Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Harry Reid's words of wisdom

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid had this to say about the situation in Iraq earlier today...

"Americans need to start taking care of Americans."

If only Harry Reid could have been the spokesman for Bill Clinton during the Rwandan Genocide, when we sat back and did nothing as the bodies of almost one million innocent people piled up in the countryside and cries for help echoed throughout the hills of central Africa. Come to think of it, Bush 41 could have used him in 1991 when he abandoned the Shiites in southern Iraq, after we "defeated" Saddam.

I know I've said this before, but isolationism and non-intervention are failed policies and always will be.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Israel factor

On Friday night, I had the opportunity to visit a Synagogue and meet with the Jewish community here in the East Bay. After observing the Shabbat service, we discussed current events and politics over coffee and pastries, which I must say was a very positive and enlightening experience. I talked about my fascination with current events, as well as my desire to see as much of the world as possible, and they happily discussed with me the values of their religion and how they feel about some of the events happening in the world today. In the end, I was able to think long and hard about Judaism, Israel and the perception regarding the faith and the Jewish state.

In recent weeks, I have been offering my commentary on several political blogs. Almost on a daily basis, I have traded arguments with numerous responders, many of whom speak strong criticism against Israel. Do not get me wrong, that is perfectly fine, seeing as I myself have disagreed with some of the tactics the Israelis use in their daily battles Hamas and Islamic Jihad gunmen. However, I will defend Israel's right to exist until the very end. I believe that Israel, as well as the Palestinians, are in a fight for survival against a force that is determined to destroy both of them. That of course, is political terrorism, an evil that all too often justifies its actions under the banner of Islam.

Here's how I reached that conclusion. Keep in mind, when I say this, I am not favoring the Israelis or the Palestinians, but I am instead concerned for both of them. Both sides have certainly made many mistakes in the conflict, which is now in its seventh decade. But the analysis does not focus on that, nor does it assign blame to either side.

My analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

Today, both Israelis and Palestinians are dying because of Gaza's Hamas rulers, the smaller, violent factions that go along with them, and their supporters in Iran and Syria. We all remember Hamas' bloody takeover of the Gaza strip, in which hundreds of Palestinians were killed, a move which should have drawn condemnation from even the harshest critics of Israel. All the while, rockets continue to pound Israeli border towns and the threat of the terrorists resuming their "martyrdom operations" looms in light of the deadly Dimona bombing in central Israel earlier this month. Still, there are people who continue to blame Israel for the situation unfolding in the Middle East, even as terrorists continue to slaughter innocent Muslims across North Africa and central Asia, hundreds of miles away from the daily clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants. It's often said that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the primary reasons for sparking the war on terrorism, yet in reality it appears to be just another conflict between two sides the terrorists have taken advantage of (Iraq and Pakistan also come to mind here). Notice that terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (North Africa), the Taliban, and the Somali insurgency all embrace the same murderous ideology as Hamas while using similar tactics (suicide bombings, rocket attacks, kidnappings). The big difference though, is that there are no "Zionist forces" in those countries to provoke them. There are no Israeli settlements intruding on Arab land and no "occupation" in Algeria, yet that did not stop terrorists from murdering scores of innocent Muslims and leveling entire buildings in coordinated bombings, some of which surpassed any terror attack ever committed in Israel. All the while, Palestinian terrorists that buy into the same ideology as those murderers continue to use every effort available to sabotage the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. When Israel's leaders try to meet with the peace-seeking Palestinian leadership in the West Bank, the rockets start flying. By doing so, Hamas and its supporters are stating that they have no regard for the well being of Israel or the Palestinians they claim to be defending. After the events of last year, Israelis, Palestinians, Israel critics, and Israel supporters alike should all be able to put aside their differences and reach a similar conclusion.

So the point is that Israel does not seem to be the main culprit behind the violence we are seeing across the Muslim world, in my opinion anyway. Muslims have been hit the hardest since 9/11 in terms of terrorist attacks, far more than westerners as a matter of fact. To further prove that point, here is another example. Obviously, the Israeli-Palestinian crises goes back to the land dispute that started many years ago, just like the situation in Iraq between Sunni and Shia. However, as I pointed out, fuel is added to the fire when terrorists do everything they can to set off more violence. The conflict is exacerbated when rockets blast houses of innocent people and suicide bombers decimate Israeli Cafes in Tel Aviv or Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad.

As salafism and other brands of political terrorism sweep across North Africa and threaten southern Europe, even Jimmy Carter could see this coming if he would drop the whole "peace not apartheid" rhetoric and open up his eyes.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bush's approval rating soars

I know, the title sounds crazy. However, I'm not referring to the president's sinking poll numbers here at home. In Africa, Bush's approval rating is well over 80%. It may seem surprising at first, but that area of the world, a place that has seen countless years of disease, starvation, and war, generally has a positive view of the United States.

On Tuesday, President Bush visited Rwanda and met with President Paul Kagame, the man who led the resistance against the brutal Hutu militias that ended up slaughtering almost a million innocent people in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. During the visit, he toured the genocide memorial, and pledged to keep up the pressure on the Sudanese regime for its atrocities in Darfur. The President's other contributions to Africa include spending nearly 15 billion dollars to combat HIV/AIDS across the continent, with similar actions being taken to fight malaria. He has also granted billions of dollars in African debt relief and has offered much support in Africa's quest to move forward into the 21st century. In the end, the lives of many Africans have improved because of the administration's policies.

Odds are though, this isn't the big story out there you'll be hearing on the news. No, the media and President's growing number of critics would rather focus on an economic recession and his falling poll numbers here in the US, along with the obsession over all things negative in Iraq. At the same time, the two buffoons better known as Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are given a pass as the promises they made during the '06 elections come up empty.

Maybe the president is not the aweful man he is all too often villified as.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Castro's half-century reign comes to an end as Cuba faces an uncertain future

The picture on the left shows Cuban dictator Fidel Castro when he first came to power in 1959, some 49 years ago. Today, Castro has announced he is "stepping down" as president. His brother, Raul, is expected to take his place, but no one knows for sure. If you ask me, changing from Fidel to Raul would be the same as Saddam Hussein stepping down back in 2003 and having Uday or Qusay, his sadistic offspring, take control...or having Bill Clinton step down and having his wife take his place. There really is no difference in the end.

With the Castros still in control, Cuba will more than likely remain a police state. Political opponents of the regime will probably remain locked away in prisons that make Guantanamo Bay look a tropical island paradise.

There's always a chance for change though. If the people of Cuba are truly seeking freedom, a lot of pressure will be put on the new government to go ahead with democratic reform. Thus, the country could be heading towards a crossroads--will the people allow for a continuation of an autocratic regime, or will they demand freedom?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Some thoughts on a current crises

In recent weeks, there have been a number of school shootings across the United States. It seems that the investigation somehow or another ends up centering around where the gun came from and how it was obtained. Maybe though, we should be asking the bigger question, which is "why did he (or she, for that matter) committ such a terrible atrocity in the first place?"

I've never really put much thought into the issue of gun control, seeing as I do not own a gun and have no plans to in the future. However, I do feel citizens should be able to own a gun because of events like Hurricane Katrina, which proved that the police and local authorities won't be there to protect you when such a devastating natural disaster strikes. Therefore, how else can you defend yourself when criminals and looters come out?

If we really want to end school violence, schools should develop programs that encourage students to work together and understand each other, instead of branching out into groups that only divide and breed anger and resentment among those who are left out. While its obvious that people like the Columbine shooters were undeniably evil, there are many other instances of school shootings that happen because the gunman snapped under the pressure of being a social outcast.

One way or another, simpy "banning guns" will not solve the problem.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Isn't this cute?

I know I have been spending a lot of time talking about the Middle East these last few days, but this is something I feel is very important and needs to be brought to our attention.

Meet Assud the Bunny...he enjoys brainwashing children, betraying a religion's values, and eating Jews. It may seem like some demented episode of "South Park", but this is very real. The TV show, known as "Pioneers of Tomorrow", that features Assud is shown to thousands of children in the Palestinian territories, where they are taught to embrace violence and instead could very well end up being the murderers of tomorrow.

This video shows the "host" of the show, Saraa, an 11-year old girl, singing about liberating Palestine by force. The words "Kalashnikov" (AK-47) and "sea of blood" make it into the song a few times, as frightening as it is to hear such evil hate coming from the mouth of a seemingly innocent little girl.

A few months back, if you recall, congressman and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich paid a visit to Syria, a country that helps fund these hate-preaching propaganda channels that target children. Anyway, Dennis went on Syrian hate-television and denounced American foreign policy, railing against President Bush and the war in Iraq and proclaiming that Syria and Iran can have a positive influence in the Middle East. In my opinion, what he did was border-line treasonous. Obviously, the man has every right to say whatever he wants about President Bush and can criticize American foreign policy however he sees fit, but the fact that he would fly over to a country that is funding these evil people is beyond shameful. There's little doubt that his rant was played across the extremist realm, including in Iran, the country that has this little axis of hate and propaganda spinning around the region like the centrifuges at its uranium enrichment sites.

This really is sad. When I was reading up on "Pioneers of Tomorrow", I saw that the little girl, Saraa, originally wanted to become a docter, but is now perfectly happy being a martyr instead. Just the same, the leaders of Hamas and their Iranian and Syrian supporters would probably prefer to use her and other innocent Palestinians for such a mission instead of sacrificing themselves.

It's things like this that makes us wish for more good in this world.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A victory in the war on terrorism

The world has been left with one less villain today after Tuesday's assassination of Hezbollah Commander Imad Mughniyeh, a man who without a doubt was one of the most brutal terrorists in the world. He is blamed for the deaths of hundreds of Americans, as well as countless innocent Jews and Muslims.

His demise came late Tuesday night when a bomb, apparently placed in his car, exploded near an Iranian school in the Syrian capital of Damascus, killing Mughniyeh as approached. Hezbollah has accused Israel of being behind the assassination, although the Israelis have denied any involvement. Nevertheless, his death is being hailed by the United States and Israel, who have long had Mughniyeh on their lists of most wanted terrorists.

This is from the Jerusalem Post:

The assassination came as a shock to many Arabs who said they could not understand how the assassins managed to catch up with such a prominent figure, considering the tough security measures taken by Hizbullah and Syrian intelligence services.

The consensus among most Arab political analysts was that the assassination was a "severe blow" to Hizbullah and its patrons in Teheran and Damascus. One of them said it would take years for Hizbullah to recover from the assassination and its repercussions. "The fact that the killers managed to reach such an important figure should sound an alarm bell in Hizbullah," he said. "This means that Hizbullah's top brass has been infiltrated by the Israelis and Americans."

Another Arab analyst revealed that Mughniyeh had never slept in the same place for more than two nights. And each time he entered a certain house, he would leave it through a back window, the analyst said. "This is a black day for Hizbullah and its secretary-general, Hassan Nasrallah," he added. "This is a moral victory for Israel and the US."
What if it wasn't the Israelis?

Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah are quick to blame Israel for Mughniyeh's death, but its entirely possible there could be more to it. Sunni extremists groups such as Al-Qaeda could be to blame, seeing as they have long been competing for dominance in southern Lebanon with Hezbollah, a Shiite group. However, such a theory sort of falls apart in the end, since Mughniyeh is suspected of working as a coordinator between Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda, both of whom have the same common enemy: the United States and Israel.

Who killed Imad Mughniyeh is yet to be known, but one thing is for sure: the world is definetely a better place without this man in it.

Monday, February 11, 2008

If our elections seem tense...

The violence in Pakistan has shown no sign of relenting these past few days with Monday's attack on an election candidate. Nisar Ali was campaigning near the Afghan border when a suicide bomber detonated near his covoy, killing seven of his supporters and injuring Ali. He was originally reported to have been killed, but his party refuted the claims and he is now said to be recovering in a local hospital, according to the AP. This comes after an even more horrific terror attack on Saturday in the northwestern town of Charsadda, where another bomber attacked a political rally for the secular Awami National Party, killing dozens of supporters as they gathered inside of a hall.

Meanwhile, analysts are predicting that Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples' Party could get the sympathy vote in the upcoming parliamentary elections. A landslide victory by the opposition could put President Pervez Musharraf in danger of being removed from office. However, such a move would more than likely further destabilize the country and give the terrorists who are determined to bring down the Musharraf government exactly what they want.

Other developments:

While there's has been a string of negative events happening, there is also some good news to report. A top Taliban commander, Mansoor Dadullah, was wounded and captured by Pakistani forces, scoring a major symbolic victory for the region and its Western Allies. Last year, Dadullah's brother was killed in a battle with NATO forces in Southern Afghanistan.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

What ever happened to the old phrase "United We Stand"?

These last few days have shown just how divided Americans are over how to move forward. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama continue to fight for the Democratic nomination while John Mccain continues to struggle in his quest to win over the conservative voters. The dissatisfaction with Senator Mccain was more than apparent on Saturday when Mike Huckabee scored symbolic victories in Louisiana and Kansas. With Romney out, Huckabee appears to be the only candidate left for the far-right of the conservative movement and Republican party to embrace.

From the AP/Fox News:

James Dobson, one of the nation's most prominent evangelical Christian leaders, backed Mike Huckabee's presidential bid Thursday night, giving the former Arkansas governor a long-sought endorsement as the Republican field narrowed to a two-man race.

In a statement first obtained by The Associated Press, Dobson revisited his declaration on Super Tuesday that he could not in good conscience vote for John McCain, the front-runner, because of concerns over the Arizona senator's conservative credentials.

Dobson said given the situation at that point, he was reluctant to choose between "two pro-family candidates whom I could support" _ Huckabee and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

But Dobson wrote that Romney's announcement Thursday that he was suspending his campaign "changed the political landscape."

"The remaining candidate for whom I could vote is Governor Huckabee," Dobson said. "His unwavering positions on the social issues, notably the institution of marriage, the importance of faith and the sanctity of human life, resonate deeply with me and with many others ... Obviously, the governor faces an uphill struggle, given the delegates already committed to Senator McCain. Nevertheless, I believe he is our best remaining choice for president of the United States."

So that's it, huh? The far-right of the conservative movement is perfectly willing to abandon John Mccain for a man who has actually suggested that the Constitution needs to be more in line with the word of God...a man who by his own admission knows very little about foreign policy. Never mind the real problems...like political terrorism and the blood-soaked regimes that support it...the most important issues to these people is preventing same-sex couples from marrying and protecting unborn fetuses and embryos.

Finding Unity:

No matter who wins the election in November, it is essential that he/she finds a way to bring everyone together and appeal to all sides. While his intentions have been good, its hard to dispute that George W. Bush has divided this country to an unprecented level. Today, we have far-left protesters attacking military commanders simply because they have positive news to report from Iraq, we have crazed loons preaching 9/11 conspiracy theories, and we have right-wing Christians proclaiming that marriage and abortion are the most important issues. But perhaps the most harmful rhetoric comes from the anti-Bush crowd and their claims that the Bush Administration is "hyping up" the terror threat, even as Al-Qaeda and other groups continue to carry out horrific atrocities across North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia, while directly threatening Europe and Western interests abroad. Bush has done a terrible job at bringing people together, there's no doubt about that, but the people who are opposed to him have inflicted just as much harm on the unity in the "United" States. What was once open-minded political debating is now nothing more than ranting, hatred, and anger. That point was made obvious back in October, when CA congressmen Pete Stark accused President Bush of getting "amusement" over the deaths of soldiers in Iraq, as ridiculous as that sounds.

It's fair to say that the debate over how to solve the problems facing this country is not about right and left, but right and wrong. We're never going to get anywhere unless our leaders spend less time defending their ideologies, admit that everyone has made mistakes, and start working together.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Do you laugh or cry over this?

It's pretty sick that terrorists recruit children.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Africa burning...

Over the weekend, rebels based along the border between Sudan's violence-racked Darfur province and the central African nation of Chad pushed across the desert into the Chadian capitol, engaging in fierce battles with government forces. At one point, the rebels managed to seize control of most of the capitol city of N'Djamena and surround the presidential palace where President Idress Deby found himself holed up. A counter-attack by helicopter gunships and tanks appears to have driven the rebels into the outskirts of the capitol, at least for the time being.

A lull in fighting on Tuesday has allowed for a mass refugee crises to develop in neigboring Cameroon, where some 20,000 people have crossed the river border to flee the violence. An exact death toll in the fighting has yet to be reported, seeing as many aid workers have been evacuated. However, those who remain in the city are reporting that the streets are littered with dead bodies.

This is from the BBC:

One refugee, who preferred not to give his name, escaped the fighting in Chad and fled south to Nigeria.

"I am now in Kano but have no money left and don't have my documents," he told the BBC.

"I don't know what to do. I telephoned my friend in N'Djamena and he told me that my mother, my father and my fiancee had all been shot. I don't know whether to cry or kill myself."
The horrific and heart-wrenching quote above shows just how serious the situation has become. Chad is accusing the regime of Omar Al-Bashir in Sudan of supporting the rebels. Bashir, a military dictator who is among the most repressive leaders in the world, is also suspected of arming and supporting Arab militias in Darfur that continue to committ atrocities and genocide against the black African population.

Interestingly enough, a peacekeeping force from the European Union was set to arive in Chad with a mandate to protect Darfur refugees when the rebels began advancing on N'Djamena. Perhaps the Sudanese regime is trying disrupt the progress of a solution to the Darfur conflict. Back in 2006, a "peace accord" was agreed upon by the government only to be violated repeatedly.

United World analysis:

As the Presidential Election nears, we are sure to be hearing about important issues that will be politicized and used to score points with voters. Just look at all this talk about an "economic recession" and the continuing obsession with all things negative in Iraq. Interestingly enough, oil prices have fallen since the fighting began raging in Chad, supposedly over economic worries. Seeing as the central African nation is a major oil producer, the "speculators" should be a lot more concerned about rebel militiamen seizing control of an oil-producing nation than the "recession" so many in the media are hoping for. Not to make this a pro-Bush post, but there's little doubt that a recession is taking priority over Africa's woes because it can be used as another example of a failure by the Bush Administration. The horrific events happening in Chad today can only be blamed on the rebels carrying out the the assault and the international community that will more than likely stand by and do nothing to stop it.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The "right" has gone wrong

We have breaking news here at United World...Ronald Reagan is no longer relavant. If the man is mentioned one more time, I don't know what I'll do. These propaganda attacks by right-wing commentators like Anne Coulter, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh against John Mccain are ignorant and unwarranted. Mccain is a good man who has much to offer. He has the ability to serve as the uniter this country so desperately needs (yes, that is a "United World Endorsement").

There's no question that Senator Mccain has split with the conservative movement and Republican Party on numerous occasions. However, that's not necessarily a bad thing. With the events happening around the world (see the two posts below), meaningless issues like gay marriage and tax cuts don't really matter in the bigger picture. Hopefully, all of these angry conservatives will realize that.

To sum it up, I have a link to the latest article from author and Front Page Magazine contributor Kenneth R. Timmerman. In it, he makes a pretty good point about what the most important issues are, inlcuding the Islamic Republic of Iran, Al-Qaeda, and Vladimir Putin's Russia.

While I don't always agree with them, I've always admired Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity for standing up for what's right. Today however, it looks like they are focusing more on the ideology of "conservatism" than the things that matter.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

When homicidal maniacs hijack a religion...

Well the news that has been come out of the Muslim world these last few days has been very disturbing. In December, I wrote a post about an assassination attempt on a Pakistani government minister who was attending prayers inside of a mosque. Scores of people died in that bomb attack, and these next examples are certainly no better. One happened in Iraq, the other in Afghanistan.

Yesterday in Iraq, two disabled women were strapped up with explosives and detonated by remote control in two Baghdad markets, killing almost 100 innocent people in what was perhaps the most brutal terrorist attack in over 9 months in the Iraqi capital. The obvious question we should all be asking is 'why', but we should also be wondering why the inhuman mass murderers behind the attack weren't willing to send one of their own "martyrdom seekers" into the crowd. Perhaps it is because they are simply running out of bad guys, or maybe its because they are too afraid, or it could be because they are desperate to find a way to destroy the amazing progress that has been made in Iraq in recent months. Just the same, those who continue to suggest that the Iraq conflict is nothing more than civil war are not only wrong, they are ignorant. To say that ordinary Iraqis or Muslims would committ such an evil act is insulting to the people of that country, their culture, and their religion.

In Afghanistan, an equally horrendous act was committed when a Taliban suicide bomber blew himself up inside of a mosque in the southern city of Lashkar Gah on thursday, killing the deputy governor of Helmand Province and five others in what the provincial police chief described as "totally against our religion". It follows a pattern of similar attacks in the region, including the one in Pakistan that was mentioned earlier.

These barbaric attacks are only the latest in a series of events that have been happening around the world in regards to the war on terrorism. Just look at the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the Algiers bombings, and the siege of Mogadishu in Somalia in addition to the terrorist activities that continue in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some may deny it, but all of these events are connected to the broader war on terror in some way or another.