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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tunisian Winds of Political Change

BLUF: The four prominent groups operating within Tunisian communities and the government include four main groups Hizb an Nahda (Ennahda), Hizb al-Tahrir, Tabligh wa Dawa, and the Tunisian Combatant Group. Under their majority control within the government basic human rights and freedoms continue to shrink as these groups move towards their goal of a caliphate.

The season has changed to autumn. So much for the Arab Spring, recent events make it look more like the Arab Fall. Since these events started in Tunisia we felt it best to start looking at events there.

The Tunisian Constitution has been written to indicate that, nationally, all religions and residents of the country shall have freedom of religion and basic human rights. In practice, this is hardly the case. In August of this year blogger Safiene Chaurabi and two of his friends were arrested one day after blogging their criticism of the government. Chaurabi was calling for protests against the government. One can only assume that a body that came to power by inciting protests first followed by violence that such a call would be seen as a rapidly growing threat.

Any rights during arrest and detention in Tunisia are whatever the police and the Department of State Security (DSS) decides you can have. There have been, and continue to be, violations of human rights in spite of the aforementioned constitutional guarantees. Reports of police torture are regularly printed in papers where there is freedom of the press.

"But, Tunisua is a democracy, they even have elections!" some say in disbelief. A 'democracy' is simply 'majority rules.' Whoever can convince the most people gets the most votes. Without a republic, a society under laws that provide for rules of conduct, a democracy is nothing more than mob rules and might makes right. Who are the majority groups voting and moving society there?

We find four Islamic groups that come in at the top of the list. These groups are Hizb an-Nahda, Hizb al-Tahrir, Tabligh wa Dawa, and the Tunisian Combatant Group.

Hizb an-Nahda, also found as Ennahda, is the praimary (largest) group in Tunisia. It uses the koran and hadith as "an anchor for political thought and practice," according to its founder Rached Ghannouchi. The group has a record of using violent means to achieve its goals. This group is Salafist.

Some reports indicate thqat the group does not operate within Tunisia, but we are not entirely convinced. The Foundry, the blog of The Heritage Foundation, indicates that the group uses its moderate political position to push forward Gannouchi's current moderate voice. Sadly, it seems that in the violence of the Arab Spring this group stepped in with other Salafist groups to gain the majority. We believe that, as the moderate face of political islam in Tunisia the West would have an excuse to turn away and ignore reports and allegations of governmental abuse of prisoners. There are numerous reports regularly about the police and officers of the Tunisian Department of State Security torturing prisoners, failing to quickly alert the judiicary system that a person has been arressted and is awaiting trial. This delay would seem to allow for recovering from some of these alleged injuries.

 Hizb al-Tahrir, the Islamic Liberation Party, is the second largest islamic group to gain political recognition in Tunisia.. This group shares the political view of the Hizbul-Tahrir in Palestine and has until recently been viewed in Tunisia as a hard-line group.  The group has allegedly renounced violence in Tunisia.  This group shares its name with other pro-caliphate groups in 40 other countries.The stated operational plan, simplified, is
1) Establish a community base.
2) Build supportand spread thei political opinion throughout their community base.
3) Once the localities are in line with the group's view, move to take over the country.

Tabligh wa Dawa is a society for spreading the faith. That is what the title means, spreading the faith. This group pops up in nations around the world. Even the State Department reports that many of its members have been caught in terrorist groups world wide and conducting terrorist operations. The group had originated in Pakistan where it gained positions of prominence within that nation's primary  military intelligence group, Inter-Services Intelligence, ISI. Reports over the past several years show that the ISI has been operationally invovled with terrorists in Afghanistan.

That brings us to another salafist group, the Tunisian Combatant Group. The TCG is based upon the Libyan based Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, SGPC. SGPC splintered off from the group that overthrew the Alferian government. The TCG was formed in 2000 and has well established connections withn al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). TCG is known to operate regionally, this includes Afghanistan, Italy, and Belgium. The Long War Journal reports that high level political members within the Tunisian Ennahda majority have been recorded conspiring to take full control of Tunisia.

 Are we here at MSMII the only ones to recognize the Barbary Coast membership?

In Tunisia we are seeing several globally operating terrorist groups gaining "legitimate" control through democracy. Remeber your early government classes, please, a democracy without societal safeguarding laws is mob rules; whereas a republic has those laws and is called a democratic republic, which is what the United States is. Based on where Obama has "helped" power has gone steadily into the hands of groups using extreme violence to gain control of the masses.

NOTE: This post was completed via iPod due to technical difficulties. In text citings were not possible. Those sites used are listed below

Monday, October 29, 2012

More Domestic Oil Than Saudi, Fewer Refineries

BLUF: As oil prices increase, Obama touts the oil exportation capacity of the United States. Quietly, the administration continues to cut off access to our petroleum resources and make licensing more and more difficult, we continue to lose our national financial blood paying OPEC nations for our energy. We MUST save our finances for our nation while we open up and safely access the more than 200 years of oil and natural gas within our own borders. We must cut off hostiles like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Russia, and the like from our money.


We have all watched our finances suffer from the skyrocketing cost of gas. During the last two years we have talked about the Keystone Pipeline and its importance in getting crude to refineries.  The Keystone would bring oil from the north Midwestern regions of America. The estimated oil reserves, according to US Energy Information Administration (EIA), 317.6 billion cubic feet which is more than 25 billion barrels of oil. This estimate only takes into consideration what technology has been able to verify. That is important as there may well be more oil than we have found. This report can be found reported in Canadian newspapers. Why not in American news media? Someone does not want the American public to know this (1).


A recent commentary that has links back to Newsmax talks about how Obama is making it harder to access our own natural resources. Additionally, America is ranked within the top 15 oil exporting countries. So, we are exporting oil, our own prices are going up, and access to our reserves is being cut off.  Reports state that we are exporting around 2 million barrels per day. At the same time, we are importing 22 million barrels per day for our own consumption. Shipping costs have gone up, prices for gasoline have hit stratospheric levels, and we are selling oil. With the price of crude, this would make sense, at first blush; however, it would be a wiser investment (rebuilding, updating, maintaining our own oil infrastructure will put hundreds of thousands of people back to work and paying into the national tax system thereby lowering our national deficit) than selling crude as a cheap and unfinished raw product.


Think of it this way, finished diamonds are highly sought after while raw, uncut diamnds are not sold in stores. Why? What is the daily consumer going to do with uncut, unpolished, raw diamonds? The value in any product comes from it being made into something more valuable.


Alaska’s congressional delegation — Sens. Mark Begich (a Democrat) and Lisa Murkowski, and Rep. Don Young — call the administration’s action “the largest wholesale land withdrawal and blocking of access to an energy resource by the federal government in decades.”

Who are we importing oil from? Each day, the U.S. uses about 21 million barrels of oil-more than any other country in the world. It imports about 58% of it.  One of those countries  is Socialistic Dictator Chavez’s Venezuela where miners and oil rig workers die regularly in facilities that are maintained at safety levels far below those of US standards, and are likely to be far more hazardous to the surrounding environment. Another one is Saudi Arabia, one to which Obama showed his (sadly our nation’s, too) servitude to by bowing in front of.  The more than 30 other nations include a number of countries which have a record of internationally opposing the US.


Someone at has written a piece about how the Keystone Pipeline project is about to become as useful as the pyramids. The pipeline that will transfer all that oil to refineries and shipping ports is about to become obsolete? It seems to us that the Alaskan Pipeline is not able to handle the full capacity of the oil reserves in the Alaskan Wildlife Reserve. It hails the US prospect of exporting oil. The piece ignores the facts that drilling into those reserves is becoming more and more restrictive, made so by the current administration (3) (4).


The gross ignorance of transporting that oil out coupled with some minor grammatical errors that are college freshman mistakes and that the author completes missed the concept of HOW to actually get the oil shipped out of those northern reserves tell us two immediate things about the author. First, the author supports the restrictions that are in place preventing our access to the oil reserves and the jobs that would result from that access. Second, the author was writing out of reflex rather than rational thought and research.


Our take, at MSMII, is that the Keystone Pipeline is vital in that it would provide hundreds of thousands of jobs in drilling, construction, facility maintenance, refineries, and the thousands of other jobs that would develop around that jobs base. Another point that MSMII feels is worth stressing is this nation’s capacity to refine that crude and make it into usable, sellable products of value.


Please, do not take our word for it, check the links below. After the bibliographic links we have also included a number of statements and the sites through which we researched them.







Further Reading for your edification


United States Now Has More Oil Than Saudi Arabia: Obama Bans U. S. Drilling: Forces Our Money To Islamic Nations For Oil.

The United States has plenty of oil within US borders. We don’t have to rely on foreign oil anymore! It is just a matter of drilling and getting the oil out. The oil is there! Remember the song….”America, America God shed his grace on thee”? It is true! God provided this country with more than enough oil for generations to come.

Did you know…

There is a massive 200 billion barrel oil field located in North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana. And it even gets better! Because of new horizontal drilling technology, it is estimated that this huge field may even produce up to 500 billion barrels of oil! The Saudi’s are estimated to have only 260 billion barrels of oil, clearly putting America in the cat bird seat!


But the good news does not stop there! Alaskais just waiting to drill for oil. In fact the governor of Alaska is suing the government for failing to drill for oil. Alaskan oil fields are massive. At Gull Island, Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, there is enough oil and natural gas to keep America going for the next 200 years! Yes, for the next 200 years!


There is even better news! The US Outer Continental Shelf has 112 billion barrels of oil, not to mention a whopping 656TRILLION cubic feet of natural gas! WHY are people struggling to pay winter heating bills when we have natural resources like this?


Oil shale is abundant in the US. In fact, half of all the earth’s oil shale deposits are located within 150 miles of Grand Junction, Colorado! Shell Oil is working on new technology which will make oil shale extraction financially feasible. They plan to open a shale oil plant in 2010. It will provide a piece of the puzzle toward energy independence for the United States.


Then of course, just about everyone knows that the United States is the Saudi Arabia of coal. With 275 billon tons of coal! We have more coal than just about any other place in the world. Enough coal for American needs for the next 250 years! Once again, new technology is underway to make coal burning safe for our environment.


So there we have it! It is time for the US to get serious about energy independence and drill for oil. The environmentalists should move to China and India where pollution is really is out of control. With the new technology used in the oil fields of today, the impact on the environment is there but it is controlled. With environmental controls oil fields can be environmentally safe.

When it comes to the environment we need to understand that as long as there are billions of people living on this planet, there will to be a negative impact on the environment. That is just the way it is unless billions of people die, and even then environmentalists would complain about rotting corpses creating a problem for the environment. There is simply no way around problems with the environment when you have billons of people to contend with. The human race needs to protect this planet, yet we have to live too. Living without energy is not an option. Until we have plentiful, green energy we will have to rely on the oil based solutions of old. It will take time to convert to green energy and that quest is just as important as drilling for oil is now. We can’t let the ball drop in either arena.

Obviously we should have been exploring our oil supplies 10 years ago. Now it will take at least 2 years before oil and then gas will come back down to a livable price for most Americans. 80% of all Americans claim climbing gas prices are affecting their lives in a very negative way.

And is it no wonder! Food prices go up every time a barrel of oil reaches a new high. Add to all of this are the flood woes of the Midwest which will mean even higher food prices yet to come. This winter will be especially tough for most people as they struggle to heat their homes with the highest projected heating costs of all time, and if that is not enough, they will be hit with unaffordable food prices, making it harder than ever to put food on the table for the family. This is not the America I know, or want to know.

Whoever wants to be the next president can easily get elected if they take the bull by the horns, and start drilling! We need to open the US oil fields in Alaska, Montana, and North and South Dakota as soon as possible. And, once we have that oil flowing all across America, we can tell the Middle East what to do with their oil. For too long we danced to their tune. It was degrading to both President Bush and Americans across the country when he went begging to the Saudi’s, hat in hand, pleading for increased oil production, which the Saudi’s denied. No American president should ever have to go through that again, especially when we have billions of barrels of oil right in our own back yard.

The next few years will be a time of financial hardship, but once American oil becomes available, it will not take long for the economy to turn around. This time of austerity is beneficial in a way, because it forces us to seek new and better ways to do things. And, new and better ways of doing things…..well that is a lot of what this country is all about! In the face of adversity, we will prevail and prosper in the end! We can do it! God Bless America!

Hub Pages

The Obama administration is continuing a ban on offshore drilling in favor of offshore wind farms at a time when gasoline threatens to reach $5/gallon an economic nightmare the American public might see develop in 2011.



The biggest wave of refinery closures on the U.S. East Coast is raising the specter of gasoline shortages during the peak-demand driving season.

The region will have lost almost half of its refining capacity in six months by July, according to data compiled by Bloomberg based on Energy Department statistics. Requests to send gasoline on Colonial Pipeline Co.’s link from the Gulf Coast to the eastern U.S. have exceeded capacity since August, company data show.

Gasoline futures have risen 24 percent this year, the most of any of the 24 commodities in the Standard & Poor’s GSCI index, on speculation that the closures will crimp supply in New York Harbor, the benchmark contract’s delivery point, just as improving U.S. economic growth and job hiring spurs demand. At the same time, shipping rules limit the availability of tankers to supply the region from the Gulf, while European refiners reduce exports in the face of lower profit margins.

"Domestic infrastructure remains extremely constrained and there is not enough time for that to be resolved by summer," Amrita Sen, a London-based analyst at Barclays Plc, said Wednesday in an e-mail. "Gasoline supplies will be highly constricted as a result and prices will have to rise to attract more imports."

Gasoline for April delivery fell 0.5 percent to $3.3396 a gallon yesterday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Spot prices for reformulated fuel in the U.S. Gulf Coast were 7.13 cents a gallon above Nymex futures, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Regular gasoline at the pump in the East Coast was $3.811 a gallon as of March 19, 7.7 percent higher than a year earlier, Energy Department data show.

The risk of shortages increases the prospect of record costs for motorists during a U.S. presidential campaign. Pump prices may reach an average of $4 a gallon this summer and might climb to near $5 in some areas of the East Coast, Stephen Schork, president of the Schork Group, an energy-consulting firm in Villanova, Pa., said in an interview with Bloomberg Radio March 5.

In its most recent gasoline price survey, AAA reported last Friday that a gallon of unleaded in New Jersey cost $3.63, up from $3.39 a year earlier. As prices inch towards $4, the state’s motorists are paying an average of 20 cents less than drivers nationwide.

Sunoco Inc. and ConocoPhillips have shut two plants in Pennsylvania and plan to idle a third that together could process more than 700,000 barrels a day of oil. Hovensa LLC closed a plant in the U.S. Virgin Islands that was the largest offshore shipper to the region.

Colonial will expand a line supplying fuel to New York Harbor by 125,000 barrels a day by 2014, the company announced at a San Diego conference March 12. Cargoes arriving from abroad may account for 36 percent of Northeast gasoline consumption this year, the Energy Department said Feb. 27.

The closures reduce the capacity to produce summer-grade reformulated gasoline, or RBOB, the fuel on which Nymex futures are based, with the approach of the peak driving season between the Memorial Day weekend in late May and Labor Day in early September.

"It’s more difficult to make than winter grade and you’ve got a lot of major producers out of the market," Edward L. Morse, the global head of commodities research at Citigroup Inc. in New York, said yesterday in telephone interview. "I don’t know where the material is going to come from."


Refinery Capacity Report

Data series include fuel, electricity, and steam purchased for consumption at the refinery; refinery receipts of crude oil by method of transportation; and current and projected atmospheric crude oil distillation, downstream charge, and production capacities. Respondents are operators of all operating and idle petroleum refineries (including new refineries under construction) and refineries shut down during the previous year, located in the 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and other U.S. possessions.

The 2012 Refinery Capacity Report does not contain working and shell storage capacity data. This data is now being collected twice a year as of March 31 and September 30 on the Form EIA-810, "Monthly Refinery Report", and is now released as a separate report Working and Net Available Shell Storage Capacity.


Contrary to popular belief there are many, spread all over. According to the EIA, 149 refineries are operating in the United States. However, they are not all dedicated to refining oil into usable gasoline, and 149 still aren't enough. The real problem, however, is not that there aren't enough refineries (which, once again, there aren't,) but that the refineries we have are not working at maximum capacity. Regularly, their parent companies will shut them down or scale them back, dramatically reducing their output. The oil companies say its due to refinery age, repairs, etc. There is much debate, however, as to whether or not these actions are actually deliberate in order to boost prices at the pump. It could be argued that with problems occurring that increase expenses for oil companies that their increase in profits recently makes those same statements of high expenditures false. What adds further weight to the debate is the fact that dozens of refineries have been closed in the past 15 years, which doesn't add up during a supply shortage or price spike caused by the same, with increase in demand. It is also widely known that in the mid-1990's some refineries were closed as a direct result of refinery overproduction, during times of surplus, which was due to a loss of profits by the relevant companies. This further makes recent industry profit spikes quite coincidental, now that those refineries are closed and production is strickly controlled, shortage or surplus with every barrel with limited refineries, which can be slowed for any reason. Regardless, production of gasoline and related products is affected, and to be fair, 60% of U.S. oil is imported, and so conflicts in Iraq and problems with Iran, Venezuela, long shipping times/distances all can also dramatically affect the price of gasoline as well, and have been known to hamper it in the past.


Q:Does the U.S. lack sufficient oil refining capabilities?

A: We have half as many refineries as we did in 1982, and they're not meeting demands. Regulations, practical challenges and economic factors all play a role.


The lack of U.S. oil refinery capacity keeps being blamed for some of the large increases in gas prices. Do we lack refining capacity and, if so, why?


Though oil refinery productivity in the United States has been improving, the number of operating refineries has been dropping steadily. In 1982, the earliest year for which the Energy Information Administration has data, there were 301 operable refineries in the U.S., and they produced about 17.9 million barrels of oil per day. Today there are only 149 refineries, but they're producing 17.4 million barrels – less than in 1982, but more than any year since then. The increase in efficiency is impressive, but it's not enough to meet demand: U.S. oil consumption is 20.7 million barrels per day. Refinery capacity isn't the only factor in the price of gasoline, and according to the EIA it's not the most important one either (that would be the cost of crude oil), but it's certainly a contributor.

Existing refineries have been running at or near full capacity since the mid-1990s, but are failing to meet daily consumption demands. Yet there hasn't been a new refinery built in the U.S. since 1976. Why? Several factors: Building a refinery is expensive, there are a lot of environmental restrictions on where and how they can be built and nobody wants to live near one. One company, Arizona Clean Fuels, has been trying to construct a refinery in the Southwest since 1998. Getting a permit to build took seven years, and the company twice changed the plant's proposed location because of environmental restrictions and land disputes. The refinery is projected to have a $3.7 billion total price tag. The EIA recorded per-barrel profits of $5.29 in 2006; at that rate, the 150,000-barrel-per-day refinery would need to operate for almost 13 years before its profits outweighed the cost of building it.

In short, the reason for not adding more refineries is straightforward: It's hard, and it's expensive. The reason that we have so few in the first place is more complicated. In the 1980s and 1990s, there was a surplus of refining capacity. Then, over the course of two decades, half of the plants shut down. In 2001, Oregon senator Ron Wyden presented to Congress a report arguing that these closings were calculated choices intended to increase oil company profits. Fewer refineries means less product in circulation, which means a lower supply-to-demand ratio and more profit. Wyden's report cites internal memos from the oil industry implying that this reduction was a deliberate attempt to curtail profit losses.

The economic pressures of oversupply could have led to plant closings even without a more calculated decision, of course. In 2005, the head of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association testified at a House hearing that the rate of return on investment in refining averaged just five and a half percent from 1993 to 2003.

Gasoline shortages in California

Shortages in the Southeast

People are talking about exporting oil? Refineries are closing ... We have greater oil reserves than Saudi Arabia, the leading oil selling country today, but our refineries are closing.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Week In Review October 26, 2012

BLUF: Syria has progressed beyond where the United States needs to get involved. There are Sunnis fighting shi'ites, Hezbollah and Hamas are there, Russia has a fleet support base there, Iran has hopes for cruise missile launch sites there as well as aspirations to use the seaports there. The end of Assad is coming. The next administration had better have more than academics and the like of Albright and her failed North Korea nuclear disarmament talks, because Iran and Russia are not leaving the area unless Western allies comes in and bring some semblance of order. Who knows, Israel might be the first one to go in swinging.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Syria's Major Supporters And Why

There has been a lot of press and talk about the Assad regime and the violence that is spreading slowly out of its borders. We have seen Iran as a major supporter of Bashar al-Assad. Today we need to look at the top three political and material supports that Assad has. Those three supporting nations, in ascending order, are China, Russia, and Iran. This analysts will not take into account UN votes, but financial and material support. China has its trade route and an ideolgue supporting some of their territorial views. Russia maintains a stronger military presence in the eastern Mediteranean, profits from arms sales, and has invested billions into Syrian infrastructure. Iran, we can easily state that they are knee deep in the hooplah and they are in it for the full range of what happens.

China has quite a financial interst with Syria. China, as of February this year, was Syria's third largest export country. Recall history, Syria was part of the Silk Road. Even today, china sees Syria as a trading and shipping hub. A rather important hub, at that. Ideologically, Hu Jintao and Assad have given support to each other on some views that have caused strong international angst over. Those views include Syrian support of China's claims and treatment of Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjang, and on China's application of human rights. China continues to support Assad on his claims over the Golan Heights.

China and Syria find mutually beneficial financial and ideological support for each other.

Russian support for the Assad regime includes military and financial interests as well. The depth of these interests goes far deeper than those of China.

Financially Russia is looking to recover financial interests are closely tied to its military interests in the region. The port at Tartus provides a strategic foothold. The Black Sea Fleet uses the port facilities for ship maintenance, supply, and logistics. The facilities at Tartus and the power grud in the surrounding area infrastructure has benefitted from Russia's investing $19.4 billion dollars in 2009. As of 2011 the facilities and piers at Tartus can, and have, supported guided missile cruisers and Kuznetzov class aircraft carriers. Russia continues to act in ways that undermine American interestts.

Russia may also be getting some isolationism ideas like the  methods used during the Cold War. At that time the West made strategic allies in order to surround Russian expansion and stop their geographic spread. Current examples include US support to Bahrain and Uzbekistan. I believe that this gambit is one that will completely fail for the West.

The Russian Liberal Democratic Party leader, Vladimir Zhimorovsky, has made some very strong statements againsty Western support to the rebels. Statements that indicate there is much more going on than is currently visible. Zhimorovsky has said that any US support to the rebels is "absolutely unacceptable" and would, in his eyes be, tantamount to violently toppling a regime.

Russia gains a naval forward support base and earns billions from arms sales. Commercially, Russia has earned $5 billion in weaponss sales to Damascus.

Iranian Support is all geared towards gaining a physical and very strategic position in the region. Iran has been so completely isolated from decent international contact for so long that the leadership is looking for any way to expand out of their isolation. By any means includes the blatant shipments by air and over land as well as the hardcer to see support through Hezbollah and in assisting Assad with the training and manning, as it were, of an army of children suicide bombers and fighters. This last group is known as the Basij, which Ahmedinijad claims to be. Judging by his age and grey hair, I openly declare him a failure in his service as a child soldier/suicide bomber. If Ahmedinijad could have done that right 40 years ago his poor judgement and mistakes wouldn't be an issue now.

Seriously, Iran already has missiles that can strike Israel from inside its borders, but, I am guessing that the guidance systems still leve something to be desired. Iran has successfully launched mutlistage rockets and put sattelites into orbit, but, they have yet to demonstrate the capacity to deliver their paylods at range. Every missilt that Iran has, buys, and makes can carry a nuclear payload. Iran is even working on its own independent re-entry vehicle. This IRV makes enough people at the IAEA to start investigations, not that any inspection will receive compliance from Ahmedinijad or Khameini.

Iran has the largest missile surplus in the Middle East. One of their missile production/storage sites was just bombed in Sudan earlier this week. Reports of this Israerli lead attack state that 300 Shahab III missiles there were destroyed. Iran is trying to put its own strike missile system in place in Syria. Why would they not expect to be allowed to? That is, should Assad not die in place.

Just imagine the changes that would most undoubtedly take place if Russia and Iran had missile silos in Syria while the US missile defense system, which Obama unplugged and dismantled, absent from the region. Could we ever again have allies in Eastern Europe? Could we carry on trade theough that region? No, not at all. The US Naval Fleet coverage and the protections it guarantees would be stripped away from the Mediteranean, through the Gulf of Aden, off the Somali pirate coast, and into the Indian Ocean.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Syria A Failing State or Burgeoning State of Multitheism?

Syria truly is more of a keystone state than most give it credit for. I have several blog entires from more than a year ago looking at the mess there. Syrian sectarian and ethnic divisions into individual sovereign states would begin the rush for more similar states across the Middle East.

Syria is now closing in on the end of its second year of fighting. It is in no way an internal fight. What started as an ethnic cleansing by al-Assad, who follows a Shi'ite form of Islam, has spilled over its own borders into Jordan and Turkey, thus threatening a broader internastional conflict. There are a growing number of deaths in both of these neighboring countries. These would include the assassination by car bomb of Jordian Intelligence office, Brg. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan in Beirut.

While there is enough tumult going on in Syria, what is the view of the regional states? The London based editor of Al-Quds Al-Arabia, Abd al-Atwan, warns that no country isd immune to the risks of dividing into ethnic and sectareian lines. What? There is a risk of a country being a mix of ethnicities and religious beliefs? What if a country existed that allowed people to believe as they wanted? My goodness, that would mean no state religion and less control over peoples thoughts and actions! No, not that! Anything but a country with the American First Amendment protections! Seriously, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Jordan, Iraq, and the other Arabian Street and Gulf State actors loathe the idea of this happening anywhere in the world. They will do anything to prevent it in their backyard.

Atwan warns his readers globally that if the Alawhites get to have a state, the Sunni's will get to have a state, the Kurds will have a stae, Saudi Arabia will have to provide a state for al-Aksa, the Coptic Christians in Egypt wouldf get their own sovereign state. I cannot stress how horrific an idea this is to the domineering views of Sunni and Shi'ite sects throughout the Middle East.

Almost all of the Middle EAstgern states have come together and voiced their commitment towards preventing Syria from falling into this abyss of partitioning with its sectarian and ethnic violence. How's that working so far? There is no sectarain violence or ethnic violence of any sort within these countries. Copts in Egypt, Kashmiris in between Pakistan and India, and so on.

How does Iran fit into this? Iran, a Shi'ite dominated country, plays into a number of issues that directly and indirectly impact Americans.

Iran is sending troops, Basij (child suicide soldiers), heavy munitions, weapons, as well as financial and medical aid into Syria on a frighteningly regular basis. How they are doing this is by using both ground transportation, previously with the knowledge and highly probable assistance of Iraqi indicted PM Maliki, and via air transportation through Iraqi airspace. How is this going to impact anything in America? It's just regional, reight? It's contained within Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, and Iran, right? Really contained.

How this impacts the united states immediately is that these countries are also OPEC members. We are currently buying their oil. We are dependcant upon their oil right now, not our own greater resources available domestically and at far lower costs. Look at a map of the region and you will see the Suez Canal, Straights of Hormuz, and the Gulf of Aden. More than 80% of the world's international shipping goes through there. Going around the African continent takes far too much time, whih is why the Suez Canal was built. If this region degrades furhter into choas, conflict, and more violence, most everything we buy is goipng to skyrocket in cost.

I believe that we already understand that Iran is investing so much into the Assad regime that Iran expects to be able to expand into Syria. If this happens, we again come to the Suex Canal. I can see IRan charging for ships to enter or exit safely, just as Egypt chargesa for transit through the canal. Again, due to the risks and costs involved due to pirates, the Egyptian fees for transit, and the IRanian fees, it is clear how this will also raise costs on the massive amounts of global shipping through the region.What would Iranian missile silos and anti ship m,issiles along the coast look like? Suppose there was an Iranian nuclear cruise missile stationed there? That threatens more shipping and all of Europe. Even though Khameini and Ahmedinijad are at odds with each other regarding nuclear capacity of any sort, Khameini has proven powerless in stopping Ahmedinijad's nuclearv progress.

Syria truly is more of a keystone state than most give it credit for. Syrian sectarian and ethnic divisions into individual sovereign states would begin the rush for more similar states across the Middle East. There is already enough strife and tension between Sunni and Shi'ite, you can only imagine the carnmage and chaos that would result from Christians, Kurds, and other religious sects having their own states not answerable to Suadi Arabian, Iranian, or other powerful states in the region.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Obama Carter Clinton Power Plant and Plans Opinion

The agreement which Obama appears to be making a deal that would be shouldered by a future administration, not at all by him. Whether that was by plan in 1994 I cannot say with certainty.

Not all plans carry out in life as they were designed to on paper. Such is the case with President Clinton and former President Carter. President Clinton wanted to allow NK to have a light water reactor (LWR) so that Kim Jung Il could provide power for his country to improve their living conditions. After all, even Kim Jung Il has a right to peaceful nuclear power so that his people could  have energy to power their cities so that the people could live at a higher standard. Right?

Lets jump to Cairo in 2009 when Obama says to the world that even Iran should be allowed to have nuclear power so that the Iranian people could have energy to power their cities so that the people could live at a higher standard. Sounds familiar? Yes, it should.

In between these two events of Clinton-Carter providing an LWR to Nirth Korea and the Cairo speech, there is a long history for North Kirea and Iran both violating every sanction against them as we'll a every agreement entered into insofar as non proliferation goes.

The Council on Foreign Relations makes reference to released diplomatic cables from WikiLeaks. Iran and North Korea were both benefitting from Pakistani scientist, A. Q. Khan. It was known that shipments between Iran and NK were going through China. The Kgan network collaborated on ballistic missiles.

Both NK and Iran have centrifuges which are similar enough that it is clear the Khan network brought these three countries together, in my opinion, for nuclear proliferation.

Should we be opposed to Iranians having energy that us more reliable than what they have now? No.

Obama is I the same mind that Clinton and Carter were. Only now, Obama I deliberately forgetting the years of violated sanctions, the years of threats against Israel and America from the same people he is cutting a deal with. It was a foolish and morbidly poor decision then. It is only worse now because Obama, allegedly educated, is ignoring a painfully recent lesson. This is Obama Biden Clinton. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Presidential Advisors on Foreign Policy

The president and Mitt Romney have a number of advisory boards. So, who has been serving on theadvisory board for Obama and for Romney's plans for foreign policy?

BLUF: Bottom Line Up Front, Obama has four academics, three Madeleine Albrights, two Sam Nunn's, one retired veteran, one former intelligence specialiast, and a Joe Biden. By the way, Albright was part of the FAILED North Korea nuclear disarmaqment talks (emphasis is mine).

Romeny has six Hawks looking closely at Iran, vocal American exceptionalists, four highly qualified internationl intelligence professionals, and one former terrorist who is strongly anti-Sharia. This last man, Walid Phares, may seem dubious; however, I have met him, talked with him, and attended some of his speaking events. This man knows the world of terrorists like no one else inside the United State4s policy teams.

Since he is the winner of the last presidential electoral fight, in the Incumbant Corner we have President Obama, a former community coordinator, and his team of Foreign Policy Advisors. Obama's policy, according to Wikipedia (such a bastion of knowledge nuggets, eh?) is described "as a form of realism unafraid to deploy American power but mindful that its use must be tempered by practical limits and a dose of self awareness.

That team includes ...
Hillary Clinton:            Secretary of State; Former First Lady, former top level lawyer.
Tom Donilon:              National Security Advisor; Manager of Overseas Crises; 1993 he was the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs; A partner with the Washington office of the national law firm of O'Melveny and Myers This man is described as the central figure of Obama's foreign policy. He seems to be a top go-to-guy and, it would appear, the most likely suspect in national security leaks of late.
Susan Rice:                  1993 Started her career with the National Security Council in Washington, DC, as the director of international organizations and peacekeeping; Was a \n ardent follower of Madeleine Albright on African Affairs under President Clinton; Currently Ms. Rice is the US Ambassador to the UN; Has likely lost her run for Secretary of State to John Kewrry due to her claims that the recent embassy attacks were from spontaneous protests about an anti-islam film.
Joe Biden:                    Vice President; Has not made foreign policy, but keeps in touch with world leaders; Was the Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations; In 1990 predicted that the Soviet Union would cease to exist, how about that, Vladimir Putin, your Russia no longer exists. What dfo you have to say about that?; Nation building can prevent full scale war is one of his beliefs.
Dennis McDunough:    Was Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress; Former Foreign Policy Advisor to Tom Daschle; Outspoken  proponent for energy and environmental concerns; Feels that the US Aid Packages are inadequate, "woefully insufficient", according to a report on; Believes that American needs to set clear deadlines on troop withdrawal so that we c an focus on reducing the national deficit and solve our own economic problems.
Richard Danzig:           Sam Nunn Prize Fellow in International Security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; Consultant to the Department of Defense on bio-terrorism; Holds that Security Strategy should "aim to keep us and our allies free ... [and] protect as much as possible".
Jonathon Scott Gration: Retired Air Force Brigadier General; CEO of Millenium Villages, based upon the UN Millenium Development goals to bring African villages out of poverty; Dirfector of Strategy, policy, and assessments for Europen Command (EUCOM); Supported withdrawal of troops from Iraq, but, to his credit, said that if the situation required it that it would "be crazy not to readjust"; Supports hunting terrorists into Pakistan.
Sam Nunn:                   Former politician from Georgia; Lead the effort to reduce the global threat of nuclear arms; Served eight years as the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee; Voted against the first Gulf War.
William J. Perry:         Was Senior Fellow at Hoover Institute; Was a Professor at Stanford University; 1994-1997 Served as Secretary of Defense; Sent US Forces into Haiti; Oversaw military intervetion in Bosnia in 1994; Critic al of the US Invasion in Iraq; Suipports nuclear disarmament.
Sarah Sewell:               Lectured on Public Policy; Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Assistance under Clinton; Called for a natinoal doctrine delineating the responsibilities of both civilian and military insofar as nation building is concerned.
Anthony Lake:             National Security Advisor to Clintonfor Bosnia and Somalia; Pushed for greater UN involvement in Sudan; Critical of the Iraq War.
Mark Lippet:                Served one tour in the Navy as an Intelligence Officer for the SEALs; Completed one tour in Iraq; Known as the closest daily advisor to Obama; Reported to have had a hand in every major speech and statement OBama has given on foreign affairs; Worked for the Senate Appropriations Committee on Foreign Operations Subcommittee and the Senate Democratic Policy Committee.
Suasan Rice:                Was a Senior Fellow at Brookings Institute for Foreign Policy Global Policy, and Global Ecoonomic Development; Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairstowards the end of the Clinton Presidency; Critical of the Iraq War; Wanted tougher US response to the Darfur situation; Advocates fighting global poverty as part of US National Security.
George B. Craig:         Former Clinton Whitehouse Aid; Director of Policy Planning under Madeleine Albright; Partner in a Washington law firm; Criticized Bush for taking sides in some Latin American elections.
Madeleine Albright:    Secretary of State under Clinton; Former US Ambassador to the UN; Part of nuclear disarmament talks with North Korea; Believes that America has lost its moral authority.
Joe Biden:                    A name that speaks for itself.

In short, Obama has four academics, three Madeleine Albrights, two Sam Nunn's, one retired veteran, one former intelligence specialiast, and a Joe Biden.

In the challenger's corner we have Mitt Romney, who has built a national level highly respected investment firm. His policy appears to be storngly hawk, and fiscally aware.

Romney's corner men include
Cofer Black:                Former CIA counter terrorism department head; Former Vice Chairman of controversial Black Water; Serves as in house intelligence for Romney; Has the dubious reputation of conceiving, planning, leading the CIA's war in Afghanistan; supported enhanced interrogation, yes, torture.
John Lehmon:             Former Secretary of the Navy under Reagan; Continues to vierw Russia as a primary threat to the United States.
Paul Dobriansky:        Began his career in the State Department, he was the Under Secretary for Global Affairs; Known as a staunch defender of human rights.
Mitchell Reiss:            Director of Policy Planning under Collin Powell; Integral part of the Northern Ireland Peace Proicess.
Robert Kagan:             Most vocal of the American exceptionalists; A thoughtful writer who is respected by both Democrats and Republicans alike.
John Bolton:                Former US Ambassador to the UN; Chastized Bush for not being hawkish enough towards IRan.
Elliot Cohen:               Pushed the case for toppling Saddam Hussein; Continues to push for a closer overwatch on Iran; Conmsiders military intervention in Iran as a possibility.
Walid Phares:              As a teen was recruited by al-Zawahiri extremism and terrorism: Active and vioolent participant in the Lebanese civil war; Nowe an ardent anti-Sharia speaker, teacher, and writer.
Michael Hayden:         Lead both CIA and NSA under G. W. Bush; Supports torture for getting information in order to prevent military and national security losses.
Dan Senor:                   Has participated in debates about military action against Iran: Had previously said, in regards to Iraq, that "Off the record, Paris is burning. But, on the record, security and stability are returning".
Max Boot:                    Hawkish; Supports showing US strength; Said that Iraq would have bennefitted from a long term commitment of 65,000 to 70,000 troops; Advocates staying longer in Afghanistan; Advocates bombing Iran.
Eric Edelman:              Hawkish: Former Cheney aid; Former Ambassodr to Turkey; Believes that a war with IRan is a better alternative than a nuclear capable Iran; Recently made some harsh statements against Obama in leaking classified material, but has been involved in doing so himslelf under Scooter Libby.

In short, strong advocates of American strength, leadership, and prominance in the world. This team has policy writing experience, and has gotten their lumps in the real world, not in academics.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Rebuilding American Influence in the Middle East is NOT a DIY Project

On the 18th the NY Times published an OpEd by Marwan Muasher, a former Jordanian diplomat. Mr. Muasher asked what can America do to rebuild influence in the Middle East. One suggestion was that our nation (that, by law, cannot have an official religion) must back "a dynamic change toward pluralism". Lets look briefly at pluralism in the east, shall we. In Egypt Coptic Christians are hunted and slaughtered with impunity. In Darfur there is an Arab tribe, Jinjaweed (Arabic for Devils on horseback) that are trying to cleanse the area of Africans so it can be an all Arabian region. Iran and Syria have spent the past several years trying to kill off all the non-Shi'ites within their boarders. Iraq has spent decades torturing and murdering non-Sunni people. This does not fit the definition of pluralistic.

Mr. Marwan acknowledges that there was a time when America had influence on the Arabian Street. He does not say when, in his opinion, that changed. I believe that shift happened during President Ford's time in office. The first sign of that was when the Arab members of OPEC started the oil embargo against America. Those members were, and these should sound familiar, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. That embargo bled us financially and showed us vulnerable. What does that mean? Consider now these two Arabian proverbs, "A falling camel invites many knives" and "When people see two horses and one is strong and the other weak, people naturally like the strong horse".

The Middle East is a harsh environment that has bred a harsh people. Weakness is a detriment to survival. Only here, in America, do people cheer for the under dog. Culturally, we see even the sickly runt of the litter as valuable. In the Middle East the scarce resources are saved for the strong, not the weak. This is a dichotomy that is completely the opposite of ours.

Fast forward past the list of attacked US Embassies (still an act if war according to Clinton's Stated Departmentt) to the time when Obama met the Saudi King. Obama deliberately did what President John F. Kennedy said that no leader of the free world should ever do. Obama bowed. The Middle East is not a dojo, bowing is a sign of subjugation. By bending over and exposing your neck you are saying that your life is theirs to take or to spare.

Apologizing for aging been a world leader, which is another sign of weakness. It says to them that we should not be better off than they. It makes America look like a falling camel.

So, how do we regain face, rebuild any semblance of power, in the Arabian Street?

Al Jazeera just posted a video, in English so we can clearly get it, that Clinton, Obama, and America are not welcome there. That video is titled "You Are Not Welcome in Egypt". This year alone has seen more than $250 million dollars given to the Egyptian banking sector to prevent a collapse, $90 million for democratic development, $100 million for economic recovery, and not with Obama's yearly $1 billion dollar gift. That comes out to $1.8 billion of our tax dollars given to one government that has openly opposed America for the last 39 years while profiting from us.

How do we regain influence in the Middle East? With backbone, swift, harsh responses to acts of war and opposition, with a clear message that we are stronger than they.

I have no idea how we can do this. We need the likes of Fenerals Abrams, Patton, Schwartzkopf, the business acumen of Lee Iacoca, JP Morgan, Carngie,and Presidents Reagan and Bush senior to formulate that plan. We need, as a nation, to be able to stomach what must be done. This must include developing our own sources of fuel and energy. We must revitalize our industrial souls. Other than that, I must leave it to those with bigger brain pans than I.