Sunday, May 9, 2010

Proximity Talks Went Well, But Largest Housing Project Ever Begins in E. Jerusalem

Richard Clarke
Fareed Zakaria
Zvi Bar'el
"Over the past four decades, much Islamic terrorism has been traced back to two countries: Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Both countries were founded as ideological, Islamic states; over the years the governments sought legitimacy by reinforcing that religious ideology, and that made the countries hothouses of militancy, fundamentalism, and jihad. That trend is slowly being reversed in Saudi Arabia, perhaps because King Abdullah could make it happen as the enlightened ruler of an absolute monarchy. It may not be so easy for Pakistan to overcome its jihadist past." - Fareed Zakaria
"The more relevant question, therefore, is: How will we respond when that car bomb does go off?" - Richard Clarke

If you have been pondering the story of the Times Square Wannabomber, then Fareed Zakaria's and Richard Clarke's opinion pieces linked above are must reads. Clarke, who was the counterterrorism coordinator for the Clinton administration and worked for the Bush administration before and during the 9/11 attacks, knows what he is talking about and has good suggestions on how to deal with the next attempt, which may succeed. It's not a question of if there will be another attempt, but when... He also has some advice for those who would pander to these terrorism attempts: "If they succeed in inflicting harm on us with terrorist acts designed to rivet media and public attention, our political debate may once again be as wrongheaded as it will be predictable. Some elected officials will claim that their party would have done a much better job protecting the country. Critics of America's Middle East policy -- or our energy policy, or our foreign policy writ large -- will also fault whatever administration is in power. If the attackers were trained in a foreign country, some Americans will advocate bombing or invading that nation (even though our large military interventions are the reason some people become terrorists). Commentators who do not place a high value on civil liberties will advocate ethnic profiling, warrantless wiretapping, detention without trial or the abandonment of our court system. Others will contend that we should spend even more taxpayer money on the nation's homeland-security-industrial complex. Above all, many will say, the attack will "prove" that our counterterrorism efforts have been feckless." I always admire someone who can use a word like "feckless"... We make movies of them, so why can't we have a superhero to save the day?

"Hezbollah has more missiles than most governments" - Robert Gates
"A war could break out this summer" - Jordan's King Abdullah
"Indeed, there is a balance of terror between Israel and its neighbors, whose purpose is deterrence. That's what every rational country does when it feels threatened and can't find a nonmilitary alternative. No doubt, Israel is threatened, but so are Syria, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. It's enough to listen to Israel's threats to "take Syria back to the Stone Age," "destroy Lebanon's civilian infrastructure" or smash Hamas to understand that the style of the Israeli threat approaches that of Iran. If anyone should be waking up in the morning in a cold sweat, it's the Lebanese, Syrians and Gazans, not the Israelis." - Zvi Bar'el

Middle East wonks will be glad to know that the first round of proximity talks, with George Mitchell starring as the proxy, has successfully been concluded. The first agreement is that Israel has pledged to halt building in East Jerusalem's Ramat Shlomo neighborhood, and the Palestinian Authority vowed to block incitement of any kind. George felt so good about it that he took a vacation. Well, he is an old man and gets tired easily... An unofficial source in the Israeli government said that there are no plans to build in East Jerusalem for at least two years.

But, in a slick move designed to circumvent the agreement, one of the largest Jewish settlement housing groups just began construction in East Jerusalem, imagine that... An American Jewish millionaire bought the land of an old police station, and is turning it into Coral Gables, Florida. By calling it renovation, they are avoiding official permits, and since there's already construction going on across the street, where is the harm adding housing for 200 more families? "The new settlement is planned to be connected to an existing Jewish neighborhood, Ma'aleh Zeitim, and together will be occupied by some 200 families, forming the largest Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem.

According to the plan, the former police structure will be razed and replaced by seven structures ranging between four and five stories in height. The plan involves high-end housing and the complex will include a swimming pool, mini "country club," community library and parking spaces. A synagogue, kindergartens and a mikveh (Jewish ritual purification bath) are also planned for construction there... A foot bridge will connect the new settlement with existing ones on the other side of the road. The settlement of Ma'aleh Zeitim across the street currently houses 51 families and in its second phase of development, which is currently being completed, another 66 housing units are being built." It depends on if the PA thinks they are having a fast one pulled on them or not, to see if they get pissed and call the whole deal off again, or if they already knew about these housing units and let them be part of the bargain. Many critics of current Israeli policy have said that it sounds as bellicose as Iran does, and doesn't really want to give peace a chance... Imagine that...

From TPM -A Consumer Index company has been taking a poll over the past few months over the popularity of consumer brand names. Here they have charted BP's over Toyota:

and a few reader's comments:
  • I can't hate BP; just look at how green their logo is. Plus, the lowercase letters suggest humility. I just don't know why people don't find them lovable anymore. - Uncle Chad
  • Then again, it seems to me a giant oil corporation would have a freakin' backup plan in case there was an oil leak, and not start drilling a relief well or capping it or whatever weeks afterward. Is it just me or should they have been there that day or the next solving this foreseeable problem? Grrrr. - PushMe-PullYou
  • Maybe they should have employed an "acoustic switch" (cost: half a million bucks each) which is designed to shut down the well automatically. Norway and Brazil require them by law. U.S. with its deregulation mania does not. Instead they chose to play Russian roulette with the Gulf of Mexico.
The CEO of BP could easily have bought several of these automatic switches out of the $9 million salary he made last year...

1 comment:

  1. One wonders if Fareed Zakaria is a jingoist wolf in a peacenik's clothing. When talking about reasons that contributed to radicalization in South Asia he makes no reference to Western use of mountain tribes to serve as barrier to communist advances.

    Carter’s National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski has stated that the U.S. effort to aid the mujahideen was preceded by an effort to draw the Soviets into a costly and presumably distractive Vietnam War-like conflict. In a 1998 interview with the French news magazine Le Nouvel Observateur, Brzezinski recalled: “We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would … That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Soviets into the Afghan trap … The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, “We now have the opportunity of giving to the Soviet Union its Vietnam War.”
    The above has been translated from the French by Bill Blum author of the indispensible, “Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II” and “Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower”

    As you do not expect Fareed Zakaria to invite alternate opinions competing with his selective and subjective worldview, portions of Bill Blum’s books can be read at:


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