Category Archives: Prayer

BOOKS YOU’LL LOVE: THE STORY BEHIND THE STORIES

                                                        THE ASSASSINS

 

Obviously, my novel is about the battle between good and evil.

 

Novelist have been struggling with this topic for centuries because it is one of the most basic fundamental issues effecting all of humanity. We read about the conflict because we have all been there. It’s our story, our experience. And we keep reading because we’re never sure which side is going to win.

The Assassins begins with a completely evil design. Vladimir Putin intends to have the top American leaders killed and sends out three henchmen to do them in. None of these men is particularly bright, but they all know about murder that they are quit willing to commit. Will evil triumph under these circumstances? The reader keeps turning the pages to find out.

Friedrich Nietzsche lived in the last half of the nineteenth century and was a major philosopher whose impact has not been diminished by time. He appears to have had a deep distrust of words in conveying and describing evil. Our time has seen so much mayhem and murder, I often wonder if we haven’t been moved existentially closer to Nietzsche’s point of view.  Not that we wrestle intellectually with the problem of evil, but that we have become so adjusted to assassination, revolutions, war, and the possibility of nuclear explosions that we no longer are able to find the words that convey the draconian nature of the ongoing situation with which we live.

 

Perhaps, a novel remains one of the best tools to walk us inside the terrors of human manipulation and deceit. The Assassins is of course fiction, but look at the parallels with the murder of Alexander Litvinenko who was poisoned in London. Litvenenko, a FSB agent (formerly called the KGB) got crossways with Vladimir Putin and fled the country to avoid being killed. In London, he remained a harsh critic of Putin’s role in encouraging corruption. A close friend of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, he knew she was investigating his charges against Putin. The female journalist was then shot to death in Moscow. Sound a little familiar?

Can words adequately convey the force of evil in such a situation? Friedrich Nietzsche said no.  The will to power remains too strong. His solution was to create an entirely new language. I’m afraid Nietzsche got too close to the edge, but he does press us to recognize how powerful evil is in the world around us.

Personally, I find novels by Daniel Silva do an adequate job of forcing anyone to recognize the reality of evil. Hopefully, The Assassins does the same thing. While such a story is fiction, by its very nature it forces us to look into the non-fiction world with greater perspective and a more adequate grasp of the power of evil.

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An Update on Israel

 

Change is in the air.

 

A number of incidents have occurred lately that didn’t make headlines in America. They aren’t earth shaking events, but might help you keep abreast of the times are unfolding. Change occurs in the Middle East at the speed of light. Consequently, the more we know, the better we are to judge the situation and make sound judgements.

Were you aware that Russian President Vladimir Putin dropped in for a visit this summer? While the occasion was more of a state formality with a dedication of a war memorial, it is interesting that the country with a hard history of antisemitism should have the newly elected president drop by for a chat. My guess is that the stop-by represents a recognition of the importance of Israel in the world scene and a concern for an attack on Iran (one of Russia’s allies). If so, Putin got an earful. Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres made it clear that in their view nuclear weapons in the hands of the Iranians remained a threat to Israel and the world. Putin said nothing, but got the message. However, there’s no change with Vadim.

Russia continues to oppose more sanctions against Iran while supplying weapons to Syria (calling them defensive armaments). They have also used their veto power to shield the Assad regime.

While in Israel, Putin helped unveil a monument to the Red Army’s defeat of Nazi Germany. Such remembrances are important because of the enormous price the Soviet Union paid in World War II. Over a half million Jews fought in the Soviet Army and 120,000 were killed. The idea for the monument began with Netanyahu two years ago when he proposed the commemoration to Putin.

On a different front, the former financial adviser to Yasser Arafat Muhammad Rashid revealed that Fatah had a secret bank account in Jordan amounting to $39 million. When Arafat died, he was one of the wealthiest men in the world with a monthly allowance to his wife in Paris of $100,000 a month. Three billion dollars disappeared and has not been found to this date. Rashid stated that only Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and two of his associates could access the account. He challenged Abbas to admit this fact because he had longed denied the existence of such an account. After a long-standing battled with the PA leadership, Rashid has threatened to expose corruption and scandal involving Abbas.

Change? Well, the covers are being thrown back. Seems the Palestinian Authority continues to deal under the table just as Arafat did.

Here’s another surprise for you. East Jerusalem Arabs are increasingly applying for Israeli citizenship. Forty-six years ago, the Six Day War (Yom Kippur War) exploded and the citizenship of East Jerusalem shifted. Because King Hussein claimed the rights to the West Bank and the PLO called these Arabs Palestinians, they ended up in effect non-citizens. Today, 260,000 east Jerusalemites are still non-citizens. A high number of this group were born in Israel, speak Hebrew, and have been virtually absorbed into Israeli society. Today an increasing number are convinced no change will every occur and are applying for Israeli citizenship. The idea of a Palestinian may never be resolved. The status quo isn’t relevant to this group.

Change is moving right along.

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BOOKS YOU’LL LOVE: THE STORY BEHIND THE STORIES

THE ASSASSINS

 

“Robert, how can you get inspired to write about assassinations? Isn’t that a rather heinous subject?”

As I listened to the woman’s question, I wondered what she meant by the word inspiration. Her reply proved interesting.

“Why, I thought the word meant ‘God breathed,’ she said. “Isn’t inspiration something that the Holy Spirit brings?”

Well, yes and no. Certainly, we think of The Bible as being inspired and that definitely means the Holy Spirit was at work. I would like to think that my books are “God breathed,” but that’s more than a little presumptive. Generally, divine inspiration implies that a new or creative revelation has occured. Hey, I’m certainly not claiming such lofty status But actually, inspiration has a wider range of meaning than my friend related. We can be emotionally or intellectually inspired. A feeling may bubble up that touches us deeply.  Alex Haley’s Roots had such powerful emotionally inspiration. The last TV episode as he discovered his personal origins in Africa moved me to tears. The Imperial Presidency didn’t have such an  emotional push but it was an intellect assessment of the government.  Often, we are deeply moved by some such event and want to convince others only to find out they don’t care. Before you feel bad, remember that divine inspiration also gets the same reception in some quarters.

So, my book The Assassins doesn’t have to claim to be divinely inspired to have a quality of creative thought that some people might find to be moving. While I’d never put myself in a class with Fedyor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov definely touched on universal issues that are still studied in seminaries. I will argue Dostoevsky was definitely inspired, but not just because he wrestled with issues affecting the Roman Catholic Church. His focus was moral and concerned with the future of civilization.

My story is certainly not so lofty, but it seeks to explore the idea of what happens when a head of government is willing to commit murder to acheive the purposes of his government. Today we know such a goal is possible. My story suggests that those draconian purposes run afowl of ultimate values, including the value of human life.

When the Oklahoma City Murrah Building terrorist bombing occurred, I was the first clergyman on the scene and stood in the back of the building as the bodies were brought out. I will forever remember standing by those tarp covered remains of people killed by a man whose values were eschewed to the core. During those hours as more and more bodies were brought out, I wondered what will come next and shuttered.

And yet as the days, weeks, and years have gone by, the actions of good people have transformed those tragic deaths into monuments to eternal truth and the endurance of righteousness.  Decadence has been transformed into inspiration.

Inspiration often arises from unanticipated circumstances and humble origins. Even evil actions may unexpectedly give rise to redemptive expressions and results. We have to be ready for inspiration to come at the most unexpected moments.

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IRAN’S GAMBLE

 

The most recent report from the United Nations the International Atomic Energy Agency indicates Iran continues to hide its production of enriched uranium. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei talks out of both sides of his mouth, saying pursuit of nuclear weapons is an “unforgiveable sin” while on the other hand proclaiming Iran will not abandon their nuclear program. If you trust the Ayatollah, I’ve got some stock in the defunct Soviet Union I’ll sell you.

Experts are currently divided on what an attack on Iran would do to support for the Moslem regime. All agree the current Moslem government is unpopular and would welcome any action that would shore it up. However, a direct attack on the country would not necessarily bring support from the current opposition to the government. Probably, the rebels response would be determined by how much of the population was killed or hurt in such an attack. Undoubtedly, President Ahmadinejad would  call for national unity. In the short run, it could be a boost for the regime’s popularity.

At this time, sanctions have definitely hurt the popularity of  Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s government. While the economy has definitely been effected, the business person on the street is really getting it in the neck with decreasing support for Khamenei. However, it appears to be a toss up among the experts as to how Iranian rebels would respond to an attack on their own soil.

The most pressing current issue is stopping Iran’s intervenetion in Syria. Iran is doing everything possible to hold on to the Assad control of the country. Loss of the relationship with this current government would amount to a clossal defeat and greatly weaken the Iranian hold on the Shi’ite Cresent that extends from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean.  However, the United States has made it clear that they will directly confront Iran If more intervention follows. Moreover, Israel would feel directly threatened by an Iranian presence in Syria and would immediately respond aggressively. Of course, Russia would support Iran, but could do little to actually support their actions militarily.

So, where do we go next?

Most experts agree that the USA must do more. They have already made it clear that crossing a red line drawn by Secretary Hillary Clinton will bring  a military response, but it is not clear that the Iranians take this warning seriously enough to back off. The Khamenei regime still doubts American’s will to make a military effort.  Many feel the USA must facilitate the Syrian rebels supply of anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons while encouraging more Syrian government officials to defect if Iran is to take them more seriously.

Iranian expert Prof. David Menashri believes the regime is in a delicate situation with considerable pressure from inside the country. Citizens are dissatisfied with the lack of social and political justice and freedom.  A more public demonstration of unity of the United States with Europe would help increase the stress on Khamenei and his comrades. Menashri asserts Israel should keep its debate behind closed doors as disagreements only lessens Iran’s fears.

Words no longer count for much. The issues will be settled by action. (530 word count)

Question: Can diplomacy still stop Iranian intervention or is time running out?

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PROBING INSIDE THE SYRIAN SITUATION

 

 

Over 200 bodies were recently discovered in Daraya, a small town just outside of Damascus. The frightening unofficial suggestion is that Syrian troops committed these atrocities that may be the worst since the beginning of the Syrian rebellion over 18 months ago. Because of the ongoing war, the exact count could not be independently confirmed.

The Local Coordination Committee, an activist organization, found mass body dumps in the same region. Their video recorded charred bodies wrapped in blankets as well as victims lined up together and shot in a mosque. The violence fits a pattern that has emerged from raids by government forces in other suburbs of Damascus. When the military raided towns held by rebels, they left behind piles of bodies. Generally, the victims were young men, most shot in the head execution style.

The stories go on and on. I have been blogging about these murders for months, but nothing seems to put the brakes on the killing. One of the burning question is why the Russians continue to sustain such violence. As we discussed in an earlier blog, they are making huge profits out of this warfare. Certainly, profit motives keep the guns blazing. But there must be more to this story.

In the August 19, 2012 edition of The New York Times, Misha Friedman reported on the current situation in Russia under the heading For Russians, Corruption is Just a Way of Life. Friedman grew up in Moldova, then a part of the Soviet Union. In the early 1990s, her family immigrated to the United States. Since then, she has made a number of trips back to Russia. On each one of these trips, she observed growing corruption and lawlessness. Today, Misha Friedman reports that the country has become immersed in immoral and depraved behavior at every level of society.

Ms. Friedman reports that President Vladimir Putin’s system of running the country is hurling Russia back into a medieval mode when lawlessness trumps all rules. She noted that Russians who travel  outside the country often hide their nationality because of a fear of being compared to the country’s ruling elite. The Pussy Riot trial or the imprisonment of Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky always comes up with embarrassing questions about what is transpiring inside the country. Friedman implies Putin’s government could care less about the consequences of their decisions as long as they prevail.

Syria would certainly be a case in point.

The author’s story states that corruption has become both a state of mind as well as a way of life. Citizens have become so accustomed to this decadence that they now accept it as the norm and view it as “Russia’s own special way.”

Friedman’s story leaves us with an obvious conclusion. If the Russian’s are making a buck, they care less about who is hurt. Obviously, I’m not indicting their entire society. Thousands marched in the streets to protest Putin’s election and how he runs the country. Unfortunately, they didn’t accomplish change. Nevertheless, as long as Russia’s military factories are kept busy, no one at the top will be calculating the cost.

So, the killing goes on in Syria while the rest of the world watches from the sidelines.

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WHY CAN’T AMERICAN GET IT RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE EAST?

Obviously, something has gone wrong.

We wake up in the morning and the TV tells us more Americans have been shot in the back by Afghan security policemen. The Afghans are killed  immediately, but that doesn’t seem to make any difference. Are we missing something? Absolutely.

Neither the Republicans or the Democrats understand this situation. We are in essentially the same position Great Britian was a hundred years ago. They were the top dogs and couldn’t be bothered with funny little rebels like Gandhi. Unfortunately for the Brits, the Mahatma was the new reality. Today England doesn’t rule India or the world.

Winning World War II and prevailing in the Cold War took us to the top. We assumed we could fight two wars in two different nations at the same time and easily win. Wrong. We are making the same mistake the British did.

What we don’t understand is that the entire Middle East is swept up in what is essentially a religious war. We think we’re fighting a traditional military conflict. We’re not. And the longer we misread the reality, the greater will be our losses.

The exploding reality in the world today is change.

Every 500 years, the entire global society radically shifts. Go back 500 years and you find the Renaissance and Protestant Reformation beginning. Absolutely ended the Middle Age and brought radically political revolution! The year 2,000 marked the start of a new alignment in every area from politics to religion.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the Middle East. The rising force is not an enlighted Islamic faith, but a radical right-wing fundamentalism than has no problem in dying for what the mullahs decree. The West places a paramount value on preserving human life.  They don’t. Ben Laden got one thing right. If they keep us fighting in the Middle East, they will eventually drain our bank accounts down to nothing. Isn’t that where we have gone in the last ten years?

Turkey has shifted into a more religious mode. The Egyptian Brotherhood pushed Mohammed Morsy into office with their radical agenda. Who knows what will end up in Syria? No one appears to be asking what is the motivation that they all share in common. At the core, it has to do with Islam.

For example, Obama believes we can negotiate Iran into a compromise. A couple of days ago, the head mullah told the people to hunker down because Iran wasn’t backing away from muclear capacity. Between the lines, we can read the fine print. Iran’s position is neither defensive nor rationally. Iran has messianic designs on the entire Middle East with a religious motivation carrying an ingrained sense of Persian historicial entitlement.  In addition, they want to annihilate Israel regardless of the cost. Take a long at the Old Testament. It’s all there.

Because we didn’t pay attention toVietnamese thought patterns and resuppositions, we lost the war. Today, we aren’t paying attention to how fundamentalist Islam thinks. The result is that they are outflanking us. So, where do we go from here?

The time has come to cast the old molds aside and think with new clarity. Can we win a religious war with bullets and missiles? No. And Iran won’t be stopped at the negotiating table. The only country who seems to grasp this reality is Israel.

If we don’t pay attention to this situation, we’re going to be sailing down the river in the same boat with the Brits … headed for the water fall.

Question: How can we change this course of events?

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Stories Behind the Stories you Love: The Assassins.

The Assassins

 

Writers are often asked about what makes a character interesting. What’s the difference between a Scarlet O’Hara and Mary Mud who you forget in 30 seconds? Part of the answer is contrasts.

Within interesting characters are built-in contradictions that make the person memorable. Unfortunately, beginning writers tend to produce one dimensional hollow stereotypes who stay the same through the entire story. Readers may not understand why they find these characters disinteresting, but they quickly close the book and move on in search of a more genuine human that intrigues their imagination.

Scarlet O’Hara stays with us because she is beautiful and charming while being conniving and manipulative. She can rebuild Tara, her father’s estate, because there’s no price she won’t exact from those around. She builds by destroying. A contrast indeed!

In The Assassins, we begin with a FSB type operative Masha Khaykina who has done whatever was necessary to get out of the poor countryside and into the thriving city. From humble beginnings, she rises to the top of the state’s secret spy agency. But early on in her life, we discover a grandmother who cared and instilled values. In Russia, grandmothers preserve the best of the past and care on the best the church has to offer. Marsha has been infected with this goodness that keeps surfacing even in the midst of her philandering. Something higher found its way into her soul earlier in life.

One of the values that stuck with her was a concern for people faced with injustice. She is willing to stick her neck out to even the score. As the book unfolds, we will discover  this quality has a dramatic effect on how the plot turns.

In contrast, the other assassins are flat, one-dimensional types. Not very likeable, they are bestial and brutal. Contrary to many movie images, I’ve found this to be the way killers truly are. Some years ago, I worked with Lou Smit, a well known and highly successfully detective. He wanted me to help encourage a serial killer to talk by offering to write his story. The man had killed at least forty women, but we never got the story off the ground bcause his psyche proved to be empty. Almost nothing was there.

The Assassins offers other insights into Masha’s development. As she became involved with the Russian Orthodox Church, we received glimpses into her inner journey. We see her thinking new and humane thoughts. Expanding insights introduced her to a new appreiation of life and relationships. The reader observes a kinder and more humane person emerging from under a rough and permissive past.

Russia remains an enigma to many in the West. However, genuine Russians continue to intrigue us because their contrasts are often severe while reaching to a greater depth than is often displayed in America. Many of our cinema and popular celebrities exist purely for entertainment, but who wants to live next door to them? The Kardashians have an effective publicist, but they’d never make it in a serious novel. Too superficial.

So, hopefully Masha captures your attention because she offers a complex character reaching out to find a higher and better way of life.

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RE-ASSESING THE SINAI

The August 5 terrorist attack on the Egyptian military base that killed 15 soldiers has  created unexpected turmoil and reassessment of the Sinai. Covered by the peace treaty with Egypt, Israel has understood that the desert is a demilitarized zone. A United Nations peace keeping force placed 700 American soldiers in the area. However, the terrorists stole from the Egyptians an APC vehicle that was crashed into the Israeli Karem Shalom crossing. For some time, Israel had been concerned about Bedouin Islamic terrorists who had been creating difficulties in the area. The attack brought matters to a head.

The treaty returning the Sinai peninsula had been signed by Anwar Sudat and Menachem Began during the Carter administration. It was a major turning point in the quest for Middle East peace at that time.

 

Spokemen for the Karem Shalom outpost noted soldiers were now back to normal operation  but warned that the area is “no longer a border of peace.” The Sinai border and the Kibbutz Shalom are only a few dozen meters from the Gaza Strip. Around 12,500 people live in kibbutzim in the area. No fatalities were suffered by Israel. IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) reported the terrorists may have been trying to abduct a soldier as they did several years ago with Gilad Schalit’s capture to demand a ransom or the release of terrorists held in Israeli jails. The worry remains that terrorists could dig under the Gaza security fence and try again. While local residents are back to their daily routines, they are keeping their guns cocked.

Within Israel there is now a renewed discussion over who is responsible of intelligence gathering. Three primary sources collect data, including Military Intelligence, Shin Bet (Israeli Security Agency) and Mossad. After the peace treaty with Egypt, Military intelligence cut back on their budget. However, with the surge of new problems in Sinai, all options are being reassessed. You can bet no one is letting this situation go unnoticed.

This latest attack is being attributed to local Beduins and probably is similar to the cross-border attacks a year ago near the Netafim Crossing where eight Israelis were killed. While that situation was written off as isolated, the present attack is seen in a much more serious light.

Regardless of exactly who did it, this attack amounts to Hamas getting shot in the foot. Egyptian President Mohammed Morsy had just received Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh for a “buddy-buddy” talk about easing travel restrictions imposed on Gaza Strip residents. They had agreed on opening the Rafah border crossing for 12 hours a day to allow more Palestinians to go and go. Restriction on travel regulations at Cairo’s airport would be eased. The Hamas group proclaimed a “hugh achievement” had been obtained through these discussions. Hamas had been quick to note the Egyptian Supreme Military Council opposed these concessions. Egyptian military have longer considered Hamas a threat to their national security.

Guess what? The attacks brought these agreements to a screeching halt!

The terrorist attack has proved to be an extreme blow to the Hamas talks with Morsy. In addition, they represent an economical loss. Immediately after the border assault, the Egyptian government forced Hamas to close down all underground tunnels that have been vital to preserving Gaza’s economy.  In addition, to smuggling goods and fuel, the tunnels have been used to bring weapons into the Hamas controlled area.

It’s obviously going to be a long time before Morsy and the Hamas group sit by the swimming pool and have a nice chat. As Abba Ebon once said, “the Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

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STORIES YOU’LL LOVE: THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY

STORIES YOU’LL LOVE: THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY

 BOOKS YOU’LL LOVE: THE STORY BEHIND THE STORIES
  “And why did you write that story?”
     Authors hear the question everyday. What’s hidden within the folds of the story? What secrets created the tale I’m telling. When the book is non-fiction,
the riddle may even be more intriguing. During the decades that I wrote my 32 published books, these are the back pages behind the headline episodes.
Here are the fascinating scenes behind the big picture!

THE ASSASSINS

            In The Assassins, Masha Khaykina enters the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Washington, D.C., and begins a journey that will change her life. Perhaps, some readers of mysteries and murder novels will find this interjection of religion inappropriate. However, if one knows Russia, the combination of spies killing people and a Christian perspective will feel quite at home. Such is the way of Russia, a country that has lived through horrendous violence and loves poets.

It has been estimated that Stalin killed 20 million people during his purges. Another 20 million died during World War II before the country quite counting. All of this happened in the country that features the Bolshoi Ballet.

I discovered the power of their faith during a visit with the Metropolitan of Minsk. Because it was l985 and in the Soviet Union, the meeting was arranged in clandestine fashion. We came in one door and the Orthodox priest came in a back door. The encounter was in a winery with a large wine tasting back room. We sat on one side of the table and the Metropolitan sat on the other side. In his high black kamlavka or maitre, black cassock, with a heavy staff, he was most impressive.

The introductions were made and pleasantries exchanged. The Metropolitan quickly pushed us to the heart of the discussion. He wanted to know what we believed and what motivated us to come to Minsk. Were we truly men and women of peace? Did we really want to avoid a war with the Soviet Union?

Our responses assured him that we sought only the highest objectives. In turn, we pressed the priest to tell us how he had survived World War II, the political purges, and the struggles with Communism. To our surprise, the large man answered in a forthright and straightforward manner.

His story of endurance left us staggered and overwhelmed. We were listening to a man who had walked through hell and back. The Metropolitan had seen the worst violence a time of horrendous upheaval could produce. Living through nights of intense pain and fear, he had come out a man of peace and faith. His story left us unable to speak. None of us had ever experienced his world of struggle.

Finally, the Metropolitan asked us to sing an American hymn. We looked at each other in consternation. None of us were musicians and my singing is beyond terrible. Nevertheless, we decided a Negro spiritual would be an authentic expression of native American music. We launched into “Go Down Moses” sounding like Moses probably wouldn’t ever want to be coming back after that number.

Then, we asked the Metropolitan to sing. He suggested the Sanctus from the Mass would be best for him. Leaning back in his chair with his eyes turned upward toward heaven, he began singing in Russian. No one in our delegation understood the language, but our hearts melted as the transcendent, mysterious hymn literally took us out of the room to the feet of our Creator. The majestic sound transformed us into participants in eternity. We were left overwhelmed and awe-inspired.

The heavenly sound came from a man who had endured the worst the world had to offer.

Religion in Russia? Yeah, it will always be there regardless of Stalin, Putin, and whoever tries to repress faith. Masha’s experience with the icons is different from the American world, but so typical of Russia.

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TALKING OUT OF BOTH SIDES OF OUR MOUTH U.S. CONCERNS AND THE MIDDLE EAST

TALKING OUT OF BOTH SIDES OF OUR MOUTH

U.S. CONCERNS AND THE MIDDLE EAST

 

WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

            Pictures of the Syrian Army’s air fleet always feature Russian Mi-25 Hinds. Russia has been supplying helicopters to Syria for years and continues to do so. Back in June, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed concern to the Russians that they were shipping gun ships to the Assad regime in Syria.

Did her complain stop them?  No.

Herein is a strange little story and a big contradiction.

The United States continues to develop and maintain lucrative contracts with Rosoboronexport, a Russian arms firm that has the main role in supplying the Assad government with the arms to repress the rebels fighting the central government. What make this story particularly interesting is that Rosoboronexport is not a private business. Far from it, the company is a state corporation.  Since 2007, the organization has been the single state intermediary agency for arms shipments. The records of arms shipments made it clear that the port of Oktyabrsk in Southern Ukraine has been sending ship loads of armaments straight to Syria.

Get ready for an amazing and straight little twist in this tale. The US government is currently committed to a $375 million deal with Rosoboronexport for the purchase of 21 Mi-17 helicopters to be used by the Afghan Air Force. The latest transactions with the Russian company were made on November 3, 2011.

This particular contract didn’t go unnoticed. A letter from both Republican and democrat senators to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta demanded a cancellation of the contracts. Pentagon Under-Secretary James Miller rejected the senator’s letter, saying the helicopter acquisition was critical for the Afghan’s security.

Huh?

Doing business with the country propping up Syria is critical?  With millions of Americans out of work, we can’t built a comparable helicopter in America? Even if it is easier to train pilots on a Russian system, can this investment of American dollars be justified in today’s economy while we scream about Syrian atrocities created by this exact helicopter? Something’s definitely wrong with this picture.

By the way Rosoboronexport still sells weapons to Iran.

Back in 1982, Jack Lemon and Sissy Spacek made a movie entitled Missing, based on a true story. A conservative business man goes to South America looking for his missing son, a left-wing journalist. The America ambassador expresses concern but the country has been in a revolution and no one is sure about what is happening. The punch line is that the CIA pulled off the revolution and killed Lemon’s movie son. The boy had been in a morgue while the American government lied to Lemon. Costa-Gravas (the director) left the audience wrung out as they realize the duplicity of the American system.

Sound familiar?

Are we getting the flim-flam treatment from government leaders? Afraid so. And we wonder why Israel doesn’t trust America’s dealings with Iran? Straight talk doesn’t often come for Washington because the conversation has traveled such a convoluted path under the table.

Why don’t we have more leverage with Russia? Might hurt business.

Question: This blog surprise you? What are you going to do about the problem?

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