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Monday, October 26, 2009

How and Why Engagement with Sudan Shows Precisely What's Wrong with Obama Administration Foreign Policy

I think Earl would have agreed with Barry Rubin's assessment here.He was a firm believer in fairness tempered with firmness and self-defense.

By Barry Rubin*

October 17, 2009

The Obama Administration apparently thinks that its policy of engaging repressive radical anti-American dictators has been working so well as to extend it now to Sudan. This is the meaning of the new policy to be on this issue October 19.

That country’s government, once accused of genocide in the south, is now said to have been doing the same thing in the west. Mass murder and ferocious repression—300,000 people have been killed; 2.7 million made refugees--has been so prevalent that the country’s president Omar al-Bashir is under an international indictment for war crimes and Sudan is on the State Department list as a country sponsoring terrorism.

Far from being inconvenienced by this fact, however, Sudan has been playing a leading role in the effort to do the same to Israel: that is, wipe it out while simultaneously accusing it of war crimes. Sudan is the current leader of the “non-aligned” group at the UN, the largest bloc of members, and one of the main countries pushing to indict Israel for war crimes.

So to anyone who understands how international affairs works it would appear:

A. That the United States is rewarding Sudan for its behavior.

B. That the United States has already reached an agreement with Sudan that it will act differently at home and in the UN before giving it a big concession.

C. The United States is afraid of Sudan.

None of the above points are true. Therefore, this raises a case study regarding the most important issue of all whose absence from the Obama Administration list of priorities is most noticeable on every issue:

What will the Sudanese government do for the United States? Imagine, in the same week that Khartoum has flouted U.S. interests by pushing the Goldstone report through the UN Human Rights Council, Washington is going to reward it with a renewed relationship.

This sounds familiar:

The U.S. government announced the withdrawal of a plan to put anti-missile missiles in the Czech Republic and Poland on the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Poland at a time when Russia’s leader rejects sanctions on Iran and reaffirms the rationale for annexing much of Poland in 1939.

The U.S. government agreed to engage Iran immediately following the stealing of an election there and the repression of peaceful dissidents.

So we see the same pattern:

--A major concession while receiving nothing in exchange.

--The timing of a concession at a moment when the other side is acting in a particularly aggressive manner.
This is justified, however, by what might well be called the administration’s “cookie” philosophy. This was expressed by retired Major General J. Scott Gration, who has been handling U.S. policy toward Sudan. The former general, who has no previous diplomatic experience—something he has in common with the president—explained, "We've got to think about giving out cookies,’ said Gration. `Kids, countries--they react to gold stars, smiley faces, handshakes, agreements, talk, engagement."

No, that’s not how things work. Reality is better expressed by a Sudanese dissident who said that U.S. rapprochement with the regime will give it confidence to crack down all the harder and, I might add, be more aggressive abroad. That’s precisely, by the way, the effect of the policy on Iran and elsewhere.

So how does the administration guard against such an outcome? It warns that the violence and humanitarian abuses must stop. But a verbal warning from a government eager to renounce toughness and eager to forget all trespasses against U.S. interests is not exactly credible.

You see, the argument is that engagement will make the lives of people in Sudan better and persuade the regime from stopping its sponsorship of terrorism. In principle, this is a reasonable argument but only if three conditions are met:

--Real pressure is applied.

--Concrete, material proof is presented by that country’s behavior before the benefits are provided.

--There is real evidence the regime wants to change its behavior.

All these conditions are lacking regarding Sudan, Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, Syria, and every other country the administration is coddling. One can add the Palestinian Authority to the list.

But here’s the problem: If the United States demands that these countries do something, they won’t. This has certain implications:

--U.S. policy toward them will appear to have failed, thus making the administration look bad.

--They will be angry and denounce Obama, thus undercutting his vaunted international popularity.

--The resulting friction might force the United States to engage in tough measures, which could be seen as imperialist bullying.

--Friction could lead to military measures, thus pressing the United States toward having to use force or the threat of force, which would damage the administration’s argument that “soft power” works.

I am not being cynical or joking in providing this list. Such things are the ideas and goals which paralyze the Obama Administration from the kind of policy needed in today’s world.

Equally, there is nothing either conservative or liberal in this analysis. It is the framework by which almost all previous American presidents have conducted foreign polic. If anything, liberals have historically been far more forthright in wanting to pressure repressive dictatorships. Yet here is a presidency supposedly built on compassion whose policy means that Sudan’s people will suffer even more.

The Global Research in Intern

Iranian Negotiations: Ploy of the Week or Deal of the Century?

By Barry Rubin*

October 22, 2009

There are widespread reports about an imminent deal with Iran regarding its nuclear program. Here’s how the New York Times optimistically presents the proposal:

“Iranian negotiators have agreed to a draft deal that would delay the country's ability to build a nuclear weapon for about a year, buying more time for President Obama to search for a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear standoff.”

(To be fair, even this somewhat cautious note may be much less ecstatic than what we'll be hearing if the deal goes through.)

What is the proposed bargain? It is based on an offer the Iranian government made in 2007 and reintroduced last June. In practice, the result would be that Iran enriches unlimited amounts of uranium to a level near that needed for weapons, a large amount of this would be shipped off to France and/or Russia where it would be converted into something useful for medical purposes alone. Thus, it could be said that Iran having nuclear weapons has been either stopped or delayed considerably, though in fact it would only be delayed (if at all) not very long.

If the deal is made—and don’t take for granted it will be as the Iranian regime can think of plenty of delaying tactics, demands for modifications, real or imaginary internal conflicts blocking acceptance, etc.—there will be general rejoicing and the idea of further sanctions will be put on a back shelf to gather dust.

Indeed, it could effectively be argued, that existing sanctions could be removed. This does not seem likely at present--it would require a UN resolution undoing existing sanctions--but such a thing could arise in the future. And of course various countries in Europe could interpret the restrictions more loosely to allow deals that would not have gone through otherwise.

In other words, Iran could go on sponsoring terrorism (in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, against Israel, and in other places) and calling for Israel’s destruction while being treated as a regular member of the international community. It would only be a matter of a week or two before media outlets start writing that this proves President Barack Obama did deserve the Nobel Peace Prize.

Iran is trumpeting the proposed deal as a victory. But that seems rather strange doesn’t it? If this deal is as it appears (and again assuming it happens), then Iran won’t get nuclear weapons, has wasted billions of dollars and years of effort for nothing. In fact, it will be running a huge nuclear program to produce a product which in strategic terms is totally useless.

Or to put it another way, it's like setting up a massive and expensive sword-making industry, then shipping off the completed swords to be turned into ploughshares and pruning hooks when you didn't have any agriculture.

And by the way, since Iran--and its apologists--have been insisting that its real goal was nuclear power plants (as if one of the world's largest oil producers which exports almost all of its production needs that) then why doesn't Iran just agree to some deal in which all the uranium went to fuel such reactors with foreign-enriched fuel and close supervision? Even that would make more sense than this deal.

Does this make sense? There will be many silly reasons for this put forward: Iran was scared by sanctions and a united front against it, or Obama is so popular that they like him or trust him and it proves his strategy works. These ideas are nonsense but one a lot of average people in the West will believe them).

One logical argument that will be advanced is that internal disorder is forcing the regime to take a step back and be more cautious. This is a partial argument but, again, doesn’t explain why there would be such a huge apparent concession from a regime unaccustomed to making them.

So what’s really going on?

First, the whole thing may turn out to be a maneuver for buying time and no agreement is actually made.

Second, the Franco-Russian reworked uranium could be turned back into something suitable for further enrichment into weapons’-grade material in several months.

Third, Iran may well have other secret facilities which are going to be pumping out military useful enriched uranium. We have just seen how well they can conceal these things by the public exposure of such a secret facility. These could easily replace the uranium shipped abroad in a brief period of time.

Fourth, Iranian leaders, knowing that they have some way to go before being technologically ready to build weapons, are happy to accept a seeming delay in providing the uranium which will allow them to catch up with the technological and engineering requirements of making a bomb that works and missiles that will carry it to the target. Indeed, with sanctions loosened, it might get the very techniques and tools it needs to complete this process under the guise of other uses.

Note that the Bushehr nuclear reactor, which was supposed to have begun operation some months ago, has not been started up yet. Is this due to some technical difficulties? The reason certainly doesn't seem to be Iran sending a signal of willingness to compromise since the regime has not used this factor as proof of its flexibility.

If this last argument is true--and it seems to be a reasonable one--then the idea that such a deal would even "slow" Iran's obtaining nuclear weapons wouldn't necessarily be true.

There could also be Iranian deals with other countries—perhaps North Korea or Venezuela, for example—to cooperate in supplying what’s needed. Such a possible arrangement with Syria was destroyed by an Israeli attack on a facility in that country last year.

And speaking of an Israeli attack, this agreement would buy Iran assurance that this couldn't happen no matter what Tehran did since the regime's program would be now under Western protection.

As an Arabic-language expression has it: How do you know it was a lie? Because it was so big.
For example, if Iran was truly going to change course in any real way, there would have been a heated debate within the government of which we would have heard something about.

Or there would have to be a factional dispute or domination by a less extremist group in the ruling circle that argued President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s adventurism was too dangerous to pursue. But all these people have been expelled.

Or it would seem apparent that Iran really was afraid of Western military action or tremendous pressure that would be so great as to force it into a big defeat.

Such cautions seem quite logical. Yet no matter how ridiculous the situation seems if Iran pulls off this ploy it could be a devastatingly successful one.

If you find these articles useful and interesting, please read and subscribe to Barry Rubin's blog, Rubin Reports, at

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Was Earl Krugel A Terrorist?

I read an article recently that said, "Earl Krugel was a terrorist.
As bad as any suicide bomber.
He was willing to kill women and children..."
This is not true.

Earl Krugel would never harm women or children or anyone else, except in defense of someone unable to defend themselves.
Earl Krugel was convicted of planning to place a small explosive device in a mosque and a congressman's office.
According to the FBI it was going to be done at night when no one was present.
It was going to be a message.
"Stop beating up Jewish kids."
Recently some Jewish students had been beaten by Arab youths, and many people felt that the Jewish Community was not being protected.
No one was to be hurt.
No one was hurt.

I knew Earl Krugel, he was a kind man, intelligent and loving, wise and very human.

Earl controlled whatever fear a man would have, being a Jew and plunged, unprotected by the authorities, into one of the world's most brutal penal institutions, and then, with the press buzzing, sent to a prison in Phoenix that was run by the Aryan Nations and other White Power groups.
For two year Earl Krugel survived as a man with his head high in the sordid confines of the Federal Detention Center in L.A.
Once he was shipped to Phoenix, this holding pen for hundreds of Muslims and Nazis, unprotected, his fate was just a matter of time.
He was murdered from behind by a coward.
He was murdered in a way that was unknown to Earl.
Because, you see, Earl Leslie Krugel was indeed a fighter, but he was not a murderer.

Irv Rubin and Earl Krugel