Ex-CIA, AMAN Chiefs:
A Nuclear Iran Can No Longer Be Stopped
The former heads of two of the most powerful intelligence agencies in the world, speaking Sunday, Dec. 1, in different parts of the world, were of the same opinion: Iran has reached the point of a nuclear threshold state and can build several nuclear bombs in a matter of weeks. By this diagnosis, Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and NSA, and ex-general Amos Yadlin, ex-chief of AMAN, Israeli military intelligence, indicted their respective governments for their failure to stop this happening. Asked in an interview about the interim accord the six powers reached with Iran in Geneva, Gen. Hayden was terse: "Iran is a nuclear threshold nation and we can't stop this," he said. America has moved its red lines and "all but conceded Iran has the right to enrich uranium...We have hit the pause button. Now we've got to negotiate hitting the delete button."
Inflation, Shortages &
Social Democracy in Venezuela
Ludwig von Mises Institute
The economic turmoil in Venezuela has received increasing international media attention over the past few months. In September, the toilet paper shortage resulted in the "temporary occupation" of the Paper Manufacturing Company, as armed troops were sent to ensure the "fair distribution" of available stocks. Similar action occurred a few days ago against electronics stores: President Nicolás Maduro accused electronics vendors of price-gouging, and jailed them with the warning that "this is just the start of what I'm going to do to protect the Venezuelan people." Earlier this month, in another attempt to ensure "happiness for all people," Maduro began to hand out Christmas bonuses, in preparation for the coming elections in December. But political campaigning is not the only reason for the government's open-handedness.
US Policy Should Help Our
Democrat Friends in Latin America
Peace and prosperity in Latin America are important to the United States. Not only do we wish our fellow republics well, but their stability is in our national interest, too. That's why it is worrisome that the Obama administration continues to squander freedom's hard gains in a region facing many challenges. Take Central America. In 1980s it was a battleground between freedom and communism. Thanks to Ronald Reagan, freedom won. But what was won at the ballot box then may be in jeopardy soon. Two important upcoming presidential elections -- Honduras this month and El Salvador next February -- will define the region's immediate future. Strongmen in the tradition of Hugo Chávez run both countries. A victory for Chavismo in Central America would be as disastrous for the region as it has been for the Venezuelans themselves.
The Obama Administration
Plans to Keep Us in Afghanistan
If a draft agreement between the Obama administration and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan is finalized, US troops will remain in that country indefinitely -- instead of being withdrawn at the end of 2014, as the administration has said. This is a confession of failure. America's longest war is nowhere near its end. The draft agreement dated July 25, 2013, which was obtained by Richard Engel of NBC News, states, "This Agreement shall enter into force on January 1, 2015...It shall remain in force until the end of 2024 and beyond, unless terminated pursuant to paragraph 4 of this Article [requiring two years written notice]." Under the proposed agreement, the US government would continue to train, arm, and assist the Afghan military. "Parties acknowledge that continued US military operations to defeat al-Qaeda and its affiliates may be appropriate..."
Europe’s Bank Money Blues
Well, it's official, the economic talking head establishment has declared war on Germany. The opening shots in this battle were fired by none other than the United States Treasury Department, which had the audacity to blame Germany for a weak Eurozone recovery in its semi-annual foreign exchange report. The Treasury's criticisms were echoed by IMF First Deputy Managing Director David Lipton, in a recent speech in Berlin -- a speech so incendiary that the IMF opted to post the "original draft," rather than his actual comments, on its website. Things were kicked into a full blitzkrieg when Paul Krugman penned his latest German-bashing New York Times column. The claims being leveled against Germany revolve around nebulous terms like "imbalances" and "deflationary biases." But, what's really going on here?
Hollande, Netanyahu Consider
Forming Joint Front Against Iran
French President Francois Holland and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius arrive in Jerusalem Sunday, Nov. 17. Their talks with Israel's leaders are likely to determine how France, Israel and Saudi Arabia respond to the Obama administration's current Middle East moves, with critical effect on the next round of nuclear talks taking place in Geneva Wednesday, Nov. 20 between six world powers and Iran. France will be given the option of aligning with the Middle East powers - Israel, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt - which challenge President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry's race for détente with Tehran. If he accepts this option, the next decision facing President Hollande will be whether, how and when this grouping is willing to consider resorting to military action to preempt a nuclear-armed Iran.
Putin Gets It & We Don’t
Middle East politics amounts to managing the decline of a failed culture. Nothing expresses Arab failure more vividly than Egypt, a banana republic without the bananas, now living on a $14 billion or so annual subsidy from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States. With 70% of its population living in agricultural areas, it imports half its food, and would starve if not for the Saudi check. Egypt is beyond the point of no return economically, and American foreign policy is beyond the point of no return intellectually. Americans of both parties – Obama and Kerry on one side, and Sens. McCain and Graham along with the Weekly Standard on the other – believed that by waving the magic wand of democracy over this cataclysmically failed state, all would be well. I characterized this consensus as "Dumb and Dumber" earlier this year.
EU Regulations: ‘Dictatorship of the Bureaucrats’?
The Gatestone Institute
The European Union has quietly approved a ban on large vacuum cleaners in an effort to "re-educate" spendthrift citizens who consume too much energy. European bureaucrats have also imposed bans or restrictions on thousands of other consumer products, including bananas, clothes dryers, cosmetics, cucumbers, fruit jam, laptop computers, laundry detergents, light bulbs, olive oil, plastic bags, refrigerators, showerheads, television sets, tobacco, toilets, toys, urinals and wine cooling cabinets. The most recent ban, approved by the European Parliament on October 8, involves chocolate candy cigarettes because they "appeal to minors and consequently form a potential gateway to using tobacco products." The EU and its supporters say the bans are necessary to improve the energy efficiency, environmental friendliness and health standards of the 28-member bloc.
Report: Saudis to Buy Pakistani
A-Bomb If Iran Goes Nuclear
The Clarion Project
For a long time, when the Saudis talked about a "nuclear free zone" in the Middle East, it was understood they meant that Israel should be forced to admit it had a nuclear weapons capability and then be disarmed. These days, though, while some of the language still sounds the same, as in the following statement from the Saudi Arabian Embassy in London, the real fear involves Iran far more than it does Israel. Citing Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal, the embassy statement of November 7, 2013 emphasized that, "Saudi Arabia is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has signed a comprehensive safegurards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency and has consistently supported the establishment of a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East."
S&P Downgrades France's
Debt Again, Halfway to Junk
The New American
In its announcement Friday that credit rating agency Standard and Poor's (S&P) was cutting its rating on France's debt for the second time in less than two years, the agency minced no words: The downgrade reflects our view that the French government's current approach to budgetary and structural reforms to taxation, as well as to product, services, and labor markets, is unlikely to substantially raise France's medium-term growth prospects. Moreover, we see France's fiscal flexibility as constrained by successive governments' moves to increase already high tax levels, and what we see as the government's inability to significantly reduce total government spending... In our view, the current unemployment levels are ... depressing longer term growth prospects. S&P saw this coming back in January 2012, four months before the Socialist and Far Left Parties, took over France.
Saudi Arabia & The Arab ‘Frontline’ States
Center for Strategic & Int'l Studies
The US needs to rethink its attitudes and polices towards Saudi Arabia and the Arab "frontline" states. The "Arab spring" has not become some sudden window to democratic reform. It has instead unleashed a broad pattern of regional instability in an area already deeply destabilized by extremism and terrorism, growing religious struggles between Sunni and other sects as well as between Sunni extremists and moderates, a growing Iranian set of threats at every level, and massive demographic pressures on weak structures of governance and economic development. The day may come some years in the future where the resulting convulsions produce the conditions for effective reform. Today, however, upheavals mean political instability and violence, massive new economic problems, power struggles, repression and refugees.