Saturday, August 14, 2010

What Next For Buck and Bennet, US Policy Formed By Right Wing Israelis, Lord Of The North Korean Flies

David Rothkopf
Owen Matthews
Benjamin Sarlin
Rami Khouri

"We should wake up to the fact that this the first major Middle East scenario in which the Chinese are an absolutely central player and that going forward, diplomacy in the region on a wide variety of issues that does not successfully involve Beijing will not have a chance. Those issues include -- but are not limited to -- Iran, broader WMD proliferation issues, any sanctions policies, the future of Pakistan, and even perhaps key elements of the future of Afghanistan.

And the second is that it is time now to start thinking very seriously about Plan B." - David rothkopf
"The New Orleans Saints visited the White House. They presented President Obama with a Saints jersey with the number 44, in honor of his approval rating." – Jay Leno

"Health officials in Oregon have shut down a 7-year-old girl's lemonade stand because she didn't have a license. Officials haven't issued a statement yet. They're busy popping balloon animals and stomping on sand castles." – Craig Ferguson

Benjamin Sarlin makes the case of what might happen in Congress if all of the fringe candidates like Sharron Angle, Rand Paul, Ken Buck, and Linda McMahon won their respective Senate races. I hadn't thought of that, the rising of Jim Demint as movement spokesperson... And if the Republicans won the majority back in the House, who would become Speaker? I know that John Boehner has been salivating to put his tanning booth inside of Nancy Pelosi's office, but neither he nor Mitch McConnell are smart enough lead successful negotiations with the White House. So, who will become the next best and brightest in a Republican Congress?

After reading the article and interview with Ken Buck in Politico, it looks like he is taking the right approach for his campaign, by talking to the press and answering every question. Instead of avoiding the press, like Angle and Paul have chosen to do, Ken buck is coming off more personable and is copying the page from his opponent's playbook. The negative ads against Michael Bennet from his Democratic challenger backfired, so Buck has to portray himself as being just as caring, humorous, and reasonable as Bennet is. That will make the race more equal, and the winner will depend on whichever party can get more people out to vote. But I don't think that Ken buck will be able to defeat the cuteness of Michael Bennet's daughters, who made a commercial for him that won the primary for him. It's weird, but the Colorado Senate seat may come down to who has the more sympathetic and articulate and cutest children...
"It is a much broader group than just tea parties. What I'm saying to everyone in the media is, don't put labels on me." - Ken Buck
The Democrats have already had a unity rally, with the defeated Andrew Romanoff graciously offering whatever help he can in exchange for sleeping on your couch for the night. This show of solidarity and goodwill may also impress the independent voters. Unfortunately, our tea partyers are more impressed with doom and gloom and who is more faithful to the Constitution, as they see it. I think I prefer dressing up in tie dye to dressing up in Revolutionary War gear... besides, it's infinitely more difficult to rock out to just a drum and fife...

Rami Khoury makes the case that the right wing of the Israeli government and the right wing of the American Jewish lobbying groups have come to influence US policy in the Middle East, to the detriment of all: "In domestic American political terms, the point is that any public discussion of Arab-Israeli or other Middle Eastern issues must be framed squarely, repeatedly, and solely through the lens of what right-wing Israelis and other Zionists feel is in their interest. Everything else – Arab rights, American strategic interests, the vulnerability of young American troops in the region, the stability of Arab regimes – is secondary... American principles of fair play, even-handedness, justice and equality are almost totally sidelined when Arab-Israeli issues are concerned. Three principal reactions to this can be observed to date, and continue to develop: Islamist and resistance movements continue to strengthen and act throughout the Middle East; public opinion remains deeply skeptical and critical of US policy; and, once firm American allies (like Iran and Turkey) carve out very different, independent postures for themselves.

This leaves the US anchored in the region only to a wildly militaristic and increasingly isolated and even delegitimized Israeli government, along with Arab governments that are steadily finding themselves more distant from their own people’s sentiments and values. " This is pretty consistent to what I've been saying for over a year now, and why President Obama needs to stop thinking in a linear fashion and start thinking outside of the box. We have so many think tanks that produce huge amounts of essays and analysis, most of it not worth spit. Our State Department is stuck in old school thinking, as demonstrated in our inept approach towards Iran: first try to engage, then impose sanctions, then get belligerent and threatening. Look how well it has worked out for us in Iraq and Afghanistan. We do need to start finding solutions that include the opinions of everyone living in the region, given equal weight. There is a way to end the Israeli as our enemy mentality among arab nations, but that won't happen as long as the right wing reactionaries are in power in Israel. Time for a younger generation to start leading.

But that won't be happening for awhile in Egypt. Hosni Mubarak has decided that he will run for re-election and will soon name the slate of candidates that will run with him. The dude is now in his 80's and just got out of the hospital, where it was touch and go to see if he was going to live... This means that he has decided not to try and pass the reigns to his son, and that whomever runs against him will end up in jail. It's a time honored tradition, that Mubarak rigs the elections in his favor, then charges his opponents on treason or other made up fake crimes. This is how we act out the charade of democracy in this part of the world, from Sri Lanka to Rwanda to Cairo. By contrast, Iran has had more democratic elections, they were just badly rigged so that any dumb teenager could tell the difference and take to the streets in protest...

The monsoon season is about half over for Asian countries, and already Pakistan has been devastated beyond belief, affecting over 20 million people.: "Yousuf Raza Gilani urged Pakistanis on Saturday to "join hands" to help deal with the crisis, which has left more than 1,600 people dead across the country. "This natural disaster has brought a huge devastation and approximately 20 million people have been affected by it. .. [It] destroyed standing crops and food storages worth billions of dollars, causing colossal loss to the national economy. Therefore, despite all out efforts by the government, all available aid seems to be inadequate. I would appeal to the world community to extend a helping hand to fight this calamity."

If more severe storms hit this region, Pakistan may not be able to recover. If just as severe rains hit again next year, it could mean the end of Pakistan as an independent nation, left to swelter by the international community. If cholera begins to spread and its strains mutate and won't react to modern medicine, then many more will succumb to this modern plague, and we can only stand aside and watch. Actually, if our scientists are correct in predicting that our weather patterns are becoming more severe as the planet heats up, get ready to kiss our civilizations goodbye. Hundreds of millions will no longer be with us, fulfilling the Mayan calendar prophecies... In fact, the next crank politician that denies climate change should be air-dropped into the middle of the Pakistani floods, asked to deliver a backpack of medical supplies. and good luck finding your way out...

The NY Times finally got around to publishing what has been painfully obvious for the last several months: that the 27 year old son of Kim Jong-Il has been making military policy decisions, and they all are pretty squirrely... It's part of a family tradition that began 30 years ago, when an unseasoned Kim made his own dumb decisions while he was being groomed as the next leader. Kim had a recent heart attack, and we don't think that he has recovered from it, so he is letting his son be in charge, even once while he was away to China. This explains why the recent North Korean demands and protests sounds like some petulant child, and weird military actions based in protesting south Korean naval maneuvers like firing 150 artillery rounds into an empty sea. This spate of senseless acts began when the North torpedoed a South Korean naval vessel, killing several crewmen, and who knows where it will end.

"Next month the North Koreans are expected to convene a meeting of the country’s top political leadership. There has been widespread speculation in the Japanese and South Korean media that the younger Mr. Kim will make his debut, either as the designated successor to his father, or in some central role in the country’s politburo or its most important institution, the National Defense Commission.

One leading theory is that if the elder Mr. Kim, who suffered a stroke in 2008 and appears to have only partly recovered, dies in the next few years, the country would be run by a regent, probably his brother-in-law, Jang Song-taek. But the younger Mr. Kim, who was briefly educated in Switzerland as a teenager, would be the designated leader, and presumably would ultimately take charge. Many analysts are focusing on a possible transition in 2012, the 100th anniversary of the birth of North Korea’s founder, Kim Il-sung, the father of the current leader and grandfather of the presumed successor. He died in 1994.

“You hear all these theories about how Kim Jong-un is aggressively pressing for more attacks on South Korean targets, or maybe even striking out at its allies,” said Jonathan Pollack, a professor at the Naval War College in Rhode Island and one of the country’s leading North Korea watchers. “And it’s easy to believe, because this is what happened 30 years ago. But remember, we don’t even know what the kid looks like, or even exactly how old he is,” Mr. Pollack said. “So this is a mix of intelligence and speculation, like everything else in North Korea.” See, our intelligence about North Korea is so sketchy, that we don't know what the younger Kim currently looks like, or if he's  any less of a megalomaniac than his daddy. We could have taken advantage of the opportunity when bill clinton went to North Korea to rescue the two journalists, but like every other window of opportunity, we let it slide by, showing just how young and naive our wonks in the State Department really are, unless they are really all old-school hacks who still look through a cold war lense, eh Hillary?

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