TCS Daily

Baruch Obama?

By Michael Rosen - October 9, 2008 12:00 AM

In Israel, for better or (usually) for worse, politics permeates virtually all cultural, religious, and historical events and issues.

So it was surprising that, during the period in May marking the 60th anniversary of Israel's founding, President Bush's gracious remarks to the Knesset (Israel's parliament) were met with tremendous appreciation and warmth across a wide swath of the notoriously broad Israeli political spectrum. I was privileged to witness that reaction in person during the historic festivities in Jerusalem.

While the American commentariat, especially those in the liberal media protective of Sen. Barack Obama, went apoplectic over Bush's comments about appeasing terrorists and their sponsors, Israelis left and right praised his speech to the heavens.

So it was from an interesting perspective, during the Yom Ha'atzmaut (Independence Day) celebrations, that I had occasion to reflect on America's support for the Jewish state, and the questions that have been raised about Obama's positions.

Israel has of late been enduring more than its share of existential angst. Its enemies have been waging low-level military and diplomatic campaigns for years, beginning with the avowedly terrorist Hamas regime in Gaza, which rains often fatal rockets down on Israeli towns on a daily basis, to the rearming and ascendant Hezbollah, which scored a significant victory in the ongoing Lebanese power struggle, to an aggressive Iranian theocracy hell-bent on acquiring the nuclear means to destroy Israeli population centers.

Meanwhile, Israel suffers from a serious, embarrassing problem of its own making: political corruption. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has resigned in the face of allegations that he received tens of thousands of dollars in cash-stuffed envelopes by an American businessman.

Yet somehow, to the untrained eye, all seems better than well in Israel. The joyous Yom Ha'atzmaut celebration marked a major milestone in this young country's development and, knock wood, was unmarred by terrorist violence.

The Israeli economy gallops along at a rapid clip: 5% GDP growth in 2007, and 4% expected this year, despite the global slowdown. Israel is third worldwide only to the U.S. and Japan in patents-per-capita (and, incredibly, 14th overall worldwide in absolute terms); it boasts more scientists and engineers per capita than any other country in the world.

Israel has the second-most startup companies in the world. For the first time in my adult life, the dollar was actually worth fewer Israeli shekels than during my previous visit. Real estate brokers, who for years listed homes in dollars, have now switched to the now-more stable Israeli currency.

Culturally, the country continues to thrive. Jerusalem recently hosted an international writers' festival where leading Israeli scribes hobnobbed with their European and American counterparts. Israel's top basketball team placed second in the European tournament, while an Israeli soccer manager brought the storied English Chelsea franchise within inches of Premier League and Championship League trophies.

Israeli musicians, graphic artists, architects, and even boutique winemakers regularly achieve worldwide acclaim, a theme hammered home by the May issue of the in-flight magazine of El-Al (Israel's national airline), which was dedicated to 60 Israelis who have impacted the world.

The flipside of these achievements, as also apparent from the magazine, is a deep Israeli preoccupation with global approval. The Jewish people, according to the Bible, are meant to be an or la-goyim, a "light unto the nations." The Jewish state, thus, strives to be a model society, setting a good example for a world riven by strife.

Yet its efforts aren't always rewarded by a world still disturbingly hostile to the idea of a Jewish state or by elites in liberal Western countries who believe the country isn't worth the trouble it has begotten.

That's why, by far, the most important and moving part of President Bush's address, one that was little-reported in the Western media, was when he said:

Some people suggest if the United States would just break ties with Israel, all our problems in the Middle East would go away. This is a tired argument that buys into the propaganda of the enemies of peace, and America utterly rejects it. Israel's population may be just over 7 million. But when you confront terror and evil, you are 307 million strong, because the United States of America stands with you.

This strong reassurance from the leader of the free world resonated far more with Israelis than the president's more controversial statement regarding appeasement that immediately preceded it. But, in fact, they're flipsides of the same coin.

Obama, who favors precondition-less talks with Iranian leaders, can't seem to grasp the serious problems infecting his sometimes muddled position—and his campaign lashes out at anyone who dares criticize his approach.

(Obama evidently believes that the threat posed by countries like Iran pales in comparison to that posed by the Soviet Union in its heyday, telling an Oregon primary crowd that "Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don't pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us." He later backtracked, describing the Iranian threat as "grave," but, at least initially, he regarded a growing country of 65 million people, well on its way to acquiring nuclear weapons, as "tiny.")

Obama argues that negotiation is not appeasement. But what exactly does "negotiation" mean in the context of dealing with tyrannical regimes? As Charles Krauthammer observes, "what concessions does Obama imagine Ahmadinejad will make to him on Iran's nuclear program? And what new concessions will Obama offer? To abandon Lebanon? To recognize Hamas? Or perhaps to squeeze Israel?" These are questions that, unbelievably, nobody in the mainstream media is asking.

And it's not as if Iran welcomes talks with the U.S. as an avenue for mutual understanding. As its supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, recently remarked:

You have nothing to say to us. We object.  We do not agree to a relationship with you!  We are not prepared to establish relations with powerful world devourers like you!  The Iranian nation has no need of the United States, nor is the Iranian nation afraid of the United States. not accept your behavior, your oppression and intervention in various parts of the world.

While Obama has vowed to meet with helpful folks like these, he has also resisted meeting with Hamas. But this position lacks intellectual coherence, as Hamas is sponsored by Iran and serves as its Palestinian proxy. The American Spectator's Philip Klein puts its well, asking "why should it be beyond the pale to question the earnestness of Obama's vow not to negotiate with Hamas, when he has promised, as part of his sweeping program for change, to negotiate with its patron [Iran], which shares the same ultimate goal?"

These concerns dovetail with another aspect of Obama's Israel problem: his policy advisers. One of his former counselors, Gen. Merrill McPeak, was revealed to harbor frustrations about powerful pro-Israel voices in the U.S., telling a newspaper that "we have a large vote here in favor of Israel. And no politician wants to run against it." Another, Robert Malley, was exposed as conducting negotiations (albeit not on behalf of the campaign) with Hamas.

When asked whether Jimmy Carter should meet with Hamas during the former president's recent Middle East visit, Obama's initial response was "Why can't I just eat my waffle?"

And in a recent interview with the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, after Goldberg had written an article entitled "Is Israel Finished?", Obama—incredibly, while trying to sound like a pro-Israel stalwart—trafficked in the same, tired finger-pointing so often seen among Western liberal elites, characterizing the Israeli-Arab conflict as "this constant wound,...this constant sore, [that] infect[s] all of our foreign policy." This attitude suggests that the United States is abhorred by the Muslim world because of our support for Israel rather than because Islamic extremists detest our values and our way of life. Then, more recently, there was the flap over Obama's now-you-see-it-now-you-don't "support" for Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem.

The outrageous ramblings of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama's (former) pastor and spiritual advisor, contribute to this sense as well. The good reverend has referred to Israel as "a dirty word" and blamed it for September 11. He offered space in his church's newsletter to a Hamas functionary who, predictably, bashed the Jewish state.

Obama, who has said he occasionally refers to himself as "Baruch Obama" during his interactions with Jewish crowds ("baruch" is Hebrew, and "barack" is Arabic, for "blessed"), has lately made a concerted effort to appeal to the Jewish community, including stops in Florida nursing homes that, according to the New York Times, are populated by hostile residents.

But his relative weakness among a Jewish electorate that's generally in the tank for the Democrats is palpable. A recent Gallup poll that gave Obama 61% support to Sen. John McCain's 32% among Jewish voters was conventionally interpreted, as Gallup's own poll title put it, as "Obama Beats McCain Among Jewish Voters." Yet these numbers are by far the weakest for any Democratic presidential candidate in recent memory. That one in three Jewish Americans say they will vote for the Republican candidate has to be damning; after all, only one in four supported President Bush in 2004, notwithstanding his stalwart support for the Jewish state.

Of course, these numbers will fluctuate over the course of the final few weeks of the general election, and Obama will do his best to blunt their impact. And there's no question that the American Jewish community is not a single-issue voting monolith. But with Israel so much in the news, and so much on the mind, the contrast between Bush's speech and Obama's position couldn't be clearer.

Michael M. Rosen, TCS Daily's intellectual property columnist, is an attorney and Republican activist in San Diego.



Interesting, but not really relavent
American Jews are not necessarily pro-Israel; at least not to the point that they are going to automatically support the candidate or party that will obviously most take a pro-Israel stance.

As the author points out, most are not single issue voters. The fact is, most tend to be liberal Democrats and will back the party to the hilt these days.

Should McCain manage to garner something like 50% of the Jewish vote that would be worth paying attention to. It would also mean that a whole host of things are going wrong for Obama and he is probably in deep trouble with several demographics.

Obama supports Israel
Michael Rosen to the contrary, Obama has never had a muddled position regarding Israel. He's always been 100% for them, and 100% against their enemies. His every statement concerning Israel bears this out. For example:

On Israel and the US: "My view is that the United States' special relationship with Israel obligates us to be helpful to them in the search for credible partners with whom they can make peace, while also supporting Israel in defending itself against enemies sworn to its destruction,"

And on Iran: "The world must work to stop Iran's uranium enrichment program and prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. It is far too dangerous to have nuclear weapons in the hands of a radical theocracy. And while we should take no option, including military action, off the table, sustained and aggressive diplomacy combined with tough sanctions should be our primary Here's what Obama said: "The world must work to stop Iran's uranium enrichment program and prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. It is far too dangerous to have nuclear weapons in the hands of a radical theocracy. And while we should take no option, including military action, off the table, sustained and aggressive diplomacy combined with tough sanctions should be our primary means to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons."

It is in this spirit that he suggests the current approach-- that of refusing even to speak with Iran-- has so far proven fruitless. And he concurs with most informed observers in saying we should hold talks without preconditions.

Henry Kissinger is in agreement with this position. Are we then to believe that Henry Kissinger is in league with the enemies of Israel? Setting unrealistic preconditions one knows the other side will not accede to without a lot of dialog is just a way of saying "Discussions ain't going to happen".

Before you swallow the kind of tripe being peddled in this article, look up Obama's actual statements regarding Israel and America's defense umbrella.

"Iran's rhetorical threats against Israel and itsunswerving embrace of Hezbollah continued."
"At a government-sanctioned, anti-Israel demonstration inTehran, Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, Iran's speaker of Parliament, warned that "Israel's northern cities are within the range of Hezbollah's missiles andno part of Israel will be safe."

The crowd of nearly 2,000 demonstrators replied with chants of"Death to America!" and "Death to Israel!""

"Even Iran's former president Mohammad Khatami, who used his eight- yearpresidency to try to moderate Iran's foreign policy, on Sunday likenedHezbollah to "a shining sun that illuminates and warms the hearts of allMuslims and supporters of freedom in the world.""

"Underscoring the heightened sense of Iran as a dangerous player, on Tuesday, Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain accused Iran of supporting Hezbollah with weapons, "very similar if not identical to those used against Britishtroops in Basra" in Iraq. Blair also accused Syria of supporting Iran "in many different ways" and both countries of providing financial support. Israel, the United States, the Europeans and many Arab states have long claimed that Hezbollah receives its weaponry from Iran, a claim that many Iranian officials admit in private is true."

"BAGHDAD — Militants from the Lebanese group Hezbollah have been training Iraqi militia fighters at a camp near Tehran, according to American interrogation reports that the United States has supplied to the Iraqi government."

"Iraqi Shiite assassination teams are being trained in at least four locations in Iran by Tehran's elite Quds force and Lebanese Hezbollah and are planning to return to Iraq in the next few months to kill specific Iraqi officials as well as U.S. and Iraqi troops, according to intelligence gleaned from captured militia fighters and other sources in Iraq."

"Obama, June 4: The Iranian regime supports violent extremists and challenges us across the region. It pursues a nuclear capability that could spark a dangerous arms race and raise the prospect of a transfer of nuclear know-how to terrorists. Its president denies the Holocaust and threatens to wipe Israel off the map. The danger from Iran is grave, it is real, and my goal will be to eliminate this threat."

" Though Obama claims the US presence is "illegal," he suddenly remembered that Americans troops were in Iraq within the legal framework of a UN mandate. His advice was that, rather than reach an accord with the "weakened Bush administration," Iraq should seek an extension of the UN mandate.

While in Iraq, Obama also tried to persuade the US commanders, including Gen. David Petraeus, to suggest a "realistic withdrawal date." They declined.

Obama has made many contradictory statements with regard to Iraq. His latest position is that US combat troops should be out by 2010. Yet his effort to delay an agreement would make that withdrawal deadline impossible to meet. "

If BHO is to be believed regarding his comments on Iran, why would he be so eager to withdraw US forces from Iraq? The USA has Iran surrounded NOW and if BHO really believes Iran is a threat, why would he give up a strategic advantage?

I have believed all along the fundamental reason the USA invaded Iraq was to be able to have a solid military base of operations in Iran. If the USA has access to Iraqi airspace, it is much easier to collect intelligence and to stage any air strikes. Recall the roundabout way the USA had to strike Libya?

BTW, if GWB did such poor job of negotiating, why did Libya give up their nuclear weapons program and why did the USA restore full diplomatic relations?

Dems acknowledge BHO weak on defense
"“Barring a terrorist attack,” said Maslin, “in the face of what’s happened to the United States economy, the world economy, in the last two weeks, how does this trend reverse itself?”"

I think the odds are better than even that Israel will attack Iran if BHO is elected, and maybe before IF BHO is likely to win.

If BHO is such a friend why would many in Israel want to do such a thing?

Off-topic, but I'll address it
"If BHO is to be believed regarding his comments on Iran, why would he be so eager to withdraw US forces from Iraq?"

His position is that it was unnecessary to go there in the first place-- and that our experience there has been disastrous, both for our economy and for our long-term strategic position in the Islamic world. Hence, the suggestion that we begin to look for the exit.

This presumes that there is no longer any war to be won. We won, you will recall, back on April 9, 2003. There is no remaining goal in Iraq that would be advanced by continuing aggressive war-making. What we are doing now is transferring control to the Iraqi government.

"The USA has Iran surrounded NOW and if BHO really believes Iran is a threat, why would he give up a strategic advantage?"

This would be an effective strategy if our aim were to ensure permanent armed conflict in the area. We have (a) surrounded a sovereign nation and (b) made dire threats against it. The obvious result of such activity would be to put them into a defensive mode.

Their defense would therefore play to our offense. And there is invariably a direct link between heightened hostility on the aggressor's part (that would be the US) and a heightened response on the target's part. Doesn't this make any sense to you?

So as a thinking person, were Obama to believe that Iran might some day prove to be offensive, his first instinct would be to stop provoking the beast. To do so would be like poking a stick through the cage of a bad dog. Best to arm oneself, remain civil and commit no hostile action.

"I have believed all along the fundamental reason the USA invaded Iraq was to be able to have a solid military base of operations in Iran."

The Iranian government obviously agrees with this view.

"If the USA has access to Iraqi airspace, it is much easier to collect intelligence and to stage any air strikes."

Let me ask you. If Iran has made no hostile act against the US, or offered any threat of aggression against us, why then must we stage air strikes?

I ignore for the moment all the low-level, cross-border activities on the part of our proxies, CIA personnel and Special Forces, as well as small time arms smuggling and conniving on the part of their own Revolutionary Guards. These minor affairs at the sidelines cancel one another out. Perhaps Iran would have done better to bring all this up at the UN, asking the US to stop its rovications.. rather than be silent, and allow herself to become implicated in rumors of sponsorship of acts of terror.

"BTW, if GWB did such poor job of negotiating, why did Libya give up their nuclear weapons program and why did the USA restore full diplomatic relations?"

I'm not sure I follow. Was GWB supposed to have done a "poor job" of negotiating with Libya? The plain fact is that for decades, Libya has been a pariah state and marginalized among nations. They desired mainstream acceptance into the global marketplace. Ergo, they did what they had to do to get it.

What did GW Bush have to do with any of that? The move was initiated by Libya.

Interesting roy
This is so wrong on so many levels it really is funny.

Obama is very good at making statements but being unable to give real answers on anything.

Your first Obama quote really says nothing. What and who are these credible partners and how much pressure is he going to put on Isreal to make peace with his chosen partners? How far will he go in backing Israel against its enemies; will he attack Iran if it becomes necessary? How about Syria, Lebanon?

I think everyone agrees with your second Obama quote and, in fact, that is happening right now. The difference? Bush will not sit down with the Iranian leadership until lower level diplomacy makes some headway (which the Iranians are saying they don't want at all, they are saying no diplomacy). Look roy, the president doesn't meet with the Prime Minister of Great Britian without lower level contacts first; that is how it is done.

This has been debunked by Kissinger - "Henry Kissinger is in agreement with this position. Are we then to believe that Henry Kissinger is in league with the enemies of Israel? Setting unrealistic preconditions one knows the other side will not accede to without a lot of dialog is just a way of saying "Discussions ain't going to happen."

He absolutely is not!!!!! Kissinger publically berated the Obama campaign for claiming he said any such thing. Kissinger said that low level diplomatic contact should be made without pre-conditions (and they are right now), if some agreement can be made, then you bring in a senior diplomat, then the Sec. of State and, finally, if there is some areas of agreement that can be solidified by a summit style meeting, you hold one.

Obama claimed he, President Obama, would sit down with these leaders, without pre-conditions. Kissinger pointed out that diplomacy is not done that way; never has been. Obama is wrong if he does this and is a fool if he goes against the advice of seasoned diplomats.

He is clueless on all matters of foreign policy and it shows.

Does that mean he shouldn't be President? By itself no. everyone has weaknesses coming into this job. If Obama is willing to listen to those who know how things are done than it isn't a big deal. However, if he insists on doing it his way, than the inexperience tag fits and he should not be president. It is up to the voters to decide which way they think he will go. I will say I'm not all that impressed with some of his choices for advisors so far; but that is just me.

"“Barring a terrorist attack,” said Maslin, “in the face of what’s happened to the United States economy, the world economy, in the last two weeks, how does this trend reverse itself?”"

1) I can't find the Maslin quote anywhere on the page you proffered. Is it perhaps among the 2,062 comments the peanut gallery has offered on this short article?

(2) It doesn't make any sense. Specifically, it doesn't look like it addresses your point that Obama is "weak on defense". It's about the economic mess.. and some unspecified "trend".

(3) Who is this "Maslin"? Never heard of him. Or her.

"I think the odds are better than even that Israel will attack Iran if BHO is elected, and maybe before IF BHO is likely to win. If BHO is such a friend why would many in Israel want to do such a thing?"

Duh. The guy is so pro-Israel, and has already offered them such assurances of protection that the hawks in Israel could very well feel they were free to attack Iran. Obama would be obliged to back them militarily.

I agree, this is a dangerous perception for them to have. If the Israeli tail gets to wag the American dog, policy-wise, we're all in very serious trouble here.

The issue of experience
"Obama is very good at making statements but being unable to give real answers on anything."

His comments on Israel are utterly clear-cut and unambiguous. What "real answers" are you looking for?

Followup question, what "real answers" has McCain ever offered on the subject of Israel?

"Your first Obama quote really says nothing. What and who are these credible partners and how much pressure is he going to put on Isreal to make peace with his chosen partners? How far will he go in backing Israel against its enemies; will he attack Iran if it becomes necessary? How about Syria, Lebanon?"

The guy already has a tendency to go on for hundreds of words while his opponent merely sticks in a one-line zinger that says nothing. Are you saying he should instead write an entire book, on what he will do in the face of every conceivable contingency? That's not at all what we're getting from the McCain camp. McCain exhausts his strategic thinking at the end of the sentence "We'll win the war."

In fact Obama has already addressed this attempt to pin him down and affix him to the slide. He has said (and I paraphrase) "Don't try to get me to give an exact answer as to what I'll do in some given situation. We have to wait for a specific situation to develop before we can design a response."

Further, do you really think anyone would state a position, in advance, on joining into armed hostilities against nations like Lebanon or Syria? Due to some hypothetical action initiated by Israel? Anyone who did that really would be a dangerous greenhorn.. whether he said he would or he wouldn't.

"Obama claimed he, President Obama, would sit down with these leaders, without pre-conditions. Kissinger pointed out that diplomacy is not done that way; never has been."

Here's the way it went down:

1. Barack Obama favors "direct presidential diplomacy on Iran without preconditions"3
2. Kissinger has said, "I do not believe that we can make conditions for the opening of negotiations"3
3. During the first 2008 presidential debate, Obama and McCain discussed Kissinger's stance on negotiating with Iran
4. Obama stated that Kissinger supports talks between the U.S. and Iran2
5. McCain argued that Kissinger did not mean talks at a presidential-level
6. Kissinger released a statement agreeing that he did not mean presidential-level meetings2

I think what you're suffering from is a misconception of what political leaders say when they use the word "I". When they say, for instance, "I" will end poverty, they don't mean they personally will go down to the soup kitchen and ladle out the beans. They mean they will wave their wand and set things in motion. In that sense, Obama said "I will talk with Iran."

"Does that mean he shouldn't be President? By itself no. everyone has weaknesses coming into this job."

I don't see anything you've brought up as being a weakness. To me, he's been speaking very prudently. But let's examine the other guy's qualifications.

The centerpiece of McCain's argument has not been anything specific-- and please let me know if I've overlooked anything. It consists of nothing but his endlessly self-described patriotism and courage at the hands of a vicious enemy.

No one has mentioned the fact that he caved in immediately, and gave broadcasts for the enemy in exchange for favorable treatment-- including medical attention and residence at the coziest of their POW facilities. And recall that we have DoD transcripts of these broadcasts, as well as interviews he gave for the world Communist press.

I've asked the Obama campaign why they don't use this material. And they've responded that they want to run a clean campaign. Which, I think, entirely misses the point. This is important intelligence that the voter needs to know in order to make a rational decision.

I don't think Mr McCain has the kind of experience we really need.

Who was the agreessor?
"On November 4, 1979, an angry mob of some 300 to 500 "students" who called themselves "Imam's Disciples," laid siege to the American Embassy in Teheran, Iran, to capture and hold hostage 66 U.S. citizens and diplomats. "

" The shocking attack killed 241 U.S. servicemen in a single strike — more than died on the deadliest day of fighting in Vietnam, this year's invasion of Iraq or the entire 1991 Persian Gulf War.

And it gave terrorists a major victory. The bombing drove the military from its peacekeeping mission in Lebanon and provided a blueprint for attacking Americans. The retreat of U.S. forces inspired Osama bin Laden and sent an unintended message to the Arab world that enough body bags would prompt Western withdrawal, not retaliation.

"There's no question it was a major cause of 9/11," said John Lehman, the then-secretary of the Navy, who today is a member of the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks.

"We told the world that terrorism succeeds.""

"The U.S. response to the barracks bombing was limited. Despite indications that it was carried out by the radical Islamic group Hezbollah and backed by Iran, a planned U.S. military mission to bomb terrorist training camps was never carried out."

"wo decades of Arab-backed terrorism have followed the bombings of the Marine barracks and the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.

American soldiers are "paper tigers," Osama bin Laden told ABC News in 1998. "The Marines fled after two explosions."

Using the Beirut bombings as a guide, terrorists:

—attacked American embassies in Kuwait two months later, and Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, killing 307 Americans and others.

—hijacked TWA Flight 847 for 17 days in 1985, taking hostages and killing a Navy diver.

—exploded Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, killing 270.

—bombed the World Trade Center in 1993, killing six and wounding about 1,000.

—killed 19 Americans in the 1996 bombing of Khobar Towers, a U.S. military base in Saudi Arabia. The attack also wounded more than 370 Americans and Saudis.

—struck the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000, killing 17 sailors and injuring 39 others.

—flew hijacked planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, killing nearly 3,000 people.

In those cases and dozens more, terrorists exploited unconventional methods and Western openness. And in almost every case until Sept. 11, the U.S. military response was minimal."

""There would be lingering perceptions of Beirut today if we pulled out of Iraq prematurely," said Dennis Ross, a Middle East envoy under two presidents. "The perception would be the U.S. intervenes, but it does not stay."",5143,515039782,00.html

"But a review of confidential government records and interviews with current and former officials in London, Tripoli, Vienna and Washington suggest that other factors were involved. Prominent among them is a heretofore undisclosed intelligence coup--the administration's decision in late 2003 to give Libyan officials a compact disc containing intercepts of a conversation about Libya's nuclear weapons program between Libya's nuclear chief and A.Q. Khan--that reinforced Col. Gadhafi's decision to reverse course on WMD.

While analysts continue to debate his motivation, evidence suggests that a mix of intelligence, diplomacy and the use of force in Iraq helped persuade him that the weapons he had pursued since he came to power, and on which he had secretly spent $300 million ($100 million on nuclear equipment and material alone), made him more, not less, vulnerable. "The administration overstates Iraq, but its critics go too far in saying that force played no role," says Bruce W. Jentleson, a foreign-policy adviser to Al Gore in the 2000 presidential campaign and professor at Duke University, who has written the most detailed study of why Col. Gadhafi abandoned WMD: "It was force and diplomacy, not force or diplomacy that turned Gadhafi around . . . a combination of steel and a willingness to deal.""

Please roy
If you don't know McCain's history as a senator by now, you are simply uninformed and shouldn't vote. No one has taken a public beating by his own party more, except Joe Libermann. He has had a lot of time in D.C. and a lot of legislation he has written or carried on the floor. He has a couple of laws with his name on them. He has tried to reform elections, limit corruption and make some changes in the way Washington D.C. is run. He has never added a pork-barrel, ear-mark attachment to a bill. He has voted to back several Bush plans and he has also been ostercized by Bush for speaking out against some Whitehouse policies.

If you don't know the details, you are an idiot; and I don't believe you are an idiot.

Obama has… hmmmmm. There are no bills he has written or carried in either the U.S. Senate or the Ill. senate. He has voted "present" more than he has yea or nea in his time in D.C.

Sarah Palin is far more prepared for the Oval Office than Obama; he is the least experienced and least qualified candidate on both tickets.

Still, I'm undecided; there are things I do like about him. But I don't have to tell what that is as you are firmly in his pocket.

What a dolt you are; do you really believe this crap about McCain's P.O.W. time and that it is a good issue for Obama to run his campaign on? First, you better re-check the facts on McCain in Vietnam. He was there for about a year before he broke. McCain himself has talked about it and apologized to the public and to others held with him. Of course, that was just in this election cycle. He he has done this several times before and has said that it still bothers him.

But, of course, you weren't listening. You don't pay attention to what he says on the campaign trail and didn't watch the Republican Convention.

I bet McCain wishes Obama would go there; Obama would never recover from the public backlash if he did. No, the Obama campaign is much smarter than you and knows a bad campaign move when they see one. Besides, I think the two individuals really do respect each other.

What, exactly, has Obama said he will do. He finally, sort of, fleshed out his healthcare proposal. Low and behold, it is Hillary's plan; almost word for word.
McCain proposes a medical tax credit; he is talking $5,000 per family.

On domestic issues and taxes, McCain proposes spending freezes, cutting the fat and getting rid of bad programs and bloated departments. He is going to cut business taxes and look at cutting capital gains taxes.

Obama wants to add new programs to the tune of $500 billion, $800 Billion, $1 Trillion in new spending (Obama doesn't even have a number, I guess the sky is the limit!). Oh yeah, and he might have to wait on some of it, but he has no priority on just what will wait. And yeah, like John said, Obama will try and make sure the new spending is offset by spending cuts.

I could go on, but it is just more of the same.

Both of them have brought ideas and plans to the table, the fact you don't listen is your fault. However, it is Obama that has yet to unveil a real idea of his own. He just steals what his opponents say that he thinks sounds good. Until he finds something, he dances around the issues. Get a tape of the debates and be critical of both candidates. If you do you will find that Obama failed to answer the actual question posed, in both debates, twice as often as McCain did. (And that, to me, is a knock against both of them; answer the damn question!!)

Really roy, I didn't think you were this much of a party hack. Try listening to what BOTH guys are really saying, I did. I'm leaning toward McCain, but I'm one of the undecideds. You are obviously in the Obama camp. It is people like you that make me want to just become a McCain supporter. Unfortunately there are some McCain proposals I question. His $300 Billion (or more) plan to bailout homeowners is one of those.

Page 2, work on your reading skills.
"The guy is so pro-Israel, and has already offered them such assurances of protection that the hawks in Israel could very well feel they were free to attack Iran. Obama would be obliged to back them militarily."

You think Israel will trust the word of a politician with no record? He is pro Israel because he says he is?

Why would anyone trust a candidate with so few leadership accomplishments?

"(2) It doesn't make any sense. Specifically, it doesn't look like it addresses your point that Obama is "weak on defense". It's about the economic mess.. and some unspecified "trend"."

'Barring a terrorist attack...' suggests that if a terrorist attack occurs on the USA before the election, BHO might loose. Why should a DEMOCRATIC strategist suggest BHO might loose if the USA is attacked if the voters didn't believe BHO was weak on defense?

Easy choice more socialism or less socialism?
BHO: more socialism.

McCain: less socialism.

BTW, the Constitution has no mandate for the Federal government to control the economy.

On defense, a constitutional mandate for the office, McCain has a solid record.

BHO has no record, on any issue.

The only change I can see BHO bringing to the table is socialist democrat control. His VP is an career democrat politician. BHO is a product of the Chicago political machine. His other supporters, like Kerry, Kennedy are old democrat politicians.

McCain is NOT a lawyer and has been a leader and is from a family of leaders. He chose a VP who has a record of challenging the status quo and holding executive office, who worked her way up and is NOT a lawyer. McCain has a record of challenging his party AND a record of really changing the system. Some change I don't agree with, but I do agree with his opposition to pork.

The real John McCain
You tell me "If you don't know McCain's history as a senator by now, you are simply uninformed and shouldn't vote."

Where do you get that? This has nothing to do with any part of my comment. I only asked "what "real answers" has McCain ever offered on the subject of Israel?" And by the way, you have given me no answer to that question.

I think your problem is you're not really reading these comments. You have some idea in your mind and you just have to get it out. If not, explain how I've betrayed a lack of familiarity with McCain's legislative history, using actual citations from my first comment. I've read it over and just don't see where you get that.

As for McCain's having given aid, comfort and information to the enemy in time of war, this is an issue that I think you as a veteran should have strong feelings about.

He took an oath-- the Military Code of Conduct-- that states in part "If I become a prisoner of war I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners. I will give no information or take part in any action that may be harmful to my comrades."

Then in July, 1969 his fellow soldiers heard him say on Hanoi's Nan Danh Radio, "I was a US airman engaged in the crimes against the Vietnamese country and people. I had bombed their cities, towns and villages and caused more injury even death for the people of Vietnam."

We have a number of other broadcasts, statements and interviews he gave during his captivity. In them he gives not only moral support to the enemy but military information about the US air war. If you dislike Jane Fonda, you have to dislike this guy far more.

Have you actually looked up this material and read the transcripts? Or is it something you just don't want to know about?

Obama and Israel
Let's see... the guy has made numerous and emphatic statements to the effect that he is very pro-Israel. And more specifically, that he identifies Israel's strategic interests with our own. And in making such statements he would be alienating any elements in the country who are anti-Israel. And in addition he stands firmly within the confines of the Democratic Party, which has always been extremely pro-Israel...

I don't know. Is there any way we can tell how he really feels about Israel?

As for the Maslin quote-- which I did find, thank you-- yes, it's obvious that a terror strike would divert everyone's attention from the economy, and that the boobs of America would then vote for the guy who was most belligerent about "winning" the war.

These voters already think Obama is weak on defense. And their minds will not be changed appreciably by anything either candidate does or says in the next three weeks.

I think Maslin errs in thinking many of these people would ever vote for Obama in the first place. Of course, modern elections are decided by razor thin margins. And even a hundred thousand votes could make a very big difference.

Obama, of course, sides with the consensus in saying that we have little reason to linger in Iraq, while the fight is in Afghanistan and Al Qaeda is the real enemy. Is this a position you disagree with?

Who was the aggressor?
Come on, marjon. Surely even you know the answer to that one. If you go back to the beginning, it was always the US.

In 2003, the US attacked a country that (a) had no WMDs, (b) had no active WMD programs, (c) had no plan to attack the US and (d) was not in collusion with Al Qaeda in any way. We were the aggressor, plain and simple.

In Iran, the problem stemmed from the US and Britain setting events into motion that toppled the last democratic government they ever had, in 1953. Not suprisingly, a lot of Iranians bitterly resent this intrusion into their affairs.

But more recently, the real issue in Iraqi politics today is that Iran is obviously a major trading partner and political influence, and will be a close ally to any Shiite government. For that reason, right wingers who hate Iran have to discredit them by any means possible... even though they have gotten their current ally Sadr to back off and stop resisting the US occupation.

Iran is now actively promoting peace. Because they know they will win the peace. They will only lose if a state of war is maintained in Iraq.

Three quotes
Pauled: "If you don't know McCain's history as a senator by now, you are simply uninformed and shouldn't vote."

Pauled: "What a dolt you are; do you really believe this crap about McCain's P.O.W. time and that it is a good issue for Obama to run his campaign on? First, you better re-check the facts on McCain in Vietnam. He was there for about a year before he broke. McCain himself has talked about it and apologized to the public and to others held with him."

Former POW John McCain, during interview: "McCain called for an officer on his fourth day of captivity. He told the officer, 'OK, I'll give you military information if you will take me to the hospital.'"

..U.S. News & World Report, May 14, 1973

It appears that you and the former POW have differing recollections.

thank you
I believe I've made up my mind roy.

thank you
I believe I've made up my mind roy.

A message from God
There has been one unforeseen consequence to the sanctions regime, by which we have mercilessly squeezed the economic life out of the Arch-Demons of Iran. They've become isolated from the world banking community.

As of this morning, the Iranian stock exchange is up twenty points. And we have this quote from the head devil himself, Supreme Honcho Khamenei:

"God is punishing America."

Surely this can't be so!

The perfect working of a closed mind
I sort of figured that, back when you were telling me you hadn't made up your mind yet. Confronted with evidence that McCain caved immediately, offering to give the North Vietnamese information, aid and comfort, you've now decided he's your kind of guy.

That I really don't get. His compadres consider him to have been a traitor. If you believe in what you say you believe in, you should too.

BTW: that is not all you said
As for an answer on Isreal; you are right on one thing, neither Obama or McCain should give too detailed an explanation on what they might do in a given situation. I never said Obama should.

The difference, roy, is that McCain makes no claims on "helping Israel find partners for Peace". He is not going to tell Israel they should sit down with anyone.

This little notation by Obama about peace partners is very questionable amd does need to be fleshed out. Who does Obama have in mind? This is not about war or defense, it is about an implied agenda Obama has for an allied nation.

It is one of many cases were it seems Obama is hedging his position to leave the door open for appeasment of Arab nations in the region. And it goes hand in hand with the statement he gave that he would personally sit down with Kim, Chavez, etc. without pre-conditions.

The rest of my post was in response to yours.

Lastly, on McCain the P.O.W.: perhaps you are right and he do all this right away (though it is doubtful). There is also little doubt McCain the P.O.W. would not have lived to become McCain the Senator had he not. He was in pretty bad shape, from all accounts. And his life as a P.O.W. after that was not all roses as you seem to imply.

As to the rules for conduct as a prisoner; they do not later punish anyone who was tortured for giving in to some extent. It is up to the military to decide if a prisoner crossed the line and committed treason. Basically it is simply a pass/fail test; there are no degrees of gray on this and no lesser crimes - it seems McCain was deemed to have passed. Neither you nor I have any way off determining otherwise.

You are right, I'm a vet and and a Navy vet; you are not. Between the two of us, I'm the only one with a right to even consider the evidence. As I also stated, I'm sure McCain would love to have Obama go there; the election would be over in that moment and McCain would win.

Oh get real clown
First off, try reading your own reference. He asked to see and officer and get medical treatment and offered a general statement of "military information". He did not get said treatment until they realized he was the son of an admiral.

Lot of good it did for him to make the offer.

After some basicl medical treatment they asked him to talk to a frenchman, he did but did not repeat the lines they wanted. No roy, he did not "break immediately". It was a while before he broke and gave then anything. even when they threatened to withhold medical treatment.

From there he was shipped to a P.O.W. compound and, after he had a few months to heal, he was kept in solitary confinment. After two years of this with minimal other mistreatment he was given a chance to possibly go home and said no.

That's when the torture really began. After four days of continuous punishment McCain broke. This, however, was only after years in solitary and years of minor mistreatment. McCain continued to be tortured and beaten off and on for much of the rest of his stay and never broke again.

I don't think knocking McCain's P.O.W. time would be a winning strategy at all. i also think you should read your posts before trying to use them as evidence for sick criticism.

As to the site, yeah, yeah, yeah. Sorry, but there are, a McCain said in the '73 article, a few of those everywhere.

My former boss
...tells me that he only supports presidential candidates who 'will do what is best for Israel'. He's Jewish himself, of course.

And yes, I quizzed him about other issues like taxes, etc. He kept saying that he doesn't care about any of those as long as Israel doesn't get screwed by Washington.

But I agree with you about American Jews in general. My ex-boss is one of those 'thirty-two percenters', I guess.

From the Peanut Gallery
"Is there any way we can tell how he really feels about Israel?"

Not as far as all of us on this forum can. But Mossad could and probably has already. They, in turn, would report on their findings to Israel's Cabinet at least.

"...and that the boobs of America would then vote for the guy who was most belligerent about "winning" the war."

Yeah, the same boobs who cling to their guns and religion, right? Or, the same boobs who are totally justified in believing that the Dems are totally weak on defense (thank you Jimmy Carter!) and don't want them in charge if they think we are in perceivable danger? Either way, it lends credence to Marjon's interpretation that Obama must be perceived even within his own party as being 'weak on defense'.

However, I think that Obama's real weakness with the voters he needs isn't because of his lack of experience or is radical liberalism or his corrupt ties to the looters of Fannie Mae and the Voter Fraud Patrol over at ACORN.

His main weakness with the voters he needs is that he isn't 'white' enough.

What should the US "give" Iran in return for peace?
Negotiate without preconditions? Fine. What does the US give Iran in return for peace, accepting your bizarre claim that Iran is now actively promoting peace, the contrary statements of their leaders notwithstanding?

(1) Unconditional approval for Iran's nuclear weapons program;
(2) Unlimited trade access to US markets?
(3) No interference with Iran's aspirations in Iraq?
(4) No interference with Iran's terrorist proxies in Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories, and Israel;
(5) Support for Iran in the UN and with the EU?
(6) Withdrawing support for Iran's democracy movement?

I could go on here, rb, but you get the picture. Putative president Obama looks like Santa Clause to the Iranians, but two thirds of the American Jews who say they support Israel just can't see it. Instead, they believe that when progressive principles are properly applied to the world, it will transform itself into a paradise that will heal all wounds. Lions and lambs will lie down together, never again to be heard a discouraging or angry word, and the skies will be sunny all day.

A lovely vision, but not realistic. Therefore, the question becomes how much blood must be spilled in Obama's upcoming attempt to attain it - rivers or oceans?

Iran's willingness to negotiate
America would not have to "give" Iran anything. Iran is raking no belligerent stance toward us. The moment we stopped threatening her, peace would be regained.

The first thing one has to know about Iran is that it is the only non-nuclear power in a very bad neighborhood. And that it is being threatened by the most powerful nation on earth-- one that has not only threatened her but is known to destroy nearby nations (Iraq) for no real reason. There are ery obvious reasons of national security that make it want to create a nuclear defense shield asap.

Let's take the examples of two other nations that were similarly threatened by the US. Saddam had no nukes, and was destroyed. Kim had nukes and a readiness to use them. Relations beyween the DPRK and America have now been normalized.

So if we've decided we don't want Iran to have nukes, we have to offer it something of equal value in the way of security assurances. Otherwise we have to initiate yet another war-- and I don't think the people of this country will stand for that.

Your list of possible carrots shows no familiarity with the actual situation. Iran is Iraq's natural trading partner. Iran expects any elected Iraqi government to be run by fellow Shiites. So Iran would have nothing to gain by waging war on a natural ally.

In that regard, Iran did counsel Sadr to put away his arms and wait for the provincial elections to take place. That much you can certainly look up.

"Several Iraqi officials said Iran was a party to the effort to stop the fighting in Sadr City, which Iranian officials have called warfare against Iraqi Shiites. If true, the Iranian involvement would follow a pattern set when Iranian officials played a key role in ending fighting between the Mahdi Army and Iraqi and US forces last month in the southern city of Basra."

Many other newspaper reports confirm this. Iran has counseled a non-military solution to Iraq's governance since their 2004 offer for talks without preconditions.

And if you're not familiar with that offer, you're not qualified to discuss the issue. The ball has been in our court since that eminently sensible basis for talks was communicated to us.

You are aware, of course, that the real issue on the table currently is the establishment of a basis for our continued presence in Iraq? The UN resolution is running out, and the Iraqi government whether and under what conditions they will request that we stay. Otherwise, legally, we're out of there.

Let's see how all this goes down without Iran's help. I think we will be needing their cooperation.

McCain's treason
Now I know you're upset, but let's not be insulting.

The version I heard differs in all the details from yours. First they found out he was a Very Important Prisoner, then they came to him with a request that he help them. They began by informing him that medical attention (which he was severely in need of) was not normally given to POWs... but that as he was so important they would make an exception for him. And he agreed.

Further, it took place within the first four days, as attested by McCain himself in the article. The fact is that he promptly folded and gave them aid, comfort and military information. Because it was immediately, and not years later, that he needed the medical attention. Your contention that years had elapsed makes no sense. Please give me your source for it.

Mr McCain acted as a traitor, and was so considered by his fellow soldiers at the time. The site I recommended to you is useful not only for their views and recollections of him but for pdfs of the DoD transcripts themselves.

From them you could see, for example, that he was captured on October 26, 1967, and gave his first radio interview on November 9. That's the one in which he said "There is not any doubt for me; things are taking place in a favorable way for North Vietnam. In particular, before world opinion at present, the United States is (virtually?) standing alone."

There's more. You should read it.

From the start, there has been no witness to McCain's being housed with the common prisoners in any camp. The guys that were being housed together all leaned on one another for mutual resistance and adherence to their military oaths. McCain was no longer among them. You may feel free to correct me, but only if you offer a citation.

Full of crap
Read the story:

"Researched over a 9 year time span using information gleaned from hundreds of interviews from Vietnam war POW's, this extensive saga of captivity is truly outstanding in its depth.

John G. Hubbell not only relates the stories of high profile POW's from North Vietnam, he explores the many aspects and rigors faced by U.S. servicemen in the brutal Southern Vietnamese prison camps. In helping the reader to truly understand the entire experience, this being a cautionary note to everyone, torture methods suffered by our U.S. servicemen are described very graphically throughout the text and may be difficult to read about at times.

Included in the superbly written and well researched narrative are maps of the various prison compounds, photographs of POW's and their captors, and the entire list of repatriated servicemen at Operation Homecoming in 1973.

"P.O.W. - A definitive history of the American Prisoner of War Experience, 1964-1973" is a very comprehensive and powerful study that makes for a lasting, memorable, and emotional reading experience. Upon recommending this book to everyone with interests in POW captivity, I would also like to suggest the brilliant and epic work "Honor Bound - American Prisoners of War in Southeast Asia, 1961-1973". "

"Speaking of Senator McCain, Colonel Thorsness vouches for his intelligence, character and devotion to country. He recalled how on "film night" at the Hanoi Hilton, when the POWs would entertain each other with accounts of their favorite movies, McCain was by far the best storyteller. McCain's favorite movie was "African Queen." McCain meticulously noted the gun emplacements, provided descriptions of the plot that grew more elaborate and entertaining with each telling, and generally told the story with gusto. Colonel Thorsness testified to McCain's appropriation of Thorsness's own story about killing a horse with a shotgun on a dare in Walnut Grove. According to Thorsness, McCain told Thorsness's

story better than Thorsness did."

"Colonel Thorsness flew 92 S Wild Weasel missions over North Vietnam. He earned the Medal of Honor for a Wild Weasel mission he flew on April 19, 1967, 11 days before being shot down."

" On Friday, Mr. Johnson endorsed Mr. McCain for president in an exclusive interview, and he'll stump with him in Lubbock and Waco on Monday – setting aside past disagreements on immigration, torture and other issues.

"I understand that we haven't agreed totally on everything," Mr. Johnson said by phone from Plano. "It's time to get behind the front-runner. We need to make sure we win the election."

" Mr. Johnson was an Air Force pilot, Mr. McCain a Navy aviator. Both were beaten. In all, Mr. Johnson spent almost seven years as a prisoner, 18 months longer than the future senator.

"He was a stalwart with the rest of us," Mr. Johnson recalled a few years ago, when Mr. McCain shared his own memories: "I wasn't really as courageous as Sam Johnson. I mean that. He suffered a lot more than I did." "

Sang like a nightingale
Test your intelligence on this one: Israel really does need to find a partner for peace. Because if there's no partners, there's no peace. Right?

This much should be elemental common sense. But that's not a requirement for a follower of the McCain approach. We should just get in there and "win"... whatever that word may mean.

Even if the war proper was won back in April, 2003, we still need to WIN it. And even if the real state of affairs today is that we're waiting and hoping that Iraq will pass a resolution permitting our troops to stay after the UN deadline runs out, we're really WINNING. And anyone who says any different is a loser. Right?

For anyone to guess as to who the partners for peace might be, that calls for speculation. But such partners must speak for all the Palestinian people. Otherwise you have an unrepresented party with a huge grievance, going back sixty years. Is that not so?

You've got this bug up your behind about "appeasement", and it's a trait that really explains quite a lot about why the US is in the position it's in now. How can we presume to stand for what's good and right if we won't even speak to someone after we've declared them to be an enemy? Isn't that just a moronic stance that guarantees the state of relations can't go forward?

Expalin why we should be so afraid to meet with those who disagree with us in an open forum. I'd really like to know.

While you're at it, explain why I can't have an opinion on the valor or treachery of John McCain while he was being held. And in fact, note that I wasn't giving you my opinion. I was referring you to those who served with him. They are the proper judges of his character. And from what I know of you, I'll bet you haven't even opened the page yet.

Here's all the links:

Is the test he must pass that he was not tried and convicted of treason? I don't think so. The best indictment I've seen of his actions has been this one:

Whatever you do, don't read it.

Adm. Stockdale on McCain

"And I consider it blasphemy to smudge the straight-arrow prisoner-of-war record of a man who was near death when he arrived at Hoa Loa prison 1967: both arms broken, left leg broken, left shoulder broken by a civilian with a rifle butt.

He was eventually taken to the same rat-infested hospital room I had occupied two years earlier, and, like me, he had surgery on his leg. By then the Vietnamese had discovered that his father was the ranking admiral in the Pacific Fleet, and he received an offer that, as far as I know, was made to no other American prisoner: immediate release, no strings attached. He refused, thereby sentencing himself to four more years in a cell. "

There was a special cramped and hot privy-like structure in that Hanoi prison reserved for whichever American was causing the Vietnamese the most trouble. I was the first in the camp to be locked up in it, and I gave it the name Calcutta.

There was only room for one person at a time in the cage, and after a couple of months I was taken out and marched back to a regular cell. As I limped along, I sneaked a peek at my replacement: John McCain, hobbling along on his own bad leg.

As one of the few Americans who spent more than four years in solitary confinement during that war, I know that pride and self-respect lead to aggressiveness, and aggressiveness leads to a deep sense of joy when one is under pressure. This is hardly a character flaw.

The military psychiatrists who periodically examine former prisoners of war have found that the more resistant a man was to harsh treatment, the more emotionally stable he is likely to become later in life.

The troublemakers who endured long stretches in solitary, the men we called the tigers, are for the most part more in tune with themselves now than are those who chose the easier path of nonconfrontation, which made them "deserving" of cell mates. The psychiatrists tell us that many of those prisoners who chose a more docile existence missed out on the joy of "getting even" after release; some look back on their performances with regret.

The psychiatrists have it partly right, but the truth of imprisonment is best learned from the writings of men who have spent a lot of time in cells, like Dostoyevsky, Cervantes and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. The last described his feeling of high-mindedness in his gulag writings:

"And it was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either -- but right through every human heart -- and through all human hearts. . . .

And that is why I turn back to the years of my imprisonment and say, sometimes to the astonishment of those about me: 'Bless you, prison!' "

I understand that, and so does John McCain.

James B. Stockdale, a retired Navy Vice Admiral, was the Reform Party vice-presidential candidate in 1992.

"That I really don't get." Get this:
"Col. George "Bud" Day, 83, is the most decorated service man since Gen. Douglas MacArthur, with more than 70 medals. A living legend, Day was blown out of the sky two months to the day before the North Vietnamese shot down a propaganda prize, whose father and grandfather were renowned American admirals."

"Day said the first time he saw McCain, he believed the future senator was close to death and that the only reason for the chance encounter was part of a Vietnamese ploy to break the morale of U.S. servicemen already in captivity."

""I took one look at him, and my brain instantly said, 'They dropped this guy off on me to claim that we let him die,'" Day said. "He was just emaciated. Very, very skinny, in this full body cast. Just filthy.""

"During captivity, they were tortured mercilessly, Day said, describing one tactic that McCain has also recalled.

"They roped me under the arms, tied my hands behind my back, ran another rope to that, got me up on a chair, threw that rope up over a rafter and jerked the chair out from under me and your own weight just tears your body apart," he said.

Day's broken arm was re-broken during torture so he would never fly again. McCain played physical therapist.

"John said, 'Well we'll gather up some bamboo, and he was in a bandage on his leg at that time. So I got some strips of bamboo, smuggled them into the room, John put his foot in my arm pit and pulled on my wrist 'till we could get the bone forced back down ... it wasn't exactly perfect but it worked out he got it back to where it was functional," Day said."

"But repeating what he went through during his incarceration is something McCain almost never does as a presidential candidate. Day said he thinks he should.

"I've never seen any shortcomings or any shortfall out of him talking about that, but he just doesn't trade on that. I think he feels that it's wrong to trade on being a hero, but he is," Day said."

Bunny rabbits blissfully frolicking in sunny Mesopotamian meadows
I'd love to see the world the way you do, rb, but the world just won't let me. For example ...

"Vice President for Media Affairs Mehdi Kalhor said on Saturday that Iran has set two preconditions for holding talks with the United States of America.

In an exclusive interview with the Islamic Republic News Agency, he said as long as U.S. forces have not left the Middle East region and continues its support for the Zionist regime, talks between Iran and U.S. is off the agenda."

If you're not familiar with such pronouncements, then you're not qualified to discuss this issue.

Indeed, it appears the US will be required to meet Iran's demands before talks even start unless Mr. Kalhor is not to be believed. Oh, and by the way, is Israel a "stinking corpse" whose days are numbered by those remaining before the 12th Mahdi's return, or is Israel Iran's sister nation whose rights to survival and sovereignty must be respected on the same terms as Iran's? We don't know what Iran's positions on these issue are because the Iranian government speaks with too many different voices, many which are plainly insane. But it seems you're willing to believe the sane voices and ignore the insane ones. Why?

You are aware, of course, that the real issue on the table is Iran's malevolent meddling in Iraq, e.g. Iran has supplied weapons to terrorists and insurgents used to kill Americans and Iraqis? Yes? Then you will also be aware that Iraqi Shia have generally turned on Iran and oppose further Iranian efforts to exert control over them via violent proxies like the Mahdi Army. Of course, you will also be aware that what Iran fears most is a stable and democratic Iraq influencing their own suppressed masses to embrace the same.

It seems the Iraqi's have rejected Iran's villainous meddling while making their desire to live next-door to Iran in peace. Now the ball's in the Iranian's court. But unlike you, I don't believe the government of Iran has any intention of reciprocating Iraq's amorous desires, which means that no realistic observer can expect Iran to offer any positive help in Iraq. Yet it seems you do. Why? Can't keep your eyes off of those fuzzy, pink bunny rabbits blissfully frolicking in sunny Mesopotamian meadows?

Get real, rb.

An impeccable source?
No need to consult Stockdale on the events of McCain's captivity. He never spoke with McCain while a prisoner, and by his testimony only had a single glimpse of him. Let's go to the testimony of Mr McCain himself:

You'll find that by his own account, no one laid a finger on him until September, 1968. By then he had given up just about all the information he was going to. In fact he had started singing within the first ten days or so of his capture.

Stockdale, in contrast, was the genuine article. He held up courageously against serious abuse, and gave them nothing. The passage you cite really applies to him.

I always felt badly about Stockdale. He had no business running for VP, and only embarrassed himself and Perot by his stumbling presentation to the American public. Unlike Palin, he was neither a debater nor even a public speaker. He was only a war hero, with no experience in (or flair for) policy matters.

What I object to is everyone's depiction of McCain as being without blemish. What he did was, to me, far from the worst thing I've ever heard of. But it was certainly a flaw in need of explanation. Yet no one is willing to admit to it, or even mention that it may have ever happened. I would really like to hear McCain fess up to it and tell us what went into his decision to talk. I might end up liking him more than I do.

I would hazard a guess that if, say, John Kerry-- a man with an outstanding war record-- had had a chapter like this in his Vietnam experience, you would be the first to froth at the mouth over his traitorous ways. Am I wrong?

A partner in peace
"If you're not familiar with such pronouncements, then you're not qualified to discuss this issue."

That seems a little harsh, rb. The blogger admits that the item had not appeared in any US medium, and was not yet even on Google until he posted it.

On the other hand, back in April, 2003 (just as we had won the war in Iraq) Iran had offered to speak with us without preconditions.

"Just after the lightning takeover of Baghdad by U.S. forces three years ago, an unusual two-page document spewed out of a fax machine at the Near East bureau of the State Department. It was a proposal from Iran for a broad dialogue with the United States, and the fax suggested everything was on the table -- including full cooperation on nuclear programs, acceptance of Israel and the termination of Iranian support for Palestinian militant groups."

Naturally, we did not even respond. Iran was beneath our notice.

The Americans have always had difficulty speaking with their enemies. I think it makes them feel like they're equals. And that, of course, is unthinkable. Back in the first week of 1968, when Johnson was still President, Hanoi said that peace talks will, not could, take place as soon as the bombing of the North stops.

No one was sufficiently interested in peace to take them up on that. Nixon kept the war going for another seven years. As a result of our refusal to talk, another 35-40,000 men died in that worthless war.

The point is, we alone decide when a war is to start and when it is to end. And we can wage a war perfectly well even when there is no longer even an opponent who wants to fight-- as is the case now with both Iraq and Iran. The US public is so thoroughly befuddled that all the government has to do is to demonize whatever nation it wants to intimidate. And then they all display endless tolerance for the war effort.

Bringing the troops home would be bad for a lucrative business: war production. But it would hasten normalization of relations between all the countries of the Middle East. And all would continue selling us their oil, even as they fulminated against us.

Tap code.
If you had read the book, POW, you would find out that the prisoners had a communications network.

It worked so well that when Hegdahl was released, he had memorized the names and personal details of over 200 POWs.

"Douglas Hegdahl brought back a list of over 200 POWs names which he
memorized to the tone of a nursery rythme "Old McDonald Had a Farm".

He obtained that information from the POW communication network.

Stockdale may not have seen all under his command, but he knew all the information that was available.

Jesse doesn't support Israel. Jesse supports BHO.
"The most important change would occur in the Middle East, where "decades of putting Israel's interests first" would end."

" "Obama is about change," Jackson told me in a wide-ranging conversation. "And the change that Obama promises is not limited to what we do in America itself. It is a change of the way America looks at the world and its place in it."

Jackson warns that he isn't an Obama confidant or adviser, "just a supporter." But he adds that Obama has been "a neighbor or, better still, a member of the family." Jackson's son has been a close friend of Obama for years, and Jackson's daughter went to school with Obama's wife Michelle.

"We helped him start his career," says Jackson. "And then we were always there to help him move ahead. He is the continuation of our struggle for justice not only for the black people but also for all those who have been wronged." "

Communication in isolation
"The common myth is that this group of POWs captured in Laos was kept strictly isolated from other Americans in the North and, by extension, other Americans were isolated, never communicated with anyone, and were kept behind at Homecoming. While it is true that this group of the POWs from Laos were separated from other US POWs in Hanoi, they were not isolated. ("Separate" and "isolated" are two different conditions. And, the US POWs were so well organized that men held in solitary confinement were able to communicate.)

In fact, the LULUs were held in some of the most populated prisons -- Hanoi Hilton and the Plantation. They were held in their own section of the prison and were not permitted to mingle with the other US POWs. However, the other US POWs saw the LULUs when they were out of their cells and communicated with them. The names of these men moved from Laos, and their presence in the system in North Vietnam, were well known to the other US POWs. Orgnaization, discipline, and communcations worked. "

Kerry, 'outstanding' war record?
Thanks for the laugh.

Oct. 26, 1967
Miss this?

"they were all hollering and screaming and cursing and spitting and kicking at me."

"One of them slammed a rifle butt down on my shoulder, and smashed it pretty badly. Another stuck a bayonet in my foot."

"refused to give them anything except my name, rank, serial number and date of birth. They beat me around a little bit. I was in such bad shape that when they hit me it would knock me unconscious. They kept saying, "You will not receive any medical treatment until you talk.""

You need to work on your reading skills.

Peace requires partners
As you well know, peace requires partners dedicated to peace rather than conflict. But so long as one counterparty believes that conflict may deliver advantages that peace won't, conflict will continue. Accordingly, the protagonist for peace must often be the stronger party who applies his sword to his prone antagonist's throat, demonstrating for both parties that peace is the best option. There is no "equal" in such conflicts regardless of one's desire to believe otherwise. (A tough little cuss from West Virginia taught me that lesson in basic training.) Therefore, Iran is not America's equal partner in peace, and America must bring Iran to realize this fact lest she bargain away the farm in return for rusty plowshare. I fight such battles for living, so I know whereof I speak.

Next, I note that you are prepared to believe the worst of your government so long as there is a Republican in the White House and regardless of who controls Congress or the courts. This is foolishness, for those who tempt the political classes with hard cash to gain their own ends do not play musical chairs to the voters' tune as do the political classes. Cash is America's King regardless of who else wears a crown; a wizened man such as you should know this much, already. So, do you really believe your Democrats dance to different tune? I don't, and I suspect you will acknowledge the same once you also acknowledge that Democrats such as J.F.K. and L.B.J. got America into Vietnam and couldn't get her out.

Finally, if you believe that America's presence in the Middle East is the root cause of the latter's problems, then you have demonstrably drunk bin Laden's Kool Aide. I, on the other hand, will continue to adopt a skeptical stance to my sworn enemy's agitprop while keeping my sword keen and my final stroke appointed to his throat.

Anti-capitalist Iran, why Roy likes them.
"Iranian leaders say the world financial crisis indicates the end of capitalism, the failure of liberal democracy and divine punishment -- marking the superiority of the Islamic republic's political model."

Iran is not a belligerent party
When there's only one belligerent, peace doesn't require partners. It only requires that the belligerent stop making war.

Iran, very clearly and demonstrably, is not the one making war here. We are. Iran was to a certain degree backing Sadr's Mahdi Army. But they have convinced Sadr to lay down his guns and await the outcome of the provincial elections. So they have already performed to expectations and beyond.

With the Sunni Awakening having decided to join the winning side, that leaves no one left who is actually waging war on the Americans. There does remain a small handful of hard core Al Qaeda in the northern cities, and it would be useful for us to retain a small number of trainer-advisers to the Iraqis to help them drive the final nail into that coffin.

But other than that, there's no more war. Show me something current to the effect that the Iranian government is killing people in Iraq. You can't.

I can, however, show you information on our Special Forces and other agents infiltrating Iranian territory to stir up trouble in the tribes. And that, as I recall, is considered by most people to be a highly actionable offense.

Again, we saw the Americans respond to the same need for talks back in 1968. Hanoi wanted to commence talks under the condition of a cease fire and halt to the bombing-- which only seems reasonable. The US insisted that they also agree to abide by the results of a deeply corrupt election process then underway in the South-- without monitors. This is of course a condition no one in their right mind would ever agree to. It was another way of saying we never want to have to speak to anyone about anything. We reserve the right to only speak ABOUT them.

2. "Next, I note that you are prepared to believe the worst of your government so long as there is a Republican in the White House and regardless of who controls Congress or the courts. This is foolishness, for those who tempt the political classes with hard cash to gain their own ends do not play musical chairs to the voters' tune as do the political classes."

This is a senseless point to make. US foreign policy has been the same since the inception of the Monroe Doctrine-- expansionary, exceptionalist and anxious to extract the wealth of smaller nations. This does not change whether we have an R in office, a D or an independent "Progressive", such as Teddy Roosevelt. Whatever their other activities, economic domination of vulnerable markets remains the centerpiece of foreign policy.

3. "Finally, if you believe that America's presence in the Middle East is the root cause of the latter's problems, then you have demonstrably drunk bin Laden's Kool Aide."

No, America has not been the entire problem. First, Great Britain, since the days of the Great Game. Then Israel, since 1948. Then America, since 1953. Had there been no foreign interference in the Mideast, there'd just be a culturally backward part of the world where desert tribesmen were getting rich selling their oil to the developed nations. No one would've had to ever even think about them, other than to sell them expensive cars and jewelry.

Likes them?
You totally miss the point. I don't "like" the Iranian government. They're autocratic, backward and a theocracy. I'd like it no better if, say, Sarah Palin's church ran everything in the United States, and permitted free speech only to the extent that it did not speak out against absolute church rule.

What I'm saying is that Iran is not a belligerent. They are not contributing to hostilities in Iraq. In fact they're currently having a calming effect, by convincing Sadr to shut up and sit down. Therefore there is not only no need to threaten them, it's counterproductive to any possible peace process.

So their political model is neither one to emulate nor the point of any discussion about "punishing" Iran. As for their economic model, I can only say that their financial markets are currently up... being unaffected by the silliness the nations of the West have been indulging in for the past few years.

" Iran is not a belligerent" "Iran has a 'calming' effect"
Training those who attack US and Iraqi forces as well as funding Hezbolla to attack Israel is not belligerent?

What does 'belligerent' mean to you?

"BAGHDAD, July 2 — Iranian operatives helped plan a January raid in Karbala in which five American soldiers were killed, an American military spokesman in Iraq said today."

"WASHINGTON — The number of deadly armor-piercing roadside bombs, which the U.S. government has linked to Iran, has dropped by nearly 70% in the past three months, the U.S. military says."
"Recent military successes in Shiite militia strongholds have strengthened the legitimacy of Iraq's government and weakened militias that had been supported by Iran, analysts say. Iraq's military led the offensives, with back-up from American forces.

"The Iranians got kicked in the teeth in the past six months," said Kenneth Pollack, of the Brookings Institution."
"Despite the decreased activity in Iraq, most experts say Iran still wants to play a role there. "I think we should proceed from the assumption that their underlying motives haven't changed," said Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution."

"February 18, 2007 —
Reports that Iran is arming various factions in Iraq are about as surprising as claims that Mafia members have been seen in Las Vegas casinos. Iran has been meddling in its neighbors' affairs for a long time, and not just in Iraq. Tehran has trained terrorist and guerrilla groups in Bosnia, Lebanon and Palestine, all of which are far from Iran."

A non-theocratic, secular state in Iraq threatens Iranian theocracy.
You claim not to like theocracies.

Iran's best move
If we compare America's devastating and erroneous invasion of Iraq with these occasional trespasses by the Revolutionary Guards, who ("..helped plan a January raid in Karbala in which five American soldiers were killed"), I think we can put the question to rest as to who is the real threat to peace in the region. By a factor of about a million.

Iran enjoys the confidence of the current Iraqi government-- which is the real reason they've been so consistently demonized by the neocon faction for the past several years. They're the rising star in the neighborhood. One of the prime stupidities of the current administration was to precipitously embark on a course of action they hadn't really thought out-- the toppling of Saddam. They should certainly have known that the big victor of such an action would be Iran. But apparently the thought never occured to them until after it had become a fact.

A more sensible comparison would be between the actions of the Revolutionary Guards and those of our own CIA. Both use operatives to infiltrate foreign countries, arm small dissident groups and in general create a nuisance for the localities being infiltrated.

Iran understands at this point in time their best option lies in doing nothing-- and waiting for the Americans to be shown the exit. There is nothing to be gained by carrying out hostile actions... and much to be lost.

You have a very distorted picture of the political reality if you think Iran feels threatened in any way by the Dawa Party or by SCIRI. Both have been nurtured over a period of many years, during their long exile in Iran. They are political partners of long standing. Broaden your short list of trusted sources and read the history of the Shiite exiles in Iran. The sources you've been using ignore this history.

You buddy Chavez 'let you down '...
why do you think Iran will be any different?

Hope for the best but plan for the worst.

A nuclear threat is the worst and if Iran doesn't want to play in the international community, then the USA must plan for the worst.

Just a side note, India, for a very long time was not an ardent supporter of the USA, but they also did not do out of their way to attack the USA either.

Iran chooses to attack.

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Ahmadinejad is laughing loud. Obama is a toothless president without any defined foreign policy, a weak president that many consider allied to the Muslim world, Hussein Obama lashes out at Israel but wants a new start with the Muslim world, that sums it all.

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