Monday, November 30, 2009

The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers

Ben Bernanke, Chairman, Federal Reserve / Washington

From Foreign Policy:

From the brains behind Iran's Green Revolution to the economic Cassandra who actually did have a crystal ball, they had the big ideas that shaped our world in 2009. Read on to see the 100 minds that mattered most in the year that was.

Read more ....

My Comment: Like most lists .... there are some that I agree with and some that I do not. This FP list is no exception.

President Obama's West Point Speech: Major Escalation In the Afghan War To Start Immediately

EAGLE STRIKE - Smoke rises from a cave in eastern Afghanistan after being bombed by U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft crews assigned to the 335th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, which is based at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, Nov. 26, 2009. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael B. Keller

34,000 Troops To Be Sent To Afghanistan -- Washington Post

Obama details plan for allies Other nations to be asked for more forces.

President Obama will outline Tuesday his intention to send an additional 34,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan, according to U.S. officials and diplomatic sources briefed Monday as Obama began informing allies of his plan.

The new deployments, along with 22,000 troops he authorized early this year, would bring the total U.S. force in Afghanistan to more than 100,000, more than half of which will have been sent to the war zone by Obama.

Read more ....

My Comment: This is a major escalation of the war. The Generals have already been given their marching orders, all that is left are the details on what is the overall strategy to the Afghan conflict will be .... details that I am sure President Obama will be offering tomorrow night.

Can The Taliban Be Wooed To Switch Sides?

Armed men under the orders of Haji Baran, district commander of the Taliban in Ghazni province. Karim Ben Khelifa / Oeil Public

From Time Magazine:

While much of the focus on Tuesday's unveiling of President Obama's revamped Afghanistan strategy will be on the number of U.S. troops he's expected to send, that decision is really a sideshow to the critical battle now under way on the ground. Far more important to prospects of victory in Afghanistan is jump-starting a moribund effort to woo nonideological Taliban fighters to switch sides in exchange for paying jobs. Pentagon officials are hoping to repeat the success of similar tactics in Iraq.

Read more ....

My Comment: Every month a number of stories are published that promote the idea that the Taliban can be wooed to switch sides .... when all the evidence is the contrary.

The Soviets tried to do this extensively in the 1980s, and it failed miserably. The reason why is simple .... no religious Taliban soldier or leader will ever give up on his religious beliefs for cash. The war against the Soviets was constructed as a religious war against the infidel communists .... and it was successful (helped with hundreds of millions of dollars in aid from the West). This war in Afghanistan is being constructed the same way .... a war of liberation against the infidel West.

Our best hope in Afghanistan is to work with the more than 400 different tribal groups that make up most of the country. They can be bought with aid and assistance, and they have the means to stop the Taliban. Will this be the policy pursued by the White House .... stay tune till after tomorrow's West Point speech by President Obama.

U.S. Intelligence Services In Limbo With Soon To Be Expiration Of The Patriot Act

Authority to Spy on Americans Unclear as Patriot Act Expires -- ABC News

House Defies White House and Renews Two of Three Expiring Provisions.

Rushed into law by Congress just weeks after Sept. 11, 2001 three controversial provisions of the Patriot Act granting officials far-reaching surveillance and seizure powers in the name of national security, are due to expire this New Year's Eve.

Two differing bills passed by the House and Senate judiciary committees in recent weeks will have to be reconciled in Congress, but only when the Senate isn't backlogged by health care, Democratic aides told ABC News.

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My Comment: Another example of Congress playing politics with our security.

The West Bank's Third Intifada Approaches

From Global Post:

Rain on the streets of Bethlehem can't cool simmering tension.

BETHLEHEM, West Bank — A writer seeks the surprise of a “man bites dog” story. The most violent times of the Second Intifada, which took place under the leaden winter skies of early 2002, gave me mine. I wrote about Arabs in the rain.

It was raining in the city of Jesus’ birth throughout “The Collaborator of Bethlehem,” the first of my Palestinian crime novels. I set the story during the brief Middle Eastern winter because it makes the place look different, not as one might expect.

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My Comment: Unlike the previous two Intifada's that were organized and managed by Fatah, another Intifada would involve a second partner .... Hamas. But with these two organizations fighting among themselves one can only expect a future intifada to be bloody and violent .... especially among the Palestinians.

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials -- November 30, 2009

SOARING EAGLE - A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft assigned to the 335th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron and based on Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, conducts operations over eastern Afghanistan Nov. 26, 2009. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael B. Keller

Details Leak Out Ahead Of Obama’s Big Afghanistan Speech -- The Cable/Foreign Policy

As the White House briefs interested parties in anticipation of Tuesday's Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy rollout, more and more details of the new strategy and President Obama's announcement are leaking out.

One high-level diplomatic source familiar with the details of new strategy confirmed to The Cable that Obama will announce the addition of 30,000 new U.S. soldiers and marines for Afghanistan and up to 6,000 more troops from international partners

Read more ....


The Afghan Decision -- Washington Post editorial.

Arabs Have Stopped Applauding Obama -- Fouad Ajami, Wall St. Journal

The Deflated Arab Hopes for Obama -- Jackson Diehl, Washington Post

500,000 Iranian Centrifuges -- Wall Street Journal editorial

America vs. The Narrative -- Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times

Enlarging NATO, Expanding Confusion -- Mary Elise Sarotte, New York Times

In Elections, Honduras Defeats Chávez -- Mary Anastasia O'Grady, Wall Street Journal

Switzerland and the Minaret -- Wall Street Journal editorial

Reality catches up with the Gulf’s model global city
-- Financial Times

The Downside of Smart Power -- Jesse Zwick, The New Republic

Russia could take revenge with assault on Caucasus -- Daniel McLaughlin, Irish Times

Enlarging NATO, Expanding Confusion -- Mary Sarotte, NYT

World News Briefs -- November 30, 2009 (Evening Edition)

ANALYSIS-Europe Unlikely To Respond Fully On Afghan Troops -- Reuters

BRUSSELS, Nov 30 (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama's European allies are unlikely to send as many troops as he wants to Afghanistan but some analysts say this could rally support at home for his expected pledge to dispatch more U.S. troops.

Obama is widely expected to announce on Tuesday he will send 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan to help quell violence that has reached its deadliest level since the Taliban's overthrow in 2001.

Read more ....


Israeli right, settlers seethe over settlement ease.

Five British sailors taken hostage in Iran.

Saudi Arabia steps up fight against Yemen rebels.

Iran defies censure, plans 10 uranium sites.

If Mahmoud Abbas steps down, Hamas official next in line.

Israel's troublesome prisoner swap.


Obama facing tough selling job on Afghan policy.

US offers new role for Pakistan.

Pakistan’s leader, under pressure, cedes nuclear office.

East and west scramble for Turkmenistan's riches.

Japan plans major new stimulus package.


E.Guinea leader set for crushing re-election win.

3 Spanish aid workers kidnapped in Mauritania.

U.S.-bound oil tanker hijacked off Somalia.

Rwanda becomes a member of the Commonwealth.

Nigerian President's health fueling political tensions.

Uganda considers death sentence for gay sex in bill before parliament.

U.S.-bound oil tanker hijacked off Somalia.


John Demjanjuk, alleged Nazi death camp guard, goes on trial in Germany.

Swiss vote to ban new minarets.

Russia investigates attack on high-speed train.

Large Hadron Collider sets world energy record.


Canadian economy edges out of recession.

U.S. Senate opens work on healthcare bill.

Lima apologizes to Afro-Peruvians for abuses.

Former Marxist guerrilla wins presidential election in Uruguay.

Honduras elects conservative president Porfirio Lobo.

Woods withdraws from tourney, citing injuries.

Police: Suspect in U.S. police deaths hurt, maybe dead.


FBI adds two to most wanted terrorists list.

You’ve had eight years, now get us bin Laden, Brown urges Pakistan.

Russia train bombing: a return of terrorism?


Bernanke says limiting Fed independence would ‘impair’ economy.

Dubai's debt crisis in context.

Dubai needs to stop the contagion, fast.

UAE to back banks amid Dubai meltdown.

China's premier: Beijing to keep yuan stable.

Ministers to look to US during WTO meet.

Court Sides With U.S. In Detainee Photo Case

From The Wall Street Journal:

The Supreme Court threw out an appeals court ruling that ordered the disclosure of photographs of detainees being abused by their U.S. captors.

In doing so Monday, the high court cited a recent change in federal law that allows the pictures to be withheld.

The justices issued a brief, and expected, order Monday directing the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York to take another look at a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union to obtain the photos of detainee abuse. President Barack Obama at first didn't oppose the release, but he changed his mind, saying they could whip up anti-American sentiment overseas and endanger U.S. troops.

Read more ....

My Comment: Bottom line .... no more detainee pictures will be released by the government.

U.K. Troops Fear Defeat At Home

British soldiers take a break during a patrol in the Sangin valley, Helmand province.

From The Independent:

British pessimism over Afghanistan is demoralising soldiers, say commanders.

Britain is at serious risk of losing its way in Afghanistan because rising defeatism at home is demoralising the troops on the front line, military commanders have warned.

High-ranking officers, including a former commander of the SAS, have expressed deep concern that the country is in danger of "talking ourselves into a defeat back home" as the war reaches a critical stage.

Read more ....

My Comment: No direction, inadequate (or lack of) equipment, absence of leadership from the PM on down .... yup .... I would also be demoralized if I found myself in such a situation.

U.S. Cool To Surge In Afghanistan's Own Force

Senior administration officials said that the timetable will not be tied to particular conditions on the ground in Afghanistan. Scott Olson/Getty Images

From The Wall Street Journal:

White House Leaning Against Call to Double Nation's Police and Army, but Surge of Some 30,000 American Troops Is Likely.

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration has soured on a call from its top commander to double the size of the Afghan police and army, reflecting the White House's continued skepticism about the Afghan government even as the U.S. prepares a surge of troops into the country, people familiar with the matter say.

Read more ....

My Comment: These concerns are completely justified. When the Soviets occupied Afghanistan, they increase the Afghan military to 400,000 men. But when the Soviet military left, the Afghan Army collapsed within one year.

Will history repeat if the Americans become involved .... hmmmm .... considering the White House's reluctance to increase the Afghan Army I would have to say yes.

Honduras Elects A New President -- Will Anyone Recognize Him?

The president-elect of Honduras, Porfirio Lobo, waves to supporters in Tegucigalpa.
Photo: AFP/Getty images.

Honduras's President-Elect Is Wealthy Farmer Who Moved From Left To Right -- The Telegraph

Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo Sosa, who claimed victory in controversial post-coup presidential elections in Honduras, is a wealthy farmer who once flirted with Commmunism and lost to deposed President Manuel Zelaya in 2005.

The 61-year-old conservative, known for his wide grin, now faces the task of convincing the world of the validity of the electoral process that bought him to power under an isolated de facto regime.

He also needs to survive a tricky transition period, with Congress due to vote on Zelaya's brief reinstatement on Wednesday. Zelaya's term expires on January 27.

Read more ....

More News On Honduras

Winner of disputed Honduras election appeals for unity -- BBC
Conservative Appears to Have Won in Honduras -- New York Times
Lobo Wins Honduran Presidential Vote -- Voice of America
Honduras elects Porfirio Lobo as new president -- The Guardian
Latin American leaders divided by Honduras election -- Reuters
Honduras elects conservative rancher as new president -- Hot Air
Brazil, Venezuela condemn Honduras vote result -- Press TV (Iran)
FACTBOX: Honduras election winner Porfirio Lobo -- Reuters

U.S. Generals Have Already Received Their Marching Orders From President Obama

President Barack Obama and General Stanley McChrystal (White House/Pete Souza)

Obama Issues Marching Orders On Afghanistan War Strategy -- FOX News

Top military and diplomatic officials got their marching orders Sunday night from President Obama ahead of a planned speech Tuesday in which he's expected to outline his new Afghanistan war strategy and call for about 30,000 more U.S. troops to be sent to the war zone.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama issued the orders during a meeting in the Oval Office Sunday.

Read more

More News on President Obama's Marching Orders To the Military

Obama ordered Afghan strategy implemented on Sunday -- AFP
POTUS tells McChrystal of plan -- Politico
Obama holds war council to unveil Afghan plan -- AP
Barack Obama briefs world leaders on Afghanistan plan -- BBC
Obama orders launch of Afghanistan strategy, prepares to address U.S. -- L.A. Times

My Comment: There is obviously no need to wait .... so I guess the decision was made to pass on the orders. As to what is my own take on this surge .... I will reserve judgment until after the speech tomorrow.

Yemen Civil War News Updates -- November 30, 2009

Saudi soldiers deploy near the border with Yemen in the desert region of Khuba. Photo AFP

Saudi Arabia Steps Up Fight Against Yemen Rebels -- Christian Science Monitor

The rebels, called Houthis, are followers of the Zaidi sect of Shiite Islam, and the Saudis believe both that they have ties to Shiite-dominated Iran and have Al Qaeda members within their ranks.

Saudi Arabia said Saturday it has cleared a mountain foothold used by Yemeni rebels along the Saudi Arabia-Yemen border, in what appeared to be part of a larger battle against Al Qaeda's expansion.

The rebels, called Houthis, are followers of the Zaidi sect of Shiite Islam, and the Saudis believe both that they have ties to Shiite-dominated Iran and have Al Qaeda members within their ranks. Saudi Arabia fears they may destabilize Yemen, posing a major security threat to the world's largest oil exporter, reports Reuters.

Read more ....

More News On Yemen

Saudi Arabia 'clears' key area of Yemeni rebels -- BBC
Saudi 'seizes key rebel area' -- Al Jazeera
Saudis claim key mountain win over Yemeni rebels -- Reuters
Yemeni troops, rebels in battle near northern city -- Reuters
Missing Saudi soldiers allegedly found wounded in Yemen: report -- China View
Southern separatists end Yemen highway closure -- Reuters
Yemeni forces deploy in Aden to control separatists -- Reuters

Iran Vows To Build 10 New Uranium Enrichment Plants

Iran Plans to Build 10 New Uranium Enrichment Plants -- Voice of America

State-run media say the government plans to build 10 new uranium enrichment plants similar to the country's main enrichment facility in Natanz.

Iran's government says it plans to build 10 new uranium enrichment plants, upping the stakes in its tense standoff with international powers over its nuclear program.

Iranian media reported Sunday that the Cabinet approved the construction of 10 new uranium enrichment plants just two days after the International Atomic Energy Agency censured Iran for its nuclear activities.

Read more ....

More News On Iran's Nuclear Program

Iran Stokes Tensions with Huge Nuclear Expansion
-- Times Online
A Defiant Iran Details Plan for 10 Enrichment Plants -- New York Times
Iran Vows to Expand its Nuclear Program -- Washington Post
Iran building 10 new enrichment sites -- Politico
Defiant Iran Beefs Up Nuclear Plans -- Wall Street Journal
Iran Says Diplomacy Still Option in Nuclear Dispute -- Voice of America
Iran stomps down a lose-lose path on nuclear issue -- AJC
Defiant Iran lashes out at UN atomic watchdog -- AFP
Germany warns Iran it faces new UN nuclear sanctions -- BBC
Obama Tries to Increase the Pressure on Iran -- Time Magazine
Timeline: Iran's nuclear brinkmanship -- The Guardian
Iran's 10 new nuclear plants? Not likely, say experts. -- Christian Science Monitor
Nuclear Iran: Obama’s Diplomacy Doesn’t Appear to Be Working -- Iain Martin, Wall Street Journal
500,000 Iranian Centrifuges -- Wall Street Journal editorial

China And Japan Military Relations Are Getting Closer

China, Japan To Enhance Defense Exchanges -- CCT

Visiting Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie has met with his Japanese counterpart Toshimi Kitazawa in Tokyo. The two sides have agreed to enhance defense exchanges as part of efforts to further boost ties and mutual trust.

The Chinese defense minister attended a military ceremony at the Japanese Ministry of Defense on Friday. The Japanese side welcomed him with a guard of honor.

Read more ....

My Comment: I never thought that China and Japan would reach this level of cooperation on military and political issues in my lifetime. Clearly the world is a different place, and while many in Asia still harbor a deep resentment against Japan's wartime atrocities, present needs and priorities are superseding past animosities and lack of trust.

Afghanistan War News Updates -- November 30, 2009

President Obama is expected this week to announce an increase of at least 30,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Democratic and Republican lawmakers are discussing a war "surtax" to help defray costs. (Shawn Thew / European Pressphoto Agency / November 24, 2009)

Obama Prepares for Afghan Speech, Senators Offer Advice -- Voice of America

As U.S. President Barack Obama prepares to announce his new Afghan strategy, members of Congress are offering last-minute advice. Mr. Obama will spell out his plan Tuesday in a speech to the nation from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, as lawmakers get back to work after a holiday recess.

Congressional support will be crucial to President Obama's plan, since lawmakers must approve the funding.

Read more ....

More News on Afghanistan

Obama’s Speech on Afghanistan to Envision Exit -- New York Times
Obama Faces Hard Sell on Afghan Decision -- Washington Times
White House Emphasizes the Positive in Afghanistan -- L.A. Times
Obama’s West Point Speech Must Explain Why Afganistan is Not His Vietnam -- Times Online
Obama prepares to announce Afghan surge -- AFP
White House emphasizes the positive in Afghanistan -- L.A. Times
President Obama's Big Afghan War Strategy Sell -- ABC News

Lawmakers raise concerns over an expanded Afghan war
-- L.A. Times
Senators Show Doubts on Afghanistan -- New York Times
Senators Warn About Costs of U.S. Troops in Afghanistan -- Wall Street Journal

US offers Pakistan enhanced military, economic support -- Dawn
US Offers New Role for Pakistan -- Washington Post
US offers Pakistan expanded partnership: report -- AFP
Pakistan Rejects Call to Do More to ‘Break’ Al-Qaeda -- Bloomberg

Britain to send 500 more troops to Afghanistan -- The Guardian
Equipment 'ready' for UK troop increase in Afghanistan -- BBC
Cuts Ground Special Forces’ Helicopters -- Times Online

Newly Deployed Marines to Target Taliban Bastion -- Washington post
NATO Tempts Taliban in From Cold -- Times Online
Can the Taliban Be Wooed to Switch Sides? -- Time Magazine
To Prepare for War, GI’s Get a Dress Rehearsal -- New York Times
Marines Plow Ahead with Anti-poppy Campaign in Afghan District -- L.A. Times
Rape In Afghanistan A Profound Problem, U.N. Says -- New York Times/Reuters
Afghan official: 6 national policemen killed -- AP
US airstrikes kill 26 Haqqani Network fighters in eastern Afghanistan -- Long War Journal
Afghan Officials: 26 Militants Killed Near Pakistan Border -- Voice of America
Body of U.S. soldier found after 27 days in NW Afghanistan -- China View
Armed men gun down intelligence employee in N Afghanistan -- China View
Why Helicopters Are Critical to Afghanistan War Success -- ABC News
Intelligence: Moving The Method To Afghanistan -- Strategy Page
Who will pick up tab for surge? -- Politico

Commentaries And Opinions

What a mess our military has made -- Dan Plesch
President Obama is looking like former President George W. Bush with Afghanistan plan -- New York Daily News
An Open Letter to President Obama from Michael Moore -- Michael Moore, Huffington Post
Is Obama surge a "JFK moment" or "LBJ moment"? -- Arturo Mora, Kansas City
Three questions Obama must answer in Afghanistan speech -- Christian Science Monitor
The Afghan Decision -- Washington Post editorial

World News Briefs -- November 30, 2009

A Defiant Iran Vows to Build Nuclear Plants -- New York Times

WASHINGTON — Iran angrily refused Sunday to comply with a demand by the United Nations nuclear agency to cease work on a once-secret nuclear fuel enrichment plant, and escalated the confrontation by declaring it would construct 10 more such plants.

Read more ....


Saudi Arabia steps up fight against Yemen rebels.

Iran defies censure, plans 10 uranium sites.

If Mahmoud Abbas steps down, Hamas official next in line.

Israel's troublesome prisoner swap.


US offers new role for Pakistan.

Pakistan’s leader, under pressure, cedes nuclear office.

East and west scramble for Turkmenistan's riches.

Japan plans major new stimulus package.


Rwanda becomes a member of the Commonwealth.

Nigerian President's health fueling political tensions.

Uganda considers death sentence for gay sex in bill before parliament.

U.S.-bound oil tanker hijacked off Somalia.


Swiss vote to ban new minarets.

Russia investigates attack on high-speed train.

Large Hadron Collider sets world energy record.


Former Marxist guerrilla wins presidential election in Uruguay.

Honduras elects conservative president Porfirio Lobo.

Police: Suspect in U.S. police deaths hurt, maybe dead.


FBI adds two to most wanted terrorists list.

You’ve had eight years, now get us bin Laden, Brown urges Pakistan.

Russia train bombing: a return of terrorism?


Dubai needs to stop the contagion, fast.

UAE to back banks amid Dubai meltdown.

China's premier: Beijing to keep yuan stable.

Ministers to look to US during WTO meet.

Pakistan Is Expressing Concern On The Upcoming U.S. Military Surge In Afghanistan

Photo: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. Photo from the CBC.

‘Increase In US Troops May Make Pakistan’s Situation Worse’ -- Dawn

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said increase in US troops in Afghanistan might lead to a spill over of militants inside Pakistan and make the situation worse. Hence, western countries should evolve a joint strategy against the Taliban on the Pak-Afghan border, he said.

In an interview with German Press Agency ahead of his first visit to Germany as the prime minister, Gilani stressed the Obama administration would have to formulate the military strategy for Afghanistan in consultation with Pakistan.

Read more

My Comment: I see this concern from the Pakistani PM as an admission (and confession) that many of the Taliban fighting in Afghanistan are from Pakistan. What can one say .... you reap what you sow, and Pakistan has been sowing these Islamic extremists for years.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- November 30, 2009


Japan orbits satellite to spy on North Korea -- RIA Novosti

Airbus expects first A400M flight in week of Dec 7 -- Reuters

DOD and LM look at ways to fix troubled F-35 program -- ELP Defens(c)e

Plans for U.S. jet pilot training raise concerns -- Billings Gazette

US reaches deal on troops in Poland: spokesman -- AFP

Russia to deploy more S-400 air-defense battalions in 2010 -- RIA Novosti

On The Frontier With Radar Technology -- Strategy Page

Carrier UCAVs: The Return of UCAS -- Defense Industry Daily

New Bomb-Resistant Trucks Will Blast RPGs Before They Hit -- The Danger Room

New Camo Pattern on the Block -- Defense Tech

FBI Adds Two to Most Wanted Terrorists List -- Homeland Security Today

The Arabs Have Stopped Applauding Obama -- A Commentary

President Obama in Cairo, Egypt

From Fouad Ajami, Wall Street Journal:

A foreign policy of penance has won America no friends.

'He talks too much," a Saudi academic in Jeddah, who had once been smitten with Barack Obama, recently observed to me of America's 44th president. He has wearied of Mr. Obama and now does not bother with the Obama oratory.

He is hardly alone, this academic. In the endless chatter of this region, and in the commentaries offered by the press, the theme is one of disappointment. In the Arab-Islamic world, Barack Obama has come down to earth.

Read more

My Comment: A U.S. foreign policy made up of speeches in which the U.S. President apologizes for "past indiscretions" has only brought derision and contempt from the audience that was targeted for this message. Will this now mean a "change" in U.S. policy .... I doubt it.

Iran Restructuring Its Naval Forces

Iran's powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Photo from the L.A. Times

From Washington Post:

Iran has reorganized its naval forces to give operational control of the strategic Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz to the naval component of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the paramilitary organization that is playing an increasingly central role not only in Iran's military but also its political and economic life.

Politically favored over Iran's traditional navy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy, or IRGCN as it is known, "has capitalized on this status to acquire advanced weaponry and better platforms to develop additional capabilities," according to the study by the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence titled "Iran's Naval Forces: From Guerilla [sic] Warfare to a Modern Naval Strategy," Fall 2009.

Read more ....

My Comment: It appears that they are positioning themselves for a fight.

The Threat Of Body Bombs And Surgical Implants

From Homeland Security Today:

Attempt on Saudi prince evidence of interest in hidden explosives

In recent days, there’s been a flurry of reporting about the ostensibly novel new threat of jihadist suicide bombers detonating explosives that they’ve hidden inside their bodies. The concerns arose from the Aug. 28 detonation of between 100 grams to one pound of explosives - depending on whose version of events you accept - that 23-year-old Al Qaeda suicide bomber Abdullah Hassan Tali' Al Asiri reputedly had hidden in his rectum.

Read more ....

My Comment: On first read this sounds impossible .... but then again .... 8 years ago the idea of hijack planes crashing into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon sounded impossible.

Legends of Vietnam: Super Tweet

In 1967, four months after delivery, the new A-37A entered combat in South Vietnam.
(Roger Moseley)

From Air And Space Smithsonian:

Yeah. The A-37 was small. So was Napoleon.

Looking for Mach-busting splendor in million-dollar wonders from the heavies of the U.S. military-industrial complex? This ain't it. The A-37 Dragonfly was a waist-high, subsonic light attack aircraft that could lift its own weight in fuel and armaments, built by a manufacturer known for civilian pleasure craft. You could get a half-dozen for the price of a single F-4. The A-37 brought jet-propelled combat in Vietnam down from rarefied heights to the low-and-slow—where the acrid haze of rice-burning season permeated the unpressurized cockpit and you plucked bullets from Viet Cong small arms out of the armor plate under your seat after a mission. Its claim to fame?

Read more ....

My Comment: Small, cheap, can be massed produced, and terribly. This is a mindset that is missing in today's Defense R&D departments and procurements.

War’s Other Enduring Videos

A BETTER SHOCK AND AWE Master Sgt. Joseph Myers surprises his daughter, Hannah, 10, in her classroom at Universal City, Tex. John Davenport/San Antonio Express News

From The New York Times:

EARLIER this month at the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Military Appreciation game, Brandon Becar, 11, and relatives proudly stood on the football field in front of 45,000 people. The stadium’s giant video screen flashed a prerecorded greeting from his father, stationed in Iraq. Brandon grinned and flexed his muscle.

Suddenly the crowd roared. Brandon turned, bewildered. Dashing across the field toward him came a figure in fatigues: Maj. Kevin Becar, surprising his son with an early two-week leave. “We both totally zoned out where we were,” Major Becar recalled. “He was just bawling, and we melted into each others’ arms.”

Read more ....

My Comment: These videos give a human face to those whose love ones are deployed overseas.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

9000 U.S. Marines To Be Shipped To Afghanistan

9K Marines Reportedly to be First to Go After Obama Announces Troop Increase for Afghanistan -- FOX News

President Obama is expected to announce Tuesday an additional 30,000-35,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan, which reportedly may start with 9,000 Marines being deployed to southern Afghanistan followed by 1,000 Army trainers in February.

President Obama is expected to announce Tuesday an additional 30,000-35,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan, which reportedly may start with 9,000 Marines being deployed to southern Afghanistan followed by 1,000 Army trainers in February.

Read more ....

My Comment: And so it begins.

CIA Secrets Revealed -- Like Magic -- A Book Review

From The L.A. Times:

The Cold War made for strange partners -- including the CIA and a well-known magician named John Mulholland. In 1953, Mulholland was hired by the C.I.A. to adapt his craft for its agents. The documents he produced, long thought destroyed, were discovered in 2007 by two C.I.A. historians, who have recently published "The Official C.I.A. Manual of Trickery and Deception."

What could a magician teach spies? Much sleight of hand, apparently, that could be used for dosing drinks, passing pills and exchanging messages. And then there were the covert signals, including some that could be sent by tying your shoelaces in special patterns. The Boston Globe has illustrated some of the tricks in this marvelous slideshow.

Read more ....

My Comment: Hmmmmm ..... maybe this book is just one more big deception.

Are Somali Training Camps A Direct Threat Against The West?

Al-Shabab militia fighters. (Photo from Islamization Watch)

Somali Training Camps Fuel Threat Of Attacks On The US -- Philadelphia Inquirer/AP

MOGADISHU, Somalia - The recruits gather in scorching desert hideouts in Somalia, use portraits of President Barack Obama for target practice, learn how to make and detonate bombs, and vow allegiance to Osama bin Laden.

Training camps in the lawless nation of Somalia are attracting hundreds of foreigners, including Americans, and Somalis recruited by a local insurgent group linked to al-Qaida, according to local and U.S. officials. American officials and private analysts say the camps pose a security threat far beyond the borders of Somalia, including to the U.S. homeland.

Read more ....

My Comment:
This reminds me of the news stories from the 1990s when intelligence officers were voicing their concerns about Al Qaeda and extremist training camps in Afghanistan. Hmmmm ..... it seems that history is repeating itself.

Sabotage At An India Nuclear Plant Raises Fears And Concerns

Indian Nuclear Workers 'Deliberately Poisoned' -- AFP

BANGALORE, India — Workers at a nuclear power plant in southern India were treated for poisoning after drinking water was deliberately spiked with radiation, senior government officials said Sunday.

Routine tests showed 55 employees from the plant in Kaiga in the state of Karnataka had increased levels of the radioactive element tritium, which is used in nuclear reactors.

B. Bhattacharjee, a member of the National Disaster Management Authority, said someone had inserted contaminated water into a water cooler, according to the Press Trust of India.

Read more ....

More News On This Act of Sabotage

Kaiga nuke plant leak was inside job: Kakodkar -- Times of India
Radiation Leak at India Nuclear Plant Sickens Workers -- Bloomberg
Water Cooler at Indian Nuclear Plant Contaminated -- Voice of America
Sabotage in Kaiga: Tritium added to drinking water -- Economic Times of India
Nuke-plant staff poisoned -- Straits Times
55 workers at Kaiga receive excessive radiation -- The Hindu

My Comment: This act of sabotage is occurring at a time when security is at its highest in these nuclear plants. This is so troubling on so many levels, I do not have an idea on where to begin .... but one thing is clear .... these plants are not secure.

Canadian Combat Forces Will Be Out Of Afghanistan By 2011: Prime Minister

Canada Won't Extend Afghan Mission, Harper Says -- Globe And Mail

But no word on exactly how many Canadian troops would remain in country in non-combat roles after 2011 end date.

Canada is sticking to a 2011 end date for its combat mission in Afghanistan even as the United States prepares to significantly boost its military presence in the war-torn country.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, speaking at the conclusion of a Commonwealth leaders’ summit in Trinidad, said he doesn’t see any enthusiasm among Canada’s 308 MPs for prolonging or expanding this deployment.

Read more ....

My Comment: As reported by this blog last month, after nine years of conducting combat operations in the Kandahar District the Canadian decision to leave Afghanistan is now final. Non-combat support staff will be left behind, but how many is still to be determined.

Is there a chance that this decision will be rescinded. I have some good contacts within the Conservative Party of Canada (they are the present Government), and all of them are telling me the same thing .... Canada will be out in 2 years.

Drawing The Line On Hugo Chávez

From Shadow Government/Foreign Policy:

Ordinarily, it’s easy to dismiss the rhetoric of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez as just so much bombast meant to sate the appetites of his most radical followers. Witness, for example, his recently expressed admiration for Carlos the Jackal, Robert Mugabe, and, yes, Idi Amin.

Other times, however, Chávez wanders into territory of strategic interest to the United States, and his rhetoric, not to mention his actions, cannot be ignored.

Chávez’s latest saber-rattling vis-à-vis neighboring Colombia is just such an occasion.

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More News On Venezuela

President Hugo Chavez's revolution in Venezuela limits singing in shower -- The Telegraph
Chavez threatens to nationalize Venezuelan banks -- Business Week
Chavez Says He Has ‘No Problem’ Nationalizing Banks -- Bloomberg
Chavez threatens to nationalize Venezuelan banks -- Globe And Mail
Colombia ministers in summit 'snub' to Venezuela -- BBC
Venezuela blasts Colombia as region talks defense -- Reuters
Venezuela ratchets up tension with Colombia -- Scotland On Sunday
Venezuela May Destroy Six Bridges on Colombian Border -- Bloomberg

The Power Of Social Media

Photo from AP.

Cyber-Citizens Back SEALs -- Navy Times Scoop Deck

In the social media world, there’s growing disbelief over the detainee abuse allegations against three Navy SEALs, which came to light this week. The three were charged in connection with the alleged abuse of the purported mastermind of the 2004 ambush in Fallujah, in which four contractors from Blackwater were hanged and burned. After the news broke on Tuesday, more than 14,000 people have rallied to support them. How? Where? Facebook, of course.

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My Comment: The comments of those who joined this Facebook page are a must read. The link is here.

Obama Missile Defense Plan Clears Hurdle

From Global Security Newswire:

WASHINGTON -- Despite Republican denunciations of President Obama's decision to revamp plans for missile defenses in Europe, the Senate last week quietly offered its formal acceptance of his shift to the near-term deployment of a sea-based system to protect the continent from the looming threat of Iranian short- and mid-range missiles.

By unanimous consent, the Senate adopted an amendment to the fiscal 2010 Military Construction Appropriations bill allowing the Pentagon to use $68.5 million in unspent fiscal 2009 missile defense funds to build a Hawaii test facility for the Navy's Aegis Weapons System, which is central to the president's plans.

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My Comment: What a difference a few decades can make. When President Reagan talked about missile defense systems 25 years ago, the media focused on this story for years, and were almost universally negative in their coverage.

President Obama makes an equally big and strategic move in missile defense .... relying on the Aegis system to defend us against missile attacks .... and there is almost no coverage.

Terrorism Is Blamed For Friday's Russian Train Derailment On Frifay

Police Hunt Bomber Behind Russian Train Crash -- The Guardian

Chechen rebels suspected of carrying out deadly terrorist attack on train travelling from Moscow to St Petersburg.

Russian investigators were today hunting for the bomber behind Friday's train crash, in which 25 people died and nearly 100 were injured when their luxury express travelling from Moscow to St Petersburg was blown off the rails.

Russia's interior minister, Rashid Nurgaliev, said investigators were following several leads. They were attempting to trace a number of suspects spotted in the village near the site of the crash, including a stockily built man with red hair.

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More News On This Terror Attack In Russia

Russia police issue appeal after blast derails train -- BBC
Russian Train Bomb Suspects Left Behind Evidence -- Bloomberg
Victims are being identified after Russian train wreck -- AP
Bomb pieces steer Russian inquiry toward terror plot -- Washington Post
Train traffic resumes after deadly train crash in northwest Russia -- RIA Novosti
Train crash in northwest Russia leaves 25 people dead - minister -- RIA Novosti
Russia: How Passengers of “Nevsky Express” Tell Their Stories Through Social Media -- Global Voices Online

Ex-Detainees' Woes In Yemen Add To U.S. Fears Of Releasing Others

From The Washington Post:

ADEN, YEMEN -- Two years ago, Mohsin al-Askari was released from his prison cell at Guantanamo Bay, but he has found neither freedom nor a new life in his homeland. Potential employers are afraid to hire him. At 28, he depends on his father for financial support, charities for medical care.

With each rejection, his frustration grows, as does the temptation to return to his old life of jihad.

"The government hasn't done anything to help me," said Askari, his voice filled with bitterness.

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My comment: Yemen is in the midst of a Muslim civil war .... the Central Sunni Government against the Shiite tribes of the north .... as a result their focus is on this conflict not on taking care of some Yemenese detainees from Gitmo.

If there is one main reason why the facility should not be closed .... it is this one. But I predict that the Guantanamo detention facility will still be closed to fulfill President Obama's commitment to close it, and that most of these detainees from Yemen (some of them hardened Islamists) will be expatriated back to their country within a year.

Put Terrorists In Prison, Not U.S. Soldiers -- A Commentary From Diana West

The US Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Photograph: US army/AP

From the Washington Examiner:

During the Thanksgiving season especially, Americans should give thanks to our brave men in uniform, and women, too, fighting in hostile lands under atrocious conditions.

But there's another duty upon us as Americans with a debt of gratitude to our armed forces.

We must recognize and protest the travesties of military justice that have tried, convicted, jailed and denied clemency to all too many brave Americans, the same brave Americans who have fought our wars only to be unfairly charged with "murder" in the war zone.

Readers of this column will recall the crushing conviction of Sgt. Evan Vela, a young Ranger-trained sniper and father of two from Idaho, for executing his superior's 2006 order to kill an Iraqi man then compromising his squad's hiding place in the pre-"surge" Sunni triangle. Ten years in Fort Leavenworth, ordered not-so-blind justice. (There is evidence that Evan's harsh sentence was a blatant political offering to Iraq's government.)

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My Comment: Is a double standard at work .... it appears that many are of the opinion that there is one.

A Defiant Iran Declares Its Intent To Build Multiple Uranium Enrichment Sites

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inspecting the Natanz nuclear plant in central Iran Photograph: EPA

Iran 'Planning 10 New Uranium Enrichment Sites' -- BBC

Iran's government has approved plans to build 10 new uranium enrichment plants, according to state media.

The government told the Iranian nuclear agency to begin work on five sites, with five more to be located over the next two months.

It comes days after the UN nuclear watchdog rebuked Iran for covering up a uranium enrichment plant.

Western powers say Iran is trying to develop nuclear arms. Iran says its nuclear programme is peaceful.

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More News on Iran's Announcement To Build Multiple Uranium Enrichment Sites

Iran approves building 10 enrichment sites -- Yahoo News/AP
Defiant Iran vows to build 10 new enrichment plants -- Yahoo News/AFP
Iran announces plans for 10 new uranium enrichment plants -- Washington Post
Iran defies world with plan for ten new nuclear sites -- Times Online
Iran approves 10 new nuclear plants -- The Guardian
Iran set to construct ten new enrichment plants -- Press TV (Iran)
Iran And UN Nuclear Watchdog Have Effectively Reached A Dead End -- Gov Monitor

Weary of Political Crisis, Honduras Holds Election -- News Updates November 29, 2009

Hondurans Vote in Post-Coup Presidential Election -- Voice of America

Opinion polls indicate conservative candidate Porfirio Lobo of the opposition National Party is the clear front-runner.

elaya was ousted in a coup.

Neither President Zelaya nor Roberto Micheletti, the military-backed leader who replaced him, are competing in Sunday's election.

The two main candidates are from the country's ruling elite.

Conservative Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo of the opposition National Party is considered the front-runner. He faces Elvin Santos of the ruling Liberal Party, which ousted President Zelaya in June.

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More News On the Election of Honduras

Honduras tense as voters head to the polls -- Christian Science Monitor
Honduras voting for new president -- BBC
Honduran Hopefuls Look Past Zelaya -- Wall Street Journal
Honduras hopes to move past coup with election -- AP
Honduras braces for election unrest -- CNN
Honduras holds post-coup presidential vote -- CBC

What Are U.S. Soldiers On The Ground In Afghanistan Saying About The Upcoming Surge

U.S. soldiers keep watch near a site where a captured roadside bomb exploded in Naad Ali district of the southern Helmand province February 8, 2009 (Reuters)

Afghan Troops Eager For More Help Soon -- Washington Times

MAYWAND, Afghanistan | President Obama's pending decision to send thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan weighs heavily on U.S. forces already on the ground.

A Washington Times reporter and photographer spent much of October - the deadliest month for American troops there thus far - with U.S. Army soldiers in southern Afghanistan, who spoke openly of the need for more boots on the ground, the more and sooner the better.

"We need more troops," said Army Staff Sgt. Daniel Paul Rabidou, 24, stationed at a small combat outpost in the Maywand district. "It's just as simple as that."

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My Comment: There is a lot of info in this article. Read it all.