Saturday, December 31, 2011

Silly Obama Rabbit, Tricks Are for Islamists

By Barry Rubin
December 31, 2011

It’s the end of 2011 and also the end of the old order in the Middle East. It would be an exaggeration to say that it’s the end of U.S. interests in the region but it sure looks like the beginning of the end for a lot of them. The problem isn’t just Obama policy and the advance of revolutionary Islamism but the decline of the most basic logic and common sense in evaluating the world.
Here’s an example of how the mass media, Western foreign policy establishment, and Obama Administration miss the most obvious possible points as the Muslim Brotherhood (and lots of other enemies) run rings around them.
Egyptian police and prosecutors raided the offices of 17 groups which are either “pro-democracy” movements or their Western funders.  Two of the groups were the taxpayer-funded Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute. (Talk about ways to antagonize the United States!) The U.S. government was outraged and protested.
A number of people were quoted but not gave any clue to the real political significance of the event. They talked about how civil society groups played a central role in the revolution; how this is an attempt to stem protests.
The New York Times informs us: “The raids were a stark escalation in what has appeared to be a campaign by the country’s military rulers to rally support by playing to nationalist and anti-American sentiment here.” Talk about Western chauvinism! The newspaper only gave the names of the two U.S. groups and not a single one of the Egyptian organizations targeted! The Washington Post at least included another U.S. group, Freedom House, the German Konrad Adenauer Foundation, and two Egyptian nongovernmental organizations: the Arab Center for Independence of Justice and Legal Professions and the Budgetary and Human Rights Observatory.
But what does it all mean? Well, there are two ways to answer that question:
1. The military wants to keep control of the country and thus make itself more popular. Thus, the demand of the U.S. government and media that it turn over power faster to civilians is a good idea. This is the media and Obama Administration response.
2. The army knows it is going to turn over power to the new parliament and president at some point between June 2012 and June 2013. The moderate forces have attacked the armed forces and portrayed it as the enemy. Yet the moderates lost the elections and are weak. Ultimately they cannot threaten the army’s privileges.
In contrast, the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists are strong and won the election. They have made deals with the military; they no longer participate in the Tahrir demonstrations; the army has backed down to their demands on virtually every issue. The Islamists are willing to let the army have its economic power and privileges. It doesn’t mind corruption by the generals
And the Islamists also hate Western influence and know that this Western aid is benefitting their moderate rivals.
Consequently, the military is acting in its interests while also helping the Islamists get rid of their mutual—albeit weak—rival and root out Western influence. Not only is this a win-win situation for the Islamists but the army takes the blame! And what is the West’s response? To demand that the civilians—that is, the Islamist victors in parliamentary elections—get power even faster!
In short, the result is a total win for Islamists (rivals get smashed, Western influence weakened; army blamed; power handed over sooner) ; largely a win for the army (since the Obama Administration won’t dare cut off aid); and total defeat for the moderates and the West.
Not a single mass media, foreign policy establishment, or government source will make that simple point.
And so while former British prime minister Tony Blair finally calls for helping the moderates, he’s a year late for Egypt and Tunisia and two or three years later for Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, and Iran.
At a speech given in southwestern Iran, the country’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says what everyone in the Middle East knows
“Some of the regional governments, clinging to the hope that cooperation with the United States and its allies, and the implementation of their plans will help them stay in power, have been ensnared in a trap, which will finally” lead to their downfall in the hands of the United States.
But Ahmadinejad was not saying that they would be overthrown because of the wrath of their own people, which he has often claimed in the past. This time he said that they would fall because America would abandon them. He’s largely right, you know. So far the United States has accepted or even helped greater Islamist control over Egypt, the Gaza Strip, Iran, Libya, Syria, and Tunisia.
Well, true, the Saudis get to buy $30 billion in U.S. weapons to defend themselves against Iran since it knows Washington won’t do the job. I guess that’s clever salesmanship, perhaps Obama’s secret plan to fix the economy. You help create massive threats, show you won’t defend allies, and then charge them lots of money to buy weapons to defend themselves!
Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs, the most important journal of the foreign policy establishment, gives us two articles explaining how moderate the Muslim Botherhood is, here and here.
Has anyone seen a single article in the Boston Globe, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy,  the Los Angeles Times,Newsweek, the New York Times, Time Magazine, or the Washington Post (with the possible exception of Jackson Diehl) that makes the opposite argument?
Among the things we don’t have to worry about are:
And finally for those who have read this long, here’s a quote from my 1982 book, The Arab States and the Palestine Conflict, pp. 162-163:
“…Despite the undemocratic nature of Arab leadership, there is no reason to accept the…argument that more responsive and representative regimes would have been more conciliatory [toward Israel]. If anything, greater faithfulness to ‘The Street’ would have created a greater degree of militancy. ”
Coverage of Egyptian raids:
Explanation of title: What American child didn’t grow up hearing the famous ad of that wonderful fruit-flavored serial: “Silly rabbit! Trix are for kids!” The rabbit would try various ruses or dress up in disguises (Distanced from Israel? Apologies for past U.S. policies? Friend of Islam?) But the kid would always uncover his plan, catch him, and deny him any cereal.

“Let them eat surimi!” [Reader Post]

Saturday, December 31st, 2011 at 8:29 am
It’s all so weird. It’s all so unseemly. Multi-millionaires begging for $3 and selling themselves off in raffles.
The email Michelle Obama sent to me:
This holiday has felt a bit like one last long, deep breath before we plunge into 2012.
This time next year, I don’t want us to have any regrets. I want to be able to say we rose to the task, and got it done. We’ve all got some work to do right now.
Over the next 11 months we’ve got an organization to grow, voters to register, and people to get fired up.
I hope you’ll close out this year by donating $3 or more now to help make sure we’re ready for the next one:
Thank you so much, and happy new year,
P.S. — Also, when you donate today, you are automatically entered for a chance to be one of three supporters to have dinner with Barack and me.
She vacations in Hawaii each year at a cost of $4 million, takes her own jets to vacation destinations all at taxpayer expense, wears $500 Lanvin sneakers to help the poor, $2000 Mexican tablecloths on vacation, and she wants us to to rise to the task and send her $3 so she won’t have any regrets.
Barack sent me this email:
It’s not all that often that Michelle and I get to host a casual meal with friends.
That’s one of the reasons we’re both excited about the upcoming dinner with three supporters and your guests.
It’s the first one we’ve ever done like this together, and we’d love to have you and whoever you choose to join us.
Chip in $3 or whatever you can today — and you’ll automatically be entered to be one of our dinner guests.
I enjoy these dinners not just because they’re a way to connect with supporters across the country.
They also say a lot about what kind of campaign we’re running.
We don’t take a dime from D.C. lobbyists or special-interest PACs — never have and never will. Instead, we believe in the kind of politics that gives everyone a seat at the table — so we’re literally offering these seats at dinner to folks who are willing to step forward and be a part of it.
There are just a few days left to add your name for a chance to be one of our guests at the next dinner, and help build this campaign before 2012 finally arrives.
Make a donation of $3 or whatever you can today — and automatically enter to be there:
As soon as he was done saddling us with a trillion dollar failed stimulus, Barack Obama sucked down a meal of $100 per serving Wagyu beef.
When he got to Hawaii, Obama headed right for Morimoto’s. There are countless sushi restaurants in Hawaii but few as tony as Morimoto’s, where the Oyster Foie Gras runs $22 per piece.
Then he ate at Alan Wong’s, another exclusive locale, and it’s estimated that he spent at least $260, or 13 weeks’ worth of middle class tax cuts.
The Obama’s, who deny themselves nothing in the face of a poor economy (“Middle Class Warriors” as Keith Koffler describes them), the Obama’s, who eat the best food at the best at the best restaurants at our expense, invite YOU to send $3 so you can share a “casual meal” with them.
Waygu beef and martinis for them, beer and pizza for their supporters.
That’s as good a metaphor for this Presidency as it gets.
A couple of days ago Mitt Romney compared Barack Obama to Marie Antoinette:
“When the president’s characterization of our economy was, ‘It could be worse,’ it reminded me of Marie Antoinette: ‘Let them eat cake,’ ” Romney told The Huffington Post in an interview Thursday.
With the Obamas dining on the finest food, enjoying the best vacations, not letting Presidentin’ get in the way of his 91 rounds of golf, Romney’s got a point.
It’s good to be Queen.

Iran To Test Long-Range Missile



Iranian ballistic missiles are launched during military exercises earlier this year (AFP, Rouholla Vahdati)
Iran has announced its intentions to test a long-range missile in the Persian Gulf. Iran has threatened the United States that if more sanctions are imposed, Iran will not allow “one drop” of oil through the Strait of Hormuz. However, the United States does not receive oil through the Strait of Hormuz.

Haaretz reported:
Amid a verbal row with the United States over blocking the Strait of Hormuz, a vital oil shipping route, Iran proclaimed on Friday that it will start testing long range missiles in the Persian Gulf.“On Saturday morning the Iranian navy will test several of its long-range missiles in the Persian Gulf,” navy deputy commander Admiral Mahmoud Moussavi told Fars news agency.The testing of the missiles is part of ongoing navy maneuvers in the Persian Gulf and, according to Moussavi, the main and final phase is preparing the navy for confronting the enemy in a warlike situation.The maneuver has been overshadowed by a verbal row between Iran and the US over an Iranian threat to close the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, through which 40 per cent of the world’s ship-borne crude is passed.The spark for the row was a Tuesday remark by Iranian Vice President Mohammd-Reza Rahimi that, “if Western countries sanctioned Iranian oil, then Iran would not allow one drop of oil to cross the Strait of Hormuz.”

How Congress Will Forever Change the Internet by January 24th


December 30, 2011
“The freedoms of expression, assembly, and association online comprise what I have called the freedom to connect.”
~ Hillary Clinton
Hollywood and record producers are rightfully concerned about Internet piracy, particularly thefts by foreign sites. Something needs to be done, but it’s not with the bills before Congress – SOPA and PIPA – at least not with their current language, though the framework might be worth saving. Read about the bills here: Internet censorship or go to

The bills are so poorly written and use such generalities that it could allow for any number of frivolous lawsuits. Supporters say the bill does not change copyright infringement protections while opponents say it does. The bills also permit the government shutdown of websites for any possible infringement on any one page. Websites will close down quicker than you can say the words. The bills pose cybersecurity concerns and raise free speech issues. It requires monitoring of websites in a Big Brother kind of way.

Make no mistake, this is about the future of the Web.

The major online sites such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Twitter and others, who oppose the bills, are considering a blackout to get their point across and to get people to call their congressmen. I hope they do it. People must be made aware and they must call their congressmen or at least send an email.

Please contact your congressman before January 24th if you agree and tell them this bill will destroy the Internet as we know itContact your Representative here and Contact your Senator here

The bills have their supporters in the media and in business who say the bill is necessary and this includes the Chamber of Commerce, 3M, Adidas, Burberry, CVS and more. News Corp., the parent company of Read more: FoxNews

Is it too much to ask Congress to take the appropriate amount of time to make sure the bipartisan bill has the proper safeguards to allow the continuation of a free, job creator – the Internet? Congress hasn’t passed a budget in two years, but they have to pass this in three months?

Check out CNET’s analysis -
…The Sandia National Laboratories, part of the U.S. Department of Energy, has also raised concerns about SOPA, saying it is “unlikely to be effective” and will “negatively impact U.S. and global cybersecurity and Internet functionality.” And Stewart Baker, the former policy chief at the Department of Homeland Security who’s now in private practice, warned in an op-ed that SOPA “runs directly counter” to the House’s own cybersecurity efforts.
An analysis (PDF) of Protect IP prepared by five Internet researchers this spring lists potential security problems. Among them: it’s “incompatible” with DNSSEC, innocent Web sites will be swept in as “collateral damage,” and the blacklist can be bypassed by using the numeric Internet address of a Web site. The address for, for instance, is currently
What will SOPA require Internet providers to do?
A little-noticed portion of the proposed law, which CNET highlighted in an article, goes further than Protect IP and could require Internet providers to monitor customers’ traffic and block Web sites suspected of copyright infringement.
“It would cover IP blocking,” says Markham Erickson, head of NetCoalition, whose members include, Google, eBay, and Yahoo. “I think it contemplates deep packet inspection” as well, he said.
The exact requirements will depend on what the removal order says. The Recording Industry Association of America says that SOPA could be used to force Internet providers to block by “Internet Protocol address” and deny “access to only the illegal part of the site.” It would come as no surprise if copyright holders suggested wording to the Justice Department, which would in turn seek a judge’s signature on the removal order…
…Are there free speech implications to SOPA?
SOPA’s opponents say so–a New York Times op-ed called it the “Great Firewall of America–and the language of the bill itself is quite broad. Section 103 says that, to be blacklisted, a Web site must be “directed” at the U.S. and also that the owner “has promoted” acts that can infringe copyright.
Here’s how Section 101 of the original version of SOPA defines what a U.S.-directed Web site is:
(A) the Internet site is used to provide goods or services to users located in the United States; 
(B) there is evidence that the Internet site or portion thereof is intended to offer or provide such goods and services (or) access to such goods and services (or) delivery of such goods and services to users located in the United States; 
(C) the Internet site or portion thereof does not contain reasonable measures to prevent such goods and services from being obtained in or delivered to the United States; and 
(D) any prices for goods and services are indicated or billed in the currency of the United States.
 …Laurence Tribe, a high-profile Harvard law professor and author of a treatise titled American Constitutional Law, has argued that SOPA is unconstitutional because, if enacted, “an entire Web site containing tens of thousands of pages could be targeted if only a single page were accused of infringement.”…Read more at CNET

Hizballah Fundraising and Operations in the US and Latin America