Tag Archives: George W Bush

Opinion : Bush’s toxic legacy in Iraq

George W. Bush

George W. Bush

(CNN) — ISIS, the brutal insurgent/terrorist group formerly known as al Qaeda in Iraq, has seized much of western and northern Iraq and even threatens towns not far from Baghdad.

From where did ISIS spring? One of George W. Bush’s most toxic legacies is the introduction of al Qaeda into Iraq, which is the ISIS mother ship.

If this wasn’t so tragic it would be supremely ironic, because before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, top Bush officials were insisting that there was an al Qaeda-Iraq axis of evil. Their claims that Saddam Hussein’s men were training members of al Qaeda how to make weapons of mass destruction seemed to be one of the most compelling rationales for the impending war.

After the fall of Hussein’s regime, no documents were unearthed in Iraq proving the Hussein-al Qaeda axis despite the fact that, like other totalitarian regimes, Hussein’s government kept massive and meticulous records.

The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency had by 2006 translated 34 million pages of documents from Hussein’s Iraq and found there was nothing to substantiate a “partnership” between Hussein and al Qaeda.

Two years later the Pentagon’s own internal think tank, the Institute for Defense Analyses, concluded after examining 600,000 Hussein-era documents and several thousand hours of his regime’s audio- and videotapes that there was no “smoking gun (i.e. direct connection between Hussein’s Iraq and al Qaeda.)”

How should the U.S. intervene in Iraq?

Is the U.S. Embassy safe in Iraq?

Expert: ISIS went for ‘easy pickings’

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence concluded in 2008, as every other investigation had before, that there was no “cooperative relationship” between Hussein and al Qaeda. The committee also found that “most of the contacts cited between Iraq and al Qaeda before the war by the intelligence community and policy makers have been determined not to have occurred.”

Instead of interrupting a budding relationship between Hussein and al Qaeda, the Iraq War precipitated the arrival of al Qaeda into Iraq. Although the Bush administration tended to gloss over the fact, al Qaeda only formally established itself in Iraq a year and a half after the U.S. invasion.

On October 17, 2004, its brutal leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi issued an online statement pledging allegiance to Osama bin Laden. Zarqawi’s pledge was fulsome: “By God, O sheikh of the Mujahideen, if you bid us plunge into the ocean, we would follow you. If you ordered it so, we would obey.”

Zarqawi’s special demonic genius was to launch Iraq down the road to civil war. In early 2004, the U.S. military intercepted a letter from Zarqawi to bin Laden in which he proposed provoking a civil war between Sunnis and Shia.

Zarqawi’s strategy was to hit the Shia so they would in turn strike the Sunnis, so precipitating a vicious circle of violence in which al Qaeda would be cast as the protector of the Sunnis against the wrath of the Shia. It was a strategy that worked all too well, provoking first sectarian conflict in Iraq and later civil war.

Al Qaeda in Iraq, or AQI, regularly attacked Shia religious processions, shrines and clerics. The tipping point in the slide toward full-blown civil war was al Qaeda’s February 2006 attack on the Golden Mosque in Samarra, which is arguably the most important Shia shrine in the world.

Three years into the Iraq War, AQI seemed all but unstoppable. A classified Marine intelligence assessment dated August 17, 2006, found that AQI had become the de facto government of the western Iraqi province of Anbar, which is strategically important because it borders Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia and makes up about a third of the landmass of Iraq.

In addition, AQI controlled a good chunk of the exurban belts around Baghdad, the “Triangle of Death” to the south of the capital and many of the towns north of it, up the Tigris River to the Syrian border.

Thus AQI controlled territory larger than New England and maintained an iron grip on much of the Sunni population.

In other words, the Bush administration had presided over the rise of precisely what it had said was one of the key goals of the Iraq War to destroy: a safe haven for al Qaeda in the heart of the Arab world.

By 2007, al Qaeda’s untrammeled violence and imposition of Taliban ideology on the Sunni population provoked a countrywide Sunni backlash against AQI that took the form of Sunni “Awakening” militias. Many of those militias were put on Uncle Sam’s payroll in a program known as the “Sons of Iraq”.

The combination of the Sunni militias’ on-the-ground intelligence about their onetime AQI allies and American firepower proved devastating to al Qaeda’s Iraqi franchise. And so, between 2006 and 2008, AQI shrank from an insurgent organization that controlled territory larger than the size of New England to a rump terrorist group.

But AQI did not disappear. It simply bided its time. The Syrian civil war provided a staging point over the past three years for its resurrection and transformation into the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,” or ISIS. And now ISIS has marched back into western and northern Iraq. Only this time there is no U.S. military to stop it.

via Opinion: Bush’s toxic legacy in Iraq – CNN.com.

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Dropbox responds to backlash over Condoleezza Rice board appointment

The addition of Condoleezza Rice to the Dropbox board has stirred controversy in Silicon Valley. Above, Rice last month.

The addition of Condoleezza Rice to the Dropbox board has stirred controversy in Silicon Valley. Above, Rice last month.

The week seemed to start off on a triumphant note for hot Silicon Valley start-up Dropbox. The company held a media event Wednesday to unveil a slew of new applications designed to demonstrate its expanding vision as it marches closer to an anticipated initial public offering.

But the week is ending in controversy over this announcement: Dropbox added Condeelezza Rice to its board.

“When looking to grow our board, we sought out a leader who could help us expand our global footprint,” co-founder Drew Houston wrote on the company’s blog. “Dr. Rice has had an illustrious career as provost of Stanford University, board member of companies like Hewlett-Packard and Charles Schwab, and former United States secretary of State. We’re honored to be adding someone as brilliant and accomplished as Dr. Rice to our team.”

condibox

condibox

The decision to add Rice, who was secretary of State and national security advisor under President George W. Bush, prompted hundreds of often heated comments on the blog. And it triggered a campaign called Drop Dropbox.

“Choosing Condoleezza Rice for Dropbox’s board is problematic on a number of deeper levels, and invites serious concerns about Drew Houston and the senior leadership at Dropbox’s commitment to freedom, openness, and ethics,” organizers wrote on the protest website. “When a company quite literally has access to all of your data, ethics become more than a fun thought experiment.”

The site points to Rice’s role in launching the Iraq war, overseeing a CIA program accused of using torture and supporting warrant-less wiretaps. The site included a button to tweet the message: “Drew Houston: Drop Condoleezza Rice or I will #DropDropbox! http://www.drop-dropbox.com”

That indeed sparked a flurry of tweets and counter-tweets debating Rice’s appointment.

On Friday, Houston responded with a blog post saying that Dropbox remained committed to its users.

“There’s nothing more important to us than keeping your stuff safe and secure,” he wrote. “It’s why we’ve been fighting for transparency and government surveillance reform, and why we’ve been vocal and public with our principles and values. We should have been clearer that none of this is going to change with Dr. Rice’s appointment to our board. Our commitment to your rights and your privacy is at the heart of every decision we make, and this will continue.”

That post drew almost 200 comments by midafternoon, though, as many people continued to express anger.

“I simply cannot continue to give Dropbox my money, and expect I will have a new solution for my needs by the end of the month,” commenter James S. wrote.

 

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US war in Iraq diverted both senior level attention and military capabilities away from Afghanistan – Robert Gates, CIA director

former US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates who has just published his memoir Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War.

The War in Iraq will always be tainted by the fact that the premise on which the United States went to war was the alleged presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that was proved to be not true. But the eventual assessment of this conflict will depend on how the situation in the Middle East evolves over the next decades, says Robert Gates, CIA Director (1991-1993) and the US Secretary of Defense (2006-2011).

Today we are going to talk about that little boy from Wichita, Kansas, the one who earned Eagle Scout, the one who went through life always trying to be prepared and to serve with duty, honor and distinction. Unknown to many his doctoral dissertation wrestled with both the Soviet and Chinese question. For the public he served many roles and under many presidents including Secretary of Defense for both presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. And while it may seem a bit too early to write his memoir as I suspect there are many pages yet to be written, Robert Gates has with Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War which gives an insider’s look to some of his experiences and thoughts.

Welcome, Secretary Gates. I want to talk about a shared moment even though we’ve never met. In 2006 I was volunteering at the cast of the contingency air medical staging facility and some of the military hospitals around Washington DC. I was working with the group that was helping families deal with their loved ones as they convalesced as they returned from the theater. While I was seeing some of the things the report came out just as you were being installed a Secretary talking about the difficulties that Walter Reed was facing and some of the things that weren’t going so well. And I remember hearing you for the first time and just taking it on a very blunt matter-of-fact, very steady way, not diverting it, not avoiding it at all and I wondered how important it was that that was part of your first impression and how that affected your course?

Certainly that was an important moment in terms of communicating how much I care about troops and particularly taking care of those who had been wounded and the families of those who had been killed. It was an opportunity to demonstrate not only that care but also that I would demand accountability when it came to taking care of the troops and as a result of the findings of that time and that investigation I fired the hospital commander, I fired the sergeant general of the army and I fired the secretary of the army. I think it sent a powerful message both to the troops but also to the leaders that people who didn’t take proper care of our troops would be held accountable people who didn’t perform their jobs well, would be held accountable and frankly that was kind of a new thing in Washington DC.

And it was probably a necessary message not just under political spectrum but as you said for the people serving in Iraq and Afghanistan at the time, because Iraq was and still remains somewhat difficult theater. The US military might be designed in fact better at winning wars than winning the peace. Do you feel that you had the tools necessary to prosecute the task you were assigned?

I think we had most of the tools, I think that there were some serious deficiencies that I moved quickly to remedy. I think and it was clear that we needed much more heavily armored vehicles and moving our troops from one place to another than relatively light Humvees that were like jeeps and that were being destroyed constantly by roadside bombs and under in the road bombs. We clearly needed more intelligent surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities in Afghanistan, we needed it faster. So there were number of items of equipment that frankly when I became secretary I thought were needed by the troops and it was important to get them to them in weeks of months, not in years. So a good part of my first year or so and in office was trying to get that equipment to the troops. I think part of the problem is that like most wars everyone expected that the efforts in both Iraq and Afghanistan would be short so people weren’t willing to make long term investments and expensive investments in capabilities that they thought wouldn’t be needed very well. I was willing to do that, my attitude was win in a war, you are all in and you do everything that is necessary to be successful. And if you have material left over at the end, well, so be it.

In other words you wanted to make sure you were prepared just as you were trying as an Eagle Scout. But I wanted ask you then about the balance being prepared having that fore thought, making sure you are at the logistics and materials necessary but also maintaining enough mental nimbleness to be prepared for things that go wrong, because certainly in real life things always go somewhat differently as expected.

This is one of the reasons why I think people need to be more cautious about entering conflicts because they never go the way people intend, on very very rare occasions such as the first Gulf War in 1991 that go better than expected, but most of the time they got a lot worse than expected and take a lot more time than expected. But you have to be willing to do this questioning yourself routinely in terms of is the strategy working, what are the benchmarks to tell me whether or not the strategy is working and I might prepare to adjust. One of the things that I admire the most about General Petraeus, General McChrystal, General Rodriguez, General Austin, General Dempsey and others in these two wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan was that if something wasn’t working they would quickly abandon it, try something different, try a different tactic, they were willing to be very creative and very innovative but they were willing to fail fast and try something that if something wasn’t working to shift gears unfortunately Washington isn’t that good in doing that and I think that is one of the things that I tried to focus on the Pentagon was that the senior military leadership needed to focus on the wars we were fighting and make sure we were doing a good job in those rather than being completely occupied with fighting future wars that might not take place at all or it may not take place for 20 or 30 years.

I imagine though that there is a fine line between questioning tactics and questioning yourself. And in giving that I want to ask a little bit about your experiences in theater amongst the troops. How did that change you? How did it inform your strategy going forward?

I think one of the things that people don’t understand that my experiences on the front lines and at the hospitals made me very watchful of anything that would put those troops on danger or in greater danger, it made me determine to do everything possible to protect them in terms of equipment and taking care of them. But at the same time you have to willing to make the decisions to send those troops, same troops, in harm’s way. And sometimes you have those two parallel plots in your mind: what do I have to do to win this battle, what do I have to do to take care of these troops? And you have to be able to do both at the same time, you can’t be so preoccupied with taking care of the troops that you don’t fulfill your responsibilities of Secretary of Defense in executing the president’s strategic decisions in war. But at the same time that doesn’t prevent you from having a deep sense of commitment and caring for the troops that you’ve sent in harm’s way leaving everything in your power to take care of.

But how do you personally develop a way to handle that? I know that when I worked in psychiatric facilities, when I worked in military hospitals I developed a sort of wall which separated the reality of working with people with serious maladies from my home life. How did you decompress? How did you escape? How did you wrestle with the problems that you knew or the deaths that were caused in part by your decisions?

President Bush and President Obama respectively were the seventh and eighth presidents that I had worked for. I had been Deputy Director and Director of CIA under President Reagan and the first president Bush. And in my CIA role I sent people in harm’s way. So I had been doing this a long time and first of all you have to be persuaded that what you are doing is in fact the right thing for the country. That in itself becomes an important psychological defense. If you believe that the actions that you are taking are important to safeguard the country and all Americans, then you are prepared to make the tough decisions that put specific people at risk. The other side of that coin is knowing that all of those people that you are putting at risk are volunteers, they have known what they were getting in to and they were prepared to take that on for exactly the same reasons – to do what is necessary to protect the country against their adversaries, against their enemies. And so knowing that they are volunteers, having confidence that you are doing the right thing I think is important in being able to deal with that on a day-to-day basis.

Let’s deal with the question about the right thing. There are many who claimed that Iraq was a diversion from the real war or the threat in Afghanistan that stands from Afghanistan. Can you respond to that? Should we have been ion Iraq?

Well, as I have said I think that is a question that history will have to answer. I think that the war will always be tainted by the fact that the premise on which we went to war was that there were weapons of massive destruction in Iraq and it proved not to be true. So that will always be a factor. But I think it will depend on how the situation in the Middle East evolves over the next 10-15-20 years in terms of whether that action is seen as the invasion of Iraq and overthrow of Saddam is the first crack in the wall of Arab authoritarianism that survived for decades and opened new opportunities or whether it led to a generation of instability and conflict in the regions. Until those questions are answered I think you can’t make a final judgment on the war itself. There is no question and I write about it in the book that Iraq diverted both senior level attention and military capabilities away from Afghanistan and probably made earlier success in Afghanistan much harder to achieve.

You mentioned earlier that you were the Deputy Director of the CIA, in 1984 Iran contra came to light when you were serving in that post. How much did you know and looking back how much should have been known? And would you do anything differently today?

It was late 1986 when it actually happened and I would tell you that there were two things going on in parallel. One was supporting the countries in Nicaragua and the other was selling weapons to Iran. I think the investigations showed that a lot of people knew that each of those two things was going on but was known only to a handful of people at the White House and Director Casey at CIA and few CIA people in the Clandestine Service that money from those arms sales in Iran was being diverted to countries in Nicaragua. So it is that redirection of the money that was this most scandalous part of the whole thing and very few people knew about that. I didn’t know about that, neither did a lot of other people.

-Now moving quickly into the present, yesterday Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to secede from Ukraine. Can you speculate on what kind of talker conversations happen when a moment like this occurs at the DOD or with the DOD in the White House?

I think that primary focus would be on the frustration at the limited options that are available in terms of retaliation or responding to the action. First of all you basically take the military option off the table, we are not going to go war with Russia over Crimea or over Ukraine and so you don’t want to end up in a military confrontation with the Russians. And actually there is nobody that I’ve heard that is arguing for that. So the question then is what kind of economic sanctions, what kind of political sanctions might have some impact on Vladimir Putin in terms of getting him either to change course or to alter his political strategy. And frankly giving the nature of the person Putin is I think that that is a very tough question because I think it will take very far reaching sanctions to have any impact on his decision making process.

I guess that leads us to the question about the balance you might have faced between pragmatism, politics, responsibility and duty. Could you talk about those and how often they went in conflict with each other?

-I don’t think that they really come into conflict that often and I think that if you believe that decisions are being made that make it tough for you to do your duty they always have a choice to resign, for example if I had faced some of the budget decisions that Secretary Panetta and Secretary Hagel had faced in terms of the consequences of sequestration I’m not sure that I would have felt like I could do my duty to the troops in carrying those out and then the question of whether you should resign would come up. That is always balance that, well, if I stake and I hope to mitigate the consequences can I make the consequences less dangerous for the country and for the troops. And I find that when you are in the situation where pragmatism becomes very important and you have to make sure that your policies are in alignment with your values, but you also have to watch out for what will protect the American people.

And finally what have you learnt that you want to make sure that your successors understand and learn going forward whether that the successors right now in this cool classroom or the people actually at the DOD or CIA?

From my personal standpoint it is the importance of being able to act, of doing things that serve the country and that means you have to compromise, it means you have to work with both Republicans and Democrats, it means that you have to make deals. That is the real world in which things get done. And those who argue that you can’t compromise I think don’t understand how the American government works and how the Constitution sets things up in terms of checks and balances, that the only way it works is through compromise and if you are in a senior position, particularly with respect to national security you have to make sure that you have been actually get things done rather than just pound the table.

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I know what you did last summer, Condoleezza

At the Bush Center’s conference on Human Freedom,on May 26, 2011, Condoleezza Rice, presence of President George W. Bush : United States prepared for the January 25 revolution which led Egypt to chaos and desolation under the guise of democracy

GREATEST HITS 2013: While Obamcare stuns the U.S., ‘leading from behind’ unravels world peace | World Tribune

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Originally published Oct. 28, 2013

The U.S. is transfixed by the Obama administration’s massively bungled attempt to nationalize one sixth of the economy, the health welfare system.

But the rest of the world watches the slow motion unfolding of another debacle: the loss of post-World War II American leadership of the worldwide alliance for peace and stability.

Pro forma protests over snooping by the U.S. National Security Administration European and Latin American leaders are for popular consumption. Spying, and unfortunately counter-espionage which the Snowden revelations appear to be, have been and will continue to be a generally unspoken part of international relations.

In fact, one can imagine German Chancellor Angela Merkel berating her own intelligence organizations for superior U.S. technology’s ability to listen to her limousine cell phone. The Saudis’ “renunciation” of a UN Security Council seat is no more than a media event. With their new vulnerability brought on by the shale revolution in the U.S., Riyadh’s antediluvian princes in their colorful robes have no place to go.

[See WorldTribune’s Greatest Hits]

But these are tokens, taglines to a much larger eroding international picture.

Of course, the current disarray is not sudden, nor only the product of the Obama administration. But Obama’s missteps have exaggerated growing difficulties for international governance “inevitably” arising from changes in the international balance of power over a half century since the Allied victory in World War II. And as always, of course, there is the unanticipated and the unintended consequences of well intended strategies and policies.

America’s junior partners, the European democracies, after five decades of unprecedented peace and prosperity, are facing domestic breakdown increasingly limiting their contribution to the world system. Social democratic remedies at the workplace have failed everywhere.

A demographic catastrophe not only threatens their economies, but growing unassimilated immigrants from alien societies threaten to overwhelm their post-Christian cultures. A pampered public will not accept belt-tightening much less painful surgical elimination of waste and corruption. Greece, ancient home of democracy, is the apotheosis of the problem, a ticking time bomb on the doorstep of the rest of Europe.

Furthermore, the attempt to create an integrated European economy – let along a new international polity which could speak with one voice on international affairs – is in jeopardy and probably failing. British participation, essential to the project, is now more remote than ever given the failures of the continental Euro and resurgent English as well as Scot and Irish nationalism.

European integration had been seen as the ultimate panacea. It is now clear that is not the case, nor, indeed, is it apparent it can even be effected. In Berlin Das Mädchen, representing the disproportionately most powerful of the member nation states, talks out of both sides of her mouth. She advocates a new European superstate but zealously guards Germany’s narrowest national interest as demanded by her role as an elected leader still obligated to put together an unstable governing coalition.

The Obama Administration’s answer to this dilemma is not that different from the waning years of the Bush administration. President George W. Bush’s earlier steadfast resolve gave way to Condoleeza Rice’s “clerk” management. In any case, Washington’s stance toward Europe in part always has been a myth about who led whom and how during the post-World War II recovery. Alas! the charismatic and determined [if occasionally misguided] leadership of Churchill, Adenauer, DeGaulle, and de Gaspari, and their technocratic supporters, has been replaced by feckless politicians. The 80s decade-long common-sense reign of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was only brief relief from the general intellectual decline.

The American standard around which the Europeans rallied, even when they were in denial or hypercritical, has been replaced by a bogus concept of “leading from behind”.

That kind of Machiavellian manipulation of others’ power would under the best of circumstances have been exquisitely difficult. But in the hands of the Obama amateurs, it descends into virtual chaos. Witness the Libyan intervention as its classic example. The Obama Administration and European friends failed to provide a model for a small, fragile but oil-rich Arab state. And the U.S. paid a terrible price with the murder of an ambassador and a major psycho-political blow to American prestige which will dog U.S. foreign – and domestic — politics for decades.

The naïve “transformation” which an inexperienced but arrogant elitist presidential mafia thought they could foist at home on a traditional society but one in revolutionary technological transition has been matched with aberrant theory abroad. For whatever reason, the idea that the Obama Administration could make a pact with a nonexistent, romantic version of Islam – a political religious belief still mired alternatively in pre-modern torpor and nihilistic violence — has shredded what was left of decades of Middle East strategy.

There Washington now finds itself on the wrong side of virtually every issue. By rote it nudges Israeli-Arab “negotiations”, which long ago foundered on Palestinian corruption and incompetence. Washington mistakenly believed it were the central issue, not the region’s poverty, illiteracy, tribal warfare and demagoguery.

Obama’s refusal to personally intervene for a status of forces agreement to permit a continued military presence in Iraq squandered 4,000 spent American lives. It removed all possibility Washington could have a major impact on a recreated but highly volatile Baghdad and its enormous oil resources.

Obama then launched into an effort to dethrone the barbarous Assad Syrian regime, backed away, and now finds U.S. Syrian strategy at the mercy of Russia’s Vladimir Putin, himself increasingly turning to despotism and foreign adventure to hang on to his throne.

The Obama administration continuously has importuned Iran, oblivious to that regime’s single-minded goal of making itself the hegemonic power and arbiter of the region’s vast fossil fuel resources. In the process, the White House ignores the interests of America’s longtime allies in the Gulf including, until now, the world’s marginal oil producer, Saudi Arabia.

The Obama administration helped install and got into bed with the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, the fountainhead of modern Islamic terrorism, apparently believing it some sort of Islamic equivalent of European Christian democracy. When that regime collapsed from ineptitude and domestic violence, Washington refused to accommodate to a popular military takeover endorsed by its other regional allies.

President Obama’s “best friend”, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has turned out to be a very bad regional weather vane. Even worse, Erdogan duplicity [confusion?] in dealings with Palestinian Islamicists, Israel, the Brotherhood, the jihadists in the Syrian opposition, aided by an intelligence chief who favors Iran’s Shia fanatics, is adding to the regional chaos. Worst of all, Erdogan with whom Obama fellow-traveled, endangers what’s left of NATO by playing with Chinese weapons possibilities.

The continued U.S. entanglement in the Mideast, always predictable, has put into question Washington’s announced “pivot” of resources to the growing Chinese Communist aggressive feints toward East and South Asia neighbors and Washington’s friends.

With that strange aloofness which characterizes this administration’s treatment of allies, it has failed to respond enthusiastically to the first strong government in two decades in the U.S.’ keystone Asia ally, Japan.

[Luckily reflex collaboration between the U.S. military and its Asian allies, hangover from the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, has reinforced strategy in the absence of White House leadership.]

Perhaps the most important politico-economic Asia-Pacific instrument in Washington’s hands, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an effort to create a common market to meet the competition of China’s state capitalism and subsidized trading, is hanging. The concern is that the Obama Administration’s next three lame-duck years, especially after the drubbing it seems now likely to take in next year’s elections, will not pursue it forcefully. In the balance is a revolutionary overhaul of a quarter of the world’s commerce and what may be the reemergence of a more vital Japanese economy.

Alternatively, the Obama administration’s increasing reliance on the United Nations burdens that organization with more responsibility than its corrupt and incompetent secretariat can bear. Idealistic multilateralism is an excuse for lack of U.S. policy and inaction on a huge variety of fronts. Washington has, for example, increasingly abandoned leadership of the UN specialized agencies – whether the UN International Atomic Energy Agency, ignorant of the 17-year Tehran march toward nuclear weapons, or the growing specter of out of control biological breakthroughs which have enormous potential for solving life problems, or creating new diabolical weapons of destruction.

The shock and geopolitical lesson of 9/11 has been left behind somewhere in the bowels of the State Department and the Obama administration’s National Security Council. Lost is recognition that the American homeland was no longer – if it had ever been in the world of intercontinental missiles – immune to the kind of destruction that our allies and enemies in Europe and Asia suffered in World War II.

With the strong prospect that the U.S. domestic scene will continue an impasse, as Obamacare has proved, America’s role abroad will be in abeyance. The world will just have to get along with the beached whale of a U.S – at least for a while.

GREATEST HITS 2013: While Obamcare stuns the U.S., ‘leading from behind’ unravels world peace | World Tribune.

GREATEST HITS 2013 : Former Joint Chiefs chairman: Obama plotted to destabilize regimes in Bahrain, Egypt

[Ret.] Gen. Hugh Shelton, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

[Ret.] Gen. Hugh Shelton, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Friday, December 27th, 2013 – Special to WorldTribune.com

Originally published Oct. 3, 2013

[Editors Note: The following report was based in part on a report by the Gulf Daily News in Bahrain which has been disputed by the government of Bahrain and the U.S embassy there. The Gulf Daily news stands by its report. See: Bahrain, U.S. embassy deny reports of statements attributed to Gen. Shelton]

WASHINGTON — The United States was said to have planned to destabilize at least two Arab countries over the last two years.

A former leading U.S. military commander asserted that the administration of President Barack Obama worked to destabilize the regimes of Bahrain and Egypt, Middle East Newsline reported.

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[Ret.] Gen. Hugh Shelton, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the administration’s drive against Bahrain, wracked by a Shi’ite revolt, was led by the intelligence community.  [See WorldTribune’s Greatest Hits]

America thought Bahrain was an easy prey that will serve as key to the collapse of the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] regime and lead to giant oil companies controlling oil in the Gulf,” Shelton said.

In an interview on the U.S. network Fox News, Shelton said the administration plot was foiled by Bahraini King Hamad in 2011. He said Hamad agreed to a Saudi-sponsored decision by the GCC to send thousands of troops to Bahrain to help quell the Shi’ite revolt, attributed to Iran.

Shelton, who met Hamad during his assignment to the U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet, based in Manama, said the administration plot harmed relations with both Bahrain as well as neighboring Saudi Arabia. He said Riyad ended any trust in Washington after it was found to have helped the Shi’ites in Bahrain.

The former Joint Chiefs chairman, who served under President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush, said Egypt stopped a drive by Obama to destabilize Egypt in 2013. Shelton said Egyptian Defense Minister Abdul Fatah Sisi, a former intelligence chief, also detected a U.S. plot to support the ruling Muslim Brotherhood amid unprecedented unrest. On July 3, Sisi led a coup that overthrew Egypt’s first Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi.

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“Had Gen. Al Sisi not deposed Morsi, Egypt would have today become another Syria and its military would have been destroyed,” Shelton said. Shelton, who did not disclose his sources of information, said Arab allies of the United States have moved away from Washington. He cited the new alliance between Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates against the Brotherhood.

“I expect calm to be restored in Egypt,” Shelton said. “Gen. Al Sisi has put an end to the new Middle East project.

via GREATEST HITS 2013: Former Joint Chiefs chairman: Obama plotted to destabilize regimes in Bahrain, Egypt | World Tribune.

Intelligence Direct James Clapper Explains the Root of NSA Spying

Documents declassified Saturday detail how the National Security Agency’s mass data collection was first authorized under President George W. Bush.

The spying was approved in Oct. 2001, one month after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Associated Press reports. Renewed every 30 to 60 days by Bush, the Terrorist Surveillance Program evolved into the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which required a secret court to approve the continuation of bulk phone and Internet data collection. Bush did not disclose the program until 2005.

“There has never been a comprehensive government release…that wove the whole story together – the timeline of authorizing the programs and the gradual transition to (court) oversight,” said Mark Rumold, an attorney representing a civil liberties group suing the NSA. “Everybody knew that happened, but this is the first time I’ve seen the government confirm those twin aspects.”

The announcement from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is the latest in a string of efforts aimed at defending NSA surveillance in the wake of leaked documents by former contractor Edward Snowden

Clapper also revealed court documents from previous intelligence directors who argued in favor of keeping the program secret in compliance with a federal court order. The U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California ordered the White House to publicly disclose documents on why releasing information would threaten national security.

Earlier this week a federal judge ruled NSA’s collection program unconstitutional, citing little evidence that any terror plots had been thwarted by the program. A presidential advisory panel also proposed 46 changes to NSA practices, including seeking a court order for each NSA search.

The Justice Department and the director of national intelligence’s office did not return phone calls to the AP.

 

The Global Warming God Strikes Again | FrontPage Magazine

647587After Hurricane Katrina devastated New OrleansMayor Ray Nagin said that the storm was divine punishment for “being in Iraq under false pretenses.”

Not only was a Liberal deity taking a position on WMDs and punishing George W. Bush by evicting a lot of black people from their homes, but the Democratic divinity was paradoxically also committed

“This city will be a majority-African American city. It’s the way God wants it to be,” Nagin promised.

Bush is out of office. America is no longer in Iraq. And Democrats have been forced to search for new theological explanations for hurricanes, typhoons and volcanoes.

In response to the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan; the green prophets of the left are prophesying that their liberal deity is angry over capitalism and industrialization.

“Whenever Mother Nature wants to send an urgent message to humankind, it sends it via the Philippines. This year the messenger was Haiyan,” The Nation wrote.

“That it was climate change creating the super typhoons that were taking weird directions was a message from Nature not just to Filipinos but to the whole world,” The left-wing magazine claimed.

For those infidels questioning whether Nature (capital N) was really speaking through a struggling lefty publication begging readers for money to pay its postal bills, its expert on typhoon theology had an answer.

“Is it a coincidence, ask some people who are not exactly religious, that both Pablo and Yolanda arrived at the time of the global climate negotiations?”

It is of course the very definition of religious faith to assume that a bearded woman in the sky is sending storms to threaten global climate negotiators (while missing them by two hemispheres and 6,000 miles). A more cynical person might suspect that climate negotiations are arranged around storm season for maximum effect.

The Nation, which regularly condemns “Bible Thumping,” had switched over to “Whole-Earth-Catalog Thumping”; building a religion around a Mother Nature who communicated her wishes through hurricanes and bankrupt liberal magazines.

Pacific Islanders used to believe that volcanic eruptions were angry notes from their volcano gods. The Yaohnanen tribe in Vanuatu on contact with civilization modernized their beliefs, and after encountering a younger Prince Philip decided that he had come from the volcano and that they ought to worship him.

And so the Prince Philip Movement was born. The islanders are modest in their requests of their god. “If he can’t come perhaps he could send us something,” the Yaohnanen Chief suggested, “a Land Rover, bags of rice or a little money.”

The Philippians may seem absurd, but their religion actually took a step forward from worshiping a volcano, which did nothing constructive and just destroyed things leaving the tribesmen to wonder whether the volcano was angry at their unjustified presence in Iraq or the waste carbon emitted by their cooking fires, to worshiping the Duke of Edinburgh, who can do constructive things like send them autographed photos. And perhaps one day a Land Rover.

While the savage tribesmen were approaching the margins of civilization; Prince Philip’s son was reverting to savagery and blaming everything wrong with the world, from local weather to the Syrian Civil War, on the great volcano god of Global Warming.

After some winter storms, Prince Charles announced that, “severe weather conditions in our country are, I have no doubt, the consequences of man-kind’s arrogant disregard of the delicate balance of nature.” It was the sort of statement that would have been commonplace a century ago. The only difference was that “Nature” had replaced “God.”

The Yaohnanen tribe had moved on from worshiping a volcano god only capable of destruction; but the son of the living god they worshiped seemed eager to find a volcano god to worship. The savages were trying to become civilized, while civilized men were trying to become savages.

At the Washington Post, the Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, a former president of the Chicago Theological Seminary and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, gathered the tattered remains of her religion around herself and argued that Typhoon Haiyan was caused by human sin and needed to be atoned for by “confessing” that human beings cause typhoons.

But then Thistlethwaite, displaying less faith in whatever god she believed in than Ray Nagin had in his Chocolate City divinity and The Nation in its typhoon-hurling Mother Nature, added that “These ‘superstorms’ aren’t an ‘act of God’, but an act of willful disregard for God’s creation.”

That is to say, God is dead. Instead Republicans must confess to the liberal theologians who speak for the superstorms, that they were the ones who made the winds blow. And if they don’t, then the speakers-to-superstorms will also hold them responsible for the next hurricane.

What miracle is the Rev. Dr. Thistlethwaite’s faith in superstorms founded on? Like the storms themselves, it’s a bit circular. “The fact that we are having to invent new language to describe such massively destructive storms, like ‘Super Typhoon Haiyan’ or ‘Superstorm Sandy’ suggests we need to take a different look at such violent storms today and theologically assess the human responsibility for them.”

Using the Rev. Dr. Thistlethwaite’s reasoning, the fact that we have a word for Superman suggests that we need to seriously investigate whether there are superhuman beings among us who can leap tall buildings in a single bound. But worshipers of the liberal God of Global Warming who hates the War in Iraq, white people living in New Orleans and carbon have a looser relationship with facts than Pacific Islander tribes.

The term Superstorm isn’t new. And neither are superstorms. In a listing of storms from 1932 onward, the first one shows up in 1940. In 1991, Tropical Storm Thelma killed over 5,000 people in the Philippines. The President of the Philippines has estimated that the death toll from Super Typhoon Haiyan will be less than half that.

Despite the Rev. Dr. Thistlethwaite’s faith in a superstorm apocalypse derived from spending too much time watching the Weather Channel, there is no actual pattern of increased storm activity. Nor is Mother Nature targeting UN climate negotiations with typhoons. The only pattern here is the one that a liberal religion that believes in little except human evil assigns to storm patterns.

If the God of Global Warming worshiped by The Nation and the Rev. Dr. Thistlethwaite seems senselessly malicious, it is because it exists in their minds as a reflection of human evil. The left proclaimed the death of God only to find themselves in need of some entity to inflict ruthless punishment on those who did not believe in their left-handed path; which in the absence of the Gulags they were no longer able to do.

Liberalism built the God of Global Warming in its own image. Like liberals, their deity can destroy, but not create.

The God of Global Warming is the embodiment of liberalism and holds all the politically correct beliefs while carrying out brutal atrocities in the name of the left’s favorite political causes. With a moral logic as flawed as that of its worshipers, it is a deity that kills people in the Philippines for the carbon crimes of Americans and kills people in New Orleans because Bush bombed Iraq.

Global Warming is the worship of the left. It elevates its petty biases against industry and the middle class to the status of a religion. It insists on their right to act as the mediators between individuals and the economy or else the God of Global Warming will unleash her superstorms on the bourgeois infidels.

The Global Warming God Strikes Again | FrontPage Magazine.

Soros and Hillary Take on America | FrontPage Magazine

Radical anti-American billionaire George Soros is going all-in for Hillary Clinton’s yet to be officially declared run for the presidency in 2016.

And because Soros’s wealthy leftist friends often follow his lead, a tsunami of early money may be poised to swamp the former U.S. secretary of state’s zygotic campaign.

Soros is lending his name to the “Ready for Hillary” super PAC, giving $25,000 to snag a co-chair post on the organization’s National Finance Committee. Soros’s political director Michael Vachon confirmed Soros’s involvement with the super PAC.

“George Soros is delighted to join more than one million Americans in supporting Ready for Hillary,” Vachon said. “His support for Ready for Hillary is an extension of his long held belief in the power of grassroots organizing.” (Soros also gave $2,300 to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.)

After pledging for the umpteenth time to abandon electoral politics, Soros keeps allowing himself to be pulled back in. A currency speculator and convicted inside-trader, Soros is a practiced hand-wringer who frequently tells gullible reporters he is getting out of electoral politics altogether. This is his mantra between elections even though he never actually follows through on the threat.

Soros is now spreading his wealth around to help a slew of Democrats in future elections.

In addition to the “Ready for Hillary” donation, so far In 2013 Soros has given: $1,500 to challenger Sean Eldridge (D-NY19); $2,600 to Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.); $2,600 to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.); $20,000 to Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee; and $2,500 to Sen. Al Franken’s (D-Minn.) campaign, along with a separate $2,500 to the political committee, Franken MVPs.

Soros has also given more than $100 million to groups that support “immigrant rights,” immigration amnesty, and open borders since 1997. The idea is to flood America with reliably Democratic future voters who will support Soros’s extreme policy agenda.

He makes little effort to conceal his contempt for this nation. Soros co-founded the ultra-secretive Democracy Alliance, a billionaires’ club that wants to radically transform America, delivering the nation to Greek-style socialist mayhem. He has said that European-style socialism “is exactly what we need now” and cheers on American decline.

Soros openly favors the collapse of the greenback and the decline of America in general. “The main obstacle to a stable and just world order is the United States,” he has said.

Soros praises Red China effusively, saying the totalitarian nation that cuts babies from unauthorized pregnancies from the wombs of their mothers and runs over eminent domain resisters with steam-rollers, has “a better-functioning government than the United States.”

Soros loves calling Republicans Nazis. Leading up to the 2004 election Soros said that ousting George W. Bush was critically important because of the administration’s “supremacist ideology.”

Soros said that rhetoric emanating from the Bush White House reminded him of his childhood in Hungary during the Nazi occupation. “When I hear Bush say, ‘You’re either with us or against us,’ it reminds me of the Germans,” he said. “My experiences under Nazi and Soviet rule have sensitized me.” In his 2006 book The Age of Fallibility, Soros likened Bush’s campaign to “the Nazi and Communist propaganda machine.”

During World War II, Soros accompanied his guardian around Nazi-occupied Hungary as he confiscated the property of Soros’s fellow Jews. Years later he referred to that time as “probably the happiest year of my life” and “a very happy-making, exhilarating experience.”

Soros has influence over Obama administration policy. He has visited the Obama White House at least five times.

Like the protagonist in the classic Orson Welles movie Citizen Kane, Soros can never have enough power. But unlike Charles Foster Kane, the haughty, imperious fictional media mogul, Soros views himself as much more than a mere leader. He told reporters, “It is a sort of disease when you consider yourself some kind of god, the creator of everything, but I feel comfortable about it now since I began to live it out.”

Soros says he funds the fake media watchdog, Media Matters for America, because it is “one of the few groups that attempts to hold Fox News accountable for the false and misleading information they so often broadcast. I am supporting Media Matters in an effort to more widely publicize the challenge Fox News poses to civil and informed discourse in our democracy.”

In the 2012 election cycle Soros also gave $1 million to American Bridge 21st Century, a super PAC headed by David Brock, who founded Media Matters for America. Soros also  pumped $1 million into Senate Majority PAC and $675,000 to House Majority PAC, two Democrat-affiliated committees.

Last year Soros gave $1 million to Priorities USA Action, the super PAC whose infamous TV ad blamed the tragic cancer death of an ex-steelworker’s wife on Mitt Romney. Soros said he was “appalled by the Romney campaign, which is openly soliciting the money of the rich to starve the state of the money it needs to provide social services.”

Soros also bankrolled a documentary that celebrated left-wing terrorists who plotted to napalm Republicans at the 2008 GOP convention in Minnesota. The left-wing 2011 documentary Better This World depicts David Guy McKay and Bradley Neil Crowder as idealistic activists who, according to the official blurb, “set out to prove the strength of their political convictions to themselves and their mentor.” In fact McKay and Crowder were convicted of making instruments of death calculated to inflict maximum pain and bodily harm on people whose political views they disagreed with.

So, of course, it is only logical that Hillary Clinton, who presided over the shameful Benghazi saga and coverup as secretary of state, would be Soros’s choice for the White House in 2016.

Mrs. Clinton is a hardcore Saul Alinsky devotee just like President Obama. Soros is banking on her to destroy whatever remains of America at the end of Obama’s term of office.

Soros and Hillary Take on America | FrontPage Magazine.

Obama ‘knew and approved’ NSA spying on Chancellor Merkel – report — RT News

President Obama was aware of NSA spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel since 2010, German media have revealed. An NSA spokeswoman later denied the allegations.

According to German Bild am Sonntag newspaper, which cited US intelligence sources, National Security Agency chief Keith Alexander briefed Obama on the bugging operation against Merkel in 2010.

“Obama did not halt the operation but rather let it continue,” an unnamed high-ranking NSA official told the newspaper.

Moreover, the paper said, the US president later ordered the NSA to prepare a comprehensive dossier on Merkel.

That contradicts earlier reports that Obama personally assured Merkel he didn’t know – and that he would have stopped it if he had.

An NSA spokeswoman released a statement on Sunday after the Bild am Sonntag revelations came to light that: “Alexander did not discuss with President Obama in 2010 an alleged foreign intelligence operation involving German Chancellor Merkel,” adding that “news reports claiming otherwise are not true.”

The newspaper report added that the NSA was listening in to the chancellor’s both work phone provided by her political party, and supposedly her secure phone that she only received this summer. This, the paper said, is evidence that the operation continued until the “immediate past.”

NSA spy activity was reportedly conducted on the fourth floor of the US Embassy in central Berlin, just a stone’s throw from the German government’s headquarters.

The NSA’s findings, SMS messages and phone calls, were directly reported to the White House in Washington, unlike as usual to NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, the paper’s source said.

Earlier this week Berlin said that Merkel’s communications were “absolutely safe,” since she was conducting her important “state political” conversations on encrypted fixed-circuit phone lines. This secure landline phone in her office is allegedly the only one that NSA did not have access to, according to Bild am Sonntag.

Chancellor Merkel turns out to be not the first German leader to be bugged. According to the report, the NSA also spied on Merkel’s predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder, after then-President George W. Bush launched a surveillance program in 2002.

On Saturday, Der Spiegel reported that Merkel’s mobile phone had been on an NSA target list since 2002, and had been under the name “GE Chancellor Merkel.” The monitoring operation was reportedly still in force as recently as a few weeks before Obama’s visit to Berlin in June 2013.

In its report, the newspaper disclosed details of a recent conversation between Obama and Merkel. During the phone call Wednesday, Obama allegedly assured Merkel that he had not been aware that her phone had been bugged, and that if he had known, he would have immediately stopped it.

Merkel made clear to Obama that if the information was proven to be true, it would be “completely unacceptable” and represented a “grave breach of trust,” her spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said after the call.

Germany said Saturday it would send the chiefs of its foreign and domestic intelligence agencies to Washington for talks with the White House and the National Security Agency to investigate the spying allegations.

“What exactly is going to be regulated, how and in what form it will be negotiated and by whom, I cannot tell you right now,” German government spokesman Georg Streiter told reporters.

German media, citing sources close to the intelligence services, confirmed Saturday that the German delegation to the US would include top officials from the German secret service.

Both Germany and France have said they want “a no-spy deal” with the US to be signed by the end of the year.

Obama ‘knew and approved’ NSA spying on Chancellor Merkel – report — RT News.