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Nasrallah Ranting
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday November 1, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

I follow very closely what Arab leaders have to say, especially when they speak about the United States and Israel.
So when Sheik Hassan Nasrallah gave a television interview to Al-Manar on Tuesday, I paid particular attention.

Nasrallah was being very defensive.
He said that the U.S. failed in Iraq and that the Arab world had risen to battle the United States.
He said that the Arab world should not be blamed for Islamic extremism, that the U.S. should be blamed and that the U.S. should also be blamed for the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Nasrallah said the U.S. has "no future" in the Arab world and that "they will leave the Mid East, Arab and Islamic worlds just as they left Viet Nam, and I advise those who are counting on them to draw conclusion from the Viet Nam experience."

Nasrallah is so far from the truth.
He is feeling internal pressure arising out of the suggestion that terror and violence are endemic to the Arab world.
Certainly there are some similarities with Viet Nam, but only superficial similarities.

The war on terror is not Viet Nam.

By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 31, 2006


It's time to wake up and smell the roses - before they are blown to smithereens.

Iran and Russia are in cahoots. Iran wants nuclear capability and Russia has the capability to make it happen. And unless they are stopped, it will happen. It is up to us. Neither of these countries has a global conscious. Neither country could care less.

Iran is whoring and Russia is her pimp. Ahmadinejad and Putin recently had a telephone conversation during which they discussed the Iranian nuclear program. At the end of the conversation Putin came to his conclusion.

Remember, Russia is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, they have an automatic veto on all matters before the Security Council. What Russia says matters. A Russian spokesman released a statement saying that "Russia strongly favors further negotiations." He said that the international community "should try to reduce tensions through talks."

He forgot to add that while the international community reduces tensions through talks, Russia would be supplying Iran with all the materials, know-how and advisory personnel they want and need.

Remember, Russia is building two nuclear reactors in Iran. Russia is heavily invested in Iranian nuclear development. Russia provides much of the expertise and most of the raw materials that Iran will be using for the reactors.

Russia has been pimping for countries in want of nuclear development, technology and weapons for a while now, just as they have for conventional weapons. They have very little else to provide and almost nothing else to export. Weapons are the products they have and they sell to anyone willing to pay the price. A recent study showed that Russia is one of the largest, maybe even the single largest, provider of weapons to third world countries.

They sell old, outdated weapons. They sell rusty weapons. They sell forty year old rifles and ammo. They sell advisers. They also sell nuclear material to unscrupulous countries who aspire to nuclear capability.

Remember, Russia sold the weapons to Syria that Syria then went and supplied to Hezbollah to use against Israel. And then Putin side stepped responsibility by claiming that they had done their due diligence by having Syria sign a contract stipulating that the arms would not be used illegally by Hezbollah. The problem is that Russia sells to countries and to people who could not care less about what they sign let alone about where and on whom they intend to use their weapons.

That's not Russia's problem. It is our problem.

Even in a three day face-to-face sit down with Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Putin refused to accept that a nuclear Iran might be a threat. All he could do was echo the Iranian claim that they want nuclear energy just for the sake of nuclear energy.

Putin is not a stupid man. He is certainly not naive. So why do Putin and the Russians continue to provide these resources to Iran and Syria and others?
Because it is business. Because business is business. Because it is one of the only businesses in which Russia can be competitive in the world export market. Because Iran wants and Russia can provide. And the name of the business is prostitution.

Remember, Russia is not alone in this. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohammed el Baradei, recently briefed the United Nations General Assembly. Speaking on the issue of Iran and nuclear capability the respected head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said that Iranian goals "were still unclear."

Maybe he doesn't remember, but once a country has the ability to produce nuclear energy the next step is a very simple one.

And then there will be no flowers to push up on any of our graves.

The Pope's Prayers
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 30, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

On Sunday Pope Benedict XVI went on record condemning the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers and prayed for their return.
Or did he?

This is what Pope Benedict said at St Peter's Square in Rome at Sunday Mass:
"From several sides I am getting requests to intervene in favor of people who are victims of kidnappings in different countries around the world."
"While I reiterate the firmest condemnation of this crime I remember in prayer all the victims, their families and friends."

I think the Pope wanted to thread the needle between the Israeli victims and the Arabs who are so sensitive to being singled out as aggressors - but there can be no moral relativism here, and the Pope knows that better than anyone.
Couching the prayer in the way he did now parallels Arab prisoners with the Israeli kidnapped victims. Palestinian prisoners are held because of their actions - they were planning something or they did something, a court either convicted them or will try them.

That is absolutely not the case with the three Israeli soldiers.
The Pope knows better.

Mozart and the Terrorists
By Micah Halpern

Saturday October 28, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Never bend to threats of violence from terrorists.

Earlier this year a Berlin opera company canceled their performance of Idomeneo, a Mozart opera.

They feared that some Muslims might find some parts of the production offensive.

What might have been offensive?
In the production, the producer had included a severed head of Mohammed.

Granted this producer is rather whimsical and even controversial.
There were threats against the opera and against the opera house.

The performances were canceled.
Now, however, the opera is scheduled to reopen.
There will be at least two performances before the end of the year.

Bottom line:
If you do not like the opera, just don't go.
If all Muslim insults were removed from movies Hollywood would be shut down.

Why He Was Kidnapped
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 29, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

I just read an interview with Michael Phillips.
Philips is the young American from New Orleans who was kidnapped and held by Palestinians gunmen for 26 hours in the West Bank city of Nablus.

Michael Phillips said that he still does not know why he was kidnapped.
He said he is not a journalist.
He said it was not terror.
He wants to understand why he, who came to help out, was kidnapped.

I'll tell him why.
He is an American in a place where Americans are not welcome.
That makes him, and everyone like him, a perfect kidnap victim.
Phillips is a Westerner and as a Westerner he represents much of what is hated in that part of the world.
So even if his kidnapping was a criminal act and not a political act, the underlying reasons are the same.

All Americans are easy prey.

A New Trend
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 27, 2006

I'm Predicting:

A new trend is emerging.
A Spanish photo journalist was kidnapped and released that same day in Gaza.
The kidnappers asked for a ransom of $250,000 US.
This kidnapping came not too long after the kidnapping of two Fox journalists.

Gaza is becoming like Baghdad and South America.
Roving gangs, hoodlums, no-goodniks, dangerous but unaffiliated with any group, movement or organization are using kidnappings as a source of easy money.

Many kidnappings are still politically motivated and organized by terrorist groups trying to achieve a political goal - but not all. More and more we will see kidnappings perpetrated by gangs and clans interested in making a quick buck.

Most of these new perpetrators/kidnappers were once part of the security system.
Kidnappers are now just common criminals with automatic weapons, terrorist training and even police knowledge because they were once on that side of the law.

Talk about being disillusioned.

Most Muslims Are Democrats
By Micah Halpern

Thursday October 26, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Newsflash: Most Muslims in the United States affiliate with the Democratic Party.
I hope that did not take you by surprise.

CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations, just published a study based on a pool of 1000 Arab American respondents.

What did their statistics show?
42% of Arab Americans are Democrats while only 17% are Republicans
More importantly:
80% of the Arab Americans they surveyed believe that terror hurts them as Arab Americans
31% attend mosque regularly while 27% seldom or never attend mosque

That is great news for Americans.
That means that the threat of home grown terror in the U.S. is much less than some would have believed.
Why? Because the future growth of terror in the United States is in the mosques and with the Muslim extremists who are in the Mosques, that's why.

Russia vs USA
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 25, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

On issues regarding the Palestinian Hamas government there is a deep chasm that separates the point of view of the Russian government and the point of view of the United States government.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was recently quoted in the Kuwaiti news agency KUNA. Lavrov said:
That the demands the Quartet and the West are making on Hamas are excessive and unreasonable.
That it is too much to expect Hamas to recognize Israel and renounce violence.

In essence, Russia believes that there should be no preconditions to recognition and that the main objective is to talk.

The United States, on the other hand, has said time and again that certain minimum standards must be met even before the talking begins.
The United States believes that recognition is the very minimum starting point, that to think of negotiating any other way is just naïve.

Interestingly, when we compare Russian attitudes towards the Palestinians and Russian attitudes toward their own Georgians, we see vast discrepancies and inconsistencies.

By Micah Halpern

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


One of my biggest and most often repeated critiques of the Arab world is their own lack of critique, their own lack of self-criticism. One of the most significant weaknesses of Arab-leadership, Arab intelligentsia and the Arab masses has been that they have all, blindly and boldly, followed the move to extremism.

As fractured and as divided as they are internally, the Arab world has always determined to present a cohesive, united front to the rest of the world. Now, suddenly, we are beginning to see cracks in the facade of Arab harmony and unity. Distinct voices are being heard, publicly and in the press, speaking lovingly of their people but critical of the direction the Arab world has taken.

Muslim Fundamentalism is being chastised for turning the Arab world into a violent world. Muslim Fundamentalism is being blamed for altering the very fabric of Arab life and turning every facet of Arab life into an act of destruction.
Muslim Fundamentalists are being reminded that they are neither the ultimate nor the only decision making force when it comes to Arab lifestyle, Arab life or Arab diplomacy.

The fear of intimidation is gone. The fear of destroying the myth of Arab unity is vanishing. The fear of an Arab world bent only on violence and destruction has become too great to suppress. By embracing violence and by turning violence into their primary means of problem solving, both internally and in dealings with the outside world, the Arab world has severely diminished not only the way they are perceived by the outside world, but also the way in which they perceive themselves.

Hosni Mubarak the acknowledged big brother and political advisor to a large segment of the Arab world is the first Arab leader to acknowledge the flawed path Islam has taken and to speak out for change. Last week the president of Egypt delivered his message by means of the national Egyptian media. In a live television appearance Mubarak, a man who minces no words, said: "Shouldn't we Muslims shoulder part of the responsibility of these wrong ideas about Islam? Have we fulfilled our duty in correcting the image of Islam and the Muslims? What did we do to face a terrorism that wears Islam's cloak and targets the lives of the people."

In essence, Mubarak was telling his fellow Muslim leaders as well as all believers that the future of the Arab world is in their own hands, that Arabs must play a major role in the way they themselves are perceived by the rest of the world, that they have done nothing to confront the murderers of innocent people, that they have instead supported terrorists by supporting Islamic radicals. Mubarak chose harsh words to clearly define an even harsher reality.

Even more revealing - and much more surprising than the critique leveled by Mubarak, is the very personal expression of concern and condemnation that came from Dr. Ghazi Hamad, one of the leading spokesmen of Hamas. Yes, Hamas.

In a very self critical column published in the Palestinian weekly al-Ayam. Hamad posed some very thoughtful and introspective questions reprimanding his own society. He takes them to task for embracing violence as a way of life, for allowing violent means to supplant any and all other forms of personal expression. Hamad asked: "Are we truly a violent society?" "Do we suffer from the chronic illness of violence?" "Have we become people who believe that all our problems can be resolved only through violence, with a bullet, a shell, a blatant leaflet and harsh words?"

Truly, this is one of the first times in a very long time that I am hearing material of this critical nature coming out of the Middle East. The best and only serious self-critique we have heard has, until now, come from ex-pat Muslims musing from the safety of the West, in interviews given to al-Hayat, the largest Arabic London-based newspaper, posturing on al Jazeera or even penning op-eds for The New York Times.

The Muslim world had fallen victim to its own violence. The radical Muslim world intended for violence to be a response to the non-Muslim world. And it was. But now that violence has spread and engulfs the world it was supposed to protect.
Muslim terror and violence will continue to haunt us in the West, but first it will haunt and destroy Arab culture and society. First it will cause the Arab world to implode and self-destruct.

The threat of Muslim violence to the Western world is real, but it is not existential. The true tragedy is that the Muslim world has attached so much value to the warped myth of Arab unity uber alis that is has empowered the myth to destroy the value of human life.

Iran Offers Discount To The West
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 23, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Iranian leader Ahmadinejad is very good at his game, so good he is brilliant.
The other day, he tipped his hand.
Ahmadinejad let out that Iran is really interested in nuclear energy.

He intends to produce nuclear energy and sell it to the world at huge discounts - even to the West.
He said: "we promise that we will produce nuclear fuel in the next five years and sell it to the West at a 50% discount."
He knows exactly what buttons to push.
He knows that he is totally protected by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaties if Iran's intensions are only for fuel and energy.

If Ahmadinejad succeeds he will not only provide for Iran to "go nuclear" but he will beat the West at their own game by providing his own alternative energy to oil and addicting the West to the reduced price. No country will be able to resist the bargain.

For some reason we continue to look at Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a maniac.
Our interests would be better served if we saw him for the conniving and deeply manipulative Machiavellian personality that he is.

Civil War
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 22, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

There was an attempt made to assassinate Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the Palestinian Authority.

Instead of making headlines, it was hardly a story. And when it was mentioned, it was buried deep or tacked on as an addendum to another story.
This was not a subtle, secret attack better left unknown. It was a shootout while the prime minister rode in his motorcade and exploded the rear vehicle which was engulfed in flames and left to burn on the street.

Why was the incident hardly covered?
Because tensions are so high and murders and kidnappings are so common between Hamas and Fatah that editors saw this story as commonplace.

Why should it have been covered?
Because the Palestinian Authority is on the verge of a civil war.
Because this attempted assassination happened 20 minutes after a joint Hamas Fatah announcement went out claiming that things were going to calm down. Because a Hamas security leader was assassinated the day before at point blank range by someone he knew very well.

This is not the fault of Israel or the CIA.
Palestinians have embraced inner conflict as a way to solve their problems.
Palestinians now kill one another with as much ease as they murder Israelis. That is really scary.

Syria, Germany and al Qaeda
By Micah Halpern

Saturday October 21, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

An al Qaeda member is now standing trial - in Syria!
The name of the terrorist is Mohammed Haydar Zammar.
He is the person responsible for recruiting many of the 9-11 terrorists in Germany.

Zammar is German, but born in Syria. He sought refuge in Syria never expecting that one day he would be standing before a Syrian Security Court.
Zammar will definitely be convicted.

Here is why:
Syria is a major al Qaeda target because they are a Bathist, not a Muslim, state. Syria is threatened by Islamic extremists and has a serious terror problem from within.
Syria will use this trial as a tool to get in better with Germany,

The Germans will be keeping a close watch on this trial.
It was the German Foreign Ministry who made the entire event public.
Who would have thought it possible?

Finally France Is Right
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 20, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Finally. Paris is pro-actively moving towards securing their airport.

Four baggage handlers have been barred from working at Charles de Gaulle Airport, another eight airport workers are under investigation.
The four baggage handlers are suing, charging discrimination.
The workers are all Muslims of North African origin, they were all working in the airport's Secure Zone.

The baggage handlers will lose their case.
Yes, they are all Muslims from North Africa.
No, this is neither racial profiling nor discrimination.
They all have traveled to Pakistan several times a year and they are not providing satisfactory explanations as to why.
The authorities are handling things appropriately and conscientiously.

No one says one must work as a baggage handler.
But to work in an airport Secure Zone you must pass security clearance.

Russia & Israel At Odds
By Micah Halpern

Thursday October 19, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Ehud Olmert is in Moscow for three days of meetings with Vladimir Putin.
The Israeli and the Russian are supposed to be allies.
But there are chasms separating the two on very important issues.

Nuclear Iran:
Israel sees a nuclear Iran as one of the most significant threats on the horizon. Russia is not at all convinced.

Arms exports:
Russian RPG-28s were the most lethal weapon that Hezbollah used against Israel. Nearly half of all Israeli army deaths were caused by this weapon.
Russia denied that the weapons were theirs but Israel captured 39 of them, some even in their original crates with the shipping invoices. Russia sent the weapons to Syria and Syria gave them to Hezbollah. One of Russia's biggest industries is weapons sales. This is not about to stop.

These issues loom so huge and are so important, that they will not be resolved.
Not in three days, not in three months, not in three meetings.

Ahmadinejad And Allah
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 18, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has just spoken to Allah.
And Allah has told Ahmadinejad that the Muslims will win out against the infidels.
Has the man gone totally mad? Not totally, just partially.
It is part of his messianic complex.

It is not unbelievable to think that Ahmadinejad communicates with Allah.
The unbelievable part is that Allah speaks back to Ahmadinejad.

Prayer is a form of conversation with God. And a basic religious concept, in all religions, is that God hears our prayers. But that's where it ends. Believers speak and God listens - but God does not answer back, at least not in words. God answers the prayers of believers through signs, through nature, through historical events. That is a cardinal point in monotheistic religious belief.

God only speaks directly to prophets and prophecy has ended.
That is what made the great Muslim prophet Mohamed so great.
That is what differentiates Jesus from all others in Christian history.

Sorry Ahmadinejad, communication with God is always one sided.

By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 17, 2006


Belgium. Indonesia. Italy. South Africa.

Four nations that have the power to change the world.

Whenever there is talk of the "changing of the guard" at the United Nations, the immediate response is to think about the position of Secretary General. And yes, Kofi Anan's term has expired and yes, the new Secretary General designate is Ban from South Korea. But real power in the United Nations does not lie with the Secretary General, no matter how powerful a personality that person is.

Real power in the United Nations lies in the Security Council. And when the United Nations Security Council meets, there will be four new counties seated around the decision-making table. Belgium, Indonesia. Italy and South Africa are the new guys on the block, the four countries newly-elected by their nation peers to confront the issues confronting the world.

Becoming a member of the Security Council is no easy feat, just ask Venezuela. Before taking a seat at the Council table, a nation needs to have won the support of two-thirds of the one hundred and ninety-two members of the United Nations General Assembly. That translates into at least 126 votes per country. That translates into at least 126 allies per country. That translates into at least 126 votes of confidence from a cross-section of the nations of the world.

Belgium, Indonesia, Italy and South Africa made the cut. They will each be serving a two-year term. Venezuela, to the chagrin of Hugo Chavez who desperately wanted the power and distinction that comes with Security Council member status, did not. Venezuela tried hard, lobbied hard, played hard, but in the end, Venezuela lost big. Venezuela even called on Iran, an ally and supporter to lobby and campaign for them, but all to no avail. They lost so big that the South American country they lost to, Guatemala, did not make it either.

Venezuela's defeat is significant not because of Venezuela itself, but because of the countries allied with Venezuela. The defeat of Venezuela dealt a serious blow to the non-aligned member countries of the group I call the We Hate America Club. Venezuela was representing the growing group of countries linked together because of their anti-United States, anti-West attitudes, a group lately gaining momentum in large part because of the bold and confrontational actions of Iran and North Korea.

The importance of the role, the power of the position that Belgium, Indonesia. Italy and South Africa now share is directly tied to the growth of the "anti" movement within the United Nations. And in a large segment of today's world, the accepted norm for showing "anti" sentiment is the use of terror.

The big issue for the United Nations today and in the years to come is the issue of terror.

The big question concerning the free world now is: how will these four new members of the United Nations Security Council deal with the issue of world terror?

Indonesia is the most populated Muslim country in the world. Indonesia has been hit hard by Muslim terror. Indonesia is familiar, first hand, with the dangers and destructive power of terror. The Indonesian government is struggling hard to fight terror from within and is participating in international agencies fighting terror. There is one significant stumbling block to the full participation of Indonesia in the fight against terror. The reality is that as a representative Muslim country sitting in the Security Council, Indonesia may be forced to defend Muslim honor.

Belgium is becoming, more and more, a Muslim country. The Belgians have witnessed and done nothing to stave off or suppress a significant rise in anti-Semitism promulgated by Muslim terrorists. Belgium has become a center for many international terrorist organizations. Numerous terrorist activities have been planned behind closed Belgian doors. And yet, appallingly, there are fewer than ten people in the entire Belgium police force that speak Arabic. Belgium has no national taskforce focusing on terror, everything is local. The Belgian government has made the decision to ignore the obvious, pretending it is not happening to them on their soil. This practice, sticking their head in the sand, may also become Belgium's policy on the Security Council. Belgium is sitting on a powder keg and it is about to explode.

Italy has had to deal with terror for many years. Recently, there has been a huge influx of Muslims to Italy. The Italians know the dangers of terror. They will probably become allied with the rest of the West on the issue of terror. Italy has already begun making strides in that direction and is slowly edging out the French in Lebanon. It is the Italians who have been pushing Hezbollah very hard to show signs of life from the two Israeli soldiers they have captured. Italy is a strong supporter of the fight against terror.

South Africa is still trying to define itself internationally. As much as South Africa wants to become a part of the West, the country still has strong affinity for those who were oppressed by the West. At this point, South Africa can swing either way. South Africa must be convinced to take the fight against terror seriously. Muslim Fundamentalism has already started to envelope Africa.

Four nations. Four votes. One very important issue.

A New Islamic State in Iraq
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 16, 2006

I'm Predicting:

The Mujahideen Shura Council in Iraq has just issued a video tape declaration.
They have decided to create a new Muslim state in Iraq.

What is the Mujahideen Shura Council?
The Mujahideen Shura Council represents many of the Sunni groups in Iraq that are attacking Shiites and Western forces.
The Mujahideen Shura Council represents Al Qaeda in Iraq.

What does the Council hope to achieve by this declaration?
Most importantly, they are transmitting the message that the Sunnis are players and nothing can happen without their approval or cooperation.
Next, they want to let it be known that Sunni tradition will not be subjugated to a Shiite majority or Shiite tradition.
The Sunnis are speaking out, they are speaking their mind.

Does this mean that a Sunni state in Iraq will emerge?
It means that the Sunnis, as represented by the Mujahideen Shura Council, wants to be heard on the subject.

Shame On The FBI
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 15, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

The Washington Post came out with an alarming statistic.
Of the 12,000 people in the FBI, only 33 of them have any familiarity with Arabic.
And then, just barely.
33 out of 12,000 - shocking, but predictable.
And none of the 33 actually work in counter terror.
What's going on here?

How can you successfully fight terror when you do not understand the language, when you cannot comprehend the culture, of the terrorist?
The FBI argues that when a translator is needed, they can get one in a day.
That is not the point.
This is not about translating a document or interrogating a suspect.
This is about getting into the head of the terrorist.

You cannot successfully fight terror unless you understand the culture of terror, the language of the terrorist, the religion of the organizations.
Language, culture, religion - they are all critical in the fight against terror.

Something is rotten in the Department of Justice.

Israel's Secret Weapon
By Micah Halpern

Saturday October 14, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Once again, there are rumors swilling about that Israel is using a secret weapon.
Italian TV even ran a piece on the secret weapon.
In this case, the rumors are probably true.

The Israeli weapon is similar to a weapon the United States is working on called the DIME, the Dense Inert Metal Explosive.
The U.S. version is still in the perfection stages while it seems that Israel has already perfected their version.

What makes this explosive different from others is that it is a very intense bomb with a very small impact, an impact of only several yards.
It uses tungsten and carbon.
It is an enormously hot intensive explosion.
It is a weapon that allows you to hit your target and only your target.

So what's the big deal over this small explosive?
When terrorists hide amidst civilians, armies need to hit their enemy without hitting innocent civilians.
This time it seems Israel has hit the dime.

Nukes From Iran to Indonesia
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 13, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

According to a recent report out of Indonesia, Iran and Indonesia are going to cooperate on nuclear know-how.
That's more important than it sounds.

The Indonesian vice president will be visiting Iran and highlighted on the agenda is the subject of alternative energy, what that really means is getting nuclear energy technology.
And what that means is that Iran will be the agent bringing nuclear technology to the developing world, to the Third World.

Three things will happen:
It will drive the United States crazy.
It will make Iran one of the most important countries in the developing world.
It will unseat the United States as the leader and time-setter of the nuclear world.

That is just what Iran wants.
That is probably a major force behind Iran's atomic vision and objective.

One Lucky American
By Micah Halpern

Thursday October 12, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Michael Leighton Phillips, a United States citizen with a conscience, is one lucky man.

Phillips followed his heart and went to the Palestinian Authority to volunteer - to help out.
He thought that because he was there to do good, he would be safe.
And then, in the city of Nablus, he was kidnapped.

Everyone was surprised by the kidnapping.
And that's because everyone - Phillips and local Palestinians - fell prey to the same fallacy: Just because you and members of your group would never even think of kidnapping as a way of enhancing your cause, it does not mean that others think as you do.

Terrorists will do anything to achieve their goals - up to and including kidnapping and killing and lying. They stop only if they think the action hurts their goal, not helps it.

Michael Leighton Phillips is lucky because he was freed.

By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 11, 2006

North Korea has just blasted the lid off of one of the world's worst kept secrets.

The motivation behind North Korea's decision to prove to the world that they have a nuclear program ready for testing is cause for deep concern. The ramifications of this act and the potential threat that North Korea now poses is significant. For some nations, however, the fact of North Korea's nuclear potential is heralded as good news.

The bad guy nations are applauding the audacity and the prowess North Korea has displayed. They are basking in the glory of one of their own. They are whispering praises in the ears of North Korean leadership. They are lining up, putting in orders for nuclear bombs of their own. The major players on that list are silently cheering.

The good guys are out in full voice and they are condemning North Korea, a nation none of them has ever really trusted. The major players on that list are the United States, Great Britain, France, Iran.

Iran? Yes, Iran!

Iran has rejected North Korea's nuclear tests. Iran has condemned the North Koreans for the nuclear experiment. Iran is siding with her own worst enemies on the issue of North Korea's nuclear program. Iran does not in any way want North Korea to be positioned as a nation powerful enough to be a nuclear threat or rival. Putting it plainly, North Korea has ticked off Iran.

Analysts have looked at and dissected and read meaning into the developing relationship between Iran and North Korea. They have watched and evaluated as Iran cultivated diplomatic ties with North Korea over the past year. They have nodded their heads as Iran reached out to North Korea. And everyone, all the analysts and all the diplomats and all the experts came to the conclusion that Iran was interested in North Korea because North Korea was Iran's link to a nuclear weapon. And you know what? They were all wrong.

Iran is not and never has been interested in North Korea's nuclear development. And this nuclear test proves my point. That is not to say that the Iranians are not interested in developing nuclear potential. Of course they are, just not with North Korean material and technology. When it comes to nuclear capability, Iran can do much better than North Korea. When it comes to nuclear capability, Iran has Russia. Who could ask for anything more?

Iran has Russian-nuclear-know-how. Iran has access to far higher grade and far better nuclear systems through Russia than the North Koreans could ever hope to develop. The Russian program is heavily funded. It has logged decades of experimentation and conducted hundreds of comparisons with United States systems. The Russian program has failed and the Russian program has been rebuilt. The Russians have developed and tested and improved their nuclear systems. The Russian program is still not the world's best, but it is far superior to North Korea's system and even today far surpasses any program North Korea can develop over the next few decades. North Korea's system is still in its gestation period. Iranians consider their own atomic program to be more sophisticated than North Korea's program.

The major motivation that Iran had and still has for forging a relationship with North Korea is the strengthening of ties with a country as deeply motivated towards anti-United States sentiment as Iran is. That's it, nothing more.

The North Korean nuclear test was a frightening reality for Iran. Iran sees North Korea as an irresponsible nation and a potential significant threat to the region and the world. Iran was not impressed by North Korea's gall, gumption or guts. That is why Iran condemned the test.

Iran wants the United States ousted as the dominant world power. But they want it done under Iranian control. An irresponsible North Korea, a nuclear North Korea, threatens Iran's plans. That explains why Iran wants to become nuclear. That explains why Iran condemned North Korea for being nuclear. That also explains why Iran is spending so much time cultivating relationships across the world. Iran is expanding its game of Us versus Them, Iran is drawing more players into its game of pitting those abused by America against America, and North Korea fits perfectly within the game. And when a party behaves irresponsibly Iran, the leader of the pack, must call that country into line.

Yes. the pot is definitely calling the kettle black - but only according to Western thinking, not according to Iranian thinking. North Korea is to Iran what Iran is to the Western world. If the West cannot understand where Iran sits on the issue of North Korea, and why, the West will never be able to outsmart, out play or out maneuver Iran. Like North Korea did.

Iran's moves and motivations should never be a secret or a surprise to the West.

Syria Is Way Off Base
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 10, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Assad of Syria thinks Israel is not strong enough to make peace right now.
The sentiment in and of itself coming from the president of Syria, is not at all surprising, so let's take a look at the actual statement.

In an interview with the BBC Assad said:
"In the Barak era we went to talks at Wye River Plantation, but Israel wasn't ready to advance the peace process because of internal problems. The decision about the peace process isn't only dependent on Israel, but also on Washington."

Now we have a problem.
Direct talks between Barak, Clinton and Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Al Shaara did not take place on the eastern shore of Maryland at the Wye River Plantation. They took place at another presidential retreat in West Virginia, at Shepherdstown.
Shepherdstown, Wye so what's the difference? There is a difference.
Assad had to have been briefed about face-to-face meetings with Israelis. If this basic piece of information was incorrectly transmitted, other pieces of information were probably incorrectly transmitted. Assad cannot be trusted to give a true read on Israel - historically or currently - if his intel and facts are wrong.

The Shepherdstown meetings took place during the first week of January 2000, during Ramadan. The Syrian delegation finished meetings in time to break fast.
Today Ramadan is in full swing again.
The fast might be the only relevant fact connecting then and now.

Rice Is On Track
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 9, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Condi Rice's recent surprise visit to Iraq - actually surprised me.
Good for Rice that she chose to visit Arbil the autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq.

Rice's visit to Kurdish Arbil demonstrated an insight and perspective unlike any I have seen in the years since the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
The purpose of the visit was to lobby the Kurds to play a role in building and securing a stable Iraq.
It was a wise and long overdue diplomatic move, not to mention that Arbil is rich - very rich, in oil.

There is "history" between the Kurds and the U.S., bonds originally established by the CIA. Numerous times over the last few decades the CIA has promised to support the Kurds if only they would help overthrow Saddam. In the end, time and again, the Kurds were left high and dry.

Today the Kurds have no confidence in U.S. promises.
By coming to pay them the proper respect Condi took a major step forward in the process of confidence building and trust.
Given the proper incentive, the Kurds are the ones who can stabilize Iraq.

Oil in Israel!
By Micah Halpern

Sunday October 8, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Oil in Israel - nobody ever thought it would happen.
Until now.
The recent announcement that Israel did strike oil is, however, a mixed blessing.

Ginko Oil Exploration Company is convinced that they will discover more wells near their current find at the Dead Sea.
So far, Ginko predicts that the reserves they discovered will yield 100-150 barrels per day.
Putting it all in perspective, Saudi Arabia, the largest producer of oil in the world, produces 9 million barrels a day.
Comparatively, this is only a drop in the bucket.

Dead Sea oil will probably not turn Israel into a rich country or make Israel internationally indispensable.
But if this oil find allows Israel to be independent in terms of energy needs and frees Israel from relying on the good graces and high prices of sworn enemies, that's certainly good enough.

A New Computer Game
By Micah Halpern

Saturday October 7, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

There is a hot new computer game on the market.
It's a must have for all the kids - all the Iranian kids, that is.
The objective of the game is to sink an oil tanker - a United States oil tanker.
Am I shocked? No, not shocked. Nothing could shock me in today's Iran.

There's one more little detail in this game. Not only is the objective to sink a US tanker, but to sink it in the Straits of Hormuz.

What or where is Hormuz? Good question.
Hormuz is where 2/5ths of all the oil in the world travels on its way to anywhere and everywhere.
Hormuz is probably the best protected shipping lane in the world, a disruption there would wreak havoc in the world's oil flow.
Hormuz is a symbol to Iran.

Downing a US tanker in Hormuz is a message to Iranian youth saying: We in Hormuz, are in power, not you, in the West.
This is anything but a game to Iranians.

Good News From Syria
By Micah Halpern

Friday October 6, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Big news from Syria - and this time it is good news.
The Syrians have announced that they have unearthed a Temple dating back to the 9th century BC, that means the site dates back to the Neolithic Period.

The Temple was discovered about 450 miles north of Damascus by a joint French - Syrian archeological team.
The Temple is reported to be in excellent condition.
The most prominent elements in the Temple are the presence of the heads of bulls leading us to believe that bulls were worshipped at that time in that region.

Syria has a tremendous history.
One of the greatest museums for Western civilization is located in Syria.
I wish I could write more often about archaeological discoveries in the region instead of about katyushas and terrorists.

Alas, those lessons are lost in Syria.

Jordan's Mixed Message
By Micah Halpern

Thurssday October 5, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

King Abdullah of Jordan recently pardoned two Members of Parliament.
The pardoned Parliamentarians are Islamists.

One man had been convicted and sentenced for two years, the other for seven years.
The crime was glorifying Zarqawi, the head of al Qaeda in Iraq who was killed by the United States on June 7.
These two Members of Parliament had paid a visit to the Zarqawi family mourning tent and heralded him as a hero.
The charge was supporting an enemy of the state.

Convicting these two prominent Parliamentarians had sent a strong and loud message from the King to the masses in Jordan.
The message was that Al Qaeda is not welcome in Jordan.
But with the pardon the King has chosen to send a new message to the masses.

That new message frightens me.

By Micah Halpern

Wednesday October 4, 2006


The great thinker and philosopher Machiavelli asserted that politics is the art of compromise. The Palestinian people and their leaders have yet to take that lesson to heart.

The recent explosion in the streets of the Palestinian Authority, Palestinian versus Palestinian, going at each other ruthlessly and violently, should not have taken anyone, let alone the Palestinians, by surprise. For months now I have been predicting this clash, Hamas vs Fatah, Fatah vs Hamas, innocents caught in the crossfire. For months I have been predicting that inner Palestinian violence was just a matter of time. And now the time has come.

This internal conflict is not about to dissipate. The warring factions will not run out of steam, or out of arms, they will not tire themselves out or let bygones be bygones. This state of conflict within the PA will continue until a true and viable victor is decided. There is no longer room for compromise in this situation. The Palestinian people will live peacefully among themselves, only when one faction emerges victorious.

The Palestinian people are paying a dear price for bad decision-making. They miscalculated when they overwhelmingly voted Hamas into power. Hamas was elected on an anti-corruption, anti-Arafat, i.e. anti-Fatah, platform. Embedded in that platform was the belief that Israel has no place on this earth, and while that theme is central to Hamas followers, it was only ancillary to the majority of those voters who put them in power.

Hamas was voted in because the people hoped to change the status quo. The people wanted their salaries paid, their street safe, they wanted to have food to feed their families. And today, with Hamas in place, what does the Palestinian Authority look like? Today, the people are not getting paid. There is starvation and there are strikes. Corruption and graft is worse than ever. Mafia and gangs roam the streets. Collection rackets are rampant. Palestinians watch TV and see Hamas attacking unarmed protesters and even funeral participants. Hamas never really understood why it was that they were elected and today, in hindsight it is easy for the Palestinian people to realize how myopic it was of them to put Hamas in power.

Simply asking the warring parties to stop warring is impossible. Asking them to sit down, set down arms and negotiate is counter-productive. A cease fire will only prolong the inevitable resumption of conflict. It will be a sanctioned "time out" that allows for one side in the conflict to re-arm and build up enough strength to attack the other.

According to Hamas, there are two factors responsible for this conflict. They are blameless, their own abuse of power and misunderstanding of the needs of the people does not enter into their own equation. Factor number one blames Fatah for insurrection and treason. Factor number two blames the United States for instigation and sponsorship.

If the Palestinian people were myopic, Hamas is blind, at least, legally blind. Hamas has fallen dramatically in the polls. After winning the election earlier this year and in the months following their victory, Hamas popularity rose to 66%. Two recent polls now have Hamas either losing to Fatah in another election or tying with Fatah. Not quite a resounding success story for either party, but it is all the Palestinian people have right now.

Hamas has failed as a government. They cannot and will not be successful political leaders because they have not and cannot make the transition from an ideological movement bent on the destruction of Israel to a political party that compromises. In essence, Hamas' political weakness is their ideological strength.

As much as in their heart of hearts the Palestinian people would love to wake up one day and see that Israel has disappeared, they have come to the realization that Israel is there to stay at least in their own lifetimes and probably the lifetimes of their children. The average Palestinian has shelved his dream of the elimination of Israel. Hamas has not.

So if neither party is ready to lay down arms and if negotiations are a big bluff, how will this situation end? The United States will remain on the sidelines, smiling but uninvolved. Jordan and Egypt however, the two big brothers of the Arab Middle East, have not been standing idly by. Jordan and Egypt have each come to the conclusion that Hamas is a liability, that Hamas is a destabilizing factor for the entire region. They want Hamas out and they will help make it happen. Egypt and Jordan, Mubarak and Abdullah, have been pressuring Palestinian President Abbas, the head of Fatah, to oust Hamas. He can call for a referendum or he can oust Hamas in a more violent way, but they want Hamas finally, out of their way.

In the final analysis, the person with the biggest gun rules the Palestinian street.

Egypt Does Something
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday October 3, 2006

I've Been Thinking:

Four Egyptian police and five Palestinian police were just arrested.
They nine were arrested in the same raid.

They were arrested by Egyptian authorities for smuggling and selling weapons.
The Egyptian police were handing over an arms cache to the Palestinian police when the authorities - their colleagues, swooped in and raided the drop.

This is a gargantuan step forward.
If Egypt continues to step up and actually prevent illegal arms from falling into the hands of terrorists the area will become a safer place for everyone.
Safer for Israelis, for Palestinians, for Egyptians and by extension, safer for the world.

Losing Patience With Hamas
By Micah Halpern

Monday October 2, 1006

I've Been Thinking:

Al Hayat, the London based Arabic newspaper, recently ran a piece in which it asserts that the leadership of Egypt and Jordan want to oust Hamas from power.

It seems that the Egyptians and Jordanians have lost patience with Hamas.
It seems that they see Hamas as a detriment, not as an asset, in the region.
It seems that Mubarak of Egypt and Abdullah of Jordan have come to the same conclusion independent of each other.

Egypt and Jordan have also concluded that Hamas is destabilizing the area by sponsoring terror.
They also included Iran and Syria on their lists of destabilizing forces.

Here is the big question:
If it seems obvious to the leaders of region that Hamas should be ousted,
why haven't the European Union, Russia and China come to the same realization?
Or are they just ignoring the obvious out of ulterior motives?

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