Deja vu - Judith Apter Klinghoffer
Dr. Judith Apter Klinghoffer taught history and International relations at Rowan University, Rutgers University, the Foreign Affairs College in Beijing as well as at Aarhus University in Denmark where she was a senior Fulbright professor. She is an affiliate professor at Haifa University. Her books include Israel and the Soviet Union, Vietnam, Jews and the Middle East: Unintended Consequences and , International Citizens' Tribunals: Mobilizing Public Opinion to Advance Human Rights
I am thrilled. John McCain demonstrated that he, still, has courage and is capable of making bold strategic decisions. In other words, he remains young in heart. He also demonstrated that he gets all the American people, not only 48% of them.
True, Sarah Palin was not on my list. Kay Bailey Hutchison was. The trouble is that her appearance on Larry King left too much to be desired. The other two women had never run or served in office. Palin simply has not occurred to me. Having seen her eloquent acceptance speech, I could not be happier with the choice.
It is true that she is not experienced enough to be president but she is more experienced than Obama and I would rather have an inexperienced person a heart beat from the president than president. I know that John McCain is 72 but given his good health he has as good a chance to complete two presidential terms as a 60 year old had just a few decades ago. The bottom line, if worse comes to worse, given her background and record of accomplishments, I would rather see her president than Obama for he has none.
Finally, my feminine heart cannot but sing. As Sarah said:
It turns out that the women of America aren't finished yet, and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all.
Yes, we can, provided women demonstrate they can be half as gender conscious as Blacks are race conscious.
In the meantime,
Posted on Sunday, August 31, 2008 - 14:13
Boston Globe, Taking Command the McCain Way
Posted on Sunday, August 31, 2008 - 12:56
Gail Collins is offended. Just when Hillary Clinton succeeded in convincing the nation that she is merely incidentally a woman candidate, she writes, Sarah Palin comes and undermine all her good work. She ends her column, Baked Alaska, thus:
If she’s only on the ticket to try to get disaffected Clinton supporters to cross over, it’s a bad choice. Joe Biden may already be practicing his drop-dead line for the vice-presidential debate: “I know Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton is a friend of mine, and governor, you’re no Hillary Clinton.”
She is right about that. Unlike Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin has not used her husband as a step ladder, nor has she become governor as a reward for being one of the boys nor for putting up graciously with public and private humiliation. The opposite is true. Palin made her mark by taking on the"old boy network" and defeating them. Palin, unlike Clinton, is undamaged. She did not have to put up with"wits" such as Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr who reported a dinner conversation he had with her in a November 2, 1998 entry:
Hillary is a woman of incisive intelligence, formidable articulateness, impressive coolness and great charm; also very easy to talk to. I observed that Howell Raines, the editor of the editorial page of the New York Times, was almost obsessed with the Starr prosecution as Starr himself and wondered why it should be so. Was there some obscure southern grudge at work? Se said,"I think it may be a class thing. . . ."
I made the point that the liberals had stood by Clinton while the DLC people had deserted him and described the miserable (Joe) Liberman as a"sanctimonious prick." Hillary said,"Well, he is certainly sanctimonious," But showed no eagerness to pursue this line of thought.
Surprise, surprise. Clearly, this good old boy historian thought she would have no objection to his using her public humiliation to forward his political agenda. Unfortunately, it was such forbearance that led New Yorkers elect her senator. Nor has she changed her behavior in the Senate and her"going along" policy soon earned her the"respect" of her colleagues. When Sarah walked into a hall full of powerful man, she fought them until they changed their ways.
Ironically, the same Clinton ladder that made her a viable presidential candidate, also led to her defeat. Enough super delegates were unwilling to countenance an idle Bill Clinton in the White House to deny her the nomination as president even once voters started to demonstrate clear signs of Obama buyers remorse. This is one of the reasons which led Barack Obama to conclude that he could diss Hillary with impunity.
Women, he was also sure, will grin and bear it. As for Hillary, she has already demonstrated that she can be trusted to stand by her man regardless. Moreover, Democratic women have demonstrated that putting a woman in the White House is not particularly important to them. Had it been, they would have voted for her in percentages similar to those Blacks voted for him.
Anyone comparing Kennedy's endorsement of Carter to that of the Clinton's endorsement of Obama, cannot but conclude that, ultimately, he was right. Indeed, there is only one way Democratic women can prove that their vote should not be taken so lightly, is by rewarding McCain for giving them a chance to express their indignation.
Mondale's 1984 defeat proved that putting a woman on the Democratic ticket does not help secure votes. It took 24 years for a Republican candidate to give it another try. If Palin fails to increase significantly the percentage of women voting for McCain, the notion of woman's vote, unlike the notion of Black vote, will die a natural death and none of the ideological ifs and buts will save it for decades. This may not upset those who believe that individual merit should be the single qualifier but it should upset feminists who are enthusiastic advocates of group rights.
No, Palin is not a step backwards. She was was chosen for the same reasons other vice presidential candidates were chosen. She is articulate, wonderful on television, has a great personal story, a record as a reformer, a special appeal to a restive party base as well as to important constituencies, hopefully including women.
And no, she is no Hillary. Thank God. Sarah Palin has proved that we have come a long way and going along with the good old boys is no longer a prerequisite for female success. She is beneficiary of all our hard work. She is the daughter we had hoped for. So, let's stand by her.
I could not agree more with Dick Morris Dick Morris especially as I share his pro choice stance.
She will make one hell of a candidate, and hats off to McCain for picking her. Her very presence on the ticket underscores something Obama doesn't want us to notice: He spent two years stopping a woman from becoming president and now he is about to spend two months stopping one from becoming vice president. Obama could have made history but failed the test. McCain passed with flying colors. That point will not be lost on independent women.
But it was when I looked up her biography after the meeting that I learned one of the most salient facts about Sarah Palin. She knew she was bearing a Down syndrome child but refused to have an abortion. While I am personally pro-choice, pro-choice means just that, the right to choose to have or not to have an abortion. My head bows to the integrity, guts and courage it takes to embark knowingly on such a life challenge because of one's personal belief in the sanctity of life. When we look at McCain's loving adoption of a child from a Bangladeshi orphanage run by Mother Teresa and Palin's knowing birth of a handicapped baby, we see a quality of character on this ticket worthy of the White House.
Posted on Sunday, August 31, 2008 - 12:22
She may know more about national security than meets the eye according to a letter quoted by Jonah Goldberg:
Alaska is the first line of defense in our missile interceptor defense system. The 49th Missile Defense Battalion of the Alaska National Guard is the unit that protects the entire nation from ballistic missile attacks. It’s on permanent active duty, unlike other Guard units. (more on this unit, here
As governor of Alaska, Palin is briefed on highly classified military issues, homeland security, and counterterrorism. Her exposure to classified material may rival even Biden's.
She's also the commander in chief of the Alaska State Defense Force (ASDF), a federally recognized militia incorporated into Homeland Security's counterterrorism plans.
Palin is privy to military and intelligence secrets that are vital to the entire country's defense. Given Alaska's proximity to Russia, she may have security clearances we don't even know about.
Posted on Sunday, August 31, 2008 - 13:58
It probably shouldn't. He is not the New York Times columnists to admire Mussolini's punctual trains, Stalin's mega structures and Hitler's Olympics certainly drew plenty of praise. Silly me, I had a stronger core.
So, no, we do not need mega-structures. We do need to end the reign of King Oil by increasing energy supplies of all kind. The rest is gravy.
Actually, Judith, I think Friedman's got a point. After all, you can get a lot done if you aren't hampered by pesky stuff like free elections, competing interest groups, and a government that is subject to legal and political checks. We could have Washington look every bit as shiny as Beijing except that our government would encounter problems in closing down industries, moving undesirables out of town, and encouraging friendliness rather forcefully. There was a report of a sign that told locals that"the Police Remind You to Smile." By golly, if we had the sort of political system the Some People's Republic has and I was reminded by the police to smile, you'd find me a source of bountiful cheer.
I don't like to show off my classical education, but Beijing during the Olympics reminded me of the Monty Python sketch about Happy Valley, where everyone was cheerful and happy because those who weren't had been put to death.
Posted on Thursday, August 28, 2008 - 12:56
Remember the song"anything you can do, I can do better?" I recalled the song listening to Bill Clinton tell the country that Barack Obama was ready to be president. Does he believe it? Doubtful. In December 2007 he told Charlie Rose that electing Obama would be a"roll of the dice" for as he asked"When is the last time we elected a president based on one year of service in the Senate before he started running?" It it possible, of course, that the discovery that"Obama"has the political instincts of a Chicago thug" has changed his mind.
So, why did he stand up at the Democratic convention and told the country not only that experience did not matter but that Obama was ready? For the same reason he stood up and told the country that he did not have sex with"that woman," because he could. Lying comes easy to Bill Clinton. This time he lied not to save his presidency but to demonstrate that he is a more loyal partisan than his wife.
You see, Hillary, could not get herself to go quite that far. She merely said that the democratic party is ready to lead and since he is the democratic candidate, he should be elected. Thus, she urged voters to put their trust in an experienced democratic leadership as a whole rather than in the novice Obama. This is as far as she went and in so doing she earned my respect as she has never done before. For when all said and done, she demonstrated she has some red lines, some honor.
Such scruples are beyond Bill and what is most disheartening is that he receives praise for demonstrating yet again how good a snake oil salesman he could have made. They also said that I lacked experience, he argued, and look how magnificently I did. Well, he had been governor for 12 years and was elected after Reagan won the Cold War when voters reasonably believed they could take a chance on a foreign policy novice and he did promise to take care of business at home.
He did give us a much needed roaring nineties. He did not take care of business at home. He promised to rebuild our infrastructure and solve the health care problem. He did neither. Nor did he use the surplus to develop green technologies. On the contrary, it was during his presidency that SUVs became the car of choice.
As to foreign policy, he did in Somalia what Obama wants to do in Iraq, leave prematurely. The result? A shot in the arm for Islamism. When the Islamists leb by Osama Bin Laden began to flex their muscles by bombing the World Trade Center and American embassies, he did nothing. When Iran bombed American soldiers in Saudi Arabia he did nothing. When Islamists armed by Iran undermined Yugoslavia, he bombed Belgrade. Russians were not amused. They still are not. As for Somalia itself? It has become a center of Islamist piracy.
The truth is that for the past seven years the Bush administration has been kept very busy cleaning up the mess created by the Clinton administration. It may have done so poorly but that only means that we must elect an experience person able to so better not a man who does not even realize what went wrong.
Hillary Clinton understands as much. I suspect her husband does too. It is just that when an impossible sales job beckons, he cannot help himself but respond especially as he can use it to divert attention from his own sorry record and do something better than Hillary.
Posted on Thursday, August 28, 2008 - 12:44
Why? Because Americans have the chutzpah to"stun" economists by doing what economists have been telling them to do. They are exporting more and importing less. Indeed, there are signs that"the US could emerge out of the global economic downturn ahead of other parts of the world." To add insult to injury, the dollars has been strengthening by the day. All this, while Barack's European role models are sinking deeper and deeper into an economic morass.
Why this should stun economists is beyond me as it could have been expected by anyone with a grade level education in market economics.
Still, if you wish to understand the reason for the global displeasure, you have to read Larry Summers' piece on The global consensus on trade is unravelling in which he explains that post War World II global growth engine is that much despised voracious American consumer:
Global growth has depended on US growth, which has depended on the US consumer; and the US consumer has depended on rising asset values first of stocks and more recently of real estate. With falling house prices and a challenged financial system, US consumer spending is falling.
The US is no longer in a position to be a net source of demand for the rest of the world. Indeed, with the drop in value of the dollar, US growth – which had been focused on imports and which had enabled the export-led growth of other countries – is a thing of the past. Already, Europe and Japan are in or are very close to being in recession.
In other words, America has been transferring it's wealth to the rest of the world in the belief that it serves it's strategic interest of promoting freedom. It worked during the Cold War but it has not worked in the last decade.
The current distribution of regional economic power is unlike anything that was predicted even a decade ago. The rise of the developing world, its growing share in global output and far greater share of global growth, is perhaps a quantitative but not a qualitative surprise. The qualitative surprise is this: with almost all the industrial world in or near recession, much of the momentum in the global economy is coming from countries with authoritarian governments that are pursuing economic strategies directed towards wealth accumulation and building up geopolitical strength rather than improving living standards for their populations. China, where household consumption has now fallen below 40 per cent of its gross domestic product – which must be some kind of peacetime record – is the most extreme example. Similar tendencies, however, can be seen in other parts of Asia, Russia and other oil exporting countries.
He notes that these developments get little attention in these highly politicized times. He does not mention the Sovereign Wealth Funds which exacerbate the dangers to which he alludes. The latest scary news, engineering giant Siemens is courting SWFs.
I keep listening the the candidates and their laundry lists of problems and solutions with less and less patience. The truth is that the times when our security concerns could be isolated are over. The transfer of wealth from democracies to autocracies must end and so must the sale of democratic assets to the representatives of various thugs.
Economic freedom made us amazingly productive and resilient. We should commit suicide by squandering it's benefits in the mistaken belief that such squandering would produce a"fairer" world as Barack Obama urges us to do. For the result as Larry Summers has demonstrated will be a more dangerous, less free world.
Posted on Thursday, August 28, 2008 - 18:04
Wrong. And McCain the warrior should know it. He must have read Sun Tsu. The fastest way to lose is a failure to exploit the opponent's mistakes. Unfortunately, women have a long history of standing by their men and Hillary told them last night to do so again.
The only way McCain can make sure they will not go home is to provide them with an opportunity to vote for a woman vice president. Otherwise they will go home.
And,yes, it should be a qualified woman. I recommended Kay Bailey Hutchison but I would be just as happy with Carly Fiorina or Meg Whitman, to name just two exceptional candidates. Either of them would demonstrate that rather than living in the past, McCain understands the present and retains the flexibility and courage needed to lead us into a better future. In other words, selecting a woman would counter the age issue in a most effective manner.
All these women are self made ones. They did not use their fathers (Pelosi) or their husbands (Clinton) to climb the greasy pole. They made it on their own. The reason young women have not flocked to Hillary is because she did not make it on her own. Perhaps, she could have but she did not. And try as she may, the wife and mother husband selling Michelle Obama does not fulfill the DREAMS OF OUR MOTHERS.
A woman vice president would.
So, please, McCain, do not disappoint us. For the sake of the country, demonstrate that you've still got it. Put a woman on the ticket.
Posted on Wednesday, August 27, 2008 - 12:11
Lest we forget the nature of the enemy, this multi award winning documentary by Andre Hovsepian, an Iranian born American is not only a son's tribute to his martyred father but it sheds lights on the hell hole that is Iran. Watch.
But there is yet another cry from Iran. This one comes from Ahmadinejad's opponents. They have been hoping to use the upcoming 2009 to oust him not because of his nuclear policy but because of Iran's wrecked economy. Guess what? Ayatolla Khamenei, the"moderate cleric" with whom Obama is hoping to negotiate has just signaled that the presidential elections, will be as"predictable" as the parliamentary ones have been:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may have gotten a limited boost to his embattled political career over the weekend when supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei weighed in on some of the contentious debates heating up in the country ahead of the 2009 presidential election. Lately, Ahmadinejad has come under fire from every imaginable angle, with his domestic rivals launching increasingly vehement public attacks on his political and economic performance. On Saturday, Khamenei met with the president and his Cabinet and instructed them not to take the mounting criticisms to heart or admit political defeat, but rather to address obvious shortcomings and continue to work diligently for the benefit of the people as though they would"stay in charge for five years."
Very rarely does the supreme leader enter domestic political disputes, and when he does, his words - or at least carefully selected sound bytes - get everyone's attention. Evidence of this can be seen in the way that various media outlets relayed Khamenei's remarks to the public. Kargozaran, a newspaper linked to one of Ahmadinejad's rivals, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, seized on the the supreme leader's criticisms of the Cabinet's economic performance and his warnings that double-digit inflation, if left uncurbed, could undermine the entire government of the Islamic Republic. However, the official IRNA agency, a media outlet whose management the president has purged and replaced with his own supporters, highlighted the supreme leader's warm praises of the president, portraying his words as a blanket endorsement ahead of the polls. And as always, most of the Western media provided befuddled analyses that recycled the IRNA report and interpreted it as an ominous sign of Khamenei's overt interference in the political process.
Will Obama's foreign policy expert, Joe Biden, (who Michael Rubin claims has blinked on Iran listen, reevaluate his position that appeasement (i.e., paying attention of Iran's emotional needs) is the way to deal with Iran and explain it all to his young protege?
Does the man who wants to be our protector in chief, Barack Hussein Obama, even care?
Posted on Tuesday, August 26, 2008 - 20:33
Suppose for example you're a voter. And you've got candidate X and candidate Y. Candidate X agrees with you on everything, but you don't think that person can deliver on anything. Candidate Y disagrees with you on half the issues, but you believe that on the other half, the candidate will be able to deliver. For whom would you vote?
This has nothing to do with what's going on now.
Is Bill Clinton a secret patriot? I think he just may be.
Posted on Tuesday, August 26, 2008 - 20:59
No, I am not employed by oil companies. No, I have not changed my mind about the need to end the era of oil. Indeed, the reason I want us to drill here and now is because I do believe that the era of King Oil, like that of King cotton is over and I am not the only one. Saudi insistence on keeping the oil price high is in part the consequence of their belief that their time is up and they might as well make the most of it. It made sense for us to conserve our oil while the price was low, it no longer does. The new reality is: Use it or lose it and with it American power.
Russia is back and Putin is the reason? Nonsense. Russia is back because the price of oil is high and it has oil. The Soviet Union used to be the largest oil exporter for decades. Indeed, one of the reasons for the collapse of the Soviet Union was the decline of it's oil production coupled with the sharp drop in oil prices orchestrated by the Saudis as part of the Afghani war. Now, as then, low Russian domestic demand enables Russia to export it's oil and gas. In other words, Russians remain poor but their government is plenty rich.
But the drilling will take years to make a difference. Not really. A message that the US is serious will have an immediate effect on the price of oil. Every dollar we are not shipping to Russia or the Middle East is a dollar not used to fight democracy. For do not kid yourselves. This is not only a geopolitical battle but an ideological one and our intellectuals are losing faith in democracy in the same manner they have lost faith in it during the 30's. You do not believe me? Read David Brook's Ode to Chinese Collectivist autocracy and remember he is usually not a fellow traveler.
In the meantime, let us not forget that the strategic oil reserve is designed to prevent us from being held completely hostage by oil producers. Any reduction in the amount of oil in it is a reduction in the American freedom of action. Sorry to sound so dramatic but the times they are troubling.
None of this means that we should not do everything we can to develop alternative energy sources. Americans get it now and ultimately they will force their politicians to act accordingly. That is the reason democracy works. The consensus has been achieved. Even Obama pays lip service to it. But in the meantime, we simply cannot afford to continue to finance our enemies in the same manner we have done up to this point. Our resources are dwindling too fast.
So, yes, the Russian bear announced that it is back at a time we have our hands full with the Islamists. Luckily, the answer to both is the same:"Drill here; drill now!"
Good news: NYT reports:
American natural gas production is rising at a clip not seen in half a century, pushing down prices of the fuel and reversing conventional wisdom that domestic gas fields were in irreversible decline.
For a good analysis of the current Russia/Georgia/US relations, click here.
Posted on Monday, August 25, 2008 - 11:54
Four ships were captured in one day. That is the new Somali record.
A German-owned cargo ship was the latest vessel to be attacked on Thursday, after Iranian, Japanese and Malaysian boats were seized the day before. . . .
The Gulf of Aden, linking the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea, is used by 17,000 ships a year carrying 3.3 million barrels of oil a day from the Middle East to Europe.
But the waters off Somalia have now become the world's most dangerous, with 35 hijackings so far this year, 29 of them along the northern Gulf of Aden coast.
Pirates have become bolder in recent months, motoring far out into international waters to attack commercial vessels, oil tankers, private yachts and even cruise liners.
Attackers use small speedboats to approach, and are armed with rocket propelled grenades and automatic weapons. Ships are usually released after a ransom is paid, a practice which shipping experts say will encourage more attacks.
"Somalia has no central government. We are worried that more may join the pirates to hijack ships because it's very lucrative and there is no deterrent," said Noel Choong of the International Maritime Bureau. . . .
"The United Nations is the only agency that can stop this menace," said Mr Choong.
"The international community has to agree to find ways to solve this worsening problem. That is the only way forward."
Yes, and my grandmother had wheels.
While Iran and Malaysia are negotiating for the release of their sailors, Earth Times reports additional hijackings:
Around eight ships have been seized by pirates off the lawless Somali coast with gunfire being reported during one of the hijackings, an official said Monday."Around eight ships have been seized, but we believe there were no fatalities," Andrew Mwangura, the head of the Kenya-based East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
"There was a shoot-out at one of the ships, but it was a quarrel between the gunmen," he continued."We understand there were no injuries."
Earlier reports had suggested three sailors had been killed.
Posted on Monday, August 25, 2008 - 12:03
Yes, I know she says she does not want to be vice president. Biden also said that. If offered she is not going to turn down the opportunity to make history. I know she will not be the first women running for vice president. But she will be the first QUALIFIED woman to do so. Geraldine Ferraro was the first one. But like Barack Obama, she was essentially an affirmative action choice. There can be no questioning of the first US female senator from the Texas, Kay Bailey Hutchison qualifications or her vote getting ability.
Most importantly, women justifiably feel dissed by the Obama's democratic party. Just think how Blacks would have felt had Hillary won the nomination and failed to offer the vice presidential slot to Barack. Greta Van Susteren says that her email box is filled with democratic women expressing their outrage. They are ready to bolt.
McCain should give them a reason to do so as Hutchison has a credible feminist record. She wrote two best selling books celebrating female achievement thereby demonstrating her interest in women's issues. She is pro life enough for conservatives but does not support revoking Roe. Her appearance on the ticket would reassure some women and energize many more.
I cannot imagine any valid reason for McCain not to add much needed pizazz to his candidacy by selecting this talented, worthy lady.
Please, McCain, do not play into Obama's hand by choosing a boring white man. Demonstrate, instead, that you understand that America's women have earned the right to be treated with respect by choosing a well qualified woman as your running mate. Give us an additional reason to vote for you!
Also see, Martin Sieff, Analysis: Kay Bailey Hutchison for veep?
Update:Thomas Lifson of the American Thinker just brought to my attention the fact that Kay Bailey Hutchison is not on the Republican convention speakers roster. I am keeping my fingers crossed that it means what I hope it does. He is also kind enough to link to this blog.
Update 2: Dick Morris, agrees:
Now, John McCain can take advantage of Obama's blunder by coming back with a woman nominee for president. Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison would be an excellent choice. She's been around for decades and is not going to start making mistakes now. Her nomination would be a signal to American women that McCain takes their aspirations seriously, even if Obama does not. Hutchison is not charismatic. But her circumstances would be if she were nominated. The prospect of a woman vice president would electrify women throughout the nation..
Posted on Monday, August 25, 2008 - 11:06
Posted on Monday, August 25, 2008 - 13:49
Things seemed to have changed but maybe not always. Try the following:
Meet the Press, April 29, 2008
MR. RUSSERT: You said in the debate whoever wishes for Hillary is making a big mistake on the Republican side. You seem to be almost a quasi-endorsement. Are you interested in being vice president?
SEN. BIDEN: No. I will not be vice president under any circumstances.
Fast forward to June 22, 2008:
MR. WILLIAMS: Senator Biden, I don't mean to interrupt. SEN. BIDEN: No, I understand. MR. WILLIAMS: You're in the news yourself this past week.
SEN. BIDEN: Uh-oh. What did I do?
MR. WILLIAMS: You interested in the vice presidency?
SEN. BIDEN: I am not interested in the vice presidency.
MR. WILLIAMS: You're not interested in the vice presidency.
SEN. BIDEN: I'm not interested.
MR. WILLIAMS: MEET THE PRESS, April 29th, 2007, Tim Russert asks Joe Biden,"You interested in being vice president?""No, I will not be vice president under any circumstances." But in a different answer, you answered you'd have to say yes. I don't know, so...
SEN. BIDEN: Well, no. The bottom--look, the--when I was asked that question, I thought I was still going to be president. Now--number one, I, I am not interested in being vice president. I've let the candidate know. If the candidate asks me to be vice president, the answer is I got to say yes. But he's not going to ask me. Look, you cannot walk away...
MR. WILLIAMS: Now...
SEN. BIDEN: ...when your party--if the party nominee asked him to be vice...
MR. WILLIAMS: Is that a rule out or a rule in?
SEN. BIDEN: No, it--no, it's--I don't--I'm not interested. I'm--my--I answer your question honestly.
MR. WILLIAMS: But if asked?
SEN. BIDEN: Unlike most other people, I'm being straight with you. If asked, I will do it. I've made it clear I do not want to be asked.
MR. WILLIAMS: Do not want to be asked. But if asked, the answer, of course, would be yes.
SEN. BIDEN: Of course it would, because the--if the president--if the presidential nominee thought I could help him win, am I going to say to the first African-American candidate about to make history in the world that,"No, I will not help you out like you want me to"? Of course, I'm--I'll say yes.
Sounds noble. It certainly does not prepare you for this WSJ headline:
Biden Camp Pressed Hard For a Slot on the Ticket At least, I must admit, it did not prepare me. But, perhaps it should have. Perhaps, aware of the dangers to America and the world that electing an affirmative action candidate may pose to the country and the world, he concluded it was his duty to do his best to decrease the harm by accepting the vice presidency. After all, he made no secret of his belief that Barack Obama was not ready to president.
If so, thank you Joe Biden for not being as reckless as those superdelegates who put party before country by anointing Barack a major party's presidential candidate.
Posted on Monday, August 25, 2008 - 16:24
Posted on Friday, August 22, 2008 - 12:01
It has been a while since I read anything as scary as RW Johnson's analysis of the current situation in Zimbabwe for the dynamics he describes can apply to many other Third World countries (such as China) ruled by"national liberation movements." If you needed proof that secular fanaticism is as evil as religious one or wondered about the impetus behing the leftist/Islamist coalition, Consider the following:
What we are watching in Zimbabwe is the death agony of a national liberation movement. In a genuinely free election Zanu-PF would now be almost wiped out and would quickly reduce to a tiny residual sub-culture. This will be a very frightening example for the ANC and the other ageing liberation movements. Across southern Africa we are watching the gathering throes of a dying culture, still impregnated with a lethal militancy and self-righteousness..
Zimbabwe has been a terrible warning of how dangerous the dying kicks of such a movement can be. Such movements came to power believing that they solely represented and incorporated the people. A loss of popular support was simply not in the script and Zanu-PF’s response to that situation was effectively to take its own people hostage, visiting terrible punishment upon it to try to force “the popular masses” to behave as they were supposed to in the script.
This is not hyperbole. As in the case of the fanatical Pol Pot Cambodia, there may be a willingness to sacrifice millions for the cause:
The key move was the ban on the distribution of food in Zimbabwe by international famine relief agencies. One must never forget the statement by Didymus Mutasa, a Mugabe intimate and Minister of State Security, that the country would be better off with only six million people – all presumed Mugabe supporters – rather than the 14 million which normal demographic growth would suggest. In fact up to four million have fled and perhaps another one to two million have died of Aids or starvation.
But thanks to the disastrous results of Mugabe’s “land reform”, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation now estimates that production of maize – the staple African diet – is down to only 28% of what is needed. By the end of August, two million people will face starvation, a number which will grow to 5.1 million by January 2009. If nothing is done to prevent this, Zimbabwe will become a wasteland with perhaps only three to four million survivors. A genocide many times larger than Rwanda’s now threatens unless there is rapid intervention to prevent it.
You still do not believe it? This is the regime which not only tortured coalition leader Tsvangirai but when a picture of his swollen head went around the world,"it tracked down the cameraman who had taken the pictures, Edward Chikombo," abducted him and murdered him.
But read it all including all about Mbeki's support of Mugabe in the Johnson article posted bellow.
Liberation that has destroyed freedom
By RW Johnson
The sequence of events which produced the current deadlock in Zimbabwe began on 11 March 2007 when a number of activists and leaders of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), including its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, were arrested, tortured and beaten.
The pictures of Tsvangirai as he emerged from hospital, his head so swollen that he could not see, went round the world. He had a cracked skull and needed extensive blood transfusions. One of Tsvangirai’s bodyguards, who had been beaten along with him, later died of his injuries; another MDC activist was shot dead; and scores more were tortured and beaten. But it was the TV footage of Tsvangirai, smuggled out of the country, that exposed the Mugabe regime so badly. If this was what could be done to the leader of the main and non-violent opposition party, everyone could understand the rest in an instant. An unprecedented volume of international protest and condemnation poured in, so vociferous that even Thabo Mbeki’s South Africa, Mugabe’s most loyal supporter, expressed concern and politely asked the Zimbabwean government “to ensure that the rule of law including respect for rights of all Zimbabweans and leaders of various political parties is respected” (see “South Africa: not yet post-colonial”). Mugabe realised the harm the TV footage had done and tracked down the cameraman who had taken the pictures, Edward Chikombo. He was abducted from his house in Harare. His body was discovered some days later.
The international repercussions of these events were so severe as to cause a change in tactics by Mugabe and Mbeki. Mbeki’s fundamental position was that Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF party must, as a fellow national liberation movement (NLM), be maintained in power at all costs. The NLMs of southern Africa are, according to this theory, those movements which successfully used armed struggle to overthrow white rule – that is, the ruling parties of Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. In Mbeki’s and Mugabe’s minds, western imperialism is engaged in a struggle to overthrow the NLMs and restore, if it can, the preceding regimes – apartheid, colonialism or white settler rule. In so doing, imperialism will make use of various local parties as their lackeys – Inkatha and the Democratic Alliance in South Africa, Renamo in Mozambique, Unita in Angola – and the MDC in Zimbabwe. Faced with this onslaught, in which Zimbabwe is currently the weakest link, the other NLMs must defend Zanu-PF to the death, for if Zimbabwe “falls”, then South Africa and the others will become the next target.
Ever since the Zimbabwe crisis first erupted in 2000, Mbeki had seen his role as one of giving firm support to Mugabe (while insisting he was using “quiet diplomacy” to solve the problem) who was thus to be given a breathing space in which he could carry through his land revolution against the white farmers, extirpate the imperialist lackeys of the MDC – and then re-stabilise his country, with Zanu-PF regaining its de facto position of unchallenged single party. The problem was that Mugabe had damaged his economy beyond repair by getting rid of the white farmers. So the economy and society would not stabilise – decline continued rapidly – and the MDC, despite endless persecution, refused to disappear. Now Mugabe had made a yet further and energetic attempt to make them disappear, but the result had been a massive international reaction which had shaken all the states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Most of these states are not ruled by NLMs, do not share the paranoid imaginings of Mugabe and Mbeki about the re-imposition of white/colonial rule, and are in any case heavily dependent on western aid. SADC has adopted an electoral code of conduct, fully up to Westminster standards, which is supposed to apply to all elections within SADC and western donors (who finance much of SADC’s affairs as well as that of its constituent states) wanted to see it observed. SADC, though normally deferential to South Africa, the regional great power, was thus now pushed by its western donors as well as by some voices in its own ranks, and wanted to see a mediated resolution in Zimbabwe. Mbeki was, accordingly, appointed as mediator.
Mbeki led the SADC team in negotiations, which eventually produced a new Zimbabwean constitution, a new Electoral Act and amendments to the Public Order Act. The number of parliamentary seats was increased from 120 to 210, the president’s right to name 30 extra MPs was abolished, and it was determined that to win a presidential election a candidate must win at least 50% on the first round or, failing that, face a run-off within 21 days. SADC emphasised that it did not wish to be embarrassed again by the state-sponsored violence that had marred previous Zimbabwean elections and Mugabe, in return, allowed in election observers from SADC and other states thought likely to sign off on a Mugabe victory as “free, fair and credible”. This new dispensation was essentially a deal between Mbeki and Mugabe to see Zanu-PF returned to power by more genteel means. Mbeki, who was concerned that Zanu-PF rule had become too identified with Mugabe, wanted the 84-year-old to stand down in favour of a younger moderniser, Simba Makoni. When Mugabe refused to stand down, Makoni, with Mbeki’s tacit support, ran as a dissident Zanu-PF candidate.
Freezing out the MDC
But on one thing Mbeki and Mugabe were united: Tsvangirai and the MDC must not be allowed to win. And they were confident that the new arrangements would achieve that. They believed that Mugabe could rely on the rural vote and so the number of rural parliamentary seats was heavily increased, with Mugabe expected to win them all. The MDC would, as in the past, be barred from all state-owned media, including radio and TV. With the only MDC-supporting newspaper, The Daily News, now suppressed and its presses blown up, the MDC would be at a huge disadvantage in getting its message across. Moreover, the MDC had split and the two rival movements were running against one another – one an essentially Ndebele party, with support in rural Matabeleland; the other Tsvangirai’s majority faction. This was bound to be a major handicap for the opposition. The MDC was so conscious of its problems that it frantically appealed for the election to be postponed.
On top of that the state had complete control of the electoral register, had large numbers of dead and fictitious voters registered to vote, and the MDC was denied any access to the register or any copy of it. Mugabe and Mbeki thus believed that a Zanu-PF victory was guaranteed even in a peaceful election. At the close of voting the SADC election observers hurriedly proclaimed the election free and fair and left the country before any results were declared. But the best laid plans of mice and men had gone awry. It is doubtful if Mbeki read the fine print of some of the administrative changes made by his SADC underlings, but a few of these were crucial. One was an amendment to the Public Order Act which removed the need for police permission for private meetings. This was vital in allowing the Tsvangirai forces to penetrate and win many seats in hitherto safe Zanu-PF territory. Allowing a peaceful campaign in the rural areas had completely undone the assumption that these areas were “safe” for Mugabe.
But SADC’s drafters had also inserted Section 64(1)E into the new Electoral Act, requiring all votes to be counted at the polling station where they were cast and then the results, witnessed by the party agents, to be posted publicly outside the station. This gave the opposition a virtually foolproof way of detecting cheating. Neither Mbeki nor Mugabe had any experience of competitive free elections and they simply missed the significance of this clause.
Once the polls closed the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) gave the Zanu-PF Politburo its first private prediction of the presidential result: Tsvangirai 58%, Mugabe 27% and Makoni, the dissident Zanu-PF candidate, 15%. These estimates, based on a narrow urban sample, were too favourable to Tsvangirai, but the message was clear. Mugabe ordered the ZEC to declare him elected with 53%. Angry at Makoni’s “treachery”, he also demanded that his vote be reduced to 5%. This produced resistance both from the ZEC and from the security chiefs. The ZEC objected that manipulation of the results on such a scale would be obvious, while the security chiefs worried that the country might become ungovernable if the popular will was so brutally flouted. Mbeki was continuously on the phone from Pretoria and had his emissaries in Harare. Could not the results be “adjusted” so that Tsvangirai got less than 50%? Mugabe could get 41% and Makoni 10%-12%. Mugabe should then withdraw, leaving Zanu-PF to rally behind Makoni and, provided the security forces could be given a strong role in the way the run-off was conducted, Makoni could then be given just over 50% and Tsvangirai kept out. But Mugabe refused to stand down.
The opposition had won 111 seats to Zanu-PF’s 96 (with three seats vacant). There were discussions about Tsvangirai heading a government of national unity, including some Zanu-PF ministers and granting complete amnesty to Mugabe and his henchmen, but the real struggle was going on within Zanu-PF and the armed forces.
It was not until the Thursday after the vote that we got the picture. I had that morning sallied into MDC headquarters at Harvest House, a place watched by the security police and frequently raided by them. Failing to find Tsvangirai, I sat round until I was slapped on the back by a bevy of MDC MPs whom I knew. They’d arrived for their caucus meeting only to discover – the usual MDC shambles – that the meeting had started five minutes ago and there was no transport to take them there. I happily drove them there and then went to Meikles Hotel to hear the MDC’s press conference. Meikles lounge is always a honeypot, abuzz with journos, but I don’t like it. It’s full of spies and electronic surveillance, so I left quickly and went back to the lodge in which I was staying.
Mugabe had finally re-asserted his control that day and the crackdown had begun. A few minutes after I’d left Harvest House the riot police raided it, arresting anyone remotely like me. Then, not long after I’d left Meikles, the police surrounded the place and arrested the journos they found inside. Finally, that night 30 armed police arrived at my lodge. They had caught some journos at a neighbouring lodge and arrested the lodge owner. He, poor man, was sitting on the back of an open lorry, being taken away god knows where, his lodge now shut down for the newly invented crime of harbouring journalists. I managed to bluff my way through this visitation. But the story was now clear. Mugabe would stay in power and do whatever it took.
Which is what happened: ZEC officials arrested, appeals to overturn the parliamentary results, a presidential recount even before the first count was released and then a ferocious campaign of terror in which some 136 people died and many thousands more were tortured and beaten, leading up to a much-delayed run-off on 27 June, a contest from which Tsvangirai withdrew, leaving Mugabe as sole candidate. Tsvangirai was frequently arrested, prevented from campaigning and Mugabe made it quite clear that “only God can remove me”: mere votes would not be allowed to count. Mbeki flew to Harare and tried frantically to cover for Mugabe. (“There is no crisis in Zimbabwe,” he told journalists after an hour’s talk with Mugabe. He was, as he spoke, holding hands with Mugabe.) Even within South Africa this was greeted with widespread ridicule and protest.
Is Mugabe really in charge?
For the first time it was unclear whether Mugabe dominated his ruling group or whether it dominated him. Its key members are all part of Mugabe’s Zezuru clan, several of them directly related to Mugabe, and were members of Zanla (the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army). All have benefited enormously from Mugabe’s rule and own numerous farms stolen from white farmers. Gideon Gono, the Reserve Bank governor, is also Mugabe’s private banker and accompanies him on his trips to Malaysia where most of his ill-gotten assets are stashed. Emmerson Mnangagwa and Perence Shiri (who is Mugabe’s cousin) were the two men principally responsible for the Matabeleland massacres of the 1980s. Constantine Chiwenga, the army boss, and Paradzai Zimondi, head of the prison service are also part of this top group is as Augustine Chihuri, the police chief.
The current campaign of terror has been carefully planned and implemented by the Joint Operations Command (JOC) which Mnangagwa heads and in which Shiri, the air force chief, plays a key role. All of these men have committed major crimes against humanity and all of them are wealthy, with much to lose. There is a further stratum below them whose ill-gotten wealth is still mainly held inside Zimbabwe and who lack the well-stuffed foreign bank accounts necessary to make exile a palatable option. During the liberation war those who offended Mugabe or the Zanla high command were routinely consigned to “the pits” – specially dug holes in the ground where almost indescribable tortures would be inflicted. Interestingly, a number of this hard core – Chihuri is one – endured “the pits” and were thus in no doubt about the ruthlessness of the cause they served. Mugabe’s rule could continue while there were well-armed and well-paid men willing to protect him, but his regime now resembled that of Papa Doc Duvalier and rule by the tontons-macoutes.
Mugabe had suffered a huge blow to his legitimacy both domestically and internationally and the MDC openly rejected Mbeki as a mediator because of his open partisanship towards Mugabe. Similar doubts were openly expressed by the western powers, at the UN and throughout Africa. Together, these developments meant that things could not go on as before. Meanwhile, Mugabe launched a campaign of terror which continued after the election, the aim being to pre-emptively eliminate the MDC so that it could never become the successor regime. In effect the Mugabe regime held its people hostage, threatening a Rwanda-scale genocide unless international pressure upon the regime was de-escalated.
The key move was the ban on the distribution of food in Zimbabwe by international famine relief agencies. One must never forget the statement by Didymus Mutasa, a Mugabe intimate and Minister of State Security, that the country would be better off with only six million people – all presumed Mugabe supporters – rather than the 14 million which normal demographic growth would suggest. In fact up to four million have fled and perhaps another one to two million have died of Aids or starvation. But thanks to the disastrous results of Mugabe’s “land reform”, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation now estimates
that production of maize – the staple African diet – is down to only 28% of what is needed.
By the end of August, two million people will face starvation, a number which will grow to 5.1 million by January 2009. If nothing is done to prevent this, Zimbabwe will become a wasteland with perhaps only three to four million survivors. A genocide many times larger than Rwanda’s now threatens unless there is rapid intervention to prevent it.
The new factor: Jacob Zuma
What can stop this? With inflation multiplying by 10 every month, the rate should reach 100,000,000% before the end of August. That is to say, the currency is worthless and the armed forces can be expected to demand payment in foreign currency – which the regime cannot do. There is also the fact that the new president of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC), Jacob Zuma, has taken a considerably more critical attitude towards Mugabe. Zuma will be president of South Africa in nine months’ time and he already casts a long shadow.
The chances are that the negotiations now under way between Mugabe and the MDC will see the end of the game for Zanu-PF simply because of the weight of development aid poised to go in to help a new democratic government and the fact that the Mugabe regime has nowhere else to go. Moreover, US pressure on Mbeki has built up very strongly in the past month. Mbeki too is cornered, his mediation now suspect in the AU, SADC and the UN. The probable result will be a transitional government with Mugabe still the titular president but with Tsvangirai, leading an MDC cabinet majority, the real boss as prime minister. In that event, the key variable will be the question of immunity from prosecution for Mugabe’s major security chiefs, even as they are forcibly retired from office.
What we are watching in Zimbabwe is the death agony of a national liberation movement. In a genuinely free election Zanu-PF would now be almost wiped out and would quickly reduce to a tiny residual sub-culture. This will be a very frightening example for the ANC and the other ageing liberation movements. Across southern Africa we are watching the gathering throes of a dying culture, still impregnated with a lethal militancy and self-righteousness. Zimbabwe has been a terrible warning of how dangerous the dying kicks of such a movement can be. Such movements came to power believing that they solely represented and incorporated the people. A loss of popular support was simply not in the script and Zanu-PF’s response to that situation was effectively to take its own people hostage, visiting terrible punishment upon it to try to force “the popular masses” to behave as they were supposed to in the script.
This could happen again; though one must hope against hope that the lessons of Zimbabwe will now sink in across the region, obviating the need for this almost genocidal defiance of historical change. For the national liberation movements would like to believe that their coming to power was the end of history, that they will stay in power forever. The beginning of wisdom is to accept that nothing lasts and that the “popular masses” will happily embrace a “neo-colonial” future if one is on offer.
Posted on Friday, August 22, 2008 - 12:15
Poland and the US sign a missile pact.
Assad is visiting Moscow. He declares his support for Russia in its conflict with Georgia, urges it to cut its ties with NATO and the West and invites it to place missiles in Syria a la Cuba. (Update: Cuba and Venezuela have also expressed their willingness to accept Russian missiles. In addition AND THREATENS TO DEFEAT NATO IN AFGHANISTAN!, see video). Russia happily declares it is "ready to sell Syria arms." Both agree that Iran has"nuclear right." Not enough? Russia is sending an aircraft carrier to Syria
True to form, Obama's man is in Damascus giving advice to Syria on the right handle US.
European response true to form and Geo-strategic and historical interests. France urges appeasement. Bernard Kushner argues that when all said and done, it's all about language.
.The European Union and the West “must invent and work on a new language with the Russians, in their new virile attitude. We are neighbors, linked with energy and problems like terrorism, and we can’t suppress our alliance, facing, for example, Iran. We need an understanding.”
Germany, especially, it's East German raised PM, is less sanguine.
Georgian officials say they were surprised by the strength of Ms. Merkel's show of solidarity last Sunday when she visited Tbilisi, Georgia's capital.
She promised that Georgia would one day join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, despite Russian opposition, and proposed NATO help rebuild Georgia's military and infrastructure. NATO foreign ministers agreed on an aid package at a meeting Tuesday in Brussels.
The Czechs, like the rest of Eastern Europe , know Europe cannot be relied on:
“Hopefully, signing these agreements will end all the hype that the story has generated, and people will come to realize the new geo-political situation,” said Zdeněk Zbořil, a political scientist at the Institute of International Relations in Prague. “The rockets are not aimed at Russia but instead provide cover for our allies who in turn defend us in times of need.”. . ..
“It is clear that if Europe wants to become a viable international partner it needs to have one address and one voice. As long as others have to call 27 people before reaching a decision, they will never take the European Union seriously and instead deal with individual states.”
Posted on Friday, August 22, 2008 - 11:56