Archive for February, 2013

Christopher Lee

February 22, 2013

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An Honorable Man Would Fall On His Sword And Give Everyone (Including Obama) A Break

22 February 2013

Some one explain: What’s with this Hagel thing?  Why can’t the Senate wipe their noses and just nod through Chuck Hagel as President Obama’s candidate for Secretary of Defense.

The answer is they can but a few of them would like to see Hagel harried until he’s an embarrassment to Obama and bravely asks Obama permission to withdraw from the nomination.

At this week’s NATO defense ministers meeting at Alliance HQ there was plenty smirking and sneering when the news arrived that Hagel would not be – arriving that is.  Instead the super-efficient Leon Panetta who has been forced to stay on a Secretary arrived.  Almost every  NATO minister would prefer to have Panetta representing the US.  But Panetta needs to move on and Obama needs to prove that he can have his nominee in place.

The President has to wait.  Reason?  The problem is that Chuck The Mouth misspeaks.  He said damn foolish things about Jewish lobbies in Washington.  

Now, if you want to be one of The President’s Men, then you don’t say anything about Jewish Lobby groups.  Best to pretend they do not exist – even a “friendly” one like the National Jewish Democratic Committee who is sensitive enough to have denounced Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio for not mentioning Israel in his State of the Union response.  

Daft? Pathetic? Of course it is.  But that Washington for you.

The Jewish lobby (which of course does not exist) is one of the major influences on the floor of the HOuse, the Senate and in the thinking of any would-be and incumbent tenant of the White House.

To understand that influence and how the sensitivity has made a mockery of the President’s imagined power to get his man through the confirmation system, just understand that the case against Hagel is laid after remarks he supposedly made in 2007.  

Up at Rutgers University he apparently said that Iran (Israel’s most feared enemy this day) was in collaboration with the US on Afghanistan to establish a new government. He also is alleged to have remarked that the US State Department is controlled by the Israeli Foreign Ministry.  Explosive stuff.  But it was five years ago. To misquote McCarthy: “Senator, are you or have you ever been a big mouth?”

And the next question for Obama: why are you wanting this man to run your Pentagon in which the ranking subject is what to do about Israeli anxieties about Iran.

Now, the folk on the Hill have had their day in the court of accusations and although it’s an apparently mindless exercise, it also happens to be true that they may have revealed a man who truly should not have the Pentagon.

One by one, the legislators are backing off.  Yet in spite of the fact that there is a clear majority in the Senate for Hagel to be confirmed, there remain some who would remind the White House how little true power it has considering the way the Congress sits at this time.  When the mid term elections are done in  two years from now, the President will have even less power.

So now what happens? Minority Whip, Republican Texas Senator John Cornyn has written with more than a dozen colleagues to the President asking him to find another candidate.  Some of those signatories want a trade. They have issues which they are willing to trade for nodding Hagel through.  But not yet. Would the President back down?  Probably not.  But Hagel just might, to save the President and the himself from more embarrassment.

Meanwhile in Brussels, the Alliance wait for the name of the man they have to deal with over big issues such a coalition of the willing response to the disaster that is Afghanistan, the decisions over Syria, co-operation over Western African counter-Radical planning, defense spending, what to do about North Korea and of course, Iran.  

Today, Iran has gone the next stage towards nuclear power development. If we wonder what will be Israel’s response and that of the US we would expect to ask Chuck Hagel. That for the moment, maybe for all time, is not possible.

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Camridge-Washington Crisis Group

February 12, 2013

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Christopher Lee

12th February 2013

US Sends Congratulations To North Korea For Its Third Nuclear Test

 

Great news from North Korea: they have successfully carried out a third nuclear test. 

 

It may not be enough for a full-fledged nuclear warhead, but they are getting there.  With this news, the North Koreans should be congratulated by all freedom loving governments. 

 

Those governments – Israel, the US, the UK, France, Russia, India, Pakistan and of course loving neighbor China – have great experience in this area and fully appreciate the determination and political courage it takes to get this far.

 

The North Koreans must be further congratulated on two major points:

 

Firstly they have coincided their rocket testing with the progress on nuclear development.

 

This shows the well thought through planning that the then Soviet Union started in 1957 and the second stage nuclear weapon development that even the United States struggled to achieve from 1968 onwards. 

 

So we know that both Russia and America will surely be sending Well Done flowers to Kim Il Un.  So too we imagine will the United Kingdom (sic) leader David Cameron who knows only too well the difficulty of reaching co-ordination stage in his own efforts to replace the UK Trident missile and Vanguard nuclear weapon-carrying submarines.   

 

It is hoped that progress in this area will continue apace until they get to the second congratulatory point:

 

What really gets the well-done applause from brother nuclear weapons states (see above) is that North Korea a small, starving, basket-case country has proved it can scare a whole chunk of the sophisticated world led by the United States.  Better still, that powerful group of nations can do absolutely nothing about it. 

 

The world message is easy in the extreme: if North Korea is determined to be a nuclear weapons power with long range delivery systems, then that’s what they should be allowed to be. 

 

In Washington, self-determination is celebrated as democracy. Washington does and admires others who do the same – with the US approving the democratic model of course.  Yes, Washington does democracy. 

 

For examples, if the US wants to invade Afghanistan or Iraq or if a guy wants to buy a semi-automatic firearm and kill half a classroom knowing that the gun buying laws are not going to change any time soon, then that’s self-determination and democracy. 

 

So far school gunmen have killed more than the North Korean program but of course not as many as the US nuclear weapons program (Japan will supply the exact figure for anyone really interested in accuracy).

 

So the big question is what’s next? For starters, everyone is looking to China.  At first sight, the folk over at Beijing truly have a problem. With North Korea going ahead with its N-Bomb program, China is now surrounded by nuclear weapon states – India, Pakistan, Russia and North Korea.

 

But the other way of looking at it is this: the US model of living with the bomb was known as MAD, Mutually Assured Destruction. The translation: you nuke me, I’ll nuke you. So, no winners and last man counting has no one to tell what he thinks anyway.

 

The new deal is a no-brainer.  Everyone who wants a nuclear warhead and the means to deliver it should be encouraged to get one. For example, if Iran gets a warhead, the Iran will get respect although maybe it will be literally short lived as Israel bombs it. 

 

But then Saudi Arabia will want its own bomb.  But of course, it won’t have to bother.  The US, full of democracy loving brotherhood for the princes of democratic principles running Saudi Arabia will offer to base a whole bunch of nuclear warheads just outside King Khaled Airport. Job done. Nuclear weapon balance sorted.

 

Of course, that’s the easy way when the brotherhood in North Korea show they’ve gone all the way with their nuclear program.  The US, generous as ever, will offer to put their nuclear warheads in downtown Seoul Special City and over on Honshu.  Thus the nuclear ring is complete.

 

Meanwhile, the so easily embarrassed Kim Il Un must hide his blushes and simply accept the congratulations of the existing nuclear weapons powers so that he can tell his loving and beloved people that empty bellies are worth having if it means that the presidents and prime ministers of the Major Magic Mushroom Cloud league of nations are at last showing the respect that the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea deserve.

Christopher Lee

February 11, 2013

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How Many Divisions Has The Pope – About One Billion.  Politicians Don’t Forget That

11th February 2013

Benedict XVI has decided that he must go. He is too frail.  Having announced to a meeting of cardinals that he will go at the end of the month, he was helped from his throne by two acolytes and there was no power in him.

 

So immediately the political classes had to “say something”.

 

Mario Monti the Italian prime minister said he is “greatly shaken”.

 

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel said of her fellow German that his decision “has my utmost respect. He is one of the most significant religious thinkers of our time.”

 

The British Prime Minister, David Cameron said “he will be missed as a spiritual leader to millions.” That came from a politician who had just forced through his own Parliament a Bill defying the beliefs of his own state controlled church and most certainly the sentiment preached by the Pope, to make gay marriage an Okay thing.

 

Maybe the guy who got it right amid all the political sanctimony was the presidential spokesman in the Philippines, Edwin Lacierda: “May he find respite from his physical challenges and contentment in the seclusion of retirement.”

 

When Stalin inquired without any delicacy “How many divisions does the Pope have?” he was responding to Rome’s declaration that the Soviet leader should stop the persecution of Catholics.

 

The classic hindsight response to Stalin would have been how many divisions does the Pope need?  No one would have been so silly as to offered themselves to a bullet in the back of the head just for the sake of a worthless quip. The Pope was dismissed as the most recognizable figure in the world but one who had no power over realistic power – the gun, the threat of the gun and the record of the gun.

 

The hopeless romantic might observe that just six Popes sat in Rome during the whole history of Communism albeit few unstained. Yet for all the criticism of a Church under this Holy Father and before that as leader for nearly a quarter of a century of the Church’s modern Inquisition, officially, the Doctrine of the Faith, he has been the spiritual steward of one seventh of the world.

 

As the political leaders shoved their divisions into other countries, Benedict and his predecessor counselled caution and humility.

 

When the born again Christian Bible-quoting Bush and the Hail Marian Blair ignored the truth and the wishes of millions of their own congregations  and went into Iraq and then Afghanistan like some unholy band of text spouting red neck crusaders, the Vatican stood its ground and said it was wrong.

 

Equally under Benedict and his Cardinals before him the Church chose to ignore or cover up the most bestial crimes of their parish priests who had jangled the genitalia of young boys and even entered their ani.

 

And yet the politicians are right when they mouth the spiritual recognition of more than a billion followers. 

 

If Christianity is the opiate of the masses then the need cannot be denied. The sanctimonious vote hungry legislators who struggle with power and its relationship with the profound commandments said to have been given to Moses have an understanding that what they offer is mostly held in contempt by the very electorate who rely on them to keep them from economic and military harms way.

 

Benedict XVI could present but one core belief and in that, he was no different from those who came before him and is no different from those who follow.  Yet no other religious leader in the whole world could cause such global reaction as would the going by whatever way of a Pope of the Church of Rome.

 

Whatever we like to think, even when a Pope’s name is unknown, his image is instantly recognized world-wide.  No divisions? An opiate and little more? The prompter of political banality? The uncompromising, cruelly so some would say, denouncer of modern social norms such as homosexuality, divorce and contraception? Yes, all of these things.  But look at the public reaction to nothing more than an 85 year-old guy saying he’s going to retire. Even allowing for the over-reaction of the media, there is hardly another peaceful event of the going of a public figure that could cause such excitement.

Cambridge-Washington Crisis Group

February 11, 2013

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Christopher Lee

10 February 2013

So the general says we’ve won the war. Has anyone told the Afghan people?

The retiring chief of US lead force in Afghanistan says America has won the war in that place. He did not exactly put it that way but that’s what he implied.

General John Allen, who got himself on the wrong end of the CIA Director David Petraeus’ adultery scandal a few months back, was giving his end of tour report when he said his troops had gone ‘a long way’ towards winning a counter-insurgency operation.

So that’s OK then. The General says Afghanistan is fixed. Certainly at this time no one denies that Afghanistan is by and large a safer place than it was before and there have been advances in the way people live and in ways for Afghans to kill not only each other but servicemen from ISAF as well.

Smart independent analysts might point out that General Allen is not talking crap. But, on the other hand, he just might be. So what is the truth then?

The answer is two-fold: firstly, there’s no evidence that when ISAF pulls out the Afghan forces will be able to stop the Taliban taking over. Secondly, whatever the general says, it is still unclear how could it have happened that after more than a decade of killing and getting killed more than 100,000 ISAF troops, with all the latest equipment, including drones, on their side failed to stop the insurgency launching attacks on any day it chose.

Moreover, Amrullah Saleh, who ran the Afghan end of anti-Taliban Intelligence operations between 2004 and 2010, has surely got it right when he says that as NATO pulls out, Taliban will change tactics and instead of waging small attacks they’ll go for spectaculars. The Taliban know that they are seen as a fighting force – mostly on a spectacular scale. The people of Afghanistan don’t need anyone to tell them that power comes out of the barrel of a gun.

So look out for bigger bangs as ISAF draw-down comes. No one will be expected to doubt the message: we the Taliban are chasing out the American and British troops. Which in truth is about right. Because ISAF isn’t pulling out because the job’s done. It’s getting out because domestic politics dictate it. And that is why domestic electorates in places like the UK and the US could not care a toss if the General Allen is speaking the truth. They just want out.

What’s more, they could not care if Afghanistan goes to hell in a hand basket inside 48 hours of US forces turning out their barrack lights. Hardly a presidential or a prime ministerial voter worries about the future of Afghanistan or its people. Afghanistan is seen as yet another military quagmire that should have been avoided.
As for Afghans, they are seen as murderous and corrupt. So why would you want to get into a war in that place and who would care about whatever gloss the general wants to put on it all?

People tell us that peace talks with Taliban are in on-off modes, which is fine. Better to be intermittent than not at all. And remember, you don’t hold peace talks with your friends – only your enemies. So that’s pretty good.

One day soon of course some Mullah Omar Taliban character will be President of Afghanistan and then the coalition electors will wonder what that was all about and why was it necessary to die for that?

One of the guys talking to the Taliban is Mohammed Stakzai. He says there is hope. Taliban ground fighters in their hundred, maybe thousands, have joined in the reconciliation process known as the Afghan Peace and Reintegration Programme. Great stuff but Taliban foot soldiers have always signed up to whoever has the dollars.

Another fistful comes along and they’ll sign on to that as well – which is why the Taliban does not have to scratch for recruits. Not too good a hope for Afghanistan when ISAF goes.

The only sure thing, maybe even as sure as taxes and death, is that ISAF is going and the electorates and most of the politicians who have funded the fighting of the past decade do not care about Afghanistan – its past, its present or its future. So General Jones can say what he likes. No one cares anyway.

More interestingly, his next job is SACEUR – Supreme Allied Commander Europe. That’s the military wing of NATO and the Supreme Allied Power in Europe. And what’s their biggest headache? Terrorism of course.

Let’s see how long it takes General Allen to admit that terrorism can run from a backroom in a Parisian suburb or a tent in the Malian mountains. It cannot be beaten as long as someone chooses to terrorise – which is news for NATO but something the Afghans have always understood.

 

Christopher Lee

February 5, 2013

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Cameron Goes Walk-About – so will his electorate

5th February 2013

There’s something rotten in the state of British politics. The Tories are voting themselves out of government – two and a half years before the scheduled General Election.

David Cameron the British Prime Minister appears to have lost all interest in domestic politics.  he has, like so many British Prime Ministers before him, become mesmerized by alarums and excursions in foreign fields. He has instinctively settled at a much higher plane than the boredom of the domestic politics of health care, crime prevention, schools and even the puzzling economy.

Instead, he is treading international stages with all the stature of someone playing the 21st century version of the Great Game. The past few days have seen Cameron in Algiers, Liberia and Libya.  This week his big photo-op was not with his discredited Chancellor George Osborne or his blissfully irrelevant Foreign Secretary William Hague nor even with his stand-in time share salesman of Whitehall aka Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, but with a three-way handshake between himself, Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai and Pakistan’s Asif Ali Zardari.  If ever a trio looked liked successful lottery team, this was it.

The lottery theme is not irrelevant.  For Cameron (can we really believe anyone has ever called him Dave?) seems to be putting the currency of his leadership on some very odd numbers indeed.  For example, why would he truly believe that gay marriage is a big issue?  Does he believe that homosexuals and lesbians could turn the results of the next General Election? Or has he been told that it does not matter that his biggest Tory faith group, the Church of England is utterly opposed to gay marriage. Indeed the new Archbishop of Canterbury – leader of 77 million Anglicans – said only tis week that he’s against it.

The other two faith groups that count in the UK, The Catholics and the Muslims, are also against gay marriage.  How many voters has the Pope – as Stalin didn’t quite say – is not the point.  The point is that with the disaster of education policy and hospitals and care homes high in the public mind, Cameron has run out of ideas other than headline stuff.  So he has run off to foreign parts because domestic politics are far too difficult.

This was inevitable. Prime Ministers come into power and they go through the things that the voters care about – the economy stupid. Then in their first week they go to Washington to press presidential flesh.  The second week, they go to Brussels to nose-to-nose the EU.  The third week they go to Berlin for one-to-one with a real political leader and then to Paris for a swift handshake and very good A Level French jokes. It takes no more than a year for PMs to realize that the people back in the UK are boring.  Their issues are boring.  Worse, no one knows how to fix hospital problems, policemen not solving crimes, dementia treatment for nuisance mums and dads and of course the economy.  Three years in power and three years of decline.  Who needs it.

Whereas, Washington, Brussels, Algiers, Tripoli and even four hour drop in to our brave boys and gals in Camp Bastion give the prime ministerial personality a sense of something they want above all things: a power makeover.

Politicians do power.  Great stuff.  That’s why the common herd vote for them. But sitting at a Cabinet table lined with second rate people doing top rated jobs like Interior Minister, Health Secretary, Business Secretary and the rest make a PM realize that mostly he or she is power;less and days are always numbered.

So out come the focus group reports in spite of the fact that they are mostly bogus and out go the headline grabbing issues. Cameron goes foreign and feels a powerful man.  He gets respect even if the EU has relegated him to right hand side back row in the group photographs (could you imagine that happening to Thatcher or her protege Blair?

In a couple of years time, the result of all tis will be clear to the most important focus group of all – the general electorate.  They will see that the Tories have no original ideas, that they the people are worse off than before the Coalition of Incompetents and that the Prime Minister is hiding abroad.  The consequence? Bye Bye Tories. And the next lot will be as bad.

Christopher Lee

February 3, 2013

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How Come Hagel Goofed On The Simplest Question: Can the US Do Anything About a Nuclear Armed Iran?

2nd February 2013
Sometimes you could think Donald Duck or maybe just Goofy by himself is running the White House. Must be the dog, the duck would be smarter because take Chuck Hagel’s confirmation hearing: what’s the biggest and scariest question in foreign policy-defense?  Iran!!!!   The duck knows that.  Goofy? Maybe not Goofy.  Maybe that’s why no one briefed and rehearsed Chuck Hagel on Iran?

Chuck Hagel has just gone through the Senate confirmation hearing as President Obama’s nominee for secretary of defense.

On Iran, the recognized big one in What Does America Do If questions, Hagel goofed.  He stumbled around for answer to the apparently simple question: supposing Iran ignores every threat and builds a nuclear weapon, could a nuclear-warhead Iran be contained just as America apparently was able to contain the USSR during nearly half a century of Cold War?

The answer is very simple. The doctrine of containment was developed in 1946 and was the only way to deal with post World War II Soviet Communism and what followed – a Soviet controlled Eastern Europe and from 1957 a superpower building a capability for intercontinental ballistic and nuclear warfare. From this simplification, containment was Plan A and, as truth came to tell it, Plan 2-100 as well. In other words there was nothing else for it.

But Iran isn’t a superpower capable of magic mushrooming for real 100 American cities in one sunny afternoon.

So, when this notion is understood in the Senate (and as Hagel’s predecessor would know, the Senate grasped this four years ago) the question gets simpler: would the US attack Iran or help Israel attack Iran, if all else failed?  Sounds an easy one to ask.  As Goofy would know, you can scratch hard and never come with an answer that you would want to put on the Senate record and more importantly, on the front page of the Washington Post where they understand the significance of these affairs.

And what did Super Chuck say? Well, here comes the troublesome day’s work.  Knowing there would be such a curve ball in the day long hearing, the White House and he prepared an answer that was sent out in advance of the question.  Good news management. It read:

“My policy has always been the same as the president’s, one of prevention, not of containment. And the president has made clear that is the policy of our government.’’

That would have been good if Mr Hagel in the hearing hadn’t have added:  “I support the president’s strong position on containment.”  Wow Goofy!  That suggests Obama and Hagel believe it’s possible to contain a nuclear weapon armed Iran. This is, as the duck would have said, quackery.  Why? Because Obama knows that if Iran is allowed to get the bomb, then everyone else in the region, including the Saudis will be ordering one for themselves.

There was a silence in the Senate.  Then an aide slipped a piece of paper to Hagel’s elbow. He looked.  Looked again. Then he said:  “By the way, I’ve just been handed a note that I misspoke and said I supported the president’s position on containment. If I said that, it meant to say that obviously — on his position on containment — we don’t have a position on containment.”

The Armed Services Committee, chairman, Senator Carl Levin was in a good and helpful mood. He said, gravely, to Hagel “Just to make sure your correction is clear, we do have a position on containment: which is we do not favor containment.’’

This Hagel is the man to succeed Leon E Panetta.  What a crazy idea Goofy. How could this man be let out on his own?  He has just told Iran’s President Ahmadinejad to go ahead with the nuclear weapons program because there’s about nothing that America will do about it.  He has just told the North Korean Official Basket Case, Kim Jong Un he can do the same and for the same reasons.

Could it be that someone in the White House, in the Defense Department and maybe even, someone at Disney should get a grip of this man and tell him that laying the foundation of a nuclear war was not in the script. Maybe they should give the duck the job.