Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tel Aviv Summer

By Daniel Jackson

Two days after the summer solstice, a high pressure front brought cool winds, clear skies, and a surf to die for.



The usually broad beaches of Tel Aviv and Yaffo were submerged with large waves and lots of surfers.


The running joke along the waterfront was that the reason the water was so high is that the US Navy moved one of its own flotillas offshore to protest all the other protest flotillas. Arutz Sheva reported that Egypt let one Israeli and eleven US ships through the canal last week so no wonder the waterlevel in the Lake was so high.


Meanwhile, everyone came to the waterfront to enjoy the first days of summer.


The fishermen fished.



The surfers waited for the best curl.



The end to a perfect day.



A true Maxwell House coffee day: good to the last ray.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Coming War

By M. Simon



I was going to use Well, Well, Well as my opening song but I thought Pride of Man was an even better fit. So you are probably wondering what an old hippie is doing here? Let me explain. Donald and I are old internet friends from the days when I used to comment regularly on Winds of Change. That would be when Joe Katzman was doing regular posts there. He has since moved on to Defense Industry Daily. Let me add that I'm a former Naval Nuke. As geeky as you can get and still be on the front line. So much for history. What about today?

I was reading a bit on American Digest by Gerard Van der Leun who used to write regularly for Penthouse that linked to two pieces by Donald (I'll get to them in a minute). Donald and I started an e-mail exchange about them and Donald then asked me to write it up. I got delayed a bit by breaking news on amateur fusion which I am heavily involved in. That covers current events. So how about some real meat? I'm with you. So here it is.

Donald discussed (as many of you regular readers know) the opening moves of what we both believe will be a coming war in the Middle East involving at minimum Israel and Iran. The first moves involve information warfare (propaganda used to be the old term).
The war against Israel has never ceased by its enemies, but the intensity and tactics they use varies. It's no original thought of mine to classify the current phases as information war (more accurately propaganda war). David Kilcullen, in "Countering the Terrorist Mentality, New Paradigms for 21st Century Conflict," cited at the US Naval Institute's blog, explained the Islamists' concept this way:
We typically design physical operations first, then craft supporting information operations to explain our actions. This is the reverse of al-Qaida’s approach. For all our professionalism, compared to the enemy’s, our public information is an afterthought. In military terms, for al-Qaida the ‘main effort’ is information; for us, information is a ‘supporting effort.
And it seems that for Israel, not even an afterthought. Then, the media are unrelentingly hostile to Israel anyway, so what's the point?
“We know one thing for sure, in the media we are going to lose the war anyhow,” says Shlomo Dror, a spokesman for Israel’s Defense Ministry. “It doesn’t matter what we do, if we let them into Gaza, they will speak against Israel. If we stop them it will also be a bad picture.”
The Israelis are stepping up to the plate. No, not the government. The people. The effort is described in this Pajamas TV video.

Donald then goes on to give some military analysis of the strategic situation Israel faces. Let me excerpt a bit:
Hamas and Hezbollah will be invaded quickly by the Israeli army while the IAF attacks Iran. But then IAF planes will join the fight and the two H's will draw the full weight of Israel's military. Israel will not hold back this time. They will strike hard and quick with the aim of destroying both entities once for all. Casualties among Gazans and Lebanese will be very high but this will not deter Israel this time for they know that their actual survival as a nation is at stake.

As for Israel's civilians, they will suffer in great numbers, too. Hezbollah's and Hamas's rockets are much larger, more accurate and more sophisticated now that two or four years ago. Almost every populated part of Israel is already in range of terrorist rockets.

This battle is brewing, the only question is when. Will it be this summer? Israel will take the first hit this year, but next year probably will hit first. And as Daniel pointed out, the US will not be able to sit it out. Our troops and naval vessels are targets for Iran if the balloon goes up at all.
Well is the balloon going up? I think so.

What do the Israelis think? Daniel Jackson has a post published on this site on that gives a view of Israeli preparations from first hand experience.
The coming war is on everyone's mind.

One group I met was made up of a core of young women who started walking the trail a month and a half ago, about a month after they got out of service. They are joined by friends, their guys who are still serving, and others, like me, they meet and enlist in their Progress. One woman commanded a missile battery in the Negev, two others were education officers, a few of the guys walking with them were submariners, and one of the beaus is a Navy XO who took his spring leave of two weeks to walk the trail with his belle. He says with a smile he's not sure when he'll get another chance.

None of the ones serving gave straight answers but we all played a game of twenty questions.

Here's my take.

It's a two by two table. Either Israel takes the first round or strikes first. Either Tel Aviv gets the first BIG hit or Jerusalem. While the obvious scenerio is with Tel Aviv, the market center getting hit, there is far more potency for Iran to strike Jerusalem hard. I'll come back to this later. No one here has any doubt that Iran has a big weapon and that they will use it. To play the American Game (like in 1991) will mean that Israel will have to wait for Iran to fire first. The longer that time plays out, the greater the risk that the first strike will be atomic. A Hiroshima sized weapon will hurt.
So who are the major players in this game assuming America sits out the opening round? They would be Iran, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. So where do the Saudis fit in? Evidently they are covert allies of Israel. Well covert as far as most of their population is concerned. Not so covert if you read The Sunday Times.
Saudi Arabia has conducted tests to stand down its air defences to enable Israeli jets to make a bombing raid on Iran’s nuclear facilities, The Times can reveal.

In the week that the UN Security Council imposed a new round of sanctions on Tehran, defence sources in the Gulf say that Riyadh has agreed to allow Israel to use a narrow corridor of its airspace in the north of the country to shorten the distance for a bombing run on Iran.

To ensure the Israeli bombers pass unmolested, Riyadh has carried out tests to make certain its own jets are not scrambled and missile defence systems not activated. Once the Israelis are through, the kingdom’s air defences will return to full alert.

“The Saudis have given their permission for the Israelis to pass over and they will look the other way,” said a US defence source in the area. “They have already done tests to make sure their own jets aren’t scrambled and no one gets shot down. This has all been done with the agreement of the [US] State Department.”
Well isn't that interesting? It seems everyone knows the bubble is going up except the US people. Well at least our so called Main Stream Media has not breathed a word of all this excitement to the American people. I wonder why?

An attack on Israel or one of our Carrier Battle Groups (CBGs) in the opening rounds would definitely bring in the US at the beginning of the war. The American people will not stand for a major attack by Iran on Israel. What might they stand for?

Suppose Iran attacks Saudi Arabia? The Saudi oil fields would be a good place to start. And the closing of offshore exploration in America is a good opening move.

What would the Israeli riposte be? Take out Iran's refinery capacity. Why? Iran imports considerable refined oil. About 40% of Iran's oil consumption is imported. Kill the refineries and they need to import 100%. That would place them under severe economic strain. Very severe. And yet the actual military/civilian casualties from such a move would be small. Refinery workers mostly.

Now let me go back a bit and look at why attacking Saudi Arabian oil fields first might be a good idea. Americans have no great identification with the Saudis. Given the 9/11 attackers were mostly Saudis there is definitely a reservoir of ill will towards that country. So an attack on Saudi Arabia might not provoke an American response other than opening the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and opening the country for oil drilling.

There is a lesson from history here. Had Japan not attacked Pearl Harbor American entry into World War Two might have been much delayed. Sentiment at that time was that America wanted to get rid of the responsibility for the Philippines. So just attacking that country might not have provoked an American response. Admiral Yamamoto is supposed to have said after the Pearl Harbor attack something to the effect of "We have awakened a sleeping giant and have instilled in him a terrible resolve". The question is are the Iranians motivated more by hate of the Great Satan or cold calculation?

I guess we will have to wait to find out won't we?

Two books I really like about the Pearl Harbor attack are:

At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor

and

Pearl Harbor: The Verdict of History

If you liked the above you can read more of my (mostly libertarian oriented) writing at Power and Control and Classical Values. I hope you enjoyed the above and I really hope Donald, Daniel, and I are wrong. I fear we are not.

Let me also note that much of the above is rank speculation and real events will probably not match the above speculations. Either in part or in whole. I provide this as food for thought. War Games if you will. May I also add that you ought to read the two Sense of Events pieces linked above to get the full flavor of the possibilities of coming events.

It has been an honor to be allowed to post here. Thank you Donald.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Intermission

By Donald Sensing

My family and I are moving today - a three day process for us (pack, load, unload). Daniel Jackson will be posting, hopefully, while I am in transit. I've also invited another writer to guest blog.

Because of the move and immediately-following personal commitments, I am not even going to try to reconnect with the Internet until after the Fourth of July weekend. See you later!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Here's the McChrystal Rolling Stone piece

By Donald Sensing

Just click here.

Much more damaging to the president is Rolling Stone's article, "The Spill, The Scandal and the President-The inside story of how Obama failed to crack down on the corruption of the Bush years – and let the world's most dangerous oil company get away with murder."

Media know one tune, one dance only

By Donald Sensing

Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman struck down the six-month ban on new drilling for oil in ocean waters under American control. Set aside the reasons for a moment. Consider how the media are reporting the story: Judge Feldman's ruling is invalid because he's a tool of the oil companies.

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan and has owned stock in a number of petroleum-related companies, sided with the plaintiffs. ...

Feldman's financial disclosure report for 2008, the most recent available, shows holdings in at least eight petroleum companies or funds that invest in them, including Transocean Ltd., which owned the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that blew up. The report shows that most of his holdings were valued at less than $15,000; it did not provide specific amounts.
Some grabs from Memeorandum (click images for larger view):














How interesting that so many media outlets found this out right away! And yet, how little reported by the lamestream media are the ties documented here by alternative media:
















The US media - protecting the narrative at all costs to credibility!  Or audience! Or profits!








Tuesday, June 22, 2010

278th ACR, TNARNG, update from Iraq

By Donald Sensing

Here is the latest update from 2d Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry Regt. of the Tenn. Army National Guard, serving in Iraq. Sense of Events contributor Lt. Col. John Krenson is the squadron commander. And ACR Squadron has serious firepower. From the ACR's web site:

The three Cavalry Troops of each Squadron are each equipped with nine M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks, 13 M3A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, and two 120mm Mortar carriers. The Howitzer Battery, is equipped with six of the 155mm M109 SP Howitzers. The Tank Company is equipped with 14 M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks. Rounding out this combat power are two more M3A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles for the Squadron Commander and his S-3.
Here are the update pages. Click to enlarge.








Why do we need a budget anyway?

By Donald Sensing

On the page of House Republican Leader Rep. John Boehner:


I say, "So what?" We haven't had a federal budget for at least three years, we've had a financial fantasy that bore no relationship to economic sense or spending. The Congress spends throughout the year with no restraint and no regard to the "budget," anyway, except to see how much they can bust it.

I'm not being snarky here. I'm serious. It does not matter whether the government publishes a budget. The Congress is going to spend whatever it wants, anyway. In fact, there is an upside for the Dems: with no budget, there won't be a deficit. There will certainly be more debt, but the Dems will be able to say they did not break the budget. No deficit spending! Yea!

The other upside for the Dems is that no budget means they can bury their spending and conceal it from public view. Did you scoff at those who called the $20 billion shakedown of agreement with BP a "slush fund?" bet you're not scoffing now, eh?

Hillary 2012 redux

By Donald Sensing

I posted the reasons that I think Hillary Clinton will step down from SecState at the end of the year and start putting together a campaign for the White House in 2012. That's become the buzz in the past few days, but I immodestly point out my post beat the buzz. And here's more buzz:

"Voters Say Hillary More Qualified To Be President Than Obama, Romney, Gingrich, Palin"

U.S. voters think Hillary Clinton is more qualified to be president than Barack Obama, but most believe that both Democrats are more fit for the White House than three top Republicans interested in the job.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 57% of voters feel Clinton is qualified to be president, but 34% disagree and say she is not.
As for President Obama, 51% say he is fit for the job. However, 44% say he is not qualified to be president, even though he has now served 17 months in the job.
What will Hillary do?

Brides wearing diapers?!?!?!?

By Donald Sensing

You would think it's a joke, but it's not: "Would You Wear a Diaper on Your Wedding Day?"

... a future bride explains that her insanely enormous dress takes 20 minutes to get in and out of, and the oh-so-helpful bridal shop manager suggested she wear bridal diapers so she doesn’t have to worry about going to the bathroom.

Um…bridal diapers? After a quick Google search I found out that it’s not a joke. Some bridal shops do in fact sell bridal diapers, which to me sounds like they’re probably just taking a box of Depends and jacking up the price (typical wedding maneuver!).
I have a better name for them: "Ruprecht diapers!"

Monday, June 21, 2010

Don't just do something! Stand there!

By Donald Sensing

Thomas Sowell on the book Out of Work by Richard Vedder and Lowell Gallaway:

The widespread belief is that government intervention is the key to getting the country out of a serious economic downturn. The example often cited is President Franklin D. Roosevelt's intervention, after the stock market crash of 1929 was followed by the Great Depression of the 1930s, with its massive and long-lasting unemployment. ...

Those who think that the stock market crash in October 1929 is what caused the huge unemployment rates of the 1930s will have a hard time reconciling that belief with the data in that table.

Although the big stock market crash occurred in October 1929, unemployment never reached double digits in any of the next 12 months after that crash. Unemployment peaked at 9 percent, two months after the stock market crashed-- and then began drifting generally downward over the next six months, falling to 6.3 percent by June 1930.

This was what happened in the market, before the federal government decided to "do something."
And what the government did - still under Hoover - was pass protectionist tariffs in order to protect American manufacturing jobs. Then the whole world went into depression.

Read all of Sowell's column. The table that Sowell cites in the book is the tabular equivalent of these graphics.






Sunday, June 20, 2010

"It takes a spillage"

By Donald Sensing

Mark Steyn, wondering what Hillary Clinton must be thinking about as she surveys the wreckage of the Obama administration's efforts at containing The Spill:

Memo to Secretary Rodham Clinton: Do you find yourself on a quiet evening with a strange craving for chicken dinners and county fairs in Iowa and New Hampshire, maybe next summer? Need one of those relaunch books to explain why you're getting back in the game in your country's hour of need?

"It Takes a Spillage."
What? Hillary run in '12? Is it becoming a meme?

"Great schemes don't work"

By Donald Sensing

Charles Moore sets forth in The Telegraph the reasons that the Euro currency is about to go poof. Worth the read, but what caught my attention most was his closing paragraph:

Again and again in politics, great schemes don't work – Soviet Communism, for example, and now the euro. Rational people tend to conclude that, because a scheme doesn't work, it will quickly stop. Unfortunately, rational people are wrong. Bad political schemes are usually given up only when they have been tested literally to destruction. It would be much better for Europe if the euro had never happened, and I long for it somehow to fade away, but the process of destruction will be horrendous, and it is only just beginning.
"Great schemes don't work ... Bad political schemes are usually given up only when they have been tested literally to destruction."

Let's see:

TARP

Obamacare

Cap and trade

The New Deal

The Great Society

Head Start

The Stimulus Package

And many more. What do they all have in common? They were all started with the best of heartfelt intentions and not one of them did (or will do) what their proponents claimed. And each one of them was or is astronomical in cost.

When I run for president, maybe that will be my motto: "In politics, great schemes don't work." It certainly is more true than "Hope and Change."

Saturday, June 19, 2010

You are still the problem

By Donald Sensing

The day after The Inauguration, I posted, "You are the problem."

George Will, on President Obama's inauguration speech:
... one of his themes, delicately implied, was that Americans do not just have a problem, they are a problem.
I don't think it was so "delicately implied."
Now, 17 months after that day, just as the rubes are starting to wake up, comes the NYT's Charles Blow, whon starts off promisingly enough in, "The Thrill Is Gone."
President Obama’s relationship with America, like many a young marriage, is growing sour. ...

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the magic has drained away. Even among his most ardent supporters, there now exists a certain frustration and disillusionment — not necessarily in the execution of his duties, but in his inability to seize moments, chart a course and navigate the choppy waters of public opinion.

What’s left for many is a big plume of disappointment and sadness lurking just beneath the surface.
Has yet another rube begun to awaken from his stupor? Is Charles Blow - yes, Charles Blow, of all people - finally returning to reality base?

Nope. Not a chance. As it turns out, the problem is not with a president who seems to spend more time golfing and partying than working and who decided that the best way to stop The Spill was to ram through higher taxes and wreck the whole oil industry.

Blow gives a head nod to fairness and balance by pointing out that, "There is blame on both sides."
On the other side stands Obama — solid and sober, rooted in the belief that his way is the right way and in no need of alteration. He’s the emotionally maimed type who lights up when he’s stroked and adored but shuts down in the face of acrimony. Other people’s anxieties are dismissed as irrational and unworthy of engagement or empathy. He seems quite comfortable with this aspect of his personality, even if few others are, and shows little desire to change it. It’s the height of irony: the presumed transformative president is stymied by his own unwillingness to be transformed. He would rather sacrifice the relationship than be altered by it.
Wait a minute - if that's "the other side," then what was the first side? Well, that's everyone who is not Obama.
On one side is America — fickle and excitable, hotheaded and prone to overreaction, easily frightened and in constant need of reassurance.
See? The problem is still you and me. And this gets expanded as the column continues. Oh, I almost forgot: the problem is also George W. Bush. Always.
America has to grow up and calm down. Expectations must be better managed. On balance, this president is doing a good job — not perfect, but good — particularly in light of the incredible mess he inherited.
I said it before and I'll say it again: Both the Republicans and Democrats are big-government activists, they have a foundational philosophy that is the same: America is a problem to be fixed, and Americans are a people to be managed. And that, Mr. Blow, is why Tea Party activists are not the "stepchildren" of the Republican party. Americans are waking up evermore strongly that we do not want to be managed. Only now are a few Republicans awakening to that fact, too, but the Dems? Not one yet.

Justice!

By Donald Sensing

I posted earlier today of the fiasco refereeing in Friday's World Cup game between the USA and Slovenia. Referee Koman Coulibaly of Mali disallowed an American lead-taking goal with only four minutes left in the game. It was suck a blatantly bad call that to think it was a deliberate attempt to rob the United States of the victory seems quite reasonable.

But the wheels of justice may be grinding much quicker than anyone dared hope: "FIFA may sit Slovenia-U.S. referee."

JOHANNESBURG – The referee who disallowed a potential game-winning goal for the United States will face an expedited performance review from FIFA and is likely to be excluded from the rest of the World Cup, according to a FIFA source.

Koman Coulibaly from Mali disallowed Maurice Edu’s 86th-minute strike that would have given the USA a 3-2 lead over Slovenia at Ellis Park and likely would have led to a thrilling comeback victory Friday. Coulibaly appeared to rule that American midfielder Michael Bradley had impeded a Slovenian defender, even though video replays showed no infringement.

FIFA’s refereeing committee will review footage from the Group C clash on Saturday to evaluate Coulibaly’s performance after several USA players complained about the way he had struggled to control a fiercely contested match.

Every World Cup match is viewed live by an on-site assessor who monitors the referee’s performance. However, in this case, a deeper assessment will take place at the earliest possible opportunity. That this is happening so quickly suggests FIFA is taking the complaints about Coulibaly seriously and is likely to leave him unassigned to referee further matches, according to the source. He could still appear as a line judge or other supporting role.

Friday, June 18, 2010

USA-Slovenia World Cup Soccer - We Wuz Robbed!

By Donald Sensing

The USA World Cup Soccer team fought back from a 2-goal deficit against Slovenia to take the lead in the closing minutes to win 3-0!

Oh, wait, that's what happened, but it's not what was ruled. A lead-taking goal by American Maurice Edu with about four minutes left in the game was disallowed by Malian referee Koman Coulibaly. Announcers (I was watching the game) quickly dismissed offside for the call and speculated that a foul was committed before the ball went into the net.

And so there was a foul - but not by an American player. Here's video #1. You can clearly see the foul, especially in closeup at the 13-second mark. The US team is in blue.



So a Slovenian player puts what amounts to a bear hug on the US player and it is entirely overlooked. Just what was Coulibaly's call for? We still don't know.

The play-by-play on the Web site of FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, said a foul — apparently for holding — had been called on Edu. But Edu said he did not recall touching anyone on a run into the penalty area. Donovan said the Americans never received an explanation.
Incredibly, FIFA actually loves the controversy!
In perhaps every other sport, an explanation of such a decisive play would have been provided. But Sepp Blatter, the president of FIFA, has ignored calls for video replay and has decided against putting additional referees on the end line. He has said that he likes the debate that follows matches, believing that uncertainty and subjectivity boost the sport.
What a maroon.

The highlight video from FIFA's web site can't be embedded. Here is the link. The cowards at FIFA do not even include the disallowed goal in the reel, even though it can fairly be considered the decisive moment of the whole game.

That moment was long preceded by another controversy. At the 33 second mark in the video, the US kicks a corner kick. It hits US player Robbie Findley on the face and shoulder and bounces away. So Coulibaly gives Findley a yellow card, which will require him to sit out the next US game. But there is nothing in FIFA rules that authorizes a yellow card for this play.

Here's AP's video report.



Like I said, we wuz robbed. And I have to wonder whether it was on purpose, so blatant is the bad refereeing and so stonewalling is FIFA about the calls.

Comments on.

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Addicted to oil!

By Donald Sensing

Well, here's an excellent point:

The phrase “oil addiction” has come into common use…in his speech the other night, Obama generalized this to “addiction to fossil fuels.”

A little historical perspective…

Before we were addicted to oil, we were addicted to coal. This fuel was used to heat homes, to drive locomotives and steamships, to power steam engines in factories, and for many other things in addition to its present-day uses in power generation and iron/steel production. ...

Before we were addicted to coal, we were addicted to wood.
Yes. The point is that we have to get our energy from something, and it's worth remembering that "there's no such thing as a free lunch." The most efficient non-petroleum way to make electricity is nuclear, but even if we had the political will to start building new plants now, the first one would not come online for close to 20 years.

Coal remains a major source of electrical power, accounting for 50 percent of electricity generation. Battery-powered cars and fuel-cell cars require electricity to provide their initial charge of power and when that runs out, they need electricity to refuel. This is self evident in the case of battery cars such as the Nissan Leaf. I explained why this is so for fuel-cell cars in, "Buy a Honda, Kill a Polar Bear."

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Wingnuttery knows no party

By Donald Sensing

North Carolina Republican candidate for Congress William Randall says that collusion between the federal government and BP led to the oil spill and that "maybe they wanted it to leak."

Pressed on what possible motivation the federal government and BP would have to purposely spill oil, Randall said he had no idea but reiterated that the issue needed to be the subject of investigation. ...

Randall, a U.S. Navy retiree who moved to North Carolina 19 months ago, led in the results of a four-way primary last month, edging out second-place finisher Reeves by just 135 votes.
Asked for comment, Reeves responded through a campaign spokesman: “Does Bill Randall also think we didn't land on the moon?”
Rule number one for political candidates: if you don't know what you're talking about, don't talk. Here's the vid:



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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ice princess more popular than Mr. Cool; Hillary2012 stage is set

By Donald Sensing

Well, how about this: "Hillary Clinton More Popular Than Barack Obama!" Not really surprising since the president is always in the news more than the SecState, and the more you're in the news the more chances you have to form impressions for good or ill. And ill has been dominating President Obama's impressions for at least a year now.And it seems to me that Hillary has not exactly been seeking news coverage, either. Why would that be?

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer

Here's my take. If the November House and Senate elections turn out to be the Democrat train wreck that politicos of both parties say it will be, Hillary will resign from Secretary of State effective the first or so of 2011. Magically, her book about international politics and her experience as secretary will hit the shelves before Labor Day. She'll already have formed her presidential race exploratory committee by then and the full campaign apparatus will be in place by the end of October. The 2012 Iowa caucus will be in early January as usual and the Hillary 2012 train will be in full steam.

2012 is, effectively, Hillary's last chance. In 2016 she'll turn 69 just before election day. Only Ronald Reagan has been elected at that age level; Hillary surely recalls that Bob Dole and John McCain, each with extensive government experience and both bona fide war heroes and only a little older, were rejected by the electorate.

I think that the only reason Hillary accepted the State post was to burnish her credentials for 2012. I posted in November 2008, "It stretches credulity that Senator Clinton would give up an assured slot of power and opportunity in the Senate for the chance to appear shrill and useless for the foreseeable future."

She has avoided the shrill but not really the useless. She is not influencing Obama's foreign policy and she knows it. She is sort of a Potemkin secretary - put on for show by the White House. Obama likely tabbed her for the post in order to neutralize her politically during his four years - the State and Defense posts are hard-traditionally non-political and their occupants do not campaign during elections or make public, partisan comments.

Surely Hillary knew this when she accepted the post. But she now will be able to claim on the campaign that she knows from the inside how the White House works, how the Congress works and how the foreign-policy establishment works. This will be campaign gold for her.

But as I said, '12 is her last hurrah. When campaigning begins in earnest she will be merciless toward the sitting president. The fight for the Democrat nomination will be the harshest in decades.

When the last man is left standing (or woman) and their convention is over, the Dems will have spilt so much of their own blood that the closedown to November should be a trot for the Republican nominee - that is, if the Republicans actually have a nominee that can stand on his or her own feet, and not look good merely because s/he is not Hillary or Obama. Right now, I don't know who that could be.

Speaking of Hillary, this post is a good excuse to refer you again to my top three scariest pictures on the internet.

Number three.

Number two.

And still in first place with no real competition: the Number One scariest picture on the internet.

The first place picture will be an albatross around the Dems' neck in '12 no matter who the nominee is.

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Who was saying what Obama said they were saying?

By Donald Sensing

In last night's address, President Obama set a course to "transition away from fossil fuels." Then, invoking (between the lines) William James' "moral equivalent of war" (Obama used a lot of martial language tonight), he said,

The one answer I will not settle for is the idea that this challenge is too big and too difficult to meet. You see, the same thing was said about our ability to produce enough planes and tanks in World War II. The same thing was said about our ability to harness the science and technology to land a man safely on the surface of the moon.
Okay, just who was saying those things about American industrial capacity during World War II? Who said that about President Kennedy's 1962 speech in which he committed the country to send manned missions to the moon?

Answer: nobody in either case. No industrialist or military logistician after the Pearl Harbor attack thought that America could not produce the war materiel necessary for victory. If anything, they underestimated the country's production capacity. Just compare US production with that of it's enemies then. The US produced 162,000 more aircraft during the war than Germany and Japan combined.

America's enemies also knew what America's industrial capacity bade for them. Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto, commander of the Imperial Japanese combined fleet, argued strongly against going to war with the United States (although when the decision was taken to do so, he fought to his full ability). Yamamoto had lived in the United States for several years, including matriculating at Harvard for three years. Having served as Japan's naval attache in Washington, D.C., Yamamoto was deeply aware of American industrial might and potential. Because of his knowledge, he told his superiors that after the Pearl Harbor attack,  "I shall run wild considerably for the first six months or a year but I have utterly no confidence for the second and third years." He was optimistic. In fact, the Japanese navy did not win another battle after only four months.

After war's end, former Reichsfuerhrer Herman Göring had this exchange with American interviewer Maj. Kenneth W. Hechler of the U.S. Army Europe's Historical Division.
Hechler: What was the German estimate of American war potential? Did Germany hope to complete its European campaigns before the United States would be strong enough to intervene?

Göring: As a break neared and it seemed that the matter had to be decided by war, I told Hitler, I consider it a duty to prevent America going to war with us. I believed the economic and technical potential of the United States to be unusually great, particularly the air force. Although at the time not too many new inventions had been developed to the extent we might have anticipated, and airplane production was significant but not outstandingly large. I always answered Hitler that it would be comparatively easy to convert factories to war production. In particular, the mighty automobile industry could be resorted to. Hitler was of the opinion that America would not intervene because of its unpleasant experiences in World War I. ...

While I, personally, was of the opinion that the United States could build an air force quicker than an army, I constantly warned of the possibilities of the U.S. with its great technical advances and economic resources. ...

It was our opinion that it [American shipbuilding capacity] was on a very large scale. Roosevelt spoke of bridges of ships across the Atlantic and a constant stream of planes. We fully believed him and were convinced that it was true. We also had this opinion from reports by observers in the United States. We understood your potential. On the other hand, the tempo of your shipbuilding, for example, Henry Kaiser's program, surprised and upset us. ...

At first, however, we could not believe the speed with which your Merchant Marine was growing. Claims of eight to 10 days to launch a ship seemed fantastic. Even when we realized it referred to the assembly of prefabricated parts, a mere 10 days to put it together was still unthinkable. Our shipbuilding industry was very thorough and painstaking, but very slow, disturbingly slow, in comparison. It took nine months to build a Danube vessel.
American-made Liberty cargo ships initially were built pretty slowly, about eight months each to start. But then industrial genius Henry Kaiser started having the ships built inland in sections. The shipyard simply connected the sections, launched them and finished fitting them out. At peak, America was launching three Liberty ships per day, faster than Germany's submarines could sink them. Individual ships were routinely built in just under a week from the time the sections arrived at shipyard.

Word War II was a problem of production, of building factories and churning war materiel out. As an industrial problem it was large but not difficult. It is a poor comparison to the problems of shutting down the Gulf Spill or of inventing new, alternative-energy industries from whole cloth. (For example, every combat plane that saw action in the US Army Air Corps or US Navy was already in design, preproduction or production before Pearl Harbor.)

As for the moon program, it also is a bad comparison. NASA decided early to use the "big rocket" solution to getting to the moon. Conceptually, the shape of the space program of the 1960s was laid out very early and did not change. There was a single focus of design and development. The major factors affecting the pace of the program were not hardware but skinware - the effects of space flight on human physiology simply was not known and had to be documented. There was also the need to develop real-world data on effects of space temps and vacuum on materials. The major hardware issue was the tragedy of Apollo 1, an on-ground fire that cost the lives of three astronauts and set the program back by about two years. And yet the fix to that tragedy was actually pretty simple.

Space specialist Rand Simberg explains,
Putting a man on the moon was a remarkable achievement, but it was a straightforward well-defined engineering challenge, and a problem susceptible to having huge bales of money thrown at it, which is exactly how it was done.
The early decision to move toward Saturn V rockets to get to the moon is the major way the space program differed from today's alternative-energy programs. Once NASA took that decision, no one went around muttering, "Can't be done." In fact, most of the engineering challenges were forecast very well and, significantly, were usually interrelated.

There is no such single focus in energy. There are instead multiple technologies that often bear little relationship to one another. Solar power conversion has not much in common with windmilling and neither have much to do with small-plant nuclear power.

It must also be noted that in both the industrial miracle of World War 2 and the moon race, the sole contractor and customer for the companies concerned was the US government. Business built the new factories and hired the new workers and invested the capital for R&D because they knew big, fat government contracts awaited. No one else was buying Liberty ships or space ships.

But who is the customer for new energy technologies? Not the US government in the main or minority part. It's you and me and tens of millions of other individual people who will make our own choices. We have an enormous installed base of energy infrastructure with very high reliability. Unless there is economic incentive for me to switch, I won't.

So I am very skeptical of this call to an industrial equivalent of war or the space program. Look what happened to the space program once the moon was reached. It lost its focus and dribbled along through the Shuttle years and now we have no spacecraft at all to fly. Yet what does the administration plan for a transition away from fossil fuels?" Subsidies and tax breaks for  a handful or fewer of "promising" (i.e, politically connected) technologies. All that will do is make everything more expensive, rarer and less efficient. But that is where we are headed.

Update: Not even Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews were impressed, quite the opposite. It's safe to say that for Matthews, the tingle is gone.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

It's Bush's fault!

By Donald Sensing

Once again, it's Bush's fault.

One place we have already begun to take action is at the agency in charge of regulating drilling and issuing permits, known as the Minerals Management Service. Over the last decade, this agency has become emblematic of a failed philosophy that views all regulation with hostility – a philosophy that says corporations should be allowed to play by their own rules and police themselves. At this agency, industry insiders were put in charge of industry oversight. Oil companies showered regulators with gifts and favors, and were essentially allowed to conduct their own safety inspections and write their own regulations.

When Ken Salazar became my Secretary of the Interior, one of his very first acts was to clean up the worst of the corruption at this agency. But it’s now clear that the problems there ran much deeper, and the pace of reform was just too slow.
Boy, this is long past old.

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How bad will the Oil Spill get?

By Donald Sensing

According to this oil industry expert, worse than you have ever imagined.

Well...none of what is likely to happen is good, in fact...it's about as bad as it gets. I am convinced the erosion and compromising of the entire system is accelerating and attacking more key structural areas of the well, the blow out preventer and surrounding strata holding it all up and together. This is evidenced by the tilt of the blow out preventer and the erosion which has exposed the well head connection. What eventually will happen is that the blow out preventer will literally tip over if they do not run supports to it as the currents push on it. I suspect they will run those supports as cables tied to anchors very soon, if they don't, they are inviting disaster that much sooner.

Eventually even that will be futile as the well casings cannot support the weight of the massive system above with out the cement bond to the earth and that bond is being eroded away. When enough is eroded away the casings will buckle and the BOP will collapse the well. If and when you begin to see oil and gas coming up around the well area from under the BOP? or the area around the well head connection and casing sinking more and more rapidly? ...it won't be too long after that the entire system fails. BP must be aware of this, they are mapping the sea floor sonically and that is not a mere exercise. Our Gov't must be well aware too, they just are not telling us.

All of these things lead to only one place, a fully wide open well bore directly to the oil deposit...after that, it goes into the realm of "the worst things you can think of" The well may come completely apart as the inner liners fail. There is still a very long drill string in the well, that could literally come flying out...as I said...all the worst things you can think of are a possibility, but the very least damaging outcome as bad as it is, is that we are stuck with a wide open gusher blowing out 150,000 barrels a day of raw oil or more. There isn't any "cap dome" or any other suck fixer device on earth that exists or could be built that will stop it from gushing out and doing more and more damage to the gulf. While at the same time also doing more damage to the well, making the chance of halting it with a kill from the bottom up less and less likely to work, which as it stands now?....is the only real chance we have left to stop it all.

It's a race now...a race to drill the relief wells and take our last chance at killing this monster before the whole weakened, wore out, blown out, leaking and failing system gives up it's last gasp in a horrific crescendo.

We are not even 2 months into it, barely half way by even optimistic estimates. The damage done by the leaked oil now is virtually immeasurable already and it will not get better, it can only get worse. No matter how much they can collect, there will still be thousands and thousands of gallons leaking out every minute, every hour of every day. We have 2 months left before the relief wells are even near in position and set up to take a kill shot and that is being optimistic as I said.

Over the next 2 months the mechanical situation also cannot improve, it can only get worse, getting better is an impossibility. While they may make some gains on collecting the leaked oil, the structural situation cannot heal itself. It will continue to erode and flow out more oil and eventually the inevitable collapse which cannot be stopped will happen. It is only a simple matter of who can "get there first"...us or the well.
And he thinks it will be the well. How much oil could blow into the Gulf if there is a total failure of the wntire wellhead and its seabed substructure? Possibly billions of barrels. That makes listening to the president's address tonight with an analytical ear even more important.

HT: Vanderleun

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Maureen Dowd parodies herself

By Donald Sensing

And she does not seem to be aware of her self-parody at all in a column ironically headlined, "Isn't it Ironic?"

She writes about the irony in the fact that the gaffe-prone, long press-pilloried VP Joe Biden has become the administration's point man for dealing with the media.

By all rights, you’d think it would be Joe Biden who would resent journalists for kicking him around for years. It was the press, me included, who reported on the problems that led him to drop out of the 1988 presidential race.
Fair enough. But she goes on, in the most serious of tones, to include these nuggets in discussing Candidate become President Obama's relationship with the media.
Like many Democrats, he thinks the press is supposed to be on his side.
Gee, why would that be?
But he is an elitist, too, as well as thin-skinned and controlling.
Which is so unlike the northeast liberal establishment media.
“He’s never needed to woo the press,” says the NBC White House reporter Chuck Todd. “He’s never really needed us.”
See above, the line starting with "Gee."

Well, gee.

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No more inappropriate hymns!

By Donald Sensing

It's about time someone took a stand in the Methodist Church!


Thanks to Gerard Vanderleun, via email.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ships Passing In The Night

By Daniel Jackson

What with all of the local things of interest, periodically it's good to tune into something that REALLY matters such as Jupiter overtaking Uranus at the Zero Point of the Ecliptic.



I grabbed this event in the Negev on June 8, at 0423 to 0445 hours at my secret dark sky spot by the Egyptian border. I had total cooperation with the weather until 0450 hours when the clouds moved in and a "small thin voice" told me to go home and get some sleep.

Jupiter and Uranus (the small aqua-marine orb at the top of the image) are separated by 26 minutes 18 seconds of arc. The order of the moons of Jupiter are, left to right, Ganymede, (Jupiter), Io, Europa, and Callisto.

"The Heavens declare the glory of God;
"His handiwork is proclaimed by the firmament."

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Ballet From Israel's Partner for Peace

By Daniel Jackson

The Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Culture produced the following Dance to Peace a la Jules Feiffer.



Media Watch has a transcription of the "lyrics".

"From my wounds, my weapon has emerged.
Oh, our revolution, my weapon has emerged."

Oh, Sigmund; care to comment on this one?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

"A wedding is a funeral . . .

By Donald Sensing

... where you smell your own flowers." So says a wisecrack from long ago.

Well, it seems cemeteries are getting into the party business, including the wedding business.

WHEAT RIDGE — For more than a century, folks have gone to Olinger Crown Hill Cemetery to mourn endings. But now, the 260-acre, 103-year-old graveyard is working to reimagine itself as something more than a spot for solemn rituals.

Crown Hill is pushing into the territory of galleries and performance halls, scheduling concerts and art exhibitions in hopes of engaging more routinely with the community, said general manager Kevin Wolfe.

"People come to cemeteries, and they are always looking down," he said.

But Wolfe wants them to look around, to experience the music and the art, the plants, the history and the culture. ...

Wolfe even encourages couples to tie the knot on the cemetery grounds. So far, six have.
So there you are. Helps explain why the groom traditionally wears black, too.

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The difference between Right and Left

By Donald Sensing

JammieWearingFool posts, "Aspiring UK Labour Leader: Hey, Wouldn't It Be Cool to Go Back and Assassinate Thatcher?"

Labour leadership candidate John McDonnell said yesterday he would 'assassinate' Margaret Thatcher if he could go back to the 1980s. ...

Lord Tebbit, who was Trade and Industry Secretary when the IRA tried to blow up the entire Cabinet in 1984 during the Conservative Party conference in Brighton, said he was appalled by the remarks. ...

Lord Tebbit’s wife Margaret was crippled by the blast, which also narrowly missed Lady Thatcher her husband Dennis and killed five people.
Ed West, quoted with no link at the end, sums it up rather nicely:
We [on the Right] view our opponents as misguided, foolish or economically illiterate; socialists view their opponents as evil obstacles to progress – no wonder that in just half a century, socialism managed to kill more people than all the world’s religions combined, a record it will hang onto for some time.
(Boldface original.)

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Obama's barrel leaks mighty low

By Donald Sensing

Years ago I got educated in an organizational-effectiveness theory that compared an organization's ability to improve and grow with a barrel of water. Because every organization has some degree of dysfunction, not all the staves of the barrel go all the way to the top. The barrel can never hold water higher than the lowest stave. So the organization has to make that stave, or function, stronger and higher if it is to prosper.

Now comes Jennifer Rubin at Commentary.

Obama was comfortable when running for office, when he could get by on rhetoric and as a legislator — where no one is really responsible for anything. What he’s ill-equipped to do is govern and lead. Plenty of people are hired for jobs beyond their abilities and outside their areas of competence. Unfortunately, the damage done by placing someone of that ilk in the White House is grievous and in some cases irreversible.
Which is what I said last October in "The Mae West Presidency." The barrel is leaking mighty low.

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Biden, Congress Dems speak out for Israel

By Donald Sensing

A little tepidly, perhaps, but nontheless, more than a week after the Israelis boarded Merchant Vessel Mavi Marmara as it attempted to force the Israeli blockade of Gaza's port, Vice President Joe Biden and Senate majority whip Steny Hoyer have said that Israel's actions were justified.

"I think Israel has an absolute right to deal with its security interest. I put all this back on two things: one, Hamas, and, two, Israel's need to be more generous relative to the Palestinian people who are in trouble in Gaza," Biden said, according to a transcript of the interview, in which he went on to discuss Hamas's control of Gaza:

"[The Israelis have] said, 'Here you go. You're in the Mediterranean. This ship — if you divert slightly north you can unload it and we'll get the stuff into Gaza.' So what's the big deal here? What's the big deal of insisting it go straight to Gaza? Well, it's legitimate for Israel to say, 'I don't know what's on that ship. These guys are dropping eight — 3,000 rockets on my people,'" Biden said. ...

Steny Hoyer, said today that Israel had "rightfully" defended itself and offered some details on the White House's posture.

“The administration and Congress are determined to prevent condemnation of Israel at the U.N. Security Council. In times of increased tension such as now, it is imperative that we not allow these events to distract from our main goals of achieving peace in the region and preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons," he said.
Better than nothing, I suppose.

Update: Are these remarks just another case of administration misdirection? "Analysis: U.N. rebukes of Israel permitted in U.S. policy shift".

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And now, a message from the British CEO of BP

By Donald Sensing

.


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"Idiots United"

By Donald Sensing

Mr. X, a Brazilian blogger, posts this pic below his  post about how environmentalists should shoulder some of the blame for The Spill (I capitalize because this spill is now sui generis). I grabbed his caption, too.


The post is in Portuguese, but Google's translation actually seems very good. 

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Monday, June 7, 2010

Will Turkey's blockade running mean NATO's end?

By Donald Sensing

I argued long ago that NATO long ago outlived its usefulness to the United States ("What has NATO done for us?").

NATO was founded to form a bulwark against Soviet invasion of western Europe in 1949. As the charter's Article 5 states,
The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them ... will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith ... such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.
So just what does this mean today? Pretty much nothing. Strictly interpreted, Article 5's provisions are not tripped by an attack on United States' interests outside North America. One must wonder whether an attack by someone against Guam, a non-North American, American territory, would trigger Article 5, but the question is actually moot since there is no imaginable threat to mount such an attack.

So: Who is there to attack either North America or Europe? There are really only two threats reasonably imaginable - Russia and Islamist terrorists.
Now NATO member Turkey is aligning itself with Islamist terrorists, namely Hamas and Hamas' state sponsor, Iran. Israel has enforced a sea blockade of Gaza for most of the time since Israel completely vacated Gaza in 2005. International-law experts agree that this blockade is legal. Turkey's anti-Israel, pro-Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has vowed to break the blockade, even saying he would be aboard a vessel attempting to force it. Iran's Revolutionary Guard says it will join the effort and Iran's Red Crescent (its Red Cross) says it will send two ships to Gaza this week. Finally (same link) prominent Israelis are saying that if Turkish warships accompany the next flotilla (as Turkey has indicated) then Israel must consider it an act of war.

But who would be making war against whom? That is, which country would be the aggressor? If Turkey and NATO come to blows, could Turkey invoke Article 5 and if so would NATO members, including the United States, be obligated to commit military force against Israel?

In my mind these are not difficult questions but you can bet that bureaucrats in Brussels are already writing position papers on the topic. One key is that the charter establishes a defensive alliance. Hence, naming the aggressor party is crucial to whether Turkey can justly invoke the charter.

And the answer is no.

Israel has committed no act of aggression against Turkey. Its Gaza blockade has always been recognized as valid by national governments (as opposed to anti-Israel "activists). The governing document for matters relating to blockades is the "San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea." Blockades are covered in Section III, which is fairly short. Three paragraphs of note:
95. A blockade must be effective. The question whether a blockade is effective is a question of fact.

98. Merchant vessels believed on reasonable grounds to be breaching a blockade may be captured. Merchant vessels which, after prior warning, clearly resist capture may be attacked.

100. A blockade must be applied impartially to the vessels of all States.
Note that once a state establishes a blockade it does not have the option to partially enforce it or enforce it only once in awhile. Legally, a blockade must be a 24/7, no exceptions operation. Elsewhere the San Remo Manual authorizes the blockading power to set rules for passage or diversion of vessels and materiel, including humanitarian supplies. This is what Israel has done by insisting that vessels dock at an Israeli port for inspection of cargo followed by overland transport to Gaza of non-contraband.

Here is the key point: Israel's enforcement of its blockade is an act of war - but against only Gaza, not against third parties. Vessels, whether Gazan or not, that attempt to force the blockade make themselves belligerents and the Manual not merely permits but actually requires the blockading power to act against forcing vessels. This not not mean all guns blazing, the blockading power may certainly use its discretion in response. But if Israel does not attempt to enforce the blockade against the Turkish or Iranian vessels that prospectively will tryb to force the blockade, then Israel will give national governments the loophole to declare the blockade ineffective, hence broken and no longer cognizable.

But if Israel and Turkey come to shots on the sea, it is Turkey that will be the aggressor. Might this fatally weaken NATO? The alliance never foresaw that collective "defense" would include assisting other members in starting a war of aggression. But that is what Turkey is apparently about to do.

Perhaps NATO could survive such a conflict. It may depend heavily on how long the shooting lasts. But NATO's reputation as an alliance of self-protection will be shattered. Unless NATO's nations can rein in Turkey, the alliance's toothlessness will become even more evident.

If Turkish warships sail toward Gaza, what to do to preserve NATO, if NATO is to be preserved? To be clear, I still think that the US should resign from the military entanglements of the NATO treaty's collective defense, while preserving the elements of collective security (not the same thing) and political engagement on the continent. But conflict caused by a NATO member is not the way for NATO to dissolve, even if dissolution is a logical step.

1. NATO's members must make it clear that they will not assist Turkey in a conflict with Israel even if Turkey attempts to invoke Article 5. They should also make it clear that Turkey will be evicted from the alliance if it attempts to force the blockade.

2. The United States should first notify US citizens in Turkey to leave. We should tell Turkey that we will impose unilateral sanctions against it if it attempts to force the blockade, including freezing of Turkish financial accounts and of individual Turks in the US, eviction of Turkish embassy staff except for the ambassador and a skeleton staff and revocation of visas for Turks inside the United States. (You may be surprised to know that these measures are very close to those enforced by President Carter against Iran after the US embassy in Iran was seized in 1979.)

However, I see almost no chance of this happening. None of the other NATO countries want to fight anyone, Israel included. But I suspect that NATO's European countries will maintain a studied neutrality as conflict looms, except perhaps Britain and France. Germany's Chancellor Merkel will want to be more forceful than she can afford to be since Germany's economy relies heavily on Turkish guest workers.

As for decisive and effective action by the Obama administration? Expecting that would be the triumph of wishful thinking over experience.

Someone will no doubt say that the US Navy should establish a presence between Turkish ships and Israeli ships if they start to come to proximity. I demur. Unless US warships would be ready to fire then such a patrol would do more harm then good to US interests. We are certainly not going to war against Turkey over this issue; the US public will not support it and this Congress will never authorize it, anyway. And the blockade is Israel's problem, not ours. But the US should be ready to render materiel and intelligence assistance to Israel quickly. We should also be clear to Turkey that if shooting does break out, we will unilaterally dissolve our NATO alliance with it, regardless of what other NATO members do, and will actually seize, as opposed to freeze, Turkey's assets inside the US.

Update: Here's what our president is focusing on:



Comments on

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Ataturk is dead, awaiting burial

By Donald Sensing

Paul Rahe holds The Charles O. Lee and Louise K. Lee Chair in the Western Heritage at Hillsdale College, where he is Professor of History and Politics. He writes that the tradition of secular government begun in Turkey by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk after World War I has reached a dead end under Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Then, after being re-elected [in 2007], Erdoğan and his supporters began slowly but steadily to take over the state apparatus and to install Islamists in positions of responsibility that had always been reserved for the Kemalist admirers of Atatürk. They are now on the verge of completing that effort. ...

Turkish nationalism may also have run its course. If Recep Tayyip Erdoğan succeeds in his quest, there will be a major change in the balance of power in the Middle East. These days, apart from the Islamic Republic of Iran and its ally Syria, there is no state of any real significance in the Middle East that sponsors terrorism. But Turkey now appears to be coming down on the side of Hamas and Hezbollah, and that really matters.
But it gets worse:
Meanwhile, in Egypt, an epoch is about to come to an end. Soon, Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt for nearly thirty years, will pass from the scene. I would not be surprised if his successor, responding to the impulses felt by the younger generation, were to ally himself with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Then it gets really bad:
There is a storm gathering in the Middle East, and at the White House, alas, it is amateur hour, for the United States now has a President who appears to be blithely unaware of the consequences – or worse: unconcerned or even vaguely sympathetic to the transformation about to take place.
Related:

Middle East's fuze is very short

On the Gulf Course

The Summer Games

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Reuters: Israeli blockade is legal

By Donald Sensing

Reuters news agency, not exactly part of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, interviewed US and European experts of maritime law and concluded that Israel's naval blockade of Gaza is entirely legal under the terms of international law ("Q&A-Is Israel's naval blockade of Gaza legal?").

CAN ISRAEL IMPOSE A NAVAL BLOCKADE ON GAZA?
Yes it can, according to the law of blockade which was derived from customary international law and codified in the 1909 Declaration of London. It was updated in 1994 in a legally recognised document called the "San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea". Under some of the key rules, a blockade must be declared and notified to all belligerents and neutral states, access to neutral ports cannot be blocked, and an area can only be blockaded which is under enemy control.

"On the basis that Hamas is the ruling entity of Gaza and Israel is in the midst of an armed struggle against that ruling entity, the blockade is legal," said Philip Roche, partner in the shipping disputes and risk management team with law firm Norton Rose.
That the MV Mavi Marmara was in international waters when Israeli commandos boarded it is not relevant to the legality of the action. The intention of the vessel, not its location, constitutes whether the vessel is attempting to breach the blockade. Leaders of the two main organizers of the voyage were the Turkish Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH and the Free Gaza Movement said publicly before the flotilla set out that its intention was the breach the blockade.

Because the blockade was legal and the boarding was legal, charges that some have made that Israel's actions were "piracy" are not merely false, they are deliberately toxic.
[U]nder international law it was considered a state action.

"Whether what Israel did is right or wrong, it is not an act of piracy. Piracy deals with private conduct particularly with a pecuniary or financial interest," [James] Kraska [professor of international law at the U.S. Naval War College] said.
Finally, under the terms of the San Remo Manual, the governing international convention,
98. Merchant vessels believed on reasonable grounds to be breaching a blockade may be captured. Merchant vessels which, after prior warning, clearly resist capture may be attacked.
See also Harvard law Prof. Alan Dershowitz's explanation of why, under law, Israel's actions were legal. Prof. Dershowitz also makes this key point:
The act of breaking a military siege is itself a military act, and those knowingly participating in such military action put in doubt their status as non-combatants.
Certainly when the people aboard Mavi Marmara started clubbing and then shooting at the legally-boarded Israelis, their status as noncombatants evaporated. Everyone wishes events had turned out differently and that no one, Israeli or not, had been injured or killed. But the Left's accusation that the people aboard Mavi Marmara were innocent civilian noncombatants is simply untrue. They were not innocent but were in fact breaking a blockade that was legal under international law. They made themselves combatants by attacking the Israeli boarders. At that moment, in the heat of the moment, their civilian status is not very relevant.

Update: Consider also from the San Remo Manual,
SECTION VI : CAPTURE OF NEUTRAL MERCHANT VESSELS AND GOODS

146. Neutral merchant vessels are subject to capture outside neutral waters if they are engaged in any of the activities referred to in paragraph 67 or if it is determined as a result of visit and search or by other means, that they:

(a) are carrying contraband; ...

(f) are breaching or attempting to breach a blockade.
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Turkey & Iran to force blockade?

By Daniel Jackson

Uzi Dayan, the former deputy Chief of General Staff, wants Israel to state formally that if the Turkish Navy accompanies a second peace flotilla it will be taken as an act of war. The Jerusalem Post reports.

Israel must send Turkey a clear message that if Turkish warships are sent to accompany the next flotilla trying to break the embargo on Gaza, these will be considered acts of war by Israel , Uzi Dayan, former deputy Chief of General Staff, told Army Radio Monday morning.

"If the Turkish Prime Minister joins such a flotilla,” Dayan said, “we should make clear beforehand this would be an act of war, and we would not try to take over the ship he was on, but would sink it.”

“If Israel doesn't make this clear beforehand, the Turks will grow increasingly self-assured, and we may indeed find ourselves facing such a scenario, which could have been averted.”
Elsewhere, the Jerusalem Post reports that the Iranians want to get into the act.
The Iranian Red Crescent is planning to send two ships to Gaza this week it was announced on Monday.

AFP quotes Red Crescent director for international affairs Abdolrauf Adibzadeh as saying: "One ship will carry donations made by the people and the other will carry relief workers. The ships will be sent to Gaza by end of this week."
In the words of the late James Durante, "Everyone wants to get into the act."