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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

US Jews support military action against Iran

The American Jewish Committee's annual survey shows that most Jews support military action on Iran, whether that action is taken by the United States (58-36%) or by Israel (66-28%). The survey also shows that only 8% of American Jews believe that Israel should return to the 1949 armistice lines and 51% don't believe there will ever come a time when Jews and Arabs will settle their differences and live in peace. But by 58-37%, they don't want Israel to give up any sovereignty in Jerusalem.

US Jews also approve of Binyamin Netanyahu (59-23%) by a wider margin than they approve of Barack Obama (54-32%).

The results are actually better than I would have thought they would be.

Read the whole thing.

Hillary Clinton at Security Council: 'I kinda like being a President'

This is Hillary Clinton presiding over the UN Security Council.

Let's go to the videotape.

Good grief.

Outrageous! Israel trades 20 terrorists for a video

Israel is releasing 20 female terrorists - many of whom are serving time for attempted murder - in exchange for a recent video 'proving' that kidnapped IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit is alive.
A senior Hamas official said on Wednesday that a video to be released Friday will prove that abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit is alive and well.

Musa Abu-Marzouk said that the video, to be given to Israel in exchange for the release of 20 female Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, will also include proof that it was filmed recently.


The Prime Minister's office has stated that if a larger prisoner release is secured for the release of Gilad Shalit, the twenty women released this week will count towards the total number of detainees released.

Of the 20 female Palestinian prisoners to be released by Israel, Hamas has stated that four are members of Hamas, five belong to the rival Fatah faction, and three are members of Islamic Jihad. Only one of the prisoners is a resident of the Gaza Strip, the rest are from the West Bank.

The prisoners had all served at least two thirds of their sentences and none had more than two years left to serve.
There's a list of the 'prisoners' to be released here. None has more than two years left to serve, but three are being held on bail and have not been tried. Thirteen of the 20 have been convicted of attempted murder.

This is a new low in my book. Hezbullah gave us dead soldiers but didn't receive more terrorists for 'proof' as to whether they were alive or dead. You want to deal - prove he's alive. We shouldn't be paying for that proof - and certainly not by the release of additional terrorists (yes, they 'count' against the eventual final number, but since that number has not yet been determined they can't really count against it). That's absurd.

But then, you all know already that I'm opposed to trading terrorists for hostages anyway - dead or alive. All we're doing is inviting the next terror attack.

Why targeting gasoline imports won't hurt Iran

This is from an article explaining why China is reluctant to agree to imposing sanctions on Iran (oil and ideology). During the course of the article, it explains why it's too late to target Iran's oil and gas imports as part of the sanctions.
Gal Luft, executive director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, said Iran has dropped its reliance on gasoline imports from 40 percent to 25 percent. That explains, in part, why Western powers appear less interested than they once were in targeting such imports with sanctions.

"There is a lot of hype about gasoline sanctions, but they are not going to be very effective," Luft said. "We've missed the boat on this one."
I'm shocked. Just shocked.

Obama ignores regime change in Iran

While the United States and its allies are trying to make it seem that they are holding back on stronger sanctions against Iran because they are afraid of snuffing out Iran's revolution, the Washington Post's Robert Kagan argues that just the opposite is true: Stiff sanctions on Iran would help regime change along, but the Obama administration isn't interested in toppling Ahmadinejad.
The regime's overriding goal since the election, therefore, has been to buy time and try to reestablish and consolidate control without any foreign interference in its internal affairs. In this Tehran has succeeded admirably.

But it has also had help. The Obama administration has, perhaps unwittingly, been a most cooperative partner. It has refused to make the question of regime survival part of its strategy. Indeed, it doesn't even treat Iran as if it were in the throes of a political crisis. President Obama seems to regard the ongoing turmoil as a distraction from the main business of stopping Iran's nuclear program. And this is exactly what the rulers in Tehran want him to do: focus on the nukes and ignore the regime's instability.


This ought to be the goal of the "crippling" sanctions the Obama administration has threatened. Sanctions will not persuade the present Iranian government to give up its nuclear weapons program. Ahmadinejad and Khamenei see the nuclear program and their own survival as intimately linked. But the right kinds of sanctions could help the Iranian opposition topple these still-vulnerable rulers.

Critics of this idea still draw on pre-June 12 logic. A year ago, in the absence of any serious opposition to the clerics, it did seem hopeless to imagine that sanctions could have any effect on the clerics' rule. One could speculate, as some administration officials and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner still do, that sanctions would only strengthen popular support for the regime.

This analysis, however, no longer fits in Iran. The government's behavior during and after the election has opened an irreparable breach between the regime and large elements of Iranian society, and even within the clerical ranks. The government may succeed in clamping down on the opposition and driving it underground. But the notion that the Iranian opposition will suddenly rally around Ahmadinejad and Khamenei if the West imposes sanctions is absurd. The opposition leadership is engaged in a struggle to the death with the regime. When sanctions begin to cause hardships, the opposition will press its case that the regime is leading Iran to ruin.

That is the case for moving ahead with crippling sanctions as soon as possible and not waiting months for Iran's leaders to drag out talks.
I question whether the sanctions could bring about regime change quickly enough to stop the nukes, but regime change in Iran should be - but is not - a goal of the Obama administration.

Read the whole thing.

Why are 'human rights' activists obsessed with Israel?

Many of you may wonder why 'human rights' activists seem to have a constant obsession with Israel when there are so many worse human rights violators all over the world. Sudan, Rwanda, Iran, Libya and others are ignored while the 'Human Rights Council' spends all its time criticizing Israel. I would have just chocked it up to anti-Semitism, but Charles Jacobs has a different theory.
Why Israel and not Sudan, is Singled Out
by Charles Jacobs
Boston Globe, October 5, 2002


The human rights community, composed mostly of compassionate white people, feels a special duty to protest evil done by those who are like “us.”

“Not in my name” is the worthy response of moral people. South African whites could not be allowed to represent “us.” But when we see evil done by “others,” we tend to shy away. Though we claim to have a single standard for all human conduct, we don’t. We fear the charge of hypocrisy: We Westerners after all, had slaves. We napalmed Vietnam. We live on Native American land. Who are we to judge “others?” And so we don’t stand for all of humanity.

The biggest victims of this complex are not the Jews who are obsessively criticized but the victims of genocide, enslavement, religious persecution, and ethnic cleansing who are murderously ignored: the Christian slaves of Sudan, the Muslim slaves of Mauritania, the Tibetans, the Kurds, the Christians in Pakistan, Indonesia, Egypt.

Seeking expiation instead of universal justice means ignoring the sufferings of these victims of non-Western aggression and making relatively more of the suffering of those caught in confrontation with people like “us.” If the Israelis are being “profiled” because they are like “us,” the slaves of Sudan are ignored because their masters’ behavior has nothing to do with us.

In the United States it is not predominantly anti-Semitism that causes the human rights community to single Israel out for criticism. It is rather our failure to apply to all nations the standards to which we hold ourselves. The effect, as Summers correctly said, is anti-Semitic. But it is also the abandonment of those around the world in the worst of circumstances whose oppressions we find beside the point.
Of course, that doesn't explain why the 'human rights community' is much more interested in Israel than it is in NATO troops in the former Yugoslavia, and it may not even explain why the 'human rights community' isn't more interested in Russian troops in Georgia or Chechnya, but it's a start.

Read the whole thing.

Mary Robinson says to listen Goldstone anyway

I trust you all remember that just a short time ago, US President Barack Obama presented Mary Robinson, who presided over the first Durban Conference at which Israel was vilified as an 'apartheid state,' with America's highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom.

Before Richard Goldstone agreed to head the United Nations 'Human Rights Council' commission that bears his name, Mary Robinson was offered the job. She turned it down because the mandate only called to investigate 'Israeli war crimes' and much has been made of that fact in the aftermath of Goldstone's outrageous report. But in Pakistan's Daily Times, Robinson now dismisses the unbalanced mandate that caused her to decline chairing the commission, saying that it doesn't matter whether that mandate conformed to United Nations rules.
I refused to accept the invitation from the president of the Human Rights Council at the time, Ambassador Martin Uhomoibhi of Nigeria, to lead the investigation following the Human Rights Council’s January 12, 2009 resolution. As a former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, I felt strongly that the Council’s resolution was one-sided and did not permit a balanced approach to determining the situation on the ground. It referred only to “the grave violations of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly due to the recent Israeli military attacks,” and called for a mission to investigate “all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by the occupying power, Israel, against the Palestinian people.”

I was also aware that the UN Human Rights Council had made repeated condemnations of Israel over the past two years but had focused little attention on large-scale violations of human rights in other countries. This pattern of action and inaction by the Council has given greater credence to those who believe the UN’s highest human rights body is inherently anti-Israel.

I decided I could not undertake the mission for these reasons. I am aware that Judge Goldstone, a dedicated and unimpeachable human rights lawyer and advocate, shared similar concerns when he was initially approached. But he was able to work with the Council’s president to secure an agreement he felt confident would permit the mandate to be interpreted in such a way as to allow his team to address the actions taken by both parties to the conflict.

Experts can debate whether this was in conformity with UN rules and procedures. I have no doubt that those involved were seeking a way forward that would allow for a full investigation and help overcome the political divisiveness currently undermining the Human Rights Council within the UN system.
But the mandate cannot be so easily dismissed. As Human Rights lawyer Irwin Cotler pointed out in August in the Jerusalem Post:
Goldstone admits that he also refused the appointment - at least initially. "More than hesitate, I initially refused to become involved in any way [with the inquiry], on the basis of what seemed to me to be a biased, uneven-handed resolution of the UN Human Rights Council," he explained. But he felt comfortable enough to proceed when the then-president of the Council, Martin Ihoeghian Uhomoibhi, purportedly expanded the mission's mandate for him, even though the enabling resolution behind the inquiry would remain unchanged, and though he would still be accountable to the Council that passed this resolution.

HOW GOLDSTONE could have considered his personal conversation with Uhomoibhi sufficient to quell his fears is surprising to say the least. One-sided or not, the mandate in the enabling Human Rights Council resolution is the one that determined the scope and tenor of the "fact-finding" mission. Uhomoibhi could no more have altered that mandate unilaterally than Goldstone could have himself, in defiance of the Council.

Indeed, any faith Goldstone possessed in the re-definition of his mandate should have dissipated when Uhomoibhi publicly stated on the day the inquiry was announced: "I am confident that the mission will be in a position to assess in an independent and impartial manner all human rights and humanitarian law violations committed in the context of the conflict which took place between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009."

The alleged expansion of the mandate's timeframe that Goldstone apparently fought for, to include reference to Hamas's provocation (apparently from June 2008), was nowhere to be found in the description of his mandate.
Moreover, even if the mandate was meant to include 'Palestinian' rocket fire, the way that the mandate was phrased was still biased.
The mission's mandate is tainted through more subtle ways of prejudging its conclusions as well. For instance, the council's enabling resolution refers to the Gaza as being "occupied Palestinian territory." Such a description is loaded, and ignores the reality on the ground - that Israel fully withdrew from Gaza years ago. Indeed, the territory's status under international law remains unclear. By adopting this vernacular, the council - and Goldstone himself, who uses a similar characterization - implicitly predetermines an essential part of its analysis. For under international law, what constitutes a legitimate response will be very different depending on whether rocket attacks are coming from territory a state "controls," or whether they are coming from territory that is controlled by the attacking terrorist government, as in the case of Hamas.

In the end, whatever bargain Goldstone personally struck about his mandate, and whatever intentions he has of examining both sides of the conflict, his work will nonetheless be regrettably tarnished by its connection to the UN Human Rights Council, and may well be manipulated to satisfy the council's ends.

AND THUS we are left with the reality that Judge Richard Goldstone, previously shocked to the core, has become the leader of a mission that is tainted to the core.
Indeed. The mandate goes to the very core of what the Commission did. Anything not within its mandate can (and in some cases should) be disregarded. In the event, the Commission produced a 575-page report that totally ignored eight years of rocket fire on Israel by Hamas that led to Operation Cast Lead.

The Commission was also biased from the outset. As Melanie Phillips pointed out, the Commission was inherently biased:
Goldstone, Ms Hina Jilani and Col Desmond Travers signed a letter last March stating that events in Gaza had ‘shocked us to the core’ and calling for an investigation into ‘crimes perpetrated against civilians by both sides.’ So all three have already declared Israel guilty of such crimes – and as for the other side, their abuses lie outside the Commission’s scope.


In January, Christine Chinkin, Professor of International Law at the London School of Economics ... signed a letter in the Times which stated: ‘Israel's bombardment of Gaza is not self-defence - it's a war crime.’ It went on: ‘The rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas deplorable as they are, do not, in terms of scale and effect amount to an armed attack entitling Israel to rely on self-defence...Israel's actions amount to aggression, not self-defence’. Instead, ‘its invasion and bombardment of Gaza amounts to collective punishment of Gaza’s 1.5m inhabitants contrary to international humanitarian and human rights law’.
Mary Robinson's comments are far too little to overcome the bias in the Goldstone Commission's mandate and composition. They should be ignored by all who care about fairness and decency.

Targeting Israel

At PJTV, Bill Whittle interviews Caroline Glick about the 'reunification' between Fatah and Hamas (which the Obama administration favors). Why now? Glick says because Obama wants to have a relationship with Hamas and because of the Goldstone Report, which makes Hamas feel good about itself.

Glick agrees with me that President Obama is abdicating the United States' global leadership role.

Then she moves on to Iran.

It's worth watching here.

Ehud Barak escapes arrest

On Tuesday night, I reported that a British court had been asked to order the arrest of Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on 'war crimes' charges arising out of Operation Cast Lead this past winter. Later, I updated the post to say that the court had postponed the hearing, but as it turns out, the court threw out the petition altogether. Still, says Phyllis Chesler, that is little comfort to anyone in the IDF who is not a member of the government.
In fact, according to Ynet, a Defense Ministry source said the petition was denied following a recommendation by the British Foreign Office. Justice Daphne Wickham rejected the claim altogether, saying that while the papers filed with the court seemed “serious,” under “international law Barak has diplomatic immunity and therefore cannot be prosecuted.”

For now, the British government is protecting Minister Barak. But what about an Israeli civilian-soldier who is not a diplomat? What if an Israeli soldier or ex-soldier is traveling in Europe, Asia, or Africa: What then? Will governments protect ordinary Israelis from becoming prey?

Please recall: The Palestinians leadership launched the al-Aqsa Intifada in the fall of 2000. It continues to this day. The Palestinians have mainly targeted Israeli civilians with bombs and rockets. Lethal anti-Israeli propaganda, boycotts, demonstrations by human rights groups, academics, pro-Palestinian Muslim, Christian, and Jewish groups soon followed, all of which condemned Israel for defending herself and which portrayed the Palestinian aggressors as “victims.”

Please also recall: In 2005, “human rights groups criticised British authorities for failing to arrest Doron Almog, an Israeli general for whom an arrest warrant for alleged war crimes had been issued when his aircraft landed in London. Almog stayed on the plane at Heathrow after being informed that he could face arrest and was allowed to return to Israel.”
Indeed, the Almog case was the first that came to mind last night when I heard of Barak's plight, although recalling the attempt to arrest Ariel Sharon in Belgium in 2001, I was fairly confident Barak could not be arrested.

Chesler ends her post with what is essentially a prayer for sanity to prevail so that ex-IDF soldiers can travel without fear of arrest every time they reach a foreign port. But the first place sanity needs to prevail is the United States of America.

Until the American President acknowledges that the independent judicial systems of self-critical democratic countries are entitled to greater deference than the kangaroo courts of Iran, Libya, Venezuela and the 'international community,' attempts to arrest people like Ehud Barak and Robert Gates and Gabi Ashkenazi and David Petraeus for 'war crimes' will continue. Until the 'leader of the free world' begins to acknowledge and assert the exceptionalism of the United States, Israel and other democracies, there will be no sanity in the world.

Don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen. At the United Nations last week, the 'leader of the free world' abdicated his position in favor of a perverse internationalism.

What could go wrong?

Read the whole thing.

Is the Iranian opposition anti-Israel?

I found this article by an Iranian opposition leader in Paris very depressing. Although she does say that the opposition in Iran supports Israel - because the regime supports the 'Palestinians' - as much as I was disgusted with the brutal repression of Iranians in the streets this past summer and beyond, this article makes me wonder whether empowering the Iranian opposition is just empowering a new enemy of Israel.
Some Iranians of the Diaspora, especially those still shell shocked by the bellicosity of the Bush years, and the Israeli horrors committed recently in Gaza, are much wearier of Obama's recent statements threatening Iran than those in Iran. The opposition inside Iran, having suffered the severe brutality of the Ahmadinejad government first hand, may welcome the West's new tougher stance. Many, in fact, expected this reaction from the West earlier, in response to the rigged election results and the human rights abuses that followed, but they welcome it now nonetheless.

Unlike neocon-weary Iranian Americans and highbrow liberal-leaning intellectuals, freedom-seeking Iranians who poured into the streets of Tehran and other Iranian cities to demand their rights, are probably more afraid of their own government than of Israel or America. They know that their leaders are liars because they are lied to on a daily basis. Transparency from Ahmadinejad would shock Iranians, not his lies!

Obama, Sarkozy and Brown are asking for compliance with existing laws, and an opening of the doors of Iran's nuclear facilities to IAEA inspection. Nothing new there in their demands, just a firmer tone. We are still very far from a war! And the Iranians know that if there is a military strike on Iran then the only one to blame is the faction in power in Iran. This is the same regime that kills civilians, rapes students and tortures journalists. I mean who can argue that if you deny the Holocaust repeatedly, especially when there is a Netanyahu in office in Tel Aviv; if you continue to flout international law; if you rig your own elections, even in the face of a rising young majority, even after carefully vetting opposition candidates; if you abuse and kill your own peaceful protesters in front of the whole world; when you make life very difficult, even for the handful of educated apologists on your side, then surely you are asking for it!

From the first time Ahmadinejad came to New York, it was apparent to me that he
was out to pick a fight. To take him up in that fight would be a mistake. Now, more than ever, this regime needs to divert attention from its failures. It wants nothing more than to sweep its heinous crimes under a carefully woven rug. Israel's callous repression of Palestinians helps Ahmadinejad like his Holocaust denial helps Israel's continued militarism.

Failing in their role as managers and leaders of Iran, the regime elite are hiding behind their role as the defenders of Islam and Palestinians against Israel. This may work with the neo-con hating Iranians of the Diaspora or the Islamists in the region but at home it does not work because there many people are actually pro-Israeli. I would bet that Iranians are less sympathetic to the Palestinian cause than any other Muslim nation for the simple reason that the regime is pro-Palestinian. Listening to the slogans of the recent Jerusalem Day protests amply reveals the general frustration of Iranians with their government's support of Hamas and Hezbollah: Na Ghazeh, Na Lebanon, Jaanaam Fadayeh Iran (Not Gaza, Not Lebanon, my life for Iran); Felestin kojaee, Kahrizak ra bebinee? (Palestine, where are you to see Kahrizak?) There was one video clip of young protesters tearing down the Hezbollah banner put up for Qods Day to the cheers of the crowd.
Read the whole thing.

I'm sure there are Iranians who read this blog. Anyone want to comment? Are ordinary Iranians so anti-Israel? Is there a difference between those in Iran and those in exile?

'Goldstone report is wrong' says... B'Tselem?

This calls for the flying pig.

The Israeli 'human rights' organization B'Tselem - maybe a step above 'Human Rights Watch' - says that the Goldstone Commission got it wrong.
The UN Human Rights Council and the Goldstone Report are either biased or mistaken in some of their fundamental accusations against Israel, according to B'tselem human rights group director Jessica Montell.

She said the council was wrong in its gravest accusations against Israel. These include the claim that Israel intentionally targeted the civilian population rather than Hamas, and the "weak, hesitant way that the report mentions Hamas's strategy of using civilians [in combat]."


"There's no question that the HRC, which mandated the Goldstone [fact-finding mission into the Gaza fighting], has an inappropriate, disproportionate fixation with Israel," she said.

She added that the council was "a political body made up of diplomats, not human rights experts, which means that the powerful states are never going to come under scrutiny the way the powerless will. So China, Russia and the US will never have commissions of inquiry, regardless of how their crimes rank relative to Israeli crimes."
Of course, B'Tselem says it's Israel's fault that the report was issued in the first place. If we had beaten ourselves first, no one else would have beaten us.

Read the whole thing.

For the record, JPost changed the headline of this story after I wrote this post. But here's a screen shot of the original headline:

British Intelligence: Iran has been working on nuclear warheads since 2004 or 2005

London's Financial Times reports from British intelligence sources that Iran has been working on a design for a nuclear warhead since 2004 or 2005.
Britain’s intelligence services say that Iran has been secretly designing a nuclear warhead “since late 2004 or early 2005”, an assessment that suggests Tehran has embarked on the final steps towards acquiring nuclear weapons capability.

As world powers prepare to confront Iran on Thursday on its nuclear ambitions, the Financial Times has learnt that the UK now judges that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, ordered the resumption of the country’s weapons programme four years ago.


By contrast, US intelligence services remain firm in their conclusion that while Iran may ultimately want a bomb, the country halted weapons design work in 2003 and probably has not restarted that effort as of 2007.

The US published this judgment in a National Intelligence Estimate in 2007 amid claims that the CIA was scarred by its errors over Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programme.

Britain has always privately expressed scepticism about the US assessment on Iran but is only now firmly asserting that the weapons programme restarted in 2004-05.
I suppose that one advantage to Obama's weakness is that the Brits are willing to challenge US conclusions openly, which they have not done until now.

The British report fits better with a report in Friday's Washington Post that said that Iran has two more facilities outside Tehran that are working on nuclear detonators. I discussed that report here. That report was apparently based on information received from Iranian exiles who are affiliated with the MEK. The US regards the MEK as a terror group and would be more likely to discount information received from it than would British intelligence, which has taken the MEK off the terror list.

I believe there is a lot to the claim that the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran was influenced by two factors that should not have come into consideration: the claimed intelligence failure on Iraq and the (political) desire to take a military option in Iran out of President Bush's hands. At the time, Israel vigorously rejected the National Intelligence Estimate based on intelligence assessments that it had of the situation in Iran. Germany's BND has since refuted it, as has Michael McConnell, who was the Director of National Intelligence under whom it was issued.

I'd go with the Brits. I believe Iran is working on nuclear warheads and that they're awfully close to successfully designing them.

Has Obama changed his course on the Middle East?

Robert Satloff argues that last week's 'summit' among Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Obama and Abu Mazen represented a 'change of course' for Obama on the Middle East.
In New York last week, Obama finally changed course. To the consternation of Abbas, who had been happy to watch the Americans negotiate on his behalf for the past few months, the president announced that restarting peace talks would no longer be contingent on reaching agreement with Israel on a settlement freeze. America wanted the parties to begin negotiations, without preconditions, as soon as possible, he said. And in a move replete with irony, he specifically asked Hillary Clinton--who had articulated the Administration’s most hardline stance on settlements in June--to report back to him in mid-October on progress toward resuming peace talks. Speaking in the Waldorf-Astoria, the President’s words applied as much to him as to the Israeli and Palestinian leaders sitting nearby: "It is time to show the flexibility and common sense and sense of compromise that's necessary to achieve our goals."

This nod to realism is a positive sign. Obama was not the first president to come into office with a policy rooted more in ideological attachment than dispassionate analysis, but, on this topic at least, he shifted gears more quickly than most. Indeed, another line from his Waldorf remarks suggests that he may now be on the right track in terms of the peace process. "I'm committed to pressing ahead in the weeks and months and years to come," he said. Yes, Mr. President, even with the best of intentions, forging peace in the Holy Land is indeed the work of years.
Well, maybe. But there's still a deep distrust for Obama here, both because of the way he pushed a 'settlement freeze' and because of his timidity in confronting Iran.

Whether there has really been a change remains to be seen. What will Obama do when Abu Mazen refuses to come to the table (as he has) without a 'settlement freeze'? That may be the real test of whether Obama's strategy has changed.

How many more nuclear facilities does Iran have?

How many more nuclear facilities does Iran have? Here's one estimate.
Iran has a declared the Natanz uranium enrichment facility. A secret part of an American intelligence assessment two years ago is believed to contain allegations of a dozen other nuclear-linked sites. The National Council of Resistance, an exiled opposition coalition, alleges a programme called "Metfaz" is manufacturing atom bomb triggers.
That story came from London's Sunday Telegraph, which is rumored to be well-connected to the British intelligence services.


'Hey Barack - wake up and act like a President' says... Richard Cohen

My old nemesis Richard Cohen wrote a great article in Tuesday's WaPo in which he chides President Obama for continuing to behave like a candidate instead of acting like the President.
No one should believe Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran seems intent on developing a nuclear weapons program and the missiles capable of delivering them. This -- not the public revelations of a known installation -- is the real crisis, possibly one that can only end in war. It is entirely possible that Israel, faced with that chilling cliche -- an existential threat -- will bomb Iran's nuclear facilities. What would happen next is anyone's guess -- retaliation by Hamas and Hezbollah, an unprecedented spike in oil prices and then, after a few years or less, a resumption of Iran's nuclear program. Only the United States has the capability to obliterate Tehran's underground facilities. Washington may have to act.

For a crisis such as this, the immense prestige of the American presidency ought to be held in reserve. Let the secretary of state issue grave warnings. When Obama said in Pittsburgh that Iran is "going to have to come clean and they are going to have to make a choice," it had the sound of an ultimatum. But what if the Iranians don't? What then? A president has to be careful with such language. He better mean what he says.

The trouble with Obama is that he gets into the moment and means what he says for that moment only. He meant what he said when he called Afghanistan a "war of necessity" -- and now is not necessarily so sure. He meant what he said about the public option in his health-care plan -- and then again maybe not. He would not prosecute CIA agents for getting rough with detainees -- and then again maybe he would.

Most tellingly, he gave Congress an August deadline for passage of health-care legislation -- "Now, if there are no deadlines, nothing gets done in this town . . . " -- and then let it pass. It seemed not to occur to Obama that a deadline comes with a consequence -- meet it or else.

Obama lost credibility with his deadline-that-never-was, and now he threatens to lose some more with his posturing toward Iran. He has gotten into a demeaning dialogue with Ahmadinejad, an accomplished liar.
Hillary Clinton nailed it during the Presidential campaign when she asked the question about whom you want answering the phone at 3:00 am in a crisis. It's almost 3:00 am. Obama is still out drinking beers with his buddies. He doesn't have a clue how to handle this.

Read the whole thing.

Regarding Obama's not sticking to deadlines, Dore Gold (Israel's former ambassador to the United Nations and author of The Rise of Nuclear Iran: How Tehran defies the West) adds:
It is not hard to understand why the Iranians were underwhelmed. After Obama revealed the startling fact that the Iranians had built a secret uranium-enrichment facility — the “size and configuration” of which, according to Obama, showed it was not designed for peaceful purposes — one might have expected him to announce a dramatic shift in U.S. policy toward Iran, away from the policy of engagement that he has promoted. But, unfortunately, Obama’s bottom line was simply a repetition of his longstanding position: “We remain committed to serious meaningful engagement with Iran to address the nuclear issue though the P5-plus-1 negotiations.”

Some more details about the West’s response came from Pres. Nicolas Sarkozy of France: “If by December there is not an in-depth change by the Iranian leaders, sanctions will have to be taken.” At the last G-8 meeting, in July, Obama and the leaders of the industrial world declared September a firm deadline for the Iranians to make a serious offer to negotiate over their nuclear program. But when the Iranian offer came on September 10, it was described as inadequate by a State Department spokesman. Nevertheless, a day later, it was announced that the U.S. would join the “P-5 plus 1” (the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany) and negotiate with Iran. The September deadline evaporated. It is probable that Tehran is not worried about the December deadline, either.

If negotiations get dragged out to December and then the West begins experimenting with sanctions, precious time will have been lost. And if further sanctions depend on obtaining a consensus in the U.N. Security Council, Iran will work furiously to complete its race to the nuclear finishing line. When I researched my new book, The Rise of Nuclear Iran: How Tehran Defies the West, I found that numerous Iranian diplomats admitted in Farsi that they used negotiations to play for time and move their nuclear program forward. For this reason, severe sanctions must begin immediately and be tested quickly to see if they have any impact.

Iran sanctions likely to target insurance

With talks scheduled to open on Thursday between Iran and the P-5 + 1 powers, the Washington Post reports that sanctions against Iran are likely to target its ability to insure and reinsure export and import shipments, but not its purchases of refined oil products.
As a practical matter, the effort would build on efforts during the Bush administration that targeted leading Iranian banks and the key Iranian shipping line. In many cases, officials said that rather than impose new sanctions, they would need only to tighten enforcement of existing rules and regulations. Indeed, the key architect of President George W. Bush's effort, Treasury Undersecretary Stuart Levey, was retained by President Obama to ensure continuity in a possible squeeze on Iran.

In the case of the insurance industry, the administration would extend a prohibition against providing the "transfer of financial resources or services" to aid Iran's nuclear and missile programs, currently enshrined in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1737, to include insurance companies, export credits and the like.


The administration has sought to display a united front with its partners in the talks -- Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. But Russia and China are especially wary of imposing more sanctions beyond those contained in three U.N. Security Council resolutions aiming at deterring Iran. Russian officials on Monday began backing off from statements made last week by President Dmitry Medvedev suggesting that Russian resistance to sanctions was weakening.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Russian news agencies that the missile launches were "worrisome" but added, "I am convinced restraint is needed." Similarly, a Foreign Ministry source told Russian news agencies that Western powers needed to restrain themselves.

Both Russia and China have veto power on the U.N. Security Council, and reluctance by either to support additional sanctions would make it extremely difficult and time-consuming to erect additional international measures. But many European and Asian countries demand the cover of a U.N. resolution before taking economic action against another country. As a result, administration officials are focused on measures that they can argue are already authorized under existing resolutions.


Last year, as an example of the emerging strategy, the Treasury Department designated Iran's national maritime carrier, Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), as engaging in deceptive activities such as repeatedly changing its ships' names in an effort to shroud its involvement in illicit commerce and proliferation activities. The action essentially warned U.S. financial firms not to engage in any business with it or its subsidiaries. Officials expect the European Union to follow suit if talks with Iran fail to make progress this year, which would make it difficult for such companies as Lloyds or Munich Re to continue providing re-insurance for Iranian business.

Early this year, an IRISL-chartered ship, the Monchegorsk, was stopped at Cyprus carrying weaponry allegedly headed for Hezbollah -- an incident that U.S. officials said highlights the dangers of reputable financial firms dealing with Iranian entities.

Even so, the effort is not likely to produce instantaneous results.
Read the whole thing.

Here's a video that discusses possible new sanctions against Iran.

Let's go to the videotape.

Unfortunately, I don't hold out much hope for sanctions because I don't believe there's enough time for them to have a real effect, even if Russia and China agree to play along. The time for 'serious' sanctions was 2-3 years ago when they still had time to be effective. Now, it's just a question of time until either someone (Israel or the US) attacks Iran's nuclear weapons capability or - God forbid - we face a nuclear Iran. And the longer we give sanctions to work, the more likely we will face a nuclear Iran.

Overnight music video

I never heard this song before, but I stumbled on it and it's really beautiful. Once again no translation, but the words are a promise to our mother Rachel that the Messiah will come soon and the Temple will be rebuilt God willing. It's an answer to Rachel who according to Jeremiah was crying for the Jewish people as they went into exile.

Many of you will recognize many, if not most, of the pictures.

Let's go to the videotape.

May this be the year that the Messiah comes. He is long overdue!

Congress fast tracks jumbo bunker busters

Two years ago, I first reported on massive bunker busters that were being built specifically to deal with an Iranian underground nuclear facility. On Tuesday, Congress quietly approved the fast-tracking of the BGU-57A/B or Massive Ordinance Penetrator (MOP) (Hat Tip: Jawa Report).
The Pentagon plans to rush the deployment of 10 BGU-57A/B "bunker buster" bombs by June 2010. The MOP is so enormous that it can only be delivered by a B-52 or a B-2A. In fact, the B-2 bombers will need to be refitted in order to carry two MOPs.

The MOP weighs in at a whopping 30,000 pounds, it's warhead weighs in at 5,300 pounds and it can penetrate 200 ft (61 m) of 5,000 psi (34 MPa) reinforced concrete, 26 ft (8 m) of 10,000 psi (69 MPa) reinforced concrete, or 130 ft (40 m) of moderately hard rock.
There are more details about the MOP here.

I wonder if Obama will veto the authorization.

Nah, even he couldn't be that stupid, and the veto would probably be overridden anyway.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Why Sarkozy mocked Obama

On Sunday, I reported that French President Nicolas Sarkozy took down American President Barack Hussein Obama at the United Nations Security Council on Thursday over his nuclear-free dream. On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reports how that came about (Hat Tip: Power Line).
[Britain and France] wanted to confront Iran a day earlier at the United Nations. Mr. Obama was, after all, chairing a Security Council session devoted to nonproliferation. The latest evidence of Iran's illegal moves toward acquiring a nuclear weapon was in hand. With the world's leaders gathered in New York, the timing and venue would be a dramatic way to rally international opinion.

President Sarkozy in particular pushed hard. He had been "frustrated" for months about Mr. Obama's reluctance to confront Iran, a senior French government official told us, and saw an opportunity to change momentum. But the Administration told the French that it didn't want to "spoil the image of success" for Mr. Obama's debut at the U.N. and his homily calling for a world without nuclear weapons, according to the Paris daily Le Monde. So the Iran bombshell was pushed back a day to Pittsburgh, where the G-20 were meeting to discuss economic policy.

Le Monde's diplomatic correspondent, Natalie Nougayrède, reports that a draft of Mr. Sarkozy's speech to the Security Council Thursday included a section on Iran's latest deception. Forced to scrap that bit, the French President let his frustration show with undiplomatic gusto in his formal remarks, laying into what he called the "dream" of disarmament. The address takes on added meaning now that we know the backroom discussions.

"We are right to talk about the future," Mr. Sarkozy said, referring to the U.S. resolution on strengthening arms control treaties. "But the present comes before the future, and the present includes two major nuclear crises," i.e., Iran and North Korea. "We live in the real world, not in a virtual one." No prize for guessing into which world the Frenchman puts Mr. Obama.
The Journal concludes with this gem of a line:
We thought we'd never see the day when the President of France shows more resolve than America's Commander in Chief for confronting one of the gravest challenges to global security. But here we are.
And just think, it only took eight months to get here. We still have at least another three years and four months of this.

What could go wrong?

Witness rips Goldstone Report

An Israeli woman who was seriously wounded in a rocket attack and testified in front of the Goldstone Commission rips the report.
On May 14, 2008, my life was changed forever. I was working in my clinic. Suddenly, the building was hit by a missile, fired from Gaza. I was terribly wounded. Blood was everywhere. My patient was also wounded, and more than 100 others. Next month will be my eighth operation.

Judge Goldstone, I told you all of this, in detail. I testified in good faith. You sent me this letter, saying, "Your testimony is an essential part of the Mission's fact-finding activities."

But now I see your report. I have to tell you: I am shocked.

Judge Goldstone, in a 500-page report, why did you completely ignore my story? My name appears only in passing, in brackets, in a technical context. I feel humiliated.

Why are there only two pages about Israeli victims like me, who suffered thousands of rockets over eight years? Why did you choose to focus on the period of my country's response, but not on that of the attacks that caused it? Why did you not tell me that this council judged Israel guilty in advance, in its meeting of last January? Why did you not tell me that members of your panel signed public letters judging Israel guilty in advance?
Read the whole thing.

Goldstone's unconscious humor

This is an English translation of a Hebrew article that appeared in Globes on Tuesday.
Goldstone's Unconscious Humor
By Amnon Rubinstein

It is not true that the Goldstone report is exclusively anti-Israeli. After having established that Israel is guilty of crimes against international law and (possibly) humanity, after advocating punishing it with and arsenal of all conceivable sanctions, it also chides the Palestinians for some inappropriate measures taken by them.

First, there is Hamas. Goldstone does not let them go Scot free. Thus he blames the Hamas for a grievous offense:
"The mission remains unconvinced that any genuine and effective initiatives have been taken by the (Gaza) authorities to address the serious issues of violation of international human rights in the conduct of armed activities by militant groups in the Gaza strip".
This refers to the shelling of southern Israel from Gaza in the eight years preceding operation "cast lead". But what does Goldstone have in mind when he chides the Hamas for not taking genuine and effective initiative against the militants who do not adhere to international human law? Does he refer to their failure to petition the local High Court of Justice to issue a writ of mandamus against the militants? Or does he have in mind the fact that the Hamas Solicitor General has failed to issue an indictment against the offending militants?

Judge Goldstone rebukes the Hamas again for their treatment of Fattah 'affiliates'. Goldstone finds that "such actions" – i.e. killing the Fatah detainees – "constitute serious violations of Human Rights or the Palestinian Basic Law". Again, one may ask: what went wrong here? Did the Hamas Supreme Court of Justice ignore the Palestinian Basic Law? Where was the Hamas attorney general? Goldstone is not content with slapping Hamas' wrist, he also reprimands the Palestinian authority:
"The Palestinian Authority continues to discharge a large number of civil and military service employees, or suspend their salaries, under the pretext of "non-adherence to the legitimate authority" or "non-obtainment of security approval" on their appointments, which has become a pre-requirement for enrolment in public service". In effect, this measure means the exclusion of Hamas supporters or affiliates from public sector appointment…. The Mission is of the view that the reported measures are inconsistent with the Palestinian Authority's obligations deriving from the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the Palestinian Basic Law". In other words, the PA is obliged, by international law, to employ those who want to unseat them.
This surely is an uncontrollable outburst of surreal humor but it pales in comparison with another outburst.

Goldstone, after quoting heavily from Ha'aretz, Israeli jurists, B'tzelem and other Israeli human right NGO's, states.
"…the Mission received allegations that sources of criticism of actions by Israel during and following the military operations of December 2008-January 2009 from inside Israel were subjected to attempted or actual repression, and that the rights of freedom of association and expression for individuals and groups had been violated. In this regard, concerns were also raised about the denial of access to the media and to human rights monitors prior, during and after the military operations in Gaza".
The humor stems from the fact that the evidence of this repression was given by Israelis – including those who addressed Goldstone's committee. Israeli NGO's who complained about this repression of dissent appear almost daily – loud and clear – on Israeli newspapers and state – owned radio and television.

For some obscure reason, there is no parallel finding about suppression of dissent by Hamas. Indeed, the report should have a sub-heading - Eyeless in Gaza - lifted from John Milton and Aldous Huxley.

* * *

The humor stops where the report alleges actions of wanton brutality and killings by Israeli soldiers; even if only partially true, these cases should be a reason for sleepless nights for every law-abiding, humane Israeli. The IDF authorities state that they have investigated these allegations and, except for one case of looting, found no evidence of such war crimes. However, it is the opinion of this author that due to the severity of the allegations and the number of Palestinian civilians killed in the operation, Israel should re-investigate these thirty-plus cases and that this reinvestigation should be conducted by an independent body headed by an acting or retired judge of the Supreme Court. Such a body should be empowered to see army documents and make recommendations. This step is vital not because of Goldstone's ludicrous report, replete with its instances of unconscious humor, but because we, Israelis, must be doubly sure that no crimes were perpetrated by our soldiers. We should not be "eyeless in Gaza".

Prof. Amnon Rubinstein is a Professor of Law at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (Israel), a former Minister of Education and Knesset Member, as well as the recipient of the 2006 Israel Prize in Law [www.amnonrubinstein.org].
Sorry, but I think this is an insult to the IDF. There is no proof whatsoever that the IDF's own investigations have been less than credible. Calling for an 'independent investigation' because Goldstone said so is a slippery slope. We've been down that road before.

'Palestinians,' British lawyers seek to have Barak arrested in London

The 'Palestinians' and their British lawyers are seeking to have Defense Minister Ehud Barak arrested for 'war crimes' while he is in London for a speaking engagement.
Currently, the top-of-the-page headline on the home page of the influential left-wing British newspaper The Guardian is “Lawyers seek arrest of Israeli defence minister in UK for alleged war crimes.”

Ehud Barak, who is the leader of Israel’s Labor Party, is due to speak at a meeting at the British Labour party conference in the Southern English town of Brighton today. Barak is also scheduled to meet British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and David Miliband, the foreign secretary, for talks on the Middle East and Iran.

The Guardian notes that “The accusations against Barak are based, in part, on a United Nations investigation conducted by the former South African judge Richard Goldstone. It concluded earlier this month that Israel had committed war crimes.”
At this writing, the Magistrates Court in London has postponed a hearing on the matter. Barak believes he is immune from arrest because he is a minister in the Israeli government. Incredibly, the British Foreign Ministry has refused to take a position on the issue.
"We can confirm that Ehud Barak is in the UK. He is scheduled to meet the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister for discussions on the Middle East peace process, Gaza and Iran," a Foreign Office spokesperson said. "We are aware that Westminster Magistrates' Court have received an application for a warrant for the arrest of Ehud Barak but we cannot comment on live legal issues."


The legal request was filed after 16 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip instructed Al-Mezan, a Gaza-based human rights group, to issue the charges. Al-Mezan in turn instructed the two London firms to represent the group.

Prior to the hearing, a spokesman for ITN [one of the law firms representing the 'Palestinians' CiJ] told The Jerusalem Post that an arrest warrant had been lodged and that the biggest hurdle would be Barak's diplomatic immunity, but added that he was confident that they had a strong legal argument which would override the issue of immunity.

He said that should the court not decide whether to issue the warrant, then his firm would appeal for an injunction to stop Barak from leaving the country.

While the court postponed further proceedings, it did not specify at what point those proceedings would begin.
Barak is in London on Tuesday and Wednesday.

One would have hoped that the British Foreign Office would have taken the position that lawfare cannot be used to interfere with affairs of state. Alas, they have not done so.

What could go wrong?

Obama treats Israel like Hamas

You just knew this was coming. At the UN's 'Human Rights Council' in Geneva, the Obama administration has called on Israel to probe alleged Gaza 'war crimes' - just like Hamas.
The United States called on its close ally Israel on Tuesday to conduct credible investigations into allegations of war crimes committed by its forces in Gaza, saying it would help the Middle East peace process.

Michael Posner, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, said that Hamas leaders also had a responsibility to investigate crimes and to end what he called its targeting of civilians and use of Palestinian civilians as human shields in the strip.


"We encourage Israel to utilize appropriate domestic [judicial] review and meaningful accountability mechanisms to investigate and follow-up on credible allegations," Posner said in a speech to the Geneva forum.

"If undertaken properly and fairly, these reviews can serve as important confidence-building measures that will support the larger essential objective which is a shared quest for justice and lasting peace," he said.

The United States joined the Council, set up three years ago, for the first time earlier this year.

Posner reiterated Washington's view that the Council paid "grossly disproportionate attention" to Israel, but said that the U.S. delegation was ready to engage in balanced debate.
The implication of that statement is that the investigations that Israel has undertaken until now - some 100 investigations, 23 of which remain open and one of which has resulted in disciplinary action against IDF troops - are not enough. Like Goldstone, Obama wants blood. IDF blood.

It's a dark day for the United States when it equates the only democracy in the Middle East to a terror organization, placing both of them on the same moral plane. Yes, a dark day for the United States because it shows the extent to which in the eight and a half months of the Obama Presidency, the United States has abandoned all pretense to moral leadership. There's no more exceptionalism - for the United States, for Israel, or for democratic countries in general. In the age of Obama, we are all no better than terrorist organizations and the human rights violators that make up the 'Human Rights' Council.'

George Orwell should have called 1984, 2009. It's all coming true just a few years later than he expected.

The downward spiral is just about complete. America and its values are being flushed down the toilet.

The 'likely scenarios'

JPost's Yaakov Katz lists three 'likely scenarios' that could result from the talks between Iran and the P-5 + 1 powers that are scheduled to start on Thursday.
The first is that the dialogue fails and the EU, Russia, US and China decide to impose tough sanctions on Iran, particularly in the energy sector and supply of refined fuel, a measure believed to be capable of having a real effect on the regime. Israel would then have to give the sanctions time, to wait to see if they are effective.

The second scenario is that the US and Iran reach a deal under which the Islamic republic is allowed to continue enriching uranium at low levels for energy purposes but would have to agree to new supervision measures and to keep all of its international obligations. If this happens, the Obama administration will likely laud the deal as a major diplomatic success - particularly in the absence of one with North Korea - and would effectively tie Israel's hands.

The third scenario is that the talks will fail, the world powers will not agree to impose sanctions and Israel will be left to decide whether or not it will strike Iran. This would likely happen sometime around spring 2010.
I look at the second or third scenarios as most likely, but I don't believe that the second scenario ties Israel's hands. I don't believe Iran will keep any deal made under the second scenario (they've already lied to the UN three times) and if that happens, I don't believe Israel will wait for permission from anyone to strike. It's too late for that.

Over the weekend, Anthony Cordesman published a lengthy article in the Wall Street Journal that set out Israel's military options and their likelihood for success. Cordesman was very pessimistic.
At best, such action would delay Iran's nuclear buildup. It is more likely to provoke the country into accelerating its plans. Either way, Israel would have to contend with the fact that it has consistently had a "red light" from both the Bush and Obama administrations opposing such strikes. Any strike that overflew Arab territory or attacked a fellow Islamic state would stir the ire of neighboring Arab states, as well as Russia, China and several European states.

This might not stop Israel. Hardly a week goes by without another warning from senior Israeli officials that a military strike is possible, and that Israel cannot tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran, even though no nation has indicated it would support such action. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continues to threaten Israel and to deny its right to exist. At the same time, President Barack Obama is clearly committed to pursuing diplomatic options, his new initiatives and a U.N. resolution on nuclear arms control and counterproliferation, and working with our European allies, China and Russia to impose sanctions as a substitute for the use of force.


Most analyses of a possible Israeli attack focus on only three of Iran's most visible facilities: its centrifuge facilities at Natanz, its light water nuclear power reactor near Bushehr, and a heavy water reactor at Arak it could use to produce plutonium. They are all some 950 to 1,000 miles from Israel. Each of these three targets differs sharply in terms of the near-term risk it poses to Israel and its vulnerability.

The Arak facility is partially sheltered, but it does not yet have a reactor vessel and evidently will not have one until 2011. Arak will not pose a tangible threat for at least several years. The key problem Israel would face is that it would virtually have to strike it as part of any strike on the other targets, because it cannot risk waiting and being unable to carry out another set of strikes for political reasons. It also could then face an Iran with much better air defenses, much better long-range missile forces, and at least some uranium weapons.

Bushehr is a nuclear power reactor along Iran's southwestern coast in the Gulf. It is not yet operational, although it may be fueled late this year. It would take some time before it could be used to produce plutonium, and any Iranian effort to use its fuel rods for such a purpose would be easy to detect and lead Iran into an immediate political confrontation with the United Nations and other states. Bushehr also is being built and fueled by Russia—which so far has been anything but supportive of an Israeli strike and which might react to any attack by making major new arms shipments to Iran.

The centrifuge facility at Natanz is a different story. It is underground and deeply sheltered, and is defended by modern short-range Russian TOR-M surface-to-air missiles. It also, however, is the most important target Israel can fully characterize. Both Israeli and outside experts estimate that it will produce enough low enriched uranium for Iran to be able to be used in building two fission nuclear weapons by some point in 2010—although such material would have to be enriched far more to provide weapons-grade U-235.

Israel has fighters, refueling tankers and precision-guided air-to-ground weapons to strike at all of these targets—even if it flies the long-distance routes needed to avoid the most critical air defenses in neighboring Arab states. It is also far from clear that any Arab air force would risk engaging Israeli fighters. Syria, after all, did not attempt to engage Israeli fighters when they attacked the reactor being built in Syria.


Israel would, however, still face two critical problems. The first would be whether it can destroy a hardened underground facility like Natanz. The second is that a truly successful strike might have to hit far more targets over a much larger area than the three best-known sites. Iran has had years to build up covert and dispersed facilities, and is known to have dozens of other facilities associated with some aspect of its nuclear programs. Moreover, Israel would have to successfully strike at dozens of additional targets to do substantial damage to another key Iranian threat: its long-range missiles.

Experts sharply disagree as to whether the Israeli air force could do more than limited damage to the key Iranian facility at Natanz. Some feel it is too deeply underground and too hardened for Israel to have much impact. Others believe that it is more vulnerable than conventional wisdom has it, and Israel could use weapons like the GBU-28 earth-penetrating bombs it has received from the U.S. or its own penetrators, which may include a nuclear-armed variant, to permanently collapse the underground chambers.

No one knows what specialized weapons Israel may have developed on its own, but Israeli intelligence has probably given Israel good access to U.S., European, and Russian designs for more advanced weapons than the GBU-28. Therefore, the odds are that Israel can have a serious impact on Iran's three most visible nuclear targets and possibly delay Iran's efforts for several years.
Read the whole thing.

Cordesman is correct when he says that at best an Israeli will strike will delay Iran's nuclear capability and not destroy it. However, I don't believe Iran will retaliate, except possibly by sending Hezbullah and Hamas terrorists to attack Israeli targets. With the domestic unrest in Iran, I don't believe it will risk dedicating its own troops to fighting a war against Israel or against American troops in Iran. I also believe that Iran fears that any retaliation from it would be met by Israeli strikes from afar using Jericho missiles and Saar class submarines.

Further, I don't believe it will be possible for Iran to rebuild quickly. Between Iran's internal unrest and its inability to provide its own refined oil products (and I would bet that the refineries that the Chinese are building for Iran will be targets - they should be easy to take out), I don't believe Iran will have the resources to rebuild quite as quickly as everyone else seems to think. I believe that a 3-5 year setback (which is what most estimates of the damage of an Israeli attack that I have seen give as an estimate) could easily become a 10-15 year setback, by which time it would be a whole new ballgame.

Besides, if Barack Obama is defeated in 2012, the odds are that the next President will be much more sympathetic to Israel's needs (it can't really get worse, right?). And any Israeli strike on Iran that's even moderately successful will prevent them from building a nuclear weapon before 2012.

I prayed well yesterday. I'm feeling confident that God is on our side.

JPost calls for land, air and sea quarantine on Iran

This is an interesting idea.
Anyway, the pace of economic sanctions is way out of sync with the progress the mullahs are making on their bomb. Even if Russia and China accepted a winter embargo on refined petroleum products entering Iran, is there any reason to imagine that the mere discomfort of the Iranian masses would take precedence for Khameini and Ahmadinejad over the bomb?

Obama should leapfrog over futile intermediate steps and place draconian sanctions on the table, now. To paraphrase John Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis, this would mean that all ships and planes bound for Iran, from whatever nation, would be turned back.

Perhaps this prospect, coupled with a complete land, sea and air quarantine, can influence Iran's leaders to rethink their one-step-forward-two-steps-back strategy, and save humanity from an Iranian bomb.
There are three problems with this idea. First, a blockade like this is essentially a declaration of war, and is likely to be treated as such by Iran, and maybe by other countries like Venezuela and possibly even by Russia and China. Second, it may not be effective anyway. Third, enforcement would be difficult and would probably fall exclusively to the United States. The US has trouble policing the Iraq-Iran border now - how would it police all of Iran's borders.

If you're going to do this, it seems far simpler to just declare war and get it over with.

The problem is that Obama will do neither.

Senate letter seeks to block action on Goldstone

A letter being circulated by two members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee - Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) - is said to ask Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the US State Department to block any action against Israel arising out of the Goldstone Report (Hat Tip: Daled Amos).
There are many serious flaws with the Goldstone report and the entire investigatory process. The Goldstone mission’s mandate was imbalanced from the start. The fact that the mission exceeded this mandate by also criticizing some of Hamas’ activities does not diminish the problem that the vast majority of the report focuses on Israel’s conduct, rather than that of Hamas. The report further fails to acknowledge Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorism and other external threats, a right of all UN Members under Article 51 of the UN Charter. The report ignores the fact that Israel acted in self-defense only after its civilian population suffered eight years of attacks by rockets and mortars fired indiscriminately from Gaza. Furthermore, the report does not adequately recognize the extraordinary measures taken by the Israel Defense Forces to minimize civilian casualties, which frequently put Israeli soldiers at risk.

As the State Department has stated, Israel is a democratic country, like the UnitedStates, with an independent judiciary and democratic institutions to investigate and prosecute abuses. The Israel Defense Forces have a reputation for investigating alleged violations of international law and its internal military code of conduct. As a law-abiding state, Israel is in the process of conducting numerous investigations for which it should be commended not condemned.

We hope you will succeed in your efforts to ensure that consideration of the report at the current meetings of the UN Human Rights Council will not provide an opportunity for Israel’s critics to unfairly use the Council and the report to bring this matter to the UN Security Council.
I would have thought that the letter could have been a bit more forceful. I would have said "We urge you to ensure..." instead of "We hope you will success in your efforts to ensure...." But I suppose it's better than nothing. Let's see how many Senators sign on.

Let's not absolve the gentiles for their treatment of Jews

Anne Lieberman has a bone to pick with Prime Minister Netanyahu's United Nations General Assembly speech. She complains that the Prime Minister made all the pogroms against Jews into Jewish history when they really should be the bloody history of the nations that perpetrated (and aspire to perpetrate) them.
And so if, when, they continue to lust for our blood - hammering nails into our babies' eyes or blowing themselves up in our midst or sending missiles into our cities - we must no longer simply notice with amazement their confounding ability to walk away "with head raised high and look everybody in the face."

If our neighbors are to live and not be ashamed, not assume their moral responsibilities nor their ethical obligations, then let it not be because we have assumed these for them. Let us begin to write our own history, one that does not enable the depraved to outsource their shame onto us, but rather establishes our own simple and true Jewish identity.

Instead of standing before the Nations, explaining our dead grandparents, sisters and brothers, aunts, uncles and cousins to them, let the murderers explain to us. Instead of us wringing our hands or explaining to them -perhaps excessively- their own hideous history, let us demand that at long last, they must wash their own hands... of our blood.

"We are what we are, we are good for ourselves..." Jerusalem is not Kishinyov. And we are not ashamed.
Read the whole thing.