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Beheading in Birmingham?
By Micah Halpern

Thursday February 1, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Police in Birmingham, England arrested 9 British Muslims suspected of plotting to kidnap and behead a fellow Brit, a Muslim, a soldier on leave from Iraq.

The arrests were made yesterday. I am certain that most main stream media will cover the story, it is banner headline news. But it is more than that, there are important issues and ramifications that this arrest brings to light.

The group wanted, in essence, to bring Baghdad to Birmingham.
The group wanted to decapitate someone just like they have been doing in Iraq.
The group intended to film the beheading and broadcast it on the internet.

Had the plan been successful, the potential fear factor would be incalculable.
This would have been even more gruesome than the subway bombing that rocked London last summer.
The idea behind this attack was to flaunt just how easy it is perpetrate the most heinous act of terror right under the noses of MI-5 and the police.
This time, the perpetrators were apprehended.
This time.

Another Proud Terrorist Family
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday January 31, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

A suicide bomb blows up in a cafe in the Israeli resort town of Eilat.
Three people are murdered and we all hang our heads in sorrow.

The family of the bomber is proud: "The whole family was very happy when it heard that Muhammad is the hero who carried out the attack," said Naim Saqsaq, the brother of the bomber. "We knew that he was waiting and praying for this moment. My brother said 'If only I could be a shahid, if only I could carry out an attack.' And here Allah gave him the privilege."
Muhammad's mother also had praise for the actions of her murdering son.

Hamas called the act of terror a legitimate attack.
Even Abbas, the moderate, referred to the murderous attack as "an operation" never referring to the bombing as a terror attack. His only condemnation was that the attack did not help the Palestinian cause.

The reason there have been fewer bombs in the recent year is because the terrorist's delivery systems and organizations have been disrupted and because the terrorists have been caught - not because the terrorists have turned a page.

Terrorists still hold dear the honor of killing themselves in an act of mass murder.

By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 30, 2007


At the beginning of this millennium, if you had asked me if I thought there was any chance of peace between Syria and Israel, I would have nodded wisely, stroked my chin and said "dream on." But now, despite the denials and the hostilities there seems to be reason to hold out at least some hope of a formalized peace between these two apparent enemies.

Syria and Israel have collaborated on a non-paper. And that, although it is not supposed to be made public in the news, is good news.

A non-paper is a non-formal, non-binding, non-publicized document formulated in a non-threatening, non-intimidating way by non-official people representing real governments. A non-paper can, and often will, later serve as either a blueprint or starting point for a formal, binding, public document.

Countries have always engaged in secret talks - even countries that are sworn and avowed arch enemies. Even countries like Syria and Israel. The talks are usually stimulated by and even come with the blessings of the concerned governments. The talks are a way of testing the waters, of determining how far apart the two countries are on important make-or-break issues, a way of determining whether bridges can be built, on whether it is worth the investment of time and energy and international scrutiny - or not. And the document that is produced when the talks are successful - the non-paper - has no legal validity and has no value of a treaty, but is proof that there is a mutual desire to meet and to talk, it is the foundation for official, public negotiations.

In the case of Syria and Israel the informal, unofficial talks were conducted under the careful and quiet sponsorship of neutral Switzerland. The participants were representative though not representatives of the governments. Some of the proposals as put forth in writing are logical others are more fanciful, some are practical others quite frankly, are preposterous.

For example:
Article IV-8 in the non-paper states: The Parties will cooperate in fighting local and international terrorism of all kinds.
This is probably the most unrealistic statement of the entire document. How can Syria, one of the parties, fight terror when Syria unabashedly, unquestionably strongly and openly sponsors terror?

For example:
Article IV-9 in the non-paper states: The Parties will work together for a stable and safe Middle East, including the solution of regional problems related to the Palestinians, Lebanese, and Iran.
This is probably the second most unrealistic statement of the entire document. Syria views Lebanon as a province, not as a problem. Proof of that is the reality that here is no Syrian embassy in Beirut, there is no need for one - as far as Syria is concerned, the two countries are one and the same separated by an insignificant technicality called a border. Syria does not want a stable Lebanon and therefore, Syria will not work towards stabilizing Lebanon. Remember - this is important - just this past August Syria sponsored a war against Israel using Lebanon as a spring board.

This entire paragraph is predicated on the principle that the Syrians are willing to trade in a long, binding friendship with Lebanon and a strong friendship with Iran and comradely brotherhood with the Palestinians for Israel, the new friends on the block. I think not.

For example:
Article VI-1 in the non-paper states: In order to safeguard the water resources of the Jordan River basin, Syrian territory east of the mutually agreed border will be designated as a Park open to all and administered by Syria. The Park is to be established in the Golan Heights upon completion of the Israeli withdrawal and application of Syrian sovereignty in accordance with the treaty of peace.
I love it. Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights is a given if there is ever to be peace between Syria and Israel. The idea of a park is brilliant, even visionary - but impractical.

Here's why:
Article VI-2 in the non-paper states: Park is open to tourism.
Park will be policed by Syrian park service personnel.
Park will be free of permanent residents except for conservation and law enforcement personnel.
No visa will be required for entry into park (from Israeli territory).
It is quite a leap of faith to believe that Syria will not militarize the Golan - park or no park. The time is not yet ready for Syrians and Israelis to share picnic tables, marvel at the beauty of wild flowers and hike peacefully through the Golan hills.

It is a start, a significant. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. But sometime in the not too very distant future Syria and Israel will be openly, publicly, sharing a table and talking peace.

Iran Assassinated Egyptian Diplomat
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 29, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

The Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram reported yesterday that their ambassador to Iraq had been assassinated in June of 2005 by Iranian intelligence operatives.
Al Ahram reported that he was not a victim of "sectarian violence" as originally assumed.

The ambassador, Ihab a Sharif, had spent time in Iran as well as in Israel.
He was an exceptional "reader" of the regional situation.
June of 2005 was just one month into his new position.

It seems that the Iranians did not want this Egyptian influence in Iraq, they were afraid that a Sharif's astute and keen eye would pick up on happenings in their country that they did not want Egypt to know about. The Iranians did not want the Egyptians to stymie their activities.

An assassination in Iraq is no big deal and no one questioned the death report. Only now are the pieces of the puzzle falling into place.
The Iranians are far more organized and manipulative than we had ever imagined.
This is just one of many examples.

Iran Launching Satellites
By Micah Halpern

Sunday January 28, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Iran has just converted one of their 30-ton ballistic missiles into a satellite launcher.
This is an enormous step in Iran's weapons and space technology.

Only a handful of nations in the world have satellite technology.
And Iran has already launched 2 satellites.
First time it was a co-operative launch effort between Iran and the Soviets.
This time Iran flew solo launching a 100% made and manufactured in Iran "bird" (satellite).

When you have the ability to launch your own system then - literally -the sky is the limit.
We now know that the Iranians have the ability to see anything, hear everything and target anywhere.
The more satellites you own, the more you see.
That is a scary thought.

Yes, Chicken Little, the sky truly is falling.

Palestinian Civil War
By Micah Halpern

Saturday January 27, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

I've said it before and I know that I will be saying it again.
Tensions are rising between Palestinians.

The mini civil war going on in the Palestinian Authority has accelerated again. The war is about power and about control.
The war is about the direction of the Palestinian future.

Think of the old phrase "you get more with honey than with vinegar."
Abbas is thinking honey, Hamas is thinking vinegar.
Abbas has some come to the realization that Israel is here to stay, Hamas will never accept Israel.

Both sides now have weapons and are using them to kill each other.
Cease fires are never upheld and agreements are never enforced.
Over the past 2 months at least 5 cease fires have been called.
Palestinian fighters think of cease fires and agreements only as suggestions.

Now you understand the difficulty Israel has negotiating with the Palestinians.

Davos & Iran
By Micah Halpern

Friday January 26, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Davos is one of those conferences that really makes a difference.
Informally, participants meet, greet and actually begin to create solutions to issues confronting the world.
Formally, the presentations have serious impact on policies and perceptions.

The scope of the conference is so great that Mohammad Khatami, the former president of Iran, placed a call in order to suggest that the United States lean lighten up a little on the question of Iran's nuclear program.
Khahtami said: "I hope that they would be good enough in managing the situation. We deeply need patience and understanding and not to get too emotional."

Well here's some advice for you Khatami: the best way to reduce tensions is by letting inspectors in and by adhering to international standards.

The rest of the world may interpret this act of concern as a significant step - but coming on the day that Iran once again denies 38 inspectors entry into the country I see if for the deception that it truly is.

Ahmadinejad's Predictions
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 25, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) quoted Iranian President making some rather dire predictions about the United States and Israel.

Ahmadinejad said that "the United States and the Zionist regime of Israel will soon come to the end of their lives." That wasn't enough for him, he also said "Sparking discord among Muslims, especially between the Shiites and Sunnis, is a plot hatched by the Zionists and the US for dominating regional nations and looting their resources."
The Iranian president articulated these thoughts during a recent visit to Damascus Syria.

Ahmadinejad is right and Ahmadinejad is wrong.

Ahmadinejad is right because the United States and Israel really are trying to exploit inner Muslim rifts and Iran is beginning to feel the pressure.

Ahmadinejad is wrong to think that in the near or distant future either the United States or Israel would be in grave danger of destruction.

That's wishful thinking on the part of the Iranian president, not political analysis.

PA Budget Swells
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday January 24, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

I took a peak at the Hamas led Palestinian Authority budget for 2007.
The 2007 budget is much larger than the 2006 Palestinian government budget.
The 2007 budget has significant increases in allocations.

How is that possible - isn't there an embargo against the Hamas led government?

There is.

Isn't the United States stopping all money from entering the PA?
They are - all except the money sent to Abbas by the United States and Israel.

This is how it is possible:

An embargo is not really an embargo and Hamas is getting money especially from the Gulf States.

And the United States and Israel are trying to bolster Abbas in his power struggle with Hamas.

How will this all resolve itself? No one knows.

But there is one thing for certain: Both Abbas and Hamas are coming into money and more money means more guns.

Bank on it.

Islamic Hatred of West
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 23, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

CNN and the BBC have run recent specials on Muslim extremism in England.
The sound bytes are truly frightening.

The BBC piece is the more terrifying of the two.
They went undercover to film and we hear the vitriol and bile being spewed in mosques in England.

We hear of the desire to take over Europe.
We hear an Imam curse Christians and Jews and democracy.

Many of the speakers were until this time thought to be moderates, they are the people we thought would convince the extremists of their mistaken ways.

In the CNN piece Christiane Amanpour walks and talks to an Imam who speaks in perfect English with a perfect British accent.

We hear him say that the only difference between him and his "brother" Osama Bin Ladin is that he believes that the Jihad should be an all out arms war.

We hear him say that their goals are the same.
This should be a wake-up call to the Western world.

We must solve this problem - it is growing, growing fast and growing in our own home towns.

By Micah Halpern

Monday January 22, 2007


Did anyone happen to read the item in last week's Pravda about Russia's sale of a weapons system to Iran?

If you didn't read Pravda, the largest Russian news agency, you would have missed the whole story. For some mysterious reason this huge transaction which will directly impact our lives was almost a non-event in the Western press.

Last week Russia delivered twenty-nine TOR-M1 weapons systems to Iran. Russia confirmed the transaction. And then Russia justified their action by way of a press conference that was immediately reported upon in Pravda. The whole deal net Russian nearly three- quarters of a billion dollars.

What were the Russians thinking? Is money all that important? And what was the United States State Department thinking? Why did they turn this major news blast into nothing more than a small blip on the news? All we got was a State Department spokesperson named Tom Casey making a clear statement explaining how the United States tried to convince Russia to cancel the sale but, alas, their protestations were to no avail.

The Russians understand the ramifications of their action. You can hear it in the way they justified the move. At the Moscow press conference Sergei Ivanov, the Russia Foreign Minister, explained it this way: "We have supplied modern anti-aircraft short-range missile systems under a contract." And then he said: "Iran is not under any sanctions." And then he said that Moscow had every intention of continuing "to develop military and technical cooperation with Tehran."


The Russian foreign minister neglected to say that there are international sanctions against Iran. And he neglected to point out that Russia voted for those sanctions.

Russia claims that their arms sale contract with Iran was signed in the year 2005 and that they are just living up to their obligations. Russia also claims that the TOR-M1 is a defensive system and therefore, threatens no one. Technically, the Russians are correct.

They are correct that the TOR-M1 is a defensive unit. It has a very short range and is there to knock out low flying planes and cruise missiles only as high as six miles in altitude. And when the Russians introduced this new state-of-the-art weapon in an arms show in 2005 the Iranians immediately made it clear that they wanted as many units as they could get. And now they've got them.

So - why would Iran want a defensive system like the TOR-M1? They would want it in case a cruise missile was aimed at them? And who would aim a cruise missile at Iran? Only the United States or Israel. And only as a last resort. And now the Iranians are prepared. For Iran, the cost in dollars is negligible. For the United States and Israel the practical implications are staggering.

Arming Iran with defensive weapons is almost like helping Iran with their nuclear development. Which brings us full circle back to Russia.

Russia has significant economic interests in Iran's nuclear development and weapons procurement. The Russians are implementing not just this contract with Iran. The Russians continue to implement all of their signed contracts with Iran, including their contract for a light-water nuclear reactor in Bushehr.

In the midst of a major international crisis centering on Iran's nuclear activity an Iranian nuclear facility is being built by a Western ally, by an ally the Western world assumes to be trying to stop the entire crisis from spinning out of control. The Russian response lacks basic moral foundation. The government of Russia has no collective conscience.

The major threat to the civilized world today is Muslim fundamentalism. That threat is manifest in two forms: One is al Qaeda. The other is Iran.

Arming Iran in any way - even "only" in a defensive way aids them in their efforts to try to unseat and destabilize Western democracy and to curtail basic human rights and values as we, in the West, understand them.

Would a Western country entertain selling a defensive weapon to Osama bin Laden? After all, bin Laden is a target and his al Qaeda organization is certainly threatened. A defensive system would only protect bin Laden and al Qaeda from a Western attack. Who else would want to attack them?

I quake in fear of the Russian response.

A Big Google Error
By Micah Halpern

Sunday January 21, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

I have seen 2 recent pieces slamming Google Earth. And justifiably so.

Google Earth is the site that provides maps and is solely powered and owned by Google.
Google Earth provides some of the most detailed maps one can find, maps so sophisticated that there are even up-to-the-minute satellite images of United States and her allied encampments in Iraq.
(The maps are so accurate that terrorists used them to - successfully, attack a British camp.)

I take issue with Google Earth because it refers to Gaza as "occupied."
Unless you were in a cave in August of 2005, you would know that Israel is no longer in Gaza - no Israelis and no Israeli army.
Not to mention how it refers to Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

Google says that the site uses internationally accepted terms and borders.
However, post 1967 the UN referred to these sites as "disputed" not "occupied." In other words, the status of these places was to be worked out at a later date.
Google is operating under a serious misunderstanding of history and politics.

A Middle East Nuclear Arms Race
By Micah Halpern

Saturday January 20, 2007

I'm Predicting:

Jordan just announced that they are planning to develop nuclear energy.

For the past two years I have predicting this.
I have been saying that if Iran was not stopped there would be a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

No self-respecting Sunni leader can sit back and watch Iran, a Shiite Persian country, get something so powerful that it would alter the balance in the region.
No self-respecting Sunni leader can sit back and watch Shiite Iran change the history of Islam.

90% of Muslims are Sunnis - only 10% are Shiites.
For a thousand years Sunnis have dictated and set the tone.
If Shiites are allowed to get the upper hand terrible tensions will be created within Islam.

There will be a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
And the price of oil will skyrocket.

Iran Calls Israel's Bluff
By Micah Halpern

Friday January 19, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Iran has publicly called Israel's bluff.
For those who think that Iran is some backwater society incapable of understanding the complicated machinations of international relations - listen to this.

On January 7th the Sunday Times of London and the NY Post ran a story on how Israel has plans to attack Iran's nuclear installations.
The story was a plant, it was clearly meant to send a message to Iran.

Iran's defense minister, Mustafa Mohammed Najjar, responded to the story during a press conference held yesterday with the Sudanese Defense Minister.
He said: "This is a bluff which serves psychological operation and aims to assess the reaction of the Iranian people and officials."
Then he spoke about the United State's intentions to strike Iran, suggesting that the United States is involved in a "psychological war on Iran."

Iran totally gets it.
The West must be much more clever in sending messages to Iran.
Iran should not be able to so quickly discern Western ploys.

Iran & Israel
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 18, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

The vast majority of Iranians dislike Western policy, but love Western culture. The vast majority of Iranians actually like the West, they even like Israel.
It is not Iranians who are so anti, it is Iranian leadership.
The real problem in Iran is Iranian leaders.

Take a look at British football, or soccer, as Americans call it.
On the team called Bolton Wanders there is a new Iranian mid-fielder and there are two Israeli players.
In a recent match Andranik Teimourian, the Iranian, scored a goal in the 49th minute.
And who was there to give him a huge hug - Idan Tal, one of his Israeli teammates.
They socialize, they talk, they eat one another's food, they enjoy one another's company - and they play well together.

The Hug was seen across the soccer world.
Teimourian got calls from Iran, not chastising him but congratulating him.
He is still on Iran's national soccer team, the youngest member on the team.

Sports, the great equalizer, the great neutralizer.
If only world leaders would play.

Sound Familiar
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday January 17, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Dan Halutz Israel's military Chief of Staff has resigned his position.

There was a committee to investigate Israel's reaction to war with Hezbollah.
Halutz promised that if the committee returned an unambiguous negative decision, he would resign.
The resignation came before the committee had finalized its findings.

No doubt the Israeli army was guilty of serious errors and miscalculations.
No doubt the cost of the war was very high and the losses very painful.
No doubt someone should be help accountable for those mistakes.
No doubt here is no more senior person than the Chief of Staff.

This was a war without a plan.
This was a war without clearly articulated goals.
This was a war without a timetable.

Almost unanimously, military and political leaders agree that Halutz had to go.
Dan Halutz had to go even if only to reinvigorate the army.

Does this sound familiar?

By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 16, 2007


What I wouldn't give to have Jack Bauer's cell phone.

You know, Jack Bauer, the ultimate uber-hero of Fox's "24." Jack Bauer, the man who season in and season out is tortured, almost terminated and emerges yet again, though not quite triumphantly, to save his country from terrorists and unscrupulous politicians determined to rob the worthy citizens of the United States of their freedom.

Is "24" great theatre? Frankly, I enjoy it. But "real" it is not. Take, for example, that cell phone. 24 hours a day of almost non-stop talk with no need to recharge. Downloads, aerials, satellite connections - forget the new Apple, Steve Jobs should have taken out the franchise on this model.

It's fun, it's nail biting television - it's fiction. But in order for fiction to be accepted, to be even the least bit believable, it must be encased in fact.

Is it within the realm of possibility that a terrorist organization, whether al Qaeda or Hezbollah or the terrorist team on "24" put into play a set of attacks that would involve multiple, simultaneous, small explosions in cities across the United States? It sure is. Busses, metro trains and subways as well as theaters, shopping malls and sports arenas are high priority targets for terrorists. The writers for this series have learned their lessons well. Attacks of this sort have ripped through parts of Europe and plagued Israeli cities for many years. Add to that the fact that there truly is a significant threat of suitcase bombs infiltrating the United States. Score a point for "24."

Do terrorists - from leaders like "24" 's Osama, to operatives like "24" 's Ahmed, ever really turn on one another, even sabotage one another? Thankfully, they do. And when terrorists do betray one another they usually do it through official channels and in exchange for large sums of money. What would make a successful terrorist do a 180? There are three reasons: money, safety (personal or family) and, on rare occasions, ideology. Score another point for "24."

Would terrorists really demand the release of 110 fellow terrorists held prisoner? Probably not. They would probably demand more prisoners. As a matter of fact, Israel is dealing with that very issue right now. Score, again, for "24."

Is modern gizmo technology truly the best way to track terrorists? Despite the great accomplishments and sophistication of computers and listening devices and motion sensors, despite the high tech gadgetry of the CTU (Counter Terrorism Unit) on "24" and of their military and of SWAT teams, the best way to find anything out is through a real source, a contact, a mole, a snitch. Any real counterterrorism unit would be lucky indeed to have an operative like Jack Bauer sitting in the inner sanctum of terrordom - even if he himself is being tortured - and learn the true secrets of the terrorist operation. If only the fictional president would have believed him! This time, they get only 1/2 a point - they had the operative but they didn't trust him. But they get another point for their high tech operation.

Speaking of torture - that's where fact falls away and fiction, pure fiction fits in. As much special effect make-up as was applied to the back and the hands of Jack Bauer, it just wasn't enough. Perhaps the producers were being kind to their audience, perhaps they were being kind to their star. But those opening shots of a man who had been held captive and presumably, horrifically tortured for a 20 month period, just did not cut it.

Too few cuts, to be specific. Too little scar tissue. Too few broken, gnarled bones and almost no swollen joints. No hair loss. No unstable walk. No diminished hearing, or compromised vision. And what about when Jack was tortured, on camera, by Fayed the head terrorist himself? The cries of pain were close enough to real - but the recovery was just too quick to be believable, even in "24" TV time. And that face. Who would want to mar that face? Real terrorist captors, that's who.

Are there lessons to be learned from "24"? Sure there are. People want to be entertained and terror - even horrific terror, is entertaining as long as it crosses the bounds of reality and enters the obvious world of fiction.

One more thing - casting directors, when the time comes to make movies of the 2008 election don't overlook the actor who plays Walid, the love interest of the president's sister Sandra, as Barack Obama. He's a dead ringer.

Travellers Part II
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 15, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Yesterday I took a first look at the travel schedules of world leaders as a way to better understand world politics.
Here are some more puzzles to ponder.

The President of Iraq, Jalil Talibani, arrived in Syria to discuss security issues.
In Syria, Talibani is expected to visit the grave of the late President Hafez Assad.
If Syria and Iraq are on the same page, where does that leave the United States?

During Ahmadinejad's visit to Venezuela the two countries agreed that there is too much oil in the market and they will recommend to OPEC to reduce the amount brought to the world market.
Can these two make it really happen?

Hillary traveled from Iraq to Pakistan where she had a forceful conversation with Musharef about al Qaeda.
Does Hillary have enough clout for this conversation to impact our lives?

Cancelled travel plans reveal and teach as much as plans that are executed.
Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas leader and Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, was uninvited by Kuwait - the visit was postponed to "an unknown date."
What happened there?

Who Is Travelling?
By Micah Halpern

Sunday January 14, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Interesting diplomatic face-to-face meetings are under way.

Condi Rice is in the Middle East.
Once again, she is trying to kick start the Palestinians and the Israelis.
The problem here is that the person she is talking to, Palestinian President Abbas, does not have the power to get things going and by law and policy she may not talk to Hamas.
The unfortunate media message following her trip will be an Israel unwilling to move even one inch toward the Palestinians until their kidnapped soldier, Gilad Shalit, is returned. Shalit is being held by Hamas.

Ahmadinejad has arrived in Venezuela for meetings with Hugo Chavez.
They are uniting to try to create an alternative world. They want to shift the world from United States influence towards Iranian and Venezuelan influence.
They have no problem meeting, talking and planning.
The problem will be in making their dream come true.

Hillary is in Iraq. No problem, no big deal. Politics as usual.

Mubarak Warns Iran
By Micah Halpern

Saturday January 13, 2007

I'm Predicting:

For months now I have been saying that Iran is not loved in the region.
I have been saying that if Iran goes nuclear, Saudi Arabia and Egypt will step in and create a nuclear race in the region.

Mubarak has fired his opening salvo.
In this weekend's Egyptian paper Al-Oboa the president of Egypt gives a stern warning to Iran.
He said: We will not "sit idly by while the nuclear armament race in the region goes on."

Mubarak also chastised Iran saying that the region will not let Iraq fall prey to Iran's religious extremism.
And then he warned Iran.
He said: "Iran is trying to gain support in Iraq and in the region and I say to all: don't touch Iraq."

To quote from the prophet Amos "I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet" but just watch.
Mubarak is just the first - other nations in the region will begin to raise their voices, warning, chastising, condemning Iran.

Hezbollah Is A Threat
By Micah Halpern

Friday January 12, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Every year the United States comes up with new a threat assessment.
This year, Hezbollah is named as one of the most significant threats.
Why? Because of the 34 day war between Hezbollah and Israel.

The United States now sees Hezbollah as a serious threat against US targets.
John Negroponte, Director of National Intelligence, said: "As a result of last summer's hostilities, Hezbollah's self-confidence and hostility toward the US as a supporter of Israel [this] could cause the group to increase its contingency planning against US interests.''

Safety in this world is just like the 10- step process in Alcoholics Anonymous. Recognition is the first step towards solving the problem.
The United States has taken that first step.
We are a target. Now we have to defend ourselves.

The President's Message
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 11, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

President Bush's speech hit all the right notes.
But nothing in his presentation was new.

The challenge is not what needs to be done.
The challenge is making certain that it gets done.

How do you actually make certain that the recommendations are put in place? How do you insist on reform, on de-Bathization, on strengthening the provinces, on insisting on enabling provinces to grow democratically and economically?

The first step is stopping the killing of one another with impunity.
That is what needs to be thought out, carried out, addressed.
That is what seems to be missing from this not-so-new strategy.

By Micah Halpern

Wednesday January 10, 2007


Confucius said: If you know, to recognize that you know, If you don't know, to realize that you don't know: That is knowledge.

China is the key to solving most of the problems in the Middle East. Everyone seems to know that to be true, everyone that is, except the United States.

China is the only true check to the United States in world politics. Everyone is willing to accept that to be true, everyone that is, except the United States.

Open your eyes America.

Right now, the best way to diffuse the situation in Iran is for the United States to step aside allowing for China to step in and make a move. The Chinese love the United States as much as the United States loves China, but this is not about mutual admiration. This is about self-interest. And as much as the Chinese enjoy seeing Iran defy the United States, eventually, when the time is right, the Chinese will set down the law to the Iranians and Iran will listen.

In the meantime, Middle East leaders are courting China. Ali Larijani, the head of Iran's nuclear development program who also happens to be the head of Iran's national security, has just returned from a very successful trip to China. Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert is in the midst of an extended trip to China and he has already extended invitations to Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to be the guests of his country.

China is important. They have a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. That means they have an automatic veto over all resolutions put before the Council. That's impressive, but it is not the biggest reason for China's importance. The better reason is that China is big. China is the most populated nation in the world. And the most populated nation in the world is the largest consumer of energy in the world and the largest consumer of energy in the world is the largest purchasers of energy. But the most important reason, the biggest reason, is that the Chinese have no natural energy sources.

China is oil starved. China has no energy and must import it all. And now China is buying up shipping lines and oil pipelines and ports all around the world. If it has to do with energy traffic, China is interested. Anything to help control at least a portion of China's energy needs. Iran understands this and so does Israel. Iran knows that China needs Iranian oil. It needs about $100 billion of oil from Iran this coming year alone.

Certainly, there are mutualities of interest between China and the United States. Expanding markets. A stable world. But China is not ready to play by the rules of the United States and the United States is not ready to give China the leeway it needs to take over in Iran.

Eventually, China will play along. Because China knows that Iran is just too unstable and that it is just too dangerous to put nukes in the hands of a country that is so irresponsible and unpredictable. For now China gets a perverse thrill out of seeing the United States squirm. China enjoys seeing the United States suffer economically and diplomatically, laughed at by the Iranians as hundreds of billions of United States dollars are dumped in an effort to make Iran comply.

And the United States is having fun at the expense of China. This past year when the premier of China visited the United States as a special guest of Yale University he was invited to the White House but he did not rate an official state dinner. That was a terrible insult to China. And when the premier held a press conference a woman, a human rights activist, stood up shouted out and disrupted the media event. And oops, when the White House band gathered to play the Chinese national anthem they played the national anthem of Taiwan instead. Publicly, those were called mistakes in diplomatic protocol. Really, they were jabs at China for not yet helping out the American cause in Iran.

In the end China will squelch Iran's free run. Iran is upsetting the rest of the Sunnis in the region, especially the oil barons and oil sheiks. Iranians are Shiites and they are Persians, the rest of the region is Arabs and most of the power in the region is help by Sunnis not Shiites. They are sworn enemies of each other. They make the United States and China look like friends who have had an argument.

Empowering Shiite Iran with nuclear energy, a weapon far more powerful than anything oil rich Sunni Saudi Arabia has, would fracture a very sensitive balance in the region. Sunni leaders would want nuclear power and nuclear weapons and that would all spiral into a Middle East nuclear race. That race would increase the cost of fuel. And that would make China very unhappy. And that is why China will one day - according to China's own time schedule - step in and work with the United States and help stop the Iranians.

Confucius (Lunya 6-22) also said: Respect the gods and the devils but keep them at a distance.

Saddam's Trial Resumed
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 9, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Saddam Hussein's trial resumed yesterday in Baghdad.
It was the trial accusing him of the gassing of 15,000 Kurds.
The first order of the court was to dismiss charges against Saddam.

And why not, after all, Saddam Hussein was executed on December 30th.
With Saddam Hussein out of the picture, first physically and now legally, it's a whole different case - the power, the punch, the kick are gone.
Saddam Hussein issued an order to gas a major percentage of the population of his country - and now he is no longer accountable for that act of brutality.
His slate had been wiped clean.

Now the case continues against Saddam's cousin Chemical Ali and 6 other men.
Now the case is simply about ultimate bureaucrats taking orders and doing what they are told.
Now the co-defendants now have the perfect defense, they were simply obeying orders.
History is being whitewashed.

Israel Versus Iran
By Micah Halpern

Monday January 8, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

The scoop in The Sunday Times of London, republished in the New York Post, proclaimed that Israel was preparing a strike against 3 Iranian nuclear facilities. The story should not have surprised anyone.
Israel's claim that the story was false should not have surprised anyone.

It is a reality of our times.
No country threatened with extermination by another country can afford not to have counter attack plans.
By their very nature, some of those plans are defensive and some are offensive.
So, yes, Israel has multiple plans for various attacks against Iran and some of those plans actually involve laser rocket and nuclear tipped weapons.

Like any democracy, Israel needs to make certain that appropriate counter measures to Iran's aggressions are in place, "on the shelf," ready for use.
Without a pre-determined response Israel will be destroyed.
It is either one or the other.
It is that simple.

Abbas Ups The Ante
By Micah Halpern

Sunday January 7, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Abbas has upped the ante.
The president of the Palestinian Authority President has moved to the next stage in the power struggle between his Fatah movement and the ruling Hamas movement.

Abbas has declared that the Hamas Executive Force is illegal.
The Hamas Executive Force is Hamas' military militia.
It has about 6000 armed members most of whom were in other Hamas terror groups before joining the Executive Force.

Why is Abbas is moving on Hamas? He has 3 reasons.
# 1: in a brutal fire fight on Thursday the Executive Force attacked and killed a Fatah leader in his home, also killed were his seven body guards
# 2: Jordan and Egypt are behind Abbas
# 3: President Bush is asking Congress for $83 million to help Abbas

It will take more than money to defeat Hamas.
Hamas is highly motivated - Fatah is fat and lazy.

Iran's True Ambitions
By Micah Halpern

Saturday January 6, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Ali Larijani, Iran's nuclear chief held a press conference in China.
It was very enlightening.

First: he confirmed that Iran has already produced 250 tons of UF-6 gas Uranium Hexaflouride which is the foundation for the uranium enrichment used in a high grade reactor. He said that the gas is stored in tunnels deep in the Isfahan nuclear experimental site.

Second: he let loose a real bomb by saying "We oppose obtaining nuclear weapons and we will peacefully use nuclear technology under the framework of the Nonproliferation Treaty, but if we are threatened, the situation may change..."

This last line confirms the worst fears of Western nations.
Regardless of what Iran has thus far --- Iran has nuclear weapons aspirations.

The Iranians do not have loose lips.
Larijani was delivering a message.

Iran & China
By Micah Halpern

Friday January 5, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Ali Larijani, Iran's top nuclear negotiator, is in China.
He is not there to talk about the price of tea.

Larijani is also head of Iran's National Security Council.
His main objective is to confirm that China will back Iran in the quest for nuclear research.
China is Iran's key to the United Nations.
China sits on the Security Council which gives the Chinese an automatic veto. China also imports approximately $100 billion in energy from Iran annually.
In Iran's eyes the only power in the world able to challenge the US is China.

Here is the twist:
Iran wants to secure a real agreement from China - that means a real commitment from China.

It boils down to one central issue:
Does China want to fight the United States on the issue of Iran's nuclear activity, are China's energy needs worth a knock out battle with Uncle Sam.

Larijani thinks it is worth the trip.

Fictions In Iran & The Muslim World
By Micah Halpern

Thursday January 4, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

On Baztba, an Iranian government website, a leading adviser to Ahmadinejad named Mahmoud Ali Ramin claims that Hitler was Jewish.
He claims that both of Hitler's parents were Jewish and that Hitler was really dedicated to establishing Israel.

Where do these ideas come from?
Ramin actually sites his source, a book entitled, Hitler: Founder of Israel, by Hennecke Kardel. The book can be purchased on Amazon in paperback. How and why Amazon can sell a work of this kind and not list it as fiction is another matter.

The book fuels a myth.
The book proves an essential point.
There is no logic behind this kind of thinking and no logical thinking will ever convince someone who wants to believe that Hitler murdered six million Jews in order to create the State of Israel otherwise.

Fiction, false information and conspiracy theories.
That's the prism through which the Muslim world views the Holocaust.

The Human Side of Saddam
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday January 3, 2007

I've Been Thinking:

Robert Ellis, a United States army nurse, treated Saddam Hussein while the Iraqi dictator was in United States custody.
When Ellis recounts his exchanges with his patient, Saddam Hussein not only sounds human, he sounds kindly.
He describes how Saddam fed the birds, how when Ellis had to return to the US because his brother was dying, Saddam said he would be Ellis' brother.

Is Ellis delusional?
This is Saddam Hussein, aka the Butcher of Baghdad.
The truth is, dictators and mass murderers are not the devil incarnate, they are humans who perform dastardly acts.
They can murder thousands of people without shedding a tear and then cry their hearts out when a pet dies.
They can wantonly kill women and children then come home and enjoy classical music.

Mass murders are perpetrated by humans.
And sometimes, under certain conditions, they are likeable humans.

By Micah Halpern

Tuesday January 2, 2007


Forget about Saddam Hussein. Let's talk about Adolf Eichmann.

Eichmann was a mass murderer. He never denied his acts of brutality, he gloated over his accomplishments. And he was brought to trial by the government of Israel. Justice in Jerusalem. The banality of evil. Why did Israel bother to engage in the long, drawn out, costly trial of "the man in the glass booth," whom they knew was guilty? A man who because of his admission would be incarcerated for the crimes he had committed? Why?

Because Israel wanted the fact of the Holocaust officially and permanently recorded in history through a trial.

The Eichmann trial was far less about guilt and innocence than it was about recording into the annals of history the events of the Holocaust. Eichmann was a tool, he was placed on trial in order to serve the purpose of history and justice.

Because Israel did not want to allow for the opportunity of a madman to arise and claim, years later, that the Holocaust never happened, that these crimes were never perpetrated, that Eichmann was a savior, a martyr, a good guy not a mass murderer. The trial was there to prove that Adolf Eichmann was not merely a cog in a wheel, not just a part in a larger mechanism, not only a big player in a grander plan or a part of a heinous scheme.

Sound familiar? It should.

What happens during a trial? Events are read into historical record. Witnesses offer testimony while their memory is still fresh, while the pictures are still clearly defined in their minds, while the wounds still ache. Documents are produced and validated and offered into evidence. Then comes justice. Trials are not convened for the purpose of legitimizing revenge, trials are the instruments of justice.

In the democratic world we are in the business of justice not in the business of vengeance. Justice is slow, vengeance is quick.

Justice should never be rushed. Justice requires due process. Justice requires patience. Justice requires protocol. And then, when justice has been determined, then comes punishment. And for a mass murderer, for someone who has reached the heights of monstrous behavior, like Adolf Eichmann who transported the Jews of Europe to their death, execution is an appropriate form of punishment.

Execution - by bullet or by gallows or by bow and arrow or by birds pecking out the eyes - is the appropriate end for the person who has without conscience or second thought taken the lives of tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people. In a civilized world, in a democratic society, execution is appropriate as a response to justice, not as a cathartic act of revenge. And until someone has been proven to be guilty of the death of tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people, execution is revenge, execution is vengeance, it is not justice.

The mantra of a democratic society should be justice. The mantra of a democratic society should not be vengeance. The actions of a democratic society should be just, the actions of a democratic society should not be predicated upon revenge.

When every single place where a massacre took place is recorded into history, accurate memory is preserved. When every single family that has been wronged is allowed to offer testimony, history has been recorded. When every single town that has been destroyed, decimated, obliterated, vanquished is named and described, legacy lives on. Every victim had a name, every victim was part of a family and every victim lived in a town. They deserve to be remembered.

History and justice. The two go hand in hand. To deny one is to diminish the other. History and justice. It is our responsibility to record, to pursue and to preserve. The rest is irrelevant.

Now back to Saddam Hussein. What a colossal mistake. What injustice.

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