December 16, 2014 · 12:50 pm
BLOG 230 December 16, 2014
The hot debate in the USA at this moment is over allegations that the CIA tortured prisoners and lied to Congress and the President. The Democrats have released a report that the Republicans are protesting. All of which sounds a tad political. The CIA says that protecting citizens is worth the pain; The Senate Committee responds that torturing prisoners is not who we are. The battle will probably rage on into the new year.
One thing you can count on. ISIA, Al-Qaida, the Taliban, and Muslim terrorists find this laughable. Terrorists, who cut off people’s head with a butcher knife, view the uproar going on in Washington as laughable. They think the USA is hypocritical and confused.
Their war goes on.
Case in point: The West’s negotiations with Iran. This week Secretary of State John Kerry said progress may come faster than expected. We’ll see.
As reported earlier, the November 24 extension gave both sides time to go home and consult on a possible agreement. As a carrot on a stick, the West agreed to release $700 million from frozen Iranian bank accounts. Iran desperately needs to get out of the penalty box. The drastic drop in oil prices tightened the noose on the Iranian economy that has been steadily deteriorating and in the last few months took a nose dive. Their national budget has been based on the price of $140 a barrel for oil. Currently, the per barrel price has dropped to $80 a barrel. There’s the squeeze! Covering such a loss means austerity reflected incutting subsidies for food and housing. After years of struggle, the Supreme Leader has to fear a backlash that could produce an uprising. They want out of jail.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani blamed Saudi Arabia for the sharp fall in oil prices, calling the drop a politically motivated conspiracy against their interests. Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran are pitted against each other in the civil war in Syria. Iran is really feeling the pinch at home.
On the other hand, the West knows Iran desperately wants a nuclear bomb and they are close to building one. The issue staring the West in the face is how long can they keep Iran from assembling a weapon. Iran is now close enough that they stand on the threshold. The West must make sure they don’t cross the line.
Countries like Israel and Saudi Arabia have the most to fear. However, Iran is also working hard to develop missile capacity that could reach far beyond the Middle East. If they are not stopped or their political ideals do not change, the world is facing another frightening specter with the West looking down the Iranian gun barrel.
No matter what the rhetoric is from either side, big differences remain. However, time is running out for the West as Iran continues to enrich uranium and work on The Bomb.
Let’s hope Secretary John Kerry is right. It’s a much bigger deal than the CIA lying.
September 23, 2014 · 7:46 pm
BLOG 219 September 22, 2014
Continuing the last week’s blog search for insight into the inner working of Islamist extremists, I recognize at the outset that we have to scratch around the edges to come up with details. Obviously, I have no “insider” knowledge on the world of terrorists. If anything, I want to keep a safe distance from these mad dog barbarics. Any group that severs the heads of reporters simply doing their job, can be confronted only with artillery (which I don’t keep in my garage). At the same time, we do find hints and insights by searching the media.
The New York Times September 20, Sunday edition published one of the these stories that offers insight into the current situtation in Iraq. We are learning that there is more to President Obama’s reluctance to put “boots on the ground” than meets the eye. Deep suspicions linger about the intentions and strategy of America and the CIA in particular. As absurd as it sounds, from the man on the street to the highest levels of government, Iraqis believe the CIA is secretly behind ISIS, the same extremists that it is now attacking.
Perhaps, you will remember the name of the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr who made wild charges against the US army during the Iraqi war. Al-Sadr ended up with a section of Bagdad called Sadri-city. When the discussion of possible deployment of American troops back to Iraq, Al-Sadr publically charged the CIA for creating the Islamic State. The sad fact is that many of the members of Parliament subscribe to this perspective.
Of course, such a charge exposes how difficult it may prove to develop any kind of significant working relationship with the new Iraqi government and why Maliki proved so impossible to work with.
The United States is in the strange position of having invaded to free the country from the despotic rule of Saddam Hussein only to end up in the thankless position of being viewed as suspect, deceptive, and untrustworthy. They view the US as a destructive force attempting to defeat Islam. The fact that the USA stood behind Maliki and Maliki in turn alienated most Iraqis as well as producing an army that ran off the battlefield like scared dogs then suggests the US is the biggest loser of all.
At the least, America waited far too long to pressure Maliki and to recognize ISIS was coming with their guns loaded.
While this story was playing out, James R. Clapper, Jr., the director of national intelligence, threw another log on the fire. Clapper testified that another group within Syrian is a greater threat to the USA than Isis. Called Khorasan, it is far more focused on attacking the US than ISIS because they are concerned with amassing territory. An offshoot of the Nustra Front group, Khorasn has kept its relationship with Al-Qaeda in tract while ISIS was cut for failing to follow Ayman al-Zawahiri’s instructions to fight only in Syria.
The bottom line? American can’t seem to win – for winning!