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August, 2011:

Libya: A Premature Victory Celebration

By George Friedman

The war in Libya is over. More precisely, governments and media have decided that the war is over, despite the fact that fighting continues. The unfulfilled expectation of this war has consistently been that Moammar Gadhafi would capitulate when faced with the forces arrayed against him, and that his own forces would abandon him as soon as they saw that the war was lost. What was being celebrated last week, with presidents, prime ministers and the media proclaiming the defeat of Gadhafi, will likely be true in due course. The fact that it is not yet true does not detract from the self-congratulations.

For example, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini reported that only 5 percent of Libya is still under Gadhafi’s control. That seems like a trivial amount, save for this news from Italian newspaper La Stampa, which reported that “Tripoli is being cleaned up” neighborhood by neighborhood, street by street and home by home. Meanwhile, bombs from above are pounding Sirte, where, according to the French, Gadhafi has managed to arrive, although it is not known how. The strategically important town of Bali Walid — another possible hiding place and one of only two remaining exit routes to another Gadhafi stronghold in Sabha — is being encircled.

To put it differently, Gadhafi’s forces still retain military control of substantial areas. There is house-to-house fighting going on in Tripoli. There are multiple strongholds with sufficient defensive strength that forces cannot enter them without significant military preparation. Although Gadhafi’s actual location is unknown, his capture is the object of substantial military preparations, including NATO airstrikes, around Bali Walid, Sirte and Sabha. When Saddam Hussein was captured, he was hiding in a hole in the ground, alone and without an army. Gadhafi is still fighting and posing challenges. The war is not over.

It could be argued that while Gadhafi retains a coherent military force and significant territory, he no longer governs Libya. That is certainly true and significant, but it will become more significant when his enemies do take control of the levers of power. It is unreasonable to expect that they should be in a position to do so a few days after entering Tripoli and while fighting continues. But it does raise a critical question: whether the rebels have sufficient coherence to form an effective government or whether new rounds of fighting among Libyans can be expected even after Gadhafi’s forces cease functioning. To put it simply, Gadhafi appears to be on his way to defeat but he is not there yet, and the ability of his enemies to govern Libya is doubtful.

Immaculate Intervention

Given that the dying is far from over, it is interesting to consider why Barack Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron, the major players in this war, all declared last week that Gadhafi had fallen, implying an end to war, and why the media proclaimed the war’s end. To understand this, it is important to understand how surprising the course of the war was to these leaders. From the beginning, there was an expectation that NATO intervention, first with a no-fly zone, then with direct airstrikes on Gadhafi’s position, would lead to a rapid collapse of his government and its replacement with a democratic coalition in the east.

Two forces combined to lead to this conclusion. The first consisted of human-rights groups outside governments and factions in foreign ministries and the State Department who felt an intervention was necessary to stop the pending slaughter in Benghazi. This faction had a serious problem. The most effective way to quickly end a brutal regime was military intervention. However, having condemned the American invasion of Iraq, which was designed, at least in part, to get rid of a brutal regime, this faction found it difficult to justify rapid military intervention on the ground in Libya. Moral arguments require a degree of consistency.

In Europe, the doctrine of “soft power” has become a central doctrine. In the case of Libya, finding a path to soft power was difficult. Sanctions and lectures would probably not stop Gadhafi, but military action ran counter to soft power. What emerged was a doctrine of soft military power. Instituting a no-fly zone was a way to engage in military action without actually hurting anyone, except those Libyan pilots who took off. It satisfied the need to distinguish Libya from Iraq by not invading and occupying Libya but still putting crushing pressure on Gadhafi.

Of course, a no-fly zone proved ineffective and irrelevant, and the French began bombing Gadhafi’s forces the same day. Libyans on the ground were dying, but not British, French or American soldiers. While the no-fly zone was officially announced, this segue to an air campaign sort of emerged over time without a clear decision point. For human-rights activists, this kept them from addressing the concern that airstrikes always cause unintended deaths because they are never as accurate as one might like. For the governments, it allowed them to be seen as embarking upon what I have called an “immaculate intervention.”

The second force that liked this strategy was the various air forces involved. There is no question of the importance of air power in modern war, but there is a constant argument over whether the application of air power by itself can achieve desired political ends without the commitment of ground forces. For the air community, Libya was going to be the place where it could demonstrate its effectiveness in achieving such ends.

So the human-rights advocates could focus on the ends — protecting Libyan civilians in Benghazi — and pretend that they had not just advocated the commencement of a war that would itself leave many people dead. Political leaders could feel that they were not getting into a quagmire but simply undertaking a clean intervention. The air forces could demonstrate their utility in delivering desired political outcomes.

Why and How

The question of the underlying reason for the war should be addressed because stories are circulating that oil companies are competing for vast sums of money in Libya. These stories are all reasonable, in the sense that the real story remains difficult to fathom, and I sympathize with those who are trying to find a deep conspiracy to explain all of this. I would like to find one, too. The problem is that going to war for oil in Libya was unnecessary. Gadhafi loved selling oil, and if the governments involved told him quietly that they were going to blow him up if he didn’t make different arrangements on who got the oil revenues and what royalties he got to keep, Gadhafi would have made those arrangements. He was as cynical as they come, and he understood the subtle idea that shifting oil partners and giving up a lot of revenue was better than being blown up.

Indeed, there is no theory out there that explains this war by way of oil, simply because it was not necessary to actually to go war to get whatever concessions were wanted. So the story — protecting people in Benghazi from slaughter — is the only rational explanation for what followed, however hard it is to believe.

It must also be understood that given the nature of modern air warfare, NATO forces in small numbers had to be inserted on the ground from the beginning — actually, at least a few days before the beginning of the air campaign. Accurately identifying targets and taking them out with sufficient precision involves highly skilled special-operations teams guiding munitions to those targets. The fact that there have been relatively few friendly-fire accidents indicates that standard operational procedures have been in place.

These teams were probably joined by other special operators who trained — and in most cases informally led — indigenous forces in battle. There were ample reports in the early days of the war that special operations teams were on the ground conducting weapons training and organizing the fighters who opposed Gadhafi.

But there proved to be two problems with this approach. First, Gadhafi did not fold his tent and capitulate. He seemed singularly unimpressed by the force he was facing. Second, his troops turned out to be highly motivated and capable, at least compared to their opponents. Proof of this can be found in the fact that they did not surrender en masse, they did maintain a sufficient degree of unit coherence and — the final proof — they held out for six months and are still holding out. The view of human-rights groups that an isolated tyrant would break in the face of the international community, the view of political leaders that an isolated tyrant facing the might of NATO’s air forces would collapse in days and the view of the air forces that air strikes would shatter resistance, all turned out to be false.

A War Prolonged

Part of this was due to a misunderstanding of the nature of Libyan politics. Gadhafi was a tyrant, but he was not completely isolated. He had enemies but he also had many supporters who benefitted from him or at least believed in his doctrines. There was also a general belief among ordinary government soldiers (some of whom are mercenaries from the south) that capitulation would lead to their slaughter, and the belief among government leaders that surrender meant trials in The Hague and terms in prison. The belief of the human-rights community in an International Criminal Court (ICC) trying Gadhafi and the men around him gives them no room for retreat, and men without room for retreat fight hard and to the end. There was no way to negotiate capitulation unless the U.N. Security Council itself publicly approved the deal. The winks and nods that got dictators to leave in the old days aren’t enough anymore. All countries that are party to the Rome Statute are required to turn a leader like Gadhafi over to the ICC for trial.

Therefore, unless the U.N. Security Council publicly strikes a deal with Gadhafi, which would be opposed by the human-rights community and would become ugly, Gadhafi will not give up — and neither will his troops. There were reports last week that some government soldiers had been executed. True or not, fair or not, that would not be a great motivator for surrender.

The war began with the public mission of protecting the people of Benghazi. This quickly morphed into a war to unseat Gadhafi. The problem was that between the ideological and the military aims, the forces dedicated to the war were insufficient to execute the mission. We do not know how many people were killed in the fighting in the past six months, but pursuing the war using soft military power in this way certainly prolonged the war and likely caused many deaths, both military and civilian.

After six months, NATO got tired, and we wound up with the assault on Tripoli. The assault appears to have consisted of three parts. The first was the insertion of NATO special operations troops (in the low hundreds, not thousands) who, guided by intelligence operatives in Tripoli, attacked and destabilized the government forces in the city. The second part was an information operation in which NATO made it appear that the battle was over. The bizarre incident in which Gadhafi’s son, Seif al-Islam, announced as being captured only to show up in an SUV looking very un-captured, was part of this game. NATO wanted it to appear that the leadership had been reduced and Gadhafi’s forces broken to convince those same forces to capitulate. Seif al-Islam’s appearance was designed to signal his troops that the war was still on.

Following the special operations strikes and the information operations, western rebels entered the city to great fanfare, including celebratory gunfire into the air. The world’s media chronicled the end of the war as the special operations teams melted away and the victorious rebels took the bows. It had taken six months, but it was over.

And then it became obvious that it wasn’t over. Five percent of Libya — an interesting calculation — was not liberated. Street fighting in Tripoli continued. Areas of the country were still under Gadhafi’s control. And Gadhafi himself was not where his enemies wanted him to be. The war went on.

A number of lessons emerge from all this. First, it is important to remember that Libya in itself may not be important to the world, but it matters to Libyans a great deal. Second, do not assume that tyrants lack support. Gadhafi didn’t govern Libya for 42 years without support. Third, do not assume that the amount of force you are prepared to provide is the amount of force needed. Fourth, eliminating the option of a negotiated end to the war by the means of international courts may be morally satisfying, but it causes wars to go on and casualties to mount. It is important to decide what is more important — to alleviate the suffering of people or to punish the guilty. Sometimes it is one or the other. Fifth, and most important, do not kid the world about wars being over. After George W. Bush flew onto an aircraft carrier that was emblazoned with a “mission accomplished” banner, the Iraq war became even more violent, and the damage to him was massive. Information operations may be useful in persuading opposing troops to surrender, but political credibility bleeds away when the war is declared over and the fighting goes on.

Gadhafi will likely fall in the end. NATO is more powerful then he is, and enough force will be brought to bear to bring him down. The question, of course, is whether there was another way to accomplish that with less cost and more yield. Leaving aside the war-for-oil theory, if the goal was to protect Benghazi and bring down Gadhafi, greater force or a negotiated exit with guarantees against trials in The Hague would likely have worked faster with less loss of life than the application of soft military power.

As the world contemplates the situation in Syria, this should be borne in mind.

Libya: A Premature Victory Celebration is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

Preparations For Hurricane Irene

It is too early to tell just how devastating hurricane Irene is going to be. While it was forecast to be a devastating hurricane, recent reports (and measurements) show that it is weakening. But, that is no reason for people to let down their guard, or to assume that this is just another “ho-hum” storm. New Jersey and New York will be hit by crippling, unprecedented (in the last 70 years) storm surges. Many areas of Long Island, and maybe even Manhattan and JFK, will be inundated with water during the storm surge. Mayor Blumberg issued an evacuation order, and those who choose to ignore it are taking their lives in their own hands.

Fortunately for me, I don’t live in an area that will be inundated by storm surge waters, but I may have damage from falling trees, especially since the ground is saturated from recent heavy rain storms. But, what should the millions of people who are in the path of hurricane Irene do? If you think that the “government” will protect you, think again. Think about how “well” the government protected the citizens of New Orleans; NOT! You are on your own; the only person who can protect you is YOU!

So, what can you do to protect yourself? You need to think about your basic needs. The most important of them is water. If you don’t have enough water bottles to last at least a week, you need to go and buy them in the next couple of hours. If you have some empty booze, soda, or milk containers, you could simply fill them with tap water, although you need to be really careful about washing out any bottles that were used for items that can spoil like milk. If you don’t have such bottles, buy a few gallons of bottled water for each member of your family. Then, you need water for personal hygiene. This would be water to use to flush the toilet. To fill this need, fill all of your bathtubs with water and buy a bucket. Depending on how large your bathtub is, you may get up to 20 or even 40 flushes from a bathtub full of water In the same way, fill any laundry-room sinks that you may have with water. (If you have a swimming pool, you don’t need to do any of this; just use water from the pool.)

Another major concern is food spoilage. Before the hurricane hits, set your refrigerators and freezers to their lowest temperature settings. In this way, you will get the maximum “life” out of them before food starts to spoil. Also, if you have a grocery store in the area that sells dry ice, you may want to buy some and put it into your refrigerator and freezers.

Next, you need to worry about actual food. Obviously, canned food is best. If you don’t have at least a few weeks worth of canned food, buy it! If you don’t need it now, you can always use it later.

Another essential item is toilet paper. Buy enough to last a couple of months, and use it as needed. Since there is no “use by” date, your excess is always good, and in an extreme emergency, you can always barter it for other items. (Just think how valuable your toilet paper might be to an unprepared neighbor when they run out of toilet paper!)

While this storm is rapidly approaching, and it may be too late for many people to prepare, there is still time and opportunity for some people to prepare so that they can ride it out in relative comfort.

Fill your bathtubs with water for toilet flushing.

Fill your available bottles with water for cooking and drinking.

Fill your gas cans if you have a generator.

Buy some Clorox and research it’s use for sterilization of water, if needed.

Fill your propane tanks for use for cooking, if needed.


The New Libya: Be Afraid; Be Very Afraid

I have been saying for months that the “Arab Spring” uprisings in the Middle East will probably end very badly, and this is looking to be especially true in Libya. As I noted in February, it is clear that Mustafa Abdel Jalil is an Islamist, but the more I look into the situation, the worse it gets. While watching al Jazeera yesterday, one of the guests was Omar Ashour. During the show, he mentioned that Jalil may have been a former member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. This is a well-known terrorist organization that officially merged with al Qaeda on November 3, 2007! (1) I thought I had heard wrong; how could the Western world be so stupid as to be dealing with a  person who may have a history of membership in a known terrorist organization? (Actually,  given our history of failed interference in foreign countries, ranging from the causing of the Viet Nam war by falsely reporting that one of our ships was fired upon by the North Vietnamese in the Gulf of Tonkin, to the birth of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, to other stupid foreign intervention ideas like the Bay of Pigs,  I guess it is not too surprising.) If you want to see just how bad the CIA record is, or how incompetent they have been, just read Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA Anyway, I thought that maybe there was a mistake, so I dug a little deeper.

It turns out that the bulk of the “Libyan resistance” is based in the northeastern area of Libya. This is an area that includes Benghazi and Darnah. As pointed out in “Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters In Iraq“, over 60 percent of the terrorists in Iraq whose records were captured in 2007 who came from Libya came from Darnah, while almost 24% came from Benghazi. Also, as shown in the graph below, Libya  was where the greatest number of terrorists in Iraq came from, in terms of terrorists per capita. It turns out that this northeastern portion of Libya is the home of the Harabi tribe. This tribe tends to be dominated by Islamists. Some of the known members of the National Transitional Council, including Mustafa Abdel Jalil, are members of this tribe. A very interesting and detailed article was written back in March shortly after the fighting started in Libya called “The CIA’s Libya Rebels: The Same Terrorists who Killed US, NATA Troops in Iraq“. The article subtitle was “2007 West Point Study Shows Benghazi-Darnah-Tobruk Area was a World Leader in Al Qaeda Suicide Bomber Recruitment.”  This article points out:

The most striking finding which emerges from the West Point study is that the corridor which goes from Benghazi to Tobruk, passing through the city of Darnah (also transliterated as Derna) them (sic) represents one of the greatest concentrations of jihadi terrorists to be found anywhere in the world, and by some measures can be regarded as the leading source of suicide bombers anywhere on the planet. Darnah, with one terrorist fighter sent into Iraq to kill Americans for every 1,000 to 1,500 persons of population, emerges as suicide bomber heaven, easily surpassing the closest competitor, which was Riyad, Saudi Arabia.

Of course, we are supposed to believe that they have seen the evil of their way and are now all for democracy, but i don’t buy it. There is a well known principle of taqiyya in Islam, which amounts to deliberate deception. Lie, cheat, murder; it is all allowed, and in fact encouraged, in Islam as long as it advances the spread and power of Islam. (And, lets not forget the mysterious murder of Abdul Fatah Younis after he was summoned to Benghazi by the National Transitional Council. He was in competition with Jalil for leadership of the NTC. He was also a member of the Harabi tribe. Perhaps he knew something damaging about Jalil or other members of the NTC. Perhaps it is just the usual “Muslims behaving badly.” The people in the West are just too naive and ignorant of the ways of Islam to recognize the truth, even when it is right in front of them.

The identity of some of the  members of the National Transitional Council has not been released. Why is that? We are told it is for the safety of those people. But, the question is, safety from who? Are they afraid that if their identities become known they might be met with a hellfire missile suppository from the drones that we operate over Libya? It is well known that the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group were based in the northeaster portion of Libya. This group officially merged with al Qaeda in 2007. And, it was just announced that the new military leader in Tripoli is Abdel Hakim Belhadj, who was a member of the LIFG. Are we really so stupid that we are going to give billions of dollars to an unknown bunch of Muslims, many of whom are obviously Islamists, and some of whom almost certainly were, and maybe still are, jihadists? And lets not forget that Libya is a nation, with a military and military weapons. Are we now prepared to give al Qaeda its own nation with a huge armory that can be turned against us?

We discovered, thanks to al Qaeda documents captured in 2007, that a huge percentage of the suicide bomber fodder in Iraq came from one location; northeastern Libya. Is it a coincidence that the heart of the rebel force comes from the Benghazi area, which is in northeast Libya? I don’t believe in coincidences.

Those documents were analyzed by West Point to try to determine common beliefs and ideologies and backgrounds of al Qaeda suicide bombers. They found:

According to West Point authors Joseph Felter and Brian Fishman, Saudi Arabia took first place as regards absolute numbers of jihadis sent to combat the United States and other coalition members in Iraq during the time frame in question. Libya, a country less than one fourth as populous, took second place. Saudi Arabia sent 41% of the fighters. According to Felter and Fishman, “Libya was the next most common country of origin, with 18.8% (112) of the fighters listing their nationality stating they hailed from Libya.” Other much larger countries were far behind: “Syria, Yemen, and Algeria were the next most common origin countries with 8.2% (49), 8.1% (48), and 7.2% (43), respectively. Moroccans accounted for 6.1% (36) of the records and Jordanians 1.9% (11).”2

This means that almost one fifth of the foreign fighters entering Iraq across the Syrian border came from Libya, a country of just over 6 million people. A higher proportion of Libyans were interested in fighting in Iraq than any other country contributing mujahedin. Felter and Fishman point out: “Almost 19 percent of the fighters in the Sinjar Records came from Libya alone. Furthermore, Libya contributed far more fighters per capita than any other nationality in the Sinjar Records, including Saudi Arabia.” (See the chart from the West Point report, page 9)2

But since the Al Qaeda personnel files contain the residence or hometown of the foreign fighters in question, we can determine that the desire to travel to Iraq to kill Americans was not evenly distributed across Libya, but was highly concentrated precisely in those areas around Benghazi which are today the epicenters of the revolt against Colonel Gaddafi which the US, Britain, France, and others are so eagerly supporting.

As Daya Gamage of the Asia Tribune comments in a recent article on the West Point study, “…alarmingly for Western policymakers, most of the fighters came from eastern Libya, the center of the current uprising against Muammar el-Qaddafi. The eastern Libyan city of Darnah sent more fighters to Iraq than any other single city or town, according to the West Point report. It noted that 52 militants came to Iraq from Darnah, a city of just 80,000 people (the second-largest source of fighters was Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which has a population of more than 4 million). Benghazi, the capital of Libya’s provisional government declared by the anti-Qaddafi rebels, sent in 21 fighters, again a disproportionate number of the whole.”3 Obscure Darnah edged out metropolitan Riyadh by 52 fighters to 51. Qaddafi’s stronghold of Tripoli, by contrast, barely shows up in the statistics at all. (See chart from West Point report, page 12)

The chart is reproduced next:

What explains this extraordinary concentration of anti-American fighters in Benghazi and Darnah? The answer seems related to extremist schools of theology and politics which flourished in these areas. As the West Point report notes: “Both Darnah and Benghazi have long been associated with Islamic militancy in Libya.” These areas are in theological and tribal conflict with the central government of Colonel Gaddafi, in addition to being politically opposed to him. Whether such a theological conflict is worth the deaths of still more American and European soldiers is a question which needs urgently to be answered.

We also know that this same group has been telling us bald-faced lies. A few days ago, they announced that they had captured most of Gaddafi’s sons. The next day, Saif al Islam made a triumphant appearance at a Tripoli hotel. Oops! And, it was later admitted that they did not have any of the other sons. “Oh, we had them, but they escaped.” Sure. And “I used to be a jihadist, but trust me, I’m all for secular, pluralistic democracy today!” Oh, and like the socialists that they have announced they will be in the (possibly fake) draft constitution that was leaked a few days ago, they are telling Italy and France and anyone who will listen that they must be given a couple of billion dollars. Now! Or else! .

Meanwhile, Gaddafi’s weapons, including mustard gas and tens of thousands of shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles are up for grabs. In fact, it was reported that rebels had grabbed at least 2500 SA-7 missiles, which I suspect are out of the country and on their way to various jihadists in the United States and Europe. And, there are tons of yellow cake uranium that could be used for dirty bombs. (Or, in the hands of Iran or North Korea, made into nuclear weapons.)

It has been reported that the Libyan war has cost the United States, alone, almost $1 billion dollars. How about reimbursing us, first? And, how about extraditing the Pan Am bomber? (That won’t happen, unless we wisely snatch him in the confusion), since the new, draft constitution specifically says that Libya will not extradite anyone. Of course, if they intended to make Libya  into a jihad state, you would expect them to not allow any extradition of terrorists. And, today, the NTC officially announced that they will not allow the extradition of ANY Libyan citizens, thus confirming my suspicion, and lending further credibility to the validity of the released supposed constitution.

We need to insist on complete transparency, and the identities and background of all members of any proposed government before we give them billions of dollars and control over a massive arsenal, since if my suspicions are correct, they will simply use those assets against us.

Be afraid; be very afraid.

1) page 9


3)Daya Gamage, “Libyan rebellion has radical Islamist fervor: Benghazi link to Islamic militancy, U.S. Military Document Reveals,” Asian Tribune, March 17, 2011, at

Israeli-Arab Crisis Approaching

By George Friedman

In September, the U.N. General Assembly will vote on whether to recognize Palestine as an independent and sovereign state with full rights in the United Nations. In many ways, this would appear to be a reasonable and logical step. Whatever the Palestinians once were, they are clearly a nation in the simplest and most important sense — namely, they think of themselves as a nation. Nations are created by historical circumstances, and those circumstances have given rise to a Palestinian nation. Under the principle of the United Nations and the theory of the right to national self-determination, which is the moral foundation of the modern theory of nationalism, a nation has a right to a state, and that state has a place in the family of nations. In this sense, the U.N. vote will be unexceptional.

However, when the United Nations votes on Palestinian statehood, it will intersect with other realities and other historical processes. First, it is one thing to declare a Palestinian state; it is quite another thing to create one. The Palestinians are deeply divided between two views of what the Palestinian nation ought to be, a division not easily overcome. Second, this vote will come at a time when two of Israel’s neighbors are coping with their own internal issues. Syria is in chaos, with an extended and significant resistance against the regime having emerged. Meanwhile, Egypt is struggling with internal tension over the fall of President Hosni Mubarak and the future of the military junta that replaced him. Add to this the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and the potential rise of Iranian power, and the potential recognition of a Palestinian state — while perfectly logical in an abstract sense — becomes an event that can force a regional crisis in the midst of ongoing regional crises. It thus is a vote that could have significant consequences.

The Palestinian Divide

Let’s begin with the issue not of the right of a nation to have a state but of the nature of a Palestinian state under current circumstances. The Palestinians are split into two major factions. The first, Fatah, dominates the West Bank. Fatah derives its ideology from the older, secular Pan-Arab movement. Historically, Fatah saw the Palestinians as a state within the Arab nation. The second, Hamas, dominates Gaza. Unlike Fatah, it sees the Palestinians as forming part of a broader Islamist uprising, one in which Hamas is the dominant Islamist force of the Palestinian people.

The Pan-Arab rising is moribund. Where it once threatened the existence of Muslim states, like the Arab monarchies, it is now itself threatened. Mubarak, Syrian President Bashar al Assad and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi all represented the old Pan-Arab vision. A much better way to understand the “Arab Spring” is that it represented the decay of such regimes that were vibrant when they came to power in the late 1960s and early 1970s but have fallen into ideological meaninglessness. Fatah is part of this grouping, and while it still speaks for Palestinian nationalism as a secular movement, beyond that it is isolated from broader trends in the region. It is both at odds with rising religiosity and simultaneously mistrusted by the monarchies it tried to overthrow. Yet it controls the Palestinian proto-state, the Palestinian National Authority, and thus will be claiming a U.N. vote on Palestinian statehood. Hamas, on the other hand, is very much representative of current trends in the Islamic world and holds significant popular support, yet it is not clear that it holds a majority position in the Palestinian nation.

All nations have ideological divisions, but the Palestinians are divided over the fundamental question of the Palestinian nation’s identity. Fatah sees itself as part of a secular Arab world that is on the defensive. Hamas envisions the Palestinian nation as an Islamic state forming in the context of a region-wide Islamist rising. Neither is in a position to speak authoritatively for the Palestinian people, and the things that divide them cut to the heart of the nation. As important, each has a different view of its future relations with Israel. Fatah has accepted, in practice, the idea of Israel’s permanence as a state and the need of the Palestinians to accommodate themselves to the reality. Hamas has rejected it.

The U.N. decision raises the stakes in this debate within the Palestinian nation that could lead to intense conflict. As vicious as the battle between Hamas and Fatah has been, an uneasy truce has existed over recent years. Now, there could emerge an internationally legitimized state, and control of that state will matter more than ever before. Whoever controls the state defines what the Palestinians are, and it becomes increasingly difficult to suspend the argument for a temporary truce. Rather than settling anything, or putting Israel on the defensive, the vote will compel a Palestinian crisis.

Fatah has an advantage in any vote on Palestinian statehood: It enjoys far more international support than Hamas does. Europeans and Americans see it as friendly to their interests and less hostile to Israel. The Saudis and others may distrust Fatah from past conflicts, but in the end they fear radical Islamists and Iran and so require American support at a time when the Americans have tired of playing in what some Americans call the “sandbox.” However reluctantly, while aiding Hamas, the Saudis are more comfortable with Fatah. And of course, the embattled Arabist regimes, whatever tactical shifts there may have been, spring from the same soil as Fatah. While Fatah is the preferred Palestinian partner for many, Hamas can also use that reality to portray Fatah as colluding with Israel against the Palestinian people during a confrontation.

For its part, Hamas has the support of Islamists in the region, including Shiite Iranians, but that is an explosive mix to base a strategy on. Hamas must break its isolation if it is to counter the tired but real power of Fatah. Symbolic flotillas from Turkey are comforting, but Hamas needs an end to Egyptian hostility to Hamas more than anything.

Egypt’s Role and Fatah on the Defensive

Egypt is the power that geographically isolates Hamas through its treaty with Israel and with its still-functional blockade on Gaza. More than anyone, Hamas needs genuine regime change in Egypt. The new regime it needs is not a liberal democracy but one in which Islamist forces supportive of Hamas, namely the Muslim Brotherhood, come to power.

At the moment, that is not likely. Egypt’s military has retained a remarkable degree of control, its opposition groups are divided between secular and religious elements, and the religious elements are further divided among themselves — as well as penetrated by an Egyptian security apparatus that has made war on them for years. As it stands, Egypt is not likely to evolve in a direction favorable to Hamas. Therefore, Hamas needs to redefine the political situation in Egypt to convert a powerful enemy into a powerful friend.

Though it is not easy for a small movement to redefine a large nation, in this case, it could perhaps happen. There is a broad sense of unhappiness in Egypt over Egypt’s treaty with Israel, an issue that comes to the fore when Israel and the Palestinians are fighting. As in other Arab countries, passions surge in Egypt when the Palestinians are fighting the Israelis.

Under Mubarak, these passions were readily contained in Egypt. Now the Egyptian regime unquestionably is vulnerable, and pro-Palestinian feelings cut across most, if not all, opposition groups. It is a singular, unifying force that might suffice to break the military’s power, or at least to force the military to shift its Israeli policy.

Hamas in conflict with Israel as the United Nations votes for a Palestinian state also places Fatah on the political defensive among the Palestinians. Fatah cooperation with Israel while Gaza is at war would undermine Fatah, possibly pushing Fatah to align with Hamas. Having the U.N. vote take place while Gaza is at war, a vote possibly accompanied by General Assembly condemnation of Israel, could redefine the region.

Last week’s attack on the Eilat road should be understood in this context. Some are hypothesizing that new Islamist groups forming in the Sinai or Palestinian groups in Gaza operating outside Hamas’ control carried out the attack. But while such organizations might formally be separate from Hamas, I find it difficult to believe that Hamas, with an excellent intelligence service inside Gaza and among the Islamist groups in the Sinai, would not at least have known these groups’ broad intentions and would not have been in a position to stop them. Just as Fatah created Black September in the 1970s, a group that appeared separate from Fatah but was in fact covertly part of it, the strategy of creating new organizations to take the blame for conflicts is an old tactic both for the Palestinians and throughout the world.

Hamas’ ideal attack would offer it plausible deniability — allowing it to argue it did not even know an attack was imminent, much less carry it out — and trigger an Israeli attack on Gaza. Such a scenario casts Israel as the aggressor and Hamas as the victim, permitting Hamas to frame the war to maximum effect in Egypt and among the Palestinians, as well as in the wider Islamic world and in Europe.

Regional Implications and Israel’s Dilemma

The matter goes beyond Hamas. The Syrian regime is currently fighting for its life against its majority Sunni population. It has survived thus far, but it needs to redefine the conflict. The Iranians and Hezbollah are among those most concerned with the fall of the Syrian regime. Syria has been Iran’s one significant ally, one strategically positioned to enhance Iranian influence in the Levant. Its fall would be a strategic setback for Iran at a time when Tehran is looking to enhance its position with the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. Iran, which sees the uprising as engineered by its enemies — the United States, Saudi Arabia and Turkey — understandably wants al Assad to survive.

Meanwhile, the fall of Syria would leave Hezbollah — which is highly dependent on the current Syrian regime and is in large part an extension of Syrian policy in Lebanon — wholly dependent on Iran. And Iran without its Syrian ally is very far away from Hezbollah. Like Tehran, Hezbollah thus also wants al Assad to survive. Hezbollah joining Hamas in a confrontation with Israel would take the focus off the al Assad regime and portray his opponents as undermining resistance to Israel. Joining a war with Israel also would make it easier for Hezbollah to weather the fall of al Assad should his opponents prevail. It would help Hezbollah create a moral foundation for itself independent of Syria. Hezbollah’s ability to force a draw with Israel in 2006 constituted a victory for the radical Islamist group that increased its credibility dramatically.

The 2006 military confrontation was also a victory for Damascus, as it showed the Islamic world that Syria was the only nation-state supporting effective resistance to Israel. It also showed Israel and the United States that Syria alone could control Hezbollah and that forcing Syria out of Lebanon was a strategic error on the part of Israel and the United States.

Faced with this dynamic, it will be difficult for Fatah to maintain its relationship with Israel. Indeed, Fatah could be forced to initiate an intifada, something it would greatly prefer to avoid, as this would undermine what economic development the West Bank has experienced.

Israel therefore conceivably could face conflict in Gaza, a conflict along the Lebanese border and a rising in the West Bank, something it clearly knows. In a rare move, Israel announced plans to call up reserves in September. Though preannouncements of such things are not common, Israel wants to signal resolution.

Israel has two strategies in the face of the potential storm. One is a devastating attack on Gaza followed by rotating forces to the north to deal with Hezbollah and intense suppression of an intifada. Dealing with Gaza fast and hard is the key if the intention is to abort the evolution I laid out. But the problem here is that the three-front scenario I laid out is simply a possibility; there is no certainty here. If Israel initiates conflict in Gaza and fails, it risks making a possibility into a certainty — and Israel has not had many stunning victories for several decades. It could also create a crisis for Egypt’s military rulers, not something the Israelis want.

Israel also simply could absorb the attacks from Hamas to make Israel appear the victim. But seeking sympathy is not likely to work given how Palestinians have managed to shape global opinion. Moreover, we would expect Hamas to repeat its attacks to the point that Israel no longer could decline combat.

War thus benefits Hamas (even if Hamas maintains plausible deniability by having others commit the attacks), a war Hezbollah has good reason to enter at such a stage and that Fatah does not want but could be forced into. Such a war could shift the Egyptian dynamic significantly to Hamas’ advantage, while Iran would certainly want al-Assad to be able to say to Syrians that a war with Israel is no time for a civil war in Syria. Israel would thus find itself fighting three battles simultaneously. The only way to do that is to be intensely aggressive, making moderation strategically difficult.

Israel responded modestly compared to the past after the Eilat incident, mounting only limited attacks on Gaza against mostly members of the Palestinian Resistance Committees, an umbrella group known to have links with Hamas. Nevertheless, Hamas has made clear that its de facto truce with Israel was no longer assured. The issue now is what Hamas is prepared to do and whether Hamas supporters, Saudi Arabia in particular, can force them to control anti-Israeli activities in the region. The Saudis want al Assad to fall, and they do not want a radical regime in Egypt. Above all, they do not want Iran’s hand strengthened. But it is never clear how much influence the Saudis or Egyptians have over Hamas. For Hamas, this is emerging as the perfect moment, and it is hard to believe that even the Saudis can restrain them. As for the Israelis, what will happen depends on what others decide — which is the fundamental strategic problem that Israel has.

Israeli-Arab Crisis Approaching is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

Libya’s Draft Constitution: Officially An Islamist State And Terrorist Haven

I have predicted before that the “Arab Spring” is going to end very badly, in that all the talk of democracy is nothing more than a smokescreen for the coming Sharia states and thus oppressive theocracies, just like we see in Iran. If you recall, that was also going to be a democratic revolution, at least until the revolution turned revolting. I have also stated that Libya’s new, self-proclaimed leader, Mustafa Abdel Jalil is obviously an Islamist. In recent weeks, it has become even more obvious that the people who are taking over Libya are Islamists, and many of them have terrorist ties. In fact, it has been recently reported that at least 2500 SA-7 shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles have been stolen from Libyan stockpiles and spirited out of the country by Islamists, undoubtedly to turn up at an airport near you in the future. Today, on al Jazeera, I heard that Libya has a large stockpile of mustard gas. You can bet some of the “rebels” are working to get their hands on that.

Today, a document titled “Draft Constitutional Charter for the Transitional Stage” was leaked. Of course, I don’t know if this document is genuine. It might be a fake. But, it does not look like a fake, and I see no reason to doubt its validity. The important part is that if it is genuine, then it clearly shows that Libya will become both another Islamist state, ruled by Sharia, as well as a safe haven for terrorists.

The document starts out innocently enough, with a discussion of how Libya will achieve democracy and will be a land with justice, science, culture, welfare, health, etc. (Never mind the simple fact that Islam is anathema to all of those subjects and objectives.) But, then, in Article (1), it states:

Libya is an independent Democratic State wherein the people are the source of authorities. The city of Tripoli shall be the capital of the State. Islam is the Religion of the State and the principal source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence (Sharia). Arabic is its official language while preserving the linguistic and cultural rights of all components of the Libyan society. The State shall guarantee for non-Moslems (sic) the freedom of practising (sic) religious rights and shall guarantee respect for their systems of personal status.

There you have it. The law of the land will be based on Sharia. With the fact that Sharia mandates third class status to all non-Muslims, and second class status to women, and also mandates that all laws come from Allah, they can put all the warm and cuddly boilerplate in their constitution to appease the credulous infidels, but since Sharia is going to be the law of the land, it will be another oppressive theocracy. Plus, with Islam the official religion of the state, you can be sure that all other religions will be oppressed, as specifically stipulated by Sharia.

Later in the document there is another interesting statement. Article (10) states:

The extradition of political refugees shall be prohibited. The State shall guarantee the right of asylum.

At first, I did not think too much of this, although it seemed a little strange. But then, while reading The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, I noticed a particular paragraph that was referring to how Barack Obama had tried to help fellow Marxist Raila Odinga win the presidency of Kenya a few years ago. (Odinga actually named his son Fidel!) Odinga was an Islamist, and wanted to turn Kenya into an Islamist state. He lost the election, but then went on the war path in Kenya causing massive loss of life and property. But, the specific paragraph in the book (p69) that got my attention was related to how Odinga was opposed to his opponent’s (and presidential winner) policy of cooperation with the United States in its war on terror.

Odinga campaigned against the Kibaki government’s cooperation with the U.S. war on terror, making an issue out of the extradition of a group of accused Al-Qaeda operative, some of whom the Odinga camp maintained were innocent. “Our government will not be held at ransom to extradite Muslims to foreign lands,” thundered Odinga at a campaign rally. And with Muslim kenyans, the message resonated: “Islamic outrage,” observed Joshua Hammer of The New York Times, “had placed the incumbent, Kibaki, on the defensive and provided Raila Odinga with a tool to rally the support of Kenya’s Muslims”

Thus, the new constitution of Libya (if genuine) will institutionalize and legalize the protection of terrorists. Not too surprising if many of the “rebels” are members of Al Qaeda and other Islamist and jihadist groups.

The Fall Of Gaddafi; The Fall Of Libya

I don’t have access to American media like CNN, but Al Jazeera is having an orgasm about the downfall of Gaddafi. I received a text message from CNN telling me that two of Gaddafi’s sons have been captured or surrendered. I’m sure NATO and the US are overjoyed about the developments. But,  they should be careful about what they wish. Gaddafi was a brutal tyrant, and was certainly no friend of civilized people, but, as I have already pointed out, the new leader of Libya is a total Islamist. Not only that, but reported in their latest update that at least 2500 SA-7 shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles have been removed from Libya by al Qaeda and other Islamist forces.

What does all of this mean? Well, for starters, it means that Libya will now become another Islamist emirate, run by Islamists and al Qaeda. Think another Iran. As bad as Gaddafi was, he was better than Islamists and al Qaeda. Plus, we now have at least 2500 SA-7 anti-aircraft missiles that are now being shipped to the United States and other Western nations to bring down aircraft. While these weapons are old and not very sophisticated, Western airlines, with the exception of Israeli airlines, are not equipped to detect and evade anti-aircraft missiles like the SA-7. I’m glad I don’t have to fly commercial airlines.

So, expect to see airliners falling from the skies in the near future. All the Muslims need to do is to bring a few hundred of these 2500 SA-7’s into the United States. Since no recent president has chosen to seal the borders, importing these small, shoulder-fired missiles will be trivial. Sure, maybe a few will miss their targets, but with 2500 to import, you can be sure that at least a few hundred will make it into Western nations, each of which is capable of bringing down a commercial airliner. At a cost of 200 deaths per aircraft, even only 10% of those 2500 SA-7 missiles could result in the deaths of 50,000 innocent people. That would be almost 20 times worse than 9/11, and the patience of Americans for Muslim barbarians would run out.

Even more concerning, we have a nation that was once going nuclear, and which has thousands of advanced weapons, being openly taken over by Islamists. Gaddafi gave up his nuclear weapons when he saw what we did in Iraq. While a brutal thug, and a person that I have no sympathy for, as Islamists take over Libya, and its extensive weapons cache, we are in a far more dangerous world.


Re-Examining the Arab Spring

By George Friedman

On Dec. 17, 2010, Mohammed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street vendor, set himself on fire in a show of public protest. The self-immolation triggered unrest in Tunisia and ultimately the resignation of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. This was followed by unrest in a number of Arab countries that the global press dubbed the “Arab Spring.” The standard analysis of the situation was that oppressive regimes had been sitting on a volcano of liberal democratic discontent. The belief was that the Arab Spring was a political uprising by masses demanding liberal democratic reform and that this uprising, supported by Western democracies, would generate sweeping political change across the Arab world.

It is now more than six months since the beginning of the Arab Spring, and it is important to take stock of what has happened and what has not happened. The reasons for the widespread unrest go beyond the Arab world, although, obviously, the dynamics within that world are important in and of themselves. However, the belief in an Arab Spring helped shape European and American policies in the region and the world. If the assumptions of this past January and February prove insufficient or even wrong, then there will be regional and global consequences.

It is important to begin with the fact that, to this point, no regime has fallen in the Arab world. Individuals such as Tunisia’s Ben Ali and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak have been replaced, but the regimes themselves, which represent the manner of governing, have not changed. Some regimes have come under massive attack but have not fallen, as in Libya, Syria and Yemen. And in many countries, such as Jordan, the unrest never amounted to a real threat to the regime. The kind of rapid and complete collapse that we saw in Eastern Europe in 1989 with the fall of communism has not happened in the Arab world. More important, what regime changes that might come of the civil wars in Libya and Syria are not going to be clearly victorious, those that are victorious are not going to be clearly democratic and those that are democratic are obviously not going to be liberal. The myth that beneath every Libyan is a French republican yearning to breathe free is dubious in the extreme.

Consider the case of Mubarak, who was forced from office and put on trial, although the regime — a mode of governing in which the military remains the main arbiter of the state — remains intact. Egypt is now governed by a committee of military commanders, all of whom had been part of Mubarak’s regime. Elections are coming, but the opposition is deeply divided between Islamists and secularists, and personalities and ideological divisions in turn divide these factions. The probability of a powerful democratic president emerging who controls the sprawling ministries in Cairo and the country’s security and military apparatus is slim, and the Egyptian military junta is already acting to suppress elements that are too radical and too unpredictable.

The important question is why these regimes have been able to survive. In a genuine revolution, the regime loses power. The anti-communist forces overwhelmed the Polish Communist government in 1989 regardless of the divisions within the opposition. The sitting regimes were not in a position to determine their own futures, let alone the futures of their countries. There was a transition, but they were not in control of it. Similarly, in 1979, when the Shah of Iran was overthrown, his military and security people were not the ones managing the transition after the shah left the country. They were the ones on trial. There was unrest in Egypt in January and February 2011, but the idea that it amounted to a revolution flew in the face of the reality of Egypt and of what revolutions actually look like.

Shaping the Western Narrative

There were three principles shaping the Western narrative on the Arab Spring. The first was that these regimes were overwhelmingly unpopular. The second was that the opposition represented the overwhelming will of the people. The third was that once the unrest began it was unstoppable. Add to all that the notion that social media facilitated the organization of the revolution and the belief that the region was in the midst of a radical transformation can be easily understood.

It was in Libya that these propositions created the most serious problems. Tunisia and Egypt were not subject to very much outside influence. Libya became the focus of a significant Western intervention. Moammar Gadhafi had ruled Libya for nearly 42 years. He could not have ruled for that long without substantial support. That didn’t mean he had majority support (or that he didn’t). It simply meant that the survival of his regime did not interest only a handful of people, but that a large network of Libyans benefitted from Gadhafi’s rule and stood to lose a great deal if he fell. They were prepared to fight for his regime.

The opposition to him was real, but its claim to represent the overwhelming majority of Libyan people was dubious. Many of the leaders had been part of the Gadhafi regime, and it is doubtful they were selected for their government posts because of their personal popularity. Others were members of tribes that were opposed to the regime but not particularly friendly to each other. Under the mythology of the Arab Spring, the eastern coalition represented the united rage of the Libyan people against Gadhafi’s oppression. Gadhafi was weak and isolated, wielding an army that was still loyal and could inflict terrible vengeance on the Libyan people. But if the West would demonstrate its ability to prevent slaughter in Benghazi, the military would realize its own isolation and defect to the rebels.

It didn’t happen that way. First, Gadhafi’s regime was more than simply a handful of people terrorizing the population. It was certainly a brutal regime, but it hadn’t survived for 42 years on that alone. It had substantial support in the military and among key tribes. Whether this was a majority is as unclear as whether the eastern coalition was a majority. But it was certainly a substantial group with much to fight for and a great deal to lose if the regime fell. So, contrary to expectations in the West, the regime has continued to fight and to retain the loyalty of a substantial number of people. Meanwhile, the eastern alliance has continued to survive under the protection of NATO but has been unable to form a united government or topple Gadhafi. Most important, it has always been a dubious assertion that what would emerge if the rebels did defeat Gadhafi would be a democratic regime, let alone a liberal democracy, and this has become increasingly obvious as the war has worn on. Whoever would replace Gadhafi would not clearly be superior to him, which is saying quite a lot.

A very similar process is taking place in Syria. There, the minority Alawite government of the al Assad family, which has ruled Syria for 41 years, is facing an uprising led by the majority Sunnis, or at least some segment of them. Again, the assumption was that the regime was illegitimate and therefore weak and would crumble in the face of concerted resistance. That assumption proved wrong. The al Assad regime may be running a minority government, but it has substantial support from a military of mostly Alawite officers leading a largely Sunni conscript force. The military has benefited tremendously from the Assad regime — indeed, it brought it to power. The one thing the al Assads were careful to do was to make it beneficial to the military and security services to remain loyal to the regime. So far, they largely have. The danger for the regime looking forward is if the growing strain on the Alawite-dominated army divisions leads to fissures within the Alawite community and in the army itself, raising the potential for a military coup.

In part, these Arab leaders have nowhere to go. The senior leadership of the military could be tried in The Hague, and the lower ranks are subject to rebel retribution. There is a rule in war, which is that you should always give your enemy room to retreat. The al Assad supporters, like the Gadhafi supporters and the supporters of Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh, have no room to retreat. So they have fought on for months, and it is not clear they will capitulate anytime soon.

Foreign governments, from the United States to Turkey, have expressed their exasperation with the Syrians, but none has seriously contemplated an intervention. There are two reasons for this: First, following the Libya intervention, everyone became more wary of assuming the weakness of Arab regimes, and no one wants a showdown on the ground with a desperate Syrian military. Second, observers have become cautious in asserting that widespread unrest constitutes a popular revolution or that the revolutionaries necessarily want to create a liberal democracy. The Sunnis in Syria might well want a democracy, but they might well be interested in creating a Sunni “Islamic” state. Knowing that it is important to be careful what you wish for, everyone seems to be issuing stern warnings to Damascus without doing very much.

Syria is an interesting case because it is, perhaps, the only current issue that Iran and Israel agree on. Iran is deeply invested in the al Assad regime and wary of increased Sunni power in Syria. Israel is just as deeply concerned that the al Assad regime — a known and manageable devil from the Israeli point of view — could collapse and be replaced by a Sunni Islamist regime with close ties to Hamas and what is left of al Qaeda in the Levant. These are fears, not certainties, but the fears make for interesting bedfellows.

Geopolitical Significance

Since late 2010, we have seen three kinds of uprisings in the Arab world. The first are those that merely brushed by the regime. The second are those that created a change in leaders but not in the way the country was run. The third are those that turned into civil wars, such as Libya and Yemen. There is also the interesting case of Bahrain, where the regime was saved by the intervention of Saudi Arabia, but while the rising there conformed to the basic model of the Arab Spring — failed hopes — it lies in a different class, caught between Saudi and Iranian power.

The three examples do not mean that there is not discontent in the Arab world or a desire for change. They do not mean that change will not happen, or that discontent will not assume sufficient force to overthrow regimes. They also do not mean that whatever emerges will be liberal democratic states pleasing to Americans and Europeans.

This becomes the geopolitically significant part of the story. Among Europeans and within the U.S. State Department and the Obama administration is an ideology of human rights — the idea that one of the major commitments of Western countries should be supporting the creation of regimes resembling their own. This assumes all the things that we have discussed: that there is powerful discontent in oppressive states, that the discontent is powerful enough to overthrow regimes, and that what follows would be the sort of regime that the West would be able to work with.

The issue isn’t whether human rights are important but whether supporting unrest in repressive states automatically strengthens human rights. An important example was Iran in 1979, when opposition to the oppression of the shah’s government was perceived as a movement toward liberal democracy. What followed might have been democratic but it was hardly liberal. Indeed, many of the myths of the Arab Spring had their roots both in the 1979 Iranian Revolution and later in Iran’s 2009 Green Movement, when a narrow uprising readily crushed by the regime was widely viewed as massive opposition and widespread support for liberalization.

The world is more complicated and more varied than that. As we saw in the Arab Spring, oppressive regimes are not always faced with massed risings, and unrest does not necessarily mean mass support. Nor are the alternatives necessarily more palatable than what went before or the displeasure of the West nearly as fearsome as Westerners like to think. Libya is a case study on the consequences of starting a war with insufficient force. Syria makes a strong case on the limits of soft power. Egypt and Tunisia represent a textbook lesson on the importance of not deluding yourself.

The pursuit of human rights requires ruthless clarity as to whom you are supporting and what their chances are. It is important to remember that it is not Western supporters of human rights who suffer the consequences of failed risings, civil wars or revolutionary regimes that are committed to causes other than liberal democracy.

The misreading of the situation can also create unnecessary geopolitical problems. The fall of the Egyptian regime, unlikely as it is at this point, would be just as likely to generate an Islamist regime as a liberal democracy. The survival of the al Assad regime could lead to more slaughter than we have seen and a much firmer base for Iran. No regimes have fallen since the Arab Spring, but when they do it will be important to remember 1979 and the conviction that nothing could be worse than the shah’s Iran, morally or geopolitically. Neither was quite the case.

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t people in the Arab world who want liberal democracy. It simply means that they are not powerful enough to topple regimes or maintain control of new regimes even if they did succeed. The Arab Spring is, above all, a primer on wishful thinking in the face of the real world.

Re-Examining the Arab Spring is republished with permission of STRATFOR.”


Why Not Spread Good Students’ GPA Around Like Dems Want To Redistribute Wealth?

I love this one. A recently graduated college student made up a brief survey asking students with high GPAs (Grade Point Averages for the socialists out there) if they would be willing to have some of their points contributed to students who were not as successful as them. After all, that is what the democrats and many hypocritical rich people (like Warren Buffet) want to do in the United States with the wealth of the successful, hard working citizens. We keep hearing them say how taxes need to be raised on the rich, ignoring the fact that the rich, who, for the most part, worked hard to become rich, already pay way too much in taxes.

In an article from Fox News, Oliver Darcy, the college student proposing the transfer of excess GPA that a student may have earned to a student with a lesser GPA found his proposal to be generally rejected by the high GPA students, although many thought that wealthy people should be forced to have their wealth transferred to less wealthy people.

“They all earn their GPA,” said Darcy in an interview with “Fox and Friends.” “So we asked them if they’d be interested in redistributing the GPA points that they earned to students who may be having trouble getting a high GPA.”

In fact, one student was quite blunt about his feelings about transferring some of his “excess” GPA to a student in need of a better GPA.
“If I do give GPA points to students that don’t deserve it, it isn’t fair, I work for what I have.”
Some students also felt it was unfair for them to be made to pay their “fair share” (about $47,000) of the national debt that they currently owe.


Thoughts On The Iowa Debate, Straw Poll, And The 2012 Election

I don’t normally do pieces like this because I feel that all politics is primarily show business for ugly people and the only thing that most politicians care about is being re-elected. But, the Iowa debate and the results of the straw poll were interesting and significant. The event was a huge win for Ron Paul, contrary to what you are hearing in most of the main stream media that is touting the events as a huge win for Bachmann. Considering that she was highly favored, and then adding the fact that Ron Paul was less than 1% behind her vote tally, the real story is that this was a huge win for Ron Paul.

As a libertarian, my tendency is to root for Ron Paul, although I disagree with his stand on abortion. But, at least he knows that you cannot legislate abortion away from what I have heard him say. While I  am certainly not in favor of late-term abortions, I don’t have a problem with a woman getting an abortion shortly after she misses her period if she is in a situation where she does not want to be pregnant or cannot afford a child.  The libertarian party view on abortion is that it is between the woman and her doctor; it is not the business of the State. And, I don’t believe that Paul would try to criminalize abortion, which cannot be said of candidates like Bachmann, Pawlenty, Santorum, Palin, and others. Such lunacy would only force poor women to have children they can’t afford, while the wealthier women would simply take a trip to a state or country where they could get an abortion.

The big problem that I had with Ron Paul’s position was that he clearly does not understand the danger posed by Islam, and Iran in particular. Yes, we should get out of Iraq and Afghanistan. We should have abandoned those Muslim Hell-holes years ago, and simply isolated them and put them, along with Pakistan, under a travel ban, so that nobody could travel to or from them and the United States until they abandoned Islam and came into the 21st century. We did it with South Africa, and it eventually eliminated their system of Apartheid. We should have dropped the travel ban with Cuba once they returned their nuclear missiles to Russia. (Although I understand that Florida would have been flooded with Cubans wanting to get out of one of the remaining Communist Hell-holes left in the world, along with North Korea, and, soon, Venezuela.) In the case of Muslim countries, we are stupidly trying to bring democracy to a people that are too stupid and too brainwashed with Mohammad’s insane rantings, and those of his sock-puppet Allah,  to have democracy; thus, we are wasting our time, money,  and the lives of our brave and dedicated servicemen and servicewomen. But, to state that Iran is not a danger is like saying that North Korea is not a danger. They are both dedicated to a common goal; the destruction of the United States. Iran is also dedicated to the destruction of Israel, along with dominating the Muslim world.

Education was mentioned in the debate, but it was not stressed as it should have been. One of the fundamental reasons why the United States is failing in the world economy is that its people are no longer sufficiently educated to create, innovate, and compete in the world marketplace. Mitt Romney hit the nail on the head when he stated that he would like to staple a green card to the diploma of anyone who received a PhD in physics. As someone who has spent over 14 years taking various graduate level (mostly solid state physics) courses at a top US university, I saw first hand that most of the graduate level science students were foreign students. Yes, I also took some graduate level business courses, and there were plenty of US students there seeking their MBAs. But, in graduate school courses related to electrical engineering and/or physics, there were virtually NO US students. They were either too stupid to get into the program, or the smart ones felt that they could make more money on Wall Street, and so went for the MBA. (And, unfortunately, they were correct in the thought that they could make more money on Wall Street. While a person who graduates with a master’s degree or PhD in electrical engineering or physics can certainly make a lot more money than someone with just a BS degree in those fields, or even advanced degrees in other fields, they are far behind what many make on Wall Street with an MBA.) And, we all saw what the “best and brightest” did to the economy due to their extremely speculative derivatives trading a couple of years ago. While many of those people deservedly lost their jobs, many not only maintained their “jobs” to strike again, but got obscene bonuses thanks to TARP that engineers and physicists could not even dream about. I’ll get to free market capitalism later, in case some want to point their fingers at the massive failure and financial damage caused by derivatives trading as an example of why capitalism must be curtailed. In a truly free market, those individuals who were responsible for those gross errors of judgment would have been severely punished, perhaps even criminally, and the and their employer banks and hedge funds would certainly not have been bailed out. They would have gone the way of the dinosaurs, and you could be sure that people in similar positions in the future would think twice about committing such absurd practices. And, of course, some regulation is necessary. If S&P and other ratings agencies had been doing their jobs, alarm bells would have gone off and been heard. As for the mortgage meltdown, that was caused by the government, starting with the Community Reinvestment Act, and morons like Barny Frank and Barack Obama pressuring banks to make irresponsible loans that no sane, prudent banker would ever have made. In a sense, the derivatives were a response by the banks to try to protect themselves from government imposed irresponsibility in that they wanted to get these toxic assets off their balance sheets. If the government had not enforced artificially low interest rates (as they are still doing) and forced banks to make loans to people who any sane person with any concept of how the mortgages worked and who could do a little basic math, would have known were doomed to default, the whole mess would never have happened. But, we don’t have educated Americans who can understand the basic mortgage contract that they were signing, let alone do the math to determine what was going to happen to their mortgage payments in a year or two. I will get to that major education problems later.

Personally, I thought that the winner of the debate was Herman Cain. I don’t know enough about him to know if I would ever vote for him, but at least he did not say anything that would cause me to exclude him from the race. While I’ll probably vote for the libertarian candidate, I would love to vote for a republican unless he or she disqualifies themselves, since I know that the libertarian candidate will not win. (Ron Paul was the libertarian candidate for a number of years. If he could start to recognize the Islamic threat in the same way that Herman Cain so obviously recognizes it, I could see voting for him.)

Cain made a big mistake, however, when questioned about his former comments about Mitt Romney’s Mormon religion. Instead of confronting Romney on this important issue, he danced around it like any true politician. He should have asked if Mitt believed in his magic underwear. (Was he wearing his magic underwear during the debate?) He should have asked how he could believe in a religion that was, like Islam, invented by a womanizing con-man. He should have asked how Mitt could believe such absurd things as the Mormon belief that the North American Indians were descended from the Israelites, and how he could believe the Book of Mormon, since it was definitively proven that the book was a complete fabrication by Joseph Smith (the inventor of the Mormon religion.)

Other ways that some republican candidates have disqualified themselves involve voting for cap and trade legislation, which is nothing than a wealth transfer program that will needlessly cripple the economy. I have recognized for years that global warming is a total scam.  I was among a fairly small, but very vocal group, a few years ago, who tried to get the American Physical Society to change their official stance on “global warming”. While our group included many scientists, and at least one Nobel Prize winner, we were mostly ignored, or, at best, accommodated as oddities. The fix was in on “global warming”. Far too many scientists and university and government laboratories depended on “global warming” research grants to keep them thriving. But now, more and more people are recognizing the scam for what it is, as more evidence against man-made global warming becomes public, and good science relating to the real cause of climate change is becoming available. (Think cosmic rays.) But, republicans have a major problem with science; they are, for the most part, scientifically illiterate. And this illiteracy matters, and it costs lives; millions of lives. George Bush is, or will be, directly responsible for the deaths of tens, or even hundreds, of millions of people, because of his stupid ban on stem cell research in the United States. Because of his ignorance of science,  a whole generation (and counting) of American scientists has been prevented from going into the field of stem cell research, unless they want to learn a new language and move to South Korea or some other country  to earn their PhDs and perform their research. Eventually, lives will be saved by stem cell research, but every person who dies do to the delay in the research caused by his illiterate decision is his responsibility.  A person has a constitutional right to have an imaginary friend, but that right has to be curtailed when it causes the death of innocents, or controls the actions of others. And, don’t give me the argument that destroying a blastocyst  (group of a few cells) that is used in stem cell research is killing a human being. Even if it was, those cells were going to just get thrown out, anyway, so it is better to have put them to good use in stem cell research.

We need to get America back to work. We need to revive the middle class in the United States. But, the destruction of the country that started with the social programs that were  instituted by FDR, expanded by LBJ, and that have culminated in the lunacy and spending orgasm of BHO is going to take years to repair. And, the only hope is to do things to restore the educational system of the United States, starting with the elimination of the Department of Education. Since they took over, along with the democrats, and concentrated on teaching how great it was that Suzy has two mommies and Billy has two daddies, rather than teaching the subjects that matter in the modern world, like math and science, American students have become a laughing stock. They are some of the stupidest students in today’s world in the areas of math and science, even though we spend far more money on education than any other nation. We need to stop the social welfare programs that pay people to sit home and have babies or wait for “a better job”. If you have been out of work for more than a few months, your expectations are way too high or you enjoy living off someone else’s money. It seems as if most Americans don’t realize the simple fact that for the government to give someone something–anything–it must first steal it from someone else in the form of taxes. If we did not continue to pay unemployment benefits for years, rather than a couple of months, people would simply take the best jobs they could get. Eventually, they could get better jobs. But, many of the former high paying jobs are gone, thanks to unions that forced ridiculous and non-competitive wages and benefits on companies, thus forcing those companies to move their operations to countries that had more realistic wages and benefits. We also need to hold parents accountable for their children. It is time to stop drugging a huge percentage of students whose only real disease is incompetent parents and lazy school administrators who are both afraid of disciplining and controlling the students. In today’s school system, almost 1/3 of high school students don’t even graduate How can such students expect more than a job where all they have to do is pick vegetables or ask “Do you want fries with that?” The idea that Obama is going to give waivers to schools that are so bad, and whose teachers and administrators are so incompetent, that too many students cannot meet the basic standards is just one example of how this administration, and the whole educational system, is on the wrong path. You don’t improve the education of the students by giving waivers for incompetence; you fire the incompetents and bring in people who can do the job. This is partially another problem caused by strong unions. The teachers unions have made firing incompetent teachers almost impossible, while preventing people who don’t have “the right credentials” from becoming teachers. By that, I mean that there are many highly competent scientists and engineers in the United States who would be fantastic teachers in the area of math and science, because they actually have rigorous training in math and science, often at the graduate level. While some of them could get jobs in Universities, and most could get jobs at community colleges or technical trade schools, most cannot get jobs as high school teachers, because they don’t have the “right credentials”, which would be things like extensive training in child psychology and other soft sciences that are really not needed to teach math, physics, biology, and other hard sciences. It is these subjects that American students need be be proficient in, and the candidates need to address these kinds of problems and present fixes for these problems. I don’t hear any candidates talking about such issues, however. But, in a state that some like to tout as a machine of job growth, a 1988 University of Texas survey of 400 Texas high school biology teachers found that 19% of those teachers believed that man walked among the dinosaurs! That is the so-called “yabba dabba do” fantasy of creationists. (As reported in an article on page E2 of the Waco Tribune-Herald on September 11, 1988.) I feel sorry for the students of such scientifically illiterate teachers because if they are ever able to even get into college,  they are going to have to go through serious remedial training in the field of science (especially biology) after being subjected to that mind-boggling degree of incompetence. And, newer surveys show that things are not getting significantly better, and Texas is not the only state where people, including science teachers, are scientifically illiterate. We cannot expect to flourish in the 21st century if education is not dedicated to teaching the facts about science and leaving out the myths, lies, and legends.

Perhaps the fact that Americans are so scientifically illiterate that they don’t understand evolution in even the most rudimentary form helps to explain the almost complete lack of economic knowledge displayed by so many Americans (including politicians). Anyone who believes that capitalism does not work, and that socialism or communism is better, simply does not understand the “invisible hand” of capitalism, as described by Adam Smith hundreds of years ago. It also explains why so many people think that raising taxes is a way to solve the economic problems. Raising taxes decreases tax revenues, as has been shown time and time again, and it accomplishes nothing but punishing achievers and rewarding the lazy and the losers. Just look at the economic mess in most of the European Union; that problem, caused by economic stupidity and the widespread incorporation of socialism, is finally coming home to roost; the other person has run out of money, and it is all going to come crashing down, as it will soon do in the United States. Free market capitalism is much like evolution in that it is self-regulating and seemingly undirected. Yet, because of incremental change and adaptation, it results in the optimal system. Most of the problems we have seen with “capitalism” in the United States has been caused by government attempting to control and direct capitalism, with the inevitable disastrous unforeseen consequences.

Governor Christie Panders To Islamists

If you want to know why the United States has gone to Hell in the last 70 or so years, starting with the corruption and failed economic policies of Franklin Roosevelt, and continuing to today’s incompetent and corrupt government and its failed economic policies,it is politics.  (Obama is doing pretty much exactly what FDR did. It did not work then, and it is not work working now. Those policies caused the second, and worst, phase of the Great Depression, and caused the Great Depression to last at least 6 to 8 years longer than it would have lasted if government had handled the situation competently. Now, we see the United States going into the logically expected second phase of the “Great Recession”. What is the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different outcome?)  The welfare of the nation and its citizens has ceased to be the driving force behind the people at the head of the government. Getting re-elected, and elected to higher office, is all that matters to them. And, to achieve those goals, the game is to take as much from one group who probably won’t vote for you, and give it to a group that might. In the case of Governor Christie, he apparently feels that he needs the Muslim vote in New Jersey, because he just nominated Sohail Mohammed to become a Superior Court judge in Passaic County.

Why is this important? So what if a guy named Mohammed becomes a Superior Court judge?

Passaic County has the second largest Muslim population in the country. And the Islamic Center of Passaic County is the state’s largest mosque, and it’s the only one run by an an Imam who was a member of the Hamas terrorist organization. But when the United States government attempted to deport Mohammed Qatanani, New Jersey’s pols and wannabe pols like Christie, quickly came to his aid. Despite the fact that Mohammed Qatanani was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, the organization that is behind both Al Qaeda and Hamas, despite his own guilty plea to being a member of Hamas, and despite the fact that even in the United States, he had defended a charity that provided funds to children of suicide bombers (this is done as an incentive to reassure terrorists that if they die their families will be taken care of), Qatanani was not deported.

This is less a sign of his innocence, than of the power and influence wielded by Qatanani and the American Muslim Union. There was hardly a top New Jersey public official who did not come out for Qatanani. And that included both of the major candidates in the governor’s race, Governor Jon Corzine and Chris Christie. Christie called Qatanani, “a man of great goodwill” and “a constructive force” and allowed Charles McKenna, one of his associate attorneys to testify on behalf of Qatanani. Afterward Christie tapped McKenna to head New Jersey’s Department of Homeland Security. McKenna had spent a good deal of time on Muslim “outreach” and made numerous statements echoing their talking points.

The pioneering terrorism researcher, Steve Emerson called it, “a disgrace and an act of pure political corruption”. He stated, “I know for certain that Christie and the FBI SAC had access to information about Qatanani’s background, involvement with and support of Hamas.” Defending Qatanani required Christie to pit himself against the Department of Homeland Security, which wanted him deported. But the Department of Homeland Security wasn’t running for office in New Jersey. Christie was.

The first Imam of the Islamic Center of Passaic County, Mohammad El-Mezain, was convicted of funneling money to Hamas. El-Mezain had actually boasted of raising almost 2 million dollars for Hamas. And his replacement, Qatanani, actually was a member of Hamas. An ordinary politician might have been forgiven for not knowing this, but Christie was the US Attorney for New Jersey. It’s absolutely impossible that he would not have known the background of the Islamic Center of Passaic County. Yet Christie attended a Ramadan dinner, in the same place where terrorists had fundraised, and kissed Qatanani on the cheek.

The article goes on to detail Sohail Mohammed’s activities to defend suspected Muslim terrorists, and help to  harass Coptic Christians who objected to Muslims attending a funeral for a Coptic Christian family that had been massacred.

Governor Christie dismissed threats of Sharia law coming to the United States as “crap”. That is probably just what the people of  France and Great Britain thought a couple of years ago. But, now France has “no go” zones that are Muslim areas that police and non-Muslims cannot enter, and Londonistan now has “Sharia law zones” where Sharia law is strictly enforced, with the authorities standing-by afraid to do anything to enforce what used to be the law-of-the-land. The Sultan Knish article explains:

Some might compare the situation in Passaic County to France with its “no go zones” where the local authorities and non-Muslims cannot enter, but it’s actually a good deal worse. The government and the judiciary is being taken over, small pieces of Muslim ruled territory are being carved out and expanded with the support of the state’s leading politicians, who trade political support and campaign contributions for something dangerously close to treason. It’s not just New Jersey. America is being carved up this way, piece by piece. The areas with the highest Muslim population like Illinois, Michigan and New Jersey are ground zero for the Islamist hijacking of America, using front groups, media friendly spokesmen, lawyers, leadership training and the slow climb up the ladder.

An article in The Daily Mail explains how Anjem Choudary, who runs the banned Islamist militant group Islam4UK,  is setting up Sharia law zones in parts of Great Britain.

Communities have been bombarded with the posters, which read: ‘You are entering a Sharia-controlled zone – Islamic rules enforced.’

The bright yellow messages daubed on bus stops and street lamps have already been seen across certain boroughs in London and order that in the ‘zone’ there should be ‘no gambling’, ‘no music or concerts’, ‘no porn or prostitution’, ‘no drugs or smoking’ and ‘no alcohol’.

Hate preacher Anjem Choudary has claimed responsibility for the scheme, saying he plans to flood specific Muslim and non-Muslim communities around the UK and ‘put the seeds down for an Islamic Emirate in the long term’.

In the past week, dozens of streets in the London boroughs of Waltham Forest, Tower Hamlets and Newham have been targeted, raising fears that local residents may be intimidated or threatened for flouting ‘Islamic rules’.

Speaking of the 25 zones in the country that the British government has identified as zones where violent extremism is a problem, Choudary explains:

We are going to go to all these same areas and implement our own Sharia-controlled zones.‘This is the best way for dealing with drunkenness and loutishness, prostitution and the sort of thug life attitude you get in British cities.’

The former lawyer added: ‘This will mean this is an area where the Muslim community will not tolerate drugs, alcohol, pornography, gambling, usury, free mixing between the sexes – the fruits if you like of Western civilisation.

‘We want to run the area as a Sharia-controlled zone and really to put the seeds down for an Islamic Emirate in the long term.’

At least Sohail Mohammed does not have a zebiba.