea of your consumer electronics, software and appliance dollars going to fund groups pledged to turn America into a Sharia-compliant, Islamic state, and who align themselves with Hamas, write and/or call Best Buy and let them know. Best Buy Public Relations Department: 612-292-NEWS (6397) or Mike Mikan, Interim CEO:; Susan Busch, Director of Public Relations:; Lisa Hawks, Deputy Director of Public Relations:

Or better yet, forgo purchasing the next flat screen television from Best Buy. Dad will approve.

Eileen F. Toplansky


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Obama Stonewalling Gulf Oil Spill Disclosure

by Bruce Thompson

The Obama administration is desperately trying to avoid coming clean about its role in delaying capping the Gulf Oil Spill. Billions of dollars in fines are at stake, so BP is fighting in court to force release of correspondence related to handling the Gulf Oil Spill which might indicate that the federal government unnecessarily and substantially delayed the use of technology that was ultimately proven successful.

Rebecca Mowbray of the New Orleans Times-Picayune has the details of the battle underway in a New Orleans federal court:

In a letter filed in federal court Tuesday, the U.S. government charges that if BP is successful at forcing the release of 21 pieces of correspondence about responding to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, it will harm future disaster response efforts because public officials won't be able to confer frankly about the challenges before them. U.S. Department of Justice attorney Sarah Himmelhoch told Magistrate Judge Sally Shushan that the U.S. government has produced millions of documents in the litigation, and only wants to keep 119 documents confidential, but BP continues to try to force the government to disclose 21 of them. The documents involve communications between top Obama Administration officials in the White House, Department of Energy, Department of Interior and Department of Homeland Security.

We can reasonably infer that the authors of those 21 documents may include President Barack Obama, his then-chief of Staff Rahm "Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste" Emanuel, and Energy and Climate Change Czarina Carol "Midnight Moratorium" Browner from the White House, not to mention Energy Secretary Steven "Solyndra" Chu, Interior Secretary Ken "Boot on Their Neck" Salazar, and Admiral Thad "An Overabundance of Caution" Allen of Homeland Security's United States Coast Guard. All of them had a lot to say and or do publicly during the oil spill containment operations. Now it seems that BP wants to let the American public know about what its people were doing in private as they commanded BP's operations. BP knows what its employees did in private, as it was on the receiving end of those orders. They now want to share the details of those orders with the general public. The response of the Obama administration is positively Nixonian, revisiting the claims of executive privilege once espoused by Richard Nixon during the debate regarding the release of the Watergate tapes. Can it be that the people voted for "hope and change" and got the Ghost of Richard Nixon?

"To order the release of the 21 documents at this point sends the message that there is no protected space for government workers and decision makers in the midst of a national emergency," the letter reads.

And so the two sides presented their respective arguments in federal court.

BP says it may need the documents to defend itself against the government's lawsuit and potential fines. The documents in question include Department of Energy "issuance guidance and directives to BP," "the commencement or termination of specific response actions," and whether various efforts to shut down the well were "appropriate spill containment measures."

The government says that BP's argument misses the context of the litigation. The U.S. government is required to oversee the response to disasters, and needed to take a more active role because BP couldn't shut down the well. The government is also compelled to enforce environmental laws.

Could BP be trying to get documentation confirming the New York Times story that reported that Secretary Chu prematurely aborted the "top kill" operation that began on May 26, 2010? On that very day, President Obama was away giving a speech about green energy at a promising solar energy start-up in Fremont California named Solyndra. The NYT story states:

BP executives, however, wanted to proceed, the engineer said, in part to learn more about the condition of the well bore, and in part because they were eager to demonstrate that they could actually stop the flow of oil.

They "could actually stop the flow of oil"? In May 2010? How's that for "Hope" for the weary residents of the Gulf Coast? And what was Secretary Chu's grade-inflated analysis of this own performance?

Dr. Chu said he did not believe that he and his team had made any serious miscalculations in the nearly three months of trying to corral the renegade well, but like everyone involved in the catastrophe, they had been learning as they went along, under intense scrutiny and pressure.

"I don't want to dwell on 'coulda, shoulda, woulda,'" he said. "There's nothing I can really point to that we shouldn't have done based on what we knew at the time." [SNIP]

In an interview Thursday, Dr. Chu said that if he had understood geology and well technology better in the early days after the April 20 blowout, he might have urged a faster attempt at the top kill, which involved shooting mud and other gunk to clog up the damaged blowout preventer atop the gushing well. The delay, he said, might have allowed pressure to increase in the well, rendering the attempt fruitless when it was tried at the end of May.

Isn't "coulda, shoulda, woulda" also known as lessons learned? And isn't one of the most important lessons learned to not let the secretary of energy overrule the world's leading experts regarding the timing of an attempt to begin a subsea well intervention that could have stopped the flow of oil in May 2010?

One of the most exasperating facets of the efforts to control the spill is the fact that we were discussing beginning the top kill right here on The American Thinker on May 7, 2010.

Bruce Thompson was a volunteer to the effort to control the oil spill. You may read a bit more about him on his blog.


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U.S. Inaction Allows Assad to Keep Killing

by Jonathan S. Tobin

After more than a year of violent repression of protests that have taken the lives of thousands of people, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has figured out exactly how much he can get away with before his actions will provoke action from the West. Rather than being deterred by the prospect of an intervention to save the lives of his people, Assad now knows he can kill as many people as he likes. With reports of yet another massacre of dozens of women and children having been committed in the Homa region, the Syrian regime is demonstrating again that it will not be deterred by the condemnation of the international community from inflicting atrocities (let alone relinquish power). Indeed, rather than giving Assad pause, it may be that the latest statements of outrage issued by Secretary of State Clinton about events in Syria may just be confirming his impression that talk is all the United States and the West ever intend to do about the situation.

Clinton repeated earlier tough statements about Syria during a joint press conference with her Turkish counterpart. But as the U.S. has made it clear that no action will be taken without the consent of Syria’s Russian and Chinese allies, that is a virtual guarantee Assad has absolutely nothing to worry about. That the latest instance of mass slaughter — this time in the village of Qubeir where 78 persons are thought to have been killed, half of whom were women and children — happened while a United Nations peace plan was supposed to be implemented and U.N. personnel were in the country is just the latest evidence that Assad understands he can continue to act with impunity. If Assad is laughing at American suggestions he leave Syria, who can blame him for thinking U.S. policy is a joke?

U.N. observers were prevented from going to the site of the latest massacre by Syrian troops, but we expect the U.N. to be an impotent onlooker when mass slaughter is going on. The United States however, ought to be regarded differently. But with his trademark “lead from behind” style, President Obama seems to be emulating the behavior of the world organization he so admires.

The trouble here is not just the failure to act, though that is deeply troubling and a stain on America’s honor as well as that of the West. Rather, it is the combination of that lack of action with loud talk about Assad’s beastliness that is undermining the last shred of U.S. credibility as a force to be reckoned with in the region.

While silence about events in Syria would have been shocking, it might have made some sense if the president and the secretary of state had also made it clear the atrocities there were not America’s business. But to go on record as treating the crimes against humanity as an outrage that deeply offends Americans and then to do nothing about it is far worse. That is because the clear reluctance on the part of the administration to do something more than simply talk about Syria is not only being observed in Damascus. The real audience for this scandalous lack of backbone or a conscience on the part of the administration is in Moscow and Beijing.

More than just the people of that unhappy country will regret the consequences of America’s lack of guts and leadership on Syria. Though there are good reasons to worry about what would follow even a limited U.S. or Western intervention in Syria, the combination of talk and inaction will convince the Russians and Chinese they can dig in and back their awful Syrian client without fear of consequences. Even worse, it will convince them that President Obama is no more likely to go to the mat with Iran about its nuclear program than he is about Assad’s mass murders.

This is a real problem that is no less a matter of concern if the president sees these two cases differently, as some of his supporters insist he does. But after having demonstrated that he is a paper tiger on Syria, it is going to be very difficult to persuade the other members of the P5+1 talks with Iran that President Obama’s moral outrage is more than hot air. If Assad is allowed to go on killing people with no more than the prospect of a strongly worded statement from Hillary Clinton to deter him, the president may find out that once you lose your credibility, it takes more than a press conference to win it back.

Jonathan S. Tobin


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Why Doesn’t the Media Get Israeli Politics?

by Seth Mandel

Lee Smith has an interesting take on one aspect of the administration’s calculated cyberleaks, produced obediently by the New York Times, detailing the cooperation between the U.S. and Israel in conducting cyberwarfare against the Iranian nuclear program. It’s true, Smith writes, that in one sense these articles are meant to make Obama seem tough, but they are also to pass the buck if and when things go wrong. Smith writes:

The nature of the story is given away in a quote from Vice President Joe Biden, exasperated after Stuxnet mistakenly appeared on the Web in the summer of 2010, exposing the code. Biden laid the blame at the feet of the administration’s ostensible partner. “It’s got to be the Israelis,” said Biden, according to an unnamed source. “They went too far.” In other words, the Obama White House wants it both ways—to claim credit for the successes of the cyberwarfare campaign and to shift blame on the Israelis in the event that things go wrong.

It’s telling that the administration thinks blaming Israel is a good election strategy, and Smith’s piece is worth reading in full. But a couple quotes from Israeli sources stood out to me. First Yossi Melman, the Israeli journalist, tells Smith: “Israeli officials know that it’s an election year… Israeli officials are not going to rock the boat and ruin the party.” Later in the story, an Israeli intelligence source tells Smith: “No Israeli government is going to be criticized for releasing a virus. We know we are at war, and America does not know it’s at war.”

I’m not so sure that’s the case, but it does reveal something else about the two countries: Israelis understand American politics well, and American officials and journalists don’t seem to understand Israeli politics at all.

The Israelis are at peace with Obama’s strategy, because they get it. It’s an election year. It’s just business. This knowledge gap partially explained Jodi Rudoren’s clumsy transition to the New York Times’s Jerusalem bureau. She made a number of missteps, and explained that she didn’t really know exactly what she was doing yet, and to give her some time to adjust. Fair enough I suppose, but it was telling.

And a perfect example comes from Vanity Fair, which dispatched David Margolick to write a long profile on Benjamin Netanyahu for the magazine’s July issue. It’s now online, and it is truly something to behold. Margolick writes that most of Netanyahu’s decisions can be attributed to the inordinate influence the following people have on his opinions: his wife, Sara; his late father, Benzion; his late brother, Yoni; Ehud Barak; and the last person Netanyahu has spoken to, regardless of who it was.

There may be more in the article, but I stopped reading two pages in when Margolick explicitly compared Bibi to a warmongering Soviet dictator with a split personality. Margolick wasn’t writing that all those people have some influence on Netanyahu; he was making the case that each one has unique control over him. In other words, the article constantly contradicts its own thesis. It is essentially a cry for help. But why? What makes Israeli politics so incomprehensible to the press?

I’m not sure what the answer is, but there are a few possibilities. One is that the left doesn’t understand coalition politics as well as the right, which has to deal with making peace among its various factions. Another is that the liberal media’s echo chamber keeps them in a pack mentality, following the biases of papers like the New York Times. There is of course the left’s anti-Russian-immigrant hysteria, which they direct at Avigdor Lieberman even though he agrees with many of their priorities. It’s also hard to miss the media’s noxious treatment of Orthodox Jews who, much to the left’s eternal chagrin, also participate in Israel’s democratic process.

Maybe it’s something as simple as the media’s deeply personal antipathy toward Netanyahu. Whatever it is, they should figure it out–and soon. These articles portraying Israel’s democratically elected, rational premier as a schizophrenic dictator are getting embarrassing.

Seth Mandel


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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Latest Viruses Could Mean ‘End of World as we Know it’

by David Shamah

Eugene Kaspersky: We’re at the mercy of cyberterrorists, armed with weapons more serious than any previous IT security threat

The Flame virus, whose existence was announced several weeks ago by Eugene Kaspersky, is not just any old virus. It’s so sophisticated that it represents a new level of cyber threat, one that could be “the beginning of the end of the [interconnected] world as we know it,” Kaspersky said at a press conference Wednesday. “I have nightmares about it.”

Professor Yitzhak Ben-Yisrael (L), with Eugene Kaspersky (R), at Wednesday's conference (Photo credit: Courtesy)

Professor Yitzhak Ben-Yisrael (L), with Eugene Kaspersky (R), at Wednesday's conference (Photo credit: Courtesy)

Information security expert Kaspersky, whose team of researchers uncovered Flame’s existence, was a featured speaker at Wednesday’s second annual cyber-security conference sponsored by the Tel Aviv University’s Yuval Ne’eman Workshop for Science, Technology and Security. The conference comes at a time when interest in cybersecurity is at a peak, as a result of speculation about who was behind the Flame attack and the earlier Stuxnet virus attack that is thought to have damaged, or at least delayed, progress by Iran on its nuclear program.

Also speaking at the conference were a host of top security and government officials, including Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Israel Space Agency chairman Yitzhak Ben-Yisrael, former Shin Bet director Yuval Diskin, and others.

While many companies — including Kaspersky’s — advertise sundry solutions for computer viruses and Trojans, they won’t help when it comes to Flame and other still undiscovered viruses of similar or even greater strength that are likely out there, he said. “Right now we have no way to defend against these global attacks.”

The term “cyber-war” is used by many to describe the situation, but that term — which implies that there are two equal, known enemies duking it out — is outmoded, he said. “With today’s attacks, you are clueless about who did it or when they will strike again. It’s not cyber-war, but cyberterrorism.”

Flame, which has stealthily stolen large chunks of data during the months or perhaps years it has been on the loose, is especially scary because of its many sophisticated tools, said Kaspersky. Besides being able to quickly replicate itself on networks and break up data into very small segments, making it almost impossible to trace as it is sent onwards, the virus has many unique features. “It can of course be spread very quickly via a disk-on-key, when one is plugged into a network,” but in addition, it can use bluetooth, wifi, and other communications protocols to propagate, he said.

The Russian-born Kaspersky, 46, whose company is the world’s largest privately held vendor of software security products, described the process by which his team discovered Flame, saying that he got interested in the matter when he heard that Iran had actually accused his company of designing the attack tool. “We thought that maybe our internal system was compromised, so we conducted a thorough investigation.”

It was this investigation, which entailed contacts with IT personnel in Iran itself, that yielded the data on Flame. “Dealing with what we discovered was too big a job for a company,” so Kaspersky took what he knew to the UN’s International Telecommunications Union, which was just as shocked as he was. “We worked out an arrangement where we would gather the data, and they would take care of the other issues.”

Data-gathering is a technical issue, not a political one, Kaspersky said, so he could not speculate on who invented Flame, or why. But anyone and everyone is a suspect. “There are many countries with hackers and experts who are sophisticated enough to pull something like this off.”

The US, Israel, China, and Russia are on that list, but so is Romania, “which has many talented hackers.”

But even countries without a staff of their own could kidnap the scientists they need or hire “hacktivists” to do their dirty work, and there is no shortage of willing and capable people, Kaspersky said.

Still, any country thinking of stockpiling cyber-weapons of these magnitudes should think twice, Kaspersky said, as they have a way of getting out of control.

“It’s like biological weapons; when you set one off in one place, it affects many others.” Cyber-weapons of the magnitude of Flame are just as destructive. “The world is just so interconnected today, and the viruses that attack one power plant puts them all at risk,” Kaspersky said.

Governments must work together to, for example, order a complete rewrite of software for essential systems to protect them against attacks — “there are still many systems out there using MS-DOS,” Kaspersky said — to agreeing to pool information and act jointly when an attack occurs.

The alternative, Kaspersky said, is a world in which cyberterrorists have a free hand – something like the world in the movie Die Hard 4 (also known as Live Free or Die Hard). That movie’s plot involves hackers causing blackouts, blowing up government buildings, and trying to shut down America’s computer system.

“We at Kaspersky Labs have been aware for a long time that such a scenario was possible, but until that movie came out in 2007, we forbade anyone inside the organization from using the term ‘cyber-terrorist.’ Now that the cat is out of the bag, we routinely use that word to describe what is going on.”

He, and other researchers like him, are hard at work coming up with the solutions as the problems arise. What’s at stake, he said, is nothing less “than life as we know it today. Let’s hope and pray we can keep the cyber world safe for our kids and grandkids.”

David Shamah


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In Nuclear Talks, Iran Plays the Victim Card

by Emanuele Ottolenghi

With the third round of nuclear talks approaching, Iranian senior figures are taking turns to the airwaves to present a well-rehearsed, grievance-filled version of the issues at stake in their current nuclear standoff with the international community. This time, speaking out is former Iranian minister of foreign affairs, Ali Akbar Velayati – currently a diplomatic adviser to the Supreme Leader. Velayati, who is wanted in Argentina for the 1994 Iran-orchestrated terror attack against the AMIA Jewish Cultural Center in Buenos Aires, announced in an interview with the Iranian news agency IRNA that he hoped that “the P5+1 group recognizes Iran’s inalienable nuclear right within the framework of the [United Nations Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty] NPT and refrains from sitting on the sidelines.” He added, “By accepting Iran’s right to use peaceful nuclear energy, the forthcoming talks in Moscow should reach a favorable result.”

Iran has been spinning this tale for years now – and its propaganda is making considerable gains with Western leftists and among non-aligned movement members.

Iran is basically playing the victim card, darkly evoking an American-led and Zionist-orchestrated plot to deny Iran, alone among nations, the right to peacefully develop nuclear energy. The demand by the P5+1 to suspend all uranium enrichment and uranium reprocessing activities, Iran says, is an attempt to deny a right guaranteed under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to all its members. It is an unfair attempt, says Iran, because it is infused with a double standard where nuclear-weapons states and Israel are ganging up on Iran to preach to Tehran what they don’t practice. And it is a dangerous precedent, concludes Iran, because if legitimized, this mechanism can be adopted later to frustrate the legitimate nuclear ambitions of any other nation that is not a Western country and a friend of the United States.

So, as talks approach, it is useful to remind Western audiences of the basic facts around this matter.

First, Iran is a member of the NPT, and it is thus entitled to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes only as long as it meets its obligations under the NPT. But the International Atomic Energey Agency (IAEA) regards Iran as being in breach of its treaty obligations. This was stated explicitly and forcefully by the IAEA on September 24, 2005:

… Iran’s many failures and breaches of its obligations to comply with its NPT Safeguards Agreement … constitute non-compliance in the context of Article XII.C of the Agency’s Statute … [T]he history of concealment of Iran’s nuclear activities referred to in the Director General’s report, the nature of these activities, issues brought to light in the course of the Agency’s verification of declarations made by Iran since September 2002 and the resulting absence of confidence that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes have given rise to questions that are within the competence of the Security Council, as the organ bearing the main responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.

The Security Council has passed six UN Security Council resolutions under Chapter VII (1696, 1737, 1747, 1803, 1835, and 1929), which makes them mandatory and binding on all nations according to international law, commanding Iran to suspend uranium enrichment and uranium reprocessing activities.

The IAEA has reaffirmed this point in every report it published since Ambassador Yukiya Amano became its director general in early 2010.

And the June 2008 proposal to Iran, signed by the P5+1, further states that, provided Iran complies with its obligations under the NPT and with the aforementioned resolutions, “China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union High Representative state their readiness: to recognize Iran’s right to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes in conformity with its NPT obligations; to treat Iran’s nuclear program in the same manner as that of any non-nuclear weapon state party to the NPT once international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program is restored.”

This text is now an integral part of UNSCR 1929 – and the details it offers (including detailed aspects of technological assistance) should leave no doubt to the following simple facts:

Iran’s right to peaceful nuclear energy, including the right to enrich for peaceful purposes, was never denied in principle and has been affirmed ad nauseam by Iran’s interlocutors. All Iranian protestations and lamentations to the contrary are lies, smokes and mirrors.

Iran’s right is suspended because Iran has failed to comply with the obligations that make it possible for Iran, and indeed any other nation who wishes to have a nuclear program, to pursue nuclear energy within the NPT framework.

Iran’s behavior is illegal. Iran’s non-compliance demands concrete steps sanctioned by UN Chapter VII binding resolutions.

No concession should be made, therefore, on these matters, and no compromise should be offered on enrichment suspension.

This provision, far from being a punishment, is the only remaining guarantee against the collapse of an already shaky non-proliferation regime.

Emanuele Ottolenghi


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